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  1. #1
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Budget bike advice for midget Athena? Build vs buy, etc...

    A friend of mine had a K2 road bike until a couple of days ago. She parked it outside of work, with a U-lock, and now a thief has a nice K2 road bike. Not having a bike sucks, and she wants to fix the situation asap. She's asking me for advice, and I don't want to steer her wrong, so maybe you folks can chime in?

    This is going to be a commuter bike, primarily, but it's going to see a lot of touring. She has plans next summer to ride from southern British Columbia to Anchorage, along the Alcan. And this means 26" wheels, because those are easier to get parts for in the middle of nowhere. Also, my friend has short legs and long arms.

    For these reasons, she's been thinking about Surley's Long Haul Trucker and Cross Check, and also Salsa's Casserole. First, I wonder if anyone else can recommend any other bikes, has advice on any of them?

    REI has the LHT for about $1,100, but with bar end shiftersr. Another shop has the frame for $450. Budget is of the essence. Is it crazy to think a person could build the frame up for less than the full bike costs, and to do it with modern brifters? She's perfectly happy with Sora. Would it make sense to buy a used road bike on Craigslist for $100, move the parts to the new frame, and sell or donate the old frame?
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  2. #2
    SERENITY NOW!!! jyossarian's Avatar
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    Go to bikesdirect, buy whatever bike w/ the right component mix, swap everything over to whatever frame she chooses and sell the BD frame. Or go the used route since she has plenty of time before next summer.
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  3. #3
    Downtown Spanky Brown bautieri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jyossarian View Post
    Go to bikesdirect, buy whatever bike w/ the right component mix, swap everything over to whatever frame she chooses and sell the BD frame. Or go the used route since she has plenty of time before next summer.
    Sorta

    Lets see...the most applicable BD donor bike would be the Windsor Tourist to get your friend STI shifting and tour appropriate gearing. This bike has many followers in the touring forum including a couple that toured across the US on them straight out of the box. It retails for 600 with free shipping to your door. If price is a factor...this is going to be hard to beat. I wouldn't bother swapping the parts over to the Surley frame. First, you're going to need tools which you may not have. You'll have to buy them or pay someone else to do it which will add to the cost. The next issue is that it doesn't have 26'' wheels in the small size like the LHT does so that will add to the cost too.

    If 26'' tires are a must, I'd keep an eye out for an old Trek 520. If she can live with the 700 wheels and tires, go for the Windsor. I really doubt she would be disappointed with it. Buy it now and have a competent mechanic go over it, give it a good lube, and re-tention the wheels straight out of the box. Ride the bike all winter before the tour so she can get used to it/get any kinks worked out.

  4. #4
    SERENITY NOW!!! jyossarian's Avatar
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    She's only going to Alaska. I'm pretty sure 99% of the Canadian Tires in between here and there have 27"/700c tubes and tires since they sell hybrids and road bikes. And there's CT's everywhere. If she was going to outer Mongolia, then she might want to stick w/ 26" tires.
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  5. #5
    Come here often? <wink> exile's Avatar
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    If either you or her are handy with a wrench and you have parts lying around then you could build up a bike for less than a fully assembled one. I wouldn't discount a bike just because I didn't like the shifters though. As you become more acquainted with them, the easier they become to operate.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    I emailed her a link to the Windsor Tourist. Thanks!

    I would assume 700c would work, too, but I've been assured it won't. The truth is I haven't been much north of Vancouver, and she's driven from here to Anchorage several times. So I'll take her word on how remote and rough it is, and how much easier 26" wheels are to find replacement parts for.

    What would be involved in changing from 700c to 26" wheels? I assume the brakes would have to change, and that might cascade into new shifters...?
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  7. #7
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    I am not sure what is meant by wheel parts? What parts would she expect to go bad?

    but you mentioned midget but did not give details on height/frame size. Your fiends actutal size could make a difference, both in frame choice and wheel size. some bikes in smaller sizes go to smaller wheels (rivendell and 650b wheels and Terry women specific bikes come to mind)

    It does sound like a touring bike would be a good fit to the needs. Is used/craigslist an option?
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  8. #8
    Senior Member squirtdad's Avatar
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    from seattle craigs list

    cross check 46 cm $800...set up for a woman

    http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/bik/2028655978.html


    http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/bik/2018661011.html

    probably 2 big but an idea trek 520

    http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/bik/2017746313.html
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  9. #9
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    i'd be more worried about tires than the actual wheels for a small rider and I would just carry folding tires with me. The bikes direct route is easily the way to go to get the appropriate group. don't worry about it matching perfect. if you end up having to buy a $30 casette afterwards because the bikes direct one has 12-25 and you need 11-34 then just buy the extra casette.

    Another option is microshift. I have it on 2 bikes and I love it. way better than sora and way cheaper. you can get 10 speed shifters from nashbar for about 120 bucks, easily saving 2-300 over 105or ultegra shifters.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
    I am not sure what is meant by wheel parts? What parts would she expect to go bad?

    but you mentioned midget but did not give details on height/frame size. Your fiends actutal size could make a difference, both in frame choice and wheel size. some bikes in smaller sizes go to smaller wheels (rivendell and 650b wheels and Terry women specific bikes come to mind)

    It does sound like a touring bike would be a good fit to the needs. Is used/craigslist an option?
    Used is an excellent option - and I forwarded the three you turned up, thanks!

    She's complained before about not having enough toe clearance, so I don't think smaller wheels would be a bad thing. Probably kind of welcome.

    I'm not exactly sure what's going to go wrong with the wheels, either.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cappuccino911 View Post
    i'd be more worried about tires than the actual wheels for a small rider and I would just carry folding tires with me.
    That's a great idea! Thanks!
    Don't believe everything you think.

  12. #12
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    I emailed her a link to the Windsor Tourist. Thanks!

    I would assume 700c would work, too, but I've been assured it won't. The truth is I haven't been much north of Vancouver, and she's driven from here to Anchorage several times. So I'll take her word on how remote and rough it is, and how much easier 26" wheels are to find replacement parts for.

    What would be involved in changing from 700c to 26" wheels? I assume the brakes would have to change, and that might cascade into new shifters...?
    I don't know any good way to 26" wheels on a bike designed for 700c except if the bike has disc brakes then no problem. If that is the case then look at the Raleigh Sojourn or Jamis Aurora elite. But fenders may not fit properly and it would lower the bb clearance and increase the chance of pedal strike on curbs and other objects.
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    Honestly, I'm 235 lbs and have had zero issue with my stock 32 spoke wheels and I even sometimes load about 25lbs of additional stuff on my bike. If I were building up a frame from scratch I would just go with some sort of 36 spoke wheel. Initially i picked up on the "midget" and not the "athena" part of your post so obv she is a bit heavier than I was initially thinking so depending on how heavy she is will make a difference in your strategy for the wheels

  14. #14
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    Used is an excellent option - and I forwarded the three you turned up, thanks!

    She's complained before about not having enough toe clearance, so I don't think smaller wheels would be a bad thing. Probably kind of welcome.

    I'm not exactly sure what's going to go wrong with the wheels, either.
    For a smaller rider, used or Bikes Direct are probably not good options. With used bikes, small touring bikes don't come up that often. If you could find a used Terry, that would be great (my wife loves here Symmetry and it did very well on the Natchez Trace this fall with a load). Other used bikes to look for your friends purpose would be Trek WSD hardtail mountain bikes but again, quality small bikes are rare and only turn up on Craigslist occasionally.

    Bikes Direct is probably the worst choice for smaller riders. Small riders require more attention to fit and, thus, mail order bikes are probably not a good choice. Too much fiddling with the fit and/or returning bikes can quickly eat up any savings that you can find from an on-line retailer. For small riders it's best to put their hands on the bike before buying. What looks good on paper may not fit as well in person.

    Using a BD touring bike as a donor bike probably isn't an option either. First there's the wheel issue. Small LHTs use 26" wheels. The BD bike uses a threaded fork while the LHT is threadless. The seatposts may not be the same diameter. The front derailer may not be the proper diameter. All those items add up to more money making the bike less of a deal than it looks.

    Check with the REI store and see if they would be willing to swap the bar end shifters for a set of Sora. She might have to pay a little more for the bike but in the end she'd have a bike that she's comfortable with. Just watch the sales and use those 20% off coupons
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  15. #15
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cappuccino911 View Post
    Honestly, I'm 235 lbs and have had zero issue with my stock 32 spoke wheels and I even sometimes load about 25lbs of additional stuff on my bike. If I were building up a frame from scratch I would just go with some sort of 36 spoke wheel. Initially i picked up on the "midget" and not the "athena" part of your post so obv she is a bit heavier than I was initially thinking so depending on how heavy she is will make a difference in your strategy for the wheels
    Would using a trailer instead of panniers change the picture any? Seems like that would put the burden on the bike frame, rather than the wheels, since the trailer would have its own wheels to actually bear the weight, and the bike would be dragging instead of supporting it?

    My CX bike has 36 spoke wheels. I fell one day while playing slalom around some concrete poles, and the rear wheel hit one of them, taking all the brunt of the impact, and saving me from even a bruise. The wheel didn't even go much out of true, although I destroyed the tire. I go down stairs regularly, do rough dirt trails, etc. So I think you're probably 100 % right.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  16. #16
    Downtown Spanky Brown bautieri's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    Would using a trailer instead of panniers change the picture any? Seems like that would put the burden on the bike frame, rather than the wheels, since the trailer would have its own wheels to actually bear the weight, and the bike would be dragging instead of supporting it?

    My CX bike has 36 spoke wheels. I fell one day while playing slalom around some concrete poles, and the rear wheel hit one of them, taking all the brunt of the impact, and saving me from even a bruise. The wheel didn't even go much out of true, although I destroyed the tire. I go down stairs regularly, do rough dirt trails, etc. So I think you're probably 100 % right.
    A horse can pull much more than it can carry.

    Using a trailer for touring is entirly possible for your friend. Many people do this. There are some considerations your friend will need to consider. A trailer makes the physical footprint of your bicycle larger. Not an incredible amount, but enough that she may bump into things she might have normally missed. Depending on the trailer design this will also be an extra one or two wheels and tires she will need to take care of. Extra tires will also add additional rolling resistance but while touring this is somewhat of a moot point. The bennefits include larger cargo capacity and lower center of gravity. A big draw back of this advantage is that many people will tend to over pack the trailer because there is extra space availible.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
    from seattle craigs list

    cross check 46 cm $800...set up for a woman

    http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/bik/2028655978.html
    Looks like she might pick this up tonight.

    The real question is whether my small role ( ie pestering you folks ) in helping out qualifies me to join the tour and get a bike sherpa. I've been invited, but I've also been told I need to carry my own weight.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  18. #18
    Senior Member DannoXYZ's Avatar
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    Whatever bike she gets, you'll want to spray-paint it flat-black with rattle-cans to prevent it from getting stolen again.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Conclusion...

    Quote Originally Posted by squirtdad View Post
    cross check 46 cm $800...set up for a woman

    http://seattle.craigslist.org/see/bik/2028655978.html
    My friend picked this up during the day yesterday. She loves it. She says it's a lot more comfortable than the K2 was, and she's already done a longer than typical ride thanks to that. I donated some spare parts ( a couple stems, etc ) and bought her a cyclocomputer and lights.

    Thanks for the advice, everybody! And it's ironic that somebody 1,000 miles to the south found the ideal bike in a neighborhood that's within walking distance to me.
    Don't believe everything you think.

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