Author Topic: Help me buy a bike please!  (Read 4224 times)

hownowbrowncow

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Help me buy a bike please!
« on: June 01, 2014, 06:56:57 PM »
Hello MMM world,

I haven't owned a bike since high school. I couldn't tell you what it was...a Schwin maybe??  I just found out about a big sale at Goodwill next week and my interest is piqued:

http://bit.ly/Cyclist2014

I really have no idea what to get there.  Here's my situation:

1) This bike would be for getting around on the weekends - recreation and maybe some errands.  I'm carless.  Currently I commute to work (1 mile) by walking and run 95% of my errands via walking/public transit.  Once every few months I'll zipcar or borrow a friend's car. 
2) As evidenced by the posting, I live in Seattle.  Seattle has hills and in the beginning I will probably take longer/less steep routes to get over them.  Wanted to mention that in case it influences suggestions.
3) I will prob use this bike year round but not in the rain.  I have a free unlimited OCRA card from work and  Lyft/UberX memberships when walking isn't an option.
4) I plan to invest in a helmet and bike lock of course.  Would love recommendations for those. 
5) I would like a bike that I can ride with gym shoes/converse i.e. no special shoes needed
6) I'm a female, 5'6", BMI of 20 (only sharing to inform that this isn't a weight loss situation)

Thanks in advance!

johnintaiwan

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Re: Help me buy a bike please!
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2014, 07:18:53 PM »
I am not as big a connoisseur of bikes as many people on here, but these are my preferences.

I don't like mountain bikes or and bikes with suspension (shocks), or 26" wheels. In my opinion they waste too much of your energy. Since weight loss isn't a factor, I would try to choose something with thinner wheels. I went from a mountain bike style (with 26 wheels) to a road bike with the real skinny tires and I will never go back, it feels so much more efficient. But the rider position on those bikes may be uncomfortable for some. A good compromise would be a hybrid style. Typically have thinner wheels and a more relaxed position. You will probably want some gears as well because of the hills, so avoid "fixies"

Also make sure it is the right size and comfortable to ride, but I guess that goes without saying. Also, i would recommend not spending too much on it. You can always get a better/more expensive bike later. That being said, don't be too cheap and buy a POS that you end up hating and giving up riding forever.

Left

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Re: Help me buy a bike please!
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2014, 08:17:07 PM »
I know I'm biased because it's the type of bike I have... but I really enjoy my mixte bike. I get made fun of for riding a "women's" bike but eh, I don't care. Not that mixte bikes are gender specific but it is less "manly" for some reason.

The only draw back is that I don't have a top bar to hang things from but well, I can hop off the bike without jamming my crotch onto a top bar. I still swing my leg over seat to mount bike but I like not having to rely on it as well. If you are going to keep a basket behind seat, it might be easier to mount a mixte as well.

But geez, mixte bikes in seattle cost a lot more than in KC :S I got my Fuiji mixte in good shape for $50, I see them in $100-200+ on seattle's craigslist. For that much money you might be better off with a newer/modern bike though. I don't mind it being "heavier" since well, my own weight more than makes up the difference between the bike weight and I feel like the older steel frames handle better for my weight/needs. Needs being that I can run into things and not worry as much about frame breaking/collapsing. Yes I still run into things when I ride my bike >.>

the gearing might be something to consider on old bikes though. I have 12 speeds on mine and I want more :( yes, I know I just need to be in better biking shape since the hills aren't that bad to need more but I really want to convert it to a triple crank eventually even if I get into better biking shape. Seattle has more hills than KC I think, which is why I mentioned this.

waltworks

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Re: Help me buy a bike please!
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2014, 09:11:51 PM »
Do you have any friends that are "serious" cyclists? Do they have bikes you can borrow to try? It's hard to offer advice with this little to go on, and there's a lot of individual preference that will trump what might theoretically be the "right" bike for you. You might also consider renting a few bikes for the day from either a bikeshare type operation or from a shop, just to see what you like and dislike. Many shops will apply rental/demo costs to a purchase if you find something you like.

-W

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Help me buy a bike please!
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2014, 07:28:19 AM »
If you haven't ridden in a long time, you probably won't like a bike with drops, but maybe you will. The "safe" recommendation is a hybrid. Giant Escape, Trek FX, Specialized Cirrus.

Avoid suspensions, fat seats with shocks, knobby tires (spending $ to replace the tires right away eats up your savings right there), etc.

If possible, bring a knowledgable friend along to help avoid getting a clunker. Walt's advice is excellent. See what you might like BEFORE you go. I'm guessing this sale is probably a mob scene.

Helmets are all about what fits. I would try on a few in person. Generally, u-locks are the most durable locks, but a determined thief can defeat any lock given 5-10 minutes (or less) and bystander apathy. My bike isn't super spendy and it often has a kiddie trailer attached for extra deterrent. I use a cheap cable lock personally.

GuitarStv

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Re: Help me buy a bike please!
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2014, 09:41:14 AM »
Probably worth investing in some fenders if you live in Seattle.  You might try to time it so that you don't bike in the rain, but you'll get caught in it eventually.  Fenders also make your rides on wet roads significantly more enjoyable (unless you happen to like to taste the various road fluids that spray up off of your front wheel . . . in that case, you will really enjoy riding on wet roads.)

Glenstache

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Re: Help me buy a bike please!
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2014, 12:00:35 PM »
A hybrid bike would probably be a good choice. I also bike around Seattle. Disc brakes are a nice feature when it is wet, and fenders are a good idea as it will extend your riding days into wetter and wetter weather. Mostly, make sure it is a bike that you feel comfortable on. A bike that is too big or too small will feel unwieldy and you probably won't ride it as much as you would a bike that fits well. There are bazillions of bikes out there, so have some patience and be willing to spend a few extra dollars for the one that fits over one that doesn't. Once the saddle is in the right place (leg at about 85-90% of full extension at bottom of pedal stroke), the reach to the handlebars should feel comfortable in all positions.

I find bike-bus combos a really great way to get around town. The bike racks on the front of the buses are easy to use and efficient. But they do fill up on some routes. If that seems like it might be a problem, you might consider one of the folding bikes, which bend in half in just a few seconds and stow easily. If you are tight on space in your living situation, folding bikes can help with that too. That said, folding bike generally don't ride as nicely.

Recycled Cycles also has a selection of used bikes up near the university bridge.

hownowbrowncow

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Re: Help me buy a bike please!
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2014, 12:43:16 PM »
So I did end up buying a bike at 2020 Cycles.  It's a Panasonic Villager in mint condition.  I did pay a premium buying it in a shop instead of via Craigslist or Goodwill $175.  They did throw in the bike lock though.  I also joined REI and got myself a helmet.  Expensive day!

So the bike has been fun.  I actually did end up riding it to work one day so I could have it to trek to another neighborhood after.  Since it's all downhill to work it was really fast!  But it has been mostly for getting around on the weekends and I live up on QA hill but I can do little jaunts around the top for exercise and to just get more comfortable.  As of now, I'm taking advantage of bus racks to get up the really steep part of the hill.

Soo the bike's good for now but I'm already thinking of getting rid of it ...here's my new question:

Should I sell it in September/October and buy one again next spring?

Here's my logic:
1) I have no where to store it once the rain comes.  I live in an apartment and there's no garage for the building - just a car port and I'm renting my space to my neighbor.  I could lean it up against the wall but then I can't lock it.  Right now I'm parking it on the bike rack across the street from my building.  It's rained a couple times since I bought but nothing major.  Seattle summers are pretty dry (and beautiful!) so I'm okay with it being exposed the next couple months.

2) I don't see myself making the major investment for gear once the rain hits.  I got through last winter/spring without a bike or a car.  Rides I'm taking now could be covered with public transit. So less convenient and longer but free and dry.  Maybe the very occasional lyft ride would factor in but I try to keep those to a minimal. 

3) The main reason I really got it was to get to Lake Union on the weekends/after work for paddle boarding.  I won't be paddle boarding in the winter.

4) Seattle will be implementing a city bike share in September - not the best time to be launching it but I'm not city hall.  Locations and rates haven't been announced yet but it may make sense for me.

5) One of the super sweet perks we get at work is free bike maintenance once a week.  This guy comes to our garage once a week and offers free tune ups and minor repairs.  I already used it once because I thought I broke something loading my bike on the bus - I hadn't.  So if I should sell I can have it in top condition.

Bikes go high on craigslist in Seattle.  I don't know if I could get back what I paid but looks like I could reasonably list for $200 and bargain down.  Even if I end up selling for like $125 I think $50 is worth for a summer of riding. 

So thoughts? 
« Last Edit: June 28, 2014, 12:45:26 PM by hownowbrowncow »

waltworks

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Re: Help me buy a bike please!
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2014, 12:53:56 PM »
Sounds like maybe you didn't think this out that well, but here are some thoughts:

-You will not recoup your money selling on CL. As you said, you paid a premium for the bike at a shop. Used bikes are not worth a ton, and you have presumably not done any maintenance. You might get $100 for it, you might not.
-Can it live in your apartment? There are a variety of bike storage hook/systems designed for urban spaces that might work. Can you leave it at work for the winter?
-Even if you're a fair-weather rider only, and the bikeshare is available, it's always more convenient and pleasant to have your own bike set up the way you like it, that you're familiar with. Your free bike maintenance perk is pretty great too, so that means you won't have to spend any time working on it.

-W

prefrontalfinance

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Re: Help me buy a bike please!
« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2014, 01:22:29 PM »
If you plan to never ride it in the winter, I don't see why you couldn't also partially disassemble it (take the wheels off, handlebars, maybe bottom bracket with peddles) and stick it in a closet or under a bed.


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Thegoblinchief

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Re: Help me buy a bike please!
« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2014, 06:37:49 PM »
Or suck it up and ride in the rain. Rain gear isn't that expensive on Sierra Trading Post if you wait for their 30% coupons. All of the gear I'd need to handle Seattle temps is <$100 when discounted.

I can get more specific if you are interested. Winter biking is not only easy, it's quite rewarding. This from a relatively new Mustachian that began biking not long before the polar vortex swallowed my state whole last winter.

GuitarStv

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Re: Help me buy a bike please!
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2014, 05:58:36 AM »
Buy a single sturdy hook from Home Depot and you can hang your bike from a ceiling stud where you live.  This keeps it out of the way and only takes about two seconds of drywall muddying to fix the tiny hole when you move out.

PindyStache

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Re: Help me buy a bike please!
« Reply #12 on: June 30, 2014, 12:33:56 AM »
If your work is so bike-friendly, would they let you leave it there? Sounds like you have it in a garage even.