Author Topic: new to biking  (Read 4484 times)

rosaz

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new to biking
« on: July 19, 2013, 08:28:10 AM »
So I'm thinking of switching my bus commute for a bike commute, but I need some advice... not only do I do not have a bike, but I don't know how to ride one! (The only time I really rode was when I was about 6 for a few months, and when I tried a couple years ago, no luck). My question is, how do I go about buying a bike when I'm not entirely sure what I'm looking for? Should I go into a bike shop and ask the people there for suggestions, or try to pick up a used one on the cheap while I'm learning, and then go back for a long term one once I'm more experienced?

Spudd

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Re: new to biking
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2013, 08:40:09 AM »
When I bought my first adult bike (at the age of 27 or so, 1999 or thereabouts), I bought a low-ish end one, from a big box store. I didn't get the absolute cheapest but it was still quite cheap. Well, as it turned out, I hated riding that bike and I thought I hated riding bikes. I didn't ride again until 2010, when I bought a new bike from a proper bike store and loved it, and now I'm a full convert.

Having said that, I would still likely recommend going for a used one for your first bike, so that the monetary outlay won't be too high in case you end up not liking it. But a good quality used one, not a department store bike. Or, does anyone you know have a spare bike they could lend you for a few weeks while you get used to riding?

Maybe you can tell us a bit about how far your commute would be, and your height, and we can help recommend a type of bike to look at. Heck, if you tell us where you live, we can browse your local craigslist and point out ones that look promising.

In general I would look for a hybrid bike.

mrpress

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Re: new to biking
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2013, 08:44:13 AM »
I'm no expert but I would go with the latter...pick up a decent quality used mountain bike on craigslist while you learn to putz around the neighborhood, then when you are comfortable and maybe want to go a bit faster, either get a new bike from a shop or do your research and get a good used one. It helps to learn a few things about bike fit as well. If it's too big or too small, you won't be comfortable and won't enjoy riding very long or very far.

rollie

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Re: new to biking
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2013, 09:19:47 AM »
I would actually recommend the bike shop, and a not too expensive bike there. I'll explain why. I have found that most people in the US buy and use bikes that are meant more for racing. That means that the person is leaning over to reach the handlebars. If you see pictures of bikers, you'll see what I mean.

However, in most bike-commuting countries like Japan and Europe, people use commuter bikes. These are different, and they do sell them at the bike shops here. A commuter bike has you sitting straight up. Yes, it's less aerodynamic, but that's not the point. Unless you're racing, you don't need aerodynamics. You need comfort. The problem with leaning forward when you ride is that it does terrible things to your back. It causes you to hunch (unless you are very careful), and even worse, it causes your neck to turn in an extremely uncomfortable position just to see where you are going. (you have to look up) Again, look at the pictures. This position causes a lot of back and neck strain for bikers. As a newbie, you really don't want to deal with that. I'm not a newbie, and I don't want to deal with it.

For a new biker (and many old!) I suggest an upright seated style. If you start riding with a bike that has you bent over, you may find the whole set up so uncomfortable that it could impact your feeling of biking. This happened to my sisters, who both picked up biking again in their 30s and 40s, and thought it was tough on their backs. Until they realized their bikes weren't made for comfort. In Holland (big biking country) and the rest of Europe and Japan, you'll see upright bikes much more popular for commuters. That's because those countries are used to having bikes as a part of life, not just as a hobby.

My bike is a Schwinn, not too expensive. (about $350-$400) It has 21 gears, and that's important because it makes the hills easier, a lot easier. Don't get a no-gear bike. And three gears sounds like enough, but if you're new at this, go for some more gears.

Get a bike stand. Lots of bikes don't have them nowadays. You need one, especially as a new rider. It might cost $10 to have them put it on, but get it.

I personally like a basket in front. It's easier to throw in a few things and go. Others like to load stuff in back. Get something. You'll need a carrying stuff mechanism.

And good luck!



 
« Last Edit: July 19, 2013, 09:22:19 AM by rollie »

NinetyFour

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Re: new to biking
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2013, 11:00:57 AM »
I would also recommend going to a bike shop. I bought my first mountain bike from a local bike shop that was getting rid of some of their rental bikes.  It was a fairly inexpensive way to enter the world of mountain biking.

Should you buy at a bike shop, don't be shy about asking them for a complete tutorial on how the bike works.

Regarding bike shops, at least in my town, not all bike shops have patience with riders who are anything less than professional racers!  One of our bike shops is particularly snooty, in my opinion.  I hope you have a shop where you live who will deal respectfully (and encouragingly!) with a newbie cyclist like yourself.

RhythmKats

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Re: new to biking
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2013, 11:15:38 AM »
I'm not really sure where you live, but it sounds like a city since you're on a bus route. There may be learn to ride classes or bike safety courses in your area. I live in NYC and we have stuff like that...especially since we just got a bike share program. We also have a an organization here that recycles bikes/bike parts to make new bikes. So that's something else you could look into. Although looking at a bike store is also a fine idea. I've generally found bike store folk to be friendly and knowledgeable.

mpbaker22

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Re: new to biking
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2013, 12:03:29 PM »
I would actually recommend the bike shop, and a not too expensive bike there. I'll explain why. I have found that most people in the US buy and use bikes that are meant more for racing. That means that the person is leaning over to reach the handlebars. If you see pictures of bikers, you'll see what I mean.

However, in most bike-commuting countries like Japan and Europe, people use commuter bikes. These are different, and they do sell them at the bike shops here. A commuter bike has you sitting straight up. Yes, it's less aerodynamic, but that's not the point. Unless you're racing, you don't need aerodynamics. You need comfort. The problem with leaning forward when you ride is that it does terrible things to your back. It causes you to hunch (unless you are very careful), and even worse, it causes your neck to turn in an extremely uncomfortable position just to see where you are going. (you have to look up) Again, look at the pictures. This position causes a lot of back and neck strain for bikers. As a newbie, you really don't want to deal with that. I'm not a newbie, and I don't want to deal with it.

For a new biker (and many old!) I suggest an upright seated style. If you start riding with a bike that has you bent over, you may find the whole set up so uncomfortable that it could impact your feeling of biking. This happened to my sisters, who both picked up biking again in their 30s and 40s, and thought it was tough on their backs. Until they realized their bikes weren't made for comfort. In Holland (big biking country) and the rest of Europe and Japan, you'll see upright bikes much more popular for commuters. That's because those countries are used to having bikes as a part of life, not just as a hobby.

My bike is a Schwinn, not too expensive. (about $350-$400) It has 21 gears, and that's important because it makes the hills easier, a lot easier. Don't get a no-gear bike. And three gears sounds like enough, but if you're new at this, go for some more gears.

Much of this is hyperbole and based on bad riding style.  I can ride 50+ miles without kicking out of my pedals (can't say I don't stand out of the saddle every few miles) without any pain. 
However, do some research on the correct fit and the correct positioning on your bicycle if you don't buy it from a store that fits you.

Eric

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Re: new to biking
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2013, 12:27:31 PM »
If you don't ride bikes and don't know anything about bikes, I would NOT recommend trying to buy a used one.  You'll have no idea what to look for, how to shop for it, whether if fits, or whether it rides well.  Do you have anyone you could borrow a bike from?  Or anyone who would let you learn to ride on their bike?  If not, I'd recommend checking with local bike shops as well.  In fact, they might even have used bikes there but with the expertise to make sure you get a good one.

mpbaker22

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Re: new to biking
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2013, 12:30:09 PM »
If you don't ride bikes and don't know anything about bikes, I would NOT recommend trying to buy a used one.  You'll have no idea what to look for, how to shop for it, whether if fits, or whether it rides well.  Do you have anyone you could borrow a bike from?  Or anyone who would let you learn to ride on their bike?  If not, I'd recommend checking with local bike shops as well.  In fact, they might even have used bikes there but with the expertise to make sure you get a good one.

+1 - it can be difficult even for veteran cyclists.  If you don't know what you're doing, there are probably too many risks with buying used, unless it's awfully cheap.

GuitarStv

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Re: new to biking
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2013, 12:51:48 PM »
I also recommend the bike store if you're new to biking.  The added bonus is most bike stores will give you tune ups/maintenance for a year or so after you purchase the bike from them.  You don't want to finally find a bike on craigslist, have something go wrong with it, and be out of transportation.

avonlea

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Re: new to biking
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2013, 01:28:27 PM »
... not only do I do not have a bike, but I don't know how to ride one! (The only time I really rode was when I was about 6 for a few months, and when I tried a couple years ago, no luck).

I like all of the advice that you've been given for what kind of bike to buy.  As a little side note, I was in your shoes a couple of years ago.  It helped me to go to a big unused parking lot to practice (for me it was a school parking lot in the evening).  I was surprised at how quickly I was able to build confidence and ride smoothly, but having the "alone time" helped a lot.  I was on the trails a little later and on roads not too terribly much longer after that.

hybrid

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Re: new to biking
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2013, 02:01:24 PM »
I would actually recommend the bike shop, and a not too expensive bike there. I'll explain why. I have found that most people in the US buy and use bikes that are meant more for racing. That means that the person is leaning over to reach the handlebars. If you see pictures of bikers, you'll see what I mean.

However, in most bike-commuting countries like Japan and Europe, people use commuter bikes. These are different, and they do sell them at the bike shops here. A commuter bike has you sitting straight up. Yes, it's less aerodynamic, but that's not the point. Unless you're racing, you don't need aerodynamics. You need comfort. The problem with leaning forward when you ride is that it does terrible things to your back. It causes you to hunch (unless you are very careful), and even worse, it causes your neck to turn in an extremely uncomfortable position just to see where you are going. (you have to look up) Again, look at the pictures. This position causes a lot of back and neck strain for bikers. As a newbie, you really don't want to deal with that. I'm not a newbie, and I don't want to deal with it.

For a new biker (and many old!) I suggest an upright seated style. If you start riding with a bike that has you bent over, you may find the whole set up so uncomfortable that it could impact your feeling of biking. This happened to my sisters, who both picked up biking again in their 30s and 40s, and thought it was tough on their backs. Until they realized their bikes weren't made for comfort. In Holland (big biking country) and the rest of Europe and Japan, you'll see upright bikes much more popular for commuters. That's because those countries are used to having bikes as a part of life, not just as a hobby.

My bike is a Schwinn, not too expensive. (about $350-$400) It has 21 gears, and that's important because it makes the hills easier, a lot easier. Don't get a no-gear bike. And three gears sounds like enough, but if you're new at this, go for some more gears.

Much of this is hyperbole and based on bad riding style.  I can ride 50+ miles without kicking out of my pedals (can't say I don't stand out of the saddle every few miles) without any pain. 
However, do some research on the correct fit and the correct positioning on your bicycle if you don't buy it from a store that fits you.

I am fairly new to biking and just got a Trek 1200 road bike from Craigslist inexpensively to supplement my mountain bike.  It has a fairly aggresive setup (translate - has me leaning forward) but that does not seem to be a problem so far and I am in my 40s.  It also helps that my commute is only nine miles (40 minutes on the road bike).  But I may look for ways to make this more of an upright bike like the mountain bike.

The mountain bike is much heavier and the tires are a lot wider, so it's a slower ride.  It's definitely a more comfortable ride though.  But I prefer the speed over the extra comfort.  YMMV.

mpbaker22

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Re: new to biking
« Reply #12 on: July 20, 2013, 10:27:32 AM »
I am fairly new to biking and just got a Trek 1200 road bike from Craigslist inexpensively to supplement my mountain bike.  It has a fairly aggresive setup (translate - has me leaning forward) but that does not seem to be a problem so far and I am in my 40s.  It also helps that my commute is only nine miles (40 minutes on the road bike).  But I may look for ways to make this more of an upright bike like the mountain bike.

The mountain bike is much heavier and the tires are a lot wider, so it's a slower ride.  It's definitely a more comfortable ride though.  But I prefer the speed over the extra comfort.  YMMV.

I mean, there are disadvantages and advantages to most any style of bike.  The road bike definitely has disadvantages.  The tires are skinny, so I'm always nervous on pot-holes, but I can go much faster on smooth surfaces.
I just don't think actual back pain is a result of correct body position on a road bike.  I have relatively minor scoliosis, and I have never had back pain on a road bike for rides less than 50 miles.

turboseize

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Re: new to biking
« Reply #13 on: July 30, 2013, 11:16:05 AM »
Back pain on a road bike means something is wrong. I never had that. But then, I always had rather decent upper-body strength (first played handball, then started rowing). It is highly recommended to supplement your cycling with some upper-body and core strength training, as your upper body is acting as an abutment (don't know if this is the right word?) to your legs. The stronger you pedal, the more strength you need in your core and upper body to keep your hips stable on the saddle - and channel the force into the pedals. And when you are riding out of saddle you are not only relying on your body weight, but you also use your arms to generate extra power... which somehow has to be transferred to the legs and to the pedals, requiring a stable upper body.

When just coasting along, a low handlebar (and thus body leaning forward) also means arms and shoulders bear a part of your weight, reducing the weight on the sit bones.
I have always had bikes with the handlebar way below the saddle and never had bike-related back problems. On the contrary, I find upright riding positions rather uncomfortable and annoying. I do have back pain, however, when I pause my strenght training for more than a week - but that occurs whether I ride a bike or not.
If you have back problems, switching to a bike with an upright riding position is not going to solve the problem, it's only hiding it.
« Last Edit: July 30, 2013, 11:18:04 AM by turboseize »