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December 21, 2014

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Our guide can help you find the right bicycle for your ride

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Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Home News

A cyclist with the Las Vegas Valley Bicycle Club speeds past the brilliant sandstone mountains and desert terrain of Red Rock Canyon during the 50-mile ride.

Maybe you’re looking to boost your fitness routine or save money on your commute.

Where to ride

Leanne Miller, president of the Las Vegas Valley Bicycle Club, suggests beginners ride along the Lower Las Vegas Wash in North Las Vegas or on trails near the Union Pacific Railroad tracks in the Henderson area. She also enjoys the trails along the east side of the Las Vegas Wash and Henderson’s Amargosa Trail. She suggests locals practice places where the pavement is well maintained before venturing out to ride in or along the street.

Visit lasvegasbikeclub.org for information on cycling trips around the valley. The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada also has trail maps at rtcsnv.com/cycling.

Maybe your family wants to be more active, get out for some sightseeing or take routine trips without having to worry about the price of gas.

Cycling could be your answer.

Bicycles come in styles designed for city streets and dirt trails, the trip to work and treks across mountains.

Most bicycles are tailored to fit certain environments, and the type you purchase can determine the speed and comfort of your trip. Keep in mind that although the frame is permanent, the seat, tires, handlebars and other parts can be modified.

FITTING YOUR BICYCLE

Choose a comfortable bike for you and your children. Don’t buy a bike assuming that you or your child will grow into it, as bikes that are too big can be dangerous, and those that are too small can put added pressure on your knees.

To know for sure, visit a bike shop and test one out. Stand astride the bike between the seat and handlebars with your riding shoes on and look for 2 to 5 inches of clearance for a mountain bike, 1 to 3 inches for a road bike and 1-4 inches for a hybrid or other bike.

Make sure your arms bend at the elbow when gripping the handlebars. A properly trained bike shop worker may ask for your inseam measurement to determine the right frame size for you.

    • Mountain bike

      Known for its rugged appearance and ability to handle harsh terrain, the mountain bike is aptly named. Though its fat tires and durability make it perfect for off-roading, its looks and capacity for harsh conditions have made it popular among street cyclists.

      DETAILS: Mountain bikes have higher ground clearance and suspension systems, sometimes in both the front and rear, to absorb the shock of harsh riding environments. They also have brakes that lock your wheels on a variety of surfaces should you find yourself sliding. They can be street bikes, but they’re more expensive and the tires aren’t as high-pressure or slick as bikes built for street use, resulting in a slower ride. Mountain bikes recommended by Bicycling Magazine generally start at $600 and can cost more than $9,000, but you can find a quality mountain bike for upward of $500. There are different forms of mountain bikes — some for trails, others for downhill riding, some specifically designed for women.

      If your goal is to do some serious dirt traveling or if you want to test your skills on rougher terrain, a mountain bike is your best bet.

      SUGGESTION: A good budget-conscious beginner mountain bike is Diamondback Bicycles’ 2014 Recoil Full Suspension Mountain Bike, which retails for about $700.

    • Road bike

      With downturned handlebars and narrow, high-pressure tires, road bikes offer an aerodynamic ride on paved routes. Built with speed and streets in mind, these bicycles have narrow seats that can take some getting used to and don’t work well off-road.

      DETAILS: For frames that efficiently transmit pedaling energy but aren’t so rigid that the ride is dangerous, pricier titanium and carbon fiber composite bikes work well, but aluminum and steel frames also are appropriate. The brakes can respond to small changes well, which optimizes your speed, and shifting gears is a breeze. Specialized bikes in this category include touring bikes, which are stable, can climb hills and are useful for carrying loads. Racing bikes are like exaggerated road bikes, featuring less weight and more sensitivity to a rider’s handling. Models recommended by Bicycling Magazine sell from about $600 to upward of $12,000.

      If you want speed and transportation made for long-term riding on paved surfaces, look no further than the road bike.

      SUGGESTION: For a budget-conscious but quality bike, try the Felt Z95, which has an aluminum body, offers smooth shifting and retails for $899.

    • Hybrid bike

      Perhaps you’re unsure what you want in a bike or you had a more versatile vehicle in mind. A cross between mountain bike and road bike, the hybrid offers a lighter frame than a mountain bike but can be used on roads, dirt trails and other paths.

      DETAILS: The cyclocross bike, a hybrid type, offers more serious brakes and narrow tires that are more similar in shape to those of a mountain bike. They also provide extra clearance around parts of the bike where mud would build up, similar to a mountain bike. Typical hybrids have plush seats and suspension seat posts, allowing riders to experience a smoother ride without full suspension. Many parts of the bike, including the larger tires, are borrowed from road bikes but aren’t as narrowly tailored to serious speed and offer upright seating rather than a more aerodynamic, crouched position. Hybrid bike prices depend on the type you’re seeking, but you can find a quality hybrid for $400 to $700.

      If you’re looking to go out for a casual ride around the neighborhood, a hybrid is just the ticket.

      SUGGESTION: Try the Schwinn Searcher 3, which retails for $530, for a lightweight aluminum bike built for road, gravel and dirt use.

    • City bike/cruiser

      Looking for a simple bike to get you to work or the grocery store? Designed with an urban environment in mind, the city bike and similar cruiser offer upright seating and tires that can endure potholes and damaged roads. These bikes also are good in harsh weather, have space for a rack or basket and pedals that can grip leather-soled shoes. Cruisers tend to be heavier and have mountain bike tires; they’re not fast, but their stylish, retro appearance has attracted a following. City bikes have large, smoother-riding tires that have good shock absorption. Both types can range in price from $300 to $5,000.

      SUGGESTIONS: Try a Breezer Downtown 5-ST for a Bicycle Magazine-recommended cruiser that is stable and easy to ride, even in formal work clothes. The bike retails for $570.

      • At $730, the Viva Juliett is a stylish city bike modeled after a popular Dutch bicycle. The comfortable bike offers racks, fenders and a chain guard.

    • More bikes

      FOLDING BIKES allow for easy storage and are perfect for riders who lack space at home or don’t have access to a bike rack at work. They span different bike types, so consider where you’ll be riding before buying.

      BMX BIKES are for people who want to try a few tricks and look cool doing it.

      RECUMBENT BIKES, for reclined-position riding, are good for people with back injuries or those who don’t like upright or crouched positions. These can be aerodynamic and comfortable.

      TANDEM BIKES aren’t just for doting couples taking joyrides around the park. They can be structural beasts. Manufacturers have integrated mountain bike technology in some of these traditionally clunky designs, so don’t shy away from an off-road-capable tandem.

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