Cycling Scotland -

When you're buying a new bike, there are many different things you will need to consider. First of all, you need to look objectively at what you want from the bike. What is important? Is it looks, specification, extra equipment, handling or performance?

Here is a quick guide to help you find the best balance of your requirements. The most important thing to do first is to decide what you will use your bike for or where you are going to use it.

As a general rule of thumb:

  • If you are going to be using it on road all the time, then you will be looking at road bikes.
  • If your main use will be off-road, then you should look at mountain bikes.
Mountain Biking in Scotland
  • However, if you do a bit of both, don't panic, as there are many in between areas for you to look at.
  • If you simply want to pose, then I guess it depends on who you want to impress, but obviously the better specification for your money the better!

Road bikes can be split into 2 sections - Commuting, or Sport & Recreation. This will simplify your choice, as they are essentially 2 different styles of bike.

  1. A Commuting bike will have full cover mudguards, pannier rack, kick stand and will be set up with comfort in mind. This will mean an upright riding position and a comfortable saddle. The more expensive models often come with a suspension seatpost and forks.
  2. Sport and Recreation bikes are more varied in style, ranging from a proper road racing bike, to a sport Hybrid.
    • If speed is your main concern, then look at a road racing bike and you will not be disappointed!
    • However, if you want a bit of comfort thrown in, try the new breed of 'road sport' bikes. These are essentially road racing bikes with a flat handlebar instead of drop bars. They have only recently become available, and have been well received.
    • Another option is to buy a mountain bike or ATB (All-Terrain-Bike), and change the tyres to 'slick' tyres.
    • An alternative to this is to buy a Sport Hybrid. This is a more versatile bike as it has all the advantages of a road bike, but can be used on forest tracks or grit paths, whereas a road specific bike cannot. This is due to the shallow level of tread blocks on the tyres that provide enough grip without sacrificing rolling resistance on the road.
    • However, if your usual ventures take you further of the beaten track than riding around a forest park, then a Mountain Bike is the best way to go.......


Mountain Bikes are every bit as specific to off-road riding as road bikes are to road riding. The only difference is that a mountain bike can be used anywhere, even roads, although will not come close to attaining the speed of a road bike. Think of it as the difference between a Land Rover and a sports car!

Mountain Bikes are designed with two things in mind - grip and off-road handling. They have wide 'knobbly' tyres, to provide grip in slippy conditions, and are designed to be used with a small frame to provide a tighter handling and a more rigid platform. Over the years Mountain Bikes have been split into different areas such as Cross-Country, Downhill and Jump & Trials.

Although many of them have suspension in various degrees of travel, up to 8 inches in some cases, this is not for comfort. It is to provide more grip and to help the bike handle better. Comfort is just an added bonus.

As mountain bikes are such a wide and varied subject, you can see our section on Mountain Bikes (coming soon) for a specific breakdown of each type.


All Terrain Bikes
If you are looking for something to do a bit of everything, then your decision is really rather simple! An ATB is the solution to your problem. ATB stands for All-Terrain-Bike. Basically a do-it-all bike. Set up like a mountain bike, although not quite as off-road specific, it will handle a bit of off-road abuse, but will still be comfortable to use on the road.

Aside from this selection, there are many types of bike designed for specific uses, like BMX, Jump Bikes and Trials Bikes. Although as these bikes are so specialised and you are interested in this area, then you will undoubtedly not need any help in deciphering what type of bike you will need!

Once you have decided what type of bike you need, then it is simply a case of deciding how much you have to spend, setting a budget and shopping around to find the best deal. The best piece of advice you can get is to understand what you want, and don't make an impulse purchase. Take time to consider what you are looking at, what else is available and don't be afraid to ask "silly questions". Often they are not silly questions at all. Happy riding, and health to enjoy!

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