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I want to buy a bicycle, I want to buy a biiiike

ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
edited January 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
My new apartment is fairly close to a lot of shit (metro stop, grocery store, day care, fuckin' everything) and I would love to start riding a bike around a lot more than I currently do (which is not at all). Thing is, I have no idea what I should be looking for in a bike. Here are the things I think are important:

This is all road biking, I will rarely ever be going on grass let alone uneven surfaces.
I want to put a kids seat on it.

So... is there anything wrong with me getting a cheap bike from Target or K-Mart? There are a billion bike shops near me but fuck those prices... right?

Improvolone on
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  • notmetalenoughnotmetalenough Registered User
    edited January 2011
    If all you want to do is put your bike in a garage or in a corner in your apartment, sure buy a cheap bike. In my experience, people who buy target/k-mart level bikes hate riding them because they are pieces of shit.

    Do you have a budget? I mean, if that's all you can afford, then you should buy one of those. If you can afford more, you should buy more.

    If you're not riding for sport, you should look into comfort, commuter or hybrid bikes. I don't know what caliber of bike stores you have around, but usually they're pretty good about getting you the right bike for your level of ridership and intended use.

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  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    $250 for a bike and kid seat; reasonable budget? I live in a bit of a bike city, so I'd wager we have some pretty good bike stores.

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    What you could do is look at craigslist and see if anyone is selling used bikes of some of the higher quality for cheaper.

    There is nothing wrong with using those cheap bikes, they're still usable. In fact I used to go road biking for hours a day with an old mountain bike. Obviously that is probably not ideal if you don't want to smell like you just wrestled a bear while biking to work or something.

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Make sure to budget for the helmets too. So, at least another $80-100 or so for both you and the kid.

  • Mr_GrinchMr_Grinch Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I can only comment on this from a UK perspective but I gave up on cycling after buying a cheapo bike from Tesco (Sort of like Walmart, I guess). It was heavy, horrible to ride, the gears were set up badly and it just felt...cheap.

    After my job moved location I decided to try again but splash out a little more, I got a loan through work and spent £250 and went to a proper bike shop. I didn't buy anything amazing but they talked me through what I needed and what everything did and let me try out a couple of different bikes.

    Skip on a year and I've moved job (well, location) again and I now have a great road bike that I got at a bargain price used and I cycle 23 miles a day, 5 days a week and I love it.

    My advice if you're on a budget: look for any local bike shops that do refurbished/recycled bikes. They normally sell them with a 12 month warranty, like a new bike, they make sure all the parts are working great and quite often some of the profits from your sale will go to charity. You'll also get a LOT more bike for your money.

    Of course places like that may not exist in the states, if so, ignore me :)

    ::Edit::

    I was emailing a friend yesterday who's going to be joining me soon on my cycle in to work, I mentioned to him not to forget extras:

    Lock - £25 (You’re advised to use two different types, so maybe double that!)
    Helmet - £25
    Lights - £30
    Pump - £30
    Repair Kit - £10
    Spare tubes - £12
    Clothes (Though I just wear jeans or jogging bottoms and t-shirt).

    Being you're just going to be cycling to the store etc then a lot of that probably isn't going to be necessary but if you're doing any night time cycling you'll need lights, and the lock is essential regardless of when you cycle.

    You won't need spare inner tubes/repair kit/pump if you can push the bike home when/if you get a puncture (though they'd be handy).

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    There is actually 2-3 in my town and my town is absolutely run down. I'd imagine improvolone is in DC or something and there must be tons of them there.

  • brain operatorbrain operator Registered User
    edited January 2011
    The way I see it: if you really want to ride your bike often, it's got to be worth something to you. Conversely, if you do this on the cheap it'll feel less like something valuable to you. No need to break the bank, but if you really want this you should splurge a little. If you get a cheap piece of crap you won't be motivated at all to ride it (and comfort-wise you do get what you pay for, when it comes to bikes).

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Plus it'll pay for itself in about a month or two of using it religiously if you use a car. It's amazing how much gas costs in your commute.

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I'm really not sure I could ride it to work; I sweat like a stuck pig and I live in the devil's humid asshole.
    I guess going to a proper shop would be best, eh? If I do look on Craigslist, what kind of manufacturers should I be looking for?

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  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    i woul dlook for some sort of Hyrbid style. it will have more comfortable ergonomics for relaxed riding but stilll will be able to put miles on it. plus it can easily handle things like panniers to add storage for kid stuff etc.

    Names to look for are Trek, Giant, Raleigh, Gary Fischer does mostly mountain bikes but you can always through some skinny tires on it.

    if i were you i wouldn't go full on road bike.

    as far as extras go. you really only need a helmet and a lock (not counting kid seat) maybe a light if you are planning on riding at night but they can be found stupid cheap. or better just pick up a cheap headlamp and have it be multipurpose.

    you don't need biking clothes. you won't need repair kits or extra tubes since would you honestly know what to do with it yet?

    a pump maybe. but you can just go to a gas station or whatever. if you find yourself riding a lot invest in some knowledge on how to fix/change a tire etc

    I would go to a shop and see what fits you and what you like. look into older models that they are trying to get rid of. thats how i got my first road bike for a steal. don't commit right away and look online after you have checked things out.

    camo_sig.png
  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    By the way, trust me on this after a few weeks of chafed crotch, get some nice silk or spandex for shorts. Even if you just wear it under your normal shorts. Khaki or Jeans do not make for good times in your happy area.

  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    bowen wrote: »
    By the way, trust me on this after a few weeks of chafed crotch, get some nice silk or spandex for shorts. Even if you just wear it under your normal shorts. Khaki or Jeans do not make for good times in your happy area.

    PADDED shorts.

    Go to a bike shop, talk to them. Good ones will understand and explain the parts of bikes to you. Craigslist is a waste of time if you don't know what you're looking for. I'd recommend a road or cyclocross bike, as hybrids are half good at road and half good at trails, but actually good at neither. A cyclocross bike will be more upright, but still road geometry/tires.

  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Something like this would probably be perfect for you.

    You can do a hojillion miles on it, it'll roll fast and smooth, and still take a bit of a pounding over kerbs and such.

    If you can find one second-hand, you should be able to get it in good condition for about a third of that price. Well taken care of, a bike like that should last for decades.

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  • IronKnuckle's GhostIronKnuckle's Ghost Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    You absolutely will need spare tubes and a patch kit. A decent kit with a bag will run you about 20 to 30 bucks and will save your ass when you're running late. I'd also recommend a digital air compressor. Keep it in your car to air up those tires, but it also works just as well on your bike.

  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Digital air compressor? A portable electric air compressor weighs a ton. A regular hand pump will do the trick just fine, or if you're super-lazy, you can get CO2 inflation kits. A digital tyre pressure monitor is good, but expensive and unnecessary compared to a good old tyre pressure gauge.

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  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I'd personally get a floor pump Link
    Then get tubes+CO2 for on the road. Hand pumps take forever.

  • IronKnuckle's GhostIronKnuckle's Ghost Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I should have formatted that into another paragraph, and I didn't intend for that to be taken as something that should be hauled around on the bike itself. CO2 and/or a hand pump are much smaller and lighter for that purpose.

    I just like using my car's air compressor to keep my bike's tires at the proper pressure because I am lazy.

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I went to three stores today. The first two left me unimpressed in terms of the staff offering actual advice and explaining things and answering questions, but the third store was awesome. The guy there dived right into explaining the differences and things to pay attention to.
    After a couple of rides, I think I may be getting a...
    bike69112.jpg
    beach cruiser! Oh my god, this was the most incredibly comfortable ride I have ever fucking had. He and his girlfriend have seven bikes between them and they more often than not grab their cruisers and head out. Very simple, one gear, the only think I need to pay attention to is keeping air in the tires. This will also be a couple hundred cheaper than any of the hybrids the other shops tried to put me on. One shop even suggested a mountain bike. God, what assholes.

    Any reason I shouldn't go this route? I live in Florida and the biggest hill I need to battle are some curbs.

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  • notmetalenoughnotmetalenough Registered User
    edited January 2011
    Any reason I shouldn't go this route? I live in Florida and the biggest hill I need to battle are some curbs.

    The only thing to be concerned about is coaster brakes. Also I don't know your gender, but the frame you linked is for women.

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/coaster-brakes.html

    The brakes are not really a big deal for the use you describe, but if you start to use it to do serious riding or commuting to work, you would probably want a better bike, preferably one with a front brake (not to mention the advantage of having free backward rotation in getting started from a stop light, etc...).

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Nope. Be weary of the speed limitation of the single gear and that's it.

    Glad you found an awesome store.

  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    They have a more comfortable riding position for tooling about (at least I thought so), but I opted for a road bike b/c you cannot really fly on a cruiser. Meaning to get really going at speed you're cranking a lot and not going nearly as fast as on something with a more roadbike geometry. But you may not care about that.


    Dug up a few opinion pieces regarding riding with a child, might be worth a look. Upshot: child seats affect stability more due to adding weight higher up, but affect manueverability less since your length and profile are pretty much the same as w/out the seat; trailers affect stability less, but manueverability more since you're wider and longer. Also trailers can take more weight so you can tow around your child longer before he needs his own bike.

  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Cruisers are great but think about the type of mileage you are looking at. if not many then go for it. i used to bring home pizzas on mine

    you can throw a pretty good size load on them and not have an effect and its a super smooth ride.

    my cruiser had coaster brakes and an additional hand brake

    oh as far as girl frame vs guy frame, i think it matters less now. if i was toting a kid around i would probably pick the women style frame since it would make it easier to get on and off with weight on the tail.

    camo_sig.png
  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Yeah, if you're just looking to cruise around, they're great. Most important is getting the bike you WILL ride, as an awesome one sitting in the garage does nothing. Nice that you found a good store, that's key to enjoyment. Also note that while you can get things cheaper online, using your local bike shop will keep it around and get you much better service/advice than you find in many corners of the interwebs. Bike comfort is a personal thing.

  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    One shop even suggested a mountain bike. God, what assholes.

    My girlfriend and I ride mountain bikes for about an hour every morning, smack bang in the middle of the city. They're not assholes, there is no bike in the world more comfortable than a dual suspension mountain bike.

    Of course that's a fairly long way out of your budget, but then something like a Sedona will still be considerably softer riding and smoother than a cruiser, with much better brakes and gears to boot.

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  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Depending on where your metro stop is (in terms of which city), you may absolutely want to get a bike from Walmart, because you will need to regard it as a disposable resource. Anyone around here who parks their bike at a metro, no matter the kinds of locks they get, knows they'll have it stolen sometime in the next year.

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  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    One shop even suggested a mountain bike. God, what assholes.

    My girlfriend and I ride mountain bikes for about an hour every morning, smack bang in the middle of the city. They're not assholes, there is no bike in the world more comfortable than a dual suspension mountain bike.

    Of course that's a fairly long way out of your budget, but then something like a Sedona will still be considerably softer riding and smoother than a cruiser, with much better brakes and gears to boot.
    The conversation at that shop basically went:
    "I need a bike to ride around town, I'll just be staying on the roads."
    "Well how about this mountain bike?"
    "But I won't be going off road..."
    "Well then how about this hybrid? Its like a mountain bike."
    I dunno, I used to go mountain biking. Its the kind of ride I'm most familiar with. The roads around here do not by any stretch of the imagination require anything like that. I'd expect mountain bike shocks to be so stiff by sheer design that the uneven terrain I might hit wouldn't even cause them to compress.

    What about the Sedona would make is a softer and smoother ride than a cruiser? Riding position? Suspension?
    Darkewolfe wrote: »
    Depending on where your metro stop is (in terms of which city), you may absolutely want to get a bike from Walmart, because you will need to regard it as a disposable resource. Anyone around here who parks their bike at a metro, no matter the kinds of locks they get, knows they'll have it stolen sometime in the next year.

    We can take bikes on the metro, I can take it into work, and I will take it into my apartment. I'll have a lock, but it won't be locked outside very much.
    mts wrote: »
    Cruisers are great but think about the type of mileage you are looking at. if not many then go for it. i used to bring home pizzas on mine

    you can throw a pretty good size load on them and not have an effect and its a super smooth ride.

    my cruiser had coaster brakes and an additional hand brake

    oh as far as girl frame vs guy frame, i think it matters less now. if i was toting a kid around i would probably pick the women style frame since it would make it easier to get on and off with weight on the tail.

    I live about 9 miles away from work, which if I ever decided to ride there would be the absolute maximum one way trip I can see myself making. I don't think 9 miles is out of the question for a cruiser... do you?
    As for frames, I rather like the design of the women's frame but they also had a step-through frame which looked freaking neat-o.
    Ecobike_Elegance_silver.jpg

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  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    well for me 9 miles would be pushing it in a cruiser. I used to live in a town where the biggest hill was the highway overpasses and it would suck to ride my cruiser from one side of town to the other. in my opinion the cruiser is more a short spurt type of bike. if i was doing an 18 mile round trip i would want something with skinny tires. the fatter they are the more work it takes to get them to speed so it does add up.

    if you are only doing that distance a couple times every now and again its certainly doable but if its regular look into something with skinny wheels. unless you only go one way. then sure it will sucka bit but its doable.

    camo_sig.png
  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    One shop even suggested a mountain bike. God, what assholes.

    My girlfriend and I ride mountain bikes for about an hour every morning, smack bang in the middle of the city. They're not assholes, there is no bike in the world more comfortable than a dual suspension mountain bike.

    Of course that's a fairly long way out of your budget, but then something like a Sedona will still be considerably softer riding and smoother than a cruiser, with much better brakes and gears to boot.
    The conversation at that shop basically went:
    "I need a bike to ride around town, I'll just be staying on the roads."
    "Well how about this mountain bike?"
    "But I won't be going off road..."
    "Well then how about this hybrid? Its like a mountain bike."
    I dunno, I used to go mountain biking. Its the kind of ride I'm most familiar with. The roads around here do not by any stretch of the imagination require anything like that. I'd expect mountain bike shocks to be so stiff by sheer design that the uneven terrain I might hit wouldn't even cause them to compress.

    What about the Sedona would make is a softer and smoother ride than a cruiser? Riding position? Suspension?

    On a higher-level mountain bike (like a downhill bike) the suspension is firm, yet it's also adjustable. On a bike like the Sedona (which is actually listed under 'Comfort' in the Giant Australia catalogue), the suspension is just to soak up bumps from things like potholes, kerbs, pavement expansion joints. The seatpost is actually a shock absorber, the seat is suspended as well, and the seat has a big pillowy gel top.

    The geometry makes it much more comfortable on longer rides too. 9 miles on that cruiser would take you at least 45 minutes. Have a look at the spatial relationship between the seat, crank and handlebars. See how the crank is a long way forward from the seat compared to a mountain bike? The more vertical the seat/crank relationship, the more efficient your pedalling is - i.e., the more forward motion you get from the same amount of effort input. Also, the further forward your legs are, the more strain placed on your lower back.

    The componentry on a bike from a major manufacturer like Giant will be of a higher quality at the same price point compared to a smaller group like Sun bicycles. This is sheer economy of scale at work. Where Sun might call up Shimano and order 10,000 of a component, Giant will order 2,000,000. Consequently they get their stuff much cheaper, and fit better quality gear on lower priced bikes compared to the competition. My girlfriends Giant Talon cost her $1000, to buy the exact same quality and spec bike from any other brand available in Australia starts at about $1350...

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  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I have no frame of reference for time/distance, so if you're saying a cruiser would be about 45min/9 miles what would a hybrid compare at?

    The bike shop is getting some three speed cruisers that I'm going to try this weekend, so I'll also take another ride on the hybrids just to make sure.

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    It'll probably be insignificant, maybe a 5-10 minute change at the most. What you really gain is the "effort" saved. A single gear bike will use a lot more energy and not get as much speed as a bike with more gears. Though with 3 gears I doubt it'll be anything.

    Ever hit the maximum speed of first gear on a mountain bike? That's what it'll be like the entire trip. I suggest you take it out for a good romp before deciding if they'll lite you, at least do 1-2 miles.

  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    So I should really consider the extra $80 it would cost me to get a three gear bike over a single speed?

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  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I would seriously consider it, yes.

  • mtsmts Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    if you took two single speed bikes with identical wheels you would not notice a difference in effort assuming they are the same gearing. now switch out one of them with an identically geared bike with fat tires and there will be a difference in effort becuase the fat tires will require more energy due to friction and rolling resistance.

    i would spring for the 3 gears

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  • IronKnuckle's GhostIronKnuckle's Ghost Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I concur with Bowen, having a couple of gears to play around with will benefit you. As you use your bike your legs will get stronger and you'll find that the amount of effort it takes for you to hit your typical cruise speed drops. If you're like me you'll find a cadence that you like, and having higher gears means you can keep going faster.

    Of course, my bike is primarily for exercise as I live too far away from work to commute on it.

  • bowenbowen Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    I concur with Bowen, having a couple of gears to play around with will benefit you. As you use your bike your legs will get stronger and you'll find that the amount of effort it takes for you to hit your typical cruise speed drops. If you're like me you'll find a cadence that you like, and having higher gears means you can keep going faster.

    Of course, my bike is primarily for exercise as I live too far away from work to commute on it.

    Yeah that's why when you have a mtn bike with 21 gears you tend to cycle to the highest gear which will use the least amount of energy to move the wheel, but offers you greater speeds if you're strong enough to push it. 3 gears should be a go if you can afford it.

  • EshEsh Sunshine! Kittens! Rainbows! Smiles! Portland, ORRegistered User regular
    edited January 2011
    If you have a nine mile commute, wait a month or two, save a little cash, and spend a little more.

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  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Yeah, nine miles means you should probably buy a cyclocross or more road-specific bike. You can make it on a cruiser or hybrid, but not as fast or efficiently as you'd want for a commute. You don't need suspension to reduce shock on the road, just follow these tips:
    1. Riding position - elbows slightly bent, arms relaxed, legs not completely straight at full extension - this will allow you to absorb bumps more easily with your body. If you can't get into this position, the bike does not fit you.
    2. Tires - Larger casing and lower pressure - you can get "larger" road tires made for commuting that will have slightly more rolling resistance, but will make for a much more comfortable ride. Lower the pressure a little bit to have a similar effect.
    3. Contact points - get a saddle that fits your sit bones, make sure your grips/barwraps are comfy, get padded shorts (I recommend pearl izumi, as not all chamois are created equal). Don't be fooled by the huge gel saddles, they suck. Proper bike position means you aren't actually sitting on your ass, but on your sit bones.

    Oh, and if you're new to biking distances, you will get sore in the posterior initially, but it will go away. To prevent theft, either bring your bike inside to work(recommended) or spraypaint/camo it to make it look terrible.

  • chrishallett83chrishallett83 Hi! Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    So I should really consider the extra $80 it would cost me to get a three gear bike over a single speed?

    You're really set on one of those cruisers huh? The bike I listed (for example) is only $10 more expensive than that single speed cruiser...

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  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Didn't you suggest a hybrid? I mentioned that I'm going to give one another try when I check out the three-speed cruisers.

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  • saltinesssaltiness Registered User regular
    edited January 2011
    Do NOT buy a cruiser.

    Do NOT buy anything with suspension if you're only riding on the road unless you're like 50-years-old.

    These kinds of bikes are fine for leisurely riding where you're more concerned with looking at pretty trees and little animals than actually getting anywhere. If you want the bike for commuting and grocery-getting chris is leading you in the right direction.

    I followed chris's links and I actually think this Giant Escape would be an awesome city bike. It's got a rack, fenders, 24 speeds and it's still relatively light-weight. You'll be more hunched-over than on a cruiser or hybrid but you'll also be a lot more efficient that way and you won't be nearly as stretched out as on a purpose-built road racer.

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