Fit – Make sure a road bike fits to your size: Youtube How-to
Bike Layout – Full Suspension is mostly for MTB / ATB – mountain trail biking / all-terrain biking or CX – Cyclocross – multiple terrains like gravel/grass/pavement/dirt but not as bad as Mountain. Hardtail is for more versatility – road/speed/commuting/XC – crosscountry racing and weekend trail biking. The main difference is that Full Suspension absorbs bumps so is more comfortable and more forgiving but requires a little more maintenance (20 mins to remove/clean/oil shocks every 30-40 riding miles, every 6-12 months for pivots/bearings), but Hardtail will teach better technique, is lighter (~2 lbs), cheaper, and no pedaling energy loss. Generally, full suspension is better than hardtail for people with back problems, unless you like to ride out of the saddle (butt off the seat) a lot, allowing your legs to absorb ground impacts.
Budget – If spending less than $2k, it is better to get a hardtail bike even if you’re going trail biking, because full suspension bikes less than $2k will compromise part quality and be susceptible to damage from trail biking, unlike the hardtails at this pricepoint (at least $600 for a trail biking one). At $2k+, full suspension will be quality enough to be durable, unless going for a carbon hardtail for XC racing – which is lighter and more reliable for this purpose.
Brakes – Disc brakes are generally preferred to rim brakes (especially for inclement weather), however rim brakes weigh less for racing bikes
Tire Size – For hardtail, get 29″ for hardtail (better for trails to absorb bumps more), unless you’re very short or you do tight trails where you’re turning a lot (then 27.5″). For full suspension, get 27.5″, because the chain is longer on the full suspension than hardtail, and it just handles better than the 29″.
Bike Maintenance and Repair Guide: Courtesy of DC’s Bike House
Best Road & Racing Bike (hardtails)
For fitness and commuting to work, road bikes are king. Especially if you need an easily maneuverable one for carrying up stairs or trains, a carbon is nice to have it be the lightest possible.
Cervelo R5 – Absolute Best Racing Bike. Cervelos are called “dentist” bikes because they are on the expensive side and often purveyed by wealthy dentists.
Cannondale SuperSix Evo – Amazing racing bike that is slightly more affordable that the R5. For those who enjoy a racer stance, always leaning forward.
Cannondale Synapse – Great all-around road bike. Slightly more comfortable for sitting up.
Frame Material: Frame material is a big item of what sets bikes apart. Carbon and even higher end carbons (Hi-Mod for Cannondale) are much more expensive and lighter.
Groupsets: The gearing groupsets are a big difference also. It goes 105 -> Ultegra -> SRAM -> Dura-Ace (from low-end to highest end). Di2 is electronic.
Brakes: Disc brakes are more modern than rim nowadays for road bikes, better braking especially in wet conditions, however, they are heavier.
Best Hardtail Touring Bike
A touring bike will do better if you’d like fenders (mudguards / splashguards) and racks to carry things. More comfortable for longer distances than the road bike.
Surly Disc Trucker – go with this over the Kona, as Kona has weird handlebars and the Surly is the best value and Surly has better color. Because of the disc brakes, better than the Surly Long Haul Trucker – LHT)
Kona Sutra – exotic and not seen around much, outstanding for both mountain bikes and cyclocross, better resale value and build dynamics/geometry than Motobecane, only a little heavier than Felt or Specialized
Salsa Vaya – If your bike won’t be as loaded, this is the more fun ride than both above.
Others: Felt (top of the line, holds high resale value, Kona is better), Motobecane (for budget, no support/distribution/sales dealer to go back to if something goes wrong, better components than Kona), Dawes Galaxy (for touring), Could build a Windsor Tourist or Fuji Touring and upgrade it instead but too much work
Best Full Suspension (FS or Soft Tail) Bike
Best: Salsa Spearfish
Secondary: Santa Cruz Tallboy
Other options: Niner Jet 9 (racing built), Yeti ASRc (racing built), Dawes Roundhouse 2500, BMC, Giant (mainstream, Trance or Anthem 29er), Specialized (semi mainstream but Stumpjumper or Epic are great, get Epic if mainly for XC racing b/c it’s more similar to a hardtail, StumpJumper for all-mountain/trail all-arounder), GT (mainstream but the Chucker is not), Rose Dr Z, Scott Spark, Titus Rockstar
Hybrid/Comfort – Gravity Dutch (Only if you can work on bikes or want to pay a shop to assemble for $50-$100, however, buying at a shop will usually throw in lifetime maintenance) Bikesdirect
Flat Bar Hybrid Road Bikes – Road – Fuji Absolute 3.0 Flat Bar Hybrid Road bikes [Bikesdirect]
Don’t get: Trek (fragile, way too mainstream, Giant is better), Windsor Cliff 4500, RST fork is absolute crap (the Suntour on the 450HT sucks too but its better than the RST), Scott (mainstream), Specialized Epic (Kona is just as good), Yeti (Kona is just as good), Salsa drivetrain just okay, Volcanic VX9 (good frame but bad components, not available to the public, only to police ie Washington DC are getting VX9s but Smith & Wesson is better for patrol and even Cannondale is better), Fuji aren’t great
Police Courses: LEBA and IPMBA courses
If buying your bikes used: part by part on eBay, or used on Jenson / Pricepoint / icyclesusa / On One / Blueskycycles / MTBR Classifieds
Best Folding / Collapsible Bicycle
Best: Brompton H6L (6 gears, includes bag), cheapest model is the Brompton S2L (2 gears). S type handlebar is not too comfortable, H and M type is better for longer distances (M being the classic Brompton).
Substitute: Dahon Formula S18 $1.4k or Tern Eclipse P9 $1.1k
Don’t Get: Place Pacific Cycles Reach IF $2k, Montague Boston 8 $1k
Best Bike Accessories
Best Automobile Trunk Bike Rack
It depends on the type of car you have: Trunk Bike Racks [etrailer.com]
Best Bike Lock
Note: We recommend you not leave any expensive bikes out unattended for more than 30 minutes.
Budget (for bikes <$1k): Kryptonite Kryptolok Series 2 Standard Bicycle U-Lock with Transit FlexFrame Bracket (4-inch x 9-inch) with 4-Foot Flex Cable $43 [Amazon]
Best (for bikes >$1k): Kryptonite New York New U-Lock $106 [Amazon] OR Kryptonite Evolution Series-4 1090 Integrated Chain [Amazon] OR Kryptonite New York Fahgettaboudit 1410 Chain [Amazon]
Also get: Pitlock Skewers – to lock the wheels and other components to the bike so they don’t get taken off and stolen
Do not get: Forever U Lock – this is a over-priced, resold from Taiwanese shopping website
Best Bike Rack Basket for Cargo / Cell Phone / Waterbottle
See your specific bike.
Best Bike Helmet
Having sufficient ventilation is preferable so your head doesn’t sweat. Note: there are stylish helmets over $60, even up to $150, however, one can generally them (other than the techy Coros) on sale for $50 if one digs on google, such as my favorite, the Specialized Airnet (old stock). The premium does not mean extra safety, although the MIPS feature may reduce rotational force and generally costs $20-$30 extra at least.
Cheap: Giro Trinity $19 [Amazon] or with visor Giro Revel $40 [Amazon] / Giro Register $50 [Amazon] (visors are more the style for mountain or trail than road bikes or commuting), all cooler than Schwinn Aereos Adult $12 or Schwinn Thrasher $25, some have detachable visors
Best Stylish / Subtle Bike Helmet (for professional commuting): Giro Foray $65 [Amazon], Giro Aspect $95 [Amazon] (more professional looking than Hex), or Specialized Airnet $50-$150 [Specialized]. These helmets have more even lines, thus look more stylish than the uber sporty ones.
Best Bluetooth Helmet: Coros Omni Smart Cycling Helmet $190 [Amazon] – Only helmet with bluetooth audio (for music) and mic (for phone calls), includes a smart remote that is attachable to your bike’s handlebars. However, this adds some weight. Some complain about the low volume or poor bluetooth connection. You could opt for the Linx to save money at $130 [Amazon], which is the older version but with worse bluetooth audio hardware and no tail lights.
Sporty: Lazer Genesis $155 (cooler looking than Lazer O2) [Amazon]
Best Pads, Clothing, Gloves, Sunglasses for Bicycling
Gloves and padded shorts will make the ride more comfortable.
Best Bicycle Shoes and Clipless Pedals
Pedals – Speedplay $230 [Wahoo Fitness] is better than Shimano SPD. More easy to clip in and clip out (dual sided) even if a little more expensive. Would get the newer improved version. The Nano isn’t worth it over the Zero. Speedplay pedals includes the shoe cleats and walking covers.
Shoes – Sidi Wire 2 (highest end italian, ultra stiff) or Fi’zi:k Infinito R1 (slightly more comfortable but less stiff) or Shimano S Phyre RC9 (latest model SH-RC902)
We recommend picking one of these top-end shoes on eBay slightly used for $100-$200 instead of the $300-$400 retail.
Best Bike Phone Mount, or Bicycle GPS and Computer and Sensors
If you’d like heart rate and cadence sensors (or even power meter or traffic sensors), a bicycle GPS is recommended to capture all of this data. Traffic sensor can even show you that a car is coming up behind you and at what speed.
Recommended – Garmin 1030 plus
I do not feel the need for one, so we recommend the below mount and case holder for the smartphone.
Phone Mount – Rokform V4 Pro Series Bike Phone Mount $60 [Rokform]. Although other phone mounts (e.g. Quadlock) might be easier to place your phone onto, the Rokform phone case is the most protective and rock solid as compared to the Quadlock and SP Connect. Also the Rokform phone case does not show scuffs as easily. In the Rokform line-up, we chose and recommend the V4 Pro mount over the Sport Series Bike Phone Mount $60 because the Sport Series is too loose (could not get a tight fit with it) even though it is more easily installed and remove-able than the V4.
Phone Case for Recommended Phone Mount – Crystal case $50 [Rokform] was prettier than the plain black Rugged case. Same durability.
If not compatible, order this: Loop Twist Mount $50 [Kickstarter]. We are currently waiting for it to be shipped and plan to review.
Best Bike Traffic Mirror
CORKY X | Sunglasses-mounted Rear-view Mirror for Cycling $50 [Kickstarter]. We are currently waiting for it to be shipped and plan to review.
Best Bicycle Light
There are many options and this is more subjective but we found this bike light has good looks – even though you can find other lights with more lumens and more affordable. Light & Motion Vis Pro 1000 $100 [Amazon]. We do not have much of a preference for backlight.
Best Bicycle Work Stand or Storage Stand
Feedback Sports Pro-Elite
Cheap work stands are bad because if the bike isn’t tightly clamped into the stand, it isn’t any good for most installs or removals that require any level of torque
Best Bicycle Shoes and Clipless Pedals
Camelback Podium [Camelbak]
Polar Breakaway Muck $18 [Polar]
Best Cycling Sunglasses
See Oakley Radar EV Advancer review at Best Eyewear: Sunglasses, Prescription, Computer
Other Personal Transportation
Best Longboard: Landyachtz or Arbiter or Original Apex (Don’t get: Quest or Atom Pintail b/c bad even though cheap)
Electric Unicycles: Airwheel, Solowheel Spirit (difficult to control but great form factor) or Extreme, Pinwheel, SBU V3 (too big), RYNO (too big), Inmotion R2 or V3
Electric Two Wheelers / Segways: Segway, Solowheel Hovertrax (two wheels, big), PhunkeeDuck, zBoard, IO Hawk, Oxboard, Cyboard, Scoot, Future Foot, Monorover, Airboard, Freego, Esway, Airwheel, iEZWay, Overoad, Soulja Board, DriftXBoard, ClaroTek Cybord
Best: Solowheel Extreme (better than zBoard and FUnky PhunkeeDuck and Hovertrax Source)