Noobie in Need of Some Insight
I need some advice from people who know what they are talking about when it comes to a first bike for someone that hasn't rode a bike regularly in some years. Given that I'm trying on this new hobby I'm not looking to spend a fortune... I'd like to stay under $300 without having to make my purchase from a big box store, unless there is something good to buy there, I was just under the impression that those bikes were crap.
Here's some specifics:
Intended use - mostly road but also smooth dirt trails
Budget - $300
Hight - 5'3" (cause that's important?)
*if all goes well, I will upgrade in a year or so but for now I really need to make sure this is something I will stick with.
What is the best option for me? Should I just purchase a walmart or target bike or is it worth it to search for something else?
I wouldn't get a cheap walmart bike.. Its going to cause headaches and prevent you from enjoying the sport. I always tell people that if they are on a budget to buy from bikes direct. They have bikes that are pretty well equipped for less money than an lbs. First bike is the hardest, so you really want to just get something average. Then you'll learn what you want out of it and make your next purchase based on that. Around where I live, used bikes are so overpriced, it's not even worth it. At your height, you're looking at a small frame.. You can go to an lbs and ride a few and see what sizing you'll like, and go from there. The biggest component to a bike is fit.
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$300 is a bad place to be. You are stuck with big box store stuff, or used on Craigslist, or BikesDirect. That price range pretty much puts you out of the local bike shop unless they are running a crazy deal. I don't discount Diamondback bikes sold at Dick's Sporting Goods if you can find one. That was my first dive into mountain bikes, on a Diamondback Response Sport. It had disc brakes, and took quite a beating. I quickly realized the limitations of the bike however, and sold it quickly.
BikesDirect is a slippery slope. You get a cheaper bike, but they skimp on things, so don't be fooled by their compare to prices.
My advice? Find something either at Dick's, or used on Craigslist. And avoid a "suspension" fork on a $300 bike if you possibly can. If you can find rigid, you will be better off, especially for your intended use.
'13 FELT TK3 / '09 Jamis Sonik
The pedals turn, not just the left one, but the right one too.
2014 miles - 3019/2500
Its impossible to find a rigid fork these days on a cheap bike. All there are is suntour x series forks lol blah
My 350lbs+ friend has been riding a cliff 4900? Off bikes direct for 3 seasons now and he hadn't even blown out the freehub yet. I think he's on the same chain too actually. I would look to spend 400 on there, and you can get a pretty decent bike. I was on there last month and they still had a few models with the dart forks, which are better than the suntour. But even if you go the suntour route, you can upgrade down the road when you need to with the suntour upgrade program for 200. They aren't bad bikes.. You get what you pay for, but in their case you aren't paying for a name so you get a bike 2 tiers up for the same price as an lbs. You don't think that giant cuts corners on cheap bikes? Or specialized? Look at the current specs for the hardrock, it's really eh. Back in 06 it was a pretty decent build, and 150 less.
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true what he said^, most name brands are garbage up to $1k mostly, BD would be definitely better than any walmart bike, used would be best but u kinda have to know what u are looking for if not you would end up with crap..
something like this and later swap forks, would still be an ok bike under $500
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I think you should start hitting garage sales on Thursdays. You can find something for 10-20. Even Treks. Get riding and save for a 600 bike if you find you will be sticking.
Buying used is great... If you know what to look for.
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My wife is in a similar place. We ride regularly and she has started riding with us, but only wants to ride the simpler trails and nothing too technical (or terrifying, it her words). She's been riding a box store $50 bike just to see if she enjoyed it, and the other day the chain snapped, no surprise. We are currently looking at getting her an entry level Specialized Myka 26" which is around $440. A bit more than you are looking to spend, but that is the entry level price/model. If you could get last year's model of a men's version (Hardrock for example) it might be closer to your price range.
It's hard because you want to ride, so you need a bike, but you are new so you don't know what you want/need. I was there last year, and started on a box store bike I already had. It did fine, but I had to replace components as they broke, and after a couple months I knew what I wanted in a new bike.
Look for a local store that has last years models and you can get a decent entry lvl bike at a big discount and likely come close to your budget. (i'd expect to pay $500 for a discounted entry lvl)
I've come back to riding after breaks twice. When I was fourteen and started commuting, I hadn't ridden since I was eight or so. That was actually a little tricky. I think because I was inhabiting a totally different body. Drop bars totally freaked me out, so I ended up vandalizing my Mom's old Motobecane with a bad flat bar conversion. Not the way to do it, in retrospect, but I think people's suggestions of some manner of mountain bike are right on - it gets you flat bars and a reasonably athletic geometry, that you can be happy with for a while if MTB is the direction you find you take this.
I also dropped cycling for a couple years when I finished college and moved to Manhattan. I'd gotten into a wider range of cycling when I was in college, including riding road bikes.
Hopping back on a road bike then was no problem. I could have stopped a week before, not two years. (Or whatever it was.)
I actually don't think $300 is so bad. It's an older bike, without suspension. Good suspension forks are pretty expensive but bad suspension forks still sell bikes, so there's a bit of a wasteland in between $300 and around $600 in which used bikes have disc brakes and suspension forks but they're inferior to decent Vs and track worse than rigid forks. So you avoid that.
For me, fit is really important. 5'3" could even be a XS or 13" frame. I think being able to test ride a few bikes back-to-back helps. Make a few calls and see if you have any shops near you dealing in a lot of used bikes. Then you get to try a few bikes, start on something nicer than you'd get at Walmart, probably avoid a crappy suspension fork, and stay in your budget.
I've used Craig's List some. It's a bit of a crapshoot and takes some patience, but obviously it was an option that made sense to me.
Don't underestimate asking Facebook, friends, acquaintances, and coworkers for help. That's how I got one of my bikes. People often have bikes sitting in their garages that they're not thinking about or may be thinking about selling bikes but haven't gotten around to listing on Craig's List or don't want to sell to a stranger.
"Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx
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