Beginner's Guide to Buying a Bike

Author: Darren Mallard   Date Posted:8 March 2022 

 

There is so much information to read about bikes these days that it becomes harder and more overwhelming to buy a bike the further you dig. Bicycles online want to help you on the journey of finding the right bike the first time and with ease. Continue below to find your next favourite bike.

Contents 

1. How to determine your bike 8. Gravel
2. Commuter bikes 9. Touring/Adventure
3. Flat bar road 10. Mountain bikes
4. Hybrid 11. Hardtail
5. Comfort 12. Dual Suspension
6. Performance Road 13. Ebike
7. All road  


The first step in buying a bike is to determine where you are going to ride it. The variety of bikes now is so vast that they can be used across multiple genres and terrains. It is important to know whether you will be on the bitumen for all of your ridings, whether you are going to be adventuring off the beaten path or whether you are looking to push your limits on a bike in the forest. 

Once you have decided where you want to ride, it is important to realize what you use the bike for. A carbon road bike is going to fly along the road and sealed paths, but the lightweight parts and frame are not built for the rigours of everyday commuting. When going off-road, you may think that you need full suspension MTB, but a gravel bike or hybrid may be better suited depending on the terrain. 

It is important, to be honest with yourself when determining where and how you will ride your bike because any exaggeration could result in you getting the wrong bike. You have to consider the terrain you will be riding on, whether you will be carrying stuff on the bike, and how far you will be riding.  If you exaggerate how rough the road to work is you may end up with a bike that is heavier than you require, which will make riding a bigger chore.   
 

 

Commuter

For anyone looking to commute, it is best to look at what you will carry, what you will wear, and how difficult the road will be. For example, if you are taking work clothes, a computer, and books, you will want to get that off your back and on the bike. It will be integral to get a bike with rack mounts to hold panniers. If you wear your uniform, you want to have a bike with mudguards to protect your clothes. If you are commuting on rough roads and perhaps unsealed tracks, you don't want a flat bar road bike but a bike that you can ride comfortably and safely, like a hybrid or Cross Country MTB.

If you would like to learn more about commuting, check out our full guide HERE.


 

SHOP OUR COMMUTER RANGE HERE

Flat Bar

Flat bar road bikes are lightweight, fast, and agile bikes based on their performance road bike cousins. These bikes are often designed to enhance speed and efficiency over comfort and durability. These bikes are perfect for riders looking to add some zest to their ride. 

The biggest differences between flat bar road bikes and standard road bikes are the bars. The flat bars on these bikes are simpler, provide conventional cockpit controls, and offer a more upright riding position. Perfect for smooth roads and those looking to cover more ground fast.



 

A more standard urban or commuter bike is heavier, has a relaxed riding attitude, and has fatter tires for more comfort. Because the flat bar road bikes have narrower tires and stiffer frames, riders will feel more feedback from the road. If you want more comfort, look at a commuter bike; if you want more speed and agility, look at a performance road bike. 
 

SHOP FLAT BAR BIKES HERE

Hybrid
 


Hybrid bikes are a mix of a commuter bike, a gravel bike, and a mountain bike. They take the benefits of all three styles and throw them into a blender. Comfort, efficiency, and durability are the three main ingredients of a hybrid bike. 


Hybrids will have semi-slick tires to provide grip on a loose surface and speed on a smooth surface. The front of the bike is tall, and you often have ergonomic grips to raise your riding position while providing comfort through your hands. The 60-80mm of travel offers some shock absorption for the unseen pothole you will inevitably hit. Finally, an MTB-style frame is strong and has plenty of mountings for rack and barriers. 

While it may resemble a mountain bike, the hybrid is designed for light off-road use and shouldn't be taken down any trail that gets too crazy. They are more efficient than an MTB and less efficient than a flat bar or commuter. They are the perfect bike for those who ride mixed terrain and use their bike for everyday chores. 
 

If you would like to learn more about commuting, check out our full guide HERE.

SHOP HYBRIDS HERE

 

 

Comfort

Many riders are happy to sit up and relax as they cruise down the coast or through the parks. Comfort bikes are created on the same foundations that make bikes in Holland so popular. They include an upright riding position, a comfortable seated position, and ergonomic controls. You may not be able to ride at hyper speed on these bikes but, you will enjoy the scenery and experience much more deeply.

SHOP COMFORT BIKES HERE

Road Bikes



 

The road bike market is no longer just skinny wheels and funny-looking bars on a basic frame. We have lightweight road bikes, aero speed machines, all road bikes, cyclocross bikes, gravel bikes, and adventure/touring bikes. 

Again, once you have determined the terrain and how you will use your bike, deciding which road bike is for you becomes much easier. Like urban bikes, there is some crossover when it comes to using cases. So there are two or more options for each style of bike. 

If you are purely racing or chasing personal bests on sealed roads, then an aero or lightweight road bike will be perfect for you. The lightweight road bikes are perfect for attacking steep hills, climbing at speed, and providing a more comfortable ride. Aerodynamically optimized road bikes are a bit heavier due to the thicker tubing, but they are slick through the air. On flatter ground and when at speed, they make you feel like you are cheating. 


If you would like to learn more about commuting, check out our full guide HERE. If you would like to learn even more about road bikes check out our full guide HERE

 

Performance Road


Performance road bikes are optimised for speed and efficiency. They often use carbon fibre frames to create unique aerodynamic tube shapes while being as light as possible. Carbon fibre also increased the comfort provided by a frame thanks to its unique vibration dampening qualities. 

These bikes are also extremely efficient on smooth roads thanks to their skinny slick tyres. Disc brakes have become increasingly popular thanks to their improved power and modulation. There are no worries when it comes to slowing down from warp speed. 

If you are looking for all-out speed and a bike that you can smash personal records on then performance road bikes are perfect for you. If you are often riding on loose, unsealed surfaces or dirt then it is best to look at our all-road or gravel range. 

SHOP PERFORMANCE ROAD BIKES HERE


All Road


 

If you just want a bike to ride on the road, explore further than you have been before, or just enjoy a ride along the coast, an all-road bike will suit you better. While only slightly heavier than the "race" bikes above, the stability and comfort are miles better.


 

The bikes are more comfortable with fatter tires, a wider gear range, and a more upright riding position. However, All Road bikes are designed to remain fun and agile. They really blend everything to provide the best overall package for those looking to ride a bit of everything. If you are looking for something a bit more comfortable and burly, a gravel bike may be for you. 

SHOP ALL-ROAD BIKES HERE

Gravel
 


 

Gravel bikes are the next level of all road bikes, designed primarily for exploring off the sealed path and deep into nature. With bigger tires, up to 45mm wide, wider handlebars, geometry optimized for stability, and many comfort features, this style of bike is extremely versatile. 

While most gravel bikes arrive with semi-slick tires (knobs on the outer edges), you can change them to fully slick for the road or fully knobbly when the terrain gets loose. Because of the comfortable riding position and relaxed geometry, they make great commuters for long adventures. However, the geometry will never make a gravel bike feel as agile as a performance road bike. 




With high-volume tires that are slick in the middle and knobby on the edges, you can ride rough roads in comfort. While they are designed for rough looser roads, they hold speed exceptionally well on smoother tracks or routes that need more efficiency. If you are looking to explore places well off the beaten path and ride tracks that may get rowdy, gravel bikes are for you. To get even more comfort and reliability, a touring bike may be better suited. 
 

SHOP GRAVEL BIKES HERE

 

Adventure/Touring

Touring bikes are primarily focused on comfort and reliability as they are used for multi-day adventures. Tall front ends set you up in an upright position so you can pedal all day in comfort. They are built strong to reduce any chance of mechanical failures in the middle of nowhere or have you stranded on the side of the road. 

The frames are bigger and have plenty of space to fit bags or multiple bottles. Steel is a preferred material because it can provide supreme strength and ultimate comfort. The downside to this styling and reliability is weight. Adventure or touring bikes are quite heavy, and to combat this, they have easier gearing for climbing mountains. These bikes are designed for meandering, not speeding at full speed all the time. If you are stretching the capabilities of gravel or adventure bikes, a mountain bike may be better suited for your riding. 
 

If you would like to learn even more about road bikes and which one will suit you best, check out our full guide HERE.

 

SHOP GRAVEL BIKES HERE

 

Mountain bikes

When the terrain gets rocky, rooty, and loose, a mountain bike may be better suited to your riding. Mountain bikes often provide a more comfortable pedaling position, and the suspension offers tonnes for traction. There are two main types of mountain bikes, dual suspension, and hardtail. Hardtails are lighter and more efficient than their dual-suspension siblings. Dual suspension bikes provide more comfort and traction when the riding gets fast’n’wild.

If you would like to learn even more about Mountain Bikes and which one will suit you best, check out our full guide HERE.

Hardtail


 

Hardtail mountain bikes are the weapon of choice for XC racers because they are light and agile. Riders who like to push their limits on a simple bike without the all the bells and whistles like heavy-hitting all-mountain hardtails.  While hardtails are mountain bikes, they are a popular option for commuters thanks to their comfort and robustness. 29-inch hardtails are the big siblings of urban bikes. Big 2.25 inch tires, 100mm of travel, and relaxed, stable geometry. 

While they may be more robust and comfortable, they can be slower due to the extra rolling resistance and weight. Want something lighter but with similar benefits? Check out the hybrid bikes. 

Riding off-road on a hardtail is more efficient than a Dual Suspension bike; however, it requires more skill. Because the rear wheel is fixed and doesn't move, the bike doesn't forgive many mistakes. When used well, they are efficient and fun to ride off-road. Hardtails are the perfect bike for xc racing, big off-road epics, and riding in comfort around town. 



Hardtails can also give you more bang for your buck when you are on a budget. Often with slacker head angles and a longer wheelbase, they are built for stability at speed. You can benefit from better components on a hardtail than settling for lower spec on a cheap dual-suspension when you have limited funds. 
 

SHOP HARDTAIL MTB HERE

 


Dual Suspension
 


 

Dual suspension bikes are designed for rough terrain consisting of rocks, roots, jumps and drops. The front and rear wheels travel anywhere from 100mm to 200mm vertically so they can track the ground effectively. This travel can provide tonnes of traction, extra comfort, and with more travel, there is more room to make mistakes. 

More travel doesn't necessarily mean a better ride; we at Bicycles Online often say it is best to get the least amount of travel for your riding. A 160mm enduro bike is built to go super fast downhill and winch up again; it is not suited to race multiple laps at maximum speed for hours. While a 100mm xc bike can climb and traverse terrain at speed, it takes an extremely skilled rider to descend steep terrain on one.  

Due to the extra weight and the suspension often robbing pedal power from the rider to the wheels. While the bigger 2.3-2.6 inch wide tires add a lot of traction off-road, they add a lot of drag on the road. If you are commuting or looking to ride on the street, these aren't the bikes for you. 



Like road bikes, there are multiple types of mountain bikes suitable for different riding. Xc bikes are efficient and fast up hills or on the flat. All-mountain or trail bikes are the swiss army knives of mountain bikes, ready for anything on any style of ride. Enduro bikes are designed to winch themselves uphill and bomb back down at warp speed. Ideal for those who want to push their boundaries down a hill. Unless you are riding on rough terrain that requires traction, not many people need a dual suspension MTB. If you need a bike with some extra traction but not a full suspension bike, check out our hardtail; look at our urban hybrids if you want a commuter with comfort. 

If you would like to learn even more about Mountain Bikes and which one will suit you best, check out our full guide HERE


SHOP DUAL SUSPENSION BIKES HERE

 

 

E-Bike



 

E-Bikes are the biggest growing market in the world of cycling at the moment for a good reason. Riders can go further, faster, and with much less effort, they take everyday riding and boosting the experience tenfold. With the E-Bike scene booming, the bikes are becoming more refined, technology is rapidly advancing and E-Bikes are becoming more specific to the riding styles. In this blog, we take you through the different styles of bikes and how they benefit. 

Riding bikes uphill is a massive chore and not enjoyable for some riders. Grinding up hills slowly can be mundane and unenjoyable on some bigger travel mountain bikes. It is an inescapable burden for some commuters but, an E-Bike makes the climb home a breeze. 

E-Bike motors transform big-hitting mountain bikes into spritely mountain goats on the ups. Climbing now takes skill and attention as you are hitting corners, roots, and rocks much faster. E-Mountain Bikes give riders the exhilaration similar to descending on the climbs, twice as much fun. For those who want to cruise up and enjoy the downs, that is perfectly fine as well. 


 

E-Bikes are like a gift from above for those who have minimal time to get out on the bike. An hour of power used to mean a quick 10-15km loop in the morning before or after work when you could squeeze in time. With an E-Bike, you can now smash out 15-20kms in the same time frame. It is perfect for those with very little time to get their usual ride plus more into the hour they have.

Hopefully, you have managed to narrow down which bike will enhance your riding experience the most. We will be creating more specific buying guides over the next few months. Once you have narrowed down which bike works best for you, head over to those pages when you need more info, don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter, so you don't miss out on any news.

If you would like to learn more about E-Bikes check out our full guide HERE


SHOP E-BIKES HERE