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Newbie Needs Rec

Old 03-03-21, 11:51 AM
  #1  
dontfall57
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Newbie Needs Rec

Hello All -

I grew up on the box store bikes, never had an issue (also never had enough use to notice issues). Now that I am out in the burbs from the City, the wife says I have room to store a bike, so I want to get one to ride for exercise. I am looking for a recommendation and some tips moving forward on what type of bike to purchase, beginner's maintenance, and things to look out for that I wouldn't know. Biggest concern is safety when riding (given my size) and that the bike doesn't fail under me for lack of maintenance or quality.

About me:
Gender: Male
Height: 6'4''
Weight: 255lbs
Location: Northern Virginia, USA

BIKE
Likely usage: 1-3x/week; 5-15 miles
Style: Mostly paved roads, perhaps some light off roading
Type of Ride: Mostly cardio, however I would like to be able to take it on sight seeing / longer rides as needed
Speed: Not concerned about being able to go fast. Just concerned about letting it fly downhill safely
Solo/With others: Both

I am looking to purchase a bike for (hopefully) under $350. I have no clue if that is a reasonable budget, so apologies ahead of time. I am open to used bikes but want to be sure I am giving it the correct once over to ensure quality and safety.

Please let me know if you can recommend a bike for me and if you have any tips on purchasing used and maintenance of used or new bikes.

Last edited by dontfall57; 03-03-21 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 03-03-21, 12:01 PM
  #2  
mack_turtle
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that is a reasonable budget for a USED bike. there's very little on the market for new bikes that is even close to decent for that price. bare minimum for a decent new bicycle that's not from a questionable "brand" is $500. that's a bottom-of-the-barrel bike that you'll probably wear out everything on it within a few months riding several days a week.

style of bike: WHERE do you plan to ride this bike? paved roads, mix of roads and hardpack dirt/gravel, trails in the woods with rocks and jumps?
type of riding: what kind of distance and intensity to you want to do? is this just to bang out 60 minutes of cardio or do you want to explore for hours at a time?
do you want to go "fast" or is that not a concern at all?
do you want to ride socially with groups of riders who also want to push themselves physically, or is the plan to fart around the block with the family? or something in-between?
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Old 03-03-21, 12:11 PM
  #3  
phughes
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Used is a great option, but you may also want to look at Bikes Direct. They have decent bikes at a good price. You will need to do the final assembly though, or take it to a bike shop.

https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...es-cafe-21.htm
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Old 03-03-21, 12:15 PM
  #4  
dontfall57
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Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
that is a reasonable budget for a USED bike. there's very little on the market for new bikes that is even close to decent for that price. bare minimum for a decent new bicycle that's not from a questionable "brand" is $500. that's a bottom-of-the-barrel bike that you'll probably wear out everything on it within a few months riding several days a week.

style of bike: WHERE do you plan to ride this bike? paved roads, mix of roads and hardpack dirt/gravel, trails in the woods with rocks and jumps?
type of riding: what kind of distance and intensity to you want to do? is this just to bang out 60 minutes of cardio or do you want to explore for hours at a time?
do you want to go "fast" or is that not a concern at all?
do you want to ride socially with groups of riders who also want to push themselves physically, or is the plan to fart around the block with the family? or something in-between?

Added answers into original post, thanks!
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Old 03-03-21, 12:35 PM
  #5  
mack_turtle
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since you're not concerned with "going fast" and you want stable control on downhill for hard, mixed surfaces, I'd look for a "fitness hybrid" or something like a touring/ gravel bike. flat handle bar, not a drop bar. drop bars, IME, are great for aerodynamics and for moving your hands around to different positions for longer rides. I don't think you'll get much out of that and it won't be worth getting used to what most people consider un-intuitive controls on a drop-bar bike.

conventional road bikes have narrow tires that need high pressure. that's going to most likely not be fun for you when you leave smooth, paved roads. look for something with at least a 32mm tire. the size of the tire will be limited by clearance in the frame and fork, and conventional road tires are 23–28mm, with a trend growing toward wider tires.
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Old 03-03-21, 06:43 PM
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"bare minimum for a decent new bicycle that's not from a questionable "brand" is $500. that's a bottom-of-the-barrel bike that you'll probably wear out everything on it within a few months riding several days a week."
Not necessarily universal. I have a customer that has been riding a Giant Cypress for the last 12 years and is well over 20,000 miles. Has original wheels, fork, and ft der. on it. Rear der has been changed out as the pivots wore loose around 17,000 miles.
How does he do it?? Maintenance. He's an old Dutchman from the old school line of PMS thought (preventative maintenance system). He maintains the bike by keeping it clean, keeping the chain clean and lubed, repacking hubs every 3 years, riding with properly inflated tires, etc. Basic stuff that anyone can do. I have a lowly Alivo rear der on my short commute bike I use in all weather for short trips to the bank or store. It has been faithfully serving me for 5 years now, and before that it was on a neighbors mountain bike. I maintain my stuff and it lasts. You do the same and you will get the same results.
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Old 03-04-21, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
Not necessarily universal.
I didn't say it was universal. based on my experience, most people won't do what you described. kudos to the very few who do, but most people who buy a bike that cheap and ride it a lot will neglect it. I usually don't leave that caveat because experience tells me that almost no one will maintain a bike anywhere close to that well. they'll say that they will, but they won't. for dontfall57 , that's good advice though. even a cheap bike can last a long time if you're vigilant about maintenance. it will never perform at the level of a nicer bike if that matters to you, but it will also likely wear out and fall apart faster if you neglect it. this is my subjective opinion based on riding experience and work in bike shops and a bike co-op.

thread derail time: as for the Cypress with the original wheels, how are the braking surfaces on those rims? I'd think that no amount of maintenance would stop them from being worn thin to the point of being dangerous at this point.
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Old 03-04-21, 10:45 AM
  #8  
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Because you are taller than average you need an XL bike frame.

Because you are over 20lbs you need something with robust wheels, esp. hub bearings. Most bikes under $500 come with a 'freewheel' style rear hub, which will quickly get a bent or broken axle. You need a bike with a 'freehub' style rear hub which has the bearings out closer to the ends of the axle for greater strength. An older bike with a 5 or 6 speed freewheel might be ok, but modern low-end bikes with 8 or (shudder) 9 speed freewheels are just asking for problems.
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Old 03-04-21, 11:36 AM
  #9  
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If you want something basic for <500 from a real brand - as mack turtle said, stuff less than this is gonna be direct-to-consumer (requires assembly, not always a real brand, sometimes limited sizes, although everything is limited these days) or you're gonna have to find a smart used buy locally (which is what I'd try to do, but may be more trouble than it's worth for you)-
...I'd look at something like this - 36-spoke wheels, yes it's a freewheel, but 7-spd, easy to replace,
https://www.landrys.com/product/jami...r-383999-1.htm

Or for a bit less, but with 26" wheels (pros & cons), this:
https://www.landrys.com/product/jami...r-383999-1.htm
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Old 03-04-21, 11:49 AM
  #10  
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Since you are only expecting to ride 5 to 15 miles at a time and not concerned with speed, then I'd suggest a cruiser or a fat bike. Cruiser's might can be found new for not much more than your price. Fat bikes or fat tire bikes might be well outside your budget new.

These are mostly just so you'll see what I'm talking about. However if I were to ever get a bike for leisurely riding again, the Trek cruiser bikes with the swept back style handle bars will be a likely choice for me. I personally can't stand flat bars as to me they put hands in the wrong position. Since I have rolling terrain around me, I definitely want the ones that have a decent range of gearing.

https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/b...=%3Arelevance#

https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/b...farley/c/B336/


Buy your bike for the type of riding you expect to do now. If and when you think you want to do some other type riding, then you can get another bike for that. Nothing wrong with having more than one bike.
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Old 03-04-21, 02:57 PM
  #11  
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a fat bike or beach cruiser might be fun and novel, but they might get cumbersome to ride for more than a few miles. a beach cruiser is typically for casual, leisure-pace riding. it's good exercise if walking around the block leaves you winded or if time has not been good to your body and you can only sit bolt-upright like you're in an office chair while you ride. that might suit you, but if you're remotely athletic and find yourself pushing it a little faster and further, that might get old fast.

likewise, fat bikes with 4–5" wide tires are great for very loose surfaces like sand and snow, but novelty will wear off within a mile of riding relatively firm surfaces as the extra heft makes accelerating a chore. if burning calories is your goal, forcing yourself to push a less efficient bike could help you do that. but if pushing a cumbersome bike around starts to feel like a chore, you won't want to do it as much. in the end, if something like that is comfortable and inspires confidence in you, it's the right bike.

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Old 03-04-21, 04:28 PM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
a fat bike or beach cruiser might be fun and novel, but they might get cumbersome to ride for more than a few miles. a beach cruiser is typically for casual, leisure-pace riding. it's good exercise if walking around the block leaves you winded or if time has not been good to your body and you can only sit bolt-upright like you're in an office chair while you ride. that might suit you, but if you're remotely athletic and find yourself pushing it a little faster and further, that might get old fast.

likewise, fat bikes with 45" wide tires are great for very loose surfaces like sand and snow, but novelty will wear off within a mile of riding relatively firm surfaces as the extra heft makes accelerating a chore. if burning calories is your goal, forcing yourself to push a less efficient bike could help you do that. but if pushing a cumbersome bike around starts to feel like a chore, you won't want to do it as much. in the end, if something like that is comfortable and inspires confidence in you, it's the right bike.
Have you ridden every type of cruiser out there? A cruiser is not necessarily a beach cruiser if that is all you have experience with. However it is for mainly for leisurely riding as you correctly stated. But even a leisurely ride can be done at a cadence that gives a decent rise in HR. The OP stated they were not interested in fast riding nor for long distance riding.

Unlike the small offerings of cruisers I was able to find 10 years ago, which few had much more than a 3 speed if they were multi gear at all. Now I am seeing many cruiser or crank forward bikes that are offered with plenty of gearing choices. You don't have to ride hard to get cardio. You just have to pedal at a rate that raises your HR.

True they are heavier, but for a 15 mile trip at a leisurely pace, who really cares? Weight matters for saving energy on long trips. IMO. Fat tire bikes I've seen generally have a really low gearing. That'll make for high cadence and HR at a cardio level if the rider tries to have any speed at all. Plus with those big tires, they can't help but give a smooth ride.
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Old 03-07-21, 01:09 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by dontfall57 View Post
Hello All -

I grew up on the box store bikes, never had an issue (also never had enough use to notice issues). Now that I am out in the burbs from the City, the wife says I have room to store a bike, so I want to get one to ride for exercise. I am looking for a recommendation and some tips moving forward on what type of bike to purchase, beginner's maintenance, and things to look out for that I wouldn't know. Biggest concern is safety when riding (given my size) and that the bike doesn't fail under me for lack of maintenance or quality.

About me:
Gender: Male
Height: 6'4''
Weight: 255lbs
Location: Northern Virginia, USA

BIKE
Likely usage: 1-3x/week; 5-15 miles
Style: Mostly paved roads, perhaps some light off roading
Type of Ride: Mostly cardio, however I would like to be able to take it on sight seeing / longer rides as needed
Speed: Not concerned about being able to go fast. Just concerned about letting it fly downhill safely
Solo/With others: Both

I am looking to purchase a bike for (hopefully) under $350. I have no clue if that is a reasonable budget, so apologies ahead of time. I am open to used bikes but want to be sure I am giving it the correct once over to ensure quality and safety.

Please let me know if you can recommend a bike for me and if you have any tips on purchasing used and maintenance of used or new bikes.

Check out the The Old Bike Shop at the NE corner of Washington Blvd and Pershing Drive (2647 N Pershing Dr, Arlington, VA 22201). I have not been in for a while, but they used to have a great collection of used bikes from the end of the freewheel era to the more modern entry level 8-9 speed cassettes. Most were in great shape, i.e., kids left home and told parents to sell their bike or folks lost interest or upgraded. They also have some vintage bikes and kids and mountain bikes, plus some new bikes. Prices are reasonable for the NoVa area. The downside is with used, you luck into your size or not, but they have a good turnover. The owner has a gorgeous chrome Paramount and some really nice French bikes from the 60's. I do my own wrenching, so I cannot speak personally for service, but I have not heard anything bad. For complex service or service need expensive tools, I use Bikenetics in Falls Church City.

With the current situation, I they may be picked bare, but now is the time to look. At your height, you might have luck, as the last time I was there most I was interested in were a bit large for me at 5'9". Give them a call.

Last edited by Bill in VA; 03-07-21 at 01:13 AM.
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Old 03-07-21, 07:07 AM
  #14  
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DontFALL57: My recommendation for you is the 24 inch FRAME SIZE of the 1970 thru 1976 FIVE SPEED Schwinn SUBURBAN.......the five speed!!!
Why? My belief is that you will likely find it more enjoyable to ride in comfort and with tourist handlebars.......rather than bent over in crouch with drop bars.

You won't be riding fast as you mentioned. The FIVE SPEED is all that you will need. The gearing on those Five Speed SUBURBANS are wide ranging which is great.
THEY ARE UNBREAKABLE! You should be able to locate one, purchase it and then replace the TIRES TUBES, BRAKE PADS, and if needed the BRAKE CABLES & SHIFT CABLE and SEAT if you don't like the factory seat for well under $220 TOTAL COST.........probably less than $200.
The FIVE SPEED SUBURBAN is so simple that you can easily learn to do all the servicing in ONE WEEKEND even if you've never before worked on any bicycle before.

The 5speed Schwinn SUBURBAN in 24 inch frame size from 1970 thru 1976:
Front Crankwheel has 46 TEETH
REAR WHEEL has the MODEL J freewheel
32---26---21---17---14

39**48**59***73**89 GEAR range as you see, You have a gear range between 39 and 89 which is wide enough and FIVE SPEED SIMPLICITY!!!


There is also a FIVE SPEED SUBURBAN in 1977 and later but it has the FFS system which works well but is non-standard in commonality.
For this reason, and to keep things simple, for this discussion concentrate on 1970 - 1976 5speed SUBURBAN model of 24 inch frame size.

I'd also say that you may not want the 1974 SUBURBAN 5 speed as for 1974 only Schwinn employed a handlebar thumb shifter on right handlebar instead of the Schwinn STIK stem mount. 1975 models returned to the superior Schwinn STIK stem mount. It is a matter of opinion as I do believe that the Schwinn STIK stem mount shifter is a better choice than the thumb shifter seen in 1974. Some people like the thumb shifter better, but I don't!!!

REALISTICALLY, YOU MIGHT FIND A 24" Frame SUBURBAN 5 Speed in READY to RIDE CONDITION for around $125, and some might say much less, as during non Covid-19 bike demand, probably a nice clean one for $75 to $80 but now during the Pandemic, you're looking at $125. The good news is that you are 6'-4 and most normal folks seeking old Schwinns prefer the smaller frames over the 24" as Schwinn frames are longer and accomodate larger riders than much more modern frames because of their relaxed geometry (angles of frame at seat tube and at headtube are pretty much parallel to each other)......thus the average 6 foot adult male can fit on a Women's 21 inch frame or a Women's 19 inch frame because of the seat-tube angle and the length between seat tube and headtube----what would be the top bar if it was a men's diamond frame.......
The 24 inch men's frame was widely sold back in the day when folks didn't care so much about the weight of an electroforged Schwinn.
These frames as are all of the electroforged Schwinn frames of 1966 and later, ARE INDESTRUCTIBLE!!!
THE STEEL WHEELS employed by Schwinn on these bikes are stronger than any wheels employed by competitors during that era.
My only advice is that you do want to look and see that the spokes appear to be clean and free of corrosion....

You will find that the ONE PIECE FORGED STEEL ASHTABULA CRANK is unbreakable and simple to service the two #64 (number sixty-four) crank bearings.

The factory rear derailleur is nearly bulletproof and supremely durable.
It is made by SHIMANO for Schwinn. 1970-1973 and very early 1974 models have the GT-100 rear derailleur, and the 1974-1976 models have the GT-120


Okay, now if you did want to improve your hill climbing ability over what you have from the factory's 46 front crank and 32 teeth rear (giving 39 GEAR)
You could easily install say for instance something like a 44 teeth front crankwheel or 42 or anything less than 46 as there are so many crankwheels available for Ashtabula one piece cranks since so many bikes and cruiser bikes have employed Ashtabula one piece cranks since at least the 1930's, and the one piece crank was once a fixture in the early days of bmx.


There are plenty of tire options in the 27 (630mm) range for the Schwinn steel 27 inch rims as seen on the SUBURBAN.
Sure, you won't find anything in 27 inch in your local bike shop but every major online bike shop and major online bike parts/online bike shop sells the 27 (630mm tires) by all the major manufacturers.......you can get street tread, to something suitable for dirt/asphalt/gravel which is semi-knobby....
One thing is that some tires like the MICHELIN PROTEK 32-630mm 27 inch tire will not clear the stock fenders on a Schwinn Suburban...... I have the Michelins on a 1971 Suburban. On that Brown '71, I have it fenderless. The MICHELIN PROTEK is a great basic pavement or paved path tire but I would say that you don't want it on dirt or gravel......there are other tires with suitable with tread for that and you'd need something with aggressive tread for dirt and gravel...
Depending upon whether you choose to keep the fenders, you may have to inquire about that with the seller and manufacturer's details etc...............most 27 (630mm) tires seem to fit the SUBURBAN and have no problem with fender clearance........I know the Michelin Protek will not without rubbing.

Yes, I am certain that numerous others will chime in and say that Vintage Schwinn is nuts. My belief is that it will give you a great starting point to the enjoyable type of leisure riding that you wish to do. The bike will be supremely durable. Yes it weighs a frikken ton (40 pounds) compared to a modern road bike or even a modern hybrid. Its unbreakable, durable, and never misses a beat, sort of like the Keef Riffhard of the bicycle world......what Keith R. does is really basic and simple yet look at all he's done with that five string tuned to G approach in addition to normal tuned stuff. Simple and durable is just what you need to roll.
The bike will not cost you much to acquire. You likely can find one in or near your area within three weeks.
HECK, IF YOU'VE ALREADY GOT SOMETHING IN A WALMART- DEPT STORE TYPE BIKE THAT FITS YOU COMFORTABLY AND IS DEPENDABLE, KEEP RIDING THAT BIKE!!! A bicycle is a bicycle if you're not racing it, or if you're not trying to keep up with a pack of riders on speedy lightweight road bikes! Yes, if you're trying to impress your pals or you want to fit in with that circle of rider on speedy lightweight road bikes, oh heck yeah, the ancient old Schwinn ain't gonna do that unless you've got street cred of having placed and won triathlons ( on racebuilt bikes of course-not an electroforged Varsity) and you're just showing off that you can maintain the pace of the pack on an ancient Schwinn while on group rides with average riders. ....Yeah thats always kinda cool when the campy Bianchi boy that is much younger can't keep up the ancient tri-athlete riding the electroforged Chicago battleship. It's the same as playing some cheapie old Teisco, or no-name or Squier or even some walmart Worst Act electric guitar on stage......if you're a good guitar player, it is gonna sound good if the guitar is playable and reasonably set-up properly.............if you can't play and your band isn't ready to leave the garage just yet........well, you can get the best instruments, PA and best equipment in the world and you're still gonna sound like dog dew , no matter what.

This is only a suggestion. It certainly is a decent low budget, cost effective solution that will prove extremely durable and reliable.
There are certainly other ways that you could proceed, rather than considering something ancient.
It is ultimately your choice because if you're not having fun, you're doing it the wrong way......
Go with whatever gives you the most joy and fun. Ultimately, that is money well spent if it gets you out riding often when the sun shines and the weather is nice!
Even if you do exceed your initial budget slightly, if it makes you happy, and you have fun riding....why not....if the added expense is easily swingable at this point in time. If you enjoy riding your current bike, just forget about what store it came from and just continue riding it. There is no hurry to dump a load of cash on something new that might not be any better than what you already have for the recreational, fun-time riding that you intend to keep doing. Keep the cash and you can still have fun on the two wheels you've got. You'll know when, when you know....until that time comes, just ride and have fun, as you're not out to impress anyone......
You can always get a repro decal set for an "acceptable" marque to give an instant upgrade to your existing bike to confuse 'those' who may think it is a BSO based on its current factory decals but with the decal upgrade-headbadge change upgrade will love it......... .....silly and stupid, but often true as many of 'those' yo-yo's only recognize the large black lettering decals on certain bikes and can't distinguish between anything else.............
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Old 03-07-21, 08:39 AM
  #15  
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Just some general remarks about low-end bike specs. When I'm looking at inexpensive new bikes there are a few red flags that stand out for various reasons.
  • High-ten steel (heavy)
  • Non-standard bottom bracket. "bolt type" etc.
  • 7-speed freewheel.
  • One piece crank
  • Threaded headset w/ quill stem
Not that these are inherently bad or wrong, but low end bikes using these cut corners drastically and spell trouble down the road.

Don't care, as these are either consumables, easily changed or don't matter much
  • tires
  • Wheels
  • Saddle
  • Seat post
  • handlebars
  • grips
  • chain
  • cables and housing
Prefer:
  • freehub better than freewheel
  • cartridge bottom bracket
  • Shimano derailleurs (named model, not numbered)
  • double rings on a hybrid or road bike, triple on mountain bike
  • Tektro or better brakes rather than no-name brakes
Later on we can easily improve the tires and saddle, brake pads and of course the chain will be replaced after a few thousand miles, so those don't really matter on the purchase. Upgrading the wheels is eventually worth it since they'll almost all come with freewheels. When the wheel wears out or breaks, replace with upgrade.

So in short I wouldn't lay out $400+ on a bike with 1 or 2 from the first list. That's a $200 box-store bike. But any bike that passes is about equivalent in quality to any other low entry-level bike so that simplifies things considerably.
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Old 03-07-21, 09:17 AM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by dontfall57 View Post
Hello All -

I grew up on the box store bikes, never had an issue (also never had enough use to notice issues). Now that I am out in the burbs from the City, the wife says I have room to store a bike, so I want to get one to ride for exercise. I am looking for a recommendation and some tips moving forward on what type of bike to purchase, beginner's maintenance, and things to look out for that I wouldn't know. Biggest concern is safety when riding (given my size) and that the bike doesn't fail under me for lack of maintenance or quality.

About me:
Gender: Male
Height: 6'4''
Weight: 255lbs
Location: Northern Virginia, USA

BIKE
Likely usage: 1-3x/week; 5-15 miles
Style: Mostly paved roads, perhaps some light off roading
Type of Ride: Mostly cardio, however I would like to be able to take it on sight seeing / longer rides as needed
Speed: Not concerned about being able to go fast. Just concerned about letting it fly downhill safely
Solo/With others: Both

I am looking to purchase a bike for (hopefully) under $350. I have no clue if that is a reasonable budget, so apologies ahead of time. I am open to used bikes but want to be sure I am giving it the correct once over to ensure quality and safety.

Please let me know if you can recommend a bike for me and if you have any tips on purchasing used and maintenance of used or new bikes.
I was just at the Trek store in Fredricksburg on Friday they have a nice selection of new bikes in stock but you wont get one for near your budget but i bet they will finance one for you.
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Old 03-08-21, 11:57 AM
  #17  
dontfall57
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Thanks!

I ended up at the Bike Stop in Warrenton and picked up a TREK FX1!
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Old 03-08-21, 12:10 PM
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phughes
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Originally Posted by dontfall57 View Post
Thanks!

I ended up at the Bike Stop in Warrenton and picked up a TREK FX1!
Awesome! Glad you found a bike. Congrats and enjoy!
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