Over the past several years, cycling or bike riding has steadily increased in the U.S., especially for female riders. And for very good reasons—cycling is a low-impact sport that is great for your health, environmentally friendly, and something the whole family can do together.
Cycling is one of our favorite ways to stay healthy and active, even our 13-month-old son gets to take rides with us now, by way of his trailer. Whether you’re buying a new bike for the first time or are upgrading your rusty Craigslist purchase from college, check out these descriptions to learn what type of bike is right for you.
The Hybrid Bike
For city living, hybrids are great because of their versatility for road and gravel. Hybrids will have slightly larger tires than a road bike but smaller tires than a mountain bike—and they can have drop bars or straight handlebars. Typically, they are more comfortable than your standard road bike especially if you are wanting to explore trails like the Monon, The Cultural Trail, or the Central Canal Towpath. As the price increases, the level of comfort and efficiency gets better and better.
The Road Bike
These bikes are small, light, and fast, which is exactly how you’ll be when riding one. Pricing is based on the quality of components on the bike: the lighter the bike, the more expensive. If you want to get into road racing, triathlons, or just go faster than all your friends, a carbon frame bike is what you want to invest in. For all other riders, an aluminum frame will work just fine and they are much more affordable.
The Mountain Bike
The two main types of mountain bikes are hardtail and full suspension. A hardtail bike will generally be cheaper because it only has front suspension and no rear suspension. This bike will be faster pedaling uphill, but won’t be as effective or comfortable on your rockier and rooty trails. A full suspension bike will have front and rear suspension and is ideal for riding more intermediate to advanced trails. With the increase in undulated terrain, you will want a full suspension to ride over the obstacles more easily and efficiently to maintain traction.
There are countless bike brands out there. To get a feel for the type of bike and brand you want we recommend going to your local bike shop and trying one out in person. Most shops will do a personalized fitting when you purchase from them as well. Whether you are on the road, gravel, or trail your next bike is waiting. Get out there and enjoy the ride.
As for where to go once you’ve got your bike, there are so many amazing local options. We may not have mountains in Indiana, but we do have some serious epic trail riding including right in the Indy metro area. Check out the trails at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Town Run, and Southwestway Park. If you’re venturing outside of Indianapolis hit up Brown County State Park and Hoosier National Forest where you can ride endless single track trails all day long.
To find mountain bike trails in your area, download the app MTB Project or TrailForks. Do not ride trails if they are wet or muddy.
One Last Pro Tip: Invest in a quality pair of padded bike shorts and do not wear underwear with them!
Danielle Wolter Nolan and Kate Nolan founded and own DNK Presents. They organize and guide empowering adventure experiences for individuals, groups and businesses. Their trips focus on getting people to step outside their comfort zones, try something new and in turn gain confidence and increase health and wellness through experiential learning. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.