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What Bike for Beginners
May 5, 2010 at 4:37 pm #100008
I’m new to cycling. I actually don’t even have a bike yet. The closest I’ve gotten to bicycle ownership was earlier this week when I actually bought a… ready for this… Huffy for
$40 from a guy on Craigslist. Remember Huffys? Even as someone that knows next to nothing about bikes, I could
tell this thing was a piece of crap. I ended up taking it back to the
owner about an hour later and got my money back.
The past couple of days I’ve been scouring Craigslist to find a good bike but I think I’m in over my head. I don’t know what to look for, what brands are good, and apparently what size bike to get – I’m about 5’10”
I live outside of DC and basically I’m looking for a bike that I can take on small trails as well as paved paths. Maybe ride the W&O. Because this will be my first bike since growing up, I’m having a hard time justifying spending any more than $100 – $150 on a bike. Is that a reasonable price range?
I’m hoping some of you can chime in and give me a little direction. Is craigslist a good place to start? What should I look for and about how much can I expect to spend?
Any feedback will help. Thanks!
May 5, 2010 at 5:42 pm #100020
If you have not biked in a few years you would be better to start at a bike store. Bicycles have changed a lot over the years and they are not your old Huffy anymore. Not that your Huffy was not OK for getting around but today bikes are for “getting” around. I live in Maryland but work in Arlington and I was just at Performance Bicycle at Bailey’s Crossroads, Virginia. All of their bikes are 1/2 price. So you could spend $220 for a $400 Fugi if you are so inclined. If you are close to Columbia, MD there is Race Pace bikes. Great bunch of guys there and very informative when it comes to trying to decide on a bike. There in also Bike Doctor in Linthicum, MD < http://bikedoctorlinthicum.com/> out by BWI and Bike Doctor in Arnold, MD < http://bikedoctorarnold.com/>. Both places are good but if you want to dicker about price the Arnold store has a larger inventory and can play with price. But the Linthicum store is great for service. If they are not busy they can have your bike tuned, lubed, and ready for the road in sometimes less then an hour if there are not a lot of adjustments. There is also Princeton Sports in Columbia, MD. You have to know your stuff there are they will pull the wool over your eyes and their service is slow (a couple of days most of the time) and sometimes you have to take your bike back to have them re-work the work they have done.
May 5, 2010 at 6:51 pm #100018
I agree with Bill’s advice as buying a bike is a bit more complicated than it used to be. If you’re looking for a mix of groomed dirt trails, paved trails and roads, I recommend a hybrid more than either a pure road or off road bike. All the manufacturers make that kind of bike, with relatively wide tires and rims, good solid frames, a straight bar and upright riding position, plus the ablity to add a rack and panniers if you decide to use the bike for commuting.
When it comes to price, I have been looking at craigs list and ebay, and none of the bikes in the $100-$150 price range are beginner friendly, all will need some work before they are dependable enough to go 10-20 miles up a trail. If price is truly the major factor, I recommend checking out bikesdirect.com, as they have good bikes at a decent price. Here is an example of a good hybrid that is not much more than $150, ($279) that has suspension and good sealed bearings for low maintenance:
Here is the bike I bought for my wife, which is also good for some trails, but without the suspension features:
These bikes get shipped with some assembly required, which you should be able to get done at a bike shop for less than $75, probably less than $50. I have bought 2 bikes from them now without any problems, and shipped them right to my bike shop where they put them together for me.
Good luck with the new hobby! I started as a hobby, just riding around, and now I am a triathlete, with a high tech racing bike to compete with in my races. Works out fine for me, I am down to the weight I was when I was 28 now, and still heading down!
May 5, 2010 at 9:08 pm #100016
Michael McCarthy, APRParticipant
Let me give you some different advice. The other posts are quite correct, going to a bike shop, getting fitted, getting a new or second hand bike, is the desired route. Get ready to spend some money, and if you are going to go that route, get a buy a little bit better bike than you really want (advise from somone I trust).
That all being said, I have put 6,000 miles on a bike that was declared “junk” by my bike club, and I can out ride 80 percent of the club on it. I would suggest you search online for some guides on getting the right size bike for you http://www.rei.com/expertadvice/articles/bicycle.html and go to garage sales in the rittzy part of town, and search for a decent cross-over bike or mountain bike that has sat in someone’s closet more than been on the road. Less knobby tires would be preferred if you are going to be riding a lot on pavement.
Then, go out and ride. This “temp” bike will give you the chance to explore the area, see if you like biking, get to know other bicyclists, and then . . . if you are hooked, go to the bike shops and start looking at a road bike or a better mountain bike. There is a myth that cross over bikes or mountain bikes can’t keep up with B riders (18-22 mph) or with road bikes – but if you are in shape, you can. It’s not really the bike.
May 6, 2010 at 11:41 am #100014
I respectfully disagree with your statement that a mountain bike can keep up with a B group at 18-22 mph. While a mountain bike can reach that speed, the rider is usually working at a significantly anaerobic level to do so, while a rider in a decent road bike is well under that level.
I worked out on a triathlon workout last Saturday no drafting or paceline riding, and the team riders on mountain bikes were averaging less than 15 mph while I was getting a good aerobic workout at 18-20 mph. Only the veterans were at 20+ mph, and they were on tri-specific bikes, the kind with the aero bars and very agressive riding positions.
Most mountain bikes have smaller wheels, and are geared for slower speeds, so 18-22 mph is at the very limit of what they can do. Of course they can go that speed, but that is so they can do downhills with the assistance of gravity.
None of this means anything to the OP though, he is just looking for an entry level bike to test the waters. He is unlikely to be looking for a bike he can hammer the backroads with a bunch of guys (like a few of my friends) with spandex shorts, colorful shirts with pockets on the back and funny looking shoes.
A cross over or hybrid bike would be the right choice, the big question is whether or not he should buy used or new. IF he can find a decent used bike, then that is the right choice. If, on the other hand, he buys a used bike that is the wrong size, is bent, has not been maintained, etc., then it will be a negative experience and possibly dissuade the OP from continuing to ride. That would be a bad decision.
A new bike would be the right size, be properly set up, would likely not have a pre-existing maintenance problem, and many bike shops offer lifetime maintenance for bikes sold at their shops. If that makes the difference between the OP riding for the rest of his life and gaining all the health benefits that riding brings, and a used bike ends up gathering dust in the garage, which is the better deal? Seems obvious to me, but the only one who can answer the question is the OP.
The funny thing (unrelelated to this topic), is that I will be buying my 4th bike, 3 new one, today which will be my dedicated commuter bike and off road triathlon bike. My goal is to reduce my driving to work to an average of 2 days per week, and to compete in an off-road triathlon next fall when the regular triathlon summer series ends. It will also be useful in the Disney Muddy Buddy next year which will be loads of fun for me and another person silly enough to enter that event!
OP, all I can say is just do it, and don’t stop! Get your family out there too, riding is a great family activity, and it will be a lifelong gift to your children that they will remember for the rest of their lives. It can be the most fun you can have outdoors, and the only limit is the one you set for yourself. I myself have ridden in Africa and the Philippines, and when I retire I plan on riding from the Pacific to the Atlantic. It’s not THAT extreme, and can be a wonderful experience if you make the trip with a loved one. Here is a blog that describes how that works, I hope you enjoy it!
May 21, 2010 at 1:55 pm #100012
So, Noel, did you get a bike yet?
May 25, 2010 at 2:34 pm #100010
I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t. I shopped around a couple of yard sales two weekends ago but didn’t purchase anything.
There’s a great flea market in Courthouse (Arlington, VA) on Saturday’s that I went to – I even test rode a few of their used bikes. I don’t know if it’s a fear of commitment, but I was able to find something wrong with all of them.
After riding a few though, I think in terms of bike style I’m leaning towards a hybrid bike. For someone like me who doesn’t know what he’s looking for, I think that will give me the best of both worlds. After riding it for a while, I’ll have a better idea of what I like when it comes time for an upgrade.
Thanks everyone for the advice. I’ll be sure to check in once I settle on something.
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