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Old 04-29-12, 07:04 PM   #1
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Ready to begin biking (again)

Much in the same vein of I neeed a bike!! post, I'm looking very similarly, but I'm a researcher so would like to understand a few things.

There is an overwhelming number of posts in these forums. Apologize if any of this is in a FAQ or another post around here, I'm more than willing to spend the time reading, please feel free to point me in a direction.

First a little background: I used to bike about 15 years ago, haven't since as I'm a bit of a cheapwad.

I'm ready to put my money down if there is a good reason (quality, extended lifetime, maintainability). So, here is the point. I'm sure there is a great reason to pay $2000+ for a bike if for competition, but I'm not yet to the point that I understand the general bike rider spending $400 for a bike . I do get the concept of you get what you pay for, so I'm sure there is a high level of quality to the parts, better, lighter materials, less friction, etc.. After doing a little research, I don't see any advantage other than the brand name vs. non-brand name. They're all made in China (all that I've seen).

Are higher cost bikes easier to maintain? Are parts interoperable? Do they, generally, last longer? As a mechanic, is it possible / would it be bad for me to assemble my bike piece by piece as I do the research to figure out what's best for me? I would like to get something I can keep and maintain indefinitely; that is a huge consideration for me. Is there a good conglomeration of research materials about what make modern bikes good, maybe a primer?

Finally, the finer points of my bike, I plan on doing road biking, and I don't exactly intend to be easy on it (maybe off road <10% of the time I'm biking, hit curbs hard with back wheel, etc..). I'm used to taking whatever I could get, biking wise, but seems like there are more options now (ie: thin, medium and thick wheels); Is there something I should be specifically looking for, specifically, for this bike?

Appreciate all advice in advance.

Last edited by avuton; 04-29-12 at 07:11 PM. Reason: wheels, not tires
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Old 04-29-12, 07:56 PM   #2
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Having recently went throught the buying process for the first time here are somethings I learned.
1. Know what kind of riding you are going to be doing
2. If your not sure if cycling is for you, buy used first if you stick with it then buy new(er) more $$$
3. Test ride all the bikes you can, every bike handles different and gives a different rides
4. Ask every question you have to multiple LBS employees (some are more knowledgeable than others)
5. A cheaper bike wont ride as nice a more expensive bike, you may not believe me now but once you test a few you will
6. A bike with more expensive components (drive train) does tend to last longer and be less maintenance
7. As far as components go Shimano Tiagra, 105, ultegra, and dura ace are all great, and anything from SRAM is as well
8. You can spend less on the previous years model (2011 models) over buying a 2012 model bike

The most important thing of all is to buy from a store you find knowledgeable and friendly. Pay attention to their maintenance plans, some shops free tune-ups for life others only one or for one year. Most new bikes that are from big name brands (Specialized, Trek, Cannondale and others) have a lifetime frame warranty. Have fun shopping and I hope this was helpful.
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Old 04-29-12, 08:03 PM   #3
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I have one of the entry-level Dawes road bikes that I got for under $200 a few years ago (now you can get them new for around $300 shipped from or from some ebay sellers. Mine has a 59 cm frame and weighs around 29 lbs, it has 7 gears on the back and 2 on the front (not super-easy gears for climbing), it has "retro" stem shifters. Many cyclists want a lighter bike with brifters. I've tried (and own) lighter bikes with brifters and still find the Dawes Lighting Sport very adequate for my riding (I just rode 12 miles this evening on it). So my opinion is that you can get decently started for $300-$400 (you could even get a helmet and bike shorts in that budget).

You might be able to find a big-name used bike (that was like $1000 5 or 10 years ago) for that kind of money (I don't find those bikes for sale where I live).

You seem like a very serious-minded person who always wants to make the perfect decision. I say just find a road bike to ride and (no matter what bike you start with) you will likely (if you get into this biking activity a lot) want another bike. Why? Because it just takes time to really figure out what you like and what you want to "try-out" in the future.
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Old 04-29-12, 08:20 PM   #4
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If you are going to do off roading and hit curbs hard, you probably don't want the classic road bike. Hybrid or cyclocross will accept wider tires and will be more what you are looking for. Do you know if you want a flat bar bike or drop bars? CX bikes have drop bars; they also have higher cost. You might be able to find a decent CX bike used.

I think the major brand names are made in Taiwan and the cheap frames are made in China. The components (SRAM or Shimano) are probably no longer made in Japan. Unless you want to drop serious coin or purchase older used bike, it will not be made in USA. Mondo's summary is spot on. One thing to empasize, though, is that you should avoid purchasing a bike from an Xmart. They are crap and most likely assembled by someone who can barely use an adjustable wrench.

I also don't recommend buying a bike online. While you can save some money, you don't get to test ride it and if the sizing is wrong, there will be additional shipping charges and $$ spent at the LBS.

I'm like you and like to understand what I am buying. To that, I say spend more time reading the forums and you'll learn.
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