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Buying a bike for the first time in years

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Buying a bike for the first time in years

Old 07-18-08, 03:53 AM
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feba
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Buying a bike for the first time in years

This was written after the post, but I figure it should go first so you can read the post with this in mind. My main goals are to get back into cycling, get used to riding a bike again, get a bit of exercise, and maybe go to the library. Secondarily, and the main reason I'm looking into biking again, I'd like something that I can commute to and from school with; a community college about 3.5 miles away from my home. I figure that I should go with something cheap to start, and maybe get a better bike later, or get an electric kit (or electric bike) if I have trouble going that far by myself (keep in mind that summers here get rather hot, I hate heat and sweat, and I'm very out of shape). For right now, all I'm thinking about buying is a bike, helmet, a lock, and maybe a basket or panniers (again, if I go to the library, to carry books in)

I'm sure I'm going about this the wrong way, and I'd like a bit of advice to make it less painful. I've checked out the only cycling shops I know of in the area; one of them has gone very far downhill (two moves in the past few years, and customer service so poor none of the employees even acknowledged I was there), and the other was a large retail store-- not universally bad, of course, but they don't seem to have anything in terms of used, which is kinda what I was aiming at.

The most obvious problem is that I simply haven't ridden a bike in at least four or five years. The last time I can remember riding a bike on a consistent basis was 5th grade. This means I have really no clue what the hell I'm doing with trying them out. At first it seemed like the seat was too high, so I lowered it some, and then it felt like the petals were way too close to my feet (my legs felt very cramped). And then there's the stuff that I was never very good at when I had a bike, like using gears and brakes (I couldn't even remember which trigger went to which tire; gears I barely even touched because trying to figure them out was way too distracting)

I obviously have no idea what to look for in mechanical terms. The cheapest bike I saw (I'm planning on just getting back into cycling, and maybe getting a nicer bike later if need be) was $250, a Giant Boulder. I believe it was a mountain bike; though I'm looking for a commuter, the price is a definite advantage. Plus, bad weather. I'm not sure what disadvantages a mountain bike would have, other than speed. The sales rep said something about the center piece of tread on the tire allowing it to run comfortably on pavement. Since I've gotten home, I've looked up some reviews; it sounds like the only people who have had problems with it are ones that have seriously abused it through mountain biking, which is not something I am going to be doing. Other than that, it sounds like a good beginner bike, but some opinions from here couldn't hurt.

The sales rep also pointed out something called "Comfort Bikes". Once I got my mind out of the gutter, I didn't really see much of a point to these (except to look nice), although I might be missing something.


So, advice? I realize that I could probably get a bike off of CL or Freecycle or the like, but given that I have no real mechanical knowledge concerning bicycles, I'd have no ability to tell what can be salvaged and repaired, what to replace, what is fine, and what is going to kill me; so I'd feel more comfortable dealing with someone who (at least, in theory) knows bikes. To me, the Giant Boulder I mentioned seemed like it would be pretty good once I got used to biking again; if I could fix the problem of the seat and the pedals (and honestly, I didn't really try to get it right, so when I go back that would probably be fairly simple to check). And even if it's not a great bike and I wind up replacing it, having a backup bike could be useful; or again something for bad weather.

EDIT: Oh, in terms of the commute, as mentioned about 3.5 miles. It's all pretty flat, smooth pavement, and very little in the way of hills to worry about. It feels more like "tilts" than "hills", although that might just be from the perspective of riding in a car.
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Old 07-18-08, 03:05 PM
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3.5 miles can be done on just about anything. You may want to look at bikes classed as "city" or commuter bikes. An internal gear hub with 3 or 8 speeds will probably be good for you. Look up the Schwinn Coffee and Cream to see what I am refering to. The internal hub is cleaner and requires less maintenance than derailers, and can be shifted while you are at a stop. An electra Townie may work for you too, there are a lot of options on that one.

If you are on a bike with front and rear gears, just leave the front on the middle ring until you are comfortable and shift in the back. Once you get used to riding, "1" on the front is for going uphil, "2" is for the flats, and "3" is for downhill.
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Old 07-18-08, 06:17 PM
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Originally Posted by c_m_shooter View Post
3.5 miles can be done on just about anything.
Yeah, I figured I could probably do it on one of those A-Bikes or even a kick scooter if I wanted to; and probably soon enough just walk. A bike does have the advantage of having more utility (as well as being more comfortable), but I'm not totally confident it's worth the cost (over a kick scooter, that is).

The internal hub is cleaner and requires less maintenance than derailers,
That's another thing I was wondering about, what is going to require the least maintenance? I know that if I intend to do much with a bike, I should learn how to handle at least basic repairs and upkeep, but I'm not mechanically minded, and I have basically no knowledge or experience right now. Obviously having a bike break down and not being able to fix it would be a very bad thing.

I'll check out your other suggestions too, thanks.
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Old 07-20-08, 07:47 PM
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The internally-geared hubs have the advantage of almost never breaking, but if they do you're out of luck.
Virtually non-serviceable by the casual mechanic.

Also, (at least with the last couple I worked on) tire changes are a real bear. Wheel removal with one of these can be a trial, and everything has to be just right before it will shift properly.
Standard Derailleurs on the other hand are relatively simple to work on, though they need to be kept clean and properly lubricated.

A hint: If the shop offers a "free 30-day checkup", do it. New shifter and brake cables will stretch a bit over that time period, and your shifting will get sloppy regardless of what you have. The shop will re-adjust, and you'll be good for months if not years.
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