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Help with new bike please

Discussion in 'off topic' started by readams, Jan 27, 2012.

  1. readams

    readams No longer wine tasting

    Hi all

    I know there are a lot of cyclists on PFM so I thought I'd ask for some advice here.

    I want to start cycling with my two children aged 13 and ten. We don't want to do any road cycling and I won't be using the bike to commute. We plan to cycle off road around the Surrey countryside having driven there first. I haven't been on a bike for over 35 years. I've never even had my own bike and I know nothing about bikes.

    We plan to start off sedately at first and see how we enjoy it. I don't want to throw lots of money at a new bike in case I don't enjoy it but equally if I'll get more enjoyment from a better bike then I'll consider spending more. I'm happy to buy second hand but of course I haven't got a clue if I'm being sold a pup.

    Does anyone have any advice or do I just go down to my local cycle shop and be rediculed by the 14 year old sales assistant?
  2. foxwelljsly

    foxwelljsly Keep Music Vile

    Get bikes that are well put together with quality components from a local bike shop. Unless you know how to properly set up and maintain a bike, I'd advise against getting anything mail order or off the internet. To get the best quality per buck, I'd go for a bike with rigid, not suspension, forks as these will be fine for the majority of green lanes.

    Avoid Halfords - their after sales for bikes is notoriously bad.

    Look for the brands Tektro and Shimano on the gears and brakes, as these should assure reasonable quality.

    For you, reckon on about £250-£300, not so sure about kid's bikes.

    To be avoided at all costs are so-called 'bicycle shaped objects', these are the stupidly cheap pieces of rubbish advertised by the likes of Halfords and local supermarkets. Bad bikes WILL break and fall apart, be horrible to ride and no fun at all and will put you and your kids off cycling for life.

    I recently had to assemble and set up one of these, both wheels were buckled, the gear hanger was bent and the brakes could not be adjusted in such a manner that they did not rub the wheel rims. Avoid.
  3. andrewhockley

    andrewhockley pfm Member

    I quite like the retrobike forum. Lots of high quality stuff for sale and cheaper than ebay.
  4. Nick Urfe

    Nick Urfe pfm Member

  5. stevec67

    stevec67 pfm Member

    It sounds to me like you would get good service out of a hybrid bike. Hybrids are a bit of a new breed, being a compromise between mountain bikes and road bikes. As the name suggests they come in a variety of flavours, from "almost a MTB" to "a roady with flat bars". One of my old mountain bikes has turned into one of these and I use it as a tourer come commuter, it's also at home on a canal towpath or similar light offroad. It has done something in excess of 15,000 miles. Last time I looked it had one original moving part, the front gear shifter. It's on its 3rd rear wheel, second front wheel, and I call it Trigger's brush for obvious reasons.

    Do you have Edinburgh Bike Coop near you? They do a very nice range of reasonably priced bikes aimed at exactly your needs. One I have seen is around £200-250 (pops up in the sales around £180 from time to time) and if I didn't have a houseful of bikes I'd buy one as a tourer/commuter to replace the bike that I can't wear out. I think they call it the Trailfinder or Pathfinder or similar, and a bike like this is useful offroad without being a total MTB, it's also a pleasant thing to take to the shops. I know you say you don't want to go on the roads but to be fair it's hard to use most off road routes without using the roads here and there.
  6. sean99

    sean99 pfm Member

    Good advise above. A hybrid or hard tail mountain bike would fit the bill. If anything I'd say a mountain bike may be better if you plan on venturing down bridleways etc as the smaller wheels and fatter tires will take a lot of abuse without damage.

    The only contrary advise I'd give is to get a mountain bike or hybrid with front suspension forks. I used to ride a mountain bike with no suspension and it hurt my wrists (and ate headset bearings). My current mountain bike has fairly modest rock shok suspension forks, but it makes a world of difference to the ride.

    As to price that's difficult. If you know what you're doing you could get a nice front suspension mountain bike second hand for a couple of hundred quid. However if you don't know what to look for you could get a beater with a bent frame (derailleur hanger), or chainset or wheels on their last legs. I'd suggest a proper bike shop and budget for about 500 quid to get a mountain bike that will be light, strong and last a while and be enjoyable to ride. There's an old bike saying: light, strong, cheap, pick two, and it's very true.
  7. stevec67

    stevec67 pfm Member

    £500 as discussed above will get you a VERY nice bike. Here's what I was thinking of,

    it's perfectly adequate for the stated use and I certainly wouldn't go significantly cheaper, As others say, avoid the £80 Halfords specials like the plague, they are basically unfit for purpose.

    If you plan to use your bike once or twice a month in summer for an afternoon out down chalk roads on the N Downs (and there is nothing wrong with that) then I don't think you need to spend a lot more than the £200 I recommend above. As ever though, if you spend more, you will get more. What you will get is actually less - less weight giving better performance and it will be better to ride.

    I remain unconvinced by front suspension on light use MTBs and I recently removed my susp forks (they were shot) and replaced the old rigids which are lighter. I haven't noticed headset bearings wearing out, mine will do 4 or 5 years of off road abuse or more than that commuting, after that I don't mind the £2 bill for new bearings and an hour stripping and cleaning. Of course, it comes into its own when the thing is battering its way over stones and roots, but that's not what I call light use.
  8. readams

    readams No longer wine tasting

    Thanks for all the help. It was just what I needed. I shall cancel this afternoon's proposed trip to Halfords.

    Steve, I think you are right, initially we will be planning a few afternoons out down chalk roads on the North Downs as a taster to see if this something we want to do more of. I'm not sure I want to initially spend £500 on a bike as I haven't sat on one for 35 years. We don't have an Edinburgh bicycle near us though there is an Evans cycle shop not too far away and an independent bike shop in Reigate.
  9. sean99

    sean99 pfm Member

    I think I'm starting to understand. Rocks and roots seem to be what off road cycling in New England is all about. Going practically anywhere off road without front suspension would be deeply unpleasant. We don't have the extreme biking of the Rockies or Sierra Nevada, but everywhere is bumpy. Even my lawn :(

    My non-suspension days were when I lived in (old) England. Cambridgeshire, Thetford forest, and occasional trips to the South Downs way, Wales etc.

    I suppose if you're cycling with the kids you'll not be venturing anywhere bumpy enough to warrant shocks, so Steve is probably correct and that bike he linked to looks very good for the money.
  10. foxwelljsly

    foxwelljsly Keep Music Vile

    Contrary to Steve's Edinburgh suggestion (although the bikes look great,and I do hope Mr 67 is not offended), I would strongly advise that you buy from a local shop, as ironing out the sort of niggles that an experienced cyclist can DIY can prove an expensive PITA. You will probably also get a 6 week check, which is essentially a service to tighten up and adjust everything that's bedded in in the first few weeks of use.

    I would reccomend 'Head for the Hills' in Dorking. Exactly what a local bike shop should be. Lovely bunch of chaps. Unfortunately I don't think they sell kids bikes or much under £500.

    Sean 99,

    I've spent many weekends and evenings riding the Surrey Hills and North & South downs, and a rigid fork will be fine if you stick to the tracks. There's a few woodland tracks North of Abinger with sections of gravel the size of boulders, but other than that they're all easy going. The chalk can be very slimy in the winter, though and there are patches of sand. There are some great, if short, downhill and technical trails around Leith Hill, but I don't imagine the OP has these in mind.

    Also highly reccomend this book for N & S Downs MTB routes. Nothing too gnarly.
  11. Cav

    Cav pfm Member

    If your proposed off road is only well made tracks, canal paths, former railway tracks then you won't need any suspension, which in those circumstances adds only weight, or any other fancy expensive options.

    For what it is worth I used a Raleigh MTB bike from Halfords for nearly 15 years on worse terrain than that.

    I would suggest you do use a local bike shop if you have one though for better value, better service, and better advice.

    Finally, where youngsters are concerned, what the bike looks like is often far more important than anything else.
  12. stevec67

    stevec67 pfm Member

    Not offended at all. Local shops do offer good service and while they may not always be able to match the keen pricing of the multiples they generally look after you. Especially WRT fixing minor niggles and offering a service after the first few weeks they are good, and I do tend to take this for granted as I do my own repairs.

    Other than that the consensus is coming round to a decent bike that will do most of what you want for a good while to come at a reasonable price, and that's the goal.
  13. andrew d

    andrew d pfm Member

  14. Mr Pig

    Mr Pig ^'- -'^

    I agree with the good advice you're getting already.

    Halfords are a disaster. The only good thing about them is that they regularly sell decent bikes with big discounts. Just not a good idea to let them build or service it!

    With bikes, everything is a trade-off. My best tip would be to keep the bike as simple and light as possible. Don't buy what you don't need. Disk brakes are good but heavier than 'V' brakes and for what you're doing you don't need them. I don't think you need a suspension fork either and they are also heavy.

    Secondly, buying the bike isn't a dead end. Change what you don't like. I've changed the wheels, tyres, stem, bars, seat and a few other bits on my bike to make it the way I want. Ride the bike for a while and if something bugs you, change it. You want to fit puncture-resistant tyres for a start! ;0)
  15. JCL

    JCL pfm Member

    If you can stretch to $600 this would do you a treat - http://www.evanscycles.com/products...ntain-bike-ec030686?query=rockhopper#features

    In fact if you haven't ridden a bike for 35 years it'll probably feel like alien technology! In a good way of course. When you get sized and do a test ride at the shop it should look like the bike on the Evans site, with the saddle sticking out of the frame. The length (reach) of the frame is sized accordingly. I just thought I'd mention that as lots of beginners buy bikes that are too big (often against the sales guys advice) and they end up crushing their nuts if they have to put their feet down on uneven terrain :)

    Possibly swap to a wider seat or preferably a pair of those odd padded cycling shorts under normal shorts/trousers and you're done. The shop will most likely throw either in if you ask nicely.

    Being based in Reigate you have no idea how lucky you are. Your local trails (The North Downs) are brilliant. Head up to Peaslake (in between Holmbury and Pitch hill and park up. It can get a little busy (sometimes crazy at weekends) with mountain bikers but for a first time it'll be a fun novelty. From there you can do a ten minute loop on a bridleway or a 5 hour singletrack epic. Good cup of tea and cake at the Peaslake Village Store when you're done. Your kids will no doubt want to bomb about the fun stuff, hence me recommending a light bike with good geometry that'll inspire confidence rather than be twitchy/nervous.

    Good luck! I bet you're going to have a bloody great time.
  16. RoyleBlue

    RoyleBlue pfm Member

    Don't forget good fitting helmets, and I wear decent gloves for longer rides especially if it's a tad nippy!

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