How to choose the right bike for the new school year
It’s almost back to school. Are you tired of taking the car or public transportation and want to get around in a different way? Have you thought about becoming a bicycle commuter for the 2020 school year? But what does it mean, commuting by bike? It’s simply choosing to make your home/work trips by bike. Getting some fresh air, avoiding traffic jams, getting some exercise in before work while doing good for the environment…. A big yes for cycling!
Moreover, you are not the only one to ask yourself this question or to have already passed the milestone: for several years now, cycling has been making a great comeback in France and Europe. Thanks to this boom in cycling, there are a lot of choices available and it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between all of these choices.
We’re here to give you all of the information you need to get yourself ready to take on a new habit for this school year!
Two first essential points to understand before buying a bike:
- Determining your needs (going to work, doing sports, carrying errands, carrying your kids…)
- Defining your daily itinerary (steep paths, climbs, cycle tracks…)
What type of bike for your needs?
Do you want to change your transportation habits and make your daily trips by bike? You can opt for the classic city bike or VTC (this true city bike is no longer very present on the market): a comfortable ride with wide handlebars. Don’t forget: the folding bicycle is very useful if you take the train regularly.
Do you want to try bicycle commuting without breaking the bank? Trying it out first at an affordable price is possible! There are second-hand bikes at repair shops that restore discarded bikes. For example, AddBike works alongside the Ateliers de l’Audace, a bicycle repair shop that promotes professional reintegration through cycling.
By the way, did you know that it is possible to transport your child and even your pet in complete safety? Cargo bikes are the solution!
If for you, buying a full cargo bike is too expensive, there are solutions that AddBike offers. This system turns your normal bike into a handy, urban three-wheeled bike. It’s has two-wheel pendular tilting system that attaches to the front of a traditional bike, on the fork instead of the original wheel. It is possible to add our different modules: the Carry’Box Kid (for children), the Carry’Box (for different types of loads) and the Carry’Dog (for dogs… or even cats!).
But if you feel ready to buy a full cargo bike, you have several possibilities:
- the compact longtail or midtail bike: With a sturdy frame with an extended rear frame, it allows the transport of heavy loads on the luggage rack. A basket at the front or saddlebags can be added to further increase its capacity. AddBike’s U-Cargo bike, a midtail bike with a 20 inch rear extension is on pre-sale.
- the two-wheeler: it has 2 wheels and is elongated forward. A loading box is is put in front of the bike and can carry up to 2 or even 3 children. Its special feature: it has an offset wheel at the front, but it is still easy to drive once you get the hang of it!
- and… the famous three-wheeled bike: classic or pendular, it has 3 wheels and a loading box between the 2 front wheels. It is the largest of the cargo bikes and can carry up to 4 or even 6 children!
But transporting loads makes it quite an effort to pedal. To help you in this effort, there is the miracle solution: the Electric Assistance Bike (EAB). The motor helps you with pedalling. Don’t panic, it doesn’t go faster than 25 km/h. Enough to carry up to 4 children or large loads very easily so you can arrive at work without being too sweaty.
And what are some bike must-knows?
Finding a bike in the right size is a must: And yes, although you can adjust the saddle, bike frames come in sizes: S, M, L, XL… Why? If a bike is too small, the seat becomes uncomfortable very quickly and pedalling becomes much less efficient. If a bike is too big, it is very difficult to start or stop while keeping your balance.
A quick tip: while sitting on the saddle, if the soles of your feet touch the ground and you aren’t fully extending your leg to the lowest point of the pedal: it’s the right height! The handlebar adjustment can also be changed to help you find the optimal position.
Choosing the right wheels: it’s not the most obvious aspect, but it’s very important! So small or big wheels? This will depend on your size (for smaller sizes, 600 or 650mm wheels are better, but hard to find on a city bike) but the real factor to know is that the bigger the wheel is, the less likely it is to skid. On the other hand, small wheels will be easier to handle and stronger.
And the frame: aluminium or steel? Aluminium frames have the advantage of being lighter and less susceptible to rust, but less rigid and more difficult to repair (so, more suitable for leisure or city bikes). Steel frames, on the other hand, absorb shock better, age well and can be more comfortable. However, they are less flexible.
Weight: Having a bike in the city also means being able to carry it up stairs, lift it through doors, hang it high up in the train etc… The weight of your bike is therefore a significant argument to check during its tests.
Choosing the right bike also means choosing the right accessories...
Many accessories are available for the safety or comfort of your bike and your passengers, whether they are more or less indispensable.
- Helmets are compulsory for children and highly recommended for adults. There are all types of models with different options (even some with lights).
- Lighting (to see and be seen!): battery, dynamo or USB, LED or halogen technology, integrated or not, floor or 360° lighting, reflective clothing… There is something for everyone! We recommend front and rear lighting as well as reflective strips on the tires. Fixed wheel lights are preferred because they will be protected from bad weather. A bell will also allow you to be heard!
- Remember to choose a comfortable seat (wide and padded saddle for example) and a raised handlebar that allows you to ride upright so as not to make your daily journeys unpleasant.
- Secure your bike: find your regular parking spot. You can choose a chain, U-lock or folding lock, in classic size (23 cm for a U, 75 cm for a folding) or large size (30 cm for a U, up to 120 cm for a folding) depending on your needs.
Carry a few belongings by attaching a basket to the front or rear of the bike.
Cycling is good for your health and the planet, without breaking the bank. It also means avoiding the stress of crowded transport, social distancing and traffic jams while arriving at work stimulated, because yes, cycling is a big boost to morale and concentration!