Buying A Bicycle?

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Check out our Greysnet Guide to choosing your new wheels.

Cycling is a terrific pastime and one of the best ways to get out, get active and enjoy a whole range of health benefits. If you are thinking of taking up cycling for pleasure then you’ll want to make the experience as enjoyable as possible. A big part of that process will be choosing the right bicycle for you. There are a number of things to consider when choosing a bicycle. As we get older our physical strength and our mobility naturally decreases. You’ll want to find a bicycle which is easy to manage and offers a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Here are a few things to look out for.

Frame Design

You’ll want a bicycle with a frame that’s lightweight and manageable. This will make it easier to get it in and out of your garage, shed or where-ever you’re storing it. Getting your bike out easily is a important part of the experience. If it’s too much of a faff then you just won’t bother. Whether you are a man or a woman the fame design will determine how easily you can get on and off your bicycle. If you have any mobility issues look for a bicycle with a “step through” frame. This means the bicycle does not have a high bar between the seat and the handle bars. Step through frames are traditionally associated with “ladies” bicycles but they have become common on modern bicycles for men and women especially with the advent of folding bikes and the resurgence of “retro” designs.

![](upload://5hPs8mmYysPwcANKRMBWpqx07oQ.jpeg)Vintage bike designs are seriously back in fashion.

Ride Position

Another important factor to consider is the ride position. If you are cycling for pleasure, you’ll want a ride position that allows you to keep your back as upright as possible. This will make for a more comfortable experience. Try to avoid bikes that force you to lean forward while riding as this will place unwanted stress on your lower back, arms and shoulders. Depending on your height, you’ll want the seat to be a few inches lower than the handle bars.


No-one likes sitting on a hard seat and the more uncomfortable the ride the less time you are likely to spend on your bike. Look for a seat that has plenty of good quality padding and enough width to support your body. A narrow seat with only a small amount of foam padding is likely to get very uncomfortable rather quickly. Think of it like buying a new sofa! The seat should feel comfortable and supportive.


Another important feature to look out for is the suspension. Just like in a car, the suspension on a bicycle helps to smooth out the ride and soften the impact of any bumps or inconsistencies in the surface. Different bicycles have different types of suspension, some are incorporated into the seat, others in the joints of the front and rear wheels, others in the handlebars. Most bicycles use a combination of systems. While you won’t need the sort of high-tec suspension which can be found on a modern mountain bike you will want a bike that is capable of handling a variety of surfaces without shaking lose your fillings!  


The most important thing to do when buying a new bike is to take it for a thorough test drive. It’s the only way to be certain that it’s the right one for you. A good bike shop will have no objections to letting you test out a bike before buying.


The best place to buy a bike is from your local independent bike shop. If you have to go to one of the big chain stores be sure to ask the assistant plenty of questions. If you get the impression they don’t know what they are talking about then try somewhere else and if they try to bamboozle you with jargon ask them to keep it simple, after all it’s not rocket science, buying a bike should be as easy as riding one! If you decide to buy a bike from the internet then thoroughly check the returns policy and make sure it comes with a full money back guarantee.

Don’t forget to Accessorise!

Make sure to get yourself a good quality helmet and some high visibility clothing especially for cycling in low light.

Thank you, I read with interest what you suggested about buyining a bicycle. as an older person I am interested to know if a fold up small wheel bicycle would be easier to manage for trips on tow paths etc.? Mary

@Possibilities19 Hi Mary, I’ve been doing a bit of research into this for myself. I think folding bikes are a really good option for us “Greys”. They are lightweight and easy to store. There are a lot of options out there from £200 to £2000. From my research I’ve learned the things to look out for are Wheelsize - a bike with wheels of at least 20 inches should be able to cope with uneven terrain (like a towpath) easily enough. Weight - some of the budget models can be on the heavier side but something under 14kg should be manage-able for taking in and out of the car. Folding Mechanism - this is crucial as some fold much easier than others. Raleigh have a good range of folding bikes at reasonable prices like the Evo 2. Hope this is useful!

Thank you so much for your helpful input. Imagine my surprise when a friend of ours read my question on greysnet and offered to loan me his fold up bicycle to try out. Of course I was absolutely delighted. He brought it to our house and set it up in the front garden for me. I look forward to trying it out tomorrow. And don’t worry Plastic gloves etc were worn! All that was missing was a coffee and cake to say thank you but good days are coming. I will let you know how things proceed!

Interesting thread this. I am a lifelong cyclist, however a string of health problems have led me to get an ebike to take the sting out of hills. Whatever state of existing fitness you have an ebike can turn hard work into invogorating exercise.
Must agree with the remarks on bike position, I have noticed Brits and in particular ladies have saddles far too low and then complain cycling is hard work. As a rule of thumb, if you have trainers on, with a pedal at its lowest position, your leg straight and heel resting on the pedal will be very near the most efficient pedalling height and you will still get the ball of the foot on the ground at a halt.