Author Topic: Question for the bicycle gurus  (Read 4344 times)

duck-duck

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Question for the bicycle gurus
« on: April 28, 2014, 10:56:49 PM »
I think I'm ready to take the next step in the bicycle world. I've been an avid on again off again bike commuter with past job changes. I'm on a good roll now with my current job, cycling about 4 days per week though only 5 miles each way. I'm riding a late 70's Schwinn that was my brother's high school ride. It's just about perfect for what I do with it and I don't have to worry about locking it up anywhere.

So now I think I'd like to get a more distance capable road bike to use for weekend rides with friends and maybe even a triathlon now and again. I've completely gone through a couple of old Schwinns and enjoy turning a wrench. Finally to the question.

Can anyone recommend a particular brand and model to look for on Craigslist? I know most of the major brands but I'm not very familiar with all the different models so I have a hard time telling a diamond in the rough from a polished turd. I'm thinking a high quality late 80s or 90s road bike. Hoping to spend $300 (though this is flexible) or less and don't mind a fixer upper as long as it's something worth putting time and money into. To complicate matters, I'm 6'4" so it may take a while to find something in a large enough frame, but I'm in no hurry.

Does this sound like a good plan, or would I be better off getting an entry level bike on Nashbar? Thanks all!

Emg03063

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Re: Question for the bicycle gurus
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2014, 11:02:26 PM »
It's a good plan.  Look for quality components (shimano or suntour).  For frames, weight and fit are all that really matter unless you're planning on off-roading.  Just check for cracks at the welds.  My road bike is an aluminum frame I got off CL for $160 (they were asking $200).  To this day I don't know what brand it is.

GuitarStv

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Re: Question for the bicycle gurus
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2014, 06:57:36 AM »
If you're not used to the way they feel, go into a bike store and get them to size you up on a road bike.  You sit differently on them, and it's very important to get the top tube length right for your torso size to avoid back pain on long rides.  Once you know what size top tube to be looking for, you can check all the major manufacturers for information about their frame sizes.  Unfortunately they all have slightly different geometries, so it will take a while to narrow this down.

For long rides I much prefer a steel frame on a road bike. . . it might be a lb or two heavier, but it absorbs bumps and is much nicer on your ass and hands over the long haul.  A 300$ budget wouldn't take you far around here looking for a road bike . . . but prices can vary from place to place.

There are many good bike brands  . . . look for Surly, Specialized, Giant, Jamis, etc.

FunkyStickman

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Re: Question for the bicycle gurus
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2014, 10:12:57 AM »
Good stuff. If you're looking for older used bikes, then look for a Peugot, Schwinn, Trek, Raleigh, Fuji, and maybe a few others. They all made road bikes (in various price ranges) and a lot of them used 27" wheels, which you can still get tires and parts for.

For older bikes, look for:
  • aluminum rims (cheap bikes had steel rims)
  • aluminum cranks (cheaper bikes had steel cottered or 1-piece cranks)
  • as mentioned, look for rust spots or cracks in the frame
  • look to see if there's any broken teeth on the gears, rusted cables, etc.
  • if it's steel, look for Reynolds or ChroMoly tubing (usually there's a sticker)

There's more things, but generally look for a well-maintained bike. You can pick up a nice used 10 or 12-speed for $100.

skyrefuge

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Re: Question for the bicycle gurus
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2014, 10:21:55 AM »
I advise a mild preference for Trek or Cannondale, for the simple reason that both brands have catalog archives from those eras online, which allow you to fill in a lot of technical details (geometry, components) that will likely be missing from the Craigslist ads.

http://www.vintage-trek.com/trek-fisher-klein-lemond.htm
http://www.vintagecannondale.com/catalog.html

(as you can see, the former also has some history for Gary Fisher, Klein, and Lemond as well, and maybe there are other brands out there with similar archives that I'm not aware of).

duck-duck

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Re: Question for the bicycle gurus
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2014, 07:41:20 AM »
Thanks for the replies so far and the links to the catalogs. I would agree that after riding an old Schwinn 10 speed for awhile, I'd like to find something a little more modern; aluminum 700cc wheels, 3 piece crank, mounts for bottle cages, etc. In searching craigslist, I've found a lot of early 80s bikes that I don't think would be much of an upgrade and a lot of newer bikes that appear to be good deals in the $600-800 range. It seems that in the older bikes, a larger frame meant raising the top tube but no corresponding lengthening of the top tube. Anyway, here are a couple that I think might be worth investigating further. I haven't contacted either owner yet and would like your unbiased opinion first.

http://losangeles.craigslist.org/wst/bid/4447608309.html

http://orangecounty.craigslist.org/bik/4443148658.html

As I said before, I not in a big hurry, just want to find something reasonably priced that I can grow into as a cyclist.
Thanks!

duck-duck

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Re: Question for the bicycle gurus
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2014, 07:52:45 AM »
One more that I just came across that looks promising.

http://sandiego.craigslist.org/nsd/bik/4449773082.html

lackofstache

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Re: Question for the bicycle gurus
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2014, 07:58:57 AM »
IF you're a tall guy, any of those bikes would work. I'd lean towards the first Trek; the Pro Series, as I like the look of skinny tubes & lugs vs. carbon or aluminum. The weight on these shouldn't be significantly different, the carbon of that era was thick & the Aluminum no lighter than quality steel.

sol

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Re: Question for the bicycle gurus
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2014, 09:42:05 AM »
None of those bikes are what I would consider awesome commuter bikes.

The red Cdale the carbon Trek are both go-fast bikes at reasonable prices, but better suited to weekend pleasure rides than daily commutes.  The Cdale in particular has a very tucked tail so it will be a little more twitchy to ride.  Neither one appears to have mounts for fenders or a rack, which may or may not be a problem for you depending on your planned use.

The steel trek at $340 is expensive for a bike that is so old and ugly, but is probably the best suited of the three for basic daily transportation.  Around here, $400 will get you a much nicer steel framed road bike that's less than ten years old, with fenders already on it and a lock thrown in for free. 

For my daily ride, I greatly prefer handlebar mounted shifters of some sort, because I find it annoying to constantly be going to the downtube to shift while dealing with traffic and braking at the same time.  If you're going to spend over $300, I'd insist on modern shifters.  Those old ones work fine on older bikes, but they should be in the $150-300 range for a ride in decent condition.

duck-duck

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Re: Question for the bicycle gurus
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2014, 04:10:52 PM »
Thanks for all the advise. I should clarify that I'm planning to keep riding my old Schwinn as a commuter as it's already set up to that purpose with rear rack panniers, non-drop bars (what ever those are called) and I don't mind locking it up outside.

I'm looking for something that I can use for weekend rides with friends and maybe a sprint to olympic distance triathlon in the future. I know that no single bike can fit every niche perfectly and I realized that I won't be able to keep up with buddies who are pushing hard on their 5k bikes either. I want a bike that will allow me to start riding farther distances without costing a month's rent.

If I find anything else that looks good, I'll post it up. Thanks again for all the replies!


duck-duck

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Re: Question for the bicycle gurus
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2014, 01:32:07 PM »