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Old 01-19-14, 08:31 PM   #1
sp legends x
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Help on finding/building a new road bike on a low budget

Hi I'm about 5'3 or 160 cm. My leg length is 76 cm. My frame size is 52cm. My crank size is 170mm. I am either buying a new bike for casual riding or to think about life sponsored by parents. My budget is $300 tops. Im 13 so I don't need top end stuff. I can add more to budget if I love riding bike which will provide to brakes, wheels etc. I can also build a road bike but please list all items so I can research on. I am looking for a road bike. I'm ok if it is used just not from craigslist or anything. I was looking at a gmc denali road bike for it fits my size. I know it has bad wheels and brakes so if you can list some ok gear for me it will make my day.
If you are going to hate please get off my thread because I'm really interested in people's real ideas. Please also tell me a road computer to track my mph and how far I'm going. Will really love a thumb shifter. If it is necessarily I can also ride a single speed bike like a fixie but I don't want people at my public school to judge me and how I bought the bike just to look cool. I love riding bikes and want to have fun while going at top speeds. Thank you for all your thoughts and ideas.
Edit: There ain't that much hills in my area.

Last edited by sp legends x; 01-20-14 at 01:09 AM.
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Old 01-20-14, 12:25 AM   #2
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Are there a lot of hills in your area? Road bikes with gears are generally more expensive than single-speed bikes, but you may need more than one speed if there a lot of hills where you live.

I bought a single-speed bike from here. The problem with buying bikes online is that you may buy the wrong size, or you may assemble it wrong. Assembly isn't really that difficult, but some people are intimidated by doing it themselves. You also might need to take your wheels in to a bike shop to have them trued, if you're buying the bike online.

There's nothing wrong with buying a used bike off of Craigslist! That would probably get you the most bang for your buck, providing there are a lot of postings in your area.

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Old 01-20-14, 01:10 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by TwoFourOne View Post
Are there a lot of hills in your area? Road bikes with gears are generally more expensive than single-speed bikes, but you may need more than one speed if there a lot of hills where you live.

I bought a single-speed bike from here. The problem with buying bikes online is that you may buy the wrong size, or you may assemble it wrong. Assembly isn't really that difficult, but some people are intimidated by doing it themselves. You also might need to take your wheels in to a bike shop to have them trued, if you're buying the bike online.

There's nothing wrong with buying a used bike off of Craigslist! That would probably get you the most bang for your buck, providing there are a lot of postings in your area.
I understand that and I am going to do it myself.
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Old 01-20-14, 11:06 AM   #4
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If you're not set on drop bars, this bike would be worth looking at.
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Old 01-20-14, 11:21 AM   #5
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13 years old ?, look for used stuff and fix it up and learn how in the process.. Got a Town Bike CoOp.?
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Old 01-20-14, 12:25 PM   #6
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If you don't know what components you want, your best bet is to buy a complete bike.
On the used end, if you're not interested in Craigslist, that leaves local bike shops, garage sales, etc. The garage sales may work great if you don't mind taking 6 months to find something.
I've used the bike computers from Bell, kind you find at Walmart, etc. They work okay if all you need are speed and distance, for like $13 or so.
If you're 13 and 5'-3, you may still be growing in which case you don't necessarily want to get too much tied up in a particular frame anyway.
On the "bad wheels", those bikes are made for people up to 250-275 lbs, and for that weight may be a "bad wheel". If you weigh a 100 lbs, they may work great for you, so you potentially have more flexibility than larger riders. Helps if you're not hopping off curbs and stuff like that.
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Old 01-21-14, 07:46 AM   #7
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At 13 you are looking for a bike that will fit you for maybe another couple of years, depending on the timing of your growth spurts. IMHO, used is the way to go. $300 will get you a pretty decent used road bike if you don't mind something a little older. I'd go the higher quality used route before considering a Denali. I rode a Trek 1400 (which in its day was considered a very nice bike) for a year. Bought it ready to ride for $125 and the guy who bought it from me is still riding it with no real money into it except for tires and brake pads.

Many local bike shops (not big box stores) take trade-ins and will service them making sure they are in good working order and resell them. This is a good way to go because an LBS wants you as a life-long customer so it is in their best interest to make sure you are happy with your purchase. Bicycle co-ops are another good option for used bikes and are a good place to learn how to work on your own bike. Pawn shops, Craig's List, and private sellers can be sources of good bikes, but you have to have some knowledge about bike mechanics and values going in. A bike can look great, but if the drive train is badly worn or the wheel hubs are near the end of their useful lives, you can easily go over your $300 in repairs and replacements.

I'm all for people learning to wrench on their own bikes, but a frame up custom build is not a beginner project. Working on a good used bike is a better alternative.

Places like Bikes Direct sell some decent entry level models in the $300-$500 range but they come "some assembly required". You have to do part of the assembly and adjustment yourself or pay someone to do it. Usually you don't need much in the way of bike specific tools other than a set of metric allen wrenches (aka hex keys), but you do want to use good references if you are a first timer as adjusting shifting and brakes, and fitting the bike to you, takes a bit of information.

An example of a $350 entry level bike.

Check your local bike shops for entry level holdovers from last year as well. The new models are out and they may be willing to cut you a deal on anything left over just to make room for the new stuff.

OP, why don't you post a couple of pictures of bikes you like, even if they are out of your price range, to give us an idea of the style you are looking for? That will help us make more specific recommendations.

Last edited by Myosmith; 01-21-14 at 08:15 AM.
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Old 01-22-14, 04:02 PM   #8
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Second hand stores in your area like Goodwill and the Salvation Army may be a source of a usable bike if you are willing to put in a little "sweat equity" (work) in fixing them up and doing things like lubricating bearings. I restore old bikes for kids who do BSA Cycling Merit Badge and almost never spend more than $50-$75 on older bikes that have a lot of mileage left in them. I passed up a $20 road bike this morning at Goodwill because I didn't have anyone in mind for it right now. The tires were flat and it was missing front brakes. I have the brakes in my spare parts box from bikes that I used for parts. It was much lighter than the mass merchandiser bikes many ride. Had quick release front and rear. It was also a small frame. Something like that would be great for you. The good thing is that once you outgrew it, you could probably sell it for more than you paid for it once it was fixed up.
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Old 01-22-14, 04:06 PM   #9
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52 cm sounds very big for a five foot three person
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Old 01-22-14, 10:41 PM   #10
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52 cm doesn't sound too unreasonable for a 5' 3" teenager. My daughter is about that tall and rides a 48 with good clearance, she could probably ride a 50 cm. If the OP is long legged for his height the 52 may work OK and he will be growing, so he probably wants to start with a bike on the large end of the spectrum of sizes that he can reasonably ride. Being long legged would also account for the 170mm crank length. His estimates are on the large size, but not wildly so. I do caution the OP that sizes from sizing charts, online calculators, etc. are just a guideline. You have to look at the overall geometry of a bike and preferably take it for a real test ride (not just once around the parking lot).
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Old 01-23-14, 06:14 AM   #11
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Buy the Denali.

For many, many years I rode bikes that were way crummier than the Denali. Some people may have skoffed, but I was on the road, I was riding and I was having fun. Getting out on the road and having fun is the primary objective. At your age, buy a bike that you feel you can afford now, ride the hell out of it, and save your upgrade money for your next bike.

The alternative of finding a used bike isn't very attractive because small frame used bicycles are always harder to find than more typically sized ones. Your choices are likely to be between buying a bike that's too big for you or not having a bike to ride at all.
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Old 01-23-14, 02:01 PM   #12
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My personal opinion...

On a low budget a major limiting factor is shifting. Typically the shifters on a road bike are integrated, which adds a significant percentage of the bike's value on the low end. The Denali gets around this by using flat bar style twist shifters with drop bars.

At $160 plus shipping for the Denali (a price I saw on target.com just now), I think if you check the initial assembly well and keep it tuned it will do fine. In my opinion, the shifting seems cumbersome, but if you are willing to deal with that, you could have a lot of fun with it.

I have to agree with earlier posts that you will get more bang for the buck in buying a moderate quality used bike... But, whatever gets you on the road is good.
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Old 01-24-14, 05:14 PM   #13
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Shifters are a big influence on the cost of entry level bikes, but rather than using low end grip shifters (notorious as a contributing factor in the early deaths of big box bikes) you can go for stem or downtube shifters which are about as simple and reliable as you can get. At the bike co-op I've rehabbed a lot of 1970s-80s 10 and 12-speed bikes with stem shifters and even the low end ones worked like a charm once you cleaned them up and properly adjusted the derailleurs. Can't tell you how many grip shifters we threw out because they weren't repairable. I'll take a downtube shifter over a grip shift on a road bike anyday, IMHO. Others are welcome to their opinions about them, but I won't even put a low end grip shifter on a mountain bike.

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