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How to Choose a City Bike
Urban bicycles have become extremely popular for enjoying daily life and are fast becoming established as one of the best forms of sustainable urban transport in many cities.
If you're reading this article, the chances are you've already considered getting a bike for your commute. Many options are available, ranging from traditional and folding bikes to the latest electric bikes, and we are going to look at the pros and cons of the most interesting options, to help you choose the best urban bike for your needs.
Types of Urban Bikes
The same bike is often used for urban commuting and for leisure or sport, but this is not always the best choice, for a variety of reasons. Bikes designed for high performance, whether for MTB or road use, have limitations when it comes to fitting urban accessories and make few concessions to comfort when wearing work clothes, for example. Although using the same bike may be a viable option to many, we are going to focus on bikes specifically designed for city use.
This is pretty much the only option available, if you have to take your bike on public transport or inside a building, instead of leaving it tied up in the street. It is perfect for commuting and some, such as the Brompton, once folded, are considered hand luggage on trains and buses.. This British brand has been manufacturing hand-made bikes in London, for over 40 years, and has managed to create an authentic Brompton lifestyle, with bikes of extraordinary quality, which fold and unfold in seconds, and a complete line of accessories that do not impede folding and functionality. Brompton and Dahon are the leading brands in folding bikes and both can be found at Mammoth.
This is the urban bike, by definition and it is designed for pleasure and comfort. Leisure bikes are for short, unhurried journeys, and the frame geometry allows the rider to sit upright and cycle in casual clothing. Components usually include a mudguard and chainguard to prevent splashing and grease stains. It is also common to have a front or/and rear bike rack.
Cruisers are a variant of the leisure bike with a personality of their own, although they are mainly used in the United States. Features include a particularly comfortable frame geometry with oversized handlebars, wide tyres and a single speed.
Hybrid bikes (or trekking bikes) combine several elements from different disciplines to achieve greater versatility. They usually have frames inspired by MTB bikes with 28" or 700C wheels and thinner tyres with a smoother tread for greater agility on paved surfaces, although they still perform on well conditioned trails. This increases their efficiency in town or on the road compared to MTB or touring bikes, but allows you to ride safely in parks or on easy dirt tracks. They are usually fitted with rigid or short travel forks and have fixtures for a mudguard and bike rack.
This is another variant of the hybrid bike and combines the performance of a road bike with the comfort expected from an urban or touring bike. The idea of a fitness bike is to be as fast and effective as a city bike to allow for intense fitness training. They feature 700C wheels with slick or semi-slick tyres and usually have stiff forks and more demanding gears than hybrid bikes. Two good examples of this category are the Scott Metrix and Specialized Sirrus.
Pedal assist ebikes are a great alternative to conventional bikes as they enrich and expand their possibilities to become a real alternative for sustainable urban transport. The benefits of electric bikes break down some of the barriers of traditional bikes and make it easier for more people to get involved in cycling, especially in cities with steep streets.
Here are some of the main benefits:
Ebikes increase your average travel speed, especially on steep terrain.
The rider chooses the level of effort by using more or less pedal assistance.
Ebikes help avoid excessive sweating, which makes them particularly suitable for commuting.
This category could have been included with the leisure or fitness bikes, but Fixie bikes have enough character and special features to earn themselves a mention of their own. They occupy an intriguing place in the urban cycling world and, for many, fixies are considered as part of their identity or even a cult object. They feature a minimalist design, a single gear and no freewheel or brakes, as the pedals are used to stop and accelerate, reducing mechanical complexity to a minimum. But learning to ride this kind of bike requires practice as it is very different to a conventional bike. Fixies usually come in bright colours and together with their simple lines, they boast a very striking aesthetic.
We hope this information clarifies the different types of city bikes available and helps you decide which best suits your needs and inspires you to become an urban cyclist. To ensure that you have the best experience, here are some final recommendations:
Use cycling protective equipment (helmet, lights, reflective clothing, etc.),
Always comply with traffic regulations.
Ensure you tie up the bike securely, if it has to be parked outside..
The best investment, once you have a bike, is a good lock or anti-theft system. You can see a wide selection of anti-theft systems from the best brands here.