Riding a bicycle is surely good physical exercise. Buying one, on the other hand, offers the possibility of some heavy mental exercise! You require a minimal amount of information to make the right choice. But don't open the big window and let too many types and specifications overwhelm you. Instead, peek through the right shutter.
All these are relevant questions but not an exhaustive list by any means. As with all products, the more you can define your need and purpose, the better you can understand which one would be the best for you.
Broadly, there are two popular types of bicycles: road bikes and mountain bikes. Road bikes are those that have a fine frame, thin tires and a drop bar as the handle. These lightweight cycles are designed for a speedy ride on the paved road. The drop bar handle makes you lean forward, putting your body in a position for an efficient ride; smart aerodynamics all the way.
You would absolutely love this category of bicycles if you love speed. However, the drop bar as a handle is often disliked by many, since the body position it requires you to ride the bike in is deemed uncomfortable by the naysayers. Also, these bikes don't perform well on a dirt road, or a dilapidated paved road for that matter.
Mountain bikes play well on such roads. They also offer more upright and comfortable sitting. However, with wide tires and beefy frame, speed is compromised, prioritising good performance on rougher surfaces. Nevertheless, this is the most popular and common type of bicycles you will find.
These bikes are certainly the best option for off-road cycling, and with the comfort it offers and the condition of many of the roads we have in the city, they can easily muscle out the others in terms of many people's choice.
There are many different types of bikes, with several hybrids combining features from the two. For a novice or an amateur cycle enthusiast, mountain bikes and road bikes provide a simple guide as to what kind of cycle you are looking for.
Now that you know what kind of a bike you need, let's go shopping. There are several bicycle stores scattered around town, and the New Market and the Gulshan-1 Market have plenty of cycle stores you may want to visit. But the bicycle hub of Dhaka is Bongshal.
Due to the variety and number of cycles Bongshal has to offer, visiting the place -- regardless of whether you plan to buy from there or not -- is always a good idea. The shops showcase many Chinese and Indian brands. Among the Indian brands Hero, Avon and Atlas are names that have gained a lot of acceptance. Usually, Chinese brands have lighter cycles than their Indian counterparts.
If your budget allows, look for bikes with alloy frame and rims. These bikes, due to the choice of material, are very light. They will cost you at least Tk 15000 whist the ones with steel frame can get as low as Tk 5000.
Prices of bikes vary wildly. If you are planning to buy from Bongshal, prepare yourself for some serious haggling. Many of the shopkeepers can be very shrewd; walking around the market to make sure you can judge the price well is a good idea, especially because some of the models in different stores are quite similar.
Meanwhile, Meghna Group, an organisation that has been exporting cycles for a long time, has very recently unleashed their bikes in the local market. CycleLife Exclusive, a concern of Meghna Group located in 222, Gulshan-Tejgaon Link Road, is a showroom that focuses mainly on brands that the organisation exports: Raleigh, Diamondback, Coyote and Viking. The outlet has a wide array of cycles fit for children, men and women. Price ranges from around Tk 14000 and goes till about Tk 48000.
You might also want to check out their collection of folding bikes. True to its meaning, these are cycles that can actually be folded and carried anywhere. So, if you want to take your own bicycle in a different city to ride it there, this type of bike comes handy.
Prince is another brand of bicycles produced by Meghna Group. They are not sold in CycleLife Exclusive, as that showroom only hosts foreign brands that are made in Bangladesh. Prince bikes are sold only in Bangladesh, through numerous outlets. You'll see this brand in Bongshal too.
After all the endeavours, you finally buy the bicycle. The sad part is that many people become so impatient and excited about buying a bicycle, only to leave it uncared and unused after a couple of months. Make sure you take it for a spin whenever you have the chance. Isn't that the point of it after all?
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed