On buying a bicycle (it’s complicated!)


my bike

Please support my journey by donating towards the cause I’m cycling for (200dhs+ gets you a postcard! Details here).


I finally bought a bike over the weekend so I can start training for The Great Asian Cycling Challenge. The last time I owned one was over 20 years ago in Melbourne; my dad bought it for me from a garage sale and it was green and it was awesome. I was very sad to leave it behind when we moved…


Anyhoo…the key word here is ‘finally’, because after browsing, researching, and consulting with cycling enthusiasts for about a month, I’ve yet to wrap my head about all of the information. But here are 6 key things I learned about bicycles:


1. There are different bikes for different riding purposes. Honestly I thought there were just mountain bikes, kids bikes, and the ones with the slanted triangle for women. Apparently there are road bikes (very light with slim wheels), hybrids (light and versatile), mountain bikes (the heaviest and most durable), fat bikes (scary wheels). Then there are the gear variations, suspensions, brakes (disc vs hydraulic) etc. for each type. The permutations and combinations are endless, and as a result prices can start from 500dhs all the way to 12,000dhs+!


2. There are sizes. Again, I thought it was like one standard size for adults, and kiddie bikes. Apparently frames range from XS all the way to XL, like clothes do, except it’s based on your height. I bought a size S; the one time I’m a small size and it’s not because of my waistline *sigh*


3. There are different wheel sizes. The ‘traditional’ size is 26″, and then you have 27.5″ and 29″. The 27.5″ was apparently developed after a lot of pro cyclists requested this from manufacturers, and is now more common in the newer bikes.


4. The seats are awful all-round. If you’ve ever gone to a Flywheel class then you know how painful it is to sit on one of those for 45 minutes. I bought a gel padded seat cover, and it was still painful. I will now be looking for a saddle that I can also take with me on the trip, because 8 hours of sitting on that thing every day for 6 days will be torture. I’ve started reading up on this, and apparently there’s a lot to consider here as well.


5. Buying the bike is only the beginning. Then there are all the accessories, like the helmet, gloves, padded shorts, the bottle cage, the bottle, special sunglasses (for day rides), the blinker lights (for night rides), hydration packs (for long rides), the car rack (to mount it). I only have the first two as they’re the basic essentials, but I’ll have to get the rest soon. I never realised cycling could get as expensive as photography!


6. Bikes need servicing. My first bike may have gotten its tires inflated, but that’s about it. Apparently it is not that simple. My bike is due for its first service in two months. This is starting to resemble owning a car…


The one I finally bought was the Liv Alight by Giant (pictured above). It is designed for women and considered an entry-level ‘fitness’ bike. It’s closer to a road bike than a hybrid (the wheels are slimmer than the usual; I’ll be riding a hybrid on the challenge), which is good enough for training and getting used to cycling. It cost me about the same amount it would if I kept renting a bike over the next 6 months, but now I can ride whenever I want. Coincidentally, it is also green just like my first bike! I’m still thinking of a name for it, so if you have any ideas let me know!

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