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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Posts
    44

    Entry Level Bike Recommendations - Mile 0

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    What would you recommend for an entry level bike for a beginning cyclist who is starting from Mile 0 as far as fitness and stamina?

    For a woman starting out who is not fit, and not able to spend a lot of money (a LOT less than $300), and who has never been in a real bike shop, what is your recommendation? I know mine will be "test ride at at least 3 local bike shops, ask questions, ask about discounts on last year's model, and get a proper fit."

    Is there a make and model, very basic, very economical, that you would recommend to an absolute beginner who has been almost completely sedentary?

    Should friends never let friends buy bikes alone?

    ------------------------------------
    I feel like I let a friend down Saturday, because I told her she'd probably need a new bike for a charity ride we're doing in June. Her old Schwinn had been in her parents' garage for 20 years, and would probably have needed new tires and tubes. I tried to get her to take the old bike in to a LBS to have it checked over but she didn't get it done by the weekend. She's not fit (yet), and like me she's diabetic and would really benefit from the exercise.

    We were to meet for a practice ride Saturday, and I told her not to worry about bringing her old bike, she could ride my n+1 bike, a Specialized women's Crossroads.

    To my surprise she showed up with a new bike that she had bought that morning at Target.

    It's pink, it has only 7 speeds, and has no mounting points for water bottles. My male cycling friends (both gearheads) stated she needed to take it back. But my female cycling pal and I aren't so sure - it's lighter than expected, and the point here is to get her moving.

    She had no idea how to shift so the simpler SRAM shifter and gearing made it easier after I coached her a bit. I doubt she could get much better in her budget - only about $200.

    http://m.target.com/p/schwinn-womens...k/-/A-14917330

    It's not heavy, but I felt awful that she had spent the money without asking for advice - the meetup point was at an excellent LBS that had a tent sale with 2014 bikes on sale for 40% off. She still would have paid more to get a better bike, even on sale.

    She barely made it around the loop and had to dismount for the slightest grade, but she still wants to ride, which is good. I'll continue to encourage her and the next ride will be on straight, flat rail-trail, no boyz allowed. I may still being my second bike along to let her try out the better gearing.

    Just wish she'd talked to me first.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,449
    I'm not sure what you are asking, exactly. It's not bad to get a box-store bike for an entry-level bike. But I can generally get a decent used bike for that amount.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Posts
    44
    Yes, I was wondering if anyone had similar stories of friends impulsively buying a bike, and recommendations in general for beginner cyclists. My friend ended up with a Schwinn from the big box store, so that's a decent quality entry bike at least. But she got no actual fitting or advice, and her test ride was apparently IN the store. The LBS tent sale where the group ride met up had some good deals, but she didn't want to spend money for something that may sit in her parents' garage for years. I hope to get her to where she enjoys riding, but it'll be touch and go at first.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,827
    Well for $200, yes she could look for a used bike but probably would have no idea if it was right for her and could end up with something ill-fitting. Her struggling during your ride with her could have been due to lack of fitness more than the weight or gearing of her new bike.

    I think buying a new bike can be overwhelming. Even for someone like me who cycles a lot and knows the people at the LBS by name -- I have no idea about some of the types of bikes they sell. Really when I look at the advice we sometimes give people, I think "too complicated -- they're going to get discouraged."

    The right bike for your friend is the one she enjoys riding. If it's a pink bike from Target, but she's having fun, it's fine. Especially since she has you to encourage her and lend her another bike when she's ready to try something else.

    The hardest part is getting off the couch and turning the first pedal stroke. And she's done that, which is great!! If people are telling her she's done it wrong, she could get discouraged and give up. But really what matters most is having fun.

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,449
    You might encourage her to get better quality tires. Eventually. Look at her position on her bike with saddle height and KOPs if you know how; most new riders ride the saddle too low, she shouldn't be able to plant her feet on the ground, but barely reach on tip-toe. Maybe play with the stem. They do have adjustable stems, if it is a fixed one on her bike. Some inexpensive ergo handlebars with a rise may make the bike much more comfortable Also, better quality pedals will increase grip, and make her legs less tired. Look at the hand grips, too, and see if there might be a better quality, inexpensive choice. Perhaps tighten everything up.

    And of course, the saddle may be making things difficult. These simple things can make it feel like a different bike.


    Some inexpensive suggestions that can make a big difference:

    Maybe an adjustable stem like this for around 22 dollars. Those bars appear to have a 1 inch clamp, but measure the diameter of the bars where the stem attaches. (I would spend money on this first).

    Ergo rise handlebars for about 17 dollars.

    Perhaps these grips for 10 dollars including shipping, you'd want to move the brake handle inward. Not a big deal.

    The metal at the end is a locking mechanism, which keeps them from slippage. Very important for comfort and safety.

    I have these pedals on my Krampus, they have great grip, and make riding much easier. About 20 bucks, you would need to determine what size fitting the crankset needs, 1/2 inch or 9/16 inch.

    ~ 15-20 dollars depending on the size. The specs aren't listed on the website, you would have to measure where it attaches.

    Hard to say about a saddle, and tires are much more expensive than the other things I've listed, but the above things should make the bike easier to ride. Oh, the seatpost on that bike is in two pieces. Would be better to get a more modern, micro-adjust seatpost. If you know the diameter, you can get a basic seatpost from amazon for around 12 dollars. Makes changing the saddle much easier. The seatpost that comes with the bike is not easy to work with.

    Shrug. Those are my suggestions. Get things basically adjusted, then switch out the 3 contact points of bars, saddle, and pedals for better. Honestly, having tried that type of pedal in the past, I'd go for the pedals first after the stem. An easy fix. Do you know anyone with a pedal wrench? If they are they 1/2 inch pedals, the wrench may not have that fitting size, as those are what cheaper bikes use. My wrench has only the larger size 9/16 inch wrench fitting. Some wrenches have both, though.

    If you and she decide to make the bike fit a bit better, you can post for suggestions on where to start. (Hint, saddle height).
    Last edited by Muirenn; 04-15-2015 at 04:52 AM.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    240
    How long is the charity ride going to be?

    I basically did what your friend did

    I was way too scared to go into an LBS alone so i bought a $300 bike from a sporting goods store. (They offered to let me test it by riding up and down the store aisles, which i declined) I had to walk up a LOT of hills in my neighborhood at first. But I rode once a week, learned to use the gears, and LOVED my 15mile charity ride. At the end, I had the bug to ride more, so i bought a better hybrid afterwards. I think my cheapie bike was actually a good thing for me because everything seemed so easy afterwards.

    Your friend is lucky because she has you to teach her how to use her gears. If you are willing and able to ride slowly with her, I think she'll be fine on her cute pink bike I'm not sure I could have been convinced to spend more on a bike in the beginning considering I had no idea if i would like riding.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    4,713
    You know, provided that one makes sure that the bike is actually assembled properly, it's not so bad to start out on an inexpensive bike. Start slow, start simple. No need to start changing things if you don't have to. Yes, she could have gotten a decent used bike for that money, but it can be hard to know what to look for. If she's having fun and nothing hurts (except perhaps sore muscles), it's all good.
    At least I don't leave slime trails.
    http://wholecog.wordpress.com/

    2009 Giant Avail 3 |Specialized Jett 143

    2013 Charge Filter Apex| Specialized Jett 143
    1996(?) Giant Iguana 630|Specialized Riva


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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,449
    Quote Originally Posted by Owlie View Post
    You know, provided that one makes sure that the bike is actually assembled properly, it's not so bad to start out on an inexpensive bike. Start slow, start simple. No need to start changing things if you don't have to. Yes, she could have gotten a decent used bike for that money, but it can be hard to know what to look for. If she's having fun and nothing hurts (except perhaps sore muscles), it's all good.
    I agree. And it's actually a decent-looking bike. Maybe she'll start to want something that shifts better, but upgrading the components with something from Nashbar or Performance would be inexpensive, and worth it, IMO. The truth is, she probably can't tell, right now, anyway.

    Also, I purchased a mount to attach a bottle cage for my Surly, because my size small only came with bosses for one water bottle. Not enough! (The size small Krampus fits me, and I'm 5'7"! Other Surlys do fit more petite people, though.

    It's the Elite Universal Cage Mount. Price is about 10.00. Definitely worth it. Is kind of a pain to install.

    Seems to be holding well, so far.

    The Salsa Anything Cage is another choice, but I liked the other because it cost less, and allowed me to attach a cool-looking water bottle cage. I may get the Salsa cage for something, eventually. It looks handy.
    Last edited by Muirenn; 04-15-2015 at 04:49 AM.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Posts
    44
    Great suggestion about the universal cage mount. I will meet my friend for some easy rides near her home, she's currently doing the 10 mile ride, very easy on a riverside bike path.

    We adjusted her seat higher but her pedaling is very knee-out (not sure how else to describe it). As she gets herself sorted, will see if she's interested in minor upgrades.

    Basic fitness is something she needs to work on

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,449
    Quote Originally Posted by Lelani Carver View Post
    Great suggestion about the universal cage mount. I will meet my friend for some easy rides near her home, she's currently doing the 10 mile ride, very easy on a riverside bike path.

    We adjusted her seat higher but her pedaling is very knee-out (not sure how else to describe it). As she gets herself sorted, will see if she's interested in minor upgrades.

    Basic fitness is something she needs to work on

    The advantage to the Salsa Anything cage is that it doesn't need a separate water bottle cage, so is more hard-wearing, and may end up costing the same without that expense depending on the cage selected, and that it can be used to carry things like spare clothing, etc.

    The knee out position is interesting. You might watch for signs of saddle pain, the way she sits, comments etc., thus leading to the odd leg position, or if she is compensating due to inadequate pedals causing slippage, improper reach or other fit problems. It could be the saddle is still too low.

    Another possibility is that she is sliding forward and ending up with all the weight on her feet, which will cause leg cramping, which could be due to a lack of core strength. That may be solved by raising the bars and shortening the reach, allowing her to ride in a more upright position.

    Anyway, these are things to watch for and perhaps ask about, depending on how close or comfortable you are with each other. If she is doing 10 miles, she is already doing great, really. So , for any increased time that results in problems, I would first look at fit.
    Last edited by Muirenn; 04-21-2015 at 04:58 AM.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Posts
    44
    We're looking forward to a free bike fit offered by Performance Cycling, a local sponsor of the ride.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,449
    Great!

    I figured it would be pointless to suggest a $150.00 fitting for a 200 bike. This sounds ideal.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Posts
    44
    Novice rider update: I met my friend at her apartment for an easy, no pressure ride around her area. This woman's parking lot connects directly to a lovely network of park MUPs, and there's an on-street route nearby leading directly to a set of famous rails-to-trails bike paths. I told her how jealous I was of her location! We explored the park paths first, and she opted to go for second loops. We also rode a couple of neighborhood streets to connect back to the park loops.

    She has a long way to go toward basic fitness, but did really well. Basically I tried to emphasize basics and told her about a recent "women's night" that I attended at my LBS. I did feel bad that she'd wasted money on a silly slip-on saddle pad that promptly slipped off the first time she dismounted. I had to nix the way she wanted to carry her purse by wrapping the strap around the seat post, though! I hope to haul her to the other LBS that's offering the basic fit-adjustment this week.

    After a very slow ride with her (about 3.5 miles) I left and drove south to try to find a spot to park near the rail-trails network, and found a sweet park that's earmarked for our next ride. Blew the dust off with a quick 5 miles (not quick by most sane TE standards, but quick for me) before meeting DH to see a movie.

    I'm seeing my LBS fitter tonight for a fit adjustment - this is at the shop where I purchased my Vita. I'm passing on the free one offered by Performance for the charity ride, but hope to accompany my friend when she goes for hers. Hoping to get her to just set foot in a real LBS instead of buying silly stuff at Target and making do with bungie cords to hold a water bottle and a bag of snacks.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,449
    She actually sounds reasonably fit, from what you describe, and not at all silly.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Posts
    44
    It's confidence building and learning to shift gears at this point, as she has to stop and rest after just a tiny upgrade.

    Also we have some health challenges (diabetes and asthma) and she has to be careful to bring snacks.

    She IS fitter than she thinks she is, though. I'm excited for her, as she discovers the joy of cycling.

 

 

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