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How to Shop for and Maintain a Bike

Man tuning up a bike

If you're new to biking or it's been a while since your last ride, UCLA Bike Month is the perfect time to pick it up as a fun way to exercise or commute to campus. But with all of the different types of bikes out there, it's important to find the right one that fits your needs and budget. Here are tips on how to shop for a bike and take care of it after you bring it home.

Choose Your Bike Type

There are generally four main types of bikes to choose from depending on how you'll ride your bike:

  • Road Bikes - For riding over pavement at fast speeds, ideal for trekking through the city and commuting to campus
  • Mountain Bikes - Built with shock-absorbing features for off-road use such as bike paths and trails 
  • Hybrid Bikes - A cross between road and mountain bikes that perform well on both paved and unpaved terrain
  • Electric Bikes - Have a battery-powered motor offering faster speeds than a regular bike and a boost when you're climbing up hills or just need a rest

Where to Buy

When shopping for a bike, it's preferable to do so in-person so you can find one that's the right size. Local bike shops can talk you through your purchase to make sure it's the right fit and help you make any adjustments. If you're more knowledgeable about bikes, you can try buying one online but may have to do some assembly on your own.

Set Your Budget

While bike prices vary widely depending on what the frame is made of, you can expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $1,000 for a quality bike, and even more for an electric bike. Used bikes can be an option but make sure you factor in the cost of any repairs. Also keep in the mind the cost of accessories such as a helmet, lock, and lights.

Maintain Your Ride

Once you buy a bike, routine maintenance is critical to riding safely. The League of American Bicyclists recommends these tips which are as easy as remembering "ABC Quick Check":

  • A is for Air
    • Make sure your tires are inflated to the pressure listed on the side of the tire by using a pressure gauge
    • Check for damage and replace the tire if needed
  • B is for Brakes
    • Inspect the pads for wear and replace them if there's less than a quarter inch left
    • Make sure that the pads are adjusted correctly and that they don't rub against the tire
    • When the brakes are squeezed all the way, make sure that you can fit your thumb between the brake lever handlebar
  • C is for cranks and chain
    • Pull your cranks away from the bike and if they're loose, tighten the bolt
    • Check that your chain is free of rust and gunk
  • Quick is for quick releases
    • Make sure quick releases are all closed, and that they're pointing to the back of the bike so they don't get caught on anything
  • Check is for check it over
    • Take a quick ride to check that it's working properly

Now that you know how to shop for and maintain a bike, test yourself on the rules of the road with our Biking Basics Quiz and enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card! Must be a current UCLA affiliate with a valid UID to win.