Author Topic: What should I look for in a bike?  (Read 1805 times)

Petuniajo

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What should I look for in a bike?
« on: December 09, 2015, 01:10:03 PM »
DH and I have typically purchased cheapo Target/Walmart bikes for about $75. Problem is they only last like a year before completely falling apart--really! And we don't even commute with them (more for recreation), and DH is pretty handy at repairs. But they just do not last. We haven't even had bikes the past couple of years.

As long as we're buying bikes now, I'd like something that is going to work for us and will not fall apart right away. I just don't know what we should look for in bikes. We live in a SUPER hilly area, so I'd imagine we want something light? But we don't want to invest really big bucks, because these bikes are for recreation and not commuting (though I hope to be able to do weekend errands with mine). We're going to visit a bike shop in town (but watch for bikes on Craigslist), but I'd like to go in armed with at least a little bit of knowledge... I really just don't know anything about bikes. Like I said, we'd always just go into Target and pick up whatever looked cheap.

So, what shoud we look for? Even better, can you recommend any specific brands/bikes for us?

matchewed

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GuitarStv

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Re: What should I look for in a bike?
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2015, 01:24:14 PM »
What kind of recreation are we talking here?  Recommendations for something to go 5 miles once a week on gravel paths will be different than what would be suggested to go 80 miles three or four times a week on the road.

Petuniajo

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Re: What should I look for in a bike?
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2015, 01:27:04 PM »
http://biodieselhauling.blogspot.com/2012/01/buying-bikes-from-craigslist.html

Helpful info--thanks!

What kind of recreation are we talking here?  Recommendations for something to go 5 miles once a week on gravel paths will be different than what would be suggested to go 80 miles three or four times a week on the road.

Mostly paved bike paths a few miles here and there with my kids (4 and 6) on their bikes. Smooth, but lots of hills.

frugaliknowit

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Re: What should I look for in a bike?
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2015, 01:36:10 PM »
My advise is go to bike shops that let you test ride.  While doing that, you will become familiar with the appropriate frame size and the features you want and what the various prices are.  Armed with the above knowledge, you can look on craigslist as well.  A very popular bike in Chicago that fits your criterion is Specialized Sirrus (one of my two bikes that serves as my commuter/errand bike as opposed to my high speed/long distance bike), for example.

Jack

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Re: What should I look for in a bike?
« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2015, 02:08:47 PM »
Mostly paved bike paths a few miles here and there with my kids (4 and 6) on their bikes. Smooth, but lots of hills.

Anything that fits, has reasonably-tall gearing and smooth tires would be fine. As I do in most of these sorts of threads, I recommend an old ('90s-era) no-suspension mountain bike, with the knobby tires swapped out for slicks, but almost any style of bike will do as long as it fits. Regardless, it shouldn't cost much more than $100 or so per bike.

Don't worry too much about brand names, as long as you avoid any Target/Wal-Mart/Sears brands. Look for stickers on the frame that specify its material as something other than "hi-tensile" or plain old "steel" (in other words, anything that's cro-moly, aluminum, or a named/numbered alloy is good). Surface rust is okay, and I'd much rather have a rusty Reynolds 531 or Columbus frame than a hi-ten frame with perfect paint.

Other than that, check the bike over to make sure all the components work, or if they don't, negotiate down the price and plan to fix it yourself (nothing on a bike is too hard to DIY except maybe repairing a frame). Regardless, plan to re-grease everything (not just chain, but bottom bracket, headset and wheels hubs too).

Koreth

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Re: What should I look for in a bike?
« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2015, 04:11:00 PM »
Anything that fits, has reasonably-tall gearing and smooth tires would be fine.

I will second this. Don't stress the weight of aluminum frame vs a steel one. You are the heaviest portion of the load on the bike.  The gearing is going to matter more.  I would also recommend looking for inexpensive used hybrids from Trek, Giant, Cannondale, or Specialized. A hybrid will come with a wide range of gearing. making hills practical, but not so low that you never use the lowest gear or run out of gearing on the flats.