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New to biking... and clueless!(20 posts)

New to biking... and clueless!jtkirk15
May 15, 2002 5:57 AM
I tried searching past posts but I couldn't fin any quick answers. I live in Washington, DC and I am very interested in cycling. I am looking to take up the sport for exercise (I hate running) and enjoyment. I am underthe impression that I should start with a cheaper road bike now to see how I like the sport and if my interest holds. I don't know many people knowledgeable about bikes so hopefully this community can help me. I'm a 23 year old male and pretty athletic. I went to Big Wheel Bikes and was told I should get a hybrid. For some reason though, I want a road bike. I'm looking to spend a minimal amount of money. Some bikes that I am considering are DiamondBack Interval, Fuji Ace and KHS Flite 300. I really don't want to spend more than $500 on a sport that may not keep my interest. However, if I love it, I want something nice to ride until I get more experience.

Essentially, I am seeking advice on getting started. Any and all advice is appreciated. Thanks for your help!
For Big Wheel to tell a 23 y/o fit guy who wants a road bike tobill
May 15, 2002 6:29 AM
get a hybrid tells you what's wrong with Big Wheel bikes.
Hybrids are for going to the store.
If you want a road bike, by all means get a road bike. While I'm sure money has been wasted by people buying road bikes they didn't really want that their friend told them to get or whatever, this is not the kind of sport that has a lot of casualties because people didn't understand what they were getting into. What's not to like? All you need is a bike and a road, you're outside, you're going as fast or as slow as you want, you're sitting down for crissakes, you're checking out other fit people in slinky clothes, you're getting all aerobic and dousing your id with endorphins -- it's cool. Bikes, even cheap ones, last; you won't waste your money.
I don't want to dis Big Wheel, but I'll say this. The guy who owns Big Wheel . . . doesn't ride. He could give a sh*t about bikes. He's in business.
A shop like Spokes, on the other hand, is run by a guy who gets all excited because he just bought a nineteen-twenties track bike from some guy in New Jersey that was ridden by some cycle hero from days of yore. He loves bikes. He rides.
You can go a couple of different routes, depending on your wallet. You could consider a used bike (which Big Wheel carries, unlike a lot of shops); pick up the Pedal Patter (Potomac Pedalers Club) -- they advertise used bikes. You could buy new by: going cheap and yearn for a new ride if you like it even a little; go middle ground (about $1K, give or take a couple of hundred), or go more expensive and just figure you can sell it.
You will hear a lot of people say equipment doesn't matter. It doesn't really, in so many ways, within a certain level of performance (above a minimal equipment performance and below an elevated rider's performance), but you more sure to get hooked if you buy equipment that's better than you and that motivates you to ride. I'd say spend as much on a bike as you can afford. You always can sell it and at least salvage the amount you paid over buying a piece of junk.
I beg to differ, Bill.djg
May 15, 2002 11:07 AM
Hybrids are not good for going to the store. They're just not good.

I'll second Bill's advice about trying a different store. Spokes, etc., which Bill mentioned, is owned by Jim Strang, who does ride (and with whom I raced briefly around 1980 or so)--they've got a good selection and some good people too. And although they're always glad to sell a custom Serotta or Seven, I've never known them to steer anybody towards something inappropriate or over-budget or to give short shrift to more budget oriented customers. In fact, there's a bunch of places in the DC area you could look that are better than BW. Apart from Spokes, there's both Revolution and the Pro Shop in Georgetown, City Bikes in Adams Morgan, and College Park Bicycles in--you guessed it--College Park. There are likely other decent places, these just happen to be the ones with which I'm familiar.
I'll third the Big Wheel advicepmf1
May 15, 2002 12:45 PM
That is one lame bike shop. They make their money off renting hybrids to tourists. I'd steer clear of them. Do try Spokes in Vienna (they just moved). A nice shop with knowledgable people. They can be a bit high end. For the hell of it, try out a bike you think is out of your price range. I was there last weekend and they have a few in the $1300 range. Try a really nice OCLV while you're at it.

College Park Bicycles was a very triathalon oriented shop last time I was there (few years ago). Stay away from Bonzai Bikes -- that's a goofy operation. The Pro Shop in Georgetown is worth a look as well.

The problem with spending $500 is that you get a disposable bike that really isn't going to last you very long. The drive train will be very poor, the wheels will likely go on you and the thing probably won't be very comfortable. It may turn you off to biking rather than the other way. The difference between $500 and $1000 is huge.

I can't see how someone your age would not completely get into road riding in DC. There is a great network of paved trails, several clubs, lots of organized rides, an active racing scene and greatly varying places to go (from dead flat to very hilly).
Something I wish I'd done when I first startedAhimsa
May 15, 2002 6:57 AM
Let me get the obligatory advice out of the way first.....ahem...

Buy used.
Get fitted.

Now then......

I would buy a nice fitting steel frame with horizontal drop outs. Then suit it up in low buck parts like Sora or Tiagra. Then if the bug bites ya and you go and buy a fancy rig later, the old bike is all set for singlespeed or rain bike (or better yet, both).

I'd also get decent strong handbuilt wheels. Easy to get worked on at any shop, and durable enough to survive either the bashing a newbie will dish out, or the neglect of an occasional rider.

This will be a teeny bit more than $500 I think, but well worth it in the end. No way to lose really. I'd say the whole business should be cobbled together for around.......oh.....$750. That would get a Surly or Soma or Urbanite frame with 105 hubs on Open Pro hoops and bargain bin everything else.

Remember you need a helmet, pump, gloves and various sundries as well. I'd set aside $80 bucks for all that. Maybe a $19 Bell helmet, $20 store brand U lock, $30 floor pump, and $9 cheapo gloves.

I'm sure you can do this for less with the Fuji, but something about having a really useful frame later sounds good to me. Bear in mind that the price increase I describe is mostly attributed to the nice wheel set, which will be suitable for an upgraded frame down the road, or easily sold on Ebay.

Just my opinion though.

Cheers mate!

A. (I'd go with a road bike BTW. If it is what appeals to you and makes you want to ride, then that is the most important thing. They are probably trying to sell you a hybrid because you told them you wanted a cheap ride and may not get into the sport and wanted to ride for fitness. This is a common demographic for hybrids. I think the salesman was not off base at all, but you must stick to your guns when you buy something like this lest you be sold something you do not want. Good for you that you are doing research by coming here. Smart move.)
Ahimsa, your advice is brilliant. My thought, however, is thatbill
May 15, 2002 7:44 AM
it would work best for someone who doesn't need it -- what beginner (without your help, of course; and I assume that you're not going to come out and hold our hero's hand) is going to track down all this stuff? I'm not trying to knock the ideas, just that you've set the bar pretty high for a total newbie (I do not think, for example, that he could walk in to Big Wheel Bikes and get ANYTHING with horizontal dropouts; I'll bet that few bike stores around here would have more than a couple of people who even knew what that meant, let alone have stuff at hand that he could look at, get the shop to build up, and ride before he bought).
This guy needs advice for buying something off the shelf.
My own stab at best advice for buying off the shelf -- you really can't go too far wrong with a decent name for about $800. One $800 bike is not going to be terribly different from another $800 bike. It'll give you something worth having without breaking the bank entirely (or leaving you with something you couldn't sell on a bet).
Thanks for your help Bill, more advice needed...jtkirk15
May 15, 2002 8:03 AM
Hey Bill, thanks for the advice. I am pretty set on spending less than $500 on a bike and I know you get what you pay for. In a couple minutes I am going to go to Spokes and check out their stuff. Of the bikes I mentioned in the first post (DiamondBack Interval, Fuji Ace, GT ZR 5.0, and KHS Flite 300, would you recommend any? I am very excited about getting on the trails in DC (only lived here for a year now). Thanks for the help!
Thanks for your help Bill, more advice needed...jtkirk15
May 15, 2002 9:34 AM
Went to Spokes in Alexandria and was very impressed with the store. However, the cheapest road bike they had was $650 and when I told them my price range they lost all interest in talking to me. I'll continue to look around, any other suggestions as to where to look?
I don't know much about these bikes. I also don't know whetherbill
May 15, 2002 9:46 AM
Spokes carries any of them. In that price range, I think that Spokes may have Specialized and maybe even entry-level Bianchi. I don't know; see what they have. They also may have some 2001 or older bikes around that they will deal with you on, although you have to be wary of the fit trap. When you think that you are getting a deal, the shop and/or you can tend to gloss over fit issues. Of course, a bargain that doesn't fit isn't a bargain at all.
Spokes has three stores and a warehouse -- they have a lot of bikes. Don't assume that what they have on the floor is all that they have. Also don't assume that the person you are dealing with there, even though I like the store and like most of the people that I've met there, knows everything. If you can, go to the Quaker Lane store in Alexandria and deal directly with Jim Strang, one of the owners. He's a good guy (although he doesn't typically work on Wednesdays). I'm not sure that I would bother just yet with the new store in Vienna; it's big and they have a lot of bikes on the floor, but they're a little disorganized out there right now, although I think that some of the people there are all right, too.
You also may want to try Revolution Cycles or the Bicycle Pro Shop in Georgetown. Revolution may have more in your price range. I've heard that City Bikes in College Park is a very cool place, but I've never been there and I'm not even sure that I've got the name right.
You know, you may want to try REI in Baileys Crossroads. They sell Novarra's, which I think is their house brand, but they look pretty nice in the lower price ranges. They also sell Cannondales and some others. They're not really a bike store among bike stores, but they have a full money-back guarantee, no questions asked. Heck, give Performance a shot too, if nothing else works.
In that price range, I wouldn't agonize too much. If you get something that fits that seems a reasonable deal, once you get a sense for the market, and you like the color, grab it. Worry more about using it. Seriously.
If you went used, you probably could get a very nice, a bit older, steel frame bike with ultegra components and decent wheels in that price range, clearly a better value than a new alu bike with base level components. The trouble there, however, is that you no longer would be dealing with a shop that could walk you through the fit process or swap out stems and such. I think that you ought to buy new, myself.
You know, there's a shop in Falls Church that I think only sells used bikes. I'm not even sure what is the name.
Why the horizontal drop out? nmRoyGBiv
May 15, 2002 11:29 AM
Why the horizontal drop out?lonefrontranger
May 15, 2002 12:12 PM
so if you want to go fixte or single speed you are able to tension the chain properly.

Don't EVER sell your first decent road bike; there are so many uses for it and they're usually not worth selling anyhow. About three months after I sold my old cro-mo Fuji Absolute & got my first "real" racing bike, my coach told me I needed to build up a fixed-gear to help get rid of all the bad habits I'd collected as an ultra rider. I was forced to search for a spare frame that fit me, and at my size these don't come easy! To this day I still have my old steel Trek (circa 1981?) fixte, and will never sell it. I've got an old Campy NR group if I need gears on it, and it's been built up and loaned out a couple times - the daggoned bike won Jr. Nats in '95 piloted by a teammate's kid. Dontcha hate it when you loan a bike and the "motor" proves beyond any argument that it's not actually the *bike* that sucks? My old hardtail won an AMBC elite/expert men's dual slalom too...
re: New to biking... and clueless!tincanman99
May 15, 2002 8:41 AM
First off buy what you like and don't let the store lead you in a particular direction. Don't let them convince you to buy a hybrid. I went down that road and it just sits in the basement and collects dust.

About 3 1/2 years ago I decided to buy a bike. I enjoyed riding around. I had a really old Schwinn Varsity that I loved (still do) but it was a tank. So I go to the store and they convince me I need a hybrid. You can ride on the road AND the dirt. Sounds good to me. So I drop like $500 on the bike.

Joined a cycling club. First thing I found out is that you are handicapped because the hybrid is upright and second it has wider wheels. I am not saying you can't keep up with the others but you are going to work at it. Basically it sucked. For casually pedaling around down by the ocean its very nice but for other than that - not so good.

Lots of my friends have mountain bikes. So I go mountain biking with them and what do I discover? It sucks to mountain bike on a hybrid. The crank is to low and the tires are narrow. End result you can't tear it up there either. You are handicapped.

I got really hurt mountain biking so I decided to stick to the street where its safer ;) (not really - think cars). Anyway I liked the fact with the road bike I could just roll it out of the house and go for a ride. Mountain biking on the street can be slow with the wide tires and all.

So I decided to buy a road bike. I ended up buying a leftover Klein Quantum. Great bike and its quick, beautiful paint and workmanship but the shop never fit me for the bike so the end result is its just OK. The frame is actually to small for me. They never measured me or anything. So my seatpost is jacked all the way up and the stem is all the way down since it can't be raised anymore. I recently got it refitted and that helped but its still just OK.

Moral of the story, since this is your first foray into biking, I would buy used. You can get a kickass road bike for a reasonalble amount of money used. That way you are not dropping big bucks. But most important is to make sure the bike fits - I mean this seriously because otherwise you will never be happy with it. FIT is very important.

There are a lot of links around about bike fitting. Read them, measure yourself and get an idea of what size frame you should be on. Find yourself a reputable cycle store that is geared toward roadies and is not just selling bikes to moms and dads. They can do both - you can tell right away actually. Just take a look around and see how many road bikes they have. If they don't have hardly any - take your business elsewhere.

Other than that get a couple pair of cyling shorts and a helmet and you are ready to go.

Good luck!
re: New to biking... and clueless!jtkirk15
May 15, 2002 9:32 AM
Thanks for the responses everyone, I've learned more in 3 hours than I probably would have in 3 weeks without this forum. I have been looking at classifieds for several weeks now and come up empty. All I see are mountain bikes. If it is a road bike, it's way out of my price range. Ebay has several bikes but I don't trust it with certain purchases and I don't want to pay $60 shipping. Used is definitely the way to go, but I don't want to wait much longer to purchase.
Try this: I'm not sure that this is the right place, but thebill
May 15, 2002 9:54 AM
place I'm thinking of is run by an immigrant from Asia somewhere who's been there a few years. I've never been there, but I've read about the place, and this might be the same place. Bike Club Bicycles, 703-532-4116, on S. Washington Street in Falls Church. Call and see what they have for used road bikes.
Hybrid bikespmf1
May 15, 2002 12:48 PM
You can ride them on-road or off-road. They can do either one, but they don't do either one very well.

Shops push them because they make money on them.
re: New to biking... and clueless!Joshua
May 15, 2002 10:29 AM
I know you are set on a 500.00 or less budget. However I personally dont advocate buying used unless you have a friend or someone knowledgeable to take with you ( I was burned buying used, from a shop no less) Any ways IF you can spend a little more, maybe around 600.00 you could get a KHS flite 500 steel frame, carbon fork and sora components. A buddy of mine just got one for around 550.00. He is happy and it seems like a great bike.
re: New to biking... and clueless!LC
May 15, 2002 11:18 AM
Hybid bikes are actually the worst of both worlds, not the best for most people. They suck on the road, and they suck off the road, so no matter where you ride it will be lacking in performance.

All three DiamondBack, Fuji, and KHS are good.
A couple more thoughts.djg
May 15, 2002 11:27 AM
One decent thing about Big Wheel (which others--including myself--have rightly criticized) is that they do carry a couple of the lines that have traditionally been known to offer good value to budget-minded riders--specifically, KHS and Fuji, which you mention, and which may answer your budget constraints.

You can also try Performance (which has some options) and, to continue the not-really-a-bike-shop line of inquiry, Hudson Trail Outfitters, which carries Marin, among other things. The trick will be to get a decent fit--if they just look at you and hand you something (and maybe ask you to straddle the top tube), they're not doing it right. If you can go back to Spokes, well, they'll do it right.
Trek 1000 for $540, Great for beginners NMLowend
May 15, 2002 12:40 PM
Trek 1000 for $540, Great for beginners NMjtkirk15
May 16, 2002 4:39 AM
I plan on checking out the following bikes:

Fuji Ace
DiamondBack Interval
Giant OCR3
Trek 1000
KHS Flite 300

I'll keep you updated on how it goes. Anymore suggestions?