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  1. #1
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    New couple needing some tips.

    So me and my wife are wanting to get a couple bikes to use just riding around town and in a leisurely way. We are thinking about something like beach cruisers or a feet foward type of bike like the townie. However, when we go to our LBS the prices are through the roof. Just for a basic Electra single speed coaster brake cruiser without any special stuff they want $650 (Canadian) I cannot afford $1300 for a couple of basic bikes. So I started looking online for cheaper bikes without sacrificing quality. What I have found is that there are 2 manufacturers in the US that we do not have in Canada. Firmstrong and Micargi. Since my LBS does not have any experience with these brands, I come to the bikeforums community for advice.

    What are these brands like? Would they be ok for riding fairly constantly in a town? Are they safe for larger people? Would we be happier just spending the extra money for the LBS name-brand stuff?

    Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    smitten by саша pwdeegan's Avatar
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    both are cheap bikes (Firmstrong has no information, although the company claims to be from SoCal it's probably sourcing parts from mainland China; Micargi is a Chinese company based in southern China). In almost every case, you get what you pay for. The one exception is: have you considered looking used (e.g., Craigslist)? You can *frequently* find better bikes for less (sift through the junk though!), and if you man-up with some elbow grease you'll also save yourself some money on simple repairs.
    No slogans, just 14 facts.

  3. #3
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    $650 is probably higher than you have to go to get a decent, rideable bike...no, wait a minute. I'm thinking U.S. dollars. A buddy of mine who owns a shop here has a package deal for casual riders, people who want a little exercise or who want ride with their kids, for about $450. Brands vary, depending on what he can get; I think the current deal is on Raleighs. Of course you can get bikes cheaper at places like walmart, but these are decent, durable bikes with guarantees and proper assembly and setup.
    If you educate yourself a little (not a lot), used bikes can be a great deal. I bought a $2500 Rivendell a couple of years ago for $1000, and have picked up a few others over the years. Around here the thrift shops are full of older mountain bikes that sold for $400-$600 new in the '80s and '90s, going for $50 or less. Some have barely been used. You can learn to work on them fairly easily, and they're strong, durable and reliable. Look for names like Specialized, Fisher, Diamond Back, Bridgestone, Univega. You can swap the knobby tires for smoother road or combo tires if you want and ride them anywhere. i did my first metric century on a Bridgestone mountain bike with slicks.
    There's a chance you'll get stung on a used bike, but not much of one if you take the time to learn a little. They're really not that complicated.

  4. #4
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    I don't know where you live in Canada, but there may be a " Sun " bicycle dealer in the area. I have seen a few of these & thought they were pretty good bikes for $300-$400. USD

  5. #5
    Senior Member loty's Avatar
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    As usual if your want to save money and not sacrifice quality getting a good brand lightly used bike is the best option. Bikes are built to last 20-30 and even more years so getting a nice 3-4 years old bike for 1/2-1/3 of retail price sounds like a no-brainer to me. For riding around town you can't go wrong with a hybrid bike from Trek, Canondale or Specialized - there are tons of them on eBay or your local Craigs List.
    du kom for seint na ma du drikka mest

  6. #6
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    Find a helpful bike shop and spend $350. The after sales service and adjustment will make all your riding a lot more enjoyable. Ask the shop to measure the spoke tension in the rear wheels and bring it up to 100 kg, then you wont have to worry about taking your weight.

  7. #7
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    Thanks for all the good info so far. As to converting an older mountain bike or similar, it will cost at least $150 to retrofit a bike, and then I wont be happy. Me and the wife are both wanting similar bikes. I will forgo the "cheap" brands and start looking around for used ones in the area. Thanks again.

  8. #8
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    everyone who asks me for bike shopping help usually starts with a price range.

    just consider that a really cheap bike will likely also be a really heavy bike.
    really heavy bikes are a pain to ride, a pain to load into cars/car racks, a pain to move in the garage, etc.

    consider spending a little more or searching a little more for something that will excite you and won't punish you for riding it!

  9. #9
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    Well I looked around on the internet and found some bikes. There are a few used ones online near me. the brands are Bonelli, sportek, schwinn. Also I could buy new ones from the big box stores, brands are raleigh, ccm, and the Canadiantire Supercycle brand.

    Any opinions on any of these?

  10. #10
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    I like the Raleigh Clubman I have. Most of the raleighs seem to be a decent bike for the price here in the states. With Schwinn, the older ones are heavy but extremely durable. I'm still riding a 73 Schwinn that I bought brand new. I took that thing out of the garage after sitting for 20 years. Put on new tubes and tires, lubed the chain, and started riding.
    We have met the enemy and they is us.

    Pogo

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Esteban32696 View Post
    I don't know where you live in Canada, but there may be a " Sun " bicycle dealer in the area. I have seen a few of these & thought they were pretty good bikes for $300-$400. USD
    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewP View Post
    Find a helpful bike shop and spend $350. The after sales service and adjustment will make all your riding a lot more enjoyable. Ask the shop to measure the spoke tension in the rear wheels and bring it up to 100 kg, then you wont have to worry about taking your weight.
    I would spend that much at my LBS but when the cheapest USED bike they have is $420 it's way too much. I live in a small town so we dont have much for choice. I would have to go to the city.

    I also cannot find any dealers or any used bikes for Sun brand bikes. I would love it if anyone knew where I could get one new or used in Alberta, Canada.

  12. #12
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    I have seen reasonable Raleigh hybrids at Canadian Tire for around $200. After a few rides take them to a proper bike shop to check rear wheel spoke tension and adjust the gearshift - this will be a few $s but will be worthwhile in the long run.

  13. #13
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by loty View Post
    As usual if your want to save money and not sacrifice quality getting a good brand lightly used bike is the best option. Bikes are built to last 20-30 and even more years so getting a nice 3-4 years old bike for 1/2-1/3 of retail price sounds like a no-brainer to me. For riding around town you can't go wrong with a hybrid bike from Trek, Canondale or Specialized - there are tons of them on eBay or your local Craigs List.
    That would be my suggestion. Actually, any quality used hybrid or hard tail (no suspension) mountain bike made in the last 15 or 20 years in clean condition with either trigger shifters or grip shifters would be fine for a beginner.

    In addition to the above mentioned brands, others to consider include Bianchi, Fuji, Giant, Schwinn (Careful here, some recent Schwinns are good, others not so good), Kona, Gary Fisher, Marin.

    This is not an exhaustive list. I am sure there are other quality bike store brands that are worth checking out. I don't see a huge investment in any of these either. Maybe a basic tuneup, new tires and tubes and you should be ready to ride. You should find something for maybe half, maybe less, of what a new bike would cost.

  14. #14
    Senior Member lucille's Avatar
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    Don't forget to look at Canadian brands: Norco and deVinci.

    I agree with previous post that you get what you pay for. I had this cheap and very heavy mountain bike I got talked into buying. It ended up in storage, because I hated riding it and figured that I didn't like the activity overall. It took going on vacation few years later and renting the simplest hybrid to make me rediscover cycling. If you buy a low quality bike that you won't enjoy riding, you have effectively wasted your money, even if it's only $300. It might be worth waiting till fall and calling some stores to see what sales they have then.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
    That would be my suggestion. Actually, any quality used hybrid or hard tail (no suspension) mountain bike made in the last 15 or 20 years in clean condition with either trigger shifters or grip shifters would be fine for a beginner.
    I have a really nice Miele hardtail mountain bike. Its light and is in perfect condition. But I dont want a mountain bike style or something similar. I want something that I dont have to stretch to reach the ground. Something with an upright riding position and just a lazy bike all around. I dont need to go fast, and I'm not going far.

    What I am getting here is 1. LBS is the place to go for quality products. 2. You pay more for quality stuff, making the LBS a bit more expensive. 3. People who want a realiable bike to ride around town with but dont want to spend a lot of money should either buy a used bike or are kind of S.O.L. 4. Canada gets screwed with any good cheap-priced bikes.

  16. #16
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antiping View Post
    I have a really nice Miele hardtail mountain bike. Its light and is in perfect condition. But I dont want a mountain bike style or something similar. I want something that I dont have to stretch to reach the ground. Something with an upright riding position and just a lazy bike all around. I dont need to go fast, and I'm not going far.

    .

    A lot of hybrids made in the last 15 years have a fairly upright riding position. I see used Trek 7xx and 7xxx series, Specialized Globe, and Giant Cypress from time to time for not very much money.

  17. #17
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    Giant bikes are always a good bike for the price.

    http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-CA/bikes/

  18. #18
    Senior Member csimons's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antiping View Post
    I cannot afford $1300 for a couple of basic bikes. ... So I started looking online for cheaper bikes without sacrificing quality. ... Would we be happier just spending the extra money for the LBS name-brand stuff? ... Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Another option is to mail-order the bikes. BikesDirect.com is known for having good-quality bikes at wholesale prices. They sell many brands that only they carry (Motobecane, Windsor, etc.), but their frames are made by Kinesis, which makes frames for other well-known bicycle brands, including Specialized and Kona.

    The downside is that you've got to assemble them yourselves (actually a plus in my opinion, as it is a valuable learning experience and really isn't very difficult), and you won't be able to test-ride them. If you go to a bike ship, have them take your measurements to find out what size bike you need, so you can be sure to get the right basic size. You may then need to make adjustments to get a proper fit to the bicycle. Modifying your handlebar angle, stem length and angle, saddle height and angle, etc., can go a long way toward achieving this.

    In my opinion, the money is best spent buying a ~$20 bicycle maintenance book (like one of [1,2,3]), and then mail-ordering a bike. They even have online assembly instructions and videos[4] and sell a cheap assembly DVD that can also be helpful.[5] This way, you'll be able to learn much more about your bicycle and won't feel uncomfortable if you have to make adjustments or want to upgrade something down the road. In the worst case scenario, if you really didn't feel comfortable assembling it, a bike shop would be able to do this for you for a small fee.

    [1] Park Tools Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair, 2nd Ed.
    http://www.amazon.com/Park-Tool-BBB-...1038702&sr=8-1

    [2] The Bicycling Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance and Repair, 5th Ed.
    http://www.amazon.com/Bicycling-Comp...1038743&sr=1-1

    [3] Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance
    http://www.amazon.com/Zinn-Art-Road-...1038743&sr=1-2

    [4] BikesDirect: General Assembly Instructions
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/instructionhelp.htm

    [5] BikesDirect: Assembly Kit (including DVD)
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...sembly_kit.htm

    I don't mean to ramble on about one company so much, but I ordered a road bicycle from them a little over a year ago and have been extremely pleased with the experience.
    Last edited by csimons; 08-05-10 at 02:19 PM.
    2009 Windsor Wellington

  19. #19
    smitten by саша pwdeegan's Avatar
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    ^ this. +1
    No slogans, just 14 facts.

  20. #20
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    I would love to be able to order a bike through bikesdirect.com and have it shipped to my house and then build it. HOWEVER, bikesdirect does not ship to Canada. (even though they list it as a place in their checkout) So i guess thats out? It sucks. Canadians always get the shaft with this stuff, we are constantly getting ripped off nowadays, even though its the US economy going into the crapper.

  21. #21
    Senior Member csimons's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antiping View Post
    I would love to be able to order a bike through bikesdirect.com ... HOWEVER, bikesdirect does not ship to Canada.
    According to a page on their site,[1] it is possible to ship it to a 'forwarding' company that would accept the delivery in the U.S. and then forward it on. I'm not sure how reputable such companies are or what insurance you'd have, but it may be worth looking into. BD probably would be happy to give you more information on what it entails.

    [1] http://www.bikesdirect.com/canada.htm
    Last edited by csimons; 08-07-10 at 08:39 PM.
    2009 Windsor Wellington

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by csimons View Post
    According to a page on their site,[1] it is possible to ship it to a 'forwarding' company that would accept the delivery in the U.S. and then forward it on. I'm not sure how reputable such companies are or what insurance you'd have, but it may be worth looking into. BD probably would be happy to give you more information on what it entails.

    [1] http://www.bikesdirect.com/canada.htm
    And was there a second point here? seems like you just ended your thoughts.

  23. #23
    Senior Member csimons's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antiping View Post
    And was there a second point here? seems like you just ended your thoughts.
    No second point. You had said you'd like to do it but implied it wouldn't be possible since BD didn't ship to Canada. I was trying to point out that this may not be a hurdle after all.
    2009 Windsor Wellington

  24. #24
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    Oh ok. It isnt a huge wall at least. Just a giant hurdle. It is still cost prohibitive to do that. They only ship UPS and they want $200+ to bring a bike across the border. For that cost, I could go to the LBS and buy an overpriced bike.

  25. #25
    Senior Member lucille's Avatar
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    What is the most you can spend per bike, and what sounds overpriced for you?

    If $400 basic bike at the bike store is too much, then I think you should go to Canadian Tire and get what seems like a good fit. They're probably adequate for a ride around town, but for that price they won't be great. Good components cost money, there's no way around it. But if you like them and enjoy getting out, who cares?
    There are a few comfort bikes there for $159.99 http://www.canadiantire.ca/AST/brows....jsp?locale=en

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