Tuesday, July 12, 2011

A large woman’s guide to bike buying

Thanks to Tracy “Cubs” Farr, Manager at NOW Bike and Fitness in St. Paul, Minnesota for taking the time to tell me all the things a large woman should look for when purchasing a bike. If you are in the market for a bike you may reach him at 651-644-2354 or check out their website.
I hadn’t been bike shopping in years, and it was really fun. Amazing technology, great gizmos, and everything geared to making biking a real pleasure. No “it’s got to hurt” philosophy here. Instead the attitude was more like” the more you love your bike, the more you’ll ride, and that’s what we love to sell. Everybody should ride a bike!”
Whether you are ready to purchase or still contemplating, here is what I learned.
  1. Find a size-friendly shop that knows their stuff.
Call them and ask something like, “How do you fit a bike?”
  1. Get the right size bike.
Whatever you end up choosing, get the right size. As Tracy put it, “It’s better to buy a $400 bike that fits, than $1,400 for one that doesn’t.”
  1. Get the right type of bike for your use.
Don’t feel you have to buy a mountain bike just because those wheels seem so sturdy and safe. If you aren’t really riding off-road, these bikes can be slow and discouraging.
  1. What about the handle bars?
Get what is comfortable for you. There are many handle bar configurations to choose from, and especially in urban settings, upright is great for riding in traffic.
  1. What about wheels?
You’ll need a bike shop willing to customize for you.
  1. Do I need special shoes?
In short—they are highly recommended. They are an important part of improving your efficiency.
  1. What about brakes and gears.
Brakes now function with the lightest touch. So a large person doesn’t need to worry about stopping the bike—but should worry about stopping too fast!
  1. What about seats?
It will take your seat a while to fully adjust. As you ride more, your seat preference will change.
  1. Where should I ride?
Everywhere! Take it easy on the way in, and burn it up on the way home.
  1. Essential “Extras”
Helmet, helmet and helmet. There is no place for foolish vanity on a bike. Keep yourself safe. Bring a strong lock and keep your investment in sight! Park your bike in the house, not the garage. Register or license your bike with the local police. Reflective ankle wraps and lights are important for commuters in early morning and late afternoon hours. A bell on your bike and a review mirror are good in urban areas with pedestrians and traffic. An odometer is fun if you’re particularly goal oriented. And invest in some vividly colored clothing to increase your visibility in traffic.
Happy trails from Anne Kelly and all of us at Junonia!

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