September 19, 2005

Curious, George: Bicyclettes For Christmas last year, the Lady Squid bought the Man Squid an inexpensive mountain bike from a sporting goods chain store. Although the bike has gotten me from point A to point B plenty of times, it's now falling apart - with it in the shop just about every other week - something new (tires, tubes, rims, spokes, deraileurs, cables) seems to be breaking on it with every passing month.

She and I have decided that it's about time for me to pick up a heavier duty bike (in the 350-500 USD range), and I'm looking for something that can get me to and from class (half a mile ride) and to various friends in the neighborhood (3 to 4 miles). Road/Mountain/Hybrid bikes are all fine with me. Any ideas?

  • Personally, I really like the Trek hybrids. For $350-400 you can get a very nice one (entry level is $260). Well made, nice looking. When I buy my next bike, that's what it'll be.
  • Strip it down to the frame, anti-rust-treat and paint the frame, and replace everything else. Voila: a new bike!
  • i like mongoose bikes. i've also had good experience with a british brand whose name escapes me. thompson maybe?
  • i've also been thinking for a while about getting a driveshaft-driven bike in order to avoid all the problems associated with chains etc. some ideas here. i've no idea what they're like to ride, however.
  • My wife has a Cannondale hybrid that has held up nicely for a few years
  • I've had a Trek for about 15 years - heavy use in school, but afterwards I went through a couple of extended periods of not using it. Then I'd haul it into the shop and get it fixed up, good as new. It has always been a great bike. (I think it's a hybrid but I can't see it on their website.) I plan to keep it around for many more years. The best thing I can tell you is to head to your nearest small cycling shop in town and let them know your price range, where you plan to ride, how much bike maintenance you can handle, etc. They can make several good suggestions for you. Be sure to take a couple of models out for a test spin around the parking lot before you buy, and if you do buy from them, have it adjusted for your height before you leave the store.
  • I'd go with a rigid mountain bike or hybrid (do they make rigid hybrids?). A front suspension adds weight and not much utility if the roads you ride on are decent. An entry-level Trek would probably suit you fine, but check with your local bike shop. A reputable shop will let you test ride different bikes.
  • I had a Schwinn comfort bike and loved it. Great for city commuting which sounds like what you're doing. I paid around $300US. The only downside: "comfort bike" sounds like something for old fogies, which clearly doesn't apply to any monkey. Mountain bike sounds like overkill to me....
  • I have a Kona Dew Deluxe that I use as a long distance touring bike with loaded racks and panniers. It's a hybrid that I've altered tofit my needs. It's a workhorse commuter, but I also rode it on a 100km group ride last weekend without any problems at all. There is a lower priced option (around $400) called the Kona Dew (mine has disc brakes and higher components, hence the "deluxe" price tag, the regular Dew has regular caliper brakes). Kona is known for its off-road and mountain bikes, but their hybrids are the shizznit! I'll be taking mine to France next year for an extended tour (although I would rather take my snappy road bike. Alas, not practical). My SO has a Trek 7200FX which is a sportier version of the more comfort oriented 7200. It's very basic, but he rides to work everyday (8 miles roundtrip) and he also takes his on long jaunts (our weekend average is 30-50 miles, depending on the weather). Unless you live on a mountain, or plan to ride off-road, a mountain bike is overkill. 700 X 35-38 tires are wide enough to get you over gravel if need be, but think enough to move you right along the pavement. Also, check out Bike Forums maybe in the Commuter forum) for reviews and discussion of certain brands or models. The 2006 models are all coming in, so this is the time to buy a 2005-- everything is on sale! Buy a good bike from a reputable bike shop-- you won't regret it. Whatever you choose, be sure you ride it around a bit before you buy it and make sure it fits you, otherwise, you won't enjoy it and you won't want to ride it. Sorry to ramble. Biking is one of my passions...
  • Yes, preview is my friend... 700 X 35-38 are the size tires used on most hybrids and they are THIN enough to move you over pavement quickly.
  • A couple of years ago, I moved up from a $100 mass-market-discount-store special to an entry-level Trek hybrid, about $250. It's very basic - no suspension, all-steel frame. It seems that this (relatively speaking) small premium over the bargain-basement range does get you a big jump in build quality. The brakes, the gearshifting, the bottom-bracket stiffness, etc, are all in a completely different league. I have ridden friends' bikes in the $500-$1000 range, and while they're nicer than mine, they're just sort of incrementally nicer, not quantum-leap nicer the way that first step out of the Wally-World range is. One thing to consider: If you're chaining up in a place that has lots of bikes, and may thus be attractive to bike thieves (like a college campus), there may be an advantage to not having the nicest bike in the bike rack.
  • Lagged2Death: That sounds like just about what I'm looking to do. How do y'all feel about the Trek 7200, in general? Are there comparable models from other manufacturers I should look @?
  • I picked up a used Trek on craigslist a few weeks ago for $50. I am very happy.
  • The 7200 has front suspension and really upright, almost cruiser-style, bars. Do you really need that? The 7200FX, on the other hand, doesn't have the suspension (but it does have an adjustable suspension seat post if you're worried about a hard ride) and more traditional mountain bike-style bars that you can add extensions to if you want more hand positions. Also, the stem is adjustable if you need to change the angle of the bars. And it's a bit less money. I think the 7200FX is a better bike because it's slightly simpler than the 7200.
  • I personally don't think there is enough room for two squids on this blog. There might be a sucker wrestling match and I put my dibs on Squidranch. He be one big, strong, burly squid that just might take you down.
  • Uh, I tend to disagree sis. The more squids the better. BTW, all the ladies who are in need of tentacle porn, I, unlike my giant squid pal, am single.
  • I am extremely loyal to Cannondale. Well worth every penny spent on one. Fantastic bikes!
  • Three to four miles each way = get a hybrid or a road bike, maybe with straight handlebars. There's not going to be a "quantum difference", to use a phrase used above, between most of the bikes in your price range, so make sure at least some of your focus in shopping is getting a bike that fits you.
  • have you tried losing weight?
  • A "quantum difference" is in fact incredibly incredibly small.
  • An "subatomic shift" in quality, eh?
  • I have nothing but good things to say about Specialized. They make bikes in the entry level class that seem to be comparable to mid-level or better Treks. I ride around on my new HardRock and sneer at those poor saps who paid more for less bike. My old HardRock is almost 11 years old, underwent minimal maintenance over that time (maybe two tuneups, max?) and suffered the perils of college campus riding over curbs, woods, trails, and the occasional head-on collision, and (after I replaced the bent forks resulting from the collision) has never given me any major problems. They have full offroad bikes with crazy suspension, road bikes that weigh as much as a gnat, and some really nice in-betweens that just might fit your bill. The key is good engineering, and good components, but above all find a good bike shop and get test-fitted! You can see models and colors and stuff at; in terms of bike quality I'd say Specialized and Kona are pretty equal, and in my experience Trek doesn't compete with either until you go into the higher price range (look at what the insane crazy mountain bikers ride: very few Treks, a lot more Kona and Specialized...)
  • "A couple of years ago, I moved up from a $100 mass-market-discount-store special to an entry-level Trek hybrid, about $250. It's very basic - no suspension, all-steel frame. It seems that this (relatively speaking) small premium over the bargain-basement range does get you a big jump in build quality. The brakes, the gearshifting, the bottom-bracket stiffness, etc, are all in a completely different league." Ain't that the truth! I learned that difference a long time ago. Recently a friend came over - he's been riding a Huffy that is in good repair, which is not really saying much - and went for a ride on my wife's Schwinn Frontier. This is among the lower end of bikes you'll find in a reputable bike shop, in the $250 range. He spent the entire ride marveling at how much better it was to ride. Maybe I should have let him ride my bike... he'd have been in heaven... Bottom line is that a bike anywhere from $250 on up, that you get from an actual bike shop, is going to treat you a LOT better than anything on the cheaper end. The bike will be put together better, and the shop will make sure it's adjusted to you - as well as make adjustments to the cables and chains in the first several months of ownership.
  • Pay the money, and get a decent bike. My Genesis hybrid (does Genesis even still exist?) is now fifteen, and with a good tune-up last spring, she'll last a good while longer. I loves my Judy. She's good to me. (Kinda neat, when I took it in -- the kid who worked there saw that I had 'biopace', and commented on it. I had no idea what he was talking about -- I knew my chainwheel wasn't round, but didn't know that that was intentional. He started explaining it with "well, back in the day..." It was as if he were talking about ancient theories of horse-positioning at the Hippodrome. "We don't think that way anymore..." Heh.)