As the foundation for the entire bike, the frame is the most important element to consider when looking for a new bicycle. Most bicycle frames are made of aluminum, steel or carbon fiber. Aluminum is the most commonly used bike frame material because it is stiff yet lightweight. Aluminum frames don`t flex too much under a load, which directs more of your energy into a forward motion.
Aluminum frame bikes have a lively, fast ride to them, but the stiff material can make the ride uncomfortable because you feel every bump. Bicycle manufacturers have used steel for many decades. This stiff material offers you a comfortable, stable and smooth ride, but steel frame bikes weigh more than those made out of other materials.
Carbon fiber combines some of the best elements of aluminum and steel. This stiff, durable, lightweight material gives you a smooth ride. However, bikes with carbon fiber frames are typically quite expensive and are more easily damaged than the other two materials.
If you want to purchase a new bike primarily for commuting, look for a sturdy frame made from steel or aluminum. Choose aluminum for a lighter bicycle and steel for the smoothest ride. If you want to go fast, you`ll need a racing-style bike with a lightweight frame made of carbon fiber or aluminum.
The frame geometry refers to the angles and the lengths of the tubes on the bike frame. Touring bikes feature long wheelbases and less acute angles in the seat tubes, which combine to provide cyclists with rides comfortable enough and smooth enough to go long distances. Racing bikes, on the other hand, are faster than touring bikes because they have more acute frame angles and shorter wheelbases.
Recreational riders who will be riding mostly on smooth, well-maintained roads can use tires 2-inches wide or thinner. Slick tires are often best so you don`t have much resistance during your commute. However, if your commute or racing loop takes you across rocky, `gravelly`, uneven or hard surfaces, purchase a bicycle with tires 2-inches wide or larger. Choose semi-slick tires with a bit of tread to give you more traction when cornering.
Even the best quality bicycle won`t give you a great ride if it`s too small or too big for you. For a road bike, a good rule of thumb is to have 1- to 2-inches of clearance between the top tube of the bike frame and your inner leg when you are standing over the bike. However, it does not hurt to consult with City Bike Tampa experts to determine the correct stand-over height for your personal situation. Once you determine the proper frame material, geometry, tires and size for you, it`s time to find the perfect bike. Research the details of different bicycle brands and styles at citybiketampa.com, visit our shop at 212 E. Cass Street or check out other reputable online sources such as www.bikes.org.uk.