City Guides » Bike Week

Wheeling and dealing

New or used, pretty or practical: Matthew Ritchie finds out what you need to know before you invest in a set of wheels.

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Michael Kryzalka-Neumaier’s ideal bike. - ANGELA GZOWSKI

Buying a new bike can be a perplexing experience for the novice rider. My current street bike, purchased at a big box store, is flimsy and even came with the brakes installed backwards. But for $180, how could I go wrong? Well, every which way, according to Tom Eidt at Bikes by Dave (6191 Young Street), who says there is definitely a correlation between what you pay and the kind of bike you get.

"If you spend a lot less, you get a lot less," says Eidt. "Longevity for commuters is really the name of the game." At this shop hybrid bikes are a hot commodity in the city, selling from $350 to $1,100. They offer a variety for the multi-terrain of Halifax streets, with most frames having a lifetime warranty.

For those in a lower price range, a used or new mountain bike from Ideal Bikes (1678 Barrington Street) will do the trick for the new commuter. "For the most part you want something with an optimal gearing range. Even a minimum of a five-speed can be sufficient," says Ideal's Michael Kryzalka-Neumaier, for those looking to commute in the hill-laden Halifax landscape. If you want something a bit more sleek, like a hip Tour de France-style road bike, Kryzalka-Neumaier says even with skinny tires, it'll hold up against tough asphalt, as long as the tires are properly inflated.

But if you're interested in a traditional ride that looks cool, Halifax Cycle Gallery (6299 Quinpool Road) offers a wide variety of cruisers from around the world. Ranging from Canadian classics, Dutch monster riders, California beach cruisers, or rides for an English Dandy, the Gallery has it all for the rider looking for utility over sport, in a variety of prices. They're even developing a handmade model to tear up the streets. "We've spent a year now importing bikes from all around the world, seeing what people like, which ones are functional, and this is kind of what we came up with," says Roger Nelson, pointing at their $1,000 prototype that resembles a brown Aston Martin.

And as far as protecting your new mode of transportation from thieves, Nelson suggests purchasing a lock that is 10 to 15 percent the worth of your bike, as well as not falling into a routine when it comes to places to lock up. "And the easiest way to keep your bike," he adds: "Don't let it out of your sight."

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