Author Topic: Overwhelmed at first "real" bike purchase  (Read 3545 times)

knichols

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Overwhelmed at first "real" bike purchase
« on: October 05, 2014, 08:35:44 PM »
So I've been reading MMM for 6 months or so.  We've taken some solid first steps.  Moved 28 miles closer to work, keeping the first home as a rental.  Working on refinancing both houses to shuffle equity and eliminate PMI on the new one. (Only paid PMI for 3 months because we needed to move fast or miss out on our dream home.) Paying off both cars with the next bonus (2012 Mazda 3 and 2000 Ford Ranger.)
Now that we are settled into the new place, I'm ready for the next step.  Biking 2 hilly miles to work.
Yes. I'm a wuss, but I get a little less wussy everyday.
The last hurdle is trying to find the right bike.  I read an old MMM article on good choices at nashbar, but the links are all broken. I read the incredibly detailed article in this forum, and It was information overload.  Normally I'm all about doing intensive research on such a large purchase, but after three months of researching housing and landlord tips and refis and DYI home repair videos, I am burnt out.
I don't have time to wait for my motivation to return.  Winter is coming, and I need to build my badassity before the cold gives my inner wuss an excuse to wait until next spring.
Today, I have a 20 year old hybrid mountain bike with a broken shifter. (Practically mint condition, but definitely a department store bike.). This doesn't cut it when riding 2 miles on moderately steep St. Louis hills.  The work ride is on the outer road of the highway, with the shoulder designated as a bike lane. I would also like to get a small cargo trailer and bike 4.5 hilly miles to the grocery store. The ride would be similar to work.  My neighborhood is fairly bike friendly.
I have essentially zero riding experience since elementary school. I made the work trip once on the crappy bike. With proper shifters, I expect the ride to be challenging but pleasant, even at my current embarrassing level.  (I had to walk up the last bit of the last hill.)
What bike should I look into?  Are there any STL mustachians who can recommend a good bike shop for measurements?  I went to SwimBikeRun (this branch should be called JustBike, since that's all they had.), but they only carry racing bikes, and they seemed completely uncomfortable answering questions for some one at level 0.
Ps.  In case it matters, I'm female of average height/build.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2014, 09:18:13 PM by knichols »

JeffC

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Re: Overwhelmed at first "real" bike purchase
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2014, 09:06:03 PM »
I just went through this and decided on this one:
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/mountain_bikes/fantom29_ltd.htm

It isn't worth stressing too much.  I think if you just go above huffy and below 500 you should be good.  Abovethat, you are mostly paying for higher end components (like shifters, brakes, etc which get exponentially more expensive because they are just slightly lighter weight. The whole shipping weight of this bike was 30, and I imagine packaging weighs at least 5.  Aluminum frame should be a requirements that is the easiest way to get a somewhat light bike.  Even though I have little interest in mountain biking, I like the geometry of a mountain bike more than that of a road bike. They are too leaned over for my taste.  Igot suspension just in case I want to ride trails, but it is a lockout so that I can turn it off when on the road. They say 29" tires are really nice on the road, so I went with that.  One thing I did do, and this is important, is that I bought some road tires.  They make the biggest difference in the world.  Mountain bikes are slow because of the drag caused by knobby tires with low pressure.  Road tires inflate to 100psi and cause very little drag. I found some pretty cheap on Amazon.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008VQ6XEW/ref=pe_385040_121528360_TE_dp_1

Good luck!


knichols

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Re: Overwhelmed at first "real" bike purchase
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2014, 09:15:19 PM »
Thanks JeffC!  This was exactly the kind of input I need. :)
I like the idea of being able to hit some light trails, too.  I had no idea the you could lock out the suspension.  When you say you bought road tires, how did you mount them on the wheels?  Does that require special tools?

mlipps

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Re: Overwhelmed at first "real" bike purchase
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2014, 09:26:25 PM »
Thanks JeffC!  This was exactly the kind of input I need. :)
I like the idea of being able to hit some light trails, too.  I had no idea the you could lock out the suspension.  When you say you bought road tires, how did you mount them on the wheels?  Does that require special tools?

You would use the same wheels, yes, only special tool needed is tire levers and some determination. New tires usually aren't stretched much & sometimes can take a bit of a struggle to pop off. If you go significantly smaller, you might need new wheels, but that's probably not necessary.

knichols

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Re: Overwhelmed at first "real" bike purchase
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2014, 09:30:19 PM »
Thanks mlipps! Sounds like an interesting challenge!

Terrestrial

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Re: Overwhelmed at first "real" bike purchase
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2014, 09:36:58 PM »
Not to make light of it but 2 miles is REALLY short on a bike.  Even in moderately hilly conditions.  I'm assuming you aren't talking about biking up a mountain here.

Have you just considered fixing the shifter on the bike you have and riding that a bit more to figure out what it is you want out of a bike?  Get friendly with an LBS, it will probably be less than $50 to fix your bike and get a tune up unless there's a ton of stuff wrong with it.  Your shifter/deraileurs are probably just out of adjustment from disuse, whole bike quickie tune-ups/adjustments are not that expensive, only $40 at my LBS.

You'll be surprised how quickly you get up to speed and how little the actual bike will matter.  'It's the Indian, not the Arrow' if you will.  I always found the 12 hilly miles to work too daunting until I found MMM...doesn't take too long to get up to speed. 

« Last Edit: October 05, 2014, 09:38:54 PM by Terrestrial »

knichols

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Re: Overwhelmed at first "real" bike purchase
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2014, 09:50:40 PM »
Yes, terrestrial, it is a wonderfully short commute! And we are talking rolling foothills, not mountainous terrain.  We took the crappy bike in, and were told that they couldn't fix the shifter because it was so old the parts were no longer available. They quoted $100 to replace and tune.
Given that we had no experience to gauge this quote, and we only paid $100 for the his/hers set on Craigslist, we passed.
For me, the biggest reason I want to invest in a newer bike is that the crappy one FEELS like a crappy bike when I ride it. Nothing I can put my finger on.  It just feels flimsy, which is a bit terrifying riding on the outer highway road, with cars zipping by at 55 mph.
Also, I'm not sure what to expect from the 20 yr old tires.  I guess, I'd rather get my $50 back through resale and get something better suited for my purpose.
I'm looking at nashbar now, with JeffC's advice in mind.  Then I'll look for those models on craigslist.

Terrestrial

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Re: Overwhelmed at first "real" bike purchase
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2014, 10:16:32 PM »
Yes, terrestrial, it is a wonderfully short commute! And we are talking rolling foothills, not mountainous terrain.  We took the crappy bike in, and were told that they couldn't fix the shifter because it was so old the parts were no longer available. They quoted $100 to replace and tune.
Given that we had no experience to gauge this quote, and we only paid $100 for the his/hers set on Craigslist, we passed.
For me, the biggest reason I want to invest in a newer bike is that the crappy one FEELS like a crappy bike when I ride it. Nothing I can put my finger on.  It just feels flimsy, which is a bit terrifying riding on the outer highway road, with cars zipping by at 55 mph.
Also, I'm not sure what to expect from the 20 yr old tires.  I guess, I'd rather get my $50 back through resale and get something better suited for my purpose.
I'm looking at nashbar now, with JeffC's advice in mind.  Then I'll look for those models on craigslist.

Ah, I see.  You definitely want something you will feel comfortable on.  I have not bought from Nashbar before but several of my friends have and their results have generally been positive. 

I HAVE bought a few bikes on craigslist and had it turn out well.  Good value can be found from either people who bought new bikes then never really used them (like a lot of exercise type equipment), or avid bicyclists who have nice bikes that are used but well cared for, who frequently upgrade.

Good luck.

hyla

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Re: Overwhelmed at first "real" bike purchase
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2014, 11:45:44 PM »
Does St. Louis have any nonprofit bike shops?  Or shops with some used bikes?  If you do, these places often sell slightly older but still good quality bicycles (so less racy and more practical than many shops) but they have been gone over by mechanics, so unlike a craigslist bike, you won't have the risk of mechanical trouble if you are new to biking and not yet comfortable working on your own bike.   And, unlike ordering online, you could actually test ride bikes, which I think is really valuable.  Finding a bike that fits well (and I'm not talking about needing professional bike fitting, just ride it and see if it feels right) is as important as having good reliable components for making sure you enjoy riding your bike and keep riding often!

JeffC

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Re: Overwhelmed at first "real" bike purchase
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2014, 05:19:35 AM »
Thanks JeffC!  This was exactly the kind of input I need. :)
I like the idea of being able to hit some light trails, too.  I had no idea the you could lock out the suspension.  When you say you bought road tires, how did you mount them on the wheels?  Does that require special tools?

You will need a set of these: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B001MJWOYI/ref=pe_385040_121528360_TE_dp_i2They slide between the tire and the wheel and then you pry with them.  They lock into the spokes, then grab another one and slide it all the way around.

It is more convenient if you have a bike pump but at this point, I am doing that stuff in the gas station parking lot, because I don't own a pump and it is not often I change the tires so I'm not going to buy a pump.  Hand pumps cannot get the psi up there as easily also.  Just watch a youtube video on changing a bike tire.  Not very hard.  The first time can get frustrating but then it will make sense.


MayDay

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Re: Overwhelmed at first "real" bike purchase
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2014, 05:53:59 AM »
I can tell you what I did (it was 6 years ago).  Maybe not the ideal method.

I went to REI during their end of season clearance, when all bikes were 20% off.  I rode a bunch of 200-400$ hybrids around the parking lot.  I picked one that felt good and bought it. 

In retrospect, I let the guy convenience me that "all" bikes these days have suspension.  Since the purchase I have gone off-road exactly zero times, and I wish I had tried to look more for a bike without suspension for the weight savings and bounciness factor.  But really, if that is my only complaint, I figure I am doing pretty well. 

At this point I don't ride nearly enough to justify a new bike purchase, but at some point I might get road tires.  I will probably trade my bike down to one of the kids when they need a full size bike, and get a new-to-me one then.  Like you I have about a 3 miles ride into town, over a giant hill.  I am pretty ok shape for your average American, but nowhere near as badass as people on here.  My 6 mile round trip with a giant (I mean really huge) hill is enough exercise for me for the day, thank you very much.  If I go the long flat way it's 8 miles round trip, and that is plenty exercise too. 

jamaicaspanish

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Re: Overwhelmed at first "real" bike purchase
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2014, 07:44:00 AM »
There's a great St. Louis non-profit bike shop:

http://www.bworks.org/bikeworks/


They're in Soulard.  They offer bike repair/maintenance classes to local kids.  After finishing the course, kids get a new-to-them bike.

They fund their work through donations and selling both new and used bikes.  They're friendly, informative, non-pushy, etc.

Can't recommend them highly enough.
Good luck.