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Old 08-22-11, 12:05 PM   #1
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Help? I know nothing about bikes, but I'm looking to buy one

As the title says I know nothing about bikes. I'm looking to buy one to commute to school (which is about 2.5 miles away) but I don't want to buy a piece of junk. On the other hand since I'm a student I have a very limited budget. Any suggestions? I don't know what to look for, or what to avoid. Any advice will be helpful.
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Old 08-22-11, 12:39 PM   #2
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What kind of terrain is your commute?

You can carry a backpack for a 2.5-mile ride, but recalling my student days, I would not want to ride with 30-lbs of books on my back. I use a rack-mounted rear basket, and set my backpack in that. Other people use panniers. It's a matter of preference, but probably you want some kind of load-carrying capacity.

If you will ride all year you probably will want fenders too.

So, I would look for something that can take a rack and fenders.

It sounds like a mountain bike with 26" wheels would be good. I would look for one without suspension, as typical fat mountain bike tires will give a smooth ride all by themselves. [edit: Slick tires will go the fastest (you'd have to get them separately), but knobbies at max pressure aren't actually that bad.]

It is also good to have a bike that is more . . . theft resistant in the aesthetics department.

I'm thinking go to a decent bike shop staffed with knowledgeable people and get a used bike. You'll get a good, serviceable bike for cheap that way and can also get good advice.

Last edited by beezaur; 08-22-11 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 08-22-11, 12:51 PM   #3
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what's your budget?
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Old 08-22-11, 12:57 PM   #4
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A nice used Mountain bike would do great. Maybe a local bike shop could locate one for you. Would be good to get to know them anyway
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Old 08-22-11, 12:58 PM   #5
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Used mountain bike or hybrid is an option. Good advice above.
Bikes: Old steel race bikes, old Cannondale race bikes, less old Cannondale race bike, crappy old mtn bike
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Old 08-22-11, 01:28 PM   #6
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Buy a utility bicycle and you can attach your backpack to its trunk. Mountain bikes and other similar types don't usually have trunks.
Utility bikes are really great for practical transportation/commuting.

Last edited by Paranoid.Guy; 08-24-11 at 03:32 AM.
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Old 08-22-11, 01:57 PM   #7
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You can usually get some nice cheap options on Craigslist. If you post links to some of the Craigslist bikes you're considering, we can give you a general idea whether something looks like a good deal or like junk.
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Old 08-22-11, 02:14 PM   #8
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As a student, two major concerns are usually budget and security. A used bike solves both of these issues.
The most common used bikes for practical short journeys are either low-midrange front suspension MTB or hybrid bikes. Non suspension is probably better if you can find it.
Get the correct size.
An entry-level bike from a major brand is always a good buy.
make sure the bike isnt worn out.
If the tyres are cheap or worn, replace with a tough, puncture resistant type such as Schwalbe Marathon or better, Marathon Plus, so you are not late for lectures.

You need some luggage attachment, either a front basket or a rear pannier rack bolted to threaded eyelets.
Accessories are usually luggage rack, fenders, lights, lock, helmet.
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Old 08-24-11, 12:03 AM   #9
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Without appropriate information you might end up making a decision close to foolish (sorry to say).
However, at the end of the day the your decision counts.

Since you have the interest. I would advice you to go online and search for as much information as possible.
Know what you would want to do with your bike and find the most suitable one for that purpose.

The fact that you are in this forum is already enough evidence in this case. Now go to sites and other online shops like ebay and amazon.
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Old 08-25-11, 07:24 AM   #10
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Thanks for all the input! My budget is max probably 150-160? I've been looking at craigslist - but it hasn't really done much for me other than give me a general idea of what's out there. I like in the metro detriot area - so the commute is flat, sidewalks/bike paths are well paved.

How do I know what size to get? I'm about 5'9".

Last edited by chaco2113; 08-25-11 at 07:27 AM.
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Old 08-25-11, 05:51 PM   #11
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You might want to visit a couple of bike shops just to see the types of bikes available, and to ask them the approximate size you might need, although sizes vary from brand to brand. Then you'd have a better idea of what to look for in a used bike.
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Old 08-25-11, 06:23 PM   #12
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A folding bike won't have to be left out in the weather all Winter.

dorms never seem to include indoor bike storage.
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