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Old 02-20-13, 07:48 PM   #1
mgarikiparithi
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Sub $300 bike

Hi,
I need a bike under $300.
I do not know much about bikes.
I want something with shocks up front, and a durable frame. 21 speed would be awesome.
If components are sub standard, I plan to invest more into the bike as I get more pocket money.

I originally thought a hardtail would be good (based on pictures), but seem to be leaning more toward hybrids (also based on pics). I know nothing about bike parts, and really want to get into the sport. My previous bikes were all super-store bikes. I used to use them for the school commute only.
Please advise.
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Old 02-20-13, 08:08 PM   #2
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You do not want a sub-$300 bike with a suspension fork. Just my opinion.
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Old 02-20-13, 08:28 PM   #3
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$300 won't buy a bike with a good suspension fork. 5lb's of excess weight, not to mention it's more like riding on a pogo stick.
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Old 02-20-13, 08:45 PM   #4
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I don't know why you want a suspension fork but I would strongly recommend that you reconsider. I made that mistake when I purchased a bike for my wife. I thought it would make for a nice ride but all it did was make it heavy and slow.

When you say you "want to get into the sport" ...which sport? what kind of riding are you interested in doing?
This info will help forum members give you ideas based on our experience.
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Old 02-20-13, 09:08 PM   #5
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Go on craigslist and buy a used 1980-90s steel frame Specialized RockHopper or HardRock. (with rigid -no suspension- fork).
This meets the requirements of under 300$, 21speeds, and a very durable frame worth upgrading the components on over time.
Swap out the tires for slick narrow 26x1.25 urban tires, if you plan on going fast as opposed to in dirt.
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Old 02-20-13, 10:05 PM   #6
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Forget suspension and get a good used brand-name bike. One of the worst investments you can make is to buy a cheaply made bike with the intention of upgrading it. You are better off to start with a used high quality bike and then replace parts with better versions as they wear out.
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Old 02-20-13, 11:41 PM   #7
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$300 isnt alot to work with but... Bikes direct does have quite a few options in that price range.

their are a few disadvantages to this option:

*the bike is shipped to you partially disassembled. You only need to attach the stem/handlebars, wheels, and seat, no major install or special bike building knowledge needed, however you may need to bring it t shop for fine adjustments ($25)

*may need to pay shipping

*limited sizes. Did you know bikes come in different sizes? search yahoo (or BF) for determining your size based on height or go to a bike shop and let the tech tell you what size.

* being new, many people recommend buying from a local brick and mortar shop so you have "support". By buying online you forfeit this luxury.

listed here are the hybrids in your price range. make sure you check out the mountain and road options as well (categories listed across the top)

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/.../avenue_fb.htm
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...se1_hybrid.htm
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/rover1.htm
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...lite_sport.htm
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/gt/gt_nomad_2.htm
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...kkingbikes.htm
http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/rover2.htm
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Old 02-21-13, 06:50 AM   #8
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Forget suspension and get a good used brand-name bike. One of the worst investments you can make is to buy a cheaply made bike with the intention of upgrading it. You are better off to start with a used high quality bike and then replace parts with better versions as they wear out.
Ok, makes sense. Used is out of the question though. Too many bad experiences. But if I were to consider a no-suspension bike, where would I go to meet my budget?
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Old 02-21-13, 07:17 AM   #9
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Ok, So I found some great Jamis Bikes within my range. Anyone have any experience with the Jamis X1 or X2? Remember, I am a new biker. I do not plan to do ANY off roading, but will definitely trail around the local river shed. Also, I use my bike maily for getting to and from within a 3mile radius, and the trailing I do is roughly 5miles up, and 5 miles down.
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Old 02-21-13, 07:55 AM   #10
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I see the Trail X1 on closeout for $350 and the X2 for $450. To belabor the obvious, those prices are not sub-$300. So we're now looking at a higher price range. That's good.

I don't think Jamis would sell you a bad bike. Still, I'd forget the suspension fork. Ever look at a bike mechanic's textbook or course syllabus? Suspension takes up an amazing amount of time and space. It is a complex and very very optional feature, and that's a terrible thing on a budget bike.

What kind of terrain are you riding in? If it's mountainous, you do probably need the triple chainring. If it's just hilly, a single chainring with 8 speed cassette will do, and you can get more bang for your buck and lower maintenance by putting your money someplace besides the gears.

In other words, if you don't really need 21 or 24 or 27 speeds, it's better to get higher grade components on an 8 speed drivetrain for the same money.

That's my take on it.
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Old 02-21-13, 08:43 AM   #11
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You do not want a sub-$300 bike with a suspension fork. Just my opinion.
I concur with that. When you have budget restrictions it doesn't make sense to me to spend part of your budget on a feature that really doesn't do much.
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Old 02-21-13, 09:03 AM   #12
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Now that we know a little more. You do not need or want front suspension. I can not stress this enough (as everyone else has also) but if you are looking for a little cush to your ride you will want to find something with bigger tires. 35mm tires or bigger will do more to smooth out your ride then a cheap suspension fork and wont rob you of all your pedaling power. While you didn't mention any long rides or charity events, I will warn that this is an addictive hobby and the more you ride the more you will want to so I would get something less than upright. If your current fitness level is mediocre or at least not bad you should be able to get comfortable fairly quickly on a "fitness" style bike. I am big fan of steel bikes and wont ride any that aren't, (mostly just so I can say "steel is real") but it is a personal choice and I dont want the rant to begin.

I would also have recommended a used bike but I also understand your concern. If you have a friend who is into bikes maybe they could help (but then you probably wouldn't be here) so I am afraid the short answer is you may have to increase your budget a little, go down to your local bike shop (LBS), don't stop with just one try them all, and ask for some help. This is a pretty good time of year, you could get a last years model at a discount. The biggest advantage with a bike shop is going to be fit. Even a "new" bike that doesn't fit is no fun.
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Old 02-21-13, 11:29 AM   #13
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Ok, so suspension fork is a bad thing in a budget bike. Can you do much trailing without a suspension though? and if I do decide to go in for a suspension, I would still need to find some good models before I go to my LBS.

How do I decide if the components are "cheap" or not?

Thanks for all the responses guys.
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Old 02-21-13, 11:30 AM   #14
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Aluminum frames do have a lot more chatter in them than steel ones. Sadly, most cheaper bikes with gears are aluminum. I put up with it on my Zum, but yeah, steel is what I'd prefer.
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Old 02-21-13, 11:38 AM   #15
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Ok, so suspension fork is a bad thing in a budget bike. Can you do much trailing without a suspension though? and if I do decide to go in for a suspension, I would still need to find some good models before I go to my LBS.

How do I decide if the components are "cheap" or not?

Thanks for all the responses guys.
All mountain bikes used to be hardtail and rigid fork. That's fine for trail riding. Suspension came in to enable riders to do crazy stuff like bomb down rough hills and hop around on rocks.

Aluminum frames do give you a stiffer ride than steel, but a front suspension doesn't really address that. Really, you wind up using your legs for suspension.

As for components, do a Google search on the term bike component hierarchy. Very helpful stuff there.

The GT Zum City Bike in my signature costs $350 at Performance Bike right now. I take trails on it all the time. Solid bike, nothing fancy.
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Old 02-21-13, 11:58 AM   #16
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If your requirement list/budget were mine, I'd probably be lookin for something like a Supergo All Access, and you can skip the hard tail phase completely (the bikes are from the late 90's but very fun/cool).
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Old 02-21-13, 12:53 PM   #17
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Here's a lot of bike for $450. Like my Zum, it has 700x40c tires, which are good for road and trail, but if you ride a lot on sand, you need fatter tires.

http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...551_1128714_-1
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Old 02-21-13, 02:53 PM   #18
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Ok, so suspension fork is a bad thing in a budget bike. Can you do much trailing without a suspension though? and if I do decide to go in for a suspension, I would still need to find some good models before I go to my LBS.

How do I decide if the components are "cheap" or not?

Thanks for all the responses guys.
The word is "damping".

"Shock fork" is really a misnomer. "Suspension fork" would be more accurate. A car suspension, for example, has both springs and shock absorbers (dampers). Cheaper bicycle suspension forks make do without the shock absorbers so they have no damping. When you hit a bump the wheel compresses the spring and travels upward. If you hit the bump hard enough, momentum continues to carry the wheel upward until it loses contact with the trail.

A properly damped suspension fork doesn't do that. It holds the tire in contact with the trail so you have much better control. It doesn't feel faster because you eliminate the drama but a good suspension fork will make any rider MUCH faster on the rocky downhills.
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Old 02-21-13, 04:53 PM   #19
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Since we're looking at neighborhood of $450, I like the Trek 7.1 FX. Very common bike. Maybe the Toyota Corolla of bikes?
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Old 02-21-13, 05:05 PM   #20
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Ok everyone, thanks for the responses.
Now, the ultimate question.
I am planning on selling some stuff to up my budget to $480.
If I do this, what kind of NEW bike can I expect to find?

Last edited by mgarikiparithi; 02-21-13 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 02-21-13, 05:48 PM   #21
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Tonnes. Just call up local bike shops and ask - you should get new 2012 bikes at your price point. A few names:
Specialized Sirrus, Trek 7.1FX, Trek 8.1DS, Giant Escape, GT (forgot the model name) in Performance Bike and so on.
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Old 02-21-13, 06:13 PM   #22
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Tonnes. Just call up local bike shops and ask - you should get new 2012 bikes at your price point. A few names:
Specialized Sirrus, Trek 7.1FX, Trek 8.1DS, Giant Escape, GT (forgot the model name) in Performance Bike and so on.
All great suggestions.

The GT line most comparable to those is the Tachyon series. They are flat bar road bikes. Sometimes classed as fitness bikes, whatever that means. The low end model (4.0) is labeled a "comfort bike" on the website, which I think is very misleading. It's not laid-back like a Townie or Voyageur. I'd like to have a Tachyon, myself.
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Old 02-21-13, 08:55 PM   #23
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I am happy to hear that you are taking the advice given, a lot of people don't. That being said your bike of choice may depend more on your location than what we all like. For instance, I live in St. Cloud MN and there is not a GT dealer, however there are Salsa, Surly, Cannondale, Trek, Specialized and a couple other dealers but if you live in an area with only one LBS then you will want to choose something they have that you can test ride. I would recommend, go to the LBS, check it out, you don't have to talk to anyone, you don't have to test ride, just have a look around, get a feel for it. See if you like the store, the people. See what brands they carry. If you decide to talk to some one, ask if they carry any steel bikes Report back with what you found.
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Old 02-21-13, 09:34 PM   #24
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Okay, another quick question. What is the difference between buying from an LBS, a box store (Such as walmart) or a dealer (The jamis' I saw are all at the canadian dist. of Jamis, RB Inc.)
Also, would $500-600 get me a good bike?
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Old 02-22-13, 08:49 AM   #25
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$500-$600 is plenty to get you a nice bike. The difference from Walmart to LBS is going to be about service. First off, a good bike shop will make sure the bike fits you. Can not stress how important that is. They will be able to change out stems and seats to get a comfortable fit. Second, the bike will have been built by a qualified mechanic at the LBS vs a minimum wage employee at Walmart. Third when your bike goes out of adjustment (most do) the bike shop will tune it up vs Walmart will not. I am not sure what a dealer is. Do you have REI stores? I was looking around last night for you and I saw a Novara Buzz, looked like a nice bike. REIs are on the line between LBS and box store. There are three in MN, one is great the other is meh, I haven't been to the third.
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