Archives for category: Buying a bike

I’m pretty lucky – I don’t need to commute, because I work from home. (Or, it sometimes seems more accurate to say, I live at my work). My husband refuses to cycle to work because a) the route back is one mega hill, b) his bike is more unreliable than our car, and more importantly, c) he always has boxes of paperwork and a laptop to transport. So neither of us have much experience of commuting by bike. But, I know for some people it’s a tipping point for buying a bike, and in many cases, it can actually be faster to get to where you’re going by bike. But, is it cheaper?

Cycletowork

There’s a handy website at http://www.cycletoworkcalculator.com/¬†which could help you work out how much money you can save by travelling to work by bike. It’s not perfect (and requires you to do some of the maths yourself in order work out how much your present commute costs per day), but it’s a good start to incentivizing people to cycle to work. With petrol prices going up all the time, it certainly something to consider.

I wonder, though, how many people cycle to work because they just like cycling? Shouldn’t that be your main reason? All of the cost and health benefits are really a bonus – and sort of pointless if you actually don’t enjoy the commute. Cycling is something you should do because it’s awesome, not because it’s ‘cheaper’. And, I really do wonder how much cheaper it really is – honestly, starting cycling from scratch, with a brand new bike and all the equipment, is not cheap. Yes, it pays off over time, but a bike isn’t a financial investment – it’s freedom on two wheels. Can I get a hells yeah?

But, of course, as the Cycle to Work Calculator site itself is the first to point out, sites like these are great for making you feel smug about your bike-bound commute. Saving the planet… yeah, cool. Looking stylish… great. Sailing past traffic… ha. SAVING THE MONEYS… AWESOME! May I get another hells yeah?

So, I knew I wanted a bike – but which one? Which brand? What kind?

When you get into bikes from zero knowledge, one of the first things you’ll learn is that there are three kinds of bikes – mountain bikes, road bikes, and hybrids. Mountain bikes are easy to spot in the shop, with their super thick tires and sporty frames. Your road bikes are really more like race bikes, designed to get you from A to B as fast as possible – the kind of thing that athletes cycle. You can spot these because of their super-thin tires and aerodynamic bodies. Then, there are the hybrids – the bikes which are good for those who’d like to take their bike to work, and maybe to the forest on a weekend, bikes that straddle between sporty and hardy, the sort of thing that, if you don’t know much about bikes, you’ll naturally gravitate towards right away, like I did.

But then I scratched the surface and realised there was a whole lot more to this hybrid lark than I had originally thought. Sure, all the catalogues had ‘hybrid’ sections, but then again, some bikes were hybrids and weren’t labelled as such. Some bikes were more sporty than they were for road use, some were more for commuting than they were flying through muddy tracks. My life was made a little more difficult because I’d decided to plump for a Trek – as advised by my friends, who both had Treks – and it seemed like a lot of their subbrands were secretly hybrids in disguise. Like the FX range, designed for ‘sporty types’ – which is more on the road end of a hybrid than the mountain bike end, but is never really called a hybrid. There are countless examples of this, but it made my life very difficult. I just wanted a bike I could cycle with my friends, mostly for road use, but which wouldn’t prevent me from cycling on some trails in the forest if I wanted to.

Unfortunately, I’ve found that the bike salesmen in two local shops were less than useful, and not remotely interested in selling any bikes. I won’t name names because I assume they are anomolies of the biking world – people who neither know anything about bikes, nor about selling products. Anyway, I ended up pouring my knowledge of bikes onto them as if to have them validate my experiences so far, whilst they gave me monosyllabic answers and really did nothing to try to help me select a bike. In the first shop, my opening question was about the difference between different bike brands ‘because my friends like Trek so I wondered if you could help me about the differences between the different types’. The guy then proceeded to tell me how great Trek bikes were for several minutes, which really didn’t help. At the second shop, I wanted to know what the difference between the Trek Allant WSD was, and the Trek FX range, and all I got was that the FX was for sports. What does that even mean? Will the FX be acceptable for use in badminton matches or something?

Anyway, in the end I narrowed it down to three bikes from the Trek range.

The Trek 7000 WSD

The Trek FX 7.2 WSD

And the Trek Allant WSD

Now, I have to admit, I had seen an olive green ladies’ bike with leather saddle and wicker basket in the window of my local bike shop a few weeks ago, and felt my heart stir… There’s something about the combination of a sophisticated, restrained green frame and the elegance of a leather look saddle that just really sings to me. But at the time I had the word ‘HYBRID’ in my mind and wasn’t looking for anything else.

Still, I couldn’t get that bike out of my mind, so I decided to ask a few more questions about the Allant, read some reviews, and lust over Google image searches of it, until, finally, I told myself, ‘well, if you like that damn bike so much, why don’t you just buy it?’. To which the reply came, ‘maybe I will’.