August: Welcome Back To Boston! Ready To Start Biking?

Posted by Sam Archer on

Whether you're just starting out biking, or getting back in the saddle, Bikes Not Bombs Bike Shop has you covered!

We know it's a lot to sort out - finding your size and the style you want, understanding all the features of the bikes and the differences between them - not to mention, staying within your budget! But don't worry, we can help you find the right bike, no matter your level of experience.

We've got new and refurbished bikes to fit every body and any purpose, from tough and versatile everyday commuter hybrids, to road bikes purpose built for speed and touring; we've got kids bikes; we've even got electric bikes! Everyone is welcome to come by our shop in Jamaica Plain, meet our knowledgeable, friendly staff, and try test riding our bicycles for free. We know there's a bike out there for you, and we can help you find it.

FYI, links throughout this post take you to collections on our BNB Bike Shop webstore, but what you see there is just a small sample of our inventory. Come down to the store to see the rest!

Now, where to begin...

Start with fit

The most important thing about your bicycle is that it fits you comfortably. We will help you size up different bikes to get an idea which ones might fit your height and reach. Then we'll help you try getting in the saddle to get a real feel for the riding position.

Bike fit can be counter intuitive. Bikes sizes are given in inches or centimeters, usually referring to the bike's seat-tube measurement, or sometimes they come in small, medium, and large, but these sizes don't necessarily tell you about the bike's reach. Reach refers to how far forward and how high or low the handlebars are set in relation to the saddle. The best way to understand reach is not to study a chart of the bike's geometry, but to leap astride it and actually feel it for yourself. Proper fit on the bike will look different for each person, and no one else can tell YOU what you feel! Trying out a few different bikes can help you look past appearances and focus on fit.

Choose the right type of bike

Next, consider how you will be using your bike and where you want to ride it. Many beginning riders are most comfortable with a hybrid bike, which combines aspects of both road and mountain bikes to create an intuitive and comfortable ride. Hybrids have flat instead of dropped handlebars but use road wheels and tires, sacrificing some off-road capability in favor of lightness and speed. A hybrid is a great choice if you want reliable transport to get to work or school. Other new riders may be getting into biking as recreation, and gravitate towards faster road bikes, or more rugged and versatile mountain bikes (MTBs). Within these three basic types, there are many features that can make your bike more capable for commuting, touring, or optimize it for certain kinds of terrain. But don't worry too much about those specifics just yet. Focus on finding a great fitting, comfortable bike that makes you excited to ride!

Test ride to narrow down your choices

Chances are we will have several different bikes that are potentially a fit. So how do you choose between them? The best way to know what you like is to actually ride and directly compare them each of them. Everyone's body is different, and no one else can tell you what you feel! Don't worry if some of the feautres of the bikes are unfamiliar to you. Our associates are ready to help explain how the operate any controls and use the features of all our bikes, so you can get a full experience on your test ride. Just bring your ID and a helmet with you on your visit and we are happy to get you set up.


Many of us naturally dread when it comes time to talk turkey. After all, you might have budgeted a specific amount to buy your bicycle. But what if the bike you really want is out of your price range? Well, we can work together. We're happy to advise you how to get the most out of your budget. Buying a bike doesn't always happen in a day. Sometimes the search for the real best fit takes a few visits and test rides. We have bikes from every era of manufacturing, and have eventually seen practically every kind of bike in every size and configuration. Starting your search sooner rather than later, and investing your time as well as your money will help you score a great deal on a bike you like.

Care and maintenance

Speaking of budgeting, you'll want to think ahead about maintenance. Each one of our bikes is expertly tuned before being handed over, and backed with a quality parts guarantee and 30-day checkup, but at some point, all bikes will require routine maintenance. The bike you choose and how you care for it will make a difference to your cost to maintain. Bikes that run 6 7 and 8 speed drivetrains (regardless of number of front gears) are the most interchangeable and have the lowest cost replacement parts. Bikes with higher end components and more complicated assemblies will cost you more in replacement parts and specialized labor. With that said, you'll save money and avoid downtime by keeping your bike clean and lubricated and protecting it from the elements, no matter what components it has.

Other essentials

Sure, you can just get a bike, keep it safe inside when it's not by your side, ride it, put it away, enjoy. If that works for your commute, well, that must be nice! But if you want to get the most utility and fun out of your bike, you should consider some important basic accessories:

1. Bike pump - the importance of proper inflation cannot be overstated. When you're just starting out and want to depend on your bike, there's no more awful feeling than being let down by a flat tire. And the most common avoidable cause of flat tires is under inflation - pinch flats. You can tell if it happens to you because your rim will bottom out *thunk* and the inner tube will literally be pinched between the wheel and the road. Your bike should be able to handle occasional bumps, roots, and potholes, with properly inflated tires. Now, a flat fix in the bike shop will run you $25 for the tube and labor. Save yourself that headache twice, and you've paid off your pump, which will last you years and years. A track pump with a guage is the way to go. Read the sidewall of your tires and keep their pressure within the stated range, and even feel free to experiment safely within that range. What about Mini pumps? They're perfect for roadside fixes, but save yourself the trouble of using them at home.
2. Lock - if you will be using your bike on errands or if there's no safe place to put your bike inside at work or school (and don't assume a public bike room is a safe place!) then a lock is a must have. How much of a lock you need depends on where you'll have to park your bike and how long you'll have to leave it. Chains, U-Locks and folding locks all have tradeoffs in weight, flexibility, and security. We can show you our favorite high security and more casual locks and the proper way to use them to secure your bike.
3. Lights - even if you aren't planning on riding your bike after dark, there are several good reasons to invest in a set of rechargeable bike lights. Lights can help you be seen better, even during the daytime. Many cyclists on the road will use their forward lights in flashing/blinking modes during the daytime, to make sure drivers see them as they approach intersections. Lights are also much more effective than reflectors in the dark, because they don't rely on external light sources. That means that people and cars will be able to see you at night, even if their lights aren't shining directly on you. Rear lights are similarly better suited than reflectors to make you visible from the rear. Even if you don't plan on night riding, it's best to be prepared, so you don't end up riding in the darkness when the need arises! We carry a selection of bike lights with different power ratings and mounting attachments so you can choose one that suits your intended uses.
4. Helmet - it might seem to go without saying, but we still think there's a thing or two to know about helmets. Yeah, they protect your head in case of an accident. They're an insurance policy, at best. Even though you should have a helmet, of course you never want to actually test it! Still, helmets can and do offer some protection from head injury, and that will help you ride with confidence. When shopping for a helmet, focus on fit, just like with the bike itself. Most helmets have small medium and large sizes, and built in adjustability. Different brands and models may have more oval or more round shapes, so try a few and find one that feels comfortable. Helmets have different price points and features, including lightweight design and materials, better venting, accessory attachments, and more, but all are equally protective, so you can choose a less expensive helmet with confidence that you are not compromising on safety.
5. Cargo room - You've got your bike basics covered with inflation, lock, lights, and helmet. You can use your bike to get yourself from A to B safely and securely. Now, to level up your bike, you need a way to carry more of your stuff with you, too! Here, you'll have lots of choices of racks, baskets, backpacks, and bike specific bags made to fit in various places around the frame. We'll help you understand which accessories are compatible with your bike and help you get everything installed and set up properly.

Do you have questions or advice to share about bicycles, biking Boston, and getting started out using bikes in everyday life? Drop us a line at with the words "shop blog" in the subject, and maybe we'll feature your question in a future post!

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