A 5-step guide to choosing the right new bike.
With so many options it can be a bit daunting buying a bike. But if you take it step by step, you’ll be out there loving life on a new bike that’s just right.
Step 1. Where will you be doing most of your riding?
Will you be sending steep technical trails or breezing around on smooth tracks. Sealed roads or gravel? Rail trails or the mountain trail network? Or just for cruising around your neighbourhood. Once you know where you’ll be using your new bike most of the time, choosing the right one gets a lot easier.
Step 2. What’s your budget?
Like anything, the price of a bike can dictate its quality and performance, because it affects the grade of components like the suspension, drive train, and braking system. It can also influence the material the bike itself is made from. Lower end and childrens first bikes are usually steel. Aluminium is used for the frame and fork of most quality bikes, because it’s light and strong. The most expensive bikes often use carbon fibre composites like you might find on an F1 car.
But don’t worry, Outside Sports only stock top brands, so even if your budget is modest we’ll help you find a bike that will make you very happy.
Step 3. Ebike or standard bike?
A standard bike is just a bike where all the power is provided by your legs (in the bike business they’re known as analogue bikes). An electric bike has a motor, a battery, and varying levels of power assistance. Otherwise, ebikes are pretty much the same as standard bikes. They come with the same components – with the exception of a heavy duty chain to cope with the big increase in power. Ebikes come at a price premium, because of all the extra technology. But if having an ebike gets you out there riding every day, a lot of people think it’s a very good investment. If you’ve never ridden an ebike, see us for a demo – it might just change your life!
Step 4. Bike suspension
Suspension is the most visible difference between bikes, especially between road bikes and mountain bikes. Typically road bikes don’t have any suspension, whereas mountain bikes have either a front suspension fork (aka hardtails) or front and rear suspension (aka full suspension).
On unpaved surfaces you really want at least front suspension, because without it riding can be very fatiguing and uncomfortable. Most mountain bikers start out with a hardtail, as they are usually lighter and cheaper. They’re also great on smooth flowy trails, and better for riding uphill. Full suspension adds a spring and shock absorber (aka damper) to the rear of the bike. This setup creates a compliant, pillowy ride and lets you tackle rough trails a lot more confidently, especially steep downhills. Once again, your choice of hardtail or full-suspension comes down to where you plan to ride.
Step 5. Know your bike types
Let’s start with mountain bikes, which is what most people in the Southern Lakes area are riding, mainly due to the fact that this area has one of the very best bike trail networks in the world!!! Trails here range from beautiful flowing rail trails to gnarly tracks that test the world’s top pros (many of whom make Queenstown their home over summer).Trail Bikes
Trail bikes are all-rounder mountain bikes built for exploring different types of terrain. They can be hardtail front suspension or full suspension.
Enduro bikes are mountain bikes designed to do it all on steep climbs and sketchy descents. They are usually full suspension and some even feature variable geometry depending on whether you’re going up or down hill.Downhill Bikes
Downhill bikes are mountain bikes designed to go as fast as possible downhill over rocks, around corners and off jumps. Weight isn’t so much of an issue when you’re mainly pointing down, so downhill bikes tend to be bigger and burlier with a lower centre of gravity than other mountain bikes. ‘Mullet’ wheel setups are getting more popular on downhill bikes where the rear wheel is smaller than the front – typically a 29” front and 27.5” rear. Mullet bikes have more agile handling and quicker acceleration, and your center of gravity lower and further back, making downhill biking safer.Road Bikes
These are the skinny tyred, drop handlebar bikes that are restricted to smooth paved roads – in other words the classic racing bike you see on the Tour de France. A road bike is a great option if you want to bike for whooshing along the highway devouring the kms.Gravel Bikes
Gravel bikes are a little like a cross between and road bike and a mountain bike and you can use them on the road or on unpaved surfaces. Gravel bikes have beefier frames and tyres than road bikes and no suspension. Handlebars can be drop style or flat like mountain bikes.Rail trail bikes
New Zealand’s rail trails are a bucket list item for people all over the world. Because the distances are long, and the trails are mostly nice and smooth, rail trail bikes are more upright for comfort – meaning they’re also a great option as a general recreational bike as they are good for easy off-road trails as well as paved surfaces.Urban commuters
Commuter bikes are built for riding on the streets around town and often have built in headlights, taillights, mudguards and a carrier above the rear wheel. Narrow tyres restrict them to paved rads and the smoothest of trails. So which bike type sounds best for you?We’re here to help.
We know buying a new bike is an exciting decision and you want to get it right. So what we suggest is getting in touch and having a chat about what you’re aiming to do with your biking. Either drop into our bike shops in Queenstown or Wanaka, give us a call or drop us an email. We love helping people find the right bike, because we love bike adventures just like you.