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New Rider, I need some help!

Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

New Rider, I need some help!

Old 07-02-19, 11:42 AM
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New Rider, I need some help!

Hey everyone,

Thanks for checking my post. So, I am currently looking at two bikes as my first purchase. First one being a Golden Cycles Vader single speed and the second being a 6ku Urban Track Bike, both being within my budget. I have very little knowledge on what makes a bike "good" and would appreciate any feedback. Looking for the better bike overall. Thanks!
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Old 07-02-19, 12:50 PM
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My understanding is that all bikes in this price range are about the same in terms of frame quality and componentry. They are all hi-ten (read "cheap and heavy") steel frames with lower quality components. I'd pick whichever one you think looks better and/or you can get a better deal on.

The great thing about bikes in this pricerange is that they're cheap, rideable and relatively good looking. However, you can get a LOT more bike for your money if you look around a little more and are willing to stretch your budget a bit.

Depending on your area you can find something used thats double the quality of one of these bikes for a similar price. Alternatively, you can sometimes find an older model of a bike one step up the price/quality ladder for a discount. My first fixed gear was an older fuji track that I bought for like $250 brand new (it has better/lighter steel tubing and slightly better components than 6ku et all and usually goes for like $400)

My advice, do some shopping around. If you cant find anything or arent willing to stretch the budget, just go with what you think looks better and plan on upgrading to a better bike down the line if you get into fixed riding.

Have fun!
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Old 07-02-19, 05:29 PM
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As an alternative viewpoint, having ridden entry level bikes, what makes one good is preventive maintenance: Correct lubrication and adjustment of the bearings. Sufficient spoke tension. Correctly adjusted brakes. There's not a lot to maintain on a SS, but enough that if you're just getting started, it would be a very good idea to learn some basic maintenance skills.

This is true of more expensive bikes too, but they are more likely to have received that first dose of preventive maintenance at the shop before being sold, even if it's just a matter of checking to make sure everything is OK.
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Old 07-07-19, 01:43 PM
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What makes a bike good is quality and bikes in the lower price points lack the quality. For a fixed gear bike you want nice round chainrings and cogs made of stiffer materials, typically that comes from precise machining and higher quality aluminum or steel. The cheaper stuff is stamped out of cheap materials and that can lead to less precise drivetrains so you might notice more tight spots. Also in terms of freewheels they use cheap stuff that cannot be maintained and probably will use lower quality bearings and again very poorly machined or just stamped parts. All of this leads to a very noisy, clunky drivetrain instead of a smooth quiet drivetrain.

Also bearings are a big thing and generally with cheaper bikes they will use lower grade ball bearings in a cage rather than sealed cartridge bearings especially in places like headsets and wheels. However it should be noted for track racing you will find loose ball stuff frequently but since that is designed for track racing the bike will see very little rain and other commuting stressors and they will likely run thin grease or oil to go faster but they are using very good quality ball bearings and races and have professional mechanics to maintain their stuff or they know how to do it themselves.

One big part of the bike that uses those bearings would be wheels which on cheaper bikes will mean machine built wheels made with cheap parts and not touched after building so they can frequently be out of true or out of round or more likely to break spokes. Braking surfaces can be poorly made and the finish can be rough meaning potentially more chance for flats. A decent wheel is going to be at least finished by hand and a really good wheel is going to be handbuilt by a good wheel builder and of course will use high quality parts. Some really cheap bikes use heavy large spoked wheels usually made of metal or cheap plastics to attempt to mimic the carbon fiber wheels a pro cyclist might use. Some also use very deep section wheels which look cool and certainly can be aerodynamic and potentially stronger (due to shorter spokes) but are usually quite heavy and again poorly made.

In terms of frame materials cheaper bikes tend to use stuff like hi-tensile steel which tends to be heavy and have a less lively ride then higher quality steels that start around 4130 chromoly and get nicer. They might also use cheap aluminum alloys which can give a rather poor ride quality and again be heavy. Frequently as well they will use a lot more stamped parts and poor welding leading to a potentially less durable frame. Sometimes they will also use 1" head tubes which were common on vintage bikes but have lost more favor with 1 1/8 or tapered stuff being the standard now. 1" isn't wholly bad because you can still find quality threaded headsets from Chris King, Cane Creek, Campagnolo, Hatta and Tange and some threadless stuff from Phil Wood and some of the makers mentioned earlier but stems can be harder to find so you might need to shim out or have stuff more designed for smaller diameter bars, same thing with forks, it is much harder to find a lot of quality forks in 1. They might also use odd sizes of seat posts so instead of the relatively standard 27.2 you might get something smaller and have a harder time finding a quality seatpost should you need it.

Also one big thing with lower cost bikes is machining tolerances and quality so you might get something where things don't thread in well or aren't properly faced and chased so things can be uneven. They also might use parts of cheaper materials which may not handle your riding well.

A cheap bike is OK enough for a lighter rider who is riding the bike very very very occasionally but if you are putting in miles it may not hold up well. Save some money and buy a higher quality bike and it will pay off in lower maintenance and less costs in the long term replacing parts and such. Also when you buy a bike from a bike shop you will get an already built bike that should have been checked over for any issues from the get go and probably once more when you purchase the bike wheras the cheap stuff found online it is poorly put together generally by people who aren't mechanics and don't know what is the correct way to assemble a bike so things can be too loose or too tight or improperly adjusted and they pass on the cost of getting it properly built to you.

One big thing I always recommend is actually test riding the bike and getting a feel for it which is not really possible to do with these online sellers. Getting a feel for the bike beforehand gives you a bit more knowledge coming into your decision plus you can talk with someone who should be quite knowledgeable about bikes and can help guide you. Plus when you buy the bike through that shop they can help you with warranties and maintenance down the line which can be quite handy. Trying to go at warranty alone with no support is tough because a lot of bike manufacturers don't want you doing that and expect you to go through a shop and a shop that doesn't sell that product may also have a tough time getting support.

If you are looking for something not too expensive but of decent quality look for stuff that might have Andel or Sugino cranks, sealed cartridge bearings, 1 1/8 steerer tube, 4130 chromoly or something from Reynolds, Columbus or Tange (which might be a variant of 4130) and other features that I had talked about in this thread.
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Old 07-10-19, 02:45 PM
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The bicycle used to be a cheap and simple thing. The fixed or single speed bike is one of the simplest and most efficient vehicles: a machine with the minimum number of parts, all of which use well established technology. Clubmen used to commute to the factory all week, then take off their mudguards (US = fenders) and ride 10+ miles on a Sunday on steel framed, steel wheeled single speeds, or fixed, or 3 speeds.

Somewhere along the line, the bike became a fashion accessory and a money pit. People will tell you to buy an expensive one, upgrade it, take off heavy bits and add lighter bits, and then you will need to spend a fortune negating all these advantages by buying a big heavy lock because the bike has become so attractive to thieves.

You do not have to play this game. Buy a bike that feels the right size for you, because fit is important. Look after it, keep it reasonably clean, oil the chain, learn the basics of maintenance (if you don't already know how) and keep the tyres pumped up.

In due course, if you really take to it, you will start to learn what you personally would like from a better bike. Do you prefer riding on urban or suburban roads, or long rides in the countryside? Do you like to explore rough tracks and paths? Do you need to carry any luggage? Do you prefer spinning a low gear or pushing a high gear? Etc. Etc.

And then, from a position of knowledge and personal experience, either upgrade components or buy a better bike when you know what you actually want.

People will always find it easy to tell you how to spend more of your money: for only an extra week's wages, you could buy... Remember that bicycling is essentially a very simple thing and you do not have to make it complicated. Get one you feel comfortable on and enjoy riding, then ride it.
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Old 07-10-19, 11:37 PM
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@Mikefule well said
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