Angie's LIST Guide to
Bicycles

A bicycle is fun and beneficial for good health. It's important to match the bike to your size and intended use, follow safety guidelines and maintain your bike. A reputable bike shop can be a great resource.
 

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It’s important to choose the right type of bike for the intended rider. Safety gear is also recommended for children and adults. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List members Patricia and Ken P.)
It’s important to choose the right type of bike for the intended rider. Safety gear is also recommended for children and adults. (Photo courtesy of Angie’s List members Patricia and Ken P.)
 
 

Basic bike types

To get the most out of your bike, make sure it's the right type and style for you and your intended use. Here's a list of basic bicycle types:

Mountain bikes

Mountain bikes can be sized for adults or children and are used for trail riding as well as city riding, and are good for hills and mountains. A mountain bike has several gears, durable brakes and tires that are thicker than typical bikes.

BMX

BMX bikes are the children's version of a heavy-duty mountain bike. These bikes have one speed and are often used for bike tricks.

Road bikes

Road bikes are primarily used by adults and are made to be ridden at high speeds on a smooth surface. Road bikes are designed for competition racing; however, they are often put to everyday use on a flat surface.

Touring bikes

Touring bikes are similar to road bikes but are designed to be more comfortable. A touring bike is typically made for adults. This style of bike has drop handlebars, luggage racks and mudguards.

Hybrids

A hybrid bike is a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike. This type of bike is primarily made for adults. The tires are slimmer than those on a mountain bike. This type of bike is generally used for city riding on smooth pavement.

Comfort and cruiser bikes

Comfort and cruiser bikes are for leisurely and recreational riding. They in children's and adult models. This type of bike is generally best for short-distance riding.

Folding bikes

Folding bikes are primarily used by adults who transport them on buses or trains.

Finding the right type and size of bike for your needs can be a challenge. Consider visiting a reputable local bicycle shop. Angie's List can help find one that other local consumers have tried and liked.

Bike safety tips

Most bike injuries and deaths are due to the rider not following these basic safety guidelines:

  • Always wear a bike helmet that fits.
  • Adjust the seat for a proper fit. Be sure you are able to stand with your feet firmly on the ground. When you're riding, your knees should be slightly bent.
  • Make sure your bike fits you properly. If you're unsure, a bike shop can help you.
  • Check tires, chain and brakes before riding.
  • Be cautious of road hazards.
  • Ride in the same direction as traffic.
  • Don't allow children to ride alone.
  • Have children ride on the sidewalk or a bike path.
  • Teach children to watch for cars pulling in or out of driveways.

Basic bicycle maintenance

Some bike issues may require the help of a bike shop, but here's how to handle a couple of common problems:

Flat tire

To fix a flat tire:

  1. Remove the wheel and depress the valve to release any air left in the tube.
  2. Remove the tire by hand or with a tire lever.
  3. Remove the tube.
  4. If patching, find the hole and follow the manufacturer's instructions to patch the tube.
  5. Inflate the tube; insert the valve through the valve hole; put the tube in the tire.
  6. Check the air pressure and put the valve cover on.

Slipped or jammed chain

  1. If the chain falls off while you're riding, quit pedaling immediately. If the chain is jammed, wiggle it until it's freed.
  2. Pick up the chain and lay it across the top of the sprockets. It does not need to be completely around the sprocket.
  3. Lift the rear tire off the ground and slowly turn the pedals. The chain should fall into place on the sprockets.
  4. Turn the pedal to make sure the chain spins freely. If the chain has fallen from both sprockets, put it on the largest sprocket, then the top of the rear sprocket, and move the pedal until the chain is connected to both sprockets.

Bike shop services

If you're a casual rider, you only need a tune-up every other year or two as long as you regularly lubricate the chain and drive train.

A bike shop tune-up can range from $55 to $500, depending on the type of bike and services provided. A standard tune-up typically costs about $100 and includes checking and inflating tires to the correct pressure and inspecting the fork cables, frame, brake pads, housing and drive train as well as cleaning the bike.

Angie's List is a great resource when you need an expert. Bicycle sales and repair shops are among the more than 550 service categories rated on the List.

 

Fitting a child's bike

Here's a general guide to what size bike is right for children in different age ranges:

  • Ages 2 to 4: 12-inch with training wheels
  • Ages 4 to 6: 14 inches
  • Ages 5 to 8: 16 inches
  • Ages 7 to 10: 20 inches
  • Age 8 and up: 24 inches

If you need help fitting a child to the right size and type of bike, visit a local bicycle shop. Angie's List can help. Members have access to local consumer reviews on bicycle experts and service providers in more than 550 other categories.

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