Author Topic: In search of bike gurus...  (Read 2828 times)

Bo-rrific G

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In search of bike gurus...
« on: August 14, 2016, 07:24:01 AM »
I'm looking for a new commuting bike.

Here is my dilemma: I went to 3 local bike shops and had trouble finding something that fit. Women's bikes hurt my knees and no one had small unisex bikes. They offered to order a bike, but they couldn't estimate when bikes would be delivered (I'll explain this problem below). After having so much trouble,I decided to buy something online...but now I am suffering from confusion induced by information overload.

Where will I be riding? I'm not 100% sure as I am moving somewhere in Zurich in September. I am imagining some up and down, but no serious mountain biking.
Why do I want a bike? I will not have a car and need transportation around town and to work. I want to buy it now because prices in Zurich left me with sticker shock.

With all that said, I found a 2014, clearance bike that really got my attention because it comes with all of the stuff I've read I will need. I rode a 2016 Dew Plus that was slightly too big for me and loved the way it rode except the size.  Unfortunately, I read that they changed the geometry of he Dews  in 2015 and I'm not sure about the components from the 2014 version. Can I get your advice please?

Here is the bike:

http://www.konabikes.com/product/2014-dew-deluxe/

Would it be a mistake to buy this?


gmacmilla

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Re: In search of bike gurus...
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2016, 08:52:59 AM »
hello, I am quite "into" bikes these days. I haven't posted on here much but would like to start which is why my post count is low.

Anyways, I think that bike you showed looks like a perfect commuter option. Finding the right fit is not just about frame size. Initially you can find a frame size you need using simple online tools:

https://www.google.com/#q=bike+size

The next thing you will need to do is to find a local shop that has the bike or a similar version in the same size. Go there, take it for a test ride, adjust the seat so that your legs are almost but not quite extended and the bottom of your foot is near flat when it is at the bottom of your pedal stroke. If you feel your legs are too extended and you are locking your knees to get to the bottom of your pedal strokes or you are on your tip toes, then lower the seat. If you're knees are still bent more than say 15 degrees at the bottom you may need to raise the seat a little bit. Of course, be aware this is all dictated by what is comfortable for you.

Another thing i would recommend is to browse local craigslists as well as ebay for bikes. Nothing beats a good bike that you just scored a heck of a deal on. I have bought/built several used bikes. The amount i spend is in no way mustachian but i take my bikes seriously and take the utmost care with them. I love bikes. Learning to build/fix and maintain your 2 wheeled human powered vehicle can be so simple and enlightening. I can say that it doesn't take a trained shop technician to fix your bike at all. You can find everything you need on the internet, somewhere. Sometimes i support the local bike shops but only because i like to invest money into my community and i like interacting with them.

Good luck in your search and your move and I hope you enjoy whatever you end up with.

plog

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Re: In search of bike gurus...
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2016, 09:36:35 AM »
I vote craigslist too.  And I vote buy the first one that you halfway think is right and ride, and don't look back for at least a month.

The internet is good and bad.  There's so much information out there that it works against itself.  Sounds like you've read up so much and about so many things you are paralyzed to make a decision because in some way it will be the wrong one.  So, to help allay your fears--yes you will make the wrong decision--the derailleur will be made of the wrong material, the handle bars will be angled 4 degrees from optimal, the gear ratio selection could be better and the seat--oh dear lord don't even get me started about the seat--you could spend a month learning just about the minutuea of those things.

So, yes, you will make the wrong decision in some manner but it won't be an important issue.  IF the bike doesn't feel bad when you ride it--don't use numbers, don't read specs, get on it and feel it--its a good bike for you . So, go ride a bike for a test mile, if you aren't bleeding at the end of it or hunched over because your back is in spasms--buy it.  Then if in a month you come to hate it, sell it on craigslist and learn from the experience--buy your next bike using what you learned from that one. 
« Last Edit: August 14, 2016, 09:39:43 AM by plog »

Laserjet3051

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Re: In search of bike gurus...
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2016, 09:46:23 AM »
Definitely concur on the Craigslist approach. CL has a lot of really good used bikes. Some folks dont realize the true value of their (good) bike and sell it for way below what they could get. I bought a really nice Terry road bike for my daughter on CL and can almost certainly resell it on CL for twice what I paid.

Figure out your frame size requirements, and then use that info to narrow your choices on CL. Frame size/geometry is the most important determinant. Older bikes that were treated well can last a lifetime.

ulrichw

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Re: In search of bike gurus...
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2016, 12:11:53 PM »
Here is my dilemma: I went to 3 local bike shops and had trouble finding something that fit. Women's bikes hurt my knees and no one had small unisex bikes. They offered to order a bike, but they couldn't estimate when bikes would be delivered (I'll explain this problem below). After having so much trouble,I decided to buy something online...but now I am suffering from confusion induced by information overload.

A few things:
1. "Women's" bikes are for all intents and purposes unisex. There are very few differences between what is called a woman's bike and a "regular" bike.
2. Knee pain is likely a function of two things: First, a seat that is too low (or in rare circumstances, too high), and secondly using a gear that is too hard to pedal (placing excessive pressure on an overly bent knee). New riders tend toward both of these issues - they want to intuitively set the seat low, because it makes it easier to balance the bike when stopped (in general, when stopped you should be on your tiptoes if you stay on the seat), and use too hard a gear, because it takes a while to get used to a faster pedaling motion.


Where will I be riding? I'm not 100% sure as I am moving somewhere in Zurich in September. I am imagining some up and down, but no serious mountain biking.
Why do I want a bike? I will not have a car and need transportation around town and to work. I want to buy it now because prices in Zurich left me with sticker shock.

Have you spent time in Zurich already? Public transportation in Switzerland puts public transportation almost anywhere else to shame. Buses, trams, and trains are clean, plentiful, subsidized, run on time and get you just about anywhere. A bicycle is definitely a healthy alternative, but many Swiss get by on a combination of walking and using public transportation. You may find you don't have much of a need for a bicycle.

re: sticker shock - be prepared for sticker shock on just about any spending. Switzerland is not cheap, and with the high Swiss Franc, it will be even worse if you're converting dollars.

Bo-rrific G

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Re: In search of bike gurus...
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2016, 05:56:20 PM »
hello, I am quite "into" bikes these days. I haven't posted on here much but would like to start which is why my post count is low.

Anyways, I think that bike you showed looks like a perfect commuter option. Finding the right fit is not just about frame size. Initially you can find a frame size you need using simple online tools:

https://www.google.com/#q=bike+size

The next thing you will need to do is to find a local shop that has the bike or a similar version in the same size. Go there, take it for a test ride, adjust the seat so that your legs are almost but not quite extended and the bottom of your foot is near flat when it is at the bottom of your pedal stroke. If you feel your legs are too extended and you are locking your knees to get to the bottom of your pedal strokes or you are on your tip toes, then lower the seat. If you're knees are still bent more than say 15 degrees at the bottom you may need to raise the seat a little bit. Of course, be aware this is all dictated by what is comfortable for you.

Another thing i would recommend is to browse local craigslists as well as ebay for bikes. Nothing beats a good bike that you just scored a heck of a deal on. I have bought/built several used bikes. The amount i spend is in no way mustachian but i take my bikes seriously and take the utmost care with them. I love bikes. Learning to build/fix and maintain your 2 wheeled human powered vehicle can be so simple and enlightening. I can say that it doesn't take a trained shop technician to fix your bike at all. You can find everything you need on the internet, somewhere. Sometimes i support the local bike shops but only because i like to invest money into my community and i like interacting with them.

Good luck in your search and your move and I hope you enjoy whatever you end up with.

Thank you for all of the advice! I've been browsing Craig's List and hopefully I come across something my size and within my budget soon.

human

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Re: In search of bike gurus...
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2016, 06:02:31 PM »
How far exactly is your commute? Less than 5 miles then almost anything should work really except for the horrible beach bike dealios. If you're going to be riding in snow it's tires that really matter. Is the commute on real busy roads or nice bike paths? a craigslist dumpy bike should be fine but so would the kona, that thing would do fine and it already has a basket.

forestj

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Re: In search of bike gurus...
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2016, 06:15:35 PM »
Where do you live currently?

Why would you buy a bike right before you move?  Can you buy a bike once you arrive? Depending on where you live currently, the cost of transporting the bike might be a legitimate concern.

I ask because I live in the US and had a religious experience when I worked in Copenhagen, DK, for a few months. I had a Dutch/Danish style commuter bike ("omafiets") while I was there, and I absolutely loved it.  Those bikes have internally geared hubs and tight plastic chain guards, they are designed to be pretty much water tight, and so they can go for years without maintenance. They also have a more relaxed frame geometry that puts your body in a healthier and more comfortable position while riding, at the expense of a little bit of speed. They are ridiculously awesome in that regard. Most "American style" or "racing style" bikes with cogs and derailleurs like that Kona you showed will rust quickly, get knocked out of alignment, or otherwise have issues over time, especially if they ever get parked outside or ridden in the rain.  So if you buy one of those you had better be ready to fix it and keep it up yourself or shell out $30-$50 dollars for a tune-up fairly regularly.

Where I live, the best I could do to get a bike like that would be to shell out $1k for a new bike imported from the netherlands.  How is the used bike market in Zurich and the surrounding area? Maybe you could find a good bike there for cheaper?

If I were you I would go for a European style step-through bike with an internally geared hub and wrap-around chain guard if possible. Or if you are like me and you can deal with riding what is essentially a racing bike built for maximum speed and maximum pain, then you could "schwinn to win" with a $100-$200 venerable steel frame bike from Craigslist.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2016, 06:24:07 PM by forestj »

Bo-rrific G

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Re: In search of bike gurus...
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2016, 06:37:23 PM »
Here is my dilemma: I went to 3 local bike shops and had trouble finding something that fit. Women's bikes hurt my knees and no one had small unisex bikes. They offered to order a bike, but they couldn't estimate when bikes would be delivered (I'll explain this problem below). After having so much trouble,I decided to buy something online...but now I am suffering from confusion induced by information overload.

A few things:
1. "Women's" bikes are for all intents and purposes unisex. There are very few differences between what is called a woman's bike and a "regular" bike.
2. Knee pain is likely a function of two things: First, a seat that is too low (or in rare circumstances, too high), and secondly using a gear that is too hard to pedal (placing excessive pressure on an overly bent knee). New riders tend toward both of these issues - they want to intuitively set the seat low, because it makes it easier to balance the bike when stopped (in general, when stopped you should be on your tiptoes if you stay on the seat), and use too hard a gear, because it takes a while to get used to a faster pedaling motion.

Where will I be riding? I'm not 100% sure as I am moving somewhere in Zurich in September. I am imagining some up and down, but no serious mountain biking.
Why do I want a bike? I will not have a car and need transportation around town and to work. I want to buy it now because prices in Zurich left me with sticker shock.

Have you spent time in Zurich already? Public transportation in Switzerland puts public transportation almost anywhere else to shame. Buses, trams, and trains are clean, plentiful, subsidized, run on time and get you just about anywhere. A bicycle is definitely a healthy alternative, but many Swiss get by on a combination of walking and using public transportation. You may find you don't have much of a need for a bicycle.

re: sticker shock - be prepared for sticker shock on just about any spending. Switzerland is not cheap, and with the high Swiss Franc, it will be even worse if you're converting dollars.

Women's bike comment
My experience doesn't match this at all.  I think it is because I have long arms and legs for someone my height (I'm short).  When I test rode womens' bikes, each adjusted by a local bike shop tech before I left on a ride, I could feel pressure on my knees almost immediately.  There's something about the distance/angle between the seat and pedals that doesn't work for me.  I tried several bike brands in a women's fit - Marin, Trek, Raleigh, BMC, Jamis, and a few others I don't remember - and I had similar knee issues with all.  The best way I can describe the feeling is that it feels like I'm engaging my muscles differently on women's bikes.  My muscles don't feel the same way on unisex frames.

New bike rider comment
I am not a new rider, I just don't know anything about bikes.  I have been riding the same Marin mountain bike since 2000!  I'm leaving my trusty Marin with my mom because she recently started borrowing it to exercise (this has been a big battle for me and I want to encourage her as best as possible).  I currently ride 12 miles a day - I know this doesn't make me an expert by any means.

Switzerland
Yes, I have spent time in Switzerland.  Luckily, I will be a "local" employee, so I don't have to worry about converting funds.  I made the comment about sticker shock because I considered buying a bike during my last trip and changed my mind at the last minute.  When I compared the price for the same bike at home, I was shocked with how much more expensive the bike was there.  I really want to buy my bike here to save a few hundred $ since I can include it in my shipment at no additional cost.

Kona bike
[/b]Do you mind looking at the Kona that I posted?  Are the breaks decent (I've read confusing reviews)?  Should I worry about it only having gears in the back (again, I've read conflicting reviews/opinions)?  I love the fact that this bike comes with fenders, a basket, a bell, and a few other bling items without additional cost (these are the types of things I typically care about).   

http://www.konabikes.com/product/2014-dew-deluxe/

I rode a 2016 version of this that felt like a dream, but I was stretched out pretty far to reach the handlebars (this hurts my shoulders).  The local bike shop where I test rode said I needed a size smaller than they had.  I called all Kona authorized sellers/resellers in Texas, and no one had the bike in the size I need.  I'm left to wait for the 2017s, making a gamble as to whether it arrives on time - too much risk for my taste; or I can buy the 2014 version at half the price, but with different components and geometry.  I have no idea how the difference will impact my liking the bike.   

I don't know exactly where I will live, but my goal is to be near enough to the office to ride my bike regardless of the weather.  I know the Swiss public transport system is amazing, but after living in Houston for as long as I have, I can't imagine picking a bus/train over riding my bike around a lake to get to work.  I crave the outdoors like some people crave food.

Thanks in advance for looking at the 2014 Kona.   

Please excuse any typos!
« Last Edit: August 14, 2016, 07:41:41 PM by Bo-rrific G »

Bo-rrific G

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Re: In search of bike gurus...
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2016, 06:42:39 PM »
How far exactly is your commute? Less than 5 miles then almost anything should work really except for the horrible beach bike dealios. If you're going to be riding in snow it's tires that really matter. Is the commute on real busy roads or nice bike paths? a craigslist dumpy bike should be fine but so would the kona, that thing would do fine and it already has a basket.

I don't know the exact mileage just yet - I'm headed over to pick a place in two weeks.  I'm aiming for 10 miles or less each way with most of the ride on a path and some of it on roads.  I plan to ride in all weather and keep my bike in my office during the day.  For the first few months, I will be working remotely - I'm employee #2 to establishing an office in Zurich so we are still finalizing office space.  This means I have a few months to get used to area before I have to arrive anywhere on time. :) 

Bo-rrific G

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Re: In search of bike gurus...
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2016, 06:52:46 PM »
Where do you live currently?

Why would you buy a bike right before you move?  Can you buy a bike once you arrive? Depending on where you live currently, the cost of transporting the bike might be a legitimate concern.

I ask because I live in the US and had a religious experience when I worked in Copenhagen, DK, for a few months. I had a Dutch/Danish style commuter bike ("omafiets") while I was there, and I absolutely loved it.  Those bikes have internally geared hubs and tight plastic chain guards, they are designed to be pretty much water tight, and so they can go for years without maintenance. They also have a more relaxed frame geometry that puts your body in a healthier and more comfortable position while riding, at the expense of a little bit of speed. They are ridiculously awesome in that regard. Most "American style" or "racing style" bikes with cogs and derailleurs like that Kona you showed will rust quickly, get knocked out of alignment, or otherwise have issues over time, especially if they ever get parked outside or ridden in the rain.  So if you buy one of those you had better be ready to fix it and keep it up yourself or shell out $30-$50 dollars for a tune-up fairly regularly.

Where I live, the best I could do to get a bike like that would be to shell out $1k for a new bike imported from the netherlands.  How is the used bike market in Zurich and the surrounding area? Maybe you could find a good bike there for cheaper?

If I were you I would go for a European style step-through bike with an internally geared hub and wrap-around chain guard if possible. Or if you are like me and you can deal with riding what is essentially a racing bike built for maximum speed and maximum pain, then you could "schwinn to win" with a $100-$200 venerable steel frame bike from Craigslist.


I currently live in Houston.  Thankfully, I have space in my shipment to include a bike without any cost to me.  The used bike market is very active in Zurich, but the prices seemed high.  Most of the bikes I saw were about $700, which gets you a reasonable new bike.  Less expensive bikes looked crummy and high maintenance. 

I thought about a step through.  They seem really comfortable!  I'm not sold on the idea, but I may go back to the local bike shop that was the nicest to test drive a few.  I have a thing about not wanting to look too girly and most of the bikes they had in stock were pink (bleh).

Thanks for your advice!
« Last Edit: August 14, 2016, 06:56:22 PM by Bo-rrific G »

PowerMustache

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Re: In search of bike gurus...
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2016, 08:16:37 PM »
I think you should buy the Kona Dew.

Don't worry about the components, they will be good enough. Any new bike from Kona will have fine components for commuting. You won't know for sure if it is right for you until you try it yourself but you like this bike already based on your research and it's your best guess as to what will work for you. You are fairly sure of the size based on your trial in the store of the same bike one size larger. As for the gear ratio and having only a single chainring, whether or not this works for you will depend on how steep the hills are in Zurich and your own preference/ability. You can't tell until you try it, and no one here can give you the answer.

What is the worst case scenario? Just imagine you end up hating the bike and need to get rid of it after a few rides. This is not an extremely expensive bike to begin with. Shipping it to Zurich will be free. You say the Zurich used bike market is very hot. If you buy the Kona before you leave, this will work in your favor - you will have a nearly new bike that you can sell at the elevated bike prices of Zurich. Maybe you can even make a few dollars? At worst you will have to sell at a small loss, and you will have more information about what you do and don't need in your Zurich commuter.

forestj

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Re: In search of bike gurus...
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2016, 08:48:59 PM »
I currently live in Houston.  Thankfully, I have space in my shipment to include a bike without any cost to me.  The used bike market is very active in Zurich, but the prices seemed high.  Most of the bikes I saw were about $700, which gets you a reasonable new bike.

Ok, in that case, it might be best to get bike here and have it shipped. That Kona you showed looks like a good bike. Here are some thoughts on it:

Disk breaks are great but I have heard from an experienced friend that they are not recommended for winter biking here in Minnesota since they have a tendency be either "on" or "off" which makes it hard to avoid skidding on snow and ice.  I don't know how much it snows there. In Copenhagen it was very wet in the winter but I barely ever saw snowpack or ice on the ground.

It's great that it has fenders. For a bike which you use to go from point A to point B, rather than to ride it "just for fun",  fenders are essential. Combine that with a good rain jacket (and rain pants if you are hard-core) and you can show up for work dry after riding there in a rain storm. It's a daily fact of life for many people I rode with in CPH, since it rains so much there :)

It's hard to tell how the geometry would feel without sitting on it, but the handlebars look a little low for a commuter bike. the farther up they are relative to the seat the straighter your back can be, which improves safety by making it easier for you to see things that are going on around you, and it also more comfortable. Out of all the commuter bikes I've ridden, I generally liked ones with higher handlebars. The flip side is, again, you won't be able to launch like a rocket and outrun cars through intersections and stuff like on a track bike style "fixie" or a road bike.

For example, here's one I found on the houston craigslist that looks like it has an adjustable stem. (that's the part that connects the handlebars to the fork) You could maybe adjust the handlebars higher and closer to you with that bike.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2016, 08:51:27 PM by forestj »

Bo-rrific G

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Re: In search of bike gurus...
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2016, 09:27:35 PM »
The adjustable stem looks like a great idea. That might be what I need to make a bit fit better once I find something relatively small.

Sadly, this particular bike will not work for me - I'm 5 feet tall. 

Thanks!