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  1. #1
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    Looking for a bike...no idea where to start!

    I haven't ridden a bike since I was probably 12.

    For the physical, social, financial and of course enviromental reasons we all know, I am looking to buy a bike. Eventually I want to work up to commuting but to start with just for getting from point A to point B, errands, and just for the joy of it. All of those things better suited to 2 wheels than a big ol' Jeep.

    What I don't know is well, anything beyond that. What kind of bike do I want? What price range am I looking at? I think I would prefer to start off with a used bike and move on up from there evnetually, just because as I said, it's been a lot of years and who knows, maybe I lack natural balance

    Everything seems so much more technical than I expected! Sizes and shapes and inches and weights and lions and ti...err...ok nevermind. *chuckles* And how does size come into all this? I'm Female, 5'8" and heavy, does that make a difference? Any info would be helpful folks. Thanks.

    -r

  2. #2
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    The first thing you need to decide is what type of riding you will be doing. From that point you can start considering types of bikes. To tell you the truth, this is a great place to gather information. There are alot of knowledgeable, helpful people on this site.

    Good luck to you and have fun.

    Cheers,

    Brian
    A good teacher protects his pupils from his own influence.

    ― Bruce Lee

  3. #3
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    The most important thing to look for is a bike that you are comfortable on. If you are not comfortable, you will not want to ride.

    I always tell people to go to every bike shop in town, ask a bunch of questions, and test ride a couple of bikes. Tell them what you told us, that you want to haven't ridden for a while and don't know much about current bikes. I would probably not mention that you intend to buy a used bike. My personal policy is to never buy a bike on my first visit to any store, in fact I try to leave my check book and credit cards home. This protects from being swayed by particularly charismatic salespeople without carefully considering new info first.

    Buying from a shop is really not a bad thing tho, even if ou are trying to keep within a budget. You get professional help getting a bike that fits you, you usually get a free tune-up or two, some even offer free flat repairs, to make your first season pretty much trouble free, and you get to build a relationship with a shop full of bike geeks. There are lots of choices for entry level stuff for a few hundred dollars. If you want to really connect with your bike, look for a local shop that offers basic maintenance classes so you will know how to lube your chain, pump up your tires properly, and fix a flat. This is also a good venue to find other new bike folks for riding buddies to keep you interested.

    Don't even look at the bikes in the department stores. If you have the urge to buy from Wally World or X-Mart, just search these forums for department store bikes and read the opinions. This is especially true if you don't have tools or the ability to work on bikes yourself.

    You will probably want to start out with a hybrid bike or a no-frills mountain bike with an upright seating position. As you ride more and learn more about the wide world of bikes, you will develop a better idea of what kind of riding you like and want to do more of, and decide what your second and third bikes will be.
    The urge to buy terrorizes!

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  4. #4
    HWS
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    Definatly hit a good local bike shop and talk to them. They'll put you on something that suits you and your riding requirements.

    You'll find that advice all over this forum. It is probably the best you will recieve.

  5. #5
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    Yeah it will be almost completely on road, occational trips off onto packed dirt I'm sure but mostly just city riding.

    Also I've never really ridden "in the city" before, being a rural kid with a bike and all....so that will take some getting used to.

    -Raina

  6. #6
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Welcome-- I'm the person who emailed you about this site! Glad you checked it out.

    So everybody's suggesting a "good bike shop," but how does a newbie know the difference between a good bike shop and a not-so-good bike shop. I just checked out two bike shops last month while I was visiting friends in New York, and the first one I went to had no idea what a touring bike is (they kept steering me to city bikes), while the second one knew all about touring bikes. Obviously, the second bike shop was a "good bike shop," but how would a newbie be able to tell the difference?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by HWS
    Definatly hit a good local bike shop and talk to them. They'll put you on something that suits you and your riding requirements.

    You'll find that advice all over this forum. It is probably the best you will recieve.
    Operative word being..."good." My experience has been that these forums have been about 25 times more valuable than any shop i have stepped foot in. Granted, i think i have some pretty lousy shops but still. There is a LOT to be learned here. Take the time to do so.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by JustRaina
    I haven't ridden a bike since I was probably 12.

    For the physical, social, financial and of course enviromental reasons we all know, I am looking to buy a bike. Eventually I want to work up to commuting but to start with just for getting from point A to point B, errands, and just for the joy of it. All of those things better suited to 2 wheels than a big ol' Jeep.

    What I don't know is well, anything beyond that. What kind of bike do I want? What price range am I looking at? I think I would prefer to start off with a used bike and move on up from there evnetually, just because as I said, it's been a lot of years and who knows, maybe I lack natural balance
    You know that old saying, "Once you learn to how to ride a bike, you never forget" (or however that saying goes)? It's true. You'll have "natural balance" the second you get on your next bike. Now, what you won't have will be well-developed bike handling skills (for negotiating your new ride from point A to point B). That will come with practice. And lots of advice from everybody here.

    Back to your current question. I don't think anybody here can tell you what price range you're looking at. Bikes can be had very cheaply-- I still can't understand the great deals some people here get on used bikes-- or very expensively. You won't need the very expensive bikes, unless you just feel like spending more money than necessary. So part of what you need to figure out is how much you want to spend.

    I think your idea of buying a used bike makes a lot of sense. You can pick up almost any bike you want used, for much less money than buying new. Of course, the downside is that you won't get fit to the bike like you would in a LBS (local bike shop), and a *good* lbs can help you find the right bike for you.

    The next question you need to sort out is what type of bike you want. I would strongly recommend staying away from any racing models. If you decide that you want to race, you can always buy one later. Right now, it won't be comfortable, and it won't do what you want it to do (commute on city streets, haul groceries, etc.). I'd also stay away from mountain bikes. They're great for off-road riding, but the wheels are too small for riding city streets-- they just can't go as fast. Some people will tell you that they can go as fast, but what they always neglect to mention is that you have to pedal harder on a mountain bike just to keep up with a bike with taller wheels. OK, so no racing bikes, and no mountain bikes, that leaves you with cruisers, cross bikes, hybrids, cylocross bikes...Have I left any out (besides touring bikes)? Forget the cruisers, they're not going to be much use either. That leaves hybrids, cross bikes, and cyclocross. I think a cyclocross bike is a great bike for city use, but perhaps more bike than you need right now. Not a recommendation against them, and if you do get one, you can certainly grow into it, but it just may be a bit more expensive than you need immediately. That leaves hybrids and cross bikes. The only problem with these bikes is that as you grow into cycling, you'll probably outgrow your bikes. Unfortunately, I don't know much about the differences between these bikes, so I can't help you out there, but other people here will know the difference.

    Once you know what kind of bike you think you might be looking for, you can start asking for recommendations on manufacturers. I agree with an earlier post-- stay away from the cheap Wally World and X-Mart bikes. They're not worth your time or money.

    Everything seems so much more technical than I expected! Sizes and shapes and inches and weights and lions and ti...err...ok nevermind. *chuckles* And how does size come into all this? I'm Female, 5'8" and heavy, does that make a difference? Any info would be helpful folks. Thanks.

    -r
    The only size that really makes a difference is the size bike you get. You'll need a bike that fits you properly, and that's where bike size comes in. Also, there are women-specific bikes that come in dimensions specifically designed for women's bodies. Trek has several women-specific models, for example. Anyway, regardless of what bike you get, fit is going to be important, so you will want to make sure that you get the right size bike to begin with. Here's a link to a site that will help you sort out what size bike to get.

    Good luck! And keep asking questions! What makes bike forums so great is that there is so much knowledge here.

  10. #10
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    I recommend that you go to an REI sporting goods store and test drive their Nexus 8 speed equipped internally geared Novaro touring bike.
    This is a fast, competent, safe, durable, intuitive and comfortable bike designed to do exactly what you asked.
    It is about $700 or so, which is a real bargain for a long range touring bike.
    It will never require derailer adjustment. It will not require brake adjustment. And, it will last an incredibly long time with very little maintenance ever required.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by danielhaden
    I recommend that you go to an REI sporting goods store and test drive their Nexus 8 speed equipped internally geared Novaro touring bike.
    This is a fast, competent, safe, durable, intuitive and comfortable bike designed to do exactly what you asked.
    It is about $700 or so, which is a real bargain for a long range touring bike.
    It will never require derailer adjustment. It will not require brake adjustment. And, it will last an incredibly long time with very little maintenance ever required.
    Is that the Randonee? If so, this is a great recommendation.

  12. #12
    Senior Member chicbicyclist's Avatar
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    I just want to tell you that you have the option of riding comfortably by riding a more upright, european style utilitarian bicycle if you're new to cycling, since your LBS will most likely not give you this information, or present you the "mainstream" way to ride. Then you can go from there. Now, before you performance weenie throw a rock at me, the key here is that she will be comfortable enough to actually want to keep on riding.

  13. #13
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    Any entry-level hybrid bike from a respected brand would do the job. $300 will buy you a capable and reliable bike. As you pay more you get a lighter bike and lonnger lasting components. Get it from a proper bike shop where they can advise you on the correct size and fit.
    You can get a women's style open frame if you want. At 5'8" you wont have a problem getting the right size.
    A utility bike needs medium width tyres (32-38m), a rear luggage rack and fenders. You also need to budget for lights, helmet, gloves and lugagge bags.

    If you want to commute distances over 10 miles then a sportier style of bike may be more appropriate.
    Hub gear bikes are useful for the low maintenance and make good city bikes. The cheaper ones are not so good on longer rides and you have a limitted gear range.

    If you get into cycling as a sport you may want another bike but a good, practical utiltity bike is always useful to have.

  14. #14
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Road bike: 700c wheels, skinny tires, "dropped" handlbars (that curve under).

    They are faster and lighter than other bikes, and require you to adapt to a forward leaning aerodynamic posture. They will get you to your destination quickest and with the least energy expenditure. They're (mostly) not intended for rough trails and off-road riding, but can handle some smooth trails, especially if you put slightly fatter tires on. Two sub-types are the tour bike, which is designed for a slightly more comfortable riding position and to carry heavy loads, and the cyclocross bike, which (unlike other road bikes) is designed to race on and off-road. Many bike commuters see one of these two as offering a combination of speed and utility. The handlbars offer several different positions, which helps avoid arm fatigue on longer rides, but your hands are sometimes not near the brakes.

    Mountain bikes: 26" wheels, fatter tires, usually with knobby tread, flat handlebars. Often have front suspension, and some have front and rear suspension.

    These are designed for rough trails, and the fat tires and more upright posture make them slower on the road than a road bike. However, may city riders like them because the wheels are sturdy enough to ride over curbs and potholes, and they are a bit less likely to get a flat tire. Sitting upright gives you a slightly better view of the world, and your hands are always on the brakes ready for urgent stops. Replacing the knobby tires with slick (smooth) ones speeds you up a bit. If you mostly ride on pavement you should try to get a rigid one (no supspension)

    Hybrid bikes; 700c wheels, medium width tires, flat handlebars.

    This is the bike industry's attempt to appeal to entry-level riders by combining some of the features of
    road and mountain bikes. Many people think they combine the worst features of both! However they offer the slightly more upright position, and brake access of a mountain bike, and the slightly faster wheels of a road bike. For serious riders, the lack of hand positions and the non-aerodynamic posture make them undesireable.


    Comfort bikes. Hybrid or mountain bikes designed for very casual use or for elderly persons, or those with some physical injury like a bad back.

    Very upright posture and really fat tires make these bikes comfortable for leisurely rides, but very slooowwww!

    There are other variants, but these are most frequently referenced in North America

  15. #15
    Jet Jockey Banzai's Avatar
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    With my first bike, an ATB/"mountain" style bike felt better...I think that's common for the inexperienced cyclist. It's more familiar feeling, being somewhat similar to your childhood bike. The upright position is quite reassuring to the "new" cylist.
    However, time on the bike eventually brought greater fitness, skill, and distance. And with all of those, the upright "comfort" of the ATB was no longer comfortable, and the tires and gearing had reached their performance limits. I still ride this bike from time to time for short casual rides, but not nearly so often.
    So I had to get a touring style bike for my rides and commutes. Sometimes I think I should have started with that bike to begin with, but other times I wonder if it would have seemed...daunting. I just don't know. I do know that 90% + of my riding is on my touring style commuter. With longer rides, a less upright position is actually MORE comfortable, not less.

  16. #16
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    It's all a matter of opinion , I have 3 mtb's & a cyclocross. I ride nearly everyday & have done several 100 plus mile rides on the mtb's & felt very comfortable in the process .
    I have many a times blasted by "roadies".
    Last edited by sngltrackdufus; 04-09-06 at 10:51 AM.

  17. #17
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    Get a rigid frame (front suspension only) and front and rear disc brakes...

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by callumchapman91
    Get a rigid frame (front suspension only)
    Also known as a "hardtail".

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by sngltrackdufus
    It's all a matter of opinion , I have 3 mtb's & a cyclocross. I ride nearly everyday & have done several 100 plus mile rides on the mtb's & felt very comfortable in the process .
    I have many a times blasted by "roadies".
    In terms of performance, it's not a matter of opinon. It's a matter of physics. A mountain bike simply cannot go the same distance as a road bike on one revolution of the pedals. Therefore, in order to go as fast as a roadie, the mountain bike has to pedal at a faster rate, just to keep up. If the "roadie" and the mtb are in the same physical condition, the roadie will leave the mtb in the dust, every single time.

    Anyway, the point here isn't racing, the point is what's going to be comfortable for a beginner, and it seems to me, as a matter of opinion, that a beginner will be more comfortable if she doesn't have to pedal harder just to keep up.

  20. #20
    Senior Member chicbicyclist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order
    In terms of performance, it's not a matter of opinon. It's a matter of physics. A mountain bike simply cannot go the same distance as a road bike on one revolution of the pedals. Therefore, in order to go as fast as a roadie, the mountain bike has to pedal at a faster rate, just to keep up. If the "roadie" and the mtb are in the same physical condition, the roadie will leave the mtb in the dust, every single time.

    Anyway, the point here isn't racing, the point is what's going to be comfortable for a beginner, and it seems to me, as a matter of opinion, that a beginner will be more comfortable if she doesn't have to pedal harder just to keep up.

    But thats assuming she wants to keep up. She did say she just wants to get from point A to point B and do errands, at first anyway. Going into detailed tehcnical mumbo jumbo, however good they are gives the impression that bicycling is primarilly "sport", not an alternative form of transportation. Of course, you want to be efficient, but not to the point of losing sleep over it.

  21. #21
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    check out my response in this thread: Trek or Raleigh

    For what you've described, the Giant FCR, Raleigh Passage, Trek FX or Marin Novato would be good bikes for you. They all allow the addition of fenders, racks, lights, etc. for commuting. They have low enough gears to climb anything and road wheels and tires for good speed. Gary Fisher makes a number of street/urban/commuter bikes that tend to be beefier than their Trek counterparts(Trek owns Fisher). They have wider wheels and tires.

    Fisher Artemis


    Trek 7.2FX WSD (Women's specific design)


    The Trek will be a bit faster due to the larger wheels, skinnier tires, and slightly higher gearing. The Fisher will be more comfy due to the wider tires. Either one will handle your size. The Trek WSD bikes have smaller brake handles and the distance between the saddle and the handlebars is shorter because women have shorter torsos and arms than men and their hands are a bit smaller. Other companies such as Cannondale and Specialized make female specific bikes, too.

    Note: many bikes are not designed for you to be able to put your feet on the ground while seated. If that's important to you, then consider bikes such as the Trek Sole Ride. It's a hybrid but you ride lower to the ground and can put your feet on the ground without leaving the saddle. You can lower the saddle on other bikes to let you touch the ground but then your legs are too cramped for efficient pedalling. People still do this all the time but for long term riding enjoyment it is not recommended.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by chicbicyclist
    But thats assuming she wants to keep up. She did say she just wants to get from point A to point B and do errands, at first anyway. Going into detailed tehcnical mumbo jumbo, however good they are gives the impression that bicycling is primarilly "sport", not an alternative form of transportation. Of course, you want to be efficient, but not to the point of losing sleep over it.
    But that's all I'm saying-- that 700c wheels are more efficient than 26' wheels. People who suggest mountain bikes for getting from point A to point B are suggesting a less efficient, and therefore, less comfortable means. A mountain bike has its place; however, in my opinion, that place is not as a city bike for a newbie trying to get from point A to point B.

  23. #23
    Jet Jockey Banzai's Avatar
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    That's the great thing about the "what bike should I buy" question. You'll get at least ten people to answer, with a minimum of 12 opinions between them.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blue Order
    But that's all I'm saying-- that 700c wheels are more efficient than 26' wheels. People who suggest mountain bikes for getting from point A to point B are suggesting a less efficient, and therefore, less comfortable means. A mountain bike has its place; however, in my opinion, that place is not as a city bike for a newbie trying to get from point A to point B.
    I have to respectfully disagree. Less efficiency does not equal less comfortable, at least to me. I returned to cycling last year on a Trek 3900 MTB, a touch over $300. Yes, I was slower than the road bikes out there, but that wasn't important to me. I didn't have to lean way over, my back and neck didn't hurt, and I liked being able to squeeze the brakes easily.

    A few months later I replaced the knobbie tires with slicks and got more efficient. Still not like a road bike, but still FAR more comfortable. I've since migrated to a hybrid with road tires, and I'm a lot faster, but still probably no competition for a road biker.

    But that's not the point. Sounds like she wants to get from Point A to Point B with comfort, and suggesting a road bike as the best solution seems to be overkill, at least to me. The bike that feels right is the one she'll ride, and when she gets really into it, IF she gets really into it, she can upgrade to a different bike.

    I now own five bikes in less than ten months. Other than the Trek, all used. My total investment has been under $750. I now have the knowledge to choose my next bike(s) that I didn't have before.
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    This is perhaps ideal. The joy of cycling contained in one bike. Reliable brakes, no maintenance, ultimate comfort.
    Well, a word on the comfort: A tall woman will need the men's version in order to keep the handlebars up at the optimal height.
    It has more gear range than a mountain bike, and it is all contained safely inside the rear hub where it needs no maintenance.
    Headlights are included and are front hub dynamo powered, with no need to ever buy batteries to ride without light. No, this bike has super-bright headlights and a tail light.
    Add a set of day-tripper size (areo curved) pannier bags to the rear rack for even more convience and features. This can let you take your lunch or raincoat, and even pick up some supplies at the grocery store, all with great convenience and competence.
    The wheels are 700c size, thus contributing easy tire selection that usually makes for both speed and comfort.
    After the included tires wear out, as all tires do, may I suggest Panaracer T-Serv 700cX28mm because of their unique combination of super road speed (easy pedaling) with wet weather traction (a confident ride), flat prevention (low maintenance), modest offroad capacity (Yes, I tried it) and comfort (cushioning kevlar skinwall technology). This quickly illustrates why you need the 700c version even though it costs more.

    Should you get into a competitive sport that requires specific gearing, it can even be easily re-geared for the sport by installing a $3 Nexus sprocket in your choice of roadie bike range (extra speed) or mountain bike range (extra hills) with nothing more than a 18 minutes, a screwdriver and a $4 chain tool. That plus a sport-specific tire swap, and you can join the sporting event with the bike you already own. No need to worry--the gears it comes with are wonderful, all purpose, and surprisingly fast.

    It will blow past mountain bikes like the wind itself, all while keeping you comfortable.

    Follow this link. . .for the cat's meow.

    http://www.rei.com/online/store/Prod...1&source=14543
    Last edited by danielhaden; 04-09-06 at 05:27 PM.

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