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  1. #1
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    Advice for a geared cruiser

    Hi! First post here. I'm helping my partner pick out a bike. She loves the cruiser look (and the look of most vintage women's bikes and Dutch style bikes, too). We're wanting to keep the cost under $400. I'm learning more and more about bike maintenance, but am really not at a place yet to overhaul a vintage bike. So we're looking at new cruiser-style bikes, but a 3 or 7 speed--we've got some hills around here, nothing monstrous, but enough to warrant at least some gearing (and maybe at least a front hand-break?). Also, she's 5'8", so any that are tiny will not do the trick!

    These are the ones we're looking at. Does anyone have knowledge of these, any advice to offer?

    1. Felt Bicycles USA - Claire 1-spd & 3-spd (8992) (can get the 3-speed on clearance for $319)

    2. Simple Seven W (2015) | Giant Bicycles | United States

    3. Sprite | Schwinn Bicycles

    Thanks very much!

  2. #2
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Get back to working... on the company computer! take test rides on saturday.

    only Felt of your list is sold in this town's bike shop. they're OK. In more colors than many..

  3. #3
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    Taking breaks is good for morale!

  4. #4
    Senior Member SquidPuppet's Avatar
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    The Simple 7 is aluminum and will ride different than the other two steel bikes. It also has a 3 piece crank vs an ashtabula one piece crank.

    Would you rather work on a deralieur or an internally geared hub? The Felt is internal and the other two are derailleur bikes.

    All three of them should be pretty trouble free and fairly well made.

  5. #5
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    Hm, I've only had bikes with derailleurs before. I'll have to do some reading on internally geared hubs. Thanks for the comment!

  6. #6
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    I prefer the IGH (internally geared hubs) for cruisers... I actually prefer them for most of my bikes. Once adjusted properly they are easy to maintain and seldom cause problems under normal usage. I have one old Raleigh from 1972 that has over 35,000 miles on the IGH, still rolling along today.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
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    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
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    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
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  7. #7
    Senior Member 1FJEF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peppep View Post
    1) We're wanting to keep the cost under $400.
    2) (and maybe at least a front hand-break?). Also, she's 5'8", so any that are tiny will not do
    I disagree on internal versus external gears on a new bike. I prefer external. The entire drive train can be completely replaced very easily, and cheaply, even by a rookie.
    If the gearing isn't quite right you can change it for under $20 (plus a simple tool or cheap labor). If an IGH screws up you have to send the wheel off or take it to an LBS and prepare to bend over.

    Some of the bikes you list don't meet the $400 limit.
    GET HANDBRAKES, at least a front.
    I prefer a 3 piece crank.
    This bike also has pedal forward technology, which is nice. It also is available in adult colors.

  8. #8
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1FJEF View Post
    I disagree on internal versus external gears on a new bike. I prefer external. The entire drive train can be completely replaced very easily, and cheaply, even by a rookie.
    If the gearing isn't quite right you can change it for under $20 (plus a simple tool or cheap labor). If an IGH screws up you have to send the wheel off or take it to an LBS and prepare to bend over.

    Some of the bikes you list don't meet the $400 limit.
    GET HANDBRAKES, at least a front.
    I prefer a 3 piece crank.
    This bike also has pedal forward technology, which is nice. It also is available in adult colors.
    Price components lately? I also have an issue with having to replace chains every 1,000-2,000 miles. My IGH chains under heavy use typically last 5,000-7,000 miles. If you do your homework on the gear range changing a rear cog on and IGH costs less than $20. Very seldom will you have an issue with one IF it is set up correctly to begin with. Not to mention adjustments and what happens when the bike falls over on the derailleur or a stick gets jammed in it. FWIW I have both types of bikes. Each has it's place. For "cruising" and city commuting the IGH works much better for me. I even use them for shorter tours. If I need the extended gear range of a derailleur bike I will chose it, but for 90% of my riding it isn't really necessary.

    Aaron
    Last edited by wahoonc; 08-20-14 at 08:38 PM.
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

  9. #9
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    I really like the AL frame and 7 speeds on the Giant. Women's bikes can be a PITA to transport. If you plan on taking it with you would she ever consider a regular top tube?

    Don't forget the basket.

  10. #10
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    I think derailer systems are easier to work on than IGH, which is a good thing b/c they generally need more maintenance. IGH hubs need some lube, but a basic 3 speed is easily adjusted and will hold adjustment for a very long time, so if you keep the chain clean/dry, you can run it for a very long time with very little maintenance. Sprockets as well as chains last a lot longer on SS and IGH set-ups, b/c it's hard on parts to shift a chain across a cassette or multiple front sprockets. Chainline stays optimal for the UGH as well, if set up properly. By their very nature, derailer systems will have the chain oriented diagonally which contributes to wear.


    But, yeah, if my derailer system acts up mid-ride, I can typically fix it/tune it on the side of the road or trail in short order, and keep rolling. OTOH, if an IGH blows up, i'll likely need to get it home to take a crack at it.... and, if it's one of the less user-friendly ones, i'll either need to take it to the shop, or just lace a replacement hub into the wheel. (Sturmey-Archer no longer makes the most reliable IGH, but they are tops for availability of spare parts, ease of rebuilding, and transparency from the manufacturer on how to lube them properly.)

    FWIW, if your wife is going for a vintage/cruiser/Dutch-bike aesthetic, the derailer system won't look the part as much as an IGH will. I truly believe that your best bet will be to find a larger-sized step-thru Raleigh Sports (or similar Sturmey-Archer AW-equipped 3 speed) for about $100, then pay a competent bike shop to overhaul it. Spend the other $200 on some accessories, a new saddle, and dinner out--- so long as y'all ride to the restaurant.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for the replies! I was offline for a few days, but back now. As for working on IGH, there's a bike project in town that now has classes on maintaining them! So I have a good resource for learning.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lastplace29er View Post
    I really like the AL frame and 7 speeds on the Giant. Women's bikes can be a PITA to transport. If you plan on taking it with you would she ever consider a regular top tube?

    Don't forget the basket.
    Actually, yeah, we looked at a few more bikes so I could get a better sense, and she's madly in love with this one: Classic Deluxe 7 | Schwinn Bicycles
    But that costs $800, so, yeah...

  12. #12
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    Nice, just make sure she rides it before buying. We had a big surf festival in Virginia Beach last weekend. I saw thousands of cruisers. One cool one I saw was the D3 Newport Cruiser, nice 3.45" wide tires.

    3G Bikes | Ladies Newport 7 Speed Beach Cruisers

    3G Bikes | Mens Newport Deluxe 3 Speed Beach Cruisers

    BTW, as an owner of a Nexus 7 speed cruiser, changing flats on one is a PITA.
    Last edited by Lastplace29er; 08-25-14 at 04:24 PM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by surreal View Post
    I truly believe that your best bet will be to find a larger-sized step-thru Raleigh Sports (or similar Sturmey-Archer AW-equipped 3 speed) for about $100, then pay a competent bike shop to overhaul it. Spend the other $200 on some accessories, a new saddle, and dinner out--- so long as y'all ride to the restaurant.
    Looking into these; the Sports looks like a nice choice. Wouldn't overhaul cost a decent amount though? What I'm worried about with an older bike is cascading costs: replacing brakes could mean needing new wheels, etc...

  14. #14
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peppep View Post
    Looking into these; the Sports looks like a nice choice. Wouldn't overhaul cost a decent amount though? What I'm worried about with an older bike is cascading costs: replacing brakes could mean needing new wheels, etc...
    IThe cost of the overhaul depends on your shop; just how much work they do for a "complete" tune up, and their rates for it. With something like a Sports, there's not too much that needs going over. Most of the work is in the Sturmey AW hub; next biggest PITA aside from that is replacing brake cables, as the earlier ones had calipers that use the annoying double-ended set-up. Good brakes, though.

    If you buy one in decent shape, it shouldn't need new brakes. New pads might be a good idea, but in either case, you wouldn't need new wheels as a result of changing brakes. The trick is, you'll want to find one in half-decent shape. Depending on your market, you can still find nice ones for cheap on CL. In my area, the prices on any old Brit bike have skyrocketed, but the step-thru bikes are still quite affordable.
    By you, I guess:
    Raleigh Sports 3 Speed girls bicycle

    The thing about these bikes is, a lot of the parts aren't compatible with other parts. So, if you want to change the handlebars, you gotta change the stem. The headset, BB, and cranks are basically not compatible with anything else, unless you replace the fork or go to extreme "MacGyver" style measures with the crankset. Front hub is undersized, tires are the 590 size, which is common worldwide but many US shops don't even carry them...and with very few exceptions, they are all 590x37mm. The good news is, they are very well-thought out bikes, and the only thing i might change would be the rear sprocket; they're geared kind of high for hilly areas. (But they're perfect for the flatlands, where I live...) But, if you look ant wahoonc, who has a '72 sports with something like 35000 miles on it, you'll realize that these bikes are built to last. Few modern bikes are the same way, at least not at the $40 pricepoint...

    HTH
    -Rob

  15. #15
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    All the advice is greatly appreciated! I'm just going to keep an eye on what's out there and see what comes up!

  16. #16
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    Look at this Brooks showroom bike (not the tandem...) https://indianapolis.craigslist.org/bik/4652062988.html
    Not much info about who actually made the bike, or the components... I can't seem to find anything about this on ye old Google. Anyone seen one of these?

  17. #17
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peppep View Post
    Look at this Brooks showroom bike (not the tandem...) https://indianapolis.craigslist.org/bik/4652062988.html
    Not much info about who actually made the bike, or the components... I can't seem to find anything about this on ye old Google. Anyone seen one of these?
    Lovely Bicycle!: Ceci N'est Pas une Bicyclette: a Peek at the Brooks Two Wheel Display

    Looks like they added brakes to it...

  18. #18
    Senior Member SquidPuppet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peppep View Post
    Look at this Brooks showroom bike (not the tandem...) https://indianapolis.craigslist.org/bik/4652062988.html
    Not much info about who actually made the bike, or the components... I can't seem to find anything about this on ye old Google. Anyone seen one of these?
    Quote Originally Posted by surreal View Post
    Eh...... what kind of Chinese artificial-imitation-simulated-vynl faux Brooks saddle is on that BROOKS bike?


  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by SquidPuppet View Post
    Eh...... what kind of Chinese artificial-imitation-simulated-vynl faux Brooks saddle is on that BROOKS bike?

    Ha, I was wondering the same thing!

    And thanks, surreal, for that. The more you know...

  20. #20
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    Yeah, crazy that they couldn't just put a B17 on it.

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    You should check if the gear ratios of the 3 speed are to her liking.

    I've only ridden a few IGH 3 speeds, but am always surprised at how high (or is it low?) the gearing is of the 'easy' gear on the 3 speed. Much harder to pedal than the easier gears of a derailleur equipped bike, at least on the ones I tried. Imagine that being the easiest gear on a long ride with whatever hills you have.

    Could be a deal breaker right there for the 3 speed.

  22. #22
    Senior Member surreal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bholio View Post
    You should check if the gear ratios of the 3 speed are to her liking.

    I've only ridden a few IGH 3 speeds, but am always surprised at how high (or is it low?) the gearing is of the 'easy' gear on the 3 speed. Much harder to pedal than the easier gears of a derailleur equipped bike, at least on the ones I tried. Imagine that being the easiest gear on a long ride with whatever hills you have.

    Could be a deal breaker right there for the 3 speed.
    Yeah, it totally would be if not for the fact that it can be easily fixed with a $5 part.

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