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Newbie Requests Advice

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Newbie Requests Advice

Old 06-06-19, 01:15 PM
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AmericanKermit
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Newbie Requests Advice

Hi, my fiance and I are looking to start bike riding. Both of us biked around town some when we were in college (now 28-29). We haven't for several years for different reasons. We want to get back into it as a way of exercising. I am 5' 4" and 170 lbs. He is 6'3" and roughly 300 lbs. He has no major issues; I, however, was in a car accident a couple years back and have finally been approved to start doing whatever I want. I had rotator cuff, bicep tendon, and labral tear repairs. I also suffered from nerve damage in my neck, shoulder, and upper back. The majority of my everything has been fixed, however, I do still have some pains if i keep my neck in an outstretched low position (think marathon bike riders position). We are not sure where to start with picking out bicycles that aren't Walmart throw-away bikes. We still want to stay relatively cheap (max of about $500-600 combined). We would be riding mostly on city roads or gravel country roads. On occasion, they may do some riding in some mountains (if we get to that level of ability). Neither of us intend to become hard-core bikers. What are the best suggestions on what to buy, maybe things to make it easier, better suited? What things should we look for in a bike for someone on the heavier side? Truly, what advice/suggestions do you have in regards to literally anything for us. We intend to go to a local bike shop and talk to them, but I wanted some non-sales advice prior to going there. Thanks!
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Old 06-06-19, 01:33 PM
  #2  
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Originally Posted by AmericanKermit View Post
Hi, my fiance and I are looking to start bike riding. Both of us biked around town some when we were in college (now 28-29). We haven't for several years for different reasons. We want to get back into it as a way of exercising. I am 5' 4" and 170 lbs. He is 6'3" and roughly 300 lbs. He has no major issues; I, however, was in a car accident a couple years back and have finally been approved to start doing whatever I want. I had rotator cuff, bicep tendon, and labral tear repairs. I also suffered from nerve damage in my neck, shoulder, and upper back. The majority of my everything has been fixed, however, I do still have some pains if i keep my neck in an outstretched low position (think marathon bike riders position). We are not sure where to start with picking out bicycles that aren't Walmart throw-away bikes. We still want to stay relatively cheap (max of about $500-600 combined). We would be riding mostly on city roads or gravel country roads. On occasion, they may do some riding in some mountains (if we get to that level of ability). Neither of us intend to become hard-core bikers. What are the best suggestions on what to buy, maybe things to make it easier, better suited? What things should we look for in a bike for someone on the heavier side? Truly, what advice/suggestions do you have in regards to literally anything for us. We intend to go to a local bike shop and talk to them, but I wanted some non-sales advice prior to going there. Thanks!
Welcome to cycling! None of us set out to be hardcore bikers before we started but for some it's inevitable, lol. I think it will be hard to find 2 entry level bikes with that low total combined price. I say that to say that "Walmart" bikes are not always as bad as they are made it to be. Even if you buy a Walmart bike I would still take it to your local bike shop (LBS) for a tune up after purchase to make sure everything is copastetic. I'm a heavy analytical researcher so I would visit your LBS and get some beans and model names and then come home to do some review reading and price comparing online. Good luck in your searching. Let us know what you find out there, this forum is very informative and helpful.
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Old 06-06-19, 02:14 PM
  #3  
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First, double your budget.

A lot of people will recommend used bikes---those are people who are completely out of touch with what it is like to know nothing about bikes. Unless you have a good friend who knows a lot about bikes I would buy new bikes---nothing like getting all excited to go ride your "new" used bike and find that it needs a couple hundred in repairs.

Honestly ... go to Walmart and buy a couple Mongoose Hotshots---about $100 a piece, not really strong but not terrible. (https://www.walmart.com/ip/700C-Mong...ange/143302742) Take them to a local bike shop for a check-up/tune-up and to make friends .... if you find a shop with friendly, helpful staff, tell them that you plan to buy better bikes in a season or two ... tell your story. They will hopefully treat you right in hopes of getting future business. If the staff gives you Any kind of attitude about your Walmart bikes, walk away.

The reason I suggest those bikes is because your expectations are unrealistic and your continued participation is uncertain. You really aren't going to find a worthwhile bike---the kind you would keep for five or ten years of regular use---for less than about $600. So instead of spending $600, you would be looking at more like $1500 once you add helmets, water bottles and cages, maybe lights (safety during the day, Survival at night,) seat bags, tools tubes, patch kits, pumps, maybe a rack for the back of the car ... all the little stuff adds up.

If you Knew you were going to ride a few times a week around the neighborhood and most weekends, then the investment would make sense. If there is a 30% chance that you will not be riding a year from now .....

So ... either double your projected investment (at least) or consider getting some very simple, very cheap bikes for the rest of the summer. if by the middle of next summer you find that you need better bikes, you will have a Much better idea about what to buy.
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Old 06-06-19, 02:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
First, double your budget.

Honestly ... go to Walmart and buy a couple Mongoose Hotshots---about $100 a piece, not really strong but not terrible. (https://www.walmart.com/ip/700C-Mong...ange/143302742) Take them to a local bike shop for a check-up/tune-up and to make friends .... if you find a shop with friendly, helpful staff, tell them that you plan to buy better bikes in a season or two ... tell your story. They will hopefully treat you right in hopes of getting future business. If the staff gives you Any kind of attitude about your Walmart bikes, walk away.

.
Honest question--you say that bike is "not strong", but he's a 300 pound, 6'3" rider. Is there any way that bike is going to fit him and hold up? As you know the WM bikes go for the one-size-fits-all approach, and he's going to be hard to fit.

In his case, at least, I think they're going to need to spend more to get a bike that's big and strong enough.

My son's not that tall, but he's a bit heavier. I bought him a Specialized Roll.
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Old 06-06-19, 03:35 PM
  #5  
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Check out Firmstrong cruisers. They have simple, easy going bikes that'll fit the both of you at a price within your budget. He needs to look at the "Chief" because at 6'3" he's gonna need something XL. Later, should you decide to get more into cycling (or decide it isn't for you) you can sell cruisers easy on Craigslist.

FWIW, my wife loves her Specialized Roll and I highly recommend it but you'd need to more than double your budget to buy two.

Good luck!


-Kedosto
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Old 06-06-19, 08:11 PM
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I think you and your fiance are in hybrid bike territory - hybrid bikes will give you an upright position, a frame that's a bit beefier than a delicate road bike, and appropriate tires for both pavement and gravel. You may be able to get away with a cruiser, but I'd personally recommend something with multiple gears if you are going to ride on gravel.

An entry-level hybrid from a local bike shop will probably run $400-$500 (per bike). The value in the higher price is that they're likely to do a tuneup after you have some miles in (to make sure everything is running properly) as well as a free annual tuneup. This can be helpful if you do not know about bike mechanics or have the tools to do your own work.

Not all department store bikes are complete garbage, and there are some that are reasonably decent at a lower price point (say, $200-$400) from places like Target, Dick's, etc. If you go that route, look for a sturdy frame, avoid features like shocks (which are likely to be horrible in that price range), and have the bike inspected by a shop for assembly issues. These bikes are likely to be a bit heavier and have lower-end components that are harder to keep working properly, though it might not be an issue for low-mileage riding.

Good luck with your bicycling journey!
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Old 06-08-19, 01:59 PM
  #7  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
First, double your budget.

A lot of people will recommend used bikes---those are people who are completely out of touch with what it is like to know nothing about bikes. Unless you have a good friend who knows a lot about bikes I would buy new bikes---nothing like getting all excited to go ride your "new" used bike and find that it needs a couple hundred in repairs.

Honestly ... go to Walmart and buy a couple Mongoose Hotshots---about $100 a piece, not really strong but not terrible. (https://www.walmart.com/ip/700C-Mong...ange/143302742) Take them to a local bike shop for a check-up/tune-up and to make friends .... if you find a shop with friendly, helpful staff, tell them that you plan to buy better bikes in a season or two ... tell your story. They will hopefully treat you right in hopes of getting future business. If the staff gives you Any kind of attitude about your Walmart bikes, walk away.

The reason I suggest those bikes is because your expectations are unrealistic and your continued participation is uncertain. You really aren't going to find a worthwhile bike---the kind you would keep for five or ten years of regular use---for less than about $600. So instead of spending $600, you would be looking at more like $1500 once you add helmets, water bottles and cages, maybe lights (safety during the day, Survival at night,) seat bags, tools tubes, patch kits, pumps, maybe a rack for the back of the car ... all the little stuff adds up.

If you Knew you were going to ride a few times a week around the neighborhood and most weekends, then the investment would make sense. If there is a 30% chance that you will not be riding a year from now .....

So ... either double your projected investment (at least) or consider getting some very simple, very cheap bikes for the rest of the summer. if by the middle of next summer you find that you need better bikes, you will have a Much better idea about what to buy.
Other than maybe not buying from Walmart (poster who suggested if you do, take it to a bike shop for tune is spot on) I would say DONT buy a $1500 dollar bike as your first. You DO NOT have to spend that much for a bike (unless you have $$$ to burn), it would be wiser to do a little more reading and then go get one. My reasoning is that if u end up not enjoying riding (it happens) you wont have a pair of $1500 dollar garage ornaments just taking up space.

I would say check out your local bike shops and see what they have to offer. Many will go out of their way to help pick out, set up and tune it all for just buying the bike there. Many shops also have new old stock you can get good deals on, so its worth looking into.

Used bikes from Craigs List or Offerup are viable options, but might be better if you are more versed in bike knowledge to make a good decision. Many bikes from these sources will need repairs so it might not be worth the potential headaches for a first bike.

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Old 06-08-19, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by AmericanKermit View Post
Hi, my fiance and I are looking to start bike riding. Both of us biked around town some when we were in college (now 28-29). We haven't for several years for different reasons. We want to get back into it as a way of exercising. I am 5' 4" and 170 lbs. He is 6'3" and roughly 300 lbs. He has no major issues; I, however, was in a car accident a couple years back and have finally been approved to start doing whatever I want. I had rotator cuff, bicep tendon, and labral tear repairs. I also suffered from nerve damage in my neck, shoulder, and upper back. The majority of my everything has been fixed, however, I do still have some pains if i keep my neck in an outstretched low position (think marathon bike riders position). We are not sure where to start with picking out bicycles that aren't Walmart throw-away bikes. We still want to stay relatively cheap (max of about $500-600 combined). We would be riding mostly on city roads or gravel country roads. On occasion, they may do some riding in some mountains (if we get to that level of ability). Neither of us intend to become hard-core bikers. What are the best suggestions on what to buy, maybe things to make it easier, better suited? What things should we look for in a bike for someone on the heavier side? Truly, what advice/suggestions do you have in regards to literally anything for us. We intend to go to a local bike shop and talk to them, but I wanted some non-sales advice prior to going there. Thanks!
Don't know if you have a dicks sporting goods near you but you should be able to get 2 decent bikes for about 800 dollars they will be better than a 200 Walmart bike and should last a few years or more if mantained rigjt
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Old 06-08-19, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by wipekitty View Post
I think you and your fiance are in hybrid bike territory - hybrid bikes will give you an upright position, a frame that's a bit beefier than a delicate road bike, and appropriate tires for both pavement and gravel. You may be able to get away with a cruiser, but I'd personally recommend something with multiple gears if you are going to ride on gravel.

An entry-level hybrid from a local bike shop will probably run $400-$500 (per bike). The value in the higher price is that they're likely to do a tuneup after you have some miles in (to make sure everything is running properly) as well as a free annual tuneup. This can be helpful if you do not know about bike mechanics or have the tools to do your own work.

Not all department store bikes are complete garbage, and there are some that are reasonably decent at a lower price point (say, $200-$400) from places like Target, Dick's, etc. If you go that route, look for a sturdy frame, avoid features like shocks (which are likely to be horrible in that price range), and have the bike inspected by a shop for assembly issues. These bikes are likely to be a bit heavier and have lower-end components that are harder to keep working properly, though it might not be an issue for low-mileage riding.

Good luck with your bicycling journey!
I was about to give similar advice.
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Old 06-08-19, 03:01 PM
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Walmart is your friend. Go there, test ride a few around the aisles and have fun. If you aren't escorted from the store, you'll find a couple in your price range. And not all Walmart bikes are complete junk. Many of us never would have gotten into biking if not for the inexpensive options at Walmart.
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Old 06-08-19, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
Walmart is your friend. Go there, test ride a few around the aisles and have fun. If you aren't escorted from the store, you'll find a couple in your price range. And not all Walmart bikes are complete junk. Many of us never would have gotten into biking if not for the inexpensive options at Walmart.
This is what I was going to say
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Old 06-08-19, 03:30 PM
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Wal-Mart is NOT your friend. A Wal-Mart bike will self-destruct under a 300-pound guy, even if the correct size can be found (which is doubtful.) Dick's might have something more likely to hold up. I think the $500 combined is unrealistic unless you find some quality 20-year-old bikes, which is in itself unrealistic since you don't know what to look for.
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Old 06-08-19, 03:45 PM
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Buying a department store bike AND then going to an LBS for adjustment is a terrible idea. What, you spend 50% of the purchase price just to adjust it and not even get better components?
And going to an LBs with a department store bike is a recipe for condescending comments and guilt trips.

But adjusting a bike is not that hard to learn. If you are mechanically inclined at all, you should be able to adjust a department store bike.
If you are not up to that, buy the bike from a good LBS.
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Old 06-08-19, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun View Post
Buying a department store bike AND then going to an LBS for adjustment is a terrible idea. What, you spend 50% of the purchase price just to adjust it and not even get better components?
And going to an LBs with a department store bike is a recipe for condescending comments and guilt trips.

But adjusting a bike is not that hard to learn. If you are mechanically inclined at all, you should be able to adjust a department store bike.
If you are not up to that, buy the bike from a good LBS.
Very eloquently put!!!
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Old 06-09-19, 06:41 AM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun View Post
Buying a department store bike AND then going to an LBS for adjustment is a terrible idea. What, you spend 50% of the purchase price just to adjust it and not even get better components?
You get assurance that the components which are on the bike work as intended ... not something Walmart would guarantee.

Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun View Post
And going to an LBs with a department store bike is a recipe for condescending comments and guilt trips.
In which case, tell the staff to eat each other and go to a good bike shop.

Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun View Post
But adjusting a bike is not that hard to learn. If you are mechanically inclined at all, you should be able to adjust a department store bike.
And if you are not you could screw up that bike.
Originally Posted by HerrKaLeun View Post
If you are not up to that, buy the bike from a good LBS.
So I spend $100 at Walmart, $50 at a bike shop, and go ride for a season and decide if I really want to continue with cycling ... that's bad.

Or I follow your advice, buy a $700 bike at a bike shop .... oh, I don't because I don't have that much cash right now and even if I did, it would be stupid to spend that much money only to find out that I only Thought I wanted to ride.

There are different approaches to different situations.

Telling a person to either learn bike mechanics or spend four times his budget .... neither sound like good solutions in this specific case.

I would rather see this couple out on the road on a couple single-speed beach cruisers, learning to ride and learning to enjoy riding, than to see them not buying bikes because it is way too complicated and Waaaay too expensive.

But we all have different views.
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Old 06-10-19, 07:24 PM
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Honest question, because I am not a tall man, but can a 6'3" man find a reasonable fit at Walmart?
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Old 06-10-19, 08:03 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
Honest question, because I am not a tall man, but can a 6'3" man find a reasonable fit at Walmart?
Fit is less important as the riding position becomes more relaxed. As an example, most folding bikes and cargo bikes only have one frame size and usually fit something like 4'9" to 6'5" due to the upright riding position and seat tube/handle bar angle.
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Old 06-10-19, 08:19 PM
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Originally Posted by grayrest View Post
Fit is less important as the riding position becomes more relaxed. As an example, most folding bikes and cargo bikes only have one frame size and usually fit something like 4'9" to 6'5" due to the upright riding position and seat tube/handle bar angle.

I'm not sure where the line is on that. I'm 5'9" , and I've definitely ridden hybrids that were too small.
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Old 06-10-19, 08:22 PM
  #19  
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Someone mentioned beach cruisers. *If* you live in a pretty flat place, you can totally get by with a cheap single speed beach cruiser. The bonus is they have relaxed seating positions, higher volume tires, and because they're single speed you won't have to worry about cheap shifting parts failing or causing unintentional damage to the drivetrain through bad shifting.
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Old 06-11-19, 06:31 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by bcpriess View Post
Someone mentioned beach cruisers. *If* you live in a pretty flat place, you can totally get by with a cheap single speed beach cruiser. The bonus is they have relaxed seating positions, higher volume tires, and because they're single speed you won't have to worry about cheap shifting parts failing or causing unintentional damage to the drive train through bad shifting.
And (though I myself wouldn't probably get a big thrill) they do get new riders out on the road, experiencing cycling.

The thought is the same with me suggesting the rigid 1x7 Hotshot---get something simple and cheap and Try cycling. Learn about riding, balancing, braking, turning .... feel the soreness after a good ride. See the sights and sweat a little and just be out on a bike, and see if you really like it ... or if you really do it.

It is easy to have a couple good rides and still not find time for the next one. it is also possible that the passion will grab a person, and that person will find hi/herself looking forward to the next time s/he can ride.

It is better (IMO) to get into the sport./activity for $200 and then sell the bikes for half price if they haven't been ridden more than about three times in six months, than to spend $1000 and do the same. And if the $200 bikes spark a passion, one can recoup half the investment and go shop for better machinery, knowing that it will be a worthwhile investment.

Shoot, pick up a pair of $25 yard-sale bikes so long as the tires hold air. Just get out on the road, for cheap, and see if you feel like doing it more and more.

Or ... whatever. We are all here because we found we liked cycling, and I am pretty sure we all came here via different roads.

I think we have offered plenty of options for the OP ...
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Old 06-11-19, 06:38 AM
  #21  
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Some local bike shops sell reconditioned used bikes.
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Old 06-11-19, 07:14 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
First, double your budget.

A lot of people will recommend used bikes---those are people who are completely out of touch with what it is like to know nothing about bikes. Unless you have a good friend who knows a lot about bikes I would buy new bikes---nothing like getting all excited to go ride your "new" used bike and find that it needs a couple hundred in repairs.

Honestly ... go to Walmart and buy a couple Mongoose Hotshots---about $100 a piece, not really strong but not terrible. (https://www.walmart.com/ip/700C-Mong...ange/143302742) Take them to a local bike shop for a check-up/tune-up and to make friends .... if you find a shop with friendly, helpful staff, tell them that you plan to buy better bikes in a season or two ... tell your story. They will hopefully treat you right in hopes of getting future business. If the staff gives you Any kind of attitude about your Walmart bikes, walk away.

The reason I suggest those bikes is because your expectations are unrealistic and your continued participation is uncertain. You really aren't going to find a worthwhile bike---the kind you would keep for five or ten years of regular use---for less than about $600. So instead of spending $600, you would be looking at more like $1500 once you add helmets, water bottles and cages, maybe lights (safety during the day, Survival at night,) seat bags, tools tubes, patch kits, pumps, maybe a rack for the back of the car ... all the little stuff adds up.

If you Knew you were going to ride a few times a week around the neighborhood and most weekends, then the investment would make sense. If there is a 30% chance that you will not be riding a year from now .....

So ... either double your projected investment (at least) or consider getting some very simple, very cheap bikes for the rest of the summer. if by the middle of next summer you find that you need better bikes, you will have a Much better idea about what to buy.
Agree OP needs to double her budget if she wants to buy something new from a bike shop.. Disagree about going to Wal Mart, or Dick's.

As for used, some cities have bike collectives or retailers that sell quality used bikes. Here in Milwaukee, a lot of folks do well buying from Dream Bikes. I have had good luck just making friends with local bike mechanics, who will give me the heads up if something good comes into the shop in trade, or who let me know about some projects they are working on privately.

As for accessories like helmet, pump, spare tubes, tire levers, etc...yes, that stuff adds up, but if you look around, you can find deals on that stuff online or on sale at local shops, or even big box stores.
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Old 06-11-19, 09:25 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by Bigbus View Post
Walmart is your friend. Go there, test ride a few around the aisles and have fun. If you aren't escorted from the store, you'll find a couple in your price range. And not all Walmart bikes are complete junk. Many of us never would have gotten into biking if not for the inexpensive options at Walmart.
I couldn't have said it better. In fact, Walmart is probably the only retailer that sells 2 bikes at your allotted price of $500 to $600. I love my $250 Schwinn.!! It has 1,500 miles on it. I like it so much it deserves a picture. Here ya go...
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Old 06-14-19, 06:25 AM
  #24  
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"A Wal-Mart bike will self-destruct under a 300 lb guy."

Oh Lord - please deliver me from the elitists and bike-pharisees who doth protest loudly on the street corners of their rightness. They have their reward in full...

It is a continual source of fascination to me how every "what bike should I buy" question denigrates into a rant against any bike other than something found at an LBS.

How did any of us make it to adulthood without an LBS bike? Ye gads - we guys went to the local Western Auto or Sears and did the "standover" test to make sure it the family jewels were not in imminent danger, and then Dad forked over the cash. The girls ritual was of course different. They had to be able to step through the frame, get a foot on a pedal, and then take off while hopping up to land on the seat. Then we blissfully and joyfully rode all over town, bumping up onto and off of sidewalks on those cheap rims and tires. We pumped up the tires at the local gas station and when it felt tight enough to the squeeze, off we went.

Fast forward with me five decades, and all over the college town where I live one can spot college kids on budget conscious bikes. Somehow they get to school everyday, day after day, on those despicable department store bikes. And then they ride home in the evenings. It just defies the imagination.

And then there are the homeless people and transients - they also somehow make it all over town on those junk bikes that never seem to break. Some have plastic grocery bags hanging off of the handlebars for transport purposes. The affluent homeless put funky looking baskets on their bikes to haul their stuff from Aldi to their tent-site, or to their $25 a month storage unit where they live behind the firehouse on a certain road. The firefighters feed them their holiday meals and help them stay in warm clothes. The cheapo bikes don't know the difference either way.

And then there is my old WalMart MTB that is the least expensive to maintain, most reliable ride I own. According to the LBS guy who fitted me for my Giant road bike, and later set me up with pedals on the Wal-Mart MTB, the frame on the WalMart bike is excellent construction that "should last me many years." Yes, the components on the thing are not Ultegra quality, but they work and rarely need adjustment. When (if) they give up I'll put something better on the frame. Granted, I'm a recreational and fitness rider and not a competitive cyclist, but I get what I need out of it. And it's the bike I take on vacations so I don't have to worry about the $700 Giant (I bought it used for half its new cost) getting vandalized or outright stolen.

To the OP - find something comfortable and that meets your budget, then ride it until it breaks or needs adjustment, all while "going to school" on the experience and the equipment. Get yourself a copy of the Bicycling Guide to Complete Bicycle Maintenance & Repair for Road & Mountain Bikes (ISBN 978-1-60529-487-2). Get fit, lose weight, learn the sport, and learn the equipment. Then after you've got your head around the past-time and are sure you want to keep it as part of your lifestyle, invest in a more upscale ride.

Naturally, all of this is just my humble opinion.

And it's daylight so I think I'm going to head out for a morning ride.
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Old 06-14-19, 06:50 AM
  #25  
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If you have a bike co-op in your area, I strongly recommend paying them a visit. First, you will meet a bunch of knowledgeable people who would be happy to help with advice. Second, co-ops may have a bunch of donated bikes that would be available for you to acquire at a very low price. Sure, they would likely need a good tune up and some minor repairs; however this is a learning opportunity. I never advise new or casual riders to spend a lot of money at first before you know that you will get good use out of them. Good bikes, like most other fitness equipment, sell for hefty discounts once the buyer tires of them. Or they end up being donated to a bike co-op.
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