Advice on a good entry level



Arathald

New Member
Jul 27, 2005
94
2
0
33
So, it's been a couple years since I've ridden, pretty much since I started college, and I'm finding myself with time and a need to get some more exercise and to get away from things now. Back when I started riding, I made the mistake of buying a GMC Denali bike for just under $300 (if I remember right), mostly because I couldn't afford anything else.

I was decently satisfied with it until tonight, when I pulled it out of storage and began to clean and tune it up. It had some of the expected problems of a bike that hasn't been touched in a while, a slow leak in the back tire, and sticky bearings in the front wheel (which actually fixed itself when I went to pull the hub apart). When I was on the last step of working on the bike itself (leaving that leaky tire to last), I was just putting the finishing touches on the front brake when the rod that holds the brake assembly to the fork sheared in two (apparently caused by over-torquing by hand with a wrench which I wasn't even turning very hard). My only option was essentially to pull the entire front brake assembly off, so now I have no front brakes, and I'm afraid that with the obviously substandard parts used in the bike, that that's only the first of many problems to come.

Even though I can ride a bike without front brakes, it's certainly not ideal, and I don't want to sink too much money into fixing a bike of this caliber. I'm also really frustrated right now, so I wouldn't mind replacing it with something a little more fitting. I've started looking for a new (or used) bike, but I have no idea what I should be looking for for a good entry-level bike that will last me a good while (basically has to last me at least a year or two after graduation so I can get a good job and save up some money). To give you an idea, I'm an almost-broke college student, 19 years old, 5'11.5", 220 lbs (knowing my body though, that'll come down real quick once I start riding again; I used to be a cross-country runner at 154 lbs, and I'm working my way back there), and I'll probably be riding anywhere between 75 and a few hundred miles a week. I'm not terribly interested in racing right now, but I'd like to keep my options open. I'm the kind of person who once I find something I love doing (like cycling), I'm pretty much committed to it for life, even if I take a break from it for a while, so I don't mind a longer-term investment if I can find a way to pay for it (I don't know if it's normal for college students to finance a good bike like they would a car, or if you have any other ideas or suggestions).

Any advice you can give me either on finding a new bike or even on my current situation would be really helpful.
 

alfeng

Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2005
6,723
252
63
Scotty_Dog said:
For a financially struggling college student, I say you have about 3 good choices (listed from cheapest to most expensive):
1) Get your bike fixed
2) Buy a good used bike from Craigslist: http://chicago.craigslist.org/bik/
3) But an inexpensive new bike from Bikes Direct: http://www.bikesdirect.com/
Regardless of what you do in the near-or-distant future, get your bike fixed ... you really need a front brake if you are going to be riding in an urban area UNLESS you are simply riding a coaster brake bike & never riding faster than 20MPH (downhill speed, included).

BTW. As mediocre as your Denali (or, comparable big-box bikes) may seem, they are probably no worse than the typical, low-end 10-speed a peson might have bought from a bike shop 25-to-40 years ago when there were basically three categories of bikes (regular, enthusiast, wannabe pro) -- all bikes need to be properly adjusted & maintained.

AND, I would suggest that the lack of service you may get from a big-box store is comparable to the lack of service an average person generally got from a bike shop way-back-when. The adjustment on a bike from a shop will be HOPEFULLY (but, not always!) marginally better than you will get from the bike you bring home from Wally World.

The advantage which a purchase from a bike shop MAY provide is a better fit ... but, not always. The first 10-speed I got from a bike shop (in Evanston, BTW) was a 24"/60cm Gitane ... I'm only 5'9". Nice job fitting the bike, eh?
 

Arathald

New Member
Jul 27, 2005
94
2
0
33
alfeng said:
Regardless of what you do in the near-or-distant future, get your bike fixed ... you really need a front brake if you are going to be riding in an urban area UNLESS you are simply riding a coaster brake bike & never riding faster than 20MPH (downhill speed, included).

BTW. As mediocre as your Denali (or, comparable big-box bikes) may seem, they are probably no worse than the typical, low-end 10-speed a peson might have bought from a bike shop 25-to-40 years ago when there were basically three categories of bikes (regular, enthusiast, wannabe pro) -- all bikes need to be properly adjusted & maintained.

AND, I would suggest that the lack of service you may get from a big-box store is comparable to the lack of service an average person generally got from a bike shop way-back-when. The adjustment on a bike from a shop will be HOPEFULLY (but, not always!) marginally better than you will get from the bike you bring home from Wally World.

The advantage which a purchase from a bike shop MAY provide is a better fit ... but, not always. The first 10-speed I got from a bike shop (in Evanston, BTW) was a 24"/60cm Gitane ... I'm only 5'9". Nice job fitting the bike, eh?
Thanks for the replies... Looks like I'm going to be trying to fix this bike and hoping it doesn't fall apart on me before the summer (I'll be working then, so I'll have money for a good intermediate bike). I don't ride in an urban area (I could if I turned right out of our driveway, but turn left, and you're plopped right into the middle of nowhere), but I still do need a front brake.

I realize that maybe the Denali isn't the worst thing I could have gotten, but the front brake bolt breaking off doesn't make me too confident about its construction (I am at an engineering school, and the first person here who saw the bolt who would know about these kinds of things said that it was a really shoddy bolt to fail like it did, which is what I had already been thinking). Maybe just the brakes were sub-standard, I think most of the rest of the hardware on the bike is Shimano instead of no-name.

I'll post in the cycling equipment forum for now to see about this front brake.
 

alfeng

Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2005
6,723
252
63
Arathald said:
Thanks for the replies... Looks like I'm going to be trying to fix this bike and hoping it doesn't fall apart on me before the summer (I'll be working then, so I'll have money for a good intermediate bike). I don't ride in an urban area (I could if I turned right out of our driveway, but turn left, and you're plopped right into the middle of nowhere), but I still do need a front brake.

I realize that maybe the Denali isn't the worst thing I could have gotten, but the front brake bolt breaking off doesn't make me too confident about its construction (I am at an engineering school, and the first person here who saw the bolt who would know about these kinds of things said that it was a really shoddy bolt to fail like it did, which is what I had already been thinking). Maybe just the brakes were sub-standard, I think most of the rest of the hardware on the bike is Shimano instead of no-name.

I'll post in the cycling equipment forum for now to see about this front brake.
An engineering school (which isn't in an urban area), but you are apparently not an engineer ... where are you? Dupage, or beyond?!? DeKalb?

BTW. In case you didn't know, or had forgotten, your Denali apparently has a lifetime warranty on its frame & fork -- that's a good thing. Under the same circumstances, an inexpensive aluminum frame will last longer than a high end aluminum frame.

FWIW. I'm probably in the minority on this Forum who thinks that for non-competitive riders the frame is incidental IF it fits the rider & is properly aligned (not bent) -- that is, the frame, for the most parts, simply holds the components & rider in place ...
 

Arathald

New Member
Jul 27, 2005
94
2
0
33
alfeng said:
An engineering school (which isn't in an urban area), but you are apparently not an engineer ... where are you? Dupage, or beyond?!? DeKalb?

BTW. In case you didn't know, or had forgotten, your Denali apparently has a lifetime warranty on its frame & fork -- that's a good thing. Under the same circumstances, an inexpensive aluminum frame will last longer than a high end aluminum frame.

FWIW. I'm probably in the minority on this Forum who thinks that for non-competitive riders the frame is incidental IF it fits the rider & is properly aligned (not bent) -- that is, the frame, for the most parts, simply holds the components & rider in place ...
I'm at Rose-Hulman (in Terre Haute, Indiana), I'm a Computer Science major, so I don't do mechanical engineering (which is by far the most common major here). I'm certainly handy, but I don't know the technical details of shear on aluminum bolts (the guy who looked at it is working on this exact kind of things in one of his classes right now).
 
Jun 6, 2006
1,696
6
38
Could be improper assembly. The bolt wasn't tight enough to begin with, perhaps, & was therefore able to flex back and forth instead of remaining tight against the fork.

I see from another thread you already got a replacement Veloce brake, but bike shops ought to have brake parts which they could put in for a small fee.

Why don't you let a shop tune the bike up? They say when you true up a lower end wheelset for the first time, it stays true for a long time, plus the shifters will work much better.
 

alfeng

Well-Known Member
Jul 23, 2005
6,723
252
63
Arathald said:
I'm at Rose-Hulman (in Terre Haute, Indiana), I'm a Computer Science major, so I don't do mechanical engineering (which is by far the most common major here). I'm certainly handy, but I don't know the technical details of shear on aluminum bolts (the guy who looked at it is working on this exact kind of things in one of his classes right now).
FWIW. Unlike programming with structured procedures, the parts of a brake caliper have to be assembled in a fixed order [see the OTHER thread] ...

NB. Most bolts on a bicycle are usually steel or Titanium ... the latter are usually only found on the most expensive components.
 

Arathald

New Member
Jul 27, 2005
94
2
0
33
garage sale GT said:
Could be improper assembly. The bolt wasn't tight enough to begin with, perhaps, & was therefore able to flex back and forth instead of remaining tight against the fork.

I see from another thread you already got a replacement Veloce brake, but bike shops ought to have brake parts which they could put in for a small fee.

Why don't you let a shop tune the bike up? They say when you true up a lower end wheelset for the first time, it stays true for a long time, plus the shifters will work much better.

The only LBS around here is pretty much just for BMX and street bikes, they have two road bikes on display and some grip tape by the front counter, and very little else pertinent to road biking (well, maybe some replacement tubes, too). I was already considering upgrading my brakes to dual-pivot, so I think this is as good an excuse as any to make the upgrade. That said, a tuneup wouldn't be a bad idea; I'm going home in a few weeks for break, and I was already considering bringing my bike with me, and there are several decent LBS's around there.


alfeng said:
FWIW. Unlike programming with structured procedures, the parts of a brake caliper have to be assembled in a fixed order [see the OTHER thread] ... NB. Most bolts on a bicycle are usually steel or Titanium ... the latter are usually only found on the most expensive components.

As I mentioned in the other thread, what I took a picture of was a jumble of parts stuck on a bolt in no particular order to keep me from losing them, not anything close to how they were put together on my bike.

I was expecting steel components, but the bolt that sheared, as well as all the other pieces in the brake assembly, are all aluminum.
 
Jun 6, 2006
1,696
6
38
Arathald said:
The only LBS around here is pretty much just for BMX and street bikes, they have two road bikes on display and some grip tape by the front counter, and very little else pertinent to road biking (well, maybe some replacement tubes, too). I was already considering upgrading my brakes to dual-pivot, so I think this is as good an excuse as any to make the upgrade. That said, a tuneup wouldn't be a bad idea; I'm going home in a few weeks for break, and I was already considering bringing my bike with me, and there are several decent LBS's around there.




As I mentioned in the other thread, what I took a picture of was a jumble of parts stuck on a bolt in no particular order to keep me from losing them, not anything close to how they were put together on my bike.

I was expecting steel components, but the bolt that sheared, as well as all the other pieces in the brake assembly, are all aluminum.
it's a steel bolt with an aluminum or zinc collar pressed on to it.
 

Meek One

New Member
May 5, 2004
629
0
0
Arathald said:
Any advice you can give me either on finding a new bike or even on my current situation would be really helpful.

Buy my Specialized Langster. I'll be in the Chicago area this weekend and can bring it up there if you are interested...
Gotta know by Friday afternoon.
 

Arathald

New Member
Jul 27, 2005
94
2
0
33
Meek One said:
Buy my Specialized Langster. I'll be in the Chicago area this weekend and can bring it up there if you are interested...
Gotta know by Friday afternoon.

Well, as stated earlier in this thread, I decided to buy new brakes instead of a new bike, but if you like, send me pictures, stats (including sizing info) and your asking price, and I'll at least take a look.
 

kdelong

Well-Known Member
Dec 14, 2006
3,477
134
48
Arathald said:
Well, as stated earlier in this thread, I decided to buy new brakes instead of a new bike, but if you like, send me pictures, stats (including sizing info) and your asking price, and I'll at least take a look.
Just another suggestion, the Denali frame is not a bad frame, its just the components that suck. You might look on eBay for some better components, something like Shimano Tiagra or Sora, and just replace them on the existing frame. Once you have a bike that you can ride without worrying if it is going to fall apart, start saving for a good entry level bike.