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  1. #1
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    Bike-buying advice?

    I'm a 5'2" female interested in getting a relatively decent bike for mostly weekend riding on trails near my home. At first I thought I'd just get a Schwinn at Target, then decided it was better to find something a little more reliable. I looked at Treks the other night--7100 and 7200. But I am a little wary of paying $320 or $400 at this point. I think I want a mountain bike or a hybrid. The paths I will be riding are paved, but I might want to ride it to work occasionally.

    I looked on Craig's List and responded to an ad about a Trek--turns out it was way too big (I need a 15" frame). The guy ended up saying he could sell me a 2003 Bridgestone mountain bike for $250, inlcuding a helmet and a u-lock. I really don't know anything about Bridgestone. Is that a decent price? I've noticed that some sellers try to pawn off year-old Treks on Craigs List for the same price I'd pay for a current model in the store.

    I'm not opposed to a used bike, though I'm a little wary of going that path if I don't know anything about the seller. Any pointers for me? I feel really lost!! Can you help?

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    I would highly recomment either of the 2 Treks that you looked at. Are you looking to buy a mens frame or ladies frame ? Reason that I ask is that my wife is 5"1 with a 28" inseam. We could not find much of any selection of a 13" mens frame hybrid, which she needs for her height, so we ended up with a 16" frame Ladies Trek 7300 which she loves. From your riding description I would tend to recommend a hybrid over a mountain bike. Mountain bikes have wider tires and would be a bit more comfortable to ride, but also harder to push with those wider tires. Todays hybrids have wide tires that will handle bad roads or bike paths with ease. Trek is one of the best brands out there today with a large network of dealers and you cannot go wrong buying one. You could also look at Specialized or Giant brand bikes. Almost all bikes today are manufactured in China , so you cannot go wrong if you buy a major brand bike.
    I would suggest going to a bike shop to buy a bike because you will be fitted correctly, better than a department store "1 size fits all" bikes. Because of your height you really need a 13" to 15" frame mens or not larger than 16" ladies.
    Bridgestone makes good bikes, but you would have to be sure that it is the correct frame size for you and then gauge its used market worth. In the used market you would have to check with a local bike shop or bike expert to see if the selling price is on target or not plus you don't know if the bike has been crashed, etc.
    If you go with a bike shop bike you know that you will be fit correctly and you are generally getting a good quality bike. If you do some searching you might be able to find a bike shop hybrid under $300. Good luck with your search !

  3. #3
    Zippy Engineer Waldo's Avatar
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    You definitely need to get a bike from a shop-nothing an X Mart will have is going to fit you well. If you are not doing serious off-road riding there's no real point to a mountain bike-it's the SUV of the bike world. A hybrid will have a more upright riding position, more comfort features, and will roll along much better with the larger diameter wheels and narrower tires.
    I don't see much point in getting a Trek at that price range-you are paying extra for the name. They are being made by Giant and unless you have to have a Trek or find the slight difference in frame geometries works out better for you, you're wasting a bit of money. Giant has one hybrid with a steel frame and fork, shock seatpost, and all the usual hybrid goodies at about $230 or so, or an aluminum model that adds better components and a suspension fork for around $279.
    Bottom line is to ride as many bikes as you can in your price range and get the one you like best...it's your bike, not that of someone on the internet.

  4. #4
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    Hi Merryrider I'm 5'2" as well and bought a Trek 7200 for commuting around town and such. It's the ladies step-thru frame and it fits me beautifully! I know it seems like a lot of money but if you get a quality bike that you enjoy, you'll ride more often, you'll get the benefit of being able to bring your bike into the shop for adjustments (usually for free), and it won't fall apart on you. You'll get your money's worth - trust me. Remember that old saying... "A poor man pays twice"

    Good luck with your decision and enjoy your new bike, whatever it is!

  5. #5
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    The choice between large hybrid (700c) wheels and smaller MTB (26") wheels comes down to which size fits into your frame best. At 5'2", you will need quite a small frame and squishing big wheels into a small frame can force a lot of compromises in the geomtery.
    The smaller MTB wheels will be easier to handle and you can get fast, slick tyres if for riding on the road. For mixed riding, a mixed-use tyre is fine. Tyres are easy to swap and any decent shop will fit a alternate pair at the time of purchase.
    If you want to commute, do ensure that the frame has threaded eyelets for luggage rack and fenders. For a small rider, insist on short cranks (the bits of metal with pedal on the end). A std size for MTB is 175 or 170mm. Short riders can benefit from 165mm cranks to fit their shorter legs.
    As far as cost, what is your current spend on commuting. A good bike can last 10 years. $3-400 will buy reasonable quality but IMHO, a little more money buys a lot more bike. This is not a toy, it is basic transportation and all your gym fees for the next 10 years.

  6. #6
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waldo
    You definitely need to get a bike from a shop-nothing an X Mart will have is going to fit you well. If you are not doing serious off-road riding there's no real point to a mountain bike-it's the SUV of the bike world. A hybrid will have a more upright riding position, more comfort features, and will roll along much better with the larger diameter wheels and narrower tires.
    I don't see much point in getting a Trek at that price range-you are paying extra for the name. They are being made by Giant and unless you have to have a Trek or find the slight difference in frame geometries works out better for you, you're wasting a bit of money. Giant has one hybrid with a steel frame and fork, shock seatpost, and all the usual hybrid goodies at about $230 or so, or an aluminum model that adds better components and a suspension fork for around $279.
    Bottom line is to ride as many bikes as you can in your price range and get the one you like best...it's your bike, not that of someone on the internet.
    I haven't been abused enough today, so I'm going to try here.

    The true SUV of the bicycle world is the hybrid. They are poseur machines that look like mountain bikes but don't work like mountain bikes. It doesn't do well in off-road situations (being mostly show) and it doesn't do that well on-road either. That being said, like SUV's, they have their place - kinda like overgrown station wagons.

    For a small woman, a 26" wheel offers lots more standover room than a 700C especially if you put a lower profile tire on the wheel. The Trek WSD series of bikes are more expensive then the Giant but you get a much higher quality of bicycle which will fit you better. If a bike fits well you are more likely to ride it. Look at Specialized, Cannondale, Giant and, if you have an REI near, the Novarra lines.

    I will agree that you should not, under any circumstances, by a bike at a big box store! These bikes are sold as 26" or 24" or 27" bicycles which means they are one size - fits all frames and will not be comfortable for a small woman! Plus they are not well made, and they weigh more than a locamotive. I've heard that the average lifetime mileage for a X-mart bicycle is 2.8 miles! You take it home, ride it around the block a few times, discover that you don't like hauling lead pipe and put it in the back of the garage to collect dust and spiders!

    Go to a good bike shop. It's worth the extra money.
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

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