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  1. #1
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    Noob Needs Advice

    Well, I guess this is as good a place on here to post my question as any. I am looking for recommendations for a basic bike that will work for me, a guy that's 6'0" and 235 lbs.

    I know that a lot of you guys have really nice bikes. I might want one later, but for now, I just want a cheapie to get me out on a bike. I can ride, but have never been very good on a bike, so I don't want to buy something costing several hundred dollars or anything like that. Growing up in a semi-rough area, any bike I had eventually got stolen, and my parents wouldn't let me ride too far because the neighborhood wasn't the greatest. I'm now 31 years old, and want to start riding again, or kind of for the first time.

    I bought a bike a couple years ago because my wife loves to ride bikes, and I wanted to as well. It is a Huffy (yeah, I know that probably wouldn't meet the standards of most here that are serious riders) with lots of gears and a dual shock system. It is a nice bike, but the thing is so freaking high it makes me uncomfortable to ride. I'm uncomfortable enough due to my limited experience riding around cars and such, but I really don't need a bike that puts me up so high that my feet can't even really touch the ground. I had no clue what I was doing when buying it.

    So, help a noob (to the forums, and riding to some extent) out, here. I just want a basic bike that will allow me to ride around the neighborhood, maybe at a park or two, nothing special. Something that I can ride with my height and weight. Something that is fairly inexpensive so that I can get started, and then move up if I like riding enough. I don't want to spend but $100 or less, I don't care about gears and such, or even hand brakes for that matter. Just something basic, decent looking, and that will get me going.

    Any suggestions? (Other than losing weight and learning to ride a bike better.)

  2. #2
    The Improbable Bulk Little Darwin's Avatar
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    First, absolutely avoid suspension, especially at your price level.

    Second, unless you have a bike specifically designed for it (and there are very, very few), you shouldn't be able to sit on the seat with your feet on the ground.

    Beyond that, for $100 you should definitely be in the market for a used bike. Where are you, and perhaps someone here can help you explore your local Craigslist for a reasonable used bike.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Little Darwin View Post
    First, absolutely avoid suspension, especially at your price level.

    Second, unless you have a bike specifically designed for it (and there are very, very few), you shouldn't be able to sit on the seat with your feet on the ground.

    Beyond that, for $100 you should definitely be in the market for a used bike. Where are you, and perhaps someone here can help you explore your local Craigslist for a reasonable used bike.
    Thanks for the reply. I guess I realize that I shouldn't be able to sit on the seat with both feet on the ground, but shouldn't I be able to lean to one side and at least have one touch it? I can't even lean to one side with more than my tips of my toes touching the ground. My wife's bike was shorter than mine, and I tried it, with it feeling much more comfortable to me. It was just a few inches shorter. Maybe it's just my lack of bike riding experience, I don't know, but I'm not comfortable on a bike that is so high I'm on my tippy toes to touch the ground at all.

    I live in the Louisville, KY, area.

  4. #4
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    For that amount of money I would look at yard sales and maybe Craigslist if a big city is nearby. I know alot of people hate the department store bikes, it is because their components are extremely cheap. People buy these bikes, then these bikes will breakdown and then that person misses out on the enjoyment of bicycling. Stick to yard sales and craigslist and find an old steel frame bike that is is descent shape...My 2 cents.

  5. #5
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    $50, OBO http://louisville.craigslist.org/bik/1212485138.html

    It's not the best bike on the road. It's basically a better grade Walmart bike, but is better than a Magna or Huffy, and is basically a good basic commuters bike.

    http://louisville.craigslist.org/bik/1214107689.html for $95, and it's an old classic 3 speed Schwinn that will fit you.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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  6. #6
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    I think we both got our current bikes from Wal-Mart, and they have been fine, though I made a bad choice for me with the one I picked out. We don't ride that much, so we don't have to have the best.....I guess.

    Thanks for the CL choices. I was thinking about getting a Mongoose, and always heard good things about them, but you can get them at Wally World too, so I wasn't sure if maybe they had lowered their quality or something. Are Mongoose bikes, even new at a department store, good bikes, or should I look for an older one?

  7. #7
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    The one I linked you to IS the Walmart Mongoose Paver model. It's just less than half the price of a new one. It's the basic cost of their cheapest fake mountain bike, and has a rack already, etc.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


    . “He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”- Fredrick Nietzsche

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by whoyouthink View Post
    Thanks for the reply. I guess I realize that I shouldn't be able to sit on the seat with both feet on the ground, but shouldn't I be able to lean to one side and at least have one touch it? ... Maybe it's just my lack of bike riding experience, I don't know, but I'm not comfortable on a bike that is so high I'm on my tippy toes to touch the ground at all.
    You might do well to read some rudimentary things on bike fitting and adjustment. Some basics:

    As far as the distance to ground goes, what you really are looking for is to get high enough so that your legs will move naturally when you pedal. That is you don't bow your legs out trying to reach the pedals and you don't feel like you can push yourself up out of the seat while you're sitting on it. You do this by moving the seat post.

    You want about an inch between the top bar and your crotch when you straddle the bike and have both feet on the ground. There's no way to adjust for this, if you can't do this, don't buy the bike.

    Then you should be able to comfortably reach the handle bars, if they're too low and you're bent over too much, adjust those.

    Of course, there's also seat angle and position, but you can pick up those if you search around the net.

    As far as being up off the ground like you describe, that's a normal thing. Most people do not ride their bikes (ever) with the seat in the right place, so that part takes getting used to. It's the part of riding a bike properly that most didn't learn as a kid. You don't want it too low, necessarily, because you'll cause knee pain.

    If the bike is indeed adjusted like described above, the best thing will be to just practice taking off and stopping until you get used to it. I had to spend a couple of days worth of rides just doing that (start, stop, repeat) before I got comfortable enough with the seat at the right height.

    These links can be useful for a start.

    http://bicycletutor.com/adjust-seat/
    http://sheldonbrown.com/starting.html
    http://sheldonbrown.com/saddles.html
    http://sheldonbrown.com/beginners/index.html

  9. #9
    Senior Member deraltekluge's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whoyouthink View Post
    It is a nice bike, but the thing is so freaking high it makes me uncomfortable to ride. I'm uncomfortable enough due to my limited experience riding around cars and such, but I really don't need a bike that puts me up so high that my feet can't even really touch the ground. I had no clue what I was doing when buying it.
    Even with the seat at its lowest position? That's strange, if it's a department store bike. Those don't usually come in different sizes...they're normally for average-sized riders, and you're taller than average.

  10. #10
    Mr. Frowny Man Alathea's Avatar
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    You want your legs to be almost completely elongated at the bottom of the pedal stroke, otherwise you are wasting effort and fatiguing your leg muscles. After years of riding wrong, and watching others do so it takes a little getting used to, but your legs and lower back will thank you for it. You just push off with one pedal and the saddle should move forward as you start to move right in between your legs. By this point you are already starting to pedal the second stroke or so, so momentum is carrying you wherever you need to go.

    Ive never bought a Walmart bike so I don't know about frame sizing for those, but as previously quoted CL is your friend. Lots of people list bikes, but among them are those that know bikes and are buying up in the world, so you get a much better set up ride for much less. I routinely see Cannondales (older 3.0 aluminum frames and MTB's) Gary Fishers, Treks, Specialized,and whatnot on the Lincoln, NE Craigslist for anywhere from 150-300 dollars. Any of these, even if you have to drop 50-60 for a tuneup and incidental parts, spare tubes, etc, are going to be with you much longer than a bike from Walmart. Its sad, but you can buy a used mid to high end bike at 1/3 the price for the same amount as a poorly constructed, badly put together WM bike.

    Fit isn't a huge engineering endeavor. Generally, seat high enough to stretch the leg, handlebars up enough so that a plumbline from the end of your nose hits the center of the handlebars (for an MTB), saddle foreward or back enough so that a plumb from your knee cuts the pedal in half, about an inch of stand room over the top tube. That pretty much covers it. A lot of LBS's will fit you if you ask nicely, too.
    Quote Originally Posted by deraltekluge View Post
    Even with the seat at its lowest position? That's strange, if it's a department store bike. Those don't usually come in different sizes...they're normally for average-sized riders, and you're taller than average.
    Last edited by Alathea; 06-12-09 at 08:32 AM.
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  11. #11
    DRF aka Thrifty Bill wrk101's Avatar
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    +1 If you want a deal, you have to be willing to trade time looking and distance for price. I have found plenty of good bikes for less than $100, some less than $20. But it took a lot of looking. Thrift stores and garage sales have the cheapest deals. Craigs List will occasionally have a deal (you need to move really fast). Figure out what you want size wise before hand and be ready to pounce. And be willing to do a little work on the bike (thats why it ended up in the thrift store or garage sale).

    I picked up a bike this morning at a thrift store for $11, for its pedals, seat, seat post and crank set (about $40 in parts). Later I realized the wheels would fit a frame I had kicking around.

    My favorite score was my 1984 Lotus Classique. $16 at a thrift store. I did have to do the usual clean up on it. I probably put another $40 into it.

    I avoid the Xmart crap at all costs. There is too much good vintage stuff out there to waste money on junk.

    Do a search on sizing, there are endless threads on this topic already. Be sure to search by relevance. My only comment on sizing is that everyone is different. I have very short legs for my height (and a long torso, and long arms). So I have to sacrifice standover clearance (I have none) to get adequate top tube length. Bikes are designed for average proportions. So if you happen to be average, great. If not, then something has to give to get a bike to fit.

    Last edited by wrk101; 06-12-09 at 01:07 PM. Reason: comment

  12. #12
    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    STOP

    Before swallowing all this sizing advice, keep in mind that there are bikes available where you can comfortably be seated on the saddle AND have your feet flat on the ground at the same time. Electra (which calls this Flat Foot technology) and others make these types of bikes...from simple single speeds to multi geared multi speeds. You can find the Electra bikes new starting under $300 (like the simple single speed, coaster brake bike below)...and probably used for much cheaper.

    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  13. #13
    Senior Member Sir-Loin's Avatar
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    That Lotus is a sweet looking Road Bike!
    Sir-Loin
    5'8 and 294 lbs of HUMILITY.....

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