As a species, human have by far had the biggest impact on our planet for better and for worse. At our best we participate in conservation efforts and projects to create cleaner, better energy to diminish our effect on the environment. At our worst we can eradicate whole species, destroy ecosystems, and threaten the delicate balance of nature. Over the past several decades we have become increasingly aware of our role in the world and many have taken steps to decrease their carbon footprint and lessen the negative impact they play on the Earth. One of the best ways to do so is to cut back on or completely eliminate vehicle emissions by commuting via bicycle.
There are a number of different bikes built for different terrain. Road bikes make up around 20% of all bike sales and are designed for speed on smooth pavement. Road bikes typically have smooth, skinny tires and “drop” handlebars that wrap downward and towards the rider. Since they are built for speed, road bikes usually have lighter frames to increase their speed, making them ideal for city commuters. Although they can be ridden over paved trails and other slightly uneven surfaces, bike shops state that most people find them uncomfortable and unstable, making riding on such surfaces unsafe.
By far, mountain bikes are the most popular kind of bike available, making up a quarter of all sales. Unlike road bikes, mountain bikes are specifically designed to tackle rough, off-road trails. Mountain bikes typically have flatter handlebars and a low gear range suitable for pedaling up steep trails. In addition, most mountain bikes have some form of shock absorber or suspension system in place for safety and comfort. Although they are usually heavier than road bikes, some mountain bikes are outfitted for use as road bikes albeit less efficiently so.
A specialized kind of road bike, a triathlon or time trial bike is designed to be aerodynamically superior to the competition. Triathlon bikes are specially designed to allow the rider to crouch forward while riding to minimize wind resistance and increase performance. As years go on, more and more people are getting involved in triathlons with the Sports and Fitness Industry Association estimating that the total number of participants skyrocketed by 59% between 2008 and 2011. At this point in time roughly 12% of the general population over the age of 18 have participated in some kind of endurance sport including triathlons, half-marathons, marathons, or obstacle courses. For those looking to get involved in this growing trend, visit a bike shop near you and take a look at the triathlon bikes they offer.