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Advice on a beginner bike. (Read 1533 times)

    I have an old steel framed department store bike with drop bars which I started riding again about 3 years ago.

    It is becoming difficult to replace the 26 inch tires and tubes as all modern bikes use 700mm metric wheels, also one of the cranks is slightly bent (from dropping a car body on it a few years back- story for another day.)

    I cannot find locally any bottle holders to fit the skinny tubes of my bikes frame: while I am sure I could solve all these problems I would prefer to just start fresh.

     

    Factors to consider:

     

    1) I value simplicity, reliability and ease of maintenance over high tech gadgets, for example I am not a fan of Presta valves. (Talk about behind the times!)

    2) I would prefer a well known brand so I can compare prices and get local parts and service if necessary. Brands that I am familiar with include Trek, Giant and Specialized, all of which have entry level bikes.

    3) I don't mind a little extra weight if it means fewer punctures or less chance of a bent rim. I am probably 5-10lbs overweight most of the time so why would I worry about a few ounces of weight on the bike?

    4) I have thought about flat bars instead of drops but want to keep my options open in case I want to tuck in and go fast sometimes.

     

    So here are the questions:

     

    1) Is it worth paying $800-$1,000 for a bike rather than $400-$600 for something less fancy?

    2) Some manufacturers use suppliers like Bontrager for wheels, pedals, saddles etc. Are these items better than those made by a large manufacturer like Giant or is it simply because they just make frames?

    3) Do those fiddly looking new gear selectors need a lot of adjusting or are they as reliable as the old levers? (The little finger tip switches and brake lever switches.)

    4) Do carbon forks really make the ride more comfortable to a noticeable degree?

     

    Thanks for your advice!

    PBs since age 60:  5k- 24:36, 10k - 47:17. Half Marathon- 1:42:41.

                                        10 miles (unofficial) 1:16:44.

     

      I have an old steel framed department store bike...

       

      If you don't want presta valves, which are actually simple, you are probably ruling out $800 and up bikes. BUT, if you do get an $800 and up bike you will probably find it more reliable and require less maintenance than a lesser costing bike.

       

      The difference between the two price ranges you have mentioned isn't fancyness, rather quality and reliability of parts.

       

      The reason lesser costing bikes are heavier doesn't make them stronger. It's actually the opposite because they use cheaper and built with less durable materials. You'll need to spend thousands before you need to start to worry about lightweight parts being strong enough.

       

      Even if you got drop bars, you would most likely spend most of your time riding on the hoods or the top of the bars, just as most riders do.

       

      Gear selectors (shifters) don't need much maintenance. That said, as you break in your bike the cables will stretch. That's why bike shops offer a complementary tune up after about 30 days.

       

      Yes, carbon forks really do make the ride more comfortable but steel forks are just fine in your price range.

       

      Good luck. As bikes go $800 isn't a lot but should get you into a bike you be happy on for years.


      Needs more cowbell!

        Bontrager is Trek.  I have a Bontrager saddle on both my Cannondale road and Redline cyclocross bikes.

         

        I'm a big fan of carbon...I'd also likely be a fan of steel (and am eyeballing a steel mountain bike--Salsa El Mariachi--in the very near future).  Aluminum can be sorta miserable (harsh, buzzy) if you live in an area with rough, chipsealed roads, which I do.  I had an aluminum road bike (with carbon fork) for a year, but upgraded to full carbon with more aggressive geometry.  It is SO much nicer on our roads.

         

        A bike you might really like would be something like the Surly Crosscheck.  It's a steel cyclocross bike that can be ridden equally well on the road or off-road (gravel, grass, hard-pack trails without significant roots or rocks).  They're pretty much bomb-proof and very comfortable.  Not too pricey, either.

        I shoot pretty things! ~

        '14 Goals:

        • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

        • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

          Bontrager is Trek.  I have a Bontrager saddle on both my Cannondale road and Redline cyclocross bikes.

           

          I'm a big fan of carbon...I'd also likely be a fan of steel (and am eyeballing a steel mountain bike--Salsa El Mariachi--in the very near future).  Aluminum can be sorta miserable (harsh, buzzy) if you live in an area with rough, chipsealed roads, which I do.  I had an aluminum road bike (with carbon fork) for a year, but upgraded to full carbon with more aggressive geometry.  It is SO much nicer on our roads.

           

          A bike you might really like would be something like the Surly Crosscheck.  It's a steel cyclocross bike that can be ridden equally well on the road or off-road (gravel, grass, hard-pack trails without significant roots or rocks).  They're pretty much bomb-proof and very comfortable.  Not too pricey, either.

           

          Steel is real, baby!   I have a steel '83 Stumpjumper that I still love to ride but my fave is my titanium framed hardtail.  I'd never buy another Aluminum jalopy again.  Too stiff for my old bones, plus I'm strictly a MTB guy so every surface is rough.

           

          BTW - 26" wheels and tires are abundant where I live, yeah lots of people are going to 29'rs but I wonder if that's just a fad that will fade away?  I heart my 26" wheeled bikes!

          MTA - oh, wait a minute, OP was probably talking road bikes with the 700mm metric statement.  Never mind about 26" wheels!


          Needs more cowbell!

            BTW - 26" wheels and tires are abundant where I live, yeah lots of people are going to 29'rs but I wonder if that's just a fad that will fade away?  I heart my 26" wheeled bikes!

            MTA - oh, wait a minute, OP was probably talking road bikes with the 700mm metric statement.  Never mind about 26" wheels!

             

            I don't think it's a fad...Salsa no longer makes ANY 26ers and other companies have dropped several of their 26" models in favor of new 29ers.  Cannondale is even coming out with a funky-lookin' 29er for women (which is the other model I am looking at--would likely be cheaper than a comparable Salsa), since all of their other 29er models are kinda big for most smaller chicks, especially ones like me with squatty inseams.

            I shoot pretty things! ~

            '14 Goals:

            • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

            • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

              Steel is real, baby!   I have a steel '83 Stumpjumper that I still love to ride but my fave is my titanium framed hardtail.  I'd never buy another Aluminum jalopy again.  Too stiff for my old bones, plus I'm strictly a MTB guy so every surface is rough.

               

              Bontrager may now be Trek but it used to be just Bontrager. I still ride my mid 90s steel Bontrager mountain bike. It's been heavily upgraded over time and is fantastic.

               

              I had a 96 Cannondale road bike and it would beat the hell out of me. My back would ache after any longer ride. After I got tired of that I swung completely the opposite direction with a custom lugged steel, which was comfortable and responsive. After it was totaled last summer I found a crack in the old 96 'dale and they warrantied it for a new one. (Yes, they honored a warranty on a 15 year old frame with thousands and thousands of miles on it. In the last 5 years I was using it as a commuter and leaving it outside in the rain.) It wasn't my dream bike BUT the difference between it and the old one is night and day. It's actually got a better ride than my crashed steel frame, which was from a former Serotta builder. Go figure.

               

              So, you can get good aluminum on the top end of the aluminum price range. Still, it's not going to be as good as higher end steel, ti, or carbon.

               

              That said, I'm currently shopping for another bike and it will be carbon.

               

              ^^ none of this has anything to do with the OP's needs.

               

               

              I'll second the cross check but it may be over the OP's budget.

               

              Simon, since you are Canadian I'm going to recommend you look into Rocky Mountain Bicycles.

                Sorry- I should have been clear it is a road bike I am considering.

                 

                I am sure I can deal with the Presta valves, or I could buy adapters or new tubes with Schraeders.

                The problem I had was loosening them off to pump in air, I had tiny parts fly across the garage and lose themselves- my fault, not the valve!

                 

                I had not considered cyclocross bikes, that is a great suggestion. Presumably I can purchase tires for road use instead of the treaded ones.

                I googled the Surly but there are no dealers near me- it did have great reviews.

                 

                Thanks for the info about Bontrager, I had assumed they were an  independent component manufacturer.

                 

                I have not made any real effort to find test reports on the entry level bikes, most of the magazines seem to cater to elite cyclists and review $8,000 bikes, not what I am looking for!

                PBs since age 60:  5k- 24:36, 10k - 47:17. Half Marathon- 1:42:41.

                                                    10 miles (unofficial) 1:16:44.

                 


                Nanorunner

                  I may be a similar biker to you.  I don't do a ton of biking.  I don't go on super long rides and don't have much biker gear.  But I like having a bike that I can rely on to get around town and do at least some amount of cross training. I want something simple, comfortable, and relatively low cost, but also reliable and not too clunky.  I currently have a Specialized Sirrus Sport.  I've had it about year and a half and would recommend it if you have similar criteria for your search.

                   

                  http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bikes/multiuse/sirrus/sirrussport


                  Needs more cowbell!

                    I had not considered cyclocross bikes, that is a great suggestion. Presumably I can purchase tires for road use instead of the treaded ones.

                     

                     

                    Yup!  My dream bike would be a titanium CX bike with disc brakes and 2 sets of wheels--one light set with slicks and a beefier set with knobbies. *sigh* someday.

                     

                    Honestly, if I could only have one bike it would be a CX bike--no question.  Kinda like the AWD sport-wagon of bicycles.

                    I shoot pretty things! ~

                    '14 Goals:

                    • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

                    • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

                      I have now been to four local bike shops- all include fitting and at least one year of tune ups or maintenance. All salepeople seemed to be well informed and enthusiastic- it was interesting to hear terms like "groupset" which I had only read in magazines used in conversation.

                       

                      1) Trek 1.1, $769 after discount, alloy front fork, Shimano Sora derailleurs which seem common at this price range, Bontrager wheels.

                      2) Hasa R3, a manufacturer I have never heard of, exotic tube shapes in the frame, nice neat welds, seems like quality components such as Mavic wheels, Continental tires, Shimano crank and derailleurs, $850.

                      3) Giant TCX1 or Defy 3, $720-$900.

                      4) Specialized Allez Compact, Alex wheels, carbon fork, Shimano Sora derailleurs.I also looked at a Sirrus (as suggested by RunOhio) a lower model for $490 with 3 chainrings.

                       

                      I am not sure if the frames are powder coated or painted and didn't ask, but they all had a very high standard of finish, the Hasa was in a bright red that was stunning.

                       

                      Any comments on these candidates?

                      PBs since age 60:  5k- 24:36, 10k - 47:17. Half Marathon- 1:42:41.

                                                          10 miles (unofficial) 1:16:44.

                       

                        I don't know anything about Hasa but the other three are so closely matched I'd test ride them and go for the one that feels the most comfortable to you. 

                         

                         Hasa 

                         

                        Have you been to the Hasa website? It's in a class by itself. Before you go be sure to disable pop-up blockers and turn your volume up.

                          I don't know anything about Hasa but the other three are so closely matched I'd test ride them and go for the one that feels the most comfortable to you. 

                           

                           

                          Have you been to the Hasa website? It's in a class by itself. Before you go be sure to disable pop-up blockers and turn your volume up.

                           Test ride them all and see which one feels right to you. I made the mistake of buying a walmart schwinn, then a used jamis, before going and buying from a Local Bike Shop. The size of the bike frame is so important to making sure you feel comfortable on the bike. After that get one with a carbon fork to take away any road vibration that you would have to deal with. After that it's all about where the shifter is located. Shifters on the hood means you can shift gears without having to move your hands. the extra's you will pay for are about making the bike ride more enjoyable and easier for you. spend some time shopping, and if you can wait till the winter you will get much better prices as the new stuff comes out and stores are trying to get rid of inventory.

                          "It's a must that you outwork your competition today! Think training is hard? Try losing!" Eric Thomas


                          Needs more cowbell!

                            and if you can wait till the winter you will get much better prices as the new stuff comes out and stores are trying to get rid of inventory.

                             

                            Yup!  Cannondales are due out in August...I think most companies are on a similar schedule for 2013 models.  So if you wait even a week or two you may be able to score a deal.  Heck, our LBS is already clearing out 2012s to make room.

                            I shoot pretty things! ~

                            '14 Goals:

                            • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

                            • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)


                            Over Analyzer of My Log

                              Fuji newest 3.0 is $550 at performance bikes. Is that bike worth it for a beginner? I just want to ride and learn not race or anything.

                              Rodgers Running

                              2012 Goals

                              Run a 10K 15K Half Marathon

                                A bit like running shoes,  the most important thing with a bike is that it fits you well. Assuming you're not having a bike made to measure you want to go to a shop with a good selection of bikes that they'll take time to help you test out. What works well for one person won't feel right for another...

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