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  1. #1
    Member Lsudreamer's Avatar
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    Looking for my first bike... in 20+ years

    I haven't purchased a bike or ridden one in many years and need to get back on a bike. My 4 yr old just got his first two wheel bike and mama needs to be able to keep up with him! The problem is there are SO MANY choices out there! My old bike (20+yrs old) was a 10 speed. It is out of date and needs a new chain, new tires, and new tubes. It was an early mountain bike style. After pricing around, it was gonna be rather expensive IMO to repair it. My questions:

    I am looking for a cheap bike to start out with so I can chase my little guy along trails (concrete, dirt, gravel). I need to be able to attach some sort of child seat to the bike for his little brother to go along for the ride. I have heard that it is better for him to ride between me and the handle bars... but also safer for him to be behind me as well. HELP! Any thoughts on this would be great as well!

    I am hoping to share the bike with my husband for now and then purchase a better bike down the road once both kids are riding. My husband is not a big bike rider so this is my plan to get him riding.

    I am just a shy of 6ft tall, and have a 33 inch inseam. (My husband is an inch taller on both height and inseam.) I have been to local bike shops and have been fitted with a 56cm frame men's bike but the $500 price tag almost gave my husband a heart attack. We would like to keep this purchase under $200 if possible for now.

    In the future I would like to purchase one that I could at least compete in a women's sprint triathlon (basically a 12-15 mile bike ride). Im not a fast runner so there is no chance I will place, but I would like something that will at least keep me in the race for my second bike. I know this is all over the place... my mommy brain is in full swing today. Sorry!

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    How much did they say it would cost to repair your old bike? New chain, tires and tubes shouldn't be that much. Why do you say it is out of date?

    Hard to think of a new bike that you could get for $200. You might want to consider buying a used bike. Old rigid mountain bike, or hybrid.

    As for riding with a toddler, a bike trailer is probably the safest choice. http://www.rei.com/product/798372/bu...9-001b2166c2c0Never heard of a child seat that goes just behind the handle bars.

  3. #3
    Senior Member spectastic's Avatar
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    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...se1_hybrid.htm
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/essex.htm
    http://www.roadbikeoutlet.com/fixed-...rack-bike.html (be careful, it's a fixed gear)
    http://www.roadbikeoutlet.com/vilano...road-bike.html (another fixed gear)
    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...99_-1___202383 (this is more like a cruiser; not my cup of tea, but might fit your needs)

    you can browse around those sites too. They should all be legit.
    5/20

  4. #4
    Member Lsudreamer's Avatar
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    It is a Huffy Glacier 10 speed probably from 1991/92?.. my guess is a 24 inch so I think the frame may be too small for me now. The tires are dry rotted from what I can tell (major cracks in them) and the tubes no longer hold air. I called several of the bike shops around Clear Lake (Bike Barn, Sun and Ski) and they said it would cost me about $30 per tire and $8 per tube... with a $15 per tire labor fee to replace them. They didn't give me a price on the chain replacement or to tune up the back since it has been sitting in my parents' garage for many years. Even the cushion on the handle grips is dry/crunchy. I'm assuming I could replace those items at home for cheaper myself but have not priced the items at any other stores.

    I have looked at bike trailers but they also seem price especially since I dont foresee us using it for that long. Here is the seat that someone recommended...http://www.target.com/p/weeride-kang...i_sku=14374932

    What I really want is a weehoo * http://www.amazon.com/Weehoo-iGo-Pro...o+trailer+bike * but I dont think my youngest is quite ready for that yet.

  5. #5
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    Get this bike right here:

    www.rei.com/product/854939/schwinn-city-ig3-bike-2012-closeout
    Schwinn City - IG3

    REI has an excellent 100% satisfaction guarantee policy. Become a member, and you don't even need a receipt, after returning your failed bicycle six or seven years down the road. You'll be entitled to either a total refund or a bicycle replacement of equal value.

    Besides, you get to test ride the bike, before purchase. Nothing can beat that privilege!

  6. #6
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Have you looked at craigslist? http://houston.craigslist.org/bia Usually lots of decent bikes and trailers/child seats.
    Good luck.
    My bikes: 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2015 Cannondale Supersix EVO carbon

    I thought of that while riding my bicycle -- Albert Einstein

  7. #7
    Senior Member mprelaw's Avatar
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    Changing tires is easy. Even replacing the chain is a pretty simple job---why not buy the tires/tubes/chain and do it yourself?

  8. #8
    Member Lsudreamer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    Have you looked at craigslist? http://houston.craigslist.org/bia Usually lots of decent bikes and trailers/child seats.
    Good luck.
    Any specific brands I should look for? Any brands to stay away from?

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    IMHO, if you plan to compete (or even just seriously ride) I think you're looking at a minimum of a $1,000 to $1,500 class bike. So it doesn't make much sense to drop $$$ on a "for now" bike when you're later going to want to spend $$$$. I personally would try to hold on to that $$$ to help offset the $$$$ you'll need to spend later.

    You're not going to need much to keep up with a 4yo. So I think you should spend $$ to make the 10 speed usable for now. You pointed out that this is a Huffy bike. That means it is a Walmart/Toy Store class of bike, not a LBS class of bike. So don't go shopping at a LBS for replacement parts. Go to WalMart, Toys R Us, and Academy Sports for replacement parts. You should be able to get the bike moving again for about $60 in parts (or less) and do it yourself. And do you really need to replace the chain, or does it just need a really good cleaning (keeping in mind, we just want to bike to move again for now).

    As for bringing little brother, I personally do not like the idea of having the child on the bike with me. Call me paranoid, but I've had a bike fallen over riding at slow speeds, or even just standing still from a misstep. So when we faced the same kind of decision for our kids, we bought a trailer rather than any type of seat that goes no the bike (but that's just me).

  10. #10
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lsudreamer View Post
    Any specific brands I should look for? Any brands to stay away from?
    Stay away from Huffy.

  11. #11
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    One other thing to consider in buying a used bike... if the bike needs a little work (and if you can't do it yourself) you can quickly find yourself spending $$$ even after you've purchased the bike.

    We just bought a used bike for our 10yo to learn to ride. We found it at a LBS. It's a 1994 Trek 800 that brand new costs about $300. The original owner brought the bike in to replace a cassette and chain and perform a tuneup. The bill for the repairs came to a total of $120+. Apparently the owner thought that was too much to spend in repairs on a bike that wasn't even worth that much. After not paying the bill for 6 months, the LBS sold the bike to recoup some of their lost.

    The lesson I'm trying to point out is that if I had bought that bike from the original owner for even as little as $25, it still would have needed a new cassette, chain, and tuneup. My net cost would have been $150 for a bike that was apparently only worth $85 (because that's what the LBS sold it to me for).

  12. #12
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    One other thing to consider in buying a used bike... if the bike needs a little work (and if you can't do it yourself) you can quickly find yourself spending $$$ even after you've purchased the bike.

    We just bought a used bike for our 10yo to learn to ride. We found it at a LBS. It's a 1994 Trek 800 that brand new costs about $300. The original owner brought the bike in to replace a cassette and chain and perform a tuneup. The bill for the repairs came to a total of $120+. Apparently the owner thought that was too much to spend in repairs on a bike that wasn't even worth that much. After not paying the bill for 6 months, the LBS sold the bike to recoup some of their lost.

    The lesson I'm trying to point out is that if I had bought that bike from the original owner for even as little as $25, it still would have needed a new cassette, chain, and tuneup. My net cost would have been $150 for a bike that was apparently only worth $85 (because that's what the LBS sold it to me for).
    I bought my son a used late 90s Trek 800 from a LBS. I know I paid more then $85, maybe more like $150 and it was almost all parts and labor as it needed tuneup plus a new chain, upgraded rear derailleur, tubes, and tires. Still, it was money well spent, as we got 3 years of use (and counting) and when my son eventually outgrows it, I can probably get $100 for it on Craigslist as it is still in good shape.

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    First off, check to see if you can still comfortably be seated upon the Huffy bike frame. If not, clean the bike up, cheaply replace the tires, clean and lub the chain, then sell the bike for like around $100 or less. Then just get a new bike. Refer to post #5...

    Otherwise, refurbish the bike for yourself by first, changing the tires (get decent tires) and tubes. That's quite easy! You can even watch how that's done on Youtube. Replacing the chain is easy too, but I would suggest that you practice on your old chain about five or six times, before you touch the new one. Next, take your bike to the LBS and have it evaluated. You're most probably going to be quite a bit under your $200 budget.

    So, let's first try to fix the old bike of value with the best frame, before we venture out and risk greater expense on bike of lesser quality.

    * Don't forget, we have bicycle mechanics right here at BF. You can at least get advice and guidance, as they assist you through the process. Practically everything is on Youtube, Bicycle Tutor, or Park Tool, anyway.
    Last edited by Cfiber; 05-09-13 at 09:35 AM.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
    I bought my son a used late 90s Trek 800 from a LBS. I know I paid more then $85, maybe more like $150 and it was almost all parts and labor as it needed tuneup plus a new chain, upgraded rear derailleur, tubes, and tires. Still, it was money well spent, as we got 3 years of use (and counting) and when my son eventually outgrows it, I can probably get $100 for it on Craigslist as it is still in good shape.
    We all have our priorities... For me, since I hate the hassle of trying to resell something, I like to either buy it new and take good care of it, or get it so cheap that you can consider it a throw-away item. So $85 on a working Trek was a no-brainer. But when you start talking about paying 50% of the 'New' price for equipment that is 10 years old... I'd rather spend the extra money and get the new. That way, it's sort of like an insurance policy that you're getting something that works.

    After all, when you're talking about bikes (new & used) that are south of $400, and the potential for a repair at the LBS to cost north of $100, it doesn't take many repairs before you start talking about the potential for a used bike to cost more than a new bike. Obviously that is not going to typically be the case... but you do have to be mindful of the potential. In other words, trying to go cheap can cost ya.

    I guess that's why my line of thinking is that if you're going to go cheap, go really cheap... so cheap that if it is a complete failure, you're not that far in a hole.

    That is why even if I didn't know how to repair a bike, I would be willing to spend small amounts of money to get some cheap parts and try to make the repairs myself. As an example (directed to the OP) you KNOW the old bike needs new tires. So go buy one cheap tire and one cheap tube and try to fix just one of the tires on your own. The parts will only cost you about $20 for toy-store/walmart quality parts. If it works, spend the $20 again to fix the other tire. If it doesn't, you're only out the $20 for trying.

  15. #15
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    We all have our priorities... For me, since I hate the hassle of trying to resell something, I like to either buy it new and take good care of it, or get it so cheap that you can consider it a throw-away item. So $85 on a working Trek was a no-brainer. But when you start talking about paying 50% of the 'New' price for equipment that is 10 years old... I'd rather spend the extra money and get the new. That way, it's sort of like an insurance policy that you're getting something that works.

    After all, when you're talking about bikes (new & used) that are south of $400, and the potential for a repair at the LBS to cost north of $100, it doesn't take many repairs before you start talking about the potential for a used bike to cost more than a new bike. Obviously that is not going to typically be the case... but you do have to be mindful of the potential. In other words, trying to go cheap can cost ya.

    I guess that's why my line of thinking is that if you're going to go cheap, go really cheap... so cheap that if it is a complete failure, you're not that far in a hole.

    That is why even if I didn't know how to repair a bike, I would be willing to spend small amounts of money to get some cheap parts and try to make the repairs myself. As an example (directed to the OP) you KNOW the old bike needs new tires. So go buy one cheap tire and one cheap tube and try to fix just one of the tires on your own. The parts will only cost you about $20 for toy-store/walmart quality parts. If it works, spend the $20 again to fix the other tire. If it doesn't, you're only out the $20 for trying.
    The LBS warranteed the Trek 800 for "the season". While the exact length of the warranty was unclear, the owner said that if I had any problems with the bike through the end of the summer, he would take care of them. Since I bought the bike in April, that was about a 120 day warranty. As things turned out, unlike other bikes I have bought new, I have had no issues at all with the Trek. It just works. I would not hesitate to recommend a used Trek rigid mountain bike to anyone looking to get into biking. Since the LBS had to replace the rear derailleur anyway, I did pay a bike extra for them to upgrade slightly from Tourney up to Acera.

    I agree that if OP wants to ride along with her 4 year old, repairing the old Huffy might be the way to go for now. As for buying new, I don't disagree. There is something nice about buying a bike built for your needs, and sized to your body. That being said, $200 retail doesn't get you much these days that is worth mentioning. So if your budget is $200 or less, it is hard to get anything other than a throwaway bike unless you buy used, online, or get something at a deep discount from a LBS (which usually doesn't happen this time of the year).
    Last edited by MRT2; 05-09-13 at 08:55 AM.

  16. #16
    Member Lsudreamer's Avatar
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    I talked to a friend today who competed in the triathlon I want to register for... she said they do have two divisions (road bikes and fat tire bikes). She mentioned that she competed in the "fat tire" division her first year... yes its a slower group but lots of "casual cyclists" in the group so I wouldn't be alone. She used her new road bike last year...much faster group.

    I am now also cruising Craigslist for trailers as well now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lsudreamer View Post
    I talked to a friend today who competed in the triathlon I want to register for... she said they do have two divisions (road bikes and fat tire bikes). She mentioned that she competed in the "fat tire" division her first year... yes its a slower group but lots of "casual cyclists" in the group so I wouldn't be alone. She used her new road bike last year...much faster group.

    I am now also cruising Craigslist for trailers as well now.
    Checkout the Mongoose Beast!
    Last edited by Cfiber; 05-10-13 at 12:24 PM.

  18. #18
    Member Lsudreamer's Avatar
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    Well my husband went "bike shopping" at Walmart. He found a Schwinn 700c Varsity Road bike that he wants to get for me *so he can have it when I save up and buy a "good" bike. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Schwinn-70...-Bike/19582523 Thoughts?

    I found a local bike shop that has a basic road bike (hybrid) for $329... its a little more than what we wanted to spend but may be worth the difference. I can't remember the name/brand etc of it though... so I guess that would be useless info. I am hoping to go back by tomorrow and let my husband try THAT one out.

  19. #19
    Kamek ralph12's Avatar
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    There are some bike shops that deal mostly or totally in reconditioned used bikes of good quality. Check to see if there are any in Houston or another city nearby.

    You should have a big selection of nice, GOOD used bicycles in the 200-ish range if you find a store like that.

    There is a WORLD of difference between department store bikes like Huffys/"Schwinns" made by Pacific Cycle/NEXT bikes, etc. and nicer bikes at a bike shop (non-rebranded Schwinn, Raleigh, Fuji, etc). They're barely even the same thing. The difference is gigantic.

    Don't be averse to trying an oooolllld road bike that's been professionally tuned and repaired from a shop with a good reputation; you'll be buying something built to last and something you'll probably really enjoy.

  20. #20
    Kamek ralph12's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lsudreamer View Post
    Well my husband went "bike shopping" at Walmart. He found a Schwinn 700c Varsity Road bike that he wants to get for me *so he can have it when I save up and buy a "good" bike. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Schwinn-70...-Bike/19582523 Thoughts?
    In my opinion that bike isn't a very good deal. It's very heavy for a road bike, and I've checked them out in person and they don't seem very comfortable. I've never owned one, but I probably wouldn't want to. Most department store bikes are really pretty terrible.

    In some areas it's possible to buy a nicer road bike second-hand for $150-200 or so. It'll probably be 20-40 years old, but that's not really a big deal if there's nothing wrong with it. It'll probably be pretty heavy, but it will have been built with quality in mind, not cheapness.

    I'd much sooner do that than buy a department store road bike.

    Edit: Also, of course you don't have to get a road bike; you could get a mountain bike, comfort bike, whatever. But whatever you get, go for quality, even if it means buying second-hand (assuming that's an option in your area--in some places it's HARD to find good, cheap used bikes)
    Last edited by ralph12; 05-10-13 at 09:55 PM.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lsudreamer View Post
    Well my husband went "bike shopping" at Walmart. He found a Schwinn 700c Varsity Road bike that he wants to get for me *so he can have it when I save up and buy a "good" bike. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Schwinn-70...-Bike/19582523 Thoughts?

    I found a local bike shop that has a basic road bike (hybrid) for $329... its a little more than what we wanted to spend but may be worth the difference. I can't remember the name/brand etc of it though... so I guess that would be useless info. I am hoping to go back by tomorrow and let my husband try THAT one out.
    Watch CL for at least two more weeks. You might see either a rugged old steel mountain bike, or a nice old steel road bike for $200 or less. Also, if you can locate a bicycle co-op, become a member and locate a frame, from which you can start the build of your next new bike. Often times co-ops have donated parts or components that will fit your frame. After you locate a good frame, find a couple of really strong wheels, and attach your drivetrain, you'll then be just a few steps away from complete bicycle ownership.

    Frame and Fork Sources:
    www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product_10053_10052_511239_-1__202337
    Nashbar Touring Frame

    www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product2_10053_10052_511246_-1
    Nashbar Touring Fork
    Last edited by Cfiber; 05-11-13 at 04:25 PM.

  22. #22
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lsudreamer View Post
    Well my husband went "bike shopping" at Walmart. He found a Schwinn 700c Varsity Road bike that he wants to get for me *so he can have it when I save up and buy a "good" bike. http://www.walmart.com/ip/Schwinn-70...-Bike/19582523 Thoughts?

    I found a local bike shop that has a basic road bike (hybrid) for $329... its a little more than what we wanted to spend but may be worth the difference. I can't remember the name/brand etc of it though... so I guess that would be useless info. I am hoping to go back by tomorrow and let my husband try THAT one out.
    Don't buy a bike from Wal Mart. It is department store junk. Not really a bargain either, IMO. A modern day version of your Huffy.

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    Try not to buy a bike from Walmart if you can. However, if you feel that you must, try even harder to get a single speed. Single speeds are less proned to trouble and are practically maintenance free. Just check daily for tire pressure and keep your chain lubricated.

    Another alternative for a type of single speed would be a Cruiser:
    www.bikesdirect.com/products/gravity/ezcruz_cruisers.htm
    Last edited by Cfiber; 05-11-13 at 08:18 PM.

  24. #24
    Member Lsudreamer's Avatar
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    Finally bought a bike... It isn't super fast but it will work for now. The plan at this point is to ride on this for a while... then go back and spend the $$$ for a better actual road bike if I stick with cycling longer than 2 months. We found a new 2013 Del Sol LXi 7.1 within our budget. I took it out for a quick trial ride and liked it. I also test rode a Raleigh Cadent that I really loved, but there was NO WAY I could get my husband to even try it out since he isn't interested in speed or the uncomfortable seat.

    Anyways, I am going to train with the Del Sol and compete in July for the sprint triathlon in the "fat tire" division... It will give me a good idea of what I am capable of as a beginner. I am not looking to compete, but to complete the race and then go from there. Now to get riding and to collect all the gear I will need for a triathlon beginner.

    My new search... a bike rack that will fit on my Rav4 (no hitch).

    I have my eyes set on a road bike for Christmas though!
    Last edited by Lsudreamer; 05-12-13 at 03:42 PM. Reason: forgot what else I was looking for

  25. #25
    Senior Member Wilfred Laurier's Avatar
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    that looks like a decent enough bike

    from the p;icture i found online i would say that is a comfort bike
    meaning a very upright riding position that may not be ideal for going fast or riding long distances
    but should be very easy to get used to

    one tip:
    keep the tires pumped up to at least 65 psi or so to make riding easier and more rewarding

    bike tires lose pressure pretty quickly because of the small volume
    letting the tires get too soft
    will be much more difficult to ride
    and much more likely to get flats

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