So you’ve decided that you will start biking. How do you start? Marc Montenegro gives the basics, starting with the 4 Ws.
WHY: Most people begin biking for these reasons. Which one’s yours?
- Health and Fitness: It’s a great way to get a cardio workout. Just biking around your neighborhood for 30 minutes will get you sweating. But the real thrill—and what gets you biking for hours—is your destination. Imagine biking outdoors, climbing hills and mountains, or biking long distances on roads. It’s an experience a stationary bike will never be able to recreate.
- Recreation: Health is the obvious reason for many, but what gets people hooked is that biking is fun! Biking in groups fosters camaraderie and friendship, and there’s never a dull moment when biking with friends.
- Transportation: Biking is a great way to get from point A to point B. You don’t need gasoline; just sit on the saddle and pedal.
WHAT: The kind of bike you will use depends on what surface you want to ride your bike on. So let’s go over the options. There are dozen of types, price points, and brands to choose from, but here are the most common types according to britishcycling.org.uk (edited):
Road bikes are lightweight, thin-tired bikes, often with drop-handlebars. While road bikes are highly evolved for pavement riding, they're not ideal for use off road and often lack the ability to add mudguards or a rack, which limits their adaptability for commuting or more general use. Decent quality starter road bikes begin to come on-stream at around P30,000.
The mountain bike is the most popular type of bike on the market and with good reason. The mountain bike can go anywhere, thanks to its strong frame and wheels, powerful brakes, wide, knobbly tires, wide range gearing and confidence-inspiring riding position. While slower than a road bike on pavement, a mountain bike can be easily adapted for road duty by swapping to slick tires. Add mudguards and a rack and you've got an ultra-sturdy commuter or touring bike. Decent quality starter mountain bikes begin to come on-stream at around P18,000.
These, as their name suggests, are a cross between a road and mountain bike. They generally have the larger wheels of the road bike, with tire widths midway between a road and mountain bike, which means a comfortable, fast-rolling ride. Most hybrids have flat handlebars with mountain bike style controls, giving a more comfortable riding position with better visibility and easy access to the brakes and gears. Hybrids often have the ability to mount racks and mudguards—some come “equipped” with these items as standard, making them ideal commuting and everyday use bikes. Good quality hybrid bikes begin at around the P15,000 mark.
If you're pushed for space… perhaps you live in a condo or don't have a shed or garage to store your bike in? Or perhaps you'd like to combine your biking with other forms of transport? Folding bikes pack down small and will fit in a car trunk, on trains and sometimes even buses. Decent quality folding bikes begin at around the P17,000 mark.
Let’s talk budget
The price of a bike depends on the kind of parts installed in it. For the most popular brands, there are usually more than 5 levels, raging from the entry level, all the way to the top of the line.
Truth be told, some bikes can cost as much as P300,000 and above. These kinds of bikes have top-level parts set up in it. Unless you have unlimited budget, it is not encouraged to own such an expensive bike, especially for your first one. You also have to remember that you will be riding it outdoors, and there’s always a possibility that it can get stolen.
The best advice we can offer to beginners who have a little flexibility when it comes to their budget is to opt for the mid-level bike, where you’d have above average quality parts. In the long run, it will be more cost-efficient since most bikers do tend to upgrade parts to improve performance—both bike and also their own. This will spare you from buying your entry-level bike and spending on upgrading too soon for varied reasons—such as seeing your buddies having nicer and better bikes.
Basic must-have accessories
There are other expenses you have to consider when deciding on your budget. When biking, you will need to bring along three important accessories with you: helmet, gloves, and sunglasses.
These are the must-haves, and they serve a purpose: protection. Your helmet and gloves prevent head injury, and your gloves prevent your hands from getting gashed if in case you fall off your bike. Sunglasses protect your eyes from the glare of the sun; it also prevents dirt from getting into your eyes while biking at high speed.
There is a fourth basic must-have, though it is not an accessory: sunscreen. If you don’t want your bike jersey and cycling shorts “tattooed” on your body, then never forget to apply sunscreen with at least SPF45.
WHERE: If you are buying a brand new bike, the easiest and surest way is to go to your local bike shop, where you will find a wide array of options for whole bikes or parts—should you decide to build one instead.
You can ask the shop owner or sales person for advice on what to get, as most are very willing to help you make the best decision. Do check out other shops as well to compare prices, but most bike shops give discounts when paying in cash. It is also helpful if you have someone with you who knows what they’re doing (or saying), so you won’t get ripped off (hey, it happens). RideNa.com has a list of bike shops you can check out.
If you have done extensive research on your purchase and wish to get the best value for your money, you can also buy pre-owned parts from online sellers. RideNa.com’s “Market” feature provides a function where members can sell their parts—old or new—in its online directory.
WHEN: There’s no better time to start than NOW.
Biking is simply great! You get to exercise and live a healthy life; you build life-long bonds with new and old friends and family members; you discover amazing places, and you learn many life lessons along the way.
Enjoy biking and hope to see you in the great outdoors! Ride na!