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Old 05-18-09, 11:29 AM   #1
rollin'
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Entry Level Recommendations?

Hi All,

I'm excited about purchasing an entry level bike to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors. Currently looking to find a quality entry level bike (new or used) that will be good for city paths and the odd groomed trail, perhaps I'll get brave and communte one day?!

However, a recent visit to my LBS was intimidating as, aside from TONS of selection, the clerk jumped right into doubling my budget with all kinds of added features. (I went in with some birthday cash, looking to spend $500 max.) So I decided to go back home, get online, and do my own research on what I really need, versus all the "bells and whistles".. there is alot of selection out there and I'm having a hard time narrowing it down. Hoping you all might have some good advice to share!?

I don't mind investing in quality, but do not want to overpay for something that I can't appreciate yet as I'm still a rookie. I'm not sure the difference between a CycloCross and a Hybrid, but know that I want basic quality and a comfortable ride. Also, I'm a female but not convinced that I have to ride a female bike? (not a fan of the curvy slope on some of the new "comfort" rides prefer the look of a traditional frame.)

Thanks for any guidance you can provide!

E
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Old 05-18-09, 11:33 AM   #2
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My initial research led me to the Specialized Ariel, Vita, or CrossTrail but I think they are above my price range so I'm willing to wait out craigslist and kijiji until the right bike comes a long. Just need to find what that "right bike" is. However I am clueless when it comes to bike brands (I don't care about the actual brand name: I don't want to overpay for it but also don't want to purchase less than quality). thx!
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Old 05-18-09, 11:53 AM   #3
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Do you ride now? Your focus is on something that will be comfortable and used on pavement?
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Old 05-18-09, 12:57 PM   #4
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i'm new as well, but after a lot of research and forum searching, maybe i can impart what i've learned.
I ended up looking in the "fitness/hybrid" category, since i didn't want a mountain bike but wasn't ready to commit to a road bike. I bought a 2009 Jamis Allegro 2. all i can say is, read as much as you can - it's the only way to walk into a shop and not get hosed.

It appears that $700-800 buys an "entry level" bike.

When you're talking to a LBS about bikes, they'll say that one has better/worse Components than the others, but not tell you really what that means. If you check a broad selection of bike brands in the same price category, you'll see that they will, for the most part, all use Shimano Components. Each price level of bikes ($550, 750, 900, etc) will generally have the same "class" of Shimano components.

Shimano has names for different classes of components, dividing into broad categories like Mountain, Road, Leisure, BMX, etc. I found that the major brands pretty much tracked Shimano's classes, and that for $700-800 i was looking mostly at Shimano Deore components. Some hybrids went with Shimano's "mountain" components, which had a 3-gear front crankset, while others went with the "road" 2-gear front crankset. After searching, it seemed that this didn't make too much of a difference. All bikes in this class had aluminum frames, although some people feel that steel is better because it flexes, giving a more comfortable ride.

The difference between individual bikes in the same class came down to the other components. Some had carbon-fiber front forks, some came with clipless pedals, some came with better saddles, etc. Trek, for example, seems to slap lower-quality Bongtrager parts on its bikes, where my Jamis, for the same money, had better stuff.

The Saddle - A big part of this experience was learning about the seat. The seat on my old bike hurt a lot, and i couldn't ride for a long time. I learned that a bike's saddle should, when fitted and aligned properly (front/back and up/down), put most of your weight on the "sit bones" of your pelvis, while providing stability and support with its nose. If the saddle is too far back, your weight will be inbetween your sit-bones, on soft tissue, causing pain and numbness. if the seat is too far forward, the front of the saddle will interfere with your legs' movement. In your price range, you'll probably end up with a crappy seat...and if you're buying a bike that isn't WSD (women's specific design), you'll end up with a crappy men's seat. just budget an extra $50 or so for a women's seat from the LBS.

Tires - i thought that i should get tires with a lot of tread to handle wet road riding. everyone says, however, that bike tread doesn't matter. the tires are too small and you're not going fast enough to have to worry about hydroplaning. wet will be slippery no matter what.

for an actual recommendation, you can check out the Trek 7.2FX and its competitors. that's what i bought my girlfriend, along with a better WSD seat, and she's liking it.

sizing - one of the LBS i went to tried to upsell me on an expensive bike that didn't fit me, offering to swap out components to "make it fit." i think you need to pay attention to the size of the frame, but also how the particular frame matches your riding position. some bikes had longer stems, longer/shorter top bars, etc. the LBS i ended up buying the bike from did a pretty comprehensive setup procedure for me, adjusting the handlebar height, seat height and fore/aft position, etc etc.
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Old 05-18-09, 01:04 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by rollin' View Post
Hi All,

I'm excited about purchasing an entry level bike to get some exercise and enjoy the outdoors. Currently looking to find a quality entry level bike (new or used) that will be good for city paths and the odd groomed trail, perhaps I'll get brave and communte one day?!

However, a recent visit to my LBS was intimidating as, aside from TONS of selection, the clerk jumped right into doubling my budget with all kinds of added features. (I went in with some birthday cash, looking to spend $500 max.) So I decided to go back home, get online, and do my own research on what I really need, versus all the "bells and whistles".. there is alot of selection out there and I'm having a hard time narrowing it down. Hoping you all might have some good advice to share!?

I don't mind investing in quality, but do not want to overpay for something that I can't appreciate yet as I'm still a rookie. I'm not sure the difference between a CycloCross and a Hybrid, but know that I want basic quality and a comfortable ride. Also, I'm a female but not convinced that I have to ride a female bike? (not a fan of the curvy slope on some of the new "comfort" rides prefer the look of a traditional frame.)

Thanks for any guidance you can provide!

E
Some to look at:

http://websterbicycle.com/itemlist.cfm?category=55
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Old 05-18-09, 01:33 PM   #6
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Cyclocross bike is basically a road bike designed to go off road they are generally designed for specific type of race, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclocross . That being said I personally think they make awesome bikes because they are tough, light and can accept a wide range of tires for different types of terrain. Some come eqquiped with the ability to take racks which gives you even more options for commuting and touring. In a since they are similar to hybrids except they road style handle bars giving you more hand positions great for longer rides. That being said my cyclocross has never seen a race but I have taken it on weekend trips, fast road rides, mtb trails, grocery runs and general mischief. They can be on the pricey side but I think they worth it, though I am biased.
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Old 05-18-09, 04:17 PM   #7
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Your $500 price range gives you a wide selection of good bikes. To get an idea of your choices, spend an hour at the Trek web site looking at bikes in the $400 to $500 range. Most of the bikes in that price range come with 21 speeds or 24 speeds and an aluminum frame and fork. So, the big practical difference is whether the bike uses 700c "road" tires or 26 inch mountain bike style tires. A bike with 700c tires gives you the option to take off the 38 width tires that mid-price bikes come with and put on lighter 28 width tires if you ever want to ride a "fast" all day charity ride. The 26 inch wheels take fatter tires which are ideal for riding off-road, and on dirt or gravel roads.

Bikes designed for women assume that you have shorter arms and a shorter torso than a man of your exact height. True of many, but not all women. Many women with longer arms and torsos are very comfortable on a men's bike. A good store can help you with "fit" questions, and a test ride is essential.

What I like about women's bikes is that most have a very low top tube. If you ride in the inner city, you are stopping for red lights and stop signs every hundred yards or so. A women's bike makes it easy to get on and off. European bike designers tried to adopt the lower top tube for "unisex" style bikes, but such bikes have never been popular in the U.S.A.

As suggested above, the Trek 7.2 FX represents a really nice mid-priced bike. The 7.2 is designed to allow you to add a rear rack and fenders, so it makes a great shopping bike, a nice bike for commuting to work, and its long wheelbase makes it a nice bike for short week-end tours in the country. With narrow tires, it can be a fast bike for a charity ride, with fat tires, it can be a touring bike.
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Old 05-18-09, 04:56 PM   #8
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Thanks for the info everyone! to answer Ka Jun's q, I haven't ridden since I was a kid, so would consider myself a new rider and yes focus is on comfort on the pavement but versatility to mess around on some paths if I so choose =) thanks!
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Old 05-18-09, 05:47 PM   #9
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www.bikesdirect.com

A bicycle savior!! Just saved $500 on my new track build picked it up for only 320USD. check it out!!!
the parts on the bikes are all upgraded from what you would find at say wal-mart or so. they buy the bikes from the factory and sell it at actual value instead of MRSP. they have a selection of everything. when you find one you like, just talk to someone about it? i like the road bike where the core is worked same with a ATB as opposed to the cruiser or hybrid where the legs are the primary muscles used.
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Old 05-18-09, 06:18 PM   #10
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wow - those are great prices! I'm not familiar with the brands, motobecane, windsor, and dawes? Will spend some more time checking out the components etc. thanks for the tip!
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Old 05-18-09, 07:18 PM   #11
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I'll second the opinion on the Trek 7.2 FX. 1 fine bicycle for multi-tasking - If I was oly going to have one bicycle and had $500 - this would be it:

http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/bike_path/fx/72fx/

Last edited by Panthers007; 05-19-09 at 09:50 AM.
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Old 05-18-09, 07:55 PM   #12
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I have an 06 7.2 FX. I bought it used in 08 barely used. It has been a great multi-purpose. Riding the MUP, street riding, and pulling the kids in a trailer. It is not as fast as a road bike, but if I only had to have one bike then my 7.2 would be it. I have had zero problems with my 7.2 - not even a flat. It is a entry level Trek, but everything fits right and works as expected.
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Old 05-19-09, 12:34 AM   #13
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Another vote for the Trek 7.2. Its my hauler/trail bike
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Old 05-19-09, 12:35 AM   #14
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wow - those are great prices! I'm not familiar with the brands, motobecane, windsor, and dawes? Will spend some more time checking out the components etc. thanks for the tip!
OMG The can of worms is opened now with bikesdirect!! Do yourself a favor and use the search function here. You've got lots of homework to do if you want to get great value out of those great prices!
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Old 05-19-09, 12:49 AM   #15
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It does not matter what bike you get as your first bike- as all it does is tell you what your second bike will be.

There are types of bikes galore- Component levels that vary tremendously- sizing may not be right first time and then there is the colour of the thing. Can guaranty that the first bike will not be suitable for 90% of riders that buy.

So buy cheap- secondhand if you can get the right size and quality as your first bike. Because if you stay in cycling- you will be buying more bikes.
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Old 05-19-09, 11:29 AM   #16
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Thanks for the headsup on BikeDirect however I've decided to stick to a preassembled and quality brand bike for now =) .. Looking forward to test riding the Trek 7.2WSD and a few equivalent hybrids from Specialized and Cannondale to get a feel for the differences as well as compare the components. I agree, the first bike will help me decided if I want to invest in a higher quality cycling lifestyle or leave cycling to a sunny day hobby. So will keep my eyes peeled for some used or previous model discounts!

Again, appreciate all the feedback from everyone, it has really helped me feel more confident in my research and understanding. I'll let you know how the demo rides go!
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Old 05-19-09, 12:10 PM   #17
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Rollin,

A comment about bikes. A woman can often ride a "normal" bike just fine. It just needs some adjustments to fit. Many women do well with just having the stem swapped out for a shorter one. The stem is the thing that holds the handlebars. Most bikes come with a relatively long stem to accomadatge a man's longer torso. Most local bike shops will swap the stem at no charge to you.

Another thing to figure on your budget. There are certain things that you need to get with your bike.

1) helmet. Most people ride with a helmet.
2) equipment for changing a flat - tire irons, spare tube, pump (or CO2 cartridges and inflator).
3) bike shorts (black is good - you can wipe off your dirty hands after changing a flat on them) - these are far more comfortable than the alternatives.
4) jersey (there are lots of neat jerseys for ladies) - has nice pockets for stuffing things into
5) bike shoes - they make an impressively big difference
6) floor pump for pumping up your tires
7) allen wrenches for adjustments of seat and so on.
8) water bottle and bottle cage - you need water. If you are thinking of longish rides - 2 bottles and 2 cages.
9) computer - it is fun to keep track of your miles and average speed and max speed and so on.
10) chain lube for lubing your chain.
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Old 05-19-09, 12:46 PM   #18
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wow - those are great prices! I'm not familiar with the brands, motobecane, windsor, and dawes? Will spend some more time checking out the components etc. thanks for the tip!
Some of those brands are former 'name' brands that went under and were purchased and are now used to brand generic bikes...many of which are pretty much the same bikes as their Giant, Raleigh, Fuji, etc. counterparts. That said, as a new rider I would not recommend purchasing online unless:

1. you KNOW what frame geometry metrics fit you.
2. you have a local bike shop or friend who can competently assemble the bike for you.

I would recommend shopping and building a relationship with a local bike shop...at least until you become more experienced both at what you know about bikes and how to do basic maintenance.

Here are a few models you might consider that are near your price range:

'09 Giant Women's FCR 3 W (my wife has one of these and loves it) $549
09 Specialized Women's Vita $449
'09 Specialized Women's Globe Vienna 2 $449
'09 Diamondback Women's Clarity 1 $449
'09 Bianchi Women's Cortina $429
'09 Bianchi Women's Torino $509
'09 Trek 7.2 FX WSD $449
'09 Cannondale Quick 6 Feminine $419

Shop and test ride to your heart's content...pick the bike that seems to fit you best physically, spiritually, aesthetically and budgetarily.
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Old 05-19-09, 07:28 PM   #19
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wow, I'm so impressed at how helpful everyone is! thanks!
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Old 05-19-09, 09:06 PM   #20
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I am in the same boat as you. I strongly recommend test riding as many bikes as you can at shops and also check craigslist for and used bikes you might be interested in and go look at those if you can and test ride them to get a feel for what you get at different price points new and used. Also it is important to make sure you know what size fits you best for the bike you decide to get.

When you are ready to make a purchase research online retailers and see if they have any coupons that could lower the price of what you want at their store.

Call your LBS to find out which stores in your area have the bike you want and get price quotes from them. See if they can give you a decent deal (tax though), maybe you can haggle or they can throw in accessories ? I strongly recommend buying from LBS to support local economy etc if you can afford it. They will also give you free service if you buy a bike there for a year or more.

In my area bikes seem to hold their value well so I am more comfortable going over what I planned to spend because if I don't like it or don't use it I can recoup a lot of the cost I think.

Also don't forget extra costs like a lock, helmet, clips, water bottles, and whatever else you might need for the type of riding you do.

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Old 05-19-09, 10:49 PM   #21
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A good bicycle-oriented multi-tool would be advisable. This will fit in a small seat-pack , or on your belt, and allow you perform simple adjustments as needed while out riding.
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