Not so quick intro: I'm 36 years old and live in Westchester County, New York (right outside of White Plains). This summer my oldest son (Tyler, 7) took off his training wheels and his younger brother (Ryder, 4) figured out how to pedal. The wife decided this was enough motivation to pull her Schwinn out of storage and that leaves me to get myself something with two wheels.
This is a good time too. My career has me sitting on my rear for 10 hours a day so for the past decade I've watched my weight creep up slowly from ~175lbs to the 236lbs the scale screamed at me this morning. As someone who just can't seem to get into the "gym" thing because of boredom, I started doing MMA (mixed martial arts) a little over a year ago as a way to get back into shape while keeping exercise "fun". I've built up some muscle in that time as well as general stamina, but my weight hasn't gone down at all. Anyway, my family leaves for Mexico in two weeks for vacation, and when we get back I plan on buying my first bike in 18 years. I have some questions:
When I was last riding, I HATED the rubber rim-brakes of the day. Getting both the left and the right pad to contact the wheel at the same time was a black art and maintaining the brakes was a nightmare. I LOVE the handful of disc brakes setups I've had the fortune of trying out in the past few years, and would prefer them for their feel and progressiveness, but I know next to nothing about them and wonder about their long-term maintenance costs. Are rim brakes improved from what I remember almost 20 years ago? What are the drawbacks to disc brakes (other than cost and weight which I'm familiar with)?
I will be using this bike around town, at parks with my kids, and as something of a goal, I'd love to try riding my bike to work by this time next year (19 miles each way, big elevation changes). What kind of bike is going to serve me best for these scenarios (90% street riding, 10% off-road riding - simple trails with my kids or basic dirt/grass in a park)? My budget is, at most, $500, but my wife would like me to keep it under $400. I know this is limiting, but it is what it is. No, I cannot go a dollar higher than this.
I was at REI yesterday and was looking around and saw the 2013 Diamondback Trace (http://www.diamondback.com/trace-mou...ail-dual-sport) and REALLY liked it. Disc brakes, beefy frame (again, I'm 236lbs), Shimano hardware, dual-sport tires, a $450 MSRP, and I love the way it looks. Seems like just the thing I'm looking for. Then again, I'm not sure. Would something like this be comfortable after 2 or 3 hours of riding? Do I need a drop-bar for a 19+ mile ride or will a flat bar like serve me well? What bike would you recommend?
Hi Billy, glad you decided to return to cycling and to join us here at BF. You should post your questions about the bike you are looking at and, your budget, in say, the Hybrid Forum to start. Those members that participate there can tell you about the disk brake bikes available now. You might also want to read a bit in the Clydesdale and Athena Forum, those folks are super friendly and can steer you to what works for them (200+ males and 150+ females.) Modern bikes above the box store, "Bike Shaped Objects", level, have very capable frame sets as far as their strength, regardless of the frame material. At your budget level it will most likely be aluminum, these are fine frame sets. Rim brakes, when they are setup properly aren't scary to use or maintain, its the low quality level brake sets and department store "set-up" that has the brakes set incorrectly. Fit of the bike is the most important aspect of the bike for its comfort on longer rides and the forums can help you with doing this, a good Local Bike Shop is the place for this to happen. Best of luck on your search and enjoy the family vacation.
Welcome from another newbie. As to a bike for you, check out a cyclocross model: they are rugged, the wheels/tires tend to be far more robust than regular road bikes, and some are equipped with disc brakes. Check out bikesdirect.com for an idea of what's out there. Also, brakes are a lot better than they were 20 yrs ago...