Purchasing a bike

A friend of mine is thinking about getting into biking - mainly city paths and some light trail riding. Along those lines he’s considering a hybrid, but is unsure of brands or if this is even a good choice for a bike type.

Does anyone have suggestions or advice for a novice to the field of bicyclery?

Tell him to find a local bike shop. They can show him different bikes that he might like. I’d suggest something lightly used as a first bike. He might find that he likes one style of riding over another and can then sell that bike and get one dedicated to either trails or the road.

What he said.

A good bike shop will not only tell him about the different types of bikes, they’ll let him try them all out to find the one he likes, and they’ll swap out parts to get a good fit.

They also usually have a supply of used bikes in good shape, which is a really great way to get started biking. Very good value for the money.

And, at least here, all the bike shops offer lifetime minor adjustments and discounts on major maintenance. Unless he’s likely to want to learn to work on bikes (which is really easy, if he should), that’s a great bonus.

We’ve purchased cheap bikes for growing kids from the big-box stores, but only because I’ve got a bike mechanic inhouse to check them over and fix them. It’s really scary some of the crap they pull on those bikes.

Just to throw out a specific recommendation - the cannondale bad boy is a superb hybrid bike. Extremely versatile with a design that proven very popular for city and light trail riding. Coincidentally, I’m going out to probably buy one myself today.

It’s a quality bike, though - starts at around £600 in the UK for a new model (with lifetime warranty on the frame). So might not be suitable if your mate is only looking to spend a couple of hundred.

Find a good bike store (most cities have bike forums which can give a recommendation if he’s unsure). Get them to measure him and fit him correctly to a bike, whichever brand he chooses. This will help prevent injuries, make riding more comfortable and help him with his technique. This is necessary whether it’s a new or second hand ride he’s going with.

Hybrids are good for commuting and bike path riding and you can make further adjustments to it depending on what he wants to do (e.g. thinner tires to run a little faster, or panniers for commuting). But if he thinks there’s a chance he’ll get into more serious road riding or mountain biking, perhaps better to stump up and buy that sort of bike instead. Otherwise he risks having the N+1 scenario which tempts most riders eventually!