Beginner drowning in the sea of choices....

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by Ryan Alam, Sep 25, 2016.

  1. Ryan Alam

    Ryan Alam New Member

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    Intro:Hello, and thanks for taking the time to read my post considering there are tons of others just like this one.

    I'm sorry but as a beginner who is looking to get serious in cycling, I've never really delved too much into the world of cycling so I am unsure of how to start. I am trying to make my first serious bike purchase but am having quite a few problems trying to choose between the endless array of bikes to choose from. I'll try to give you as much information about me if it helps to show you guys what I am trying to look for in a bike. I've been cycling for a while but was never aware that there are so many options that could make it a whole lot more fun.
    Goal:To purchase my first serious bicycle.
    Information About Me:14 year old male, 125 pounds,5 feet and 2 inches, and my leg height is at about 28 and a half inches. I'm your average kid, but I enjoy running long distances and can handle a bit of strain.
    Custom Built or Stock Bike? I was wondering if it was possible to save money if I built it myself and bought all the parts separately, because sadly I do not have a thousand dollars on me, and also quite like building things.
    Where To Buy?: I have been debating with myself whether or not to buy from a store or form online, and for online I also don't know where to go to buy a bike. My main dilemma is with money, and where I can save money since I have a small budget.
    Budget: On hand right now I have 100 dollars and am currently trying a number of ways to earn more and most likely I'll be able to get to the 150-200 price range. I know it's not the best amount to start with but I am more than willing to take any suggestions about possible bikes that won't send my bike account sky high.
    Usage:I am going to be mainly riding over light to moderate hills in a few parks and was hoping to try out a few trails, while also using this bike on the road. I was thinking from what I understand I might want to get a hybrid since I would like to do a bit of both. Although I would prefer a geared bike I don't think i need a million gears since I don't think that I will be doing any huge trails or anything.
    Maintenance: I would really like that didn't require too much maintenance since I can't fork over money for costly repairs or replacement parts or lubricant. Speaking of lubricants, as a general guide,what kinds of maintenance should I expect to have to do and what tools would I need to do so?
    Preferences:I would like some sort of suspension system since I find rigid bikes on hills to be quite painful, but I think just front suspension would be fine although I would prefer full suspension. Really I don't need some super speed machine or some 1 pound bike. Honestly I don't have much preferences9kind of) except maybe a bike that would be safe to use to and from school. I'm okay with having to work harder with a mountain bike on the road then getting a dedicated commuting bike that wouldn't be good for trails. I also would like to try a drop down handlebar since it also can be used as flat bar handle as well. I also don't mind too much a used bike.
    The Last Bit:If you actually finish reading my essay let me just add a few more points to what I wrote. Since I am new to this site I was wondering if also I could be pointed to where some of questions about bike maintenance and care can be answered, and also I apologize for the essay, I tried to be detailed but I don't know if everything I said was clear. If you guys have anything you would like me to clear up about what I am looking for, feel free to ask. I also ask for as many suggestions as possible and I'm open to all ideas.

    Thanks for your time and Cheers!
     
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  2. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    In this price range you have three choices.

    Never, ever forgetting that the bike HAS to fit you!!!

    1. Big box stores: Low quality, but at least new bikes. A choice of sizes sometimes. A warranty and place to return. Clueless sales staffs.

    2. eBay: Good deals on used equipment 'if' you know what you are looking at. Fairly safe and secure buying. Returns are a bitch and buyer usually pays shipping on returns. A source for the wise and those not risk averse.

    3. Craigslist or its local equivalent: Full of scams and again a place for a buyer that knows what he's looking for and at. Great deals abound on used bikes. Like eBay, be on your 'A' game.

    Lastly, shop the used bikes at a bike store. Prices are usually higher, but the advice you get may make it worth spending some more money.

    Bike maintenance requires tools and knowledge. Both can be acquired over time. As to lubricants such as greases and oils...nothing critical for a beginner to worry about. Automotive and marine substitutes can be made to work, saving needed cash for whatever comes up...such as cycling clothing and spare parts.
     
  3. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    ¿ ...

    WHAT bike are you currently riding?

    Are you really NOT anticipating growing any more?

    Unless you are an orphan, you should actually presume that you will grow to close to the height of your father/uncles, and/or older male cousins-or-siblings, or taller ...

    So, whatever bicycle frame fits you, today, will probably be woefully too small in before you finish HS unless you drop out next year OR are a prodigy on who is headed to MIT-or-similar-institution-of-higher-learning.
    Now, the odds of finding any used bike for only $100 are small ... possible, but small ...

    However, if you find a bike with full suspension which only costs you $100 then it was a bike which was stolen.
    IMO, you may want to take advantage of your desire to build-a-bike from parts to perform maintenance-and/or-upgrades to the components on your current bike ...

    If YOU are a wise shopper with an eye toward the future, then whatever you buy to use on your current frame may be usable on a future frameset.

    eBay + some mail order retailers can be your best friend when buying components ... of course, your age means that YOU will need to have an older person place-the-order-for-you.
    Check PARKTOOL.COM & YouTube for maintenance tips.

    FYI There are only a few tools which are bike-specific, now ... you can use generic METRIC tools which may fit.


     
  4. Ryan Alam

    Ryan Alam New Member

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    so basically i
     
  5. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Your budget is quite low which leaves you with only one choice, used.

    And because you have such a low budget DO NOT buy a used bike with a suspension of any sort including fork because the only used bikes in that price range will have a troublesome cheap and heavy front fork that will be almost completely useless. Since you won't be racing technical single track stuff you won't be needing a suspension fork anyways, plus a suspension fork takes away from the power you apply to the bike by a pretty good percentage. I use to ride trails in the mountains of S California and did it on a rigid bike and never once screamed out for a suspension fork...but I wasn't racing either. I know that's not what you want to hear but you have a built in suspension right in your body...you keep your legs and arms bent and relaxed, and ride off the saddle, and let those legs and arms absorb the rough stuff and the bike takes the pounding not your body.

    Like another poster said if you find a quality used suspension bike for under $200 it's probably stolen, and I'll add another probability...it's probably been trashed! Neither which you want. If a couple of years go by and you decide you want to do single track racing then buy a quality suspension bike, but be forewarned those can cost a minimum of $1,200 and that's for a kit bike with frame, meaning you get the frame and fork and the components come in a separate package and you build it, Jenson USA has sales on bikes like this from Niner and you can save over $1,000 doing it that way, even if you can't install the parts yourself any LBS can do it for less than $250.

    So stay away from suspension bikes and find a rigid older MTB in great condition or a cross or hybrid bike. When you find one find out the year make and model and simply Google it to find out what quality of bike it was, some people will try to sell a low end bike for a lot more money then it's remotely worth just to sucker someone who doesn't know anything about bikes, this is why Google is your friend, then once you found a bike that passes the mustard you need to make sure the original components, or better, are still on it because some people will strip off the top end components on a top end bike sell the components and then put lower end components then try to pass the bike off as a top line bike which means selling it for more money then it's worth. Of course you can always come here and ask us if you have questions, but always search Google first.

    Since you're only 14 try to find a bike that fits on the larger size then normal so when you grow you can adjust the bike to fit. Most people can fit typically on 3 sizes of bikes, the middle size is the right size, and the others are border line but can be made to work, it use to be in the old days of racing we bought bikes a size smaller because that made the frame a bit stiffer, today that isn't really necessary.

    All bikes will require maintenance, and riding on trails accelerates that vs riding on roads due to the roughness of trails just knocks things out of adjustment, dirt and mud and water gets on chains and into seals, crashes can damage stuff, etc. Today you can go on You Tube and find almost everything, if not everything, related to bike maintenance and repair, so a lot of stuff you will encounter you can learn how to fix yourself by watching the videos, this will cut the cost of your maintenance significantly because you eliminate the labor of course. Don't be scared to do it yourself, yes I know in todays world must younger people don't have a clue in regards to mechanical stuff but hiding inside of you may be a mechanical aptitude you don't think you have, so give it a go, worse case that can happen after several attempts to fix something is you have to take the bike to an LBS to have them do it.
     
  6. Ryan Alam

    Ryan Alam New Member

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    So from what I understand I mainly have access to ebay and craigslist as my main methods of purchase. Would there be any more options If i opted to completely build a new bike from parts online, and were able to increase my budget to 300? My birthday is coming up soon soon so my parents offered a bit more of a budget. And regarding the bike store do you think they would help me find the right size for my frame even if i don't buy anything?
     
  7. Ryan Alam

    Ryan Alam New Member

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    I don't think I will be doing any sort of racing anytime soon but I probably will try to go on more and more trails progressively. If I were able to increase my budget to 300 would that open up any more possibilities for me? And would it be possible to buy all off the parts separately to reduce the cost? And also I would be more than happy to work on my bike myself and get to know it better :)
     
  8. Ryan Alam

    Ryan Alam New Member

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    I was riding a Roadmaster men's mountain bike previously which i purchased previously from the local Walmart. It was originally fine and I was happy until the left side of the pedals just fell off. I attempted to re-tighten it repeatedly for a few months to no avail, and discovered that the inside of the bike was rusting. I tried to clean it up and repair it and got pretty close until the lines for the gears and derailleur snapped and my shift broke internally. When I looked inside to my horror, I saw that the line was severed from the shifter. That was the day that I decided to go on a quest to buy a quality bike and keep my new pride and joy safe from whatever neglect I had done to its predecessor. And that is the main reason I need a completely new bike cause my old one is dead, which is why I was wondering if instead of upgrading my dead old bike would it be possible to buy all the parts separately and build one myself? I'm up for a challenge and love working with things and a bit of tinkering. Also if you have any advice on building a bike or how to get started it would be much appreciated, since it seems at 100-200 I don't have many other options. If my budget was in the 300's what kind of options would I have in regards to a purchase?
     
  9. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Look, a good suspension fork by itself will cost in the $700 dollar range! See where this is going? Even a "decent" bargain basement fork like the Marzocchi Marathon R fork will cost around $300, which may be all that you need for your abilities but the fork alone is equal to or greater than your budget, so that should tell you that your budget eliminates looking at a new bike. It's possible if you looked long and hard on CL you might find a 8 year old or so mid level mtb that wasn't beat to hell for $300, I checked my area just for fun and only found one sort of decent mtb but the suspension fork was only an OK fork; but I did find another MTB for $450 range that had a fairly nice fork.

    Don't know where you live so can't tell if the prices where I live are similar or not; you could post what city you live in and we could scour CL for you.
     
  10. Ryan Alam

    Ryan Alam New Member

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    Yikes I'm sorry. Didn't know just how expensive suspension forks were, guess I was a bit too naive. I live in Frisco,Texas and since you mentioned it, how would I know if a bike part is good quality? Do you have any trusted brands or things to watch out for? Also what does CL stand for exactly?
     
  11. Ryan Alam

    Ryan Alam New Member

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    Oh and actually would the price be any better if I bought a frameset instead of the two separately?
     
  12. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Sorry, CL means CraigsList.

    Ok so you live near Dallas, man you should have a lot of used bikes on CL there. Of course any bike I show you from where you live you will have to make sure it fits and everything works as it's suppose to which I would recommend taking a friend who's into MTB's and hopefully he can guide you straight.

    https://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/bik/5806378206.html A little higher than your budget but it's an excellent bike if it's not trashed.

    https://dallas.craigslist.org/mdf/bik/5808200122.html same comments as the above one.

    https://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/bik/5800558593.html very low price which makes me think things may be wrong with it, which could be all minor and cost you less than $200 to fix which puts you at or under budget, or maybe above depending on whats all wrong.

    https://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/bik/5807221981.html Not familar with this one but it looks decent.

    https://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/bik/5780624384.html Kind of on the lower end of what I showed above.

    https://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/bik/5780624384.html this is an example of a scam, this bike isn't worth more than $100 if in mint condition, it's a piece of junk. So be careful because there are folks willing to sell you a bike for far more than it's worth.

    https://dallas.craigslist.org/mdf/bik/5794039156.html Great deal if bike is in good shape.

    https://dallas.craigslist.org/ftw/bik/5798994385.html nice bike

    https://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/bik/5691448582.html nice bike

    Those bikes I listed you may want to jump fast and go see them to test ride them, make sure you take a friend who knows bikes and knows how to check for damaged frames, etc.
     
  13. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    No, it's cheaper to buy the frame, fork, and components all in one package, I was just showing you how expensive one part, the fork, can be and why you're not going to be able to find many MTB's for the price range you want with a decent enough fork. I found a few as I mentioned in my last post that do look very promising, some are a tad over your $300 budget, sorry about that but I thought I would show you just in case you can eek out a bit more, but I also showed a few that are at or under your budget, including what might be a fixer upper which may be worth it to fix up if the fork isn't shot.
     
  14. Ryan Alam

    Ryan Alam New Member

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    Thanks so much for your help! I'm grateful that you also took the time find some bikes for me too, but I still have one(for now) more question...Is there any way I can get a good idea of what frame size I need(like how to determine top tube length, seat tube length, and angles of different parts)? I know that almost certainly I will grow out of it immediately but I still want to be able to at least see if whether or not it's worth checking certain bikes at certain sizes. Also taking into account my continual growth, is there any way to choose a frame-size I can use for a long time? I don't know how accurate this is or how likely this is(but my parents are around this size which makes it seem possible) but my doctor said my projected height was 5 foot 7 inches. If any sort of measurements would help you give me advice than I will greatly deliver them unto you if it will be any help. I once again understand it may not last but even so I would like any advice on bicycle geometry, because I haven't been able to find helpful information online. And because I am not sure what size to settle on I'm having trouble on finding any parts cause I wont know if they fit(well yeah lol). Once again thanks so much for giving me your time!!
     
  15. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    For MTB sizing see this chart: http://www.ebicycles.com/wp-content...ycles-bicycle-sizing-chart-mountain-bikes.pdf Simply follow the chart and pick the size that is on the larger side of the where your height and inseam intersect, those numbers in shades of yellow are inches. The chart mentions crank length, don't worry about that for the purpose of buying a bike, you can always change crank lengths later, but most bikes will come with a crank length that corresponds with the size of the frame anyways.

    So let's say your 5' 5" with a 29" inseam the chart shows a 16 inch bike being the idea size but 17, or better yet an 18 would be more suitable since you want to buy a bike you'll grow into. So now follow that chart to your predicted size of 5' 7" inches and you'll see that a 17 or 18 would be perfect!

    Once you get the bike you can go on line to dial in the fit to places like this: http://www.bikeradar.com/us/gear/article/technique-perfect-mountain-bike-fit-29498/
    And:

    Most of the time you can dial in the fit yourself without going to a pro fitter, it may take a while but it can be done and you will save yourself from $150 to $250 on a pro fit, not including parts, at a bike shop. Don't forget too that since you are buying it a bit large you won't get a "perfect" fit till you grow into it more, but you can dial it in pretty close; plus going to a pro fitter with a bike that is large is going to illicit the response from the fitter that the bike is too big for you...duh! So you may have to buy shorter length stem, those aren't expensive, and the seat post depending on how much you can move the seat forward may have to swapped out for a post that will allow a more forward adjustment or seat with longer seat rails or both.
     
  16. Ryan Alam

    Ryan Alam New Member

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    ¡Gracias amigo! Thank you so much for all of your help! Now I can finally get an idea of the right seat tube size for my bike, which only leaves the top tube length then...I can now finally start looking at different frame parts once I find a nice frame, and can check out those other bikes on CL. As of now, my endless barrage of questions shall cease momentarily but I'll probably check back in before I make the big purchase. Have a great day!!
     
  17. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    HMmmm ...

    It is MY belief that fitting a MTB is much more difficult than fitting a Road bike ....

    So, while there is SOME good information in the bikeradar article, there are MORE variables in fitting a MTB to a rider (or, vice versa) than fitting a Road bike ...

    Because (IMO), while there are hills with various inclinations on roadways (plus, real climbs-and-descents on mountain roads), the demands of descents on many off road paths is often more demanding (at least, for me!) ..,

    So, with the understanding that I am relating my MTB handling skills, or lack of (!?!), let me say that I think a MEDIUM MTB frame will always be too large for an individual who is only 5'7" unless they reserve their riding to "bike paths."

    By my reckoning, the individual who is pictured on what is probably a MEDIUM frame is well over 6'0" ...

    Consequently, YOU may want to consider a SMALL frame if you are looking at buying-or-building a MTB ...

    AND/OR choose a ROAD bike with ~52cm top tube.
    NB. The relative height of the handlebars to the top of the bike's saddle affects the reach ... that is, a higher handlebar is like having a shorter stem, and vice versa.
     
  18. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    hmmm, maybe you need to read the OP's question, he wants a bike he can grow into so he doesn't have to buy two bikes in two years. Besides your rant about how difficult it is to fit a MTB goes beyond that, it goes into the realm of type of terrain as well, unless the OP is wealthy and can afford several MTB's for all riding conditions it becomes a silly proposition. I've had one MTB and used it for all sorts of terrain and never wished I had several MTB's for all occasions. Thus a lot of this stuff becomes over thinking the simple stuff.
     
  19. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    REALLY?!?

    Who said anything about having the OP own multiple MTBs?

    Regardless, did YOU look at the pictures of the do-don't rider in the bikeradar.com article whose link you included?

    As I indicated, the do-don't rider has got to be well over 6'0" tall ... and, THAT looked like a MEDIUM size frame to me.

    Do YOU think that the pictured rider is 5'7"-or-shorter?!?

    Do YOU think that isn't a bike with a MEDIUM frame?​
    Sure, a person 5'7" could ride on a MEDIUM size MTB frame ...

    But, I've got to believe that if a person who is 5'7"-or-shorter were to ride a MEDIUM size MTB that s/he had better limit his-or-her riding to rails-to-trails type of bike paths or jaunts around the neighborhood ...

    A MEDIUM size MTB frame is not suitable for any off road riding other than either "fire" roads or other gravel-or-rough-graded roads if the rider is 5'7"-or-shorter..

    And so, being able to anticipate the potential, future terrain by knowing that the frame size can matter IS an important consideration.
    BTW. Using the sixteen year old (c2000) KONA Muna-Mula which is almost 3x the OP's immediate budget (which you suggest is potentially a "great deal" as an example), YOU should observe how the saddle is barely above the top tube & the OP could expect to ride THAT bike with the saddle at that height throughout his HS years ...

    Regardless, it is YOU who are presuming that the OP has more money than he has!

    I would think that if a person had a limited budget, then s/he would NOT want to buy a bike with a frame which is too large in the near-or-distant future ...
    Now, AFAIK, Dallas-and-environs is in the FLAT part of Texas ...

    And so, if the OP's riding remains local and is limited to bike paths and neighborhood curb-hopping, then a MEDIUM frame may certainly be 'okay' AND that size might also be recommended for a middle-age-to-octogenarian who might prefer an upright riding position ...

    YOU should know that it is not just my opinion that it is much easier to adjust a slightly smaller bicycle frame to a given rider than a slightly larger bicycle frame would be.

    FWIW. IMO, what may be the better-or-best advice for this point in time is simply for the OP to convert his bike to a SINGLE SPEED with an eye toward the possibility of transferring components to a different-or-better frame in the future RATHER THAN any of the more-than-$100-budget bikes you found.

    The OP can simply remove the shifters (which are presumably NOT integrated with the brake levers), lock the derailleurs in place on a single Cog & single chainring, buy a new pedal, and ride his Roadmaster as-is until he is older-and-or-a-little-taller ...

    If the brake levers are integrated with the shifters then simply remove the derailleur cables + the derailleur cable housing.

    Cost is whatever a set of generic METRIC Alllen Wrenches are in Dallas-and-environs ... figure on ~$2 at HARBOR FREIGHT for a set of L-bend Allen Wrenches.

    Places like FAMILY DOLLAR may carry similar Allen Wrenches, but the largest wrench will probably be 6mm instead of 8mm-and/or-10mm (both are good sizes to have).​
    New pedals ($30+) can be used on any future bike ...

    Wellgo pedals which are either labeled as such or re-labeled with a house brand (e.g., Nashbar) are usually a good value.

    An SPD-compatible "commuter" pedal can be used without cycling shoes.​

    IMO, it was YOUR suggestion that the OP choose a MTB with a MEDIUM frame whereby a suggestion of owning more than one MTB was made.





     
  20. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Sigh, more argumentive schit from you, you bore me.
     
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