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  1. #1
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    Considering a new bike

    I am definitely a Clydesdale even when in good shape, I'm about 6'2.5 and right now am 260. I've owned 2 bikes in my adult life, a Huffy my girlfriend bought me when I was 22 or 23 (before that I rode my little sisters pink 10 speed huffy ). Surprisingly, the Huffy served me well. The only thing that was bad about it was that the bottom bracket failed and caused me an injury.
    I traded my then GF my bike plus $100 (around 1998) for her bike which she never rode and needed work, a 93 Trek 720 multi-trek (which I believe she paid 4 something for it). I like the bike, but it's 20 years old and repairs are expensive and my new girlfriend wants to get into biking, so this way we could ride together. The one thing my bike doesn't have that I absolutely wished it did is a front suspension. The streets in Philadelphia are in terrible condition, especially the side streets. Early last spring I got caught in heavy rain, didn't see a pothole and the pothole turned my front wheel sideways and I went right over the handlebars, luckily the ground was wet and concrete burn wasn't that bad.

    I was just in my LBS and I saw the Schwinn searcher 4 XL(extra large 6'1-6'5). This bike seems to have everything I want. It's large and better fitted to me than my Trek. Does anyone have any experience with this bike? My Trek is Chromoly and the Searcher 4 is aluminum tipple butted and the fork is also aluminum. I asked the guy if this bike could safely carry 300 pounds (basically me and stuff on a rack and in my backpack) and he said it could. Should I be worried about this weight thing?

    Also, the brakes are different than my Trek, which has center pull cantilever brakes and this bike has side pull cantilever brakes (I think they call them V brakes). I always felt that I had really good leverage on my brakes on the Trek, in fact, I was fearful of locking the front brakes up (as happened when I was severely underweight at 165 in 2002). The Cantilever braking system seemed to me, at the time switching from regular huffy brakes to be a huge improvement. Will this brake system have the same leverage as mine? 145 kilos moving at several meters per second is a lot of energy to displace. I can stop my Trek in a panic stop from 20mph to stopped in about 2 bike lengths.

    Also, according to Schwinn, the crank is the same as my Trek (48-38-28) but the cassette is different 7sp 14-34 vs my existing cassette of 12-28 7sp. I've never even seen a bicycle that has a ratio of less than 1:1 (which is the case in 1st gear on the Searcher). Also, this has a rather odd looking derailleur, a Shimano Altus and the plastic wheels are really big. My Trek also has a Shimana Altus and it looks nothing like it. Is there any particular advantage or disadvantage to these giant plastic wheels in the derailleur than the traditional small ones? Also, why would there be a less than 1:1 ratio on such a light bike? A hill would have to be pretty steep to need to drop below 1:1 (I realize that you have to take the wheel size into consideration, it's not REALLY 1:1, but the wheel is the same size as my Trek which means the bike will go a shorter distance with 1 turn of the crank on this bike than mine in 1st gear)

    The shifting is odd. You use one shifter to shift up and a second set to shift down. My Trek has Shimano twist-shift and I LOVE it and I have a bad knee and so I rarely if ever pedal in an upright position anymore, so I cam constantly shifting.

    The bike says "Made in China", which bothers me. Also, it just doesn't look as sturdy as my bike. It's also cheaper than my bike was 20 years ago and the dollar has lost A LOT of value since then, so something has to give, right?

    Threadless headset: What are the thoughts here? My Trek is threaded.

    My needs are simple, I want a simple, entry level LBS bike with as few "features" as possible (no disc brakes, no electric shifters etc) that can stand up to a combination of my weight and the city streets. In fact, if it were reasonable to do, I would just put a suspension fork on my Trek. Getting that suspension fork is the only thing that is going to get me to lay out $450. I am also a little leery of Schwinn. They seem to have sold their soul and are manufacturing some really JUNK TRASH GARBAGE bikes for K-Mart and Walmart. Is the LBS line (I think they are the "Signature" series) up to Schwinn of yesteryear or of Trek (in the same price range)?

    Schwinn says the MSRP is $440 and my LBS has it on sale for 399, which is actually $432 with sales tax (8% in Philadelphia).

    Can anyone offer any advice?

    Chris

  2. #2
    Senior Member moochems's Avatar
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    From what I gather you are very well informed in your choices.

    Gearing less than 1:1-
    Are there any monster hills in your area? I ride a bike with 1:1 and on some monster hills I could consider want for a even lower gear, but I definitely don't need one. I live in a hilly area, buy find 1:1 with a. 700x30c wheel fine. I definitely use that 1:1 gear though, and would sorely miss it if I didn't have it.

    Suspension fork-
    I highly advise getting one with a lockout feature. Perhaps a nice one (maybe air pressure adjustable) would sway my mind, but I ride my lockout fork Lockedout 97% of the time.

    Also, in that pothole incident you described: I wouldn't be surprised if having a suspension fork would have made no difference. I don't have enough experience to rightfully claim though, so pass the salt.


    What I would (did) do in your position:
    A bikesdirect bike. I like mine, but hey I'm frugal, and do my own wrenching. I got the elite trail, which has 32 spoke wheels with double wall rims. I have broken a few spokes recently after 7 months of hard (by my standards) riding nearly daily. I wish I had gotten a bike with 36 spoke wheels, but feel fine on what I have. Furthermore I weighed in at near 330 when I got it, and around 280 now. That's just my experience and ymmv.

    You said entry level, but I really like my cable pull disc brakes.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by moochems View Post
    From what I gather you are very well informed in your choices.

    Gearing less than 1:1-
    Are there any monster hills in your area? I ride a bike with 1:1 and on some monster hills I could consider want for a even lower gear, but I definitely don't need one. I live in a hilly area, buy find 1:1 with a. 700x30c wheel fine. I definitely use that 1:1 gear though, and would sorely miss it if I didn't have it.
    I live in a fairly hilly area, but it's mostly long drawn out hills that go on for blocks at a lesser slope. The worst hill I regularly encounter I can usually climb (depending on how I feel) at 38:28, 38:24, 48:28, 48:24 at a cadence of around 60, but there aren't that many very steep hills (though there are some, especially in the park which I would have to walk up no matter what).

    Suspension fork-
    I highly advise getting one with a lockout feature. Perhaps a nice one (maybe air pressure adjustable) would sway my mind, but I ride my lockout fork Lockedout 97% of the time.
    Yeah, I'd like a lock-out, but the searcher 4 doesn't have a lockout.

    Also, in that pothole incident you described: I wouldn't be surprised if having a suspension fork would have made no difference. I don't have enough experience to rightfully claim though, so pass the salt.
    It wasn't really a pothole. I was avoiding traffic and going up a driveway which was made out of concrete and where the 2 slabs met, the side I was on had a huge hole and it was in the very center of the driveway where all the water was, so I never saw it. I thought that having a suspension would have compressed the suspension rather than turning the wheel. Also, with high pressure tires, the bumpyness of Philadelphia streets can get tiresome.
    What I would (did) do in your position:
    A bikesdirect bike. I like mine, but hey I'm frugal, and do my own wrenching. I got the elite trail, which has 32 spoke wheels with double wall rims. I have broken a few spokes recently after 7 months of hard (by my standards) riding nearly daily. I wish I had gotten a bike with 36 spoke wheels, but feel fine on what I have. Furthermore I weighed in at near 330 when I got it, and around 280 now. That's just my experience and ymmv.
    I'll have to check them out

    You said entry level, but I really like my cable pull disc brakes.
    I would be really suspicious of disc brakes, especially on an entry level budget. Also, disc brakes are inherently harder on the forks and need more hand strength. It's like trying to close a door by pushing on the door directly next to the hinges. The closer to the hub you get, the more force is needed to stop the wheel. You do get a break by having a larger braking surface area, but that is because you NEED a larger surface area so close to the hub (I think it has to do with torque and conservation of angular momentum, like a lever). With Aluminum forks and drop outs, there is also the possibility of the wheel coming out of the dropouts. But bigger than all of these reasons, is the fact that I am cheap and prefer the simpler brakes that I am familiar with (I hate change, this must mean I getting old!).

    Chris

  4. #4
    Senior Member moochems's Avatar
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    I would like to restate that I think you are very well informed.


    Mechanical leverage in regards to disc vs rim brakes is as you have stated it. I still feel my cable pull disc brakes far outperform any rim brake I have used. I do have a strong grip. Also, wet roads usually mean wet rims, in my experience rim brakes lose performance in such conditions. With my cable pull disc brakes I have to be careful not to exceed available traction because my brakes seem to work every bit as well in the wet or dry. I wonder how brake fade compares on long descents, I still pulse my brakes to avoid over heating, but my brakes get slightly better with a small increase of temperature. On a really long descent I don't need to worry about overheating the rim and thusly a potential blowout. I don't mean to nit-pick, but like I said, I really like my cable pull disc brakes.


    If you wanted to check out the bikesdirect bikes:

    Www.bikesdirect.com

    Www.bikeisland.com sells the same bikes but perhaps with a cosmetic flaw or other such "problem" for a reduced price of of course. If you search by size, you can see what they have that fits you. Maybe you like what you see maybe not.


    Cheers

  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    My best performing rim brake is Magura, its hydraulic.

  6. #6
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    First off Schwinn has a bad rep. They have been making some real garbage for a long time. And 7 speed is a dead horse. Most new MTB's are 9 or 10. Getting new components to replace worn or damaged would be tough. Take a look at other brands. Trek, Specialized,Fuji,Scott and Cannondale And look for a GT dealer. I saw some really decent GT's for small money. You can get better for near the money you want to spend elsewhere. Look for a Performance bike shop. They have some good deals. Also check Bikes Direct for online purchases.

    I understand Schwinn has 2 levels of bikes. One junk and one Bike shop quality. But I'd avoid them on principle. Good luck in you're search. Also a fair fork can be had for 1 to 1 1/2 bills. I'd look into what you can get in a fork also. Never hurts to check you're options. Good luck in you're search.

    BTW a mountain bike should have a less than 1:1 low gear. As a matter of fact considerably lower. Most road bikes are over 1:1 for a low. My roadie is 26 front and 28 rear. I just put in over 30 miles today. I live in central PA, Shamokin to be exact. I wish I had slightly lower today. But I changed out the crankset to a Mountain unit to get the gears.

    Mark Shuman
    Last edited by phread59; 04-27-13 at 05:50 PM. Reason: More info

  7. #7
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Bike Island has some nice mountain bikes you could put slicks on. This one has a lockout on the fork, better components, and might be your size: http://bikeisland.com/cgi-bin/BKTK_S...ls&ProdID=2717 But, it is a stretch on the price and may be too big. This one is a 21 inch frame, cheaper at $449, has better components than the Schwinn and has a lock out: http://bikeisland.com/cgi-bin/BKTK_S...ls&ProdID=2657 Put slicks on it instead of knobbies.

    You will have to do some assembly.

    (poking around as my husband is watching a violent movie and I am trying NOT to watch. . . )

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by moochems View Post
    I would like to restate that I think you are very well informed.
    Thanks. I do try to do my own research before asking questions so that I am not asking the most basic of questions.

    Mechanical leverage in regards to disc vs rim brakes is as you have stated it. I still feel my cable pull disc brakes far outperform any rim brake I have used. I do have a strong grip. Also, wet roads usually mean wet rims, in my experience rim brakes lose performance in such conditions. With my cable pull disc brakes I have to be careful not to exceed available traction because my brakes seem to work every bit as well in the wet or dry. I wonder how brake fade compares on long descents, I still pulse my brakes to avoid over heating, but my brakes get slightly better with a small increase of temperature. On a really long descent I don't need to worry about overheating the rim and thusly a potential blowout. I don't mean to nit-pick, but like I said, I really like my cable pull disc brakes.
    ALL brakes are subject to fade regardless of the type of brake or the vehicle it's on. I get rather confused about the blow-out scenario, it seems to me that the (rubber compound)brake pads would melt and suffer severe fade before they could heat the rim to such a degree that the rim wall would fail. Although, earlier this year I was practicing braking because I was so afraid of locking up the front wheel that I was using the back brakes exclusively and with the weight shift inherent to braking, I couldn't stop very quickly. I had gone over the handlebars in 2002 (or about) from a panic stop. But when that happened, now that I look back, I think it wasn't a wheel lockup that could be replicated on solid ground. I was biking down the road and this really hot girl was jogging and as she passed me I turned my head to check out her.... and during that time I drifted onto the side of the road which was grass (by the time I turned my head back to the road, I was directly in front of a ditch where water was going under the road) and so I think what happened was that the wheel locked and dug into the dirt and THAT is what caused the bike to flip, not slamming on both brakes. In any event, I was practicing using both brakes for better stopping and I had a GPS on the bike on a very clear day and had excellent satellite visibility and I got the bike up to 20mph and did a panic stop and I was able to stop the bike in about 2 bike lengths and the rear did lock up and skid slightly. I reached down and touched the front rim and it was very hot to the touch, maybe 125-130 degrees F. However, on a long downhill descent, I would think that the rubber/synthetic brake pads would liquify (causing a very thin liquid rubber between the pad and the rim) and cause fade. I find it hard to imagine that you could heat a rim to such a high degree that the metal would be compromised to the point of failure. I keep my tires at about 60psi, so that is significant pressure on the rim walls, but has anyone seen this actually happen (rim brakes causing a rim that's in good condition heat the rim to the point of failure and blowout)? I don't know what my rims are made from, they are only slightly magnetic (a magnet sticks to the spokes MUCH stronger than to the rim itself) so I guess they are some combination of aluminum and steel. I could imagine that the rim can get so hot that the inner tube will fail, but not the rim wall.
    On long descents, I sit up full straight (when possible) to keep the bike speed down (wind resistance goes up exponentially with speed) let the bike get up to a good speed and then brake for a few seconds, usually the back brakes and it seems to work for me. But I never ride the brakes because I do know that all brakes are subject to fade.
    I would think that disc brakes are MORE subject to fade than rim brakes because you need so much more force on disc brakes than rim brakes. You are still converting the same amount of kinetic energy to heat, so I don't for sure if that would be the case.
    If you wanted to check out the bikesdirect bikes:

    Www.bikesdirect.com

    Www.bikeisland.com sells the same bikes but perhaps with a cosmetic flaw or other such "problem" for a reduced price of of course. If you search by size, you can see what they have that fits you. Maybe you like what you see maybe not.
    I have NO problem with cosmetic flaws. I live in a very high crime city and so I would see it as a theft deterrent When I am in center city (where there are a lot of bikes and bike thieves) I always try to lock my bike next to a nicer bike. Also, if I am in a really high crime area, I take the front rim and seat/post with me after I lock up my bike (this is another reason I want to avoid disc brakes).

    Bike theft is really something nobody cares about. I saw this youtube video where this guy takes his bike and locks it up and he uses a giant bolt cutter to cut his chain right in front of a police car and pedistrians and puts the bolt cutter across the handle-bars as he drives away and nobody even looks at him. He did his 3 different ways in 3 different locations. He even brought a power grinder to grind down a U-lock and plugged it into the outlet in the traffic light base and nobody said a thing to him (he had a hidden camera recording all this).


    Cheers
    Thanks for your advice.

    Chris

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    Bike Island has some nice mountain bikes you could put slicks on. This one has a lockout on the fork, better components, and might be your size: http://bikeisland.com/cgi-bin/BKTK_S...ls&ProdID=2717 But, it is a stretch on the price and may be too big. This one is a 21 inch frame, cheaper at $449, has better components than the Schwinn and has a lock out: http://bikeisland.com/cgi-bin/BKTK_S...ls&ProdID=2657 Put slicks on it instead of knobbies.

    You will have to do some assembly.

    (poking around as my husband is watching a violent movie and I am trying NOT to watch. . . )
    What is the disadvantage to a 9 speed cassette? Is the derailleur more finicky? Also, I have read that when you have 9 speed cassette and 3 chain-rings, that you aren't supposed to use 8th, 9th, 18th and 19th gears (the smallest front and smallest rear and the biggest front and biggest rear because of how crooked the chain is), is there any truth to that?

    Chris

  10. #10
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by christo930 View Post
    What is the disadvantage to a 9 speed cassette? Is the derailleur more finicky? Also, I have read that when you have 9 speed cassette and 3 chain-rings, that you aren't supposed to use 8th, 9th, 18th and 19th gears (the smallest front and smallest rear and the biggest front and biggest rear because of how crooked the chain is), is there any truth to that?

    Chris
    I see no disadvantages to a nine speed and a cassette likely is a better product that a seven speed freewheel.

    What you are describing is cross chaining and you want to avoid that on a bike. Some bikes also have chain rub with other combinations too. Basically, it increases wear on the chain and cogs/rings and makes some noise when you do it.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
    I see no disadvantages to a nine speed and a cassette likely is a better product that a seven speed freewheel.

    What you are describing is cross chaining and you want to avoid that on a bike. Some bikes also have chain rub with other combinations too. Basically, it increases wear on the chain and cogs/rings and makes some noise when you do it.
    I don't understand what you mean by "nine speed and a cassette likely is a better product that a seven speed freewheel"

    My Trek uses a 7 speed cassette. Do you mean that some rear wheels don't use a replaceable cassette and are part of the freewheel hub?
    Is 27 speeds really that much better than a 21 speed? What about 24 speed?

  12. #12
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    I think the number of speeds isn't all that important but people differ on that.

    I do favor freehubs with cassettes over thread on freewheels. Read about the differences here: http://sheldonbrown.com/k7.html Cassettes are far easier to remove. However, they are more expensive than freewheels to replace. Freewheel hubs can be prone to axle bends/breaks especially if you use a quick release axle that isn't strong enough.

    Today, most seven speeds are freewheels. But not all.

  13. #13
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    Just find a nice steel fork 4 ur trek and u'll b cycling for a very long time yet to come.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cfiber View Post
    Just find a nice steel fork 4 ur trek and u'll b cycling for a very long time yet to come.
    Is it easy to change out the fork to a suspension fork? I wrote the place where the bike was originally bought but they said it would be almost as expensive as just buying a new bike. I also wouldn't mind a slightly larger bike as well, though I don't feel especially cramped on my trek (I think it's 19.5", I measured it before and I forget, it's either 19" or 19.5".

    Chris

  15. #15
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by christo930 View Post
    What is the disadvantage to a 9 speed cassette? Is the derailleur more finicky? Also, I have read that when you have 9 speed cassette and 3 chain-rings, that you aren't supposed to use 8th, 9th, 18th and 19th gears (the smallest front and smallest rear and the biggest front and biggest rear because of how crooked the chain is), is there any truth to that?

    Chris
    Both my bikes are 9-speed triples. If you use large-large or small-small combinations you will get cross-chaining which will make a nasty noise and wear everything out faster. So although they've got 27 gears in theory, in practise I only use the largest 4-5 sprockets in the small ring, about the same in the middle ring, and I'll use all the rings at a push in the large ring but only rarely go into the largest two (my FD has a part-shift option that lets you use large-large combinations without too much rattling).

    It's not really a big deal, if you're wanting a small sprocket on the small chainring you really need to shift up a chainring, and likewise if you want the largest sprocket on the big ring you should probably shift down to the middle ring.

    I haven't found the derailleurs on either of my bikes finicky in the slightest.
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