Bikes buying guide

There are few easier ways of keeping fit than by riding a bike. However, with so many different bikes out there, when it comes to buying one the decision may not be so easy. In fact, there is quite a lot to think about when choosing the right bike.

What type of bike is right for you?

The first thing to decide is where you'll be riding your bike - on the road, off-road or a bit of both? Different bikes are best suited for different road surfaces and conditions.

Mountain bikes are made for use over difficult, off-road terrain. Their tyres are wider than road bikes, with deeper, chunkier treads for handling uneven surfaces. A broad range of gears means you're equipped for anything from climbing steep inclines, to cycling back down quickly. Suspension is designed to absorb the impact of cycling over rough ground, for a less jarring, more controllable ride.

  • Front suspension mountain bikes

    Ideal for long distance biking, these are more efficient over smooth terrain, and are lightweight and easy to maintain.

  • Dual suspension mountain bikes

    Suitable for more challenging environments, these bikes can be more comfortable over rough ground, particularly when cycling downhill.

  • Road bikes

    Designed for speed, a road bike has a lightweight frame, thin 29" wheels and drop handlebars for minimal air resistance, maximum performance and easy handling.

  • City and trekking bikes

    Perfect if you cycle mainly on smooth roads and towpaths, these comfortable bikes feature padded saddles, mudguards and useful rear racks.

  • Folding bikes

    If your journey involves both cycling and public transport, the folding bike is ideal for you. Ride to the railway station or bus stop, then fold up the bike into a small package that's easy to carry.

  • Hybrid bikes

    These bikes give you the best of both worlds; cycle to the station in the week and then go for a more challenging ride at the weekend. Hybrid bikes combine features from both road and mountain bikes, giving you a comfortable upright sitting position, 700c wheels, and the ability to handle both surfaced tracks and tow paths.

  • Electric bikes

    Electric bikes are normal bikes that have been fitted with an electric motor. The motor kicks in when you need to pedal uphill, making life easier for you. The motor also comes in handy if you need to carry heavy shopping home. Older and less mobile people may find these bikes especially useful.

  • BMX

    Ideal for tackling ramps and obstacles, BMX bikes generally have smaller 20" wheels for greater agility and maximum fun. Freestyle BMXs can come with extras such as stunt pegs, and gyros for 360° handlebar turns.

What to look at when choosing a bike

  • Bike frame

    Steel frames are very strong and offer great value. Alloy and aluminium frames are generally lighter, without compromising on strength.

  • Gears

    The more gears your bikes has, the wider the range of surfaces and road conditions it can handle. We offer bikes with either thumb shift or grip shift gears, and both are easy to use.

  • Brakes

    Bikes are fitted with either rim brakes (side pull or V style) or disc brakes. Children's bikes will traditionally have a conventional side pull brake. The majority of adult bikes we stock are fitted with V-brakes, which offer great stopping power. The most sophisticated mountain bikes designed for demanding cyclists will have disc brakes to give you extra stopping power, especially during descents.

Choosing the right size adult bike

Frame size

For a comfortable bike ride, you'll need the correct frame size for your height. Most adult bike frames are between 14" and 23" and are measured from the top of the seat tube to the middle of the bottom bracket. Bikes on Tesco direct include the ideal inside leg measurement for each model, so you can easily find the right frame size for you.

Bike parts overview

Now that you know what to look out for, here's a detailed view of what's what on a bike:

Part number Part name Part number Part name
1 Freewheel / Cassette 2 Rear Tyre
3 Rear Derailleur 4 chain
5 Chain Stay 6 Chainset
7 Crank Arm 8 Pedal
9 Disc Caliper 10 Hub
11 Spoke 12 Rim
13 Tyre 14 Brake Caliper (disc)
15 Fork 16 Brake Lever
17 Handlebar 18 Stem
19 Down Tube 20 Top Tube
21 Seat Clamp 22 Seat Post
23 Saddle 24 Brake Caliper (rim)

Children's bikes

Visit our kids’ bike buying guide for help with how to choose the right kids’ bike

Cycling safety

Whether you're an experienced biker or a complete novice, you must ride safely. All cyclists must wear a protective helmet when they're out; this can help prevent serious head injuries and even fatalities. Make sure you choose the right helmet size to benefit from the full protection they can provide.

It's absolutely essential that your child has a cycle helmet. This not only protects against head injuries, but it can also make them more visible to other road users. Helmets can also offer some protection against the weather.

Wearing highly visible clothing is also highly recommended. The Royal Society for the Prevention of accidents (RoSPA) have a dedicated section section of their website on cycling safety.