Finding Your Best Bike

Biking not only keeps you fit, it can also make make you rich -- well, kind of. Peddling just four miles a day can burn 19 pounds of calories a year and save over $800 in gas, according to Bicycling magazine.

But how do you choose the right wheels?

Loren Mooney, editor in chief of Bicycling magazine, appeared Wednesday on The Early Show to talk about what you should look for in a great new bike.

If you're a commuter, Mooney recommends going with $365 bike with a suspension saddle, wide tires for stability and adjustable handlebars for a proper fit.

And for children, Mooney said you should not go the inexpensive route. You should look for solid, sturdy construction that ensures safe riding -- and can be passed on to younger siblings. The one she brought on the show costs $160.

"You don't want to compromise with the kids," she said.

If you want to take on the mountains, Mooney recommends the Cannondale F7, a bike that retails at $560. This bike offers shocks, disc brakes, a lightweight frame and low gears.

Road bikes -- expensive high-tech bikes that are super lightweight and built for speed -- are another option. They are usually made of composite material and ergonomically correct handlebars, Mooney said. They retail for almost $900.

Mooney recommends going to a bike shop instead of a bigger store because the quality is better at a bike shop and the bikes will be assembled by professionals.

"If you go to a big box store, you can get a cheaper bike, but it might be well built or it might be built by the guy who is now stocking the sock department."

Mooney added that you won't find anything under $200 in a bike shop, so if you can't afford a quality bike, it's better to start saving your money and fix up the old bike you have in the garage. Mooney said the bike shops may offer good deals on last year's models.

Mooney suggests also asking for a free or discounted helmet when you buy a new bike.

"No matter what bike you get," she said, "you should never ride without one."

Mooney's recommendations:

City/Bike Path/Getting Started
Jamis Commuter 1: $365
Has a suspension seatpost to make the ride easy on your rear, and an adjustable handlebar for the right fit.
Stable, wider tires for beginners and casual riders.
Official bike of Bicycling's 2009 BikeTown program.

Kids
Specialized Hot Rock (in pink!): $160

You see sturdy steel throughout from the frame to the spokes in the wheels - a sign that the bike will be safe and last long enough to be passed down to siblings or other neighborhood kids.

Mountain
Cannondale F7: $560
Spend more and you'll get a bike that is much lighter weight, and has better shock absorption for big hits on the trails. But if you're just looking to get off the road and onto the trails, the 3900 Disc has - you guessed it - disc brakes for improved stopping power, especially in wet conditions. The aluminum frame is outfitted with a quality Shimano drivetrain and a suspension front fork that has about thre inches of travel to take on small bumps.

Road
Specialized Allez: $880
Road bikes aren't cheap, but they are high-performance, lightweight machines built for speed.

There's a lot of technology trickle-down from what's on top race bikes. Here, there is a carbonfiber fork, which is better at absorbing road vibrations -- no numb hands. The handlebar also has ergonomic shaping and soft gel bar tape. And there is as much comfort technology in the saddle
too.

For Fun
For those who won the lottery:
Pinarello Prince: $5,500 for the frame and fork alone (complete bike for $10k and up)
Made of aerospace-grade carbon fiber composit designed to be stiff and efficient, yet compliant enough to absorb fatiguing road vibrations.
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