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Need advice on a bicycle
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Andrew Richardson
(arichardson6) - F

Locale: North East
Need advice on a bicycle on 06/03/2008 08:03:23 MDT Print View

Hey Everyone,

I ride about 6 miles a day (not a lot, I know) to and from work. I currently use a bike that was given to me from my girlfriends dad. The bike is not a true road bike, but it has slick tires on it. It has "normal" handlebars, front and rear brakes, 3 big gears in the front and 5 or 6 in the back and 26" wheels.

It's a good bike, but not too comfortable. I can buy a few parts (Seat, other parts I don't know the name of) and some tools, and get the bike to fit me and not be so rusty, but I'm thinking of getting a road bike instead. My birthday is coming up and I think I could get my dad to chip in. However, there may be more value in just fixing this bike up. The only thing is, it was given to me and I don't know if I will have to give it back. I don't assume he's given it to me forever and I don't feel right asking him to just give me a bike, ya know?

So I'm thinking road bike. I've seen some discussion of bikes on here and I was hoping for some advice. What's a good brand road bike in the mid-range price level? What are the limitations of road bikes? They can handle some bumpy roads right? Should I stick with a mountain bike that has slick tires? I don't really know where to start, so any advice is welcome. If I'm leaving anything important out, then please let me know!


Derek Goffin

Locale: North of England
road bike on 06/03/2008 09:14:42 MDT Print View

I would say if most of your riding is on a road, potholed or not, or smoothish track then a road bike is best. The worst the road surface the bigger the tyres. I would not by choice use thinner than 23mm tyres off road, and if you have some bad stony tracks you may want rugged 30mm plus. You will go fastest on your majority tarmac with the smallest diameter thinnest tyres. I have ridden many miles off road with a road bike you can do it.
If you want to ride through soft sand you need very wide tyres. If you want to ride down hill fast offroad you need suspension, otherwise a road bike with reasonable size tyres is the real All Terrain Bike

Richard DeLong
(Legkohod) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Europe / Caucasus
recumbents on 06/03/2008 09:46:07 MDT Print View

You might take a look at recumbent bicycles online or in stores if they have 'em. Recumbents are to regular bicycles as hammocking is to sleeping on the ground :-)

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Need advice on a bicycle on 06/03/2008 12:44:33 MDT Print View

I'm a bike commuter (when roads are ice/snow free) and I'm gonna be contrary and suggest that the type of bike is pretty much irrelevant for a six mile round trip commute.

Factors that are relevant:
1) that the bike be properly sized
2) and adjusted for a decent fit
(would NOT require a $xxx fitting at a bike shop)
3) and reasonably well maintained
4) with tires properly inflated

Now if Andrew has an interest in more cycling than his commute then the type of bike becomes important ... but we'd need to know the type of cycling.

Michael Gardner
(ekim765) - F

Locale: Southeast
Need advice on a bicycle on 06/03/2008 13:38:18 MDT Print View

If a new bike is the route you want to go, and you only plan to stick with the to-and-from work, then you may want to look into a hybrid or commuter bike. It's a beefier road bike is as best as I can descibe it, some may have a front shock. You stated that your current bike was not too comfortable. You may or may not find that leaning forward as you tend to do on a raod bike to be very comfortable.

Any reputable bike shop will be more than willing to help get you in to the bike that's right for you. They should also let you take it for a test spin. However, if you decide on fixing up the bike you have now, that same shop should be able to help get it tuned up and in good working order.

As Jim said, fit and size are very important (like a backpack). Do yourself a favor, stay away from Wal-Mart and even some of the big box sporting goods stores. Yeah, the bikes are el cheapo- because they are practically desposable. And I've found (at least in my own experience) the the staff in these places don't know the first thing about bicycles and could care less about what you walk out of the store with. And I'm not just saying that because I despise Wal-Mart!

Edited by ekim765 on 06/03/2008 13:45:52 MDT.

Andrew Richardson
(arichardson6) - F

Locale: North East
Re: Re: Need advice on a bicycle on 06/03/2008 14:20:42 MDT Print View

Hey all,

Thanks for the great advice so far. I don't really plan on doing any more cycling besides what I do for work. I mean I sometimes ride 10 or 15 miles around Boston, but never anything very serious. I use my bike often though, certainly more than going to and from work.

However, I think that what you said is right, Jim. I haven't maintained the bike at all. I mean I inflate the tires whenever they need it, but other then that, I don't do anything. It is garaged at my building, but I found out that rain blows in and has caused rust on my chain and various other parts.

So, as Mike suggested I think I will take it to my local bike shop and see how much it would cost to get everything fixed up. I imagine it will be cheaper then buying a whole new bike. However, maybe they will say that the frame isn't sized properly, in which case a new bike may be the way to go. I have only been there once, but I trust them for one reason. I brought in a wheel that had a tube with a stuck endcap on it. The guy sold me $4 tire levers and a tube because he said it would be much cheaper then having him work on it. I appreciated that, so I'll take it to Landry's Bicycles and see what they think.

I just want a nice cheap bike that I can ride about 50 miles a week.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: Need advice on a bicycle on 06/03/2008 14:53:19 MDT Print View

Hi Andrew,

What you describe in your initial post sounds like an early model mountain bike, possibly from the mid '80s. Taking it to a bike shop is a good idea, because they can tell you whether it's worth investing any time, effort and money. A quality bike from that era might be; a department store bike, probably not.

A basic workover--new chain, tires, tubes, rim strips, bar grips or tape, cables, brake pads; repacked bearings; trued wheels--will probably cost a couple hundred bucks unless you're a DIY kinda guy. Parts and tools will cost perhaps half that. But, it will completely transfrom the bike.

What I hazily recall from Boston is awful roads and awful traffic. Unless that's changed, I'd stick with a mountain bike with street tires, a commuter bike or a cyclocross bike. You want strong wheels, tires suited to wet pavement and some kind of suspension--at least the fork. I'd avoid a classic roadrace type bike.

I'm bike-commuting about 20 miles RT these days and use a mountain bike. Works great, especially with eighty pounds pressure in the tires :-)

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Need advice on a bicycle on 09/15/2008 07:37:41 MDT Print View

Hi Andrew,

My comment may be too late to be useful...
You are lucky to be in the Boston area which is home to perhaps the best bike shop in the country - Harris Cyclery. The late great Sheldon Brown worked there and the Harris/SheldonBrown website has more information about bicycles than the rest of us can consume in a lifetime. They are not a lycra-go-fast most-expensive-gizmo shop, and they know as much about commuter bikes as anybody around.


Andrew Richardson
(arichardson6) - F

Locale: North East
Re: Re: Need advice on a bicycle on 09/15/2008 09:16:12 MDT Print View

Hi Amy!

You're not too late to be helpful! I haven't made a purchase yet as I keep spending my money on other gear instead of a bike. I'll check this place out!