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Hi everyone, I came seeking advice

Old 06-18-08, 07:16 PM
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digitalman42
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Hi everyone, I came seeking advice

I just moved in a really nice house about a year ago, and im close to the C&O canal. I see all these people riding bikes in my neighborhood, and since I live near the C&O I thought what a cool idea. I need help purchasing a bike, know nothing about them, is there a bike I could ride that would do good on my paved country roads, small hills, and also on the dirt patch C&O?? what would you guys recommend,, which type of bike?
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Old 06-18-08, 08:53 PM
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C&O Canal

digitalman42,

I used to live in Ft. Washington, Maryland, and I rode all over the place including on the canal tow path.

You need something that can handle dirt roads without being too rough on the pavement. You could use a comfort bike, a mountain bike, or a cyclocross bike, depending on your riding style. A road bike would be OK, too, but you'd probably want something more like a touring or commuting bike for that terrain.

I think an ideal option might be a mountain bike with multi-use tires -- not knobby tires (you'll hate them on the road). Don't get a single-speed bike. There are enough small inclines that you'll get tired too easily. And make sure to learn some basics about the proper way to shift gears, how to repair flat tires, etc.

Get a good bike -- not necessarily an expensive one -- from your local bike shop. The big-store bikes usually have crappy components and frames that won't hold up well on dirt roads, and you'll be unhappy a lot of the time. They often aren't assembled correctly, either.

All the bikes at the local bike shops will be good name brand bikes, with solidly-built frames and good components. Just pick the one you like and can afford. More important, you'll probably get excellent set-up and adjustment by trained mechanics (not part-time high school kids with no experience), and you might even get a year or maybe lifetime free tune-ups and adjustments. You'll be able to discuss one-on-one exactly the right kind of bike for you and your riding plans.

If you'll go far from your home or car, ask the bike shop to set you up with a basic emergency tool kit so you can fix flats and so forth.

Expect to pay a few hundred dollars, but you can be fairly certain that even the lowest-priced bikes at the local bike shop will be very good bikes.

I hope that helps a little.

Regards,
Greg
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Old 06-18-08, 09:20 PM
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It is more important to find a helpful shop than the best brand of bike as there is very little difference between makes in a given price range. It will be worth asking the shops about the possibility of swapping the saddle for another style within the first month, as you can only tell if a saddle fits after you have been riding for a couple of hours.
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Old 06-18-08, 09:27 PM
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It would help to get a rough idea of your age, fitness, previous bikeing experience, and expectations.

Do you plan to take it easy with a capaccino mounted in a holder on your handlebar? Train for an ironman? Are you lean, flexible and confident, or stiff, chunky and hesitant? Are you over or under 200 lbs? Stuff like that.
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Old 06-18-08, 09:45 PM
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I think others have laid out your choices. I'll just repeat comments I have made like a broken record in similar threads. There are three basic riding positions - upright, aerodynamic, and neutral.

On an upright bike, you sit with your torso fairly vertical, and the handlebars are higher than your seat. Some upright bikes have the seat unusually low and far back so that you can both get full leg extension when pedalling, AND if you need to, get both feet on the ground when stopped. The upright position is comfortable for short distances and gives you a feeling of stability, control and good visibility. However it makes for a slow bike since you can't pedal with full power in that position and the aerodynamics are really bad. So you don't want to ride an upright bike too far.

The aerodynamic position favoured by racers and aggressive younger riders has your handlbars well below your seat, and your upper body is slanted forward at more than 45 degrees...getting close to horizontal even. This position allows you to pedal hard, and also slice through the wind efficiently. If you are fit and not too heavy, you can get comfortable in this position and ride like this for hours, but if you have a bit of a gut, or arthritis in the neck, or aren't in good shape, you will soon be miserable.

The neutral position is favoured by the majority of commuters, intermediately fit recreational riders, and long-distance tourers. The handlebars are set at about the same height as the seat. I'll go out on a limb and suggest this is what you want, unless you are starting from a very non-athletic point.

Bike manufacturers clue you in to this system in their ads. As you glance through bike catalogues and online ads, look at where the handlebars are in relation to the seat. Higher = slow and comfortable.
Lower = aggressive and fast. Neutral, maybe, = "just right".

In terms of your road conditions, as others have said, a tour bike or cyclocross bike (they have the dropped handlebars, but can be set up with slightly fatter tires than a road racing bike) or a sportier hybrid (not a comfort bike), or a mountain bike with road tires, would all work. Personally I recommend against a bike with suspension. Suspension is not necessary for pavement and fairly packed trails - it's for riding over rocks and roots. It has an annoying bounce and it slows you down.

Last edited by cooker; 06-18-08 at 09:56 PM.
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Old 06-18-08, 10:15 PM
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Here is a link to the C&O Canal made by bikewashinton it talks a lil about tire size. It gives a lot of info. Regarding buying a new bike. Search the forums..there are hundreds of threads dealing with this topic...
Good luck and welcome...
https://www.bikewashington.org/canal/plan-tires.php
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Old 06-19-08, 07:40 AM
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Hi digitalman42, it looks as if everyone has given you some excellent tips on bikes, so I'll just leave it at:


Welcome to BF, and feel free to PM me with any questions !

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Old 06-19-08, 08:55 PM
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wow, these bikes are expensive. my little brother said he has a old mongoose I can have, anyone recommend one of those for free? I think he paid about $250 for it, or are they just so crappy I should buy a new one, I think his is the mountain bike style.
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Old 06-19-08, 09:19 PM
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Originally Posted by digitalman42 View Post
wow, these bikes are expensive. my little brother said he has a old mongoose I can have, anyone recommend one of those for free? I think he paid about $250 for it, or are they just so crappy I should buy a new one, I think his is the mountain bike style.
You can use it, just be aware that it probably needs a bit of work to get it back into shape. If you can do the work, you will save yourself a lot of money.

If you need to have someone do the work for you, you might as well buy a new bike...

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Old 06-19-08, 10:05 PM
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You can have plenty of fun on the Mongoose, and it will give a more comfortable and faster ride if you put smooth tires on it. Go to the Park Tool website to see hpw to make adjustments. After you have been riding it for the summer you will have a better idea of exactly the sort of bike you want and you will be able to make a better purchase of a new bike. A $500 bike will be way better than the Mongoose, but an $800 one wont be that much better - law of diminishing returns. Consider yourself lucky that you are looking for a bike and not a yacht or sports car where the prices are 100 times higher.
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