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  1. #1
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    Chain break in my first quarter mile - But not discouraged

    Newbie here. Until Sunday, I hadn't been on a bike for about 20 years, since I was in college. At 6'2 and 340 pounds, I'm definitely a Clyde but have made the decision to work on my diet and incorporate more cardio. Part of my exercise plan is to pick up biking again - possibly even some seasonal winter biking given that I live in Alaska (fat bike maybe?).

    Last weekend, I purchased a K2 Zed mountain bike from Sports Authority.
    http://www.sportsauthority.com/produ...entPage=search


    I hadn't intended to buy from a chain store -- but here in Interior Alaska I only have a few choices to choose from. I went to a local bike shop in Fairbanks, AK (2 hours from my home here in super-rural Delta Junction) and the buff young fellow helping me just didn't know how to sell to a fat person! Thanks to this group, I had a basic knowledge of what to look for. As soon as he greeted me, confessed to him that I was new, confused and needed guidance. I went on to tell him that I would be riding about half the time on pavement, another 30-40% on gravel roads, and 10% on smooth trails. He showed me four or five difference bikes ranging from cyclocross setups to some hybrids and then asked which I wanted to test ride while my head was still spinning. He then left to help another customer, while leaving me to stare at bikes priced from $600 to $1800. I looked and looked - just not knowing what to buy and with no help -- before leaving, thinking I should at least comparison shop at Sports Authority. (We do have a Play-it-Again Sports too -- but I didn't want used).

    At Sports Authority, I was helped by another young fellow who, from the outset, was clearly used to dealing with less "serious" cyclists. We talked about the difference between a comfort bike and mountain bike, with him guiding me to a mountain bike due to the rougher riding conditions in my community. I happily bought it for $525 and left, driving home 2 hours and 100 miles away. I got home late that night and read through the manual, then seeing that the bike is only rated to 300 pounds (first uh-oh).

    The next day, I got up early and went to ride. It took me a while to get the seat adjusted properly but I finally got it where it felt natural. The handlebars still felt low -- and I found they couldn't be adjusted higher -- second uh-oh. (I have already gone on Amazon ordered a retrogit to raise them). Hopefully, as I work off some my gut, I can lower the handlebars to a position closer to horizontal with the seat!

    After a while, I had things setup comfortable and went out onto the highway pavement, riding for a a quarter mile, pumping the pedals too much and spending a lot more energy than I remembered (so out of shape!). Still wanting to dial in the bike, I turned around and headed back. Because I needed to learn to gear properly -- less mashing and more spinning - I started tinkering with the gears, trying to find what felt right. I came to an almost stop and adjusted the gears again -- probably crossing them -- when I realized my pedaling was doing nothing. Broken chain.

    From thedre, I got off the bike and walked it home home, my energy deflated.

    Because I don't have a bike shop in my town, I haven't been able to fix the chain yet - though I've ordered a tool from Amazon and some quick links to repair it which should be here in about a week.

    That said, what other things should I consider having? I'm guessing a tube patch kit and extra tube? Considering that I will always be biking remotely without a nearby repair shop, anything I should buy now and keep in my garage?

    As far as the bike itself, considering my weight, should I also consider replacing the tires? Was this the wrong bike to buy to begin with? Any thoughts on how to retrofit it if it is? Or, should I return it and get something different?

    Appreciate any input that folks can give on how to get started.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Jason300's Avatar
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    Welcome to BF and grats on the new bike.

    I take 2 new tubes, 2 co2 cartridges, 1 bike lever, 1 patch kit, 10 dollars in singles, a multitool (alen keys and screwdrivers) all carried in my saddle bag.

    I will also take my lights if it will be nearing dark during the ride.
    2013 Trek Madone 4.5

  3. #3
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    Hi bigkoiguy:

    Ditto to what Jason300 says. I would buy an underseat bag to put your stuff in, and fill it with a spare tube, some tire levers, a patch kit, a mini-pump or CO2 inflator and a couple of cartridges, and a small multi-tool. The big thing is learning how to use the stuff when you get a flat... it's easier to practice changing a tire in your garage than it is to do it for real, on the roadside, in the rain, as it's starting to get dark. Buy a front and rear light if you're going to ride anytime near dusk, or after dark. CO2 inflators are great, but once your out of cartridges, you're walking... And a mountain bike tire will take two cartridges to fill. Get a floor pump to keep in the garage, and check your tire pressure before every ride (or less frequently as you get more proficient at doing a "pre-ride check". And I think that the tires that came on the bike will be OK as is. When you wear them out, replace them with something better. And by that time, you'll know what type of riding you like. Buy some chain lube, and keep it in the garage as well...

    Here's a link to a website that talks a lot about some basic stuff, and has tons of links:

    http://sheldonbrown.com/beginners/index.html

    The bike you bought looks basic, but OK to get started on. Is it large enough for you? On the site I was looking at, the biggest frame was 19.5", which may be a bit small for you. I find that I like my handlebars on a mountain bike about at the same height as my saddle height. Any lower and I find I'm too hunched over and put too much weight on my hands. I'm about 6'5" (mostly legs) and 240 lbs, so finding a bike tall enough for me is a real challenge. I've used all kinds of stem raisers and riser handlebars, but nothing works as well as getting a frame that's tall enough. I'm not sure what the return policy is at the shop you bought it at, but if it isn't the right fit, maybe it should go back. Generally speaking, a bike shop will try and fit you on a bike that is the right size and may suggest other models or order the correct size for you, whereas the "sports store" approach is "this is what we've got." Given the distance to a local bike shop, maybe your approach is good, as long as you don't mind fixing / repairing / replacing things to suit you. You can always use this as a learning experience, and upgrade after a year or two, as you get more proficient and attuned to the type of riding that you enjoy.

    I hope this helps.

  4. #4
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    I'm sorry that you didn't have an awesome experience on your first ride. =(

    I'm a newbie as well!

  5. #5
    Senior Member tergal's Avatar
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    grats on riding ,

    I would look at it this way . You broke a chain now, you will learn how to fix it and replace it and be better for the knowledge . In the future it will happen and you can just shrug because you know how to fix that !

    ... I broke mine after about 7 months riding and ate dirt it was rather embarrassing but i know now how to fix/replace my chain !!
    Tact is for people who arenít witty enough to use sarcasm.

    Early helplessness is the price we pay for later brilliance. Or, at least our later capacity for non-idiocy

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    Appreciate the feedback from everyone.

    I think I'm going to keep it for now -- and give it to a friend if it turns out to be too small. That way I can bike a bit more and get a better idea of what I want need.

    One of the joys of living in rural Alaska is waiting for stuff to arrive in the mail. I'm still waiting for my chain tool to arrive so I can fix it - which is a real bummer as our summer is short and beautiful riding days are few!

  7. #7
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Because you are so far from bike shops I recommend the Park Tool website for instructions on how to fix stuff. Most often they have a video to watch which is invaluable.

    Enjoy the summer!

  8. #8
    Senior Member gyozadude's Avatar
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    Can't say I've ever broken one of my chains before, but I am 6'2" and was about 325 at my heaviest. I think I can relate. I have a hard time though believing a chain can fail that easily. Must have been a manufacturing or assembly defect at the factory, since a bike comes mostly assembled before the mechanic at the store unboxes it. But then again, I may have simply been lucky most of my life and then after the lucky period, I got to work in a bike shop and learned everything I needed to know to maintain my own drivetrain.

    That said, a simple bike chain rivet tool is probably less than $10 or $15 and you should be able to get a new chain with master link for less than $10 (plus shipping which might be more to AK). But if you have your old chain, it may simply be that the master link failed and fell out so you might be able to just replace that master link which might be just $2+. You might want to read up at Sheldon Brown's website on chains or other internet resource on chain replacement and master links.
    Yes, I can roll my own potsticker skins!

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    After reading everyone's comments, last Thursday, I decided to take the mountain bike back to Sports Authority. After much arguing with the store manager and me asking to see their written return policy, they finally relented and gave me a refund (considering the bike had fewer miles than some test rides, I couldn't understand their attitude).

    I then went back to Fairbanks' primary LBS. A bit better eucated now, I chose a huge commuter bike that I felt sure woul handle my frame (a Kona Ute of all things!) - but that handles like a dream. The next morning, I rode 5 miles and felt great. This is something I should have done years ago!

    Thanks to everyone for solid advice. Your earned some karma points!!!!

  10. #10
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigkoiguy View Post
    After reading everyone's comments, last Thursday, I decided to take the mountain bike back to Sports Authority. After much arguing with the store manager and me asking to see their written return policy, they finally relented and gave me a refund (considering the bike had fewer miles than some test rides, I couldn't understand their attitude).

    I then went back to Fairbanks' primary LBS. A bit better eucated now, I chose a huge commuter bike that I felt sure woul handle my frame (a Kona Ute of all things!) - but that handles like a dream. The next morning, I rode 5 miles and felt great. This is something I should have done years ago!

    Thanks to everyone for solid advice. Your earned some karma points!!!!
    You beat me to the punch as I was going to suggest you return it.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Wilfred Laurier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigkoiguy View Post
    After reading everyone's comments, last Thursday, I decided to take the mountain bike back to Sports Authority. After much arguing with the store manager and me asking to see their written return policy, they finally relented and gave me a refund (considering the bike had fewer miles than some test rides, I couldn't understand their attitude).

    I then went back to Fairbanks' primary LBS. A bit better eucated now, I chose a huge commuter bike that I felt sure woul handle my frame (a Kona Ute of all things!) - but that handles like a dream. The next morning, I rode 5 miles and felt great. This is something I should have done years ago!

    Thanks to everyone for solid advice. Your earned some karma points!!!!
    I read your original post and was (inside my head) yelling at the screen. There is nothing wrong with multisport store bikes or department store bikes, provided (1) they fit properly, and (2) they are assembled properly.

    Most of their bikes are one-size-fits-most, but if you are not in the average height range, you are SOL. You are almost definitely outside the optimal range of who should ride this bike. Most people are probably less determined than you, and less thoughtful about the problems they have. Most people would, if the bike lasted for longer than one ride, continue to suffer and assume the bike was uncomfortable and difficult to pedal because they are out of shape. They would continue to ride until they got fed up and figured cycling was to painful and they couldn't do it. The truth is, the fit of the bike is the number one most important aspect of enjoying your new bike. The bike has to be sized so you can ride it comfortably, and also 'fit' the type of riding you want to do. You could get a lightweight road racing bike that 'fits' you perfectly with respect to size, but is totally the wrong bike for how and where you want to ride.
    Most bike shops will take at least some time to make sure you have the right bike. And they have multiple sizes. They don't always get it right, but you have a chance.

    The assembly from multi-sport or department or big box stores is always hit-or-miss... the reason they don't have a 95% return rate is because 60% of the people who buy them never or seldom actually ride them. And if they do ride them and they break, most of the people give up. Instead of asking for advice, you could have simply said 'I guess they don't make bikes for big people' and hung the bike in the garage in defeat. Again, bike shops tend to take some pride in properly assembling bikes. The work is done by people, and they make mistakes, but they usually at least try.

    You are in kind of a tough situation because it is difficult for you to get after-sales service for your bike than most enjoy from an LBS purchase. You will have to be extra vigilant with watching for mechanical problems as the bike breaks-in... don't hesitate to come to this website - be sure to look in the 'mechanics' subforum for people who have had similar problems. As mentioned above, the parktool website has a great interactive 'map' of a bike so you can click on the area of the bike with which you are having problems.

    Anyhow, you did great in getting your bike. Now go ride the wheels off it! Then do some research on how to reattach the wheels and ride some more!

    Good luck!

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