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Obligatory what bike should I get thread

Old 04-04-16, 09:31 AM
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mpizzle421
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Obligatory what bike should I get thread

Hello all. Sorry in advance for the question asked by countless others before me.

I'm 38 years old (rounding up, less than 3 weeks to my birthday) and pretty novice to bicycling as an adult. I've rode here and there over the last 20 years or so, but nothing consistent.

Last summer I purchased a mountain bike. Not really because I expected to do any serious trail riding, just picked a mountain bike because I didn't know what else to buy. My logic was that it would be good enough for street riding and would work well enough at the forest preserve by my house. I did a small amount of research and decided that I would try to avoid Walmart and went with Farm and Fleet (probably not much better, but figured anything would probably be better than the 'mart). I went with something like this:

Schwinn Men's 27.5" High Timber Mountain Bike at Blain's Farm & Fleet

High Timber from Schwinn. I rode it last year some, but really decided that this year I would take it more seriously. I picked up a cheap indoor trainer (magnetic) and spent from January - March riding indoors. Once the weather got slightly better (I live in Illinois, it's only so good this time of year) I've taken to riding at least 2-3 times per week (sometimes even daily). My goal is fitness and weight loss. I don't love cardio (elliptical, treadmill, etc.) but find that I actually enjoy a good bike ride.

I started out at 280 and I'm down to 245lbs now. I'm 5'9". I have a few places I would primarily ride:

1. The bike path by my house. I'm lucky enough to have a bike path near my house. All paved.
2. Gravel / Loose trail. https://www.traillink.com/trail-revi...dge-trail.aspx I live about 10 minutes (on bike) from this trail. It's fantastic for riding. I believe it's a good 30 miles one way if you decide to ride the entire distance.
3. I have a forest preserve near my home. There are riding trails there. Nothing overly difficult, but plenty of grass, rough riding to be had there.

My go-to with no doubt be stone-bridge. Scenic, nice ride.

That being said, the difficulties I'm having with the current bike and the reason I want to upgrade.

1. I'm not sure if it's my fitness level or if it's the bike - but anything with even a minor uphill is a huge pain.
2. Related to #1 - slooow. I feel like it's quite a bit of effort to move on this thing. I've tried different gears, etc. and it's just painfully slow.
3. I don't know very much about bikes so I don't know how to maintain them myself. However, this bike is only a year old or so and it shifts badly (I change gears and it takes several seconds to "catch" which I find annoying). It's also starting to squeak (assume need to oil the chain, etc.). The bike shop I was looking at actually offers free tune-ups for life if you purchase the bike from them. That's actually pretty tempting in itself.
4. Wrist pain. Riding for a any amount of time (30 minutes or more) results in wrist pain for me. It would be nice to be able to switch positions occasionally (going to neutral grip, etc.).
5. Knee pain. I have a knee that has been bothering me on the bike. Could easily be my position on the bike.

This is the bike shop I'm looking at: Rockford Bicycles - Loves Park, Illinois Trek, Gary Fisher, MirraCo, Haro, Redline (they are almost exclusively trek it appears).

First - what kind of bike should I be looking at? I was leaning toward a hybrid but would welcome any suggestions.

Second - Would I actually be able to find something in the 500-600 range that would be significantly better than my 139.00 Farm and Fleet Schwinn or am I just paying for a name with basically the same components?

Suggestions on bike size? Type? Suggestions to alleviate physical symptoms?

I welcome and appreciate all feedback!
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Old 04-04-16, 10:56 AM
  #2  
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Hybrids should do what you need. Trek's 7.3 FX should work for your budget, but look at other bikes, too. Find what fits you, and then decide what fits your riding style and budget.
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Old 04-04-16, 11:13 AM
  #3  
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You already own this bike and might want to put off buying a replacement for a while, hopefully when you're below 200-200#s and have more options.

This bike can be made suitable for your needs for little dough, and though it may still be less than ideal, it'll be fine for now. The most important change would be high pressure smooth tread tires suited to pavements.

1- the bike already has all the gearing you could conceivably need to climb, the rest is a matter for your engine, handicapped by the high payload. shaving a few pounds off a bike won't get you up hills any easier, buy shaving another 25#s off your body is worth 10%, and in the meantime your engine will (hopefully) get more powerful. The real key to being to climb hills is to climb them. Find hills you can manage, and incorporate as many as you can into 1/3rd of your rides, ie. a long flat ride, a short, fast flat ride, and a hilly ride.

Knee and wrist pain may relate to your fit, and you might need some help form someone who can see you on the bike. The basics include a saddle high enough that the knees are almost straight, but not so at the bottom of the pedal stroke. The wrist wants a natural hand position with the wrist not bent back or rotated. The knees also benefit form lower loads and faster cadence. Most newbies don't shift low enough or soon enough when climbing, and this strains the knee, especially when pulling a heavy rider up a hill. You have low gears --- use them

As for learning mechanical work, the best bet is a repair class offered by shops or some adult education programs. If there's a bike co-op near you, that's a great place to start.
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Old 04-04-16, 11:27 AM
  #4  
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Originally Posted by mpizzle421 View Post
Hello all. Sorry in advance for the question asked by countless others before me.

I'm 38 years old (rounding up, less than 3 weeks to my birthday) and pretty novice to bicycling as an adult. I've rode here and there over the last 20 years or so, but nothing consistent.

Last summer I purchased a mountain bike. Not really because I expected to do any serious trail riding, just picked a mountain bike because I didn't know what else to buy. My logic was that it would be good enough for street riding and would work well enough at the forest preserve by my house. I did a small amount of research and decided that I would try to avoid Walmart and went with Farm and Fleet (probably not much better, but figured anything would probably be better than the 'mart). I went with something like this:

Schwinn Men's 27.5" High Timber Mountain Bike at Blain's Farm & Fleet

High Timber from Schwinn. I rode it last year some, but really decided that this year I would take it more seriously. I picked up a cheap indoor trainer (magnetic) and spent from January - March riding indoors. Once the weather got slightly better (I live in Illinois, it's only so good this time of year) I've taken to riding at least 2-3 times per week (sometimes even daily). My goal is fitness and weight loss. I don't love cardio (elliptical, treadmill, etc.) but find that I actually enjoy a good bike ride.

I started out at 280 and I'm down to 245lbs now. I'm 5'9". I have a few places I would primarily ride:

1. The bike path by my house. I'm lucky enough to have a bike path near my house. All paved.
2. Gravel / Loose trail. https://www.traillink.com/trail-revi...dge-trail.aspx I live about 10 minutes (on bike) from this trail. It's fantastic for riding. I believe it's a good 30 miles one way if you decide to ride the entire distance.
3. I have a forest preserve near my home. There are riding trails there. Nothing overly difficult, but plenty of grass, rough riding to be had there.

My go-to with no doubt be stone-bridge. Scenic, nice ride.

That being said, the difficulties I'm having with the current bike and the reason I want to upgrade.

1. I'm not sure if it's my fitness level or if it's the bike - but anything with even a minor uphill is a huge pain.
2. Related to #1 - slooow. I feel like it's quite a bit of effort to move on this thing. I've tried different gears, etc. and it's just painfully slow.
3. I don't know very much about bikes so I don't know how to maintain them myself. However, this bike is only a year old or so and it shifts badly (I change gears and it takes several seconds to "catch" which I find annoying). It's also starting to squeak (assume need to oil the chain, etc.). The bike shop I was looking at actually offers free tune-ups for life if you purchase the bike from them. That's actually pretty tempting in itself.
4. Wrist pain. Riding for a any amount of time (30 minutes or more) results in wrist pain for me. It would be nice to be able to switch positions occasionally (going to neutral grip, etc.).
5. Knee pain. I have a knee that has been bothering me on the bike. Could easily be my position on the bike.

This is the bike shop I'm looking at: Rockford Bicycles - Loves Park, Illinois Trek, Gary Fisher, MirraCo, Haro, Redline (they are almost exclusively trek it appears).

First - what kind of bike should I be looking at? I was leaning toward a hybrid but would welcome any suggestions.

Second - Would I actually be able to find something in the 500-600 range that would be significantly better than my 139.00 Farm and Fleet Schwinn or am I just paying for a name with basically the same components?

Suggestions on bike size? Type? Suggestions to alleviate physical symptoms?

I welcome and appreciate all feedback!
A $139 bike is a piece of junk, as you are discovering. A $500 to $600 bike is actually pretty decent and properly maintained, should last for years. Test ride a few hybrids, see how they feel. Also consider some of the newer touring adventure bikes with drop bars. They look a little like road bikes, but with wider tires and more upright riding position. Good for changing hand positions every so often.

Last edited by MRT2; 04-04-16 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 04-04-16, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
A $139 bike is a piece of junk. A $500 to $600 bike is actually pretty decent. Test ride a few hybrids, see how they feel. Also consider some of the newer touring adventure bikes with drop bars.
Yes, if the OP spends more he'll get a "better" bike, but the improvement won't make difference for his purposes -- now. His problem isn't the bike, it's his engine, and things that are fit/position related. A better bike should hold up better, which is important, but for now he has something that rolls and will help him bring his weight down. Putting off replacing it as long as this one rolls, means he might be shopping a replacement bike, when his weight is less of a concern. Plus by then he'll have a better sense of what he really wants.

By analogy, do you buy an infant a nice pair of Nike's when he just starting to learn to walk?
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Old 04-04-16, 11:40 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
Yes, if the OP spends more he'll get a "better" bike, but the improvement won't make difference for his purposes -- now. His problem isn't the bike, it's his engine, and things that are fit/position related. A better bike should hold up better, which is important, but for now he has something that rolls and will help him bring his weight down. Putting off replacing it as long as this one rolls, means he might be shopping a replacement bike, when his weight is less of a concern. Plus by then he'll have a better sense of what he really wants.

By analogy, do you buy an infant a nice pair of Nike's when he just starting to learn to walk?
OP is 245 lbs, which is not really a concern. If OP senses his bike is holding him back, and his bike is a $139 BSO, he is probably right. I am not saying that he should rush into anything, but he will enjoy riding a better bike.
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Old 04-04-16, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
OP is 245 lbs, which is not really a concern. If OP senses his bike is holding him back, and his bike is a $139 BSO, he is probably right. I am not saying that he should rush into anything, but he will enjoy riding a better bike.
At a fitter level, it could be argued that better bikes are faster, but not at his level. He has a similar gear range, with efficiency just about equal to the best bikes, all the machinery is also close to the best in terms of efficiency. Tiding position can be adjusted, and tires which may be the biggest difference can be changed.

While better bikes are better in many ways, and their lower weight makes them slightly faster, it's a myth that a cheap bike holds anybody back significantly, especially on hills which are 99% about power to weight ratio.

If the OP came here without a bike, I'd probably suggest something better, but he already has something serviceable, and it would be disingenuous to suggest that spending more now will solve his problems. In any case, if someone is riding to shave pounds, greater bike efficiency is actually counter productive (though in a minor meaningless way.
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Old 04-04-16, 11:54 AM
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As a stop-gap, consider changing the tires on your bike to something narrower.
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Old 04-04-16, 12:23 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
At a fitter level, it could be argued that better bikes are faster, but not at his level. He has a similar gear range, with efficiency just about equal to the best bikes, all the machinery is also close to the best in terms of efficiency. Tiding position can be adjusted, and tires which may be the biggest difference can be changed.

While better bikes are better in many ways, and their lower weight makes them slightly faster, it's a myth that a cheap bike holds anybody back significantly, especially on hills which are 99% about power to weight ratio.
I'd disagree completely. I'm by no means an expert rider, and am also on the bigger side (not as big as him, but 215# at 5-10), and I find I dislike riding my mountain bike more than any other bike I own. I only keep it around for sentimental value (owned it since I was in my teens) and for crappy sloppy dirty MUP riding in the spring and fall, and on the off chance I ever do want to go trail riding. I far prefer my 78 Schwinn Le Tour (hardly a lightweight itself, at about 35#) outfitted with some fatter tires. I regularly run one MUP route, 8 miles one direction to a brewery after work, and average 2-3MPH faster on the Schwinn in both directions (moreso on the uphill leg), am more comfortable, and simply enjoy riding the bike far more.

The OP isn't asking if he should jump up to a carbon road bike to maximize weight savings and shave a few seconds off his hill climbing, he is asking if another bike would suit him better. As one that asked himself the same question two years ago, and looked at different options, I would emphatically tell the OP that a different bike COULD benefit him. That said, there are still engine issues to work out, and it isn't going to be effortless on any bike.

Originally Posted by techsensei View Post
As a stop-gap, consider changing the tires on your bike to something narrower.
I originally did this, before moving to another bike. It can make a big difference just getting off knobbies and onto something more hybrid-tread-like.
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Old 04-04-16, 12:23 PM
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I appreciate the feedback thus far...

I completely agree on getting more fit as a starting point. It's silly for me to worry about the difference a few pounds on a bike frame makes when I'm carrying around 70lbs. of blubber (I'm rolling with around 30% body fat). I'm working on that part both on the bike and the gym. In this respect - the bike represents cardio I don't hate (and even find myself enjoying my rides - they aren't just a way to shed pounds).

As far as the bike itself goes - there are a few factors I'm considering in making a purchase of a new bike.

1. I have a teenage daughter who needs more Dad/Daughter time. I have two choices. Buy her a bike (I probably couldn't justify the cost of a nice(r) bike for her yet as I don't know her full interest level yet so I would be buying another department store bike). Or I can buy myself an upgrade as a reward for losing some weight and sticking to the ride.

2. Current bike seems to have some issues. Changing gears is pretty awful. I use my bike almost in a single gear for 90% of my ride because switching them is usually a pain. Reading above, that probably contributes to the knee pain as some of my uphill adventures have been in the same gear I would ride flat surfaces in. That all being said, if I decide to keep riding this bike or decide my daughter could use it - I will need to invest in a tune up by a reputable bike shop. So that probably doesn't factor too much into the decision.

3. Sales! The bike shop in town I linked has a promotion called "TrekFest" which offers some yearly savings.
I figure if I'm going to buy a bike, why not do so now and take advantages of a promotion.

A few bikes the retailer suggested:

trek 8.2 ds (449.99 discounted from 550)
trek 8.3 ds (609.99 discounted from 660)

trek 7.2 fx (439.99 discounted from 490)
trek 7.3 fx (609.99 discounted from 660)

The sales guy mentioned perks going from 8.2 ds to 8.3 (better handlebars, locking mechanism on the suspension which supposedly helps with speed).

He said the 7.3 offered a better drivetrain compared to any of the other models (including the 8.3ds).

Do any of these upgrades justify the $150-$160 cost difference. At the end of the day the cost difference between these models was more than I paid for my original bike to begin with, so it's not insignificant as far as cost goes, so I just want to be smart with my $$.
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Old 04-04-16, 01:17 PM
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My recommendation would be to avoid any bikes with front suspension forks. You don't need to lock out a solid fork. Suspension forks, especially in the lower price ranges, aren't really all that useful, and could cause you to waste energy. If you're going to lock the fork, why carry the extra weight of a suspension fork? Unless you're going off-road, and need the cushion, skip the suspension fork.

The 7.3 is a good bike, at a good price. For your needs, probably the best of the four listed. The difference between the 7.2 and the 7.3 is marginal, but not a bad investment. Ride them, both, and see what you think.
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Old 04-04-16, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by kevindsingleton View Post
My recommendation would be to avoid any bikes with front suspension forks. You don't need to lock out a solid fork. Suspension forks, especially in the lower price ranges, aren't really all that useful, and could cause you to waste energy.
I can't tell you how many I have seen that were frozen with rust, so you may as well get a rigid fork and not have to worry about maintaining the stanchions and seals of a suspension fork.
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Old 04-04-16, 02:28 PM
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One other thought: don't overlook the possibility of buying used, if the thought isn't completely off-putting to you. That is a range of bikes I often see with prices well below new in rarely used condition, they were cheap enough to be impulse buys for people whose aspirations never panned out.

I know you aren't local, but there is a Trek 8.2DS sitting local to me on Craigslist for $150 right now, the deals are there if you are in no rush to buy NOW: https://detroit.craigslist.org/okl/bik/5523216908.html

(completely unaffiliated to the posting, it just caught my eye when it popped up as a great example)
(actually on second thought maybe I'll go buy it)
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Old 04-04-16, 02:32 PM
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Obligatory answer. There is good reason why your current bike might cause you problems. One is the weight. The specs at the Farm and Fleet website say 42 pounds and no indication it comes in more than one size. Bull, one size rarely fits anyone really well and that's an obese bike. I wouldn't put any money into trying to "improve" it. In the meantime you might want to look at a decent older road bike. I looked on adhuntr to see what shows up in the Chicago area (hint: Forest preserve = Chicago burbs). If you can figure out what frame size is right for you, it will make the task a lot easier to find a good bike. I'll PM you with some examples.
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Old 04-04-16, 03:41 PM
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Reflexive reply: The one sold by the bike shop you like best.
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Old 04-04-16, 03:48 PM
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I'd sit back and patiently wait for a killer deal on a used bike. If I watched my local craigslist ads for 4-5 days, I guarantee you I could get a lightly used $1000+ bike for 5-6 hundred.
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Old 04-05-16, 02:55 PM
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Before you run out and buy a new bike:

1. Get some semi-slick 27.5 tires, something like this, maybe $60 shipped for a pair:
Amazon.com : KENDA K-West Tire (K193) Black - Road / Commuter / Urban / Hybrid Bike Treat Style - FREE SHIPPING - FREE VALVE CAP UPGRADE WORTH $4.99! : Sports & Outdoors

They should make a big difference. Semi slicks will get you surprisingly far on gravel and work great on groomed gravel bike paths. Swapping tires is easy, check YouTube for videos. Also, keep them inflated properly. I recommend making it a habit to pump your tires before every ride. Buy a floor pump if you don't have one.

2. Get the drivetrain looked at. It should at least be functional. Alternatively: watch some YouTube videos on adjusting derailleurs if you're so inclined. You can likely adjust everything yourself with a screwdriver after half an hour of research. Yes, you need to lube the chain.

3. Get your saddle height right. Consult elsewhere on the specifics, I'll bet your saddle is too low. Also, learn to pedal at a 90 rpm cadence, don't grind.

If all else fails, get a new bike. Drop bars offer more hand positions and can be more comfortable over time.
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Old 04-05-16, 09:27 PM
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His current bike is a 40 pound slug. I've used Kenda Kwests. They are a decent general purpose tire but no tire is going to turn the Farm and Fleet BSO into a good quality bike that is fun to ride. That's why I suggested not attempting any upgrades on it. Save the money for a better bike. Once you have ridden a really fine road bike (a mid70s vintage Motobecane Le Champion in my case) no entry level bike will ever satisfy you.
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Old 04-06-16, 04:36 AM
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If you can afford the bucks, a new bike would be a strong psychological boost/reward to yourself for your fitness effort. And if it results in more time with your daughter...that's a double score. While you could get more value for your dollars in a used bike, you would also be taking on more risk in that your ability to figure out your needs and fit would be all on you.

I have just moved on from a Trek 7.4 fx, which has good components that shifted well, and with a triple chain ring can climb almost any hill. My view is that a good local bike shop (ask around), would be the place for you. And if are willing to turn a wrench/allen key and get your hands a little greasy, start the learning process on bike mechanics and fit. All this will tie you in more to a good cardio activity....that is (gasp) fun.

Angie
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Old 04-08-16, 09:58 AM
  #20  
mpizzle421
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Appreciate all of the good advice. I've done a few things since my last post.

1. I had my mountain bike tuned up at a local shop. They found some issues as expected and resolved the problems. I didn't change my tires - I didn't want to spend any additional money on the bike if avoidable.

2. I tested several bikes at different shops. Specifically the Giant Escape 1-3, a Scott Hybrid bike, and finally the Trek 7.2 -7.4fx and the Trek 8.2 - 8.3 DS.

I chose the Trek 7.2 FX. The price tag was really fair and I didn't honesty discern any noticeable difference with the other bikes I tried out. Plus the reviews I read on the 7.2 indicate to me that it's a great upgrade for me. If I feel the need to upgrade again it looks to me like there's a generous resell value on that bike anyhow, so that money can be applied to the next upgrade when that time comes.

In test riding and having conversation with the 4 local bike shops I visited I've realized a few things.

- I don't shift often enough. The shifting was so awful on the bike I was riding (probably a combination of not being put together 100% right to begin with and never having it tuned up after the initial purchase) that not all gears worked and it was pretty awful anyhow. Having it tuned up was helpful.

- On top of having the wide knobby tires, I paid no attention to making sure they were pumped up properly. That was likely to be a problem.

- My seat height was way off. Combined with struggling faaar too much on any hills or against the wind because of the poor shifting, my positioning and fit on the bike was off.

Honestly, getting some basic information from the shops was valuable in itself and cost me nothing. I figure I can still use the mountain bike in the Forest Preserve by the house and use it as an opportunity to gauge my daughter's interest in riding with me (if she really likes it and consistently rides with me I'll buy her a bike of her own choosing to keep her motivated).

At the end of the day it's not uncommon for me to drop $800 on eating out in a month, so why should I drag my feet to spend half of that on something I'll use all spring and summer.

Thanks for all of the advice!
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Old 04-11-16, 05:35 PM
  #21  
momlearntobike
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Hi all, I am very new here and very new in the bike world in general. I just ordered a full suspension mountain bike from Canadian Tire and it's arriving within a week from now. It's 16" frame and my suggested frame size is supposed to be 15". My question is, will this be a problem? And if yes, how big of a problem? I'll be using the bike everyday and mostly on roads and paved bike lanes. Appreciate any opinions and suggestions. Cheers!
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