You might not think of winter as a traditional time to do a lot of bike riding, but with the ongoing pandemic keeping many of us out of gyms (and with the recent urban biking boom), outdoor exercise is still the safest bet, and biking is a great way to make exercise enjoyable as well as great for your health. And with the right cold weather commuting gear, riding a bike in winter is really no big deal.
And while, in the summer of 2020 as the pandemic surged, bikes were almost impossible to find online, now it’s a bit easier to find great bikes for sale. Just note that most bikes bought online will require assembly, and that often means dropping your new bicycle at a local shop for help, which might mean waiting for another week or two after you get the thing delivered. Patience, folks, we’ll get through this some day, and sooner rather than later you’ll have two wheels underneath you that will add a bit of fun, mean a commute sans subway or bus, and that will be a health boon, too.
It’s OK to get a mountain bike even if you don’t have a bona-fide mountain nearby; these bikes are tough, stable, and ready for all sorts of terrain, from rutted urban streets and sidewalks to rocky trails to grassy fields. Heavy but durable, a good mountain bike is a fine choice for newer riders who need stability more than speed.
Schwinn High Timber Mountain Bike
A perfect entry point bike, the Schwinn High Timber is being sold at a great price and is a bike with great ratings from a trusted bicycle brand. Its twist shifters are quick and responsive so you can always have the ideal power control, and the aluminum frame is durable but not too heavy. Just make sure you get one with the right frame and wheel size for your height, as it comes in both youth and adult sizing.
GT Aggressor Pro Mountain Bike
This mountain bike probably won’t last you a decade, but for less than $500, it’s a perfectly decent set of wheels. (And in fact it used to cost closer to $675.) Front fork suspension will take some of the jolts and jitters out on rough trails, while the aluminum frame won’t buckle even if you take a few falls.
A good electric bike is a not a moped or electric scooter-type vehicle operating entirely under its own power, rather it’s a bike with an electric motor that assists you as you pedal, making commuting (or joyriding) easy, but also leaving you with a fully functional bike if the battery runs out of juice.
Read more: Best Electric Bikes
Priority Current E-Bike
Rather than a traditional chain, this e-bike from Priority uses a rust- and grease-free carbon drive belt. That means less need for maintenance, less chance of slippage, and less chance of failure. The 500-watt mid-drive can power assist you up to a zippy 28 mph, more than enough speed for some excitement and a fast commute, too. This bike might not only replace your subway or bus ride, but it may well replace your car.
Macwheel 350W EBike
If you want the fun and convenience of an e-bike but aren’t ready for a top-of-the-line pedal-driven vehicle, then by all means consider this under-$1,000 option from Macwheel. It can cruise along at up to 15 miles per hour and has a 50-mile range with pedal assistance, and can even get you about 20 miles without you doing any work.
As the name suggests, a folding bike folds, and usually down to half its size or even less. They are perfect for apartment dwellers, for storing in the office after a commute, or for keeping in the trunk of your car.
Tern Node D71 Folding Bike
If you thought most folding bikes are rather rickety affairs, by in large you’re right. But this one isn’t. So this time … you’re wrong. The Node D7i is a seven-gear bike that can handle mile after mile and is actually quite comfortable to ride; it feels stable and smooth and the high seat post ensures larger adults won’t feel scrunched. It folds down small enough for apartment living, but note it’s pretty heavy at 33 pounds.
EuroMini ZiZZO Campo Folding Bike
If you are looking to win the Tour de France, charge down a rutted mountain trail, or bang out some sweet tricks at the park, this is not the right bike for you. If you want a fun and reliable little cycle you can set up in half a minute, carry under one arm when folded, and that can support a rider weighing up to 240 pounds, then the ZiZZO is a win. It has seven speeds, dual brakes, and surprisingly good owner ratings.
Some day, you may well want a multi-thousand dollar road bike suitable for top-tier racing. This is likely not that day, so we’re keeping things reasonable with a couple of relatively lightweight and by all means high quality but affordable bikes.
Read more: Beginner’s Guide to Road Biking
Co-Op Cycles ADV 1.1
Ready for fast rides around town what with its responsive gearing and brakes, this bike truly belongs on long road trips, even multi-day adventures. It comes with a rear rack perfect for panniers or other gear systems, and it can be outfitted with front gear storage, too. It’s also a great choice for larger riders, as the bike is rated for people weighing up to 300 pounds.
State Bicycle Co. 4130 All Road
If you know State Bicycle Co. at all then you will know the look of this bike’s frame, which matches the brand’s classic road bikes in the 4130 series. But this? This is the ALL Road, and some of those roads can be made of gravel or dirt. While the handlebars are shaped much like you’d expect on a road bike or commuter, the rugged frame and heftier wheels of this bike will let you keep up with your mountain biking buddies out in the back country, then you’ll leave them in the dust in the city. The bike can be fitted with frames to hold gear on both the front and back, making it ideal for longer bikepacking trips or for carrying cargo (groceries, e.g.) in the city.
A hybrid bike is built for all sorts of terrain, from trail to street to field. It won’t handle mountains quite as well as a mountain bike and it’s not as light or sleek as a road bike, but sir, you try a road bike on a rough trail and try to race on a mountain cycle, and you’ll see why sometimes compromise is best.
Cannondale Quick CX 3
Eight speeds, disc brakes, front suspension forks, and great price for a great bike to boot, the CX 3 is truly a wise buy if you ride on all sorts of terrain and want a bike that’s rugged and reliable yet still suitable for cruising around town on streets, too. At 31 pounds, this is not a light bike, but it still manages to be nimble and responsive.
How to Choose a Bike
Because buying a bike online means you won’t have the benefit of a bike shop pro to help you choose the perfect cycle for your body size, your planned activities, and your fitness level, we spoke to some experts, like Connor Swegle, co-owner of NY-based Priority Bicycles. Connor shared a bit of knowledge that should help you get the right bike, because the last thing you need is one more letdown in 2021.
He began by saying: “Inseam is the place to start. If a bike is too small, you will feel crunched and uncomfortable. If it is too big, it will feel unsafe. Either way, you won’t ride it and you will feel like you’ve lost a bunch of money, and that’s not a great feeling. Check your inseam and order the right size.
“Next, there’s ‘Use Case.’ Buy a bike that fits the type of riding you will be doing, not what you want your bike to look like. If you want to commute, find something that is set up for commuting. Don’t get a super aggressive road bike if you need good field of vision or a mountain bike if you plan to ride on roads where you value speed.
“Also remember more isn’t more — More speeds, more feature, more bells and whistles don’t mean you get more. It mostly means more stuff to break. Just scale the features to what you need and keep things as simple as possible. Keep in mind that it can appear that 21 speeds means easier to climb hills, but often a 3 or 7 speed internally geared hub can cover the same gear range, without shifting confusion or routine tuneups.”
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