If you've been considering making the shift to bicycling to work this year, the fact that it's now officially summer should give you the push you need to go out there and buy yourself a bike.
Besides the fact that it means you'll get automatic exercise every day and not have to pay to commute (either in gas or transit prices), studies have also shown that those who bike are literally happier than other people.
So what are you waiting for? It's time to get out there on two wheels, and here's how to do it.
Figure Out What Kind Of Bike You Want
The most common types of bikes are road, mountain, hybrid and commuting bikes, and each has its own purpose. According to REI.com, road bikes are best for pavement, mountain bikes are used primarily for dirt or gravel roads or paths, hybrids are good for flat paths (pavement or dirt) and commuting bikes are meant for city roads.
Think About The Money
It can be really easy to spend a lot of money on a bike, so give yourself a set budget before you shop. There are plenty of used bikes for sale online as well, but as a Kijiji spokesperson told Huffington Post Canada, remember that used bikes may also need some maintenance. Factor that into your costs if that's the route you go. (But bonus — no need to worry about gas or insurance money!)
Bikes, like clothing, come in all sizes, and they'll function better (read: won't hurt your body) if you get the one that fits you. This very handy online calculator from eBicycles.com helps you calculate the right frame for your height by bike type, but any good salesperson in a store should be able to help with that as well.
Take A Test Drive
This is more easily done in a store than with a used bike, but is still possible (and definitely advised!) either way. You want to make sure the seat and handlebars are comfortable, that your legs aren't hitting anything as you pedal and if, in general, you like the feel of the ride.
Read The Reviews
Yes, not all online reviews will be perfectly honest, but you can certainly get a sense of whether or not a bike is good quality by seeing how many fans it has. RoadBikeReview.com offers thousands of user reviews on a massive variety of bikes, almost guaranteeing you'll find out for the model you're checking out.
Don't Believe In (Used) Fairytales
"If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably says," says Kijiji. No way around that.
Think About What Else You Need
In most places, a bell is a legal requirement on a bicycle, as are proper lights and reflectors for nighttime riding. You may also want to consider a helmet for your safety. And then there's the fun accessories, the baskets, or saddlebags that will make your bike your own.
Find A Repair Shop
One that's nearby — you know, just in case.