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 terrains.

Mountain bikes are designed for use over difficult, off-road terrain. Their tyres are wider than road bikes, with deeper, chunkier treads for handling uneven surfaces. A wide 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 bike

    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 perfect 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 terrain 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 bike

Frame size

For a comfortable bike ride, you'll need the right size frame 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)

Childrens bikes

Buying a bike for a child is a matter that needs particular care and attention. It's important that children have the right size bike. Bikes that are too large or too small can not only damage the child's posture, they can also increase the risk of accidents.

Ideally, a child should be able to sit on the bike and place their feet, on tiptoes, on the ground.

The size of the wheel is particularly important when choosing the right bike for your child. If the wheels are too small, they'll get tired quickly, but on the other hand if they're too big, your child will struggle to get on and off the bike, putting them at risk of accidents.

Below you'll find a rough guide to help you find the right bike for your child. It’s simple as all you need to know is the child’s height. Please check the individual recommendations for each bike in our range; these are listed in the features tab on the product details page (which you will land on as you select your bike).

Rough guide to wheel size

Height Of Child Age Of Child Wheel Size
98 - 112cm 3 - 5 yrs 12"
105-117cm 4 - 6 yrs 14"
112 - 125cm 5 - 7 yrs 16"
117 - 129cm 6 - 8 yrs 18"
125 - 136cm 7 - 9 yrs 20"
130 - 141cm 8 - 11 yrs 24"

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 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 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 dedicated a section of their website to cycling safety.