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I would love some bike recommendations!

Old 06-21-15, 09:59 PM
  #1  
Bryna
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I would love some bike recommendations!

Hoping to get some recommendations from all of you experienced cyclists here! I would like to upgrade my bike, but my budget is limited, so I need to find something used. I've been reading all of these 'best of' lists, but when looking for used obviously you are limited to what is available, and I can't figure out what's comparable. So I would love to hear about a range of bikes that might suit me, and also about any models or brands to be avoided, if possible.

I mostly ride on country roads. Some flat terrain, lots of hills. Some gravel roads. Some paved bike baths. Some dirt trails. My biking buddy wants us to try mountain biking, but I can't see any really crazy terrain or slopes steeper than what you mind find on a particularly wicked forest road ever becoming part of our repertoire. Since we ride mostly on roads but still want the option of trails, I'm thinking that a hybrid mountain/road bike is my best bet.

My current bike was a goodwill special when the fancy bike I took to college back in 2002 was stolen shortly after my arrival on campus. It looked old then, so I have no idea the year. A Diamondback Topanga, 21 speeds. Last fall it quit shifting into third (on the 3 speed side), so I took it into my local bike shop. The gentleman informed me that both shifters were cracked and replaced them. Now the bike shifts very slowly, which was initially super frustrating, but I've learned to compensate for it. He told me the bike was poor quality to begin with and now ancient, and getting any better performance out of it just wasn't feasible, but there was no way for me to upgrade at the time, so I soldiered on. We didn't ride very fast, averaging 6-8 miles/hr (12 on a flat trail), but we weren't in a hurry, so it didn't matter. Well, this spring, my friend got a new bike from a garage sale, I can't recall the brand, maybe Giant or Mongoose? And since then, she has been regularly trouncing me in our rides, whereas before I always rode circles around her! It wasn't too bad when we started out in the spring -she got away from me on the flats, but had to walk the hills, so I was able to catch up. But she's getting better on the hills, and I can't seem to make this darn bike go any faster (I know, a poor workman blames his tools -but the evidence really leads me to believe that her bike is just faster.) Today on our ride she was actually out of view by the time we got home! So I'm really hoping to find something a little better at a really good price. Lighter would be nice too, my bike is extremely heavy.
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Old 06-22-15, 04:44 AM
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I have a 2014 Trek FX 7.7. I LOVE it. It's a hybrid. You can ride in the dirt; but, it is not a mountain bike by any means. The carbon features on it really make it lightweight and fast. I highly recommend Trek bikes.
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Old 06-22-15, 05:28 AM
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Price range??? Even though you provided some good info, I don't think you provided enough to really help us narrow things down for you.

I could be in a minority but I found shopping for a used bike to be very futile. It occured to me very quickly that finding a used bike I wanted in the frame size I need was nearly impossible. I ruled out used bikes and focused on new. I am glad I did.

New bikes are extremely competitive. No one company has a big advantage over another unless you jump prices ranges.

My suggestion? Set a budget. Figure out which brand of bikes your local LBS's offer. Narrow it down to two of three choices then try to ride them (in your size).


Originally Posted by Bryna View Post
Hoping to get some recommendations from all of you experienced cyclists here! I would like to upgrade my bike, but my budget is limited, so I need to find something used. I've been reading all of these 'best of' lists, but when looking for used obviously you are limited to what is available, and I can't figure out what's comparable. So I would love to hear about a range of bikes that might suit me, and also about any models or brands to be avoided, if possible.

I mostly ride on country roads. Some flat terrain, lots of hills. Some gravel roads. Some paved bike baths. Some dirt trails. My biking buddy wants us to try mountain biking, but I can't see any really crazy terrain or slopes steeper than what you mind find on a particularly wicked forest road ever becoming part of our repertoire. Since we ride mostly on roads but still want the option of trails, I'm thinking that a hybrid mountain/road bike is my best bet.

My current bike was a goodwill special when the fancy bike I took to college back in 2002 was stolen shortly after my arrival on campus. It looked old then, so I have no idea the year. A Diamondback Topanga, 21 speeds. Last fall it quit shifting into third (on the 3 speed side), so I took it into my local bike shop. The gentleman informed me that both shifters were cracked and replaced them. Now the bike shifts very slowly, which was initially super frustrating, but I've learned to compensate for it. He told me the bike was poor quality to begin with and now ancient, and getting any better performance out of it just wasn't feasible, but there was no way for me to upgrade at the time, so I soldiered on. We didn't ride very fast, averaging 6-8 miles/hr (12 on a flat trail), but we weren't in a hurry, so it didn't matter. Well, this spring, my friend got a new bike from a garage sale, I can't recall the brand, maybe Giant or Mongoose? And since then, she has been regularly trouncing me in our rides, whereas before I always rode circles around her! It wasn't too bad when we started out in the spring -she got away from me on the flats, but had to walk the hills, so I was able to catch up. But she's getting better on the hills, and I can't seem to make this darn bike go any faster (I know, a poor workman blames his tools -but the evidence really leads me to believe that her bike is just faster.) Today on our ride she was actually out of view by the time we got home! So I'm really hoping to find something a little better at a really good price. Lighter would be nice too, my bike is extremely heavy.

Last edited by RickGr4; 06-22-15 at 07:27 AM.
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Old 06-22-15, 06:59 AM
  #4  
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IMHO, it sounds like a Cyclocross bike is the best fit. Those bikes are designed to go about anywhere as quickly as possible, and as light as possible. However, be aware, they will not be a "cush" ride by any definition of "cush". So people like that. It's part of the fun, feeling everything on the path you are on, instead of the same ole "smooth" with no variation. Others feel like they are beaten up. Also, go to some bike shops and just ride a variety of bikes, you may well find that you change your mind. Lastly. buying for the future is a great ideal, BUT if you buy to far toward your "ultimate" you neglect the reality of "now" and are more likely not to be happy with whatever you end up with.

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Old 06-22-15, 07:02 AM
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Trek bikes are nice but usually overpriced and marketed well. They are good deals when they go on sale.

Go to a bike show and see what you like.

There are a couple useful bike buying threads in the more general areas, its usually visit a store and look around. The $750-$1000 price range seems to be the sweet spot.

You can sometimes get lucky buying a used bike and find something you like. But there are compromises.
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Old 06-22-15, 11:14 AM
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Price range is under $200, maybe a little more if business is good this summer, so buying new is simply not an option. I don't feel this should be impossible. The bike I'm trying to keep up with my friend got at a garage sale for $20, lol. As such I'm not really looking to narrow things down a whole lot. Just want to make a list to keep in mind while I'm watching CL, FB sale sites and garage sales, looking for that special deal. I'm 5'6", so I don't think finding a used bike in an appropriate size should be terribly difficult. At the moment there is a Marin Hybrid Larkspur, Women's 17", on CL, for example. When I googled that bike, there were many reviews that said it was a good bike for the price, but others said it was heavy. But I don't know if it may still be lighter than what I have. And it is only an 8 speed, but I don't know if that impact of that over my current 21 speed would be really major, I feel like the range more than the interval size is what makes a difference. Really unless I'm going up a steep hill, I only use third gear on the three gear side.
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Old 06-22-15, 11:19 AM
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NB: Location matters ... a used bike costs more in Eugene and Portland , than Pendleton & K Falls.
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Old 06-22-15, 11:22 AM
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Ooh, good idea. I didn't think of that, but I should definitely keep my eye on other craigslists as well.
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Old 06-22-15, 11:30 AM
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Glad you are being positive and optimistic. I have a few thoughts in regards to how you are going about your search considering your budget but I will withhold those thoughts. Good luck with your search.
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Old 06-22-15, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by RickGr4 View Post
Glad you are being positive and optimistic. I have a few thoughts in regards to how you are going about your search considering your budget but I will withhold those thoughts. Good luck with your search.

Please, I'm completely open to suggestions, if there is some other place I should be looking or something, I would love to hear it, that is why I posted here. Unfortunately, barring a wind fall, the budget is what it is for the foreseeable future. But I can be patient. If I can't find something that works by next year, hopefully I can increase my price range. But I am seeing bikes in my price range, I'm just not sure if they are what I need. And it looks like there is a significant selection of bikes priced new in the $400-500 range, which if fairly priced should be about 50% of list as good condition used items. Now I don't know if these might be worse than what I have already. When I googled my current bike, the Diamondback Topanga, it seems new these are middle of the road bikes in the $600 range. Which was a surprise as I figured it was the worst of the worst, lol. But the thing has to be a minimum of 15 years old and probably older, and I have no idea how hard it was ridden before i got it (it looked old and worn), but I put at least 10K miles on it in college, rain or shine, hauling groceries and text books and even horse tack. So for a $20 goodwill special, it's really paid it's dues. Now I know that experience isn't going to scale, and I'm not going to get 10 times better performance from a $200 bike than I did from at $20 bike. But the reality is, all it has to be is noticeably better for me to feel satisfied, lol.
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Old 06-22-15, 12:46 PM
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Maybe the easiest thing to do would be to post up links to bikes on Craigslist or wherever you're looking that you're interested in?
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Old 06-22-15, 01:11 PM
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Some of the suitably sized bikes I'm seeing in or near my price range currently, if anyone can weigh in them:

Several treks, fx 7.1 and 7.2. The marin hybrid larkspur I mentioned above. A specialized crossroads -this one appears to have front shocks or suspension or whatever (the pieces above the front wheel that can move for shock absorption), which from my research I think I probably want to avoid? Diamondback Insight 1. Trek navigator 100. Fuji absolute 1. Trek 8700. Giant FCR-2.

And now I have another question. I'm looking at these bikes and most say 7 or 8 speed. And I was thinking, dang, that's so weird, why don't that have the gears on the other side? But looking at the picture of a reported 8 speed, I clearly saw the three front gears. So am I suffering from a misapprehension? Does an '8 speed' bike really have 24 settings? Sorry, I'm a total idiot when it comes to mechanics. Somehow I aced physics, there's a real mystery.
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Old 06-22-15, 01:31 PM
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OK. Here is my short answer. Based on the shopping experience I just had with used bikes, I think you are being FAR too picky and selective. I live in the Twin Cities and the selection of used bikes that I was interested was very poor.

Sorry Bryna but considering you are looking at used bikes, I think you are asking this forum a great deal. Maybe too much. We aren't seeing the used bikes you are seeing. Very few of the members of this forum live in your Craigslist market. I have no interest in shopping your local CL market. You need to do that for yourself.

And in my opinion the more gears you have on the back, the better. My new Giant is 2 x 10 and I like it better than my older Jamis which is 3 x 8.
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Old 06-22-15, 01:34 PM
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Ok, links. Thanks for the help!

https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/bik/5083376771.html

https://portland.craigslist.org/clk/bik/5072506249.html

https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/bik/5042173590.html

https://portland.craigslist.org/clc/bik/5085282603.html (This one is probably a little big and a little too expensive, but you never know if someone will negotiate, and if so could be worth testing out to see if the size worked).

https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/bik/5084557070.html Really old, but it says has hardly been ridden. Though it sure looks pretty scratched up, but I suppose that could be from getting banged around in the garage.

Will post more next.
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Old 06-22-15, 01:41 PM
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Oh, I don't mean for anyone to spend their valuable time doing my shopping for me! I'm posting links because someone asked, but my original thought with the way this post would go would be something like a bunch of people post whatever model of bike they like that might suit my needs. If I got 30 different answers, I would then have a list of thirty different bikes to be on the look out for in my shopping. I realize that model isn't everything with a used bike, obviously condition will play a roll as well. But I can always have my mechanic look at a serious contender to address that issue.

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Old 06-22-15, 01:58 PM
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https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/bik/5084766588.html (This one looks looks like it might have too narrow a tires to work for what I need, but perhaps if the frame size is appropriate I could swap in my current wheels, which have excellent tires, no flats in 13 years!)

https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/bik/5086026725.html

https://portland.craigslist.org/clc/bik/5085097645.html

https://portland.craigslist.org/wsc/bik/5074271697.html

https://portland.craigslist.org/clc/bik/5072288318.html (Probably too much to get into my price range, but you never know. If I can get a good price on hay this year, I might be able to get closer to $300.)

Trek 7.2fx hybrid frame 17.5"

17" Specialized Crossroads Women's Hybrid bike, LIKE NEW! ***BUY-SELL-TRADE***
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Old 06-22-15, 02:12 PM
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And this guy I had to email on to get the size, turns out it is the right size. https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/bik/5084011473.html
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Old 06-22-15, 03:47 PM
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So another question (I will keep looking on the forums, since I would imagine this information is out there somewhere, but in case anyone that knows reads this): is it possible/reasonable to change wheel sizes? Some of the bikes I'm looking at have 700 c tires. My current bike, which I gather to be an old mountain bike, has 26" tires. From what I've been reading, the 700c tires are much faster on the road, but possibly unsafe on dirt/rocks/gravel. I'd rather be slow that hurt, so I'm wondering if it's possible to put the 26" wheels on a bike that currently has 700c. Or even better, if it might be possible to have a set up in which they are easy to swap back and forth, depending on the ride of the day.

And an addition, idyll curiosity -what does the 'c' stand for? And why are bike tires sized in different units?
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Old 06-22-15, 04:22 PM
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There's a few decent bikes from what you've found, but a lot of differences among them. At this point I'd go ride some of these and see what you like and what fits, and compare to what you have now. Nothing will help you decide better than a test ride.

For what you've described you want (roads & trails ... more speed ... lighter), this one fits the bill IMHO: https://portland.craigslist.org/clc/bik/5072288318.html

Realize its above your current budget, but take some cash and make an offer if you like it. Worst thing they can say is no. That carbon front fork is worth stretching for. Again, at least go ride it.

My two cents.

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Old 06-22-15, 04:59 PM
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Great, thank you. I think I will do that. Just ordered my hay for the year and it looks like I'm coming in a little over a hundred dollars under budget on it, so I may be able to get closer to $300 on the bike anyway!
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Old 06-22-15, 05:11 PM
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Just don't forget to let us know what you choose ... with pictures! Good luck with your search.
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Old 06-22-15, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Bryna View Post
From what I've been reading, the 700c tires are much faster on the road, but possibly unsafe on dirt/rocks/gravel. I'd rather be slow that hurt, so I'm wondering if it's possible to put the 26" wheels on a bike that currently has 700c. Or even better, if it might be possible to have a set up in which they are easy to swap back and forth, depending on the ride of the day.

And an addition, idyll curiosity -what does the 'c' stand for? And why are bike tires sized in different units?
On the # of gears and 700c questions: 1st the gears, I'm not entirely sure how people talk about them but with 3 rings on the front and 5 or 6 or 8 on the back this only gives you 8 or so usable gears. This is due to cross tension. If you have the front all the way to the left on the big ring and all the way to the right on the back rings this is cross tension. It puts too much stress on the chain being all diagonal there. You're not supposed to do this and does not give you better pedaling power over properly shifting. I generally keep it in the middle for the front cogs and between 4 and 6 on the back. Rarely do I personally ever use all the way down or all the way up. If you do go there all the way down then shift the front gear too to match where you go in the back. Even with 3x8 cogs it is still really only 8 effective gears.

For 700c, you've said you don't expect to do anything too cray cray on the trails so I think 700c is fine and not too dangerous. I ride 700c but you have much more experience than me. You've been a casual rider for over a decade it seems. 700c is thinner so dirt, sand, gravel can cause slippage more but it's not too bad. My bigger worry is the tires being thinner and rims breaking but I'm not going off jumps or huge drops so I've stopped worrying about that for now. You may be able to put 26' on but it would depend on how much width is left inside the forks which varies. Also you'd need to realign v-brakes maybe even adjust if you had disc brakes. If strength of rim is your concern you may not be able to buy quality sports rims in your budget anyway. maybe find some used. The (c) I suspected it stands for centimeter but reading up it seems to be meaningless at this point. It used to mark the width but no longer does. May have to do with the width of the bead??? Whatever that means.

Now a note about your budget. It is what it is and most my friends don't understand bike prices today. Maybe they're right and the walmart special rocks. Let me just say something I gleaned from financial planning. One guy said, "How hard is it to get through a month?" Believe me I've spent the last decade usually with absolutely nothing, maybe you're there now. But depending on what your priority is and what you want. Eating bread for a month and not going to the movies isn't that bad. IDK what you do for a living but you're out of college, you've ridden for years and you have a regular cycling buddy. A minimum wage job pays 250 a week. A month can be an easy $1,000. Not to criticize or convince you but it is true. It's (saving is) about priorities. In the past 6 months or so I've paid down over $5,000 in debt making little more than $250 a week. It can be easy to blow $400 a week too so go figure. It's all relative. You have to want it and make it a priority. I'm sure you have other expenses too but it sounds like you want a bike. It can be hard to bring yourself to spend 450-500 or more on a bike and still not be top of the line. Sadly that's bottom rung of the brand name bikes but you're still taking it to a higher level than you're accustomed to. nice stuff is nice but keep it in your budget. don't be a hero and keep it on two wheels. now I'm sure I've inadvertently convinced you to go out and buy the worst possible walmart bike. I'm bad at this. I should just root for whatever I think is bad. Best of luck.
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Old 06-23-15, 01:30 AM
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Ok, great info, thank you. I had never heard that about the gears. Honestly my bike doesn't shift very well in the front -when I want to shift to a smaller gear, say for going up a hill, I have to plan well in advance to make it before I can't to the point where I can't peddle anymore. So lately I have been keeping it on the largest gear in the front unless a steep hill demands that I shift, and just using the back gears, which I tend to do something like 1 for a moderate uphill if I'm tired, 2 for a moderate uphill fresh or a slight uphill tired, 3 for a slight uphill fresh, 4 for flat if I'm tired, 5 for flat fresh, 6 for a slight downhill, 7 for most downhills. I can definitely tell the difference between them, which seems to contradict what you are saying. I suppose it could be partially a placebo affect, but with the bike in third gear in front, the difference between say 5th and 1st is dramatic, I can't imagine that is all in my head. Or are you just saying that this is a bad idea and will shorten the life of my gears, chain, derailleur, and so on? Either way, I will certainly keep that in mind with my new bike. I'm afraid the old one is a lost cause, if I had to regularly shift the front gear, I'd be going uphill before I got it shifted for downhill!

On the budget issue, of course you are right about prioritizing. And if I got rid of all my higher priority recreation, I could probably spend $1000+ on a new bike easily. Alas, my other recreational activities all involve live animals. Which I love, but the one downside is that, compared to say, skiing, you can't just say, well, I want a new bike, but there's no room in the regular budget. Guess I'll have to go without a season pass this year to make the difference. In my case, the horses and dogs have to be fed no matter what. Just squeezing out why I can spend as been an ongoing project. My shifting troubles started last fall, when the bike quit shifting. We replaced both shifters, but ever since it has this frustrating lag. My mechanic said we could replace the derailleur, but he wasn't sure that would solve the problem, and felt it definitely wasn't worth it. And so I've been trying to find room in the budget for a new bike of some sort ever since. And now with my friend getting her bike which is so much lighter and faster, I definitely want something that will keep up as well, lol. But I have to make it work with the money I can spend, or stick with what I've got. The lame duck.

That said, I have no intention whatsoever of getting a bike from Walmart! I'm not familiar with all of the brands of the bikes I found, so I suppose it's possible there might be a walmart brand or two among them, but I think most are lower end models of good brands. They're just used. I don't see any problem with used. As soon as I ride it, it's going to be used anyway! If I had a thousand bucks to spend, I'd probably still shop for a used bike -why pay a thousand for a thousand dollar bike when you can get a two thousand dollar bike for the same money? Just because someone else has sat on it? Unless they're a nudist, it's probably fine. And even then, I'll probably put my seat on it anyway, it has pink flowers on it. Of course I realize there is some extra care involved in shopping for a used bike, making sure that everything is working correctly, nothing bend, etc. And of course if a bike has already had a lot of riding, then parts are going to need to be replaced a lot sooner than they otherwise would. But a lot of parts would have to fail at once to make the short term cost of a used bike anywhere near that of a new bike. And long term, well, even if you buy new, things are going to wear out eventually. Not to mention that, at least in my experience, there are a great many people out there that decide the want bikes, go drop a couple thousand at a shop, ride once or twice, and then stick them in the garage never to be seen again until they eventually come to the realization that tomorrow is never going to come. Depending where on the hoarder scale a person falls, the bike might be ancient, though unworn, at this point, but could also be a fairly late model. My mom has a bike hanging in the garage that I believe she paid well over a thousand for 15 years ago or so. She used it no more than twice. It's some freaky thing that I have no interest in, and as she falls pretty far on the hoarder end of the scale, I certainly can't convince her to part with it, but there it is -I've seen it plenty of times. Not just with bikes, my neighbor's yards are full of horses they don't ride, boats that haven't seen water in years, fishing poles, skies, kayaks, ad nauseum. Anything that can be used for physical fitness is particularly prone to this treatment, in my experience. So used doesn't even necessarily mean worn, though I'm certainly willing to make repairs as necessary. As a thought exercise, suppose I could spend $750 on a new bike this week. My current plan is to spend most of that money to pay down a credit card that I wracked up a lot of debt on traveling last summer, and spend $300 or less on a used bike. Suppose my $300 used bike, over the next six months, has the tires wear out, the shifters crack, the breaks go bad, etc., etc., etc., and I end up spending $450 on replacement parts. Well, even then, I'm still better off than if I had bought the new bike, because at least I saved the interest. And that's assuming I somehow spent the entire difference in cost between buying new and buying used -pretty unlikely, I've replaced nearly everything that can be replaced on the old bike over the years, including putting some well over spec tires on it, and haven't come close to spending $300, even throwing in the cost of optional stuff like baskets, racks, fenders, and lights.

I mean, obviously buying used isn't for everyone. But I feel that if you have the option to be patient and flexible with your needs, buying used is often the wisest financial choice, whatever your budget happens to be.

And please, what turned out to be an extremely long rant wasn't directed at anyone in particular or meant in an aggressive manner, let me assure you all. I'm just somewhat mystified by what seems to be a widespread prejudice against buying used bicycles!

Last edited by Bryna; 06-23-15 at 01:33 AM.
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Old 06-23-15, 07:04 AM
  #24  
TheLibrarian
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Yeah your budget is your budget. How much one should spend is another debate, that you didn't ask about. Your post struck me as one of the 1st signs that the bike matters much. For the gears i think part of it too is they end up overlapping. I just took it on faith what i heard. For example (and i think one of my shifters may have been put on backwards) you're in 2 on the front and 3 on the back. You drop down to 2 in the back... well idk I want to say that you'd be in the same ratio as if you'd done something else but if you were all the way to the left on the front and right on the back then there is no other ratio that would really compare however in this case it might still end up effectively being the same as if you'd had them both in the middle. It will feel different shifting through all gears with one cog on the front but the suggestion is you can mix and match both front and back to only come up with 8 speeds. Some road bikes have more on the rear cassette.

IDK if it's proper but when shifting down I'm in the middle on the front down to 3rd. Then switch the front if i want to go any lower. Then switch the back to 2, then 1 but before 1 i get off and walk. 3 can go either way. Then going back up 6 is my transition gear that can go either way but then if i go any further up I change the front.

I'd also mention that I dont have a 700c necessarily by choice. I didn't know what I was buying at first either. I did want something versatile and I'm glad I have it. Giant generally has more offroad 700c tires on some hybrids. Some/ most 700c are slick. I do want a more dedicated mtn bike but I dont need it. The trails I can't do I couldn't do with a sturdier bike either. Wider tires or better brakes will not help me get up or down a 4 foot boulder.

Financial planning and personal finance is just my new kick. I gotta spread the news. Used is/ can be a good deal. I just don't trust people and have reason to be so. You gotta be careful on craigslist especially if you dont know much about the products. Everyone overcharges, many things are broken or stolen even misrepresented. I lost money on a pair of broken ski bindings and had a guy bring me a plastic guitar for trade one time. Luckily I knew a little more about instruments than sporting equipment.

Who knows when the pics were taken but I like the look of the 91' antelope. Too old tho. I dont; like the look of the sweet hybrid or the trek hybrid (battle ground). None of them say the year. Trek womens hybrid looks ok. A bit pricey. Maybe they just have a better camera. Close up on the antelope seat post shows significant cracking of the paint and age. I think I just like its tires over the others. 20+ year old rubber tho probably isn't good. A new 820 goes for $350 anyway and the pics can be decieving on those. Thay're almost like a bmx in person i think.
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Old 06-23-15, 01:59 PM
  #25  
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I bought my daughter a new Trek 7.2 last year, which she loves. I have to say though, a Trek hybrid is a road bike with flat handlebars. It's really not made for off-road. You might actually want to hang on to your mountain bike for off-road use.
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