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Old 10-07-09, 03:04 PM   #1
tds1195
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Choosing the right bike...

So I am in need of a bike. I'm a college student, so don't have much money. I am looking to spend between $200-300.

I will have to ride the bike to work/class every day. I will be doing about 3-4 miles daily. Not too bad.
I live in a hilly town, so I need something that will easily go up hills and have good enough brakes to slow down quickly down hills if someone is in the way.

I am currently borrowing my friend's old Diamondback Outlook (2006-2008), which is tons of fun. It seems like a pretty inexpensive bike and is awesome for some of the off road trails here, but does not do the best on the town (though it could be much worse).

So basically, I am wondering if there is a bike that would be good for the town/off-roading, or if I will have to choose one or the other. The commuting is top priority, but I do love those trails.

Thanks!
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Old 10-07-09, 03:35 PM   #2
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Welcome...
Trek has some interesting choices, it's a huge site, the "bike path" catagory seems OK

Giant has the Rapid, others too

Jamis has the Coda line as well as other Roadish flatbars an' such.

ALL these have flat MB style bars, commenserate with that, sans pricey shifters, in your range perhaps a little higher. They're not overly casual Hybrids either. Look at the sites 'till you get a clue as to what you like.

200 will get you a cheap Dept.Store bike.. N/G. 300 or so 'll get you a decent one
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Old 10-07-09, 03:47 PM   #3
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When I was an undergrad, I purchased my first bicycle. I was poor, but through lots of research I figured out that for a little more money, you get a lot more bike. The bike I finally bought was a Diamondback Topenga Comp for $600. For this price I got a decent front shock, and a cartridge bottom bracket that lasted 4 year before needing to be replaced, and a drive train that lasted 5 years before needing to be replaced (even the local bike shop was floored by that).

If you get a bike in the $200 range, it will last one to two years as a commuter. My wife had a $150 Wal-Mart Scwinn and the freewheel rusted out in one year making the bike useless (i.e. pedaling but not going forward). Another thing to consider is to get a good frame. The frame is something you'll have more or less for ever, and everything else can be upgraded over time.

Perhaps the biggest thing regardless of price is to buy a bike at a decent bike shop. There, they should spend a good hour or so making sure that the bike fits you perfectly. A custom fit $200 clunker is infinitely more valualbe than a $1000 road bike that's not lined-up right. It is night and day riding a bike that fits you, where you can suddenly ride for miles and not feel like you're pushing at all.

Btw, it has been 8.5 years now since I bought my Diamondback, and despite taking it to skate parks, off roading, several crashes, two years with winter commuting, and over 10,000 miles total riding, I still ride the same bike. In fact, I still have the original stock derailleurs and brakes (Shimano Deore). All in all, I've been extremely happy with this purchase, and am a firm believer that it was well worth spending the few extra bucks. Especially considering the converse cenario, where after forking over $150 for my wife's first bike, after just a year of riding we had to buy a whole new bike (the thing was not at all salvageable), and wound up buying a Trek 6000. So, I guess you get what you pay for, and just like cars, cheap is by no means the best option.
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Old 10-07-09, 03:50 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tds1195 View Post
So I am in need of a bike. I'm a college student, so don't have much money. I am looking to spend between $200-300.
Something used. (And ugly so it won't be stolen!)

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I will be doing about 3-4 miles daily. Not too bad.
4 miles total distance is reasonable for any bike.

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I live in a hilly town, so I need something that will easily go up hills and have good enough brakes to slow down quickly down hills if someone is in the way.
Where are you? People have different opinions about what "hilly" means. If the hills/brakes are really a problem, get some salmon Koolstop pads.

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but does not do the best on the town (though it could be much worse).
What does this mean? I've ridden a mountain bike (no suspension) for 42 miles with no problems. 4 miles is a very short distance!

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I am currently borrowing my friend's old Diamondback Outlook (2006-2008), which is tons of fun. It seems like a pretty inexpensive bike and is awesome for some of the off road trails here, but does not do the best on the town (though it could be much worse).
What are these "off road trails" like? Are they flat gravel (like a rail trail)? Or are they real mountain bike trails?

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So basically, I am wondering if there is a bike that would be good for the town/off-roading, or if I will have to choose one or the other. The commuting is top priority, but I do love those trails.
Given the distance you are planning on riding and your interest in trails, I'd suggest something that can take wider/wide tires. If the trails are not rough, you don't need any suspension. An older no-suspension hybrid might be the thing (if the trails are not too rough).

Last edited by njkayaker; 10-07-09 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 10-07-09, 03:53 PM   #5
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Those bikes all look great, but still a little out of my price range. Is there maybe something cheaper that I could get and fix up as I get more money? Diamondback and Schwinn seem to be more inexpensive...how much would the quality suffer for a brand like that?
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Old 10-07-09, 03:55 PM   #6
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I am in southern Indiana, and it's not extremely hilly, just a little bit. I've been to the west coast and the hills there are much, much worse.

The trails I go on are mountain bike trails in a local park, but I go on the easier ones, being a begginer. There are some very difficult ones around here, too, but I'm not ready for them yet.
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Old 10-07-09, 05:08 PM   #7
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I am in southern Indiana, and it's not extremely hilly, just a little bit. I've been to the west coast and the hills there are much, much worse.

The trails I go on are mountain bike trails in a local park, but I go on the easier ones, being a begginer. There are some very difficult ones around here, too, but I'm not ready for them yet.
Keep in mind that what you are asking for is for is magic.

$200 is really cheap for a new bicycle. You'd get a much better bike with $400-600.

(In my opinion, the market for $200 bikes is people who ride very rarely.)

Mountain bikes/hybrids have low gears. So getting up hills won't be a problem.

You can sometimes get used bikes, decent ones, stupid cheap.

What does craigslist show for bikes?

I have an ancient mountain bike that has no suspension that I've used on the road and on fairly rough trails. I think you want something like that but newer.

You can get mountain bike tires that work better on the road than some others (if that is a real problem).

http://bloomington.craigslist.org/bik/1402463950.html

http://bloomington.craigslist.org/bik/1393553238.html

Last edited by njkayaker; 10-07-09 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 10-07-09, 06:00 PM   #8
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Thanks Nika, you've been a great help!
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Old 10-08-09, 11:29 AM   #9
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The used market is probably your best bet. But I'll add that you should know what type of bike you really want before you enter the market so it becomes a focused search.

Test ride your friends' bikes: hybrids, mtn bikes, with our without shocks, narrow or wide tires etc. Establish criteria and then hit Craigslist, the classifieds of your local bike club etc.

G/L
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Old 10-08-09, 11:34 AM   #10
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+1 for the used bike suggestion. You're gonna get a nice shiny pile of crap from department stores for that price. Also campus = bike thieves. My friend had someone attempt to steal her rusted out MTB dept. store bike, since it's only 2 years old and has disc brakes. There were other older bikes worth hundreds more, but they went for the dept store brand right away.
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