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-   -   How to get started? (https://www.bikeforums.net/commuting/796223-how-get-started.html)

chschen 02-02-12 04:27 PM

How to get started?
 
Hi,

Though I've been biking casually for since I was in elementary school, I've never really gotten into biking and would really like your help on getting started. In particular, I want to be able to bike around the city (San Francisco) easily. I don't really intend on doing it for sport--I'm just trying to get from Point A to Point B as easily as possible. In the past, I've commuted to and from school (about 25 minutes each way) on bike, but it was always with a miserable, cheap bike from Wal-mart or Target that inevitably would have problems with brakes, gears, seats, etc. It would be such an ordeal that I never enjoyed it. Now I want to start biking instead of driving, and I'd like a solid bike to get me to different parts of the city. I'm hoping to get something used and not over $200, but I don't even know where to begin. I was thinking of getting a road bike, but I've never tried it out before. Is it a good idea? When looking on Craigslist, what should I be watching out for? What are some reliable brands? I'm hoping eventually to be able to attach a bike trailer to it for groceries.

Thanks in advance for all your help!

P.S. I don't know if this is pertinent, but I'm 5'5" and a female.

1nterceptor 02-02-12 04:53 PM

There are bargains that can be found on Craigslist,
garage sales, flea markets, Salvation Army, Ebay, etc.
But it's only a bargain if you can tell that it's mechanically
sound and is a good fit for you. Since you're not too
familiar w/ bikes yet, I would suggest you try your local
bike coop's or bike shops for a used bike. They will
usually check the bike for mechanical problems and will
give you some kind of warranty.

If you can stretch you budget just a bit more, $100 - $200;
you should be able to get a new hybrid from your local
bike shops. It will be the correct size for you and will come
with a 1 year warranty. Good luck, keep us posted.

nashcommguy 02-02-12 05:02 PM

Specialized Hardrock, Crossroads(it's a hybrid...bigger diameter wheels, more narrow tires).

Have a friend who knows alot about bikes help you make your selection. 200.00 isn't much room, but you can get something to suit your needs. Maybe an old Raleigh w/a Sturmey-Archer 3 speed IGH(internally geared hub)? They're pretty low maintenance for what they give you. Others will post w/more and better ideas. Hope this is helpful.

Btw, I don't think a road bike in an urban situation is ideal. But, that's just my opinion. Others will disagree, I'm certain. :p

Andy_K 02-02-12 05:09 PM

You can get a decent used bike for $200, but it might not be everything you want. With that as a upper limit to the budget, I'd probably look for a late 80's/early 90's mountain bike made by either Trek, Giant or Specialized (limiting to these three mostly because they are common enough that it should be sufficient). You can probably get a bike like that for around $100 (though they'll be asking for $150). Don't get one with a suspension fork. This bike will probably be a 21-speed (3 front, 7 rear) with thumb shifters or possibly grip shifters and cheap mountain bike tires. You probably want something that is listed as 15" (which refers to the length of the seat tube).

Ride the bike and make sure it's comfortable for you. Make sure that the brakes respond well and that you can shift into all the gears. After you ride it, lift each wheel off the ground and give it a spin -- the front wheel should spin freely for a minute or more, the rear will only spin backward and you'll hear clicking from the hub). While lifting the front wheel, move the handlebars back and forth and make sure they move smoothly. Avoid any bike with visible rust or dents. Make sure you can raise and lower the seat. You should at least ask the seller if he/she would be willing to let you take the bike to a shop to be checked out before you buy it.

You'll want to replace the tires immediately with something that has a smooth or semi-slick tread. Don't go cheap here. If you can budget $70 for tires, that would be good. Also budget for spare tubes, a mini pump and a multi-tool. I know you don't want to have to think about things like that, but you should still be prepared. A helmet is a good idea, but for the kind of riding you want to do it probably isn't absolutely necessary.

no1mad 02-02-12 05:41 PM

Perusing the SF Bay CL, these pop out:

Dahon folder would make doing a multimodal commute a lot easier. Then there is this one that might be of interest, but you'd definitely want to have a knowledge person look this over with you- and then promptly install some slicker tires.

a1penguin 02-02-12 11:56 PM

I recommend the local CL. In your price range, there will be a lot of choices and with a bit of patience, you might catch a really good deal. A CL bike is not likely to get stolen. If you decide you like biking and want to do longer rides, you can upgrade. I do think that you could use some help from a bike nerdy friend to help find a bike that is mechanically sound. I recommend a bike with some gears since SF has hills. Don't forget to budget for a helmet. A $20 Bell helmet from any bigbox store will be just as effective as a $200 helmet.

If you have never ridden in a city like SF, I recommend you consult some web sites that talk about how to ride safely in a city.

Andy_K 02-03-12 12:55 AM

It may be worth your time to stop by a local bike co-op and talk to them about what you want. They could help with local resources, and it's always useful to make friends at a bike co-op.

SlimRider 02-03-12 01:12 AM

:welcome TO BIKE FORUMS, CHSCHEN!

We will try to answer all of your cycling questions to the best of our ability!

These are some bicycles that may be of interest to you. Make certain that someone who knows about bicycles, accompanies you in order to assist you with these recommendations. We cannot guarantee the condition or reliabilty of any of these bicycles, since we have not examined them personally.


http://sfbay.craigslist.org/bik/
S.F. Bay Area Craigslist


CHECKOUT THESE USED BAY AREA BIKES: New Ten Speed Recommendations!

http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/2816924246.html

http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/bik/2782738581.html

http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/2829816586.html

http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/2828203953.html

http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/2822488598.html

http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/bik/2823336879.html


You should take whatever bike you get, to the Bike Kitchen Co-op at 650h Florida Street and either upgrade it, or completely rebuild it!

Good Luck! :thumb:

- Slim :)

PS.

Go to the Co-op first. See if they have any free frames, for which you could maybe volunteer 12 hours of your time. The BIKE KITCHEN will teach you how to fix or rebuild your bike!


YOUR BIKE MUST BE AT LEAST A 10 SPEED FOR SAN FRANCISCO HILLS!

jtdunc 02-03-12 02:10 AM

A hybrid would be best for the city. Giant should have some decent $400 bikes with street tires, v-brakes, pretty upright position, comfortable bike you can attach a rack to for carrying groceries in the city. If you can spend a little more, it will be more worth it.

Giant Escape:
http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/...ty/8910/48611/

Raleigh Misceo:
http://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/hybrid/misceo-12/

Specialized Hardrocks are nice. Got mine for $200 off of Craiglist. Love it but its a mountain bike.

jsdavis 02-03-12 02:49 AM

I find that for Craigslist, you have to be fairly patient. My friend recently bought a 2010 Marin Muirwoods 29er for $300 in like new condition but he probably waited 3 or 4 months until one came up. He was really picky though and he had to wait for the correct model and size to appear. Guess he knew what he wanted.

As far as the type of bike, I don't know that a road bike is a huge benefit, but you should ride what you think is most comfortable for you. In SF, you stopping every 300 to 500 ft in many parts. I've rode down Market street a few times around 5-6pm and it's a menagerie any bike you can think of. Old, new, road, mountain, hybrid, mixte, and even recumbent.

If you haven't rode bikes in quite some time, you should keep your options open. If your friends have bikes, maybe you can convince them to let you test them if they have a road bike.

The thing about a road bike is that they tend to be geared higher which means you can go faster, but hills will be more difficult to climb. If you want to tow a trailer up a hill (even a small one) it might not be the best choice. You can change the gears out on the crank and back wheel, but there are limits on how much you can change things up and it does cost money. For example, you can put a mountain bike gear cassette on the back wheel but the derailleur on a road bike may not work well if at all.

MichaelW 02-03-12 06:09 AM

You want to do urban utility riding, getting from A to B, running errands, maybe doing shopping on a bike.
You need a bike with sufficiently low gears for your terrain and threaded eyelets to accept a rear luggage rack and fenders.
Bikes should weight as much as they need to but no more. Front suspension is not needed and adds weight and maintenance.
A non suspension hybrid or "fitness style" flat bar bike is ideal. Look for a triple chainset with low gears. My own city bike uses 8 speed hub gears but the hills in SF may be too steep for the gear range of this clean, easy to use system.
Disk brakes maintain their performance in all conditions so are good for wet winter riding.
Wider tyres give better protection than narrower tyres over rough, potholed streets, esp when carrying a load. Hybrid 32-35mm tyres are fine for everyday use. Narrower tyres are better for long commutes on the open road. Dont skimp on tyres, get a reliable set with good puncture protection.

Dont underspend. Figure out what the alternative to cycling would cost over say, 5 years.
Budget for bike, luggage rack, fenders, lock, lighting, helmet, waterproofs, repair kit.

nashvillwill 02-03-12 07:41 AM

Gear range is a big consideration depending upon point A and B. Outer Richmond=few gears, Mission=medium range, Nob Hill= many gears.

Also, I would recommend staying away from drop bars in the city. Keep your head up! A hybrid should serve you well. 35-38 tires.

Also, if you plan to use BART or MUNI a folder might be in order, although I BART every day with a full sized frame.

colleen c 02-03-12 08:45 AM

Getting a great deal thru Craiglist around here in the Bay Area is next to impossible. Be ready to reply to a add with no hesitation and show up ASAP. Only twice did I score a bargain. First one I replied like 1/2 hour right after the add pop up. Went to check it out an hour later. Three buyers already looked at it before I did. Got lucky and I got the bike.

The second time was a 8 month old Hardrock for sale for $175. The add pop up late evening and I was first to reply for a meetup next day. The seller next day told me he had better offers and wanted to drop me. I gave him a guilt trip stating that his add should have noted OBO if he was going that route. He felt bad and delayed the other buyers. When I showed up, he kept his promise to me but told me one buyer was screaming and shouting at him almost threatening him. The bike was in mint condition and perfect, so I gave him an extra $25 for keeping his words.

Keep the bike light and simple for riding around SF. The added weight does add up in the incline. The simplicity help avoid theft. I've seen too many broken lock or stripped out bike around here. If you are riding in congested traffic area (and that's about everywhere), stay with upright.

SlimRider 02-03-12 09:01 AM


Originally Posted by MichaelW (Post 13803376)
You want to do urban utility riding, getting from A to B, running errands, maybe doing shopping on a bike.
You need a bike with sufficiently low gears for your terrain and threaded eyelets to accept a rear luggage rack and fenders.
Bikes should weight as much as they need to but no more. Front suspension is not needed and adds weight and maintenance.
A non suspension hybrid or "fitness style" flat bar bike is ideal. Look for a triple chainset with low gears. My own city bike uses 8 speed hub gears but the hills in SF may be too steep for the gear range of this clean, easy to use system.
Disk brakes maintain their performance in all conditions so are good for wet winter riding.
Wider tyres give better protection than narrower tyres over rough, potholed streets, esp when carrying a load. Hybrid 32-35mm tyres are fine for everyday use. Narrower tyres are better for long commutes on the open road. Dont skimp on tyres, get a reliable set with good puncture protection.

Dont underspend. Figure out what the alternative to cycling would cost over say, 5 years.
Budget for bike, luggage rack, fenders, lock, lighting, helmet, waterproofs, repair kit.


Originally Posted by nashvillwill (Post 13803548)
Gear range is a big consideration depending upon point A and B. Outer Richmond=few gears, Mission=medium range, Nob Hill= many gears.

Also, I would recommend staying away from drop bars in the city. Keep your head up! A hybrid should serve you well. 35-38 tires.

Also, if you plan to use BART or MUNI a folder might be in order, although I BART every day with a full sized frame.


Originally Posted by colleen c (Post 13803731)
Getting a great deal thru Craiglist around here in the Bay Area is next to impossible. Be ready to reply to a add with no hesitation and show up ASAP. Only twice did I score a bargain. First one I replied like 1/2 hour right after the add pop up. Went to check it out an hour later. Three buyers already looked at it before I did. Got lucky and I got the bike.

The second time was a 8 month old Hardrock for sale for $175. The add pop up late evening and I was first to reply for a meetup next day. The seller next day told me he had better offers and wanted to drop me. I gave him a guilt trip stating that his add should have noted OBO if he was going that route. He felt bad and delayed the other buyers. When I showed up, he kept his promise to me but told me one buyer was screaming and shouting at him almost threatening him. The bike was in mint condition and perfect, so I gave him an extra $25 for keeping his words.

Keep the bike light and simple for riding around SF. The added weight does add up in the incline. The simplicity help avoid theft. I've seen too many broken lock or stripped out bike around here. If you are riding in congested traffic area (and that's about everywhere), stay with upright.

Listen to all of these BF members. They all give excellent advice! Also, remember what JSDavis has stated, too. Sometimes you have to be patient in order to get the right bicycle on CL. On the other hand, the early bird gets the worm. Therefore, don't hesitate about contacting a prospective seller about a potential bike of interest!

- Slim :)

chschen 02-03-12 10:58 AM

Wow, thank you all so much for your really great, specific, useful advice. I'm going to consider everything you all said over the weekend, do some more research, see if I can root out some bike nerds among my friends, and visit the bike co-op to get more details. I'll keep you updated on what I eventually do. Thanks again!

Bigdaddy021970 02-03-12 11:20 AM

I was going to put in my 2 cents, but it seems as though you have some good information from the other members. Take what they say into account.

And welcome to the forums. Enjoy your stay.

jsdavis 02-03-12 09:38 PM


Originally Posted by nashvillwill (Post 13803548)
Gear range is a big consideration depending upon point A and B. Outer Richmond=few gears, Mission=medium range, Nob Hill= many gears.

Also, I would recommend staying away from drop bars in the city. Keep your head up! A hybrid should serve you well. 35-38 tires.

Also, if you plan to use BART or MUNI a folder might be in order, although I BART every day with a full sized frame.

I dunno how much you ride in Outer Richmond, but it's definitely NOT flat. The area bounded by the ocean, 34th Ave and Cabrillo is one big hill. The apex is around 43rd and Clement. Venturing into this area, you definitely need more than a few gears. My 28-32 gear combination is a must in this area. The elevation change going from Anza to Geary is around 70 ft once the Avenues get into the 40s. This is greater than 10% grade. Not as steep as Nob, Russian, or Telegraph Hills, but not the easiest ride either.

SlimRider 02-03-12 11:00 PM


Originally Posted by jsdavis (Post 13807009)
I dunno how much you ride in Outer Richmond, but it's definitely NOT flat. The area bounded by the ocean, 34th Ave and Cabrillo is one big hill. The apex is around 43rd and Clement. Venturing into this area, you definitely need more than a few gears. My 28-32 gear combination is a must in this area. The elevation change going from Anza to Geary is around 70 ft once the Avenues get into the 40s. This is greater than 10% grade. Not as steep as Nob, Russian, or Telegraph Hills, but not the easiest ride either.

This is definitely true!

Therefore, the recommendations above (in post #8) have been changed to all ten speeds!

- Slim


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