Even with a price lull, gas is becoming too expensive for many people. The combination of financial strains and good weather leads many people to ditch their cars in favor of a cheaper alternative.

Cycling is a great mode of transportation in the summer time. Plus it is a two-fer: you get exercise and you save on gas. Win, win.

Finding the right bike for you depends on a few things like your budget, use and physical ability.

Let’s start with cost. Asking how much a bike costs is like asking how much a car costs. The price range is wide depending on the bells and whistles you add plus the newness of the bike. A used bike will be significantly cheaper than a new bike. Mountain bikes and road bikes will have a different in cost, and so will brand names. The more reliable brand name bikes will cost more than say a Wal-mart bike. However, your nicer bike will probably last a bit longer. (A hard Wal-mart lesson to learn.)

Next, consider how much you will use the bike and what for. If you just need a simple bike for little hills, you can select a cheaper road bike with fewer gear options. A mountain bike is for those who like to take their adventure off road and into the dirt. Mountain bikes are built with shocks that can withstand uneven road and unconventional ground (like mud, for example). Think realistically about what kind of bike riding you will actually do to make that decision. In some cases, you can get a cross-over bike that will easily adapt to both kinds of road conditions. Prices will vary significantly.

After you pick a price range and a type of bike, check out the other features. Do you have a bad back? A road back that forces you to lean over might not be the best health decision. Prone to a sore buttocks? Consult with a bike salesman to find a seat that is shaped to fit your body and cushioned for your needs.

Riding a bike has other safety concerns not often associated with a car. Sure, you can get in a car accident anytime you are in a car, but if a cyclist and a car get in an accident it is rarely the cyclist who comes out on top. Observe all safety rules and make sure to wear a helmet. Learn hand signals to indicate which way you are turning to give motorists a heads up.

Bike theft is also an issue. Bikes are easier to steal because of the size and ability to ride without a set of keys. Always lock up your bike even if you are going somewhere for a short visit. Investing in a decent bike lock will benefit you in the long run. Bicycle theft increases during the summer, especially with expensive bikes. Take note of your bike’s serial number if you need to report to police.

Happy summer cycling!

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