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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 08-13-07, 08:18 PM   #1
WheresWaldo
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Would like some advice on bike choice.

I currently have three road bikes and a tandem. Now I am looking for something to improve my cardio fitness, and my bike handling skills during the winter months. I would say that I am looking for acquiring some "mad bike handling skillz" but my daughter says I am too old to say things like that.

I have done the search here and at RBR and have seen good reviews about several entry level SS/FG bikes. The two specific bikes I am looking at are the Mercier Kilo TT and the Schwinn Madison. The Mercier everyone knows is from BD and is very entry level. My local Performance Bike Shop has the Madison, so if I use my performance team points I would just have to pay the difference and it would cost me about the same for both bikes. That would deplete my points account in the process.

The thing is I am not sure that either bike is better than the other. I am not knowledgeable enough to know what difference really matter. I am hoping that the SS/FG forumites might be able to help me out here.

I generally plan to ride about 2500-3000 miles per year, but during November through March I only seem to ride about 100 miles per month, I would like to increase this as well as getting fit. Any advise would be welcome.
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Old 08-13-07, 08:36 PM   #2
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Get a Bianchi San Jose and put a fixed wheel on it. It's got the mounts for fenders and canti brakes, so it'll be a *****in' winter ride, but it's got the track style ends on it so it'll work nicely for fixed. Neither of the bikes you've mentioned will be good in the winter.
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Old 08-13-07, 08:42 PM   #3
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I just did a cursory look at the bikes, and I think the Schwinn looks like it has better wheels/hubs/brakes. In so far as "entry level", well, that is in the eye of the beholder. The reality is that for what you want, one of these "basic" bikes is perfect. They will roll damn fast, and not be so expensive that you don't want to take them out in the rain/snow.
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Old 08-13-07, 08:43 PM   #4
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Do you want a fixed or SS bike, given the choice?
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Old 08-13-07, 09:14 PM   #5
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if yo uwant mad handling skillz, get a cross bike (ss!) and go race it! or, get a cross bike and ride it in the dirt. your handling skills will improve exponentially.
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Old 08-13-07, 09:28 PM   #6
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I would also recommend getting a cyclocross bike for they'll be way better for the commute during winter time. If you must get a SS/Fixie bike, try to find a SS/Fixie cyclocross. But if you MUST get something between the KiloTT and the Madison, I would get the KiloTT if you can wait for it to ship here, and then I would use your performance points at the performance bike shop to get it tuned and fixed if you dont know how to do it yourself, and/or use it to upgrade some parts if you need to. Since you said commuting, im going to assume its goign to be locked up somewhere. Losing a $350 bike is better then losing a $350+all performance pts bike. Plus the Kilo is not as flashy, so it wont attract bike theives as much.
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Old 08-14-07, 12:13 AM   #7
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Thanks so far for the advice, My commute is short and the bike goes inside the office, just 5 miles and a hill in the middle. I am thinking that until I get familiar with riding it fixed that SS would be better.

Winters here are mild, no snow, just a little wet at times. I thought about the Cyclocross option but had decided I would get more use out of something I would ride on the road. I detest mountain bikes (I do have a hardtail and its in parts in a box).

I have built and do my own maintenance on all my bikes. I do not use PBS as a place I would ever take my bikes for service, I have most of the tools except for a die set for the BB and some frame alignment tools. I am quite capable of working on my own stuff.

I like the idea of not using the points and that way I could use them for consumables and/or upgrades.
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Old 08-14-07, 12:18 AM   #8
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I do not use PBS as a place I would ever take my bikes for service.
good choice. i don't think i'd ever take my bike to a performance shop.
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Old 08-14-07, 07:50 AM   #9
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I like the Madison but IIRC, it's got some funky jumps in sizing. If you can scope the geometry in advance to make sure it works, then it sounds like a good deal. I rode one and it felt too small but that was due to the toe overlap of the short-rake fork. My Pista has the same issue though. It's just a track frame thing.
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Old 08-14-07, 08:14 AM   #10
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Get a Bianchi San Jose and put a fixed wheel on it. It's got the mounts for fenders and canti brakes, so it'll be a *****in' winter ride, but it's got the track style ends on it so it'll work nicely for fixed. Neither of the bikes you've mentioned will be good in the winter.
Another vote for San Jose. Great commuter. Takes fenders and racks. Flip-flop hub so you can go fixed or free. After getting used to the bike with the stock 42-17, I went to 42-15. Later swapped the 32c 'cross tires for 25c road slicks for a bit more speed. Has bosses for two water bottles.

The bike rides like a road bike; geometry is less aggressive than a track bike. Cyclocross bikes are just road bikes that can take wider tires.


Last edited by bbattle; 08-14-07 at 08:36 AM.
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Old 08-14-07, 08:24 AM   #11
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you can ride a cyclocross bike on the road as is, it rolls much faster than a mountain bike. or you can put road tires on and it would be easily the equal of the schwinn or mercier. you'd just have the option to go back if you wanted. racks and fenders are damn useful in the winter and if you're looking to up your mileage you might as well go with something practical.

i was in your position a year ago and got an iro rob roy (ss cross bike). best bike purchase i've ever made

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Old 08-14-07, 08:33 AM   #12
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You know, the Kilo TT takes a bit of heat for being a Bikes Direct bike, and for being "entry level". But I just got one a few weeks back and I've been riding it, and for $350 it's one hell of a bike.

The bars suck, the stem and pedals leave something to be desired, and the lockring is trash -- replace the lockring immediately and the other items as usage or desire indicates. Other than those things, it's a solid bike.
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Old 08-14-07, 08:45 AM   #13
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You may also want to consider the Windsor Hour that BD has for sale. I have one and I love it!

Get a BD bike, and use your points to upgrade/add brakes to it. I bought the Hour for $299 got a Shimano 105 front brake and TT lever from Nashbar for ~$35. Swap a seat from one of your other bikes and the pedals and you're ready to roll for under $350. Oh, and you probably want a new set of tires too, I went for the Nashbar Duro folding 700x26 @$16 each.
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Old 08-14-07, 09:03 AM   #14
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Since we are all plugging our own "budget" bikes, here's my Pista. I spent about $300 on it over the cost of purchase and it now has a carbon fork.

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Old 08-14-07, 09:11 AM   #15
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i bought one of these recently

http://www.lemondbikes.com/bikes/tra...l/fillmore.php

put a new wheel set on it ( phil hubs ) and a new bottombracket and crank.

steel frame is solid and nice. ( i am 6'6" and 200 lbs )

( you can find em on sale for like around 600 bucks )
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Old 08-14-07, 09:23 AM   #16
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I really can't see why anyone just starting out would buy anything other than what Bikes Direct is selling. Given that the components between these sub-$600 bikes are practically identical quality-wise, and the frames are exactly the same as other major brands, so why spend $200-$300 more? There's some argument for buying from a local shop, and the service they provide, but I'm guessing that a guy with three road bikes and a tandem isn't going to need help with the minimal maintenance these bikes require.
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Old 08-14-07, 09:32 AM   #17
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could just get a bareknuckleframe and build it up with spare parts...

in the end its just a matter of preference.

no matter what level of bike you start with you will invariably perform upgrades.
personally i get something with a decent frame in a material of your inclination.
rock-it in the winter months and replace things as you see fit.

again, just an opinion
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Old 08-14-07, 09:35 AM   #18
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I really can't see why anyone just starting out would buy anything other than what Bikes Direct is selling. Given that the components between these sub-$600 bikes are practically identical quality-wise, and the frames are exactly the same as other major brands, so why spend $200-$300 more? There's some argument for buying from a local shop, and the service they provide, but I'm guessing that a guy with three road bikes and a tandem isn't going to need help with the minimal maintenance these bikes require.
A good point, can't really argue that fact. Seems like WheresWaldo is not exactly looking for the hipster appeal so brand preference is a non-issue.
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Old 08-14-07, 10:03 AM   #19
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Hey all, let me add some stuff here too. I do not think I am a brand snob, I have bought three bikes from BD, one (Mercier Draco) just for the Dura-Ace parts for my PedalForce RS build. I also have the most posted Motobecane thread in RoadCycling when I wrote about the Immortal Force last year. I also have a Leader TT bike that I built last year. The other bikes in my garage are a Klein Quantum circa 1989, a Diamond Back Ascent MTB, a Cannondale road tandem, and a second PedalForce RS.

My daughter, Bittersweet, thinks I am too old to be a hipster (I had to look it up in Urban Dictionary when I first saw the term).

Let me ask this in addition to the questions above, I do have a box of used Dura-Ace parts from the 80's, they are not worn out although I will need to buy a new BB, I have a NOS DA threaded headset and a set of DA hubs (I assume I can still use the front hub in a SS/FG?). I think that bareknuckles means a bare frame or frameset? If I did that I might not only end up with a nice bike but I would certainly learn any differences in maintenance, if any, between a SS/FG and a road bike.
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Old 08-14-07, 10:11 AM   #20
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Waldo, you are not too old to be a hipster; old school is über hipster that the young punks just can't match. Especially if you've got the cash to plunk down on some $3000 track bike from Japan.

You can't buy new hipster clothes, though. You gotta wear your VH-1 80's collection.





hipsters?

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Old 08-14-07, 10:31 AM   #21
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Hmm, I don't smoke, I don't drink beer (especially PBR), I can't wear tight skinny legged pants. I guess there is just no hope for me ever becoming a hipster!
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Old 08-14-07, 11:15 AM   #22
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hey whereswaldo...

http://www.yojimbosgarage.com/salesandspecials.htm

they have bareknuckle frames at ok prices

your local bikes store might have them, or at least could order one for you.

cheers
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Old 08-14-07, 11:59 AM   #23
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I like my san jose.. Although I turned it into my bar hopping/liquor store bike.

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Old 08-14-07, 12:05 PM   #24
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Let me ask this in addition to the questions above, I do have a box of used Dura-Ace parts from the 80's, they are not worn out although I will need to buy a new BB, I have a NOS DA threaded headset and a set of DA hubs (I assume I can still use the front hub in a SS/FG?). I think that bareknuckles means a bare frame or frameset? If I did that I might not only end up with a nice bike but I would certainly learn any differences in maintenance, if any, between a SS/FG and a road bike.
No, Bareknuckle is a type of frame available from EAI. They're decently priced for handmade Italian steel, and are pretty highly regarded.

If you're looking to build one up from scratch, one of the various Bikes Direct eBay monikers is selling the Kilo TT frame for $175 shipped, which I think is hands-down the best deal going.
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Old 08-14-07, 12:16 PM   #25
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I really can't see why anyone just starting out would buy anything other than what Bikes Direct is selling. Given that the components between these sub-$600 bikes are practically identical quality-wise, and the frames are exactly the same as other major brands, so why spend $200-$300 more? There's some argument for buying from a local shop, and the service they provide, but I'm guessing that a guy with three road bikes and a tandem isn't going to need help with the minimal maintenance these bikes require.
I bought a Pista because it was the one I could find to test ride that I really liked. I didn't really know what I wanted so it was important to me to ride it first. And it was nice to support a local shop. Although I am kind of kicking myself for not buying the Mercier, cause it does seem like everyone loves them.
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