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  1. #1
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    Picking Search Keywords to Get a New Bike

    I've run dozens of searches through the bikeforums.net search engine and I constantly get swamped with results. And yes, this is another help-me-find-a-bike thread after going through 2 accidents, with my bike much the worse for wear.

    My old bike was a MTB. The one I'm currently using is an ancient roadie with tons of problems that make it impractical to use for much longer.

    Having tried both types of bikes, I have some fairly solid criteria for my university commuting uses:
    Upright position -- to see cars
    Weight somewhere in the ballpark of a 1970s roadie (yep, that's how old the ancient roadie is )
    And very very reliable -- the reason I'm looking for a new bike in the first place!

    So far, I've tried using keywords such as "hybrid" for general hybrid info, "upright roadie" (which barely returned anything useful), and a few others.

    I'm mostly looking for specific bicycle model/brand suggestions and price estimates at this point. What are some good keywords I could try using for the forum's search engine?

    And, if you want to make suggestions right in this thread, I'd appreciate that too.

    Other Possibly Relevant Details:
    Rides are generally < 10 miles each way and there are hills
    Irvine, CA
    Stored outdoors on campus 24/7 (can't be helped)
    Carrying lots of stuff in a backpack but the bike would have to have a way to also carry groceries

  2. #2
    Hey, wait for me.....
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    I don't have any specific search words but have some other thoughts. I am currently looking into commuting in the near future and have been searching threads for bike reviews as well.

    From your needs and description I think some of the bikes I am lookig at might fit your needs. I went to to sites of all the bike companies sold at local shops. Jamis, Fuji, Trek, Kona are the closest to me. So from there I searched them for their hybrid/ urban/ commuter bikes.

    You might want to search the threads for the Jamis Coda, Kona Dew, Fuji Absolute, or Trek SU or FX series bikes.
    All these bikes have road-ish set ups with flat bars for more mtb like position and weight in at mid 20's

    Hope someof this helps.
    It takes a lot less than death to kill a man.

  3. #3
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    Upright like a Raleigh 3 speed, or upright like a 1970s road bike?

    How much weight do you usually carry? I'd usually end up with at least 20lbs of books and notebooks in college, often more like 45lbs. Damn physics and calc textbooks... Groceries for just me were much lighter, in the 15lb range. The amount of weight you haul affects the kind of bike you want.

    Every place I've lived in has "some hills". As a teen, "some hills" meant "there's a 15% grade to get back home and most other stuff isn't more than 5%". In Madison, "some hills" means "mostly gentle climbs and one 5% grade". I find it helps to know what how many gear inches are on the gears I use most often, since then I can judge how well a bike fits my needs. For me, 50-60 gear inches is a nice happy gear for flat ground. If I'm hauling a lot of weight, I want lower. If I'm climbing a steep hill, I want lower.

    What kinds of reliability problems have you had? That might affect which sorts of bikes suit your needs.

  4. #4
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    What brands are available in your area? Most of the major companies have a range of bikes that would fit the bill. Check out your local shops. Or check the yellow pages;bike shop ads usually list what they carry. Then look at the manufacturers' websites. Then come back here and either search for the names of the models you liked,or post a list and ask for feedback. Also,what's your budget?

    C'dale BBU('05 and '09)/F600/Super Six/Hooligan8and 3,Kona Dew Deluxe,Novara Buzz/Safari,Surly Big Dummy,Marin Pt Reyes/Novato,Giant Defy 1,Schwinn DBX SuperSport/Qualifier,Brompton S6L,Dahon Speed Pro TT

  5. #5
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    @Johnyhonics
    That's an interesting approach. I'll think about trying that with the local bike store near my home.

    @Torrilin
    Well, the roadie has the curved handlebars. Not sure how else to describe it. The handlebars on it are pretty much the same that you'd find on current roadies except that there is a second set of brake handles so that I can ride upright on it decently well.

    Ah, yep. I have the same types of textbooks + a laptop so I'm probably hitting 30-ish pounds at least. I'll weigh my backpack's load once I have a chance to go home.

    I just calculated the grades and now I'm not surprised at my seemingly slow pedaling.
    I generally pedal up a 10% grade on a 150 meter segment every morning.

    How do you relate gear inches to grade?

    Well, these problems were inherited due to the age of the bike (I'm the second user). But in a nutshell, the main things that pop up during rides are:
    1. Chain-suck
    2. Weak back brakes

    I suppose any new bike would be good enough from that perspective.

    @dynaryder
    I think I sense a trend...
    I'll try hitting a few local bike shops to see what's around.

    I have no real budget in mind other than a vague threat that if the bike costs too much, I'll be completely liable for it if it gets stolen. The insurance from the most recent accident will probably only pay ~$100 for the MTB.

    Thanks for all the help so far. Looks like I'll be heading off to a local bike store this coming weekend to see which models like they might work.

    Sidenote:
    The local bike store is Performance Bikes. They have a website. Is their website a pretty good reflection of what the stores carry inside or do the stores carry more than they show on the website?
    Last edited by Zian; 05-15-08 at 06:28 AM. Reason: Grammar

  6. #6
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zian View Post
    I have no real budget in mind other than a vague threat that if the bike costs too much, I'll be completely liable for it if it gets stolen. The insurance from the most recent accident will probably only pay ~$100 for the MTB.
    Renters or homeowners insurance will usually cover a bicycle that's been stolen. Check your policy or speak with your agent. Also,some companies will only reimburse the current value of the bike,while others will give you the replacement cost. You want the latter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zian View Post
    The local bike store is Performance Bikes. They have a website. Is their website a pretty good reflection of what the stores carry inside or do the stores carry more than they show on the website?
    (shudder) I hope they're not the only shop around. YMMV,but the Perf Bikes I've dealt with were like Best Buy;low price,but poor customer service.

    C'dale BBU('05 and '09)/F600/Super Six/Hooligan8and 3,Kona Dew Deluxe,Novara Buzz/Safari,Surly Big Dummy,Marin Pt Reyes/Novato,Giant Defy 1,Schwinn DBX SuperSport/Qualifier,Brompton S6L,Dahon Speed Pro TT

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zian View Post
    Well, the roadie has the curved handlebars. Not sure how else to describe it. The handlebars on it are pretty much the same that you'd find on current roadies except that there is a second set of brake handles so that I can ride upright on it decently well.
    Given that and the problems you've described, it seems to *me* that you'd be best off keeping the road bike. It sounds like it is already comfortable.

    It is pretty easy to replace brake pads to improve your braking. You will want to do this on the front *and* the rear. If the roads are dry, you want to use mostly the front brake (normal stop) or both brakes (emergency stop). The rear brake will always be weaker than the front for a variety of engineering reasons that I don't pay much attention to when riding *g*. The reason you have a rear brake is for when it's raining or you need to do an emergency stop (where you use both brakes). It may also be worth upgrading to newer brake calipers, but that will be more expensive than new brake pads.

    The chain suck problem should also be curable. I would guess a new chain ring or two and a new chain would do the job. I would check all the gears for wear before making a final decision. If the bike uses standard components, this will cost, but not as much as a new bike. If the bike uses nonstandard components, a new bike might be more practical.

    Since a good quality new road bike runs over $700, I don't think you'd be well served by getting a new bike without checking what it would cost to make your current bike work well. Some shops won't be interested in your business, because the bike is "too old". Odds are there is some shop in your area who will care tho .

    I just calculated the grades and now I'm not surprised at my seemingly slow pedaling.
    I generally pedal up a 10% grade on a 150 meter segment every morning.

    How do you relate gear inches to grade?
    Mostly, I don't. I use knowing what gear inches I prefer to help me judge whether Bike X and I are a good match in terms of gearing. I have a modern bike, so I can treat each front chain ring as a separate bike (3 gears up front, 8 in back). Each set of gears happens to have at least one gear combination that's in my comfortable range on the flats. So I know which combination is comfy, and if a hill is too steep for me to spin, I downshift so I can spin better. I'm not a very strong rider and the gearing on my bike is very low, so we're a good match. Many other bikes would not suit me as well on gearing because the gears are designed for a much stronger rider than me.

    Sheldon Brown's website has a lot of useful information on gearing. I found it very helpful since I'd never understood gears as a kid. I still don't particularly *g* but I can use mine more effectively to get around. Since the chain suck problem probably requires some new chain rings, it is worth looking over Sheldon's information to figure out if you can make your gearing suit your needs better. Then you solve your maintenance problem *and* your hill climbing problem.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for the commentary, dynaryder.

    Some side points:
    From looking things up, it looks like you're right. Thanks. Though this makes my very weak front brakes an even bigger problem. Oy. *sticks to rear brakes for now*

    Performance Bike is the literal "local" bike shop at my home (10 minute drive). For the rest of this post, LBS will refer to the shop at the University, which is probably more like what you're used to hearing the word LBS refer to (small business, etc.).

    Back to the main topic...

    I may as well list the full state of the current road bike then.

    1. Chain suck (probably 2-ring suck based on Levy's site)
    2. Bent back wheel (according to the LBS at UC Irvine, not worth fixing)
    3. Floppy brake cables (supposedly, I'd have to do some sort of extensive fixing to fix this because)
    4. Due to #3, the front brakes don't really stop the bike (I've tried stopping with them. Was not fun.)
    5. Due to #2 and #3, the back brakes are weak.

    Torrilin, you're right. I like the frame (though it'd be nice to have a completely flat handlebar).

    With regards to #3, having now read Sheldon's site again and from what the LBS said, I'm fairly sure that I'd have to redo the brake cabling. And you already mentioned the bit with the gears.

    I should get an estimate from the LBS and figure out how much I could overhaul the bike given $X, $Y, and $Z.

    Now that I've eyeballed Performance Bike's listings (mostly searching under Cross/Comfort) and looked at Consumer Reports, it appears that a new bike would cost $250-$400.

    I'm not sure where Torrilin got $700 from. I'm certainly not looking at the roadie category because none of them have a flat handlebar or any sort of affordances for people who want to sit up straight.

    *pre-emptively sprinkles flame-retardant*

    I'd really appreciate it if you could explain where you got the $700 figure from.

    Apologies for making such long posts.

    Edit: Now, having searched the forums for a good repair book, I have one coming to me thanks to interlibrary loan and the reviews of past posters.
    (I don't do well when I have to use reference materials on a computer...yet I'm a computer science & engineering major. )
    Last edited by Zian; 05-21-08 at 05:48 AM. Reason: Added a blurb about the book and explained why in the end, Sheldon's site isn't sufficient for me

  9. #9
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    In the interest of providing some closure to this thread, let me give a brief update.

    I asked the LBS at college to tell me what it would take to take care of everything and he said that:
    1. My current ancient bike is a very cheap bike
    2. Cables have to be replaced ("It would cost $100 to do it right.")
    3. It would cost ~$500 to get a good road bike (on further reflection, he has some nice hybrids for ~$300. Should have asked him about hybrids! My own foolishness)

    Thoughts after reading the Zinn book several times, checking prices for cables, and searching the forums for thoughts on adjusting single-pull brakes without going insane, and all of your helpful posts ()
    -Gear issue is likely a simple adjustment with the L/H screws
    -If I'm going to spend $100, I could learn how to do it myself and get the tools for the job
    -Should get a 4th hand

    My little brother is also planning to start biking so I'm going to give him the advice that you've given me (in particular, go see what fits you and then do searches to see what others have said about the bikes that fit).

    I want to thank all the posters in this thread for helping my family out.

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