Help needed with buying bike!!



caitlin

New Member
Jan 15, 2005
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Hi all! I'm new to this site and need some help with deciding what bike to purchase. I already bought a Marin San Anselmo www.marinbikes.com a couple of days ago but after reading through info on the net, think I may have made the wrong decision! I'm wanting a bike mainly for commuting, but thought I may like to do some mountain biking and touring (neither of which I've done before). The Marin cost me $880 and I don't want to spend more than this. Some people have said it's best to get two bikes if you want to go mountain biking, but I thought if you're touring, you'd want to mountain bike as well. I know road bikes don't have suspension and are a rough ride, which aren't very comfortable long distance. They also have a rather bent over position, which I've heard Isn't as comfortable long distance. Mountain bikes can be good for commuting, touring and mountain biking, but aren't as good on the road. I've also heard getting a mountain bike 2nd hand or renting one is a good idea. Please help!! I'm so confused!! By the way, I'm a 5"2 female.
 

MidBunchLurker

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May 2, 2003
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caitlin said:
I'm wanting a bike mainly for commuting, but thought I may like to do some mountain biking and touring (neither of which I've done before).

The Marin looks like a reasonable commuting bike. You'll probably want to put a rear rack on it, and lights and reflective stuff if you're riding around sunrise or sunset. As far as off-roading goes you probably wouldn't want to go much further than a dirt road.

Some people have said it's best to get two bikes if you want to go mountain biking, but I thought if you're touring, you'd want to mountain bike as well.

Not necessarily. Generally touring is on the road only. Off-road touring is a whole different ballgame and you'll want a purpose-built bike to handle the abuse (a steel frame mountain bike springs to mind).

Try renting a mountain bike and go riding with someone who knows your local trails. Then you'll see if you want/need a mountain bike. A mountain bike can also be converted quite easily for commuting - Just pop some slick tyres on it.
 

EmmCeeBee

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Jul 21, 2004
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I have a hunch that the San Anselmo is just right for you.

First of all, if your primary purpose is commuting and the San Anselmo makes you happy on the way to work.... You bought the right bike. (Only question is, why $880 ? Suggested retail is $590 on their site. Unless you're talking AU$ or something....)

The Marin site shows the San Anselmo as a "City bike". That's a compromise between a road bike and a mountain bike, with geometry to make it agile and comfortable for commuting. After you wade through all the marketing hype, and spend a couple of seasons on wheels, you realize: Bikes are designed and built for specialized use. If you're like most of us here, it takes several years to work up to the expense, storage space, and commitment of owning 2 or 3 or 4 different models, each for its own purpose. If you're not there yet, buying a hybrid bike (a "city" bike) is the most logical entry point.

So maybe you're asking, "Should I commit to a 'multiple bicycle' approach before my first purchase?" Again, if your main purpose is commuting, you made a good choice.

Think through what you've been told, or what seems like common wisdom. You said:
>> Mountain bikes can be good for commuting, touring and mountain biking,
>> but aren't as good on the road.
But touring is almost exclusively on roads. If you really want to get into long-distance touring, there's a lot of info on bikes designed for that (most are "road bike" designs, for good reasons). If your idea of touring is a daylong ride around a lake, or between inns in the mountains, then this is a different purpose, and a "sport bike" or mountain bike might be more suited.

You face the same decision for any purchase. Lots of people buy mini-vans because they think that once or twice a year they might have to carry 6 people. 99% of the time, the back seats are empty. Poor choice, but the thinking is "I only want to buy one car". A good rule is "Buy what suits your needs 80% of the time, rent or borrow for the other 20%".

You can tour on anything. People have been setting out on year-long bike trips for decades, long before aluminum frames, shock absorbing forks, and hyperglide. If you now have your heart set on a cross-US tour next summer, you can do it no matter what model bike you own. If that was your dream before you bought the San Anselmo, I would have recommended getting a touring bike. But if you're just thinking about a couple of 3-day long rides, your new bike will serve just fine.

Best advice now is, learn how to fix and maintain your bike. You'll learn a lot about bicylcle design and self-sufficiency, which will help you for eventual touring.

-- Mark
 

bentbrian

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Jul 7, 2004
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No matter what type of bike you have make sure it fits you correctly. This is especially true if you do plan on some touring where you will spending a large amount of time in the saddle. If you are considering long cross country tours at a later time you might want to look at a recumbent. These are excellent for all day touring due to the comfort factor. Since you have already bought a nice versatile bike you can plan for other purchases as time goes on. Enjoy your new ride!
 

caitlin

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Jan 15, 2005
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Thanks for the advice guys! Would I be better getting a mountain bike, this can be used for commuting (and touring?). Can a touring bike be used for commuting? Someone also suggested a recumbant, would this be suitable? Would either of these be better than the hybrid? I don't want to limit my options.
 

MidBunchLurker

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May 2, 2003
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caitlin said:
Thanks for the advice guys! Would I be better getting a mountain bike, this can be used for commuting (and touring?). Can a touring bike be used for commuting? Someone also suggested a recumbant, would this be suitable? Would either of these be better than the hybrid? I don't want to limit my options.

Decide whether you'd like to do some mountain biking - if yes, then the MTB option would be a good idea. Also try riding a touring bike and you'll be able to see for yourself the difference - the touring bike is going to be a little faster to ride on the road than an MTB, because of your riding position and the skinnier tyres.

But since you've got the hybrid already I'd say stick it out with that one until you discover for yourself what the limitations are, and then you can make your next bike decision based on things that you've found important to you.

Cheers
 

caitlin

New Member
Jan 15, 2005
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I was also looking at the Avanti range of hybrids, called 'comfort' bikes (Explorer and Pioneer are the 2 in the series I think) www.avanti.co.nz would the Marin or Avanti be better for my purpose? The Marin has an adjustable stem and 'lock-out' suspension, but not such an upright riding position. Someone also suggested a recumbant, would this be suitable? Would either of these be better than the hybrid? I don't want to limit my options. (Sorry, had to create another post, couldn't edit last one).
 

caitlin

New Member
Jan 15, 2005
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MidBunchLurker said:
Decide whether you'd like to do some mountain biking - if yes, then the MTB option would be a good idea. Also try riding a touring bike and you'll be able to see for yourself the difference - the touring bike is going to be a little faster to ride on the road than an MTB, because of your riding position and the skinnier tyres.

But since you've got the hybrid already I'd say stick it out with that one until you discover for yourself what the limitations are, and then you can make your next bike decision based on things that you've found important to you.

Cheers


I would like to try some mountain biking. I think a touring bike might be more than I'm willing to spend, but it would offer more flexibility if I want to do a longish tour. I haven't actually picked up the bike yet!! Too much indecision!
 

Bob N.

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Sep 14, 2004
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caitlin said:
I was also looking at the Avanti range of hybrids, called 'comfort' bikes (Explorer and Pioneer are the 2 in the series I think) www.avanti.co.nz would the Marin or Avanti be better for my purpose? The Marin has an adjustable stem and 'lock-out' suspension, but not such an upright riding position. Someone also suggested a recumbant, would this be suitable? Would either of these be better than the hybrid? I don't want to limit my options. (Sorry, had to create another post, couldn't edit last one).
I'm a relatively newer rider and I'm perfectively happy with my Marin. My wife (older Bianchi Advantage) and I don't commute, but stay with 20-40 mile rides generally. I don't find the position unpleasant at all.
 

EmmCeeBee

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Jul 21, 2004
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Lots of people who don't want to limit their options end up with 6 bikes :)

If you're going to do rock-crawling, stream-jumping, mud-slinging, bone-jarring mountain riding, get a mountain bike. Even if you only do it 2 or 3 times a year. (Mountain bikes are for climbing, descending, rock-crawling.)
If you're going to go on 2000-mile, 8-week self-contained road tours, with all the accompanying gear, get a touring bike. (Touring bikes are for long-distance, reliability, comfort, stability, load carrying).

If you're going to spend your time going fast on paved roads with little or no loads, get a road bike. (Road bikes are fast, nimble, lightweight, finely balanced.)

If you need your cycle to fit into a low-impact lifestyle, and to be a capable, comfortable, human-powered vehicle, get a recumbent. (Recumbents are a lifestyle, for extreme comfort in the places where upright bikes hurt the most. Recumbents and uprights are very different, in handling, in visibility, in muscle usage, in maneuverability.)

If you're going to spend most of your time commuting, in all conditions -- sun, rain, dark, cold, traffic -- get a commuting "city" bike. (Hybrids are a compromise in geometry and compoments, to make them agile, rugged enough to carry stuff over rough roads, comfortable and visible in traffic.)

Similar dilemna: You want to get into snow sports? You can buy alpine skis (=road bike), cross-country skis (=touring bike), snowboard (=mountain bike), snow-skates (=city bike). Or for a different experience, to concentrate on getting down the slope in comfort and style without fear of bruising your bum, a sled (=recumbent). This is just an analogy.... nobody can tell you what experience you're looking for.

I could never use my touring bike for daily commuting. But that's just me. I couldn't stand the sight of it caked with dirt and crud, the rims worn down by braking in traffic, the gears needing replacement twice a year. But the truth is, a touring bike could handle that -- and road rides -- just fine. My commuting bike needs lots of maintenance, I want my touring bike to be ready for a 4-day trip on a moment's notice.

I still think you'll be fine with the San Anselmo, if your primary purpose is commuting. I've seen lots of people on week-long tours on hybrids; it's not ideal, but it's not your primary purpose. For self-contained touring, as long as you can attach a sturdy rack (you can get clips for that purpose for the front fork, too), you'll be OK.

-- Mark
 

bentbrian

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Jul 7, 2004
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Properly equipped recumbents make very good commuters. It all depends on the conditions and traffic you ride in. As a rule I've found I garner more respect from motorists on the recumbent than on the road bike. Recumbents can do off road, again if properly equipped. Albeit not the stump jumping, cliff dropping, log climbing type stuff, but they can do a lot of other types of off road riding. On the BROL website is an article about a fellow who rides some pretty technical trail on a fully suspended recumbent. A long loaded tour is another area where recumbents will do a good job. No matter what type of bike you ultimately choose, make sure you get a good fit. That single thing alone can make or break how comfortable you are on ANY bike, and how much you enjoy the ride.
 

caitlin

New Member
Jan 15, 2005
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Thank you guys for all your help! It really helped me make a decision. I collected the Marin a few days ago, but wish I'd asked for advice before I bought it! In some respects it's not as good as my old mountain bike. It is quicker however (although the mountain bike didn't have slick tyres). Anyway I'm going to do another post ("Advice needed with new bike"), so if you can help, please reply!

Thanks again.