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  1. #1
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    New Rider in Houston Heights Area *Need Help*

    Hello all,

    My wife and I want to get into cycling and are first time buyers. We are looking for a little help and direction on the best place to start. We live in the Heights Area. We're interested in using our bikes to enjoy some of the paved trails such as Buffalo Bayou trail along 7th St., TC Jester, and along the bayou between Allen and Memorial. We would probably also use our bikes for some minor street use (neighborhood riding and getting ourselves over to the trails). I've done some research and believe we may be looking for maybe a hybrid bike. My wife wants a little more comfort out of her bike, while I'm looking for something I can be a more active on. Again, we would like to be able to go out on the trails together with our respective bikes.

    Originally, our budget was $500 ($250 a bike) but I'm quickly realizing that's a little low for entrance level. Basically, I realize that leaves us going to a Target or Academy to buy a bike, but I've been reading how much of a poor investment that is due to the cheap components being used in those bikes. This is a new hobby for us, so I don't want to spend an arm and a leg on a bike until I know it's something we will really enjoy. We are willing to go up to $300-$400 per bike if thats a better investment.

    My question is pretty much where's the best place to start? Does anyone have any recommendations for bikes in our price range that they think would fit our situation? I've looked at some of the local bike shops (iCycle, Blueline, Urban Bicycle) online and plan on visiting some of the stores this week. I'd like to have a little bit of an idea of what I'm looking for before I walk into the store, so any thoughts or input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance to anyone who takes time to help us out. I'll be checking back on the forum to reply to any questions anyone has.

    Also, we have a 9 month old baby that we'd love to bring with us on our rides. Can anyone suggest the best type of carrier to purchase? I don't think we are comfortable with buying the trailer that you pull behind our bike yet. We were interested in the stationary seat that attaches behind the cyclist rear wheel. Are these reliable and the best buy?

    Thanks again!

  2. #2
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    For just starting out, I would suggest the TC Jester trail over the allen parkway trail, much less congested and does not have a dog park to contend with....
    $400 is close to what you will need, but a bit more may be required. The shops you listed are good shops, but if you have time, go to west end bicycles on blossom, ask for Dan and tell him what you are trying to do.
    I have taken a couple of folks from my office to him for their first bikes... they spent about $440 and got a bike they can ride for awhile, you will likely end up with a hybrid/fitness bike. Has a feel similar to a road bike, but a more upright relaxed geometry, flat bars and wider tires.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by obed7 View Post
    For just starting out, I would suggest the TC Jester trail over the allen parkway trail, much less congested and does not have a dog park to contend with....
    From the Heights, it is not obvious how to easily get to the White Oak Trail along TC Jester. That's a nice trail which will take you about ten miles from 11th St and TC Jester all the way to West Little York and Antoine. Antoine is a bike route south from there but not very bike friendly.

    The Heights trail currently goes all the way from James Butte Park on McKee St, north downtown, all the way to the Santa Fe yards at Egbert and Moy. From there, it's possible to get to 11th and TC Jester (White Oak Trail) without riding on a busy street, though it's not a scenic route as it goes past the Texas Outhouse facility, through very old neighborhoods interspersed with new construction and industrial areas. But it is an interesting view of what Houston is like. North/South their is a trail along Nicholson from the Heights trail to about 26th which is ok and Heights Blvd has a nice bike lane from, I think, Center to 20th St.

    I live in the Woodland Heights and find, in general, that most all of the Heights is pretty bicycle friendly. There are lots of streets designated as bike routes and most all the other streets are ok, too. The only street designated or laned that I think sucks is 20th/Cavalcade which is too narrow for four traffic lanes and two bike lanes and the bike lanes are typically in poor repair and filled with trash and debris.

    I'm sorry that I can't offer much advice about entry level bikes unless you're interested in old stuff. If you're looking for some basic transportation, there are good serviceable bikes from the 70s through the 90s available for not much if you're mechanically inclined. As for Houston bike shops, I've been in West End a couple times but am not a patron as their interests don't seem to interact with mine very much. Just for the experience and the ability to say you've done it, check out Daniel Boone Bicycle on Crawford just south of Downtown. They've got lots of bikes and it's a very interesting place. Besides that, it's probably the best equipped bike shop in Houston as far as repairs and stuff in stock. They may be able to help with less expensive bikes, too. I've never gone into Daniel Boone without getting what I needed or sourcing what I needed. Other Houston shops I've been in, not so much.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Hairy Hands's Avatar
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    I love Daniel Boone cycles. I haven't been in years but 30 years ago it was an amazing place. You would walk in their house and find some of the most expensive track wheels on the planet hanging from the ceiling, fancy road shoes from Italy (before clipless), wool shorts and jerseys, just an amazing place for the times. No bike sop in Texas could compair except for Richardson Bike Mart in Dallas, but they didn't have the ambiance. Sorry about the trip down memory lane��

    You will be hard pressed to get any half descent bike for $400 anymore unless you find a deal on Craigslist. I just got my 8 yr old daughter a very entry level Trek hybrid and it was $600. Good luck with ur search!
    ~John~

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    Obede7, Thanks for the information. I'll definitely give West End a try!

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    Desconhecido, My wife and I were actually wondering about how the trails connected. Thanks for the helpful info.!

  7. #7
    Senior Member texbiker's Avatar
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    For more information about biking in Houston look at BikeHouston.org. They also show various rides in your area.

    Regarding bikes, hybrid bikes would be a good type to start with. After you get some experience you will know more about which type of riding interests you and then pick a bike more suited to that. I see some hybrid bikes in the $290 to $390 range. Trek has some models. Bike Barn and Sun & Ski might be places to look. One poster mentioned Craigslist, if you know what you are looking for there are many bargains there.

    A baby carrier that fits behind the seat is probably a good choice for a 9 month old. A helmet is a must for everyone.
    www.Texbiker.net/blog/
    Texas Bicycling News, Events, Experiences

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hairy Hands View Post
    I love Daniel Boone cycles. I haven't been in years but 30 years ago it was an amazing place. You would walk in their house and find some of the most expensive track wheels on the planet hanging from the ceiling, fancy road shoes from Italy (before clipless), wool shorts and jerseys, just an amazing place for the times. No bike sop in Texas could compair except for Richardson Bike Mart in Dallas, but they didn't have the ambiance. Sorry about the trip down memory lane��
    !
    About 10 or 12 years ago, I bought a Bob Jackson touring frame from Bob Jackson and had it shipped from England. Of course, it arrived without a headset and without the fork being sized and all that. So, I took it to several shops closer by and they weren't interested in working on it. I took it to Daniel Boone and the guy was actually glad to see it. He admired how it had been built, the touring specific braze ons, asked what I was going to hang on it and what I was going to do with it. Then he pulled out about $1000 worth of threaded headset tools and faced the headtube, cut the fork to the proper length for the headset with the desired amount of spacers and the hangar for the center pull brakes and put it all together without any problem. All in about 15 minutes. They've been at this for a long time.

  9. #9
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    boone's is an interesting shop to visit whether you buy anything there or not, sort of like a museum.
    Living in the heights is really a pretty good location for bike shops, you have like 15 or so within 15 minutes of your house.

    If you are really trying to stay cheap, you might want to go look at performance on westheimer...just don't let them touch anything after you buy it.

  10. #10
    bill nyecycles the sci guy's Avatar
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    Both my wife and I bought our bikes from West End. IMO it's the best shop in town. However, Blueline is also really awesome, and so is Urban Bicycle Gallery. I go to all 3 depending on what I'm going for. I also frequent the Bike Barn in the Westchase area (since that's where I live) and I've come to really enjoy that shop.
    Your assumption of a hybrid type bike is probably spot on. I would suggest something along the lines of a Specialized Sirrus or a Trek 7.2FX. Each shop carries different brands, so it's best to check them all out. West End is a Specialized/Surly/Salsa dealer, while Blueline deals a lot in Jamis/Scott/Kona, and Urban BG has a lot of single speeds. Don't settle for something, get smething that feels good and fits.

    The Heights looks like a cool place to bike though I've never done it since I don't live up there. We were looking to move there though when we buy a house. Not 100% though. I know the TC Jester/Heights trail are pretty good, and you can make your way do the Buffalo Bayou trail as well. I don't know exact directions because I've never done it. WHen you're ready for longer rides and a change of scenery, come out my way to Terry Hershey, and George Bush Park. You can ride upwards of 50 miles on secluded bike paths with no cars the entire way.
    Twitter@theSurlyBiker

  11. #11
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    FWIW, Bike Barn is having a store wide sale this weekend, good discounts on good bikes. I just bought my Specialized Sirrus -$400 of the sticker. I'm very happy with it.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Rex G's Avatar
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    BTTT, as I found this thread quite useful, being out-of-date on the progress of the trails/paths being built.
    Have Colt, will travel...

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