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Old 09-01-10, 09:31 AM   #1
BHohmeier
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Soliciting advice

I know variations of this question have come up over and over again on these forums, and I've spent the last two days breezing through the archives before starting a new thread, but I'm sure some people aren't tired of putting in their two.

I'm in the market for a new bike (thanks to some sticky-fingered individuals), purely for commute and recreation. My last was a hybrid (Raleigh Detour 4.0) but really wasn't a fan of the upright feel of it. When I borrowed a road from a friend (some fixed-up fixie) I instantly loved how efficient it felt: head down, weight over the pedals, much more natural. Thus, I'm looking for something more in the realm of a road, touring, or cyclocross in terms of design and geometry. (I've read up on some debates among those three styles, so no worries there).

The issue, as usual, is my budget, which is that of a graduate student. I'm not going to race, so it doesn't need to be ultra light. I'm not going to punish it on trails, so it doesn't need to be ultra durable. Nothing fancy, just quality, something I can upgrade over the years, certainly fittable with a rear rack. I could go either geared or fixed, but I'd of course expect to pay less on a fixie. I'm looking for used (mostly on Craigslist), as I think even a deal on an outdate model at an LBS might still be out of my price range if it's any good. Most of all, since I know I'm being picky--and maybe unreasonably picky and cheap (lets call 600 an uncomfortable limit)--I'm willing to wait for a steal.

Bottom line, these things considered, what do you wise ones think I should look out for specifically while I'm browsing the pricey pages of LA's craigslist or cruising Pasadena LBSs for a good deal? (I don't suppose I'd be better off building a fixie over time, would I?). I need guidance!

Thank you, all,

-Brian
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Old 09-01-10, 09:45 AM   #2
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Some questions:

How hilly is the area? Will you be riding in rain (I assume it never snows in Pasadena)? Will you be parking on a college campus bike rack (theft concerns)? Do you have mechanical skill (and tools/place to work)? How much stuff will you be carrying? How far wil you be riding? Will you be riding at night (lights fit on most any bike, but you need to factor that into the budget)?

That said, if you are willing to look around I think you can certainly find something satisfactory for under $600. If you have the time, garage sales are a better source of "steals" than Craigslist.

Paul
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Old 09-01-10, 10:30 AM   #3
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Some questions:

How hilly is the area? Will you be riding in rain (I assume it never snows in Pasadena)? Will you be parking on a college campus bike rack (theft concerns)? Do you have mechanical skill (and tools/place to work)? How much stuff will you be carrying? How far wil you be riding? Will you be riding at night (lights fit on most any bike, but you need to factor that into the budget)?
Paul
Virtually no hills in Pasadena, almost never rains and certainly no snow. I'll be parking on campus and around the city but with a U-lock this time, no more chains. All the same, as much as I'm a sucker for a pretty bike, I wouldn't mind if it's a little more subtle than a Bianchi Flaminia, if you know what I mean. I don't necessarily want to draw attention to it. My mechanical skills are limited; I've taken a couple of beginner classes and have a couple of multi-tools, a good set of Allen wrenches, no stand. I think I can learn, though. I've got two Avenir panniers I might use to pick up stuff at the store, so might have occasion to load those up; thus, I'll need to put a rear rack on it. It's just a couple of miles to campus, but I'd like to think I can go as far as my peddling legs will take me, certainly hither and thither in the city. I've got a decent front lamp and rear light, though the mounts are now in the thief's possession with the rest of the bike. I'm hoping I can find a way to rig something up that'll fit them securely all the same.

Thanks!

-Brian
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Old 09-01-10, 10:46 AM   #4
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I picked up my commuter on sale at Performance Bike Shop (there's one in Pasadena) for $500 a couple of years ago.

2007 Schwinn Le Tour GS Commuter by campingglenns, on Flickr
I've got around 4K miles on it so far and it handles all I've thrown at it. PBS has a lot of sales and if you can combine a sale bike with one of their 10% off specials they can be quite reasonable. Also, joining Performance Club ($25/year) gives you 10% in store merchandise on all purchases (worth it if you're buying a bike).
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Old 09-01-10, 03:33 PM   #5
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Taking a look at performance, but they don't seem to have anything up my alley. The Scattante Americano III isn't far off for the sale tag right now, but the lack of drop-downs alone is a minus. Other lower-end Scattantes on sale as well.
Even still, for the high depreciation rate of a new bike, as well as the allure to would-be thieves, I should speculate, I'm still leaning toward the used market. I'm wondering though, if I'm going to be picky, if anyone has any suggestions on any models in particular I should keep a keen eye for, even it needs a little restoration.
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Old 09-01-10, 03:49 PM   #6
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A few companies do make new bikes that might come into your price range if you push it and there's a deal. There's a few road bikes hitting $700 with downtube indexed 8 speed shifting. Not sure if they'll have anywhere to mount anything on the frame (aside from a bottle cage).

There are lots of single speeds at the $600 price range.

You could also buy a frameset and build it up. Building it into a single speed in a year or so, probably cost you a bit more. Traitor, and some others, have $200-300 framesets. If you get the right kind it may be able to start single speed and have gears later.
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Old 09-01-10, 04:03 PM   #7
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If I were in your shoes, I'd be looking for something in the early to mid 90s road/tourer category -- not a race bike, but more an entry roadie. Obviously bonus points for mounting points etc... This presumes that a) you have an eye for mechanical issues, or a willingness and ability to fix them and b) you want something that rides well, but isn't as flashy as new. I'd be looking for an older Trek or Cannondale, and I agree with the person above who said 'Garage Sales' though at this time of year, CL might be a more manageable option. I'm guessing most of the price gouging I've been seeing all summer will calm down as the weather turns (in most of the country -- perhaps in Pasadena you're out of luck).

Depending on your flexibility, I'm riding a straightish bar bike with Drop ends from Origin (about $20 online) which give me most of what I like about drops, at a much lower price point. If I had it to do over again, I'd probably wait for a decent deal on an entry level cyclocross bike, but I have to admit I like my disk brakes, and knowing that I can mount plenty of accessories, etc...

I test rode a Kona Dew Drop and liked it a lot, but like the 'cross bikes I admired, the cost of entry was too high. If I could find one used at a good price, I'd jump at it, though. Not the lightest bike on the planet, but it definitely seems like a great commuter option -- not skittish or 'delicate', and capable in some light 'off road' situations (because of the wider tires), but way more comfortable for the long haul than flat bars (to me, at least).

Good luck.
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Old 09-01-10, 04:32 PM   #8
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Sounds good to me. I'm finding some decent roadies on CL (at So Cal prices), but lack of mounting points have been deal breakers. I know enough to watch for rust, untrue wheels, bends in the frame, etc. on a basic level, and I'm certainly willing to try and work with any fixes that are needed--if the price accounts for the time and materials I'll have to spend making it ridable. And no, I definitely don't need anything flashy. I'd almost prefer it not be.

Thanks so much for the advice!

Anyone else have word?

-Brian
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Old 09-01-10, 05:45 PM   #9
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If you are set on a lower position with drop bars - I would definitely look at the used market for a touring bike from the '80s or so. The longer chainstays will allow you to use your panniers without your heal hitting, these bikes will be able to support the larger tires that you want for a more comfortable ride.

If you were to look for something more upright, the Raleigh Classic Roadster would make a nice commuter for a shortish commute - 3 speed hub, upright position, classic looks, and on sale at REI right now.
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Old 09-01-10, 05:55 PM   #10
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What about one of these:
http://losangeles.craigslist.org/sgv...931872745.html
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Old 09-01-10, 06:02 PM   #11
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80s touring bike, check. Thanks!

Is it common for a road bike to have eyelets on the rear dropouts but not on the stays? If so, this might open up some possibilities for me, with the help of some clamps to mount a rear rack.

-Brian
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Old 09-01-10, 06:05 PM   #12
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Would you believe I just had their site up now. The Univega might be a bit long for me, and while the Faggin is close enough to my price range, I wouldn't be able to get a rear rack on there before I've spent some 60 or 70 dollars, it seems. I'm checking back with them though, periodically.
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Old 09-02-10, 07:33 PM   #13
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Dare I say that my patient waiting and hours of sifting might possibly pay off? I found a 1986 Centurion Le Mans RS in decent-looking shape for what I take to be finally a reasonable price, and I'm hoping to jump on it as soon as I can. My only concern right now is that it's 56 cm frame and that might be a little small for my 6' frame. I'm of course going take it for a test run and see how it feels, but should I be concerned about the size right out?
http://losangeles.craigslist.org/sgv...933607932.html

Or else, I found a 57 cm Miyata 310 that could look pretty nice with a little restoration. The 170 as-is price tag is just something I'm getting used to here in Southern California. The bike has some kind of draw to it for me:
http://lh4.ggpht.com/_dNxi8h53r7s/TH...0%20black%2057[3].jpg

Assemble, my most esteemed advisors. Is the newbie moving on ignorance? Speak, speak!

-Brian
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Old 09-02-10, 08:43 PM   #14
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Miyata 310 is a great bike. $170 is a good price if it is in good shape. It looks kind of OK from the photo. Not sure about tires. But think about spending another $50- 100 and it would be a dandy machine.... if it fits you.

[Edit] that Centurion is also nothing to sneeze at. Price is good too.

If you see something like this kind of deal, don't post on Bikeforums. Run, don't walk, and get it... then post on Bikeforums.
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Old 09-02-10, 09:32 PM   #15
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That is a really good price on the Centurion. Tange 2 frame is pretty good stuff. I am not sure I would consider his parts swaps an upgrade but it is decent parts. I believe that bike came with a full 105 group Like my Dave Scott Centurion.

You are correct 56-57cm is a bit small for you if you have average proportions. You need a 58-60cm frame if you have a 32inch inseam. The good news is the Centurion looks to be a 58- 60cm to me. frames are measured Center of crank to top of the seat tube and that ad says he measured center to center of top tube.
GO JUMP ON THAT BIKE!

The Miyata is a good bike but I seem to recall the 310 being a bit of a mid line bike I think thats a 82 and it will have 27 inch wheels and a 4130 frame.
http://www.miyatacatalogs.com/2007/1...alog-1982.html

The miyata is more of a "Sport" bike. Little longer wheel base. going to have a little more of a plush ride it is about 26lb.
The Centurion is more of a Criterium race bike. It will be more of a crisp ride and probably weigh in around 22lb maybe a little less with the Tange 2 tubing.
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Old 09-02-10, 09:45 PM   #16
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If you see something like this kind of deal, don't post on Bikeforums. Run, don't walk, and get it... then post on Bikeforums.
Haha. By all means, PLEASE, no one poach my golden egg here. I've just been wading through so many outrageous prices on fair-to-middle bikes (at best) that I wanted to check that this was as good as I thought it was. To anyone in the LA area, BACK OFF. She's mine.

Thanks, all,

-Brian
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