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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I would like to get a bicycle that I can use to commute to my college campus as well as use for recreation. I have looked around on these forums and others trying to learn as much as I can but it can be a bit overwhelming with everyone's different opinions and advice. My commute would be at least 10 miles (getting to and around campus) a day and I would like to do some recreational riding on the weekends. If I am going to get a bicycle I would like it last to last at least my 4 years of college if not more. I guess my questions would be: Should I buy used (Craigslist, eBay, etc.)? or Should I buy a new bike and if so, from a LBS or from an online dealer? I'm leaning toward a road bike because after testing a few, I like the more forward leaning position rather than the more upright from MTB and hybrids. So any models that can be suggested would be appreciated. Thanks in advance, any advice will be helpful.:)
 

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Cycling induced anoesis
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You've provided some good background info, but to determine your best options it would be helpful to know your price range.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I would say around $800 would be my upper limit. If i need to spend more to get a quality bike I will. I most likely won't need a car for the next 4 years and it is definitely cheaper than a car. I know a lot of people recommend going to a LBS but I found http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/fens_IX.htm. For $700 it has all Shimano 105 components and I tried to look up some reviews for the other parts and saw that the tires may need to be replaced. I know some people have had bad experiences with bikes direct but the majority of the reviews i have seen have been positive.

I am not opposed to going to a LBS if I could get a similar bike for a similar price even if it was a bit more at the LBS I would definitely do that. However the bike store that I did go to had me feeling like I was at a used car lot. The guy said something along the lines of "This MTB is $350 but I could get it for you today for $260". This was without asking me what style rider I was or what I would be using it for. It felt like they cared more about selling bikes as quickly as possible than taking the time to find the right fit and style for me. Maybe I just caught the guy at the wrong time or on a bad day.

Anyways, let me know what you all think.
 

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College campuses can be pretty high-theft areas, so unless you have a very safe place to keep yours, you might be better served getting a used road bike for a lot less. Keeping it for four years may not be a matter of whether or not the parts last that long.

If everything works and the bike fits you right, you can still use it for recreational riding. Downtube shifters don't give up much to STI levers unless racing or speed workouts are involved, IMHO. Putting a little of the money you saved in the right places can make an inexpensive bike a lot more fun - good saddle, nice tires, things like that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yeah that's true about theft, i go to Penn State main campus in State College. Most of my classes are in the center of campus, which is packed (40,000+ undergrads) from about 9-3 so during the day a chain through the wheels and frame should keep someone from walking around with some bolt cutters from taking it in the middle of the day. Of course, relying on assumption that people would do something if they saw a bike being stolen is not the best thing either. However, last night while walking around campus I saw a pretty decent MTB sitting against light post next to the sidewalk in a pretty busy area of the campus with no chain or lock. I saw the bike in the same spot going to class this morning and then this afternoon coming back. Now, I'm not saying bikes don't get stolen here because I have already seen some tireless bikes:p, but i think a chain during the day and a chain + U-lock at night would keep only the most determined from stealing the bike, at least that's my take on it.

Back to actual bike though, is the bike I posted above a good value? Would it be better to get a cheaper bike to start and then upgrade the components later?

I've been looking at Craigslist and the bikes that show up are either way too big or too small (at least so far) or way out of my price range $1200+. I might wait a week or so to see if anything new shows up on Craigslist.
 

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Cycling induced anoesis
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Given a college campus environment, I think AndrwSwitch makes a good argument for going used, but if for whatever reason you've decided to go new....

There's nothing wrong with the BD bike you linked to. The problem with a first time buyer going the online route is they're guessing on sizing (a biggie), will need to have someone do final assembly (even BD recommends a LBS do it), adjust the drivetrain, tweak fit for you (stem swaps are easy at your LBS, not so easy when dealing online), so when you start figuring in the added costs of the online bike and the added value an LBS offers, the 'savings' of buying online diminishes.

This isn't to say all LBS's are created equal. As you've found, that's not the case. So it becomes important to seek out the reputable shops and work with them on narrowing choices, getting sized/ set up on some bikes, and doing some test rides (impossible when dealing with the online guys).

Last thought. If you decide to go the online route, I suggest opting for a standard fitting (about $50) from a reputable LBS to pin down sizing requirements. Be upfront with them, show them the bike/ geo chart of the bike you're considering and ask that they size you on one of similar geo. When you've completed that process, you should have a reasonable idea of what size to buy. The better shops will be happy to help, because they see a customer in their not too distant future, for assembly/ tuning/ fit assistance along with bike related purchases.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I think I am going to try and stay with a used bike.

If I do go to test a used bike, what should i be looking for, what should I test out. I think it would be a good idea to take to a bike shop to at least get it tuned but I don't want to take it there and have them tell me it will cost another $100+ to fix/repair parts after I have already bought it.
 

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If you're lucky enough to have a good shop dealing in used bikes in your area, I think that's the best way to go. It's a little more expensive, but they should give you at least a 30-day guarantee that things are not worn out and are properly tuned. You also get the opportunity to ride several different bikes, which I think is very important in getting the right one.

I ran into a good article on inspecting a used bike a while ago, and can't find it again. This Yahoo Answer isn't so bad, though.

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080401063525AAe7YKk

I think it's very telling to actually measure the chain for wear.

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/chains.html#wear

Since you're talking about riding for over half an hour at a time, getting a good fit is really important. I think riding in cities is a little more forgiving of questionable fit, but as soon as you get out of town and ride in the same position for more than a few minutes, you'll start to notice if the reach is too long or too short. So the opportunity to try a few bikes in a shop helps with that. Otherwise, there are some fit calculators online that can ballpark your size, but I don't think anything really compares to actually riding some different sizes.
 

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I don't know what is available in your area, but where I live biking has been "hot" for a number of years, and several reputable shops specialized in selling refurbished used bikes, due to the market demand for nice, classic road bikes.

They cost probably twice what you'd spend on Craigslist (say $400 for a decent road bike rather than $200), but the risk factors are removed in accidentally buying a lemon and having to pay to replace everything.

This may be something to look into. A few years ago I bought a used bike off of craigslist without knowing much of anything, and it wound up being a Peugeot that can be expensive to buy replacement parts for (I didn't know anything about French bikes or specialty parts at the time). Lesson learned, the $150 bike needed about $200 in parts to stop having shifting and chain drop issues, which I never got around to doing because of the cost.
 
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