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  1. #1
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    Hybrid or Comfort Bike ... or maybe cruiser?

    Hi All,

    Hoping to get some advice on a new bike purchase. I currently have an old mongoose that i've kept for near 15 years when I had it as a teenager. Decided to get back into bike riding and integrate it with my life. So far, its been fun and I see it continuing, especially for local trips that I would have either walked or taken the car. But the beast is showing its age, and while the whole thing is pretty solid save for a really messed up back wheel, I'd rather get a new bike that is more upright.

    I currently weigh 360 lbs and need the bike to handle brick paved local streets (that haven't been touched by maintenance since they were laid it seems, as well as paved roads and trails. I would use it for trips to the supermarket and would like to work up to doing my 15 mile commute each way.

    I've actually looked at 2 bikes I really like, that fit in my (unfortunately necessarily low budget of under $200). First one is from wally world, but actually seems decent, the mongoose paver (http://www.walmart.com/ip/700c-Men-s...r-Bike/8399245). I found the following threads about it: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ose-Paver-700c and http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...a-Walmart-bike

    The good:
    cheap ($132)
    Includes a rack
    upright with swept back handlebars "Metro bars"
    36 spoke rims
    Rigid fork
    slightly larger then the other one-size-fits-none frame at wally world. It fit well.

    The bad:
    aluminum - I'm thinking steel would be stronger and better for me?
    Only 7 gears - would like a 21. I'm not that in shape, and even the small bunny hops of hills down here had me putting the old bike in the front first.
    walmart is an evil company
    small width commuter/city tires
    no chain guard

    The unknown:
    700cc size. Not sure if that's good or bad or non-applicable.

    ---

    The second contender is the Diamondback Wildwood Citi Men's Comfort Bike (http://www.amazon.com/Diamondback-Wi.../dp/B002FKS1QI). I found a lot less online in terms of reviews.

    the good:
    steel frame, but still relatively light. listed as hi-ten steal.
    upright geometry and swept up handlebars.
    1.95" tires
    sized frames. The large fit nicely at sports authority
    Free 2 day shipping and free return for defective at amazon.

    The bad:
    front suspension. Could be good, but I'm gathering that isn't best for big guys.
    higher price (180+$14 for an el cheapo rack)
    must supply rack and cannibalize kickstand from other bike.
    seatpost suspension kind of weird.
    only 32 spoke rims
    no chain guard

    The unknown:
    front gears 28/38/48, rear 14-28, according to amazon. Is that good?
    26" rims. like the 700cc, is that good bad or what?

    -----
    I'm not adverse to ordering one if it looks promising and I can return it easy enough if it doesn't work. I've been watching craigslist like a hawk but not seeing anything. Also watching a LBS that carries used bikes, but all the hybrids he has are over $300, and even with service thrown in, its too tough a nut to crack.

    I plan on getting the bike boxed up and doing my own assembly. I'm pretty technically minded, and I'd trust it a lot more, since all the big box stores i've seen a lot of crazy stuff and know they won't do it right. I looked at some of the cruisers, but none of them seemed to fit right. Which one is better? Am I missing some pitfalls? Any other bikes I should look at?

  2. #2
    Senior Member c_m_shooter's Avatar
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    At your weight, neither of the bikes you mentioned will hold up. The wheels are machine built with single walled rims and weak spokes. Look on Craigslist or the classifieds in your newspaper for an older rigid mountain bike from a name brand like Trek or Specialized. Trek 820's and Specialized Hardrocks and Rockhoppers go for about $150 pretty regularly around here.

    As to your questions, the gear range is good, and 700c wheels are standard for road and Hybrid bikes. If you do decide to roll the dice and get one of those bike shaped objects and you have problems, it won't be worth the cost and effort to fix it.
    May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view.
    May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. -Edward Abbey

  3. #3
    Senior Member FlatSix911's Avatar
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    Take a look at a few of the bikes available online ... you can find some great values

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/comfort_bikes.htm

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/hybrid_bikes.htm

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  4. #4
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    Thanks for the suggestions. I'm not really looking for a mountain bike, otherwise i'd fix the rear wheel on the one I have and call it a day. There's nothing worth it on craigslist and i've been watching it.

    As to the bikesdirect, I saw the place, but they are just out of budget. Plus I'd have to pay return shipping if it just didn't feel right.

    I understand parts will break, and quicker for me to boot. I can go off and replace them when they break, upgrade the wheels when these get problems. quite frankly I don't see a difference between fixing one of these versus fixing a name brand bike that's used. Seems like i'm trading 100% life on cheap components with 50% life on better components. Seems to wash out. Given that, my main concern is a hi-ten steel frame with a front spring or an unknown aluminum frame. There just aren't too many options in my budget.

  5. #5
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    Try to find a bike shop in your area that sells used bikes, or if they have a rental fleet, used rental bikes. For around $200 you should be able to get a used entry level bike that will be of better quality than the Wal-mart bike.

  6. #6
    Senior Member CACycling's Avatar
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    Why are you against a mountain bike? When I returned to cycling, it was on an '86 Diamond Back MTB. Put over 1,000 miles on that before deciding to switch to a road bike. At your weight, an MTB with narrow slicks would be a great choice. As your budget is limited, your current bike, with a few repairs, may be your most economical option as well. If you want to be a bit more upright, swaping the stem and/or bars can do that on what you have. Then do some riding, start socking away a bit of money, drop some weight and see where it all leads you.

  7. #7
    Senior Member EKW in DC's Avatar
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    Had posted, but then saw your reply to CMShooter, so I'm revising my answer.

    ARider's got some great suggestions. The used rental sales in my area are usually in the fall, but still worth looking for.

    Looking for a used bike at a bike shop is also a great idea. This would have the added advantage of hopefully having has a good look-over/tune up by a mechanic at the LBS and may include some basic fitting assistance, etc.

    I don't know where you live, but Craigslist may still be an option. Here's one in my area, for instance, that could be yours if you could scrounge up an extra $20 on top of your $200 budget. (I know this may not be easy - I've been there myself)

    Another option that hasn't been mentioned is a local bike co-op. I'm not sure where you are, but I've helped out at one organizationb near me that fixes up used, donated bikes and resells them to raise money for some youth cycling programming they do. Something like that or just a good old-fashioned co-op may have some decent older hybrids available for resale.


    Other comments/ideas/opinions of mine -

    1. Avoid suspension forks, especially if they can't be locked out.

    2. There's debate over the 700 vs. 26 question. Many argue that a 26 inch wheel is a little more durable/clyde-friendly since it's a little smaller in diameter. I can't compare personally since I haven't ridden a bike w/ 26 inch wheels since about 12 years or 50 pounds ago.

  8. #8
    Senior Member FlatSix911's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SCROUDS View Post
    Thanks for the suggestions. I'm not really looking for a mountain bike, otherwise I'd fix the rear wheel on the one I have and call it a day. There's nothing worth it on craigslist and I've been watching it.

    As to the bikesdirect, I saw the place, but they are just out of budget. Plus I'd have to pay return shipping if it just didn't feel right.

    I understand parts will break, and quicker for me to boot. I can go off and replace them when they break, upgrade the wheels when these get problems. quite frankly I don't see a difference between fixing one of these versus fixing a name brand bike that's used. Seems like I'm trading 100% life on cheap components with 50% life on better components. Seems to wash out. Given that, my main concern is a hi-ten steel frame with a front spring or an unknown aluminum frame. There just aren't too many options in my budget.
    OK, I hear you you and understand the budget requirements ...

    The cheapest BD bike offered is the 2010 Motobecane Jubilee for $249.95
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...cane/jub_x.htm


    Alternatively, you could go for a single speed bike at Bike Nashbar for $200
    (- 20% off with coupon code 36SAVE [Exp 2/18] + $13 shipping = $173 shipped)
    http://www.nashbar.com/webapp/wcs/st..._-1?PID=404255
    You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
    You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
    You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
    You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
    You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.

  9. #9
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    I was in a very similar situation when it came to bikes not that long ago. I purchased a store brand bike because I wanted to save some money. I ended up not riding that much because it wasn't enjoyable. I ended up literally giving the bike away at a garage sale I disliked it so much. After a stop by my LBS where they fitted me for a hybrid I found out how much fun cycling could actually be.

    I second the suggestions for looking used at your lbs and on craigslist/ebay. I myself am selling my trusty hybrid on Craigslist now in your price range so that I can upgrade to a new road bike, so the deals do come. You may just need to be a little patient. Good luck with whatever you do.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Pinyon's Avatar
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    It may seem like we are being elitist jerks, but many of us are speaking from experience here. I had a bike like you are talking about getting, and I know of many others that did the same. Most of us ended up having MAJOR problems within the first month. The kind of problems that have you doubling the cost of the bike within a few short months. IF you still want to ride it.

    It usually starts with the rims. First they go out-of-true, so you learn to true them yourself. Then you break a few spokes over a couple of weeks, and find out it is a better bargain to buy a better rim than it is to pay to have new spokes put on the cheap rim every 3-6 months. In the time that you are playing with that, other problems emerge, depending on what brand of cheaper bike you settle on. Stuff that fell apart on my old Mongoose (after they started selling cheaper ones at Kmart) include the entire bottom bracket, rear hub, and front crank (bad bottom bracket eventually killed the drive-side). Not to mention the saddle. One rain storm and the vinyl cover started coming off.

    I think that you should take that money and get a new really tough rear rim/hub combination, and trick-out your bike with other items to make it more comfortable and/or versatile. Maybe some high-pressure tires to go faster? Different stem to set it up the way you like (taller? the kind of bar-ends that allow you stretch out more?)? A nicer saddle (really decent ones are often on sale)? Pedals? Shoes? Rain-gear? A rack? Grocery or other type of panniers?

    If you really want to change the kind of bike you ride, I would go for a used bike. Most people don't ride their bikes, and you can find a lightly-used road bike pretty cheap at yard sales and such. A decent one too. I would stick with a major brand, with double-walled aluminum rims (Trek, Specialized, Giant, Jamis, Schwinn, Cannondale, etc.).

    Be sure to ride it to see how it fits, and make sure that it has double-walled rims.
    My Bike Blog
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  11. #11
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    ^^^ +1 What he said.
    Gettin' my Fred on.

  12. #12
    Junior Member gritsisgood's Avatar
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    I guess it's always tempting to think that THIS time it might work out a little differently buying one of the spiffy looking inexpensive bikes that one sees in the box stores around - but I defer to the experience of all those that have already posted. Just thought I'd toss in another POSSIBLE option - probably depends on where you live - but if you're near a decent sized metropolitan area, perhaps you could check to see if the local/nearby police/sheriff office has auctions of unclaimed items. Those lots almost always include lots of bicycles. I know that where I live the local police hold three auctions a year. Might be worth taking a look.

    Just a thought....

    Haven't noticed that ebay was offered up as an alternative - just a suggestion that if you go that route, limit your search to an acceptable mileage range from your zip code area and look for sellers that allow for local pickup - it's a long shot but it's worked for me before.

  13. #13
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    Thanks for the ideas. I think I'll just give up on this for a few months until I can save up some more cash, or somehow run into a decent deal. Craigslist hasn't turned up anything yet, and is a pit of despair here. I'll check ebay, hopefully that would be better. The police thing is a good idea, they do put some local cops on bikes. The city lists their auctions online, so far no dice, I'll keep an eye on that.

  14. #14
    Scan Me DallasSoxFan's Avatar
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    Are you adding the money from dumping (I mean selling) you current mongoose to someone else into your budget?

    If so, I would stick with what you have and spend the money fixing the rear wheel, buying a few select parts to get a better fit (with assistance from an LBS) and put the rest in a piggy bank for when you can afford a better bike.

  15. #15
    Scan Me DallasSoxFan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pinyon View Post
    It may seem like we are being elitist jerks, but many of us are speaking from experience here. I had a bike like you are talking about getting, and I know of many others that did the same. Most of us ended up having MAJOR problems within the first month. The kind of problems that have you doubling the cost of the bike within a few short months. IF you still want to ride it.

    It usually starts with the rims. First they go out-of-true, so you learn to true them yourself. Then you break a few spokes over a couple of weeks, and find out it is a better bargain to buy a better rim than it is to pay to have new spokes put on the cheap rim every 3-6 months. In the time that you are playing with that, other problems emerge, depending on what brand of cheaper bike you settle on. Stuff that fell apart on my old Mongoose (after they started selling cheaper ones at Kmart) include the entire bottom bracket, rear hub, and front crank (bad bottom bracket eventually killed the drive-side). Not to mention the saddle. One rain storm and the vinyl cover started coming off.

    I think that you should take that money and get a new really tough rear rim/hub combination, and trick-out your bike with other items to make it more comfortable and/or versatile. Maybe some high-pressure tires to go faster? Different stem to set it up the way you like (taller? the kind of bar-ends that allow you stretch out more?)? A nicer saddle (really decent ones are often on sale)? Pedals? Shoes? Rain-gear? A rack? Grocery or other type of panniers?

    If you really want to change the kind of bike you ride, I would go for a used bike. Most people don't ride their bikes, and you can find a lightly-used road bike pretty cheap at yard sales and such. A decent one too. I would stick with a major brand, with double-walled aluminum rims (Trek, Specialized, Giant, Jamis, Schwinn, Cannondale, etc.).

    Be sure to ride it to see how it fits, and make sure that it has double-walled rims.
    Unless the words "double walled rims" are stamped on them, how is he supposed to know that they are?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by DallasSoxFan View Post
    Unless the words "double walled rims" are stamped on them, how is he supposed to know that they are?
    Let all the air out of the tube, push tire aside in rim, push rim strip back, look at spoke hole. If the nipple/spoke is exposed and not sunk under a hole through another "layer" of aluminum, its a single wall rim. If the nipple is sunk into the rim and there is another layer (or level) of aluminum, its a double wall.

    single wall:
    http://images.jensonusa.com/large/ri/ri308a08.jpg

    Double wall:
    http://images.jensonusa.com/large/ri/ri308a06.jpg

    Double wall are much stronger since modern rims are made of aluminum. The old steel rims were probably fine being single wall, but aluminum doesn't have the fatigue strength that steel does. I personally wouldn't do any kind of off-road riding with single wall, but they should be fine for cruising around town.

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