Here's some background, I just moved to sam marcos tx recently, been using the bus to get around(our car is dead, no money to repair it), but I need more flexibility in transportation. I'd always wondered about getting a bike before, but now with the car dead it's moved into the forefront of my priorities. Also, I'm getting tired of being sedentary.
At the moment I've got $200 in the "bike fund"(acquired via selling plasma about 40-50ish a week, about half of which i put in the "jar").
San marcos's Craigslist bike page is kinda anemic, weak tea, not a lot of variety, and as said, getting to san antonio or austin area via bus is kind of a hassle. There's 2 shops in town, the Hub bicycle Lounge, and Pedal Power, the latter sells only trek, the lowest was $350+, and I'm not sure they'd handle my manateeness(also the guy looked a little green). The guy at the hub was way more friendly and helpful, but they deal in marin and kona, starting at $4-500ish even further out of my range, but he did explain the needs and physics of a bike for a larger guy(most of which contradicted the pedal power guy and with further research has shown to be mostly correct), even if he couldn't get me something in my range. There's also 2 bike co-ops that repair and sell used bikes, the bike cave run by the college and the SM bike project(but they keep odd hours, like 5-8pm, when the busses stop running after 6, it's a tight schedual, and across town from me, not easilly walkable in the dark...). The cave people were friendly but it's the end of the semester, they didn't really have much for me, they do have tools and workspace open to the public, and I haven't been able to get to the project(I went on a saturday, they were supposed to be open during the daylight then, but noone home ) I've hunted around pawn shops but they leave the things outside in texas heat in the rain and weather... they look like deathtraps tbh... cassets cable housings, brakes and chains rusted, frames look awful and invariably messed up seats...
Hey BTW it's kinda fun walking into a bike shop and seeing the guys go like :
Anyway, that's the plight so far, here's what i've learned:
- Avoid moving parts on cheaper bikes(front and dual suspensions, even on the seat), better to get a rigid frame, preferable steel if going cheapo.
- Get good wheels and tires asap, preferable steel and double walled with 36 spokes with minimum 12 gauge, and the wider the rims the better, to accommodate wider tubes and tires which apparently handle stress better.
- I'm pretty sure I can handle most minor maintenance myself, between the friendly cave people and the books i've been reading, it doesn't seem that complicated.(I once built a little bike out of legos, had a chain, tires and everything...)
- I've read anecdotal posts about people getting a cheap department store bike with a steel frame, then getting better wheels cheap off the internet.
- Speed and the bike's weight are not issues, I'm not going that fast and not going over anything rougher then hard dirt. mostly sticking to bike lanes, roads, and maybe a sidewalk.
- I like the way a "cruiser" or "utility" feels, and the lower priced ones seem to come in rigid steel frames with the above wheels(most have at least 26"x2" 36 spokes, though they seem to be alloy instead of steel)and their feedback sections tend to have a few posts by clydes with positive feedback. I've perched on both of them at the stores, coasted up and down the isle with no immediate and catastrophic failure (they were under inflated but I can fix that).
My conclusion: Would a Huffy Newport($130 at bestbuy or academy) or Schwinn Link($150 at wallyworld) carry a manatee around town safely and reliably if I were to handle the assembly and adjusting myself(also those bike cave guys seem nice, like they'd help a newbie out). You think I might get about 3 months of use out of the stock wheels till i can get cash to upgrade them or lose weight(whichever happens first....). I think most of the issues in their feedback sections can be fixed by minor tweaks to the gears and if I can get time on a truing machine at the cave(if there's like a huge factory defect I'd just return and refund). San Marcos is sligtly hilly in places, so I'd like the option of shifting if i need it, and both have front and rear brakes(I had something with coaster brakes when I was a kid, could never get the hang of backpedaling...).
huffy newport: http://www.huffy.com/products/Product.aspx?pid=492|4|9
Am I going to die or what.... I don't want to waste money on a lemon, but I need to get mobile, I need whatever the 2 wheeled equivalent of like an economy hatchback is...