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Old 11-09-05, 02:54 PM   #1
str8flexed
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I'm a college student in Philadelphia (UPenn) and I currently have an 80's 10-speed Schwinn I use to get around. I got new tires on it, and it gets me around, although it shifts like crap, and isn't anything to be too proud of.

Anyway, recently I've become infatuated with shiny road bikes--I see people around campus with Scott Speedster's, some old Bianchi's, Trek's, a Lemond Tourmalet, etc.--and I'm wooing over them like someone would woo over a Bently or Lambourghini.

I was thinking about buying a new road bike too. Something $500-800--a Lemond Etape/Tourmalet, Scott Speedster, something hot. But do I really need one?

My beater Schwinn gets me around just fine. And given that I'm in college in a big city, I don't really see where I can ride for long distances. I would, if I could find some nice quiet roads, but here I'm in the city and I don't have a car to drive somewhere else. I would probably ride my bike just to class, as I do now.

I want to splurge and buy a new bike--so I can have something to be proud of--but I think I am wanting it for the wrong reasons. Just to have something nice to push around, ride for the 10 minutes to class, something to satisfy myself. I don't think I can go on long rides currently though--I just don't have much time, and I am not in a good location.

What do you think I should do? Should I resist this urge, or just satisfy myself?
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Old 11-09-05, 04:42 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by MERTON
don't buy it. keep the money. a feeling a financial security will make your ride more enjoyable.

I agree. It sounds like you want a really nice bike, and IMHO, it's never safe to have a really nice bike on a college campus. My roommate in college had her 3 day old Trek road bike stolen from the hallway in front of our dorm room while she went back in to get her gloves. My sister had her laptop stolen, but that's a different story. I know that you will be extremely careful, but if you ride it to class, you will have to lock it up where you can't keep a constant eye on it. And you will be crushed if anything happens to it.

Also - I think you should save your money for something better than entry-level. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with entry level, I personally have an entry-level bike that I like very much. But it sounds like you really appreciate nice bikes, so imagine how much happier you'd be with something really great and not just so-so. Ultegra/105 components instead of Sora. Spend this time while you're saving your money to do your research, go on test-rides, find out what you really want instead of getting something now and then realizing later that you actually wanted something better.

Winter's approaching quickly, there won't be many good riding days left. Spend the winter saving up and deciding what you really really want when spring comes. Then get that Madone or whatever. Look around for the best LBS that will help you with sizing, extras like water bottles holders, etc.

Now if only I could resist that impulse buy....
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Old 11-09-05, 05:53 PM   #3
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My daughter bought a used road bike from another student, a Trek I think, for around $100. A delivery company driver ran over it and bent/broke the frame. The driver left her a note. She contacted the company. They asked her the brand and sent her a check for $800. She didn't need to get estimates or file any paperwork. She spent $300 on a new bike which she thought was a good deal better than the one she lost; lighter and easier to ride. I never saw the first bike. The newer one was a Giant Sedona. She was able to get a "nice" bike and pocket a couple hundred bucks.
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Old 11-09-05, 07:17 PM   #4
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Check if your university has racing team. Join that. Usually they are sponcored and get nice deals on stuff. Plus you can try out collegiate racing, which is a really fun thing to do.
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Old 11-09-05, 07:54 PM   #5
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Hmmmm. College campus huh? I'd hang onto the beater for now. That way you won't feel so bad when it gets stolen. Try to always park it between a couple of those bikes that are nicer than yours.
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Old 11-09-05, 07:59 PM   #6
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I agree (being in campus law enforcement), but would note that road bikes are rarely targeted, at least in our area.
We always have a few students that show up on high-end bikes, and some even go on "real" rides on weekends or whatever. But for commuting back and forth to classes, I'd use the cheapest thing I could find that was reliable.
Save your bucks, when you decide you want a nice ride, something in the 12-1500 range will be ever so much nicer.
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Old 11-09-05, 10:27 PM   #7
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If your just using it for commuting and have some money to burn, turn into fixed gear or single speed. I wouldn't buy something nice or even something that looked nice. I've seen to many stolen.
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Old 11-10-05, 12:16 AM   #8
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Thanks guys for all the responses. I think I will turn my bike into a single speed, since the gears and everything aren't even worth trying to use. I'll hold off on the new bike....maybe for another 10 years or so... lol.
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Old 11-12-05, 08:46 PM   #9
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If your reason is to buy it for a commuter bike and you really want something new you don't need to spend that much. If the reason you want it is to ride it for fitness and enjoyment....buy away, just make sure you have room where you live to take it inside after every ride. I'm with the first poster, the biggest mistake college kids make in this day is going into debt, DON'T do that.
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Old 11-12-05, 08:56 PM   #10
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The important thing is DON'T QUIT RIDING. The habit is a valuable one to keep for the rest of your life. The practical thing is to keep your current beater bike, and so long as you're riding it regularly, that's a good thing. Should you reach a point where it takes a new, shiney bike to keep you riding, though, then the expense is justified.

Most folks (I speak from experience...) quit riding when they graduate college and don't come back until they're older & wiser. At that point (again, speaking from experience), they're less healthy and much heavier than they'd have been had they continued riding throughout their lives.

Bicycling is not only a means of commuting, it is a means to lifelong health. Develop the habit and don't let it lapse!
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Old 11-13-05, 12:09 PM   #11
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I have a variety of road bikes from the 1980's. When they are tuned up, their downtube friction shifters are easy to use. The steel frames and forks help absorb the pounding from the bombed-out roads of inner-city Houston. Good '80's era brakes modulate better than STI brakes because the brake levers are not encumbered with bulky, heavy STI components

A new bike is NOT an "upgrade" from a twenty year old bike that is well maintained, and well tuned. A new bike is simply newer.

If you can not resist the urge to buy a new bike, consider buying a bike that can do things your current bike can not do. A road bike rider can ride places with a good mountain bike that are challenging for a road bike. And, a $400 "new" mountain bike is far better built, and far more durable than any 2005 road bike selling for around $400...more bang for the buck.
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Old 11-14-05, 06:30 AM   #12
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I can't comment on your time constraints, but I do think you are underestimating Philadelphia's riding opportunities.

As others have said, I wouldn't commute around town on a nice, new bike, but if you want road rides, the Bike Club of Philadelphia (http://www.phillybikeclub.org) offers lots of rides, often starting at the Art Museum and going up the Schuykill Trail into the surrounding suburbs, with "nice, quiet roads" to ride. If you don't want to ride with a group, the BCP web site has cue sheets that will also take you out into the countryside.

Or, if you're into MTBs, you can do the neat trails around Philadelphia's park system.

By the way, Penn has a cycling team, where you might get more information about riding around the general Philadelphia/campus area: http://dolphin.upenn.edu/~cycling/index.htm
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