Buying bike for a late beginner

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by Snowlock, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. Snowlock

    Snowlock New Member

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    I've been biking for a long time, but stopped really looking at buying several years ago once I got my Trek hybrid. I'm now looking at buying a bike for my girlfriend who somehow escaped childhood without ever riding a bike. I was looking around for an inexpensive starter bike. I had previously bought her a membership to the gym I go to (at her request) and ended up canceling it after 3 months when she didn't show up once to even pick up the membership card... sooo if it doesn't take I don't want to be out too much. If she likes it a much better bike will be forthcoming. I considered the big box stores, but their bikes are basically crap and I didn't want to start her off with a bad experience. Alternatively I was looking at BikesDirect.com which has slightly better low level bikes seemingly, but mixed reviews on whether they truly are any better than box stores. (looking at the BD brand Dawes Eclipse 2 at the moment).

    Preferably I was looking towards a hybrid style, but willing to consider most anything. Is there a better bike / site / etc. I should be looking at to find a sub $300 bike to start someone out who has never ridden before?
     
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  2. 64Paramount

    64Paramount Active Member

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    I think a hybrid would probably be a good choice for her.

    Have you thought about buying a used bike? You could get a better used bike for that amount of money than you could a new one. And then if she doesn't ride it, you could probably sell it and get all of your money back.
     
  3. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    I would start her out on a lower level used name brand bike. Use one of the online fit calculators to find her size and then look for a suitable bike on Craig's List. Also, the Spring yard sale season is fast approaching and these may be a good place for you to look. A lot of people have fairly nice bikes rotting away in their garages or basements because they found out that they did not like riding as much as they thought they would. And if she likes riding, then get her a nicer bike. If she doesn't like riding, sell it.

    Sorry if this sounds like Paramount's post. He beat me by 5 minutes, but now you have 2 votes for Used.
     
  4. Snowlock

    Snowlock New Member

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    Normally I might agree with you, unfortunately I've been poking craigslist for the past month and in my area, the only thing people are selling are old walmart / cycleforceUSA bikes (for the same price as new), bikesdirect bikes claiming they are the European models, or $1000+ bikes. The vast majority are people unloading their discount box store crap (this is in part due to the area I live in sadly... not the type of people who would usually pay out for a nice bike)
     
  5. davereo

    davereo Well-Known Member

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    + 1 for previous posters used route.
    How about buying yourself a new ride and have her start out on your old Hybrid. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif
     
  6. Snowlock

    Snowlock New Member

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    hehe... I am 6'4" and ride a 22" frame.

    She is 5'6" and probably needs a 17" frame (max). I don't think she could jump up onto my bike.
     
  7. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

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    You really can't beat the price of the Dawes Eclipse 2 for a starter bike. But you really need to hope that there are no problems with it as Bikes Direct is not known for customer support once the bike is purchased. They are really nice and efficient when they take your order and the bikes are promptly shipped. They are well packaged and are fairly easy to assemble upon delivery. A lot of people like that and give them stellar reviews.

    I have never seen a good review for BD in post purchase customer support, but I have seen many, many complaints. They have a "warranty" but they make you jump through so many hoops and make it so expensive that most customers with legitimate warranty issues end up either taking the bike to their LBS and end up eating the repair costs or they buy a new bike. Then their are those few who get turned off of bicycling completely by the bad experience.
     
  8. doctorold

    doctorold Member

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    On Craigslist, consider going to other not-so-far-away cities/towns to look at their listings. You may have to go on a small road trip but it could be worth it.
     
  9. Phil85207

    Phil85207 New Member

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    Have you thought about renting a bike for the first few times out? It may be cost effective in the long run if she just isn't into it.
     
  10. coneofsilence

    coneofsilence Member

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    The bike rental is a good idea or see if you can borrow a bike from a friend. No point buying a bike if she rides it two times.
     
  11. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Look around on craigslist for a few weeks. You'll find something at, or below, your pricepoint and if she doesn't ride it then you can just sell it. Given that most folks who sell their bikes don't really know much about them, you can use some cool bike phrases to add about $100 to the value of the bike. It's also amazing what a soapy bucket of water, a splash of diesel (for cleaning the chain and sprockets - way cheaper and just as good as the fancy stuff - and what the pro mechanics back in the 80's used) and $10 on a set of new grips can do if you want to add a picture to your ad.
     
  12. cycleheimer

    cycleheimer New Member

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    New from an online merchant, or used from a private seller, you can run into added expense for repairs, adjustments, and parts. Many repairs are easy to handle on your own, if you are mechanically inclined, and you can find online "how-to" information and video tutorials to guide you. In addition to Bikes Direct, you can also keep an eye on Performance, Nashbar, JensonUSA, REI, and many other merchants with a presence online. You can look for their special discount promotions (can translate into big savings), and sign up to receive e-mail notification of special promotions. The bikes arrive at your door in their shipping carton. Shipping may be included in the price (Bikes Direct), or could run $35 to $40+/-. Figure the final price will include the price, less promotional discounts, plus shipping and handling. Many times they just need minimal assembly and a few adjustments. Good to know how to true (align) a wheel at least. You can also take a look at Dick's Sports, The Sports Authority, R.E.I. and similar retailers for bikes at a discounted price. A good LBS will correctly fit you to a bike, set your bike up for you, make all necessary adjustments, give you a 90-day check-up to re-true the wheels and take up cable slack. They will also handle any warranty issues. You can sometimes find great deals on leftover bikes at an LBS. Many also offer affordable, decent quality entry-level bikes that enable them to compete with other merchants. They might even have a deal on an older, used bike. If you do get a used bike from a private seller (garage sale, rummage sale, Craig's List, a trash or dumpster find even), and need parts...Niagara Cycle Works, Nashbar and JensonUSA have some pretty decent prices. If you do buy used, try to look for a bike that was pretty much bought with good intentions, but not ridden much. Check to make sure the wheels are true (spin them and make sure they don't weave from side to side between the brake pads, or up and down above and below the brake pads), check tires for cuts and wear and dry rot (cracking sides), look over cables for fraying and rust. You will probably still need to oil and regrease alot of stuff, which is normal maintenance anyway. Parts should not be mismatched. Try to avoid "frankenbikes" that have put together from parts from a bunch of different bikes. As for older bikes, old doesn't necessarily mean good. They made alot of lousey bikes during the "bike boom" a few decades ago. They also made alot of really great bikes since the end of the "bike boom" era. Good Luck.
     
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