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Needing a starting line

Old 01-22-11, 02:16 PM
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Alfred
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Needing a starting line

I am looking to get back into cylcing again after about a 6 year hiates. I rode everyday from 6th grade till high school graduation. I lived in the country so it was about 10 miles back and forth. Back then I rode an mountain bike that my parents had bought me. Of course over 7 years I had changed out many of the stock parts. The closest bike shop was almost two hours away so I really new nothing about riding. I had to leave my bike when I left for college because the campus didn't accomidate bikes. Unfortunantly old faithful grew a lot of rust and I eventually had to just throw it away.

I am now looking to get back into riding. I would like to ride to and from work which is about 6 miles one way. There are a couple small hills along the way but they are nice smooth roads with plenty of room. I just don't even know where to start. There are a lot of different options out their if someone could give me some good advice while looking I would really apreciate it.

I guess I need to let everyone know more about myself. I am 5'9 tall. I would be taking a laptop back and forth with me and lunch. It all fits well into my back pack and is pretty light weight. I would choose speed over comfort in riding. I never seem to do anything slow and when riding I tend to want to get from one place to anther as quickly as possible. I will be able to store the back in my office once at work. My price range would be around $200 it could go up some for a great buy. I may buy a nicer bike if I begin using it to go everywhere but with still having college debt and now a morgage payment I think it would be best to start small. I figure if I buy a good bike to start with and slowly upgrade peices it would work best. I have been looking around at local shops but I have no clue what are good trusted brands. I'm not even sure what size bike I should get. For that matter I don't even know what questions to ask myself. ANY help would be appreciated.

Oh, I did find a local guy who fixes up older bikes in his garage and then sells them here in Louisville, KY. I'm not sure if any are worth the money or could work for what I would like it for. Here is a link to pictures of the bikes and prices.

http://s1036.photobucket.com/albums/...01/For%20Sale/
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Old 01-22-11, 02:50 PM
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At your height you would probably get a road bike somewhere around 54 - 56cm or MTB 17-19".

If you are looking to go fast than probably a road bike would be your best bet. So either the Schwinn or the Ross in your link. From the looks of it, he is selling some nice bikes. For your price range you are looking in the craigslist, used, pawn shop, garage sale, auctions, and etc. type of markets.

Trusted brands are the Trek, Specialized, Giant, Cannondale, or any bike usually sold in a LBS. For your price range they me be out of contention.

First off You pretty much know what type of activities you will be doing with it. Second you know your price range. The next step is the most important, making sure the bike fits. The measurements I gave you previously are rough estimates. Some people like bikes a little larger or a little smaller.

Basically go for a test ride on as many bikes as you can in your price range. Get the one you are most comfortable on and will use.
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Old 01-22-11, 04:01 PM
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Thanks, a lot. I guess I need to get out and test ride a bunch. I can see how the frame is pretty important. To change it out I would basically be getting a new bike.

As far as upgrading a bike. Are they pretty universal or would one older brand be easier than another to put a little work into it? I tend to enjoy customizing something as I go along more than buying just what comes off the shelf. I have no problem putting a little bit of money into a bike for some inexpensive upgrades but if I decide to upgrade the bike would all my parts be useless on the new one?

I guess what I am say is will I be able to find a decent bike for under 200 with potential? I really don't want to wait on getting a bike. I know with parking my truck for a bike I will have extra money that I could put back into the bike until it is what I want it to be. Otherwise that money will be spent on gas and maintanance.
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Old 01-22-11, 04:24 PM
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If you find a decent frame, then upgrading parts makes sense. Maybe you should cross post to the C&V and ask their opinions on whether any of those bikes you linked to are too good to pass up.
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Old 01-22-11, 04:48 PM
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I can't tell you about those specific brands or components. Both of the bikes (Ross and Schwinn) look comparable as far being able to upgrade if you need to. Both look to be from a time period when both were considered good brands.

Your price range limits whats available in a roadbike (at least the newer ones). I probably wouldn't hesitate to get either of those bikes. In your case you have to factor in what is available in your area at this time of year.

Since the guy selling the bikes seems knowledgeable ask him about upgrading. Judging by the bikes he seems to know quality from junk. He might be an old mechanic who could tell you a lot about bikes from that time period, but doesn't keep up with the new stuff.
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Old 01-22-11, 06:13 PM
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Actually I was able to speak with him tonight and apparently he owns a bike shop, and try's to get these old bikes for people who are looking to begin on a budget. I am going later this week to check out the bikes. I just wanted a good second opinion from someone that isn't trying to get my money.
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Old 01-22-11, 06:18 PM
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If you are commuting, look for a bike that you can put a rear rack on.
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Old 01-22-11, 06:20 PM
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In your price range and market you can't be real picky about the brand and style, but you do want to be picky about fit and durability. Personally I like a rigid mtn bike fitted with slicks, but an older road bike can also work. I picked up a NOS Specialized Hardrock for $200 at my LBS once, and it's served me for 10 years. I just went in during the off season and asked what deals they had in my size. Again my preference is for fenders and a rack, so a frame with mounting eyelets is important to me. Fenders on a commuter are mandatory IMO.

The most important things are 1) fit, and 2) start riding.
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Old 01-22-11, 06:28 PM
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z90 -I figure I could always by a good rack if I need it. I assume a backpack should do for now.

downtube42- I know a "beggar shouldn't be a chooser" but there are so many brands out there and I didn't want to get something because it looked pretty and have a lot of problems with it. I figure staying with a trust brand would be best. Unless this isn't the case with bikes. Can I go wrong if the bike rides good?
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Old 01-22-11, 06:55 PM
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The 52cm raleigh with Brooks at $225 is the best buy, beyond maybe that Mixte Miyata, imho. At 5'9 you're probably going to be better off with the 52cm than the 50cm.

I'm 6'0 and ride a 56cm.

Bonus on the Raleigh is that you're getting a $120 saddle out of the deal, and it doesn't look like a total piece of crap. Raleigh is still a decent commuter bike company.

That is an original Raleigh too. Needs a new chain, and probably could use some kool stop pads on the brakes. Neither is going to bust your bank, but you're still going to end up having to buy them and install. I'd personally recommend taking that bike, going to your LBS and having them put on the chain, and brake pads. Get to know them and make friends early. As things need replacing, let them explain to you what are the best options. Velo Orange sells a lot of parts that would work well on that bike, and you could go to someone like universal bicycles (google it) and find a quality rear rack for under $45 shipped. Tires on 27s are limited, but I picked up 2 sets on my araya for under $40 total (not in one shot).

The brakes are center pulls, look like they're original so the only other "new" part I would worry about in the near future is probably cables. Once again, something you'll find easier to get with the knowledge and friendship of the LBS.

Last edited by Santaria; 01-22-11 at 07:02 PM.
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Old 01-22-11, 07:45 PM
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OP- I've had my "old faithful" for ten years now, and I'm pretty sure it's at least five years older than that. I did what you're planning to do with your ride. It was a "big box" rigid mountain bike with pretty low end parts. Over time I've fitted it with slicks, new wheels, fenders, drop bars, clip pedals (I like the Power Grips for the variety of shoes I can use) a rack, and enough lights to make my Christmas tree envious. It's never been the fastest ride on the road, but it's fairly quick and my most comfortable ride. I can keep at least 18 mph in good conditions on it.

The advantage to this ride is that I can always switch out to knobbies for off road, and I have plenty of clearance for studded tires in the winter. I converted to friction shifting early on in the process- giving me the advantage of no cheapo plastic shifter parts, but more importantly as I wear out my cassettes I don't have to worry about replacing it with the same or similar parts. If I want 9 gears- fine, 7- fine. The bike is as flexible as I want. I put 3-4000 miles a year on this ride. The only thing it really needs now is a new paint job.

Bottom line, name isn't everything in a frame. Look for good construction and geometry that fits your needs and it'll serve you well. I'd bet that fellow with the used bikes probably has something for you.
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Old 01-22-11, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Alfred View Post
Actually I was able to speak with him tonight and apparently he owns a bike shop, and try's to get these old bikes for people who are looking to begin on a budget. I am going later this week to check out the bikes. I just wanted a good second opinion from someone that isn't trying to get my money.
Who said I wasn't trying to get your money ;-). <This is the internet, I could be the same guy posting those bikes in Louisville.> In all seriousness though it seems like you are on the right track.

Just ride as many as you can. I am 5'9 and have a 19" hardtail and 54cm touring bike (sized smaller). As you can see by Santaria's post we are all different. That's why most of us recommend test riding so you have an idea of what is right for you.
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Old 01-22-11, 07:53 PM
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That 56 Pink Ross or the 54CM Schwinn Premis is going to fit you the best out of all of them depending on your body proportions. $175/$215 is ok if everything works and the wheels are true. If something needs fixing, I'll ask it for $125-$150. You can install a rear rack with P-clamps on the Ross. I don't see a rear eyelet for the Schwinn though. You should ask. This may rule out the Premis if it doesn't have one since you won't be able to install a rack without doing some creative mounting.

I wouldn't get the raleigh since it is a 52cm and is too small for you. That Brooks saddle is nice, but it's old so there's a good chance that it hasn't been treated properly with proofide so cracking and such could be present. But who knows maybe the original owner was really good about it. You can buy it and then sell the Raleigh with another seat and you'll have a really cheap brooks.
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Old 01-22-11, 08:25 PM
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This looks like it would be a contender, given the info on hand:
http://s1036.photobucket.com/albums/...t=IMG_1379.jpg

Fit will be one of the biggest factors, and don't assume that speed necessitates discomfort. You height is a good starting point, but how about other proportions? Is your torso longer or shorter than "typical", same with inseam?
If you are of pretty typical proportions, your inseam is probably 30-32" or so, which makes 54-57cm a good starting point for size.

Test ride some bikes, new, used, road, hybrid, etc. Get a feel for what you like. Guaranteed you would get far more enjoyment out of a properly sized but "slower" mountain bike than a poorly fitting "faster" road bike.

Since you are young and interested in more speed, with minimal if any hills, a singlespeed (with a freewheel rather than fixed gear) might be the ticket.
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Old 01-22-11, 10:01 PM
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I'm 5'9 and my inseam is 32inch. I'm not sure what is considered "proportionate".
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Old 01-22-11, 10:16 PM
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Just try the bike and see... I'm 5'11" and have shorter legs (around 31" standover), so I ride around a 53cm road frame.

Just don't be fooled into thinking you need an expensive bike to commute. Far from it! Even cheap bikes will make it 6 miles each way fairly easily, and as long as you give yourself enough time, your legs and lungs will strengthen again quickly. Even a cheap bike (properly adjusted) should last you a couple thousand miles. By then, you'll have a good idea of what you really want.

I started commuting on a $200 wal-mart mountain bike (granted, it was an aluminum hardtail). Don't sweat the small stuff... just do it.
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Old 01-22-11, 10:27 PM
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I don't see a bike co-op in Louisville; too bad, that would be helpful.

Start here: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/frame-sizing.html

Actually it's worth your while to spend some time perusing sheldonbrown.com. Most people consider Sheldon (RIP) to be THE source for all things bicycle.

On any older bike you buy, you'll want to know if the bearings have been repacked. If they have not, that will need to be done. You can DIY but it takes a few tools; helps if you get to know someone local to teach you a bit and loan some tools. Otherwise it's the LBS and a few more dollars. Heck, maybe the seller is your guy for startup help.
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