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Old 10-06-10, 01:55 PM   #1
ilovejmb
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So I need to get a bike...

Hello all. Long story short, my Raleigh Cadent was stolen a few weeks ago and I now have around $600-700 to spend on a bike. I have a few questions and would love some input. First, my situation. I commute 3-4 days a week year round, 8-15 miles, carrying whatever I need in panniers on a rear rack, and riding often in street clothes. It would be nice, but not necessary to have a bike that could also handle hard-packed trails and such on the weekend. It is also essential to have a low-maintenance bike, because I am not too handy and cannot afford bike shop repairs very often. I don't have a strong preference between a road bike or hybrid bike, but road is what I am used to and I like to ride fast. Last important detail - I have my mind set on the $1000-1500 MSRP bracket so I need to get a deal.

So my first question is whether I should cruise Craigslist for a bargain 5-10 year old bike, or venture online to a seller such as BikesDirect. I am not entirely opposed to putting something together, and I like the idea of a new bike. However, I think I might be able to find a higher-end bike in the used category. For instance, I found one guy selling a 2000 Lemond Buenos Aires for about the right amount.

My second question is to what extent these fine distinctions matter between touring, cyclocross, triathlon, and commuter bikes for my purposes. I am aware that these are different in some respects, but I mean, isn't a bike a bike? Bear with me, I'm relatively uneducated and don't have a ton of time at my disposal right now to educate myself.

Thanks for the help!
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Old 10-06-10, 06:48 PM   #2
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What model of Cadent did you have? I have a 2006 Cadent 2.0 and its a pretty nice bike but at the risk of getting hammered I will recommend the Windsor Tourist from Bikes direct. I bought one last April and its been a great bike for me. Now the buts. You will have to put it together and there are a few things I did not like but had been warned about and proceeded anyway. The rims were a shade out of true, not horrible but enough to make adjusting the brakes nearly impossible. I had them trued a couple of days after I got the bike. I also changed the brake pads, again not a big deal and the saddle was fine and actually was pretty comfy but I put Brooks B-17 on that I had from another bike which I had planned to do anyway. The pedals are serviceable but not great so I changed them to some better platforms with mini toeclips. Not many people like the toe clips but I do and most bikes, unless you specify in the build like a LHT don't even come with pedals and if they do they are junk. I have since replaced the 700X32 Kenda tires with Panaracer Pasela TG only because I had them here for another bike I was going to build but didn't and had a flat with the Kendas so I changed them. The bike is now just what I was hoping for, a very nice comfortable all around ride. It was cheap at $599.00 and no shipping so that allows you to do some changes and still have an under $1000.00 bike. I haven't had any spoke breakeage like others have experienced but that could have been because I had my LBS true the wheels as I said and make sure the dishing and spoke tension was good. Its a hell of a nice bike for $599.00 It rides like a dream at least for me. YMMV You have a lot of choices out there and now is a good time to get a deal on a new bike from your LBS since the new models are coming out and summer is over so they need to move inventory. Have fun looking and let us know what you get. Pictures are required too.
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Old 10-06-10, 07:58 PM   #3
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If I were to buy new I'd go with a Surly Cross-Check as it is a notably versatile bike. The Windsor Tourist is also a good mention. BikesDirect will probably do you good if you are looking for a single speed/fixed gear bike for the low maintenance aspect. Buying bikes on Craigslist is a great option and you can find some real gems, however, I usually take into account that the majority need new tires/chain/overhaul/etc, as they were usually plucked out of a closet after being in there for 20+ years so consider that into your budget. I went the Craigslist route and got my Bianchi which is my all-around bike (commuting, fast rides, etc). You're right, a bike is a bike, but as you ride more you begin to realize that some bikes just don't "fit." Sure they have tires and a seat and handlebars, but something is off. When you find a ride that fits you it'll be that much more enjoyable and well worth your time to commute/race/whatever on.

I would learn how to fix a bike, at least basic things such as installing a chain, applying lube, brake/derailleur adjustments, and changing a tire. You will save a TON of money in bike shop repairs by doing so, and most jobs only take about 10-30 minutes of your time.
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Old 10-07-10, 11:14 AM   #4
ilovejmb
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Found three bikes

Cruising Craigslist, I have found two candidates so far, roughly the same cost, each of them different. Anybody care to express a preference or other opinion?

1. 2000 Lemond Buenos Aires, 55cm (will this even fit me at 6'2"?); this is a steel-framed road bike with Shimano 105 components, should take a rack, etc.

2. 2004 Felt SR71, 59cm; this is an aluminum-framed hybrid with Ultegra
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Old 10-07-10, 11:30 AM   #5
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Based on fit I would take the Felt, but based on everything else I would take the Lemond. Aluminum isn't a preferred material (you will FEEL everything) steel is more forgiving and has a cushier ride in my opinion. However, if a cushy ride isn't too much of a bother to you, the Felt would be a great option.
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Old 10-07-10, 01:59 PM   #6
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Schwinn Super Sport DBX - $800 from Harbor Country. Or the similarly priced Salsa Vaya from Cambria Bike.

All around commuter bikes.
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Old 10-07-10, 02:03 PM   #7
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I would look used. Check out craigslist, coops, LBS that sell used, pawn shops, police auctions, garage sales, etc. It is always a good idea to learn how to do your own wrenching. Bookstores, online, and your local library should provide a great deal of information. Some sites will even provide you information on what to look for when purchasing used.

Of the bikes you listed it looks like the Lemond would be a little small but the Felt should be about right.

Of the different categories of bikes here is a short rundown.
A touring bike is meant to carry loads and is usually very stable. They tend to be heavier and slower but more comfortable.
A cyclocross bike is usually quicker and a little lighter. Most consider them a jack of all trades.
A triathalon bike is more race oriented. They are usually fast and light.
A commuter bike can be anything. Any bike you use to commute on I consider a commuter bike. Manufacturers will tout every type of bike under the sun as commuter bike if it means someone will buy it.
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Old 10-08-10, 07:50 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by ilovejmb View Post
Cruising Craigslist, I have found two candidates so far, roughly the same cost, each of them different. Anybody care to express a preference or other opinion?

1. 2000 Lemond Buenos Aires, 55cm (will this even fit me at 6'2"?); this is a steel-framed road bike with Shimano 105 components, should take a rack, etc.

2. 2004 Felt SR71, 59cm; this is an aluminum-framed hybrid with Ultegra
the 55 will probably be too small. 59 will probably be about right.
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Old 10-08-10, 10:16 AM   #9
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Evaluating Your Requirements

I have to say that you've given us three or four requirements that must be balanced:
- $600-700 (assuming this includes racks and bags?)
- Don't want restoration/repair work right away
- Commuting as primary use - with day pannier load
- Multi-surface capable, including hard-pack
- Some road speed would be nice when not commuting
- Fit for 6'2" male (likely 59-61cm)
- Start in the winter, you'll need lights, too.

We can't let requirements creep any further than this or the price will go up and it'll be a bike not needed but desired...

This set of requirements points to a tourer or a cyclocross bike.

You didn't say how soon you want to be up and running.

In this price range, unless you are extremely unlikely to find this bike on CL, but you might.

Unfortunately, Bikes Direct or somesuch might be your best bet. At least the bike will function right out of the box for your purposes. The real question is when you want this bike, and how skilled you might be at initial set up.

Keep money set aside for bags (if they weren't taken), lights, a rack (if not supplied with the bike) and maybe pedals. That leaves you $550 or so for the bike at best.

Your choices will then be clear.

Good luck.

Phil
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Old 10-08-10, 10:18 AM   #10
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You wrote: It is also essential to have a low-maintenance bike, because I am not too handy and cannot afford bike shop repairs very often. I am not entirely opposed to putting something together, and I like the idea of a new bike.


I live in Northern VA and can help you with set-up of the bike if you need any assistance once you decide. I've been working on bikes since the 1970s. You can PM me. Phil G.
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Old 10-08-10, 10:54 AM   #11
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You wrote: It is also essential to have a low-maintenance bike, because I am not too handy and cannot afford bike shop repairs very often. I am not entirely opposed to putting something together, and I like the idea of a new bike.


I live in Northern VA and can help you with set-up of the bike if you need any assistance once you decide. I've been working on bikes since the 1970s. You can PM me. Phil G.
Kudos to you Phil. This is what makes the commuting forum so cool, someone willing to help anytime. Sort of restores ones faith in mankind.
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Old 10-11-10, 07:50 PM   #12
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Thanks!

Thanks to everyone for your input.

@Stringbreaker: I forgot to mention, my Raleigh was a 2006 Cadent 2.0; I really enjoyed that bike

@Phil: I appreciate your generous advice AND offer to help out

So of the two bikes I listed, I didn't get either. I realized after riding the Felt that (1) I didn't want a flat-bar bike, and (2) the Lemond would definitely be too small, based on the fit of the Felt. I did pick up a bike today, though: a 2008 Bianchi Volpe in virtually new condition. The bike is flawless, with the exception of some minor rub in the front brakes. I will do my research on the proper adjustment procedure and give it a shot.

Thanks again to everyone for all your help!
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