Visit any mid-to-large size city in the United States, including Richmond, and you’ll notice the increasing amount of bicycles in use, not only for recreation or exercise, but as a primary transportation. Many cities now have also installed rental bike stations that anyone can access for a quick jaunt around town.
Of course, cycling remains a major hobby for the health and environmentally conscious. Matching the boom in use and adoption, the cycling industry produces a wide array for bicycles marketed towards riders of all stripes.
Bicyclists have many choices in finding durable, quality bicycles. But starting with the right bike shop can ensure that your new hobby gets off to the best start.
Choose a specialty
If you’re in the market for a new bicycle, be sure to consider the wide variety of options.
Bicycles fall into four main categories — comfort, mountain, road and fitness.
Comfort bikes are the least expensive. And they’re best suited for casual riding on easy terrain.
Mountain bikes work better for rugged terrain. These sturdy cycles have wide, knobby tires that will not go flat easily. They offer great shock absorption to keep riders comfortable while riding over rocks and bumpy surfaces.
Road bikes are lightweight and built for speed on paved surfaces. If you’re planning to cover long distances, like the Virginia Capital Trail, from Richmond to Williamsburg, a road bike is your best bet.
Fitness bikes can help you get into great shape. They are more comfortable than road bikes, but less aerodynamic.
Do the research
Scour the internet, read reviews of shops and ask other cyclists for recommendations when selecting a bike shop. The best shops will have education programs to teach you the pros and cons of each bicycle. And their salespeople will help you make a selection based on your needs and goals. It’s also a good idea to keep in mind that you’ll probably be building an ongoing relationship with the shop you choose. Your new bike is going to need regular maintenance as you rack up the miles.
In addition, your neighborhood may have events in your biking specialty. There may even be bike clubs for you to join. Many of those will be sponsored by local shops in the area. Ask attendees about their experiences with various bike shops.
Once you have a list of stores, visit your top two or three choices. Observe the salespeople. They should be knowledgeable about manufacturers, warranties, and the different aspects of the bicycles. Some of them may even talk about bikes from a personal experience.
It is best to find a store that offers fully assembled bikes. It is a great way to know that your bike has been correctly assembled and adjusted. Each nut and bolt has a purpose. You don’t want your bike to malfunction at a critical point in your ride because it wasn’t put together correctly.
Quality shops will allow you to test drive various bikes. It might be necessary to leave a deposit with the store, but your experience will be well worth it.
A sales associate should help you choose the right sized bike and adjust it to fit your body.