If you’re itching to invest in a bicycle, here’s what you need to know.
The thing about cycling is that, on the surface, it seems like an extremely affordable sport. When I was young, every kid had a cycle. We even got an upgrade every few years, when we grew taller and our knees started hitting the handlebars. When I bought my first bike as a grown up, I almost had a minor stroke when they told me its price – I just didn’t see it coming. How could a bike that was this light, that didn’t have any mud-guards or a kick-stand, lights, carrier and not even pedals, be so expensive? That was a turning point, because since then, no bike has managed to raise my eyebrows anymore.
What makes a bike expensive are (a) build material (lighter is more expensive) (b) build quality (stronger is more expensive) and (c) components (gears (or derailleurs), brakes, wheel-sets, tyres and pedals (the lighter and stronger ones cost the most). True professionals don’t ride readymade bikes; they assemble one by choosing each element. It gets extremely detailed, down to the nuts that hold the bike together, but then you are talking about people who will shave their calves to gain a second in a two-hour race. There are many other elements which add to the price of a bike, or make a brand more valuable, most of which can be attributed to either serious R&D or the number of wins they have scored at international races.
If you’re intrigued by that mid-life crisis called cycling, then this is what you need to know to get started. There are three types of bikes – mountain, road and hybrid. Mountain bikes are further classified as uphill and downhill, but for most, they have thick tyres and shock-absorbing suspensions to aid in off-roading. They are on the heavier side, but invest a pretty penny and these too can be super-light yet strong and cushion-y even on the hardest and rockiest of surfaces.
Most brands can make bikes across ranges, but the high-end fellas don’t always have cheaper models. They can start at Rs 25,000 or so and go upwards of Rs 7 lakh.
Entry-level: Firefox, Sovereign, Giant
Middle: Bianchi, Scott, Specialised, Focus, GT
High-end: Pinarello, BMC, Cervelo, Basso, S-Works, Trek
The hybrid bikes are most ideal for city riding. These are leisure bikes which aren’t equipped to go as fast as roadies, nor are they equipped to handle mountainous terrain – they are the perfect city slicker bike — fast and stable. They aren’t very expensive, unless you go for a hipster brand. Speaking of which, there is, in fact, a fourth category of bike — the fixie — but unless you flaunt a manbun and a lumberjack beard, you needn’t know anything about these.
Specialised: Spot, Giant
Middle: Schwinn, Cannondale, Scott
High-end: Please don’t buy an expensive hybrid
Then come the road bikes, those sleek machines with the MAMILS (Middle-aged Men in Lycra) bent over their handlebars, trying desperately to be as aerodynamic as their paunches will allow them. These weight weenies will do everything to shave weight off their gear, and the general rule is that for each few 100 grams less, you can add another zero to the price.
Entry-level: Mongoose, KHS Giant
Middle: Trek, Jamis, Cannondale
High-end: GT, Scott, Yeti, Alchemy