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  1. #1
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    Biking Noob Needs a Push in the Correct Direction

    Alrighty, i'm a college freshman, this upcoming march i'll be having major reconstructive knee surgery (tore a bunch of cartilage wrestling, i need micro-fracture sugery for those who are interested). My old bike, a junko walmart special was jacked this past fall and i need a new one.

    I'll be using it mainly for rehab purposes and mainly road use although i occasionally go off (nothing huge, back road path or something). This bike would be used probably daily this upcoming summer for extended ventures around town for about an hour or two a day, i don't know how far i'll go, it depends on how i feel, but i would say a minimum of 10 miles a day. I don't plan on racing, competing or anything like that, just a nice run around the town for exercise and fitness thing. I was thinking a commuter bike? I do know i dont like race bikes, that twisted handlebar sucks imo, i also dont fit on them well (i'm 5'10" 245 lbs) and i'm sure i dont look very good either, not that i really care. I did like my old mountain bike, but i'm not too keen on the whole suspension thing, everyone that i've ridden has bottomed out, i also not really sure i want to pay for things i wont use or wont use to it's full potential. I'm hoping to not totally break the bank, but i do realize that a lot of the times in bikes, what you pay for is what you get, so I'll say $550 max.

    I tried to research myself and probably confused my self more than was necessary. I looked at Bianchi (Boardwalk) , Trek(SU200) , Iron Horse (Transit 1.0), and Jamis (Coda). Of course i'm open to other suggestions, otherwise i wouldnt be asking. What would be your scholarly suggestions guys, i have no clue as to what is good or what is bad?

  2. #2
    The quieter you become... Falkon's Avatar
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    Much of the reason the suspension will bottom out is simply that it's a cheap cheap cheap piece of crap fork on that wal-mart bike. I know the Jamis is a nice bike. I would avoid Iron Horse, as my opinion of them has been mediocre at best. The Trek is always good. Check out a Fuji Crosstown, a Fuji Nevada, or one of many other hybrids and hard tail mountain bikes.
    Quote Originally Posted by TechKnowGN
    San Jose has to be the most boring place I've ever been. And I live in Ohio.

  3. #3
    EV + PV clutchy's Avatar
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    chip, why are you no longer chipcom?

  4. #4
    Caustic Soccer Mom apclassic9's Avatar
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    You may also want to look at some of the retro-looking hybrids - bit more comfy that a true road bike, and can handle the off pavement roads & paths.
    As with mud, life, too, slides by.

  5. #5
    59'er Mariner Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clutchy
    chip, why are you no longer chipcom?
    Because that isn't Chip!

  6. #6
    EV + PV clutchy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mariner Fan
    Because that isn't Chip!

    crazy! stealing an avatar with the person actually in it?!? brazen.

  7. #7
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    I'm hoping to not totally break the bank, but i do realize that a lot of the times in bikes, what you pay for is what you get, so I'll say $550 max.
    It's possible to get decent hybrids/city bikes/MTBs at $550. Not road bikes, but you aren't looking for one anyway.

    I tried to research myself and probably confused my self more than was necessary. I looked at Bianchi (Boardwalk) , Trek(SU200) , Iron Horse (Transit 1.0), and Jamis (Coda). Of course i'm open to other suggestions, otherwise i wouldnt be asking. What would be your scholarly suggestions guys, i have no clue as to what is good or what is bad?
    I second Falkon: Iron Horse is not on the par with the other manufacturers you listed. I would avoid them.

    Now, a fairly common view is that in a given price range bikes will generally be of similar quality no matter the manufacturer, so you should just test-ride the bikes and pick one that feels good. Many newbies aren't sure what to look for when test-riding, so here is an incomplete and somewhat random list that might help nevertheless:

    Things to check-out during a test ride

    Do you like the way you're positioned on the bike when you're sitting down? When you get up to pedal? Do you feel cramped, or too stretched out, or too upright? Too upright - and you're losing efficiency, making longer rides very unpleasant. Too stretched out - same, unpleasant ride guaranteed. It is possible to tinker quite a bit with bike set-up raising/lowering the stem, adjusting saddle position, using different stems and handlebars, so if you like the bike but it feels slightly wrong, you can ask your LBS (local bike shop) if they would adjust it a bit for you to see if you like it better. However I personally would tend to look for a bike that fits well with stock configuration, because if you don't know much about bikes, you might not even know why it feels wrong and what might need adjusting. Your LBS should help you with that though.

    One very trivial adjustment that should always be performed before you test-ride a bike is setting proper saddle height. Most shops will do this before letting you ride the bike. If they don't, it might be wise to choose a different shop.

    Does the bike feel stable or twitchy? Responsive or sluggish? Do you like the way braking feels on this bike? Shifting?

    Do you experience toe overlap with front wheel on sharp turns?

    Bike features

    FRAME: At your price range, most bikes you look at will be aluminum. It's possible you'll run into a steel bike as well. They are both all right. Aluminum is stiffer and you'll feel more "buzz" from the road if you don't have suspension on the bike but give you slightly higher pedalling efficiency. Steel will smooth out some of the road buzz at the cost. Steel bike may be slightly heavier than an aluminum bike but that all depends on frame and component quality, so it's not a given. Basically, I would let frame material alone affect my decisions too much. Just evaluate if you like the feel of the bike on test ride.

    SUSPENSION: On a Walmart bike, quick death of suspension (or any other component) is not surprising. It shouldn't happen with stuff of reasonable quality. However, I'm not a fan of suspension myself when it comes to riding on the pavement. It's heavy and it steals pedalling energy. Now, trails or bad pavement are a completely different story, but you say it's going to be mostly pavement or non-technical off-road stuff, so if I were you I'd go with no suspension. Personal preference.

    WHEELS: For a 245-pound rider it is especially important to have good wheels. Preferably hand-built instead of machine-built, but that may put your over your budget. At least make sure they have double-walled rims.

    And here are some things you should NOT pay much attention to


    SADDLE: Saddles are very individual things, and it's not surprising if a stock saddle doesn't fit you. Expecting that one saddle fit all customers is like expecting that size 8 shoes should fit everyone. Your bike shop will usually let you swap a stock saddle for another one if stock doesn't fit.

    TIRES: If you'd like thicker/thinner/slicker/knobbier tires than stock, the bike shop will often let you swap 'em for tires of similar price/quality.

    And finally the most important thing


    The quality of your LBS. It ultimately matters much more than the brand of bike you're going to get. In the same price range and type they all perform about the same, so a much more important thing to ensure is that you have a good relationship with your bike shop so that you can keep your bike tuned and adjusted. Unless, of course, you decide to learn to do bike maintenance yourself (which lots of people do). Here are some things to check out about a bike shop:

    Is it conveniently located? Do they cater to the needs of cyclists like you (as opposed to hard-core racers, for example), carrying a good selection of lower- to mid-range hybrids? Do they treat $300-bike customers with the same amount of courtesy and attention as $3000-bike customers? Do they have good customer service? Are they patient and trying to find a bike that'll suit your needs as opposed to pushing something too expensive? Do they have a free tune-up program for customers who buy their bikes (as a minimum they should offer one free tune-up after the initial bike break-in period, but most shops include a few more after that)? Are they willing to swap components on stock bikes for you? Do they seem knowledgable and competent? Do they have quick tune-up/repair services (it's annoying if you have to wait a week for your bike to get tuned up). In short, do you like their vibe, the cut of their jib?

    If you do like your LBS, just look at and test-ride the brands they do carry. You can then post the models here and get more advice about them. Of course, if nothing feels quite right, or if you're not sure if you can't find something better, go to a different shop.

    ----------

    Anyway, as I said, long and random. Hope it has some helpful bits.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chephy
    And finally the most important thing[/B]

    The quality of your LBS. It ultimately matters much more than the brand of bike you're going to get.
    That's what I think too. Shop for a bike store first. When you find the right one, buy a brand and model that they stock and you'll never go wrong.

  9. #9
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    If you are used to a wallmart type bike- then your next bike will be a completely different beastie.

    I ride road and MTB and don't want to advise you on choice- except to say that an MTB will be stronger- with a few provisos. Before that though,there is a model called a Kona Hoss that is built for the heavier and bigger riders. Being a lightweight- I cannot comment but I feel sure some of our bulkier members can advise on this model.

    Most MTB's will take your weight but it is not untill you get into a certain price range that you will get a front suspension fork that does not bottom out at the slightest lump in the trail or quit on you by wearing out prematurely. Not a major problem as replacements forks that are good are not that expensive and some cheap forks are OK. (Then there is rigid which will not cause a problem) The other item you should look at is wheels. Most "Starter" bikes will have a cheap wheel. Some are just cheap but some are also weak. Wheels will take a lot of punishment with any heavy rider on them and find out out if they are covered by warranty, and for how long.

    For road use- these two points will still apply. Suspension is not required so a rigid fork bike will probably be OK. On the wheels though- at the cheaper end of the market the wheels are not that good. I would suggest that you look at replacing them with a better quality set within a year.

    Good luck in your choice of bike- but Find a local Bike shop (LBS) and find a good one. You will know the one when they talk to you so that is your first priority.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  10. #10
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Something else to consider.

    If you are planning to use it as a commuter bike on a college campus, just get a POS. That way you won't feel so bad when it gets stolen.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for the help, i appreciate it greatly.

    To answer and ask some questions

    No, this bike will probably not go to school with me, unless i carry it back to my room since my campus isn't bike friendly and too small to warrant me taking it to class. I can walk across campus in 5 min.

    There are a few bike stores around me, but they are notorious for overpricing, they do repairs and stuff like that for cheap, but buying bikes new is gonna rip a huge hole in my pocket.

    Would i be wrong at looking at kits or % preassembled bikes online, it would probably save me a ton of money, i'm already relatively knowledgable about maitnance and stuff. Such as Bikes Direct?

    How are Surly bikes?

    Thanks

  12. #12
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    I'm not sure what in particular you don't like about drop bars, but not all road bikes have em. You could get an inexpensive fixed gear or singlespeed and put any kind of bar you want on: flat bars, bullhorns, mustache, etc. I think for about $400 you could get a new fixed gear with a front brake and bullhorns, but that might entail going to a LBS and telling them what you want.

    You should think about getting some clipless shoes and pedals, they will get you into the correct riding position and increase your efficiency significantly. You could also try toeclips, which can be used with normal shoes. Since I switched to toeclips from bare flats it's been dramatically more comfortable to pedal. A cheap clipless set might cost you $100, but toeclips shouldn't cost more than $20.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by blickblocks
    I'm not sure what in particular you don't like about drop bars, but not all road bikes have em. You could get an inexpensive fixed gear or singlespeed and put any kind of bar you want on: flat bars, bullhorns, mustache, etc. I think for about $400 you could get a new fixed gear with a front brake and bullhorns, but that might entail going to a LBS and telling them what you want.

    You should think about getting some clipless shoes and pedals, they will get you into the correct riding position and increase your efficiency significantly. You could also try toeclips, which can be used with normal shoes. Since I switched to toeclips from bare flats it's been dramatically more comfortable to pedal. A cheap clipless set might cost you $100, but toeclips shouldn't cost more than $20.
    I have very wide shoulders, i wear a 54-56 suitcoat, and the drop down handles are way too small width wise for me to be totally comfortable. I looked at the single speeds, but i'm not sure i'd want to limit myslef to single speed since this would be my only bike. but yeah, i'll look into some biking shoes/toeclips

    BTW where in cleveland are you, i'm from Bay Village. What are some good LBS? Thanks for the help.

  14. #14
    . blickblocks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigman7903
    I have very wide shoulders, i wear a 54-56 suitcoat, and the drop down handles are way too small width wise for me to be totally comfortable. I looked at the single speeds, but i'm not sure i'd want to limit myslef to single speed since this would be my only bike. but yeah, i'll look into some biking shoes/toeclips

    BTW where in cleveland are you, i'm from Bay Village. What are some good LBS? Thanks for the help.
    You can get wider drops, and keep in mind that a bike needs to be properly fit to you to be comfortable. It's not just the width, but the height of the bars and the length of the stem that might be throwing you off. If you can get a road bike set up properly you might find it pretty comfortable (the multiple hand positions help).

    Singlespeed/fixed gear is nice because there's less stuff to deal with, and is generally cheaper. They make good city bikes, if you ever needed to lock up outside.

    I'm in Little Italy on the east side. Good bike shops? On the west side Eddy's Bike Shop is a great place. There are a bunch of other shops but Eddy's is the best I've been to. Good selection, prices, and employees.

  15. #15
    Senior Member kokomo61's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mariner Fan
    Because that isn't Chip!
    crazy! stealing an avatar with the person actually in it?!? brazen.

    Look a bit closer at the avatar....

    CHIP

    NOT CHIP
    Giant OCR C2
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  16. #16
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    Bigman, Century is an excellent shop. Also try Spin on Madison in Lakewood. Good guys, smaller shop but real willing to help. Eddys always seemed cool till last weekend I asked to take a short test ride (I was truly in buying mode) and was told it was too cold outside, huh? Visit those three and see who you like. Spin carries Kona, check out the Smoke or Dew series.
    Good luck with the knee, who'd you wrestle for?

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigman7903
    How are Surly bikes?
    Thanks
    Surly makes steel frames and forks that people build up (or have built up) according to their own preferences, along with various parts and gadgets. You can get built up bikes from them as well, but parts are their main thing. Anyhow their products are simple, inexpensive and highly practical. They have a cool utilitarian style as well. You might like their Long Haul Trucker or Cross Check frames, though adding $150 to your budget would make a build off one of them a bit easier. See http://www.surlybikes.com/longhaul.html/ http://www.surlybikes.com/crosscheck.html, and remember that you can build it up with flat or mustache bars if the drops scare ya.

    Edit: Here's a pal's Cross Check built up as a bulletproof commuter, featuring an 8 speed internal gear hub.

    Last edited by mander; 02-14-07 at 04:59 PM.

  18. #18
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    I wrestled for Bay Village, I graduated last year, and I'm currently attempting to give college wrestling a go at Washington and Jefferson College down in Pittsburgh. I didn't do very very well in the college scene, but a bum knee sure doesnt help much . I'll prolly just stick with a relatively straight bar, it's what i'm used to. Thanks alot for the help guys, will definitely check out Century, Spin, and Eddy's.

    As for Little Italy, damn good food over there.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by chephy

    Anyway, as I said, long and random. Hope it has some helpful bits.
    Very much so, thanks

  20. #20
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    Hmmmmmm. Looks like Chip.

  21. #21
    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clutchy
    chip, why are you no longer chipcom?
    Cuz I am?
    "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

  22. #22
    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigman7903
    Alrighty, i'm a college freshman, this upcoming march i'll be having major reconstructive knee surgery (tore a bunch of cartilage wrestling, i need micro-fracture sugery for those who are interested). My old bike, a junko walmart special was jacked this past fall and i need a new one.

    I'll be using it mainly for rehab purposes and mainly road use although i occasionally go off (nothing huge, back road path or something). This bike would be used probably daily this upcoming summer for extended ventures around town for about an hour or two a day, i don't know how far i'll go, it depends on how i feel, but i would say a minimum of 10 miles a day. I don't plan on racing, competing or anything like that, just a nice run around the town for exercise and fitness thing. I was thinking a commuter bike? I do know i dont like race bikes, that twisted handlebar sucks imo, i also dont fit on them well (i'm 5'10" 245 lbs) and i'm sure i dont look very good either, not that i really care. I did like my old mountain bike, but i'm not too keen on the whole suspension thing, everyone that i've ridden has bottomed out, i also not really sure i want to pay for things i wont use or wont use to it's full potential. I'm hoping to not totally break the bank, but i do realize that a lot of the times in bikes, what you pay for is what you get, so I'll say $550 max.

    I tried to research myself and probably confused my self more than was necessary. I looked at Bianchi (Boardwalk) , Trek(SU200) , Iron Horse (Transit 1.0), and Jamis (Coda). Of course i'm open to other suggestions, otherwise i wouldnt be asking. What would be your scholarly suggestions guys, i have no clue as to what is good or what is bad?
    I think you'll like the Jamis. Wrestling and football took a toll on my knees, you'll find that riding a bike keeps em strong.
    "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

  23. #23
    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigman7903
    I wrestled for Bay Village, I graduated last year, and I'm currently attempting to give college wrestling a go at Washington and Jefferson College down in Pittsburgh. I didn't do very very well in the college scene, but a bum knee sure doesnt help much . I'll prolly just stick with a relatively straight bar, it's what i'm used to. Thanks alot for the help guys, will definitely check out Century, Spin, and Eddy's.

    As for Little Italy, damn good food over there.
    Ahh, the school of my old nemesis, Mike DeAnna. Never could beat him, but he never could put me on my back either.

    I'll second Century...I do all of my business with them.
    "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

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    haha, Yep, Mike isn't very well liked by Bay administration after a certain speech before homecoming a couple years back detailing his underage drinking and driving exploits, was quite amusing. Where did you go to school?

  25. #25
    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigman7903
    haha, Yep, Mike isn't very well liked by Bay administration after a certain speech before homecoming a couple years back detailing his underage drinking and driving exploits, was quite amusing. Where did you go to school?
    Valley Forge, but the majority of my matches with ole Mike were amateur tourney bouts when I was in the Corps wrasslin Russians and he was in college sweating for Gable, both of us trying to make the 80 olympic team that never was.
    "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

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