With summer finally in full swing, I notice more and more people riding their bikes. It seems extremely convenient in a city that is always one big traffic jam. While I'm walking my dog, I'll sometimes notice these bikers and I can't help but think, "I wonder how much that bike was. I bet I could have gotten them a deal on that." Then I started thinking about cyclists I knew and one person came to mind. Ben O., a Michigan native, lives in Chicago and attends Illinois Institute of Technology. He rides his bike to campus every day. That is 25 miles per day! While I have a hard time getting past the mileage number, I really wanted to know about another number; the cost. It can't be cheap to buy a bike, shorts, helmet, gloves and all the other accessories I see these cyclists donning daily. I figured I'd ask Ben how he, as a student, affords all of his gear and maybe I could give him a few tips on how to get a better deal.
If you're going to be biking in the city, you're going to want a road bike, rather than a mountain bike. A road bike has skinnier tires and you sit in a more upright and leaning forward position, making you more arrow dynamic and your pedaling more efficient for long rides. Prices can range from $140 to several thousand dollars! Ben explains that if you're looking for a mid-range to high-end bike, you should go to an actual bike shop and get it fitted, but if you're on a budget and looking to spend under $500, check Amazon. "I found the type of bike I wanted by reading reviews. The only place that sold the bike I wanted was Amazon and it was $220, which was actually a decent price compared to what I had been looking at. I have a prime account because I'm a student, so the bike shipped to me for free," Ben told me.
If you're looking for a decent road bike, the following options are all under $250:
- Schwinn Admiral 700cc Ladies' Bike for $159
- Giordano Rapido Single Speed Road Bike for $179.99
- Schwinn Men's Prelude Bicycle for $249.99
The most important accessory you should own is a helmet. Even if you think you're the most careful cyclist that ever existed, remember that there are others on the road that may not be as careful. Choose a helmet that fits your head perfectly. That is really the only rule with helmets. This Giro Transfer Bike Helmet is $24.98 at Campmor.
Gloves may be an optional accessory, but Ben swears by them. He explains, "Gloves give you a better grip, prevent blisters and also soften the blow when you hit a bump in the road." These Women's Canari Gel Extreme Gloves are just $12.93 at REI.com.
You can definitely ride in your normal workout clothes if you want to. You don't need to go out and buy the most modern cycle apparel and waste money if you already own gym shorts and a tee shirt. The two pieces of apparel Ben suggests looking into for longer rides are cycling shorts and a tight fitting shirt to limit resistance when riding into the wind. These Sugoi Women's Neo Pro Shorts are just $19.99 at Nashbar and this Men's Pearl Izumi Elite Versa Cycling Jersey is $15.96 after code ALOUTDOORS2 at Sierra Trading Post. Start with just a couple pieces, and only buy more if you really get into biking. Don't load up on all the hottest bike apparel if you might not stick with it, that will be a huge money mistake.
Pedals and Shoes
Again, your normal athletic shoes are fine for biking. But if you really want to get more power from your pedal, it wouldn't hurt to peek at some biking shoes. These shoes lock into your pedals, so you're powering your bike with all 360-degrees of your pedal pushing. There really are some inexpensive options out there that wouldn't end up costing you much more than a normal pair of tennis shoes. For example, these Men's Serfas Interval Road Cycling Shoes are just $41.60 with code ALOUTDOORS2 at checkout. You will also have to spend on a new pair of pedals if you decide to go this route, these pedals start around $30 and you can get away with spending under $50.
If you don't want to splurge on new shoes and new pedals, you can do what Ben did and get toe clips, like these Avenir Resin/Alloy Pedals with Toe Clips that I found for $13.96 (free shipping if you have a Prime account) at Amazon. These fit on the toe of your shoe and most stock pedals have the option to screw these toe clips into them. You only get about 2/3 of the power when you pedal, but if you're looking to save money it's the best option.
What do you do for exercise in the summer? How do you save money on your healthy habit? Tell us in the comments below!
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