There are many options for finding a bike to ride. Check out a few common options below.
The bike you already have
The best way to find a bike to ride is often to simply use one you already have access to. Do you have an old bike lying around? Does a family member or friend have one they will lend you? If the bike fits you, this may be your best option. The bike may require some maintenance, but tuning up a bike you already have access to is much cheaper than buying a new or used bike.
Bike share is a service that allows people to rent bikes for short periods of time. Bike share can be a great resource for reliable access to a bike for commuting. In Minneapolis, Nice Ride Minnesota provides the green bikes at stations throughout the City. Check out the Nice Ride Minnesota website for details on how to use their bikes. Other bike share services will soon be in the Twin Cities. Watch for new services in your area.
Buying a bike
Purchasing a new or used bike requires some research. There are many types of bikes, sizes, and possible modifications to consider. The best way to purchase a bike is to spend some time at your local bike shop. Find a shop and employees who are helpful and easy to work with. Use your favorite internet search engine or ask a friend to find a bike shop near you.
Bike fit refers to how your bike fits you. Bike fit consists of selecting the right size bike and then adjusting that bike to your body and riding style so you are comfortable. There are many ideas about how a bike “should” fit or look, but only you can decide what is right for you. Below are a few general bike fit guidelines.
You should be comfortable: A bike that fits you well is one that is comfortable to ride. You should not experience pain or discomfort when biking.
Listen to your body: The only way to find out what is comfortable for you is to listen to your body and make adjustments accordingly. When shopping for a bike, test ride different styles. If the bike you already own causes discomfort, work with your local bike shop to make adjustments. Only you can determine what works for you and your riding style.
Frame size: Different bike types, brands, and models all fit differently so it is important to work with your local bike shop to determine which bikes fit your body, your needs, and your riding style. In general, you should have about 1 to 3 inches of clearance between you and the top of the bike frame when you are standing over the bike with your feet flat on the ground. Some styles of bicycles may have more clearance.
Saddle (Seat): The first steps to a comfortable saddle--also known as a seat--are making sure it is at the right height and (see below). However, if you have experimented with height and angle are are still uncomfortable, you may want to try another saddle. There are many styles and designs and a good bike shop will have options for you to explore. Many everyday riders find common bike saddles too narrow. Of course, the only way to know what works for you is to try it out.
Saddle height: There should be a slight bend in your knee when your leg is at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Try sitting on the saddle of the bike with one pedal as close to the ground as possible. When you place your heel on the pedal, your leg should be completely straight. This way, when you actually ride your bike with the ball of your foot on the pedal, you will have a slight bend in your knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke.
Saddle angle or tilt: Your saddle should be relatively level to the ground. Minor adjustments tilting the saddle up or down can have a major impact on comfort. If you feel too much pressure toward the front or back of your saddle or feel like you are sliding forward or backward on the saddle you may want to adjust the angle.
Handlebars: There are many different options for styles of handlebars and how to set them up. Your handlebars should be easy to reach and you should easily be able to use your brakes and shifters. The most common cause of neck, back, wrist and hand pain due to bike fit is handlebars being too low. Find the setup that works best for you and your riding style. It is possible to change handlebars, brakes and shifters if needed. Check with your local bike shop for options.
Free and reduced cost bikes
The organizations below have programs that offer free and/or reduced-costs bikes for eligible individuals. Eligibility, and availability vary. Check out each organization for details.
Venture North offers a Earn-a-Bike Program for youth
Free Bikes 4 Kids distributes free bikes to kids through community organizations. They do not give to individual families.
Looking for an adaptive bike? Some shops carry recumbents, hand-powered bicycles, and other adaptive bikes. Twin Cities Adaptive Cycling, a nonprofit community-based cycling program, has great adaptive bicycle resources for youth and adults.