From mountain and road bikes to hybrids, shoppers and fold-ups, each model has subtle differences that will affect speed, comfort and general practicality. We’ve already looked at mountain and hybrid models: read on for the rest. And if you missed last week’s feature, check it out on www.timeoutdubai.com.
If speed, endurance and distance are of the essence and you have no desire to venture beyond the tarmac, nothing beats a good-quality road bike. The drop handlebars offer many hand positions for long journeys, the gears are perfectly set up for both climbing and tearing down hills, and the frame geometry is conducive to maximum energy efficiency and speed. The wheels and tyres are very narrow and light for minimum rolling resistance. Best ridden in Lycra cycle clothing and with clipless shoes on your feet.
Trusted brands: Bianchi, Condor, Scott, Trek, Specialized, Cannondale.
If you commute by metro, consider a folding bike. While full-size bikes aren’t allowed on the metro, fold-ups can sometimes be carried on and off (check with the station manager first) and, when you get to work, can be kept under your desk. If there’s a downside, it’s the size of the wheels. Most come with small 16-inch wheels and short wheel bases for practical folding. The drawbacks are a low top speed, poor energy efficiency and occasional instability. That said, no other style can compete for practicality.
Trusted brands: Brompton, Dahon, Birdy, Ridgeback, Giant.
Most beginners opt to spend no more than around Dhs1,000 on a bike. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That said, chances are most beginners will know little or nothing about the workings of a bicycle so that when things go wrong, that nice cheap bike will end up in the shed.
In the bicycle world, there is no such thing as cheap and cheerful. Cheap bikes are made from very heavy materials that give out after a few months’ commuting. It happens time and time again: loose headsets and cranks, wobbly wheels, slipping gears, stripped nuts, you name it.
So, for the sake of reliability, better quality and low weight, consider spending Dhs2,500. From Dhs4,000 and up, the frame materials get even lighter and the components improve dramatically to include disc brakes. Bikes in this price range offer fuss-free riding year after year, with very little fettling required. Also, having spent that much, chances are you’ll look after it better than you would a cheap clunker. And Dhs4,000 is still cheaper than hiring a car for six months, or paying for taxis – after a few months of ownership, you’ll be quids in.
Stand astride the bike with both feet flat on the ground, then measure the distance between your crotch and the upper tube. For a mountain bike, you’ll need a 3-4in gap, especially if you’re planning to use it off-road (you’ll soon get a painful reminder if you choose the wrong size). For a road bike, a 1-1.5in gap should be fine. With ladies’ bikes, size is less important. But always make sure you have a comfortable reach towards the handlebars and pedals.
The Bike Shop (04 339 1333) Sheikh Zayed Road, next to BMW showroom Offers leading brands including Cannondale and Marin.
Rage (04 375 0231, www.rage-shop.com) Festival Centre, opposite Fuddruckers It caters to skaters, but this store also has all manner of bikes, from racers to fold-up ones.
Wolfi’s Bike Shop (04 339 4453, www.wbs.ae) Sheikh Zayed Rd, between 2nd and 3rd interchange Everything from specialist racing bikes to family-style cycles.