Help Me Choose A New Bicycle

Ah, I think at long last the weather will be getting pleasant soon. Time for the wife and I to replace the bikes that we sold prior to leaving Kwaj and have some spring and summer fun riding around.

Only thing is, it’s been several years since we bought a new bike and I know things have advanced and changed, so I decided to tap into this font of knowledge and ask for recommendations.

The particulars: We’ll just be touring around on paved pathways, no more than 3 or 10 miles in an outing. Probably closer to 3 or 4 miles. Flat ground for the most part. No downhill racing or mountaineering.

My last bike was a cheap Wal-Mart mountain bike and it did me just fine, even lived for a few years on Kwaj before becoming more rust than bike. It seemed a pretty good compromise since I didn’t want a fast, lightweight, and expensive thin-tired racing bike. The wife’s was a single speed fat-tired Pee Wee Herman type. She loves this type of bike and I don’t think she will change.

So I guess it’s more about what you’d recommend for me. Mountain style bike? 10 speeds or so? Less? Any suggestions for a lighter weight one that wouldn’t break the bank? Aluminum frame, or are they too far out of my budget?

I’m thinking in the $150 range, yeah, really cheap. Let me know if you think this is unrealistic.

One other thing: I bought a mountain bike from Sears a few months before we left the island and for some reason that dang thing was like pedalling a tank. Wore me out just going to the corner and I don’t want to repeat that experience. Don’t know why it was so hard to move; nothing was dragging or binding, wheels turned freely. Never had a bike that hard to make go, but I do not wish to wind up with something like that again. It was so bad that I patched up the above mentioned rust bucket enough to get by a little while longer.

That’s all I can think of now. Let me know if I’ve left some detail out, and thanks in advance.

Depending on what the market is in your area, a used bike might be a better bet. Try looking at the bike section on your local craigslist to get an idea of what they’re going for there. In my town, the average prices in the “bike” section are generally higher than they are in the car section (no joke!), but every now and again a good deal comes up.

I had a cheap aluminum-frame mountain bike (sold to me cheap by someone who won it in a raffle, but I believe it originally retailed in the $150 range) and it definitely sucked-- the deraileurs stopped working right within weeks, the brakes got sloppy within a month or so and by about 6 months the rear hub was no longer going forward. I think if you are buying a new cheap bike, the more basic, the better. For your purposes, you might even consider a 1-speed.

In that price range I would go with the simplest bike available. All aspects of the bike will have been compromised, but the more features the bigger the compromise. Single speed, regular not-too-fat not-too-skinny tires, no suspension would be ideal if it suits your intended usage. If you really must have more features (I would think more speeds would be what I would miss most) then go with the lowest spec that meets your requirements in the hope that what components you get are of somewhat higher quality. Or buy a good used bike.

ETA: or exactly what Greasy Jack said.

Since the OP is looking for opinions, I’ve moved the thread from **General Questions **to In My Humble Opinion.

For the use you described, you want a hybrid bike. Real mountain bikes have knobby tires; they’ll just slow you down, unless you’re actually riding offroad. Hybrid bikes look much like mountain bikes, but are somewhat lighter and come with tires more suitable for street riding.

The usual advice is to find a good, real bike shop (not WalMart and not a “sporting goods store” like Dick’s), and get some advice. Since I happen to live in Huntsville too, I can tell you exactly where to go: Bicycles Etc. They have a good selection of bikes, including affordable city bikes and hybrid bikes. $150 is really low though, it may be at or below their range - but it won’t hurt try what they do have, and decide if it’s worth the cost or if you want to buy one at Walmart after all.

Think you’ll struggle to get anything new from a bike shop at $150 - I don’t live in the US so can’t say for sure, but it sounds like you’re in walmart territory there. The main manufacturers will start their lines at about twice this amount.

It’s hard for me to recommend a walmart special, being a cyclist and all, but if you were happy with the one you had previously, and it’s just for pleasant pootling about with the missus, then I guess it makes sense.

The other option is to go second hand - this would be the clear winner for me as $150 might net you something nice. Drawbacks are that you need to know what you are looking at, you need to be happy that the bike fits you, and you need to put in more work tracking down the bargains.

An easier way down the second hand route might be to find a second hand bike shop if your city has one - they’re popular in places with students. If the place has a decent mechanic you can get some good bargains and try them out without going through the whole ebay / small ads thing.

I’ll try to help here. You want a cheap bike for short flat rides. I would say, go with a used single speed or 3 speed crank forward cruiser type bike. A bike with the most fun, comfort, and resell-ability for the buck. If you want to go up hills, you’ll need a mountain bike. Stay away from the cheap suspension forks and frames, they never really work, are heavy, and squeak annoyingly. One last tip. Anything that revolves, like rims, and cranks, should not be made of heavy stuff like steel. Have fun!

A single speed or three-speed cruiser is tough to beat for shear fun and simplicity. The best bike I ever had was a single speed cruiser. Not great on hills, but if you’re just tootling around with you wife, and she’s on the Pee Wee special, there’s no reason to get a more powered up bike. Used is very much the way to go.

On a personal note, my bike was stolen some time ago - it’s a rite of passage in Vancouver - and I bought a used/rebuild bike at the local Anarchist cooperative bike shop. Service was excellent, they were really nice, everybody had interesting tattoos and I got a lot more bike for the money. I wound up getting an Iguana model mountain bike made by Giant. The best part was, I got to tell my kids that I’d replaced my bike with a Giant Iguana.

Great advice, all, and thanks…sorry for the delay in answering. I really appreciate the replies and good info. Got some things to keep in mind now while looking. I didn’t think about used, that’s a great idea.

Especial thanks to scr4 for the Huntsville tip. I’ll try to get by there this weekend and see what they’ve got.

Looks like $150 might not be doable. If I have to, I will pay more, but this just shows how little I really know about bicycles. So, a good thing I asked for advice.

,even if I did post it in the wrong forum :o. Apologies to the wombat for that one, I’m usually better aware of where I am here.

For a good basic bike, go for a single speed.

Less to break, & costs less too.

I like the Trek Cruisers.

I would go for a modern three-speed. This is a nice choice.

Relatively lightweight, the hub gear requires little maintenance. All you have to worry about is keeping air in the tires and an annual tuneup.

Shell out a few more dollars at the outset and get a bike that you generally won’t have to worry about. I have a Raleigh three-speed that is 37 years old, and while that was made by a previous incarnation of the Raleigh company, this bike has components that look similarly durable for a lifetime of light riding.

Have a look at this: I think something along these lines would suit you perfectly. Jamis has a reputation for good bikes at decent prices. The bike at the link has an MSRP of $375. In your area that may or may not translate to a retail price a bit below that. But I really don’t think you’re going to find a quality bike (new) for less than $300.

I’m betting that your experience with a mountain bike was mostly due to the tires. If it had real off-road tires, they really will beat you up on the road. Rolling resistance with knobby tires is enormous.

I just wanted to say thanks for the additional info. I think I am on the path to picking out the “correct” bike for me. Look out, Spring!

$150 is a tough budget to work with. Bikes have improved immensely and the prices have come down on the racing bikes but you’re way out of that league. I’d look at a used touring bike with an aluminum frame. If you find with with a biopace front gear set give it a try. it’s designed to give mechanical advantage.

Is that a joke, or have they really started making them again? (Biopace was discontinued in 1993 according to Wikipedia. They are dime a dozen on eBay. There are some other oval chainrings on the market, like Rotor Q-rings, but they do the exact opposite of Biopace.)