So you want to buy a bike? That’s awesome news. This is one of those investments that can quite literally change your life… BUT you are feeling a little overwhelmed by all the choices of types of bikes? Not a problem, you’ve landed in the right place. To enjoy your riding to its full potential you should buy the right bike, one that will match your skill set and your bike riding intentions. We have a few really simple questions that will point you in the right direction.
1. What type of surface/trails do YOU want to ride on?
Your options include paved roads, paved cycleways, smooth gravel roads, graded cycle trails, mountain bike parks, single tracks
2. Where do YOU want to ride?
Riding around the block, riding to the library, going on family adventures in the weekend, completing one of the NZ cycleway trails, riding through the dirt to the top of a mountain, completing your first 100k road race
3. Why do YOU want to ride?
To get fit and healthy, to enjoy the social aspects, to get to work, to get around town, to take my toddler places, to get out of my car, to save money, to explore my region, to take advantage of the cycle trails, to try a new sport, to learn something new, to have time to myself, to travel, to have bike focused holidays, to have something the whole family can enjoy, to get back into something you where good at when you where young/before you had a family.
Now you could be all of these things to some degree. The challenge lies in deciding which ones are the most important right now. Realistically as you age and your circumstances change so will your riding priorities and perhaps the type of rider that you are. Also remember that the choice you make is not limiting. Any bike can be taken to any of these places, it’s about buying a bike that will take you comfortably & safely through the majority of your rides. The biggest differences you find between bikes is the riding position they put you in (upright through to bent right over the handlebars) and the gears which control how easy it is to push your pedals around. Please see our reference page called Bike Types to get a more in depth description of what the general names of the bikes introduced below mean. This page will help you understand some of the features bikes have – riding position, tyres, wheel size, gears, brakes – that make riding them in certain places better for YOU.
SMOOTH e.g. roads, sealed patheways & cycleways. Smooth trials/roads will take you within cities, towns & urban environments and well maintained country roads.
Bike Match – Road bike, Cruiser/Urban, Cargo, Electric (pedal assistance), Commuter. See Bike Types.
Paved, smooth, shared pathway
Shared patheway next to road
Road Bike on country road
DIRT/GRAVEL – Level 1 e.g. country roads, compacted wide patheways, cycleways (off road). Level 1 includes gravel roads, cycle trails.
Bike Match – Comfort/Trail, Adventure/Touring, Mountain Bike – front suspension. See Bike Types.
Wide, gravel shared pathway
Comfort or Trail Bike
DIRT/GRAVEL – Level 2 e.g. Mountain bike parks (see our Taupo riding story to understand what to expect in a mountain bike park), mountain bike single tracks (as the name implies they are narrow) have a huge range from beginner, level 1, to grade 5/6 expert, some NZ tramping/back country tracks. Off road trials are found close to urban environments or can be very isolated – back country, mountainous.
Bike Match – Mountain Bike full suspension, Mountain Bike front suspension. See Bike Types.
Grade 2, beginners, single track
Isolated mountain bike riding
Full Suspension Mountain Bike
There are quite a few different bike brands available in New Zealand, while it is good to have a choice it can make the decision confusing. The big brands available in New Zealand include Giant, Trek, Specialized, Avanti, La Pierre, Kona, Apollo, Merida, and Marin. These brands will do bikes in most types and will do men’s and women’s frames. Look for the words we introduced above Road, Mountain, Fitness, Trail, Commuter, Cruiser/Urban, Touring, Adventure, Electric (pedal assisted) that describe where they are made to go (Bike Types).
Cruiser & Urban brands are making a come back and there are now specialist urban riding shops both physical and online. Brands to look for include Schwinn, Rocket, Achielle (Via Cycles), Bobbin, Euro (Archi Bikes). Cargo bikes are relatively new to the New Zealand bike scene but with more and more cycle patheways being developed in our urban centres these bikes are becoming a great alternative to a car for daily transport. Look at these websites for more information on the range available, www.cargobikes.co.nz and www.good rotations.co.nz.
Things to remember for your bike shop visit
Armed with all the information this bike buying guide has given you (make a list), get yourself into several bike shops and see what kind of bikes and prices they offer. You need to go to more than one because bike shops tend to be associated with brands (have to sell them) unless they are independant (choose to sell them). It is also really good to compare the vibe in different stores and again pick one that matches who YOU are.
If you haven’t ridden a bike in a number of years it may be a good decision to get a step through frame (the top tube is low, see photo) so add this to your list.
Go along with the intention of actually getting on some bikes to get a feel for them. The bike shop will help you with what size bike you will need. Yes, bikes come in sizes, to match your height. So listen for a frame size they come in xs, s, m, l, xl. Also remember to pick up the bike so see how heavy it is. Will you need to be able to move and handle your bike, lift if onto a bike rack, over a gate or onto hooks for storage? Bring that information home, do some more thinking and research, then go back to your bike shop of choice and make a well informed, appropriate for your lifestyle right now, bike purchase!!
A NOTE about Child Bike Seats: If you are buying to ride with an infant attached or towed by your bike let the bike shop know. You need to know where on your bike you want them to be seated. See our child bike seat story to help with that decision. Be aware that if you want your child mounted on your handlebars you need a good amount of space so you either need to be quite tall or have handlebars that are curving back towards you, see handlebar types here. If you are towing children or riding up hills with kids on your bike you will need a good gear range to manage the extra weight.
Have a great day on your new bike! Need some inspiration on where to go or how to be safe? Start with our great day rides and our simple safety checks (YOU, the bike). Also read through our helmet series of stories so you understand this piece of essential bike riding equipment.
Thanks for reading. Used together our stories and resources support you to achieve and develop as a rider.
goRide is a shared journey, so we would like you to assist in guiding it along the way. Contact goRide. Your thoughts, comments or feedback are welcome. Thank you for being a part of the goRide way.