Most of us live in cities. 56.2% (in 2020). To be exact. Of course, the tendency is that it will increase even more. It is predicted that by 2050 that number will be almost 7,000,000,000. Yes, that many zeros. Most of us work in the city, do various jobs in the city and look for company or entertainment in the city. Increasingly, the urban environment is becoming our everyday life and the only environment.
Bearing in mind that the transport infrastructure does not follow the development of urban zones or does so in an inappropriate manner, bicycle transport is becoming an increasingly common choice of users of urban facilities. As the use of bicycles in an imperfect (or inappropriate) urban ecosystem poses more and more real obstacles and problems, it is important that you choose the appropriate "vehicle" for this purpose.
In the following lines, we will try to destroy the biggest misconceptions when choosing the right bike, offer the characteristics that every city bike should have and answer some common questions that every person asks when choosing a new city bicycle.
Is a mountain bike with a front suspension the right choice for the city?
Not at all. This is one of the biggest misconceptions about buying a bicycle in Croatia. The average price range of mountain bikes sold does not provide either a good suspension or good parts nor does it make you an efficient city cyclist. All the gravel or forest trails you will find within wider urban areas are not a problem for any bike with slightly thicker tires, and your mountain bike is unfortunately not capable of anything more than these gravel and forest trails although it may look like that.
A thick tire with a lot of knobs means safety and better grip. Right?
No. Too thick a tire only means that it has more sliding surface and that the rolling resistance is higher. Also, since your road through urban areas or within the strict city center is mostly made of asphalt or hard-packed gravel, any too thick tire with large knobs represents only poorer grip and terrible rolling resistance. If you really don’t want to turn your riding into gym workout and weightlifting, don’t use thick tires with big knobs. They just look good. And nothing more.
A mountain bike can carry a lot of cargo. And it's robust. And durable. Right?
Not always.. 99% of mountain bikes sold in Croatia are made of a poorer alloy of aluminum or steel, which makes them either too weak or too heavy for any additional load. Also, the possibility of mounting various carriers and loads is extremely limited due to the suspension (meaning it can be mounted only on the handlebar which significantly reduces load capacity and safety) and its position, but also due to limited reception points (mostly dedicated) for various types of carriers and basket.
Choose city bikes for city riding. It is not difficult?
Although heavy-hearted, this time we have to declare fixie bikes a bit deficient for city riding and the additional opportunities they provide. Real city bikes are easy to recognize:
- They have fenders or mudgards. Both on the front and rear wheel. Long enough. And solid. Preferably made of aluminum, steel, etc ....
- They have more possibilities of accepting various carriers, baskets or other fenders. Some bikes already have it all on them when you buy it. No kidding.
- Some even have bells on them. Or at least they have plenty of room to install one. Or two ..... You need to be loud in traffic.
- Whatever your local bikestore claims, a good city bike with all the above "hardware" should not exceed 12-13kg. No way. Why not make cycling easier for yourself?
- Tires between 700x30c and 700x45c are more than enough. Don’t insist on rips. You don't need a tractor, nor will you ride that bike down the enduro trail on Medvednica.
- Insist on the lights. Or flash lights. There is a difference. The flash lights are used in a bright urban environment and serve to make others see you better. The lights are used for those dark parts of the road where, in addition to being seen, there is something more you need to see. Buy them separately. Basically, those pre-installed are (mostly) crap.
- One front transmission (One-by) ...... Yes. For all the "cadence divas" among us, one front transmission is enough. How ever You take it, all of us in the city commutes use a maximum of 3 to 4 different gears. Otherwise, You will overpay the first time, and then every time you do the service. Trust us, one transmission up front rules!
- A few little notes: look for quality steel or quality aluminum alloy; take the one with slightly better pedals; if you don’t have a big budget you’d rather insist on a better frame rather than disc brakes; insist on top contact point materials (saddles, grips/bar tapes) - both your hands and your arse will thank you.
AND DEFFINETELY A NO! A thick and bulky saddle is not more comfortable. Once you run through the hemorrhoids you will realize it. Hygiene is most important. There is no hygiene when you pedal on sofa.
There. We went through most of the important stuff. Whether you are looking for a city bike on our site or on our colleagues sites, put yourself first.
Cheers! And don’t forget to share the road.