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Buying my first real bike - three possibilities. Advice appreciated.

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Buying my first real bike - three possibilities. Advice appreciated.

Old 01-29-15, 03:02 AM
  #1  
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Buying my first real bike - three possibilities. Advice appreciated.

Growing up, I had this Huffy 10 speed Mountain Bike. I rode it all the time and I loved it. When I went off to college out of state, I left it behind and bought a new bike for college. It was a Schwinn Mountain bike from walmart. I freaking hated that thing. So now, ten years after saying goodbye to casual bike riding, I've decided to start biking to work. I've done some research(not enough) and between that and my last bike purchasing experience, I've decided that a big box bike is not for me. I was tempted by a very cool looking Schwinn commuter at Target that was on clearance for $99, but if I'm gonna do it, I want to actually do it. That being said, I'm not in a place where I can justify (to my wife) spending 400-500 on a new Trek FX. Yes, I get it. It's an investment and $400 is very reasonable and so on. Just can't. So, like any cash-strapped but quality-concerned person would do, I've started digging through craigslist. I've actually come up with three options ranging in price from $160-$275. I have some of my own thoughts but again, I've never really had a "good bike". I know practically nothing. I really want to get advice from you veterans, so let me tell you what I think I want, what I'm looking at, and y'all can hopefully bestow some wisdom.

I want a hybrid. Aluminum frame, 700c wheels, upright position (again I grew up on a mountain bike). I want to be fast and agile. I want a bike that will allow me to install fenders and a rack. I'd like to keep the price down. I can always buy something better when I know I'm sticking with it. Here are the craigslist deals I'm looking at:

#1 Trek FX 7.2 - 17.5" The owner was asking 295 but I've talked him down to 250. I'm a bit concerned about the frame size. I'm 6' with a 30" inseam. All my reading makes me think I need a 20" frame. However, I know that some 6 footers are very happy with a 17.5" so I feel that I should at least check it out. It seems like a great price to me. If not for the smaller frame, I think this would be a no brainer.



#2 Trek FX 7.1 - 20" I've talked this owner down to $275. It's a little more than I wanted to pay but it's still way less than retail. Guy says it's close to new.



#3 (the wildcard) Trek 7300 - 20" This one's $160. Seller doesn't know how old it is. He says it's in great shape and to my untrained eye, he seems to be right. It doesn't have shocks on the front which is fine by me. I don't really know how this compares to the other two bikes. I feel like this is a great deal, but I don't have enough knowledge to know if it's even worth considering.



All of these bikes are in the same metro area, about 2 1/2 hours from me. I'm driving out to look at them on Friday and I have every intention of coming back with one of them. I'd appreciate any guidance you can offer. I'm entirely new to this and just want to make the smartest decision I can. Sorry for the dissertation. Thanks!

-FC
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Old 01-29-15, 06:42 AM
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I'd look close at the $160 one. That seat looks like a no go to me... The price sounds OK as long as everything works. Miles above a box store bike for sure.

Let us know how it goes. There is an incredible amount of friendly advice to be given here.
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Old 01-29-15, 07:09 AM
  #3  
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How much do you weigh? How far is your commute? Flat? Hilly? Mountains to climb? On the road? paved paths? Dirt or gravel? What city are you in? What do you need to carry to/from work each day? What is your current level of physical activity? Does your wife have any interest in riding?
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Old 01-29-15, 07:47 AM
  #4  
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When buying a used bike, condition often trumps specs. There will always need to be some repair or upgrade needed to bring it up to snuff, and even minor stif lite truing wheels or replacing some damaged cable housings can be comparably expensive. Suddenly the $200 bargain is a $300 not so bargain. So, unless you know enough to do your own work, bring a friend along to advise you on the bikes' mechanical condition and estimate a total cost.

$$$ value aside, what matters most is fit and meeting your needs, such as riding position, correct gearing for your terrain, and details like fender clearance. Things like small weight differences matter less than having a bike that's right for you.
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Old 01-29-15, 08:27 AM
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Thing with smaller frame bikes is that you have to make sure you can extend the seat post to the correct height without going past their maximum point. Just something to consider.

Something that I recommend to any bike owner is to get a bike fit done. This will help ensure that you are comfortable on the bike.
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Old 01-29-15, 08:29 AM
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If I were you I would possibly consider a road bike also. I think you could be limiting yourself and missing some deals. I have found that the roadie gives me more posture options than flat bar bikes. My back gets sore on rides sometimes so I like the options roadies give me. Besides I only find myself in the drops maybe 20% of the time but when I get stiff I am glad the drops are there. Also at your price range I would be considering all bikes out there. Just sayin! You need to go and ride the ones you are considering and make sure they fit you. Good luck on your search.
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Old 01-29-15, 09:27 AM
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I think you should have the larger bike. I'm 6' tall with short (32") legs also and the larger bike will have a longer wheelbase and top tube also. This will make the bike more comfortable and keep you from replacing it soon. I would also look into a longer and adjustable stem for it to provide a little more forward stretch.

Marc
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Old 01-29-15, 10:43 AM
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The $160 one has a suspension seatpost and adjustable stem, which might be useful. It also appears to have a gel saddle cover, which can be easily removed and given to someone you dislike. I would go look at the second one also before buying.
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Old 01-29-15, 10:43 AM
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FC, I think your approach is very smart. I'm sort of in the same situation; before I get a "real" commuter, I need to show my wife that I actually DO commute. I bought a vintage upright Raleigh off Craigslist because it was very cheap and very complete and very nerdy-chic. But those are my needs, not yours.

I like the questions posed by CrankyOne in post #3 . Let those guide your search. Upgrades like saddle, racks, lighting are items that you can transfer to a future high priced bike that you might end up moving toward.

Good luck on the journey!
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Old 01-29-15, 02:14 PM
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Thanks for to input everyone. Irwin and RayGarza, good advice. I think I'm going to bump the smaller frame down on my list of priorities and check the others out first.

CrankyOne, I'm 285 lbs. (primary motivation), the commute is 2.7 miles, mostly flat with minor slopes, all paved - mostly a two lane road with a 45 mph limit and no shoulder/sidewalk :-(. I'm not currently very active. I'm a videographer, so I do have some activity on shoots, but mostly I sit at a computer all day. I had been doing T25, but I dislocated and fractured my shoulder a few months ago and haven't gotten back into it. My wife got a bike from work a couple of years ago, but she got frustrated pretty quickly. She's the only person in the world who forgot how to ride a bike. Seriously though, her bike was a POC, so I think if she had a good one she might be interested in trying again, recreationally (her commute would be like 10 miles and largely through a rough part of town).

Fishboy, from what I've read, road bikes aren't as comfortable as hybrids. Has that been your experience? I'm certainly open to the idea.

davlafont, Thank you. Your bike sounds pretty ideal to me. Nerdy-Chic ought to be it's own category.

FBinNY, that's excellent advice and I'll definitely keep it in mind.

Motolegs and Radein, That bike is likely to be the last one I look at simply because of the owner's availability tomorrow. I think it could be great but I just won't know until I see it. The seat doesn't actually bother me too much. Like Radein said, I can remove the cover. Even if it sucks without it, I was kind of counting on replacing the seat on any bike eventually. My thing is just keeping the cost down on the entry purchase so I can afford to tailor the bike to my preferences. That said, I want the best bike in my budget, even if it's not the cheapest I see.

I have actually found another option that I think I'll be looking at first thing in the morning. It's a Trek FX 7.2 20" frame. The guy wants $300 but I don't want to spend that much. He says he'll negotiate once I've seen it, so we'll see how it goes. I'd like to shoot for $250, no more than $275. If anyone has any thoughts on this one I'd love to hear them. I'll definitely fill you in on my shopping experience after it's all done.
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Old 01-29-15, 02:31 PM
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OP, a few things to consider. Your weight will be putting some stress on those bikes. Others more knowledgable can chime in but bike shops around here get very cautious with people over about 225 lbs (clydesdales) and make sure that they get bikes and in particular wheels that will hold up.

You could likely do your commute with a single speed or 3-speed. You might consider looking for an upright roadster type bike. This would be more comfortable, eliminate some maintenance and potential breakdowns, be more likely to handle your and cargo weight without getting squirrelly, and possibly be less expensive. I have road and mtn bikes for road racing and mtn biking but the majority of my riding is on my Opafiets.

Time your commute for when there is lite traffic. 45mph & no shoulders is not fun. Do you have any better optional routes? What city are you in?

Finally, you're heading in the right direction by bicycling. For most people, myself included, it is the best way to increase activity and loose weight and it is quite enjoyable along the way.

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Old 01-29-15, 06:49 PM
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You won't be riding 2.7 miles for long. Once you get your butt broken in (seriously, you have to develop your butt if you haven't ridden for a long while) you'll be looking for "the long way" to work. Eventually, it will be about how much time you can afford in your workaday schedule.

Regarding road frames, you may find them inappropriate right now as you reacquaint yourself, especially given your MTN bike history. But down the line you might find the efficiency to be appealing. Many modern road bikes are "comfort" geometry bringing the headtube up higher and fitted with stems and spacers that can be configured to fairly upright. Cyclocross bikes tend to be sturdy with beefy wheels/tires and will often take flat handlebars easily. Might be a good choice for the over 200 rider.

Are you starting soon? The deals you've found will be repeated; don't feel like this is your only chance to get bikes like these. But if if you think you'd better buy something now before you lose momentum, at least you'll have some things to consider as you experiment with your new commute.
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Old 01-29-15, 08:55 PM
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Cranky, I'm def. going to look into some roadsters. I'm accepting that if I do go with a Trek, I'll likely need to replace my back wheel before too long. My plan is to get in the game for as little initial investment as possible and ride until I start busting spokes. I'm not planning to stay 285 for long. I started counting calories and changing my nutrition a month ago. Lost 5 lbs. since new years. I'm in Longview, TX. It's a town of about 100,000. My work is at the corner of two highways so the two lane road that runs behind really does seem to be my best option. I appreciate your advice and encouragement.

davlafont, I'd love to be one of those guys that logs 1,000s of miles a year. I hope this really does become a hobby as much as a way to get in shape. I'm certainly open to getting nicer and more specialized bikes in the future, but for now my goal is to find a good bike to take to work. If I do manage to come home with a bike tomorrow, I'll be taking it to work on Monday.
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Old 01-30-15, 11:12 AM
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The 7000 series are predecessors to the 7 series. About par, just older. Earlier than that, when they were steel, they were 700 series. All great for commuting.

I'd avoid anything that's below 8-speed on the rear. 7-speeds are usually freewheels which, at MTB width, lead to bent axles and broken frames.
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Old 01-30-15, 12:03 PM
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I once separated riding bikes and working on bikes in my mind, but now I see them as connected. From that perspective I'd get that $160 bike, and as you ride it think about what you'd like to change: brakes rub, bar too close... Then look on YouTube for videos about how to fix it, and buy the tools you need. Little by little you'll get to the point where that $160 bike is better than anything you can by new for $2000.
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Old 01-30-15, 12:20 PM
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If the cheapest bike is in good shape and fits you, that's the one I'd get. Then I'd replace the tires with the widest ones you can fit. This is important for ride comfort, but also because of your weight the added width and cushion will make a big difference, I think.
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Old 01-30-15, 03:45 PM
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Hey everyone! I just got home from my bike-hunting trip to DFW. I did buy one and it's now sitting in my living room. I went to double check craigslist this morning before I left and unfortunately the $160 bike had been taken down. The guy found a buyer before I could get to it. With that being the case, I set my sights on the 4th option: the 20" 7.2. The seller wanted $300 but I was prepared to pay up to $275 if it was in good shape. However, when I got there, I discovered that a pedal was broken, the chain, gears and cables had some rust, and both tires were flat. Seller tried to pump up the tires when I was looking at it but something was wrong with his pump. I could have overlooked some of these flaws if the price had been right but I'm not paying that much money for a bike I can't ride.

So, on to the next one. This was option #2 in the original post. A 20" 7.1. Turns out it had only been ridden on the test ride when it was purchased. Normally, I would think that's an load of crock, but I believe it because the bike is perfect. Showroom condition. And since there was air in the tires I actually got to give it a try. I wasn't sure which frame size was right for me, so if this didn't work out, I still had the option of either the 17.5" 7.2 or just going home empty handed. But it felt great. Also the sellers price on the listing was 295 with a helmet. I wasn't sure if the helmet would fit so I was prepared to pay $275 without the helmet. The helmet actually fit great though so I went with that one. I didn't try to talk him down anymore because I really felt that the price, while not a crazy steal, was very fair. Now I'm shopping amazon for some lights. She's hitting the road starting on Monday. Thanks everyone!

BTW - if anyone in the DFW area's looking, there's still an FX 7.2 17.5" sitting a pawn shop in Plano. $250.
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Old 01-30-15, 04:19 PM
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Congratulations!
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Old 01-30-15, 04:23 PM
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Congrats. Hope you enjoy riding as much as I and most on here do.
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Old 01-30-15, 04:37 PM
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Thanks guys! Your advice really helped! Here she is, home at last, for those who've never seen a bike before. ;-)
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Old 01-30-15, 04:43 PM
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High-Five on your new bike! Get all the adjustments done and get out there and start exploring your area on the bike. You will be surprised to all the back roads you can find to get you where you want to go.
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Old 01-30-15, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by FatCommuter View Post
Thanks guys! Your advice really helped! Here she is, home at last, for those who've never seen a bike before. ;-)
Looks to be in great shape! Get some good lights, tire fixing kit, spare tube, water bottle and a saddle bag. Does it have eyelets for a rack and fenders? It looks like it does but can't be sure.
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Old 01-30-15, 06:10 PM
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Thanks Ray! It does have eyelets. Rack and fenders are def. going on, but it may be a little bit. Lights are the first priority. Looking at a rechargeable 500 lumen headlight with a taillight thrown in on amazon. 40 bucks. I'll probably use a light backpack until the old bank account recharges. My wife wants me to have a rear-view mirror so I'll be looking into that as well. I'm interested to see if my coffee thermos fits in the bottle holders...
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Old 01-30-15, 06:47 PM
  #24  
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Congratulations! Looks like a good bike. About the mirror: I've been using a Mirrycle. It's very effective, doesn't vibrate, and was pretty cheap ($15 on Amazon).
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Old 01-30-15, 07:00 PM
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Dude, you scored! Sweet ride! As you ride and gain experience you'll know the things you need. Welcome to the fold!!
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