Intro to Cycling Blog #1 – What to Know Before You Buy a Bike

By: Ontario Cycling Staff
July 2, 2020

Over the next few months the Ontario Cycling Association will be providing a series of blogs for cycling beginners. Topics will include what bike and gear you need to get started, what rules of the road you should know, nutrition tips and how to take the leap from recreational to competitive cycling.

According to CBC, bicycle sales are booming, and some stores have reported that they are already running out of inventory which is unusual this early in the season. What that means is more and more people are recognizing the value in getting outside and that a bike means a change of scenery in the best possible way; especially with cities across the country offering new and different paths to enjoy.

Jim Crosscombe, Ontario Cycling Association’s Chief Executive Officer sees this as a positive. “It is wonderful to see new initiatives from communities that allow for people to get out and explore on their bikes in areas that were previously reserved for cars.”

If you are thinking about a bike, but do not know where to start, Scott Kelly is as good a place as any with his reputation as a cycling aficionado.

Kelly is a Program Manager for the Canadian National Cyclocross Team as well as a co-owner of the Dundas Speed Shop and knows a thing or two about getting ahead on two wheels.



What follows is a recent Q & A with Scott Kelly via email with Ontario Cycling:

OCA: If someone wants to take up cycling in more serious (but still recreational) a way than they did with their Canadian Tire bike when they were 12 years old, what equipment do they need to consider at the bare minimum?

SK: A bicycle, a helmet, a water bottle, and cage. Ontario has plenty of great independent bicycle retailers and each one of them can guide you through the initial purchase process and what equipment you’ll need.

OCA: What are some of the mistakes that people can avoid in making their purchase?

SK: First and foremost, you want to buy a bike that fits correctly. Don’t buy a bike that’s too small or too large just to save a few dollars. Second, you want to buy a bike for where you’re at now in terms of ability and interest, but you want to leave a little headroom for progression. If you envision yourself riding rocky and root-y trails, but currently just ride rail trails, don’t buy a hybrid, as you’ll quickly reach the limits of the bicycle.

OCA: Why do bikes differ so much in price?

SK: The material the frame is constructed of and the quality of components will both have an effect on the price of the bike. The old axiom is: ‘light, strong, cheap’; pick two. The initial assembly cost can also affect the price of the bike. Department stores use the same folks that assemble lawn furniture and BBQ’s to assemble their bikes and to keep costs down (and oftentimes it shows). Independent bicycle dealers pay qualified mechanics to properly (and safely) assemble new bikes and while the initial cost might be a bit more, over the lifetime of the bike it will be worth it!

OCA: What would you say is the best reason for taking up cycling now?

SK: Because you should have taken it up last week and now, you’re a week late to the party! Whether you ride for fitness, recreation or competition; Ontario has plenty of great roads and trails and bicycles are the best way to explore them.

If you have any other questions for Scott, you can reach him at @speedshopscott on Instagram or via the Dundas Speed Shop website.


Our next Intro to Cycling blog will look at what rules of the road that all cyclists should know and follow to stay safe while out riding.


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