In Boulder, a bike is a necessity. However buying a bike can sometimes be a perplexing, expensive process, but a few simple tips can help make the decision process more bearable.
The cost of a new bike can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over one thousand, with each component of the bike contributing to the overall sticker price. New, reasonably priced beach cruisers typically cost the least, starting at around $250 while Mountain bikes can cost over one thousand dollars, according to David Wert, owner of Cutting Edge Sports and Trek bicycle stores.
If a new bike seems too expensive, try searching for a used bike. Wert believes the most important element to look for when shopping for a used bike is to make sure the parts are not worn.
“It is easy to spend a couple hundred dollars fixing damaged bike parts,” he said.
He also advises staying away from used department store brands such as Huffy and Mongoose because these bikes use parts that are difficult to find.
Crafty students who want deeper discount can restore older bikes for a fraction of the cost of a new bike. 24-year-old Rob Abrisch, MCD biology senior bought a bike, a fork, a headset, a stem, and pair of tires for his retro bike for a fraction of the cost of a new bike.
“I paid 80 dollars for a Univega road bike and put about 120 dollars into fixing it up,” he said.
Inexpensive used parts from the Boulder Sports Recycler and at Community Cycles contributed to his bike-refurbishing project. Although restoring a bike is a savvy option for bike enthusiasts, one must take caution when purchasing parts.
“Research parts and maintenance before you buy,” Abrisch said. “It is easy to accidentally buy parts that won’t work for your bike.”
Students do not wish to purchase their own bike have can take advantage of the “buff bike” (fc on capitalization) rental program through the CU bike station located next to the UMC. This free rental program gives students the opportunity to checkout single speed rental bikes complete with a U lock, a helmet, and a bike light. More serious riders can borrow a bike from the CU Bike Club. For $120 the club rents bikes to students on a semester-long basis.
“$100 is a deposit and you get it back at the end of the semester. The bike rentals are a good deal because you get free maintenance at the CU Bike Station,” said Chad Dionigi, a senior environmental studies major and CU Bike Station bike mechanic of two years.
Three typically used materials in bikes are: carbon fiber, aluminum and steel. Carbon fiber is the lightest and most malleable making it excellent for bicycle forks and for fast racing bikes. Aluminum is slightly heavier than carbon fiber; therefore much more resilient.
Some bikes combine both for a strong, durable product. On the other hand, steel is much heavier than aluminum or carbon fiber and is primarily used in older bikes. Although, steel bikes are less expensive than ones made of lighter materials, they make pedaling less efficient.
TYPES OF BIKES
In addition to choosing a frame, a first-time buyer must choose which type of bike to purchase.
Beach cruisers are the best option for students who want to use their bike primarily for going to class and commuting short distances, according to David Wert, owner of Cutting Edge Sport Shop and Trek cycling store.
Seats on a beach cruiser are more comfortable than seats on other types of bikes and they allow riders to sit upright in a relaxed position while biking. Another advantage of riding a beach cruiser is rough surfaces.
“Beach cruisers have wide tires. Using big tires makes it unlikely that you will get a flat,” said Peter Roper, program manager of sustainable transportation at the CU Environmental Center.
On the downside, they are bulky and require more energy to move up a hill.
Mountain bikes share some characteristics with beach cruisers: they work well in rocky terrain, they have wide tires and they are not the most efficient bikes to pedal. Riding a mountain bike is recommend for students who want a multi-functional bike.
“They are durable, versatile, and reasonably priced,” Wert said.
Students who want to ride fast or travel long distances should invest in a road bike, according to Dionigi. The thin tires are these bikes are optimal for racing. The posture of a road bike makes them easier on the muscles than other typer of bikes. Although they may seem intimidating to some, road bikes ‘handle corners well’, said Dionigi.
There are a few disadvantages of utilizing a road bike.
“They are the easiest to go over the handlebars, the tires fit neatly into cracks in roads so your riding options are slightly limited,” Roper said.
Hybrid bikes are another option for riders uncomfortable with using a road bike. Hybrids are nearly as efficient as road bikes but have slightly larger tires. They allow riders to sit in a more comfortable, ergonomic position compared to the road bike.
THINGS TO REMBEMBER BEFORE BUYING
Bikes that have more than one speed are likely to require repairs. “As far as maintenance goes, the fewer moving parts, the better,” Roper said. “Too many students are buying bikes with more features than they need.”
He advises to avoid bringing expensive bikes to class since bicycle theft is prevalent on campus.
“Invest in a U lock. Too many cable locks get cut,” he said.
He also suggests that spending about five minutes each day on bike maintenance can prevent one from excessive spending on costly repairs.
“Keep the chain clean with a toothbrush or other bush and adjust the detailers on your bike. Cables stretch out over time and it is important to keep the cable at the correct amount of tension,” he said.