Finding the perfect summer bicycle

by Jack Diablo
It’s summertime again and that means getting outdoors and soaking up the Florida sun. And what better way to get around than on a bicycle?
This month, EU talked with Freddy Kapel, manager of Cycle Spectrum in Jacksonville Beach, about some of the most popular rides on two wheels.

beach cruiser
If you just plan on kicking it around the beach, there’s no better vehicle than the ubiquitous beach cruiser. In Freddy’s store, it’s the most popular seller and rightfully so. “It’s designed to be comfortable,” Freddy says. The laid back geometry is perfect for a leisurely cruise on the beach itself or to a local restaurant or bar. Most cruisers are single-speed. “Jacksonville is flat and if you’re riding on the beach, it’s less to mess with,” Freddy recommends.

dutch bike
Similar to the beach cruiser in terms of comfort, but built to tackle the city streets is the Dutch bike. Freddy describes the design as “upright like a beach cruiser but hav[ing] wheels the size of a hybrid or a road bike.” Equipped with fenders, racks and chain guards, they are the perfect commuter bike for someone who doesn’t want their pant legs stained with grease or mud and needs to haul a briefcase or the like. Very popular in the Netherlands, they are quickly gaining popularity in the States as well.

road bike
For the more athletically-inclined cyclist, perhaps the traditional road bike is the way to go. Built for speed versus comfort, road bikes are lightweight and allow for higher velocity rides perfect for racing. “A lot of people use road bikes to help set goals for themselves in exercising,” says Freddy. But the road bike can get you to work or any destination for that matter in a jiffy. “It’s great for commuting because it’s quick and nimble.”

single-speed and fixed gear bikes
One bike rapidly growing in popularity particularly in urban areas are single-speed fixed gears. The direct drive of a fixed gear bike prevents the ability to coast since the pedals move with the wheels. People ride “fixies” for a myriad of reasons including the fashion statement they’ve become and what advocates describe as a zen-like experience. Freewheel single-speeds are popular as well for their simplicity. “Single-speeds are great for commuting, in my opinion, because they’re low maintenance,” Freddy points out. With no complicated shifting mechanisms to worry about, they are perfect for those who want to do quick and easy DIY repairs on the fly.

touring bike
If you want to do some long-distance riding, a touring bike might be what you’re looking for. With a longer, more relaxed geometry they keep you comfortable on those epic treks. They can be easily outfitted with racks and trailers for hauling heavier loads than their road bike cousins which also makes them perfect for commutes to the grocery store or work.
With so many options, there’s bound to be a bike that suits your individual requirements and style. So head to your local bike shop and enjoy this summer on the back of a bicycle.