Bicycles are not one size fits all, West Mifflin shop owner says
Imagine you've received an invitation to a school reunion. How long's it been? Ten, 20, 30 years?
No matter, you've decided to go and need a sport jacket. There's that leisure suit at the back of the closet and the discount store in the old shopping plaza always has a few sale jackets on the rack.
Whichever of those options you choose, you're bound to look and feel like a million dollars when you arrive at the party, right?
Of course the answer is very likely “no.” Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and their dimensions change over the years.
As surely as there is no such thing as a universal blazer, there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all bicycle.
It's an analogy Big Bang Bikes owner Glenn Pawlak offers to customers all the time when they venture into his West Mifflin shop looking for a bicycle.
“When you're riding a bicycle, it has to be matched for your body. That just has to happen,” Pawlak said.
A bad-fitting bike can deliver an experience akin to going for a walk in leg shackles or shoes that are too tight, he said. “Why would you do that? It doesn't make sense.”
People who are getting back into cycling after years away from the activity have a wide variety of things to think about when they are purchasing a bike.
There are considerations concerning the type and amount of riding they are looking to do, their fitness level and economic factors.
There are racing bikes like the ones they use in the Tour de France and fat-tire mountain bikes that can stand up to any path in Colorado.
And then there are a ton of bikes in between generally known as hybrids.
Hybrids work for a lot retirement-age cyclists because they offer speed and efficiency in the style of a road bike and a stable, upright ride, more like that of a mountain bike.
Mike Kostyzak, owner of Zak's Speed Shop in McKeesport, said he sees a lot of retirement-age baby boomers shopping for hybrids.
Young- and middle-age adult riders often are interested in a lighter, more road-oriented version of the hybrid known as a cyclocross.
“It's like a more robust road bike,” Kostyzak said. “It's a road bike with a stronger wheel set and larger tires.”
But whatever frame style or make interests a bike shopper, it always comes back to getting the right fit.
Big Bang Bikes has a sophisticated gauging system that uses electrodes, simulated riding conditions and computer imaging technology for riders on a quest to find a perfectly matched bike, but Pawlak acknowledges the high-tech approach isn't essential.
Using an ordinary, and much lower tech, medical protractor known as a goniometer and plumb bob, Pawlak said he can get an accurate read on a rider's body dimensions that typically compares within a few millimeters of readings generated by the computerized station.
“It doesn't have to be a crazy expensive process,” said Pawlak, adding that it is helpful to have assistance from a knowledgeable person.
When it comes to getting the right height and setback for the seat, there are ergonomic principles that should be adhered to.
Pawlak said fewer rules are necessary when it comes to adjusting the height and angle of handlebars, but riders should realize that choices they make up front will have consequences in the areas of handling, aerodynamics and comfort.
A common misconception held by many inexperienced riders is that they should be able to stay seated on their bike with both feet planted on the ground, Pawlak said. If they can do this, the seat is too low and riders will not be able to pedal efficiently.
Instead, the seat should be adjusted so the leg is nearly straight when it is at the bottom of the pedal stroke. Riders should dismount from the seat and straddle the top tube of the bike frame when they are not riding.
Cost and quality are other factors riders and would-be riders must consider.
New bikes at department stores may start in the neighborhood of $100 but the quality and durability of these bikes are highly questionable. Consumer Reports advises against buying the cheapest of bikes and suggests $300 as a starting price point.
Of course, the sky is seemingly the limit when it comes to price tags for high-end bikes.
Kostyzak notes there is one instance when a cheap bike can be the right bike.
Children outgrow bikes so quickly, he said, it doesn't make sense to invest a lot in casual-use bicycles for boys and girls until they are about 12 years old.
Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- McKeesport charter sees no problems for opening
- Mon Valley takes time out for night out to build community
- Rostraver native revisits roots on cross-country bike journey
- Homestead-Duquesne Road closure postponed
- Ankle replacement makes UPMC McKeesport history
- Elizabeth Township to pay for road paving study
- Erie attorney named trustee for bankrupt Homestead Cemetery
- Charges held against suspect in McKeesport market robbery, assault
- McKeesport man charged with sex assault on 13-year-old girl
- Elizabeth Township business forum draws a crowd
- East Allegheny may meet this week with education association