Author Topic: Bike recommendations  (Read 8677 times)

Thegoblinchief

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Bike recommendations
« on: January 06, 2014, 07:50:34 AM »
My wife wants to get me a new bike for my 30th birthday this year. To date I've been riding a 14 year old Schwinn Mesa MTB. I think I will likely keep this around for the salt/snow season but would like a faster and/or better ride for the 7 months of decent weather we get in WI. My goal is to train for endurance riding once frostbite weather is past.

I'm not sure how I'd get on with drop bars, since I have had some back problems and frequently ride with a heavy backpack, so I'm guessing a hybrid/touring bike is what I'm looking for. My brother-in-law, a former triathlete, is pushing me towards cyclocross, but all of those tend to have dropbars. Maybe I'd be okay?

Would appreciate some brand/model recommendations to look for, either on the used or new market. Nearest bike shop to my house is a big Trek dealer. Used market in my area is predominately MTBs and road bikes with very thin tires.

This model (drop bar excepted) looks interesting: http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_553817_-1___203559

Realistic budget is under $1,000

Side note: anyone here have experience with belt-driven bikes? I've seen those recommended for winter riding since they're much lower maintenance.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2014, 08:04:39 AM by Thegoblinchief »

the fixer

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #1 on: January 06, 2014, 11:02:46 AM »
How far is your typical bike ride? I'm going to answer assuming it's less than 10 miles each way, since you're riding a MTB to do it now. BTW I used to have a Mesa too, I still miss it sometimes.

A basic hybrid bike will work fine, such as the Verve 3. http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/town/recreation/verve_hybrid/verve_3/ Biggest problem with this bike is the suspension seatpost, a cheap fix.
If you ride frequently, you will notice an improvement with one of the slightly nicer models like the 7.3 FX. http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/town/fitness/fx/7_3_fx/

You will save lots of money if you can find a similar bike used. If your order online, make sure you know what you're doing to assemble the bike. The most important and complex parts of assembling a bike are setting up the front brake and loosening the hubs, so if you don't know how to do these yourself you'll need to take it to a shop and they charge a lot for the service of assembling a brought-in bike.

the fixer

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #2 on: January 06, 2014, 11:10:46 AM »
Forgot to mention about belt-driven bikes: I have not personally used these but I've followed their development carefully, since I think they have potential to be an excellent option for the casual rider. No more chain to lube, and no more grease stains on your leg/pants! Their biggest disadvantage is gearing. A belt drive cannot tolerate any angle in its run, necessitating their use with single-speed or internally geared hub bikes. IGHs have their own interesting advantages and disadvantages. The pluses are easy shifting, lower maintenance, and you can change gears while stopped. The minuses are a lower gearing range than you get with a derailleur-shifted system, somewhat increased weight, and increased cost especially for the ones with more speeds.

Russ

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #3 on: January 06, 2014, 11:16:54 AM »
Side note: anyone here have experience with belt-driven bikes? I've seen those recommended for winter riding since they're much lower maintenance.

maaaybe lower maintenance but probably not (I mean how hard is lubing the chain every now and then?), and IMO a lot harder to work on if anything happens to break or wear out. I also wouldn't trust an internally geared hub at the temps you're riding in, but that's just speculation, I've never actually heard from anybody who has used one that cold.

drop bars don't have to be set up super low like on racing bikes. If you can find something like a touring or possibly the right entry-level road model, the top of the drop bars should be about the same height as a quick hybrid, while still offering all the extra hand positions which are very nice.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #4 on: January 06, 2014, 11:35:17 AM »
Thanks for the advice so far!

I also wouldn't trust an internally geared hub at the temps you're riding in, but that's just speculation, I've never actually heard from anybody who has used one that cold.

Russ, I'd never heard about belt-drives with IGHs until reading a winter biking guide for the Boston area. Boston's not QUITE as cold, but it's close enough I imagine they'd work fine. That said, obviously I'm just speculating too ;)

How far is your typical bike ride? I'm going to answer assuming it's less than 10 miles each way, since you're riding a MTB to do it now. BTW I used to have a Mesa too, I still miss it sometimes.

The Mesa's honestly in good condition, it just needs some adjustment that I need to learn how to do or have a shop take care of, but am hoping to get something with less rolling resistance but my routes are way too potholed and rough to go to a thin-tire road bike. My commute is 9 mi each way, but I do training rides at 20-25miles, working up to a half-century this year. Would eventually like to do full centuries, not sure if I'll get there this year or next year.

captainawesome

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2014, 11:57:13 AM »
I just picked up a Specialized Sirrus last week (off craigslist!) and rode it to work for the first time today.  I went with it because it got some good reviews, got it for a good price, and allows me the option to ride with a backpack.  Seems like a well put together bike, but I have had suggestions to maybe switch out the pedals for clip in or clipless since my ride is about 10 miles each way, but YMMV.  I could probably do 20 miles on the bike in one shot, but I'd probably want a more road oriented bike if my goal was cycling for fitness, as opposed to getting me from A to B.

 

bikerider81

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #6 on: January 06, 2014, 11:58:17 AM »
Check out bikes designed for cyclocross or touring. (I like Surly) They make excellent commuters, but depending on model/components will transition well to your weekly training rides and century. All will have drop bars, but I used to commute on an old mountain bike, and transitioned to drop bars a few years ago, and if the bike fits you properly you shouldn't experience any neck/back pain. With a budget of $1000 I would either A. Check out  sales at Local Shops of older models--2012 bikes that have been sitting for a bit (this is a great time of year to do that) B. Buy used or C. Buy online if you feel confident about fit. But don't abuse your local shop by using their sales people to fit you, educate you, and not buy from them. Be kind, and be smart. That being said, many communities have community based bike shops where you can learn wrenching though volunteering. Never hurts to be able to do at least the basics on your own.


the fixer

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #7 on: January 06, 2014, 01:21:55 PM »
If you want to do long rides like half-centuries and centuries you want a road or touring bike with drop bars. The bars let you change hand grip positions and help keep your arms and wrists from aching after a while. Clipless pedals also help a ton at those distances. Proper frame geometry, saddle position, and stem length / height will be extremely important. If you're unfamiliar with bike fit, here's a good place to start http://www.peterwhitecycles.com/fitting.htm (also read about contrarian fitting philosophies like the handlebars blocking the front hub)

Unfortunately these recommendations run counter to some of your other desires. You can ride with a backpack on drop bars, but it will be uncomfortable over long distances. A better strategy is a rack and panniers.

FWIW, I think the longest ride I ever did on my mountain bike was about 35 miles, at the time it was the only bike I had. Doing a 50-mile ride on a basic hybrid would be pretty badass in my book.

Sydneystache

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #8 on: January 06, 2014, 01:47:49 PM »
As others have written, get a used hybrid, flat bar road/commuter bike possibly with a rear rack for your panniers. Best brands are Giant (Toyotas of the bike world), and also Trek, Specialized, Cannondale, etc. also Tern, Dahon and Brompton for folders.

I have two bikes with IGH, one 7 speed, the other 8 speed both Nexus. My next bike (n + 1 :) will probably be a BMC (Swiss - go Cadel!) IGH with 11-speed or 14-speed with a Gates belt drive. Rohloff does the 14-speed hub, while Shimano Alfine does the 8 and 11 speed. I like the maintenance of IGH and I want a belt drive so don't have to deal with chains anymore. If you can get any IGH used under 1k then you are doing well but get the Alfine rather than the Nexus. A $1k bike budget is good enough. You will get a great bike for a used one at that price range.

Russ

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2014, 01:53:11 PM »
Russ, I'd never heard about belt-drives with IGHs until reading a winter biking guide for the Boston area. Boston's not QUITE as cold, but it's close enough I imagine they'd work fine. That said, obviously I'm just speculating too ;)

Oh, well there you go! Probably good then.

FWIW I really like my over-the-shoulder messenger bag for carrying stuff by bike. Even done a few 100+ mile rides with it. It's much more flexible than panniers would be, so I can throw big awkward things in there no problem. Plus it keeps my back warm in the winter.

fodder69

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2014, 02:01:51 PM »
Second the cyclocross or touring bike. A good cyclocross bike can be a very good road bike and way superior in bad conditions. They are harder to find used though. The nashbar bike linked to is a really solid bike (good components, will be a little heavier) as is the cheaper $549 dollar one (aluminum frame but heavier components). Sign up for their mailing list (or look online) and they send out a lot of coupons (code 23947 gets free shipping today, $39 on a bike). They have 20% coupons a lot too which works out really nice!

Also second the messenger bag recommendation. They can carry the weight lower on your back which reduces the pressure. But really even with back issues I don't think drop bars would be a roblem since you are not going to ride them in full low down race position.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2014, 03:29:46 PM »
The reviews on that Nashbar bike looks really good, glad to get a second opinion here. I got a bike rack for Christmas, just haven't taken the time to install it yet. Will have to get panniers for it, only came with a really small lunchbag sized one for the top.

That Peter White article is really neat. Bookmarking it for future reference :)

yyc-phil

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2014, 05:17:26 PM »
If your current bike is still in relatively good condition, I would personally keep it, perhaps upgrade a few components but probably not. A new shiny and expensive bike will not make you a better biker, unless you are into competitive cycling and high-tech components give you that split-second edge over the rest of the pack. Instead of spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars for a new bike, I would do a complete DIY tune-up or have it done by your LBS, and invest in proper commuting accessories like paniers or baskets, lights, fenders, better tires, etc. I moved back to Yellowknife a few months ago after being away from there for 5 years, and got myself a used Trek MTB for $100, equipped it with used fenders and a front basket that I got for free at my community bike shop, got myself rechargeable USB lights and proper winter apparel, and I've been using it for my commute and to run errands in temperature as low as -45 which is the norm at this time of the year.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #13 on: January 06, 2014, 06:29:02 PM »
A truly Mustachian answer ykphil!

While I want to do endurance biking, it would solely be me against myself (and maybe my DW if I can coax her into it). Races are spendy and really just for vanity, anyways.

Russ

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #14 on: January 06, 2014, 06:37:58 PM »
Races are spendy and really just for vanity, anyways.

zing!

fodder69

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2014, 07:27:19 AM »
Races are spendy and really just for vanity, anyways.

Hey, I resent that! I look really good bike shorts...alright, maybe you have a point :-)

If your current bike is still in relatively good condition, I would personally keep it, perhaps upgrade a few components but probably not. A new shiny and expensive bike will not make you a better biker

I would actually somewhat recommend this for most people, but doing a ride over 10 miles on the road on a mountain bike is fairly tortuous. You can get slick tires which will help, but for longer rides, a more appropriate bike WILL make you considerably faster.

And getting the feel of racing or endurance rides doesn't have to be spendy. There are almost always weekly group rides in any area for a variety of paces and skill levels. Ask around at local bike shops, etc. and you can find a fun event, get some advice, push yourself a little harder and meet new people without spending a dime.

Meant to mention, Nashbar has a 25% Off any Single Item sale today, Wednesday 1/8/14. Use code 42875

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2014, 10:26:19 AM »
I would actually somewhat recommend this for most people, but doing a ride over 10 miles on the road on a mountain bike is fairly tortuous. You can get slick tires which will help, but for longer rides, a more appropriate bike WILL make you considerably faster.


*shrugs* The tail ends of rides hurt but that's because I'm cheap and haven't yet gotten bike shorts/underwear but 25 miles is definitely doable. My limitation has been this damn weather.

Quote
And getting the feel of racing or endurance rides doesn't have to be spendy. There are almost always weekly group rides in any area for a variety of paces and skill levels. Ask around at local bike shops, etc. and you can find a fun event, get some advice, push yourself a little harder and meet new people without spending a dime.

Not a super social person but I'll have to look and see if there's anything that fits with my weird stay-at-home with kids and work weekends schedule.

TrMama

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2014, 11:38:46 AM »
If you're not sure about getting a hybrid vs road bike, go to the Trek store and test ride a bunch of different bikes. IME I either love or hate any given bike within a couple minutes of riding. Then you can go ahead and look for the type of bike you decide you like used.

I also really like my messenger bag for commuting. I prefer carrying the weight on my hips (do up the waist belt!) and it's smaller, so I'm not tempted to overload myself.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2014, 02:31:52 PM »
Found a nice deal outside of my area, drove a ways, only to have the seller flake out on me. Wasted a bunch of gas. (Yeah, I know I shouldn't have driven so far for a CL ad. Lesson learned.)

Frustrated so far with local CL. It's all cheapy bikes or super high-end.

Sorry to bitch here, just felt like venting a tad. Deciding what my time is worth to keep looking for the "right" bike versus just buying it new...

Undecided

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #19 on: January 10, 2014, 02:58:02 PM »
A truly Mustachian answer ykphil!

While I want to do endurance biking, it would solely be me against myself (and maybe my DW if I can coax her into it). Races are spendy and really just for vanity, anyways.

Please explain the vanity aspect.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #20 on: January 10, 2014, 03:49:19 PM »
Racing costs money. A lot of money just to participate. The "get" out of it is that you participated (maybe won?). Sure, I know some people thrive off competition, but I don't.

The major endurance races look really cool, but why pay $$$ when you can construct your own challenges? If competition is what you're after, joining/starting a club for free is a much better outlet. Once I get more serious, I may find or start one, but right now I'm happy being a lone wolf training against my own mind.

Undecided

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2014, 04:39:40 PM »
Racing costs money. A lot of money just to participate. The "get" out of it is that you participated (maybe won?). Sure, I know some people thrive off competition, but I don't.

The major endurance races look really cool, but why pay $$$ when you can construct your own challenges? If competition is what you're after, joining/starting a club for free is a much better outlet. Once I get more serious, I may find or start one, but right now I'm happy being a lone wolf training against my own mind.

My race fees are paid for me, so I confess I don't really think about that aspect of it, but in any case I don't see how what you've said reflects vanity any more than it's vain to play basketball rather than just shoot hoops alone. Bike racing, especially on the track and traditional mass-start road racing (I'm not experienced in "major endurance races," if you mean things like RAAM) is very different than riding alone, strategically, physically and emotionally. I asked about your vanity comment because I think most (road and track) racers would actually say that bike racing is very humbling, so I found the idea that it demonstrated vanity surprising. Anyway, I'm sure there's a fairly complex web of reasons as to why I enjoy racing bikes, but that I enjoy it is mostly all I need to know (and I've raced from juniors up to (young!) masters, so I'm pretty sure it's not just a passing interest for me). I'm not a hugely social person myself, but I've had a ton of fantastic friendships and experiences from racing bikes. It's certainly not something that I feel like "everyone should try" (although I'd probably also say "why not try it?" to anyone who was at all interested), but it also seems odd to me that someone who isn't familiar with it would be judgmental about it. 

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #22 on: January 10, 2014, 08:02:39 PM »
Fair points, Undecided :)

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2014, 05:02:31 PM »
Thanks for the Trek FX series recommendation. Ended up finding a really nice condition Trek FX 7500 (2004) for $250. Huge improvement over my current ride. Excited for my next long ride now!

Even after driving 45 minutes to get it, it still cost under $300.

Guardian

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #24 on: March 07, 2014, 02:14:10 PM »
GoblinChief -

Wanted to ask for a follow up nearly 2 months later. How's the new(er) Trek holding up for you?

Best wishes.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Bike recommendations
« Reply #25 on: March 07, 2014, 02:30:31 PM »
It's awesome. The rear shift cable occasionally balks when it thaws and refreezes, but I'm actually impressed with how much grip the bike has in bad conditions. And when the roads are dry, it's quite good :)