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  1. #1
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    Looking for some advice on bikes

    I'm trying to adopt casual biking as a family activity, looking for some advises.

    We have two girls, aged 14 and 10 (but both are short), and both myself and my wife are short too. My own, my wife's and our elder daughter's inseams are around 24-inch, while the little one's is at 21-inch. I'm around 5'5" and others are all shorter.

    We will not be doing any serious biking. It will likely be a weekly activity and we will either bike on paved roads within parks or non-paved trails in parks. I doubt we will ever face any tough trails. Since we do plan to bike on non-paved roads, I am looking into mountain bikes (is this necessary?)

    Given this, what would be the best options for us?

    I don't really want to spend thousands of dollars on the bikes, just yet. The bike carrier we plan to buy can only handle up to 140lb between 4 bikes.

    Any words of wisdom would be much appreciated!

  2. #2
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    Check out your local Craiglist, pawn shop, and your LBS (local bike shop) for used bikes. Used mountain bikes can be found cheaply, many of them in almost new condition. Take a bike-savvy friend with you while you're shopping, and don't forget the all-important test ride because if it's not comfortable, you won't ride it.
    Gettin' my Fred on.

  3. #3
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    Look into hybrid or "comfort" mountain bikes too. They're a good mix between road bike and mountain bike qualities.

  4. #4
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    Thanks for the feedback.

    How heavy are bikes with 26-inch wheels? Will 2 x 26-inch + 2 x 24-inch bikes exceed 140lb? (that's 4 bikes in total)

  5. #5
    smitten by саша pwdeegan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yhbae View Post
    Thanks for the feedback.

    How heavy are bikes with 26-inch wheels? Will 2 x 26-inch + 2 x 24-inch bikes exceed 140lb? (that's 4 bikes in total)
    That's an average of 35# for each bicycle, and no, neither 26" nor 24" bicycles typically weigh that much.
    No slogans, just 14 facts.

  6. #6
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    +1 to using someone who knows a lot about bikes and who can help you eliminate the large number of junk bikes that are sold on Craigslist. Also consider garage sales and thrift stores. I have picked up several really nice bikes for kids and adults in my Scout Troop for well under a hundred dollars and usually for less than $50. Even found one in the trash one day. With a little TLC, many of these bikes are perfectly usable. It sure helps to know how to do routine maintenance on a bike if you go this route.

    My first criteria is bike weight. The lighter the better, particularly for us vertically challenged individuals (I'm 5' 4" or was when I was younger). I would never bother with a bike sold by the mass merchandisers like Walmart, Target, or KMart. In general they are lesser quality and not worth my time to restore. I also know the general level of components and can pick out which ones are higher quality just by looking. Better quality components are usually lighter and just work more smoothly than the lower quality ones. They are also far easier to maintain. While finding a bike for a short adult is not much of a problem, finding a really good one for smaller kids usually is. Most people buy mass-merchandiser bikes for their kids because they are cheap and look pretty even if they don't work particularly well. That means there aren't a large number of quality used bikes for kids out there. You may just have to compromise on that one.

    It is possible to ride thousands of miles a year if you have the inclination and the correct bike.

  7. #7
    Spandex free since 1963! HauntedMyst's Avatar
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    An awesome around town bike for you and your wife would be Electra Townies. They are a very comfortable, upright seating bike that are easy to ride and are relatively light weight with aluminum frames. My wife is 5'3" and loves hers. I had one and it was great for casual riding.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by pwdeegan View Post
    That's an average of 35# for each bicycle, and no, neither 26" nor 24" bicycles typically weigh that much.
    That's good to hear. So If I end up with a bunch of 24-inch and 26-inch bikes with aluminium frames, I believe I am going to be ok....

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by VegasTriker View Post
    +1 to using someone who knows a lot about bikes and who can help you eliminate the large number of junk bikes that are sold on Craigslist. Also consider garage sales and thrift stores. I have picked up several really nice bikes for kids and adults in my Scout Troop for well under a hundred dollars and usually for less than $50. Even found one in the trash one day. With a little TLC, many of these bikes are perfectly usable. It sure helps to know how to do routine maintenance on a bike if you go this route.

    My first criteria is bike weight. The lighter the better, particularly for us vertically challenged individuals (I'm 5' 4" or was when I was younger). I would never bother with a bike sold by the mass merchandisers like Walmart, Target, or KMart. In general they are lesser quality and not worth my time to restore. I also know the general level of components and can pick out which ones are higher quality just by looking. Better quality components are usually lighter and just work more smoothly than the lower quality ones. They are also far easier to maintain. While finding a bike for a short adult is not much of a problem, finding a really good one for smaller kids usually is. Most people buy mass-merchandiser bikes for their kids because they are cheap and look pretty even if they don't work particularly well. That means there aren't a large number of quality used bikes for kids out there. You may just have to compromise on that one.

    It is possible to ride thousands of miles a year if you have the inclination and the correct bike.
    I started looking in the Craigslist and Kijiji. I am basically looking for a used but models from good brands.

    While at it, which are the good brands I should be looking for? So far, I know Trek, Giant and Norco.

    Thanks again!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by HauntedMyst View Post
    An awesome around town bike for you and your wife would be Electra Townies. They are a very comfortable, upright seating bike that are easy to ride and are relatively light weight with aluminum frames. My wife is 5'3" and loves hers. I had one and it was great for casual riding.
    Looks pretty comfortable. Would those work on dirt roads? We may end up going to provincial parks often - roads there aren't always paved but still in good conditions.

  11. #11
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    My advice to you is to visit a local bike shop (LBS) with all members of your family for a bike fitting. This way each of you will know exactly the size of bikes you are looking for. Then go the used route via craigslist or any other source. Do some research on bike brands and types and avoid at all costs any bikes sold by Walmart, Sears and the like. They are usually junk.

    Just last week I bought a Jamis Capri 24" bike for my 10 year old daughter. The bike is in excellent condition (looks almost new) and after I gave it a thorough cleaning and waxed the frame it does look brand new. It is about a 4 year old model (as per Jamis website) and I bought it for $40... It costs $350 new!!! I did some maintenance myself and it works flawlessly. If you don't want to mess with them then a LBS should charge about $40 per bike for a tune-up.

    Good luck

  12. #12
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yhbae View Post
    I started looking in the Craigslist and Kijiji. I am basically looking for a used but models from good brands.

    While at it, which are the good brands I should be looking for? So far, I know Trek, Giant and Norco.

    Thanks again!
    Assuming you're in Canada (Kijiji, Norco), which part of the country are you in? We can check the local classifieds for good prospects.

    Other brands to look for (including some Canadian offerings) are Specialized, GT, Jamis, Kona, Devinci, Rocky Mountain, Brodie, and KHS.

    Here's a nice example from my local Kijiji (better hurry... I'm considering this one myself):

    Last edited by irclean; 06-30-11 at 11:55 PM.
    Gettin' my Fred on.

  13. #13
    likes bikes estciclista's Avatar
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    You sound a bit like myself and my family, so I thought I'd share my experience. We decided to get back into biking last year since our daughters (ages 6 + 8) enjoyed biking and we thought it'd be a fun activity to take them to the local bike path.

    My older daughter's bike was purchased at a local bike swap for $30. She loves mtn bikes and this one was a great find/value. My other daughter's bike was purchased at a box store. A child's princess bike - fine choice for her as she is not that interested in biking and loves princesses. :-)

    The other choices were for my wife and me. The girls will outgrow their bikes fairly quickly and so I expect to be buying them a new bike every 2-3 yrs, but ours I expect we'll keep for a while, so I wanted to make a good choice for the long run. This meant avoiding the ultra-cheap box store bikes, and yet still staying under $500.

    I went with a Trek Allant and couldn't be happier. It offers the best of all worlds for a recreational rider. Unlike a comfort bike, it can actually tackle hills. Unlike a road or Mtn bike, it is a nearly upright ride - great for folks like me who are approaching their 50s and maybe not in the best shape of their lives. It can also handle dirt roads as long as they're fairly smooth.



    My wife on the other hand went with a comfort bike (a Trek Navigator) and is only somewhat happy with her choice. The bike is perfect for her on 100% flat rides, but is a real chore on even the slightest of inclines.

    If you try a comfort bike, you might be easily fooled by its extremely comfortable ride. But consider the geometry of the ride. I was very surprised at how uncomfortable a "comfort" bike is on anything but perfectly flat pavement.

    Hope that helps and good luck with your shopping!

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by aggst1 View Post
    My advice to you is to visit a local bike shop (LBS) with all members of your family for a bike fitting. This way each of you will know exactly the size of bikes you are looking for. Then go the used route via craigslist or any other source. Do some research on bike brands and types and avoid at all costs any bikes sold by Walmart, Sears and the like. They are usually junk.
    Yes, after browsing around for a bit, I quickly realized that big store bikes are not meant to last so I quickly dropped them off my shopping list.

    I do feel a bit guilty bringing my family to the LBS though, especially knowing that I have no intention of buying anything from there....

    Just last week I bought a Jamis Capri 24" bike for my 10 year old daughter. The bike is in excellent condition (looks almost new) and after I gave it a thorough cleaning and waxed the frame it does look brand new. It is about a 4 year old model (as per Jamis website) and I bought it for $40... It costs $350 new!!! I did some maintenance myself and it works flawlessly. If you don't want to mess with them then a LBS should charge about $40 per bike for a tune-up.
    What kind of maintenance do you do to the bikes? I can see that cleaning and greezing chains should be easy to do. What else can I do without spending a fortune on the equipment?

    Thanks.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by irclean View Post
    Assuming you're in Canada (Kijiji, Norco), which part of the country are you in? We can check the local classifieds for good prospects.

    Other brands to look for (including some Canadian offerings) are Specialized, GT, Jamis, Kona, Devinci, Rocky Mountain, Brodie, and KHS.

    Here's a nice example from my local Kijiji (better hurry... I'm considering this one myself):

    I am located close to downtown Toronto.

    Thanks for the list of brands - I will keep my eyes on those when I search for the bikes.

    One of the challenges I will have though is the frame size. It appears that both myself and my wife will need to find something with 26" wheels and 14" frames (we both are 26" inseams) which is not common at all. So far, I've found zero in the used market.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by estciclista View Post
    You sound a bit like myself and my family, so I thought I'd share my experience. We decided to get back into biking last year since our daughters (ages 6 + 8) enjoyed biking and we thought it'd be a fun activity to take them to the local bike path.
    Cool. My daughters are 10 and 14, and the 14year old is probably close to her fully grown up size.

    My older daughter's bike was purchased at a local bike swap for $30. She loves mtn bikes and this one was a great find/value. My other daughter's bike was purchased at a box store. A child's princess bike - fine choice for her as she is not that interested in biking and loves princesses. :-)
    My kids hate princess related stuff, and especially pink. I'm thinking of getting a used 24" bike for the 14year old, and a 20" bike for the 10 year old...

    The other choices were for my wife and me. The girls will outgrow their bikes fairly quickly and so I expect to be buying them a new bike every 2-3 yrs, but ours I expect we'll keep for a while, so I wanted to make a good choice for the long run. This meant avoiding the ultra-cheap box store bikes, and yet still staying under $500.

    I went with a Trek Allant and couldn't be happier. It offers the best of all worlds for a recreational rider. Unlike a comfort bike, it can actually tackle hills. Unlike a road or Mtn bike, it is a nearly upright ride - great for folks like me who are approaching their 50s and maybe not in the best shape of their lives. It can also handle dirt roads as long as they're fairly smooth.



    My wife on the other hand went with a comfort bike (a Trek Navigator) and is only somewhat happy with her choice. The bike is perfect for her on 100% flat rides, but is a real chore on even the slightest of inclines.

    If you try a comfort bike, you might be easily fooled by its extremely comfortable ride. But consider the geometry of the ride. I was very surprised at how uncomfortable a "comfort" bike is on anything but perfectly flat pavement.

    Hope that helps and good luck with your shopping!
    Would this model handle a typical trails in parks meant for bikes? Those are dirt roads with some small random gravels/stone. I like the shape of the bike though, looks comfy.

  17. #17
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    And thanks VegasTriker, for the PM. I apparently can't send any PMs as my total posts here is still less than 50...

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by estciclista View Post

    My wife on the other hand went with a comfort bike (a Trek Navigator) and is only somewhat happy with her choice. The bike is perfect for her on 100% flat rides, but is a real chore on even the slightest of inclines.

    If you try a comfort bike, you might be easily fooled by its extremely comfortable ride. But consider the geometry of the ride. I was very surprised at how uncomfortable a "comfort" bike is on anything but perfectly flat pavement.

    Hope that helps and good luck with your shopping!
    Huh??? My wife and I have GT Nomad "comfort bikes" and they handle hills fine and certainly aren't "uncomfortable" on hill climbs. I've ridden a Navigator 1 and I wouldn't call it "uncomfortable" or a "chore" on hills.

  19. #19
    likes bikes estciclista's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yhbae View Post
    Cool. My daughters are 10 and 14, and the 14year old is probably close to her fully grown up size.



    My kids hate princess related stuff, and especially pink. I'm thinking of getting a used 24" bike for the 14year old, and a 20" bike for the 10 year old...



    Would this model handle a typical trails in parks meant for bikes? Those are dirt roads with some small random gravels/stone. I like the shape of the bike though, looks comfy.
    Good Q - I'd say this is not well suited to gravel roads. The fenders would rattle a lot with kicked up gravel and the tires are okay on smooth dirt roads, but struggle in soft conditions and gravel.

  20. #20
    likes bikes estciclista's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimi77 View Post
    Huh??? My wife and I have GT Nomad "comfort bikes" and they handle hills fine and certainly aren't "uncomfortable" on hill climbs. I've ridden a Navigator 1 and I wouldn't call it "uncomfortable" or a "chore" on hills.
    That's fair. I cannot speak for all comfort bikes, only the Navigator.

    Sometimes it comes down to comparisons. If you can borrow a bike with a less relaxed geometry, and take it for a couple of miles on even a slight incline, you might see that there is a difference (or maybe not, as I cannot speak for all comfort bikes).

    My wife was struggling more than I thought she should on a fairly flat bike path we take. So I borrowed her bike and that's when I saw the difference.

    On a section that my bike rode with little effort, I was struggling with my wife's. Maybe struggling is not the right word, but I was definitely working harder "climbing" a mild incline and was then that I realized how much easier my own bike was. Up until then, I didn't realize that the difference was so great.

  21. #21
    likes bikes estciclista's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yhbae View Post
    Cool. My daughters are 10 and 14, and the 14year old is probably close to her fully grown up size.

    My kids hate princess related stuff, and especially pink. I'm thinking of getting a used 24" bike for the 14year old, and a 20" bike for the 10 year old...
    Meant to add - my older girl is what we call "adventure girl" (age 8). She's very talented on a bike and also hates pink.

    My other girl (age 6) is a ALL girl - love pink. Loves dress up. Loves princesses (and my older daughter HATES princesses).

    :-)

    But they're a blast to ride with! I hope you'll enjoy lots of time on bikes together - it's a great family diversion.

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