Did you know that April is National Bicycle Month?
Happy Bike Month everyone! In celebration of the monthly theme, I am posting a list of resources for the happy hobby bike person. What do I mean by that? What I mean is – It is not an expensive list of bike components for racers and gear-heads, not a “how-to” for shredding mountains, not a bike touring packing list. Just a simple list of places to go and shops to check out for a casual rider.
I may be a humble weekend rider, but I am still excited to share what i’ve learned to the world. Once upon a time, I too searched for basic info, only to be bombarded with needless equipment and bike jargon. So here it is, the simple quick reference for the rest of us. Enjoy!
Note: I periodically come back to this page and make updates. So check back for new goodies.
A Quickie Guide to Buying a Bicycle
If you are looking for a quality bike, I’d skip some of your large generic retail stores (ahem, Walmart). However, I’m not against all old-fashioned brick and mortar shops. There is something to be said for going into a store and coming out with a product in hand. If you are ok paying a little extra for a product and the convenience – go check out the nearest REI Outlet or your local bike store. Even if you plan to buy online, go into these stores first and get an idea of what you want. Don’t go with the intention of buying the first time. Just *look* at the bikes. Check out the options, squeeze the handles, sit on the seats. Don’t listen to the sales guy (not yet anyway). Then go home and *think* about your list of requirements. Namely budget and what type of bike would be best for you. Here is a breakdown of the major categories:
- Cruiser – one or few gears, wide handlebars, comfy commuter, slower ride sitting upright
- Road – lean and mean, meant for speed on a paved road, serious commuter, lean over handles
- Mountain – fatty thicker tread tires, short straight bar handles, better handling on uneven surfaces, ride with slight lean forward
- Hybrid/Cross – any combination of the above
The first thing to consider is what local terrain you have in your area. Do you have mostly paved roads, gravel/dirt bike paths, cement bike paths? Drive around or check your city park guides, because this is where you will ride most. Armed with that information, you can go back to the store and make a rational decision. Don’t let the sales guy talk you into something you don’t love. If you like it, you are more likely to ride it!
Where to Buy Online
There are hundreds of bike shops online, but i’ve noticed many of them disappear overnight or just seem sketchy. Start with some of the established online shops below:
- http://citizenbike.com/ (folding bikes)
- https://pedegoelectricbikes.com/ (electric assist)
- http://www.republicbike.com/ (design your own bike)
Bikes for Kids and Cargo
- WIKE Cycle Stroller (Amazon)
Here are the best online resources I’ve found for personalizing your ride and finding useful upgrades:
- https://www.bikebelle.com/ (based in Poland but ships worldwide)
- https://nutcasehelmets.com/ (helmets with bold designs)
- https://www.hayneedle.com (they have a sport section which features basic bike baskets at a nice discount)
Ridesharing and Bicycle Rentals
Folks who live near a city have the option of rental bikes. Established bike rental systems like Citi Bike operated by Motivate Company have been around for awhile and are mostly found in dense urban areas. Additionally, there are now “dockless” bike share programs like Limebike and Spin.
The dockless bikes are frequently found in mid-sized cities where they do not require a central docking location. These bikes can be placed anywhere around town and are found with the assistance of a mobile app. When a rider reaches their final location, there is no need to find an approved drop off. When you have completed a ride, simply relock the bike wherever it is convenient to park. The bikes can be unlocked by the next rider by using a QR code; no extra chains or bike rack needed. They have built-in wheel locks and GPS systems to deter theft. Any stray bikes left around the city should be retrieved by the company on a rotation. But this does not always happen. As a result, there has been a backlash against the bike clutter. I’ve found many dockless bikes being deliberately vandalized or under threat of citywide ban.
Lately, there is a trend of removing the dockless bikes and replacing with less obtrusive rental scooters. Bike rentals may be harder to find in future.
Places to Ride
While there are tons of listicles online for bikers, most are littered with junk ads or very specific to the sport or touring rider. This list is a good place to start for the casual riders → Top 10 Bike Cities
If you are fortunate enough to live in one of the cities noted, you will have many amenities available to you. But if you did not see your area noted, don’t worry, you may still have a lot of resources at your disposal. You will simply have to do more research.
- Start with your city government website – search for the sections on “Transportation”, “Paths” or “Trails”.
- Head over to Trail Link and search for trails by zip code. You need to register for use of their site, but basic access is free (extra features require a fee). This is the nicest repository for trails I’ve come across and they also have an app.
If you don’t find much on the city websites or on TrailLink–Try exploring on your own near city parks or schools. The infrastructure is usually more accommodating in those areas. If you find something nice, maybe consider sharing
I currently live in Phoenix, which did not make the Top 10 list. Nevertheless, it is wonderful biking locale. The city has a long central canal path → Phoenix Bike Canal Trail and several of the public parks are connected via a pathway. The Scottsdale Greenbelt is a beautiful trail connecting 11 miles of parks. Additionally, you will enjoy plenty of generous bike lanes and multi-use pathways, especially around the college in Tempe.
No reference page is complete without further reading recommendations. So here are a few other blogs and websites to add to your bookmark list.
- League of Bicycle Friendly America
- https://rascalrides.com/ Biking Reviews and Family Riding Tips
- Lovely Bike A personal blog with lots of little bike tips. The site is no longer active, but there are great archives available.
- London Cyclist Geared towards the London commuter, but plenty of useful information for everyone else
- Bike Commuters Another site focused on commuters, but there is a lot of information on bike maintenance, laid out in an easy to digest manner.
- And of course, there is my own blog The Desert Doll. Check the hashtag #biking for relevant content.
Stay tuned for updates as I continue my own bike journeys.
Happy Trails All!