You are off to college! Now for the most amazing chapter in your life of learning, making new friends, preparing for your lifelong career and stacking up that college debt!
If you haven’t figured it out already, one of the most frustrating aspects of college life is how tight the parking lot is. Every day is a fight for parking space.
Not to mention, college campuses are quite large. It is not uncommon to have one class on one side of campus, and the next class (only 10 minutes later) on the other side.
Students will run at an all-out sprint trying to make it to class on time.
Bikes answer these problems. With a bike, you can stop worrying about the tight parking spots. Leave your car parked except for trips back home, and just use your bike to commute around town. Most campuses are self-sufficient, so you rarely need to go very far.
Bikes also make it much easier to go from class to class, so you can leisurely pedal along, and arrive at your next class in plenty of time without being sweaty or harried.
What Is The Best Bike For College Students?
Let’s be honest. The best bike is one that you can afford.
Road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrid bikes … any bike will work pretty well.
That said, if you have the budget to choose, you will want to go for a lightweight bike that is not so fancy it will get stolen.
There are a lot of steps on the college campus, and it is not uncommon to carry your bike up and down stairs. Choosing a bike that is lightweight will make traversing those corridors much easier.
Mountain bikes offer front shocks and added ruggedness that comes in handy if you are an adventurous rider. It also makes it less intimidating to negotiate curbs and corners.
Most of the bikes on campus are hybrids. Hybrid bikes are readily available and quite affordable. They also can be lighter than mountain bikes, and with their slightly narrower wheels, they are faster and easier to pedal around on campus.
Where To Find The Most Affordable Bikes
If you want to buy new, then your best bet is shopping manufacturer specials. By purchasing directly from a manufacturer, you get a warranty on the bike and can cut out the added costs tacked on by the local retailer.
More and more, bike manufacturers are selling their bikes directly to the consumer either through their website or portals like Amazon. Deal sites like Dave’s Bike Reviews can help you negotiate this online shopping experience and serve as your guide to finding the best bike for the money.
Shopping used is also a good bet. Garage sales always have bikes for sale, as do pawn shops, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. It is wise to start shopping early since you need to wait for the right bike to come available. However, buying used will save 50% or more off the price of buying new.
How To Not Get Ripped Off Buying A Bicycle
Many of the bicycles out there would be better described as “bicycle replicas.” These poorly-made bikes only cost about $100, but they have thin wheels, gears that shift poorly, and are extremely heavy.
After a year of use, these bikes are broken and unusable. It is apparent that they are not made for regular use. It would be cheaper to purchase another “replica bike” than to try to repair the one you bought.
After four years of college, you’ve spent more money on these cheap bikes than one, good-quality, bike would cost.
The trick is to shop by brand. Companies like Diamondback, Raleigh, Fuji, Specialized, Trek, Cannondale and Giant (to name a few), create high-quality bikes that hold up well to regular use. These bikes are designed with good-quality parts and will often last two decades or more, enabling you to hand the bike off to your kids when they head to college.
You’ll Need A Few Bike Accessories
Bikes need their tires aired up frequently. So, unless your college campus has an air pump or air compressor you can use, you’ll want to buy one. You don’t need to overspend on this as most air pumps are simple to use and work well.
A helmet is a must-have accessory as well. Cycling causes more head injuries than boxing and almost as many as football. Falling off your bike — even if you are pedaling slowly — can create a surprising amount of damage.
Protect your brain by investing in a helmet.
Finally, bike theft is an ever-present risk, and there are not many bike insurances on the market that you can trust to protect your investment.
Buying a high-quality lock is the only way you can guarantee your bike will be around all semester. You don’t have to buy the best lock — just a better lock than your classmate has!
Also, make sure to always lock the frame up instead of just the wheels, as thieves will remove the wheel and still take the bike.
A college bike does not need to be expensive. By sticking to a brand name model and shopping either used, or direct from the manufacturer, you can get one for under $250.
Best of luck with your studies!