The pandemic and the strict limitation of space on public transport play an important role in the renewed interest in cycling. The general enthusiasm for cycling has led to a tripling of bicycle sales in 2020. But Covid-19 has only accelerated the trend of recent years. The new cycle paths, the purchasing aids proposed by the local authorities and, now, the Government's proposed cycling plan. All these measures are having the desired effect and are helping the Brits to decide to buy a bicycle.
However, if you are still not convinced by these measures. I have decided to write this guide and give you all the good reasons to buy a bike. The ecological means of transport by excellence.
The benefits of cycling
Cycling is a great way to train and keep you active. It can help to promote a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally. Cycling is a low-impact physical exercise that offers many benefits. It is also of variable intensity, making it suitable for all levels. You can cycle as a means of transport, as an occasional activity or as an intense and competitive activity.
Cycling is an excellent alternative to transport options that involve sitting in traffic for long periods of time. It is particularly useful when you are travelling to places that are a little too far away to walk, while avoiding taking your car.
What are the benefits of cycling for the environment?
Reduce your carbon footprint by using your bike whenever possible. Cycling requires very little use of fossil fuels and is a non-polluting mode of transport. Bicycles reduce the need to build, maintain and destroy cars. Cycling preserves pavement and residential space, reducing concrete and increasing the amount of open space in urban areas. Choosing to cycle several times a week instead of driving is one of the simplest ways to reduce your ecological footprint, and noise pollution can also be significantly reduced.
Cycling gives you access to cycle paths and other places you might not otherwise know. Cycling is an easy way to get around town, commute and discover new routes. Even if you can't cycle all the way to work, many buses and trains have places where cyclists can store their bikes. So you can take your bike and combine it with public transport if you need it to get to work every day.
Buy a bike for its health benefits
Riding a bike allows you to:
- develop muscles;
- remove fat;
- strengthen the legs;
- lower blood pressure;
- and increase endurance.
Cycling has also been proven to be an extremely effective way to reduce stress, decrease anxiety, clear your mind and improve your mood. Cycling, like most other aerobic exercises, can improve sleep and improve cardiac condition. Those who incorporate daily physical activity (such as cycling) into their routine often live longer.
Bicycle and weight loss
It is possible to lose weight while cycling by applying a few simple techniques, both on and off the bike. These include eating regularly and reducing the amount of food that you eat. Cycling is often presented as a good alternative to low-impact aerobic exercise. Compared to running or jogging, it allows you to increase your heart rate with less wear and tear on your knees, ankles and other joints.
It is also a great way to help you lose extra pounds. In fact, you can burn an impressive number of calories while you pedal, especially if you ride at a faster pace. If you're looking to lose a few pounds through your cycling workout, here are four key strategies to lose weight:
- Increase the intensity;
- Opt for high intensity interval training;
- Go farther;
- Try cross-fit.
Which bicycle to choose?
There are many different types of bikes and different types of people with different cycling needs. Some people like to do some stunts, others like to go racing and still others like to travel. You should consider your own preferences before buying the bike that suits you. To find out how to choose the type of bike that suits you best, ask yourself where and how often you plan to ride? How will you use your bike? And how much are you willing to invest?
Why buy a gravel bike?
The gravel bike is a mix between cyclocross, road bike, mountain bike and travel bike. It is a road-type bike, but reinforced and with wider tyres (from 35 to 42mm), which make it possible to venture off the tarmac roads. The gravel is ideal for commuting, as it is fast and at the same time allows you to use all kinds of roads and routes. Nevertheless the manufacturers leave the possibility (with holes available from the original manufacturer) of also attaching luggage racks, mudguards and several bottle cages if you wish to travel by bicycle.
With a gravel bike, it is possible for cyclists to use all roads. You can ride on the tarmac and then pass over gravel roads or even forest paths. The basic principle of gravel bikes is adventure, without any terrain constraints.
How do I choose a road bike?
When you buy your first road bike, the range of models, materials and components available can be confusing. Over the last two decades, bicycles have become increasingly high performance, so much of the advanced technology of the "Tour de France" can now be found even on entry-level bikes.
First of all, you need to decide how much you are willing to spend. Be aware that the more you spend, the lighter and better equipped the bike will be. The frame is the heart of your new road bike and that's where most of your budget is focused. Frames are made from a variety of materials, the most common being steel, aluminium, titanium and carbon fibre.
Next, the choice of size is absolutely essential when you decide to buy a road bike. Don't choose a bike that's too small or too big just because it's a bargain. Only with a bike that fits your size and dimensions can you really get the most out of your new ride.
Finally, manufacturers of bicycle components assemble their parts into group of parts (brakes and gears, etc.) that are identical in quality and function and are designed to work together. Bicycle manufacturers then purchase these groupsets and integrate them into their bicycles. There are three main manufacturers you are likely to encounter : Shimano, SRAM and Campagnolo. At entry-level prices, Shimano is the most popular choice.
The order of quality and price for Shimano is as follows (from entry-level to top-of-the-range) :
- Dura Ace.
Which bike for cycle touring?
If you don't want to add an extra challenge to your trip. I recommend that you take into account these three important factors:
The characteristics of the itinerary you plan will dictate the choice of your travel bike. Most long distance travellers choose a steel frame. This type of frame is stronger and easier to repair. In addition, touring bikes are already equipped with mountings for luggage racks, mudguards and several bottle cages. If you want to make a very long journey, take a lot of luggage with you, in sparsely populated areas, this is the ideal bike.
What are the advantages of the electric bicycle?
The functioning of the e-bike is very simple: when you pedal, the motor is activated. If you stop, the motor will also stop. Just like a conventional bicycle, it therefore enjoys the same benefits.
The motor on the electric bicycle is only there to help the cyclist. This means that the effort is reduced and the speed is increased. An electric bicycle can reach speeds of up to 25 km/h. This means you can reach your destination faster and with less effort. If you're not really a sports person or you're worried about having to take a shower before going back to the office, the e-bike is ideal for commuting.
My tips for buying a used bike
To start with, it is important to check that it is not a stolen bike. Certain details such as an unrealistically low price or a repainted frame may alarm you. Do not hesitate to ask the seller for the invoice or possibly an engraving certificate.
Next, pay attention to the condition of the frame. Check that its paint is not pitted by rust, that its welds are intact and that it is not cracked. The most sensitive points to check are: the joint between the fork and the down tube, the tubes at the bottom bracket or the base.
IIt is also very important to check that the many bearings on a bicycle (steering, cranksets, wheels) are not seized up or worn. In order to check the transmission elements, turn the pedals idle to test the gear shifting. The chain must move easily from one pinion to the other.
Finally, check the wheel camber. The general condition of the wheels and tyres and also the condition of the brake system cables and sheaths.
Bike commuting instructions
Although at first it may seem a little scary riding a bike in the middle of traffic, I can tell you that cycling to work is a great experience. Not only will you feel much better in the morning after exercising, but you can also enjoy a nice ride through nature. It is much more peaceful and relaxing than the usual journey by car or crowded public transport. All you need to do is plan your route in advance. For example, you can choose less busy roads, cycle paths or even parks or river banks if possible.
For a start, there is no need to spend a lot of money on a bike and equipment. Later, you can always spend more, a little at a time, but what you already have is enough for now.