Buyers Guide: Comfort Bikes Explained
You’ve finally made the decision to buy a brand-new bicycle, but now you’ve been hit with an even bigger decision – which one do you buy? It’s a tough task choosing the perfect bike, many spend years searching for their prized machines. You may think that the simplicity of a comfort bike will make it an easy choice, but there is a myriad of factors to consider – from frame size all the way to tire width. We’re here to tell you about all of the comfort bike featuresthat you should keep an eye out for, ensuring that you get your hands on a bike that suits you best.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, it’s probably worth explaining the slight differences between a hybrid bike and a comfort bike – hint, there’s quite a few. Hybrids borrow a lot of aspects from both road and mountain bikes – the 700c wheels, thin tires, and suspension – combining them together to create an ergonomic and extremely efficient commuting machine. Comfort bikes, on the other hand, opt for smaller wheels, larger tires and a more plush, comfortable feel to their components. Comfort is the top priority, rather than pedaling efficiency and commuting viability.
Comfort bikes are true urban cruisers, a bike that lets you sit back and enjoy the ride ahead of you. Where that ride is headed means very little, this bike is all about a comfortable, enjoyable journey – not the destination.
What to Look for When Buying a Comfort Bike
The perfect bike differs for everyone and the term comfort bike can be applied to a very wide range of bicycles, all boasting countless amounts of added features. You might not know what features you’ll necessarily need or want, so think of this following section as your one-stop shop for understanding all things comfort bike.
Frame Shape and Materials
The frame of a comfort bikeis engineered to make your ride as comfortable as possible, that’s why many of these bicycles will be designed with slacker, more upright geometry than your standard road racing bikes. Being able to sit upright will hold off any of those unnecessary aches and pains from cramming yourself into a tight, tucked position – allowing you to ride for a whole lot longer.
The materials that a comfort bike frame isconstructed from don’t vary all too much, most opting for a super-tough high-tensile steel or lighter weight, sturdy aluminum alloy. Both come with their pros and cons, steel being the toughest of the two but also the heaviest and most susceptible to rust. Aluminum, on the other hand, is a lot lighter, doesn’t rust but can be a little more expensive than steel.
When it comes to frame material, a lot of the choice lies with your budget. Both materials are super tough should you take a few tumbles, but each has their own intrinsic pros and cons, so it’s good to be aware of those before you make your choice.
Comfort bikes do away with the dropped handlebars of zippy road bikes, opting for flat and wide handlebars complete with plush and comfy grips. Flatter bars, or the signature curved handlebars that are featured on a lot of our comfort bikes, are there to help you get into the most comfortable riding position possible – one that keeps your body upright and away from the aero Quasimodo tuck that you’d have to adapt on a road bike.
The handlebars on a comfort bike are also quite wide, giving you greater control should the streets turn a little narrow and dicey. Wider bars also help to further improve, you guessed it, comfort. Narrow bars squish your shoulders in, leading to some niggling pains down the road.
No super-comfy handlebars would be complete without a pair of soft, plush grips. Make sure you find a bike that sports a colorful pair that is both fashionable and comfortable to touch – your hands will thank you on those longer rides.
Brakes and Gearing
There are two main types of braking systems, rim, and disc. Disc brakes have superior stopping power over rim brakes, but when it comes to maintenance, boy are they a pain. For the kind of riding that a comfort bike will be doing, rim brakes are perfect. They’re simple, easy to both install and fix, cheap to replace and super-responsive when it comes to braking.
Comfort bikes aren’t exactly renowned for their plethora of gears, and for good reason. These aren’t col-crushing bikes or super-speedy sprinting machines, they don’t need the vast range of gears that many modern race bikes have. Instead, comfort bikes opt for a simple selection of gears, just enough to power you up those short, steep hills but not too many where maintenance soon becomes fiddly and annoying.
Some comfort bikes will even cut the selection of gears entirely and go solo with a single gear design. If you’re planning on riding around a flat city and just want a bike with a get-up-and-go kind of attitude, with little need for maintenance, then you may just want to look into single speed bikes.
Racks and Fenders
More often than not, you’ll find yourself needing to carry a few things when cruising around the city. Backpacks are all well and good, but they can soon cause pain on those longer rides. A rack on the rear, or even the front of the bike, gives you a whole lot more carrying capacity, all while increasing the overall enjoyment of your ride.
A lot of our bikes in the sixthreezero comfort range come with the option to customize your ride and add even more carrying capacity, with a basket up front or a handy surfing rack on the side. Wherever you’re thinking of cruising, a sixthreezero bike can carry everything – including the kitchen sink – with you.
Similar to racks, fenders also attach to the front and rear of the bike, but instead of carrying all your essentials and token trinkets, they keep your butt clean and dry. There’s nothing worse than arriving at your destination, only to squelch as you sit down in your damp, dirty pit of misery. Fenders will stop most of the mucky road spray from flaring up your butt and also into the faces of those riding directly behind you – a common biking courtesy that will help you make friends, rather than alienate them.
As the only part of the bike that actually touches the ground – should you be riding upright of course – tires are incredibly important. They inspire confidence, dramatically improve handling and ultimately help to keep you upright, all of which are important factors when it comes to riding a bike.
Comfort bikes will often sport a fatter pair of tires than both road bikes and hybrid bikes, a pair more akin to those that you’d find on a mud-hungry mountain bike. A wider, grippier tire will grant you a much more comfortable ride, eating up a lot of the little bumps strewn across the road while also maintaining traction with the road surface underneath. As comfort bikes aren’t really about going fast, you can afford to slap on a pair of super-wide, super-comfy mountain bike tires – after all, it’s not about how fast you get there, it’s all about how comfortable and enjoyable the journey was.
Anything above a 32mm wide tire is ideal, with 42mm arguably the Goldilockszone. The wider the tire, the grippier and more comfortable it will be – just something to bear in mind.
Our Comfort Bikes
At sixthreezero, we offer a wide range of comfort bikes, sporting slight variations in added features and components. They’re all super-comfy, but you may have to perusea few before you find the perfect one for you.
Best Women’s Comfort Bikes
The EVRYjourney is our signature bike, one designed to take you places both comfortably and in style. The super-wide and comfy saddle, relaxed step-through frame design and upright riding position make it ideal for female riders. Another comfort bike aimed at the ladies is our Women’s Classic Cruiser, a simple yet elegant bike that’s available in single-speed, 3-speed, and 7-speed. Maximized for total comfort, there’s no bike that’s smoother than this one.
Comfort Bikes for Men
The EVRYjourney also comes in a men’s variant, a testament to its versatility as an all-around comfort bike. The longer framed IntheBarrel bike resembles an old-style chopper in style but has all the extra features to make it a well-rounded, city cruising comfort bike. Finally, the BE follows a classic, timeless design that champions simplicity over anything else – opting for single-speed and coaster brakes.
All of our bikes are available in a wide range of colors and are highly customizable, leaving no limits on your decision-making process. Make this comfort bike guide your bible – with it, you’re bound to choose a bike that has been tailor-made for you and your riding style.
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