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  1. #1
    Member Brusilov's Avatar
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    What type of bike should I get?

    Hey everyone, I'm new here, and I figured that a big place like this would be the best place to ask this question.

    I'm getting a new bike soon, and I'm trying to decide what kind of bike would best fit my bill. I cover about 40-45 kilometers per week in commuting around city roads (and sometimes in the grass and over construction sites to save time), and in the Summer I have a road trip planned with my friends to bike around 500 km's upstate over a week's time.

    Basically, I've only ever owned mountain bikes in the past. They're comfy and I work well with them. I don't really enjoy road bikes so much, in my experience with riding them, given the uncomfortable posture (which I'm sure will kill my back come Summer time!). I read about hybrid bikes but haven't heard good things about them, so I'm interested in getting a mountain bike and possibly putting thin tires on them. It would enable me to still have a cool, rugged bike that can comfortably handle commute.

    However, the problem is my price range is pretty much 400$. Suspension isn't necessary, but a suspended front fork would be nice. Is there anything in my price range, and what do you guys recommend? Should I settle for the Mountain Bike or a Hybrid? Should I bother replacing the tires? Do I look for certain components?

    I must admit that I've only ever owned bargain-bin bicycles, and that I'm new to getting a nice bike for once that I will be able to rely on for a long time.

  2. #2
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    You might consider these two bikes direct models:

    Cafe Express 8

    $450 8 speed hub. If your commute is mainly flat and you want comfort and not speed this should be ok. It might give you trouble on the 500km ride with only 8 gears and the sitting position being so upright.

    Cafe Latte

    $400 24 speed. This would be better for the distance. There are a lot of spokes so minor offroad use shouldn't be an issue and would be better for your longer ride. Less comfortable but not quite as leaned over as a mild road bike.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brusilov View Post
    in the Summer I have a road trip planned with my friends to bike around 500 km's upstate over a week's time.
    If you're planning to do a 500 km ride with some friends, my advice is to get a bike that's similar to what your friends ride.

  4. #4
    Member Brusilov's Avatar
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    If you're planning to do a 500 km ride with some friends, my advice is to get a bike that's similar to what your friends ride.
    With exception of one friend who has a road bike, they're all going to be getting new bikes as well, since they've pretty much only have street cruisers and the like, being that we're city slickers.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brusilov View Post
    I don't really enjoy road bikes so much, in my experience with riding them, given the uncomfortable posture (which I'm sure will kill my back come Summer time!).
    Not all road bikes will put you in such an aggressive riding posture. Road bikes with a relaxed-geometry frame will give you a more upright riding posture, and there are also road bikes with flat bars too which are also more upright.

    Give those a look-see. Specialized in particular offers a lot of relaxed-geometry bikes like the Roubaix, Secteur and Sirrus, though it might be a bit out of your price range.

  6. #6
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    you in Berlin Germany? or a town named after that city , elsewhere?
    what brands you can find in shops where you live?

    You can put smooth tires like Schwalbe Big Apples on your mountain bike, and change the bars and stem to make it more upright and comfortable .

    Personally I like Internal gear hubs with a rolling urban terrain the new designs have a pretty wide range of ratios,
    but in a bike , unless used they may cost more than your budget.

    Have you considered used reconditioned bikes?

  7. #7
    Member Brusilov's Avatar
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    I know that a nearby shop sells Canondale, Carvelo, Specialized, and Haro bikes. There are also some shops with Jamis bikes, and a pro shop that doesn't seem to carry anything below 500$, with some Giant bikes. I'll be honest in saying that all of these names are alien to me.

  8. #8
    Senior Member joeprim's Avatar
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    If your friends have road bikes for that trip you might be struggling on a mtb. Look at cross or turing bikes. I have a Banchi Velopi with 32mm tires it can do dirt and gravel real well. With 28mm tires it does long charity rides just fine. These kind of bikes also have attachment points for panners and fenders if yoyu need them for that trip or just to carry stuff back and forth to from work.

    Good luck
    Joe

  9. #9
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brusilov View Post
    ...and in the Summer I have a road trip planned with my friends to bike around 500 km's upstate over a week's time.
    For a trip like that, personally, I wouldn't bother with flat-bar bikes. I'd rather have drop bars and get the variety of hand positions they offer. I changed one of my bikes from flats to drops for this reason.

    I don't really enjoy road bikes so much, in my experience with riding them, given the uncomfortable posture (which I'm sure will kill my back come Summer time!).
    My back has its issues, too, but I can last longer on a bike that fits -- regardless of riding position -- than on a bike that doesn't fit. Plus, when I got my first road bike, I was soon grabbing it for longer rides despite it being a race-ready frame.

    Since another poster brought up BikesDirect, I'll vote for something like this:
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/tourist.htm

    That style is what I'd like for longer rides. It's not far from what I did with my Bianchi Valle:
    Before:

    After:

  10. #10
    Pint-Sized Gnar Shredder Zephyr11's Avatar
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    Just because you said you'll be doing some riding on grass and the like, I'd stay away from a dedicated road bike anyway. And a mountain bike will be tough. I've done some 50mile road rides on a hardtail before getting a road bike, and they sucked and took forever (though I had regular mountain bike knobbies on, which I'm sure didn't help). A 20lb XC rocket mountain bike might work better, but will cost an arm and a leg. I'd say look into a cyclocross bike, which will do you better on long rides than a mountain bike or hybrid. If it fits, it won't hurt your back, particularly if it has a more relaxed geometry, as many cx bikes do (and even among cx bikes, some are more upright than others). There's a good chance the drop bar bikes you've used in the past didn't fit right, which is why your experiences were so bad. The problem would be finding a cx bike that's sub-$400. You could check Craigslist, but there's the potential problem of not buying a bike that fits you right, if you're not sure how to fit yourself to the bike.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brusilov View Post
    With exception of one friend who has a road bike, they're all going to be getting new bikes as well, since they've pretty much only have street cruisers and the like, being that we're city slickers.
    I'll stick with my original advice. I'd try to form a consensus and all buy similar bikes.

    If everybody else has a road bike and you show up with a mountain bike, they'll probably be faster on the pavement and they, being the majority, won't want to venture into areas that favor your mountain bike. The opposite can be true also. Even if they all get something like fixed gear bikes and decide not to ride very far, they'll all be having fun together doing fixed gear stuff and you'll feel left out.

  12. #12
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    I'll stick with my original advice. I'd try to form a consensus and all buy similar bikes.

    If everybody else has a road bike and you show up with a mountain bike, they'll probably be faster on the pavement and they, being the majority, won't want to venture into areas that favor your mountain bike. The opposite can be true also. Even if they all get something like fixed gear bikes and decide not to ride very far, they'll all be having fun together doing fixed gear stuff and you'll feel left out.
    Good point. I'd add that a cyclocross bike can get most of the benefits of a road bike while gaining some multi-terrain abilities.

  13. #13
    Member Brusilov's Avatar
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    I have five friends, and only one of them has a road bike, which frankly I'm not even sure what kind of shape it's in since he's never ridden it and picked it up in a thrift store.

    I think the safe consensus would be something mountain-bike related given that I like their versatility and don't usually commute huge distances, but I commute them very often. Our bike trip might take as long as two weeks; we aren't going to push ourselves too hard and will probably take frequent breaks as we move Northward. I think we could all hold relatively even if equipped with thinner road tires, and I'm not buying the bike just for this long trip.

    That's not to say that I'm not responsive to advice, though; I'm just pointing out that I don't want a road bike and that I enjoy cutting over rocks and all manner of sharp objects when it is prohibitive to stay on the sidewalks (the transportation infrastructure in this city is very bad, and I make frequent shortcuts). I expect that having some, even if limited, offroad ability can potentially prove useful for when we're scouting to set up a camp site or decide to take a 'road less travelled'.

    What is the disadvantage of having flat handlebars, and why is there such a preference for drop bars? Also, what do you guys think about suspension on a bike for my uses? What is the difference between a mountain bike and a cyclocross bike, and what exactly is a 'relaxed geometry frame'? How is one fundamentally different from any other frame?

    Also, to reiterate, my upper limit is 450$.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Drop bars are nice because they allow for several different hand positions so when your wrists tire of one you can switch to something else. If you have to ride into a stiff headwind, tucking down to reduce your frontal area is also nice to be able to do. A simple bar end on a flat handlebar lets you rotate your wrists 90 degrees and improves rideability on long trips.

    I'm going to take some hits on this one but a cyclocross bike is basically a road bike that has been optimized for riding on dirt. If the going gets really rocky it's not going to be as beneficial as a fat tired mountain bike but then again it'll be faster on pavement.

    The better mountain bike suspensions have two components, a spring to absorb the bumps and a damper to keep the tire on the trail. The cheap ones lack the damper so they don't handle as well and, if you stand up to pedal, they bob up and down like crazy. If you have budget restrictions it doesn't make sense to me to spend part of it on features, like suspension, that don't really work very well.

  15. #15
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    I just bought a Novara Buzz V on closeout for 300 bucks. I haven't rode it but for a short test run, but it seemed sweet. It's replacing an '02 Trek 7300, seems to be about same position seat wise but no suspension. Also it's black, just plain looks cool. The 700x40 tires are rated for 85psi, I'll be running them at 100.
    Anyway if your used to mountain bikes and only have 400, this could be up your alley. Oh its sold at REI, doesn't have the best components but other than the derailers, everything seems stout, even the no name hubs spin and have a 'feel' of something that might be on a much more expensive ride.
    It also has the coolest fenders I ever saw, just flat steel. No roundness to enclose the tire at all so I won't know their effectiveness until I start riding hopefully next month, but seriously cool. REI has a neat website(www.rei.com) and you can find it there in the cycling section.
    Last edited by bt93; 01-23-11 at 11:17 AM.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BarracksSi View Post
    Before:
    Tell me about that basket or tub or whatever it is that you have on the rear rack.

  17. #17
    Pint-Sized Gnar Shredder Zephyr11's Avatar
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    Suspension on a cheap bike is, well, cheap. The Suntour, RST, or Rock Shox Dart fork you see on an entry level bike is going to bounce around like a pogo stick and sap up your power when you get out of the saddle and hammer. It's not until you get closer to $800 that you start to see decent forks that actually work the way they're supposed to on mountain bikes. In the mountain bike forum, the cheapest fork they recommend is the Rock Shox Tora, which will run you around $150 for the fork alone.

    If you cut over a sharp enough object (broken glass?? What's a sharp object?) you'll put holes in your tires no matter what kind of bike it is. A cyclocross bike will be able to handle some rocks, as long as it's not technical trails or drops/jumps or anything like that, although I've seen cx bikes on some decent trails, albeit ridden by skilled riders.

    Drops give you different hand positions (hoods, drops, tops of bars) and will be faster since you can get lower. IMO they're more comfortable for riding on the road anyway.

    Relaxed geometry simply means you're in a more upright position. Compare the Specialized Tarmac with the more relaxed Specialized Roubaix. The easiest thing to see from the picture is the difference in saddle to bar drop, though there are other differences too.

  18. #18
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    I know that a nearby shop sells Canondale, Carvelo, Specialized, and Haro bikes. There are also some shops with Jamis bikes, and a pro shop that doesn't seem to carry anything below 500$, with some Giant bikes. I'll be honest in saying that all of these names are alien to me.
    All brands have price points, and will competitively,
    Probably have a model at that pricepoint.
    The various component companies have levels priced parts
    to build up into a bike at that pricepoint.
    Product Manager for that brand makes choices
    of what components are going on the bike
    to meet target selling price
    after distributors and retailers get their Margins.

    Go to the shops and see what they offer at your pricepoint.

    Wheel size of 700 35 is a good practical width
    for durability on rough ground, and less than smooth streets.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 01-23-11 at 10:56 AM.

  19. #19
    Bike ≠ Car ≠ Ped. BarracksSi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
    Tell me about that basket or tub or whatever it is that you have on the rear rack.
    It's an MTX basket from Topeak. It works with their slide-in track system, just like their trunk bags. I think the whole thing is really handy; I can change from a basket to trunk bag to panniers to no luggage in seconds without unscrewing anything or cutting zip-ties.

  20. #20
    Member Brusilov's Avatar
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    So is the general consensus towards mountain bikes with thin tires, or Hybrid/Cyclocross with larger tires?

    In any case, I'll know not to bother looking for suspension. If I want it in the future I guess I'll just swap out my fork. But then, what about rear suspension? Is that integral to the frame? I've never really bothered to study how it works. Also, are there any other things I should look out for? I know that if I look at a spec sheet that I won't be well acquainted with anything on it, like those numbers or ratios for gears (##/##/##). Should I look for certain brands when it comes to components? It seems like the world of biking runs a lot deeper than I was prepared for.

    I want a nice bike, but, perhaps I should lower my expectations. I suppose that as long as I buy a nice frame and drivetrain I can always upgrade things in the future, right? I've never really understood what justifies a multi-thousand dollar bike.
    Last edited by Brusilov; 01-23-11 at 08:51 PM.

  21. #21
    Mixte Power! Arrowana's Avatar
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    Rear suspension is part of the frame.

    I would probably look at used mountain bikes. Most of them made in the 80's and early 90's have no suspension, and can be good candidates for converting into touring bikes. I've had a few that I've put a decent number of miles on, and I liked them all, although none were really the right size for me. I have a Trek 8500 frame that I think will be a good fit, and if I build it up how I want, it should be pretty fast and light while still being capable of going off road.

    Unless you find one with a good set of thumb shifters, or the bike isn't very old, there is a good chance you will need new shifters on it, as pretty much every set of old rapidfire shifters I've had were not working very well despite my attempts to fix them. MTB shifters don't have to be that expensive if you do replace them though. Add thinner tires, tubes, maybe other stuff and it might not be as cheap as you would think, but probably still less than a new bike, and will be more suited to what you are doing.

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