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  1. #1
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    Help buying a bike

    Hi guys,

    I am completely new to cycling (well.. I used to ride a mountain bike as a kid over 10 years ago) and am looking at buying a commuter bike but can't decide!!!

    My situation:

    I live in Perth, Australia (ie only two weather conditions: sunny/rainy)
    I am female (women's bike preferred but not necessary, but it does mean I'd like a pretty bike)
    I don't like hunching on a bike (prefer to sit upright - thinking a hybrid road bike)
    I plan on using it for mostly home-work commuting, which is 10km on a bike path and maybe another 1km on the road
    I don't want drop bars
    I want to ride fast (not too fast), comfortably
    My budget is up to $500 (AUD).

    So far I've been to only a couple of bike shops and my top choices thusfar are a $500 Apollo Altura or a $400 Giant Elwood.

    Can anyone help me decide between those two (I can't really tell the difference)? Or suggest any other bikes that'd be good?

    Also what tends to be better as a brand? Apollo or Giant?

    Thanks!!!

  2. #2
    Safety Zealot wyeast's Avatar
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    I'm afraid I'm not terribly familiar w/ Apollo bikes, so I can't really make a comparison. My guess is it's pretty similar to Giant in that sort of entry-level LBS-type bike vs the lower end "dept store" bikes. To that end, go with what feels comfortable for you to ride. Which Elwood? The SE? or the rigid fork? The Altura's fork appears to be lockable, which is a nice feature for a suspension fork. The Elwood SE's doesn't appear to be lockable (but again I'm not terribly familiar with those brands/models).

    Not that an non-locking fork is the end of the world, especially on a shorter ride. Just some people like having the option especially if you're on a really smooth route to lock it out and save some energy.

    However, if $500 is your absolute budget, then I'd suggest the Elwood - only so you'd have $100 on other items like lights, rack, fenders, etc.

    Good luck, and happy riding!

  3. #3
    just going for a ride... lbear's Avatar
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    We don't have the Giant Elwood in the USA but it looks alot like the Cypress. I had a Cypress DX for about 9 months and put about 1000 miles on it. It was a great bike no problems.
    It did have disk brakes which is great in the rain. (Note: I live in Oregon also two kinds of weather mostly rainy)
    2011 Soma Double Cross
    2008 Lemond Sarthe
    2008 Giant OCR A1

  4. #4
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    Thanks for that.

    I actually don't know which Elwood. When I asked the guy what model bike he was showing me he just said "Elwood". When I asked if I needed to remember any numbers in the name or anything he said "the newest one, 2008". So whichever that may be!?

    I've already bought a helmet, ights and tyre pump so the $500 budget is for the bike alone. Though in saying that originally my budget was $300-350 until I realised you can only buy bikes second hand for that price (I was naive. I thought a standard middle of the range bike cost ~$150). So the cheaper the better!

    What's a lockable/non-lockable suspesion fork? The only forks I know of are the ones I eat with and the ones in the road!

    I think the Apollow may have had the advantage that it's wheels are easily removable (click lock system of some sort) and I have no idea if the Giant has that?

  5. #5
    Safety Zealot wyeast's Avatar
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    That's "quick release" wheels - most newer bikes will have that - you actually will have to worry about locking them down when you're parked, so be sure to get a good lock in your budget.

    The lockable suspension fork - that refers to the fork that holds the front wheel. The Apollo has a suspension fork, meaning if you hit a bump, it absorbs some of the shock. (you can see this by pushing down on the handlebar). The Elwood comes in two models. One has a suspension fork, the other will not - it'll look like just a regular fork that doesn't spring down when you push on it.

    A "lockable" suspension fork means you can lock out the suspension function, so it acts like a regular rigid fork. So if you find it annoying or are riding exclusively on smooth pavement that doesn't require it, you can lock it out. Otherwise you'll lose some energy as the fork will bounce a little as you pedal.

    Either way, those features are trumped by which bike will fit you best. If you can, get your bike shop to let you take a "test ride" with both bikes and ride them around in the neighborhood near the shop. See which bike feels better to you.

    Then when you decide to get the bike, be sure the tires are puncture-resistant, or have the shop put liners in - saves you from getting a lot of flats.

    And if you think you'll be riding in the rain, have fenders put on.

  6. #6
    likes bikes. eAspenwood's Avatar
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    i've had good luck with giants. my girlfriend has the cypress dx and loves it.

    just make sure its made in taiwan. the giants made in china are not up to par.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for all that information! I feel slightly less clueless now But only slightly

    I have no idea what fenders are but I suspect any hint of rain will be used as an excuse to drive It only rains for a few weks out of the year anyway.

    I have sat on the Apollo and quickly ridden the Elwood. I think the Apollo seemed more comfortable - I may have to take it for a test ride.

    I've been leaning towards the Apollo, I think I am evenmore so now. Shame it's the uglier of the two

  8. #8
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    Fenders are probably mudguards in Aus . Metal or plastic strips curved round the tire to keep mud and rain from spraying a rooster tail on you... and anyone behind you. I'm very fond of 'em, but I *like* riding in the rain.

    Given what you've found so far, I might try to see if there are other bikes available that you like. I find that unless the road is on the edge of not being a road, I don't much like suspension forks. Since I go off road maybe twice a year, I'm better off on a rigid fork. Looks pretty is fine... but after a while the bike won't look pretty to you at all if it hurts to ride it. I seem to recall shops in Aus are not real keen on test rides, but as a new rider, a test ride is *very* helpful. Even just "riding" while the bike is up on a trainer is better than nothing.

    Main thing is the bike shouldn't hurt when you ride it. Not your rear end, not your hands, not your wrists... if it hurts, it's a good sign something is wrong.

  9. #9
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    Oh yes, I know know what mudguards are. I thought fenders where an American term, I just couldn't remember what for

    Thanks for all your help guys! In the end I went to a larger local bike shop and test rode three bikes. I picked the comfiest one of the three (which just happened toa lso be the prettiest). I got one without a suspension fork. It's a San Remo Lingere - whatever that is. I haven't been able to find any info on the brand so I hop it's a decent one. I'm not sure I'm liking having a bike that has a word that looks like "lingerie" written all over it but hey, it's comfy and rides smoothly.

    I have yet to test it in real conditions by riding it to work thanks to sporadic heavy rains. Hopefully they'll stop by next week! So far I'm happy with my purchase though!

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