Hello everyone, I'm very interested in buying a new bike! I was hoping I could get some input to help me make a decision, so I'll try to give as much information as I can, and if you need any information please don't hesitate to ask me!
I will be using the bike for recreational purposes, and I will be riding it on the sidewalk, as well as on asphalt and similar paths.
I want a bike that isn't fragile, but is still fast, and I can get a good workout on.
Since I'm adding as much information as possible, I'll mention my age, height, and weight, hopefully that helps!
Today I drove to the local bike store and spoke to the owner for several hours, and I also plan on going to their other location to ride some of their bikes. She said their selection is limited at the moment, but she also mentioned she will be ordering new bikes soon, and can order me one!
Here are some of the brands and models that the owner wrote down. Hopefully I can test ride some of them, and maybe you have some options!
The standard advice is to test ride as many models as you can because some will seem to feel like a better fit than others. All bikes feel slightly different to various people so, pick out 2-3 that make you feel young at heart and eager to get back on. If one seems like more fun than the rest, then that's the one.
Also, most folks will tell you to stay off the sidewalk and ride on the street or path. You can't ride fast safely on a sidewalk & even MUPs are dangerous with all the walkers, strollers, dogs, etc.
Ideally I would like to ride on the street, but the traffic where I live is horrible.
I'm going to be going onto a path eventually, there's a 6 mile path near where I live, but then there is about a mile and a half of sidewalk that I have to pass.
Perhaps I should just get a more fragile bike, and ride it during the very early or late hours. While that may reduce my traffic problem, I have a bad feeling that someone speeding on an empty street would hit me...
1) You aren't going to grow much taller at 18... so get a bike that fits. Any minor changes in height can be accomodated by minor adjustments at this point.
2) Take all of the mountain bikes off the list unless you are going to be riding off road on single track etc. Riding on pavement, roads and trails even if gravel is best done by something besides a mountain bike.
Now to the real point. Stay off the sidewalk. You are shifting the risk from yourself to others by riding on the sidewalk.
I only ride the sidewalk in rare situations, and only if I am riding at about 5 mph. Otherwise I ride at the far right of the road in a straight predictable line and stay as visible as possible. It is a bit intimidating at first, but find an empty parking lot or something and get confident at your bike handling, and know that you can ride in a straight line. Learn to keep yourself focused on what you are doing, and also to paying attention to what is going on around you, just as if you were driving a car. And always wear a helmet.
Sometimes it is the places that look the safest that are the most dangerous, because both drivers and cyclists aren't paying attention, so just ride defensively, assume that you are the one that needs to do everything right, and everything will be fine.
The "best buy" bikes are mountain bikes in the $400 to $600 range. Many of the bike messengers in Houston ride such bikes, because they are both fast and durable on the bombed-out wreckage that Houston calls roads.
In that price range, you get a bike that is tough enough to ride on trails, yet that can converted to street use by mounting lightweight "slick" tires. Their geometry makes it easy to add a rear rack and saddle bags, so you can even use a mountain bike for a day or two of touring.
A road bike or touring bike makes sense if you plan to ride a hundred miles a day, or take two hundred mile week-end tours. But, if most of your rides will be 20 miles or less, a mountain bike will do fine.
The "brand name" is not as important as the shop you buy from. Buy from a shop that takes the time to really get a bike right. The difference between a bike that is "almost" tuned and wheels that are "almost" true is the difference between a great cycling experience and a mediocre cycling experience.
Riding on the sidewalk? I'm currently in San Antonio, where in newer neighborhoods you have a choice of riding either on a freeway feeder road, or a six lane road, each of which have bumper to bumper traffic moving at 40 mph to 60 mph. The lanes are about six inches wider than an SUV, making it impossible for a vehicle to pass a bike without moving over to the next lane, something no "true" Texan would ever consider doing.
As a result of such poor road design, many bike commuters ride on the sidewalks that are along such roads (rare), or on six inch wide paths worn in the grass along such roads (more common). And, mountain bikes are perfect for riding on those narrow paths through the weeds.
I often read posts in "Bike Forums" from guys who claim to ride their bikes on freeway feeder roads. I've never seen the same rider attempt that feat twice in Houston or San Antonio...very quickly, common sense overcomes their "I have a right to ride anywhere I want" attitude.
Last edited by alanbikehouston; 10-04-07 at 10:40 AM.