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  1. #1
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    Help Choose my bike! This newbie's overwhelmed

    Which bicycle to choose? It's a long list; obviously I am having a lot of trouble guaging what's "good" and what's "bad" about the bikes.

    PLEASE help me narrow down the selection!!

    How will I use this bicycle?
    • This bicycle's primary purpose is to serve as a "test" for my interest in the sport of cycling and, later, as a commuter.
    • I need this bike to give me a true impression and feel of road cycling without a large initial investment.
    • If I decide to pursue the sport seriously, a major bike upgrade (to a "real" road bike), will be order.
    • I need this bike to ultimately serve as a weekend exerciser and daily commuter. Meaning, it needs to accept bike racks, have durable and low-maintenance components, and be pseudo comfortable with handlebar modification.[/INDENT]
    • The terrain will be bike paths and pavement ranging between flat and <30% grade incline hills.


    What am I looking for, in general?
    • Price range
    • Variability of uses
    • Longevity and easy of use. I prefer simplicity (tried and true components) over showy pieces; reliability is a must!
    • New bike or pristine used one; I am not knowledgable in judging the quality or condition of a used bike. I would prefer a new one.
    • Disc brakes (have yet to find any on a road bike in my price range)
    • Schrader valve (not super important, but would be nice)
    • Weight up to 25-28 lbs max
    • Sizes 54 cm or 19" using 700c wheels (road tires now, hybrid tires later). I am female, 5'8" (173 cm), 32-33" (82 cm) inseam, wide shoulders, and long arms.


    How much am I willing to spend?
    • $0 to $500 for the bike itself. Initial setup and fit will be an additional $100.
    • I'm willing to pay more for free Lifetime tune ups or a warranty IF they are available nationwide (retail / brand / etc).
    • I am willing to invest more (i.e. $400-500) for a quality bike that I can sell to recoup some of my money if I hate biking all together.


    What bikes am I considering?
    In ascending order by price:

    In this range, I'm okay with only getting 2-3 years from the bike:

    In this range I'd like to keep the bike for 3+ years:


    *Dependability* *Value* and *Fun*... And in that order; I'm trying to decide between the overall individual bikes, not the brand names, style, or pricing.

    Thanks a lot! I look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions.
    MS_AEB

  2. #2
    Senior Member csimons's Avatar
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    Some initial reactions, in no particular order:

    < $500 limits your choices to Walmart/department-store bikes (not recommended), used higher-quality brands, entry-level BikesDirect bikes, and possibly some "bike shop" bikes (entry-level candidates from Fuji, Raleigh, etc.). Disc brakes are pretty uncommon on road bikes. The Windsor Tourist comes with a rack. The Mercier Galaxy is oriented toward touring and accepts racks and comes with slightly wider tires than most road bikes; this would be the top candidate if I were in your shoes and wanted to meet (much of) your criteria. I would stay away from the 'Schwinn' Varsity and other Walmart Schwinn bikes (these are branded Schwinn but made by a company called 'Pacific Cycle'). The Cafe Latte does not have drop bars, so I would rule that out since you've said you want exposure to the 'sport of cycling'. Schrader valves are less common on road tire tubes, but can be found on some, more often on tubes intended for wider city/touring tires. They aren't adequate for the higher pressures used in most road tires, so I wouldn't get hung up on this. If all you have is a Schrader pump, valve adapters are available for a buck or so anyway. Also, you may not be able to keep the weight under 25 pounds, particularly if you're looking at wider tires and racks and a variety of uses, and as a beginning cyclist and commuter this shouldn't be a big deal anyway.

    On a personal note, I purchased an entry-level road bicycle from BikesDirect and have been very happy with it (having been using it for a little over a year now as a regular commuter and recreational cyclist).

    Important things are that you get a bike that fits you and that you become familiar with basic bicycle maintenance. Good resources for bicycle maintenance and repair instruction include the following most popular books, as well as www.sheldonbrown.com:

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

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

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

    Additionally, this question has been brought up many times before on the forum, so feel free to search the forum for those (not for the particular bikes you mentioned, but for first-time buying advice and recommendations generally). Many of them cover important points I have not covered. I think when dealing with entry-level bikes, the important thing is that you get something of quality and that fits you properly. The components on all entry-level road bikes are very similar in style and quality.
    Last edited by csimons; 08-10-10 at 03:07 PM.
    2009 Windsor Wellington

  3. #3
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    You'll never wish you'd bought a crappier bike in the past, but you can wind up wishing you'd bought a better one.

    Something else to limit options is to see what is actually sold locally, as opposed to the internet.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  4. #4
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    MS_AEB:

    While I'd much rather go for a bike-shop bike, but if you insist on getting one of the bikes on your list, get the very last one you listed. That one is the only one that will shift gears reasonably smoothly (Tiagra-level components) without sounding like the drivetrain is going to explode.

    You buy one of those Walmart bikes with crappy shifters, I guarantee you will hate cycling within a couple days.

  5. #5
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    A used bike in that price range may be a better choice. Especially if you want a real evaluation of cycling. The cheapo bikes aren't made for constant use and will give problems quickly.
    I owe-therefore I am.

  6. #6
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MS_AEB View Post
    Which bicycle to choose? It's a long list; obviously I am having a lot of trouble guaging what's "good" and what's "bad" about the bikes.

    PLEASE help me narrow down the selection!!

    How will I use this bicycle?
    • This bicycle's primary purpose is to serve as a "test" for my interest in the sport of cycling and, later, as a commuter.
    • I need this bike to give me a true impression and feel of road cycling without a large initial investment.
    • If I decide to pursue the sport seriously, a major bike upgrade (to a "real" road bike), will be order.
    • I need this bike to ultimately serve as a weekend exerciser and daily commuter. Meaning, it needs to accept bike racks, have durable and low-maintenance components, and be pseudo comfortable with handlebar modification.[/INDENT]
    • The terrain will be bike paths and pavement ranging between flat and <30% grade incline hills.


    What am I looking for, in general?
    • Price range
    • Variability of uses
    • Longevity and easy of use. I prefer simplicity (tried and true components) over showy pieces; reliability is a must!
    • New bike or pristine used one; I am not knowledgable in judging the quality or condition of a used bike. I would prefer a new one.
    • Disc brakes (have yet to find any on a road bike in my price range)
    • Schrader valve (not super important, but would be nice)
    • Weight up to 25-28 lbs max
    • Sizes 54 cm or 19" using 700c wheels (road tires now, hybrid tires later). I am female, 5'8" (173 cm), 32-33" (82 cm) inseam, wide shoulders, and long arms.


    How much am I willing to spend?
    • $0 to $500 for the bike itself. Initial setup and fit will be an additional $100.
    • I'm willing to pay more for free Lifetime tune ups or a warranty IF they are available nationwide (retail / brand / etc).
    • I am willing to invest more (i.e. $400-500) for a quality bike that I can sell to recoup some of my money if I hate biking all together.


    What bikes am I considering?
    In ascending order by price:

    In this range, I'm okay with only getting 2-3 years from the bike:

    In this range I'd like to keep the bike for 3+ years:


    *Dependability* *Value* and *Fun*... And in that order; I'm trying to decide between the overall individual bikes, not the brand names, style, or pricing.

    Thanks a lot! I look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions.
    MS_AEB
    Quote Originally Posted by csimons View Post
    Some initial reactions, in no particular order:

    < $500 limits your choices to Walmart/department-store bikes (not recommended), used higher-quality brands, entry-level BikesDirect bikes, and possibly some "bike shop" bikes (entry-level candidates from Fuji, Raleigh, etc.). Disc brakes are pretty uncommon on road bikes. The Windsor Tourist comes with a rack. The Mercier Galaxy is oriented toward touring and accepts racks and comes with slightly wider tires than most road bikes; this would be the top candidate if I were in your shoes and wanted to meet (much of) your criteria. I would stay away from the 'Schwinn' Varsity and other Walmart Schwinn bikes (these are branded Schwinn but made by a company called 'Pacific Cycle'). The Cafe Latte does not have drop bars, so I would rule that out since you've said you want exposure to the 'sport of cycling'. Schrader valves are less common on road tire tubes, but can be found on some, more often on tubes intended for wider city/touring tires. They aren't adequate for the higher pressures used in most road tires, so I wouldn't get hung up on this. If all you have is a Schrader pump, valve adapters are available for a buck or so anyway. Also, you may not be able to keep the weight under 25 pounds, particularly if you're looking at wider tires and racks and a variety of uses, and as a beginning cyclist and commuter this shouldn't be a big deal anyway.

    On a personal note, I purchased an entry-level road bicycle from BikesDirect and have been very happy with it (having been using it for a little over a year now as a regular commuter and recreational cyclist).

    Important things are that you get a bike that fits you and that you become familiar with basic bicycle maintenance. Good resources for bicycle maintenance and repair instruction include the following most popular books, as well as www.sheldonbrown.com:

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

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

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

    Additionally, this question has been brought up many times before on the forum, so feel free to search the forum for those (not for the particular bikes you mentioned, but for first-time buying advice and recommendations generally). Many of them cover important points I have not covered. I think when dealing with entry-level bikes, the important thing is that you get something of quality and that fits you properly. The components on all entry-level road bikes are very similar in style and quality.
    yes, tell us exactly what you want ok?

    Seriously, narrow your choices to two bike , using your own criteria, then choose one never looking back.....ever.

    When ya sit on the fence to long all ya get is splinters in your butt!! Ya gotta stop over thinking everything already..........
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

    Originally Posted by krazygluon
    Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?

  7. #7
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MS_AEB View Post
    Which bicycle to choose? It's a long list; obviously I am having a lot of trouble guaging what's "good" and what's "bad" about the bikes.

    PLEASE help me narrow down the selection!!


    How will I use this bicycle?
    • This bicycle's primary purpose is to serve as a "test" for my interest in the sport of cycling and, later, as a commuter.
    • I need this bike to give me a true impression and feel of road cycling without a large initial investment.
    • If I decide to pursue the sport seriously, a major bike upgrade (to a "real" road bike), will be order.
    • I need this bike to ultimately serve as a weekend exerciser and daily commuter. Meaning, it needs to accept bike racks, have durable and low-maintenance components, and be pseudo comfortable with handlebar modification.[/INDENT]
    • The terrain will be bike paths and pavement ranging between flat and <30% grade incline hills.


    MS_AEB
    Based on your needs, and before I read your short list, my first thought was an older road bike or touring bike. Maybe an early to mid 80s Miyata, Trek, Schwinn Super Letour or Voyageur, Panasonic, Nishiki, Peugeot or Raleigh. Simple technology (friction shifting, freewheels, 10 or 12 speeds, skinny tires but still durable, most bikes can be fitted with a rack for commuting) is reliable but not flashy. Do a little research and you will soon learn to spot a mid range or better vintage bike as opposed to entry level bikes, though even some of these weren't really bad bikes, just heavier with lower end components.

    One of the cool things about these old 10 and 12 speeds is, they really were very simple, so there isn't all that much risk in buying one if the frame looks clean and is at least rideable. Just about any part on such a bike can be replaced if worn. You can always upgrade things like brakes, pedals, tires and saddle if that is your preference. IMO the best of both worlds.

    And, these 25 to 30 year old bikes, if cared for, will still be around when those department store bikes you are considering are in landfills.
    Last edited by MRT2; 08-10-10 at 10:44 PM.

  8. #8
    Fahrrad Mama kiwigem's Avatar
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    Definitely get a used bike in that price range. I don't see how else you'll get something that you will be happy with for years to come. Something to consider, depending on the formality of your job, is clearance for fenders. Okay, I'm obviously a girl- but seriously, no one wants to walk in to work with mud up their back. The other nice thing about used bikes is a lot of them are lugged steel, which is a little heavier, yes, but as a beginning cyclist, the stability will give you confidence.

  9. #9
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    This might be late, I just got a Raleigh Sport bike 2010 for 650 canadian dollars. When i was searching online, shops in USA had them price at $500-$600 mark, and previous models were in the $400-$550 range. My requirements were very similar to yours, it has space for fenders, racks. Summer time it will be used for commuting, it gives a very different and better feel compared to previous hybrids and moutain bikes i used. I also plan on training with this bike so hopefully it will last a few years for me. I don't know about durability, but i like to do my own mechincal work, makes thing last a bit longer than if you didn't do it yourself. My only limiting factor is that i am in no shape to bring out the qualities of this bike, once that happens and i crave for something greater, i'll get another road bike, but for the next 3-6 years i will be happy with this bike.

    I found this thread helpful under $700 Roadbike, use the search options and the bike names that you want, and see what other people say. As LongIslandTom
    MS_AEB:

    While I'd much rather go for a bike-shop bike, but if you insist on getting one of the bikes on your list, get the very last one you listed. That one is the only one that will shift gears reasonably smoothly (Tiagra-level components) without sounding like the drivetrain is going to explode.
    Better to check out the bike shops (i went to about 12 different ones, finally decided on price, friendliness and helpfulness). Many other people suggest "tiagra-level components" or better, but personally i wouldn't be able to tell the difference. So i got the bottom of the range equipment to see what it feels like. When i do upgrade i know what i am looking for. So far they work very quietly.

  10. #10
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    All the first bike is going to tell you is what your second bike is going to be.

    Get a bike in your price range- whether that be from a shop or secondhand- with the only criteria being that it fits. Ride it for a year to get your "Bike" fitness up and then decide what bike you should have bought in the first place.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  11. #11
    Senior Member canyoneagle's Avatar
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    Currently one bike: Singular Gryphon do-it all bike with Nuvinci N360
    Coming soon (winter project) Ciocc Designer '84 mod build
    Temporary (on loan from a buddy): 1985 Raleigh Prestige

  12. #12
    Senior Member
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    I'm going to go against the "get a used bike" advice. It's too easy for a newbie to end up with a bike that will be a problem down the road in terms of maintenance and repairs. I know this from experience. This may not apply if you happen to know somebody who really knows bikes and can help you pick one out. You'll still be stuck with whatever happens to be available in your area, though.

    Go with something inexpensive and new (but possibly a year or two or three behind "current"). Plan to spend $300-$400. Also expect that you may want to get something nicer after a year or so, especially if you go to the low end. At that point you should have a better idea of what you want, and hopefully will be more knowledgeable if you want to go the used route.

  13. #13
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    I was looking for a bike matching very similar requirements to yours. I did a lot of research to find what I wanted and ended up with a giant rapid 3, I love it. It's got very similar geometry to their entry level road bike, the defy, which was one of the main selling points for me since I knew I wanted to eventually move up to a road bike. Out of all the hybrids available in my area (not a whole lot unfortunately), and almost all of the ones I researched, it leaned the most towards the roadbike end of the spectrum. The more hybrid aspects of it, the flatbar and triple chainring, make it comfortable and easier to ride for a beginner. I live in a very hilly area and having the wide gear ratio was a life saver during my first couple of weeks, I've been slowly weaning myself off of using the lower gears on my fitness rides in preparation for a true roadbike...but having them there makes commuting easier as well. It's not as versatile as other hybrids since the frame has more roadbike-like geometry, there's not a lot of space for much bigger tires, fenders, and racks...there is stuff available but you'll have to do a little research to find exactly what fits (for example I know the fenders made for the defy will fit...but not a whole lot else). It's a little outside your price range with an MSRP of $650, I got mine new for $600 and I guess there's a chance you could find a 2010 model on sale. Giant is a great brand name and generally for the given price point, especially in the lower end, you'll get slightly better components than the competitors because Giant makes quite a few of the frames for other brands (mostly applies to aluminum).

    I also rode the giant escape, which is geared more toward commuting and would make a better choice as far as versatility goes...but after just a test ride I could tell the lower and wider gear range, higher bars, and fatter tires wouldn't cut it for after a couple of months.

    The rapid is definitely my recommendation if you know you're going to want a road bike in the future.

    edit: meh didn't realize this thread was 3 months old hah
    Last edited by zoink; 11-09-10 at 07:27 PM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by MS_AEB View Post
    Which bicycle to choose? It's a long list; obviously I am having a lot of trouble guaging what's "good" and what's "bad" about the bikes.

    PLEASE help me narrow down the selection!!

    How will I use this bicycle?
    • This bicycle's primary purpose is to serve as a "test" for my interest in the sport of cycling and, later, as a commuter.
    • I need this bike to give me a true impression and feel of road cycling without a large initial investment.
    • If I decide to pursue the sport seriously, a major bike upgrade (to a "real" road bike), will be order.
    • I need this bike to ultimately serve as a weekend exerciser and daily commuter. Meaning, it needs to accept bike racks, have durable and low-maintenance components, and be pseudo comfortable with handlebar modification.[/INDENT]
    • The terrain will be bike paths and pavement ranging between flat and <30% grade incline hills.


    What am I looking for, in general?
    • Price range
    • Variability of uses
    • Longevity and easy of use. I prefer simplicity (tried and true components) over showy pieces; reliability is a must!
    • New bike or pristine used one; I am not knowledgable in judging the quality or condition of a used bike. I would prefer a new one.
    • Disc brakes (have yet to find any on a road bike in my price range)
    • Schrader valve (not super important, but would be nice)
    • Weight up to 25-28 lbs max
    • Sizes 54 cm or 19" using 700c wheels (road tires now, hybrid tires later). I am female, 5'8" (173 cm), 32-33" (82 cm) inseam, wide shoulders, and long arms.


    How much am I willing to spend?
    • $0 to $500 for the bike itself. Initial setup and fit will be an additional $100.
    • I'm willing to pay more for free Lifetime tune ups or a warranty IF they are available nationwide (retail / brand / etc).
    • I am willing to invest more (i.e. $400-500) for a quality bike that I can sell to recoup some of my money if I hate biking all together.


    What bikes am I considering?
    In ascending order by price:

    In this range, I'm okay with only getting 2-3 years from the bike:


    In this range I'd like to keep the bike for 3+ years:


    *Dependability* *Value* and *Fun*... And in that order; I'm trying to decide between the overall individual bikes, not the brand names, style, or pricing.

    Thanks a lot! I look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions.
    MS_AEB
    I used the GMC Denali Pro as my first road bike for about 2 years and it worked out just fine for me. After about 9 months or so I switched out the tires (one blew so I just replaced them both) and switched out the pedals for clipless pedals and shoes (preference). In the time I had the bike I put roughly 1,800 miles on it and used it to train for and complete my first triathlon.

    Could I have used a "better" bike? Sure. Do I want a "better" bike? Absolutely. Can I afford a "better" bike? Nope. That being said I work with what I've got. I no longer have this bike as we just moved from CA to TX and had get rid of as much as we possibly could for transportation cost purposes. However, since I didn't pay an arm and a leg for the bike, this didn't bother me a great deal. Now I am back in the market for another "entry-level" bike because that is what I can afford. And you know what, it will work out just perfectly for me.

    At this stage, for me, I look for three things in a bike: 1) Fit 2) Material 3) Features. Once I have found bikes that meet my personal criteria I really don't care what they look like, cost or where they come from (Walmart, Target, BikesDirect, etc). As long as you're willing to pay a LBS to fine tune it it should run just fine.

    So, in my opinion, don't be afraid to go for the cheaper stuff. Especially if you're new to it all.

  15. #15
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    Ant17r, watch the post dates. If the OP hasn't decided after three years, he's never buying a bike

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