Looking for an inexpensive, sturdy bicycle.

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Philip Hamm, May 12, 2004.

  1. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I need a good sturdy bike, and I don't have much money to spend on it. Let's say $350 max (really - I know people on HTF love to give suggestions for $400+ items when people say they want to spend $350 - this is a real limit).

    Are the bikes they sell at Costco for about $150 any good or are they as bad as my 10 year old $100 hand-me-down Huffy? I've seen some bikes that look really nice at REI www.rei.com for around $350.

    I'm not racing or a "serious bicyclist" so I don't need anything state-of-the-art, I just want a good sturdy bike that will last a few years.

    Looking for a road bike with upright handlebars and the capability to accomodate baskets and carrying capacity.
     
  2. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Novare Metro $299, 7005 Aluminum which is pretty hefty but a bit weightly for aluminum. My old Proflex Beast was 7005 and certainly wasn't going to win any lightweight contest.

    The Metro is made to be a city bike. Pretty hefty at 30lbs though but the components are your basic $300 bike components, a mixture of Kalloy and TruVatic parts. And at that price range, 30lbs isn't that bad if it's accurate. Comes with the twistshifters like on many low-end bikes. You'll have to pay shipping and you'll need money left over for helmet.

    I know somebody else makes Novare bikes for REI, forget who though. Their randonee touring bike gets some decent reviews for low cost touring bikes. something like a touring or city bike sounds like it would be good for you. Make sure the Metro has all the braze ons for racks and fenders. Not all bikes have then though fortunately, most of the lower end bikes have them while the upper end bikes don't.

    Have you tried looking for '03 closeouts locally? Sometimes you can find a bike that you can actually demo out and also have free tune ups and service which is important, almost more important than the bike itself. Labor can be expensive and if you don't have an REI nearby or so, paying labor if you don't do it yourself can be costly enough. I would really suggest you find a bike closeout from a local dealer. Kona, Giant, Raleigh, make some entry level price point bikes.

    Jay
     
  3. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I plan on looking at local dealers first. I prefer to buy from a local bike shop than a chain, I would be willing to get a lessor bike for my dollar in order to support my local shop.
     
  4. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I've not looked at bikes in several years, but my experience is that any bike from $100 to $350 will be a "good sturdy bike." You can buy a $150 bike from Costco and it will most likely serve you for years to come, with modest care.

    What more money gets you are better components, including better shifters, lighter frame and better brakes. Also, the higher quality brakes are easier to service yourself.

    My first grad school bike was a generic $150 bike from Wal-Mart. I rode it about 3 miles round-trip every day to school for about two years. It plowed through good and bad weather. I also took 10-20 mile rides on weekends. I replaced it after slamming into a curb and bending a rim.

    My next bike was a $350 bike from a local shop. I've had it for about 7 years and it's still in good shape. I probably put 2000 miles on it. It was also used for riding to school daily for a year or two and longer weekend rides.

    I've also seen friends ride modestly priced bikes for years. My roommate pulled an abandoned road bike from the basement of a house I was renting, and has been riding daily to school for six years with minimal maintenance.

    I believe that any bike you buy for more than $100 can work for many years. My recommendation, if you plan to ride regularly, is to spend as much as you can to get the best components.

    If you want to buy local, ask around and find a recommended (honest) shop. The owner or salespeople should be informed and able to help you make a good purchase for your needs.
     
  5. ColinM

    ColinM Cinematographer

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  6. DonRoeber

    DonRoeber Screenwriter

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    About a year ago, I bought a Trek 7200 Hybrid bike for about $300. Im very pleased with it. I just bought another Trek bike for my wife, for her birthday.
     
  7. Drew Bethel

    Drew Bethel Screenwriter

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  8. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Dave,

    My hand-me-down Huffy works and is relatively sturdy, but there are lots of things I don't like about it.

    * The gear shifters roll around on the handlebars and are difficult to adjust. The tightening bolts are stripped. Cheap components.

    * SOmething's loose in the axel or steering head. I know I could get this fixed, but why bother? Again, cheap components

    * The thing weighs a ton. My wife's bike (a Trek which came with a '96 Jetta) is half the weight and seems much more "composed".

    It works, I just want something a little better that's more built to be ridden and last and less about just having a bike.
     
  9. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Philip,

    Short answer: work with a salesperson at a reputable local bike/sports shop for a $280 Hybrid with basic components. Spend the other $70 on accessories: helmet, lock, carrying rack and bags, water bottles. Or increase your budget to get a $350 bike and also buy accessories.


    A brand-new $100 bike will certainly be better than your ten-year old beat-down Huffy. [​IMG] ANd it should last for a few years, no problem.

    But a $350 bike will be lighter, have better components, and be easier to service. And features improve with price, though the specific features vary from brand to brand and model to model. One bike will have better shifters, while another will have better deraileurs for a given price.

    If you lack time or interest to research bikes, I suggest finding a bike shop with a good reputation, looking around, test-riding a few bikes, and using the sales-person's advice to get something that will meet your desires.

    I think you should look at Hybrid's. More upright than a road bike but with bigger tires like a Mountain bike. And get a flat-rear fender that you can carry stuff on; perhaps rear pannier (?) bags for storage. I've not looked at baskets before, so I can't comment.

    And since you have a budget, maybe lower your bike price limit to allow for those and other accessories. Specifically, don't forget your helmet. If your helmet is as old as your Huffy, get a new one. Other possible options are:
    * water bottles and holders
    * extra-padded bike seat for greater comfort
    * fenders (no soggy bottom from rain puddles)
    * bike-bag(s)
    * lock
    * bike computer (log those miles)
    * bike shorts
    * toe clips (recommended. These mount to the pedals and the front of your shoe slips into them)
    * helmet!

    For bike features, what I recall from some years ago is:
    * quick-release wheels (front and back)
    * medium-weight. You can heft it with one arm
    * 21 speed min.
    * index shifters. Both front and rear gears are chosen with a numbered shifter that clicks for each gear. GripShift was a wrist-rotatable shifter in my price range, but maybe you'll find thumb-shifters in the price range. For GripShift, pay attention to the force require and rotation needed to shift gears on the back gear. Is it comfortable or awkward?
    * cantilever brakes. They've changed over the years, and you don't want the ones you certainly have one your Huffy. Those are terrible to adjust!
    * name-brand deraileurs. Shimano was a popular name several years ago.
    * name-brand hubs. Does it matter? Beats me, but they came with greater cost

    Hope that helps.
     
  10. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Not that big a deal unless you plan on servicing your hubs. Most hubs these days are cartridge bearing hubs, (i.e. hubs start to grind, buy a new cartridge and replace it. More $$ but easier to service (in general).

    The old hubs are your basic cup and cone where you can service the cups and bearings to a point but takes longer than popping a cartridge in and out. What is nice is some of the newer hubs actually have grease ports where you can regrease the hub easier with a grease gun. Not likely though at $350 pricepoint though.

    Same thing with headsets though the different in quality here is basically how good and how sealed the bearings are to road grime and dirt. How stiff is the cone and how long does the headset last before developing play. Even an inexpensive Taiwan aheadset is loads better than they were before. Chris King makes some of the best headsets but it is a toss up whether the difference these days is that big. CK is made in the USA by a very environmentally conscious company and is ty[pically a nice anodized color but is it more than twice as good as a made in Taiwan aHeadset. Probably not.


    Philip. I would recommend a rear rack and rear pannier over a front basket. Why? The weight balance is better. Having a lot of mass in the front (let along the vision impairment) affects steering more than having just rear panniers. You'll find everything from just leaning your bike up against a wall to steering idiosyncracies is affected by frontal mass. Plus, unless you want to get a handlebar bag, you will be limited to trying to find a suspension fork with eyelets. That will be a hard find so a better solution is to simply get a rear rack and make sure the bike you buy has eyelets for a rear rack. Then you can get panniers, some that even are open topped, which means you can stick a grocery bag in it. You can always buy a raincover for those rainy days to keep your groceries dry.

    Commuter bikes, touring bikes, hybrids will give you a more upright position. However, A city or touring bike will give you the proper gears to get up mountains and the necessary eyelets and fender mounts.

    Jay
     
  11. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    I think a hybrid with rear panniers is what I want - I'm going to start shopping this weekend I think. My helmet is new and very nice. My Kryptonite lock is old and big and needs a graphite injection at least and a replacement at worst. The Huffy is a hand-me-down from my brother, the one substantial upgrade he did to it was install a -wonderful- spring loaded gel seat. It is very comfortable and I hope to transfer it to the new cycle. I have a reallynice pair of Cannondale bike shorts but I need more.
     
  12. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Follow-up.

    I went to my local shop and got a Giant Cypress. Nice sturdy bike, made in Taiwan (much better working conditions and labor practices than China). I also got a single seat trailer used, they're removing the seat for me so I can use it to carry groceries or my dog.

    Big step up from the Huffy. It weighs about twice as much as my wife's Trek mountain bike.
     
  13. Michael Harris

    Michael Harris Screenwriter

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    Now that you have it take advantage of all the wonderful trails in the NOVA area.
     
  14. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    ..and just in time for National Bike to Work Week..

    Have fun with the trailer and don't forget the brain bucket!

    I like the name, Giant Cypress... You're riding a tree. [​IMG]

    Jay
     
  15. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    The house that my wife and I are in right now is right on the W&OD in Ashburn. That's one of the things we liked about the neighborhood (that and it's a TND which we feel strongly about).

    Already got a helmet, a real nice Giro I got from Sierra Trading Post last year. As a motorcyclist, I'm a big helmet fan. You can get up to 35mph real easily on a bicycle, and if you go down, that could easily be fatal without one.

    I forgot to mention I also got a rear rack when I bought the bike, and I have a pack of biking goodies coming from Overstock. The bike should be ready to pick up on Thursday, I got it at a local privately owned shop.

    Here's a picture of what my new bike will look at minus the rack and stuff.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    It looks very nice. I hope you enjoy it!
     
  17. Drew Bethel

    Drew Bethel Screenwriter

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    Nice choice! I just bought a Giant OCR1 and so far I'm very pleased.
     
  18. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Here's what I got for the new doggie:

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Nice, it's also great for hauling groceries!

    What's a "TND"?

    Have you and the doggie gone for a ride yet?

    Jay
     
  20. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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