By Editor Terry Hagerty
Are you a novice looking to buy a decent mountain/recreational bike? If you don’t have $15,000 or $400 to buy a mountain bike, don’t fret – deals abound from new ones on sale at Austin-area shops to online choices. (If nothing else, bikedirects.com will give you an idea of the range of components available for bikes). Of course, one may bypass all the pressure to buy a swell bike and plop down $89 for a tank ride from a big-box store and forego lifting weights at the local gym.
If you are still pretty much a novice bike rider, or haven’t ridden in years – like this writer – just find a friendly Austin bike shop and ask some questions. “There are bikes for just about every type of ride,” said Derek Williams, a helpful employee at Austin Tri Cyclist at 923 Barton Springs Road (between South Lamar and South First Street.) The shop is Austin’s only locally-owned triathlon shop, he said. Williams said bikes are made out of a range of materials including carbon (generally the most expensive; watch Tour de France re-runs), titanium, aluminum and steel. I’m sure there are wooden bikes in Cut n’ Shoot. Prices range from $400 to $15,000 at ATC. Want to go lower? See the want-ads or go Online. Lenny, an employee at Austin’s Performance Bicycle at 4040 South Lamar ( suite C in the Brodie Oaks Shopping center) said the store sells bikes that range “from $200…to the sky is the limit,” adding the bikes in the $350-$650 seem to be the most popular choice. “You can get a lot of bike for that total,” Lenny said. The company’s website describes it as the “No.1 specialty bicycle retailer in the U.S. with a network of more than 100 stores.” Like other bikes stores, Performance seems to have one type of bike or another almost continually on sale. They also carry “tires, tubes and wheels” and a fair amount of stylish riding gear – goggles, gloves, riding shoes and more.
Thin or Fat Tires? – Decide what type of riding you mainly want to do, and buy a bike for that purpose. You could ride a thin-tire 10-speed on a potentially puncture-prone dirt path along Town Lake or hump a heavier mountain bike down South Congress and up to U.T. You can also dump mustard and pickles on your lasagna. The main categories for riding bikes are road bikes (for smooth-surface roads), mountain bikes, touring bikes (tires in between road and mountain bikes), hybrid bicycles, folding bikes, slightly-motorized bikes, bikes that can recite Chaucer, and more. Brakes are varied. The main categories are rim, drum and disc brakes. They have a lot to do with the price of a bike and requirements/skills of a rider. Again, ask an expert. A quick recommendation: Google bike types/bike functions and then visit a shop, because it can get confusing quick. And second – Get a helmet and wear it! And third- Get a helmet! Wear it even if you think a spill on a semi-soft path isn’t going to hurt your skull much. First off, you’re Not a neurosurgeon. And second off – Just wear one! Check for a safety standard inspection tag with lettering “USCPSC” – U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Approximately 800-900 people – including more than 200 children – are killed annually in bicycle-related incidents in the U.S. (statistics since 2015), and about 60 percent of these deaths involve a head injury. For Austin riding locales, see: www.austintexas.gov/bicycle. (All photos: Copyright 2017 Terry Hagerty)