Everything You Need to Know When Buying a Bike

Reading Time: 4 minutes

There are many things to consider when buying a bike. The most important decision is the type of bike you need. Do you want to ride on the road or off-road? Are you looking for a leisurely ride around town or an alternative to your home workout

Here we’ll review all of the things you should consider when buying a bike.

What Type of Bike Do You Need?

There are four major types of bikes:

  • Road
  • Mountain
  • Hybrid
  • Electric

Road bikes: These bikes are for road riding on paved surfaces and some types of trails. They have smooth tires and a lightweight frame. 

Mountain bikes: Choose this type of bike for off-road riding on rough terrains like dirt paths and uneven trails. They have heavier frames and thicker tires with grip treads.

Hybrid bikes: Any bike labeled “hybrid” is a crossover between a road and mountain bike. You can ride hybrid bikes on paved surfaces, but they can also handle rugged terrain. Hybrid bikes have thicker tires than road bikes but not as wide as mountain bike tires. 

Electric bikes: These bikes work using battery power and a motor. They can go long distances with little effort from the rider.

How to Choose the Right Bike Size

The next stage in buying a bike is to figure out what size you need. The best way to do this is to take a test ride. Most likely, a local bike shop will let you do this. If you research bikes online, however, most manufacturers offer sizing information. 

To find the right bike size, you’ll need your height and the measurement of the inside of your leg, or your inseam. Manufacturers measure bikes either by inches or centimeters or descriptive sizes, like small, medium, and large. For inch or centimeter measurements, manufacturers measure the tube length.

The bike company Trek uses centimeter frame sizes for its performance road bikes. So, if you’re 5 feet 1 inch tall with a 28.5-inch inseam, you’ll want a bike with a 47 centimeter frame. However, if you’re 6 feet 1 inch tall with a 34-inch inseam, you’ll want a bike with a 60 centimeter frame.

Meanwhile, a company like Brooklyn Bicycle Co. uses descriptive sizing. If you’re 5 feet 1 inch tall, you’ll select a medium-size bike. If you’re 5 feet 7 inches tall you’ll want a large frame.

Then, once you’ve found the right size, you can start thinking about frame material.

What Type of Frame Should You Choose When Buying a Bike?

Manufacturers make bike frames using several different materials, with the three main choices being: 

  • Aluminum
  • Steel
  • Carbon fiber

Each material has advantages and disadvantages. 

Aluminum: This is the material manufacturers use most often for bike frames. It’s lightweight and durable. However, they can break with extremely heavy use, such as regularly riding over rough terrain.

Steel: Steel is another popular choice for bike frames. It’s much heavier than aluminum, but it’s very strong, and it’s affordable.

Carbon fiber: This is the strongest and most lightweight material used in bikes. However, carbon fiber is pricey, so you may want to avoid this frame material unless you’re willing to make that kind of investment.

Other Things to Consider When Buying a Bike

Wheel Size 

The next thing for you to think about is wheel size. The most common sizes are:

  • 26 inches
  • 27.5 inches
  • 29 inches

Most mountain bikes have 27.5-inch or 29-inch wheels. Road bikes typically come with 700 centimeter wheels. This measurement applies to the diameter of the wheel. Hybrid bikes usually have 700 centimeter wheels but can also come with 26-inch wheels.

Tire Width 

Tire width is also something to think about when buying a bike. Wider tires provide more grip and stability on rough terrain. They also make it easier to pedal over obstacles like rocks and roots. Skinny tires are faster on pavement and make it easier to ride long distances. As a result, road bikes have skinny tires, while mountain bikes have wider tires. 


Another vital consideration is suspension. This refers to the shock-absorbing system on the bike.

Suspension helps absorb the impact of bumps and shocks when riding on uneven terrain. It also makes the ride more comfortable. In some cases, mountain bikes and some hybrid bikes have suspension systems. 

However, suspension adds weight to the bike. It can make pedaling on pavement more difficult, especially if it’s a full suspension.


The final thing to think about when buying a bike is brakes. There are two main types of brakes—disc brakes and rim (or caliper) brakes. Disc brakes are the most common type of brakes on mountain bikes and some hybrid bikes. 

Disk brakes provide more stopping power than rim brakes and work well in all conditions. Rim brakes are less expensive but can be less effective in wet or muddy conditions.

Choose the Right Bike Accessories 

Once you’ve chosen the perfect bike, it’s time to accessorize. The most essential accessory for any cyclist is a helmet. A helmet protects your head in case of a fall or collision. It’s also a necessity by law in some states. Other essential accessories include:

  • Lights to help you see in low-light conditions when cycling and help other cyclists and drivers see you
  • Water bottle and cage to keep you hydrated on long rides
  • Air pump to help inflate your tires if they get low
  • Bike lock to deter thieves from stealing your bike

You may also consider investing in a wearable to track your riding progress.

Buying a Bike Doesn’t Have To Be Overwhelming

Buying a bike can prove overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. With a bit of research and patience, you can pick the perfect bike.

Now that you know how to get started buying a bike, get out there and start shopping, and don’t forget to have fun.