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The old new-bike buying dilemma. My turn!

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The old new-bike buying dilemma. My turn!

Old 08-07-20, 01:04 PM
  #1  
Chinghis
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The old new-bike buying dilemma. My turn!

Hey, folks. I follow all of the threads asking about what kind of bike to get. And I realize that none of you can tell me which bike is right for me, but I figure you can listen to me think out loud and chime in occasionally.

OK, so what I want in a bike, based on the trusty steed that I ride now:

Steel, preferably.
26” wheels
Rim brakes. SoCal – I won’t be riding in rain or much mud, etc. Maybe on trails, I guess.
170mm crank (This seems long for a small bike like mine… but I measured.)
Flat bar with bar ends.
Thumb-shifters. I like a friction option.
Front and rear rack mounts.
No need for a dropper post.
No need for suspension.
Need lots of gears.
Versatility: Commuting with bags (20+ pounds); occasional dirt – buffed single-track, nothing technical or jumpy; very occasional road rides with long climbs (GMR/GRR!); eventual epic dirt/pavement tours, when I retire.

{TL;DR: - Anyone have experience with Mercier bikes?}

I commute about three times a week (19 miles RT with 1300 feet of climbing). I rode the GMR/GRR on July 4 (for those not in SoCal, it’s a 20-mile climb up Mt. Baldy). It was a blast, but I think I got a bit jealous seeing how fast the road bikes went down, and that’s what has really gotten me going on buying a new bike. I have also ridden up various dirt trails up in the mountains. So one bike that can do all of that with just a bit more efficiency on the road is what I’m shooting for, I guess.

For reference, the bike I ride now is a 1992 StumpJumper with a rigid fork and 1.5” slicks. Frame size would probably be called “Small” today – it’s a 16.5” frame, I think. A friend of mine pointed out that it’s a nice steel frame, and part of my decision dilemma is that I’d like something comparable. I realize that not all steel is created equal.

Someone here recommended the Marin Muirwoods, which ticks a lot of boxes for me. The whole 29er thing is a bit odd to me, but as I think about it, I realize that that wheel size might work well for me. I spend the majority of my time commuting. But I enjoy just having one bike that I can throw a leg over and ride 90% of whatever’s out there. OK, maybe 75%. There’s a lot of technical singletrack in the world.

The Surly Troll also has a lot to be said for it. I should have picked one up for $1200 used that I saw over the summer on Craigslist, but couldn’t pull the trigger.

I like the Salsa flat-bar gravel bikes, but I’m reluctant to go Alu. Maybe CF and definitely Titanium, but those will have to wait for retirement. If then.

I’ve thought about going vintage or used and customizing it, but honestly I never get around to most of the wrenching I should be doing.

So, I was going to come here and ask about the Muirwoods or the Troll, or if I’m just a nut-job for preferring my 26” wheels. I’m a short guy – 5’7” on a good day – and whenever I get on my son’s gravel bike (650b) I always feel a bit tall. Can’t imagine being way up there on a 29er! Since I ride so much in the city, I sometimes think that the 26” wheels offer more maneuverability and acceleration. Could be wrong and it’s all perception, of course.

As I was wondering which bike shops I can go to and how the whole test-ride thing works nowadays, I thought about browsing over to BikesDirect.com. Really wish they had a better search function, but scrolling through their Road and Gravel bikes, I stumbled on a couple that caught my eye. (Part of going to BD is that I met a guy riding a Motobecane from BD that other day. Was nice to actually see on in person.)

The Motobecane Fantom Cross Comp flat bar gravel bike looks pretty interesting, so long as I can get past the frame material. And then I noticed another bike on the same row - a Mercier Kilo GX T11 flat bar gravel bike. It’s steel, has a flat bar, but it’s a 1x10 with disk brakes. Seems to have good-quality tubing – same as Reynolds 525, I think, but made in Asia.

So I’m leaning toward the Mercier. I worry that it doesn’t have quite as many rack mounts as I might need some day (it does have fender mounts, which I doubt I will ever use). I guess I can just suck it up and conform, and learn about disc brakes. J Will have to figure out the rear rack thing.

Does anyone have experience with these bikes? I see a bunch of the Mercier single-speeds around town, but always thought they were a sporting-god store bike or something. Per the size chart, I should go for either a 55cm or 53cm. That’s the problem with being 5’6” – always the in-between size. I would probably opt to go for the smaller one.

Many thanks in advance!

Last edited by Chinghis; 08-08-20 at 01:44 PM. Reason: Realized it was quite the Wall-o-text, put in a TL;DR:
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Old 08-11-20, 01:34 AM
  #2  
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Originally Posted by Chinghis View Post
Hey, folks. I follow all of the threads asking about what kind of bike to get. And I realize that none of you can tell me which bike is right for me, but I figure you can listen to me think out loud and chime in occasionally...
At 6’2”, I still have the challenge of sizing stack & reach for my bike frames. I enjoy 3 cycling disciplines; road, leisure, and touring. I like to have a traditional flat back (to the extent by 56 year old body allows) for my road bike. Leisure finding on a flat bar hybrid allows me to handle my leashed dog running in front of me. My touring bike is over 50 lbs with camping gear. The touring bike wheelbase allows me to have panniers without hitting my heal on them, and provide control with a heavy load. In all three cases, the goal is to decide on the effective riding position for the task at hand. After prioritizing stack and reach, I can fine tune with stem and handle bar selection.

Wheel size does follow from frame geometry, and relates back to speed. But so does crank arm length and gearing. I’m always reminded that I walk too fast. In reality I have a long stride and high cadence walking. In cycling, I have leverage in my stroke, but difficulty generating high RPMs.

Thanks for letting me share some of my experiences, I hope they are useful.

Last edited by jlmonte; 08-11-20 at 01:39 AM.
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Old 08-12-20, 11:35 AM
  #3  
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Originally Posted by jlmonte View Post
At 6’2”, I still have the challenge of sizing stack & reach for my bike frames. I enjoy 3 cycling disciplines; road, leisure, and touring. I like to have a traditional flat back (to the extent by 56 year old body allows) for my road bike. Leisure finding on a flat bar hybrid allows me to handle my leashed dog running in front of me. My touring bike is over 50 lbs with camping gear. The touring bike wheelbase allows me to have panniers without hitting my heal on them, and provide control with a heavy load. In all three cases, the goal is to decide on the effective riding position for the task at hand. After prioritizing stack and reach, I can fine tune with stem and handle bar selection.

Wheel size does follow from frame geometry, and relates back to speed. But so does crank arm length and gearing. I’m always reminded that I walk too fast. In reality I have a long stride and high cadence walking. In cycling, I have leverage in my stroke, but difficulty generating high RPMs.

Thanks for letting me share some of my experiences, I hope they are useful.
Thanks! Definitely a way to approach it. I'm going to look into this a bit, since I have had some odd arm pain lately.
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Old 08-12-20, 12:57 PM
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You might start with your 'lots of gears' criterion. A Pinion gearbox will give you a wide range and 18, unduplicated speeds. I believe there are numerous bits with 26" wheels built around such a gearbox. I have a Tout Terrain that has flat bars, Pinion gearbox, built in rear rack. It is a little heavy, but it has a sturdiness that is comforting off the pavement.
Good luck
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Old 08-12-20, 01:06 PM
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The 26" wheel size will never go away -- but if youre considering a new bike, you might see if you can test ride a bike with the bigger wheels. Im 5'8 myself and a few years ago thought the idea of riding a 29'er was ludicrous - until I tried one for more than just a quick spin around a bike shop parking lot Now i'll never go back voluntarily - the bike just rolls so much smoother and faster than my old 26'ers --- Mine's a mountain bike, but the ability to go with narrower tires for the occasional gravel run with friends is nice . IT does sit a bit higher , especially since the bike has a significant suspension fork, but my stem and bars are as low as they can go and it is low enough (everyone is different in that regard though )
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Old 08-12-20, 01:19 PM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by Chinghis View Post
Hey, folks. I follow all of the threads asking about what kind of bike to get. And I realize that none of you can tell me which bike is right for me, but I figure you can listen to me think out loud and chime in occasionally.

OK, so what I want in a bike, based on the trusty steed that I ride now:

Steel, preferably.
26” wheels
Rim brakes. SoCal – I won’t be riding in rain or much mud, etc. Maybe on trails, I guess.
170mm crank (This seems long for a small bike like mine… but I measured.)
Flat bar with bar ends.
Thumb-shifters. I like a friction option.
Front and rear rack mounts.
No need for a dropper post.
No need for suspension.
Need lots of gears.
Versatility: Commuting with bags (20+ pounds); occasional dirt – buffed single-track, nothing technical or jumpy; very occasional road rides with long climbs (GMR/GRR!); eventual epic dirt/pavement tours, when I retire.

{TL;DR: - Anyone have experience with Mercier bikes?}

I commute about three times a week (19 miles RT with 1300 feet of climbing). I rode the GMR/GRR on July 4 (for those not in SoCal, it’s a 20-mile climb up Mt. Baldy). It was a blast, but I think I got a bit jealous seeing how fast the road bikes went down, and that’s what has really gotten me going on buying a new bike. I have also ridden up various dirt trails up in the mountains. So one bike that can do all of that with just a bit more efficiency on the road is what I’m shooting for, I guess.

For reference, the bike I ride now is a 1992 StumpJumper with a rigid fork and 1.5” slicks. Frame size would probably be called “Small” today – it’s a 16.5” frame, I think. A friend of mine pointed out that it’s a nice steel frame, and part of my decision dilemma is that I’d like something comparable. I realize that not all steel is created equal.

Someone here recommended the Marin Muirwoods, which ticks a lot of boxes for me. The whole 29er thing is a bit odd to me, but as I think about it, I realize that that wheel size might work well for me. I spend the majority of my time commuting. But I enjoy just having one bike that I can throw a leg over and ride 90% of whatever’s out there. OK, maybe 75%. There’s a lot of technical singletrack in the world.

The Surly Troll also has a lot to be said for it. I should have picked one up for $1200 used that I saw over the summer on Craigslist, but couldn’t pull the trigger.

I like the Salsa flat-bar gravel bikes, but I’m reluctant to go Alu. Maybe CF and definitely Titanium, but those will have to wait for retirement. If then.

I’ve thought about going vintage or used and customizing it, but honestly I never get around to most of the wrenching I should be doing.
I'm confused by your question; your Stumpy will do everything you want it to. Are you looking for a larger size? As for customizing a vintage bike, you can have a mechanic do it for less than the cost of a new one, and it'll be a better bike than you could buy new for the same price. As for the long cranks, I don't know what they were thinking back then; my little Trek SingleTrack came with 175 cranks, and it's like climbing tall stairs; for an hour. You'd probably be much happier with 165mm cranks, they're not impossible to find.

I'm 5' 4" and I love my 26" wheeled bikes; they feel properly proportioned, even with the stupid long top tubes (fixed with a short stem and swept bars). Don't bow to current fashion; find a bike that fits and ride that. That said, if you like the Mercier, go for it!
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Old 08-13-20, 10:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Korina View Post
I'm confused by your question; your Stumpy will do everything you want it to. Are you looking for a larger size? As for customizing a vintage bike, you can have a mechanic do it for less than the cost of a new one, and it'll be a better bike than you could buy new for the same price. As for the long cranks, I don't know what they were thinking back then; my little Trek SingleTrack came with 175 cranks, and it's like climbing tall stairs; for an hour. You'd probably be much happier with 165mm cranks, they're not impossible to find.

I'm 5' 4" and I love my 26" wheeled bikes; they feel properly proportioned, even with the stupid long top tubes (fixed with a short stem and swept bars). Don't bow to current fashion; find a bike that fits and ride that. That said, if you like the Mercier, go for it!
Hey, thanks for the suggestions and support for 26" wheels!

Hah, what I forgot to mention is that the bottom bracket on the StumpJumper is stuck and most likely will never come out. I took it in for a big overhaul last year ... and they broke the bike shop vice trying to get it off. I suspect I"m now legendary. Or an example of how not to maintain your bike!

So I figure that it's only a matter of time, although it still rides as it always has. And I'm feeling my years, perhaps, and realize I could be a bit more comfortable and efficient with a new bike.

I can only like the Mercier in abstract, since I can't do a test ride and have only seen one or two riding by in the wild. I'm just going by frame material, specs, and one or two ****** threads where people actually mention them.

But now you have me thinking about crank size. That, and the stack and reach suggestion above are probably two good places to start. Thanks, folks.
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Old 08-13-20, 01:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Chinghis View Post
Hey, thanks for the suggestions and support for 26" wheels!

Hah, what I forgot to mention is that the bottom bracket on the StumpJumper is stuck and most likely will never come out. I took it in for a big overhaul last year ... and they broke the bike shop vice trying to get it off. I suspect I"m now legendary. Or an example of how not to maintain your bike!

So I figure that it's only a matter of time, although it still rides as it always has. And I'm feeling my years, perhaps, and realize I could be a bit more comfortable and efficient with a new bike.

I can only like the Mercier in abstract, since I can't do a test ride and have only seen one or two riding by in the wild. I'm just going by frame material, specs, and one or two ****** threads where people actually mention them.

But now you have me thinking about crank size. That, and the stack and reach suggestion above are probably two good places to start. Thanks, folks.
If you'll tell us the city you're in, we can help find you something on CraigsList. We love shopping for others.
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Old 08-13-20, 02:14 PM
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Cool, tap the hive mind!

I live in Los Angeles, where it's a mad scramble for any bike that becomes available, it seems. At least on Craigslist.

Actually, a friend of mine says he has a Centurion (Dave Scott bike?!) that he doesn't use and wants to give me. I'm planning on checking it out. I'm still going to keep looking, of course.
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