Author Topic: Buying a bike: San Francisco  (Read 2203 times)

wealthviahealth

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Buying a bike: San Francisco
« on: July 23, 2015, 08:20:13 AM »
First few days here in SF are off to a great start however not having a car to quickly get somewhere certainly does take some getting used to.

I live in an area where I can bike to work ( about 20 mins) as well as a lot of other great areas that I will be visiting frequently.
When it comes to purchases such as a bike, my motto is usually do it once and do it right, as opposed to buying several sub par products. That being said, I have heard that bike theft is incredibly common in this city so I have a bit of anxiety over dropping
$1k on something that can get stollen or stripped down.

Any advice on what type of bike/ an appropriate price range? Or would I be best off getting a "beater" at first and not having to worry as much about the possibility of it getting jacked when I turn my back?


mskyle

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Re: Buying a bike: San Francisco
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2015, 08:56:55 AM »
Where will you be storing the bike at work and at home? That's where your bike is spending most of its time and is most vulnerable to theft. Your bike is much more likely to be jacked when it's locked to a street sign overnight than it is while you're running into the grocery store or something.

Don't spend $1000 on a bike - spend more like $500. That's "doing it right." Get a good lock - small u-lock with cable at a minimum - and use it correctly. Get a seat lock as well (and don't invest in a super-nice seat), and don't use quick-release anything. Keep all your serial numbers and register them.

There is a really wide range between "beater" and $1000 bike. And "beaters" get stolen all the time, which doesn't necessarily cost you a lot of money (unless you just got it tuned up/got new tires/etc.) but does cost you time and effort.

Even in San Francisco, you don't have to have the most well-secured bike possible, you just have to have a bike that's better-secured than the other ones on your block.

What bike you get comes down to personal preference and comfort - for 20 minute rides you can ride almost anything (I alternate between a 55-pound steel behemoth with a basket and internal gears and a boring TrekFX 7.3 city hybrid).

zoltani

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Re: Buying a bike: San Francisco
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2015, 11:40:30 AM »
You may want to consider what else you will use this bike for. When I lived in SF i got a bike for the city but quickly learned I liked bike camping. Luckily the bike I bought had eyelets for a rack and gearing to be able to handle a load. There is a lot of good road riding up north in marin and down south on the coast mountains. Some of the most amazing routes I have ever cycled were in the area.

Theft is BAD in SF so be sure to lock it very securely. I agree with the no quick release on anything. In SF I had special skewers on my wheels that needed a special tool so they wouldn't get jacked. BUT I forgot to replace the quick release on my seat, so of course it was stolen. That was a shitty ride home from the bar!

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Buying a bike: San Francisco
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2015, 02:59:07 PM »
Yea I definitely wouldn't buy an expensive bike in this city.  I moved here 2 years ago and am on my 3rd bike.  First one got stolen (someone broke into the outer gate of our apartment building to get to the stairwell area, and then cut the lock that was holding the bike to the stairwell railing).  Second bike got damaged in an accident.

If I were to get another bike, I'd either get the same one I have now:

http://www.amazon.com/Vilano-Edge-Fixed-Single-Speed/dp/B00DY0Q6D8

or if I was tired of the fixie, I'd get a used touring bike off craigslist for about the same price.  Even $500 is too much imo for a bike here.  I'd go for $200 if possible, no more than $300.  Plenty of decent bikes on CL For <$300.

Also, learn to properly lock a bike:

http://lifehacker.com/5942301/the-proper-way-to-lock-your-bicycle

The number of properly locked bikes I see around here are probably less than 1 in 50.

Jack

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Re: Buying a bike: San Francisco
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2015, 03:19:09 PM »
I got my commuter bike (a circa-1990 Specialized Hardrock -- i.e., an old but sufficiently decent cro-moly bike-shop bike) for $25 from a co-op. It was pretty rusty and neglected, so I took it apart, repacked all the bearings, and had the frame & fork powder-coated. Had I painted it myself instead, it would have cost less than the locks I use to secure it.

And as far as I can tell, Atlanta isn't nearly as bad as San Francisco for bike theft -- if I had been planning to use it in San Fran, I'd have done things differently:
  • I wouldn't have done the powder coating and would have spent the money on a gigantic chain lock instead.
  • That chain would be in addition to the U-lock and cable I use now! The bike would always be locked using at least two different locks, attached to two different objects.
  • I'd switch to security skewers (or these)
  • I'd remove everything not permanently mounted (e.g. bags and lights) every time I parked it
  • I'd replace the bolts holding the permanently-mounted things (shifters, brakes, etc.) with tamper-resistant ones such as security Torx
  • Finally, if it weren't rusty enough to begin with, I'd uglify it. This stuff, which (hopefully) looks like electrical tape during the daytime but is reflective at night, might be good to wrap the frame with.

That said, the one thing I would not do is use a "bicycle-shaped object" (BSO), A.K.A. department store bike. An old, cheap, cro-moly steel bike-shop bike in good mechanical condition (but bad cosmetic condition) is a much better choice.

If I were to get another bike, I'd either get the same one I have now:

http://www.amazon.com/Vilano-Edge-Fixed-Single-Speed/dp/B00DY0Q6D8

That bike is pretty (I especially like the orange!) but the high-tensile steel frame indicates that it's a BSO.

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Buying a bike: San Francisco
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2015, 03:28:27 PM »
If I were to get another bike, I'd either get the same one I have now:

http://www.amazon.com/Vilano-Edge-Fixed-Single-Speed/dp/B00DY0Q6D8

That bike is pretty (I especially like the orange!) but the high-tensile steel frame indicates that it's a BSO.

Yea, it's a brand-new $230 bike, you definitely get what you pay for.  I was going for 'won't be pissed when it gets stolen', though I ended up liking it a lot, and will probably be pissed anyway.  I got the matte black w/ black wheels, it's pretty slick looking with no branding except a silver 'V' emblem on the front.  I've gotten complements on it, which is weird.  It's slightly heavier than my coworkers aluminum fixie, but if it's heavier than my last bike (a chromely fixie) it's minimal enough I can't tell the difference.  I've only had it for about a year, but no complaints so far.

mskyle

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Re: Buying a bike: San Francisco
« Reply #6 on: July 23, 2015, 03:29:08 PM »
If I were to get another bike, I'd either get the same one I have now:

http://www.amazon.com/Vilano-Edge-Fixed-Single-Speed/dp/B00DY0Q6D8

That bike is pretty (I especially like the orange!) but the high-tensile steel frame indicates that it's a BSO.

And of course there are PLENTY of people riding fixies in SF but I personally would not want to. Gears are awesome! But if all your friends are fixie-riding hipsters, go for it... the best bike for you is whatever you'll actually ride.

As for lights I recently got the headlight from this set: Fortified Aviator & Afterburner and am very happy with it. You need a special screwdriver to get it on and off - not impossible to steal, but not really worth the effort for your average thief.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2015, 03:32:19 PM by mskyle »