What should I look for when buying a bike?

What should I look for when buying a bike?

Post by Peter A. Forke » Mon, 16 Jun 1997 04:00:00


OK, it's a vague question, but I can go into Sear and see bikes for $99,
then I can go to the local cycle shop and see them for $500.

I'm looking for a bike that I will ride occassionally, so the $99 price
tag is more to more inclination, however, I don't want to buy garbage.
So, what should I look for in a bike?

Any help is appreciated.

Peter

 
 
 

What should I look for when buying a bike?

Post by George Masl » Tue, 17 Jun 1997 04:00:00

: OK, it's a vague question, but I can go into Sear and see bikes for $99,
: then I can go to the local cycle shop and see them for $500.

: I'm looking for a bike that I will ride occassionally, so the $99 price

Occasionally?  A Sears bike is usually heavier, weaker, and more
unreliable than a "bike shop quality" bike.  If you ride a mile once a
month, you're alright with a cheapo, I suppose.  The more you ride, the
more you need the quality of a good bike shop bike.  It is with bikes
sometimes as with stereo speakers:  there is a very substantial difference
in quality between the $20 a pair speakers and the $400 a piece speakers,
but if your ears can't appreciate the quality difference, there's not much
point in paying for it.  Similarly, there is a massive difference in
quality between a brand name bike and a generic department store bike, and
there is a dramatic difference in a bike assembled by a bike shop to your
fit and one assembled by Bob in the Back to go on display.  If you're not
going to *use* that quality or notice it, don't worry about it.

George

 
 
 

What should I look for when buying a bike?

Post by BQin » Tue, 17 Jun 1997 04:00:00

My absolute minimum requirement is alloy rims and either cantilever or
quality (not stamped steel) side-pull brakes.  Chromed rims and flexy
brakes are death, and even a Huffy can hit 40 mph on a downhill.  One of
my "fond" memories is accelerating down a hill in Japan on a 10 speed
Huffy (I was using it as a beater bike) when,at about 38 mph, all systems
"converged".  Apparently all the cruddy parts became harmonically
balanced.  The tire hum, crank squeak, chain rattle, etc., etc. just
disappeared, and all I could hear was the quiet swoosh of wind noise.
*Very* spooky!  Fortunately I convinced my wife I *needed* an RB2
Bridgestone, and haven't owned a department store bike for any purpose
since.  After reliable stopping power, look for repairable cranksets,
frame strength and light weight, and the best mix of components you can
afford.  You can find Huffys with some of these qualities, even at
Wal-Mart, but you will only get a good shot at proper assembly and service
after delivery at a bike shop.  Oh, yeah - the Huffys with these minimum
qualities still will run about $300 at Wal-Mart. Get thee to a bike shop.
Good luck.
 <\ __     ,__o                Bill Yoder
    \bob__|_ /\_<,        If I'm not towin',
... (*)    (*)/'(*)                    I'm probably not goin'

 
 
 

What should I look for when buying a bike?

Post by Dave Gittin » Wed, 18 Jun 1997 04:00:00



Quote:
> : OK, it's a vague question, but I can go into Sear and see bikes for
$99,
> : then I can go to the local cycle shop and see them for $500.

> : I'm looking for a bike that I will ride occassionally, so the $99 price

I know of no trade, other than perhaps toys, where such total rubbbish can
be sold to a gullible public, as the cycle trade.  What's worse, because
the average buyer is totally ignorant of cycling, they actually bemand the
junk.  You would not buy a TV or a refrigerator of the same quality as a
department store bike.  Don't lumber yourself with a pile of garbage.  Even
mildly passable bikes start at around $250 and they are still pretty tinny.

Dave Gittins  

 
 
 

What should I look for when buying a bike?

Post by Eric P. Salathe, Jr » Thu, 19 Jun 1997 04:00:00

Quote:

> OK, it's a vague question, but I can go into Sear and see bikes for $99,
> then I can go to the local cycle shop and see them for $500.

> I'm looking for a bike that I will ride occassionally, so the $99 price
> tag is more to more inclination, however, I don't want to buy garbage.
> So, what should I look for in a bike?

The number one thing to consider is the frame. The easiest thing to see
is how the dropouts (fittings at the front and rear forkends that hold
the wheel) are fastened to the frame. On the cheapest depeartment store
bikes, the dropout will be stamped out of sheet metal. It is inserted
into the frame tube then the tube is squished and spot welded to hold
the dropout. A bike store bike will have forged dropouts that are tig
welded to the frame. Look and compare. Even the cheapest frames from
Diamond Back, Trek, Schwinn, and others will be sufficiently strong for
even the most demanding use. Even the cheapest Shimano shifters and
brakes will work flawlessly, `tho they will not last as long as better
stuff. You also need to consider who put the bike together and who you
will bring it to for repairs; most shops offer at least one free tune-up
in the first year of buying the bike.

You actually can get decent bike store bikes for under $200. Most of the
kids buying MTBs need to have this year's model, so last year's with its
passe colors and `obsolete' components is often beind sold at huge
discounts.
--
              ,

Seattle WA

 
 
 

What should I look for when buying a bike?

Post by Gordon Sna » Thu, 19 Jun 1997 04:00:00

Quote:

> OK, it's a vague question, but I can go into Sear and see bikes for $99,
> then I can go to the local cycle shop and see them for $500.

> I'm looking for a bike that I will ride occassionally, so the $99 price
> tag is more to more inclination, however, I don't want to buy garbage.
> So, what should I look for in a bike?

> Any help is appreciated.

> Peter

The list is too long.  If you want to really enjoy riding, if you want to
be safe, if you want your bike to last a few years, DON'T buy a department
store bike; it's like throwing your money away and destroying any chance
that you might have enjoyed cycling.  Save more money, (maybe $400), shop
around, watch for deals, and buy yourself a "bike shop bike."  Some
cyclists refer to department store (True Value, Sears, Walmart, etc.)
bikes as P.O.S. bikes.  P is for Piece, O is for Of, and S doesn't stand
for Stuff.
 
 
 

What should I look for when buying a bike?

Post by Bryan Hollam » Sat, 21 Jun 1997 04:00:00

Quote:

>: OK, it's a vague question, but I can go into Sear and see bikes for $99,
>: then I can go to the local cycle shop and see them for $500.

My advice is to go to your local bike shop and explain what sort of
cycling you plan doing to them, but DO say that you may want to do
some more serious cycling later if you like it.  Don't kill off the
chance of enjoying what could become a serious hobby by buying a
gridiron bike from a department store - besides, a bike shop that you
buy a bike from will be happy to repair and service it - don't expect
that from any department store...

Enjoy your cycling,

Bryan Hollamby, Greece

 
 
 

What should I look for when buying a bike?

Post by Dave Johns » Sun, 22 Jun 1997 04:00:00

On Sun, 15 Jun 1997 17:40:52 -0400, "Peter A. Forkes"

Quote:

>OK, it's a vague question, but I can go into Sear and see bikes for $99,
>then I can go to the local cycle shop and see them for $500.

>I'm looking for a bike that I will ride occassionally, so the $99 price
>tag is more to more inclination, however, I don't want to buy garbage.
>So, what should I look for in a bike?

>Any help is appreciated.

>Peter

Others have mentioned many of the major differences between the two.
I'll summarize:
Brakes on the $99 bike barely work when new, and get worse with age.
Fat tires require cantilever brakes to work well, and chrome rims are
slippery.  When combined...
Service and assembly:  I used to assemble Sears bikes when I worked
there in high school.  No clue what I was doing.  Bikes also require a
re-adjustment after around 30 days.  Fat chance at Sears, assuming the
part time high school kid got it right the first time..  
Quality of parts, weight :  Too many things to fit in a summary.

An option that I haven't seen mentioned in the responses so far, is
buying a good used bike.  Road bikes are unpopular, so you can usually
get very good deals on them used.  A few shops take trade-ins or
consignments, or the shop personnel may have their own ex-bikes for
sale.  Employees often get extreme discounts from the maker.  Some pay
10% under dealer cost, or similar, and they are the first to know of
closeouts and other deals.  It's common for them to get a new bike
every year.   I've seen lots of good road bikes in the 100-150 range,
and some cheaper.  Think of it as a choice between a brand new Yugo,
or a used, low miles Honda.

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