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Old 07-20-12, 01:53 PM   #1
NickTett
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Confused - which bike should I buy?

Hello everyone,

My name is Nick and I'm completely new to cycling!

My goal is to ride a century in a couple of months; I've been working at the gym and have a workout schedule to allow me to be in shape and ready to go come Century time. However, I'm worried that if I wait too long to buy a bike that I won't be used to actual riding - I'll only be used to an air-conditioned gym. Beyond cycling a century, I also wish to tour come December (nothing too crazy, probably from Las Vegas to LA and back). I've heard (although I'm really not sure!) that road bikes do not make good tour bikes because they sacrifice durability for weight-loss.

I'm really at a stand-still. I want to buy a bike ASAP to get out there and do it. I'm a college student so finances are limited - I'm willing to spend around $200 on a bike (yes, yes... I know this is cheap). I've called the local bike stores and they all say that the most inexpensive bike is around $600 - a lot out of my price range. I've been looking on eBay and Craiglist, but since I don't know what to look for. I feel like I'm clueless and everyone else is speaking a different language. I've searched the forum and found some good resources - I just find it difficult to understand the lingo and the advice isn't always specific to my situation. I'm almost to the point where I just want to buy a GMC Denali (http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...enali-bicycle/) that has been reviewed as "doable" until I have enough cash to shell out on a nice bike in a half a year. Could I possibly buy a bike and upgrade the components over time? What do you guys think I should do? Sorry if I'm all over the place - I've just got a lot of thoughts going on and not a lot of background information on bikes (though I've looked around the forum a bit!), let me know if you need more information and thanks in advance for the help and for running such a great forum too! Everyone on here seems really nice and supportive - I'm excited to get started!
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Old 07-20-12, 03:43 PM   #2
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If you want a road bike for riding centuries, you probably need a road bike. If you want to tour, you need a touring bike. Educate yourself what makes for a decent road bike or touring bike. and scour your local CL, bike coops, and garage sales for something that fits you. Maybe you will get lucky and find a deal. Maybe something classic and/or vintage. One more thing. If you plan to do long rides, plan on bringing it into a bike shop for a tune up, unless you already know something about bikes yourself.
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Old 07-20-12, 03:48 PM   #3
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Welcome To Bike Forums, Nick!

You need to find a bicycle co-op and explain your situation to the leadership there. They will most likely assist you in locating a bicycle. You'll need to either volunteer or pay membership dues in order to become a member.

Focus upon obtaining a used chromoly steel road bike. Your $200 can be used towards the purchase of components that the co-op cannot supply.

Good Luck!
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Old 07-20-12, 03:57 PM   #4
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Thanks MRT2, Ill post more info later... I'll probably go with a road bike for now and discuss touring options later.

SlimRider, your advice is great... I didn't even realize there were local bike co-ops! I found a few for where I live; thanks a bunch!

Last edited by NickTett; 07-20-12 at 04:08 PM.
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Old 07-20-12, 04:25 PM   #5
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Good luck. $200 is a tight budget for a halfway decent road bike.
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Old 07-21-12, 06:54 AM   #6
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If $200 bikes were great why would anyone spend hundreds or thousands? Quality cost money. Maybe you should buy a cheap bike to see if you really like cycling. But a century in a couple of months and touring on a new $200 bike is like hiking the Appalachian mountains in $10 boots.
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Old 07-21-12, 07:25 AM   #7
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There are some decent bikes available in the $200 dollar price range, but you have to know what you are looking for and be willing to compromise. For an all around bike I would look for a "cross" bike (not a hybrid) or something with a "sport" geometry. Name brands to look for: Trek, Specialized, and Giant are three that you won't go wrong with.

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Old 07-21-12, 07:28 AM   #8
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Of course, you could get a nice new single speed for $200 if you're going to just cruise the flats.

The Nashbar Argyle Single Speed ~ $200
www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_537009_-1_202614

or you could just ---->

Google the Mongoose Sinsure for a real cheapie with no guarantees...
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Old 07-21-12, 08:53 AM   #9
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If there is a bike CoOp, and they have something like a bike for kids for christmas program
to put bikes in the houses of younger children of economically bereft single mothers,
then you might earn a bike for your self by Public service work , fixing up bikes for others.
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Old 07-21-12, 09:01 AM   #10
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I rode my first century on an old Schwinn Letour, which I traded something worth about $200 for. 27 x 1-1/4" tires, downtube shifters, 6 speed freewheel on the back, 53 x 39 crank, toe clips and straps. That was a typical "touring" bike in the 70s and 80s. Chromoly Columbus frame, weight about 28 lbs.

Check the used bike ads and exchanges.
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Old 07-21-12, 10:02 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mprelaw View Post
I rode my first century on an old Schwinn Letour, which I traded something worth about $200 for. 27 x 1-1/4" tires, downtube shifters, 6 speed freewheel on the back, 53 x 39 crank, toe clips and straps. That was a typical "touring" bike in the 70s and 80s. Chromoly Columbus frame, weight about 28 lbs.

Check the used bike ads and exchanges.
I had one of those. Mine was a LeTour Luxe. (Just traded it in as part of a deal for a newSalsa Casseroll). Columbus Tenax tubing, 6 speeds in back, downtube friction shifters. Decent bike. In good condition, tuned up and ready to go, a bike like that would go for at least $200, maybe a little more here. Fresh from the back of someone's garage in need of a little TLC, maybe you can get one for less, but you need to budget some for new tires, tubes, maybe chain, freewheel, who knows what else.
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Old 07-21-12, 10:10 AM   #12
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If I were you, find a bike asap. Your body may be in good shape but you will have to get your butt in shape also. If you are going to ride 100 miles your saddle and your butt better be the best of friends!
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Old 07-23-12, 09:25 AM   #13
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Reality Check...

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobn View Post
If I were you, find a bike asap. Your body may be in good shape but you will have to get your butt in shape also. If you are going to ride 100 miles your saddle and your butt better be the best of friends!
60 days to prepare + no bike + no riding experience = likely fail

Reality check, Nick. Spend the next 30 days locating a bike. You can find a rideable road bike on Craigslist for $200.

Do you homework:
- what size do I need? how can I recognize that size in a photo?
- what brands of bikes will work and what features should they have?
- what maintenance must I do to make the bike rideable?
- how do I break out my budget to be ready to ride, including ALL items related to bike riding that must come from my budget?


This is called planning...you need to do some. Seriously.

Once you have a bike (no simple task considering your lack of experience), you'll have to begin riding and discovering what your limits are. To be ready to ride 7-8 hours continuously will take more than you can imagine. You'll have to build up to a pretty consistent ability to ride 60 miles or so on a whim. That's when you're ready. It's going to take time. Add that into your plan.

Now you can set a time horizon for your century. I guarantee it's not within 60 days.

PG
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Old 07-23-12, 10:04 AM   #14
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Thanks for the replies everyone; I'm continuing my searching and a family member is going to give me there cheapie mountain bike (motiv) until I locate a road bike.

I'm putting touring on a way back-burner; I'll trust you Phil that it will be incredibly difficult. I have an 8-week training program to bike a century so I feel that it's definitely doable with some motivation. Sure, I might fail but I'm okay realizing that it's a possibility that I won't be able to. I'll know for sure how I feel I'm doing relative to the goals you set (riding 60 miles on a whim) within a few weeks to see if I should sign up (if not, I can just sign up for a less rigorous event that isn't 100 miles). I appreciate your words. It almost seems like you're making up problems to indicate I have no planning. When did I ever say I didn't know what size bike I needed? Why don't you think I'm looking up bike brands as I find Craigslist ads? Undoubtedly I'm uninformed and undoubtedly you're trying to help but you should at least not assume that I'm completely brainless

Wahoonc, thanks for the brand recommendations!
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Old 07-23-12, 11:27 AM   #15
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I probably came off harsher than I needed to be. A little background on your preparation would've helped. With a bike to begin now, you can prepare in 8 weeks - especially if you follow a prescribed plan. Sorry for the tone I took. PG
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