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Old 05-20-10, 05:16 PM   #1
Dude6
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Entry Level Bikes Questions

Does anybody know of any good brand road bikes for around $300. I've looked around at my LBS and haven't had much luck. The only used bikes I've found have been 60cm + and I need around a 54cm. I don't want a Wal-mart special though. And another question, whats the difference between the cheap Schwinns at wal-mart and stores like that and the ones like the Le Tour you see at bike shops?
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Old 05-20-10, 06:21 PM   #2
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I don't know which WalMart Schwinn you're looking at, this one is the only Schwinn road bike I found . I gather you're also looking at the cheapest of the LeTours.

First and foremost, the WalBike comes in only one size, 55cm. If 55cm is not your size, you'll be uncomfortable, sore and could damage your joints.

Second, bear in mind that WalBikes are pretty much designed to be purchased, ridden once or twice, then stuffed in the back of the garage and forgotten. Thus, the components don't need much longevity. If it lasts a couple of hundred miles, its done its job. So there's a huge quality difference.

The LBS bike's components, while low-end, will still last several thousand miles. The components on the LeTour are not that far off from those on my entry-level bike which turned-over 5,000 happy miles this week. While I upgraded the wheels and tires, and have replaced worn chains and brake pads, I haven't had to throw anything out and start over. (EDIT: The saddle. I replaced the saddle too.) I expect many more thousands of happy miles on my entry-level bike.

Third, the LBS bike comes fully assembled, properly assembled, and most have a lifetime free tuneups policy. It's just the labor on adjustments, but that's worth something. It should also come fitted to you.

Fourth, 32 pounds for the WalBike. That's a ton in road bike terms. While unspecified, the LBS Schwinn will be lighter. It should probably have better welds too.

Fifth, shifters. The WalBike uses stem-mounted friction shifters. While some people--mainly retrogrouches--prefer them, most people these days prefer the integrated levers found on the LBS bike. They put the shifting and the brakes right at your fingertips while riding. This is probably represents the single largest price difference between the two bikes. Shimano charges dearly for their integrated levers.

Now a finer point.

The WalBike's a 7-speed double compared to an 8-speed triple. Fewer gears to choose from and bigger jumps between them when riding.

That's a start.

EDIT: At the LBS you'll be able to test ride the bike--or bikes--before you buy. Even if you don't really know what you're doing, it can still go a long way towards selecting the right bike and building confidence in your purchase.

Remember size matters--a lot. There's more to it than standing over the bike to be sure is doesn't crush your dangly bits. Only a test ride can help you determine if the bike fits while you're on it and in motion. That's where the bike fit counts--not while standing around on it.

Last edited by tsl; 05-21-10 at 08:04 AM.
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Old 05-20-10, 08:57 PM   #3
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At your price range, the only road bikes you will find are some of the cheap fixed gears from Bikes direct or ebay. If you need gears, you will probably settle for a low end hybrid.

I did buy a schwinn road bike from Walmart a couple years ago while I was visiting family for a week. I had to grease the wheel bearings and adjust the cones(they were dry), and adjust the derailers. It rode fine for me the week I was there, then my brother bought it from me before I left. He still rides it, just not every day. Even if I had to throw it away before I left it was cheaper than hauling my bike on the plane, and I got half my money back from it anyway.
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Old 05-20-10, 10:53 PM   #4
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With that budget, I recommend you to go to Target and score a Schwinn Tourist. There are some folks here that rides this flat-bar roadbike and loves it. It's about $249. Light and fast.
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Old 05-21-10, 01:07 PM   #5
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For that kind of money, you should probably look for a flat-bar bike. The shifters on a road bike are one of it's single most expensive components.
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Old 05-21-10, 01:11 PM   #6
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ebay is another place to look, to. There's a surprising number of bikes sold on ebay. It's possible to search for local listings only to, so you can sometimes avoid the about $125 shipping and packing/unpacking fee for a bike.
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Old 05-21-10, 01:54 PM   #7
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Also, if you have time, check out the thrift shops and ebay. I made a great find at a thrift shop. Picked up a Schwinn Traveler in almost perfect shape for $25. Plus, it had stickers on it from one of the LBS where the orginal purchased it. Craigslist is a good place to look too..
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Old 05-24-10, 07:44 PM   #8
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There is nothing wrong with a 7 speed double. There's enough gears there unless you live in the Rockies or something.

I rode a couple of department store cruisers and I think those bikes are OK if you treat them with a bit of respect. (however, I am capable of repairing or replacing most stuff on them.) I would definitely think about getting a suspension seatpost though (except for that Schwinn Tourist from Target) because their low-end thick frames will ride super hard. Also, make sure you get a seat which spans your sit bones. A MTB saddle from walmart should do because they are unisex i.e. a bit extra wide if you need it.

If you do go the LBS route, the Fuji Newest 4.0 is available without the integrated shift brake levers which cost so much.

We are used to far lighter bikes than 32lb but I don't seriously think a 32lb roadbike is such a terrible handicap.
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Old 05-24-10, 10:10 PM   #9
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+1 on the flatbar road bike. It's astonishing how much of the cost of a road bike is in the handlebar region.
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Old 05-24-10, 10:54 PM   #10
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With a 300 dollar budget, looks like used is the way to go. After two less than satisfactory online purchases for new bikes, I now stay local when buying, plus it's better to check out the goods in person before you hand over the cash not after. If finding a used bike doesn't pan out, then start saving your money until your bank account meets the purchase price of that new bike that is to your expectations.
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