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Useful for purposes of both exercise and transportation, the bicycle is likely the best form of muscle-powered transportation there is. One good option when purchasing a bicycle is to go used. Besides being considerably cheaper than a brand-new bicycle, many older bicycles are still in excellent condition, being capable of serving a new owner for many years. However, someone interested in a used bicycle should know certain things before they start looking for one to buy. Here are the three steps to follow.
1. Choose the right type.
Bicycles are not all made with the same purposes in mind. A person interested in buying a bike should consider that sort of riding purpose. The primary categories of bicycles are mountain bikes, road bikes, and hybrid bikes. Mountain bikes, unsurprisingly, are built for off-road trails and other rougher terrain.
A typical mountain bike emphasizes braking ability and shock absorption. In contrast, road bikes are suited to even pavement. Road bikes are designed with many different purposes in mind, including casual, recreational riding, long-distance touring, racing, running errands, or commuting.
While there are many different styles of road bikes, road bikes are typically significantly lighter and faster than mountain bikes. Road bikes also have lower handlebars. The third category, hybrid bicycles, melds the characteristics of mountain bikes and road bikes. While not as fast as a road bike, hybrids feature raised handlebars, which enhances comfort. Hybrid bikes are suitable for a range of different uses and are often ideal for those who have no particular specialized purpose for their bicycle.
2. Determine the size.
Obviously, bicycles can be made in widely varying dimensions. It's important to choose a bicycle that is the right size, especially since a bad fit puts a rider at a much greater risk for injuries of many different kinds. To determine if a bicycle is the right fit, it's always important to take a test ride (even if it's for just a minute or two). However, in terms of general, practical guidelines, a person should be able to stand over the frame with an inch or two to spare. While riding, the knees should remain just slightly bent as the pedals reach the bottom of their rotation and the handlebars should be comfortably within reach. Frame size is the most important component of sizing since other parts of the bicycle such as seats and handlebars can usually be adjusted.
To determine exactly what size of bike frame should be ridden, a rider can measure their inseam and then multiply by 0.66. The resulting number will correspond to the appropriate frame size. For example, someone with a 33" inseam would, optimally, ride a bicycle with a 22" frame.
3. Check for excess wear.
Buying a used bicycle sight unseen is unwise. An in-person inspection is always necessary. While many used bikes are in excellent condition, obviously some are not. It is a basic bicycle safety check: make sure your bike is safe to ride.