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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First, I suppose I should say hello... Hello! I've been having a good read of the forums here for a few weeks and now have a bit of advice to ask of you all.

I'm dying to get back out on the road after an absence of 10 + years and have been doing the tours of bike shops looking at what bike to buy. I'm stumped, really stumped.

I have a budget of $2 - 3K (for everything that I need -ok, want, not need- bike and other stuff) but I'm hesitant to take the plunge just now. I worry about not having ridden road for so long and making decisions based on things I've read or what people have told me I 'need' rather than through finding out for myself as a result of saddle hours. It will also soon be winter up here (Canada) so a big part of me wants to wait until late winter / early spring next year before making that purchase decision.

I've always had crap bikes (real junkers) but they have never stopped me wanting to ride and, indeed, getting out there to do just that. Now I have this insatiable urge to get a pretty good road bike and have this strange logic to just buy a POS for now to get me out riding. I think this will also help me figure out which bike to opt for in the spring in many ways.

What do you guys think? An embarrassingly cheap road bike with plastic derailleurs, grip shifters -yes, that's right, grip shifters!- sub-standard brakes and fat tires that will get me riding tomorrow and until the end of the season for $100 used(it has a decent frame, to be fair) or dropping a large amount of money on something that is sure to be spectacular (in my mind) but in the long run may not be exactly right for me because I haven't had the time to find out what right-for-me is yet?

It's hardly a one-or-the-other decision, I know; what's $100 on the scale of things? I'd just appreciate the opinions of some of you on my logic and maybe it would be nice to hear about junker bikes you've owned and what you learned from riding them(I have a few stories myself). Of course there will be inevitable questions from me regarding the 'real' bike to come;have a few models in mind, but those can wait.
 

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Go with the $100 bike if you want to start riding right away. It will still be worth about $100 when you decide to sell it and buy your other bike. Buying a piece of junk will not likely make the experience as pleasurable as it will be on a good bike. You should be able to get a lot of bike for the budget you mentioned. Do your homework though. Ride several of them and start talking to shops. It won't take long to figure out what you need. With new models coming out, should be able to get great deals now. Next spring, most of closeouts will be gone. That said, a deal on the wrong bike, isn't a deal.
 

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Go with the lower cost bike.

When i started riding this year, I had a MTB with knobbies that I put hybrid tires on. Worked great, looks great. For some reason, I decided I needed a Road bike so off to shopping I went. Now I have a road bike that was quite a bit of $$ and I find that I like riding the MTB better. I could have saved if i just was happy with what I had.

Just a thought
 

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I think it's good idea. It'll give you some time to figure out if you want aggressive, relaxed, whatever when you get the A bike. Also give you a base line for size and reduce any sense of urgency to get a bike which can lead to mistakes.

Plus a $100 bike has probably fully depreciated already so I'd imagine you could craigslist it and not take a loss once you're done with it. Or have a bike around for when the weather sucks.

I actually had no plans to get a better one at the time but I got into biking by buying a $100 major piece of crap. That was pretty fun and once I realized I could do longer and faster rides with a road bike (the junker is a hybrid) it was all over. Still have the junker for going to the store and stuff like that.

Buy it, ride it until you figure out what you really want and with any luck that'll be right when the late fall/winter sales kick in.
 

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I'd check Craigslist and see if you can find some (relative) value. As others have mentioned, knock around with the beater and figure out what fits you now.
 

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I bought 2 bikes off craigslist and a friend bought one. Both of us have experience with bikes but by no means mechanics. All three bikes were a poor value. 2 were wrong size and 3rd was whipped. Not saying deals aren't out there. I'm just saying beware and I'm a dumb a$$. Taking your time is key to your long term happiness.
 

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vontress said:
I bought 2 bikes off craigslist and a friend bought one. Both of us have experience with bikes but by no means mechanics. All three bikes were a poor value. 2 were wrong size and 3rd was whipped. Not saying deals aren't out there. I'm just saying beware and I'm a dumb a$$. Taking your time is key to your long term happiness.
I think the positives of buying that $100 POS have pretty well been covered thus far (and I agree with most), but vontress brings up the flip side of that move.

Unless you're pretty well versed in identifying potential mechanical problems (and somewhat well versed in fit), you could end up with a bike that needs more work or money (or both) than it's worth.

To better your odds off success, bring someone along that is familiar with bikes (and ideally, fit) .
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the replies, glad to see that my own logic isn't as silly as I first thought.

The bike I am eying is a chain-store special and only a couple of years old ($400 original retail price). It's the correct frame size for me (56cm) but of course without actually having ridden it I have no idea how it will feel. I'm pretty sure that it will be in the ball park for making adjustments to be comfortable.

The grip-shifters bother me a bit (have to be up top to shift) and it has a cringe-worthy kickstand :blush2: . I think it will serve it's purpose if on inspection it is rideable. I do know my way around a bike as I have owned nothing but junkers when it comes to road bikes so I'll at least be able to tell if it's safe and in need of anything that costs more than the bike and be able to remove the kickstand in the privacy of my own garage. This, if I buy it, will sadly be the third best bike I've ever owned (have a decent hard-tail MTB and once owned a Peugeot road bike that was like a feckin Cadillac compared to what it replaced).

As much as I appreciate the words of caution regarding guarding against picking something up that is poor value (and I know what you mean, really) it's just a means to an end; gets me out riding by Monday (tomorrow just got busy); will give me time to figure out what is important to me in a new 'real' bike; gives me time to learn and catch up on all the technological developments in cycling and think long and hard about what I would really like and what is just too much; gives me a whole lot of time to test out a whole lot of bikes and listen to the marketing nonsense;

If I buy it I'll post some pics (pre kickstand removal) just for a laugh.

Thanks again, though. :thumbsup:
 

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For me it comes down to what is the most important thing in my life. I can have a crappy car, really it's not a priority to me. But when you talk about bikes, I want the best thing that I can possibly afford. Sure, I have an old town bike for going to the store and picking up bread and milk. The old town bike cost me ten bucks at a garage sale. But it's still a good ten buck bike. Welded steel from the 70's with an internal hub three speed. Really nice. But it's just to get groceries. My road bike is all carbon and really serious business.
I guess it comes down to how many miles you want to go on your bike, and how you want to feel on those miles.

When I get out on the highway, I don't want to be on a POS department store bike. My time means more to me than that.
 

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It's hard to get the right bike the first time around. However, I think it's valuable to get as close as possible. I think you should look at some bikes at your real pricepoint, ride several, and buy your favorite.

It sounds like you strongly suspect you might make a mistake, but are fairly committed to the road thing... so don't get a bike with a really nice frame and lots of proprietary standards that'll drop a ton of value if you decide later that you didn't get quite the right size or something. There are plenty of bare frames and framesets available on the aftermarket, so if you decide you sized wrong, you can get one of those later.

Large-ticket items that might not transfer well would be the crankset, if either the frame you get or the new one has a funny bottom bracket standard, and the fork if it's something other than a 1-1/8" steer tube or if it's cut too short, although many bikes are sold as framesets, including the fork, so that might not be an issue. There are a million headset standards lately, so I'd just write that off, and the seat tube could be an issue too but as long as you're restrained about it, they're cheap.

I think a lot of people can drift as much as a full size in their fit in a first year of riding, or returning to riding. So you're right to be cautious. Although it sounds like you've been riding, so your fitness may not drift that much. Getting used to road bikes sometimes causes preference changes too - a POS now may not prevent you from buying something that proves to be a little wrong later.

A stripped frame won't lose as much of its resale value as the whole bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hooben said:
For me it comes down to what is the most important thing in my life. I can have a crappy car, really it's not a priority to me. But when you talk about bikes, I want the best thing that I can possibly afford. Sure, I have an old town bike for going to the store and picking up bread and milk. The old town bike cost me ten bucks at a garage sale. But it's still a good ten buck bike. Welded steel from the 70's with an internal hub three speed. Really nice. But it's just to get groceries. My road bike is all carbon and really serious business.
I guess it comes down to how many miles you want to go on your bike, and how you want to feel on those miles.

When I get out on the highway, I don't want to be on a POS department store bike. My time means more to me than that.
I used to have something like that; Raleigh Grifter, I think... three speed that should have just been a two speed since third used to slip into neutral every time I really got on the gas and would slam my right knee (always the right) into the bars. I loved that big heavy bastard, climbed many a big hill back in Scotland with it (mostly with it in my hands, but coming down the other side was always the pay-off).

I'm laughing at the concept of a bike still being a 'good ten-buck-bike' and would love to see something rideable that wasn't in that category. I may even have owned one.

I get what you're saying about my way of thinking versus your own; I agree with you. However, you most likely have been riding consistently for years and know exactly what you'd like and need when it's time to go shopping. I don't yet so am considering the POS to just get out there while the options are weighed and some well-needed, valuable catching up is done.


AndrwSwitch said:
It's hard to get the right bike the first time around. However, I think it's valuable to get as close as possible. I think you should look at some bikes at your real pricepoint, ride several, and buy your favorite.

It sounds like you strongly suspect you might make a mistake, but are fairly committed to the road thing... so don't get a bike with a really nice frame and lots of proprietary standards that'll drop a ton of value if you decide later that you didn't get quite the right size or something. There are plenty of bare frames and framesets available on the aftermarket, so if you decide you sized wrong, you can get one of those later.

I do suspect I will make a mistake if I dive in right now. I think the crux of my thinking is that I want to get back out riding -NOW!!- but am ill-equiped to make an intelligent, informed decision about the correct bike for me. I appreciate the suggestions you make about a bare frame, etc, and it's worth thinking about.

I'm off to test ride a couple of Cannondales tomorrow, actually... a caad9 and a synapse, very much looking forward to it. I did go to see the POS that I first posted about and it was in poor shape. It was really more of a hybrid set up as a road bike and had lots of play in lots of places so no danger was I riding it further than round the block. There's a part of me that embraces crappy equipment and being able to make it perform to a level you'd never expect. I think it will make me appreciate whatever bike I spring for in the end that much more too.

Thanks again for the suggestions, everyone.
 

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A cheap POS is still a POS. Buy a decent bike. It doesn't have to be a top of the line mega bucks Tour De France racer, but something nice. I started adult riding in 1962 and bought a couple of Pieces OS bikes, but when I finally got a decent (not expensive) bike I was transformed. I clearly remember thinking...WOW!
 

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I would go somewhere a little different with this.

I would start by spending $1k this year and get a basic but new bike properly fitted to you. Get basic pedals but good shoes and helmet and make sure they are comfortable. If $1k is steep now then pay a bike shop to fit you to a popular bike then go search out a bike with that frame on the used or ebay market and take a controlled gamble for the savings.

Instead of upgrading in the spring, wait another year before buying the better bike. Keep the shoes and just add a set of pedals. Then afterward you'll have two solid bikes, one for rainy day riding or backup, and one that's pretty, lighter, and faster. If you buy them with similar componentry you can trade wheels and components.

David
 
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