Traditional mountain bike: Designed for single-track, downhill and cross-country riding, a mountain bike’s suspension makes it ideal for riding over rocks and roots. “If you want to truly go mountain biking, you’ll spend about $800,” says Anne Mader, owner of the Bike Lane stores in Burke and Reston. If you’re intrigued, but not ready to invest, Mader suggests an entry-level mountain bike, at between $400 and $500.
Hybrid/urban bike: Bikes geared for faster speeds with straight handlebars are ideal for an urban setting, since you’re riding at a faster pace and steering around pedestrians, cars and more. These relatively light, multi-speed bikes are ideal for getting from A to B. “You can put a basket on it and take it to the grocery store or farmers’ market,” Mader said. The starting price for a new hybrid/urban bike is about $450.
Coffeehouse bike: “These are the bikes where you’re sitting upright, waving at people,” DiMauro said. They go for $400 at bike shops; at big-box retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart, they start as low as $80 and max out around $300.
Road bike: Made for fast-paced cycling on paved surfaces, road bikes feature lightweight frames with narrow tires and dropped handlebars. Prices for a good-quality bike start at $900.
DO’S AND DONT’S
Determine the type of bike you need first, before considering price points. Then do some comparison-shopping to determine a realistic price range for the bike you want and start saving to meet that goal. “When you have the ballpark budget, then you have all kinds of choices,” DiMauro said.
Join the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, since roughly 90 bike shops in the area offer a discount — ranging from 5 percent off bike purchases to 10 percent off parts and accessories, or both — when you show proof of membership. A one-year membership is $35 to $45.
If you’re buying a bike secondhand, skip Craigslist and visit one of the area’s bike co-ops. The Arlington-based Phoenix Bikes co-op offers a variety of mountain, road and cruiser bikes, most of which cost between $120 and $240. Find a local co-op on the WABA Web site at waba.org.