Buying a bike (Read 1081 times)

    I finally decided to get a bike for cross training. I will ride it on off running days for sure. I don't want to overdo anything but am sure when I first get it I'll also want to ride on the weekends which are run days. Would that be to much to start or are they different enough it wouldn't be a big deal? Also any other suggestions for equipment or things to watch for would be appreciated

    Puttin' on the foil

      Hey Mark.  Bikes are great cross training.  I can tell you though that running after biking is a bit different than running on fresh legs.  If you want to nail a run workout, don't bike before. 


      Biking really has changed my body composition.  I lost a lot of weight cycling.


      Cervelo is a bike brand worth looking into.  Great value.  You can get a full carbon frame with good components for around 3k.  You can look at an aluminum frame for a lot less.  The weight will be the same, but the ride is not a good.  Carbon dampens vibration.

      Don't be obsessed with your desires Danny. The Zen philosopher Basha once wrote, 'A flute with no holes, is not a flute. A donut with no hole, is a Danish.'

      Giant Flaming Dork

        I think you need to answer a few more questions...  What's your total price range? (after the bike, there's clothes, repair and maintenance items, shoes and pedals, etc.)  Where are you going to do your biking (on road, off road? skate parks?)  Have you liked biking in the past?  Do you have any equipment already?


          I have nothing yet. Plan on a hybrid bike. Also knew I'd need a helmet and probably the padded shorts. Will definitely be on both roads and trails. I biked everywhere when I was 10-16 but none since really. Will probably aim for around 50 miles/week to start unless that feels like to much or little.
            Wow, you guys make cycling complicated.  My $300 bike, cargo shorts, an expired pair of running shoes and a t-shirt will get me through a 35 mile ride at a decent clip (12-14 mph).  If this isn't going to be your main sport, don't go nuts on equipment.

            5K - 18:25 - 3/19/11
            10K - 39:38 - 12/13/09
            1/2 - 1:29:38 - 5/30/10
            Full - 3:45:40 - 5/27/07

            Giant Flaming Dork

              do you prefer one or the other (roads or trails?)  What kind of trails do you think you'd like to ride?


              Giant Flaming Dork

                Bikes are personal things - it's not like running - where you can strap on a pair of shoes and go running.  Everyone is different.  From my next door neighbor that goes out in Lance Armstrong kit every time he goes biking, to the kids riding tricks in the skate park.  

                If you're going to ride 50 miles/week, you're going to want something that makes you happy.  The worst thing is to buy something and have the rides be painful.  You want a bike that beacons you to ride. This is why I asked so many questions...

                If you are going to ride mostly bike paths and rail trails, a hybrid is the perfect bike to get.  A hybrid is a combination of a heavier duty frame (like what's on a mountain bike), and the lower rolling resistance wheels (like what's on a road bike).  These bikes can be the best of both worlds, especially if you are going to use it to supplement some trips that you normally make in the car. Hybrids can also be good for family outings and hauling heavier loads (like kids in trailers).  The downside is that hybrids do nothing especially well.  Trips on the road a quick, but not fast enough to keep up with traffic (or your friends on road bikes).  Trips on dirt are okay, but anything more challenging can be difficult on a hybrid.

                Road bikes are great for riding on the road. They are (in general) light, quick and responsive.  They are designed to get the maximum power out of a pedal stroke.  These are very rewarding for riding on the road, and are good because you can (sort of) keep up with traffic where speeds are low.  However, because they are built for speed, they are not very comfortable (usually you need to invest in a pair of biking sorts, if nothing else) and they can't be used anywhere except roads and bike paths.  

                Mountain bikes are the polar opposite of a road bike.  They are built to be durable and stable (and sometimes fast).  They are designed to travel over a wide variety of surfaces.  Because of their construction, they can be the heaviest and slowest of bikes.  Mountain bikes tend to have the greatest flexibility, as they can be used from road, to rocky terrain.  

                Once you decide on the type of riding you do, get an idea of the different models the major manufacturers offer.  Of course you don't have to buy from them, but it gives you a good idea of what is available and what the standard options might be.  

                To name a few:






                Consider getting fit at a local bike shop.  This will ensure that the bike you get fits you and is comfortable.  You may want to get special pedals and shoes just for biking.  Some people like them and some don't.  I have an all carbon racing bike with toe cages (regular pedals with straps) because I don't like the feeling of being bolted to the bike.  Some do.  But also realize that you can have a perfectly fitting bike for you, if you spend some time with it.

                One thing you should consider is a used bike.  Used bikes - only a year or two old - can be found on ebay or craigslist for 40-65% of their retail value.  It can really pay off to buy a used bike.  That's how I bought my last two bikes.

                As far as making a decision goes...  I don't do much mountain biking, and love the speed and feel of the road - so I got a new road bike from a local bike shop.   20 years later, I re-discovered biking and bought a used road bike on ebay.  Once I had kids, I got a trailer and a road bike isn't great for towing these.  So I bought an inexpensive mountain bike on craigslist to haul them around.  Personally, I'm glad I have two relatively inexpensive bikes that suit the purpose that each one serves.  But that's just me.   A hybrid could probably do 95% of what I do on each of these separately.  But each bike has it's strengths and I want to ride each one.  And that's what makes the difference to me.  You are different, and will probably make different decisions...  but they are right for you and your situation.

                Hope this helps.


                Team HTFU NCTR Driver

                  OK, here's what you need:


                  No one has mentioned a cyclocross bike yet, and it would seem to be the ideal for your situation. You basically get a road bike with a bit more clearance for larger tires (but small by mountain bike standards - for a roadie, most are on 23-28mm wide tires run at 100-125 psi, while mountain tires are typically in the 50mm @ 35 psi range; most 'cross tires are 30-40mm and run in the 60 psi range). The frame will be a bit beefier than a road frame, not that it makes much difference - a bike frame is crazy strong - and you'll have different brakes; otherwise, it's a road bike. Put on 25mm tires and you'll be able to ride with a fast group on the road; with 40mm tires, you'll get through all but the loosest of dirt. And, it won't be a hybrid. The hybrid will be the first bike you stop riding - they sound great, but in practice, they just plain suck.

                  One thing I do strongly suggest is that you go through a good local bike shop. You'll be more likely to get a bike that fits well, and you may be able to swap out saddles to get one that works well for you. Plus bike shops are cool.

                  My standard recommendation for someone getting a road bike is to figure on $1000 to start - that gets a good new starter bike probably with Shimano Tiagra components, water bottles and cages, a seat bag with a multi-tool, CO2 inflator (or mini-pump), tire levers, patch kit, and spare tube, some basic clothes, a pump, gloves, and a decent helmet. Most folks who get more serious about riding will end up getting pedals and clip-in shoes eventually; they're more comfortable than flat shoes especially on longer rides.

                  Lots of shops or clubs will have group rides with newbie sessions and groups - I highly recommend those, especially if they'll include some seminars on group riding skills and etiquette, tire changing, etc.

                  Have fun!


                    Wow awesome responses!! I love this community. This gives me lots to think about. I have around 3k in my "toy" fund so can definitely explore the options. I went to a bike store tonight and looked at some hybrids. Found a nice looking trek for 450 but will ask some different questions tomorrow based off these responses. Might go cheap to start and make sure I keep with it but am pretty sure I will enjoy it as a nice alternative to running. I also hope to commute to work on my 2 off days running so should stick with it. 20 mile round trip to work will be where most my miles would come from. The rest would be the trails and such in my neighborhood.

                    Giant Flaming Dork


                      I almost mentioned cyclocross, but didn't want to give too many options to begin with.


                      I think Did's right.  The Surly may be the way to go.  check it out...  It will not break the bank, and you may have enough left over to have a dedicated mountain bike as well. 



                        Be careful moving down the price scale with Trek.  Their lower end stuff is mass produced overseas, so you're basically paying extra for the name.  I'm not saying it's bad, just that it's probably the same as other stuff that may be less.


                         They generally make the hybrid lighter by stripping down the suspension, so if you are riding on anything rough, it may not be that comfortable. I bought a hybrid and would not ride anything else.  If I'd bought anything else, it probably would have sat in the garage.  My old mountain bike was far too heavy and I needed the comfort of sitting upright.  I do have a rough stretch of road on my commute, but I just try to avoid the bumps and it works out okay.

                           The hybrid will be the first bike you stop riding - they sound great, but in practice, they just plain suck. 

                          This is true. It takes the worst part of the mountain bike and puts it on the worst part of a road bike. The result is a bike you can't ride off road and is uncomfortable if you are riding on the road more then a few miles a week. There is a reason they are cheap. If you want to ride it regularly get a road bike. A properly fitted road bike will always be more comfortable then a hybrid. There are just so many more options for fitting it and getting comfortable and changing your position while you ride.

                          Son, when you participate in sporting events, it's not whether you win or lose; it's how drunk you get. -- Homer Simpson

                          Queen of 3rd Place

                            There are HUGE differences among road bikes in terms of comfort and handling - be sure to test ride if you can."Comfort bikes" and the like - WTF - there are some super-comfy-cozy road bikes out there.


                            FWIW, I just built up a Cross check for commuting - really nice bike for the price, and I can make it into something completely different should the mood strike.



                            Ex runner

                              I've really been putting in the miles with my bike lately. It's a 12 year old roadmaster hybrid that has surprisingly stood up well.

                               I'm going to sell my dressage saddle from my horse days (1000$ there), and put the money towards a bike. I'm thinking a road bike although I love the trails. But I suppose if I had to pick between the two, I'd go for the road. Is it a good idea to just go to a local bike shop and ask them for help? I really do like biking and think it may be time to look at getting a "real" bike.

                              Team HTFU NCTR Driver

                                I've really been putting in the miles with my bike lately. It's a 12 year old roadmaster hybrid that has surprisingly stood up well.

                                 I'm going to sell my dressage saddle from my horse days (1000$ there), and put the money towards a bike. I'm thinking a road bike although I love the trails. But I suppose if I had to pick between the two, I'd go for the road. Is it a good idea to just go to a local bike shop and ask them for help? I really do like biking and think it may be time to look at getting a "real" bike.

                                OMFG yes! Go in to a bike shop, stand in the middle of the store, and just loudly say "I want to start biking." You'll instantly get a read on the shop - if they look at you funny and send a doofy kid out to help, be noncommittal, make your excuses, and go elsewhere; but if a hugely grinning person appears and says "Awesome!" you've got a shop - and that's far, far more important than what kind of bike to get.