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eubanks01 02-24-2012 1:00 PM

Bike Suggestion for the Common Man
I hesitate to ask here because I know there are some hard core bike enthusiasts on this forum! But I thought you guys might be able to point a cheap newbie in the right direction.

My wife and I are looking to get a couple of inexpensive bikes to just do some casual family riding. We would be mostly on pavement but there might be the occasional off-road detour for me. Also, we would probably need a bike to pull a bike trailer as we have a couple of young kids we would want to join us. So here are the questions I've had thus far:

1. What type of bike? I am thinking hybrid or mountain but would love suggestions. This is just comfortable, casual riding so I think a true road bike is overkill. This is about all I know...mountains are best for trail riding and hybrids are faster on the road.

2. Brands and best places to buy? I know everybody might have their favorite brand but just a listing of good, quality bike companies would help. I would assume it's best to buy local but it seems the only options are either go to a specialty shop and pay crazy prices or buy a cheapy from Walmart.

3. What to know about bike trailers? What style/brands would be best? Again, this is for casual riding so cost would play a major factor and we'll only be using it for a few years.

Thanks for any suggestions!

shawndoggy 02-24-2012 1:46 PM

Go to a shop. At the price point you will be at, the bikes will all be essentially the same (components, frame materials, etc.). At a shop, you will be buying fit and expertise. Yes it's more expensive than walmart. But you will be buying a higher quality bike, your bike will be assembled by someone who knows what they are doing, and the money goes to a small business owner in your community. Vs. walmart where it's a monkey who can hold a wrench. A shop will also help you properly fit helmets for your kids.

Once you get the bikes sorted, look on your local craigslist for a trailer (Burley is the Mastercraft of kid haulers). People end up flipping them with little use for cheap.

jfergus7 02-24-2012 5:47 PM

I would look at the Trek FX line. You will have a bunch of options but they are a great bike for the price and ride great. You can go to Trekbikes.com and look up retailers in your area.

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jfergus7 02-24-2012 5:49 PM

Oh and I agree about craigslist for the Burley. I would also watch the paper or check with some local bike shops to see if any swaps are coming up this spring. In chicagoland we have a few around April but I always find some at the swaps!

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kstateskier 02-24-2012 7:04 PM

I would check out Craigslist for the bikes as well. Often you can get slightly used higher end bikes for not much more than the price you will pay for crap at Wal-Mart/Target, etc. A lot of people with money with buy a $1k+ bike, use it a couple times, put it away, then decide a year or so later to see what they can get for it. I know here in St. Louis there are a lot of really good used bikes at a huge discount whether you want to spend $300 or $3000.

As they mentioned, at the very least go to a real bike shop and ride some of the bikes. The difference between a "cheap" bike from a shop and something you'll get at Wal Mart is huge.

jason_ssr 02-24-2012 8:07 PM

Go to Performance bikes. Buy something in your price range, and get properly fitted and lifetime adjustment/alignments. We have the Trek trailer and love it.

alanp 02-24-2012 9:51 PM

there are plenty of options in between $$$$ and wal mart. i'd consider a hybrid for just some casual riding. all the big manufacturers are making them(trek cannondale specialized and a host of others). have you checked REI? they fill a void in between a local shop and wal mart. dicks also has a diamond back with some shimano components. bikes direct has some hybrids too but some assembly would probably be required(nothing major).

shawndoggy 02-24-2012 10:19 PM


Originally Posted by alanp (Post 1733737)
there are plenty of options in between $$$$ and wal mart. i'd consider a hybrid for just some casual riding. all the big manufacturers are making them(trek cannondale specialized and a host of others). have you checked REI? they fill a void in between a local shop and wal mart. dicks also has a diamond back with some shimano components. bikes direct has some hybrids too but some assembly would probably be required(nothing major).

the people assembling bikes at dicks and sports authority and the like are only a notch above walmart. They are not trained, and do crap work. They are going to build your bike between drilling a bowling ball and stringing a tennis racquet.

Bikes direct is great if you know how to work on bikes. If you don't, the savings are illusory at best because you are going to pay $75-100 for assembly. At worst, you are going to make an enemy when you drag that box into your local bike shop and ask them to put it together for you.

eubanks01 02-27-2012 11:07 AM

Thanks for all the suggestions. I will keep researching and check out a couple of other local shops. I am very gun shy as I worry about a lack of use, but I guess I will never know until we make a purchase.

bhyatt_ohp 02-27-2012 11:38 AM

It sounds like you are in the same situation i was in back at Christmas, but i was in the market for a Mountain bike, not hybrid. I visited REI, the local bike shops, looked at the Specialized/Trek series of front suspension hard tails and loved them but was not going to spend over $500 on a bike that I may or may not ride 2-5 times per month. I ended up browsing online and found Diamondback bikes at Dick's Sporting Goods. In my opinion, Dicks is the best option for those not wanting a Walmart bike and not wanting to spend a ton of $ on a "Bike Shop" bike. I ended up with a Diamondback Response XE that retails for $549.99, on Christmas sale for $299.99. I have ridden mountain bike trails here in the middle TN area with other people with $500+ bikes and i make it thru hanging with them just fine.

Check out the hybrid bikes here: http://www.dickssportinggoods.com/fa...d=4418027&pg=1

As far as the bikes go, make sure everything is tight and adjusted to your liking before you ride. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to adjust brakes, shift derailleurs, etc. on these bikes. You guys should be able to get a couple of nice bikes for $600-$800.

kstateskier 02-27-2012 4:21 PM

I was a little worried before I spent $1000+ on a bike that I wouldn't use it enough to justify the payment, but I actually have used it more and 6 months after buying an "entry level" road bike I'm itching to upgrade. To me, cycling is something you kind of fall in love with and it becomes much easier to keep in shape.

norcalrider 02-27-2012 4:26 PM

I would avoid a hybrid bike. For casual riding pick up a mountain bike, in case the bug ever bites you. I think hybrid bikes are a horrible compromise and wouldn't waste the cash. A mountain bike provides the option of doing more, whereas a hybrid is a lesser bike with lesser components that I find inadequate.

jfergus7 02-28-2012 2:06 AM

I always laugh when I go to Dicks and listen to the sales guys in the bike department. I have seen them sell suck crap to people that is so wrong for them.

jeff359 03-02-2012 11:28 PM

Please go to a LBS and talk to someone who can help you. I'm a bike mechanic and hate to hear anyone mention Dicks, Walmart, or any large retail outlet. They are not trained or experienced in fitting or assembling any bike. They simply put it together and put it out on the floor.

A local bike shop will insure the bike is assembled correctly and is dialed in. I can tell you without reservation, the person assembling the bikes at a large retail is untrained, and there is no quality control. I was a mechanic in college also. My roommate built bikes for Sports Authority. He was a great guy, but he knew nothing about bikes. Another friend worked at Cosco and did the same. He stated they just unpacked and put out, nothing more.

The shop I work at has trained and educated mechanics assemble all the bikes - $100 kids bike to $5000 race bikes. Most of us are UTI trained, or have other cerifications. After it is assembled and completely functioned checked and adjusted, it is check by the service manager or a Sr mechanic. Then checked by the sales manager before being put on the floor. Then prepped at the time of sale to insure great operation. Then one free tune up within the first year of the sale. Everything is done to make sure the bike performs beyond your expectations. I don't think any of this is overboard, and I believe most LBS's would treat you the same. The LBS will also be experienced enough to help you find the right bike for your type of riding.

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