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Confused about what bike to buy on a limited budget.

Old 02-28-17, 11:56 AM
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dmspara
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Confused about what bike to buy on a limited budget.

Hey, everyone. I want to buy a bike, but can't decide whether to buy from a department store (Target, Walmart, etc.) where the prices are more in line with what I can spend, or save up some more and go to a bike shop. I am not a cyclist; I just want something for leisurely riding/exercise and maybe to ride to work (an 1/8 of a mile from my house).

I'm also very confused about brand names; I've read that Schwinn and Huffy are no longer very good... Can anyone suggest something for me?
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Old 02-28-17, 12:01 PM
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What is your budget? If looking to buy at a department store price (say $100-$200), I'd recommend buying a used bike on Craigslist. There are plenty of good bikes available at that price which will be much better quality than a department store bike. Two things to think about if going used:

(1) You'll need some advice as to which bikes are a decent price or not. You can use the C&V valuation forum to get feedback on the bikes you find.
(2) You'll have to be comfortable doing a some work on your own bike. This is not hard and you will want to learn to do this on a new bike as well.
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Old 02-28-17, 12:04 PM
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Wow. Sounds like you're a real newby. My advice would be to figure out how much you want to spend. Look at the big box bikes. Then, look on Craigs List. You would be surprised how affordable & plentiful used bikes are. (I'd try out a used bike before spending big bucks on a new one)
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Old 02-28-17, 12:17 PM
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Originally Posted by dmspara View Post
Hey, everyone. I want to buy a bike, but can't decide whether to buy from a department store (Target, Walmart, etc.) where the prices are more in line with what I can spend, or save up some more and go to a bike shop. I am not a cyclist; I just want something for leisurely riding/exercise and maybe to ride to work (an 1/8 of a mile from my house).

I'm also very confused about brand names; I've read that Schwinn and Huffy are no longer very good... Can anyone suggest something for me?
I think almost everyone on these forums will suggest you DONT buy from a department store. They are usually not great quality, and won't last you very long. They are also harder to repair and service, because they dont always use standardized components. Think of it as buying something disposable. Just like everything in life, you get what you pay for.

If you are interested in buying something good that will last you many years, I would save up and buy an entry level bike from a local bike shop, or even find a reputable local bike shop that sells good quality second hand bikes. That means the bike will be good quality and ready to ride, and you can go back to them if you need repairs etc.

Buying on Craigslist or Ebay is a good way to save some money, but if you have no experience or knowledge about bikes at all, this is tricky. You might be fooled into buying a crappy bike on Craiglist if you dont know what to look for. The bike might also need work and costly repairs, if you are not careful. If you post some craigslist links on here, people are usually helpful and will tell you if it is a good bike or not.
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Old 02-28-17, 12:19 PM
  #5  
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I would look into a used bike as has been suggested. One possibility is that bike shops sometimes have used bike available. Perhaps bikes they have taken in on trade or rental bikes. In this case, the bike shop can be very helpful in picking the right size for you which should be just about the most important consideration. It costs nothing to walk into a bike shop to ask. It may also happen they have a suitable new bike they are desperate to sell and you'd be doing them a favor.
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Old 02-28-17, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by maartendc View Post
I think almost everyone on these forums will suggest you DONT buy from a department store. They are usually not great quality, and won't last you very long. They are also harder to repair and service, because they dont always use standardized components. Think of it as buying something disposable. Just like everything in life, you get what you pay for.

If you are interested in buying something good that will last you many years, I would save up and buy an entry level bike from a local bike shop, or even find a reputable local bike shop that sells good quality second hand bikes. That means the bike will be good quality and ready to ride, and you can go back to them if you need repairs etc.

Buying on Craigslist or Ebay is a good way to save some money, but if you have no experience or knowledge about bikes at all, this is tricky. You might be fooled into buying a crappy bike on Craiglist if you dont know what to look for. The bike might also need work and costly repairs, if you are not careful. If you post some craigslist links on here, people are usually helpful and will tell you if it is a good bike or not.
This was very helpful, thank you! Maybe to start, I'll go to the bike shop and get a sense of what they can offer me.
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Old 02-28-17, 01:05 PM
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If you are in the department store budget, look at local bike shops that have used bikes. Make sure they are actually a bike shop, not general purpose thrift type shops that also sell bikes. I can regularly find decent refurbished bikes under $300 on my LBS used rack.

I don't particularly like the advice that if you are on a department store bike budget, look for used on CL, because if a person doesn't know what to look for to know a department store bike isn't a great choice, the chances they get a lemon on CL is quite high, and even just refurbishing/fixing that bike can run considerably more. Better if you can get something from a shop that backs up their product.
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Old 02-28-17, 03:51 PM
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I wouldn't necessarily say don't buy a department store bike. If you use it maybe once a month during fair weather riding, it might serve your purpose. As long as it is properly setup, they do have all the component to function as a bicycle. Just be careful that often time, they are not adjusted properly from the factory. Keep in mind that these bike are pretty much be the bottom of the barrel bike you can buy new. So you get what you pay for... mainly heavy bike, poor tolerances, poor reliability, fast wear etc.

Ideally, if you have someone else that knows bikes help you out to get something used on craigslist that fits your size budget, you can ride it and determine whether or not you actually like the activity and if you would like to invest any more into. At that point you can always resell the bike back on craigslist for next to no loss. Then get a better bike or by that time have determined the stuff you actually want in a bike.
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Old 02-28-17, 04:01 PM
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Just pay someone to go steal you one...Just kidding...Save for a decent one. You may find you really enjoy it and then wish you had a better bike than wally world.
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Old 02-28-17, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by dmspara View Post
This was very helpful, thank you! Maybe to start, I'll go to the bike shop and get a sense of what they can offer me.
No problem! That's a good idea, just get a sense of what is out there that meets your budget. Good luck, hope you find a nice bike in your budget!
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Old 02-28-17, 04:17 PM
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What I always recommend to people who think they want a bicycle and don't know much more ... You can use it for quite a while and then, if you really hate it, pack it up, ship it back, and get most of your money back. Nashbar Flat Bar Road Bike
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Old 02-28-17, 06:16 PM
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I started riding on a bike like this that was on sale at Walmart for $69 dollars:

https://www.walmart.com/ip/29-Genesi...-Bike/34116311

I saved my money and bought a $900 dollar hybrid, six months later. I enjoy my $900 dollar bike, but that first Walmart one is still special.
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Old 02-28-17, 08:36 PM
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You can get a decent road bike for around or under $500 if you can do a tiny bit of assembly. If you like biking enough to want to spend $900 or more, go ahead ... but if all you want is a bike you can ride a few miles every day without ever having to think about it .... you might be better off getting a one-speed Walmart beach cruiser. There won't really be much to break.

If you want a real bike (gearing, shifting, brakes that actually stop the bike, doesn't weigh more than you can lift, is fun to ride more than a mile) count on at minimum the Nashbar bike I linked, or the Performance Bike version, or something cheap from BikesDirect. A bike like that, with minimal care, will be supremely reliable.

I'd suggest budgeting a minimum of $500 for the bike if you really want a road bike ... that should get you a bike that will weigh under 25 pounds, that might need some wheel-truing and derailleur adjustment from time to time, and but otherwise will always be there and always work so long as you occasionally wash it and lube it.
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Old 02-28-17, 10:55 PM
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Will let you know...
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Old 02-28-17, 11:08 PM
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Look for end of year sales, discontinued colors. Right now Public Bikes has some on sale, some as low as $199. Only through 3/7 and you need a store near you, of course. : Bikes, : true A decent first bike and way better than a Wally bike; at least it will be assembled correctly, lol.
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Old 02-28-17, 11:39 PM
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Consider every Craigslist bike as needing a tuneup, and perhaps even repairs. Although there are a few sellers (bike flippers) that buy cheap, and refurbish the bikes before selling them. But these are few and far between.

There are also a few bike shops that refurbish bikes and STAND BEHIND THEIR WORK.

Your target riding of a few miles is the type of riders that the Department Stores market to.

Keep in mind that there are many different riders.
  • Those that commute by bike < 1 mile. Short pleasure rides.
  • 10+ Mile Commuters
  • Paved bike path riders.
  • Gravel road and roads less travelled riders.
  • Offroad MTB riders.
  • Those riding 50 - 100 miles a day. Or MORE? "Century" rides.
  • RACERS (MTB, Cross, Road, Criterium, etc).
  • Those with a "nice" bike hanging in the garage.
It is hard for a newbie to know exactly where you will land. The Dept Store bikes fill a niche for those that do short rides, path rides, etc. Perhaps you'll change your goals as you get more experience on the road.


BTW:
Are your planned rides hilly, or generally flat? Single Speed bikes are often cheapest, but not the thing for hills.
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Old 03-01-17, 07:57 AM
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I don't know where you live, but some local, non-chain, bike stores feature refurbished or reconditioned bikes. Then you can buy a better bike for your budget and get the advice, knowledge and support of knowledable professionals who can help you pick the right bike for you and your needs. (Assuming they're not sharks.)
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Old 03-01-17, 08:14 AM
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the prices are more in line with what I can spend, ... leisurely riding/exercise and maybe to ride to work (an 1/8 of a mile from my house).
From this description I'd say the right department store bike is the logical choice. If the time comes that you want to ride more miles, and less leisurely, then start to look at other options.
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Old 03-01-17, 08:33 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Although there are a few sellers (bike flippers) that buy cheap, and refurbish the bikes before selling them. But these are few and far between.
Actually quite common by me, but vary widely in quality of work performed. No offense to anyone here that refurbs and flips the right way, but I've seen so many "completely refurbished" bikes that had literally the bare minimum amount of work put into them to make them appear to work to a buyer. One was so bad that the rear brake cable housing was rusted right through in an inconspicuous spot that a less scrupulous buyer may have overlooked
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Old 03-01-17, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by BobbyG View Post
I don't know where you live, but some local, non-chain, bike stores feature refurbished or reconditioned bikes. Then you can buy a better bike for your budget and get the advice, knowledge and support of knowledable professionals who can help you pick the right bike for you and your needs. (Assuming they're not sharks.)

Yes, but am I then going to be limited in my choice?
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Old 03-01-17, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by dmspara View Post
Yes, but am I then going to be limited in my choice?
Sure, depending on the selection they have. Some bike shops only have a handful of second hand bikes in stock, others have 20-30+ at any given time. Also depends on the turnover they have. Some shops will sell a lot of volume second hand, and if you don't find what you need, come back in 2 weeks and they will have many new ones in.

Going second hand will definitely require more patience to find a bike that is your size, fits your needs and your budget, but you will probably end up getting a better deal (higher quality for the money probably versus buying new entry level).
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Old 03-01-17, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by maartendc View Post
Sure, depending on the selection they have. Some bike shops only have a handful of second hand bikes in stock, others have 20-30+ at any given time. Also depends on the turnover they have. Some shops will sell a lot of volume second hand, and if you don't find what you need, come back in 2 weeks and they will have many new ones in.

Going second hand will definitely require more patience to find a bike that is your size, fits your needs and your budget, but you will probably end up getting a better deal (higher quality for the money probably versus buying new entry level).

Makes sense. Thank you!
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Old 03-01-17, 11:49 AM
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Originally Posted by dmspara View Post
Yes, but am I then going to be limited in my choice?
If you post your general geographical area, folks here are generally happy to steer you towards a suitable shop, or towards decent looking options on CL, that may help you out.
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Old 03-01-17, 12:03 PM
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No matter what, if you want to buy a bike for less money than it actually costs to make a decent bike, you are going to be limited in your range of choices.

I would take wphamilton's advice, and buy a box-store bike. it will be crap, but for the amount of use you claim to expect, it would be just fine. Just buy a single-speed beach cruiser so there isn't much to break.
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Old 03-02-17, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by jefnvk View Post
If you post your general geographical area, folks here are generally happy to steer you towards a suitable shop, or towards decent looking options on CL, that may help you out.
OH! Okay, that'll help immensely, thank you! I've looked online at 4 different bike shops. I live in Warren County, New Jersey. Are you familiar with the area?
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