Consumer Reports: Family Bikes

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Over 15 million people go biking at least once a week. It's an activity the whole family can enjoy. Consumer Reports just tested several different kinds of bikes and found some good ones if you're a recreational rider.

Lynda and Michael Rybacki (PRON: RYE-back-ee) and their kids really enjoy taking leisurely bike rides around their neighborhood.

Lynda has what's called a comfort bike. They're perfect for taking short rides on suburban streets or
bike paths.

Consumer Reports' Tom Mutchler just tested six — including ones from Raleigh (PRON: RAH-lee) Trek and Fuji.(PRON: FOO-jee) These bikes cost about 300 dollars. And, despite being relatively heavy — about 29 to 34 pounds — they're good even if you're not in great shape.

"They have wide, cushy seats and, upright handle bars so you don't have to lean forward when you are riding."

First the testers measured how well the bikes handle on hills.
Most comfort bikes have 21to 24 speeds with gears that go low enough to let you pedal uphill.

All the bikes did well, but the Bianchi (PRON: Bee-ON-key) Avenue stood out. Its gearing is similar to a good mountain bike — so it was the easiest to get uphill.
But when it came to going downhill, the bikes ran into some problems.

"These bikes didn't handle well going fast downhill. Their upright seating position makes them feel unstable."

Next testers took on bumpy roads. Again, all the bikes did well — in large part because of their wide tires and cushioned seats. And two have extra features that make for an even smoother ride over bumps.

"The Giant Cypress and the Specialized Crossroads have both a suspension seat post and suspension fork for additional shock absorption."

Consumer Reports gave top ratings to both bikes. The Giant Cypress goes for 300 dollars...the Specialized Crossroads —290 dollars. Both had the best combination of handling, shock absorption and the ability to take on hills.

Either would be an excellent choice for someone like Lynda who rides relatively short distances on streets and paths.

Consumer Reports says you should avoid getting a bike at a mass retailer. Testers say you're far better off buying a bike from a reputable bicycle shop. You may pay a little more but you'll get better service.

View more Consumer Reports stories here.

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