Exactly like the title says :) Well, I know how to ride bicycles, and I know they have 2 wheels, pedals and some gears, but almost nothing more than that :)

Now, I want to buy a bicycle and was lost between the options available in the market. I don't want a professional bicycle and I'm not planning to race with it... all I want is a bicyle that I can use for exercising and recreational activities, and is more advanced than delivery-boys bicycles :)

One more thing, I have a saloon/sedan car, and I very much prefer if that bicycle can be fitted in the trunk (maybe one of those that can be folded)

I'm not looking for "Bicycle Buying Guide for Dummies" :) what I'm looking for is some guidance on what to look/ask for when I go hunting for a bicycle :)

Thanks in advance.

  • 3
    If you want to use your bike for recreational stuff, don't get a folding bike, they are rubbish at everything - except being folded up. The best thing to do is to go to your nearest LBS and talk to them, they are not going to screw you over because they want you to come back.
    – cmannett85
    Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 8:07
  • 1
    @cbamber85 -- There are some very good folding bikes, but they cost significantly more than a good rigid bike. Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 12:38
  • Yep, go to a bike shop. Go to several bike shops. See what each recommends. Try to understand the differences between the various recommendations, and how they are the same. And be sure to ask about used bikes -- some shops will have a good selection and you can save a lot that way. Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 12:41
  • @DanielRHicks Can you name some? I've only seen Brompton's and it's wannabes - and they are hideous, hideous machines. But they fold up well, which was why they were invented.
    – cmannett85
    Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 13:31
  • @cchamber85 - I actually quite like the Bromptons. I find the ride good, the design elegant. Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 14:40

2 Answers 2


The best advice I'm seeing here is to go to your bike shop and try out a few bikes. When you have a few test rides behind you, then you'll have a better idea of what questions to ask.

What this boils down to: Test-ride a few bikes, buy one, have fun with it. Everything else is details.

Bike types

I'd concentrate my search on hybrids and hardtail mountain bikes. ("Hardtail" means without rear suspension. Unless your budget is quite generous, you won't find good rear suspension in an "introductory" price range.) Mountain bikes are comfortable, easy to use, and agile. Hybrids are similar, but more suited to riding on asphalt. Both avoid the complications and expense of offroad machines and dedicated super-light road bikes.

Cruisers are an attractive alternative if you're okay going a little slow, but it's hard to fit one of those machines into a car trunk or back seat.


It's unintuitive, but wide, cushy saddles are not the most comfortable. Unless you're getting a cruiser or other bike where you sit bolt-upright, these will chafe and become uncomfortable in short order.

On the other hand, hard, narrow racing saddles aren't appropriate for recreational and casual riding like you have planned. So I'd look for something in-between the two.


Most mountain bikes come with knobby tires, the ones that have square protrusions sticking out of the rubber. These are designed for riding on dirt, and aren't great for riding on the road. Fortunately, tires are fairly inexpensive. You can ride on the road on knobbies if you're okay with the speed hit. (I did my first 50-mile ride on knobbies.)

Folding bikes

I'll mention this since you brought it up as a possibility. Folding bikes are more expensive than their non-folding counterparts of comparable quality. The market for them is smaller, driving up costs, and the hardware that allows them to fold also costs money.

Folding bikes can take a little getting used to, particularly the ones with tiny wheels. (Say, 16" and under.) They feel a little "twitchy" when you first ride them, and I suspect that this is why people say they're all bad bikes. However, you not only get used to this but you discover that these tiny-wheeled bikes are agile and fun. Folders can become an addiction quite easily, but they're usually not a good first bike. And the really bad ones (generally anything under $400US) are on a par with the worst big-box bikes.

If you're willing to pay a little more, I recommend these bikes (I own two of them and love them) but be aware that you can get a better bike for the same money if you're willing to forgo the folding.

As has been mentioned, most bikes will fit in the rear seat of a car by simply removing the front wheel. But it sure is nice to fold up a bike and put it in your trunk, or the passenger seat. Or under your desk at work.


Buy a helmet and tuck your right trouser leg into your sock. Anything else can wait until you need it. But here's what you may want to get later on.

  • Riding for more than half an hour at a time? You might want some cycling gloves. If you're doing this in the cold, they also make winter cycling gloves.

  • Pants leg getting torn up? You can splurge on a pants clip.

  • Planning to ride in traffic? You can either wear visible clothing (bright colors) or get yourself a reflective jacket or safety vest. Gonna ride in the rain? They make reflective rain gear.

  • Want to haul stuff? A backpack will do the job, or you can get a rack.

  • Riding at night? It's not as scary as it sounds. Make sure you have that reflective gear on, and pick up some lights.

  • Speedometer? GPS? Cycling shorts? If you need them, you'll figure it out, but none of this is needed when you're getting started.

  • Thanks Neil. This answer is more detailed and contains very helpful information for my needs.
    – TheBlueSky
    Commented May 30, 2012 at 4:53

First off you will need to have a think about what kind of riding you want to do. For roads you'll want a touring bike, and for off road, a mountain bike. The key differences are:

  • Weight - riding rough trails and off road requires a strong frame. This will impact weight
  • Suspension - again, this adds weight, but can be essential on really rough terrain
  • Wheels and tyres - on the road smooth tyres require less effort, but off road you need grip

Then you'll want to find a good local bike shop (LBS) and ask about sizes. They will be able to advise on frame length, handlebars, seat type etc to suit you.

EDIT as mentioned below - get a helmet!

For fitting in a car, as long as you can remove wheels (these days you can get all types of wheels with quick release mechanisms) you should be able to fit them. In a saloon car you may need to be able to drop back back seats.

At begineer level, you really don't need to think about much else as far as the bike is concerned, however you will want to get lights, a bike lock and other accessories such as a speedometer (maybe gps), water bottle, and also things like cycling gloves (your fingers can get very cold on a long ride) and cycling shorts (again, for a long ride, the padding can be very important!)

  • 2
    I think that lights, speedometer, and cycling shorts are probably unnecessary for a novice cyclist. Those things can come later, as the need develops. A beginning cyclist should only ride in the daylight, and will not be traveling farther than maybe 10 miles. Ordinary non-restricting athletic wear will suffice. A helmet is the only accessory you really need. Commented Feb 8, 2012 at 13:30

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