How to start and which bike to choose for the city

Publikováno: 07. května. 2023, 12 min. čtení
Aktualizováno: 20. května. 2023
Úvodní foto: Tomáš Cach
Publikováno: 07. května. 2023, 12 min. čtení
Aktualizováno: 20. května. 2023
Úvodní foto: Tomáš Cach

Bicycles have enormous potential in our cities – learning to move around the city quickly and efficiently will help you use your bicycle to the fullest. This guide can help you with this.

How to begin?

Most people started by simply giving it a try. Many gave up after a few days. So what’s the best way to go about it when you’re just starting out?

  1. Go into it with a good mood. After all, you don’t ride a bike just to get angry! Of course you will have to overcome some obstacles. But the reward is sweet!
  2. Ask the more experienced. The best advice is from people you trust. Friends will advise routes around the area, colleagues from work know the best way to arrive and where to park.
  3. Master the basics. Knowledge of the main principles of safe driving, current traffic rules, properly equipped bicycle.
  4. Learn from your mistakes. Make the most of an unpleasant situation. Evaluate it and improve your equipment, driving skill or route.
  5. Add gradually. Don’t make a resolution on January 1st that starting tomorrow you will drive fifteen kilometers to work on a first-class road. Start with short rides with friends, without a time limit. Explore the area around your home by bike. Try your route to work on the weekend. Ride in good weather at first. And gradually you will master everything!

You don’t have to drive if you don’t want to. What to add to that?

What kind of bike do you need for the city?

A bike for the city should above all have adequate equipment, the type of bike is not so important. Usually you can start riding the bike you have, you just need to adjust a few details. Or get an ordinary city bike with a comfortable upright position, on which you will appreciate the minimal maintenance requirements.

However, a different type of bike may be suitable for some routes. A mountain bike for more challenging terrain – unpaved roads, mud, but also pavement in city centers. A road bike for a long route on asphalt. But you have to equip such bikes for city driving, and it is not always technically easy to do so.

Electric bikes are now a common alternative for conquering hills. On the other hand, a light folding bike or scooter is advantageous for combining with public transport or frequently carrying up the stairs. If you have children and want to transport cargo, a cargo bike may meet your specific requirements.

There are also many personal mobility devices that are not considered bicycles. Small folding scooters, self-balancing hoverboards, monowheels and others. Without the option to add mandatory equipment, they are usually considered „sports equipment“ or „personal transporters“ and their user more or less a pedestrian. On the other side of the spectrum are powerful electric scooters and accelerated electric bikes with driving characteristics that classify them more as mopeds. The widespread use of these vehicles in crowded centers arouses considerable passions, so consider carefully whether you will not be a nuisance in your city with such a means of transport.

New or Refurbished?

Consider carefully the money you invest. It is not advisable to park expensive or newly bought bikes on the street. Less luxury can give you more freedom than a super expensive bicycle, which you will be afraid to leave even fifteen minutes before the store.

A new bike for the city of ordinary quality can be purchased for around 20,000 Czech crowns (for an e-bike, the price range above 30,000 makes sense). It is best to choose a place of purchase not too far from home, as you will certainly need service and with such a purchase you are „supporting your sheriff.“ Even if you are short on cash, try to avoid bikes from supermarkets. For a low price, you’ll get a bike that is not very durable and difficult to service.

For a second-hand bike, check its origin so you don’t support thieves by buying a stolen bike. Check the frame and components that are more difficult to replace (front forks, bottom bracket). Refurbishing an old bicycle from the basement or the attic is rarely more advantageous than buying a new one, but new components ensure greater reliability. Refurbishment can make sense if you have an older bike available and you don’t need to buy it anew, and if a regular bike service can also handle the modifications.

Handlebars, saddle and tires

The size of the frame, the height of the handlebars, the size and type of saddle are basic parameters that must be adapted to your figure when buying, no matter what type of bike you buy. The height of the handlebars may affect your posture. Arms should be slightly bent at the elbow, not stretched out. A straighter posture requires a more comfortable saddle.

Tires will make a big difference on city bikes. Broken pavement, tram tracks, gravel, broken glass and other complications are not an exception in the city. If your bike allows it, use tires as wide as possible. The tread should be smooth in the middle, „knobs“ will require too much effort in the city. City tires are also equipped with puncture protection.

Mandatory equipment

The mandatory equipment for cycling in the city is defined by the Decree of the Ministry of Transport No. 341/2014 Coll. in Annex 12, and includes:

Brakes, reflectors and lights are mandatory
  • Two independent and effective brakes.
  • Red rear reflector and white front reflector. These reflectors can be replaced with reflective material of similar properties, which can alternatively be placed on your footwear or clothing.
  • Orange reflectors on both sides of the pedals. These reflectors can be replaced by light-reflecting materials placed on the shoe or elsewhere nearby.
  • An orange reflector should also be on the spokes of the wheels, so that at least one points to each side of the bicycle. These reflectors can be replaced by reflective materials on the sides of the bike, on the sides of the tire casings or on the ends of the fenders or the side parts of the cyclist’s clothing. For example, a number of modern tires for city bikes have a reflective strip around their circumference.
  • If you bought new handlebars during the conversion to a city bike, the loose ends of the handlebar tube must be reliably sealed with caps or grips, just as the brake levers must be rounded or softened at the end.

In reduced visibility you will also need:

  • White front light. If the street is sufficiently illuminated by street lighting, then it can be replaced by a white flashing light.
  • Red rear light. The rear light can be flashing in any situation.
  • Power source for your lights. If they run on batteries, not a dynamo, then you should always have enough power to cover an hour and a half of continuous lighting.

Appropriate bicycle equipment

You can solve your lighting needs with removable flashing lights, but fixed lights are better. The lights fulfill the principle of „being seen“, the bell the principle of „being heard.“ Using a bell makes life much easier on busy bike paths. However, it is necessary to ring the bell politely, as per etiquette.

Heavy rain is not as common as a wet road. Then it is very difficult to reach the city on time and cleanly without mudguards. The front mudguard should be as long as possible. The chain cover is an essential device to protect your pants.

Get a bell, fenders and a prosturdy lock

To ride in the city, you need to decide how you will transport your belongings. Functional messenger backpacks are stylish, but a regular back carrier will do the same job without making your back sweaty. You can attach expedition bags, a bag to hang from the side, a basket or even a lockable box to the carrier. A front basket is also practical. Additional options include extended longtail carriers or a large-volume basket or cargo bike platform.

When you have bags or baskets, you’ll need a kickstand. Rear fork kickstands exist, but those mounted near the center are more stable, with two legs, especially for heavier bikes.

We’ll discuss safe parking of a bicycle in more detail elsewhere, but the lock cannot be overlooked among the necessary accessories. A mirror is not absolutely necessary, but you will appreciate it in heavy traffic. Cheaper handlebar mirrors usually break quickly, the classic ones on metal poles are the most durable. Equipping a bike doesn’t have to be a chore. Treat yourself to something that will please you, such as a cup holder for your coffee, or a decoration that will make your bike unique.

Don’t weigh it, just go!

If after equipping the bike with selected accessories it seems that it has doubled in weight, do not despair. Unless your route involves five flights of stairs, you’ll hardly notice the difference in weight. The important thing is that you will arrive at work in much better condition with a well-equipped bike, regardless of the weather. Don’t weigh in on your bike too much – just go for it!

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