Author Topic: Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help  (Read 4680 times)

Vilgan

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Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help
« on: March 16, 2016, 04:33:50 PM »
Hi all,

One thing I've gotten really interested in lately is getting a bicycle and starting to use that to get around a lot more. The catch is that I haven't ridden a bicycle (other than a short test ride earlier this week) in ~17 years. I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing and would appreciate help from fellow Mustachians.

Some relevant details:

I live in Seattle which feels like neverending hills. I live on top of a hill next to a much larger hill (Beacon Hill for those familiar with the geography) that I'd need to climb when biking west. I expect my fitness to improve over time but biking up hills totally kicks my ass atm so something to make hills less painful would be great.

It rains a lot here, so being able to ride in the rain is key. I've noticed some bikes suck at braking in the rain too which seems bad.

My general goal is to ride to/from places for exercise and pleasure. My commute is 5 feet since I work from home, but every day its nice it makes me wish I had this bike thing figured out so I could go riding. It'd also be nice to use public trans + bicycle to significantly expand where I can go without a car in a timely fashion. I don't see myself doing the bike trailer thing: most things like that are walking distance and dragging a trailer up a hill sounds awful.

I'll be riding on pavement not trails/gravel/etc. More interested in a lighter (road?) bike than a mountain bike that can go offroad. I am more interested in hiking on trails than biking them.

Distance will probably be 3 to 15 miles at a time in most cases, but a long term goal would be to complete the Seattle to Portland ride which is 202 miles over 2 days.

Comfortable/enjoyable riding is more important than maximizing speed and minimizing air resistance. I've seen a lot of bikes that seem like you'd need to be hunched over to ride and I'm not sure how comfortable that is. I'm not terribly interested in racing and see bike riding as a health/pleasure/potentially social thing more than a competitive outlet so wouldn't want to accidentally buy a bike that was designed only with competitive speed biking in mind. Going fast is great, but not if a specific frame requires sacrificing comfort for a tiny edge in speed.

Price is somewhat flexible. I'd love to find the perfect bike for $500 but happy to spend 1k and could potentially spend $1500 if its really worth it. I've noticed in most things there's a price inflection point where you start spending lots of money for incremental benefit so would prefer to buy before that inflection point.

Am 6'3.5"

I'd really appreciate any guidance/advice/suggestions/etc. Some specific questions:

1) I think I want a road bike, does that seem correct? It definitely seemed easier than the mountain(ish) bike I test rode despite the fact that the bike shop recommended the heavier bike for "Seattle's bumpier roads"
2) Any bike recommendations/thoughts on bicycles? Things to think about? I've been reading "best bikes under x" articles on bikesmarts.com but not sure how applicable it is or how trustworthy the advice.
3) Is carbon fiber really all that? If its a giant jump, I'm fine with paying for a carbon fiber bike but if its a tiny improvement for a giant leap in price I'm less interested.
4) What should I know going into a bike store to buy a bicycle? I'm hesitant to go into a bike store and shell out 1k for a bike with my limited domain knowledge. Odds are that I'll be treated well and get good advice but without any knowledge of my own I'm completely in their hands. Also not sure if a LBS makes sense or an online vendor like Amazon or Nashbar.

Anyway, would appreciate guidance/advice/insight etc to help make a smart decision/purchase. Thanks in advance for any comments/advice!

FiveSigmas

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Re: Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2016, 12:03:39 AM »
Hey, Vilgan. I share a few of the same characteristics as you (fellow Seattle-ite, about the same height, similar sorts of bike commuting). I'm not a bike expert, but I'll throw in my two cents.

I've been really happy with my Trek 7.4 FX (http://www.greggscycles.com/product/trek-7.4-fx-211498-1.htm). It's a "hybrid", which means it's fairly light and has thinner tires than a MTB (which honestly probably matters more than the weight) and has straight handle-bars, which means a more upright position. Like a road bike, it also doesn't have shocks (which IMHO is a good thing if you're riding on pavement, as more of your energy goes towards forward motion). It also has a full complement of weld-ons for a rack, fenders, etc...

One small thing that I at first didn't like about recent Treks, but which I've since grown to like are the weird handle-bar grips. They're contoured to cover more of the fleshy bit of your palms. I find they make gripping the handles less tiring, and they more evenly distribute my weight.

Features my bike doesn't have:
  • Disc brakes: I'd actually consider these. I went with caliper brakes, as they were significantly cheaper, but I've heard a lot of people rave about discs. They provide better stopping power when wet, which is useful in a place like Seattle with rain and steep hills. I'd suggest stopping by your local bike shop and trying with/without to see if you like them.
  • Carbon frame: I've never been tempted -- just doesn't seem worth it to me. I actually view it as a liability, as it means you have to be more careful about over-torqueing if you do your own repairs. The 7.4 FX does have a carbon fork (apparently to dampen vibrations -- I don't notice it that much).
BTW: I'd go the LBS route, if for no other reason than to double-check sizing, etc... If you're looking at 15 miles or the 200 down to Portland, you definitely want your bike to fit right. FWIW, though, the 22.5" fits me pretty well.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2016, 06:52:45 AM »
From flat Chicago (wish we had your hills...they're great for training), I have a couple of points:

1.  Do NOT buy any bike without test riding it.  Take your time doing so (personally, I test ride around 30 minutes or so...)  If the bike shop won't let you take it out, or they only let you ride it in a parking lot , "fagetaboudit".
2.  Carbon is more for "high speed/long distance" (i.e. reduced weight), plus it's not repairable.
3.  I own two bikes.  A Specialized Secteur (for high speed/long distance.  It has drop bars is aluminum frame/carbon fork, which you do not seem to want), and a Specialized Sirrus (old 2004, "flat bar" aluminum frame road bike, more for errands/commuting.  I have added fenders to it.). 

In my opinion, one cannot go wrong with the Specialized Sirrus for your purposes.  They are very popular and I've never heard anyone have a complaint about the bike.  Of course, test ride first, if interested.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2016, 06:56:01 AM by frugaliknowit »

mareofnight

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Re: Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2016, 08:50:59 AM »
Consider starting with an inexpensive  ($100-200) craigslist bike so you can take your time getting a feel for it, then sell it for close to what you paid if you want something else. I still use my $100 Fuji Crosstown.

For rain, you'll want at least one of the wheels to have a disk brake. Add fenders if the bike doesn't come with them, so you don't get splashed by road water.

For hills, don't get a fixie - you need gears, probably 10 or more.

I find the leaning over position isn't too bad if it's not extreme and you're not wearing a backpack. It might be worth a try?

A comfort or "city" style frame sounds like what you want to get the upright riding position, but quality ones with disc brakes and gears can be hard to find. A mountain or mountain/road hybrid might also work. They're not necessarily much heavier than a comfort bike.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2016, 08:52:33 AM by mareofnight »

Eowynd

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Re: Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help
« Reply #4 on: March 17, 2016, 08:53:21 AM »
You should definitely try out some hybrid bikes.  I have a Trek hybrid bike that gets ridden on pavement/bumpy roads/grass/whatever.  It has the upright "comfortable" seating style which I really wanted when I bought the bike (found it on Craigslist for half the price of a new one!).  However, comfortable is in quotes because I discovered that it's only comfortable for me to ride a bike in an upright position if I am going slow.  The minute I want to go faster than ~8-10 mph, I start leaning forward.  Last fall, I used my Dad's road bike to train for and complete a sprint triathlon (12 mile bike distance).  I found that the hunched over style of a road bike is way more efficient for transportation.  It decreases wind resistance but more importantly it also puts you in a better position to engage your leg muscles.  Now I want a second bike...  But it all depends on your goals.

My general goal is to ride to/from places for exercise and pleasure. My commute is 5 feet since I work from home, but every day its nice it makes me wish I had this bike thing figured out so I could go riding. It'd also be nice to use public trans + bicycle to significantly expand where I can go without a car in a timely fashion. I don't see myself doing the bike trailer thing: most things like that are walking distance and dragging a trailer up a hill sounds awful.

If you are riding only for pleasure, I recommend a hybrid.  I still really like my hybrid bike.  If you are looking for efficient transportation (in a timely fashion) or exercise, I recommend a road bike.  In my experience, the hunched over position is really not as uncomfortable as it looks if you are focused on generating power from your legs.  YMMV

GuitarStv

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Re: Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help
« Reply #5 on: March 17, 2016, 10:01:01 AM »
Braking:
You don't need disk brakes to ride in the rain.  I regularly ride in the rain and snow with rim brakes (both center pull cantilever and V-brakes) and they stop just fine.  You will need slightly further stopping distance because the brakes need to brush the water off the rims for a revolution before they being braking properly.  Good brake pads (I'm partial to the salmon Kool Stop ones) are worth buying.


Fenders:
You need full length fenders for rainy riding, or for riding done just after a rain.  Without these, you'll constantly have water kicking up from your front wheel and soaking your feet (as well as blasting road crud up into your eyes and mouth).

There are little eyelets on the front fork (near the front wheel) and near the rear axle that make putting fenders on your bike very easy.  If your bike doesn't have these eyelets there are workarounds and specific types of fenders that you can buy.


Comfort:
Wider tires will offer a more comfortable ride because you can keep them at lower pressures.  They will also get flats less often.  They also feel a bit more sure-footed and are easier for a beginner to steer and corner on.  If you're primarily riding in the city, *don't get knobby tires* . . . you want a minimal or smooth tread which lets you go further with less effort.

A 28 or 32 mm tire is very comfortable for city riding.


Carbon Fiber:
You don't need carbon fiber.  It's expensive, it can be fiddly (overtightening bolts can crack it), it's a theft magnet.  The benefit of carbon fiber is that it can be aerodynamically shaped and made very light.


Drop vs flat bar bike:
Flat bar bikes use wider bars generally.  This means that your hands are wider apart, which means that you sit more upright with weight further back on the bike.  You catch more air and it will require more effort to go distances.  Your steering will be a little less responsive.

Drop bar bikes tend to put your weight very far forward, and have narrower handlebars.  You will adopt a forward lean that reduces the wind in front of you.  If you don't have a strong core, holding this position for long periods can lead to back, shoulder, and hand problems.  Steering is usually more responsive.

Hybrid bikes (like a lighter duty mountain bike) are a good option for commuting and general city riding if you like flat bars, touring bikes (like a more heavy duty road bike) are a good option for commuting and general city riding if you like drop bars.


Gearing:
If you live in a hilly area, it's a good idea to have a wide range of gearing.  It's a great idea to look for a bike with three chainrings at the front, and a range of 28-11 or 32-11 from the biggest to smallest gear at the back.  This way you can always select a gear easy enough to get up the hill, and hard enough to keep pedaling all the way down.

Vilgan

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Re: Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help
« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2016, 11:11:57 AM »
I haven't been down to check it out yet, but Bike Works Seattle has a shop where they sell refurbished bikes -- profits go toward their non-profit efforts to encourage more kids and youth to bike in Seattle.  Their website is messed up at the moment because everything points back to their annual fundraiser (which is in a few days), so I'll point you to the yelp page for more info:

http://www.yelp.com/biz/bike-works-seattle

They also offer classes on bike maintenance and repair, which are good skills to have. And they are in Columbia City, so quite close to you.

Another thing to keep in mind about dealing with the Seattle hills is that you always have the option of putting your bike on a Metro bus for the uphill portions.  You'd need to pay the bus fare, obviously, but it is still cheaper than driving/parking anywhere congested.

Bike Works is nearby and where I went to test ride what they had. Unfortunately, I wasn't a fan of what they had available for my height (a decent road bike that couldn't brake at all when wet and a really heavy/slow bike) so trying to figure more out before heading to a different LBS. The responses have been very helpful, thanks to everyone :)

GuitarStv

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Re: Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2016, 11:20:34 AM »
I haven't been down to check it out yet, but Bike Works Seattle has a shop where they sell refurbished bikes -- profits go toward their non-profit efforts to encourage more kids and youth to bike in Seattle.  Their website is messed up at the moment because everything points back to their annual fundraiser (which is in a few days), so I'll point you to the yelp page for more info:

http://www.yelp.com/biz/bike-works-seattle

They also offer classes on bike maintenance and repair, which are good skills to have. And they are in Columbia City, so quite close to you.

Another thing to keep in mind about dealing with the Seattle hills is that you always have the option of putting your bike on a Metro bus for the uphill portions.  You'd need to pay the bus fare, obviously, but it is still cheaper than driving/parking anywhere congested.

Bike Works is nearby and where I went to test ride what they had. Unfortunately, I wasn't a fan of what they had available for my height (a decent road bike that couldn't brake at all when wet and a really heavy/slow bike) so trying to figure more out before heading to a different LBS. The responses have been very helpful, thanks to everyone :)

Might be worth checking out that road bike again.  Good brake pads are cheap and can solve a lot of the wet weather problems you might have braking (unless the bike had really old school stainless steel rims . . . those things just refuse to slow down in the wet).

Another thought is that brake technique might be worth going over.  Your front brake is significantly more useful to slow the bike down than the rear brake, and because of the forward weight position on a road bike this becomes even more true than with more upright bikes.  If you're used to grabbing a handful of rear brake to slow down, you'll find that no road bike will stop quickly.

hyla

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Re: Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help
« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2016, 01:05:23 PM »
I'd really appreciate any guidance/advice/suggestions/etc. Some specific questions:

1) I think I want a road bike, does that seem correct? It definitely seemed easier than the mountain(ish) bike I test rode despite the fact that the bike shop recommended the heavier bike for "Seattle's bumpier roads"

I think there are a few types of bikes that would work for you:
1) a hybrid bike (the flatbar roadbike style, not the comfort hybrid style)(like the specialized sirrus another poster mentioned)
2) a less sporty dropbar bike, like a lower end cyclocross bike, touring bike, or older used road bike.  These bikes typically have more relaxed geometry (nice happy medium between comfy for commuting and aerodynamic enough for exercise rides) clearance for larger tires (which will help on bumpy roads) and eyelets to mount racks and fenders (essential if you are commuting.  do not buy a bike you cannot easily mount fenders to).  Conversely, dedicated modern road bikes are impractical for commuting - can't fit bigger tires, difficult to attach full fenders, and the geometry is good for aerodynamics but not good for comfort and keeping your head up in traffic.
3) a mountain bike with a rigid fork (no suspension) and the knobby tires swapped out for slick tires.

2) Any bike recommendations/thoughts on bicycles? Things to think about? I've been reading "best bikes under x" articles on bikesmarts.com but not sure how applicable it is or how trustworthy the advice.

Buy a bike locally (craigslist or local bike shop) so you can test ride it.  Fit is important, and something you can't determine from someone else's review. 

Since you are new to biking, I would suggest starting with a used bike off craigslist or from a bike recycle type shop.  Your bike preferences might change.  If you get a used bike and later decide you want a different type of bike, you can probably sell it for near what you paid.  I know you are tall, but Seattle is a big city with an active craigslist so you probably have a better chance of finding one to fit than most of us.  Or if you can't find something used a hybrid flatbar roadbike type might be a good new option because they are typically less expensive.

Disc brakes are nice for rain but not necessary.  If rim brakes seem weak, typically adjusting them or getting new brake pads (around $10, the salmon kool stop pads are extra good for rain) will improve things.  If you do get an older used bike, make sure the rims are aluminum, not steel (or factor in the cost of replacing the wheels).  Steel rims (found on some 1970s and 1980s  bikes) are rubbish for braking in the rain. 

Definitely buy fenders.  Full fenders, not those little clip on ones. 
 
3) Is carbon fiber really all that? If its a giant jump, I'm fine with paying for a carbon fiber bike but if its a tiny improvement for a giant leap in price I'm less interested.

Carbon is completely unnecessary for the type of riding you want to do.  Worth it for racers, not needed at all for commuting and relaxed exercise type bikes.  Heck, I even ride more aggressively with a local group and keep up on my steel framed bike. 

4) What should I know going into a bike store to buy a bicycle? I'm hesitant to go into a bike store and shell out 1k for a bike with my limited domain knowledge. Odds are that I'll be treated well and get good advice but without any knowledge of my own I'm completely in their hands.

Some bike shops tend to skew towards racing, and might try to sell you an aggressive road bike when you say you want a commuter.  If that happens, leave, and try to find a shop that has more of a commuting or touring focus.  Test ride the bike (ideally up and down hills, and for at least 20 minutes) and pay attention to comfort.  Don't buy from a shop that wont let you do a real test ride.  If a bike doesn't feel great right away, a good bike shop should adjust the seat and handlebars for you to get a better fit. 

Mother Fussbudget

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Re: Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2016, 01:24:39 PM »
I've had a couple of different bikes - a hybrid, road bike, 'muscle bike', and mountain bike.  Currently, I'm riding a Marin 29 mountain bike made for ING Direct (the on-line bank before they were bought by Capital One).  It has disc brakes, an aluminum frame, and works well - although I'm only 5'9".  I won the bike in an office raffle, and ride it fairly stock except I swapped out the very thin mountain bike tires with beefier street (hybrid) tires. 

I also recommend Bike Works in Columbia City is a great resource, and their inventory is always changing, so if you didn't find anything the first time, check again weekly until you find something.

May is 'bike everywhere month' for Seattle, and the Cascade Bicycle club headquartered at Magnesson Park offers lots of resources, information, clinics, etc for cyclists in May.  https://www.cascade.org/connect/bike-everywhere-month 
I make a point to ride over when they have their free 'dust off' clinic where bicycle clinicians look over your bike, check the gear linkage, etc.  Last year, they caught a disc brake problem that was a life saver.

(EDIT:  I'm assuming you've read MMM's blog post on this subject.)
« Last Edit: March 17, 2016, 02:54:05 PM by Mother Fussbudget »

SeattleStache

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Re: Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2016, 01:29:20 PM »
Already lots of good advice here but I'd also suggest going to 20/20 Cycle in the CD on Union and 21st. They only sell used bikes and will have multiple kinds for you to try out. Keep going back if you don't find something you like right away because their inventory is always changing. I find it to be a good middle ground between Craigslist and buying brand new. You get the support from a LBS without having to shell out for a brand new bike. I've always had a great experience with them both in bike buying and maintenance.

As far as hills go, they get smaller the more you bike up them :)

kendallf

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Re: Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2016, 01:54:50 PM »
Lots of good advice here, I will offer a couple of thoughts that I haven't seen covered:

If you eventually want to do long distance rides like the STP, having drop bars gives you multiple hand positions which is key IMO to keeping comfortable.  Flat bar bikes just don't let you change up your grip unless you add bar ends or even (shudder) aerobars.  You don't necessarily have to be hunched over with a drop bar bike; you can get a tall stem and/or put a few spacers under the stem.  Take a look at http://www.rivbike.com/ for retro-grouch bikes aimed at practical long distance riding.  I wouldn't necessarily buy one from them as a first bike, he just has some interesting thoughts on practicality vs. the popular "race style" bikes.

If you do look for a drop bar bike, consider looking for a disc brake cross (or now, gravel) bike.  This is basically just a road bike that will take fatter tires, often has a slightly more upright riding position, and will let you ride some light off-road stuff in addition to pavement.  All good things for what you're after, I think. 

Finally you can get a good price reference point for new bikes by looking at www.bikesdirect.com.  I would try to buy low end and local since you have almost no experience currently.  Get somebody to help size and fit the bike, work through the inevitable adjustment and acclimation period; then when you've been riding a bit you can consider selling that and moving up if you're enthusiastic.

Vilgan

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Re: Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help
« Reply #12 on: March 17, 2016, 04:03:37 PM »
I got back from the LBS, test rode the two bikes they recommended: The Kona Rove AL 2016 and the Specialized Diverge 2015, both $900. Both have disc brakes and seem like a mix of "can go long distances, but good multipurpose". I liked both, the Diverge pedaling motion felt slightly better but the Kona was a bit more comfortable. Holding the lowest part of the bars on the Diverge was really uncomfortable whereas I was fine w/ all 3 positions on the Kona. Shifting seemed nicer on the Kona. I don't really feel like I know enough to definitively pick between them though so going to go back later and ride more. I really liked the store and the people and wouldn't mind paying a bit more to support them if necessary.

Also tried to look for stuff on Craigslist, but I'm not seeing much that seems applicable for a 61cm frame which is what the online calculators suggest and what felt right when riding from the LBS (they also recommended 61cm). Seems like a ton of cheap mountain bikes and a few nicer bikes that aren't tall enough. Should I be searching differently somehow? I'm currently typing bicycle 61cm into craigslist and not seeing much in Seattle. Recent burst of sun might also mean that Craigslist is more cleared out than usual. I'll keep watching though, because I'd be perfectly fine w/ paying less.

Tester

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Re: Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help
« Reply #13 on: March 17, 2016, 04:17:27 PM »
My experience:
Last year I moved to Seattle.
I did not have a bike for the last 10 years.
I went to a bike store, told them I want to get a bike which is not too expensive in the case I don't get back to liking to ride.
I got a Raleigh Cadent 1 - and I like it.
Last year I rode around 600 km on it, still like it.
For your distances - you said 15 miles max, I think it will be a good fit.
It has enough gears to get you over hills.
It has a easy position.
Only "problem" - it has a flat bar, but again for the distances you said will ride this is not a problem.
And I liked the fact that it was only 480 USD including a helmet (or without the helmet, I can't remember exactly).
I still did not get fenders on it, but I am lazy and use the bus to get to work when it rains :).
I will see if I have to toughen it up this year.


JJsfr

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Re: Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2016, 04:21:39 PM »
I got back from the LBS, test rode the two bikes they recommended: The Kona Rove AL 2016 and the Specialized Diverge 2015, both $900. Both have disc brakes and seem like a mix of "can go long distances, but good multipurpose". I liked both, the Diverge pedaling motion felt slightly better but the Kona was a bit more comfortable. Holding the lowest part of the bars on the Diverge was really uncomfortable whereas I was fine w/ all 3 positions on the Kona. Shifting seemed nicer on the Kona. I don't really feel like I know enough to definitively pick between them though so going to go back later and ride more. I really liked the store and the people and wouldn't mind paying a bit more to support them if necessary.

Also tried to look for stuff on Craigslist, but I'm not seeing much that seems applicable for a 61cm frame which is what the online calculators suggest and what felt right when riding from the LBS (they also recommended 61cm). Seems like a ton of cheap mountain bikes and a few nicer bikes that aren't tall enough. Should I be searching differently somehow? I'm currently typing bicycle 61cm into craigslist and not seeing much in Seattle. Recent burst of sun might also mean that Craigslist is more cleared out than usual. I'll keep watching though, because I'd be perfectly fine w/ paying less.

Those are pretty expensive bikes to start a hobby you may not even like yet. I'd recommend keeping an eye out on craigslist for a while. As far as frame sizes go, you can expand your search to 60cm and 62cm. These are "top tube" measurements. You'll probably want to find out what the effective top tube measurements are, because they may not always match up with the nominal top tube values. If a bike is slightly too big/too small, it can usually be addressed with a shorter stem. You don't want to be looking at 56 or 65 cm frames. Of course, this frame fit is much more important for your 200 mi ride than your 3-15 mi ride.

Another option is finding a similar bike at REI and dating that one for a while. They'll take it back if you decide you don't like it after a while, whether it's the size, style, or hobby.

Also, just make sure that starting out you have three gears in the front as some others have mentioned. They'll help you get up the hills much easier than a compact double for just starting out.

Vilgan

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Re: Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2016, 04:39:05 PM »
Those are pretty expensive bikes to start a hobby you may not even like yet. I'd recommend keeping an eye out on craigslist for a while. As far as frame sizes go, you can expand your search to 60cm and 62cm. These are "top tube" measurements. You'll probably want to find out what the effective top tube measurements are, because they may not always match up with the nominal top tube values. If a bike is slightly too big/too small, it can usually be addressed with a shorter stem. You don't want to be looking at 56 or 65 cm frames. Of course, this frame fit is much more important for your 200 mi ride than your 3-15 mi ride.

Another option is finding a similar bike at REI and dating that one for a while. They'll take it back if you decide you don't like it after a while, whether it's the size, style, or hobby.

Also, just make sure that starting out you have three gears in the front as some others have mentioned. They'll help you get up the hills much easier than a compact double for just starting out.

Very good points, especially not sure if I'll like the hobby since commuting isn't relevant and that's a lot of money if it ends up being an aspirational interest rather than a real one. Expanding to 60cm added some craigslist hits as well.
« Last Edit: March 17, 2016, 08:23:23 PM by Vilgan »

robartsd

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Re: Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2016, 04:54:40 PM »
As you value comfort over speed, you're more likely to be best served by a hybrid bike than a road bike. Of course since you think a 200+ mile ride may be in your future, eventually you'll probably be looking more at a touring style bike. I'd try to find a local bike shop that is more geared towards cycling as transportation/lifestyle rather than cycling as sport/recreation. I've heard good things about G&O Family Cyclery. Unfortunately they were damaged in a recent natural gas explosion, so they might not be ready to serve you as a customer at the moment.

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Re: Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help
« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2016, 06:08:51 AM »
I find my road bike to be much more comfortable than my hybrid personally, so YMMV on that.  Given enough time, you'll get most comfortable on whatever bike you select.

merlin7676

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Re: Bikeless in Seattle - N00b needs help
« Reply #18 on: March 18, 2016, 08:54:43 AM »
Another Seattlite chipping in here.  I recently got rid of my car and use the bus now.  While it does take time (commute by bus from West Seattle to Redmond and back everyday) it's a fairly efficient system. 
Do you want a bike because you think you need it to get around or because you want one to get around?
If it's a need to get around, consider metro since like you said, the hills here are brutal.