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  1. #1
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    Bikeless for over 10 years

    I received my last mountain bike (Diamondback) at the age of 12, and my grandparents paid about $200. My parents were so shocked at how much the bike cost, and said it I would never have to buy another bike again. Well, that bike died over 13 years ago due to constant abuse.

    Now I'm 30 and have been putting off a bicycle purchase because I don't know anything about them and would never live down making a bad purchasing decision. I only want to buy 1 bike, but my guess is this community will try to talk me into at least 2.

    I want to start riding a bike to work 7 miles each way because the ride is beautiful, it's cheaper than driving, the parking is right at building entrance, and it's good exercise. I also would like to have a trail capable bike for very rare spins through the wilderness. I was thinking I could purchase a mountain bike and fit road tires on it for my daily commute, and knobbys for the dirt.

    First, I am 6'2" and 185lbs. What size frame is appropriate for me?
    Second, why is my idea to purchase just one bike so terrible? I don't care if it's harder to push a mountain bike on the road because I'm not competing and it's good exercise.
    Third, how can I tell how much a used bike is worth? I'd like to buy used because I don't want to spend very much and don't know enough to appreciate the latest in bike tech.
    Last, I live in the Pacific Northwest, so half of the days are rainy and cold.

    Where do I start?

  2. #2
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    First of all, you should NOT buy a used bike online at any time. Buying used from Craigslist requires some type of minimal expertise. This is especially so with mountain bikes. I tend to try to discourage purchasing used aluminum and carbon framed bikes. It would be best to purchase them new do to the fact that you don't know their histories. Chromoly steel bikes that are used, tend to be more forgiving, even after minimal abuse.

    I say, go visit many local bicycle shops. Mount and test-ride every bike that you possibly can. Not just mountain bikes!

    Volunteer at the nearest bicycle co-op! Make friends there while you volunteer and try to learn basic things like repairing flats, adjusting and installing brakes along with derailleurs.

    Ask someone there who's very experienced to tell you how to go about selecting a used bike from Craigslist. They'll most probably either have a frame there on the premises that you can build up yourself, or they'll be able to assist you with your Craigslist search, directly. However, you will have to volunteer at the co-op to get the type of assistance that you're going to need to buy used.

    OTOH, if you have a friend or relative who knows bikes, they can accompany you when you go to inspect and purchase a CL bike.

    No matter what! You should still join and volunteer at a local bicycle co-op.

    Personally, I think you might be happier with a hybrid. New mountain bikes with decent suspension forks, usually cost close to a thousand bucks. If you're riding primarily on paved roads, it wouldn't be too practical to look for a mountain bike. Even buying used will more than likely cost quite a bit.
    Last edited by SlimRider; 02-18-12 at 08:31 PM.

  3. #3
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    I would say go for a hybrid they have the flat bar like a mountain bike but usuall have bigger 700c wheels that are not as wide as a mountain bike but are wider than a road bike. I would say monitor craigslist and see what pops up. If you do decide to go for a new bike look into the Trek FX series or Specialized Sirrus, I have friends which have those and couldn't be happier with them. If you look suspension on the front the Trek DS series has been very highly rated by the forum members who have them as well as myself, really an excellent all around bike.
    1997 Trek ZX 6000, 2011 Trek Utopia, 2013 Raleigh Furley, 2013 Trek 7.1 FX,
    2013 Specialized Allez Race

  4. #4
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redpoint5 View Post
    I received my last mountain bike (Diamondback) at the age of 12, and my grandparents paid about $200. My parents were so shocked at how much the bike cost, and said it I would never have to buy another bike again. Well, that bike died over 13 years ago due to constant abuse.

    Now I'm 30 and have been putting off a bicycle purchase because I don't know anything about them and would never live down making a bad purchasing decision. I only want to buy 1 bike, but my guess is this community will try to talk me into at least 2.

    I want to start riding a bike to work 7 miles each way because the ride is beautiful, it's cheaper than driving, the parking is right at building entrance, and it's good exercise. I also would like to have a trail capable bike for very rare spins through the wilderness. I was thinking I could purchase a mountain bike and fit road tires on it for my daily commute, and knobbys for the dirt.

    First, I am 6'2" and 185lbs. What size frame is appropriate for me?
    Second, why is my idea to purchase just one bike so terrible? I don't care if it's harder to push a mountain bike on the road because I'm not competing and it's good exercise.
    Third, how can I tell how much a used bike is worth? I'd like to buy used because I don't want to spend very much and don't know enough to appreciate the latest in bike tech.
    Last, I live in the Pacific Northwest, so half of the days are rainy and cold.

    Where do I start?
    Yes, you "might" need two in time but not just now. First the internet if your friend to educate you on bicycles as they are today. Between the net , the forums , and a good local bike shop. (NOTE! stay the heck outta of all the big box stores for your first bike!!!!!!!!) you will find a mid priced bike that will do you well. Avoid road bikes at first since you seem to need a multi-purpose bike so let the folk's at the bike shop guide you.

    Now to the second bike , if you want one, go used once you learn what you need since used is a great way to save money on a bike.
    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?

  5. #5
    Senior Member a1penguin's Avatar
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    Hey redpoint5,

    The regulars on this forum are..... bike-a-holics. They don't represent the people out there who have one bike, paid less than $500 for it and ride it everywhere daily. The commuter bikes I see at work (and there are lots of them) are mostly cheap bikes. Someone rides a bike to work that has a seat cover torn so bad, I don't understand how it hasn't fallen apart since the first I noticed it.

    I agree that you should not purchase a bike from a bike box store. Many of those bikes are overpriced for what they are (even though they are really cheap) and are assembled by someone who knows how to use a wrench, but not anything about bikes. I find there seem to be two classes of bike shops: ones that carry high end bikes and cater to serious bikers and family bike shops that often don't have a bike in the shop over $1000. You will probably have a better experience shopping at the latter type of shop. Craigslist often has good deals, but I recommend that you need a bike nerd friend who can help you figure out which bikes are priced fairly and can come with you to look at the bike in person. I'm sure if you google around, you can find some advice on how to buy a used bike and what to look for.

    Remember that once you have a bike and start commuting, you'll need additional basic equipment. Helmet and gloves are mandatory safety gear. All helmets sold in the US must meet safety certification, so a $20 Bell helmet from an Xmart will be fine. Purchasing a helmet is like buying clothing: heads and helmets come in different shapes and sizes and you should try one on before purchasing it. I recommend gloves as safety gear because they are inexpensive and in a fall protect your hands from scrapes. You'll probably want to tote stuff. A backpack is fine, but the well prepared commuter will also have seat pack with basic equipment for dealing with flats. That's probably a $50-60 investment for seat pack ($15-20 depending on size), spare tube ($5), tire levers ($3), patch kit ($3) and a frame pump ($20-30). You can get these at a local bike shop if you purchase a bike at LBS or Amazon has lots of choice and good reviews and purchasing the best seller/highest rated won't be a mistake. For your short commute, regular clothing is probably going to be OK to start out. When you find yourself riding to work five days a week, you'll figure out what you don't like about your clothing. Bike clothing is expensive, but you can often substitute running, skiing clothing. And shopping at Goodwill and Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Ross, etc can net really nice base layers.

    I would start out buying the minimum you need to start commuting and purchase as needed. Many people have good intentions to start biking and then the bike sits in storage. Now, back to the bike.

    Thanks for providing your personal stats. But no one can provide help without knowing the budget for your bike. I would ask your question in the commuting forum. Lots of people from the Pacific NW there who can help recommend bikes you might want to try out once you have provided your budget.

    Biking and commuting is awesome if you get past the initial start up pain and have a routine you settle into. You're still young and won't be battling 15 years of riding the couch.
    Last edited by a1penguin; 02-18-12 at 08:21 PM. Reason: Added used bike buying
    2012 Cannondale Synapse 3, 2012 Trek 7.5 FX Disc, 2003 Trek 2200 WSD, 1997 Specialized Rockhopper Al Comp

  6. #6
    Carpe Velo Yo Spiff's Avatar
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    A lot of good advice above. Lots of good deals in the Craigslist market, but you have to know what you are looking at. If have to go used to save money, stick to known bike store only brands such as Trek, Specialized, Giant, Fuji, Univega, Raleigh. (Note that some Schwinn's these days are mart bikes and are not the same as the bike store Schwinn's.) If you can't find someone local that can help you, then post any for sale ads here to get feedback on if they are a good buy or not.

    A 15-25 year old mountain bike would probably do you nicely and with roadish tires are fairly similar to more recent hybrids. Here's my own utility bike that sounds similar to what you are looking for. It is a 1988 Trek 900. Was given the frame (with most of the components) for free and put about $100 into fixing it up.
    2000 Bianchi Veloce, '88 Schwinn Prologue, '88 Trek 900, '92 Trek T100, 2000 Rans Tailwind

  7. #7
    Senior Member coldfeet's Avatar
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    If you're getting new, look for a mountain bike that you can lock the suspension out for road use, maybe think about a second set of wheels for the road slicks. That's the limit of my advice, more info on your specifics will get more advice.

  8. #8
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    I think something like a Marin Muirwoods 29er will suit you well. The call it an urban bike, but it's basically a mountain bike with a rigid fork and you can fit 50mm super cushy tires for city rides or knobbies for trails. The included 42mm tires do a good job of smoothing out torn up roads though.

    For your height, you probably want either the 20.5 or 22 inch frame.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Mobile 155's Avatar
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    There are plenty of Mountain Bikes, MTBs at your local bike shops, LBS. Thye can be had for $300.00 to $500.00 as an entry level. In mountain bikes aluminum is the most common Cypress for my Wife that was under $400.00 and it will last longer than we will. One bike if fine for commuting and you can mount slick tires on a MTB to commute.

    In my experience I have found people that commute need a MTB to ride in the dirt far less than they imagine they will when they first start thinking about riding a bike to work. Some do but not nearly as many as indicate when looking for a first commuter. You will find the effort in moving a Flat bar road bike or Hybrid with 700c tires even with 32s are far easier to ride on the street but you will have to learn that yourself.

    I think for sizing you "have" to go to a LBS and sit on a few. Large frame or as suggested 20+ frame should work. Ride a few, price a few and come back and ask about them.

    Yo- spif"s bike would work very well for what you want, or more to the point one like it. I got my utility bike at a garage sale. Here is a picture of it right after I got it. This year I added front suspension that you won't need and new cranks but it gets me around town and to the DYI store when I need it. I also opted for a trailer to go to the grocery store.

    Last edited by Mobile 155; 02-19-12 at 10:24 AM.
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein.

  10. #10
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    Just remember: If you are going to buy an entry level mountain bike, make certain that it has a rigid fork like the Trek, above. Avoid all entry level mountain bikes with suspension forks. If you're seriously going to traverse mountain trails, or do anything at all, that's technical, you've got to have something better than an entry level suspension fork.

    - Slim

  11. #11
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    Just remember: If you are going to buy an entry level mountain bike, make certain that it has a rigid fork like the Trek, above. Avoid all entry level mountain bikes with suspension forks. If you're seriously going to traverse mountain trails, or do anything at all, that's technical, you've got to have something better than an entry level suspension fork.

    - Slim
    I agree 1,000%
    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?

  12. #12
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Where do I start?
    .. at your local bike shop , dude.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    I have an old Schwinn ATB from the 80's. It now has 700c rims in place of the stock 650bs. Put cyclocross tires on it. It'll handle some pretty bad trails. 40+ mile rides are no problem. It's heavy and handles like an ocean liner, but is a great grab-n-go type of bike. $25.00 off C-list. I got lucky and have the tools and experience to work on and modify bikes.

    If I was to limited to one bike instead of the five in the garage, a hybrid would be way up on the list. Fits the way I really ride.

  14. #14
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    Bike shop can help you figure out what you want as far as bike types, and what you need as far as size. If possible, go to at least two or three.

    I don't think anybody's addressed the flak you're likely to catch from your parents. A good bike can save you lots of money (vs. commuting by car). Commuting saves me about $100/month just in gas, and since I've been a regular bike commuter for 6-7 years, I can justify spending some serious coin on bikes and gear.

    To get that good bike, expect to spend $300-400, and another $100 for accessories (rack, gloves, light). Either don't tell anybody in the family what you're paying for all this (my first choice), or be sure to look up what the equivalent to a new family car cost back in 2002, and today. All of a sudden, $400 isn't going to be such a big deal.

  15. #15
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    Thank you all for your comments; much appreciated.

    Yo Spiff- I like your setup! It would probably work out very well for commuting, plus the Portland area has a huge bike culture and it's a lot of fun to ride to various spots for food and drink. Seems it would do all that nicely.

    Mobile- Thanks for taking the time to define some of the acronyms. Catching up on the lingo is one of the most daunting things when trying to learn about a subject.

    I don't really have a budget because I don't have a wife and kids and I save very well. Any bike is "affordable", but I don't want to spend more than I will actually get out of the bike. I'd really like to avoid depreciation, which is why I lean towards buying a used bike. If I find that I don't use the bike, or that it is inappropriate for my purposes, then I would like to get most of my money back out of it.

    In summary, I have a good amount of discretionary money not because I am paid well, but because I don't make bad investments. I will take Yo Spiff's advice and get feedback from this community on any bike I'm considering.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    Something to remember is that a car might have an economic life span of 10-12 years with luck, but a bike's lifespan can be measured in decades. The two best bikes in my stable are from 1985 and 1982- both with almost all the original components in place. Makes sense to invest in a decent ride.

  17. #17
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Merkel View Post
    Something to remember is that a car might have an economic life span of 10-12 years with luck, but a bike's lifespan can be measured in decades. The two best bikes in my stable are from 1985 and 1982- both with almost all the original components in place. Makes sense to invest in a decent ride.
    My oldest bike is from around 1954, two of my near daily riders are from 1972 or so. My most ridden bike is from 1971, it has well over 30,000 miles on it, and it still used to haul beer from the store.

    At the OP I would also consider a cyclocross bike, it is like a road bike, but it can also handle some off road work too.

    Aaron
    Webshots is bailing out, if you find any of my posts with corrupt picture files and want to see them corrected please let me know. :(

    ISO: A late 1980's Giant Iguana MTB frameset (or complete bike) 23" Red with yellow graphics.

    "Cycling should be a way of life, not a hobby.
    RIDE, YOU FOOL, RIDE!"
    _Nicodemus

    "Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred
    Which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?"
    _krazygluon

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