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Old 07-09-14, 09:11 PM   #1
Toriningen
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How does a newbie get a bike?

I'll try to shorten the story. As a note, I'm a 16 year old male who is about 5'3" (short, yes). I needed a bicycle eventually for urban riding (point A to B, not highway commute) but I'd much rather ride than use a car (gas too expensive) so I might use it more often than I thought. I looked for a bicycle in shops over two weekends, but after the inability to find any agreeable bicycle (we argued) my dad got so upset that I gave in and bought a Walmart Mongoose bicycle-shaped-object, knowing that it'd be terrible and was merely delaying the need for a real bicycle. Some of my problems as to why I didn't find a bike besides the fact that I'm a COMPLETE NEWBIE (so don't bash me please):

1. I didn't know where to buy. Most places were too expensive, or we just argued about something and couldn't pick.
2. I'm limited on a poor budget ($150-250). I have little money myself (no job) and even though my dad says he can spend any amount, I don't want to be greedy.
3. I'm short. I don't know how fitting works and if it can work on any bike.
4. I don't know what I'm looking for. A durable bike that will last years/decades? A cheap used bike that might not last long? What would justify my casual urban needs?

My question is whether I should keep the Mongoose and ride until it breaks, or return it and buy a different bike immediately. If I stick with Mongoose, I need to learn about getting a new bike in advance. If I should do the latter, how should I get a bike so I don't repeat my ordeal last time? Buy from a shop, online, or make it from scratch?

If I'm gonna buy from a store or online, am I forced to put in a large budget ($300-500, more?) to get a durable bike that fits me? Is making it from scratch the best/only way for me to assure fitting and durability at a cheaper price? But where would I find the parts and know how to assemble it?

If you guys have any other ideas, I'd like to learn about them. I know there's so much that a newbie is too oblivious about to make a good selection, but I'm trying to learn. Thanks for reading.
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Old 07-09-14, 09:18 PM   #2
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Hello and Welcome to Bike Forums.

Ride your Mongoose and Learn much about bike riding.
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Old 07-09-14, 09:24 PM   #3
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If your current bike is comfortable, keep it. Find another bike when your funds are in better shape if you feel a need for a change. Keep an eye out at a co op or Good will store as sometimes good deals can be found.
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Old 07-09-14, 09:52 PM   #4
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You're right to be being concerned about fit at your size, but are you finished growing? If not, your current bike will be fine for now if it's comfortable....and there are relatively inexpensive ways to make a bike more comfortable. I'm short and have been around and around with frame size because I have a short inseam to boot. I've had to scrutinize bike geometry in ways than an average-sized rider will never need to, but it has paid off.

Generally speaking (as in unless you get a lot of parts for free!), building a bike from scratch will be more expensive than buying a complete bike from a store (LBS, for example) or finding a used one on Craigslist, etc. If you decide you enjoy riding and want to stick with it, save up more and see what's out there. If you still have fit issues by then, you'll be glad you have more money to spend on a bike that fits you. Best of luck!
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Old 07-09-14, 10:01 PM   #5
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You're right to be being concerned about fit at your size, but are you finished growing? If not, your current bike will be fine for now if it's comfortable....and there are relatively inexpensive ways to make a bike more comfortable. I'm short and have been around and around with frame size because I have a short inseam to boot. I've had to scrutinize bike geometry in ways than an average-sized rider will never need to, but it has paid off.

Generally speaking (as in unless you get a lot of parts for free!), building a bike from scratch will be more expensive than buying a complete bike from a store (LBS, for example) or finding a used one on Craigslist, etc. If you decide you enjoy riding and want to stick with it, save up more and see what's out there. If you still have fit issues by then, you'll be glad you have more money to spend on a bike that fits you. Best of luck!
The Mongoose is comfortable, it's just it's very heavy and is liable to break at some point with repairs that are probably horrifically expensive. As for my height, I'm not sure. I'm already the tallest within my closest family and I haven't grown in a long time.

When it comes time to look for a new bike, what should I be looking for in a LBS? How do I know if some bike's durability is worth its price or not? How do I know if I'm gonna have to replace things like brakes, wheels, etc.?
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Old 07-09-14, 10:06 PM   #6
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Cheap bikes aren't expensive to repair if you know what to do. Ride it till it breaks and ask here when it does. Plenty of people can help you. As for durability, new anything over $300 or so will be strong but heavy. Anything over $600 gets lighter to boot and if you go over $1000 then the fun starts.
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Old 07-09-14, 10:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toriningen View Post
The Mongoose is comfortable, it's just it's very heavy and is liable to break at some point with repairs that are probably horrifically expensive. As for my height, I'm not sure. I'm already the tallest within my closest family and I haven't grown in a long time.

When it comes time to look for a new bike, what should I be looking for in a LBS? How do I know if some bike's durability is worth its price or not? How do I know if I'm gonna have to replace things like brakes, wheels, etc.?
Which Mongoose bike did you get? Big box store bikes are more prone to needing repairs than other bikes because they're assembled at a breakneck pace. It would be worth your while to have someone who knows more about bikes go over this one to see if anything immediately screams to be adjusted or replaced. This may also help defer the kind of repairs you're dreading.

On the upside, your heavy big box bike is less likely to get stolen than something more desirable and that gives you time to daydream about and research your next bike. Ride and test a lot of bikes. As a shorter rider myself, I can say that frame size is more important than wheel size so don't rule anything out without giving it a try.

Oh and congrats on the new ride!
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Old 07-09-14, 10:28 PM   #8
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Some of the non-chain local bike shops out here have a selection of used, refurbished bikes in the sub $200 range. Not only are these bikes put together by and gone through by the techs, they have good advice, too. I can't tell where you are, but a medium to large sized city should have some lbs's that can cater to your budget. In photography they say the best camera is the one you have with you. I like to think the best bike is the one you're riding. Enjoy your bike and plan for the next.
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Old 07-10-14, 12:44 AM   #9
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Slick it, accessorize, then save for a nice bike from Performance or bikesdirect.
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Old 07-10-14, 01:09 AM   #10
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Anything that's liable to break on your bike at this point will most likely be due to faulty assembly, unless (a) you're very heavy and/or (b) you're very hard on the bike. A way to check over your bike for free (and to learn a lot) is to watch YouTube/other videos, look around here on BF and read books about bike maintenance.

Some well known bike brands with a good number of models from around $400 (sometimes less; depends on the source) on up are Giant, Cannondale, Trek, Fuji, Novara and Raleigh, to name some common ones. There are a lot of riders who go thousands of miles on all kinds of bikes, though, without things breaking, including some pretty old bikes. Under normal conditions, things like wheels and brakes and especially the frame shouldn't break due to lack of durability. Various components will need adjustment and other maintenance from time to time, of course.
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Old 07-10-14, 06:42 AM   #11
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Is there a US equivalent to this non-sus Mtb available in 13" and 15" sizes?
Add slick tyres for road use.
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Old 07-10-14, 08:02 AM   #12
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does the wallgoose have suspension
or is it full rigid

if you want a bike for city riding
fully rigid bikes are preferable
to bikes with front suspension
and front suspension bikes are preferable
to bikes with front and rear suspension

and the full suspension bikes from x mart
are a terrible waste of money and effort
and the moving parts of the frame
will soon wear out and make it worse

so my advice is
if the walgoose is a rigid frame
consider getting lighter road oriented tires

if it is a full suspension frame
return it and
either find a rigid bso
or
return it and
find a three or four hundred dollar
rigid hybrid or mtb
at a bike shop
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Old 07-10-14, 08:29 AM   #13
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I bought a cheap hybrid at Canadian Tire a few years back. It was on sale for 50% off and I had points to use up, so I paid almost nothing for it.

It needed the usual adjustments after a while, brakes etc. I got a couple of seasons out of it before a major issue, and that wasn't an expensive fix; the LBS had said they had seen this a lot on this model, it was a premature issue with a cheap bottom bracket, but it was not expensive to fix. My son still rides it, and enjoys it.

You can easily learn to adjust the brakes and derailleurs, replace tubes and tires etc.

I'd say ride it and see if there are any issues. If so it may just need a tune up by someone knowledgeable.
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Old 07-10-14, 09:26 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Toriningen View Post
I gave in and bought a Walmart Mongoose bicycle-shaped-object, knowing that it'd be terrible and was merely delaying the need for a real bicycle. Some of my problems as to why I didn't find a bike besides the fact that I'm a COMPLETE NEWBIE (so don't bash me please)
If you buy an item with a predetermined mind that it will be terrible and is no good at all, you probably will probably be rewarded by assuring yourself that you were correct and Dad was wrong.

I suggest you follow the good advice you have received from previous posters who recommend that you ride and enjoy your Mongoose. IF something needs to be adjusted more than likely you can do it with an adjustable wrench and a screw driver. Learn and gain experience and when you are ready for something different and the money is available you probably will know better about what you need.

Do not take as unassailable truth all the Walmart bike bashing that surfaces on Bike Forums, much of it is from bike snobs and/or persons closely associated with an LBS. As many bikes as are sold by Walmart of course some might need repair, but to read the BF basher's posts a Newbie could get the impression that the only place they are used is to ride a crooked line to a repair shop, and that only bikes with an LBS provenance can provide a satisfactory experience for someone with your modest requirements.
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Old 07-10-14, 09:31 AM   #15
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Mongoose made a reputation in the 80's . they sell names based on their prior reputation a lot..

Now a new bike with a familiar brand name may only have the name in common.


You can take test rides on bikes in Bike Shops .. they will be properly assembled .

good luck with the Job search .. most jobs here are in service..

Feeding each other, and Making drinks for the visitors, and Industry people, alike ..

[Treks FX0 is in the near $500 price niche..]

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-10-14 at 02:40 PM.
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Old 07-10-14, 09:41 AM   #16
Wilfred Laurier
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good luck with the Job search .. most jobs here are in service..

Feeding each other, and Making drinks for the visitors, and Industry people, alike ..
hear hear

i would also like to add
that in my experience
nothing is better at getting you a good job
than working at a crappy job


and
in the words of hank hill
find the job that nobody wants
and do it better
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Old 07-10-14, 02:27 PM   #17
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While it is true that mass merchandised BSO's are a pain to deal with (for bike shop mechanics) and are usually heavier than desirable, lots of people manage to get many miles out of them. You just have a much better chance of getting a bike that works really well and will last a long time when you buy a good bike with better components. You can learn the basics of bike mechanics from a number of websites such as Park Tool Company or the late Sheldon Brown's site Sheldon Brown-Bicycle Technical Information. That way you will know how to adjust and maintain your current bike and not be at the mercy of the local bike shop. If you learn what makes a good bike (light weight and mid to upper level components) you will be able to recognize one when you see it. It sounds like it will be a while before you could afford a decent new bike so an older used bike might be more appropriate. It is certainly possible to find a decent bike and sometimes a very good older bike for less than $100. An older bike, if treated properly by previous owners, can be a real find. A bit of maintenance and maybe new tires and brake pads and you are good to go. They show up at garage sales and second hand stores. Most everything there will be junk but if you are lucky and persistent, you might find one that is good and fits you. That may be the way to go. Don't do it until you learn more about bikes.

A couple simple ways to identify better bikes - weight - less than 30 pounds, no suspension, quick release wheels front and rear. The last thing is to get a list of components for the major manufacturers (usually Shimano and SRAM) so you can know which ones are acceptable and which to avoid. example Shimano MTB Component Hierarchy | Derailleur | Crankset : ChooseMyBicycle.com
and for SRAM SRAM Road Component Hierarchy | Derailleur | Crankset : ChooseMyBicycle.com There are hierarchies listed for road and mountain bike components. Anything mid level or above will be OK.
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Old 07-10-14, 06:10 PM   #18
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For now, if the Mongoose fits and works then keep it and keep saving. Look at your leisure for a solid quality used bike. My current main ride was a freebie. It came from a friend of a friend. A Specialized Hard Rock that I added fenders, a rack and lights to. When the knobby tires wore out, I replaced them with street slicks.

You may also want to get friendly with the people at a local bike coop. You can learn about mechanics and maintenance, and if a good bike comes their way they will likely channel it in your direction. Estate sales can also be good sources for decent bikes at good prices.

At 16 the only thing that is certain is that your needs are going to change a lot in the next few years. Whether you go to college or enter the work force or the military life won't be the same and neither will your bicycle needs. So you may want to postpone a bike purchase unless you need one now.
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Old 07-10-14, 06:34 PM   #19
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I agree with the general advice that I've read on here: start out with something cheap, whether it be a used bike from a reputable brand or a bike from a big retailer like Walmart, and ride it. In doing so, you'll have a better idea of what you're truly looking for in a bike and will be in a much better place to spend money wisely on what you're looking for.

The risk with staying with the Walmart bike is that it might taint your view of cycling. Cycling is very fun and can be used for non-recreational purposes, but mechanical problems are probably the fastest way to kill enthusiasm and potentially make you stop riding. If you're competitive, it can also be frustrating to feel like you're exhausting yourself only to be passed by people in poorer physical shape, riding leisurely. I see people using Walmart bikes all the time for commuting, so I'd assume that they're at least sufficient...

If you decide to buy used (such as from Craigslist), there are websites that can guide you regarding what size frame you need (I like this frame size calculator). Since you're on the shorter side, you might have difficulty finding used bikes that would fit you comfortably. Don't be afraid to look at "women's bikes" - the frame geometry is slightly different (accounting for differences like shorter arms, if I remember right), but a bike is a bike, and you're more likely to find a used bike being sold by someone approximately your height who is female. If buying new, do what ever you like, of course!

Just to share a personal story (in the event that it's helpful at all), my wife and I started cycling a year ago after not having cycled in over a decade. We started with used Walmart bikes, riding fairly short distances and occasionally commuting on them. It was fun. We weren't the fastest bikes on the trail and climbing hills could be a chore (somewhat ironic, since we had mountain bikes) but it was fine for our purposes. We eventually decided we wanted an upgrade, and bought entry-level to mid-range hybrids (used for me, new for her). It was amazing how much smoother the shifting was, how much lighter the frames were (which was very noticeable during climbing, making it a lot easier and faster), and how much easier it was to build up speed. We're now some of the fastest riders on the trails, usually passed only by the guys on road bikes (although every now and then there's an insanely fast guy on a mountain bike...). I had figured that "real" bikes would be nicer than Walmart bikes, but I didn't realize just how different it would really be.

To summarize, if you're not sure what you want, stick with the Walmart bike for now. Ride it for a year or so, read up on cycling and ask questions here, and when you feel like you have a better understanding of where your "Walgoose" is falling short of your expectations, sell it and upgrade.
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Old 07-11-14, 02:44 PM   #20
Toriningen
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Thanks guys, I'll just keep the Mongoose for now until the repairs become unbearable or something. Although my brakes work fine now, is there anything I should replace asap before it breaks? What do I replace them with, Shimano?

Also a question: it's against California law to ride the bicycle on the sidewalk apparently (not pedestrian), but if there's no bike lanes and the curb has parked cars all over, how am I supposed to ride inbetween the parked cars and cars coming from behind me (right side of road)? I'd rather not want to get to close to the parked cars in case I wobble and crash (or run into an opened door) but passing cars might be too close for comfort. That and the need to get better with turning are the main reasons I haven't rode out of my neighborhood yet.

Thanks.
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Old 07-11-14, 05:48 PM   #21
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I'm pretty sure California has the same 3 foot law that we have in Nevada. Cars are supposed to give you that amount of passing room. Riding on the sidewalk is really dangerous. Go to the first forum at this site (Advocacy and Safety) and read the comments from avid cyclists about riding on the sidewalk. Once you ride for a while you will learn which streets are safest and which to avoid. It's better to go a little out of the way than to ride a really horrible street. Yes, you are supposed to ride to the left of parked cars allowing enough space so you don't get doored.

Don't change anything on your current bike unless it begins to malfunction The parts are "entry level" which means they might not work as was well as high quality parts but they should work.
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Old 07-11-14, 11:28 PM   #22
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Which Mongoose did you get? The Ledge?
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