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How To Choose Your First Bike

At Westbrook Cycles, we speak to many customers coming to us to choose their very first bike. Although most people have ridden a bike before, we find many customers come to us for their first ‘proper bike’ as we only retail bikes from brands who we know and trust to deliver excellent quality, reliability and performance. Brands we trust and work with include Scott, Giant and Cannondale - who supply us with an excellent range of mountain bikes, road bikes, gravel bikes and electric bikes, which we supply via our shop and online.

Customers who would come into the shop and ask us what the best first bike is for them - would almost immediately ask, where are you planning on riding the bike - the answer to this question determines the right bike for your requirements.

Where do you want to ride?

Where you want to ride is the most important factor in deciding what sort of bike you need. It’s no good having a full suspension downhill mountain bike, if you are commuting via road to work. Likewise, it’s no good having a carbon fibre road bike, if you want to tackle downhill trails.

Typically speaking, cycling routes can be split between on road and off road conditions. Off road conditions can include anything from gravel tracks, across to singletrack downhill trails and routes. On road riding conditions, can encompass cycle paths, city streets, country roads - but almost always tarmac. There is some crossover, with light off road trails which can be found around parkland and lakes.

What sort of Bike Suits?

A Road Bike (which can come with different geometry to suit different conditions) is designed to be ridden on tarmac. Typically, they have an aerodynamic design and have been designed to be light. The tyres produce very little in the way of drag, and the wheels are thin to allow decent speed to be built up.

Mountain Bikes have been designed for use off road - they are easy to ride and provide a good solid riding position for off road use. Suspension is commonplace on mountain bikes, with full suspension bikes and hardtail mountain bikes using suspension forks and shocks to allow comfort and flexibility over rough ground and obstacles.

Gravel Bikes sit nicely between these ranges, and can be used on the road and rougher terrain with ease - in laymans terms, gravel bikes have road bike geometry and focus on speed, with a tyre and wheel setup to accommodate light off road use.

Budget Bikes Under £500

If your budget is under £500, you will not be cycling away on a cutting edge bike - but you can still buy a road bike or mountain bike which offers solid performance at a great price point. At this price point, road bikes should have a lightweight Aluminium frame, and entry level gearing - from the likes of Shimano to help negotiate ascents and descents.

If you are buying a mountain bike under £500, look for front suspension, aluminium frames as well as disc brakes for increased stopping power. Gravel bikes - look for aluminium frames which are lightweight, yet strong and gearing from the likes of Shimano.

Mid Range Bikes - £500 to £1,500

Road Bikes in this price bracket can have aluminium frames, as well as carbon fibre frames - carbon bladed forks can be found across the range, and higher quality gearing is available, alongside powerful disc brakes. These specs carry over into the gravel bike category.

In this price bracket, you can also expect to see carbon fibre hardtail mountain bikes - as well as aluminium full suspension mountain bikes. Higher performance gearing and drivetrains will be available, and suspension travel found can be greater.

High End Bikes - £1,500+

Across both road bikes and mountain bikes, the £1,500 plus range allows you access to an excellent range of technology - lightweight carbon fibre, high end components and suspension allow you to ride to your full potential.

Should I Buy a Women’s Specific Bike?

Many bike brands provide a range of women's specific bike frames, which are available in smaller sizes than men's frames, and have more comfortable saddles. Different riding positions are also available, which makes it more comfortable and efficient than ever to cycle.

Overview

Overall, the bike market allows you to purchase a high quality bike at whatever price point you want to stick to. Trickle down technology from the top models within a bike collection, is commonplace - so you can expect to see market leading technology, across a full range of bikes. Remember not to just look at the styling of a bike and choose it off what it looks like - but instead, think about how and when you want to ride your bike and what will suit you best.

You can view the complete range of bikes across our site, and if you have any questions about the range - please get in touch.

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