Author Topic: Bicycle info for a complete noob  (Read 7427 times)

Maigahane

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Bicycle info for a complete noob
« on: March 19, 2014, 03:27:55 PM »
I'm thinking about getting a bike to try to cut down on commuting costs but I haven't been on a bike in close to 15 years and I never even figured out the gears on mine back then. Basically I have no idea what I'm doing. I want to be pretty cheap with the first one because there's a good chance that my idea won't pan out....

DH and I live 30 miles from our jobs but they're 6 miles from each other (I know, we'll be selling and moving in the next year or two). He goes to work 2 hours before me and then has class on the other side of town (6 miles from my work in the other direction). So I'm thinking I can come to work with him in the morning, ride the bike to my job (and catch up on my reading), then ride to his school. From what I've seen on here 12 miles a day is easily doable, especially broken up.

So, break it down into little words for the utterly clueless: What kind of bike should I be looking for? I'm 5'9", about what size should I be looking at? Am I crazy thinking I can bike 6 miles at a time when I haven't biked in 15 years? I'm in decent shape, but not amazing

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2014, 03:33:55 PM »
If the terrain is flat, it will be easy even at first. If it's hilly, it will take some adjustment.

I'd recommend a hybrid style bike. For your size, a 17" frame is typically recommended from what. I recall. I really like my Trek FX 7500, which I got used after recommendations here. Mine is 10 years old and was $250.

Depending on your area, it can be harder to find hybrids versus ten speeds or mountain bikes, but worth the extra craigslist time.

A mountain bike is quite doable for six miles, but if you get into cycling in a bigger way, you'll be happier with a hybrid.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2014, 03:36:09 PM »
If you find a new or used bike, feel free to post the link :)

the fixer

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2014, 03:55:21 PM »
When you get a bike, practice riding with it before using it for your commute. You don't want the pressure of trying to get work on time until you are at least somewhat confident in how long your ride will take. Also, test-ride your commute on a day off (traffic will probably be different but that's a minor factor, the more important thing is not getting lost).

Here's the best video I could find from a quick search for how to use your bike gears. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1B2bu8uHyMc Attention any YouTubers out there: making a nice introductory video explaining how to use the gears on a bike with good visuals and no old guys in tight bike shorts might get a decent number of plays!

EDIT: Here's another decent one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4ok96KDfpE
« Last Edit: March 19, 2014, 04:01:49 PM by the fixer »

Maigahane

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2014, 04:08:01 PM »
Terrain is basically flat here (yay midwest). I have 2 hours to get to work from his job so time is no concern. I do need to find a good bike friendly route though since the way I'd drive looks very unsafe on a bike.  To his school looks very bike friendly though.
I'll have to check out Craigslist when I get home and see what's out there

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2014, 04:14:36 PM »
There was a thread on here about sites for planning bike routes but I can't seem to find it. I bike through pretty much anything when I don't have the kids with me, but I've had good results using Google Maps bike directions when not completely familiar with a route.

I would recommend biking it once yourself on the weekend when it's (in theory) not as busy.

Maigahane

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2014, 04:19:00 PM »
http://lincoln.craigslist.org/bik/4380268072.html

Thoughts?

And definitely planning a weekend run first :)

TrMama

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2014, 04:25:56 PM »
I'd look for one with 29" or 700cc wheels rather than 26". Larger tires maintain speed with less effort and feel more stable. Those tires also look fairly knobby for road riding. If you get the bike, I'd swap them for real road slicks.

The biggest challenge for new riders isn't the bike, it's learning to harden your nerves to the traffic. Mapmyride.com and Googlemaps (click the bike button to map bike routes) are both good. Both of these will route you through trails and quieter streets rather than busy roads.

Don't forget to budget for a helmet, flat kit and lights. I think you'll also need a bike rack for the car. I find I get more space and respect from drivers when I run two red blinky lights in the back.

the fixer

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #8 on: March 19, 2014, 04:40:06 PM »
That bike's okay, would definitely do what you want, but it seems a bit high-priced. You might want to ask them if they'll accept $120 or so. Might be worth even less. I think it's at least 20 years old FWIW, and it was never a great bike to begin with.

Better options:
https://lincoln.craigslist.org/bik/4374313062.html
This one's pretty funny: https://lincoln.craigslist.org/bik/4382354031.html Since it won't be up long I'll quote it for posterity:
Quote
only $30 if you get it today.i love this bike.i ride it to unl everyday,but my phone minutes are up and I need my phone more then I do my bike.
has the falcon grip twist shifters,shimano parts,quick release seat and brakes.
duel suspension.
https://lincoln.craigslist.org/bik/4315956000.html
https://lincoln.craigslist.org/bik/4368284374.html

Most important factor that you'll notice is weight. Cheap steel frames are really heavy. Aluminum and good steel frames are light. The other big factor is tires. Big, knobby tires have more rolling resistance so they make it slightly harder to pedal while offering no advantages on pavement. The best options will be hybrid bikes with 700c or 27" wheels, but 26" can work too with the right tires. Tires are cheap to replace though, so this shouldn't be a dealbreaker if you find something at a good price that you like otherwise.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2014, 05:12:35 PM »
That bike's okay, would definitely do what you want, but it seems a bit high-priced. You might want to ask them if they'll accept $120 or so. Might be worth even less. I think it's at least 20 years old FWIW, and it was never a great bike to begin with.

Better options:
https://lincoln.craigslist.org/bik/4374313062.html
This one's pretty funny: https://lincoln.craigslist.org/bik/4382354031.html Since it won't be up long I'll quote it for posterity:
Quote
only $30 if you get it today.i love this bike.i ride it to unl everyday,but my phone minutes are up and I need my phone more then I do my bike.
has the falcon grip twist shifters,shimano parts,quick release seat and brakes.
duel suspension.
https://lincoln.craigslist.org/bik/4315956000.html
https://lincoln.craigslist.org/bik/4368284374.html

Most important factor that you'll notice is weight. Cheap steel frames are really heavy. Aluminum and good steel frames are light. The other big factor is tires. Big, knobby tires have more rolling resistance so they make it slightly harder to pedal while offering no advantages on pavement. The best options will be hybrid bikes with 700c or 27" wheels, but 26" can work too with the right tires. Tires are cheap to replace though, so this shouldn't be a dealbreaker if you find something at a good price that you like otherwise.

I'd +1 the first link for the Univega.

phred

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2014, 05:20:04 PM »
Most bike shops will rent you a variety of bikes fairly cheap; try a bunch.  For commuting I would look for a commuter bike.  This is basically a road bike (the one with the narrow tires) plus fenders.  Without the fenders you may arrive at work each morning with a racing stripe of dirt up your backside.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #11 on: March 19, 2014, 05:21:55 PM »
Most bike shops will rent you a variety of bikes fairly cheap; try a bunch.  For commuting I would look for a commuter bike.  This is basically a road bike (the one with the narrow tires) plus fenders.  Without the fenders you may arrive at work each morning with a racing stripe of dirt up your backside.

Only a racing stripe?

biketokyo

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2014, 06:51:37 PM »
I think all the advice here is great. One thing I would add is that I think for most people who haven't ridden in a long time, the road bike style drop handlebars may not be a good choice. It's more aerodynamic but puts you in a more stretched out position that isn't all that comfortable for a lot of people.

Most important though, is get a bike that feels good to ride and a commuting route you enjoy.

Good luck!

bikebum

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #13 on: March 19, 2014, 07:16:46 PM »
All good advice.

In my experience, road style bikes with the skinny tires and drop handlebars that make you lean over are by far more efficient than any other style. The bent over position allows you to use your legs much more effectively. This style will be great if it is comfortable for you and you plan to stay on the pavement. When I have ridden hybrid styles, they seem much slower, but will be good if you plan to ride on some dirt too.

kaetana

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #14 on: March 19, 2014, 11:17:43 PM »
Eight years ago, I wanted to learn to ride a bike but also wanted something cheap because I was also dubious about whether I would actually keep up the habit. I got a sub-$100 bike which looked great but was ultimately useless. It was really cheaply made, the brakes didn't work, and so I never rode it again.

Three months ago, I decided to give biking a second chance after reading MMM. This time, I wanted the very best initial bike experience so as to increase my chances of actually using it. I didn't know anything about bike maintenance or repair, so I wanted something that just worked. I bought it from a bike shop with excellent service, and it came with a one-year warranty - another plus. I absolutely LOVE biking now. I've done 370km in the last two months (which is when I started keeping track) and I know part of the reason I've been bitten by the bug is that my bike is just SO EASY to use and so low-maintenance. So that's just something for you to consider-- the Mustachian bike is not always the cheapest; it's the one you'll use.

That goes for type of bike as well as for price, I think. Buy something you think looks cool and is super comfortable. I bought a hybrid, FWIW.

Maigahane

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #15 on: March 20, 2014, 10:53:07 AM »
Thanks for the extra info everyone. I really appreciate all the feedback. I may check out that Univega...I think it's the same person that is selling the one I posted and a few others so I might get to check out a few at a time.

Unfortunately I'm in Small Town USA and the one bike shop I know of does not rent them out.

I had planned on the helmet and considered lights since my first leg will be early am. Luckily I can temporarily pass on the bike rack since I have a station wagon. Certainly not ideal long term but it'll save me from buying something until I know I'll use it :)

FunkyStickman

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #16 on: March 20, 2014, 11:24:52 AM »
A Univega will last you years if you take care of it. Most decent (i.e. around $500 or more new) bikes will last forever if you keep them up, replace stuff when it's worn, etc.

I started with a $150 wal-mart bike, rode it until it broke, fixed it, rode it some more, fixed it again, rode, replaced the frame, rode it some more, etc.... eventually I took those parts and put them on a touring bike frame, I expect it will last me dozens of years.

You don't have to spring for a nice bike initially, but be prepared, they will need upgrading and maintenance eventually.

William

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #17 on: March 21, 2014, 10:08:12 AM »
My bike resume:  I bike everywhere in my city (only use car for out of town).  My daily commute is 19 miles on a $200 WalMart bike.  I was a bit overweight when I started but now I'm trim and fit.

You're not crazy getting back on a bike and starting at 12 miles a day.  Expect the first month to be painful when you dismount.  That will go away quickly.

Tips:

Biking on an empty stomach is a lot harder than with a snack.

Don't trust that anyone will stop at stop signs/lights.

Always lock up the bike.

Go with WalMart bikes.  Although not recommended on MMM, I'm saying this because WM has an easy return policy (no questions asked, 90-day).  Start with a $100 bike and go up from there.  Make a few returns until you find a bike that fits nicely into the price/benefits ratio you decide.  Return a bike if you can't get used to its gearing system.  There are many types.  The last you want to do is be one of those guys who buys a $1,000 bike and uses it for 3 days.

Have fun.  It is truly a more enjoyable way to travel!

Maigahane

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2014, 10:43:10 AM »
William- Judging from Meetup conversations you're in my city :) How bike friendly would you consider it overall? As a non-biker it's hard for me to judge.

My plan may end up not being needed, DH is thinking about taking only an online class next quarter so we can carpool again (his hours are flexible and he was only going in so early so he could get his 8 hours in before class). I do still want to get a bike though since I plan on moving in the next year or two close enough to bike every day. I'll see what Goodwill has to offer this weekend and if nothing comes out of that I may try William's WM idea.
The last you want to do is be one of those guys who buys a $1,000 bike and uses it for 3 days.
This is exactly what I'm trying to avoid. Same reason I have a $30 treadmill :) It's been well worth the $30 but I haven't used it enough to justify a $400 one

aidanpryde18

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2014, 10:55:01 AM »
Since you seem to be in a fairly flat area, do this for gearing.

Start with your chain on the middle ring up front and the biggest ring in the back. This is known as gear 2-1. As you ride, move the gear to the smaller rings in the back when it is too easy to pedal and to the bigger rings in the back when it is too hard to pedal. Try to avoid moving the front shifter as much as possible until you get comfortable with knowing when and where to shift the back. There are a lot more variables involved when you start using both shifters. Once shifting the rear becomes intuitive, then start using the front shifter to add more range to your gearing options.

Hope this helps.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #20 on: March 21, 2014, 11:50:58 AM »
My bike resume:  I bike everywhere in my city (only use car for out of town).  My daily commute is 19 miles on a $200 WalMart bike.  I was a bit overweight when I started but now I'm trim and fit.

You're not crazy getting back on a bike and starting at 12 miles a day.  Expect the first month to be painful when you dismount.  That will go away quickly.

Tips:

Biking on an empty stomach is a lot harder than with a snack.

Don't trust that anyone will stop at stop signs/lights.

Always lock up the bike.

Go with WalMart bikes.  Although not recommended on MMM, I'm saying this because WM has an easy return policy (no questions asked, 90-day).  Start with a $100 bike and go up from there.  Make a few returns until you find a bike that fits nicely into the price/benefits ratio you decide.  Return a bike if you can't get used to its gearing system.  There are many types.  The last you want to do is be one of those guys who buys a $1,000 bike and uses it for 3 days.

Have fun.  It is truly a more enjoyable way to travel!

Eh, department store bikes are garbage. At least the kids ones are. A good used bike will be in a similar price range and likely much better. Worst case you can "return" it by reselling :)

Snacking, not eating, but snacking is good advice. At first. Eventually your body gets MUCH better at pure fat burning. For me this was in month three and I actually prefer to bike on an empty stomach now and eat once the ride is done.

William

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #21 on: March 24, 2014, 01:10:18 PM »
William- Judging from Meetup conversations you're in my city :) How bike friendly would you consider it overall? As a non-biker it's hard for me to judge.

My plan may end up not being needed, DH is thinking about taking only an online class next quarter so we can carpool again (his hours are flexible and he was only going in so early so he could get his 8 hours in before class). I do still want to get a bike though since I plan on moving in the next year or two close enough to bike every day. I'll see what Goodwill has to offer this weekend and if nothing comes out of that I may try William's WM idea.
The last you want to do is be one of those guys who buys a $1,000 bike and uses it for 3 days.
This is exactly what I'm trying to avoid. Same reason I have a $30 treadmill :) It's been well worth the $30 but I haven't used it enough to justify a $400 one

I'm in Lincoln.  Omaha is hillier and I've never ridden extensively there.  When I worked at Offutt I had a friend who biked through the city 8 miles to get there.  There's one guy who's been biking to Offutt like 15 miles one-way for 20 years.  Look on Google maps to see the bike paths in the neighborhoods you frequent.

PM me/message me on Twitter if you want to know about Lincoln.  Far more I can say!

Maigahane

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #22 on: March 24, 2014, 02:14:29 PM »
So I did buy a bike yesterday...I think it's a Roadmaster. Found someone in town selling it for $30, so nothing amazing but I get to find out tonight if I can still ride a bike after 15 years :)

enigmaT120

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Re: Bicycle info for a complete noob
« Reply #23 on: March 25, 2014, 12:23:09 PM »
Cool.  Hope it fits well.  That was my problem starting out, was not knowing what size I needed.  Since my first recent bike was free, I made it work.