Cycling can be a fun and fulfilling activity when you ride a bike that’s fit for your needs. Choosing one doesn’t have to be so complicated.
You may be compelled to run to your nearest shop and get yourself a new one, but perhaps there are a lot of things on your mind that you just can’t sort out well. Worry not, because we’re going to break down the most essential questions to ask yourself before deciding to buy your first ride.
Why do I want to buy one?
Everyone has their reasons. Some cycle because they want to be healthy, some consider it a great sport, while others use bicycles for leisure. Some like the practicality of having a free mode of transport that eliminates the hassle of getting stuck in traffic.
Others opt for it because it’s a sustainable, eco-friendly solution to going around without contributing to air pollution. Your reason can be as great as wanting to join a sporting event in the future or as simple as just wanting to go around the neighborhood on occasion.
Take my uncle for instance, who bought his bicycle simply because he didn’t want to walk two blocks every week just to buy chicken feed for his pampered, well-loved roosters. It can really be anything. Sky’s the limit.
Knowing your reasons first can help you figure out how to choose the right one for you.
How much am I willing to spend?
It’s probably one of the first questions often asked by people who are thinking about their first bike.
You can buy one for a bargain price of PHP 2,500 and be satisfied with what you paid for or splurge on your new mechanical ride and pay a hefty price that can probably buy you a decent car.
But you won’t let me off with just saying that, right? Truth be told, the price spectrum is vast and overlapping, but let me give you an idea.
On average, low-end bikes cost around PHP 20,000 and below. A decent entry-level can range from PHP 20,000 to 30,000.
Those that cost above PHP 30,000 to 40,000 may be considered mid-range with good specs and need minimal upgrades. Those above PHP 40,000 can be considered high-end and are usually preferred by athletes and professional riders.
Fun Fact: The most expensive bicycle ever sold (so far) was the Trek Butterfly Madone with a whopping price tag of $500,000. It was auctioned in 2009 for the benefit of the Lance Armstrong Foundation.
But that’s a story for another day.
To figure this out, keep in mind what your original buying intent is. For instance, if you need a ride to run some errands or just want to take short leisurely rides around the neighborhood, then you wouldn’t need a high-end bicycle that costs a fortune.
If you’re planning to race, then you need to consider the quality of the bike itself as well as the parts that need to be maintained or changed constantly.
And then there’s also the question of whether you want to buy a second hand or brand new unit.
Of course, buying second-hand bicycles can be cost-effective (if you’re lucky, already upgraded) while brand-new Bicycles can provide peace of mind since you won’t have to worry about broken parts since everything is new.
Most first-time buyers settle for entry-level or lower just to test out the waters and see if cycling is something they want to commit to. But the good thing about bicycles is it can always be upgraded when you feel like you’re ready to up your game.
Soon, you’ll realize that you’re eventually succumbing to upgraditis, a disease commonly observed in cyclists who can’t seem to stop themselves from upgrading their gears and bike parts.
Apart from the bicycle itself, a few other things you need to take into account with your budget is purchasing your essentials. Good quality helmets can cost around PHP 2,000 but can go up or down depending on the brand.
Lights also cost between PHP 100 and above. Pumps, bike locks, and other accessories can also vary depending on the brand and quality. Take note of those essentials and add them to the cost.
What kind of terrain am I riding on?
Where you live and where you prefer to ride your two-wheeler plays a big role in making a sound buying decision. There are many types of bicycles that cater to different types of terrain, and you may want to consider the level of comfort it can provide while riding.
For instance, if you live in a hilly part of the country, you will need geared bicycles to help you traverse easily.
If you live in muddy, non-paved areas, you’d most likely need something that can accommodate large tires like a mountain bike or a fat bike.
Commuter (or hybrid) bikes are great for comfortable flat-terrain rides (unless you’re Onoda and you can hime hime your way up a steep mountain with a bike this heavy, then why not?).
Road bikes fare better on pavements than rocky trails and mountains.
Of course, that is not to say that the others cannot be used for different terrains, it’s just that they perform better in their intended use than others. Some are even specifically designed to go off-road and on-road.
Do I have enough space to store in?
Many first-time buyers forget about this simple fact, but the reality is that you will surely need a place to keep your brand-spanking ride somewhere.
For instance, if your garage already houses a car, then there may not be enough space to keep the bike there. If you live in a condo, where are you supposed to keep it?
Still, there are many ways on how you can store a bicycle. Unlike other vehicles, these two-wheeled wonders take smaller parking spaces. Folded bikes are great for houses with limited space. Bulkier ones need a bit more.
Others get a bit more creative by hanging on walls or ceilings, under the staircase, you can even make a pulley specially made for your bike.
You may also need to consider where you can do your maintenance if you’re planning to DIY the upkeep.
What type of bike is best for me?
Ah, yes. The most exciting part we’ve all been itching to talk about. If at this point, you’re 100% decided to buy one, then it’s time to choose the right one for you.
There are a lot of different types available nowadays. Each type provides a level of comfort, speed, and function that can cater to your riding style and budget.
Here are a few:
Best for when you want to ride through mountain trails and uneven terrain. Chunkier, heavier, and built for rugged rides. It’s the most commonly sold bike in bike shops and a popular choice among beginners. My uncle’s personal choice.
Pavements are its friend. With thin tires and often used for speedy races, but can be uncomfortable to ride. A favorite among men and women who love some speed.
Meant to handle long-distance travel. Upright sitting position for some added comfort and ability to carry heavy loads, but not as fast as road bikes.
Good for on-road and off-road excursions. It has wider tires than road bikes but thinner than mountain bikes. Great for people who want to improve their riding style.
The lovechild of mountain bikes and road bikes. Essentially better in terms of comfort, but lacks some speed. Great to use for commuting, leisurely rides, and buying soft drinks at a local sari-sari store.
Typically has small wheels and a folding frame for easy stowaway. Comfortable upright sitting position. Preferable for short rides around the neighborhood, if you’re riding a train or bus with your bike, or still want a bike but don’t know where to put it.
Electric bikes are simply bikes that have a battery and motor to help you pedal when life gets tough when going uphill.
Fixed gear bike
Single-speed, usually brakeless, and gearless road bikes that don’t pedal back. These babies, when brakeless, are stopped by using the legs to stop the crank from moving. Not much it can offer for comfort, but it’s the easiest to maintain and can take you places fast.
Short, single-speed bikes typically used for doing jump tricks and riding short distances. Very durable and has an upright sitting position.
What accessories do I need?
Safety is the number one priority when riding your bike. And you have to make sure you have the necessary tools just in case you need to do a quick fix. Just imagine how much of a hassle it can be to have punctured tires in the middle of the road with nothing to fix it with.
Here are your essentials:
- Bike lights (front and rear)
- Bike lock
- Patch Kit
Cycling is a sport that’s well-loved by Filipinos. Well, okay, maybe not as much as basketball, but considering the great number of cyclists in the Philippines, one can say it’s definitely high up in the rankings.
Whether you’re planning to use it for utilitarian purposes, for health, or for leisure, think about these questions and do some research before you invest in one.
At the end of the day, a bike is something that should spark joy in your life.
Have fun and ride safe!