Author Topic: Buying a Bike  (Read 4396 times)

Stochastic

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Buying a Bike
« on: May 31, 2015, 07:26:46 AM »
Hi all,

Reading MMM has inspired me to begin using a bike to commute to work and shop for groceries on the days when I don't use public transportation.  I've been looking for good used bikes in my area via Craigslist, but I'm at a bit of a loss as to how to spot a good deal given that I have almost no knowledge of the bike market.  I read through this post (http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/2012/01/buying-bikes-from-craigslist.html) to educate myself on the basics, but I would still prefer to have experienced bike riders offer specific purchasing advice.

I currently live in Chapel Hill, NC, a small college town close to Raleigh and Durham.  I will primarily use my bike on well paved public roads, but I would like the option to ride on trails from time to time.  I would also prefer a bike that accommodates racks to store groceries.

I found this listing which seems promising: http://raleigh.craigslist.org/bik/5050379074.html

The bike seems to be in top working order, and the owner has upgraded/replaced quite a few components.  I have no idea if $250 is a fair price.  A new Trek 820 retails for $370.  Also, I don't know if a mountain bike like this is suitable for daily commuting on public roads.

The Sweethome recommends the Trek 7.2 FX: http://thesweethome.com/reviews/best-hybrid-commuter-bike/  At $490 it's a little pricier than I would like, but I don't mind spending more for something that I'll be using on an almost daily basis for potentially a decade.  Thoughts?

Are there any other bikes you might recommend that offer a good value?  And where is the best place to purchase accessories such as helmets and bike racks?  Nashbar?

My sincere thanks for your help and recommendations!
« Last Edit: May 31, 2015, 07:38:36 AM by Stochastic »

vhalros

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Re: Buying a Bike
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2015, 08:16:57 AM »
The mountain bike is an ok deal for that price, but I would find it sort of aggravating to ride for commuting around on paved roads and trails. I think the Trek FX 7.2 is a better choice, unless the trails you want to ride on are really rough (the FX would be fine for smooth dirt trails).

Other bikes that are similar at roughly the same price point would be things in the Giant Escape series, and the Specialized Sirrus.

For helmet's I'd recommend buying locally so you can try them on. Different people have differently shaped heads, so it is hard to say what brand will fit you best.

For most other things, buying on-line is the way to go. Amazon often has good prices, particularly if you have the time to use camelcamelcamel.com. But the nice thing about doing it on-line is that it is easy to shop around.

What is the distance from your home to your place of work?
« Last Edit: May 31, 2015, 08:59:39 AM by vhalros »

Stochastic

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Re: Buying a Bike
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2015, 09:28:20 AM »

What is the distance from your home to your place of work?

Thanks for the advice.  According to Google Maps, there's a 3.6 mile route I can take which is estimated to take 25 minutes (w/traffic it'll probably be more like 30 minutes).  Odds are I will be living elsewhere next year, however, so I'd like a bike that is suitable for regular 10-mile trips.

vhalros

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Re: Buying a Bike
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2015, 09:50:19 AM »
For 3.6 miles you might not feel a huge difference between those two in terms of fatigue, but it would be noticeable at 10. Might want to stick some bar ends on the FX for 10 mile trips, but that is something you can figure out later.

FrugalFairy

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Re: Buying a Bike
« Reply #4 on: May 31, 2015, 09:58:37 AM »
Hi Stochastic,
I just want to say you are awesome for starting out being a cycler!  I just started using mine for errands.  I love it and had to force myself to take a day off to rest instead of riding everyday.  I read that is the best way to build fitness, because your muscles need time to rebuild.  I just bought a helmet off rei.com the outlet store and it came to $20 including tax (going to pick up in store).  I thought about going there to check out the different ones in the store, but when I called they said they started at $45.  So if your trying to cut corners like me you can try that.  If you don't like it when you go to pick it up just get your money back.  You can measure your head first to see what will fit.  Just an idea you may not care about springing for more, but it seemed like a good deal.

Rubic

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Re: Buying a Bike
« Reply #5 on: May 31, 2015, 10:16:47 AM »
The bike appears to be in good condition, but the seller is a bit optimistic about how much he should price it.  I would offer $200, then maybe accept $225 if you really like the bike.

Since you're buying a mountain bike for urban commuting:

  • Have the seller lock down the front shocks so you won't be bouncing on your commute.
  • Replace the knobby tires with city slicks, about $10 each from Nashbar.  If you don't know how do to this, contact someone in your local cycling community to assist.  I've done this for many people in the past.  (Anything to encourage people to ride a bike!)

Bon route!

HenryDavid

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Re: Buying a Bike
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2015, 11:33:51 AM »
The Craigslist bike is a fine bike. You don't need shocks though. they just squoosh up and down pointlessly and waste energy, unless you're on a rocky, rooty trail in the woods.

If you decide to buy a new Trek or equivalent, ask for a deal on helmet and racks. Then you can try on the helmet, which is key.

Buying from a real bike shop means you will get free tuneups for some period of time, and the bike will be professionally assembled.
Bikes from sports chains and department stores are assembled by . . . who knows? Sometimes competent people, sometimes not.
Aslo, the real bike shop will give you advice on fit and so forth.

Take your time if you decide to get a new bike. It will last for decades, as you say, will be fin, and will save you one point eight gazillion dollars.

Stochastic

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Re: Buying a Bike
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2015, 12:02:04 PM »
Thanks for the help everyone! 

@FrugalFairy

I currently run 2-3 days a week and also do regular gym workouts, so I think from a fitness standpoint I'll be okay.  Some of the steep hills in my area might be challenging, but they should just improve my squatting strength. :) One huge benefit of cycling for daily transportation is that I won't have to spend extra time working out!  I will definitely check out the REI helmet--thanks for the tip!

@ Rubic

I think I will offer $200.  If the seller isn't willing to settle for that price, I might be better off just biting the bullet and spending more for a good hybrid bike.  I don't think I'll ride on trails very often, and I'm not planning on traversing particularly rugged terrain. 

@ HenryDavid

You make a compelling case for buying new.  Certainly if I can find a good bike shop that offers free or discounted tuning/fitting/maintenance then it seems like buying new is the way to go. 

Does anyone have any thoughts on Nashbar bikes?  Such as this one: http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_555436_-1___204734

What about this best selling Schwinn on Amazon? http://www.amazon.com/Schwinn-Network-Hybrid-Bicycle-18-Inch/dp/B00AWNHYWW/ref=lp_1265459011_1_1?s=outdoor-recreation&ie=UTF8&qid=1433086163&sr=1-1

zolotiyeruki

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Re: Buying a Bike
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2015, 12:38:36 PM »
Last fall I went on a bike ride with my sister on a Trek 7.2 FX.  I was totally out of shape, but the bike was awesome.  I highly recommend it.  My sister (who lives in the DC area) says that $250 is about the maximum she would pay for a used 7.2 FX.  Patience is key.

My ride to work is exactly the same as yours--3.6 miles, mostly flat.  I've tried it on about 5 different bikes over the last couple years, and what I've found is that having a bike that fits is probably the biggest factor.  If your bike fits you and it's mechanically good, the actual brand or model of the bike is less important.

ivyhedge

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Re: Buying a Bike
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2015, 01:04:39 PM »
Hi all,

Reading MMM has inspired me to begin using a bike to commute to work and shop for groceries on the days when I don't use public transportation. 
Nice.


The tires and the low end fork on that unit will waste energy and impair maneuverability. Also, the flashy badges make it painfully conspicuous given that bike theft tends to be high near colleges.


Ride a few bikes to get a feel for weight, style, handling, and riding geometry. You might be best served by a lithe single speed with great brakes and comfortable geometry (like a KHS Urban Soul), instead of a re purposed low end mountain bike with heavy components. Don't rush the decision, but don't delay too long: there is lots of riding to be done!

bobechs

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Re: Buying a Bike
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2015, 03:17:30 PM »
Don't discard the idea of buying a bike new.  While industry statistics for the last few years show that the average mass marketer channel adult sized bike sold new for less than a hundred dollars, the median price of a bike shop cycle was about seven hundred fifty dollars.

There is room between those two numbers, and just as a suggestion you might look at the offerings at bikeisland.com and bikesdirect.com to find that space.  I'm not going to get into a debate here (it's an endless one) about the advisability of buying a bike online vs.  at a local bike shop or any other place --on engineering, economic, moral, nationalistic or any other grounds.  It's anyone's choice, either way.

The mountain bike became the default normal person's ride only because of the relentless unsuitabilty of the other styles of the time--the mushroomhead &lycra crowd's road bikes were the worst commuters possible- (except maybe the Stingray chopper style, and I'm not even conceding that) due to simple ergonomics.  Ascending from that nadir the fixie, fixie-like single speed, beach cruiser, dutch bike and multispeed urban hybrid trace the path to sanity in bike commuting.

But because the least suitable for today's riding bikes sold in largest numbers over the last generation (and were least consistently used even then) they represent the largest proportion of unwanted bikes now up for sale.