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Need General Advice to Pick a Bicycle

Old 10-04-16, 11:21 AM
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Need General Advice to Pick a Bicycle

Quite a while ago used to ride in a club once a week on my too-small Schwinn Continental that I added a smallest sprocket possible on the back on making it a 12 speed. I had no interest in a race but they kept egging me on, so i did. I wore blue jeans and they wore the right stuff with their Paramounts and Voyagers, but must have been stronger because it wasn't even close. Perhaps it is because I run 12.6 miles a day. That ended the challenges and it went back to friendly, spirited rides. I did learn that I shouldn't be overly concerned about bicycle weight and just keeping up with the pack is fine with me. I sold the Continental some time back because it didn't ft me to the point it wasn't safe. I didn't want to spend a lot on a bike because in Michigan there are lots of times you cannot ride so I bought a 1980 Chicago Le Tour I got off Craigslist, which I found after getting home that someone made it into a 12 speed, like I did my Continental, and it had aluminum wheels. It has the wrong color, wrong brakes, stem shifters, and wrong derailleur to be a Super Le Tour. When I took it out for the first time on a bike route, I saw a lot of other bikes and it got me thinking that I'd better talk to people who know the lay of the land before I put a dime into the bike. Perhaps I'm better of selling the Chicago Le Tour to a collector, buying an aluminum frame 21 speed off eBay for $165, and start there. The problem is, I don't know what's out there and what I should be looking for.

Honesty: I like the idea of taking a long trip with guys or secluded trails with a girl, but neither are likely. The only handle bars and shifters I've known are the Continental and Le Tour stem shifters. The only seats I've known is the torture seat. Back in the day they said I'll get used to it and will find out they are the best. I never got used to them and the only time they were worth anything was during a challenge, which only happened once. What I appreciated most were the brake extensions. I do have the desire to use the bike to combine exercise with transportation. A lot has changed so I am clueless about what I should be looking for while for you guys what I should be looking for comes as natural as breathing. Any advice appreciated.
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Old 10-04-16, 11:33 AM
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If you haven't been in a full service bike store lately, there are more bicycle variations available today than you can ever imagine.

My suggestion is to acquire a bike - any bike. Ride it around for awhile. Try to mix up your routes. Every time that you ride, make a mental list of what you like and what you hate about your bike AND where and how you are riding. The experience will greatly reduce your cluelessness.
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Old 10-04-16, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Mad Jack
Quite a while ago used to ride in a club once a week on my too-small Schwinn Continental that I added a smallest sprocket possible on the back on making it a 12 speed. I had no interest in a race but they kept egging me on, so i did. I wore blue jeans and they wore the right stuff with their Paramounts and Voyagers, but must have been stronger because it wasn't even close. Perhaps it is because I run 12.6 miles a day. That ended the challenges and it went back to friendly, spirited rides. I did learn that I shouldn't be overly concerned about bicycle weight and just keeping up with the pack is fine with me. I sold the Continental some time back because it didn't ft me to the point it wasn't safe. I didn't want to spend a lot on a bike because in Michigan there are lots of times you cannot ride so I bought a 1980 Chicago Le Tour I got off Craigslist, which I found after getting home that someone made it into a 12 speed, like I did my Continental, and it had aluminum wheels. It has the wrong color, wrong brakes, stem shifters, and wrong derailleur to be a Super Le Tour. When I took it out for the first time on a bike route, I saw a lot of other bikes and it got me thinking that I'd better talk to people who know the lay of the land before I put a dime into the bike. Perhaps I'm better of selling the Chicago Le Tour to a collector, buying an aluminum frame 21 speed off eBay for $165, and start there. The problem is, I don't know what's out there and what I should be looking for.

Honesty: I like the idea of taking a long trip with guys or secluded trails with a girl, but neither are likely. The only handle bars and shifters I've known are the Continental and Le Tour stem shifters. The only seats I've known is the torture seat. Back in the day they said I'll get used to it and will find out they are the best. I never got used to them and the only time they were worth anything was during a challenge, which only happened once. What I appreciated most were the brake extensions. I do have the desire to use the bike to combine exercise with transportation. A lot has changed so I am clueless about what I should be looking for while for you guys what I should be looking for comes as natural as breathing. Any advice appreciated.
If you have a local bike shop, talk to them.

A few bike manufacturers have helpful websites to help steer people toward the right bike for their preferences, styles, budgets, etc. Start with those to figure out what "genre" of bike to look at. You don't need to commit to one of those manufacturer's bikes, but figure out which ones speak to you. Here are two of those sites:
https://community.raleighusa.com/bike-match

https://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-US/bike-finder/

From there, you can look for bikes in the same category, from all brands, from the last 5-10 years to find something that matches your willingness to spend.

Last edited by OneIsAllYouNeed; 10-04-16 at 11:41 AM. Reason: missing link
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Old 10-04-16, 11:40 AM
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So, what exactly is wrong with the Le Tour? I've got an assortment of bikes. My 1978 Le Tour gets ridden the most. Nothing wrong with it for recreational riding.

Not sure where you are in Michigan, but as to selling off the Le Tour, expect maybe $100 for an average shape ready to ride one in the Detroit area. There have even been a few languishing for under $100 on CL.
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Old 10-04-16, 02:05 PM
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First Pick a Bike Shop You Like doing business with , then Use their Help in sorting out what Type of bike best suits the Kind of riding goals you may have.

take a test ride ..




''//,,
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Old 10-04-16, 06:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk
So, what exactly is wrong with the Le Tour?
Maybe nothing! I was thinking about replacing the cast iron bike seat with a Zacro Gel Bike Saddle BS053 or Sunlite Cloud-9, toe-clips, grab-on for the handle bars, some USB rechargeable lights for front and rear, fenders or carrier to keep the mud off my back, and something to hold my cell phone. Before doing that, I thought I'd start to see first if I'm starting with the right bike.

The bike frame size calculators on multiple sites said I should have a 22 1/2" frame so I picked up a Le Tour with a 23" frame. The seat sits quite a ways out of the tube to get my legs in the right position, but with the handlebars at the max, they are at least 2" below the seat. My concern is too much pressure on my arms for too long making them weak and ending up going over the handle bars on a rapid stop, which is precisely what happened with the 20" Continental. Now I wish I had picked up a 25", which would max me out for stand-over height, but allow the handle bars to be at least even with the seat.
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Old 10-04-16, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Mad Jack
What I appreciated most were the brake extensions.
Most people referred to those things as suicide levers back in the day.A sure sign of an inferior bike
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Old 10-04-16, 07:48 PM
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You can still get the equivalent of "brake extentions." They now call them "interrupters." I assume that's because instead of a being a lever that directly acts on the primary brake lever, they actuate the brake cable. THat allows them to be mounted independently of the main brake lever for better ergonomics. I have 'em on my two drop bar bikes. I commute am in traffic a fair deal where having brakes "handy" is important. In some situations I want to ride with my hands on the upper bar to gain some height to see better. Or just to vary my hand position as the older I get, the more hand discomfort I experience. The main brake lever is available when riding on the hoods or in the drops. I still use toe clips as I can wear a variety of shoes, although I have a dedicated pair of firm-soled skateboard "sneakers" I mostly wear. And my '83 Nishiki International has downtube shifters which work just fine for non-competitive riding. I echo the advice above...find a bike shop and try some stuff out. And don't sweat the first bike you buy too much...after riding for a few months you will discover what works for you and what doesn't. For me, a commuter, one of the biggest changes in cycling is bike lanes and drivers. Bike lanes and bike infrastructure are better than ever; drivers are worse and more distracted than ever.
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Old 10-04-16, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Mad Jack
Maybe nothing!
My advice, which may well be disputed here? Ride that bike until you know what you don't like about it. Until then, you are just buying what someone else likes. Once you know what you like and don't like, you are much more likely to find something you actually like.

FWIW, I've got two 23" frames and a 57cm (22.4in), and not a single one of them fits the same. One fits me perfect, the other two just OK. Frame fit is very subjective.

Originally Posted by BobbyG
You can still get the equivalent of "brake extentions." They now call them "interrupters."


I like them for bombing down hills at 20+ MPH, but honestly, for recreational riding they are no more useful than turkey levers.
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Old 10-05-16, 05:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Mad Jack
Quite a while ago used to ride in a club once a week on my too-small Schwinn Continental that I added a smallest sprocket possible on the back on making it a 12 speed. I had no interest in a race but they kept egging me on, so i did. I wore blue jeans and they wore the right stuff with their Paramounts and Voyagers, but must have been stronger because it wasn't even close. Perhaps it is because I run 12.6 miles a day. That ended the challenges and it went back to friendly, spirited rides. I did learn that I shouldn't be overly concerned about bicycle weight and just keeping up with the pack is fine with me. I sold the Continental some time back because it didn't ft me to the point it wasn't safe. I didn't want to spend a lot on a bike because in Michigan there are lots of times you cannot ride so I bought a 1980 Chicago Le Tour I got off Craigslist, which I found after getting home that someone made it into a 12 speed, like I did my Continental, and it had aluminum wheels. It has the wrong color, wrong brakes, stem shifters, and wrong derailleur to be a Super Le Tour. When I took it out for the first time on a bike route, I saw a lot of other bikes and it got me thinking that I'd better talk to people who know the lay of the land before I put a dime into the bike. Perhaps I'm better of selling the Chicago Le Tour to a collector, buying an aluminum frame 21 speed off eBay for $165, and start there. The problem is, I don't know what's out there and what I should be looking for.

Honesty: I like the idea of taking a long trip with guys or secluded trails with a girl, but neither are likely. The only handle bars and shifters I've known are the Continental and Le Tour stem shifters. The only seats I've known is the torture seat. Back in the day they said I'll get used to it and will find out they are the best. I never got used to them and the only time they were worth anything was during a challenge, which only happened once. What I appreciated most were the brake extensions. I do have the desire to use the bike to combine exercise with transportation. A lot has changed so I am clueless about what I should be looking for while for you guys what I should be looking for comes as natural as breathing. Any advice appreciated.

Bikes have improved so much in recent years that I find even an entry level bike will get you decent components and a great riding experience. I recently purchased a Giant Cypress DX and couldn't be happier. I added a cat eye computer and Giant full fenders. I've got almost 500 miles on it and it is a great ride every time.


my two cents


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Old 10-05-16, 07:05 AM
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Originally Posted by BobbyG
You can still get the equivalent of "brake extentions." They now call them "interrupters."
I looked up what they are. I found them referred to cross-top brake levers. The advantages I see is they work on any handlebar configuration, and can be added to any bike. The advantage of brake extensions like the Le Tour has is they use the same brake levers that are on the drops so there is only one adjustment to worry about and they require no space on the handlebars. When I rode, the term suicide levers was not heard, they were referred to as city brakes. The one thing I know I want, when I'm sitting up, which is a lot, I want brakes to be available now, not 1 1/2 seconds from now after I change to a more vulnerable position.

Originally Posted by jefnvk
My advice...Ride that bike until you know what you don't like about it.
Maybe that's what I'll do. It has brand new tires, brakes, and it shifts fine. It already has city brakes and someone already added a 13-tooth 6th sprocket, exactly what I need, and I could transfer most of what I buy to a new bike. The only investment I have in it at this point is pedals. It came with plastic pedals and on the first time out the moment I pulled down and put some power to it, I felt and heard something happen and the pedals suddenly felt strange and tipped and my feet wanted to slide off toward the ends, so I limped to a nearby Schwinn shop where my dad bought his first bike and I bought my first bike. I learned both pedals had both broken around the bearings. They recommended I get their metal ones with sealed bearings, charged me $5 to put them on, and I walked out $37 poorer. They also cleaned and lubricated my sprockets, chain, and hubs. It was a different bike when I left. I also learned over that day and the next that the seat is not going to work.
Originally Posted by jefnvk
FWIW, I've got two 23" frames and a 57cm (22.4in), and not a single one of them fits the same. One fits me perfect, the other two just OK. Frame fit is very subjective.
Good to know.


Originally Posted by ScootermanBob
Bikes have improved so much in recent years that I find even an entry level bike will get you decent components and a great riding experience. I recently purchased a Giant Cypress DX and couldn't be happier. I added a cat eye computer and Giant full fenders. I've got almost 500 miles on it and it is a great ride every time.
That is my concern.
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Old 10-05-16, 07:11 AM
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I agree with the folks who suggest riding the Schwinn for a while. Unless the frame is tiny, you should be able to adjust it (raise the seat, raise the stem, get a longer stem) to make it fit properly, and that will work for you until you really know exactly what you want in a bike and exactly how you will actually use it. Then, if you decide to buy a new bike, you will buy the right new bike.
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Old 10-05-16, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs
get a longer stem
I didn't know that was possible. The one I have, the total travel is only about 1 1/2". Thanks!
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Old 10-05-16, 08:05 AM
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For starters, I'm going to buy a seat, grab-on, and an inexpensive bike lock. Then I'll try to figure out fenders or bike carrier.
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Old 10-05-16, 08:06 AM
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There are two dimensions involved here. The stem can go up and down a certain amount ... but you can also buy a stem which is longer front to back---the measurement is taken from the center of the bolt on top to the center of the clamp area (halfway through the handlebars.) For instance, I have a very short stem on one bike (40 mm) and a more normal stem on another bike (90 mm) and both are the same height above the headset ... and stems out to 120 mm are readily available.
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Old 10-05-16, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Mad Jack
I looked up what they are. I found them referred to cross-top brake levers. The advantages I see is they work on any handlebar configuration, and can be added to any bike.
I don't know what the Schwinn currently has, but they need aero main brake levers to work. Not a good way to route the non-aero housing to make the cross top brakes work.
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Old 10-05-16, 08:23 AM
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Really?

OP asked for general advice, but gave a sketchy (in whole) and lengthy, somewhat detailed description.


Advice given so far:
1) go to a bike shop
2) ride the existing bike


What I'd contribute (although I'm not convinced that this isn't internet trolling on its face):

[MENTION=448287]Mad Jack[/MENTION]: What would be your budget for this envisioned bike, pray tell?
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Old 10-05-16, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz
What would be your budget for this envisioned bike, pray tell?
I haven't thought much about it. The current bike is $100. I came here to see if buying new was more cost effective by the time I get the Le Tour where it needs to be. I see aluminum frame 21-speed bikes on eBay for $163, not that I care about the 21 speeds, as long as it has high enough gearing like the 13 tooth. I could easily buy any bike I want. I'm just putting something together on the cheap to ride with guys and to integrate transportation with exercise. I know even what I have I will have to buy decent USB rechargeable lights, a seat, fenders, a cheap lock, and some grab-on, and a few things I'm not thinking about, it will probably be ~$300. For what I will be using it for, I wouldn't want anything that would make it too attractive to steal.
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Old 10-05-16, 04:15 PM
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PS: I can't respond to the private message yet apparently.
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Old 10-06-16, 04:50 AM
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I read all of this. I'm not exactly sure what is wrong with the bike you have.

In my opinion, I wouldn't dump much money in the bike. I have a 1980 Schwinn LeTour. I decided to not spend any money on it. Instead, I put my money toward a new bike. Since you are afraid yours might get stolen, I would look at used. This way you aren't out alot of money if it happens.

As far as a suggestion for a new bike. I, like others, recommend going to a bike shop and trying out different bikes. Then think about it for a while.

One thing that stuck out is the fact that you like the brake extension. This makes me think you prefer a more upright riding position. You might be happier with a hybrid bike. Nobody will know until you go try one out.
I have the brake extension. Came with it. I've never used them. Not because I'm opposed to them, but because it's just not my preferred riding position.
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Old 10-06-16, 09:23 AM
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Originally Posted by builderguy
I read all of this. I'm not exactly sure what is wrong with the bike you have.
Nothing functionally.

I tend to agree with what I'm hearing, ride the Le Tour until I figure out what I want, it might be a Le Tour. During all this, I was surprised to learn the RoadTech Road Bike (green and black) weighs 32 lbs. A stock Le Tour weighs with 30. The RoadTech Genesis 700c with the aluminum frame weighs 27.5 lbs. On the Le Tour I picked up, someone added the rear sprockets and lightweight parts of the Super Le Tour, which use the same 1020 frame, and it weights 28 lbs. Of what I would buy for the Le Tour, 99% I would be needed for a new bike anyway. E.G. lights, seat, bike lock, etc. The most I would be out is a little grab-on. So, that's what I'm going to do. Ride the Le Tour.

Thanks all!
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Old 10-08-16, 08:35 AM
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I was in Walmart to look for a lock and looked at the RoadTech 700C. People who have them say the work nice but I was surprised to find that almost everything seemed to be made of plastic. I can't help but wonder how easy it would be to get parts locally. It seems that to get a new, basic, solid citizen requires $250-$300, which isn't bad, it just means $130-$150 won't quite get you there. Le Tour it is.
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