Being a cycling enthusiast can get pricy in a hurry. Thousands, upon thousands of dollars spent in a flurry of gratification. The notion that this kind of cash outlay is necessary is misinformation (or misunderstanding – take your pick) though. You don’t need a super-bike designed in conjunction with an exotic sports car manufacturer to have a great time and lose a lot of weight. In fact, you can get a fantastic mountain bike for less than $750 (they’re rated up to 300 pounds usually but that can be pushed). If that’s a little steep, you can get a decent entry-level bike for less than $500. Throw in a decent helmet for $50, a pair of sunglasses for $25 and you’re ready to go. Now, that’s if you buy everything new (which I recommend simply so you can get the proper size frame – it makes a big difference). If you pick up a used bike, you can get a high-end manufacturer’s entry-level bike for as little as a hundred bucks. You can be on the road for anything from $175 to $800. As far as weight loss goes, my personal favorite is the mountain bike to start because they’re less expensive, vastly more durable and much more versatile.
From there, it’s simple: Ride like you mean it and enjoy burning as many as 1,000 calories an hour depending on the amount of effort you put into it. When viewed against the considerable cost of being overweight, $800 is a drop in the bucket, a fantastically wise investment.
Where things start to get confusing is with the super-bikes.
Super-bikes, while supremely fun, are only meant for a certain segment of the cycling population and while I happen to be a part of that segment now, a 16 pound bike was not a necessity when starting out. I was on the road for less than $200 and it was more than a year before I looked into my first road bike and I took that step because I was hopelessly hooked on cycling by that point. Not only was I hooked, as I got stronger the gearing on the mountain bike became insufficient for anything but single-track riding. It was too easy to pedal in the hardest gear. I needed more gear, so to speak.
Here’s the best way I can think of to describe the super-bike craze amongst we avid enthusiasts: Do you drive a car to work? I happen to drive a Ford Escape 4×4 – a truck is required for what I do for a living and the one I drive is still quite good on gas (27-28 mpg). I do not need a Corvette, Porsche or Ferrari to enjoy my ride into work. Race bikes, for non-professional cyclists, are the equivalent of collecting sports cars only a heck of a lot cheaper. It’s what to do with your mid-life crisis when you don’t want to mortgage your future and want to stay active so you can enjoy as much of your time on this rock as humanly possible. In other words, some people buy motorcycles, some buy sports cars. I buy bikes.
I suppose, if there was anything I’d like to impress on this subject (at least from where I sit behind this keyboard), it’s that the bike matters least when you’re trying to drop weight – the butt you want to lose won’t care whether you’re on a $500 or a $5,000 bike so unless you’re certain that you’re a nut like me (or have the spare cash), super-bikes are wholly unnecessary.
They are a lot of fun though. A lot like the difference between driving a Ford Fiesta and a Shelby GT500.