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buying a new bike

Old 11-01-12, 10:37 AM
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buying a new bike

I haven't had a bike since I was a kid and am looking to purchase one for riding around town. I will be riding it mostly to campus (about 5 miles each way) as well as for running errands and shopping trips.

I've looked around and picked out a couple that I like, and what the decision comes down to for me is this: do I buy the one at Target for a couple hundred, or the nicer one at the bike shop for twice as much?

I understand that you get what you pay for and the one at the bike shop is of much higher quality. I would much rather support my local bike shop than Target anyway. Unfortunately, though, I'm a student and I just don't have much money, so a couple hundred bucks is a huge difference to me. So the question is whether the one from Target is good _enough_. Or would it just fall apart and cause me lots of frustration? In what specific ways would a more expensive bike be better? Is it worth investing the extra 200-250 bucks, or would a beginner like me not notice much of a difference anyway? Would a nicer bike just be more of a target on campus where the theft risk is already high?

Note: I've tried looking at used bikes and just haven't had much luck with the selection around here. The last bike shop I went to was COMPLETELY out of used stock, and even Craigslist hasn't had much.
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Old 11-01-12, 10:44 AM
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Hi,

If you're at all handy with a wrench, I highly recommend looking at Bikes Direct instead of Target/Walmart . If you have time, Craigslist can be a good source, but you have to have some idea of what you're looking for and what things should cost.

Cheers,
Charles

p.s. Bikes Direct sends their bikes not completely assembled. If you are handy and can do a tune-up yourself (with the help of the internet and YouTube), then you're golden. A LBS will usually put these bikes together and tune them up for a reasonable amount of money (~ $100), but this makes the bike less of a good deal. Of course, if you get a bike from Tarmart, it's very likely it will need a tune-up as well.

Last edited by cplager; 11-01-12 at 10:47 AM. Reason: Added postscript
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Old 11-01-12, 10:46 AM
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Welcome to Bike Forums from Texas.

Buying from a friendly shop is good in several ways.

They can help you with your fit to the bike. You will ride more when a bike fits.

They will help you with quick answers to questions and adjustments for the bike.

They will take care of warranty problems if they occur.

Visit all the shops in your area and look for the Friendly One.
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Old 11-01-12, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels
Welcome to Bike Forums from Texas.

Buying from a friendly shop is good in several ways.

They can help you with your fit to the bike. You will ride more when a bike fits.

They will help you with quick answers to questions and adjustments for the bike.

They will take care of warranty problems if they occur.

Visit all the shops in your area and look for the Friendly One.
I agree with all of this. Before doing anything, go to several bike stores to get an idea of what you want. For low end bikes, you might do almost as well at a local store as Bikes Direct and having local support if you are a novice isn't a bad thing at all.
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Old 11-01-12, 11:08 AM
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The bikes from big box stores like Target won't blow up the instant you sit on them. They will probably get you to where you need to go. The thing is, they are much less fixable (without buying expensive new parts to replace what's on there). They are more or less designed to be disposable. In that you ride it for a year or so until something breaks, and then you toss it and buy a new one. The single speed ones they sell have less cheap moving parts and are less subject to this and there are people who have stories about making their Target or Walmart bike last for years and tens of thousands of miles. The thing about those people that people don't often mention is that few, if any, of the parts on those bikes are stock by this point and they've probably spent as much replacing those parts as they would have buying a newer bike. They spread the cost out longer and have a bike uniquely tailored to themselves, but didn't end up saving much/any money.

So, to me, it really comes down to what you want. If you're in your last year of college and want something to get around on short 1-5 mile rides for the next 6-8 months and then toss sell as you move away somewhere to a nice job where you'll need a car to get to work every day and don't plan on riding again, the target bike will probably do what you need. If you're in an early stage of college (or just want something that you won't have to replace every year or two), spending that money on a higher quality used bike off Craigslist (this will require some research), or spending twice that money on a bike at a reputable local bike shop that comes with a year of free tune ups or whatever, is probably a better long term value (if you're at all mechanically minded, I'd probably put something like bikes direct in here too).
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Old 11-01-12, 02:31 PM
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Be cautious riding any shiny new bike (even the $79 X-Mart type) into a campus area as bike theft tends to be quite a problem. Either 'uglify' the bike as soon as you get it (scratch the hell out of the paint and put ugly stickers and tape on various parts to make it look like you are trying to hold together broken cables and handlebars and seatpost... or spend $40 on a decent lock and remove the front wheel and seatpost and lock them all together with the rear wheel and frame every time you leave the bike. Cheap 10-speeds on craigslist can be suprisingly good commuters.

Walking home sucks.
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