Choosing a bicycle 101: Roadie, Hybrid, MTB, Touring or fixed gear?

So you’re thinking of buying a new cycle? And you are being bombarded by friends, fellow cyclists and salespeople by all kinds of conflicting information?

I have, in the past, tried to clear some smoke for friends. This is an attempt to make my suggestions available on the web. Do let me know if this post did the job for you. Let me start by saying that you will not get a straight answer. I will not tell you exactly what to do. Actually, I can’t because I don’t know anything about you. For instance, I have no clue where you live. What kind of terrain you plan to ride on, what motivates you, what your cycling goals are, how fit you are, and so on… All I can do is lay out ‘facts’ as objectively as I can, for you to chew on, and make up your own mind. When I say ‘facts’ please realize that these are not uncontested scientific facts of the kind we memorized in school. They are more like generally accepted norms.

One more thing before we get to the meat. People are different. They have different skills, stamina, strength and threshold of pain. I might think riding 100 kms in a day is ‘nice’, you might think riding 100 kms is ‘nice’ only if it is done in under three hours, or you might think riding 500 kms is in a day is ‘nicer’. Or you might think riding 20 kms is ‘nice’. You and I may be on totally different cycles — literally and figuratively — and that is just fine.

An MTB on a fully-loaded tour

An MTB on a fully-loaded tour

I have seen some people do crazy stunts with a carbon Roadie — things that most people will not even try on a dual-suspension MTB (Mountain Bike). I have also seen MTB riders outrace riders on fancy carbon Roadies. Like I said, people are different. A post like this tries to address the ‘average’ person out there. So if you know that you are not average in some way, please feel free to calibrate the information for yourself.

With those disclaimers out of the way, let me start with a short listing of the basic types of cycles:

  • Road Cycle:
    Focused on speed on the road, with little or no regard for rider comfort.
  • MTB Cycle:
    Focused on ride-ability across the harshest and steepest of terrains. In the hands of a skillful rider it will go where the average SUV will not.
  • Hybrid cycle:
    Like the word indicates, it is a cross — between a road cycle and an MTB. A huge variety of versions exist across the spectrum.
  • Touring Cycle:
    Focused on reliability, comfort and weight carrying — designed to carry you and all your belongings across the world.
  • Fixed Gear:
    Focused on being reliable, inexpensive and literally maintenance-free. Generally speaking, a fixed gear cycle is useless in the hilly terrain.

Note: There are many other types of cycles, but in the interest of keeping it simple I am not including BMX, Time Trial, Cyclocross, Downhill, Recumbent etc.

The following comparison table highlights the key features/aspects of each type of cycle (please see notes below the table for explanations):

 RoadieHybridMTBTouringFixed gear
DESIGN FOCUS
SpeedYesSomeSome*NoSome*
ComfortNoSomeSome*YesSome
Minimal MaintenanceNoNoNoNoYes
Weight carryingNoNoNoYesNo
CommutingNoYesNoNoYes
TERRAIN FOCUS
Tarred RoadYesYesYesYesYes
GravelSomeYesYesYesYes
Single track (pugdundee)NoSomeYesYesSome
Mild Off-roadNoNoYesYesYes
Serious Off-roadNoNoYesNoNo
SHOCK ABSORBERS
Shock Absorbers -FrontNoSomeYesNoNo
Shock Absorbers -RearNoNoSome**NoNo
TYPICAL GEAR SETUP***
Front Gears (no. of teeth)50/34 OR 50/40/3048/38/2844/32/2248/38/28No
Rear Gear Range (no. of teeth)11/3212/3212/3612/36No
Typical Lowest Gear34-3228-3222-3628-36Varies
Typical Lowest Gear Ratio (gear inches)27.5623.6315.8521.22Varies
WEIGHT CARRYING CAPACITY
Frame length for panniersNoYesMost^YesYes
Eyelets for pannier racksNoYesMost^YesYes
COMFORT
Seating position^^Bent downUprightUpright to semi-uprightUprightUpright
Handlebar styleDropsFlatFlatFlat/Drops/ButterflyFlat/Riser
COST IN INR^^^
Entry Level Cycle35k20k35k~5K
Mid Level cycle75k40k75k75k15K
High-end Cycle150k75k200k150k30k

Notes to the table:
* To be read in the context of the terrain
** If you are reading this for advice you most certainly don’t need it
*** There is no ISO standard. There are a lot of variations. This is only indicative. Gear ratios are based on lots of assumptions (crank lengths, tire size and so on)
^ Except race-focused ones
^^ Seating position is a combination of top tube length, handlebar height etc.
^^^ Approximate range for established international brands

hand propelled recumbent cycle

One of them is hand propelled recumbent cycle β€” you use your hands, instead of your legs to pedal!

Some FAQ’s about which cycle to buy:

  • You want to ride fast on decent roads.
    Consider a good Roadie.
  • You want to ride multi-week, self-supported expeditions in the Himalayas.
    Touring bike is your default choice.
  • You want to do some serious off-road rides.
    You have little choice: MTB.
  • You want to mostly ride on roads. But not necessarily on good roads. At least not most of the times.
    Get a road focused Hybrid. These do not have any suspension.
  • You want to mostly ride on poor roads, but on weekends you want to do some off-road too.
    Get a mountain focused Hybrid. The ones that will have a front shock absorber – typically with less than 100mm travel.
  • You can buy only one bike. You need to decide which one.
    Decide on how will you be using the cycle most often. In my experience most recreational cyclists spend most of their time riding in groups, and on roads. And occasionally on single tracks. If you roughly qualify, get a road-focused hybrid. If you are likely to be spending more time doing mild off-road rides get a mountain-focused hybrid. As a general rule, you are much better off buying a good Hybrid than a poor quality MTB — they generally tend to cost roughly the same.
  • You want only one bike that you want to tour with, but cannot afford a touring-specific bike, or you don’t plan to be expedition-ing?
    The answer depends on where you will be touring, for how long, with how much weight and so on. You could go with an MTB, and ‘some’ hybrids’ — not all hybrids have the right gearing for touring in hilly terrain. The answer perhaps requires a post by itself. Hopefully soon.
  • You have endless money but cannot make up your mind about which cycle to buy.
    Just buy one of each.
  • You have endless money but not enough space to keep all the cycles.
    Consider getting a top-end MTB. It might set you back by over a 200,000 INR but then you could really do almost anything with it. Well, almost anything. If you plan to be expedition-ing too then consider a titanium frame otherwise choose a carbon frame.

Still not sure? You are tired of all this ‘gyan’ (words of wisdom) and want a simple answer (to a complex problem).
Okay, if you insist. I will stick my neck out. If you are certain that you are not going to be doing much off-road then just buy a Hybrid. If you are not sure and want to play it safe then carefully evaluate your budget. If you can spend north of 30,000 INR then consider an MTB. Please do not buy a cheap MTB (especially DO NOT buy the cheap MTB with dual shock absorbers), a Hybrid would be a much better choice.

So good luck with getting your new wheels, and do write in if you have any experiences to share.

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117 comments

  • Rajan Bhatt September 23, 2013   Reply →

    Very informative and extremely well written!

    It is surely an outcome of many many miles of cycling experience and very intelligent processing of all kinds of information available on cycles and cycling.

    This surely would make life easy for many people who are finding it difficult to decide on which bike to buy.

    Cheers AJ!

  • Puneet Malhotra September 24, 2013   Reply →

    Brilliantly written. definitely helps me choose! Thanks Ajay.

  • chiromitrachiro January 11, 2014   Reply →

    Terse, articulate and to the point..Bang on. Thanks for writing this. Sharing with my group

  • Seedart January 20, 2014   Reply →

    Hi,

    With a little help from google, i was able to understand most of what you’ve written. Very informative indeed. I’m a complete novice when it comes to cycling. I mean sure, i used to ride ’em as a kid through my early teenage. But then tennis happened, and for some reason i completely gave this up.

    Im back in the market with the intention of getting one. And I plan to use the same for short-medium journeys that would involve going out of delhi onto the highway.

    While Im really interested in getting a good bike, i dont think i have the bandwidth to spend a lot on it. theres a Firefox store near my house. would you recommend getting a firefox hybrid?

    Also would you know of any cycling groups that take up such trips? Say something like delhi to jaipur?

    • Ajay Jaiman January 20, 2014   Reply →

      Seedart

      A Firefox Hybrid should get the job done, competently.

      Here are links to two groups that regularly organize long road rides:
      Team T3: https://www.facebook.com/TeamT3Lounge
      Delhi Randonneurs http://www.delhirandonneurs.com/

      Happy riding!

      BTW do let me know which parts are difficult to understand. I will try and update… thanks.

      • Siddharth January 21, 2014   Reply →

        Hi Ajay,

        Uhm the gear teeth metrics that you mentioned in the charts. Felt a little lost initially. I googled a couple of pictures and realised, I had seen those before. However the logic behind how it affects the riding experience was pretty simple to understand. Then again, this piece isn’t probably aimed at a complete novice.
        One should have a fair understanding of how gears work in general, before coming to this post.

        Also, how do rear shock absorbers not help when riding on properly asphalted surfaces?

        But wow, you were quick with your reply. I haven’t had much luck in the recent past with people responding to questions via comments except on a couple of football blogs, where you normally encounter trolls and get your voice/doubt/opinion lost in the crowd. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction (Delhi Randonneurs).

        I spotted a typo. “typically with less than 100mm travel.” Plus not sure if it really is fixied gear or fixed gear (in the charts)

        And I read the Manali-leh post. Wow. πŸ™‚
        I’m definitely going to visit your website often. And maybe someday get down to doing the manali to leh stretch. But I suppose I’ve got a lot of riding to do before that.

        Thanks,
        Siddharth
        (seedart)

        • Ajay Jaiman January 22, 2014   Reply →

          To be honest, I am not always prompt :). Thanks for pointing out the typo – it is ‘fixed’. And yes, now fixed it too. But “typically with less than 100mm travel” is what I intended to say — not sure why it looks like a typo to you.

          Traditionally cycles never had any shock absorbers, right? They were added on to cycles to help ‘crazy people’ take cycles to places they were not originally intended to be taken. On any decent road you are not likely to encounter rocks, roots, craters… so of course you do not need shock absorbers – front or rear. They add weight and decrease pedaling efficiency at the same time. Not to mention the added maintenance cost and time. All of that while adding close to nothing in comfort — because you already are on a decent road. On a particularly bad road you could just run slightly lower air pressure in the tires. Keeping your arms flexed — not locked, helps too. All this is not just theory — I can say this with confidence because I regularly ride rocky trails here in Gurgaon on a fixed fork hard tail — which translates into no suspension at all.

          Hope you find a good bike. Happy riding!

      • Druv April 12, 2016   Reply →

        What do you drive ajay sir?? And what you recommend me I’m 15 yes old, is a Firefox or Hercules 21 gears cycle is good to travel sometimes long distance

        • Ajay Jaiman May 8, 2016   Reply →

          Yes, I’d think so — even though I haven’t ridden either of them myself.

  • Siddharth Subramanian January 23, 2014   Reply →

    Now I get the 100mm travel (it is do with the suspension fork barrel I suppose). That took a bit more of research and re-reading this post.This is what happens when one reads something they know nothing of. I’m sorry.

    And I never thought of the bit about the reduction in pedalling efficiency sue to suspension. Interesting. That makes a lot of sense.

    I didn’t know there were rocky trails in Gurgaon?

    About the good bike, I think I should get off the internet and go to a proper bike store, look at what options I have. We’ve (me at least) been spoiled way too much by the e-commerce way of buying things. Read reviews-watch videos-buy. That’s what the purchase-cycle has been reduced to.

    Which is why I’m getting a bike. To. Get. Out.

    Thanks
    Siddharth

    • Ajay Jaiman January 23, 2014   Reply →

      Gurgaon is almost surrounded by the Aravalli hills. There are awesome trails with water bodies, animals, birds… Most of them can be accessed by foot or on a cycle. Once you get your bike you can go out and discover for yourself.

      • Siddharth February 4, 2014   Reply →

        Ah. Should have guessed. I travel by metro everyday and see hills on either side of the elevated tracks. Will give it a shot sometime. Also, I bought a bike. B’twin seemed like an okay choice. Your opinion about them might differ. But I just wanted to get one start riding.

        Grip-shifts are tricky things. You could probably write something about them too, comparing them to paddle-shifts. Something one should also consider while getting their first bike.

        As of now, I ride during the night. I have lights and I do wear my helmet. Lets see if I’m able to get ready for the upcoming 200km brevet.

        Best,
        Siddharth

        • Ajay Jaiman February 12, 2014   Reply →

          I think any bike that you like, are comfortable with is a good bike. As long as you can go out there and ride!

          All the best for exploring the wild side of Gurgaon. And for the brevet too. Happy riding!

          See, I was not prompt this time! πŸ™‚

          • Siddharth May 5, 2014  

            Hi Ajay,

            Here I am again after 2K something KMs on the road and an accident (majorly due to mechanical failure rather than some other vehicle) later.

            Someone mentioned the Manali to Leh trip and thought I’d drop by to check who/what was it about exactly. Also, out of curiosity, would you know if full face helmets are available in India?

            Thanks,
            Siddharth/Seedart

          • Ajay Jaiman June 14, 2014  

            Sorry for the delayed reply. Was on vacation.
            Hope you have recovered from the accident.
            I did see at lest one person wear one at MTB Shimla, but I am not sure if it was bought in India. I have never seen it in any of the stores that I frequent. Perhaps you should ask at some of the online MTB forums — downhill specialists must know.

  • Srinidhi Iyengar April 23, 2014   Reply →

    Hi, I have a Specialized Alle Comp Roadie for my daily commute to work. I cycle approx 150kms a week. I am 45 and am Diabetic for 10 years. Do you think I should attempt this !???
    Also, i would want an MTB which will do the job between Manali and Leh.. I also do not have a clue if i will do more rides Off-beat (MTB Tracks) on a regular basis
    If you say i look confused !!! Yes, totally confused and i would appreciate if you could stick your neck out for me while suggesting the right model

    • Ajay Jaiman April 25, 2014   Reply →

      Srinidhi, I think it may be best to consult your doctor about your specific condition. I have known people with with all kinds of challenges do this ride — double amputees (no legs below the keen), hypertension, bypass history, stents…

      But everybody’s situation and experience is different. I will warn you though that 150 kms a week may not be enough. Much longer rides and much bigger climbs will have to be done. Of course I am just basing this on the little information that you have provided (perhaps you also run marathons regularly!). Target climbing 1000 odd meters on a weekend ride — don’t know if you have enough hills where you live, but you may have to go up and down the same hill multiple times. Consider spending six to eight hours on the saddle — on a flat road that should definitely be over 100kms.

      If your doctor is okay with it, then remember age is on your side — 45 is very young!

      About the bike: you could do it on any entry level hardtail MTB (mostly in the 25K-40k range). You could also do it on a decent hybrid (just ensure that it has enough low gears for grinding out steep climbs). Unless you want to bomb through the downhills, you could easily do it without any suspension (front or back).

      Hope that helps. All the best.

  • Rahul May 5, 2014   Reply →

    any specific bike brands or models you recommend ?

    • Ajay Jaiman May 5, 2014   Reply →

      Hi Rahul
      It is hard to recommend specific models across categories mainly because it is hard to keep track of all the changes in the industry — specifications on models change, model names change, models get discontinued, new models (even brands) are launched…

  • Rahul May 5, 2014   Reply →

    any speicific Brands or models you recommend ? I was thinking of getting a TREK 3700

    • Ajay Jaiman May 5, 2014   Reply →

      That is a good choice. I know multiple people who ride (or have ridden) a Trek 3700. If you like it and are comfortable on the bike, then go right ahead. Enjoy the ride!

  • Prashant Bhardwaj June 15, 2014   Reply →

    Ajay,

    Someone from Facebook recommended this link to me, and I am so glad I came here to read more… I am a beginner and realized that I am probably not even a beginner after reading, asking, exploring of this huge cycle world today!

    Big thanks for taking out time to write this, and also commenting on questions… After your post, I have zeroed in on the type of bike atleast… an entry-level hybrid… I have read about the following and would be glad if you could find time to point me in the right direction of further research..

    1. ROCKRIDER 5.2
    2. TREK 3500
    3. Montra Blues 1.1
    4. LA SOVEREIGN 26 CROSS TRACK

    • Ajay Jaiman June 16, 2014   Reply →

      Thank you Prashant. Happy to help.
      Of all these bikes I only have direct experience of the Trek 3500. Which I believe is a good bike for the money. But I don’t think it is a Hybrid; please do reconfirm. Rockrider is not a hybrid either. Incidentally the bikes on your list seem to be at different price points. If you are flexible about your budget then you could consider visiting some dealers and test riding bikes. Sometimes that can help make up your mind.

      • Prashant Bhardwaj June 16, 2014   Reply →

        That is what I intend to do this week… Trek is way out of my budget but keeping it in the list to be sure of what I am missing if I finally chose to not buy it!

        Montera, Firefox and Rockrider are within 3K of each other so will try them too…

        Appreciate your time again!

  • Varun July 20, 2014   Reply →

    Hello Ajay,

    I have been planning to do this trip and have read your posts, it is highly motivating. I am thinking of buying an MTB now and have couple of queries specific to bike requirements for this particular trip:
    1) Shall I go for 26″ wheel or 29er? Does it really make a difference on Manali-Leh track? What I understand is 26″ has better maneuverability while 29″ roll smoothly over rocks, but its slightly expensive.
    2) All the entry level MTBs available in India have basic forks, such as, SR Suntour XCT, XCM and RST Blaze T. Based on your experience, do you think an MTB should have at least ‘X’ type/brand of fork for this trip?

    Thanks

    • Ajay Jaiman September 15, 2014   Reply →

      Varun
      I take it that your question is about Manali-Leh ride. I don’t think that the wheel size or type of fork will make much of a difference on this ride. Unless you are planing on racing. And if you want to race, then of course everything matters. I will suggest that you get a good fork; but I will keep out the 26 vs 29 debate — even though I have long term experience on both, and on a 96er as well.

  • Shaji Alavi February 11, 2015   Reply →

    This was an eye opener. Atleast i was able to figure out that a hybrid cycle is my style. The part where hybrid is further described into road type hybrid and mtb type was brilliantly written.
    Would you be able to help me out in choosing a hybrid road type under 20k. I am confused wether to go with a pro level hybrid scott, trek etc or pick up a decent brand like firefox, montra, there is a new one unifox. They are having decent hybrid bikes in the range i am looking at.

  • Suresh Kumar Iyer April 10, 2015   Reply →

    Hi ajay…..thanks for ur good information……somehow i liked firefox roadrunner hybrid among others…….can you pl try to review its performance from your point of view. i would like to go on long tours on it. I arrived at this conclusion after going thru ur informative again and again…..thanks

    • Ajay Jaiman April 21, 2015   Reply →

      I am glad you found it useful. I have not ridden that bike so I can’t really review it. You have done your research and if you like the bike then go for it.
      All the best.

  • darren sohkhet April 19, 2015   Reply →

    hi Ajay,
    I’m so glad i stumbled on your blog, i was always a cycling fan since my teens way up to my mid 20s.
    Here’s my dilemma, (now that you’ve defined all the different types of bikes)
    i don’t particularly like hybrids, will pick one only if you think its completely necessary. I prefer MTBs, will be doing weekend rides of 60 kms a day for two for three days at a stretch at the most. Camping gear will be obviously minimal . Need disc brakes.
    I’m 6 foot 1, at 62 kgs, and i have no idea what size a bike should i go for.
    No expert in the gears department either but i’d prefer a 7speed/ preferably all suspension/
    Should be light. Rides will be 40% tarmac/ 30% unpaved roads and gravel paths/ 20% rigorous terrain forests mountains hills and streams/ 10% bombing down hills and other crazy stunts that kill. In short everything screams MTB but you mentioned such bikes can’t carry a lot of load for tours.7. Price point, can only afford 20k to 30k INR for a first real Bike.
    Unless it was a wow bike in the performance field then perhaps 50k tops.
    Options here in Shillong are just: Firefox and Trek, but which one.
    I like the Firefox Colorado and Raptor, but they don’t look like bikes that one can tour with. The Treks are all greek to me.
    Loved your article, if i can get back into shape like when i was 18 i’ll bother you with yet another questionarre for an expedition bike… Now i just need something for my weekend stints.
    Hope to hear from you soon…
    Darren.

  • darren sohkhet April 19, 2015   Reply →

    Sorry had to re-post it, didn’t go through the first time/

    hi Ajay,
    I’m so glad i stumbled on your blog, i was always a cycling fan since my teens way up to my mid 20s. For a bit of nostalgia, In the past I have owned three fixed gear cycles and like you said (everyone has a different requirement) where i live they were all useless junk.
    Finally, i managed to get my hands on a hero ranger swing MTB 18 speed, and that changed the way i biked up and down those steep slopes, believe me here in shillong we come across almost vertical inclines and a lot of them unpaved.
    Im now looking to get back into the game on weekends, Of course the hero’ era is gone, and i must say, gears or not, those bikes were pretty heavy, built to last so i could hand them down to my grandson, Never again!

    Here’s my dilemma, (now that you’ve defined all the different types of bikes)

    1. i don’t particularly like hybrids, will pick one only if you think its completely necessary. I prefer MTBs, Me and a buddy will be doing weekend rides of 60 kms a day for two or three days at a stretch at the most. Camping gear will be obviously minimal and equally distributed, tent sleeping bags and basic canned food, tools etc.etc. The terrain will be a lot of mindblowing smooth roads, and lung blowing climbs, disc brakes are a major requirement, i’ve had my fair share of cuts and bruises and scars when the caliper’s just pop out, bombing down the hills. apart from tarmac there will be some unpaved roads, (gravel, wet clay, streams, grass).

    2. Also for short 30 minute trips in town with inclines on tarmac. No serious expedition) I’m 6 foot 1, at 62 kgs, and i have no idea what size a bike should i go for, perhaps a 29er,.

    3. No expert in the gears department either but i’d prefer a 7speed gear, In the past, the 18 speed shimano shift had an irritating occurance where the chain would just pop out next to the pedals,. Also, correct me if i’m wrong but i find the 18 speed is pretty much useless, but the time i get to shift up it’s time to shift down, the terrain and gradient has a habit of changing around every bend.

    4. Then again, from an amateur’s viewpoint, i don’t like the seating posture of an MTB for the road, is it possible to raise the handlebars a little higher up, I thought it would be more comfortable for my back on long rides. Don’t worry i’m still 32 and fit.

    5. Yes you’re right about the less than 100mm travel on the front forks, more pedalling effort on the steep inclines on tarmac, and that irritating squishing sound of the shocks. But i still need a bike with shocks and preferably all suspension, but i can do with a hard tail,.

    6. Should be light. Rides will be 40% tarmac/ 30% unpaved roads and gravel paths/ 20% rigorous terrain forests mountains hills and streams/ 10% bombing down hills and other crazy stunts that kill. In short everything screams MTB but you mentioned such bikes can’t carry a lot of load for tours.

    7. Price point, can only afford 20k to 30k INR for a first real Bike.
    Unless it was a wow bike in the performance field then perhaps 50k tops.

    Options here in Shillong are just: Firefox and Trek, but which one.
    I like the Firefox Colorado and Raptor, but they don’t look like bikes that one can tour with. The Treks are all greek to me.

    Loved your article, if i can get back into shape like when i was 18 i’ll bother you with yet another questionarre for an expedition bike… Now i just need something for my weekend stints.

    Hope to hear from you soon…
    Darren.

    • Ajay Jaiman April 21, 2015   Reply →

      Thank you. You did not need to re-post, the previous comment was in moderation queue too. Anyhow sorry!
      If you are planing to to loaded touring in Meghalaya, with some off-roads thrown in, then I’d recommend that you consider a hard-tail MTB. If only Firefox and Trek are available where you live I’d recommend a Trek 3500 or 4300. Hope this helps.
      All the best!

  • darren sohkhlet April 21, 2015   Reply →

    Hi Ajay,
    Surprised to receive such a swift response. Thankyou. Did some more research on your current rig the trek 4300. Yes it is available here through a sub dealer. I tinker with automobiles a lot so self maintenance isn’t an issue. I’m going for the 4300 since i read it’s what you used for the leh trip it’s good for me as well, also i liked the fact that they can carry extra load with the racks and all. It looks like a great touring bike too. i will get the firefox raptor as a second bike for the weekend offroad stuff.

    Somewhere, in your blog someone mentioned about a store in delhi that sells all the camp equipment, do you have the specific address.

    Also the info provided on what to carry on an expedition was extremely helpful,… hopefully, in a year or two i can get in shape for the manali to leh trip. it seems worth the journey, loved the photographs…for now i’m content with touring my borders.

    Thankyou…

  • Ravindra Sah June 3, 2015   Reply →

    Thank you for the very informative article. I’m new to cycling and presently cycle on tarmac on a single speed (44/18) for around 20 km every day. Takes me around an hour. Am thinking of buying a multi-speed bicycle after the rains. Mainly for tours of around 200 to 500 kms. All on tarmac. My budget is around INR 20K. Had zeroed in on the Kross Globate 1.2 hard tail MTB (21 speed) for INR 13K and an Avon hybrid (21 speed) for INR 17K. The MTB has a crank set of 48-38-28 and a cog set of 14-28t. This will give me very low usable gear ratios. Can you suggest the best purchase for me.

    • Ajay Jaiman July 13, 2015   Reply →

      Since you plan to do ‘long tours’ ‘on tarmac’ a hybrid should make more sense — a touring cycle will most likely be outside your indicated budget, unless you can get a good deal on a used bike. If those tours are not in the hills then regular hybrid gearing should work just fine. Consider a triple in the front if you wish to to give yourself a little more range.

      • Ravindra Sah August 4, 2015   Reply →

        Thanks.

        The bikes that I have seen have a triple in the front.

        • Ajay Jaiman August 6, 2015   Reply →

          Excellent! Hope you have a great time out there!

          • Ravindra Sah August 16, 2015  

            Hi again.

            Was just reading about the no-nose saddles. Any place in India where they are available ? Checked out the sites where bike gear is sold……could not find any. Can you help ?

            Thanks.

            Ravindra Sah

          • Ajay Jaiman August 21, 2015  

            I have not seen one in any store. Actually, I have never seen one. I am not even sure how good or useful they are… If you have strong reason to believe otherwise, I’d love to hear back.

  • Gaurav Ranjan July 10, 2015   Reply →

    Hi Ajay,
    The post is very informative. I am a novice at long distant touring. I am planning to buy Surly Long Haul Trucker bike for this purpose. Can you provide me with review after looking at the specs?
    Thanks
    Gaurav

    • Ajay Jaiman July 13, 2015   Reply →

      Thanks.
      LHT is a steel bicycle designed for touring. I know of people who have gone around the planet on it, and swear by it. Unless you have ambitions much grander than that, you couldn’t possibly go wrong with it. πŸ˜‰

  • Shalen August 7, 2015   Reply →

    Hi Ajay,
    Find your site today and i am really inspired. πŸ™‚

    I have Trek Marlin7. I live in Shimla. Is my bike capable enough for travelling with 30-40 kg of load for 2 months . My weight is 60 Kg. Trek official site mentions that the bike is capable enough for 120 Kgs. Is it a good idea to replace front suspension fork by rigid fork? There are two reason why i want to replace it for touring

    (1) I am not getting front suspension rack from anywhere. Do you know any shop from where i can buy it? Even as my bike is 29er its difficult to find the rear rack as well.

    (2) i think there is no need of suspension fork for touring as we move slow while touring.

    Next question is Can you suggest any rigid fork for my bike? Its current suspension have 100 mm travel and 51 offset. Is it a good idea to put 46 mm offset and 80 mm corrected travel SURLY rigid suspension.

    Thanks,
    Shalen

    • Ajay Jaiman August 7, 2015   Reply →

      Trek Marlin should be good. You could very well just stay with the stock bike.

      I would not want to go with the Surly fork that you have mentioned. Seems to me that you are unlikely to find a rigid fork that meets your specifications off-the-shelf, here in India. So you can either import a fork or import a rack. I should add that I have toured with people who had mounted the front rack on their suspension fork with a metal clamp on either side, and a skewer at the bottom. There wasn’t the slightest of problems on a multi-day tour of Ladhak. If I had to do settle for a ‘jugad’ I’d rather go with a less than optimal rack rather than a less than optimal fork.

      What is the problem with the rear rack? Is there not enough clearance? And does it not have any scope for adjustment?

      • Shalen August 8, 2015   Reply →

        Actually I am not getting 29er disc brake compatible rear rack. The local bike shop tried to contact some people for the Topeak explorer rack but didn’t find anywhere. Then i bought a btwin rack did some “jugad ” and now it fits to my bike but the problem is that the weight limit of the rack is only 25 kgs. It was good for my Dharamshala trip but i need a stronger one which can take up to 40 kgs.

        • Ajay Jaiman August 9, 2015   Reply →

          40kgs on the rear rack? As far as I can tell 20 to 25 kg is the limit for most pannier racks. If you search hard you might find one that goes up to 30kg. But 40kgs on the rear alone? I am not sure if that is even advisable. Plus you want a front rack too…

          What are you planing to carry? I have a done many multi-day trips at high altitudes where I have carried tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, stove, food… (in addition to clothes and personal items) and I have never hit that number. For what it is worth my packing list for a self-supported multi-day trip is here: https://www.jaiman.org/2010/10/cycling/packing-suggestion-for-multi-day-self-supported-cycling-trip/

          If you must carry more than 40kgs you should perhaps consider a trailer. If I remember correctly Decathlon used to sell one.

          • Shalen August 11, 2015  

            Actually i have seen some videos of Axiom racks they made some racks which can take up to 50 kgs. But after reading the list of items required for a multi day trip i don’t think i also need to carry so much weight. I am planning a round trip from Shimla to Kaza to Leh to Panagong and back to Shimla via Manali but not this year may be next year. I am practicing for that i ride my bike regularly for 36 km up and down in Shimla but riding bike with loaded panniers is a different thing, so for practice i do some short 2-3 day trip around Shimla of about 150-180 Kms. Just needed an expert advice from people who have done touring in these regions and then i found you. But as you said that there is no need to carry so much weight then i think Btwin rack will work and with some adjustments the same rack can be fitted to fork. Can you tell me the max weight which should be carried on front and rear rack??

          • Ajay Jaiman August 13, 2015  

            I don’t think there is one right answer about the weight distribution between front and rear panniers. As long as you are within the rack’s acceptable range you should do what ever works for you. Just a couple of things to keep in mind (of course, this will vary depending on you specific bike’s geometry): if you keep too much weight in the rear then on very steep climbs the bike can do a wheelie, or at least seem unstable; too much weight in the front and the handling becomes vague. So I guess the best way is to experiment and find the right balance — between your bike, your panniers, and you. I have a method of packing so that I know what is in which pannier bag — that way if I need something in the middle of a ride I don’t have to open all the bags. Having done a logical separation of my stuff I tend to roughly check that the front pair and the rear pair weigh the same. And again, roughly, that the weight distribution is 60:40 :: rear:front. That works for me, something else might work for you. Experiment.

            Start out with what seamed reasonable in your experiments — training rides. By the end of your long Himalayan expedition (what an awesome plan) you will, I am sure, find your ‘balance’! All the best!

  • Ravindra Sah September 4, 2015   Reply →

    Hi.

    For the no-nose bike saddle :
    http://www.nexride.com/why-noseless.html

    Regards,
    Ravindra Sah

  • Nimesh September 7, 2015   Reply →

    Awesome write up bro, such an insider on what to choose and how. Kudos!
    I have cycled way back during schooling days, intend to start it again, need a nice purchase purely from the exercise stand point and commuting about 30 kms a day to work and back. I may back out of commuting to work if I feel it’s too taxing on me and may opt for about 5 kms ride each day. Been doing alot of research on the right machine for me but have been confused on whether to buy a single or multi geared bike, though am sure it’s got to b the hybrid variant coz I will mostly ride on city roads. I am 38 yrs stand 5’10” tall. Have reviewed a few like firefox pro v, montra trance pro, Firefox flip flop, btwin. Have a budget of abt 15-17k. Can you pls suggest what do I go with.
    TIA.
    cheers.

    • Ajay Jaiman September 9, 2015   Reply →

      If you want to mostly commute and live in a place that does not have hills then you should consider a single-speed. Try riding your shortlisted bikes and buy the one that you ‘like’… all the best!

  • vivektalati September 13, 2015   Reply →

    Hello Ajay
    Just seen your site and its awesome man.keep up good work.

    I am planning for buying MTB,my budget is around 40k
    I have taken ride of Giant atx1,merida big seven and scott 750 with hydro.discs
    Can you please suggest me the best in this budget apart form these 3 also.
    Regards,
    Vivek M.talati

    • Ajay Jaiman September 29, 2015   Reply →

      Thanks. I haven’t ridden all of them to give specific feedback. You have! And you really are the best judge. As long as the components etc. meet your expectations just buy the one you liked riding the most, or the one that generally appeals most to you. All the best!

  • Ketan Patil September 28, 2015   Reply →

    Hi Ajay,

    Thanks, this was very informative indeed. After some days of research and starting with cheap MTBs, I was leaning more and more towards a hybrid, and your post gave confidence and I have decided to buy a hybrid now.
    I am new to cycling and would be a recreational cyclist at least for some time. I will be riding mostly in city and to work few times a week (around 40km) so I think Hybrid is the best choice.

    I had decided on Hero UT H2 (https://paytm.com/shop/p/ut-h2-21-speed-adult-bicycle-black-and-red-size-26-inch-SPOUT-H2-21-SPESPOR2294751CB1D2E) but heard reently that Hero is discontinuing the brand so a little skeptical now.
    Do you have any recommendations 15-20k range?
    I test drove the above bike in a local shop in Pune and found it good enough, but they can’t match the deal I am getting online and he has only one piece left with some minor scratches from being in shop for too long. I am not so sure about semi-assembled online bike, can you suggest if it a good idea to buy it online?

    I am a mechanical engineer and do a lot of DIY at home but never played with a bicycle…

    Thanks in advance,
    Ketan Patil

    • Ajay Jaiman September 29, 2015   Reply →

      Thanks.
      Assembling a bike is no big deal. Especially for a ‘DIY kind of person’. I don’t know the “Hero UT H2” specifically but generally all you will need to assemble a bike is a set of Allen keys. If you trust the vendor and are ok with ‘minor scratches’, then you should consider it. Do keep that in mind that buying a ‘discontinued’ model (brand) has its own cost-benefit… Unless you are really committed to getting a ‘good deal’ I’d suggest that you look around — 20K should give you more than one option for a hybrid. All the best!

      • Ketan Patil September 29, 2015   Reply →

        Thanks Ajay. I will look around other shops before deciding.

  • Amit November 3, 2015   Reply →

    Hi Ajay. It’s been great reading your insights. Help needed.
    I recently undertook the Manali-Leh route on my btwin hybrid and it went off pretty well.
    Now, moving to Leh for the next two years. Aim to travel through the length and breadth of the region. Hybrid OR MTB ??

    • Ajay Jaiman November 23, 2015   Reply →

      Thanks.
      Hard to say without knowing you well. All I can say is that I were going to live in Leh for an extended period of time, and could take only one bike with me, I’d take my MTB. That would give me more options — I’d definitely want to go off-road sometimes…
      Hope that helps.

  • crzytrvlr November 17, 2015   Reply →

    Hey Ajay! Thanks for all the information! This is a really cool blog! I’m planning to cycle across India, starting from Delhi in August 2016. Now, some facts about me — I don’t have a Bicycle currently. I don’t know anything about bicycles, except for what I’ve been reading for a couple of days, now. I have never ridden a bike, except for a recent ride I took on a friend’s entry-level MTB. It was an amazing feeling of freedom! Now, my question is — if you were to cycle across India, starting from Delhi, moving towards the west coast, navigating through South west, Southern part and then move to the Eastern coast to visit North East and maybe move to Leh, what cycle would you prefer buying? I know the answer should be something on the lines of a Good enough Touring bike. The problem is, I don’t think I can afford a Touring bike. I want to use my savings on the road, while travelling. That being said, I need a bicycle which in all probability, will prove to be a tough enough bike to tour thousands of Kms on different kinds of terrains. So, If I were to choose a good enough bicycle, to ride across India, which bicycle would you suggest? I’m assuming some good Hybrid, maybe. But, I’d really appreciate if you could put some options in front of me to look for and start test riding those. As for my budget, I should be able to invest 30-35 K, but, if there are cheaper options, I’m more than eager to learn. Apart from the bike options, I want to learn so many things from experienced bike riders. Have been exploring your blog for all the info (about the bikes, the gear, the packing list etc.) I think I need and its helping a lot!

    P.S.: I might bug you again and again to get more information about the essential long-term touring gear etc. I’d appreciate your patience! πŸ™‚

    P.P.S.: As crazy and a little too overambitious my plan seems, I want to take the plunge and try living my life free from all the social obligations and my current corporate responsibilities.
    If you’ll never try, you’ll never know ~ Coldplay πŸ™‚

    • Ajay Jaiman November 23, 2015   Reply →

      Thanks.
      Far too many people live practical lives. A few audacious ‘crazies’ are are good to have among us. πŸ™‚

      If I were on a tight budget I’d seriously consider buying a used bike, and rework the drive-train for touring. There seem to be very few touring cycles available in the Indian market, so used ones are even harder to find. Look around, you might get lucky. Otherwise you could settle for a hybrid of MTB. Which one? Again, if I were on a tight budget I’d probably settle for a good quality Hybrid. Mainly because I think a good quality front shocks costs money (which we don’t have much of) and a bad quality ones are not very useful. I’d rather spend all of my money on a good frame, drive train, racks and pannier bags (assuming you are going self-supported)…

      You may have already figured this form the article above, but let me reiterate: you may need to rejig the drive train of a stock hybrid to make it suitable for long-distance self-supported touring. You will probably not encounter this problem with an MTB.

      Hope this helps. All the best!

      • crzytrvlr November 23, 2015   Reply →

        Thanks for your reply, Ajay! Yeah, I too have been thinking of searching a bit for a used ‘good’ touring bike and maybe re-work the groupset. If I don’t get my hands on a used one, here are some of the options that I’ve looked at:

        1. Fuji Absolute 1.9 Disc (http://www.cyclechan.com/collections/hybrid/products/fuji-absolute-1-9-disc-1?variant=6153545601)

        2. Focus Crater Lake 4.0 (http://www.cyclechan.com/collections/focus/products/focus-crater-lake-4-0)

        3. Trek 7.2 FX (http://www.firefoxbikes.com/BikeDetails.aspx?BikeId=149)

        4. Merida Speeder 100 (http://www.cyclechan.com/collections/hybrid/products/merida-speeder-100?variant=3672301569)

        I’ve listed these options basis whatever information I could gather (and understand) in past few days, about touring bikes and hybrids suitable for touring. I’d really appreciate you sharing your feedback basis their specs. At least if I know that I’m looking in the right direction, it’d be helpful, because I don’t know too many people who’re into bicycles and who could help me with it.

        Also, how bad is a rigid fork idea, considering the condition of roads in rural India? I know front shocks will be incredibly helpful on most of the rural / remote roads with pot holes and patchy roads. But, isn’t it going to be difficult setting up front racks with suspension forks? Front suspension compatible racks? Front discs should be helpful in mud and wet (slippery) roads? I’ve read that 11-32T cassettes and 28/38/48T cranksets are good for touring? And yes, I’m planning a self-supported trip. So yeah, I’ll be buying all the necessary gear like racks, panniers, camping gear etc. Could you maybe direct me to some good cycling gear store in NCR apart from Decathlon? Would you know stores in Delhi that sell Fuji, Focus, Merida, Giant, Cannondale? Till now, I could only see these bikes for sale on the web.

        Thanks again for taking out time for my queries! All the information is much appreciated!

        Cheers.

        • Ajay Jaiman November 25, 2015   Reply →

          You can get all major cycle brands (Trek, Cannondale, Scott, Giant, Merida, Fuji… ) in India now. They may offer their entire global range but most of them are represented here. Couple of multi-brand cycle shops in south Delhi/Gurgaon that I know of are (not in any order):

          Pedal Up Studio
          Opp Pillar # 49
          MG Road
          Sikandarpur
          Gurgaon
          Phone: +91 9818467165.

          Cyclofit Concept
          Shop No. 842, M.G. Road,
          Opp. Metro Pillar No. 119,
          Ghitorni
          New Delhi
          Phone: 011-26502750

          The Bike Shop
          46/3, Yusuf Sarai,
          New Delhi
          Phone: +91 9899162648

          Track&Trail Store
          C-57 Veer Savarkar Marg, Central Market
          Lajpat Nagar 2
          Delhi
          Phone: 9999665572, 011 46621605

          The Bike Shack
          B – 246 DLF Super Mart 1, DLF Phase 4
          Gurgaon
          Haryana
          Phone: 0124 408 0008

          I’d suggest that you go to a couple of these stores (or which ever ones are closer to you) and check the bikes out in person.

          About fixed forks: a couple of friends and I have ridden large parts of Ladakh, most of Spiti, parts of Bhutan and much more on fixed fork bikes. Seems to me that when you are touring/traveling fully-loaded it does not matter much.

          • crzytrvlr November 25, 2015  

            Thanks a ton for the information, Ajay! I’ll visit these stores to check out the bikes.

            Cheers.

      • crzytrvlr November 23, 2015   Reply →

        Just ended up reading the article again… and, I noticed a lot of information I had missed at the first time, clearing some of my doubts, already. Thanks, again!

        Do you think its the right time to write that post — “You want only one bike that you want to tour with, but cannot afford a touring-specific bike, or you don’t plan to be expedition-ing?”

        And, some really funny answers — “Just buy one of each.” πŸ˜€

        Cheers.

        • Ajay Jaiman November 25, 2015   Reply →

          You are welcome.
          Yes, I ought to write that one. Soon!

          • crzytrvlr November 25, 2015  

            Can’t wait for another great and useful article! Cheers.

  • anbusubr December 15, 2015   Reply →

    Hi, Great Article.. I learnt many things about cycling.
    I am planning to buy my first gear cycle, Kross K80 from Paytm with good offer. But i am in a dilemma whether its a good bike or not..
    I am planning to go to office in cycle and in weekends mostly roam around and occasional treks around pune.
    Let me know if its a good choice or please suggest a good brand/model under 10k.
    looking forward your reply.

    • Ajay Jaiman February 17, 2016   Reply →

      Dear Anbusubr
      Sorry, I don’t know anything about the Kross K80 or buying from Paytm. The only advice I can give you is that try the bike before buying it. The feel and fit are important considerations. You can buy online if the price difference is significant but otherwise go to a reputable dealer close to you. Someone who will help fix problems later if you encounter any.
      All the best.

  • Salvo January 17, 2016   Reply →

    Hi Ajay, compliments on such an informative article. I’m planning to buy a MTB and have following questions/doubts:-
    1. Are disc brakes worth the amount or should they be avoided as they are difficult to maintain?
    2. A Firefox dealer tells me that 26″ tyres are no good and I should go for a 29er. Have read couple of articles on the net but haven’t been able to make up my mind.

    Your reply will help me make a choice. Thanx.

    • Ajay Jaiman February 17, 2016   Reply →

      Hi Salvo
      My two bits:
      1. In my experience disc brakes are a big help when you are riding off-road.
      2. 26″ vs 29″ is a little bit of a religious thing. I have ridden both sizes extensively and I can’t totally make up my mind… I suspect there is no right answer that will apply to everybody, for all kinds of riding, on all kinds of surfaces… I’d suggest that you try riding both the bikes at the store or borrow from friends if you can and then go with what ever feels/looks good to you. That said, if you are mostly going to ride on-road or semi-paved roads then perhaps going with a 29″ wheel may be better.

  • Prashant Sahni January 26, 2016   Reply →

    Hi Ajay
    I stand at 6ft with 120kgs, Tried up with a friends discarded hero octane 26 with shimano 21 speed, rode it for a good 15-16 days for 12 kms daily in 35-40 minutes on city roads with climbing flyovers n little tarmac hills

    Now decided to buy myself a bike and target 20-22 kms daily n an hour’s ride for weight loss purpose, my budget is 18-20k, after reading current queries i think i need hybrid or mountain bike, with suspensions coz am facing jerks on this bike

    Can you suggest some good options in my budget

    • Ajay Jaiman February 17, 2016   Reply →

      I am sorry but I am not so well informed about the options available at your budget. Were you happy with the bike you tried? If yes, why not get the same. You could also look at Firefox. I’d think that they will have some options for you, but I am not entirely sure.

  • Paresh January 29, 2016   Reply →

    I just started cycling,I do 18-20 Km/Day, I bought Suncross Racer Hybrid Gear cycle. However I not happy with the performance due running repairs. I am willing to sell it and I am planning to buy a Hybrid cycle without gear.

    The confusion part is some are telling to go for Geared cycle some are telling to go for Without gear, which is creating chaos for.

    Will you guide me?

    • Ajay Jaiman February 17, 2016   Reply →

      I’ll try: Since you already have a geared cycle you can set up an experiment to decide for yourself. Assuming that you will not set up custom gearing for your new cycle, just identify the fixed gear cycle that you might buy. Count number of teeth the fixed gear cycle has in the front and the number of teeth it has on the rear. On your current bike, select the gears that match closest to the fixed gear bike. Now ride without changing gears for a few days. That should tell you all you need to know… Hope this helps. All the best.

      • sidsub February 17, 2016   Reply →

        Hi Ajay,

        I’ve been reading your posts on and off for roughly two years now. I’m the same guy who initially asked about long distance touring, then came back to your blog with broken teeth seeking advice about full face helmets.

        This time around I have something pleasant to share. I rode solo from Delhi to Cochin on a semi loaded bicycle and returned home a couple of weeks back. Its wasn’t a fully self supported tour. More like a credit card tour where I stopped over at dharamshalas, home stays, motels and friends’ houses.

        Now, I’m writing to you with a very specific question. And about a different set of equipment. Something I’m completely unaware of. Camping. Having read a fair number of your posts, I think I can safely assume you’re an expert. I’m planning to attempt the Manali-Leh route completely self supported. Also, would you recommend having a partner along to share the load or is it doable if one goes solo?

        • Ajay Jaiman February 20, 2016   Reply →

          Delhi to Cochin sounds awesome. Have you shared your experiences some place?

          I won’t claim expertise on camping, but I have done some. I have cycled self-supported with friends and solo too. And so have many more… I did Manali – Leh with my brother, but met others who were solo. So both are ‘doable’.

          I cycled alone to Tso Moriri last summer alone, and across Spiti two years ago. I have also cycled with friends — in Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Bhutan, Assam, Arunachal… Personally I enjoy both kinds. But I can tell you that solo expeditioning is not for everyone. However, if you find that it is for you, then there is nothing quite like it.

          Just one suggestion: If you do not have much high-altitude experience (cycling, trekking…) then I’d advice you to not go solo. At least not the first time.

          • sidsub February 23, 2016  

            My experience, here it is: https://sidsub.wordpress.com/2015/12/28/bikepacking-2-0/

            I’m still in the process of finishing the documentation. It reads more like a personal journal. I was sort of blogging live until I hit the coast at Maharashtra. Little/no connectivity for over 50KMs at times. Never could get the laptop to run long enough on battery power.

            Hehe, you are an expert to me if you’ve survived even one multi-day bike+camp trip. And you have more than just survived. I will pick up an inexpensive tent soon and pitch it on my terrace/balcony to start with. I need to get used to the idea of sleeping in the open, first. We used to do that when I was young. Then I managed to unlearn it with all the air conditioners and radiators.

            About going solo or not, I shall step up my camping experience and maybe do a recce once before I head towards Leh/Spiti. If I feel comfortable, I will give it a shot else I shall look for a like minded person to tag along with.

            As far as high altitudes go, my father and his co-brother love the mountains. So we travelled the Himalayas quite a bit when I was little. At least as far and high as a couple of Maruti 800s could go. But I need to get accustomed to the idea of cycling up there. I shall give that a shot soon. Perhaps not as high as some of the mountain passes on that route, but something smaller to understand what elevation can do aside from giving your legs a hard time πŸ™‚

          • Ajay Jaiman February 27, 2016  

            Your site looks awesome. Thanks for sharing.
            I can see that you started your journey from Delhi. If you happen to live here too (or whenever you pass through here next), I’d love meet you and hear your stories and share whatever I know about backpacking in the Himalayas.
            Cheers!

          • sidsub March 18, 2016  

            I’m glad you liked it πŸ™‚

            And yes I started from Delhi. I live here too. I would love to meet you sometime and share my stories and listen to yours as well. Just started working on a TV production which will last for a couple of months. I will try and take some time off and keep you posted. Hope to meet you soon. Do you ride over weekends or something like that?

            Siddharth

  • anirudhmore February 7, 2016   Reply →

    Hello,

    I read the entire post. Also the comments section. So helpful, thanks πŸ˜€

    Besides my meagre research, I don’t know much about Cycling or Cycles. But over the last few months I have developed a strong fascination for long-distance cycling. And I’ve been saving up too. And as foolishly grand as my plans might sound, soon I hope to be touring the country, to the north – the Himalayas; and then maybe even beyond the borders.

    Was wondering if you could help me with places to buy a good cycle from in Mumbai??

    And from your post I have gathered a decent MTB would be the right cycle for me. And I do have an alright budget of around 40K. So anyway, this’ll sound like a repeat question, but I’m still more or less clueless about what to go for… Days of research, and the only legit option I have come up with is the TREK 3700/3900. Could you suggest any other brands?

    Like there’s a pretty nice store nearby stocking SCOTT cycles. But I don’t know much about the brand and the models.

    So anything you could help with.. I’ll really appreciate it. And thanks anyway for this post…

    • Ajay Jaiman February 17, 2016   Reply →

      ‘Foolish’ is good! More power to you! πŸ™‚
      Trek, Cannondale, Scott, Giant, Merida, Fuji.. are all good brands. It is a competitive market and they end up offering comparable products at the same price range, especially at the starting end. So my suggestions would be to go out there and try as many as you can. Borrow from friends if you can… And then decide solely on the basis of what appeals to you.

  • Rohit May 2, 2016   Reply →

    Hello Ajay,

    In your opinion / experience, would you recommend a touring bike for long distance cycling (avg 120 -150 kms/day for 3 months) or an equipped MTB be able to do the same job with the same comfort?

    From the reading I’ve done on the net, people say that the frame geometry of a touring bike is more comfortable for long distance travel but you seem to have done your travels on a MTB.

    Thanks in advance.

    • Ajay Jaiman May 8, 2016   Reply →

      Hi Rohit

      I have never owned a touring rig, so the honest answer is that I don’t really know. All I can say is that after a long day of riding I have never really longed for more comfort on the bike itself. Having said that, I must quickly add that I do believe that a touring bike would likely be more comfortable and better suited for touring in general.

      I already had a decent MTB before the touring bug hit me… If you are going to buy a new one and are going to be touring mostly then I guess it makes sense to buy a touring bike.

      • Shaaran May 17, 2017   Reply →

        Thanks Ajay for giving useful information. But also I have a doubt. I am 14yrs old I am going to by a cycle. My intention is I need a weightless cycle for doing some basic stunts in it. I am going to ride it in a bad road conditions in my area. I must be atleast able to carry my school bag in it. Can you suggest any cycle apt for it. I hope you will reply

  • Karam Singh May 13, 2016   Reply →

    Hey Ajay,

    Really informative stuff! My key Dilemma lies in the fact that yes, I will be riding mostly on roads, but I want to have the option to Ride on trails and do a bit of off roading as i gather experience. Also, I have a secret Bias towards MTBs. Somehow it just pulls me.

    what do you think i can get?

    I have been looking and have found a few that i might e able to pick up on reasonable EMI schemes like the Scott aspect 670/970, the Bianchi Duel Disc, then of course there are some Montras and Meridas which are in the same range of around 29000 INR.

    Help me out please.

    • Ajay Jaiman June 13, 2016   Reply →

      If you have a ‘secret bias’ for an MTB then you should just go with it. At about 30K there is unlikely to be substantial difference between models. Just get the one that feels right, and feels good.

  • Sachin Jain July 12, 2016   Reply →

    Hi Ajay,
    Got motivated to ask question after looking at your reply. I am new to cycling and more aligned towards hybrid Firefox Pro Runner D or Firefox Momentum 700 C, I live in Noida and mostly I will do biking in morning for fitness and 50 Km ride over weekend and I think majorly it will be roads with little rough surface. What do you recommend ? Also, does buying a bike with Disc brakes worth ? Else I can buy Firefox Pro runner V which is much cheaper. Please advise.

    • Ajay Jaiman July 19, 2016   Reply →

      Hi, In my opinion, for everyday commuting and riding, disc brakes don’t add whole lot of value. So if you are tight on budget you could easily live without them. Cheers!

  • Anshul Nigam July 28, 2016   Reply →

    Hi Ajay,

    Loved your blog! Keep it up!!!
    I need your help. I used to cycle to school till 12th std. Since then, I have not cycled, at least not frequently. I’m 28, currently in Gurgaon, having not been cycling for past 10 years. Although I’m not an athlete, but not a slouch either. Now, I have decided to get on a saddle again, mostly as a fitness exercise alternative, as I’m a running enthusiast, but can’t keep that up due to being flat-footed. Mostly, I would be cycling to work, cafes(within 8-10 Kms radius) within city. [ But, Gurgaon roads, you know! Might need an MTB for that πŸ˜‰ ]. During weekends, I might start going for long rides(max 100 Kms to and fro). So, I need your suggestion on the best VFM bicycles I should choose from. From your posts, I gather that a mountain focused hybrid should suit the bill for me. But, I wanted your tailored response. Also, which model/product you’d recommend, considering my budget of ~15K INR (can stretch upto 25K if the product is more VFM).
    It’d be great help.
    TIA!!!

    • Ajay Jaiman August 5, 2016   Reply →

      Thanks, Anshul.

      The bike models in the market changes every season. Their marketing guys want us to keep drooling for their new (mostly repackaged) offers… I try not to keep track of specifics, so sorry I can not recommend a specific brand/model.

      My suggestion would be to make up your mind about the type of bike and budget and then walk up to store(s). Often the bike will recommend itself to you — as it should!

      Sorry to disappoint you by not giving a “tailored response”. But I hope this helps, at least a little bit.

      All the best!

  • Pawan Gautam August 13, 2016   Reply →

    which bike is best gear or without gear??

    • Ajay Jaiman September 21, 2016   Reply →

      Hi Pawan

      Depends on where you ride and what you want to achieve. Borrowed a bike without gears and if it serves your intended purpose. If it does then get one.

      As a general rule I believe a simpler solution is always better than a complicated one. As long as it serves the intended purpose. Why get gears if you don’t need them!

      I must add that the purity of a fixie bike does have a certain seductive appeal. πŸ™‚

      Hope this helps.

  • Previnder September 10, 2016   Reply →

    Very Informative.. Hey Riders…….. anyone looking for upgrade..?? as i’m looking for good hybrid in resale ..

    i’m from Delhi, any lead will be good enough,

    admin pl remove in case the post seems inappropriate,

  • Akshay September 16, 2016   Reply →

    Dear ajay
    At the outset my compliments for a very informative thread . I have read through and hopefully become more wiser courtsey the queries and your reply posts .
    My ques is simple ,budget30-35 k , am looking for an MTB . Which one would you recommend , accessories go be taken Alongwith the MTB , revommended gear set and tyres . Fram i am i lined towards a hard tail even mix of rd and off road cycling
    Regards
    Akshay

    • Ajay Jaiman September 21, 2016   Reply →

      Thanks Akshay.

      Sorry but I don’t keep track of prices on a regular basis. But I think for 35K you should get a reliable international brand MTB. I doubt if you would have too many choices for components, but I also think that the stock components should be good enough to get you going. Perhaps in a year or two you can review, change/upgrade components if needed.

      The basic minimum accessories I’d recommend are:
      – Helmet
      – Gloves
      – Bottle holder(s)
      – Poly-carbonate glasses — you don’t ‘need’ anything fancy, Decathlon has a some for under Rs 500, which should get you going.

      Optional:
      – Front and rear lights (if you ride in the dark sometimes)

      What you ‘DON’T NEED’ that shops might push you into:
      – Gel seat cover – your butt gets used to the small hard seat in a few days.
      – Dual-suspension (at this price point the rear suspension is at best useless, and at worst counterproductive)

      Hope this helps.

  • Srikanth October 29, 2016   Reply →

    Hi Ajay,

    i am from Chennai and planning to buy a cycle that is to be used on city roads which is particularly not that good. The cycling purpose would be to work, eateries, roam around within the city and occasional long rides.

    So which bike would be suitable the hybrid or the MTB. I am pretty much confused which to select.

    If I am to select Hybrid, would it withstand the bad roads of the city or should I select the MTB to withstand the bad roads.

    The max budget of mine would be upto 25K.

    Please help out.

    Thanks……

  • gaurav December 4, 2016   Reply →

    Which bicycle is best in low price geared or non gear for going tuition on Delhi roads.

    • Ajay Jaiman January 18, 2017   Reply →

      Absolutely any bike that you can get should be fine for going to tuition in Delhi. Enjoy!

  • kukreti (@ikukreti) January 30, 2017   Reply →

    Hey.

    Nice work here. Super photography, the landscapes are jaw-dropping.

    Now to more mundane things in life -I was thinking of buying Btwin Triban 500 FB. The comments online have confused. They are essentially either “best bike ever (in this price range)” or “good bike but gears suck (fell on the road, survived somehow).”

    Do you have any experience/opinion about this bike? Should I go for it?

    Also, is there any difference between this and Triban 300 (there is a massive discount on it), apart from the shape of the handlebar?

    • Ajay Jaiman April 6, 2017   Reply →

      I don’t have any personal experience of either of the bikes. But looking at their website I can tell that the Triban 500 comes in two versions (flat handlebars and drop-down handlebars) and there is a significant price difference between them. If you are looking for drop-down handlebars then you are choosing between Triban 500 drop-down handlebars vs Triban 300 flat handlebars. There again the price difference is significant. With the higher priced model you do get much better components…

      In my general opinion the Triban brand is decent for the price. So if you are getting a massive discount (and there is no catch) then it is definitely worth considering.

    • Ajay Jaiman April 6, 2017   Reply →

      Oh, and thank you.

  • Diwa February 26, 2017   Reply →

    Budget – Under 15k
    Age – 27
    Height – 5’11”
    I’m looking to buy a bike with a purpose of “fitness while travelling”. Will be riding in Delhi only. Atleast 10kms everyday maybe 20-30 on weekends. I want a bike which is light weight, fast and a good design as well.
    I’m really confused what type of a bike I should buy.
    I’m a lower middle class guy and want to make a 1 time investment in a good looking, safe & value for money bike.
    As you also know Delhi roads are not that smooth and the traffic is ever increasing.
    Kindly suggest the type I should buy (I believe hybrid).
    And also please help me with a few options to buy from.
    Kindly reply asap.
    Pleaseeeee
    Thank you!

    • Ajay Jaiman April 6, 2017   Reply →

      My suggestion is that you go visit a couple of cycle stores that carry a variety of bikes. Pick any hybrid that you like and is within your budget. In my experience prices in this range are competitive, by and large.

      Happy riding!

  • Lokesh Aneja March 4, 2017   Reply →

    Thanks Ajay,

    The information is quite simple and informative for a guy like me who knows nothing about bicycles.
    I had a Hero Hawk city bike when I was growing up.

    Now I am 40 years old guy from Delhi 6 feet tall approx 90 kg and looking to pick something useful for morning ride to keep myself fit before I go to my office work, probably Sunday would be only time for some quality ride time that I would get.
    My budget is approximately 25k.
    What kind & brand of bike do you suggest.
    Would appreciate a quick response if possible as I intend to close it before my mind change πŸ™‚
    Thanks

    • Ajay Jaiman April 6, 2017   Reply →

      Sorry, I took long. Hope you have not changed your mind.

      Trek, Cannondale, Scott, Giant, Merida, Fuji.. are all good brands. My suggestion is that you go visit a couple of cycle stores that carry a variety of bikes. Pick one that you like and is within your budget. In my experience prices in this range are competitive, by and large.

      Happy riding!

  • Jatinder Singh March 7, 2017   Reply →

    Hi Ajay,

    Really great help… so nicely written by you and your expert comments in the thread are icing on the cake….Found it so informative

    I and 33 and live in Thane (Maharashtra) am planning to buy a bike for weekend riding (30 kms to start with) & may go upto 100 odd kms once i get used to bike riding. Started running half marathons / 10 kms around 2 years back. Now want to add cycling in my routine.

    Used to ride for 32 kms on a daily basis some 15 years back on normal Hero jet cycle & completely quit cycling after that. Didnt know anything about geared bikes / MTB / Hybrid etc & so on. I wanted to try (without gear) bike however the cyclist enthusiasts and couple of peers around me have recommended to go for B-twin MTB which is 24 gear complete aluminium bike, lighter & have front suspension and disk brakes that cost around 26k. It has been told that for 50+ kms rides & hobby riding, this would be required.

    Can you suggest whether i should go for a 5-7k normal bike vs 26k above bike. Thane has some uphills, elevated roads and flyovers even from a road riding perspective.

    Another doubt i have in my mind is about the maintenance. Does MTB require monthly servicing or something ? What should be the avg cost of such servicing in case it is required.

    thanks in advance.

    regards

    Jatinder

    • Ajay Jaiman April 6, 2017   Reply →

      Some would argue that the pinnacle of cycles is a fixie.
      Quote form Wikipedia: “A fixed-gear bicycle is a bicycle that has a drivetrain with no freewheel mechanism. The freewheel was developed early in the history of bicycle design but the fixed-gear bicycle remained the standard track racing design. More recently the “fixie” has become a popular alternative among mainly urban cyclists, offering the advantage of simplicity compared with the standard multi-geared bicycle.”

      My suggestion is that you should try to borrow a ‘normal’ bike, as you call it, and ride it for a bit. If it works for you that is it. If not, then you can buy the one with gears.

  • Rajesh Kumar Choudhary March 11, 2017   Reply →

    Hi Sir,

    Since you are from Delhi only and know the surrounding areas well, can you please tell if the road bikes are good for Delhi roads. I am planning to buy a suncross racer star.
    Thanks in advance.

    • Ajay Jaiman April 6, 2017   Reply →

      Short answer: Yes.
      Long answer: Depends on the area you live in, or plan to ride in. If the roads are not broken and pot-holed then a road bike should be good.

      Happy riding!

  • kumar rajiv March 18, 2017   Reply →

    Dear Ajay please suggest for normal use for unisex Bike for city use.

    • Ajay Jaiman April 6, 2017   Reply →

      I am sorry but I don’t keep track of exact models. My suggestion is that you go visit a couple of cycle stores that carry a variety of bikes. Pick one that you like and is within your budget. In my experience prices in this range are competitive, by and large.

      Happy riding!

  • Kumar Pratyush April 12, 2017   Reply →

    Hey!
    First of all, thank you for the blog. Stumbled across this after a week long search over internet for suggestions which left me more confused than before.
    I could really need some suggestions!
    So I am planning to commute to work. 40 km round-trip. Bangalore. The route has a mixture of good roads and bad (bad being potholes and some absolute trodden, gravel roads). My budged is around 20-25K. Any suggestions? My list so far has been – RockRider 520, Montra Rock 1.1D, Montra Helicon, Trek 3500.

    P.S. – Also planning to do some off-roading from time to time. Once in a month or two though.

    • Ajay Jaiman May 29, 2017   Reply →

      In my view, commuting is not very demanding on the bike. Atlas and Hero will work too :).
      Ride each of them, if you can and buy the one that appeals to you.

  • Abhishek Sharma August 11, 2017   Reply →

    Hi thank you for writing such enriching article. I am 42 years of age and 5.5″ tall. I want to buy a bike that will suffice my day today needs. i will travel 30 km daily in a group, sometimes on Highways. Planning to particapate in 200 km brevet. Budget is 20-25 k suggest me a good bike if possible.

  • Ramnath Krishnamoorthy August 31, 2017   Reply →

    Great Information shared. Keep up the good work.

  • bikestudioindia September 5, 2017   Reply →

    I Should prefer multispeed MTB Bike with MLO because it will be use on both off and on road s. so I will adjust it according to road condition if condition of road is bad then i will unlock it with MLO othervise i go with Lock out on plain road.

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