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Growing up in the city of Mumbai, India, meant I didn’t really need a car. I either walked everywhere or rode my bicycle. So it became my favorite way to get around — to school, the library, my friends’ homes, and even the market. That tradition continued well into college when I didn’t have the finances to buy a car. And of course, once my husband did his first century ride more than 15 years ago, it sealed the deal for us to become that family — one that bikes everywhere when the weather is great and even takes their cycles on road trips and vacations.
From balance bikes, tandem bikes and road bikes to race bikes and city cruisers, we have owned them all at some point or other. It is a great way to reduce our carbon footprint, and research shows that cycling strengthens the heart muscles, lowers resting pulse, and reduces blood fat levels.
My favorite place to go for all our cycling needs is REI, where we’ve been REI Co-op members for the past 20-plus years. And guess what? Their Surprise Spring Bike Sale is going on now, and with more than 570 items on sale through April 24, it’s the perfect time to get “bike-ready” for this year. From Trek bike shorts and high-quality trail shoes for 40 percent off to a top-of-the-line electric bike, you won’t want to sleep on these deals starting at just $27.
Co-op Cycles CTY e2.1 Electric Urban Bike
When I first tried an electric bike on a trip to South Walton, Florida, I was hooked. It was such a smooth, easy ride and definitely something I’d recommend if you are looking for a relaxed biking experience. REI’s Co-Op CTYe2.1 Electric Urban Bike is a great way to get into city biking. It offers a multimode pedal assist and a low stand-over height design that makes getting on and off the bike easy, especially when you have to stop on the trail for pedestrians and other cyclists. It also offers an upright ride, so you are not hunched over the handlebars as you are with many other road and racing bikes.
Perhaps one of my favorite features is that the rear rack is integrated into all these bikes so you have an in-built storage system. It even has front and rear lights that run on the battery, so you don’t need to think about keeping them charged — a crucial feature for bike safety, especially if you intend to bike in the rain, fog, or at night. And the great thing about getting an electric bicycle at REI is that it comes with coast-to-coast support which includes free adjustments for up to two years for REI Co-op Members (one year for non-members).
To buy: rei.com, $1,439 (originally $1,800)
Co-op Cycles CTY 1.2 Bike
If you are not quite ready to invest in an electric bike, then the CTY Bike series might just be the one for you. I have had my Co-op Cycles CTY 1.1 bike for more than seven years. And with regular maintenance, I know this one will last for a lot longer. My daughter has also had the Co-op Cycles CTY 1.2 bike for the past four years since she outgrew her youth bike. The aluminum frame delivers a very smooth ride whether she is going to school along a paved path or joining me on longer trail rides over the weekend. It has a flat handlebar that provides a more comfortable riding position. The platform pedals are suitable for regular street shoes, but the pedal can be swapped out for long-distance ones if she ever wants to do a multi-day ride. Reflective decals and tire sidewalls are built so they increase visibility in dim light.
To buy: rei.com, $449 (originally $650)
Trek Circuit Women’s Road Bike Shorts
One of the best things you can invest in for your biking experience is a pair of bike shorts. These are unlike the ones you get in general athletic stores because they are specifically made for cycling. Trek Circuit Road Bike Shorts have dual-density elite in-form chamois padding at the bottom and offer the right amount of cushion when you sit on the bike. They are even made with a breathable fabric that offers UPF 50+ sun protection. And, there are men’s bike shorts up to 40 percent off, too.
To buy: rei.com, $58 (originally $90)
Pearl iZumi X-Alp Canyon Mountain Bike Shoes
I am all for items that are multipurpose in their utility as I feel I get more bang for the buck that way. These Pearl iZumi X-Alp Canyon Mountain Bike Shoes make it easy to transition from pedaling to hiking or walking when you are doing a multi-terrain ride. The composite shanks and groves throughout the midsoles connect directly to a specialized pedal system or sit flat against a regular bike pedal, providing the necessary support to your foot. And the running-shoe-style traction threads give comfortable cushioning when you’re off the bike, walking along the path. And at 40 percent off right now, they’re an absolute steal.
To buy: rei.com, $66 (originally $110)
Osprey Kitsuma 3 Women’s Hydration Pack
Hydration is key while cycling, and there are many different ways to get the job done. Depending on the duration of the ride and your own hydration requirements, you can choose from bottle holders that are fitted onto the bike frame or hydration belts, packs, and vests. According to the experts at REI Cycle, cyclists should aim for about 1 to 1.5 liters of water intake for a leisurely bike ride and upwards of 2 to 3 liters when you plan to bike for several hours, weather dependent, without stopping or refilling too often.
I like the Osprey Kitsuma 3 Women’s Hydration Pack that fits up to 3 liters of water in the reservoir and also has a space for a few essentials like a quick snack and sunblock. I appreciate the dual stretch-mesh side pockets that provide additional storage and a little reflector loop at the bottom that acts as a blinker light attachment.
To buy: rei.com, $56 (originally $75)
Bern Watts 2.0 Mips Cycling Helmet
Just like you should never drive without your seat belt, you should never ride a cycle without a helmet — no matter the situation. Cycling helmets are quite literally lifesavers, especially since accidents involving bicycles are on the rise. Personally, I dislike helmets that have no ventilation as I feel my head gets hot in the sun and feels really heavy when it is completely enclosed. That’s why I like the Bern Watts 2.0 Mips Cycling Helmet — it provides improved airflow to the head, a lightweight shell, and more importantly it has MIPS protection. MIPS is a patented Brain Protection System (BPS). For helmets that have MIPS, it adds a measure of protection in certain impacts beyond just the outer shell and foam liner. This helps to reduce rotational motion transferred to the brain, thereby protecting it.
To buy: rei.com, $50 (originally $100)
Bontrager Verse Short Elite Bike Saddle
Admittedly not all bike saddles (seats) are all that comfortable. The good news is that the saddles can be swapped out for ones that fit better and give your derrière much more cushion and support. This is especially important as you start to cycle longer and on different terrains. The best thing to do is to try out different saddles until you find one that works for you and your body.
I really like the Bontrager Verse Short Elite Bike Saddle because of the full central cutout that minimizes the soft tissue pressure at the bottom for comfort. The featherweight shells are lighter and stronger than generic hollow titanium saddles on other bikes. Most impressive is the wing flex on the seat that allows the edges to adapt to a rider’s inner leg movement and pelvic rotation, making it super comfortable for longer rides.
To buy: rei.com, $119 (originally $160)
Bontrager Ion Comp R/Flare R City Bike Light Set
Speaking of lights, the best piece of advice I ever got when buying my very first bike was to always cycle with lights, especially once the sun goes down. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 1,000 cyclists die every year and around 130,000 are injured in crashes that happen on the road. While many factors affect these statistics, intervention techniques like fluorescent clothing, reflective clothing, and lights have been shown to reduce injuries and fatalities. In fact, active lighting is required by law in most states when bicycles are ridden after dark. This includes front white lights, rear red lights, or other lighting on the bicycle or bicyclist.
The Bontrager Ion Comp R/Flare R City Bike Light is a set of two compact lights — one for the front and one for the rear of the bike. It has a 25-lumen beam that gives a wide range of coverage. It can also be charged using the micro-USB cable so no batteries are required. Trust me, you really need one of these.
To buy: rei.com, $100 (originally $135)
Troy Lee Designs Ace Cycling Gloves
Gloves are quite useful when traveling long distances, especially in the early morning or late evening when the weather cools down significantly. Here in Chicago where I cycle, spring can linger well into June, and I find bike gloves really help in making the ride that much more comfortable, especially since wearing them means I don’t have to warm my fingers and hold the handle bar at the same time. These Troy Lee Designs Ace Cycling Gloves have a compression-molded cuff and a silicone screen print on the braking fingers that provide a secure grip on the handle bar. And good news if you want to stay connected during your ride: It’s also touchscreen compatible.
To buy: rei.com, $27 (originally $36)
Bontrager Dual Charger Floor Pump
There are few things more frustrating than finding out you have a flat tire at the last possible minute before a ride. I know I am not the only one who has ever had to deal with this. Luckily, the Bontrager Dual Charger Floor Pump comes to the rescue for quick and easy tire inflation. It works for all kinds of bike tires with both the high-volume setting for wide tires and the high-pressure setting for higher PSIs.
To buy: rei.com, $56 (originally $75)
Electra Ziggy Phone Bag
As a mom, I almost always carry some kind of backpack no matter where I go. Between snacks, water, sunscreen, and extra clothing, the needs are seemingly endless. But something I do appreciate is a quick ride without having to lug a ton of stuff with me — just my phone, wallet, keys, and I am out of the door. For such instances, a small storage sack like the Electra Ziggy Phone bag is perfect. It drapes over the top tube of the bike with an easy-to-use hook-and-loop strap and also has a clear, touchscreen-compatible pocket on top that fits most phones.
To buy: rei.com, $32 (originally $43)
Bontrager Gotime Cycling Computer
Want to track your mileage without relying on third-party apps on your phone or wearable technology that isn’t always accurate? Then the Bontrager Gotime Cycling Computer is just the right thing to use. It clips onto the handlebar to measure the speed, distance, and ride time on par with your pace. It has a large, easy-to-read LCD screen that displays the current and average speeds. No more second-guessing exactly how far you have traveled or for how long. And the best part is that it automatically starts recording as you ride and stops when you are done — brilliant!
To buy: rei.com, $33 (originally $45)
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