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Old 04-27-10, 08:01 AM   #1
HelloKitty
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Great starter bike under $400

Hi all -

I am a beginner biker looking to get exercise and spend quality time outdoors with my children. Will be riding mostly on paved roads but may experience small amounts of gravel. Will probably start out riding only about 6 miles, but would like to increase that to 15. I should mention that the roads in my community run about 15% incline. The bike path I plan on going to runs closer to 2 to 3%

I went to two local bike shops yesterday. Both carried only Trek. I tested the unisex framed Trek 7.2 and really liked it but it is a bit over my budget. Neither carried the Trek 7.1 though one shop said it road similarly to the 7.2. There are few more bike shops I want to check out but noticed that none of them carry Trek. One carries Giant exclusively, which is cheaper but uncertain of the quality. The other two carried a variety of bikes. What is a great starter bike? What are the top three or four brands I should consider? What are comparable models to the Trek 7.2?

Last edited by HelloKitty; 04-27-10 at 02:22 PM. Reason: additional information
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Old 04-27-10, 08:16 AM   #2
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Welcome to bikeforums, HelloKitty.

There's a recent thread of mine in which I asked about good commuters. I required a rack and fenders, which you may not, but there were a couple that were at or below $400:

- Torker T-300
- Breezer Uptown 3
- KHS Green

These are not big brands like Giant or Trek, but they seem to have the goods. Because they're not big brands, the local bike shops (LBS for short) don't like them. But you can look online and maybe find a small, unadvertised bike shop that carries them.

From your post, it seems like your kids are big enough to ride on their own, but one advantage to a bike with a rack is that you can put a kiddie seat on it.

The big brands in my area are Schwinn, Trek, Redline, and Gary Fisher.

You might consider going and filling in your profile information so we know where you live. There may be someone local to you who can make a recommendation of good shops.

I think the type of bike you're looking for is a hybrid. It is like a mountain bike, but more upright and with smoother tires.

You might also consider a cruiser style bike. I test rode one, and it was supremely comfortable, and also pretty cheap. A 3-speed on these bikes makes them a lot more versatile.

I'm not an expert on Trek, but they seem to be pretty good bikes. They make a huge range of stuff. They're like the Toyota of the bike world.
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Old 04-27-10, 12:30 PM   #3
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Nothing wrong with Trek or Giant. Specialized is good to.

Here's Specialized's version - a Vienna 1 -
http://www.eriksbikeshop.com/ride/pr...ffset=2&s_id=0

When people ask me for recommendations for a casual but reliable bike, I tell them that $400 retail is the point where they can still buy something fairly decent and reliable, but don't go below that. If you want to save money, sometimes you can find last years models that were $400, but are now discounted.

Like locally to me in MN, last year's Vienna is on sale for $350 -
http://www.eriksbikeshop.com/ride/pr...ffset=2&s_id=0

Sometimes you can find something used, to, like on craigslist. But especially at your price point, it's a cost vs time thing - is spending 8 hours of browsing and looking for the bike plus the risk of getting something broken, worth saving $100-$200?

For advice, I would add the following -
1. The most important thing in buying a bike is getting one that's the right size. Don't make the mistake of buying something "that's a good deal" if you feel it might be to big or to small for you if you can help it. It will be less comfortable to ride, and if the size is to far off can be painful to ride. As well as making you slower. The bike should be comfortable to ride with the seat about level with the handlebars, and your feet should have a slight (but not a lot) of trouble touching the ground while sitting on the seat with the bike in a regular upright position.
2. One thing that makes riding unenjoyable is getting flats, and the low end tires that come with entry level bikes are often fairly flat prone. I often suggest replacing the stock tires with better flat resistant ones...it's hard for me to say whether this is necessary for you because I don't know which tire your bike would come with, but one suggestion is the Schwalbe Marathon tires, they're like $35/piece (retail).
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Old 04-27-10, 01:03 PM   #4
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. I should mention that the roads in my community run about 45%. The bike path I plan on going to runs closer to 15 to 25%.
45% of what?

The 7.1 & 7.2 is the same fram and fork so it is the same ride. Any differences can be made by tires and other small components etc.

At 15 mile rides, any of these brands will be more bikes will be more than you need. Then only problem is that once a rider gets into a somewhat quality ride, it isn't long before he/she wants to upgrade. Getting the bug to go further wil mean a better bike. Although the 7.1 should be plenty of bike, you get the bug and want more!
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Old 04-27-10, 01:29 PM   #5
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45% incline. Very hilly roads. I was thinking of trying out the Vienna 1, Vienna 2, Trek 7.1, Trek 7.2, Specialized Woman's Vita, or Giant Sedona. There was another Giant in that price point but do not remember the name off hand. When I tried out the Trek 7.2 it was a 15" unisex frame and fit me pretty well. Though a woman's 15" would probably be a little better (I am only 5'2" with short inseam). I plan on trying out the Giant's tonight and the Vienna's tomorrow. I liked the way I sat on the FX 7.2 which helps me compare to the others.

What are the main differences between the Vienna 1 and 2?

I found two 2009 models of the Trek 7.x. The 7.1 was going for $379 and the 7.2 was going for $459.
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Old 04-27-10, 01:55 PM   #6
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Are you sure about those angles, or are you eyeballing them. Even a 20% grade is very steep. 45% would be nearly impossible to ride for any distance.

Do you have a location for one of those roads so we could look it up in Bikely or other route planning site?
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Old 04-27-10, 01:55 PM   #7
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Quote:
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45% incline.
45% incline? As measured how?* Where did you get such numbers? There are few cars capable of going up a hill that steep. In any case, if this is what you intend to ride you need to be concerned with only one thing: Lowest gear. No, make that two things. Lowest gear and your conditioning.. No, make that three, lowest gear, your legs, and your aerobic capacity.

* - I don't know what an "official" definition of this is. When people say this they could mean elevation gained per total distance travelled or elevation gained per horizontal distance travelled. Either way, that' steeeeep, more like a steep hiking trail than a road.
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Old 04-27-10, 02:04 PM   #8
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lol jimmiller. I am just eye balling, so I could be off by about 20%. Though I would consider myself highly accurate when it comes to angles/math. I can say that when it snows, my car will not make it up the hill, and in NC it normally snows an inch or two at best. And while the road is extremely hilly, not all of this hills are equal. I would say they probably average closer to 25 to 30%. The one with the largest incline is the one right outside of my house and it is killer just running it. I have only been to the bike path once so I am probably slightly off on that number. A more reasonable number is probably 10 to 15% but I would have to go back and check it out. I live in youngsville, NC but I think most places throughout this area can see extreme hills. I will try and get the coordinates for a comparable area in NC
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Old 04-27-10, 02:05 PM   #9
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Are you sure about those angles, or are you eyeballing them. Even 20% grade is very steep. 45% would be nearly impossible to ride for any distance.

Do you have a location for one of those roads so we could look it up in Bikely or other route planning site?
I was hoping that wouldn't be the answer!

45% roads an 15-25% trails? I find it harder to believe that there would be bike shop around there!
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Old 04-27-10, 02:06 PM   #10
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I'm gonna call BS on those gradients. My car couldn't make it up a 45% grade, much less myself on a bike. I am betting the roads are probably 10-15% at most, with the paths probably not breaking more than 5%.

Some of the most burly roads around here are ~30% and people generally have to tack back and forth to make it up them. Some of the major well-known climbs are in the 15-20% sustained grades range, and people who do them talk about how brutal they are.

You are WAY off in your estimates.

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Old 04-27-10, 02:14 PM   #11
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Yeah I think you are right deep. I went ahead and looked at some diagrams. The hills are actually closer to 10 to 15% with the park angles being 2 to 3%. Completely off. I guess I am not as good at visualizing angles as I thought.

I went ahead and edited my original post so that it is more accurate.

What about the bike choices I plan on testing out? Now that you have a better idea what I am dealing with that is

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Old 04-27-10, 02:23 PM   #12
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Roads tend to look steeper than they really are, especially at a distance. There is a road I regularly ride where the grade never gets above 3%, but as you crest a roller and see the upside of the next one in the distance, it looks steep as hell, but when you actually get there, it's pretty shallow, actually.

Going with the 20% and 5% numbers, I would forget going on 20% roads to start with, that is steep by anyone's book, and requires a great deal of conditioning to do without stopping (also need the right gearing to make it up an extended bit of 20%). 5% is noticeable, and you will be working to go up a 5% grade.

I would get a bike that has a very low gearing, because you will need it if you plan to do any distance at those grades. Walking or running them is one thing, you can slow down as slow as you need to, or stop whenever you want to; if you ride a bike, you have to maintain a certain amount of forward speed, or you will fall over, so cycling is more demanding in that regard. Getting started going up a grade is also a pain, especially with traffic involved.
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Old 04-27-10, 02:30 PM   #13
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I'm gonna call BS ...
Thats a little rough of a term to use on a newbie don't you think?

We all knew 45% was impossible. Baldwin Street in Tenerife claims to be the steepest street in the world, with one section that gets up to 34.6%.

Even 10-15% is some serious climbing, so her heart was in the right place.

But I don't think this was a case where the poster was trying to mislead anyone. Looks like we have it solved.
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Old 04-27-10, 02:57 PM   #14
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Thats a little rough of a term to use on a newbie don't you think?

But I don't think this was a case where the poster was trying to mislead anyone. Looks like we have it solved.
Not to mention, the OP somewhat figured she was off just a couple posts above!

Nayways like I said for 15 mie rides, any of the bikes will be good. I bought a $200 Trek 800 years after I had much better bikes. Just for the fun of it I slapped on some slick and often did 40-50 mile rides on it just for funzies. And I don't think that bike compares to the 7.1!
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Old 04-27-10, 03:03 PM   #15
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You can save a good chunk of change by going with an off-brand. Try looking at the Origin-8 Cutler 7. It can be had for $350, is durable enough for almost any environment, and doesn't look like a "cruiser" bike to boot.
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Old 04-27-10, 03:18 PM   #16
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Walking or running them is one thing, you can slow down as slow as you need to, or stop whenever you want to; if you ride a bike, you have to maintain a certain amount of forward speed, or you will fall over, so cycling is more demanding in that regard. Getting started going up a grade is also a pain, especially with traffic involved.
You are quite an entertaining character!
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Old 04-27-10, 10:27 PM   #17
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Most similarly priced bikes offer the same basic performance. I dont know if any of the NC Performance bike stores are near Youngsville, but I find them to have good bikes for good prices. Alot of folks tend to look down on them, but often you get a bit more for the money than other stores. My wife just got a fuji Absolute and loves it. Its a nice reasonably light bike with room for racks and fenders. Cruiser bikes look cool, but are kinda on the slow side and can limit your enjoyment if you want to go a little faster.

If you join Performance bike club you get an additional 10% bake in store credit. If you buy a Fuji right now, you get double that for 20% back. Membership is a one time $25.00.

Might be something to consider if you have one close.
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Old 04-27-10, 10:48 PM   #18
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Giant Cypress sounds like a decent bike to try. it's a "comfort hybrid" which means that it has a fairly upright seating position, which might not be bad if you haven't been on a bike in awhile. it also has a front suspension for the bumps. it retails at $380:

http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-US/...ue/5687/36604/

they also have more of a mountain bike for the same price:

http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-US/...er/5690/36598/

dont' worry about Giant; they make the frames for many manufacturers...
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Old 04-27-10, 11:28 PM   #19
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Take a look on-line ... free shipping and no tax

Women Specific Bikes
http://www.bikesdirect.com/primalstuff1.htm

Hybrid / Cafe Bikes - The Best for Speed and Smooth Ride
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/hybrid_bikes.htm

Shimano Acera 21Spd Hybrid+Lockout Newest 2010 Elite FS $349.95
Suspension Seatpost Adjustable Front Shock + LockOut Adjustable Stem, Light Aluminum Frame
http://bikesdirect.com/products/moto...litefs_IX2.htm
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Old 04-28-10, 01:14 AM   #20
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Or try this: http://www.pakebikes.com/nunubatmobile.html it even comes in a step through frame. I have read that it is geared a bit low so hills should not be too big of an issue, unless of course you are a speed demon.
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Old 04-28-10, 03:12 AM   #21
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There's a recent thread of mine in which I asked about good commuters. I required a rack and fenders, which you may not, but there were a couple that were at or below $400:

- Torker T-300
- Breezer Uptown 3
- KHS Green
An Uptown 3 for at or below $400? Really?
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Old 04-28-10, 07:16 AM   #22
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An Uptown 3 for at or below $400? Really?
No. Not really. For some reason, I thought they were a lot less than they are. They're apparently going for around $550.
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Old 04-28-10, 07:32 AM   #23
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Thanks all for your input, I will shop around more this weekend. I am in no rush and am willing to wait for 2011 season bikes to roll in to start getting discounts on 2010. Seems like most 2009 models are sold out. Thanks again!
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Old 04-28-10, 07:49 AM   #24
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The 2011 bikes won't hit the bike shops until LATE fall. That's a long time to wait if you really want a bike.

Are you in the Raleigh/Durham area? If so, there should be loads of bike shops and brands to pick from. The closest bike shop isn't necessarily the best one. The one that has friendly, helpful, knowledgeable people, good service, and a decent selection of bikes and accessories is a better choice.
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Old 04-28-10, 11:19 AM   #25
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Giant Cypress sounds like a decent bike to try. it's a "comfort hybrid" which means that it has a fairly upright seating position, which might not be bad if you haven't been on a bike in awhile. it also has a front suspension for the bumps. it retails at $380:
The Gotcha with suspension is that when you ride up hills, it eats your power, so it makes it harder to ride up steep ones.
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