What Is The Best Bike For City Riding?

When I am cycling round in London, I see many different types of bikes but which is the best for riding in the city?

Single Speeder

Many people  go for a single speed option. Single speed bikes, like the name suggests, have no gears.

Pros:

  • Easy to maintain
  • Simple and relaxed ride experience
  • Strong and durable (thicker chain, no rear mechanism)

Cons:

  • Tough on the hills; spinning out on the flats or downhills
  • Can be bad for your knees if you aren't used to it
  • Not so good for long distances and touring (e.g. excursions out of the city)

I like single speed bikes. I ride one I and I would recommend one for the city. The main down point is I can't use it for weekend tours because I have a high gear setup so on the flat and downhill I am spinning out.

Road Bikes

Some people are riding fancy road bikes:

Pros:

  • Fast and light
  • Top level technology
  • Built for the road

Cons:

  • Often expensive and a target for theft
  • Need more maintenance and takes less abuse
  • Aggressive riding stance and experience

I recently had a ride on a top of the range 'Canyon' road bike in Georgia and it was quite a revelation. The bike floats along with any effort. However, it did feel quite fragile over any gravel on the road and I had to be very aware of any potholes- not good for jumping off kerbs either!

Dutch Bike

The Dutch bike is the typical bike that you would find in Amsterdam.

Pros:

  • Very strong
  • Relaxed, laid back riding position
  • Has a stand, basket for carrying things, a rack, and is generally very practical

Cons:

  • Heavy
  • Riding stance makes it difficult up hill
  • Not particularly maneouvrable

I have a soft spot for these bikes. They evoke images of a carless city where everyone is riding around with their head up and taking in the scenery. The riding stance is fun and relaxing but not useful if you want to make quick turns to avoid things!

The Boris Bike

Everyone knows the Boris bikes by now. It is possible to take a bike even if you are not registered with the service by using your bank card.

Pros:

  • Convenient to pick up and drop off; good if you don't want to think about locking your bike
  • No maintenance
  • Strong, good lights and good presence on the road

Cons:

  • Heavy and only three gears
  • Sometimes the drop off point isn't next to your destination
  • Its sometimes difficult to pull the bike out of the stand

The Boris bike scheme has been really successful and  many people rightly praise it. It is only because I have my own bike, that I don't use the service more often. They are also good for a 'Boris Bike Adventures' cycling between drop off points.

Mountain Bike

The heavy weight option built for the off road can offer another dimension to city riding.

Pros:

  • Strong, comfortable and reliable
  • Good handling
  • Can cover the range of uses: hills, towpaths, parks and weekend trips away

Cons:

  • Heavy and slow
  • Expensive and prone to being nicked
  • Wide handlebars not good for cycling in traffic

There are bikes positioned between full on mountain bike and road bike so sometimes called hybrid or urban mountain bike or you can stick some slick tyres on a mountain bike. Mountain bikes offer scope for excursions out of the city. Good luck in choosing your bike for city riding!

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