Only have about $300 or so to spend - should I go singlespeed/fixed or get gears?
Hey all! I got bitten by the bicycle bug about a month or so ago and I really need something to get me away from my horrible old Walmart mountain bike (brakes and gears are in bad shape). I can't really up my budget because I'm currently out a job and don't want to risk making a decision I might regret. After browsing Craigslist for a while (stalking, really) I have come to the conclusion that every Schwinn bike from the 70s and 80s is worth at least $250...so I think I've decided to get something off Bikes Direct. I am pretty confident I could get something to fit me, as every measurement I've done on myself has said a 54cm would be perfect and my friend's 57cm road bike is too big. I just don't know if I should get something with gears or not. I'm also wanting to get something with drop bars as they seem much more comfortable. I know the difference between how they would probably feel and the advantages/disadvantages of each, it's just that in my current price range would it be worth it to try getting something with all that extra stuff? If it helps, here are a couple bikes I've been looking at below:
If you know a little about bikes, you might take a month or so to check thrift shops. I've scored a couple of good bikes for friends at places like the Salvation Army or Goodwill, usually for $50-$100. But you need to be able to evaluate them and usually do some work on them, and it's a bad time of year for used bikes--school will be starting soon, and people are buying bikes to take to college.
Just personal preference, but I don't like fixies, at least for inexperienced riders. To me, they're more trouble and risk than they're worth. I enjoy my singlespeed, but I built it from a good bike to begin with. Cheap ones are apt to be heavy, poorly built and indifferently assembled.
This is more a list of things NOT to do than a guide to finding a bike, but for the money you have (no reason to be embarrassed--most of us have been there), I really think you should shop around and try to find something used.
cobba: No sir, not really any hills around here. Maybe about 30-40 feet changes in altitude if I go out for a 5 mile ride or so.
Velo Dog: Yeah, I should check that out, never hurts! A friend of mine got a Takara Kabuto off of Amazon and after riding it down a hill yesterday I was scared for my life, I didn't feel too stable. I'm weighing in at 200 lbs right now and definitely want something I feel safe on. Do you think if I was to buy new though that I'd get more for my money with a flip flop hub 1 speed rather than a geared bike?
I wouldn't recommend a fixie unless it has a reverse-able wheel so you can make it into a traditional single speed. Point about a gear bike, you can always ride a geared bike as a single speed by not changing the gears. However, a single speed is unique in it's simple design and minimal maintenance, no gears to adjust.
It sounds like you are pretty flat where you are at so I would get a good used single speed or a three speed. Around here like new single speeds on Craigslist run around $100 to $200, three speeds are $200 to $300 in price. If you are not planing on hauling alot or pulling a trailer I like single speed coaster brake bikes the best.
How difficult would it be to get a single speed and then turn it into a 3 speed? Not using shifters or anything but actually just having 3 cogs on the back so if I did decide to carry a large load or something, I could manually change the chain to a larger or smaller size on the back wheel? That would definitely give me more options I think. I'm just worried that if I get a new bike with all the gears that they'll be in pretty bad shape and I'd have to keep up with constant maintenance while they break down after a year or two.