Author Topic: Want to buy a bike but never learned to ride and live in rural Canada  (Read 916 times)

jessicaeveritt

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MMM convinced me of the health and financial benefits of buying a bike.
I live in a small town in Nova Scotia, Canada, so it's only about 5km at most to get to everything I need. 

But, I never learned to ride a bike as a child, so the idea of buying one is intimidating. Added to that is the fact that I live in a place with maybe 12,000 people, so bike shopping options are pretty limited.

I have a 4 year-old who I would like to be able to take to school and back in a bike trailer. I'm hoping a trailer will also make it easier to keep the bike upright as I learn to ride! All the roads I'd need to travel on are paved, but quite hilly.

So, from doing my research I think I need either a hybrid without suspension, or a touring bike.
We don't have craigslist here (there is a similar site called Kijiji, but there are zero touring bikes and few hybrid bikes, even when I expand my search to include the closest city, over 100km away.)
There is also only one bike shop in town and it's quite expensive.

Unfortunately, all the online bike shop recommendations I've seen on here so far do not ship to Canada.
So, here's my questions:

1 - Can you recommend any online bike shops that are in Canada or ship here?
2 - Do you have any advice for someone with absolutely no bike experience on how to become a pro rider? :)

MsPeacock

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Re: Want to buy a bike but never learned to ride and live in rural Canada
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2019, 10:15:32 AM »
Hi - I love to ride bikes and work w/ a lot of newer riders. Get a bike with wide tires - 1"-2" or so wide. 2" will give you better stability. The wider the tire generally the heavier the bike. You'll want to balance the distance and hills you need to travel with the weight and style of the bike. Make sure you get a frame size that is appropriate for your height. Avoid a bike from places like Walmart, etc. because they are generally so poorly made that you will not get your money's worth out of them before they break.

Do not learn to ride with a trailer on the bike. It is actually harder to ride w/ things attached to your bike and will not help you. In general you want to start by just rolling down a gentle hill and start to learn to balance w/o your feet on the pedals. At this point the seat should be low enough that you can easily put your feet on the ground. As you become more comfortable work on making short turns, putting your feet on the pedals, etc. Assuming normal physical abilities you can actually progress pretty quickly this way to pedaling and steering around - e.g. in one afternoon. Then it is just a matter of regular and consistent practice until you feel comfortable, and getting the seat to the correct height for pedaling.

You mention hills - so it is helpful to have a small front chain ring (either a single chain ring that is small, or two or three with one of them being quite small) as it will make it much easier to get up hills, particularly if you are pulling some weight.

Here are some examples of possible bikes:

https://www.thebikeshop.com/product-list/hybrid-pavement-1299/comfort-1303/

https://www.thebikeshop.com/product-list/hybrid-pavement-1299/commuter-urban-1536/




Bella78

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Re: Want to buy a bike but never learned to ride and live in rural Canada
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2019, 10:38:01 AM »
Hi, a couple of bike shops I know of in the Halifax area, Cyclesmith and Sportwheels, offer shipping on their websites.

https://www.cyclesmith.ca/
https://www.sportwheels.ca/

I don't know how close you are to a Canadian Tire store, but they have bikes online, as well as in store https://www.canadiantire.ca/en.html.
« Last Edit: January 31, 2019, 10:56:06 AM by Bella78 »

six-car-habit

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Re: Want to buy a bike but never learned to ride and live in rural Canada
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2019, 10:39:53 AM »
 I'm going to disagree with MsPeacock on the cheap bike idea.  My suggestion is to find a garage sale bike, or buy a cheap Target / Walmart / General Tire bicycle. I'm meaning less than $150. There is also usually some "crazy Bike guy" in every county that has a fixation for bicycles and at anytime probably has 40+ bikes for sale out of his house / yard.  -  Yes you need several speeds if your area is hilly, but a 21 speed bike [ which seems to be the default anymore ] is likely more than you need.

    Reason for disagreeing on the expensive bicycle is this -- The absolute cheapest i saw listed in Ms Peacocks links was about $600, most were above $1000, if not $2000+ .  Yes, do not expect a $100 Walmart bike to last for 10 years.  But jumping right into this with a $1000 bike seems overkill.  MAybe it turns out you don't like riding that much. You'll find cycling up a steep hill is way harder than walking up it. MAybe there are no bicycle lanes in your town, maybe you find out you are not comfortable riding next to to 4500lb vehicles blasting past you at 50mph, 2 feet away, by yourself, to say nothing of adding a child into the danger zone....  *  Jumping right in with a $1000+ plus bike would be like never having bowled before -but buying a custom cut, custom colored, balanced and polished bowling ball for big $$

  Someone in your circle of friends / acquaintences will Lend you a bicycle to learn on. That is free.

 If it turns out you like bicycle riding for errands and general transportation,  then give away / donate, the cheap garage sale/ Walmart bike , and than buy a nice one.

 edit to add - once your child  turns about 5 years old, they are going to want their own bicycle and not be pulled around in mommy's cart.
   
« Last Edit: January 31, 2019, 10:43:39 AM by six-car-habit »

GuitarStv

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Re: Want to buy a bike but never learned to ride and live in rural Canada
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2019, 10:42:14 AM »
To learn to ride a bike:

- Set the saddle too low (so you can sit on the saddle with both feet firmly on the ground)
- Scoot yourself around a bit with your feet so you get used to the feeling of moving on the bike

- Find a (very) small hill, or driveway on a deserted part of street somewhere.
- Lift your feet and let the bike roll down the hill slowly
- Do this several times until you feel more confident with the whole thing

- Roll down the hill and put your feet on the pedals
- Start pushing the pedals

You have learned to ride a bike.

LifePhaseTwo

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Re: Want to buy a bike but never learned to ride and live in rural Canada
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2019, 11:02:00 AM »
Bike riding is awesome. I practically lived on my bike as a child, but then for whatever reason didnít keep doing it into adulthood. But in my early 40ís I met my now-DH who was an avid cyclist, and I decided to get a bike so we could ride together.
To start out, I bought a moderately priced Infinity bike from Costco.ca online and it served me well for several years until I upgraded to a Giant bike a couple of years ago. The Giant was significantly more expensive, but it was a good move for the more intense routes we started riding.
Weíre looking forward to family bike rides this summer; our granddaughters who are turning 4 started learning to ride bikes last summer, and itís a great family activity.
Best wishes to you!

MsPeacock

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Re: Want to buy a bike but never learned to ride and live in rural Canada
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2019, 11:53:19 AM »
I'm going to disagree with MsPeacock on the cheap bike idea.  My suggestion is to find a garage sale bike, or buy a cheap Target / Walmart / General Tire bicycle. I'm meaning less than $150. There is also usually some "crazy Bike guy" in every county that has a fixation for bicycles and at anytime probably has 40+ bikes for sale out of his house / yard.  -  Yes you need several speeds if your area is hilly, but a 21 speed bike [ which seems to be the default anymore ] is likely more than you need.

   

   

I don't disagree with getting a used bike. The purpose of the link was really to show a style of bike that is likely to work well for PP. I would actually strongly recommend a used bike from a "bike guy" over a new bike from a place like Walmart. However, it does sound like PP may be in an area where even a bike guy may be hard to find.


Uturn

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Re: Want to buy a bike but never learned to ride and live in rural Canada
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2019, 12:20:22 PM »
I think you might be over thinking this.  I would be shocked if you did not know someone who doesn't have an old bicycle laying around.  Find this person and they will give you the bike.  It doesn't matter what kind or size it is, unless you are 6' tall and it's a toddler bike.  Since you got the bike for free, you don't have to worry about messing it up when you drop it or run into a tree.

GuitarStv gave some good learning advice, but he missed step 1.  Step 1 is get our of your own way.  Don't over think learning to ride.  Learning to ride is not difficult, 6 year olds do it every day.  Heck, the person who gave you the bike might even teach you.

Once you know how to ride, then start looking for a bike to buy.  Until you know how to ride, you won't know what you need/want.

six-car-habit

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Re: Want to buy a bike but never learned to ride and live in rural Canada
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2019, 12:27:26 PM »

 understood, and i agree it was helpfull showing her the types of bicycles best suited to her needs. I think it was just some "price sticker shock" on my end.

  And, also a cheap bicycle could have negative ramifications to safety and enjoyment, if the gearing / deraileurs / brakes are set up badly by the Walmart person who assembled it.

Zikoris

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Re: Want to buy a bike but never learned to ride and live in rural Canada
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2019, 01:42:34 PM »
You could also look into getting an adult tricycle. The carrying capacity on those things is unreal, in addition to the fact that they're basically impossible to fall from. We are both perfectly fine bike riders, and even then will very likely buy a trike at some point when we move out of the city.

TrMama

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Re: Want to buy a bike but never learned to ride and live in rural Canada
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2019, 04:23:40 PM »
Tricycles are actually pretty unstable when they're moving. If you hit any little bump, or indentation with one of the rear wheels it can easily tip the whole thing over. Plus, adult size tricycles are expensive and hard to find. Unless you have some kind of balance issue, I'd recommend trying a regular bike first.

MEC ships free anywhere in Canada and carries a variety of great bikes. https://www.mec.ca/en/gender/men%27s/products/cycling/bikes/urban-commuter-bikes/c/1529?sort=price-asc

Note that many of their bikes don't come with pedals, you'll have to order those separately. However, they're very easy to put on, you don't really even need a tool. Get flat pedals with some "tread" that will grip your shoes a bit. Also get a helmet, bike pump (unless you live near a gas station with an air pump) and some lights if you plan to ride in anything other than clear daylight.

Jenson USA is another option. I'm in BC and have ordered parts from them several times. https://www.jensonusa.com/Commuter-Urban-Bikes

To become a good rider, I suggest riding as much as you can. It's just like any other activity. The more you practice, the more comfortable you'll feel. Don't start out with the trailer attached. The trailer hitch swivels and will not hold your bike up. This is by design so if you fall, you don't also tip the trailer over. Plus, the trailer pushes the tow bike downhill and drags it going uphill. It takes some getting used to. Get good riding on your own before you attach the trailer. Even then, only tow static loads (not your child) until you get used to riding with is.

Zikoris

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Re: Want to buy a bike but never learned to ride and live in rural Canada
« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2019, 05:00:10 PM »
Tricycles are actually pretty unstable when they're moving. If you hit any little bump, or indentation with one of the rear wheels it can easily tip the whole thing over. Plus, adult size tricycles are expensive and hard to find. Unless you have some kind of balance issue, I'd recommend trying a regular bike first.

I haven't found that at all - my boyfriend rode tricycles a few times before he learned to ride a bike, and he was a big fan of the fact that it was pretty much as stable as a tank, because he had no sort of balancing ability at all, and his steering was pretty bad as well - he was hitting things left and right and never managed to come close to flipping either a recumbent or an upright trike. He really loves trikes because he doesn't have to focus on balancing at all. I might buy him one as a retirement gift.