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Cycling in Fort Wayne: What bike works best for you?

A look at different types of rides for Bike to Work Month

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 - 7:15 am

So, you're interested in getting a new bicycle, or maybe you just want to learn more about cycling. You came to the right place.

To celebrate national Bike to Work Month and the City of Fort Wayne's series of events this week, The News-Sentinel spoke to Fort Wayne bike shops and local cyclists to learn more about the different types of bikes and explore which ones might work best for you.

When thinking about getting the correct bike, it's best to start off with a self-assessment of your needs, said Nate Gernert, assistant manager of Summit City Bicycles and Fitness, 3801 Lima Road.

Start off by asking yourself this question, said Gernert: "What type of cycling do you want to do? Are you looking to ride around your neighborhood, the Rivergreenway, Franke Park or do you want to get out on the road and race?”

Now that you've established your purpose, let's talk bikes.

Road bikes

Road cycles vary in construction, style, size and pricing, but there are two different types of road bikes to consider: drop bar and flat bar.

Drop bar road bikes can be more expensive – even Summit City had bikes reaching the $10,000 range – but don't let the number scare you. Drop bar road bikes are extremely lightweight, fast and used primarily for racing. It is recommended to have these bikes fitted specifically for your body because when riding a road bike, your upper body stretches down toward the handlebars.

In general, road bikes have thin tires for speed, light frames for efficiency and multiple gear options for different levels of riding.

Flat bar road bike hybrid

Hybrid bikes are used often for commuting and running errands; however, they can still go the long haul if you want to go on a 30-mile fitness ride. With a lightweight frame yet sturdy construction that can carry some extra weight, hybrid bikes are a great mix of comfort and practicality along with that fast road bike feel.

If you're not a racer and still want speed and efficiency without the huge price tag, check out the flat bar road bike. Unlike the drop bar road bike, flat bar road bikes position your body in an upward sitting posture, which is a more common and natural riding position. This position allows more stability on the bike for added baggage while still offering quick maneuvering.

Cruiser

If you're looking for a bike for a leisurely Sunday ride or a quiet break from the hustle and bustle for a trip on the trails, then a cruiser or comfort bike is the one for you.

Garnert said the Electra Townie cruiser, which runs around $540, is the most commonly sold model of bike at Summit City. Cruisers have wider tires than a road bike, but less tread than a mountain bike. The bikes are known to be extremely comfortable and easy on the back with a wide seat and plush suspension.

Mountain bikes

With any bike, the variation of experience and purpose can help decide what model you want to choose. Garnert said there is a big difference if you want to buy a mountain bike to take to Franke Park for some off-road trails or if you want to do 4-foot drops off hills in a state park. Mountain bikes are built with a heavier and reinforced frame that can absorb and handle shock. If you're ready for wheelies, dirt-jumping and downhill dives, some mountain bikes have built-in full suspension for the tough rides.

The purchase

Now that you've learned about the different types of bikes, let's discuss the next step – the purchase.

Local cyclist and Bicycle Fort Wayne organizer P.J. Thuringer said he took six months to find the right bike that fit his body size and commuting needs.

“It all depends on who you are as a rider. That's why you see people that have multiple bikes in their garage,” Thuringer said. “I researched a lot. You don't have to settle. Read the blogs. Get on the Internet. Don't just buy a bike to buy a bike.”

There are many places to buy your bike, from megastores to local bike shops, but Garnert asked new cyclists to consider the personal touch of going to a specialty store for one-on-one advice, maintenance and the quality equipment you may not be able to find at a big-box store.

“You are dealing with people who are working with bikes everyday. That's our passion. That's what we love.” he said.

Gernert said it's important to remember that a good fit means everything when making an investment in a bike.

“Part of our whole procedure is getting people on the bike and going out for a spin,” he said. “We may suggest a bike, they ride it and it's not quite what they're looking for. By all means we get them on something else until they are happy with their purchase.”

Once you've made the decision on what style of bike you want, be sure to have the proper gear to ensure safety. Fort Wayne cyclist Steve Martinsky said getting additional gear may be an extra cost, but in the end your safety is worth it.

“If you ride in the morning, make sure you have reflectors or lights. I don't know how many times I see people riding down the road with black jersey on and black shorts on with no reflectors. Just make sure you can be seen,” Martinsky said.

Whether you're a new or experienced rider, you can join the city of Fort Wayne and local cyclists for national Bike to Work Month. If an entire month of biking to work is too much, you can get a taste of community on Bike to Work Day this Wednesday.