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  1. #1
    Junior Member jball49's Avatar
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    Hello, LOTS of questions!

    Hi everybody, I am just shy of turning 55 and just started riding a bike some last summer. I enjoyed it and want to find a better bike as the one I have was VERY cheap and isn't a good bike at all. I don't want to spend a lot but want to find a quality used bike. I also obviously am going to have to take time working up to riding very far. I quit smoking almost 3 months ago which is amazing because I have tried before but never been able to do it. Smoked for over 40 years. I started vaping (using the electronic cigarettes with the refillable tanks for the liquid which is just PG, VG, nicotine and flavoring. It really has been a miracle for a lot of people like myself that have used them to quit.
    Anyway, need to figure out what type of bike I should look for, I know I don't want a mountain bike, it will all be on trails, streets, etc so I don't know if a hybrid is ok or if I definitely want a road bike. Usually the decent road bikes for sale are pricey but I can look for a while.

    Any ideas or advice? TIA!
    "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, life is about learning to dance in the rain."

  2. #2
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jball49 View Post
    Hi everybody, I am just shy of turning 55 and just started riding a bike some last summer. I enjoyed it and want to find a better bike as the one I have was VERY cheap and isn't a good bike at all. I don't want to spend a lot but want to find a quality used bike. I also obviously am going to have to take time working up to riding very far. I quit smoking almost 3 months ago which is amazing because I have tried before but never been able to do it. Smoked for over 40 years. I started vaping (using the electronic cigarettes with the refillable tanks for the liquid which is just PG, VG, nicotine and flavoring. It really has been a miracle for a lot of people like myself that have used them to quit.
    Anyway, need to figure out what type of bike I should look for, I know I don't want a mountain bike, it will all be on trails, streets, etc so I don't know if a hybrid is ok or if I definitely want a road bike. Usually the decent road bikes for sale are pricey but I can look for a while.

    Any ideas or advice? TIA!
    Welcome, and congratulations on kicking the weed. That is a huge step, and in my mind, the best thing one can do for one's self. So grateful I was able to kick it many years ago.
    Everyone here has their own ideas about what type of bike you should ride, but I tend to think hybrids are fine for someone just getting into riding and sticking to streets and rail trails and the like.
    Once you work up to more distance and saddle time, you may find a road bike more to your liking, but they are not for everybody.
    Gearhubs demystified and other cool stuff.


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  3. #3
    Senior Member dbikingman's Avatar
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    I'm glad you explained "vaping" here in Washington State it has a totally different application.

    I'd suggest you try riding different bikes and see how they feel. When you say trails are you speaking of paved or dirt?

    Your size also come in question. Keep riding your cheap bike, try riding a few other bikes and see what feels "right" to you. The more experience you get riding the bike you have the better you can decide your riding style.
    WTB SPD pedals style???
    "I've been dropped a lot of times, but it's never been because of my bike." DXchulo

  4. #4
    Junior Member jball49's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
    Welcome, and congratulations on kicking the weed. That is a huge step, and in my mind, the best thing one can do for one's self. So grateful I was able to kick it many years ago.
    Everyone here has their own ideas about what type of bike you should ride, but I tend to think hybrids are fine for someone just getting into riding and sticking to streets and rail trails and the like.
    Once you work up to more distance and saddle time, you may find a road bike more to your liking, but they are not for everybody.
    Thanks! I was thinking along those same lines. I know I don't want the mountain bike style tires, those are what are on the bike I have, but I have seen the hybrid type tires which can be smooth down the center but have some tread on the sides, that style would be ok with me. I wish now that I would have bought a Trek I saw last year but I went cheaper not knowing if I was going to like it or not.
    "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, life is about learning to dance in the rain."

  5. #5
    Junior Member jball49's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Burkhart View Post
    Welcome, and congratulations on kicking the weed. That is a huge step, and in my mind, the best thing one can do for one's self. So grateful I was able to kick it many years ago.
    Everyone here has their own ideas about what type of bike you should ride, but I tend to think hybrids are fine for someone just getting into riding and sticking to streets and rail trails and the like.
    Once you work up to more distance and saddle time, you may find a road bike more to your liking, but they are not for everybody.
    Thanks, yeah kind of proud of myself, lol, even prouder because my wife quit as well and I am more worried about her health than mine. I didn't know there was any other connotation because the ecig forum continually refers to it as vaping and so do most of the people I know that have really gotten in to it. Since there are NO proven health risks with it, nicotine is not carcinogenic it is the other chemicals in cigarette smoke, some people that were ex-smokers have even taken it up. It gets in depth when you really get in to that hobby, some build their own mods, coils, make their own juice, it goes on and on, lol. The only problem is that now big tobacco is jumping in and trying to take control of the industry and many states have or are trying to regulate or tax it like tobacco which is ridiculous!
    "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, life is about learning to dance in the rain."

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by jball49 View Post
    Since there are NO proven health risks with it, nicotine is not carcinogenic it is the other chemicals in cigarette smoke, some people that were ex-smokers have even taken it up.
    Not to detract from your achievement, but absence of proof is not proof of absence. The FDA is starting to look into this. It is almost certainly less bad than smoking, but (IMO) non- or ex-smokers would be ill-advised to take up "vaping", and vapers would be well advised to try to stop.

    Getting back to your original question, when you say "trails" are you talking about MUT's, or rail trails, or gravel, or really off-road? If you are not doing single track, then a road bike (flat bar or otherwise) that will take 28 or 32 mm tires might serve you well. Suspension adds weight, low priced suspensions are not all that great, and may not add much value for your purpose.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jball49 View Post
    Anyway, need to figure out what type of bike I should look for, I know I don't want a mountain bike, it will all be on trails, streets, etc so I don't know if a hybrid is ok or if I definitely want a road bike.
    How thin can you slice the baloney?

    At first there were just road bikes. Then we had road bikes and mountain bikes. Then hybrid bikes split the difference between the two. Then comfort bikes split the difference between hybrids and mountain bikes and another group of bikes, that doesn't even have a convenient name, split the line between hybrids and road bikes.

    I think that you should go to a shop just to see what all the various classes of bikes look like and how you fit the different riding positions. I wouldn't automatically reject the idea of a recumbent either, but that's another topic entirely.
    My greatest fear is all of my kids standing around my coffin and talking about "how sensible" dad was.

  8. #8
    Junior Member jball49's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeWMass View Post
    Not to detract from your achievement, but absence of proof is not proof of absence. The FDA is starting to look into this. It is almost certainly less bad than smoking, but (IMO) non- or ex-smokers would be ill-advised to take up "vaping", and vapers would be well advised to try to stop.

    Getting back to your original question, when you say "trails" are you talking about MUT's, or rail trails, or gravel, or really off-road? If you are not doing single track, then a road bike (flat bar or otherwise) that will take 28 or 32 mm tires might serve you well. Suspension adds weight, low priced suspensions are not all that great, and may not add much value for your purpose.
    Actually there have been studies in to the chemistry of what is in the liquids which stated there is more risk with the processed foods we eat then there is with the substances in quality juice for e-cigs. CAASA has a study they quote on that. Is there zero risk, well is there zero risk in riding a bike, of course not!

    And as for the trails, I am talking bike trails around here which are all asphalt or concrete paved. No unpaved surfaces.
    "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, life is about learning to dance in the rain."

  9. #9
    Free Velo Vol! Dudelsack's Avatar
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    Remember, with cheap, light and durable, you only get to choose two.

  10. #10
    Junior Member jball49's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    How thin can you slice the baloney?

    At first there were just road bikes. Then we had road bikes and mountain bikes. Then hybrid bikes split the difference between the two. Then comfort bikes split the difference between hybrids and mountain bikes and another group of bikes, that doesn't even have a convenient name, split the line between hybrids and road bikes.

    I think that you should go to a shop just to see what all the various classes of bikes look like and how you fit the different riding positions. I wouldn't automatically reject the idea of a recumbent either, but that's another topic entirely.
    Baloney? I thought I was asking about bikes. I don't know a lot about bikes, that is why I just signed up here as I stated in my first post. I did look in recumbent bikes last year but all of them were very expensive. I was just looking for general advice when looking for a bike is all, nothing complex. I rode my mountain bike last summer but it is a very cheaply made bike and I would like to find a better made decent used bike. That's all, nothing too hard here for people that do know a lot about bikes.
    "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, life is about learning to dance in the rain."

  11. #11
    Junior Member jball49's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
    Remember, with cheap, light and durable, you only get to choose two.
    LOL, yeah, found out the really light ones (and expensive) are easily damaged from people last year, thought probably not what I need right now! Thanks.
    "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, life is about learning to dance in the rain."

  12. #12
    Senior Member bruce19's Avatar
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    Don't ignore cyclocross bikes. I think you will find them very versatile.

  13. #13
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    How much is not a lot of money and how tall and how much do you weigh?

    $300-500 can get a decent, used bike off CL.

    Trek 7100 Gary Fisher Men's Multi Track Hybrid

    2012 Trek FX 7.1 Hybrid Perfect Condition

    Your best bet is probably going to a local bike shop and explaining how much you can spend and let them guide you.

    Congratulations on giving up tobacco and moving towards a healthier life.

  14. #14
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    If you are looking to work up to long rides where speed is a secondary consideration to comfort, don't rule out touring bikes. You don't have to do loaded multi-day touring to enjoy some of the features of a good touring bike. They are very similar to road bikes but with more relaxed frame geometry and longer stays which makes trades a bit of agility for stability. They also have the advantage of being able to be fitted with racks, fenders and other accessories, and to take larger tires than most road bikes. If you are looking at hybrids and road bikes, but leaning toward the road bike, a touring bike might be a good choice.

    A cyclocross bike is also similar to a road bike with a more aggressive geometry than a touring bike, but they will still take wider tires and fenders. They are an excellent choice for an all-rounder and are well suited to those who want a bike that will handle gravel/dirt trails and paved surfaces equally well. With the right tires and gearing, they are quite at home off road, similar to what the old rigid framed MTBs were designed for.
    Lead, follow or get out of the way

  15. #15
    Senior Member Terex's Avatar
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    If you've got several bike shops in your area, I suggest going to a few and explaining your needs. Let then know you are interested in improving your health and increasing your riding, and may be in again next spring to swap and upgrade. If you don't feel comfortable with repairs and upgrades, going to a bike store for help will benefit you in the long run - you'll end up back there anyway as soon as you buy a used bike and need it fitted, adjusted, fixed, etc. Many stores offer at least one free adjustment after you've purchased the bike, and you may be able to negotiate some additional tune-up work, in addition to normal warrantee coverage.

    Once you've got some alternatives that you like, please post them and people here can let you know their experience with those particular bikes.

    When I started cycling again in my 50's, I did the same thing you're doing and ended up with a hard tail mtn. bike, a full suspension mtn bike, a mid-level Trek road bike, two high end road bikes and a cyclocross bike. And I needed them all.
    "It could be anything. Scrap booking, high-stakes poker, or the Santa Fe lifestyle. Just pick a dead-end and chill out 'till you die."

  16. #16
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    Dont overlook the possibility of a bent or a trike for the lack of pain.

    Remember up to a point more expensive bikes and trikes get you more. Then above mid point you are paying more for a name than you are getting bang for the buck.

  17. #17
    Over forty victim of Fate Cougrrcj's Avatar
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    Congrats on kicking the smoking habit! But now you've picked up another one, and a lot healthier!!

    As for what bike is 'best', lets just say I have several. Each serves their own purpose. Each ride differently. One with relaxed geometry for long-distance riding, one with a more aggressive geometry for fast rides, a rigid MTB with knobbies, and another rigid MTB with 'city' tires for crushed stone MUP rides, and a three-speed with baskets for trips to the store.
    '75 Fuji S-10S bought new, 45k+ miles and still going!
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    MTB of questionable lineage aka 'Mutt Trail Bike'

  18. #18
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    I restarted riding at 50 and fell in love with it immediately. I started with a crummy $100 used road bike, graduated to a crummy $250 used road bike, and finally bought a new road bike at 55, having ridden many long rides including centuries and doubles on the $250 bike. My advice is to buy what will give you joy. With joy comes use and it's use that's most important. Forget practicality and focus on joy. For me, joy is moving the bike up the road at a good pace, and that means a road bike. For other people, joy is doing fast single track in the mountains or exploring logging roads. If you get into it, you'll get sick of paths pronto. The road bike position, while it might feel strange if you've never had a road bike, is the most comfortable. Modern MTBs use about the same position.

  19. #19
    Senior Member downtube42's Avatar
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    On a budget and willing to buy used, there are a lot of options and most of them would work fine. Proper fit is the most important thing, and for that you either need to read up or find someone who can help. Don't buy a bike that doesn't fit, no matter how good the deal seems.

    One good used option IMO for your purpose is a hardtail MTB with rigid fork. Typically quite a few 90's MTBs are available used, at reasonable prices. They can take anything from a 1.5" 90psi road slick to a MTB tire. These bikes have strong wheels and a strong frame. You can tweak handlebar style and stem configuration quite a bit without much cost or part swapping, to get a body position that suits you. Often they have eyelets for fenders and racks, giving you more options down the road. I have a Specialized Hardrock that's served as a MTB, commuter, century bike, gravel bike, ice bike, and most recently as a single speed grocery getter. At the co-op where I volunteer, we get these bikes in all the time, and they sit around for a long time.

    Congratulations, good luck, and enjoy whatever you end up buying.
    What is bicycle touring?
    "So I kept looking and eventually found that a spark plug had same threads. So I cycled next two days until I got to Jackson, MS with a spark plug instead of right pedal." - mev

  20. #20
    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bruce19 View Post
    Don't ignore cyclocross bikes. I think you will find them very versatile.
    +1. I have a dozen bikes, including a nice $3.3K Roubiax. The bike that gets ridden most often is the cyclocross; they are great all around bikes and fast enough with a light wheelset and tires. If I had to whittle the stable down to one bike I'd keep my cyclocross - with two wheelsets, one for speed and one for off road.

  21. #21
    Senior Member h2oxtc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    How thin can you slice the baloney?
    Quote Originally Posted by jball49 View Post
    Baloney? I thought I was asking about bikes.
    I think RG was simply trying to say that the types or divisions between bikes is becoming smaller and smaller, hence the reference to "how thin can you slice the baloney". There are increasingly more types or style of bikes between road and mountain. A recent, yet not so recent, group is referred to as gravel grinders. Bruce19 mentioned cyclocross, another thin slice. The best advice is to try a bunch of bikes, borrowed from friends, rented, or test rides at the local bike shop (LBS).

    Good luck - enjoy the riding!

  22. #22
    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
    Remember, with cheap, light and durable, you only get to choose two.
    Succinct and well said, Is that a quote?

    I'm often asked by cycling neophytes what kind of bike to buy. Personally Iím not very conversant with all kinds of models, since my N=2, and I buy about every 20 years. So my general advice is first decide what you want the bike for, and then determine your price range. I also tout using a bike shop.

    IMO, I think bikes stratify within price levels, e.g. under $200, about $200-500, 500 -800, 800-1200, up to 2000, to 5000, and skyís the limit. So any brand and model within those arbitrarily suggested levels are probably equivalent. My own shopping strategy for any big-ticket item is take a look at the most expensive items first to see what's the best available, and work my way down to see which features I can eliminate and still be satisfied. I think it's somewhat better to buy reasonably somewhat above my price range than below.

    My LBS used to have a very nice primer on cycle frames and components that explained the features that increase the level of quality. It's no longer on their website, and if anyone knows of a similar resource, please let us know.

    When I bought my first adult bicycle, a Schwinn five-speed Suburban with upright handlebars and a wide seat, I soon realized it was not what I wanted, and replaced the handlebars and seat. Next bike, circa 1972, I wanted one of the best and extended my price range to buy a Mercier road bike which was a great bicycle but with sew-up tires was not made for loaded touring, so I eventually replaced those wheels. Ultimately the bottom bracket wore out.

    I didnít realize my Bridgestone RB-1 circa 1990 would become a classic and it was ideal. I bought it because it fit and was a good deal as a year-end model. There was only one shop in Metro Boston that carried my size, but I have never been back there. Afterwards my now-personal LBS opened near my home, and that's where I bought my N+1=2, a used rental Cannondale Mountain Bike as a beater.

    After the beloved Bridgestone RB-1 was totaled in a crash in 2012, it was agonzing to think about shopping for a new bike. I knew I wanted a carbon fiber road bike and my trusted LBS would not steer me wrong.

    I tested a couple of bike slightly over my intended price, but then the manager told me that knowing how I ride, I should get a Specialized S-works with an MSRP at about FOUR TIMES my anticipated price, but as an end of the year model could get about one-half off. So double my price range was really a good deal.

    At least now I don't have to imagine what I might be missing, had I not bought it.

  23. #23
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    Good job in quitting!!! I've just recently moved from riding road bikes for the last 50 years to a recumbent trike. Very glad I did and if you can afford it, try one out. If you buy a road/mountain or hybrid get if from a reputable bike shop and spend the money to have it fit to you. It usually takes about an hour to an hour and a half, depending on how much talking you and the mechanic fitting you do, however it's well worth the $75 to $125 you'll spend to have it done. It'll make the bike more comfortable and make you pedaling effort more efficient. My two cents.

  24. #24
    Junior Member jball49's Avatar
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    Thanks everybody for all the advice! I do appreciate it and now will try to digest it all. I would love to go to a bike shop and buy a nice new bike but I know that is flying with the wife for this year! So, I will keep my eye open for a good deal and look around at the shops at used bikes as well. I wish now I would have bought a used Trek I saw last year but I went cheap since I didn't know if I would actually want to stay with it. I am just happy to be out of the polar vortex! Worst winter I have had as far as low temperatures in 5 decades and it was in the 70's today, first time that it was this warm since early October.
    Cyclocross, among others, are totally new terms for me! So I will try to pick up on some of this, start with a little better used bike and see where it takes me in the future. I many end up with one of those recumbent trikes eventually, I like those but they are pricey for what I can do this year. I always enjoy the recumbent exercise bike.
    "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, life is about learning to dance in the rain."

  25. #25
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    For used bikes, it's good to go to a shop that specializes in them, so you get one that's been tuned up and so forth, like these:
    About the Des Moines Bicycle Collective | Des Moines Bike Collective
    About Us | Ames Bicycle Barn | Used Bicycles | We Buy, Sell, & Trade Bicycles

    I just googled used road bikes des moines iowa

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