So you’re thinking about riding Get Your Guts In Gear, but you haven’t been on a bicycle since you were 15 and your butt hurts at just the thought of 2 days on a bike! Don’t worry, finding the perfect bike and training are a lot less painful than dealing with Crohns or Colitis!
A road or hybrid bike will be best suited to the rolling hills and long distances on GYGIG courses. It’s a great investment in your health, and many riders continue cycling as a hobby after the ride! In this guide, we’ll start with the basics of an entry level bike, and then explain exactly what you get as you move up in price. We’ll tell you what these upgrades mean to you, instead of just throwing out bike-nerd jargon.
First Note on Fit
There are lots of options available, from bike brand to paint color, but one thing you can’t compromise on is fit. Road bikes are sized in centimeters, measured from the bolt of your crank arms (where your pedals attach), up the seat tube, to the opening where your seat-post enters. Generally, your size is based on height, but sometimes other factors like torso proportions will factor in. Find your proper size with help at your local shop.
The second part of a properly fit bike is the fit process that good shops do. This is much more involved than moving your seat up or down; basically every contact point on the bike can be adjusted to your body, fitness, and riding style. You’ll want to have this done to maximize your comfort and efficiency on the bike. Just like running or golf, good form will help your body work with the bike to make it the best experience it can be.
A perfectly fit bike is like a favorite pair of shoes. You will be comfortable for miles and excited to ride. And, a bike the wrong size, even if it’s a great deal or your favorite color, won’t motivate you to ride, or make you a happy rider. You’ll be back in the store next season buying another new bike in the right size, and that’s never a good deal.
For advise on buying your perfect bike, choose one of these options:
What about women’s bikes?
Most of the big brands will offer “women’s specific” models. The components and price points are similar to the model line, but the geometry will be slightly different. The main difference with the women’s geometry is a shorter top tube (the tube that runs horizontally from the handlebars to the seat), accounting for anatomically different hip rotation between men and women. If this doesn’t make complete sense, don’t worry. The geometrical difference is pretty slight, and the majority of riders will fit fine on either women’s or unisex bikes.
Women’s bikes might also have a wider, more comfortable seat and narrow handlebars, but these are easily switched out on any bike, so don’t let that be your deciding factor. They also come in a smaller size range and women’s specific colors (and more than just pink!).
This information is great, but how do I start shopping in the real world?
You can read up on bikes all day long, but you’ll only learn so much. Once you have a basic idea of what you’re looking for, find an afternoon and head to your local shop, and start to ride. A good shop will do a basic fit, even for a test ride, because yes, it does make that much of a difference.
Find a few bikes, get the fit as close as you can, and ride them back to back. Take note of how the frame material feels, how it accelerates, how it handles and turns, how it handles bumps, etc. Don’t be afraid to take out multiple bikes, or take them on longer rides, as long as it’s alright with your shop. Try not to overanalyze, let your body tell you what feels good, and at the end of the day, get something you’re excited to ride. Then, go raise money for Crohn’s and Colitis!
Check out www.roadbikereview.com for the most complete list of user-reviewed bikes on the web!
I’m seeing more things than are discussed here.
There are so many options out there with road bikes, that we can’t begin to cover them all here without boring you to death or being obligated to offer a diploma for bicycle science. But you may see other components such as Sram or Campagnolo, both of which are high quality and popular. You might find a titanium bike every now and then, you might come across a touring bike or cyclocross bike, both of which are niche bike categories but will also be great for Get Your Guts In Gear. Feel free to find out more at your local shop, or ask your questions on our Facebook or Twitter pages. We have lots of experienced riders that are happy to get you going!
What accessories will I need? What about clothing?
Proper accessories and clothing will help you use your bike properly, be comfortable, and be prepared for your ride. Check out the GYGIG recommended bike accessories page.