I'm looking to buy an affordable bike for routes like Stanley Park in Vancouver. Something comfortable to ride on both paved and unpaved routes. Thanks in advance!
It depends on your budget. If you have $200 to spend that's a very different answer to $1000. Also 'Stanley Park' means nothing to me. Is it a small paved park, a mountain bike park, thousands of acres of rough tracks?
Roughly most people looking for a beginners bike will tend to buy a hybrid like this one:
The main feature of these bikes 'front suspension', which is good for doing hardcore mountain biking, but not that useful on normal bikes, especially as the cheaper ones (say $500 bikes) will always have low quality suspension.
So look for a bike similar to that but without the front suspension
The other features to consider on a bike tend to be:
- number of speeds in the rear - more is not really significantly better, but new bikes with 7 speeds or less are badly equipped, simply because that's how bikes are marketed - more speeds is better, so less speeds is bad. So something with 9 speeds or more is generally going to be fairly durable and high quality. 8 speeds is ok too.
- freewheel or cassette - a freewheel rear wheel is not switchable to cassette, and freewheels are features of low-quality non-durable bikes nowadays. So check you have a cassette. If your bike is very cheap then maybe this will be the only option
- brakes - the cheapest versions of bikes similar to those above may have v-brakes. this is a sign nowadays of a very cheap bike. v-brakes work fine, but probably such bikes will be cheap all over. Most people now go for disc brakes. Hydraulic disc brakes are lower maintenance and most people prefer them. If comparing two bikes one with hydraulic brakes and one with cable brakes, then prefer hydraulic.
- fork - if you go for a rigid fork, as you likely should, then a lot of bikes have carbon forks. these have some vibration-absorbing properties. carbon forks can have alloy steers, a full carbon fork is a bit more expensive than one with an alloy steerer.
- tyres - typically a bike will be designed around a given tyre size. Road bikes nowadays tend to be around 25-28mm. This can be ridden over smooth off-road and will be very fast on-road, but it's intended for riding on-road mainly, so if you willl cycle most of the time off road then you will want tyres wider than this. MTB tyres, otoh are usually over 2" (don't ask why one is mm, one is ", that is bikes). A 'fast hybrid' will tend to have tyres around 32mm (1.25"), while a slightly more off-road oriented one will be around 40mm (roughly 1.6"). Tyres can be changed after market, but a bike fitted with 32mm tyres may not have clearance for 2" tyres, while one with 40mm tyres will probably be slightly heavier than one with 32mm tyres, and the rims might be too wide to fit a very narrow road tyre too.
The fastest bike is a road bike. The entry-level is Shimano Claris R2000. Any higher series is better, but Claris R2000 is very high quality already. However the road bike will really come into its own when you are covering long distances on open roads. They won't provide any benefit in stop-start traffic or in parks. However you should be aware of them in that they are the best bike for some jobs.
If you buy a used bike then you can probably get more for your money, but if you don't know how to look for worn parts such as bottom brackets, freehubs, etc. then it can be expensive in repair costs. You might check out a store/bike co-operative that sells used bikes that are serviced and ready to ride, as this could be cheaper for you than playing the lottery on ebay.