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Old 04-12-10, 02:46 PM   #1
metallitron
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Advice for a beginner, MB or Road?

I haven't ridden a bike in years. I've always wanted to start up again but its a big investment and I want to make sure I get the right bike for me. Can someone give me some good suggestions? I took these questions from this sites FAQ hoping it would help me narrow down options.

1. What kind of riding do you want to do and where? Strictly on pavement? Smooth dirt paths and pavement? Rugged mountain trails?
I really like the idea of biking on trails in the woods but I also want to be able to bike to work or the store. I think I would spend most of my time on the roads because I want to slowly start using less of my car to get around. But I also want be able to ride the trails on weekends or evenings. I'm not much for speed or racing over long distances.

2. What kind of seating position do you think you’d prefer? Racing handlebar leaned-over, leaning slightly, upright?
I am not sure what seating I want as of yet. I only have used a bike with racing handlebars once before and I remember I didn't like it. I am more used to the mountain bike style.

3. How far per ride? Recreational short trips under 10 miles? More frequent rides of 10 - 20 miles? Many longer rides?
Under 10 miles seems like a good estimate at this time. It's been year since I have ridden a bike, so I have to get back in shape. I may start taking longer rides if I can handle it. But for now under 10 seems like a good start.

4. Do you have a bike now? What would you like to change about it?
No. Still shopping and researching.
5. How rough are you (or your child) going to be? How rugged a bike do you need?
I would like a bike that is tough enough to handle unpaved tails in the woods and can support me, 5'11'', 225bls. But also be light enough to bike around town in a fair amount of time.

6. Will you ride alone or with someone else? What style(s) of bikes do your friends ride, and where?
My girlfriend has her old bike that is bit like a mountain bike and she also would like to do some trials and be able to bike around the cities. I also have friends who live in downtown area's that have road bikes.

7. Due to rider’s age, will the bike be outgrown size-wise or use-wise?
Unless I am shrinking or doing roids I don't think it will out grow my bike any time soon.

8. How much do you want to spend (after investigating your choices)?
I don't want to spend more than 500-600.


I feel I should mention I live in MN and probably won't be able to use my bike 3-4 months every year. This could change if I get ambitious enough to start biking in the winter Also, no mountains, just hills and trails. I would like to get a mountain bike mostly because it's what I used to ride when I was a kid. But I want to regret it if I end up doing more road travel than trials because of where I may end up living next. So I need help finding the right bike for me. I tried going to some of the local shops around my apartment but I didn't get many answers, just people trying to sell me a bike.

Would it just be easier to get a mountain bike and a set of road tiers? If I got a MB with disk breaks would I need to buy a kit to changes the breaks with the tires? I appreciate your suggestions.
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Old 04-12-10, 03:14 PM   #2
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Would it just be easier to get a mountain bike and a set of road tiers? If I got a MB with disk breaks would I need to buy a kit to changes the breaks with the tires? I appreciate your suggestions.
I think you're onto something here. Seems like a mtn bike might be best, you can always put road tires on it...me personally i fear anything that even looks like dirt on my road bike and would never think of taking it off-roading.
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Old 04-12-10, 03:21 PM   #3
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I really like the idea of biking on trails in the woods but I also want to be able to bike to work or the store.
You might want to clarify what you mean by "trails". If you are talking about flat non-paved paths (like "rail trails"), you don't need a mountain bike.

(Dare I say it: maybe a hybrid bike, which is sort-of a compromise between a road bike and a mountain bike.)

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Would it just be easier to get a mountain bike and a set of road tiers? If I got a MB with disk breaks would I need to buy a kit to changes the breaks with the tires? I appreciate your suggestions.
Mountain bikes usually come with 26inch wheels. Disk brakes would make swapping different-width rims much easier.

Last edited by njkayaker; 04-12-10 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 04-12-10, 03:58 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by metallitron View Post

1. What kind of riding do you want to do and where? Strictly on pavement? Smooth dirt paths and pavement? Rugged mountain trails?
I really like the idea of biking on trails in the woods but I also want to be able to bike to work or the store. I think I would spend most of my time on the roads because I want to slowly start using less of my car to get around. But I also want be able to ride the trails on weekends or evenings. I'm not much for speed or racing over long distances.
If you want to ride in the woods on mountain bike trails, you'll probably want...and need... a mountain bike. Hybrids don't cut it if you want to really ride trails and, while you can ride a road bike (or more specifically a cross bike) on trails, it's not all that enjoyable. I've ridden rigid mountain bike back in the ancient times and suspension...at least front suspension...is a blessing.

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2. What kind of seating position do you think you’d prefer? Racing handlebar leaned-over, leaning slightly, upright?
I am not sure what seating I want as of yet. I only have used a bike with racing handlebars once before and I remember I didn't like it. I am more used to the mountain bike style.
Then ride a mountain bike.

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3. How far per ride? Recreational short trips under 10 miles? More frequent rides of 10 - 20 miles? Many longer rides?
Under 10 miles seems like a good estimate at this time. It's been year since I have ridden a bike, so I have to get back in shape. I may start taking longer rides if I can handle it. But for now under 10 seems like a good start.
Mountain bike.

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5. How rough are you (or your child) going to be? How rugged a bike do you need?
I would like a bike that is tough enough to handle unpaved tails in the woods and can support me, 5'11'', 225bls. But also be light enough to bike around town in a fair amount of time.
A good mountain bike is lighter. But that is probably outside your price range. But a heavier bike just makes you work a bit harder.

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6. Will you ride alone or with someone else? What style(s) of bikes do your friends ride, and where?
My girlfriend has her old bike that is bit like a mountain bike and she also would like to do some trials and be able to bike around the cities. I also have friends who live in downtown area's that have road bikes.
You can ride a mountain bike with people on road bikes. Don't expect to hang with them too long

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7. Due to rider’s age, will the bike be outgrown size-wise or use-wise?
Unless I am shrinking or doing roids I don't think it will out grow my bike any time soon.
You'll outgrow any $600 mountain bike as your abilities improve. It's natural. Try to buy more bike then you think you'll need and it'll take longer to outgrow the bike. You could, for example, buy a Specialized Hard Rock for less then $500. But, as your abilities improve, you'll want something better. For $617, you could buy a Specialized Rockhopper which has a little better component mix, is a little lighter and would last you longer as your abilities improve.



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8. How much do you want to spend (after investigating your choices)?
I don't want to spend more than 500-600.
For mountain bikes this is a good price range. For hybrids this is an okay price range. For road bikes, this is a bit low. You can find them but a $600 road bike is not going to be a great road bike.

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I feel I should mention I live in MN and probably won't be able to use my bike 3-4 months every year. This could change if I get ambitious enough to start biking in the winter Also, no mountains, just hills and trails. I would like to get a mountain bike mostly because it's what I used to ride when I was a kid. But I want to regret it if I end up doing more road travel than trials because of where I may end up living next. So I need help finding the right bike for me. I tried going to some of the local shops around my apartment but I didn't get many answers, just people trying to sell me a bike.

Would it just be easier to get a mountain bike and a set of road tiers? If I got a MB with disk breaks would I need to buy a kit to changes the breaks with the tires? I appreciate your suggestions.
You could buy another set of wheels and just swap the wheels out when you want to go for a road ride. It doesn't matter if you have discs or rim brakes, you can do this with any bike. But another set of wheels isn't that cheap.

You could also just leave the knobbies on the bike all the time. I never put road tires on my mountain bikes. If I want to go bombing off into the trees, the bike is always ready for whatever I want to throw at it. Sure it's harder to pedal and the bike is slower but think of it as a strength building exercise
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Old 04-12-10, 04:41 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
If you want to ride in the woods on mountain bike trails, you'll probably want...and need... a mountain bike. Hybrids don't cut it if you want to really ride trails and, while you can ride a road bike (or more specifically a cross bike) on trails, it's not all that enjoyable. I've ridden rigid mountain bike back in the ancient times and suspension...at least front suspension...is a blessing.
It isn't at all clear that he is talking about "mountain bike trails". If he's talking about something like the GAP trail or the C&O canal tow-path, then a mountain bike isn't necessary.

If he isn't really into the "gnar", then a front suspension would save him some money (and be lighter and probably enough).

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You could buy another set of wheels and just swap the wheels out when you want to go for a road ride. It doesn't matter if you have discs or rim brakes, you can do this with any bike.
This would work (better) with rim brakes if the rim widths are close. One reason to have another set of wheels would be to be able to use narrower tires, which is hard to do with mountain bike rims.

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You could also just leave the knobbies on the bike all the time. I never put road tires on my mountain bikes. If I want to go bombing off into the trees, the bike is always ready for whatever I want to throw at it. Sure it's harder to pedal and the bike is slower but think of it as a strength building exercise
With my non-suspension MTB bike, that's what I did (I've done 42 mile trips that way). It works OK. And you get to sound like a swarm of angry bees!

Note that there are some knobbies that are better suited for this mixed use.

Last edited by njkayaker; 04-12-10 at 04:51 PM.
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Old 04-12-10, 05:08 PM   #6
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I would say it depends on where you live and what is readily available to you. What I mean is........Do you wish to leave your house and get right to riding like most roadies can? Or.......Do you prefer to get away from the hustle and bustle of life and retreat to the secludeness of quiet single track trails or city pathways?

That I believe sets the tone and ultimate decision.

I have done both and now I am back to mtn. biking again. I love road riding but the nuts on the road I call cagers are getting worse and worse at driving so I will once again take my chances with trees; hunters; bears; and what have you in the wilderness again.

Good luck.
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Old 04-12-10, 05:21 PM   #7
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Watch craigslist and try to pick up an older rigid mountain bike. It will do anything you want for now. Later on after you see what most of your riding is like you can decide if you need a road bike or a suspended mountain bike.
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Old 04-12-10, 05:28 PM   #8
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cannondale make the bad boy ultra 700c that is a flat bar bike that has the wheel clearance for a 700c (road) wheel and is equipped with disc brakes the rear spacing is wide for mountain bike wheels so you can road or mountain bike wheels on the same bike.
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Old 04-12-10, 05:30 PM   #9
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Watch craigslist and try to pick up an older rigid mountain bike. It will do anything you want for now. Later on after you see what most of your riding is like you can decide if you need a road bike or a suspended mountain bike.
Good idea. I was simply going to suggest a rigid mtn. bike because at the $500 price point a suspended mnt. bike is going to be crap.

Going used if yuo can find a bike that fits is enve better, yuo can actually get something decent.
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Old 04-13-10, 01:21 PM   #10
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Good idea. I was simply going to suggest a rigid mtn. bike because at the $500 price point a suspended mnt. bike is going to be crap.

Going used if yuo can find a bike that fits is enve better, yuo can actually get something decent.
I'll agree that a $500 fully suspended mountain bike isn't worth the money. A $500 mountain bike with a suspension fork is a whole other animal. That kind of money buys a very capable front suspension mountain bike.

Old rigid mountain bikes have their own problems. Finding forks for them if you want suspension can be problematic. Fixing up an old bike isn't necessarily cheap either.
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Old 04-13-10, 01:41 PM   #11
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I'll agree that a $500 fully suspended mountain bike isn't worth the money. A $500 mountain bike with a suspension fork is a whole other animal. That kind of money buys a very capable front suspension mountain bike.
Yes.
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Old 04-13-10, 01:56 PM   #12
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A little higher on the food chain, and you get the new entry-level full-suss Giant (I think it's the new Yukon); I think it comes in at about $750. It's got a parts pick that was on a $1300 bike just a few years ago....
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Old 04-13-10, 02:15 PM   #13
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the decision is clear - get both!

but seriously, I think most of us have a bunch of bikes. if you are dead set on getting just one (don't worry you can add to your collection over time - we all have) - then test ride a few from your local bikes shops and see what feels good to you!

some places let you rent bikes - try that on some rail trails. after a few hours on a few bikes - you'll have a pretty good idea what you like.
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Old 04-13-10, 05:19 PM   #14
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A little higher on the food chain, and you get the new entry-level full-suss Giant (I think it's the new Yukon); I think it comes in at about $750. It's got a parts pick that was on a $1300 bike just a few years ago....
But a $1300 dually from a few years ago was nothing to crow about Basically a pogo stick with wheels.

Also, if you are planning to use the bike for any kind of utility (commuting, grocery getting, kid hauling, etc), dual suspension sucks energy out of you. Better to stick with a hardtail with a fork lock-out. At least you can make it rigid when you want to.
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Old 04-13-10, 05:44 PM   #15
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To the OP:

You're not buying your only bike, you're buying your first bike.

Well, besides whatever you rode as a kid, anyway. One thing that we've said around here before is that the first bike you use a lot is just so you can figure out what kind of riding you do the most. After a while with it, you'll know what you like and don't like, and can choose your next bike with a clearer purpose.

If I were in your shoes, I'd be leaning towards cyclocross, fast hybrid, hardtail MTB, or "relaxed" road bikes. I know that doesn't help much, though.
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Old 04-13-10, 06:10 PM   #16
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My favorite bike of all was a '97 Specialized Rockhopper. Front suspension only. It was ridden until the frame started to crack. Not the bike's fault, severe abuse was to blame. And Specialized replaced the frame 12 years after purchase. It was ridden on trails, up & down stairs, off loading docks, and over benches & other obstacles. Longest ride was a 50+ mile urban trek. If I could only have one bike, a hardtail mountain bike would be it.

Or maybe a cyclocross bike......................
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