Why spend more than $100?
You need wheels, and if you’re buying new on a tight budget, toy stores and retail giants selling budget-priced bikes might look tempting.
But after a year of riding takes its toll, you could be walking again. Here’s why you might want to consider paying more and avoiding the pain.
The $100 bike from the big box store
Easily the most important elements. So-called Supercycles don’t cut it for commuting, since the wheels tend to be small (26 inches) and weak. The single-walled rims go out of true easily, making your ride bumpy and unpleasant after a few potholes.
The steel ones might as well be cast iron, and the paint job can be shoddy. Aluminum cheapies can have disappointing welding. By far the worst idea is springing for a suspension frame, which is a joke.
Awkward shifters will work, but for how long?
The knobby tires fitted to low-end bikes are completely unnecessary for city riding. They actually make cycling more difficult by reducing contact with the road.
More important than some of the mechanical points, if the kid at, say, Wal-Mart, doesn’t have a clue how to fit you to a bike, it will never be much fun to ride. And you’re not going to come back to the bike department for pro repairs either.
The $600 bike from the specialty bike shop
Photo By R. Jeanette Martin
A good hybrid will have bigger double-walled wheels, like 27-inch or 700s. Inside, a good belt will help prevent flats. The spokes will be stainless steel to resist rust. This is Canada, after all – they will see salt.
It doesn’t need to be aluminum or have fancy shocks. It just needs a quality heat-treated assembly.
Indexed shifters eliminate the hunt for a “sweet spot” like the seesaw search on some shoddy junk.
Strong tires get you where you’re going. A Kevlar belt will resist punctures, and a good tread will help efficiency and comfort. It just makes sense.
Buying from a knowledgeable bike-only shop assures you a proper fit and long-term reliable service. Consider this: the pro bike shop thinks of bikes as serious vehicles; Canadian Tire files them under sports and rec alongside hockey skates and hula hoops.