You are pedaling along, the wind in your hair. That sense of freedom. The flushed, energized feeling of fitness.
And then you return the rental bike and head back to the dull life of walking.
Shopping for a bicycle is overwhelming. There are many different types of bikes and price points from which to choose. Every website is going to have the “cheapest” or “best.” After a while, you begin to wonder why you began this search at all.
Cycling is an incredible sport for weight loss. It is low-impact, which protects your joints and prevents injuries. It also burns massive amounts of calories. All you have to do is sit, pedal, and the fat melts off.
- Women’s Bikes And Men’s Bikes Are Very Similar
Technically, a woman’s bike will be designed so the rider has a shorter reach to the handlebars. This shorter reach provides the rider with a more upright position and more confidence. It also moves the rider’s center of gravity back, relieving back pain and increasing the comfort of the ride. It is a small benefit, but one that is quite noticeable on longer distance rides.
- You Don’t Need A Step Through Frame
Often we associate women’s bikes with the classic, swooping, step-through frame designs. These classic models provided extra room for ladies’ skirts and allowed for a more modest dismount.
You will still often find the step-through frame design on ladies’ bikes. It allows for a much easier mount and is better for shorter legs. Many women prefer it, especially those under 5-foot-2
However, it is not a necessity. And often the bike manufacturers do away with it on frames sizes that are 18 inches or taller.
One of the disadvantages of this design is that you need a particular bar to carry it on most bike racks for cars. So if you are planning on using your bike rack to transport the bike, be prepared to spend an extra $40 on that adapter bar. It is easy to use. It just adds a little bit extra to your purchase price.
- Get The Correct Size
Bicycles come in a variety of sizes. You will want to get the one that fits your height.
Proper sizing gives you more comfort and confidence as you ride. This translates directly into added safety whenever you need to stop quickly.
Every bike manufacturer will have a bike size chart on their website that you can consult before purchasing. Find your height and match it to the correct frame size using their chart.
Don’t fall for the shoddy bike companies who try to sell a one-size-fits-all bike. Go with a company that offers three or more bike sizes.
There is usually little difference in the price. So it is unlikely that you will have to pay extra to get the bicycle that fits you properly.
Your first bicycle does not need to be expensive. $300 is more than enough to get you a bicycle that you can enjoy for years.
Whether you hope to ride along with your family or embark on your fitness journey, the right bike is the foundation for success.
The Top Bikes Around $300
Diamondback Serene Classic (2017)
Diamondback has disrupted the bike shop model by selling bikes directly to consumers. With no overhead, they are able to match the prices of a poorly-made bicycle, while still delivering top quality.
In my calculations, you tend to save about 20% when you buy your bike directly from Diamondback over shopping in a local bike shop.
Granted, your local shop has some handy features like a repair shop. You also have to do some basic assembly on the bikes you buy online, restricting this bike to those only those shoppers who are comfortable using a wrench. (Typically, you just have to install the pedals, handlebars, and wheels.)
The Serene women’s hybrid is one of Dave’s top picks. It comes in a wide array of frame sizes. This is especially important for the shopper who is under 5’2″, as it gives them a short bike that they can feel very confident riding. Taller riders will choose the medium or large frame to get the one to match their height.
This customized frame fit leads to a much more comfortable ride.
It also has well-built parts so that you won’t be spending a lot of money on repairs. Depending on how much you ride, you should need to get new tires and a tuneup every four years, making the Serene an extremely low-maintenance ride.
The Schwinn Capitol
This is another bike that is a surprisingly good find. It isn’t built to quite the same quality standards as the Diamondback Serene. The frame is a little heavier and some of the shifters could have been a little nicer. But it still ideal for the shopper who plans to ride fewer than 30 miles a week.
The Capitol only comes in one size, making it ideal for the rider who is 5’3″ – 5’6″. It has the step-through frame, which makes mounting and dismounting very easy.
I also love the wheels. They use a wide road tire. This road tire size is taller than the “mountain tire” size, which makes this bike a little faster when cruising through town. However, the tires are marginally wider than a standard road bike tire. This wider tire provides more grip and stability and makes the bike suitable for gravel riding.
These two bikes are two of the best at around $300.
Whether you buy your bike online or at a local bike shop, you will want to stick with one of the trusted brand names. Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, Giant, Fuji, Raleigh, and Diamondback are some of the best-known, high-quality bike brands that you can trust.
If you choose a quality brand and get the right sized bike, you’re guaranteed to enjoy your purchase. Enjoy riding!