Thursday, September 23, 2010

Biking decisions - looking for a beginning adult bike

So my husband loves to bike. Seeing him do it and hearing how much fun he has makes me want to try biking. I have visions of our family biking around. This means I need a bike. The problem: I never biked much as a child or youth and I'm terrified of falling over. (My balance isn't great.) So I'm trying to find a bike that I can get on and off easily and put both feet on the ground. I want to use it to ride around with my husband and kids and potentially pull a bike trailer with the younger ones in it.

Use the mountain bike I have
cost: $35
pros:
  • cheap, I already own it
  • It's a decent bike
cons:
  • not the right size
  • bad memories
  • saddle hurts
explanation:
I got this bike at a yard sale a few years ago for $35. It needs a different saddle and the frame is a little too big for me. I've fallen over trying to get off this bike, so I'm a little worried about riding it again.

Get a cheap beach cruiser / hybrid
cost: $75 - 250
pros:
  • can get a step through frame to make getting on and off easier
  • If I don't end up liking riding a bike, I'm not out a lot of money
cons:
  • probably will be steel frame so heavy and rusts easily
  • you get what you pay for
  • A lot of beach cruisers are single speed
explanation:
A hybrid or a beach cruiser seem like what I am looking for, the step through would make it easy for me to get off without falling over. The cheaper bikes (like at wal-mart) tend to be heavier because they are made of steel.


Get a nicer beach cruiser / hybrid
cost: $350 - 600
pros:
  • Step through makes it easy to get on and off
  • some have forward pedals that let me put my feet down on the ground without having to have the seat to low.
cons:
  • expensive, especially since I don't know if I'll use the bike

Gears
Single
cost: $75 - 200 (depends)
pros:
  • very simple mechanically. if I got one from wal-mart there isn't much that could go wrong
cons:
  • towing is harder without multiple gears
three
cost: $100- 200
pros:
  • more gear choices
  • many have automatic shifters so that the chances of the chain coming off the derailers is slim. Also, I wouldn't have to be moving to change gears
cons:
  • more speeds make towing easier
seven
(same as 3 except the shifters aren't internal)

21
cost: $175 - $600
pros:
  • best for towing
  • more complicated for me because gears make no sense
cons:
  • chance of chain slipping or jumping
explanation:

breaks
coaster
  • stops, but not great for towing
hand breaks
  • stops the bike
Where to get the bike:
walmart
  • cheap
  • bikes assembled for you
  • easy returns
  • quality issues
on-line
  • better "bang for buck"
  • have to assemble it yourself
  • returns would be a pain
bike store
  • usually better customer service
  • knowledgeable customer service
  • can help you choose
  • more expensive prices (bikes start around $350)
classifieds
  • can get a good deal
  • have to know enough about bikes to tell if the bike is in good shape
  • no returns

Summary
I think what I want is an inexpensive 3 speed bike with hand breaks and step through aluminum frame. I'll probably get it online or from wallmart. My husband is good at bikes and can help me assemble a bike. I want a bike that will need less twiddling, so a three speed would probably be a good match. Since I don't know what I like in bikes, an inexpensive one would let me discover everything I hated about it so when I bought a new, I would know what to look for. Also, I could ride my husband's old mountain bike if I needed more gears.

(update 9/22/10)
I ended up getting a 21 speed Forge Athena from Target.  It was a pain to get set up, but it seems to be a good bike.

4 comments:

Robert Dozier said...

Check out the Schwinn Skyliner.

click for an image.


Ain't it So - the best bike I've ever owned. 21 gears, knobby tires, front shock absorbers. I added a gel seat. NICE.

melissa said...

Hey I stumbled upon your blog and I just wanted to say how much I like it. Thanks for your posts. I am now a follower here. I will be back for more updates! :-)

AskAMassivePro said...

nice post, helpful

Michelle said...

Hi, I've just found your blog and this post rung true with me. We were in the same situation last summer and I've loved the bike I found. Didn't get much biking in because we had a newborn, but can't wait for next summer!