Biking offers a wonderful aerobic workout, opportunity to get outdoors, and way to spend time with family and friends -- just a few of the reasons why more than 2 million Americans take bike trips each year. Of course, before you go out and buy your own bike, it's best to familiarize yourself with some basic guidelines. Today, Kurt Pfund, of Cycle Path Bikes on Long Island, New York, shares his advice on selecting the perfect bike.

Begin by consulting a bike professional, who can provide an overview of the varieties on the market. Road bikes, which are designed for distance and speed (not necessarily comfort), are suitable for those who ride often. Mountain bikes are better used on uneven, off-road terrain, as their smaller frames and fatter, knobby tires make them more stable, slower, and less agile than road bikes. Hybrids, which are a cross between road and mountain bikes, feature upright seating, as well as the same thick tires as mountain bikes, but they have road bike-size wheels to increase speed

Keep in mind that finding the right fit is just as important as choosing the right type of bike. Your bike professional can help you find the right size bike and adjust it to suit your needs. To determine the frame size, straddle the bike while standing, and measure the distance between you and the frame. For road bikes, there should be one to two inches of clearance; for mountain bikes, three to five inches; and for hybrids, two to three. When balls of your feet are resting on the pedals, your knees should be slightly bent at the bottom of the stokes. Balance a yardstick across the nose and back of the bike to ensure a straight seat. Finally, be sure to get the right riding gear, keeping inn mind that helmets should always be certified by an independent safety council. Shake your head from side to side to make sure the helmet is snug, and remember to always wear comfortable, brightly colored clothing.


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