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Urban Bike Rider Spotlight: Exciting Growth and New Challenges

Urban Bike Basics

Urban bike options have been a hot topic in recent years, especially as city bike riding has become more popular. There's been a real push in major cities in the U.S. to add bike lanes. We see efforts to encourage people to ride their bikes to and from work. As a result, the urban environment has become a hotbed for bicycles. If you are planning to make the lifestyle change yourself, I'm sure there is one question on your mind. "What's the difference between an urban bike and other bikes?" In this article, answer this question by covering the simple factors that make an urban bike so unique.

Usually, when you talk about an urban bike or bikes for the city, you're talking about bikes built for speed. This means these bikes often sport thinner tires for improved maneuverability. This is especially helpful when you're riding on the streets or in the city. In these environments, you will often be fighting to keep up with the flow of traffic. Of course, cyclists can't ride as fast as cars, but it's important to be able to a ride at a reasonable speed. This way you can be able to navigate through traffic as fast as possible. Having speed at your fingertips is also helpful when faced with the unlimited perils of city riding. Cars, commotion, and chaos are factors to be aware of as an urban bike rider.

The Hallmark Design of an Urban Bike

One of the hallmark differentiators of an urban bike is its design, which emphasizes an upright riding position. This allows riders to lean forward and reach higher speeds with an aggressive riding stance. With an urban bike, you're always going to notice different speeds. What I mean by this, is you're never going to see a single geared urban bike unless it's a men's model. For women shopping in the urban category, you'll see a feature called "fixed gear". This means there is only one gear on the bike and it's fixed, meaning the pedals never stop turning. Consequentially, the rider has to be moving their pedals at all time.

On the women's side, you'll see three to seven speeds. It's a simpler gear system that functions without the normal 21 speeds. Three speeds are good because of their ease of use. However, seven speeds are better if you crave going faster.

Aluminum Frames for Less Weight and Less Rust

A common feature for an urban bike is the inclusion of aluminum frames. A big reason for this is the weight of the bike in regards to transportation needs. People living in urban environments usually live in condos or apartment complexes. This means unless they live on the ground floor that they must carry their bike up a set of stairs. Having an aluminum bike that's light makes it easy to transport to and from your residence. Or if you live in a townhome and plan on storing your bike outside or in the garage. Aluminum is a great material because it's less susceptible to rust. Plus the lighter weight transfers to increased agility when riding. Providing the rider with a greater degree of maneuverability. This is ideal in hectic riding environments with endless obstacles.

And then lastly, good braking systems. If you're riding in an urban environment, you want to make sure that you've got a good braking system. Especially for when an unexpected car juts out in front of you. This is why the most common braking system utilizes caliper hand brakes on the front and the rear of the bike.

What You Should Know Before You Buy

Some rules of thumb when purchasing an urban bike is to make sure you know the environment you'll be riding in. As well as the pace you would like to be able to travel at. If you're riding in a busy city like New York, you'll want a bike geared towards speed. This because you'll be competing with cars and pedestrians. And when you pedal harder, you can reduce the lag time between your effort and the bikes speed. With fatter tires, it's not conducive to a congested area.

Another tip is I would say look for speeds. You're gonna want speeds on that bike if you can. As I said, fixed speeds and one-speed bikes are popular for men. But I would recommend gears because it will allow you to go faster as needed. If you need to shift up a gear or shift down a gear to accelerate this allows you to:

  • Weave effortlessly between cars
  • Beat a light before it turns red
  • And speed past pedestrians

Trust me - having the option for speed will help you in more ways than one.

How to Keep Your Urban Bike Looking Like New

The most important tip for getting the most out of your urban bike is to keep up with maintenance. Maintaining your bike is important to achieve consistent performance as it ages. For cleaning purposes I recommend once or twice every month or two. Especially if you're riding in a city environment, there's going to be debris and filth on the streets. Sprinkle in the exhaust fumes emitting from motor-vehicles. And the result is the creation of soot based buildup in your bike's chain and brakes.

To prevent this from happening to you make sure that your chain is well lubed. I would also suggest making sure that you tune your brakes and always keep your tires pumped up. In an urban environment, you'll need the ability to perform quick stops and launches. And with more obstacles, there will be a higher risk for precarious situations. You need to make sure your brakes are completely dialed in so you can stop at a moment's notice. And you want to make sure your tire pressure is where it should be. If it's too low, you won't be able to get the acceleration you may need.

Lastly, make sure that you have all your gears tuned. Gears are pivotal to your acceleration and your ability to speed between cars or go in the bike lane. If your gears aren't working and you're fumbling to shift. It's possible this could lead to your chain falling off. This could present a dangerous situation, especially if it occurs during congested traffic. Moreover, for an urban bike, your number one focus should be bike maintenance.

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