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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 03-04-09, 06:02 PM   #1
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Buying a good "Living Car-free" Bike in Korea

So I have been living in South Korea for about a week now and it is fantastic but I really miss riding a bike!!!!!!! I finally found a bicycle shop near my house but, as with almost all bike shops in Korea, its mostly mountain bikes and REALLY heavy folders. However, they did have this.



It is 350,000 Won which equals about $300-325 US Dollars, maybe less. It is basic and on the medium to lightish side. The brakes look pretty chintzy. I have read that these bikes are cheap but reliable. The bike has a cool set of stem shifters and most components are shimano. It is called a Lespo Rally. What do you all think? It has braze ons abouve the rear dropout for a rack i think but I did not see anywhere on the seat tube to attach the top part of the rack. The clearance above the tires does not look sufficient for fenders but I maybe willing to not worry about that too much.

My other option is to go to Seoul which is 5-6 hours away by car, which I dont have, where there is a surly dealership. I looked at their website and they have cross checks but no Long Haul Truckers Maybe they could order one?http://www.plushbikes.com/html/main250.html

I would like a bike that would be good for all purpose duty while I live here but also be able to do some light to moderate touring. The LHT would be ideal though i think it will cost something closer to $1,500 over here because of the import tax. Also, most people ride around on these 200-250 $ bikes so I would be a lot more worried about the surly getting ripped off.

Do you all think I should go get the surly LHT or Cross check or by the cheap-o road bike and sell it when I leave? I think most of the touring I am likely to do will be at the end of my stay here so I could ride the cheap bike as a commuter and then sell it to buy a Surly and do my touring with that bike. If I pay the extra for a surly it will come back the the states with me for sure. If the Lespo is a good bike I may ship it back with me as well.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Anyone read Korean to tell me more about this website? http://www.plushbikes.com/html/main250.html

THANK YOU!
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Old 03-05-09, 10:32 AM   #2
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Surly bikes are sort of a fad, and priced like a fad too. Buy the bike that's available locally. Judging by the picture it appears to be made for someone who wants a reliable bike and wants quality but not $$$ "bling".
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Old 03-05-09, 11:26 AM   #3
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When in Rome....
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Old 03-05-09, 11:35 AM   #4
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^
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What he said
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Old 03-05-09, 03:11 PM   #5
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Surly bikes are sort of a fad, and priced like a fad too. Buy the bike that's available locally. Judging by the picture it appears to be made for someone who wants a reliable bike and wants quality but not $$$ "bling".
Just curious, what makes you think Surlys are a fad?
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Old 03-05-09, 11:08 PM   #6
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Here is a website with some info if you speak korean!
http://allrelease.egloos.com/1448307
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Old 03-06-09, 12:40 AM   #7
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When in Rome....
If I simply, "did as the Romans do" then I would be driving.... I want a bike! What if all the car-free people did as the Romans do in the USA?

Do you think this bike will be fun to ride for the next 1-2 years?
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Old 03-06-09, 03:30 AM   #8
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When in Korea....



Can you take it for a test ride?

Is there a local bicycle club with a member who speaks English and might be able to help you?
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Old 03-06-09, 06:55 AM   #9
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When in Korea....



Can you take it for a test ride?

Is there a local bicycle club with a member who speaks English and might be able to help you?
Those are great suggestions! However, I have very few ways of finding that info out because their website would be in korean I can not take it for a test ride, almost no bike shops here let you do that. They dont even put on the pedals and pump the tires until you buy it!

I have found another bike that I like! They do not have one in person but they can order it. its called a Corex Mirage. I am looking for the website now but with no luck. It has the same crappy breaks but the guy that runs this shop (which is a high end shop with carbon raod bikes!!!!!!!) said he can upgrade them to shimano Tiarga. Plus the bike is all steal, not aluim. What worries me is that it only cost 220,000 won (about $150 US) but i think thats just because people dont like steal bikes over here. I lik eit better because it has eylets for a rack (which the owner offered to throw in for free).

Can anyone get any infor or impressions about this bike for me?
Corex Mirage.

Thank you all so much!!!!!
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Old 03-06-09, 07:17 AM   #10
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Ok here is the Corex website. It wont let me link the Mirage's page so click on the 6th funny looking korean word on the left. Then yuo will see three road bikes. The Mirage is on the far left and is labeled.

http://www.icorex.com/

Corex seems to be pretty well known among track bike people as making good frames. The components look cheap but if they work they work. The owner already said he would trade out the brakes for me. What do yuo all think? What else should I consider trading out? Or should i just suck it up and take a 6 hours bus ride to Seoul and buy a LHT or Cross check or 1k? These cheap Korean bikes are tempting at $200-250!!!!!
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Old 03-06-09, 12:01 PM   #11
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If I simply, "did as the Romans do" then I would be driving.... I want a bike! What if all the car-free people did as the Romans do in the USA?

Do you think this bike will be fun to ride for the next 1-2 years?
I just meant that there might be some good reasons why the locals choose the bikes that they choose.

I think any bike will be fun to ride, if it fits well and is suited to local conditions and personal use patterns. Almost any frame will last two years, and cheap components can be replaced...cheaply.
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Old 03-06-09, 12:22 PM   #12
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It took a little looking, but I finally found it. Each symbol is a word, so it took me a moment to understand you meant the 6th Korean sentence. Once I figured out that you were talking about the links after clicking on the showroom link first I was able to find it. But here is the pic and the link to the bike itself. I do like the opening page. That is so cute and lively.



Link to Icorex Mirage Bicycle

I'm no help at reading Korean though.
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I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.

Last edited by Artkansas; 03-06-09 at 12:27 PM.
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Old 03-06-09, 10:13 PM   #13
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It took a little looking, but I finally found it. Each symbol is a word, so it took me a moment to understand you meant the 6th Korean sentence. Once I figured out that you were talking about the links after clicking on the showroom link first I was able to find it. But here is the pic and the link to the bike itself. I do like the opening page. That is so cute and lively.



Link to Icorex Mirage Bicycle

I'm no help at reading Korean though.


Thanks for linking the bike correctly! I forgot about the funny cartoon intro page that would pop up for you. What do you think about the bike? I like it better than the lespo because of the triple crank, double brake levers, and that the guy said it can support a rear rack, though i dont see how from the pictures. I am tending to agree with Roddy. Even a cheap bike will last 2 years and if i dont have to worry about a nice bike getting stolen it maybe a lot better for me until i get the feel for this place a bit more.

What do you all think about the corex and lespo? For a bit more I can get a corex with an alumin frame but I dont know if that is really an upgrade. Depends on the quality of the steal bike you know?

Any suggestions would be wonderful!
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Old 03-06-09, 10:41 PM   #14
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To be honest, it's hard to tell much from the picture. And I put the page through google translation but that didn't help much, especially with the warning (* Product appearance, specifications, and to improve the product are subject to change without notice.)

My gut level, would be go for the Iconex, just because it seems like it's a little improvement on the Lespo, and a triple crank should get you up and down the Korean hills. The stem shifter and the suicide levers are an interesting throwback to the '70s, but should be serviceable. I'd probably also buy a can of spray paint and a heckofa lock. As long as it's not stolen and you give it even minimal maintenance, it should last you two years.

Definitely put on a rack, and if possible fenders. As I recall, it rains a lot in Korea. But now I'm starting to build the bike I would buy.
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I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.
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Old 03-06-09, 11:17 PM   #15
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I lived and biked in Korea for a number of years, and the Lespo bikes were always tempting. They seemed solid and had old, reliable technology. They are cheap because they are local and they would certainly last a while with a little care. I know nothing about the other brand mentioned. I ended up riding American brands my whole time in Korea.

Someone suggested a local bike club. The guys I rode with who were in those bike clubs took their sport veerrry seriously. They rode only top-dollar bikes and had all the cool toys to go with them. they might be a tad biased against a cheaper bike. But it's a good way to get to know people and get information.

The drivers in my city in Korea were always very good about sharing the road with bikes, but they definitely follow different rules. It took me a while to be comfortable taking long trips on my bike.

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Old 03-07-09, 07:11 AM   #16
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Good news!

Bikes direct says that they would be willing to ship a bike to Korea!!!!!

Bad news....

They are still out of LHTs

They do have this windsor wellington that looks kinda nice for the price.

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...ington1_IX.htm

The components are defenitly a step up from the Corex or the Lespo, and I can see from the photo that it supports a rear rack. However, it is twice the price of the corex, has only a double crank, and will cost and additional 50-60 bucks for delivery.

I kinda have this feeling like I should go realy cheap and domestic or just go ahead and blow my load on exaclty what I want (LHT).

Advice?
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Old 03-07-09, 07:23 AM   #17
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Eak, Ok the Corex bike says on the website that it weighs 14.1 KG! I believe that is something like 35 pounds? I am not a weight weenie but is that not a strong indicator that the steal used is very cheap, or maybe jsut cheap heavy components? For a little more $ (US 30) They have an aluminum version of the same bike with better components that wieghs 12.9 KG.

Shoudl I upgrade or stick with the steal?
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Old 03-07-09, 10:11 AM   #18
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Eak, Ok the Corex bike says on the website that it weighs 14.1 KG! I believe that is something like 35 pounds? I am not a weight weenie but is that not a strong indicator that the steal used is very cheap, or maybe jsut cheap heavy components? For a little more $ (US 30) They have an aluminum version of the same bike with better components that wieghs 12.9 KG.

Shoudl I upgrade or stick with the steal?
1 kilogram = 2.20462262 pounds So the bike should only weigh about 31 lbs. That makes it lighter than my 20 year old Specialized Hard Rock. So I doubt if it's that the steel is too cheap. No doubt that it is not the same as you would find in a Rivendell though.

My question in regards to the alternative, would be, do I trust homegrown Korean technology to make a good aluminum bike. It's not cynicism, just a question. I don't know the answer.

What is the quality of the rims? Will they stand up to Korean roads?

As someone else has suggested. Look around at the bikes on the street. See what the locals are riding. Fit in with them.

Have you listed what uses you are going to put this bike to? Will it just get you to work and to do groceries? Or do you plan to explore the countryside with it? Maybe you even need two bikes. A beater and an LHT. You could get one first and take your time getting the LHT when you are an experienced Korean bicyclist.
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I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.
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Old 03-07-09, 10:26 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by zeppinger View Post
Eak, Ok the Corex bike says on the website that it weighs 14.1 KG! I believe that is something like 35 pounds? I am not a weight weenie but is that not a strong indicator that the steal used is very cheap, or maybe jsut cheap heavy components? For a little more $ (US 30) They have an aluminum version of the same bike with better components that wieghs 12.9 KG.

Shoudl I upgrade or stick with the steal?
14.1 kg = 31.1 lbs.
12.9 kg = 28.4 lbs.

Tip: Type 14.1 kg in lbs in your Google search box and hit Enter. Works for just about any conversion you want to do.
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Old 03-07-09, 08:30 PM   #20
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1 kilogram = 2.20462262 pounds So the bike should only weigh about 31 lbs. That makes it lighter than my 20 year old Specialized Hard Rock. So I doubt if it's that the steel is too cheap. No doubt that it is not the same as you would find in a Rivendell though.

My question in regards to the alternative, would be, do I trust homegrown Korean technology to make a good aluminum bike. It's not cynicism, just a question. I don't know the answer.

What is the quality of the rims? Will they stand up to Korean roads?

As someone else has suggested. Look around at the bikes on the street. See what the locals are riding. Fit in with them.

Have you listed what uses you are going to put this bike to? Will it just get you to work and to do groceries? Or do you plan to explore the countryside with it? Maybe you even need two bikes. A beater and an LHT. You could get one first and take your time getting the LHT when you are an experienced Korean bicyclist.

I agree with this idea, I think ill buy the corex as a beater for now and see what kind of riding I end up doing, and also see what I want to do in the future.

As to what the Koreans are riding... They all ride MTBs or a very cheap step through frame hybrid. The hybrids are tempting because them come standard with a pletcher rear rack and a fron basket. However, everything on the bike looks pretty flimsy. The rear brakes are drums which I dont know anything about. They also only have 5 gears. I dont want an MTB... Almost all of them are full suspension as well!

I am thinking that my main uses for the bike will be small grocery runs, errands, and socializing. My big grocery runs can be done within walking distance to one of a 100000000 mgrocery stores near my house. There is a large store a few miles away that is a lot like a walmart which i go to for odds and ends that a bike would be perfecty for. Most of the best bars are about 3-5 miles away, thats also where a lot of the other westerners live so I figure that will be a main use. I live 2 blocks from work so no need for commuting. Rides in the country sound nice but im a little intimidated by that idea as of yet. I gotta get used to Korean drivers, road rules, and directions before going on any good expeditions!

Thanks everyone for the help. If you have any other suggestions let me know, otherwise feel free to let this thread die!
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Old 03-08-09, 02:03 AM   #21
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Thanks everyone for the help. If you have any other suggestions let me know, otherwise feel free to let this thread die!
Post a pic of the wee beastie when you can.
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Old 03-09-09, 01:57 AM   #22
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Ok now I am back to square one!!

I went back to the bike shop to have them order the Corex Mirage but.... it only comes in one size! The owner said its such a cheap bike that it only comes one way, I would have to adjust the handle bars and seat to make it fit. I tried to ask what the one size was and he did not know.

To hell with that right? Its one thing to buy a cheap bike but its another to buy a cheap bike that may not fit properly. Cheap is fine but uncomfortable = no fun for me.

My options now are to buy something cheap on line from someplace like bikesdirect.com or just go to Seoul and buy a LHT or Cross check and make sure I have a good lock on me at all times. I hear that theft is not really a big problem in Korea in general but I dunno, a 1,000$ bike is so much nicer than all the others bikes will be on the rack that it has me worried. I do have a good kryptonite lock and cable but... What do you think?

On the other hand, my apartment is tiny so I really wasnt sure how I was going to swing the whole two bikes thing in the first place.

Suggestions? I could still go with the Lespo, I found on in my size for 350,000 Wan ($250) in my size that has all shimano components (the cheap ones). The only "problem" with it is that it has not place for a rear rack and is only a double crank.

The double crank I could live with since I probably wont be doing any touring on a bike with only a single. A rear rack would be handy as hell for shopping runs.... I could go back to using a back pack but that is pretty limiting.

Too many choices...
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Old 03-09-09, 02:39 AM   #23
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Ok now I am back to square one!!
Too many choices...
Ouch, it's never easy as it should be.

I'm not sure what to say. I did look at that site for Lespo, the Samchuly site mentioned in the other thread and noticed that Samchuly also builds "Next" bikes as well as Lespo. I know you can get a "Next" bike at Walmart.

However, WalMart pulled out of the Korean Market a couple of years ago. So that would leave your ordering from their website. But, it does give you a little indication of the general build quality of the Lespo if the same factory makes bikes for Walmart. Though given the cost pressures of WalMart, the Lespo may actually be higher quality than the "Next".

I notice you've had a couple of responses from people who have spent time in Korea. Maybe you can message them directly and see if they have any other ideas.
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Old 03-09-09, 10:00 PM   #24
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If you know exactly what you want, you can enlist the help of a Korean friend and order from a Korean website. There are quite a few stores in Seoul that sell over the internet, but it takes a while to find them and learn to navigate them. The plushbikes.com site that you were looking at, for example, lets you order online.

Depending on where you live, there may also be one or two decent bike shops tucked into a corner of your city with a few good bikes in stock (and they could order others). No one except serious cyclists may know where they are, however. Just like in the US, most people assume that a Walmart style bike is just as good as any.

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Old 03-10-09, 12:37 AM   #25
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I guess my main new question is, for the posters who have lived in Korea with or without american quality bikes, did you worry about theft with an expensive bike? I have a good lock but the bike will have to be parked at a bus stop for sometimes long peroids of time, but NOT over night! What do you think?

Also, for everyone else. What do you think of the Windsor Wellington 1.0 on bikesdirect.com.

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...ington1_IX.htm

If I can get bikes direct to ship it here for a bit extra this i think would be a good low budget, go ahead and steal it kinda bike, but also be fun to ride, and can use a rack.

The plush website has a guy that speaks english but the only bike on there I like is the surly which is very expensive and hten I need to know about theft here.

Thanks!
Eddie
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