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What Bike For Beginner?(13 posts)

What Bike For Beginner?jschwarz
May 28, 2003 11:13 AM
I've been riding 3 times per week anywhere from 8 -10 miles at a time. I've been riding for a couple months now on a 1991 Trek 820 Antelope. Needless to say it probably is not the best ride for this. Anways I'd like to purchase a road bike but only have about $500 to spend. Is it safe to pick up a Diamond Back or Mongoose from Dicks? Should I look used? Any name brands make an ok bike for under $500? Any suggestions would be appreciated. One more note, I'd like to work up to 15 mile trips (don't know if this matters or not).
re: What Bike For Beginner?Dave Hickey
May 28, 2003 11:24 AM
With the amount of miles you're doing, the Diamondback or Mongoose will be fine. The only problem I see with bikes bought from mass retailers like Dicks is who built them. Many times, chain sporting goods stores use inexperienced people to build the bikes. It might be worth your while to take the bike to a local bike shop and have them tune it up. It might cost $50 but it can save you problems down the road. Another option is join a local bike club. There are plenty of "wrenches" willing to help.
You'll be much fasterKristin
May 28, 2003 11:29 AM
That Antelope you ride is the heaviest bike I've ever lifted. I recently picked on up at a garage sale. The thing is solid! Anyway. No matter what you buy it will be faster than the 820 because it will be lighter.

Most people will probably tell you not to buy a Mongoose. It is one of the poorest quality bikes made today. It won't fall apart underneath you on your first ride, but it will not last as long as a quality brand. Here are some names you can trust that make bikes in lower price ranges:

Lemond (a little higher priced)
I'm sure others will add to this list.

The most important thing to consider when buying a road bike is geometry and fit. The Antelope is a comfort bike and it is designed with your comfort in mind. A road bike is designed for speed, ao you will give up some comfort regarless. But if you get a bike that isn't sized correctly for you, you will give up much comfort. (Believe me, I've been there.)

Important tip #1. Buy your first road bike from a reputable local bike shop. The will know how to fit you to a bike.

Bike fit involves selecting the best size frame for your height, leg length, torso length and fitness level. Then the overall fit can be tweaked by changing the stem length, saddle posistion and handlebar height. Another benefit to going to a good shop is that they will help you make all of these decisions.

Finally, lets talk budget. You will have a difficult time finding a good quality road bike for $500. If you are blessed with a body that fits common sized bike frames, then you'll have some luck in this area. But my best advice:

If you can't find a road bike for $500 that you are comfortable on, either increase your budget or buy a higher end (lighter, better equipped) hybrid or cross bikes.

There are lots of hybrid and cross bikes (commuters) available within your budget. If you absolutely can't go over $500, then the better choice would be to get something in this range (like the Specialized Sirrus) than to try to make an ill fitting road bike work for you.

You can always go with the Mongoose, but its not a good overall investment.

Good luck and post a picture of your purchase so we can see! :)

Consider buying used...cory
May 28, 2003 11:34 AM
If you know of a shop you can trust, or have a knowledgeable friend to help you check it out, you can get a lot better bike for that money used than you can new. If you live in or near a decent-sized city, newspaper classified ads often list road bikes, and at least where I live, you can score one a couple of years old for half or less of the new price. They don't generally wear out in that time, and the parts that do wear are easily replaced.
It's hard to give a newbie road test advice in print, but you should learn something about bike fit, which is very important, before you buy. It's OK, I think (others might disagree) to try a few bikes for size in a shop to get an idea what you need--but then remember that shop when you buy tires, tubes, helmets, whatever. By the time you pay shipping, you don't save money on stuff like that online anyway.
Isn't that Trek a mountain bike (sorry; I don't pay much attention to Treks)? If it is, and you're running the knobby tires that came on it, spend $20 on some cheap pavement tires. You'll knock off those 15-milers like you won't believe.
This is the Trek AntelopeKristin
May 28, 2003 11:51 AM
This pic is borrowed from Akirasho. I guess this was his first bike too. (We could all aspire to his greatness.) Anyway, the thing is an absolute beast. I believe it may be the grandaddy of all hybrids.
I remember when...rockbender
May 28, 2003 12:07 PM
The summer before leaving for college, I remember a couple of my high school buddies getting Trek Antelopes, and I thought that was the coolest ride ever. The rapidfire shifting was soooo smooth, and the bikes were so light compared to any other bicycle I had ridden. I couldn't believe how much they cost, though! Something like $400! for a bicycle?! Seemed crazy when you could get a decent used motorcycle for not much more! That, of course, was my thought ten years ago.

If the bike fits, and works well, there is still certainly nothing wrong with it - though a true road bike will be quite a bit more efficient for riding on the road. The first thing to do for sure, as mentioned above, is get some skinny slick tires (1" to 1.5" wide) to put on your bike and pump them up to about 80 psi. You will be totally AMAZED at how fast you go and how easy it is. Back when my mountain bike was my road bike (I think I ran 1" or 1.1" tires), I would easily put in 50+ mile rides with that setup, and after a summer of lots of miles, I rode an organized ride and hanging out in pacelines with guys that were riding $5k bikes (they kept looking back in disbelief, wondering if they had dropped that 'mountain biker' yet).

good luck!
buy what you can afford and enjoy the ride.
Many good new bikes for $500, used for $250Continental
May 28, 2003 11:49 AM
At this price range look for a steel frame, wheels with 32 spokes, and Shimano Sora equipment. You'll also want "clipless" pedals and shoes. Last year I bought a new steel Fuji Finest for $450. It's a very nice bike, even if you want to ride 50 or 100 mile trips. There are many other very good bikes in this price range. Unless you're really hardcore or a competitive racer, there's virtually no functional difference between a $500 bike and a $5000 bike. If you know what size bike you need you and if you're patient can get a very nice used bike for under $300.
Many good new bikes for $500, used for $250Jervis
May 28, 2003 11:57 AM
I agree. A buddy of mine got a Fuji on e-bay last year for I believe $500 even and he rides the living hell out of it. He did something like 200 miles last week on it, and it's equipped with Shimano Sora parts (mid-low end) E-bay is a good choice, but to be repetitive, just be patient. Also if you have a decent sized shop near you in a farily large town most shops will carry between 0 and 10 used bikes that people have sold them or traded in on a new bike. If you haven't found a bike you want, frequent the shops and there will be the possibility of a great deal. I bought an old Cannondale Tourer 500 off a friend of mine and I ride it 20+ miles a day. Just browse around, and good luck.
Well, $500, plus extra for pedals and shoes.Eug
May 28, 2003 12:14 PM
You got a good deal. It's hard to get a similar bike around here for that much, or even for $500.

However, even if you did get such a bike for $500, you still haven't included the pedals, etc.
May 28, 2003 12:07 PM
NEVER buy a bike from a department store:

A) The bikes there usually suck.
B) Most of the people there know absolutely nothing about bikes, including those working in the bike department.
C) Even if they are OK bikes, the assembly quality is terrible.
D) The bikes are as is. No swapping parts.
E) They do not provide free adjustments (for a specified time period) like bike stores do. (Not that you'd want them adjusting your bike anyway.)

It's hard to get a good "real" road bike for that amount of money. Go looking at a real bike store to see what is available, but don't rule out a new mountain or hybrid bike though. Just make sure you have them put on slick road tires, or in the very least tires that are slick in the middle (with knobs on the edges). It still floors me to see the bazillion mountain bikes on the road with knobby tires, despite the fact that these bikes are never used off-road. Riding with knobbies is like riding with the brakes on.

Or else if you want a "real" road racing type bike you can save up your money and just spend $100 in the meantime to get your current bike completely overhauled (if it's still in usable condition). For $100 you should get new slick road tires, new cables, a new chain, new brakes. You might want a new cassette too, but that would cost extra.
Look at lower end Specialized Sequoia or Sirrus... (nm)MrDan
May 28, 2003 12:13 PM
Call Sheldon Brown at Harris CycleryMXL02
May 28, 2003 12:27 PM

He is pretty savvy at coming up with cheap rides. He may be able to come up with one to ship to you, professionally built.
KHS, Iron Horse, Motobecane, FujiWalter
May 28, 2003 3:42 PM
all make roadbikes you can roll out the door with for the $ you can spend. Not a thing wrong with any of them and don't let people say otherwise.

Assuming your equipment is at least decent, and all those bikes are, the important factor is the engine. Get yourself in shape and get the miles in your legs and you'll drop people with bikes costing many times more than what you paid.

I can remember when people rode cross-state or longer on electro-forged Schwinns so it must be the rider.