So you think you can ride?

riding bikes
The Tour of Oman showcases biking as a hobby sport

Are you contemplating buying a bicycle in Oman? It could be one of the most healthy and environment friendly decisions of your life. But, you need to consider some facts before you realise your dream on two wheels. Riding bikes are a great way to stay fit, but they come with certain risks, too.
Firstly, remember, riding bicycles in Oman, is more of a hobby or fitness activity rather than a healthy way of commuting. You will not see many bikers around, except those out on early morning/evening fitness rides as well as children and those out on domestic errands in residential areas and complexes. However, there are groups, like Bike & Hike Oman, which regularly conduct rides and expeditions for newcomer as well as experienced bikers in different parts of the sultanate.
Secondly, there is no dedicated bikers lane on Muscat’s roads and so bikers need to ride safely within the yellow line, if riding on main roads among traffic. However, most foot paths and traffic junctions are biker-friendly and have indented portions for bikers to cover, especially around zebra crossings. The foot-over bridges are also biker friendly and contoured with gradual slopes to facilitate bikers.
Thirdly, it is very important to wear protective gear, like helmets, leather gloves, and appropriate footwear while riding bikes. It is also important to be alert and aware of traffic alongside as well as avoid distractions like listening to music on person stereo sets which prevent one from hearing sounds of caution from other road users.
Also, riding bikes is not allowed on beaches or public parks and so children need to restrict their fun rides within secured paths in housing complexes or internal streets and paved areas that pose little danger from vehicles. Those riding to schools/gymnasiums or for fitness activities need to adhere to safety guidelines and ride along the kerbside to avoid unpleasant incidents.
Most importantly, when you decide to buy a bike, you need to consider three basic steps:

Decide on your bike type
The right bike for you will depend on where and how you plan to ride. We give you a rundown of bike categories to help you narrow your choices.

Think about the performance and cost
Bikes within a given category and price range generally have similar types of components. But expect to pay more for higher-performance components or frame materials such as carbon.

Check out the bike that fits
Bikes come in a range of sizes, so start by finding the right frame size based on your height. Start by asking yourself where you expect to be riding bikes – on streets, bike paths, unpaved roads and trails or some combination of those places?

Once you make up your mind on the above three factors, getting your bike will become a much easier task. Narrow your choice based on where you expect to do the majority of your riding when choosing your dream bike.

Different bikes for different rides
riding bikes - mountain bikes
Mountain bikes are good for off road riding

Endurance bikes
‘Enduring comfort’ might be a more apt name because these road bikes feature a relaxed geometry that helps keep you more comfortable on longer rides. Slightly wider tyres give endurance bikes traction on a variety of surfaces, and can be ridden at a lower pressure for a more forgiving ride.

Gravel bikes
Multi-surface bikes have been a thing for years. Gravel bikes are an ideal choice, if you intend riding bikes at top speed. They feature a drop handlebar for aerodynamic efficiency, along with wider tyres and traction on terrain ranging from asphalt to gravel to dirt.

Touring bikes
Touring bikes differ from traditional road bikes in that they are built for riding loaded up with gear over long distances. They have sturdy frames to support heavy loads and have attachment points that let you add racks, fenders, water bottles, pumps, lights and more.

Performance bikes
These light and aerodynamic bikes are built for going fast on the flats and charging up hills during group rides with friends, or for riding in organised races.

Mountain bikes
Mountain bikes come in many styles, including several electric-bike models. Cross-country bikes are lightweight and responsive, and deliver both riding speed and climbing prowess, while being ideal for off road rides. Trail bikes are good for social trail riding with friends on beginner-friendly trails.

Key features of road bikes

If you are not inclined towards riding bikes off-road or mountain biking, you simply need a good, sturdy road bike. With narrow tyres, stiff/light frames and drop handlebars road bikes are designed for one purpose – quick progress on the roads with the least effort possible. They are ideal for road riding, touring and daily commuting. Don’t use them for mountain biking or for going off road.
Main features
Narrow, slick tyres (usually 23-28mm)
Drop handlebars which allow multiple hand positions
Rigid frames allowing more power transfer
Gear ratios with large ranges to allow you to spin up hills and move quickly on the flats.

Common bike materials

Bikes are manufactured from different materials that keep them sturdy yet light weight and easy to manage. However, depending on your need, you might need one made as strong as possible or as light as possible. The common materials used are steel, aluminium, and carbon fibre, each of which have their plus points and negative points.
Steel
Steel is a traditional material that has been used for building bikes for many years. Steel frames are renowned for their comfort, strength and durability. Steel frame bikes are ideal for touring, besides, it is easier to find someone to weld a steel frame around the world than for a carbon fibre specialist.These are good for heavy riders as it is generally a very strong material. However, steel can rust much faster than aluminium, so it may not be a good choice for riding bikes in wet/humid climates.
Aluminium
Aluminium is naturally lightweight, stiff, and not prone to rust. It is a reliable material choice, though the extra stiffness in the frames compared to steel means they can be less comfortable. Aluminium bikes are good for touring in winter while the stiffness helps in transferring power through the frame. At the lower end of the price scale a decent priced aluminium frame is nearly always better than cheap carbon fibre. However, these are stiffer and less comfortable than both, steel or carbon fibre bikes.
Carbon Fibre
Carbon fibre bikes are very lightweight but stiff, too. As a non-metal,there are huge design advantages when using carbon fibre to build bikes. The material can be manipulated into aerodynamic shapes and fine tuned for increased stiffness and strength in specific areas on the frame. Also, carbon fibre bikes are more affordable, especially for children and novices. Carbon fibre bikes are incredibly strong and have aerodynamic frame shapes which can last a lifetime, if well maintained. However, during repairs, carbon fibre frames can crack, hence they are never better than one with an equally priced aluminium frame.

Bicycle shops in Muscat

Bicycles are sold in the fitness sections of all hypermarkets in Oman, in a variety of brands, for prices ranging from RO20 onwards till over RO200, depending on the type of bike. While staff at these counters are not really qualified to guide you toward the best buy to suit your need, you need to decide on the specifications you are looking for in advance and then look for one that fits the bill. However, at bicycle shops in Muscat, you can receive guidance regarding the type of bike you are looking for. If part of a group riding bikes as a hobby, it is good to take an experienced biker friend along to help you get the right bike to suit your own requirement. Check out some of the popular bicycle stores in the capital:

Cycle Omania
Seeb (Tel:22020834)

Oman Bicycle
Muscat, Oman (Tel: 99664710)

Murad Bin Juma Trading Est
Muttrah (Tel: 24712623)

Oman Bicycle Shop
Muscat (Tel: 99664710)

Muscat Bike Shop
Azaiba (Tel: 96635991)

Muscat Bicycles
Hamriyah (Tel: 91946682)

Saif Said al Rashdi & Sons
Ruwi (Tel: 24791776)

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