First, You Need a Bike: Cruiser, Road, Mountain or Hybrid?

Electra Super Deluxe Step-Through Cruiser

Whether you have never owned a bike or are a seasoned rider, today’s vast array of bike options can overwhelm someone who’s decided to buy a new bike.

Thankfully, Redding boasts several solid bike shops to lead customers in the right direction.

Also, according to Bikes Etc. mechanic Nick Scoma, there are about a dozen different riding disciplines, including cross country, downhill, commuting, competing, and recreation. With that in mind, there’s a promising bike match out there for nearly everyone.

Road bike, mountain bike, hybrid, cruiser – which to buy depends upon the customer’s preference and planned use. Mechanics at both Bikes Etc. and Chain Gang identified the hybrid bike as a popular seller. Scoma described the hybrid as a mix between a mountain and road bike. The bike, which has flat mountain-bike handle bars, is very comfortable and efficient on the road. It is geared toward riding on the road, but is not necessarily road-specific, he said.

2012 Felt Q620 Mountain Bike ($799)

For those looking to ride the river trail and some dirt, Bikes Etc. owner Randy Barber suggested a hybrid or mountain bike.

The Raleigh cross country mountain bikes are a popular choice, Scoma said. He recommended a Felt cross country mountain bike for $750, which he said gives customers the most bike for their dollar.

Mechanics from Chain Gang said that mountain bikes ranging in price from $500 to $1,000 are the shop’s most popular segment of bikes and account for a good percentage of total sales.

Raleigh Rush Hour Fixed Gear Road Bike

Andy Friesen, manager of Village Cycle, said he’s noticed a trend in people buying more road and fixed-gear bikes, which have been popularized by bike messengers in Portland and San Francisco. Road bikes are quite suitable for participants in triathlons or cycling club members, he said.

“People like to go farther and see more in probably less time,” said Barber from Bikes Etc., who added that there is also a market for BMX bikes, which can be used for street, park, and flatland riding, as well as racing.

With regard to cruiser bikes, Barber said “cruisers come and go.”  Even so, although cruisers are not hugely popular now, he sees models being sold to college students.

While some bikes are designed specifically for women, Bikes Etc. mechanics Scoma and Mike O’Donnell agreed that it’s important to go by what fits, because a gender-specific bike may not always be the best choice. Today’s step-through frames — otherwise known as a “lady’s bike” — are a throw-back to bikes from earlier times when women wore long, heavy skirts and dresses. The wide, swooping frame made it possible for women wearing restrictive clothing to more easily mount the bike.

Specialized Crossroads "Low-Entry" hybrid

However, step-through frames are not just for women. The step-through bike’s open framework is especially beneficial for people of both genders who’ve had knee or hip surgery, since there’s no need for riders to swing their legs up and over a bar to mount the bicycle.

Bikes are being sold to people of every age, and mechanics Scoma and O’Donnell said they see roughly equal numbers of men and women purchasing bikes. They also reported dealing with just as many repairs as new bikes, and that customers regularly bring in old bikes or garage-sale finds to be fixed, refurbished and used for commute. They guessed that when it comes to buying a new bike, the typical customer will pay between $300 and $500, with brand new bikes starting around $270, said Scoma.

Bikes at Village Cycle start around $200, manager Friesen said, with most bikes selling between $300 to $600.

Back at Bikes Etc., Barber said he noticed the increase in bike commuting in 2008, when gas prices skyrocketed, but that even when gas prices stabilized somewhat, cycling continued. Perhaps people realized commuting by bike was not that bad after all, he said.

Over at The Bike Shop, Ryan Cooper has also observed more people using bikes to commute. He pointed out the new paved path along Highway 44 that connects east and west sides of town as an example of a development that encourages bike commuting because it is easily accessible and safe.

According to “1 World 2 Wheels,” a free booklet available at The Bike Shop by Trek Bicycle Corporation, a mere three hours of cycling each week can reduce one’s risk of heart disease and stroke by 50 percent. Likewise, the booklet proposed that if cycling increased from just 1 percent to even 1.5 percent of all trips, the United States could save 462 million gallons of gasoline a year.

Not only can cycling benefit one’s health, pocketbook and the environment, but it allows riders to explore the North State’s growing trail system.

But first, you need a bike.

Alisha Gorder, born and raised in Redding, is attending Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, where she is studying English. She enjoys yoga, hiking, and watching reruns of “Friends,” and is excited to try her hand at journalism as an intern with A News Cafe this summer.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of anewscafe.com.

Alisha Gorder

Originally from Redding, CA, Alisha Gorder lives and writes in Portland, OR.

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