When you received your first bike, you were probably just happy that you had a bike. You learned to ride it and spent hours cruising down a quiet street or country road, enjoying the breeze and the independence of having your own transportation. Fast forward to the present. You want a serious bike but you are not sure how to select it. Here are some guidelines for purchasing a bike that will give you the ride you desire.

Decide What Type of Bike You Need

Some people are pros who know how to buy bikes, but if you are reading this, you probably are inexperienced when it comes to understanding the difference between bike types. The following are brief descriptions of bikes and their uses.

Road bike – a road bike is typically for long-distance and fast riding. Road bikes tend to be lightweight and durable, with thin sturdy tires.

City bike – City bikes can be used for commuting and are suitable for traveling around town. A city bike that is lightweight is preferable if you must carry it upstairs.

E-Bikes-Electric or battery powered bikes have gained in popularity, especially for people who want to ride, but may not have the physical ability to climb steep hills. However, the battery on an electric bike will add some weight to the frame.

Mountain Bike – Mountain bikes are designed for rough terrain or surfaces like dirt and gravel. Mountain bikes feature fatter or thicker tires because of the traction needed for the terrain on which they are used.

General purpose bike – A general purpose bike might be fine for occasional riding or exercise, but if you will be riding for specific purposes, choose a bike with the features you need for your type of riding.

Features that Make Bikes Comfortable and Efficient

Serious bikers consider bike geometry, which refers to measurements and features that impact the comfort and performance of bikes. For example a steeper head tube allows for faster steering. A longer wheel-base gives a more comfortable and stable ride, but can slow a bike down. The seat tube angle impacts peddling. Bikes built of titanium and other lightweight metals or alloys weigh less which can contribute to speed and aerodynamics.

Pick a Good Brand

It is easy to do some online research to gather insight into the best brands and prices. If you are an occasional biker who has no intention of serious biking, a bike in the $300 range may meet your needs. However, if you are contemplating using your bike for commuting or for sporting, a good bike for you could range from several hundred dollars to $2000. In fact, really serious bikers may spend $6000 or more for a bike.

Buy a Bike from a Reputable Seller

If you shop for a bike online you won’t have the opportunity to try the bike out, and you may be surprised at what it looks like when you receive it. Buying a used bike online can be risky because you cannot be certain of the bike’s condition, and there are scammers who sell online. You may not be able to return the bike if there is a problem. Before you purchase a bike online, make sure you can return it for a full refund.

A local “bike” shop with an expert who can help you get the right fit might be your best bet if you are new at shopping for a bike. A local shop may have a limited selection, but you will build a relationship with the owner and you will have a local expert to service your bike.