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02 Nov 2015
Things to Know Before Buying a Cycle in India

Audience

  • People who have decided to give cycling a try.
  • Young guys/girls looking to buy their first bike.
  • People who want to know what’s the big deal about choosing a bike.

Mindset of the buyer

Choosing a bike
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Now this is what we have to discuss. The answer varies from person to person. I have amassed some of the typical cases.

If the person is concerned about ever increasing fossil fuel prices and the environmental impact they have, then they will have thought about other environmental-friendly alternatives for transportation. And it is no surprise that they choose cycling because of it’s added fitness benefits. They are not bothered whether they have an 8-gear MTB or super light-weight Road bike. They only look for a decent bike that fits their wallet and lasts long. They should really consider a single-speed city cycle in my opinion.

If the person is a trekking/travelling junglee who loves exploring and conquering mountains on manpower alone, they would opt for cycling. These people need cycles suited for long distance that offers a lot of comforts. So you need suspension for the bumpy-rocky path and larger tyres for grip on the gravel roads. They should go for an MTB. They will need to learn, how to do the repair of their cycle, like changing a punctured tyre , adjusting the shifters and derailers etc..

If the person is living in the city, lives close to his place of work and is looking for a daily workout that will keep them healthy then their best choice is cycling. The best option for the urban person is a Hybrid bike. It has the looks of an MTB, but is light-weight like a Road bike. Some of them come without suspension. There are a lot of options in this range. I personally own a Fuji absolute 1.9. It has no suspension, but is super fast. It took me a lot of time to decide which one I should buy. I am very happy with the choice I have made.

Now comes the hardcore cyclist, who is inspired by Tour De France, Randonneuring and Track cycling. For him, nothing short of a Road bike will be satisfactory. It is fast, super light and aerodynamic. It is by definition built for the road. You can easily maintain 25-30 kph on this bike on the road. These people usually know the A-Z of cycling.

If you have decided to buy a cycle, see which mindset you belong to and then choose the type.

My Budget is low

If you are an Indian, then, of course, your budget is low. No surprise there. Whenever we are aiming to buy something that has to last for long term (say, 7-10 years) then it is wise to spend a bit more than your budget. It is always worth it.

Let me tell you my story. I had decided that I would go for a Hybrid bike. I did a lot of searching online, asking in forums and facebook groups. Most of the ones that were recommended to me were priced above 25,000 INR. Anyway, I went to the nearest Brand showroom. I told them my budget is 20,000 INR and asked them to give me a good Hybrid. The shop owner took a good look at me, sat me down and asked me a lot of questions. What is my purpose of cycling, why am I opting for a hybrid and so on. Being a master at his trade, I think he understood me as the customer pretty quickly. He took out two Hybrids from the rack. One was Cannondale and the other was Merida. He asked me to take them on a ride. I asked him to tell their prices. He declined and instead told me to try them out first. I obeyed like a 10-year-old kid. I took them out for a 1 km ride, one after the other. It felt heavenly. The ride was so smooth and the feeling was something I had never experienced before. Reaching back at the shop, the look on my face expressed everything I had to say to the Owner. Very patiently, with his two hands on the two bikes, he asked which one I am going to buy. I took a heavy breath and asked how much for each. Cannondale came to 43,000 INR and Merida came to about 36,000 INR. And like all Indian shop owners, he was willing to give me an extra special discount of 10% with additional accessories. I might have gone in for the offer, but like all other Indian customers told him that I will come back later.

The next day, I went to two other shops and did a test ride on similar models. I finally gave in to the one bike that topped my maximum budget. I bought home, a Fuji absolute 1.9 for 32,000 INR. I kind of knew this would happen. But it is truly worth spending a bit more if you are serious about cycling.

Buy online or offline

For a beginner, I would strictly advise buying offline. Because after you buy the bike, you will need some checkups, tuning, oiling and repair from time to time. If you go to the same shop from where you bought the cycle and keep a good relationship with the owner and staff, then most of this will be done for free of cost. You will also meet other fellow riders. Talking to people who share the same passion is a pleasant experience.

If you are buying online, you will definitely get better discounts. But there are downsides. My friend bought a Montra once. It arrived in parts that have to be assembled by an expert. Fortunately, the delivery man assembled it for him. My friend was a beginner and one week later I was riding alongside him. I took his bike out for a spin. Something felt wrong. The front derailer was completely messed up. It was just a small error, but it made riding and shifting the front gear very cumbersome. Unfortunately, my friend was under the impression that it was the way the cycle was supposed to be. So such unfortunate events can occur if you buy online. If you are lucky, all will go well. It is up to you take the chances.

Common Worries

  • Q: The shop owner said the cycle is 21 speed. What does that mean?

Look closely at the cranks. In the front, you will probably see 3 cranks. The front barrel adjuster on the handle will also show the numbers, 1, 2 and 3. Similarly, the back gear cassettes will come to the count of 7. You can check the back barrel adjuster to confirm. So you have a total of 7 x 3 = 21 gear combinations. Four times that of a car huh!. If your cycle is 14 speed, then you probably have only 2 cranks in the front.

  • Q: If I am buying a geared cycle, how many gears should I buy?

The first thing anyone will do when riding a geared bike for the first time will be playing with the gears. Trying to understand the shifting mechanisms and a suitable combination for his/her legs. To be honest, this question cannot be answered technically. So people buy a 14 speed and later switch to 21 speed. The reverse also happens. Some customize it and throw away gears that they don’t use, to decrease the weight of the cycle.

  • Q: What frame size should I buy?

This depends on your height. This should help you out.

  • Q: What accessories must I buy?

If you love your head, then buy a helmet. If you want to look cool, then buy a cycling jersey. If you want to keep your hands safe from the sun and dust, then buy hand sleeves. If you like extra grip, then buy hand gloves. If you have sensitive eyes and wishes to protect them from the sun and dust, buy sunglasses. If you care for your cycle, then buy an awesome lock. If you want to save your ass from pain when going for long rides, buy cycling shorts. If you are buying an imported cycle, you will have to buy a stand. If you ride in the night, buy a tail lamp and head lamp. If you still have some money in your wallet, buy an air pump.

The best advice I can give for people with a tight budget is, buy the cycle first and slowly as time passes you will understand what accessories you need. You can grab them online for the best prices.

  • Q: Who will maintain my cycle in the future?

You, of course. Most shops have a service center. It is better to ask them the service costs as well. Meanwhile, you will find plenty of tutorials online on DIY maintenance.

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Wish you all the best! Reach out, if you need any help.


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