Ride into the sunset with a bicycle made for two or even more
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WE HAVE been riding bicycles ever since they were invented by a German baron called Karl von Drais. Known as the father of the bicycle, he created the two-wheeler in 1817, and we haven’t let go off the handlebars since then. What a legacy he has left in every bicycle shop in the world.
Walk into any bicycle shop you are spoilt for choice. There is a whole plethora of designs to choose from. Bikes for men, women and children. In short, bikes which are light in weight will cost you more, but will make for an easier ride and will be longer lasting.
However, you can probably pick up a good second hand bike at a market or off the internet, but make sure it’s the right size and makes for a comfortable ride, particularly if you are taking it on holiday. There are a whole range of bikes – here is a small selection.
HIT THE ROAD JACK
For those brave enough to hit the busy roads, road bikes or racers are very popular. These have slimmer tyres which provide a smoother ride on tarmac. Features on a road bike include drop handlebars and gears for hills and flats.
These are lightweight bikes which come with slimmer tyres. Prices vary depending on whether they have aluminium, steel or carbon fibre frames. If you don’t mind being in a bent cycling position, then this is the bike for you. Always worth giving one a test ride.
Increasingly popular for men, women and children, road bikes or racers, have slimmer tyres for smoother and more efficient riding on tarmac. Drop handlebars, gears for hills and flats, and go-faster lightweight materials are included on racer bikes. Prices vary according to the materials used.
If you are deciding on a road bike consider the bend over cycling position which doesn’t suit everyone. It’s worth a test-ride before you commit to buying one. These bikes are good for tarmac and hill riding.
MOUNTAIN OF GEARS
My type is the mountain bike. It has wider tyres and can tackle uphill and rugged terrain with its easy-going gears. If you like riding in a comfortable upright position, this is for you. Only drawback is the chunkier tyres which do slow you down, though you can get them changed for slicker ones.
If you can’t make your mind up between a road or mountain bike, then go for a hybrid , a combination of the two. Their cycling position is upright and they are perfect for leisure cycling and going to work. They are stronger than other bikes and some of them come with racks for bike bags. They can cope with all road types, have flat handlebars and a nice selection of gears for hills, descents and flats. Their drawback though is they are not ideal for rough trails or faster rides on tarmac. They are best on paths, trails, canal towpaths and roads.
CYCLO-CROSS AND ADVENTURE
Looking like a road racer, cyclo-cross bikes are better suited to off-road cycling because of their gripping tyres. They are also good going to work bikes, and are able to take a bike pack. If you usually ride a racer, but plan to cycle on paths and trails while on holiday, a cyclo-cross could be your best choice.
Growing in popularity are electric bikes. These can be road, hybrid and mountain bikes. A battery assists with power for cycling. E-bikes are a fantastic choice if you want to keep up with a fitter partner or if you are new to cycling and you want to cover longer distances, such as on a cycle tour holiday. They require little physical effort if you are going uphill. These bikes can be expensive, particularly when it comes to repairs, but prices are starting to drop and they are cheap to run. You can also hire e-bikes in many cities and locations around the world. Those wondering how long it takes to charge a battery from flat, it takes around 3.5-4 hours.
WHEELS AND STABILISERS
Just like adults, children also need a quality bike. It’s worth paying extra for lighter-weight bikes with set-up, gearing and brake levers specifically suited to children. Good bikes for children are Frog, Islabikes and Hoy brands. For a cycling holiday with children, consider a tag-along bike to attach to your own, a tandem, a bike with stabilisers or a bike trailer.
OTHER BITS AND PIECES
If you’re going to leave your bike on the street, you will need a good bike lock.
A saddle bag is useful to have on your bike in case of emergencies.You may keep your wallet in there, a small drink or snack. Front and rear lights are essential if you get caught in the dark. They make you more visible and illuminate the road. Carry a spare inner tube plus pump in case you get a flat.
Mudguards are a vital component if you live somewhere with a wet climate. Few bikes come equipped with mudguards, so they are useful to have. They will keep you warm and protect your bike. If you’re riding long distance, you’ll want to stay hydrated. A bottle cage and bottle will do the job. A helmet can save your life if you get involved in a traffic accident. Bike clothing an make you more comfortable and less sweaty, a waterproof jacket with high visibility colours will protect you. Also, don’t forget the sunglasses.