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Old 12-09-12, 07:19 AM   #1
Muddyrunfarm
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Seeking advice on bike purchase

hello am looking for opinions on buying a bike. Bear with me as I am clueless when it comes to bikes.
I "believe" what I am looking for is a ladies mountain bike ..I am 5 ' 4" (longer legs) and just would like
a bike to ride park
sand/dirt trails. so I believe it is the mtn bike I want however I have a vision of something a bit smaller than
a hybrid Trek... actually I like the bmx compact size but dont think something so heavy would be good and
would like some choice of gear options. However if I need the Trek hybrid style for pedal clearance from
the ground (as I was advised) then well I guess I go the hybrid route!! I watch Craigs List (I live in south
jersey) and am looking for used unless there is
an awesome noname bike out there that is affordable ( i did see the bikeline ad...but have no clue how good it
is). My price range is 300-350 but seriously would be
happy with a clean ,well kept older bike in working order so even spending less would be ideal. I just want
a well made bike that is clean. I currently have a townie electra I believe it is..which I like and dont have to
sell but could
to get something else. so i do have a bike for road riding.Looking forward to getting advice. Thanks
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Old 12-09-12, 07:41 AM   #2
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check this out, http://www.bikesdirect.com/ . many different styles and options round the $300-400 range. look them over then maybe you will get a better Idea of exactly what your after. Then you can ask about a particular bike.

these are as clean as they come.
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Old 12-09-12, 07:43 AM   #3
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More information on what you intend to use it for would be helpful: "park sand/dirt trails" can cover everything from groomed limestone to rough, through the woods single track...

Also, more information on your riding back ground. How often and how far do you usually ride (or intend to ride?)

At 5'4" you will need a smaller bike. But, at least from bike shops, they are readily available. it may be difficult to find used bikes in the smaller size -- but you never know...

The pure mountain bikes with knobby tires are for riding undeveloped rough trails. Hybrids are essentially a cross between road oriented bikes and mountain bikes and come in a wide variety of orientations: For example (not as a suggestion) Trek produces the FX line (which is a road-oriented hybrid) as well as the DS line (which is oriented more to the mountain bike side)... I think the base models in each line start in the $500-$600 price range -- which is well above your goal.

You have come to a good place to start: people on this forum have a wide variety of tastes and experiences.

I think most will tell you that you need to narrow down the type of riding you intend to use the bike for -- and that the fit of the bike is perhaps the most important criteria. And, the best approach usually starts with a visit to a local bike shop (not a big box store). A local bike shop has addressed questions like yours quite a number of times and will be equipped to show you a number of bikes that will work well for you -- and even let you test ride them....

In the end only you will know what is best for you. But this forum and your local bike shop are a good start.
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Old 12-09-12, 07:44 AM   #4
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Have you had a chance to read our sticky:

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...0-newbie-rider

It may provide some helpful comments.

Welcome.
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Old 12-09-12, 08:19 AM   #5
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If after you sort out how you intend to use the bike and proper sizing (as suggested by others here) I think you will find your $300-350 budget to be a limiting factor. I don't mean to be discouraging but to me a bike at that price is a waste of money. If you can deal with drop bars I would check out cyclocross bikes and I'd look for used bikes.
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Old 12-09-12, 08:31 AM   #6
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If you're riding dirt and sand, you'll want fat tires.

If the terrain is bumpy, you might need suspension. I bet you don't need suspension.

If you'll have a lot of hills to climb, a lighter bike would be nice. If the trails are flat, the bike should be light enough so you can load it on your car without jacking a shoulder.

So, I'm thinking a decent hybrid bike with fat tires would do the trick. There should be plenty of used ones to check out.
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Old 12-09-12, 08:38 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muddyrunfarm View Post
I watch Craigs List (I live in south
jersey) and am looking for used unless there is
an awesome noname bike out there that is affordable.
Shop for a bike shop first. When you find the one with the people who ask the "right" questions, you'll know it.

Do you know what size bike you need? Size affects your comfort, efficiency and performance every single minute that you're on the bike. In terms of importance, nothing else even comes close. Do you think you'd be able to "tell" if a bike's the right size from a short test ride? Would you buy shoes that were the wrong size?

When you buy a new bike from a bike shop you can pick out the style and price range you are comfortable with and the shop should be able to fit you with the appropriate size. When you buy off Craigs List, there's usually only one. If the fit is wrong, regardless of the components or price, it's not a good deal.
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Old 12-09-12, 10:02 AM   #8
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I'm in North Jersey,try MTBNJ they have a section with bikes for sale,I don't think you would get a lemon there,they take care of their bikes.Also look up mud chix its a site by a Jersey girl to help with mountain biking.
Regards Mike
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Old 12-09-12, 10:33 AM   #9
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MY biking background...total novice ..only an occassional recreational rider if that helps. but would like to slowly find a way to get back into shape. my riding will probably consist of groomed (mostly) trails and occassionally rail trails..all riding will be mostly flat..so not sure if that answers your question. I can visit a bike store but would feel poorly knowing I would not be buying a bike there unless of course they sold used bikes as well.
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Old 12-09-12, 10:33 AM   #10
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Thanks I will check it out.
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Old 12-09-12, 10:40 AM   #11
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MTB's can come in small sizes and I am only 5'6" short with and inseam of 29".



You can see how small a person this could fit so don't be worried that you will have to buy a bike that is too large.

For the money you are looking at you will only get a basic bike. Don't need front suspension and if you did want it- It would not work very well. But nothing wrong with basic. I would advise local bike shop (LBS) for your first purchase though and finding the LBS will be your problem.

Find the LBS and then they can advise you on the bike.
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Old 12-09-12, 11:42 AM   #12
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My wife is the same height as you and it sounds like the leg length is similar too. She rides a WSD Trek 7300 hybrid. the tyres are wider than most standard road bikes, 700X35, and an upright rider's position. She loves the fit and the ride more it has, better than the MTB she has had and she did a lot if riding on standard drop bar bikes prior to the 90's. Maybe you could try a few different models at your LBS so you can see which bike fits you better. Good luck with choosing a good bike that suits and fits you well.

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Old 12-09-12, 04:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muddyrunfarm View Post
MY biking background...total novice ..only an occassional recreational rider if that helps. but would like to slowly find a way to get back into shape. my riding will probably consist of groomed (mostly) trails and occassionally rail trails..all riding will be mostly flat..so not sure if that answers your question. I can visit a bike store but would feel poorly knowing I would not be buying a bike there unless of course they sold used bikes as well.
Thanks for the update...

I was in a similar situation this past spring: I wanted to try riding on local packed limestone rail-to-trails but I didn't have a bike and didn't want to spend a fortune to find out if cycling was for me or just a passing whim. Fortunately a friend (about my size) gave me a nice road bike she had had laying in her garage for 20 years...

On my first ride I got about 3 miles and almost fell off the bike because I was so tired.

Since then I have invested in a more versatile hybrid (a Trek DS) and I love both bikes and I love riding. Lately I have been doing about 20-30 miles most every day of the week. For many cycling is an addiction and I think it is for me as well... But then, I also realize how badly I needed to cycle in order to overcome 40-45 years of inactivity.

I hope that you find a bike that fits you and works well for you (road bikes can do packed limestone -- but it's not what they were bred for).

I would suggest visiting several local bike shops and just being honest with them regarding your experience, your hopes and expectations as well as the size of your wallet. Trust me that they will have heard your story a thousand times. The ones who are only interested in profits and sales will blow you off (no harm done). The good ones will provide you with excellent help and advise -- even if they don't have a bike in your price range.
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Old 01-02-13, 08:19 AM   #14
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i Just wanted to update with bike hunting and where I am at. anyone can jump in. first yes I went to two bike shops to chat. I have to say both reps were very pleasant and we discussed a lot but basically no bikes were pulled out or any question of my size vs type/size of bike to buy. basically both sort of thought a hybrid since I want to do groomed trails ... and of course one store sold specialized and the other trek but they had a (over) supply of Fuji bikes they could sell however it was strickly looking/picking one from a computer picture?? so with that in mind I thought I could bascially do the search myself. I am at the point where I think I need somewhere between size 15 -17.5 " frame. I am looking at a Trek 7200, Trek 4500 and a Cannondale F300 (used) which I like the look of but he is asking 385.00 and it is a few years old ??? and I think overpriced since new they are 529.00? so obviously I am leaning either towards mtn or hybrid.
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Old 01-02-13, 09:53 AM   #15
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For what you are looking for, the Trek 7200 is the way to go. I've known several people who have gotten them and like them. I wouldn't get the other two unless you are into gnarly single track.
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Old 01-02-13, 10:04 AM   #16
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This "brand new bike" discussion seems silly to me. Your best bet is a Trek 800 series from the 1990s in a 15" frame. There are scads of them on C/L all of the time for sale between $75 and $150 depending on condition. Slap some 26 x 1.5" slicks on there, have your LBS replace cables and tune it up, and you're done.

I just gave away a perfect 18" frame Trek 820 to our church administrator. She's a taller lady. I got that one from freecycle in my area, tuned it, trued the rims...whammo. I can't tell you how many similar bikes there are on C/L. Univegas, Fujis, Treks - all of the same era. Just look for frame size. They'll be 3 x 7 gearing, twist grip shifters, rim brakes, knobby tires, rigid fork, steel frame, upright geometry. They'll all be cheap, especially at this time of year.

My two centavos...
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Old 01-02-13, 12:28 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muddyrunfarm View Post
i Just wanted to update with bike hunting and where I am at. anyone can jump in. first yes I went to two bike shops to chat. I have to say both reps were very pleasant and we discussed a lot but basically no bikes were pulled out or any question of my size vs type/size of bike to buy. basically both sort of thought a hybrid since I want to do groomed trails ... and of course one store sold specialized and the other trek but they had a (over) supply of Fuji bikes they could sell however it was strickly looking/picking one from a computer picture?? so with that in mind I thought I could bascially do the search myself. I am at the point where I think I need somewhere between size 15 -17.5 " frame. I am looking at a Trek 7200, Trek 4500 and a Cannondale F300 (used) which I like the look of but he is asking 385.00 and it is a few years old ??? and I think overpriced since new they are 529.00? so obviously I am leaning either towards mtn or hybrid.
I find it bothersome that neither bike shop was seriously interested in fitting you or providing you with a test ride (or even a test sit) -- particularly this time of year when they are probably more bored than busy.
... Unfortunately, while I find it bothersome, I do not find it surprising.

In my own search for a bike this past fall I was fortunate to have an LBS within walking distance of my home that has an outstanding manager who's primary goal seems to be to help cyclists find what works best for them.

My first conversation was to ask him about a bike I had bid on over EBay. He was quickly able to point out why it was not a good fit for me (and he was right!).

I then looked around at 2 other LBS's with the same results that you described: a lot of talk -- but no test rides or fitting... Just salesy talk.

So I returned to my first LBS and he set up and fit half a dozen bikes for me (adjusting handle bars and seats to fit me). And when I rode each of them, I was surprised to find just how very different each rode and felt. He even ordered a bike in that he thought would fit me particularly well from one of his sister stores -- but that didn't work out. Then we found a similar bike at another store, he brought it in, fitted it to me and I tried it and loved it and bought it.

Perhaps you should, if possible, visit a few more bike shops. I agree that if they are not helping you by letting you ride a bike, you may as well buy online. But, that option provides the least chances of getting the best bike (for you) at the most reasonable price.

Heck, even in WalMart or Dick's or REI you can at least sit on them!

They may be right that a hybrid will be best for you: I ride on "groomed trails" (actually crushed limestone) and I find a hybrid truly does work best for me. But, in test riding them, I found that there are huge differences in the different types and varieties. All hybrids are a balance of road and mountain bikes -- but some are mostly for road and some are closer to mountain bikes.

I ended up with a 2012 Trek DS which is closer to a mountain bike. But even that is a story because the 2013 model has a completely redesigned frame that rides and feels very different from the 2012 model. I liked the 2012 version. I did not like and would not buy the 2013 version.

Another to at least consider for "groomed trails" is a cyclo-cross. But they tend to be more expensive than comparable hybrids.

Best of luck to you!
... I would make it clear to the bike shops that you are not going to buy anything without a test ride -- and probably several test rides.
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