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Buying a bike





Arty
I've recently hit 160 lbs at 5'7" and have decided to start getting some exercise and be more healthy.

So I've decided to bike to and from school every day (2.2 miles) and get a job that is close enough to my house to bike to.

Basically, I have been really lazy in my life lately. No money, supported by parents, hardly ever go outside, and getting up around noon even though I have intentions to wake up early and exercise (Don't like jogging). I'm hoping that maybe getting a bike would promote me to make some changes in my lifestyle, because honestly I hate driving.

So, based on your experiences, what kind of bike should I buy? What kind of features should it have?
I feel like I should get something reliable with a personal touch to it rather than just a random bike at a store, that's why I'm asking.
Nemesis234
well if you dont have any money, i would think its up to your parents to decide which bike you get, if any.
deanhills
Arty wrote:
So, based on your experiences, what kind of bike should I buy? What kind of features should it have?
I feel like I should get something reliable with a personal touch to it rather than just a random bike at a store, that's why I'm asking.
Is it possible for you to rent a bike for a month, just to see whether you like to bike first? It may also give you a good idea of what bike you really like. Once you start biking and find yourself liking it, you may develop special preferences for what you would like to have. You may also find yourself discussing it with others, and they can help to increase your knowledge of what is available as well, and the prices of bikes. Who knows, once you find you like biking, the rental place could sell you a second hand bike. But for me I think you need to do some biking first on a rented bike, to make sure that it is something that you will really be using for a long time.
Bondings
You also need to decide what kind of bike you want. You have mountain bikes, racing bikes and city bikes.

The mountain bikes have thick tires and are good for riding in mud, snow and other rough terrain. They of course are also able to ride on the road.

The racing bikes are made to ride really fast on a good road. They are very light-weight and have small tires, so they aren't good for rough terrain at all.

Finally there is a whole range of city bikes. They are usually made for a normal road and for comfort. They normally have a u-shaped steer, which allows you to sit with your back straight (way more comfortable). Racing and mountain bikes usually have a straight steer for better grip and for less wind resistance because your back isn't straight. The downside is that your back may hurt due the not-straight position.
c'tair
Man, I'm in this market too, looking for a nice bike to get around NYC. With all these new bike paths and everything, getting a bike would be the best thing to do to get around fast.

I'm aiming for a racing bike because I'll only ride on roads and because the steering bar is thin, I won't hit and cars with it.

Too bad I can't afford one of those damn fancy carbon fibre frame ones, they literally weigh like a few pounds, but an oldie should do just fine. And it's gonna be much easier to get to my 4th floor apartment too.
Bluedoll
I look at the places I go. Since I am not a speed biker as some people are on the popular bike trails I tend to go off where I can cruise. Generally it is close to home but I can go far on a good day. I need a stable bike with good wide tires so it is a little heavier than a faster racing bike. My activity is not going somewhere though I have used the bike that way, it is mostly to go to a set point then back again. A park bench to rest for example or under a tree to read. It was used and cheap but needed brand new wheels to make it reliable.
watersoul
I don't know the terrain in your area, but my best advice would be as many gears as you can and a really low gear if you have to face a lot of hills.
My bike is cheap - mountain bike I bought off a mate for 20, it has 21 gears and as I mentioned above, really low 1st/2nd gears which are great for the hilly terrain in my area.

Nice big seat as well so its comfortable, and suspension in the front forks and seat taking away the bumps of the road - or rather the bumps on kerbs as I switch between road and pavement/sidewalk.

Good luck with it, I hadn't had a bike for a few years before buying this one recently, and now my car hardly moves - I last drove on the 3rd of November! Smile
LittleBlackKitten
I would reccommend a road bike - they don't do trails and hills well, but they're FAST on pavement - and with effort, you can keep up with city traffic flow.

Try being 5'9" and 210 pounds with NO way to exersize (arthritis and a heart condition at 24...) and no way to change your diet (I don't buy the food).
jwellsy
I would recommend going to a couple of different actual bike shops and test ride a few of them. Try different size frames. A bike shop will have much better bikes than any big chain store. Chain store bikes come with much cheaper bearings and components and won't hold up like a bike shop bike will.

I like the hybrid bikes. They look like a road bike but have front suspension forks, usually a suspension system in the seat post and tires that are a little bit wider than road bikes. They are made for long distances in comfort.

5 miles a day on a mountain bike is a lot of work. their smaller wheels mean you have to peddle more to go a given distance and their wide low pressure knobby tires intentionally increase road friction which means that it also increases the rolling resistance which means you have to work harder.

One thing they will try to sell you on is disc brakes. If you live in a place that has a lot of hills then disc brakes can be a good investment. If you live in a flat or rolling hills area then regular brakes are not going to get hot enough to worry about, so disc brakes then wouldn't be worth the extra money.

Good Luck, Have Fun and keep us posted how this turns out.
Arty
Well, I should get a road bike, but I have back problems, so the position I have to be in to ride a road bike could be uncomfortable and bad for my back, so a hybrid / comfort bike would be the best.

What should I do on the streets if the cars are going over 40 miles per hour, and there is no roadside to give room for cars to pass me? Should I ride on the sidewalk in that situation?
deanhills
Arty wrote:
Well, I should get a road bike, but I have back problems, so the position I have to be in to ride a road bike could be uncomfortable and bad for my back, so a hybrid / comfort bike would be the best.
If you have bad back issues, shouldn't you check in with your doctor to see what the effect would be of taking up biking? Wouldn't walking be lower in impact and easier exercise to do?
Bondings
deanhills wrote:
Arty wrote:
Well, I should get a road bike, but I have back problems, so the position I have to be in to ride a road bike could be uncomfortable and bad for my back, so a hybrid / comfort bike would be the best.
If you have bad back issues, shouldn't you check in with your doctor to see what the effect would be of taking up biking? Wouldn't walking be lower in impact and easier exercise to do?

Normally for the back, biking is way better than walking. Of course you shouldn't drive too fast and avoid any hills and indeed get a comfortable bike.

About the roads, I guess you should try to avoid busy ones and maybe sometimes use the sidewalk (although that might not be legal, but is a lot safer). Aren't there any bicycle paths in your neighborhood? Otherwise what about forests?
deanhills
Bondings wrote:
Normally for the back, biking is way better than walking.
This is interesting, as I would have thought the other way round. Why do you think biking would be better than walking for people with lower back issues?
Bondings
deanhills wrote:
Bondings wrote:
Normally for the back, biking is way better than walking.
This is interesting, as I would have thought the other way round. Why do you think biking would be better than walking for people with lower back issues?

With walking you need to move your whole body, while with biking only your legs really do the work. While walking, each time you step, your whole body receives a shock, which isn't good for your back. Biking gives a smoother movement.

But in any case, if you have back pain, movement (walking, biking, exercises, ...) is good. However nothing sudden and certainly don't overdo it. If you aren't used/trained to some sport, start with short periods (like a few minutes).
deanhills
Bondings wrote:
Biking gives a smoother movement.
That I can understand, but this could probably only be possible if one's posture on the bike is 100% correct? Probably a little like walking as well. There is a art to walking right so that it won't be as much of a shock to the body, wearing the right shoes as well. If the posture on the bike is not right, then I can imagine there would be stress in the torso that will work its way down to the lower back.
Bondings
deanhills wrote:
Bondings wrote:
Biking gives a smoother movement.
That I can understand, but this could probably only be possible if one's posture on the bike is 100% correct? Probably a little like walking as well. There is a art to walking right so that it won't be as much of a shock to the body, wearing the right shoes as well. If the posture on the bike is not right, then I can imagine there would be stress in the torso that will work its way down to the lower back.

Yes, absolutely true, the posture needs to be right and if it isn't it might give more problems than walking. What I meant was that you get some shocks with walking no matter how well your posture/shoes are.
LittleBlackKitten
Depends on the instance of the back pain, Bondings. Exersize often aggrivates conditions like sciatica, arthritis, extra-transitional vertrebrae, pinched nerve, cracked ribcage at the rear, slipped disc...

It's not safe to tell people a blanket statement like that; in MY case, if I exersize too much, it could very well kill me.
Bondings
LittleBlackKitten wrote:
Depends on the instance of the back pain, Bondings. Exersize often aggrivates conditions like sciatica, arthritis, extra-transitional vertrebrae, pinched nerve, cracked ribcage at the rear, slipped disc...

It's not safe to tell people a blanket statement like that; in MY case, if I exersize too much, it could very well kill me.

Of course in severe cases, exercise is not good indeed. I assume if something is broken than movement isn't good at all. But if biking isn't allowed, than going for a walk is most likely not a good idea either.

But for most of the conditions you mentioned, some form of exercise is needed. Being fit and having more muscles, helps for a lot of conditions. I definitely don't mean heavy exercise or any kind of intesive sport, those would be bad (so I agree with you, too much exercise or too heavy is not good). Take the arthritis example, exercise and especially biking is usually given as advice.
http://www.orthop.washington.edu/uw/tabID__3376/ItemID__83/mid__10313/Articles/Default.aspx
http://www.hopkins-arthritis.org/patient-corner/disease-management/exercise.html

And of course it depends on the case and should be discussed with a doctor if you have a special condition.
LittleBlackKitten
Lol, my doctor ordered me to find self employment, get on disability, or stop trying...

I suffer from a long list, that, if you're interested in knowing, I will message you...

It's a shame I have to feel 98 at 24.
Blaster
Living in a biking community I know some things about bikes and more particularly safety.

When riding at night make sure you have a light in the front and the back. A blinking one in the back is best up front it doesn't matter as much. Also if you are riding on busy streets wear bright colors. You want to be seen by everyone that is passing you.

The bike all depends. I would say the hybrid would be your best choice. You get used to riding a bike after a while and it become easier on yourself.
Arty
Well, I brought a Schwinn hybrid and I have to say that I like it. I didn't buy it at a bike shop because those bikes were too expensive; instead I went to wal-mart.

Anyway... the bike was a bit too tall for me. Straddling the rails gives me no clearance down there, so it's pretty difficult to get on the bike and to stop.

Also, the chain was loud, so I started messing with the front derailleur, and now I can't fix it to where it can shift...
jwellsy
Get a copy of Zinn & the Art of Road Bike Maintenance.
http://www.amazon.com/Zinn-Art-Road-Bike-Maintenance/dp/1884737706

That will show you how to adjust a derailer, adjust bakes, change a broken spoke, etc.
It will also show what tools you may want to get to save the time, hassle and money of taking it to a shop.
fate_merchant
The Art of Urban Cycling" Lessons From the Street is another excellent book:

http://www.amazon.com/Art-Urban-Cycling-Lessons-Street/dp/0762727837?tag=dudugo-20

It's full of year round riding tips based on years of experience. Best of all, it's entertaining and has great drawing, but it's also very well structured. If I had one at hand, I'd provide concrete examples, but I usually just pick it up from the local library when I want to scan it again.

Honestly, this is one of the best city cycling books I've ever seen. Check it out at Amazon; they currently have used copies starting at $2.35.

Good luck finding a bike! I've been regularly riding the same one for about 17 years now, and I live in the mountains.

To get further inspired, check out http://www.ridingthespine.com/main.html. It a website with videos and photo galleries of a 3.5 year bike ride from Pruhoe Bay Alaska to Tierra del Fuego Argentina.
jwellsy
fate_merchant wrote:
The Art of Urban Cycling" Lessons From the Street is another excellent book:

http://www.amazon.com/Art-Urban-Cycling-Lessons-Street/dp/0762727837?tag=dudugo-20

It's full of year round riding tips based on years of experience. Best of all, it's entertaining and has great drawing, but it's also very well structured. If I had one at hand, I'd provide concrete examples, but I usually just pick it up from the local library when I want to scan it again.

Honestly, this is one of the best city cycling books I've ever seen. Check it out at Amazon; they currently have used copies starting at $2.35.

Good luck finding a bike! I've been regularly riding the same one for about 17 years now, and I live in the mountains.

To get further inspired, check out http://www.ridingthespine.com/main.html. It a website with videos and photo galleries of a 3.5 year bike ride from Pruhoe Bay Alaska to Tierra del Fuego Argentina.


What does that book recommend about toe clips/cages on a hybrid? I have liked using them for years. But last year they caused 2 nasty falls on slow sharp right hand turns , the second fall broke a couple of my ribs. So I took them off and will probably never put them back on.
fate_merchant
jwellsy wrote:


What does that book recommend about toe clips/cages on a hybrid? I have liked using them for years. But last year they caused 2 nasty falls on slow sharp right hand turns , the second fall broke a couple of my ribs. So I took them off and will probably never put them back on.


Ouch! I'm sorry to hear about your wrecks.

Oops! as well on my part...

I meant to recommend this book (one of my favorites):

Urban Bikers' Tricks & Tips: Low-Tech & No-Tech Ways to Find, Ride, & Keep a Bicycle

http://www.amazon.com/Urban-Bikers-Tricks-Tips-Low-Tech/dp/0965172821/ (referral link removed)

If you click on the Amazon link, you'll be able to look at the table of contents and scan the general layout. Unfortunately, however, I am unable to answer your question because I don't own the book. I just check it out from the local library every so often.

I use toe clips and like them. My bicycle is old - no suspension. Back when I bought it, it was a typical mountain bike, but now it's more like what passes for a hybrid. Same bike but the styles have changed.

I try to wear light and thin shoes. I used to prefer riding in old worn Chuck Taylors, but lately I seek out other light weight shoes that hold together longer. I prefer a thin sole so that I can feel the pedal through it, and I leave the toe clips loose enough to get my feet in and out quickly. I hardly notice them at all anymore, but I can use them to pull up for more acceleration when I want, and they prevent my foot from slipping sideways off the pedal. I've had problems with that when riding without clips and once tore off my right big toenail on the road while riding in sandals. Believe me, I've never ridden in sandals again.

A lot of people now prefer clip-on shoes and pedals, but an argument against these is that foot position becomes static and so potentially opens one to repetitive motion ailments. I don't know if that's true, but toe clips work for me.

Stay safe out there!
jwellsy
Toe clips cut my number of shifts in half over my normal 10 mile ride. I like having that extra built in power reserve in the up stroke. As long as I can average 20 mph I'm happy and don't really need the added danger of toe clips any more.

One thing I do find indispensable is a speedometer. It helps me keep a more consistent speed and better time management/tracking. I try to average 20 mph, I love to go 30 mph, 40 mph though starts to scare me.
standready
Arty, enjoy your bicycle and do some walking as well.
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