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  1. #1
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    New Biker -- No Clue -- please help

    I have just started biking -- commuting really -- on a POS Pacific mountain bike. Since the bike cost me all of 20 bucks (spent on the lock), I guess I can't complain too much. However, I believe the bug is starting to bite and I would like to upgrade at some point. I am not exactly sure as to what I need or even want for that matter. Here are some facts:
    * I will be using the bike mainly for commuting probably less than 10 miles each way.
    * I would like to utilize the bike for some cardio training aid.
    * I doubt I will do much serious off roading but I would like to take it on some trails, dirt road, etc.
    * I am 5'11".
    * I would like to spend around $500. give or take one $100.

    Is a Hybrid bike right for me? Along those lines, what exactly is a hybrid bike . . . I have seen some that are virtually road bikes with straight handlebars and others that look like mountain bikes with full suspension. BTW is suspension something I want?

    Thanks for the help.

  2. #2
    Tom (ex)Builder twahl's Avatar
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    There are several flavors of hybrids. Some are essentially road bikes with a slightly more relaxed geometry, twist grip shifters (which are much less expensive than your typical road bike shift/brake levers) and rigid forks. They typically have slightly lower gearing than a road bike, and slightly wider 700c tires in the 28 - 35 mm width range. These are great for commuting and fitness riding, and will do paved or packed stone trails fine, but not more serious dirt trails with any regularity. You can normally get them under the $500 mark.

    Then there are the "comfort" bikes, which normally have wider tires (some in 700 c, many in 26") and even lower gearing, cushy seats, often with a spring loaded suspension seat post, and front shocks. They tend to be priced more in the $300-400 range for entry level. These things aren't very perfomance oriented, and most people find them uncomfortable for any longer riding. The attributes that make them seem comfortable work against yu in the long run. The suspension robs energy, the wider tires create more rolling resistance, and the soft seat ends up squiching and chaffing parts that you don't want to be squished and chaffed.

    What you decide on depends on what you will use it for. I build a lot of comfort bikes, they sell well. But many people find them uncomfortable once they move beyond riding a few miles. Also, some of the components that make you think they are a bargain, such as suspension forks and disk brakes, are low end components that need frequent care and never live up to the performance or life expectancy you'd think they would. If you want to ride regularly and feel that you may move into riding longer distances, a flat bar road bike with no suspension gets my vote. If yu want to ride occasionally and keep your distances short, go comfort. You mentioned cardio, I give the stiff bike the nod.
    Tom

    "It hurts so good..."

  3. #3
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thatdude
    I have just started biking -- commuting really -- on a POS Pacific mountain bike. Since the bike cost me all of 20 bucks (spent on the lock), I guess I can't complain too much. However, I believe the bug is starting to bite and I would like to upgrade at some point. I am not exactly sure as to what I need or even want for that matter. Here are some facts:
    * I will be using the bike mainly for commuting probably less than 10 miles each way.
    * I would like to utilize the bike for some cardio training aid.
    * I doubt I will do much serious off roading but I would like to take it on some trails, dirt road, etc.
    * I am 5'11".
    * I would like to spend around $500. give or take one $100.

    Is a Hybrid bike right for me? Along those lines, what exactly is a hybrid bike . . . I have seen some that are virtually road bikes with straight handlebars and others that look like mountain bikes with full suspension. BTW is suspension something I want?

    Thanks for the help.

    Hybrid means 'confused' in my native Fukawi language. (dontcha wanna be a fukawi too?)
    <slaps myself>
    A hybird is a cross between a mountain bike, a road bike, a touring bike and a comfort bike. Depending on the make and model, some lean more in one direction (or 2) than the others. For what you are doing I think the Trek FX series would be to your liking and fit your needs, but you should check out and test ride bikes at your LBS to see what fits you best, then provide your initial likes and dislikes here for further comments to aid in your final decision. Stay away from Xmart stuff...they will not make you happy.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  4. #4
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    Check with your local dealers. This is a great time of year to buy a "last year's model" bike at a good discount. You should be able to get an excellent ride within your price range.

    I often reccomend hybrids, but if you plan to do any off-road work at all, you might lean towards the MTB.

    A mountain bike with not-too-gnarly tires will still perform well on the street, and won't put you on your ear as much on the trails.

    Remember that the better a bike is for off-road, the worse it will be on, and vice-versa.

  5. #5
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikewer
    Check with your local dealers. This is a great time of year to buy a "last year's model" bike at a good discount. You should be able to get an excellent ride within your price range.

    I often reccomend hybrids, but if you plan to do any off-road work at all, you might lean towards the MTB.

    A mountain bike with not-too-gnarly tires will still perform well on the street, and won't put you on your ear as much on the trails.

    Remember that the better a bike is for off-road, the worse it will be on, and vice-versa.
    Just to muddy the waters some more, I find hybrids to be the coot of the bike world. A coot is a water bird that doesn't fly well, doesn't swim well and doesn't taste good. It can fly, it can swim and it can be eaten but it just doesn't do any of them that well.

    You can certainly ride a hybrid off-road as you can ride a road bike off-road but it's not that pleasant experience. You can ride them on road but they are slower and heavier than their road counter parts. If you want to ride with a group, you will be the one off the back, maybe far off the back.

    I don't have one in my fleet. Never found the need for one. If I want to ride on the road, I ride a road bike. If I want to ride off-road, I ride a mountain bike. I commute on both types. My mountain bikes have full knobbies (aggressive ones) so that if I want to bomb down trails on the way home I can. Sure they make a bit more noise on the road but I'll make that sacrifice for trail worthiness. Nothing is goofier in my eyes than seeing a full suspension mountain bike rolling down the road with slicks on it!

    $500 will buy a fair hard tail mountain bike. Then you can try mountain biking, which is more than just controlled falling or jumping off cliffs. Mountain biking is about exploration, just like road biking is, there are just a few more rocks involved.

    Look at low level Treks, Giants and Specialized. This time of year you could get a heck of a deal.
    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
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  6. #6
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    Thanks for the help . . . I will look at the Trek FX Series and see what I can find.
    Also, when would be the best time for me to purchase last year's models. Will most bike stores have them in Jan. or Feb. ?

  7. #7
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    rather than figure out what "type" of bike you need, look at what specs you prefer.
    For off road you will need clearance for wider tyres, perhaps up to 35mm but you can use narrower ones (25/28mm)
    for most road riding (or in MTB numbers, 1.25" to 1.75"),
    For commuting, rack and fenders can be useful so make sure the frame and fork have suitable threaded eyelets.
    You need a wide range of gears.
    Flat bar/drop bar, 700c/26" is up to you.
    One useful style of all-rounder is the cyclo-cross/touring bike but they tend to start at a higher price point.

  8. #8
    Fritz M richardmasoner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikewer
    This is a great time of year to buy a "last year's model" bike at a good discount.
    This is true in most years, but possibly not this year. Locally, the bike shops are having problems keeping bikes of any price range in stock. Prices are up about 10% over earlier this year.

  9. #9
    Feral Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    Since you are mainly commuting and also want to do a bit of cardio training, you may find that you're on roads much more often, in which case checking out something like a Specialised Sirrus might be worth looking at as well.

    I agree generally with cyccocommute, though don't stress so heavily on the 'purity' of different bicycle breeds (I think that came out wrong, don't mean to imply you're into bicyclic cleansing or anything). I'm also not sure how useful talking about a 'stable' of bikes will be to a newb who just wants a good all-rounder. Hybrids have their place and shouldn't be so readily derided, however I do agree that if you're going to end up using a bike much more for one thing than another, it's best to get a bike more suited to that purpose.

    I have a Sirrus and it's great. For me, it's mainly solid and sturdy, with tires that are reasonably thin and fast but no so extreme as a pure racing bike. And I prefer the straight handlebars for the myriad uses I have for the bike. I'm not some kind of "half-breed" hybrid freak, am I?
    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson View Post
    Did you just say "minarchist?" I'm going to start a 10-page vaginathon because only Libertarians can define Libertarianism. Also, you're mean.

  10. #10
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus
    Since you are mainly commuting and also want to do a bit of cardio training, you may find that you're on roads much more often, in which case checking out something like a Specialised Sirrus might be worth looking at as well.

    I agree generally with cyccocommute, though don't stress so heavily on the 'purity' of different bicycle breeds (I think that came out wrong, don't mean to imply you're into bicyclic cleansing or anything). I'm also not sure how useful talking about a 'stable' of bikes will be to a newb who just wants a good all-rounder. Hybrids have their place and shouldn't be so readily derided, however I do agree that if you're going to end up using a bike much more for one thing than another, it's best to get a bike more suited to that purpose.

    I have a Sirrus and it's great. For me, it's mainly solid and sturdy, with tires that are reasonably thin and fast but no so extreme as a pure racing bike. And I prefer the straight handlebars for the myriad uses I have for the bike. I'm not some kind of "half-breed" hybrid freak, am I?
    Sure, hybrids have their place but I'm just not sure where that is. Most of the people that I've ridden with who have hybrids eventually ditch them for either a mountain bike or a road bike depending in which way they lean. Sometimes both. When people ask me for advice, I usually steer them toward a hard tail because it's the ultimate "go any where" bike. Sure it can be kind of slow on the road but most people aren't racing. And it may be a little rougher off-road then a long travel dualy but it's also lighter and, at a lower price, a better bike.

    And then there is the "grin" factor. Take a road bike out and ride it and it's just exercise (over simplification). Take a hybrid on more than dirt roads and you can see fear in their eyes. Take some one out in the woods on say, the Colorado Trail...very doable real single track, and they come back with mud in their teeth from grinning so much. They're fun bikes! They're the bike you wanted when you were 10 and couldn't afford. You just don't hear other bicyclists whooping it up as much as you do a group of mountain bikers. And if it's fun, people will ride more which, after all, is the point, isn't it?
    Stuart Black
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    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
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  11. #11
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  12. #12
    Feral Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    Sure, hybrids have their place but I'm just not sure where that is. Most of the people that I've ridden with who have hybrids eventually ditch them for either a mountain bike or a road bike depending in which way they lean. Sometimes both. When people ask me for advice, I usually steer them toward a hard tail because it's the ultimate "go any where" bike. Sure it can be kind of slow on the road but most people aren't racing. And it may be a little rougher off-road then a long travel dualy but it's also lighter and, at a lower price, a better bike.

    And then there is the "grin" factor. Take a road bike out and ride it and it's just exercise (over simplification). Take a hybrid on more than dirt roads and you can see fear in their eyes. Take some one out in the woods on say, the Colorado Trail...very doable real single track, and they come back with mud in their teeth from grinning so much. They're fun bikes! They're the bike you wanted when you were 10 and couldn't afford. You just don't hear other bicyclists whooping it up as much as you do a group of mountain bikers. And if it's fun, people will ride more which, after all, is the point, isn't it?
    Ha ha, you make me chuckle. Hey I'm glad you have a whacking good time out there - but I would have to disagree with you on road cycling just being exercise, or that one doesn't have as much fun without mud in their teeth.

    Different strokes for different folks - I much rather go for a tour on roads and paths that off-road whackiness anytime. My last MTB was stolen 5 years ago. As much as I miss it only because it was a great bike, I'm not into that anymore and I don't miss off-roading at all.

    Trust me - I have as much fun on the road as you do off. For the area you live in, I think your recommendations for a hardtail are pretty spot-on.

    Cheers,
    -Nick
    Quote Originally Posted by KrisPistofferson View Post
    Did you just say "minarchist?" I'm going to start a 10-page vaginathon because only Libertarians can define Libertarianism. Also, you're mean.

  13. #13
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicodemus
    Ha ha, you make me chuckle. Hey I'm glad you have a whacking good time out there - but I would have to disagree with you on road cycling just being exercise, or that one doesn't have as much fun without mud in their teeth.

    Different strokes for different folks - I much rather go for a tour on roads and paths that off-road whackiness anytime. My last MTB was stolen 5 years ago. As much as I miss it only because it was a great bike, I'm not into that anymore and I don't miss off-roading at all.

    Trust me - I have as much fun on the road as you do off. For the area you live in, I think your recommendations for a hardtail are pretty spot-on.

    Cheers,
    -Nick
    Don't worry, I ride them all (except hybrids, BMX and 'bents) and have fun on all of them but road riding is more of a chore than a blast, for me anyway. I even do really stupid stuff on the road like disappear for weeks at a time by myself!
    Stuart Black
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    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
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  14. #14
    It's about the ride. macintheus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thatdude
    I have just started biking -- commuting really -- on a POS Pacific mountain bike. Since the bike cost me all of 20 bucks (spent on the lock), I guess I can't complain too much. However, I believe the bug is starting to bite and I would like to upgrade at some point. I am not exactly sure as to what I need or even want for that matter. Here are some facts:
    * I will be using the bike mainly for commuting probably less than 10 miles each way.
    * I would like to utilize the bike for some cardio training aid.
    * I doubt I will do much serious off roading but I would like to take it on some trails, dirt road, etc.
    * I am 5'11".
    * I would like to spend around $500. give or take one $100.

    Is a Hybrid bike right for me? Along those lines, what exactly is a hybrid bike . . . I have seen some that are virtually road bikes with straight handlebars and others that look like mountain bikes with full suspension. BTW is suspension something I want?

    Thanks for the help.
    I have a Trek 7500fx -- a hybrid. It is great for workouts and commuting. Capable of 100+ mile trips and 40+ miles per hour -- not too shabby. Unless you want to road-race, you will keep up with the average group of riders on the road -- assuming you have a comparable fitness level to the average rider. The hybrid is an excellent all-rounder until you decide you want to get more specialized and opt for an all-out road or mountain bike.

    Definitely steer clear of suspension forks -- they will suck the energy out of you on the road, particularly up hills. Also, big nobblies will make you sluggish on the road -- on your commutes and workouts.

    One thing you MUST do when you go looking for your new bike is make sure you get measured up -- and get the right size bike for you. If you get one too large or too small you could end up with an uncomfortable riding position which could lead to injuries among other things.

    One last thing, if you can, get clipless pedals -- this will require you getting cycling shoes as well -- they make all the difference in the world. They can also be added at a later date.

    Mac
    Last edited by macintheus; 10-08-05 at 10:44 PM.

  15. #15
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by macintheus
    I have a Trek 7500fx -- a hybrid. It is great for workouts and commuting. Capable of 100+ mile trips and 40+ miles per hour -- not too shabby.
    I can vouch for that, my GF's 14 yr old did the MS 150 and the HHH century with me on a 7200FX and managed to not only stay in quite a few pace lines, but did his share of pulling as well.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  16. #16
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Asking for advice on what bike to buy. I think that you're out sourcing part of the fun.

    I wouldn't get too wrapped up on brand names, especially at the $500.00 price point. I've got brands that I prefer over others but, honestly, it's just personal bias. Find a local bike shop where you feel comfortable talking with the people, buy a brand that they carry and you'll never go wrong. I think that talking with locals is important because they'll be familiar with the lay of the land so they'll know what kind of gearing is likely to be necessary for you and they'll know what kind of tires are suitable for the local trails.

  17. #17
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    Fat Tires... 1.5 to 2.5 or what ever... you will be able to carry more weight.

    You get down to the skinny tires with higher air pressures you might be more apt to have blow outs with the extra weight from Panniers etc...

    Just something to consider if you are going to commute.

  18. #18
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    thanks for the help

    RE: Trek 7500 FX -- Before posting this, I did the little matchmaker thing on the Trek/Gary Fisher site and after a little deduction, the FX series sounds pretty good. I will be moving to DC in a few months. I assume such a bike will be fine for commutes. Lets see what else . . .

    Oh, I have a friend, an avid Mountain Biker, who said I should just buy a mountain bike and some slick tires. What do you guys think? Right now, I dont see myself flying down any mountains.

  19. #19
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    Yeah - you want a hybrid. Look at the Kona "Dew" line - they're your price range and will last well. Go for the base Dew unless you'll be riding lots in the rain - then look at the Dew Deluxe.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by thatdude
    Oh, I have a friend, an avid Mountain Biker, who said I should just buy a mountain bike and some slick tires. What do you guys think?

    Well we know what Cyccommute thinks! ;-)


    Quote Originally Posted by Cyccommute
    Nothing is goofier in my eyes than seeing a full suspension mountain bike rolling down the road with slicks on it!

  21. #21
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thatdude
    thanks for the help

    RE: Trek 7500 FX -- Before posting this, I did the little matchmaker thing on the Trek/Gary Fisher site and after a little deduction, the FX series sounds pretty good. I will be moving to DC in a few months. I assume such a bike will be fine for commutes. Lets see what else . . .

    Oh, I have a friend, an avid Mountain Biker, who said I should just buy a mountain bike and some slick tires. What do you guys think? Right now, I dont see myself flying down any mountains.
    I am currently involved in a long discussion about what's wrong with the mountain bike forum and with the mountain bike community in another thread, so I have a question for you, Thatdude. What do you think mountain biking is all about? Is it only about flying down mountains and jumping off stuff? I'm not being facetious here, I really want to know.
    Stuart Black
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  22. #22
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikepacker67
    Well we know what Cyccommute thinks! ;-)

    Quote Originally Posted by Cycommute
    Originally Posted by Cyccommute
    Nothing is goofier in my eyes than seeing a full suspension mountain bike rolling down the road with slicks on it!
    Shudder! Ewww! Slicks on a dually! It's like kissing your aunt! It's like eating tomatoes! Ewww! Shudder!

    Slicks on a hardtail, on the other hand, is like kissing you sister! It just feels too weird.
    Last edited by cyccommute; 10-10-05 at 07:59 PM.
    Stuart Black
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    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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    My current situation allows me to own only one bike, so I needed a do-it-all number. I opted for a Jamis Coda, which is pretty quick off the mark and has all the braze-ons for fenders and rack and such. It leans toward the road spectrum, but I won't win any races with it. But it beats some of the out-an-out hybrids I have tried hands down. It came with 28's for tires and can handle somewhat fatter ones. Frame is steel with all the anti-jitters that steel offers. It costs a little more than your current budget. But for me it's been the answer. I load it up for commuting and can strip it down for long, lightweight rides. Flat bars make it easy for the start and stops of the commute. I set some bar ends at just the right position that allows me to hunker down some. Although a prior post made a good point. You will maintain a relationship with your local bike store, so find one that you like and can work with. For the most part, a bike store can order any bike you want if you find something elsewhere that you like - as an example, a great bike from a competing store whose owners you don't admire or from an internet search. By all means, get measured and make sure the new bike fits very well. Different bikes have different dimensions of the various parts - it's called geometry.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute
    I am currently involved in a long discussion about what's wrong with the mountain bike forum and with the mountain bike community in another thread, so I have a question for you, Thatdude. What do you think mountain biking is all about? Is it only about flying down mountains and jumping off stuff? I'm not being facetious here, I really want to know.

    I have no clue what Mountain Biking really involves . . . I assume that jumping off stuff and flying down mountains makes up a big chunk of it.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by richardmasoner
    This is true in most years, but possibly not this year. Locally, the bike shops are having problems keeping bikes of any price range in stock. Prices are up about 10% over earlier this year.
    That's not a nation-wide syndrome. I shopped for a bike last month, and found a lot of really good deals on a variety of bikes, as have friends. This is definitely a good time to buy.

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