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anyone here know anything about bicycles?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Ted Lee, Jan 26, 2006.

  1. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Well-Known Member

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    hey all -

    i think wifey and i are going to buy bikes for valentines day. our neighborhood has a bike trail that meanders throughout the neighborhood, into some business areas, etc. now i already know i'm no "extreme" rider, and i seriously doubt i'll ever take it off-road. if i do, it's gonna be one hell of a tame trail.

    so, what kind of bike (not necessarily brand, but style) would work for me? i was looking at the trek website (i'm not necessarily partial to trek, i just know the name) and saw these bike path style bikes. they seem pretty cool, but i'm worried that i may "limit" myself if i buy the wrong kind of bike. that's why i was thinking some sort of combo/hybrid model may be a good choice?

    so, here's what i can tell i'll be looking for:

    1. mostly bike trail / road / possibly light off-road
    2. willing to spend approx $400 (model year doesn't matter)
    3. no brand preference (suggestions welcome)

    also, considering my needs, should i worry about weight? it's not like i'll be trying to catch air or anything like that? but it seems to make sense to get the lightest bike possible? or, should i put my money into better components or some other factor?

    finally, if anyone has any good websites they can recommend for me to do further research it would be appreciated.

    thanks!

    ted

    edit: i should mention the last time i bought a bike was in junior high. it was a diamond back bmx bike (chrome and blue). gawd i loved that bike! [​IMG]
     
  2. Michael Harris

    Michael Harris Well-Known Member

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    First of all, depending on where in the country you are, this is a great time to buy a bike as dealers want to get rid of their old stock and get ready for the new season this spring.

    From what you've described, seems you want to get a hybrid. They may be called different things but essentially it is combination of a road and a mountain bike. Great for commuting and light trail use. I used to have one and road it on gravel trails with no problems. I can't recommend a brand because each of the big companies have their own design philosophies, which you may or may not like. The $400.00 is doable but don't expect some lightweight racing bike. If you get a decent frame, you can always upgrade the components at a later date.

    Biggest thing you want to consider is fit. Try different bikes out and get properly fitted. Your back and knees will love you for that.

    Stay away from department store bikes. They are heavy and rust. If the wheels are bolted on as opposed to using a quick release, stay away!

    For the record, I ride a Trek 5500 road bike and a Cannondale F2000 mountain bike.
     
  3. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Well-Known Member
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    I bought a Trek hybrid almost 10 years ago and it's served me well. I am the same type of rider - mostly road and bike paths and the occasional offroad when I lose control on the bike path [​IMG]. The term being used today is "commuter" but they are hybrids just the same - usually a narrower wheelbase than mountain bikes, thinner tires, higher handlebars so you're not hunched over. Fit is also important as Michael said. I kind of figured it out on my own but it's important if you're going to do any extended riding. Padded bike shorts and a Terry Liberator seat also help.
     
  4. Jay H

    Jay H Well-Known Member

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    At that pricerange ($400), I would highly recommend a end-of-season mountain bike. I say mountain bike rather than a hybrid because Mountain bikes are mass produced, they sell more than hybrids and therefore you will get a better quality bike for less. Don't worry about the weight, a cheapo mtb vrs the $2000 hardtail (front suspension, no rear suspension) is about 12lbs maximum which isn't a big deal for the majority of riders, especially when we're all way more than 30lbs ourselves.

    I also recommend a mountain bike for most because heck, you say you have no interest in MTB'ing but that may change and it's very easy to convert a MTB into a decent commuter, tourer, or grocery getter. A hybrid is going to be better as new but a slightly built up MTB with slick tires, is going to be better than that and will probably be cheaper.

    Don't forget that you can configure your bike with any good bike shop, so if you want a different seat or perhaps a shorter stem, you should be able to be accomodated by the bike shop, if they don't, then find a better one. As a commuter myself, I use an old MTB and I have toured hundreds of miles on one. I've ridden it loaded on 130mile day trips, absolutely no problem with comfort. So buy what is comfortable for you, foremost, but given everything equal, I would recommend a close-out MTB which you can probably get for around $400 if you're a savy shopper.

    Don't forget to save money for a helmet and bike tools, learn how to fix a flat, how to fine tune derailleurs, perhap even learn how to fix a broken chain, stuff that may come in handy sooner or later...

    Jay
     
  5. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Well-Known Member

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    Yes—and more than enough to defer to Jay H’s comments.
     
  6. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Well-Known Member

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    thanks for the info guys. from what i'm hearing, fit is crucial ... so i'm really gonna look for that when shopping around.
     
  7. Jeff Cooper

    Jeff Cooper Well-Known Member

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    I am an avid mountain biker, and I would second everything Jay says.

    The number one piece of advice I could give you, is don't go cheap. If you have budgeted $400 for your bike, then spend $400. A cheap bike will make the sport not fun and is not worth the money you save.

    My wife got one of those $50 Target specials, and man did that thing suck. The drivetrain was so stiff, riding on flat ground felt like riding up a 45 degree hill on my bike. The brakes were a joke, you could pull the levers as hard as you could and the bike would just barely start to slow down. We ended up giving it away to a friend who's car died, and needed a way to get to work.

    Get a full mountian bike, as Jay said, a hybrid won't be fun on dirt trails, should you decide to try that out some day. A hard-tail will do fine. You won't need a full suspension for what you are doing, and a front fork is always nice to have. You can get a nice hard-tail for $400. Make sure the brakes work well, and that the pedaling feels nice and smooth. Weight isn't really important until you start to climb some big, long hills.
     
  8. Evan M.

    Evan M. Well-Known Member

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    I also agree with Feff and Jay. I would certainly go Mountain Bike if you are planning to do trails and "some" road riding. The best advice I can give is go out and try as many different brands as possible. 400$ will buy you a good bike....especially this time of year. I would also get a hardtail.....full suspension and light trails and road can be overkill and a lot of wasted energy. Go to bike specialy shops and not a big box store. Bike shops know their stuff and will teach you about the bike and help you in the future. A good relationship with your bike shop can be worth its' weight in gold.
    A few popular brands to check out are Trek, Kona, Specialized, Cannondale and Gary Fisher. Mongoose, GT and Schwinn used to be very good but they are now sold in Walmarts and thus the quality is not what it was. All bike companies have different philosphys so you really need to go out and test them all and see which one you feel most comfortable with. I love the feel of Specialized bikes but my buddy can't stand them and swears by his G. Fisher....which I do not like the feel of. And like was already mentioned....you want to save money for a good comfortable helmet and maybe a nice seat. I also have a lot of padded riding gloves that I LOVE and would not be without. You also may want bike shorts for longer rides. The nice thing about bike equipment though is that once you buy the stuff it lasts a long time. It may be expensive at first but in 4 years I have NEVER had to buy anything for the bike or myself and I ride a lot.
     
  9. Henry Gale

    Henry Gale Well-Known Member

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    I have a bike.
    I have a blue bike.
    I like to ride fast.
    Fast fast fast.

    It's a 750 Trek and I think you've already received a lot of good advice. My fast bike is a hybrid. I really need to get my fat carcass on it. [​IMG]
     
  10. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Well-Known Member

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    I've been a "Roadie" for almost 40 years so I can't offer much advice on specific trail equipment (my offroad riding was on a modified road bike - think cyclocross) but I'm surprised no one has mentioned "used". Some professional bike shops have upgrade programs and have some pretty nice trade-ins, especially if the budget is tight.

    Three pieces of (unsolicited) advice.
    Get a helmet and use it.
    Make sure you're up to date on the legal rights and responsibilities of cyclists. (I had a lady squeeze me out of a turn lane today and claimed her son's teachers said bicyclists have no right to use the road -- now I feel obligated to send letters to all the local school districts)
    Check for local bike clubs and/or advocacy groups. You might both find you love cycling but aren't compatible with each other's pace. A group of cyclists might be the answer to that dilema. My wife was a lifelong cyclist (we met on a bike club ride) but generally the only times we actually rode side by side was at the start of a Century or when I was pulling two kids in a trailer.
     
  11. Jay H

    Jay H Well-Known Member

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    You might also want to check out brands like Giant, Fuji, even Raleigh. I think Giant is the biggest mfgr of bikes in the world because they do a lot of mfgring for other brands and have a huge presense in China which is a bigger market of bicycles (in general, not MTBs).

    As a road cyclist too and a bike commuter, getting familiar with the rules of the road should be easy as it's the same as a car, however, learning how to coexist and apply those rules to a bicycle is harder and may take a bit to get used to. Know the rules in your county and don't assume cops are familiar or even on your side. Some cops are ignorant as to cyclists rights and many cyclists are ignorant of how to coexist with traffic which is also bad.

    Wear a helmet and use a mirror when on the road. I don't know how often I use a mirror in my commute, it is practically the most vital equipment I use in my commute!

    Stand out, use LED lights front and rear and just be predictable. After a bit you will learn the tricky spots, traffic densities and short cuts (!!) to get anywhere. The short cuts is another thing where I think a Mountain Bike is the right tool, because a lot of my short cuts involves going through the woods..

    Anyway, have fun bike shopping, fit is definitely key. Don't forget to budget a helmet and stuff too..

    Jay
     
  12. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Well-Known Member

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  13. Michael Harris

    Michael Harris Well-Known Member

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    Phillip: What a great site!

    Also, to reinforce what Jay H says. Know the rules for cyclist and obey them. As a cyclist, nothing upsets me more then seeing other cyclist disobey the rules of the road. In most jurisdictions, bicycles must follow the same rules as cars. A cyclist is not a pedestrian with wheels.
     
  14. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Well-Known Member

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    thanks for the info so far guys. i went to sports authority (we were already in the area) and i talked to a really knowledgeable guy who used to work for one of sac's speciality shops. he was no pressure, but gave me a lot of good advice.

    i checked out the mtb's and hybrids, but felt they were kinda heavy. after he asked me more questions, i think he got a really good feel for the kind of riding i anticipate doing ... so he suggested a diamond back century:

    http://www.diamondback.com/items.asp...d=4&itemid=185

    it was about 500 which was a tad more then i wanted to spend ... but certainly not a deal breaker. so, any thoughts on this specific model?
     
  15. Michael Harris

    Michael Harris Well-Known Member

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    Seems just like the kind of bike for the riding you described. My only suggestion is that you go to a real bike shop. A bike shop will give you better after sale support. For example, you will want to take the bike back to the shop about 30 days after you purchase it in order to adjust the cables since the will stretch. Most shops perform this service as part of the purchase price. Also, most shops that I've dealt with will allowed me to test ride the bike and had a very good return policy. The "Sport Authority" stores in my area do not have any dedicated bike support. Consider yourself lucky that you found someone who appeared to be knowledgable.
     
  16. Eric Kahn

    Eric Kahn Guest

    I have a recumbent bike, but they are all way out of your price range, only reason I have mine is because the very large dealer had 3 in the basement that they had around for years and sold it to me for about a third of its retail price (still was $700) to get rid of it, the other 2 were non-functional, they had been farmed for parts
     
  17. Evan M.

    Evan M. Well-Known Member

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    You can do much better thatn that for 500$. Again.....go to a bike shop, Sports Athority is a nice place but I would not buy a bike from them. You will get great help before AND after the sale. That is also a road bike. You talked about trail riding. If you want a road bike than that is fine. If you want a trail bike tan get something else. I STRONGLY suggest a hardtail if you are going on trails. The front shocks do make a huge difference and your arms and body will thank you for it. Some decent components to look for in that price range is Shimano Deore or Alivio. You also need to test drive it.....very important.
     
  18. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Well-Known Member

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    michael - the guy at sports authority did state that they are a full-service shop (which he admits not many people realize). i don't know if all sports authority shops are like that though. they do offer a test ride (in their parking lot), but they don't do the rent-a-bike thing.

    evan - i think when i said trail, i meant bike trail ... in other words something paved (i probably used the wrong terminology). i believe you are thinking dirt trail? if so, then i doubt i'll be hitting any of those ... but now i'm wondering if i shouldn't factor that in ... just in case kind of thing. oh yeah, what exactly is a "hardtail"? i've seen that term used a lot, but i don't get it.

    i'll be checking out some more shops (there's a couple of specialty shops here that are the "go-to" ones.) as soon as i have time.
     
  19. Michael Harris

    Michael Harris Well-Known Member

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    Ted, if they are full service, then no problem. Just be sure they will do a free post-purchase adjustment to account for cable stretch. You don't want to be riding only to find that the brakes don't grip as tight or the shifting isn't smooth.

    Just to let you know, I use my mountain bike mostly for commuting. I replaced the knobbies with slicks and the bike's geometry allows for a comfortable upright position, which is important for long distance. If I want to go off-road, I just replace the tires and adjust the front suspension.

    FYI: A hardtail is a bike with no rear suspension. My Cannondale is hardtail and has a shock absorber in the front fork.
     
  20. Jay H

    Jay H Well-Known Member

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    Ted, sorry, been offline the past few days. That diamondback you posted is way too expensive, I think.

    Plus, I think you will be much better off with 26" wheels (the Diamondback has 700c wheels which are basically road wheels. You will find parts and stuff CHEAPER for MTBs as they are more mass produced than road bikes.). Plus, it seems to have 8 speed cluster in the back which is harder to find these days. 9/10 speed clusters in both MTB and Road derailleurs is the norm and finding 7/8spd parts is hard. I wont go into details other than with today's index shifting, you need to get the parts for the right speed, that includes the derailleurs itself, the chain, and the shifters on the handlebar.

    For $400-$450 you should be able to find a decent entry level hardtail MTB with a deore level rear derailleur on it, especially now with the closeouts. Most bikes these days are sized S, M, L which I hate, but hey, that's what they do.

    I helped a friend of mine at work buy a nice Kona MTB for $425 last year, it was a closeout and it fit him well and he liked it. Check out all the brands and stuff. Trek, as you mentioned earlier is the most well known US bike here, it is kind of the Sony of bikes, as it has a huge name recognition and you pay for it, accordingly. Nice bikes, but don't forget to check around for others.

    Jay
     

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