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Bicycles For Pros And Amateurs

As the weather warms up across the country, more people are looking to move outdoors for their exercise programs and recreational activities.

One of the best ways to enjoy the sun is riding a bike. So, Steve Madden, editor-in-chief of Bicycling magazine, dropped by The Early Show to show some of the best bikes for 2004.

Every year, Bicycling magazine compiles the "Bike Buyer's Guide." After recruiting a staff of 12 editors and staff members, they go off and test hundreds of bikes to bring the 101 best bikes for the way you ride.

This year, they split the guide into 19 categories and selected a generous sampling from each. Bicycling magazine lists the noteworthy bikes on the market.

Madden demonstrated four bikes that made the cut.

Giant Cypress LX (Hybrid)

Features: These bikes have wide tires so they do not go as fast as some other bikes, but they are more comfortable to ride. The Giant Cypress LX goes over bumps and potholes with ease. They have a front shock and a shock on the seat post, which makes for a cozy ride. It also has a sloping top tube the rider straddles. It also has 24 gears.

Note: The "comfort bikes," are made more for leisure than sports, with features that are close to a La-Z-Boy recliner. You ride in an upright position, so there is no strain on the back. It has cushy suspension and wide seats. The hybrid bikes made up 17.9 percent of all bike sales in 2003.

Madden says these bikes are for anyone who wants to have fun and get some exercise. You can't really travel fast on the hybrids, and you can't go too far. Madden says if you live in a city, it's a great bike. It works well on recreational trails and roads.

Price: $470

Extras: Repair kit and frame pump
The repair kit comes with a spare inner tube. Madden says repairing a tire is easy with the kit he demonstrated, it just takes some practice to use it. Bike tires have become so good that flats on road and trail bikes are becoming increasingly rare.

The frame pump is a third of the size as a floor pump. It's an easy-to-use hand pump.

Price: $25 to $40

Specialized - Dolce ES SLX (Women's)

Features: Madden says any woman can hop on any bike and ride. But, a bike for women is made to work with her anatomy. The stand over height (feet on the ground straddling the bike seat - the top should hit the crotch) takes into account the female anatomy. The bike has what's called a body geometry saddle, which also takes into account the female anatomy. It has a cut out nose, which looks different from a "normal" bike seat. The steering is a little more predictable. Madden says the makers of the bike has also taken women's features into account such as having smaller hands, so the brake levers are small. The handlebars are not as wide and ease vibrations better. Also, the head tube tends to be taller and seat angle is steeper.

Madden says this is a bike for a woman interested in fitness and performance as a serious rider.

Price: $1,790

Trek - Madone (Experienced rider)

Features: Madden says this is a really spectacular bike. It's built of a new material -- carbon fiber. It's very light and it's very compliant. Madden says it's much lighter than the other bikes he's ridden before. The tubes are shaped differently to be more aerodynamic. It weighs just under 16 pounds. The average bike such as the Giant Cypress LX weighs at least 30 pounds.

The Madone bikes that award-winning cyclist Lance Armstrong rides are built specifically for him. Trek creates custom made bikes, which are for experienced riders. Madden says you could ride it if you're just getting into the sport, but it's better to get a less expensive bike first to find out if you really like the sport. Madden says the Madone bike is best enjoyed by an experienced cyclist who has the fitness to match the bicycle.

Price: $5,000

Extra: Bell helmet – Ghisallo
All helmets in the U.S. have to pass the U.S. safety council inspection. The Bell helmet, however, has ventilation. The Bell's highest end helmet has 17 vents. It's also really easy to adjust in order to fit properly.

Price: $99

Schwinn Sting Ray (Kids)

This is the updated version of the old banana seat bike. It's got a huge rear tire that stretches 4-inches across. It has a huge racked out fork. The seat is studded leather, like a Harley. And it has chrome all over. The Sting Ray is probably the most famous bike ever. It first appeared in 1963.

The Schwinn Sting Ray is designed for 7 to 12-year-olds, girls and boys.

Note: It goes on sale in mid-April at Walmart and Toys R' Us.

Price: $180

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