What Type of Bike to Choose for Prague and Surrounding

biking in prague

You won’t see many Amsterdam-style bikes in the streets of Prague nor a lot of fixed gear bikes. What can be a perfect bike to cities like Amsterdam or Copenhagen will most likely not be the best bike for Prague.

Prague is fairly hilly. There are plenty of cobblestones, which especially in the old town are far from smooth. That, together with the tram lines are factors you should consider while choosing your new bike. 

During the communist era, the only bikes you could get were road or city bikes. In the early 90s Czech brand Author saw potential in the off-road market.

They brought mountain bikes to the market with which they dominated the market in the 90s and early 2000s. That’s one of the reasons Czechs love mountain biking. If you’d gone to a bike shop a few years ago, chances are, you’d be leaving with a mountain bike. But the times are changing, you’ll see a lot more people getting into the road and gravel biking. Especially in the last two years. 

So what is the best bike for you?

First and foremost, it’s important to consider what are your expectations from the bike. Is your bike going to be a commuter? Do you want to use the bike as a tool to get in shape? Will you store the bike in your apartment or outside?

Once you have a clear vision, I recommend setting up a budget. That means how much you are willing to spend on cycling. That’s important because you’re most likely not going to buy just the bike. You will need a helmet, lights, lock, you might need glasses, etc.  

When you have a clear idea about your expectations from cycling, it’s time to get the bike. Most of the bikes on the market are made from aluminum, steel, or carbon. Each of the materials will have pros and cons. For example, if you choose to buy a carbon bike. The bike will be lighter than the other two, so if you need to carry the bike up the stairs this might be a criteria for you as well.

Stiffness is another characteristic of carbon, you will feel how quickly the bike accelerates, the downside of the bike will be the stiffness again. You will feel the bumps on the road as well as the cobblestones. On the other hand, a steel bike will make for a much more comfortable ride because of its tendency to flex a little bit. It will be heavier than carbon and probably not that responsive. Aluminum bikes are similar to steel bikes, but they don’t stand the test of time, as well as steel, does.

Photo: Pavé Cycles

When it comes to the types of bikes, the chances are you will be choosing from mountain bikes, road bikes, gravel bikes and cross bikes. Mountain bikes these days tend to have 29” wheels so they are relatively fast on the tarmac as well. They have wide handlebars for good stability which can be an issue while carrying the bike in the buildings on trains etc. Mountain bikes are generally more difficult to maintain, here and there you will need to service the suspension as well as brakes. I would choose a mountain bike only if I’d know that going off-road is what I am after.

In general, I recommend choosing a bike that you can push a bit to its limit. This way you will improve your cycling skills. So if your argument for choosing an MTB is that it gives you an option to go off-road, but it’s not your bread and butter, I’d go with gravel or cross bike. These bikes can take off-road as well and will be smoother on the tarmac. The main difference between the two are handlebars, cross bikes will most likely have straight handlebars and a more upright position which will be more comfortable for a not-so-flexible person.

A road bike is a great option if you enjoy speed. You need to be a bit more careful while riding a road bike in the city center, but once you leave the city, the road bike will be the fastest of the bikes mentioned above. There are also quite a few groups rides that ride road bikes, so if socialization is important for you, this might be an argument for a road bike as well.

If you’re looking for a bike and you’re not sure what bike to get. You can stop by our shop. We are an independent bike shop, without any deals with bike brands. This gives us the freedom in choosing the right bike for our customers. So if you’re in doubt, stop by for a coffee, or give me a call and I will be happy to help you choose the right bike for your needs.

Photo: Pavé Cycles

 

About Me

I’m a lifelong cyclist who runs a small independent bike shop in Prague’s Žižkov. My riding abilities range from mountain biking all the way to BMX. I spent several years living in one of Europe’s cycling capitals, Copenhagen. Together with my friend I attempted to cycle from Europe to Japan and had to stop due to the pandemics.

Those two months on the bike gave me an understanding of bike-packing. If you’re new to cycling, looking for cycling partners, or need anything related to cycling, you can text me or stop by my shop Pavé Cycles for coffee or a public bike ride.

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