Author Topic: I want to buy a bike, need some help first.  (Read 5631 times)

aarmfield

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I want to buy a bike, need some help first.
« on: July 24, 2013, 03:38:10 PM »
I live in Boise, ID.  It doesn't get a lot of snow here most of the time, but I live 10 miles from work and I am trying to figure out what kind of bike would be best for me.  Like I said, I live 10 miles from work.  It does rain during the winter, and we do get snow, but most of it is kept to a minimum.  I hate heat, and would rather ride the bus up the hill than ride my bike, but want to work on that as well.

I'm just starting out on the journey of buying the bike for keeps rather than just as a toy (as a kid would).  I don't know all of what I would need, but if you could give some advice on accessories, dimensions, or even best type of bike for my conditions, I would be grateful.  I would like it to be all year, but I might have to give up on that idea.

I would like to add that I would love to use the bike trails around here for some mountain biking, but don't like the idea of a mountain bike (weight) on asphalt for 10 miles.

Thanks in advance.

philoneist

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Re: I want to buy a bike, need some help first.
« Reply #1 on: July 24, 2013, 04:15:32 PM »
If you are planning on buying a bike to ride 20 miles a day, you definitely do not want to use a mountain bike.

The issues with mountain bikes lie more in the knobby tires as opposed to the weight -- If you're going to be riding on pavement, you want to have as little rolling resistance as possible. However, the lower the rolling resistance, the higher the likelihood of a flat. Fat, knobby tires are only good for keeping yourself upright when you're biking quickly through mud, sand, dirt, etc...

I would suggest purchasing something with City/Touring tires on it (unless you are going for a speed record) -- This will provide you with a good balance of low rolling resistance and durability. Do not underestimate the value of good tires on a commuter bike - this could make or break your experience.

If you are dealing with hills, you are going to want to have gears. I would advise something with an "click shift" mechanism that has easy to read gauges - If you are just starting out, the lever gear shifts can be a nightmare to figure out. Learning to properly utilize the gears will go a long way toward helping you power through steep hills. The theory basically works the same way cars do: low gears for getting up hills or gaining speed, high for flat roads or increasing top speed. One other pro tip - NEVER have all your weight on the pedals while shifting gears - shift your weight to the saddle until the gears have shifted. You do not want to have to deal with a broken or derailed chain while climbing a 40% grade.

I would also think about disc breaks if you are dealing with hills - They tend to brake far more evenly and compensate better for an over zealous breaking hand. This is really not a huge deal, but it is nice to have if you have to brake suddenly on a downhill road.

A couple tips for fit - If you are purchasing a standard bike -- top bar should sit around an inch below your inseam when your feet are flat on the floor. Some "women's" bikes will have a dip in the top bar (this is a holdout from the 1900's, when women would ride in dresses) - Obviously, that's not necessary if you're getting one of those bikes.

If you are planning on riding on hills - Get something with pedal clips/straps - That way, your legs are evenly powering the tires through the entirety of your stroke (as opposed to only providing power on the down-stroke)

Finally, get a comfortable helmet. This is another HUGE problem for a lot of beginner cyclists. Make sure you do NOT skimp on a good (comfortable) helmet. The right helmet will transform your ride from a frugal necessity to a glorious adventure atop the back of a unicorn (yes, it's that important.)

I bought my bike from bikesdirect.com for a pretty awesome price (if you don't mind doing some upgrades yourself) -- I would check out the hybrid section and see if something tickles your fancy. REI has some fantastic deals on bikes too.

Another protip - Go to a sporting goods store and stand over a few bikes to get an idea of your frame size then keep that in mind when you venture out to make your purchase.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2013, 04:18:05 PM by philoneist »

aarmfield

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Re: I want to buy a bike, need some help first.
« Reply #2 on: July 24, 2013, 04:21:04 PM »
If you are planning on buying a bike to ride 20 miles a day, you definitely do not want to use a mountain bike.

The issues with mountain bikes lie more in the knobby tires as opposed to the weight -- If you're going to be riding on pavement, you want to have as little rolling resistance as possible. However, the lower the rolling resistance, the higher the likelihood of a flat. Fat, knobby tires are only good for keeping yourself upright when you're biking quickly through mud, sand, dirt, etc...

I would suggest purchasing something with City/Touring tires on it (unless you are going for a speed record) -- This will provide you with a good balance of low rolling resistance and durability. Do not underestimate the value of good tires on a commuter bike - this could make or break your experience.

If you are dealing with hills, you are going to want to have gears. I would advise something with an "click shift" mechanism that has easy to read gauges - If you are just starting out, the lever gear shifts can be a nightmare to figure out. Learning to properly utilize the gears will go a long way toward helping you power through steep hills. The theory basically works the same way cars do: low gears for getting up hills or gaining speed, high for flat roads or increasing top speed. One other pro tip - NEVER have all your weight on the pedals while shifting gears - shift your weight to the saddle until the gears have shifted. You do not want to have to deal with a broken or derailed chain while climbing a 40% grade.

I would also think about disc breaks if you are dealing with hills - They tend to brake far more evenly and compensate better for an over zealous breaking hand. This is really not a huge deal, but it is nice to have if you have to brake suddenly on a downhill road.

A couple tips for fit - If you are purchasing a standard bike -- top bar should sit around an inch below your inseam when your feet are flat on the floor. Some "women's" bikes will have a dip in the top bar (this is a holdout from the 1900's, when women would ride in dresses) - Obviously, that's not necessary if you're getting one of those bikes.

If you are planning on riding on hills - Get something with pedal clips/straps - That way, your legs are evenly powering the tires through the entirety of your stroke (as opposed to only providing power on the down-stroke)

Finally, get a comfortable helmet. This is another HUGE problem for a lot of beginner cyclists. Make sure you do NOT skimp on a good (comfortable) helmet. The right helmet will transform your ride from a frugal necessity to a glorious adventure atop the back of a unicorn (yes, it's that important.)

I bought my bike from bikesdirect.com for a pretty awesome price (if you don't mind doing some upgrades yourself) -- I would check out the hybrid section and see if something tickles your fancy. REI has some fantastic deals on bikes too.

Another protip - Go to a sporting goods store and stand over a few bikes to get an idea of your frame size then keep that in mind when you venture out to make your purchase.

What about weather accessories.  I have seen people with things ranging from pant clips to rain covers that keep rain water from spraying up your backside.  Does it depend on what kind of bike I get?  Do they even make those covers for street bikes (vs. mountain bikes)?

philoneist

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Re: I want to buy a bike, need some help first.
« Reply #3 on: July 24, 2013, 04:33:00 PM »
Get the cheapest fenders you can buy - they all work the same and they are pretty much universal.

There are clip-on ones you can get for $10, but I went with bolt-on ones for about $30-50 -- Clip on ones work perfectly fine, they are just prone to getting knocked out of alignment and you need to tighten them periodically. Keep in mind, some bikes will come with fenders built in - Keep that in consideration when you're purchasing.

Insofar as a poncho goes - I had a cheap one for the longest time (I finally bought a nice patagonia one at REI at 75% off a few weeks ago) -- This was the specific one I used:

http://www.amazon.com/Shield-O2-Hooded-Jackets-Medium/dp/B001CSTJUQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1374704885&sr=1-1&keywords=Rain+Shield+O2+Hooded+Rain+Jackets

This is all about personal preference - You do not need to spend a ton of money on a poncho. This one is easily packed in your bag. Sure, it is bright yellow, but I want people to SEE me when it is raining.

I never used pant covers, as it wasn't a big deal if my pants got a little wet.

dailycycle

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Re: I want to buy a bike, need some help first.
« Reply #4 on: July 24, 2013, 07:49:15 PM »
Just start with a road bike (ebay is good for this if you make sure of your size). 

By the time winter comes you'll know better what rain gear will work for you.

davisgang90

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Re: I want to buy a bike, need some help first.
« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2013, 05:07:45 AM »
I bought a Nashbar road bike http://www.nashbar.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/SearchDisplay?searchTerm=al-1&catalogId=10052&cn1=&langId=-1&gast=al+1&storeId=10053&URL=CatalogSearchResultView&ddkey=http:PBSearchTermAssociationsCmd

Nashbar runs sales all the time, so I paid $399 vice $499.  It is a really nice entry level road bike and I'm really enjoying it.  I added Continental Gatorskins after a couple flats, they are worth it IMHO.

mpbaker22

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Re: I want to buy a bike, need some help first.
« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2013, 07:18:32 AM »
I bought a Nashbar road bike http://www.nashbar.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/SearchDisplay?searchTerm=al-1&catalogId=10052&cn1=&langId=-1&gast=al+1&storeId=10053&URL=CatalogSearchResultView&ddkey=http:PBSearchTermAssociationsCmd

Nashbar runs sales all the time, so I paid $399 vice $499.  It is a really nice entry level road bike and I'm really enjoying it.  I added Continental Gatorskins after a couple flats, they are worth it IMHO.

Never bought a bike there but I HIGHLY recommend Nashbar for accessories.  Some things are crappy, like the panniers I have, the zipper broke on day 1.  But I have literally bought 50+ items there and I have 1 or 2 complaints.  Plus the site is far cheaper than the LBS.

aarmfield

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Re: I want to buy a bike, need some help first.
« Reply #7 on: July 25, 2013, 09:08:38 AM »
I bought a Nashbar road bike http://www.nashbar.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/SearchDisplay?searchTerm=al-1&catalogId=10052&cn1=&langId=-1&gast=al+1&storeId=10053&URL=CatalogSearchResultView&ddkey=http:PBSearchTermAssociationsCmd

Nashbar runs sales all the time, so I paid $399 vice $499.  It is a really nice entry level road bike and I'm really enjoying it.  I added Continental Gatorskins after a couple flats, they are worth it IMHO.

What is the difference between a "touring" and a "road" bike?

philoneist

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Re: I want to buy a bike, need some help first.
« Reply #8 on: July 25, 2013, 09:17:40 AM »
There isn't much difference - "Touring" is meant to signify a comfortable ride. The touring models will typically have higher end components and more things included (racks, fenders, etc...)

City bikes can be all over the board. Road/Hybrid are pretty much used interchangeably - These are typically Mountain/Ten Speed hybrids.

Though nowadays "City" bikes typically have straight handle bars with the seat a little lower and the handlebars higher (the seating position would be similar to a cruiser motorcycle.) -- These are good for running errands or casual riding, but are typically slower than other models.

The style designations are extremely loose these days - There is no "official" designation outside of Single Speed, Mountain, Tri, Cyclocross and Ten Speeds -- Many of the others are just new terms they are adding to their marketing to appeal to urban hipsters...
« Last Edit: July 25, 2013, 09:20:59 AM by philoneist »

mpbaker22

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Re: I want to buy a bike, need some help first.
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2013, 09:18:08 AM »
What is the difference between a "touring" and a "road" bike?

Road Bike Ė Built lightweight and with minimum adaptability.  Usually the intention is for racing, but many local bike shops will pawn them off on people who donít know better, and just want a fancy bike to ride around on.  The geometry is set in such a way that handling 50 lbs of gear on the back wheel will severely limit your ability to maneuver.  I have a rack on mine and I commute to work, no big deal.  But I never put more than 10-15 pounds on my rack.
Touring Ė Built to put 50 lbs on the back.  Iíve never actually ridden one, but this is what Iíve heard:  Obviously putting 50 lbs on a bike will affect handling, but not to the extent of a road bike.  The frame is meant to handle 50 lbs without other negative consequences (like putting 50 more pounds on your back wheel puts 50 lbs worth of additional downward force.  Touring bikes are built to handle that.).  My understanding is theyíre more comfortable because they are designed for long days in the saddle vs. getting from A to B as quickly as possible.
Iím rambling a bit, and I could go on, but thatís the basic difference, IMO.

capital

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Re: I want to buy a bike, need some help first.
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2013, 10:30:14 PM »
Get the cheapest fenders you can buy - they all work the same and they are pretty much universal.
I disagree on that-- the extra-coverage models such as the SKS Longboard or the Planet Bike Cascadias definitely do a better job keeping your feet dry.

Many road bikes, including the Nashbar model posted upthread, only have room for skinny tires and would quite difficult to fit fenders to. They're also generally designed for low weight as opposed to durability. In my book, a better commuter bike fits fat tires and fenders with ease. Here's one at the same $400 price point:
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/gravity/liberty_cx.htm
It's a "cyclocross bike", which is essentially a road bike with room for fat tires. A touring bike also meets that description, but is designed to be steadier carrying weight, and has sturdier components to support that weight. A cyclocross bike will have sportier handling.