Newbie - Question on a Bike
Hey guys, I just starting to get into this biking thing, trying to lose some weight. Here's my situation. My employer has an employee wellness program. Basically I've been recording my workout sessions over the past 10 months, and at the end of August will be getting a gift certificate to the local fitness related store of my choice. I'll end up with a $200 gift certificate to a local bike store. The two (three) bikes that have been most recommended so far are the Trek 3700 (and corresponding steel-framed 820) and the Raleigh Mohave 2.0. Does anyone have any experience with or comments on these three bikes? I need to keep it cheap, since I'm on a very tight budget. I don't have any loyalty to any brand, although the Trek/Gary Fisher dealer is by far the closest. Other less local dealers carry the Raleigh, Cannondale, Giant, Schwinn. . .
The majority of my riding will be on gravel roads, some paved roads, and trails/minimum maintainance roads, which is why I thought a mountain bike would be my best choice. Some dealers have mentioned hybrids also, but it seems to me that a mountain bike would be built a bit heavier.
Thanks for your input to the most commonly asked question,
" The majority of my riding will be on gravel roads"
Well, there's gravel and then there's GRAVEL!
A hard packed dirt road with a scattering of gravel is very different than trying to plow through an inch or more of gravel.
IF your riding will be the former, you can pretty much get away with a "bike path" type tire. The thicker stuff, would mean a WIDE knobby would be more appropriate.
You didn't state your weight, but most likely, bike "strength" won't be a factor. WHEEL strength may be.
Current weight is 320 lbs (5'8" also, kinda stocky). Log torso, short strong legs and arm. I've been lifting for a few years and am benching about 285, and squating about 475. My lean mass was calculated at ~200 lbs using an electronic body comp tester about 4 months ago.
Luckily I'll get to see both kinds of gravel, depending on the county's schedule for road maintanence and exactly where I'm at relative to town. The majority of the time, it's hard packed dirt with a lot of rougher sections from overaggressive plows during the winter. They spread new gravel several time a year, the stuff that will even try to suck a car into the ditch. The gravel is also thicker on the less traveled stretches of road. In the spring, it also get very soupy.
Another reason I've decided to stick more on the gravel than the pavement is because it really opens up my options for routes. There are only two paved highways that would allow for any decent trips, and both are pretty full of traffic (because they're the only paved roads).
If you're 320 and squating 475 then I'd suggest,
1. radically rethinking your budget
2. looking for a overbuilt steel frame instead of an aluminum frame
3. building up that frame with some solid custom-built wheels
4. staying away from suspension forks, especially low-end suspension forks (ride a rigid fork if you're going to be on gravel roads)
I think you're going to crush anything like that Trek or Raleigh. I'm only 220 and I crush my $1500-$2500 bikes. Better to buy something that is adequate to your physique.