Author Topic: What level of quality do I need in a bike?  (Read 2575 times)

Salivanth

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What level of quality do I need in a bike?
« on: August 14, 2015, 10:56:37 PM »
Beginner Mustachian here. I'm an Australian student who currently lives 9 kilometres (5.5 miles) from the nearest grocery store, and 15 kilometres (9.5 miles) from my clients that I tutor in maths as a side job. However, I don't want to move, as I currently live with my grandmother while I'm studying. Since she owns her own home, the board I pay is very reasonable, and despite being on student welfare, I'm able to save a little more than half my income; way better than I'd get if I moved into town.

This isn't "unbikable" distance, but it's definitely more than suburbia, so does this mean I need a better quality bike than I would if I only needed to travel 2-3 miles at a time? I'd like to work my way up to travelling the 15 kilometres there and back 4 times a week over time, without being excessively sweaty at the end of the ride, since I do need to keep up some level of professionalism. (though less than an office job might demand) Should I go to a bike shop and tell them my needs, or would I end up with something more expensive than I want? I don't know anything about bikes, so I think I  need some more info before I look into buying a used one.

Any advice on how to proceed would be appreciated.

JJNL

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Re: What level of quality do I need in a bike?
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2015, 11:07:49 PM »
I'd say the terrain you traverse while biking is more relevant to the quality you need than the distance. Are there hills? Is it all smooth tarmac or are there bumpy bits? For hilly, bumpy terrain I'd buy a much better bike than for a smooth ride. Assuming your ride is smooth and flat tarmac, I'd say: go for a bike that's comfy to ride (if it doesn't have a comfy saddle, buy one and thank me later) and not rusty / falling apart anywhere, and that you can easily maintain yourself (i.e. that doesn't have unnecessry moving parts). I'm from Amsterdam and like pretty much everybody here I cycle everywhere (including 10k+ distances) on an old, very basic sit up and beg bicycle. Not saying that's what you should settle for, but IMHO there's no need for you to buy a fancy new touring bicycle if your commute tops out at 15k. And I'd definitely check to see if you can buy your bike second hand, that could save you loads of money. Bikes are like cars: they lose a lot of value the minute you take them out of the shop.

MoonShadow

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Re: What level of quality do I need in a bike?
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2015, 11:14:09 PM »
How cold does it get in winter (summer?) where you live?  Strangely, that is quite relevant to the answer, because when I first started biking to work, I began with a relatively cheap mountain bike from Walmart.  Which worked okay as long as it was above about 4 degrees Celsius.  Below that the grease in the wheel bearings would start to gel, which made things more difficult. 

Salivanth

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Re: What level of quality do I need in a bike?
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2015, 11:40:17 PM »
JJNL: Total of 110 metres of elevation, all in the first 9 km. Smooth tarmac though.

MoonShadow: Summer it gets pretty hot, it can top at 40+ Celsius some days in the summer. Fortunately it's the end of winter now so I'd have time to get used to that. Winter is pretty mild, it doesn't generally go below 4 degrees Celsius. If I were to buy a bike that crapped out below this temperature, that would be fine; I could drive on the very rare day that this happened. 

So the advice I seem to be getting so far is "15 km is actually not that far to travel, and you don't need a good bike for it. Just buy one second-hand and you'll do fine." Does this seem accurate? I think I treated 15 km as longer than it is, but now that I think about it; biking 15 km is like running ~5 km, and I don't need running shoes to run an easy 5k.

JJNL

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Re: What level of quality do I need in a bike?
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2015, 11:53:50 PM »
Yep! Just get a cheap 2nd hand bike and you'll be fine.

Salivanth

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Re: What level of quality do I need in a bike?
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2015, 03:49:30 AM »
Thanks! One last question; how important is size in a bike? I'm a titanic 5'5'', so when I saw a bike designed for 5'9''-5'11'' people, I figured that was outside my range. Is this the case, or can one adjust the bike / deal with it reasonably well?

greenleaf

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Re: What level of quality do I need in a bike?
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2015, 05:54:58 AM »
How long your torso is vs your legs/arms as well as total height will make a difference in what size bike you need.  The best way to figure out if a bike is the right size is to test drive it.  If you can't test drive it, I would stick to one that says it is for your height and you'll probably be ok.  There are things you can adjust, but only to a point. You might be able to get on and ride the one you are looking at, but it will probably not fit well.  15k isn't terribly long, but it isn't trivial, and is certainly long enough to be uncomfortable on a bike that's way too big. 5'5" is close enough to average height that you should have options and shouldn't have to settle for something that doesn't fit.  I'm pretty short and have some experience riding poorly fitting bikes because I couldn't find anything better (and didn't know enough to keep looking when I was first starting), and I don't recommend it.

BlueMR2

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Re: What level of quality do I need in a bike?
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2015, 07:24:16 AM »
Off the top of my head, for new, if you spend under $250, you're usually into something that's got wacky non-standard parts that will frustrate you during repairs.  If you can spend $500, you're in pretty decent territory.  Prices shoot way up from there for minimal gains.

Used is the best route though.  There's plenty of $5-10 bikes at garage sales that have life left to give.   If it was a decent bike to begin with, the maintenance shouldn't be bad.  If it was cheap to begin with and gives you problems, well, you're only out a few bucks.  :-)