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Help Picking the Perfect First Bike on a Budget

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Help Picking the Perfect First Bike on a Budget

Old 10-20-16, 09:22 PM
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jkondik
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Help Picking the Perfect First Bike on a Budget

Hi All,

I grew up racing motorcycles and running around doing other wheeled sports. I fell out during college and have since been away. I've never really been interested in road bikes until now. I live in Tampa and go back and forth to the Pittsburgh area as well. I'm looking for my first bike on a limited budget and I am hoping you will all help.

I want to spend less than $250-$300. From my reading, a high-end vintage bike may be a better choice instead of buying a low-end new bike. I've come across a great blog with someone going through the same situation, employing the expertise of a veteran. I'll share the details below. Can you all help me find the perfect bike?

From my reading:

"The best deals are the late 1980s Japanese bikes, the ones you want have aluminum alloy wheels, but a steel lugged frame. I highly recommend Centurion “Iron Man”, Nishiki ‘Prestige”, Miyata 600 and higher to 1000, Fuji “Team”, Shogun “1000”, Univega several models with 700c wheels, Schwinn “Tempo” and a few other models made in Japan like”Prelude”

Make sure you get 700c wheels, on aluminum rims, with aluminum hubs. The deraillers should be Shimano, it’s possible that they could have SunTour, but those are most likely older. Frame tubing, The best Japanese steel was Tange #1 and Tange #2, there will be a sticker under the seat on the frame tube saying whatever the tubing is, Tange 1 and 2 are double-butted chrome-Moly and that is the lightest and strongest."


Anyone else have any thoughts on how to get a great bike for my budget?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 10-20-16, 09:27 PM
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Odds are your first bike won't be perfect, but it will help you figure out what you want for your second bike.

And I don't know if you can find a vintage steel bike in good working order for that cheap.
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Old 10-20-16, 09:32 PM
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Dave Cutter
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Fit is very important in road cycling. Learn about bicycle fit using Internet searches, watching YouTube videos, reading here, and test riding a few bikes.

Once you know what size of bicycle you need.... start looking at Craigslist.
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Old 10-20-16, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by memebag View Post
Odds are your first bike won't be perfect, but it will help you figure out what you want for your second bike.
This is true. And what's perfect when you start riding won't be perfect after you've been riding for 6, 12, 24 months.
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Old 10-20-16, 09:55 PM
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I'm 5'11" and from reading I should find a bike between 56-60cm?

If finding a steel vintage would be tough, what would good alternatives be? If I had to add a little more to my budget, would that open up other options? What would recommendations be?
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Old 10-20-16, 09:59 PM
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You can have someone help take your measurements and use a fit calculator to get an idea of frame sizes that should work for you. 56-60 is a pretty big range.
Bike Fit Calculator | Find Your Bike Size | Competitive Cyclist
If you don't find anything good on the used market, a lot of shops and online retailers will likely be clearing out their 2016 models and have some decent discounts.
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Old 10-20-16, 10:10 PM
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Originally Posted by seau grateau View Post
You can have someone help take your measurements and use a fit calculator to get an idea of frame sizes that should work for you. 56-60 is a pretty big range.
Bike Fit Calculator | Find Your Bike Size | Competitive Cyclist
If you don't find anything good on the used market, a lot of shops and online retailers will likely be clearing out their 2016 models and have some decent discounts.
Thanks for the link. I'll do this tomorrow.
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Old 10-20-16, 10:23 PM
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Should be a pretty good selection on Tampa CL. I'd suggest you read some old threads in the C & V What It Worth forum as you can get a good idea of what to look for, both pro and con.
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Old 10-21-16, 08:56 AM
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So did anyone else have any insight into what might be a good vintage or starter bike? I know that it's really up to fit but there must be some that are better than others out there?
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Old 10-21-16, 09:53 AM
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Why vintage, their are lots of more modern options in that price range. https://tampa.craigslist.org/hil/bik/5832393225.html
Here's a good option for $250, just lower the stem and depending on how tall you are, it is better than any vintage bikes in this price range.
If you want to expand by 100$ here is an awesome deal https://tampa.craigslist.org/hil/bik/5828791642.html

Last edited by Bikeracer123; 10-21-16 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 10-21-16, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by memebag View Post
And I don't know if you can find a vintage steel bike in good working order for that cheap.
You most definitely can.

Originally Posted by jkondik View Post
So did anyone else have any insight into what might be a good vintage or starter bike? I know that it's really up to fit but there must be some that are better than others out there?
Downtube shifters > stem shifters.

That's a good start.
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Old 10-21-16, 10:49 AM
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You probably ought to be able to fit on either a 56 or a 58. adjusting seat height and fore-aft position as well as the handlebar height and flipping/replacing the stem will allow you to make either size work.

Here are some options that aren't exactly 'vintage' but would represent decent mid-range options that are old enough to be affordable.

https://tampa.craigslist.org/psc/bik/5831810795.html - look for corrosion around stem area. common on bikes that have sat on trainers and been sweated upon a lot.
https://tampa.craigslist.org/pnl/bik/5822359568.html - boring, but solid option?
https://tampa.craigslist.org/pnl/bik/5754413338.html - the peeling paint has me worried about this one. I'd look closely at that for corrosion.

for any used bike, see if you can find it (or a model very close to it) on the Bicycle Blue Book site. Take their pricing suggestions and apply to the condition/etc. of the bikes you're looking at. Often the sellers will be well aware of the blue book opinion of the bike they're selling.

good luck!
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Old 10-21-16, 03:37 PM
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Nothing is perfect, especially on a budget.

Light / cheap / reliable; pick any two...
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Today, I believe my jurisdiction ends here...
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Old 10-24-16, 07:28 AM
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Measured myself this weekend. I will be looking for a 58cm.

I found this bike about an hour away and I'm wondering if you guys think this would be a good starter:

https://orlando.craigslist.org/bik/5742057324.html
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Old 10-24-16, 07:40 AM
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Measured myself this weekend. I will be looking for a 58cm.

I found this bike about an hour away and I'm wondering if you guys think this would be a good starter:

https://orlando.craigslist.org/bik/5742057324.html
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Old 10-26-16, 03:52 AM
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I'm 5' 11 3/4" & I'm happier on a 56. go test it but be sure you have the standover room of 2 fingers between the top bar and your nuts

also downtube shifters for $300? not for me. integrated brake shift levers changed my life & I got my current road bike for about $300
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Old 10-27-16, 09:08 AM
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offer this guy $350: https://tampa.craigslist.org/hil/bik/5831231458.html
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Old 10-28-16, 05:32 AM
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I'm 6'. Long arms. 34" inseam. I ride a 56. I can ride a 58, but a 56 feels more comfortable.

You have gotten quite a few excellent choices, posted. I wish I had that selection around me. Of course, I'm glad I don't live in a large city anymore.
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