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Just Any Bicycle Won't Do

Proper fit prevents strain, injuries

Bicycling provides one of the best ways to get low-impact, aerobic exercise. However, people who think they'll save money by picking a bike off the rack at a department store may pay the price in terms of comfort and injuries to muscles or joints.

Consumers should find a store where they can test ride a variety of different bikes. "I always tell people: 'Would you buy a car without test-driving it?' " says Rick Wilcox, manager of a cycle shop in Lexington, Ky. "With different brands, the ride differs greatly. And it's important to get the comfort."

Specialty bike shops charge more but they can also recommend bikes that fit an individual's fitness goals, their style of bicycling (touring, rugged terrain, etc.) or any physical limitations such as back problems. A mountain bike, for example, is a poor choice for most people who will only ride on paved roads or bike paths.

A feature from the Lexington Herald-Leader has advice for selecting a bicycle. A companion story describes the various types of bikes available.

The Boulder, Colo., Daily Camera reprints a story from the Orange County Register that has additional tips for those using indoor cycles. Proper adjustments make stationary cycling safer and more comfortable -- especially at fitness centers where adjustments may be needed every time a cycle is used.

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