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Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

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Old 05-04-05, 01:56 PM   #1
peripatetic
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bike (ACK!) shopping...


I'm posting this here because I generally trust the knowledge/advice of people in this forum MORE than the gearhead/week-end warriors who often post in the road biking forum.

A friend of mine asked me to help him get a bike for around town (here in Manhattan.) First he wanted me to build something up for him, but I quickly realized that that was going to take a lot of work for both of us--he'd have to go get himself sized, then tell me that info, I'd have to go find him a frame, components, yadda yadda. Instead, I told him I'd help him find something in town.

By the way, he's in finance and not too worried about price.

I don't really keep up on all of the newest-latest bikes out there, so I want to be prepared and prepare him.

Here are the major constraints as I see it: 1. He's huge. 6'6", 250-lb. Wisconsin fella. 2. He's going to want something quick. He's not going to want to go out comparison shopping a whole lot. 3. Chances are good the bike won't be ridden a LOT, but I don't know for sure. Maintenance shouldn't be too much of a worry; since he's buying new, he'll get the service for free for a year, and he doesn't mind paying for maintenance.

Because of his size, and because it's NYC pothole land, and because he probably won't be doing lots of racing and anything beyond riding around town, and because I just like it more, I'm going to recommend something steel: MTB, hybrid OR roadbike. I tend to recommend road bikes because unless you're off-roading, MTBs just seem like bike SUVs on the streets. And steel just won't cause him any esoteric problems down the road. I was considering also recommending he just get a singlespeed. But do the Pistas and Langsters out there come in ss options?

Just wanted any input from youse about specific brands and/or models out there that make decent steel-framed bikes (NOT made to order.) I know that some of the Lemond bikes are steel, and of good quality, are there any others? Any suggestions as to the most idiot-proof options? Point me in the right direction. (I DON'T necessarily want us pointed in the direction a bike shop salesman-on-commission will point us .

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Old 05-04-05, 02:00 PM   #2
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those little bianchi rollo single speeds are idiot proof and come with a free clown horn, which they spec as "Traffic Mgmt. Device : Squeeze-actuated, bulb-type horn"

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Old 05-04-05, 02:02 PM   #3
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Man, i have a massive old steel trek road frame sitting in my basement that would be perfect for your friend. Too bad I'm in canada.

But since you're in NY and are considering a singlespeed, in steel, that you can safely (?) lock up around town - consider an IRO. Their new Rob Roy would be a good choice.
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Old 05-04-05, 02:09 PM   #4
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buy this http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...154283525&rd=1 , take it to the lbs and have them build it as an ss, and get him started riding.

if he wants gears he can add them later.
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Old 05-04-05, 02:17 PM   #5
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buy this http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...154283525&rd=1 , take it to the lbs and have them build it as an ss, and get him started riding.

if he wants gears he can add them later.
hey!
that's mine! what else do you know about me........
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Old 05-04-05, 02:20 PM   #6
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hey!
that's mine! what else do you know about me........
heh heh, i wondered if it might be when i saw it was in vancouver...
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Old 05-04-05, 02:57 PM   #7
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As a 6'4" 250 lbs rider I do have opinions regarding bikes for big poeple.

1. Whether you build or steer your friend toward a complete bike, a 250lb 6'6" rider needs some kind of fit session.

2. Most factory (especially singlespeed) bikes of reasonable cost keep that cost down by slapping on inferior components that won't stand up to a big rider. How many folks on this list have purchased popular ready-to-go bikes and then spent the next couple of months replacing components? ...and most of those people were of 'normal size'.

3. Frame, steel. If he doesn't ride often, then Alu might be fine but if he likes it.....

4. Wheels, strong deep profile 36 hole 3x - 4x would be my suggestion.

If he's long in the torso, do him a favor and go for a slacker seat tube.

The first bike that comes to mine is the Surly Crosscheck. I don't know anything about the components they use for the prebuilt version, maybe someone else can help there. It also looks like they may not sell the 62cm version prebuilt. You may have to ask. That assumes 62mm will be large enough.

Unless you are 200+ lbs rider or have had a close association with one, trust me, it's a different world when it comes to suitable bikes, fit, and components.

Take care....

Jim
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Old 05-04-05, 03:21 PM   #8
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As a 6'4" 250 lbs rider I do have opinions regarding bikes for big poeple.

1. Whether you build or steer your friend toward a complete bike, a 250lb 6'6" rider needs some kind of fit session.

2. Most factory (especially singlespeed) bikes of reasonable cost keep that cost down by slapping on inferior components that won't stand up to a big rider. How many folks on this list have purchased popular ready-to-go bikes and then spent the next couple of months replacing components? ...and most of those people were of 'normal size'.

3. Frame, steel. If he doesn't ride often, then Alu might be fine but if he likes it.....

4. Wheels, strong deep profile 36 hole 3x - 4x would be my suggestion.

If he's long in the torso, do him a favor and go for a slacker seat tube.
I can concur on that, I bought a Kona Smoke commuter type bike a couple of years ago - niceish cheap frame and fork (butted steel) with a long tt (I'm 6'5" ~230, long torso), but the stock components were trashed in a couple of months of about a 20km round trip commute. The only stock component left is the stem (yes, busted the fork too). After trashing stuff I started putting stuff on it like deep section downhill rims, freeriding bars (I bent the alloy bars in a few weeks), etc. If the bike is going to be infrequently used, something like this is whatever, but I wish I'd built up a junker frame as an ss in the first place (which is what my smoke is now, except with a dirtjumping fork).
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Old 05-04-05, 04:43 PM   #9
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Alright, good advice guys. I'm 5'9", 125 lbs., so I knew I was going to be dealing with a whole other KIND of person. What should I look for in a fitting session? What's a reasonable and not ridiculous amount of cash to spend on one (if you're in NYC, esp. let me know--we all know how the mark-up is here)? Won't the people doing the fitting then try and channel that into a super-expensive-you-wanna-be-Lance sales push?

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Old 05-04-05, 04:46 PM   #10
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Yes, they more than likely will, but that doesn't mean you have to listen. And honestly, if money is not that much of a concern for him, he might actually be well served with a custom frame.
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Old 05-04-05, 04:50 PM   #11
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I wasn't too worried about the custom frame, it's just a BAD (for him) frame I don't want him to end up with. Some shiny titanium number with a carbon fiber fork that looks like it's supposed to go 100 mph through a war zone while shooting everyone out of its path with lazers. That stuff's okay, but from what I've seen, it's made as a major consumable, mainly useable to the super-elite, fairly disposable, and not at all ideal for someone like this.

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Old 05-04-05, 05:23 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by peripatetic

Alright, good advice guys. I'm 5'9", 125 lbs., so I knew I was going to be dealing with a whole other KIND of person. What should I look for in a fitting session? What's a reasonable and not ridiculous amount of cash to spend on one (if you're in NYC, esp. let me know--we all know how the mark-up is here)? Won't the people doing the fitting then try and channel that into a super-expensive-you-wanna-be-Lance sales push?

Good questions. Alot of shops will offer a free (and rather exhaustive) fit session, but you are correct in that they will 'expect' a sale. I've had a total of 4 fittings. 3 were complete and one of those was free because it was part of my Rodriguez purchase. The other two comlpete sessions were $100.00US and took 2-3 hours each. I insisted on paying because I didn't want to feel obligated to buy a bike .... and I wasn't looking for something for nothing.

BUT, here's the interesting part. Before all of those fit sessions, my girlfriend and I were vacationing in Vancouver BC and decided to visit all of the local bike shops (what else would we do on vacation?). There was a little shop and for the life of me I can't remember the name, but it was about 3 doors down from a very upscale bike store called La Bicicletta. The owner and I talked for quite awhile about fit and he offered to measure me. He knew that we were only in town for a few days and that he probably wouldn't see a sale from it but nice guy that he was he offered.

He made a few measurements, asked a few questions and picked up a calculator clicked away and jotted down a set of numbers for stem-length, toptube-length, handlebar rech, seatube-angle and length. The numbers he gave me were within 5mm of the 3 full sessions I subsequently had....very impressive.

So I guess this is my usual, long-winded way of saying: If your friend has the cash, have him spring for a proper fit session. It's fun and very educational. Otherwise, ask around to see who in your neck of the woods can fit a person well without a full session.

Finally, you can play around with online fit calculators. I did for awhile in an effort to help friends choose the right sized frame. The problem is, if you choose just one calculator/method you can easily convince yourself that the numbers are good. But if you try multiple methods you'll quickly see that the spread of numbers they generate can be so large, you'll be left scratching your head and not trusting any of them.

I think that any decent LBS will be able to help alot here. The idea of fitting a bike by standover height alone is a bit silly especially the further from the norm a person's body is.

Take care...

Jim
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Old 05-04-05, 05:47 PM   #13
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BUT, here's the interesting part. Before all of those fit sessions, my girlfriend and I were vacationing in Vancouver BC and decided to visit all of the local bike shops (what else would we do on vacation?). There was a little shop and for the life of me I can't remember the name, but it was about 3 doors down from a very upscale bike store called La Bicicletta. The owner and I talked for quite awhile about fit and he offered to measure me. He knew that we were only in town for a few days and that he probably wouldn't see a sale from it but nice guy that he was he offered.
not trying to sidetrack the thread, but i think the store you're referring to is Campione. You probably were talking to Mr. Cramerotti.
They've moved to 8th and Burrard now. Great store.
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