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Hit the road on a new bicycle

One of the most exciting buys for anyone, be they 13 or 30, is a brand new bike. Few of us will ever forget our first bicycle or the (sometimes painful) lessons that followed. Since the late 19th century, bikes have offered a comparatively inexpensive mode of transportation, and feelings of freedom and sheer exhilaration. Still, most bikes are not cheap, and it's important to consider what types are available and which one might be best for you.

Mountain Bikes

Do you love BMX bikes and off-road environments? Do you enjoy leaving the "civilized" world behind and trekking out on a Sunday afternoon to the nearest nature trail? If so, then there's a good chance that a mountain bike is best for you.

However, mountain bikes dramatically range in price. In order to determine how much you need to spend, first ask yourself where you expect to spend most of your riding time – if the answer is rough trails, then you might want to invest in a bike with advanced gear controls, shocks and dependable tires. But if you consider this kind of ride to be more occasional than everyday, then a cheaper mountain bike without shocks or incredible customization options might just do the trick. All in all, the right bike for you depends upon the right environment for you.

Road Bikes

Road bikes are designed less for durability and harsh use along rough trails and more for speed and navigation on city streets and paved country roads. But as with mountain bikes, there is a massive price difference between the cheapest and most expensive road bikes, with the latter boasting incredibly light bike frames often made of elite composite materials.

Many of the same shopping principles described above apply to road bikes. In both cases it's often a good idea to ask the bike store if you can take a bike for a test ride. The bicycle should feel comfortable, with the seat and pedals adjusted to suit your height and weight. If it doesn't – or worse, if it leaves you feeling sore – you may need to re-evaluate the bike brand or type. You may even consider more unconventional options, like recumbent bikes. When you do make your purchase, don't forget that people who own bikes should also own bike helmets.