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Ask the Readers: A Bike?

I want to buy a bike. At least, I think I want to buy a bike. I used to love my bike, when I was a kid, until we moved further out into the country when I was 13 and there wasn’t anywhere to particularly bike to, and it meant a lot of “on the road” biking, which I wasn’t entirely comfortable with.

Now, we’ve moved to the suburbs and there is a giant bike trail system that runs directly behind our house. And so, I think I want a bike.

Is it a guarantee that I would use it? No, of course not. I’ve got a pair of roller blades in the garage that I’ve yet to teach myself to use. But at least I’ve tackled the learning curve on riding a bike.

Trouble is, I haven’t had a bike for years now, and I know absolutely nothing about buying one. And I have relatively no money (as you know). But I’ve got to figure that at least one of you out there has some useful knowledge on bikes so…

Where do I start?

If it helps at all, I’m a tall, largely out of shape, skinny woman that will be riding mostly on flat, slightly stone-y terrain. So I probably don’t need anything that could be described as “x-treme.”

I’d rather not just hop into Target and buy the prettiest cheap bike that I see… or is that my best option for the cost? See, I don’t even know! Seriously – who out there knows something about bicycles?

21 responses to “Ask the Readers: A Bike?”

  1. Don

    I couldn’t say. I bought a mountain bike when most of my riding is road riding. I should have bought a road bike. But the truth is, I hardly ride at all now. My daughter was born, and I’ve got to drop her off at day care on the way to work, so no biking.

    I’d bike for fun, but my wife had a stroke, and I just don’t see the point of recreating on a two-wheeled vehicle, without a steel cage around me, among massive four-wheeled vehicles and drivers that wish I weren’t on the road. It probably isn’t that dangerous, but it isn’t worth the risks given how central I am to my family.

  2. Traciatim

    I would say you should visit a local bike shop and explain you want something for the trails you have in the area, and you’re just a casual rider so nothing too fancy. You’ll probably end up with a much higher quality bike.


    Buying a bike that you’re not sure your going to use is a difficult decision. If you buy a cheapy from Wal Mart this almost assures you won’t use it, spending more than $600.00 won’t get you anything that you will notice the difference in. I usually suggest somewhere in the 200 to 400 range and I’d get a Mountain Bike with an Aluminum frame as light as you can regardless of shocks.

  4. iowagreyhound

    I second the local bike shop suggestion. I wouldn’t buy a bike anywhere else. Most have a good used selection too with reasonable prices. Bike shops owned by hippies are the absolute best.

    Stay away from *Mart or dept. store bikes. Their quality is really bad.

  5. Brandon Barkley

    I had good luck with a Wal-Mart bike in the past though I had a Mountain Bike when I really needed a road one.

    That said, in my experience, you should definitely buy a bike that is built for you. I had a very nasty experience when I tried to build my own once (loose handlebars are a really bad thing).

  6. Hans

    You can easily find a great used bike cheap at places like Craigs List. Do NOT — repeat DO NOT — buy a cheap new bike from any department store. These are worse than bad, and a part of the PROBLEM, not the solution. Wal-Mart and Target bikes are typically made by Dynacraft, a huge conglomerate that sources all of their stuff from China, and it is low quality, heavy, breaks down quickly, and just plain NO FUN to ride. (Not because its sourced from China. 95 percent of ALL bikes are sourced from CHina, actually. It’s just that Dynacraft brands are all designed for high volume and low margins, and they litter the streets of every city across the country, abandoned because they’re so awful

    Look for a good steel bike with FENDERS. That’s my secret. Any newish bike for sale at a bikeshop that comes equipped with fenders is almost guaranteed to be affordable, durable, and fun to ride. No kidding!

    Looking at craigslist, look for the same thing with this code word: COMMUTER BIKE. That will guarantee you a certain level of quality and durability and fun-quotient too.

    If you want more detailed explanations for these easy tricks, glad to provide them. (The explanations are kind of long and boring to a non-bike obsessive, but the tricks really work for finding decent new and used bikes to fit what you’re looking for.)

    Hans @ Pinch Flat News

  7. catmer

    i used to live in a town where you could ride a bike everywhere and i had one and did ride it everywhere. it was a real pleasure! i miss it.
    instead of buying one, consider using a freecycle list or a craig list in your area to locate a second hand one or a giveaway? try borrowing one from a friend who doesn’t use theirs and see if you use it? then, once the habit is there, buy one you like and ride more!

  8. EA

    Craigslist or the local classifieds will get you a cheaper bike, but if you don’t know much about them you might get a lemon. Do you know anyone at school who’s handy with bikes and can help you check one out?

    Otherwise I second the suggestion above to check out the used section of a local bike shop. You’ll pay more than in the classifieds, but you know it’s in good shape and you have a place to ask question if you have problems. Also, as a tall woman myself, don’t forget to look at men’s bikes (unless you plan on wearing a skirt while riding, then you’ll need a womans bike).

  9. Money Blue Book

    Don’t get one of those street bikes with skinny wheels. They are terrible on dirt or gravel roads. Even paved bike trails occasionally stray into dirt roads like the local paths near my place. You’ll want good handling on all surfaces

    Buy a mountain bike in my opinion. Happy trails!

  10. JD

    My wife and I are in our forties and we both have bikes. I recommend going to a bike shop. One of the most important things about buying a bike is getting the right size bike – otherwise it will be uncomfortable and you won’t ride it.

    We have Trek’s. The cost (7 years ago) was about $500 a piece. They are hybrids – not touring or racing (extra thin tires) and not Mountain bikes (extra wide knobby tires). We like them as a general purpose bike for bike trails (both paved and dirt/stone).

    Most bike shops will allow you to take a short spin – just like a test drive with a car. I recommend doing that to see which bike you are most comfortable with. Also, don’t be afraid to ask ton of questions. They are there to help – they want to get you the right bike as much as you do (so you tell your friends and they go buy bikes!).

    Have fun!

  11. jim orange

    hi; go to the salvationarmy.goodwill,yardsales or a secondhand store. look for the mountain bike type of bicycle! depending on your inseam determines what size of bike you need! most adult bikes are about 24”-27”in size! all bikes have some kind of manuel adjustment for seat’s & handelbar ‘s. the tires should be a semi knobby type of tire this allows for trail & street use! handelbars come mainly in 2 styles ! depending on your physical shape i would use a handelbar that allowes you to set up straight less strain on the lower back.also a bigger seat will help with a sore setting down place! i wouldn’t spend more than 75$ for the basic bike then add the more comfortable seat & handelbar 15-30$ for both items depending on your local pricing! customize to your desires & comfort! the work is very easy if you can use a adjustable wrench! make absoutly sure that all bolts & nuts are tight failure to do so could cause physical harm. a male family member or friend should be able to help . hope this helps, jim

  12. Chris

    On top of these suggestions, go to It’s a big forum for bikers and they have a plethora of knowledge.

  13. CHB

    My trusty 10-year old bike was just stolen, and I bought a used ok-quality bike on craigslist to replace it. I’d say educate yourself on the brands out there so if you buy used (much less expensive) you’ll know if it’s from Wally World or a higher quality company. My old bike was a Giant and it was fabulous. The one I have now is Schwinn, which I’d say is a step down from Giant but definitely up from the ‘Marts. Also I recommend getting a “hybrid” bike, which are designed to do well on road and dirt/gravel, or a light mountain bike, but definitely not a strict road bike. Good luck!

  14. Dave

    I agree with most of the comments here. Buy a hybrid, non-Walmart, used bike from CL. I got mine for $5 at a yard sale.

  15. Peter Mottola
  16. Anitra

    Craigslist!! Also, if you go to a local bike shop to do research, you can also ask the employee(s) if they know of any place to find good used bikes, since you’re on a really tight budget.

    As others have said, do NOT buy from WalMart, Sears, etc. They used to sell decent bikes ten years ago, but the ones they sell now are junk, and you’ll wish you had spent a little more for a good bike.

    You should be able to get a “good-enough” new or almost-new bike for around $200. If someone is asking $100 or less for a new bike, I would be very wary and do some research online into that brand and model.

  17. Jesse Kanclerz

    Are you still looking for a bike?

    I recently got my bike off of Rochester Craigslist. It’s a GT Saddleback mountain bike, originally retailed at $300 and got it for $95.

    Anyhow, the guy I bought it from fixes up used bikes as a side business. He might have a bike which suits your needs.

    If you’re interested shoot me an email, and I’ll send you his contact info.

  18. Jason at Steel Bike Deals

    Lots of good advice here in this thread. While I’m something of an eBay proponent for a lot of bike related things, local options are definitely the way to go for someone just getting into cycling. Your local bike shop would be my first recommendation, followed by craigslist or the classifieds if you have a pretty good idea of the size and bike type you want to get.

  19. jasa seo murah

    visit a local bike shop and explain you want something for the trails you have in the area, you will get amazed what they explain to you bro, have fun!

  20. Joseph Maclock

    I would recommend doing some thorough research on types of bikes, how to correctly choose a bike, what types of frames to have on the bike, correct saftey equipment to wear and how to choose this equipment etc. Take a look at my site to help you answer your questions, its free and will give good advice for people looking for a road bike

  21. A New Bike

    Getting a bike that fits right will be more important than any other feature. Stop into a decent bike shop and they can show you something that works.

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