When I decided to go into biking my first decision was what kind of bike to purchase. For the perfectionist this can be a daunting task to find the right type of bike, manufacturer and model to suite your needs. For the realist you can relax as there are only a few questions to ask yourself then just select a good bike shop and you can’t go wrong.
I recommend visiting a local bike shop that has good reviews not a big box retailer staffed with folks that have no real world understanding of what they are selling. The dedicated bike shops are a treasure trove of knowledge and wisdom. They are always staffed with folks that are biking enthusiasts that typically have years of experience behind them. The huge benefit you get here is that they love to talk about the sport. If they are not busy when you visit, you can ask them about their adventures and learn so much more than you can imagine. If you learn from other’s mistakes and successes your own learning curve will be much shorter and you will having fun in short order.
My wife and I visited such a shop in our area. I was looking for a bike to take me on a 335 mile adventure and she was looking for one to ride casually. Those are two very different bikes. Since I will be on a Rail Trail, my choice was a hybrid or cyclocross. The hybrid has the straight bar that you see on mountain bikes and the cyclocross has the rams horn stile bars you see on traditional street bikes. The salesperson leaned me in the direction of the cyclocross as he said I would quickly out grow the hybrid and be back to buy this one in a couple years. He showed me that my posture would not suffer because I can still remain just as upright as with the hybrid. After having the bike for a year, I have determined that I made the right choice. Don’t sweat the debate to much. You will learn to love whatever your choice will be, so make the choice and never look back.
The bike my wife settled on was a comfort hybrid with wider tires and a more cushy seat. Long distance travel that will involve crushed stone trails and some pavement seems to go better with the narrow tire and stock seat. If you are new to biking then you have much to learn about the seat and your butt. The seat is not comfortable and that is ok because you are not meant to sit back and lounge like an easy chair. Much of your riding will be done on very little of that seat. I encourage you to do a search on proper use of the seat. Be prepared to have a very sore rump until you do two things. One is buy the padded shorts and two is log many hours on that bike. Trust me the money for the shorts is well worth it combined with proper seat usage and hours of riding. This combination will have you going on long excursions in no time.