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Bike Buying Mistakes

Bike Buying Mistakes

Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and Glamour.com.

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  1. The Boyfriend

    We’ll get you a new bike in time. I’m always looking for new gear for us…

    1. Lisa Eirene

      And a cycling computer, and a bike rack. It adds up! You expect to just drop a few hundred dollars for a bike but in reality it’s a lot more expensive of a hobby.

      But yes, eventually I need to get a new bike.

  2. Kristina @ spabettie

    great post, Michael! it’s clear you know your stuff and it’s always nice to impart the (hard) lessons learned!

    I had a Cannondale in college – I loved that bike! it cost more than my college CAR, but I was using it much more than my car. 🙂 In the past few years I have not been biking as much as I was then, and my beloved Cannondale was stolen out of my garage (I still do a double take when I see any green Cannondale!). I now have a Gary Fisher that I love – although it’s been in the garage for a bit – we live in an area of town that’s not as bike friendly for me – meaning I’m chicken to get on the roads here!

    1. Lisa Eirene

      That is such a bummer that your bike was stolen. And I agree…there are certain parts of Portland where I’d never ride and SW is probably one of them. It’s been years since I lived in SW but I don’t remember there being safe bike lanes there. Plus Barber traffic is just too high a volume and they drive too fast for me.

  3. Carbzilla

    Well-timed article! Our mountain bikes are by Giant, and they’ve been fine for us in the past. Doesn’t actually look like we’ll be doing any races anytime soon. We’re thinking of getting Schwinn’s for grocery store bikes in PDX (there was one on PDX CraigsList but she sold it in a day). Do you think it’s better to go to River City for even a low-end bike than Target or does RC even carry something that basic?

    1. The Boyfriend

      Schwinn is a manufacturer but I think what you’re saying is that you want a low-end road bike for running errands with and you want to know where you should shop for it. This isn’t very different from what I’m shopping for either…

      I would strongly suggest going to River City for this (they have an outlet store that might be perfect for you — http://rivercitybicycles.com/about/outlet-home-pg128.htm). They’re great at this kind of thing. You’ll likely want to be sure to get a bike that has mounts available for pannier bags on the frame to carry groceries in. Keep in mind that the rack and bags will add-on to your price though so be sure to include that as part of your budget.

      1. Carbzilla

        Even those outlet bikes are pretty pricey.The Schwinn’s (which hold a special place in my heart, having grown up with them) run about $200 for a standard model with a rack (we have a bag already though I might want a front basket). The CL one was $100. Since we already have our other bikes, we don’t want to buy anything more expensive than that.

        1. The Boyfriend

          I think avenues like CL are your best bets then. Just make sure it has the mounts to attach a rack to and you should be good to go.

          1. Lisa Eirene

            Craigslist is a good idea. Lots of people pick up hobbies and then give them up, or their resolution to get fit goes by the wayside…so there should be lots of bikes for cheap! Just make sure you get the right size for your body.

        2. Lisa Eirene

          I understand why price is a factor. It was a huge factor for me too, when I bought my road bike. But now I regret not shopping around more and maybe spending some more money getting a lighter bike.

  4. Anonymous 467

    If you buy expensive handlebars like the cavendish pro bars hoping they will be better and save weight you would not be looking to put a light on it. Bars like these were made for mark cavendish, a professional, not someone that wanted to put a light on them. They were designed for pros to give them an advantage. The bars also were not part of the bike to start of with so the bike was good, you just messed it up.

    Buying a bike like the supersix which is used in international races is not designed to have a rack put on the back as you stated. When you a buy a bike like the cannondale you would be looking for somthing to win you a race, not bring back your shopping. These bikes are designed for professionals not shoppers.

  5. Natalie Grossman

    Hilarious! You mean three mistakes, don’t you Fred?

    (1) First, you bought a $700 premium commuter. Complete with an 8-speed internal rear hub, fenders, lights (and a dynohub to power them!), and a luggage rack, it simply reeked of reliability in all kinds of weather, night and day, day in and day out. But, you didn’t ride in the rain, and you didn’t ride at night, and you didn’t ride to the grocery store, and – oh dear! – it was 3 lbs heavier than the average hybrid, thanks to the dynohub, internal gears, and commuter bling.

    (2) So you dumped the $700 commuter and bought a $850 road bike. Anyway, your hands were getting numb and tingly because of the commuter’s flat bars (and not because you were leaning so heavily on your hands because your back was too weak to support your weight in the low (for a hybrid) riding position of the Fusion). Complete with a 9 gears in the rear and at only 25 lb with a full water bottle, it was perfect for commuting without a load in fair weather during the day. But it creaked. Creaking consumes a lot of energy (consider the mighty cricket!), and that made climbing difficult for you (certainly it wasn’t your magnificent quadriceps!). Your local bike shop could have tightened a bolt or added a shim and eliminated the squeak for $30 (you might also have asked them to adjust your rear derailleur to stop the bike from mis-shifting), but having three gears up front was confusing and annoying. And besides, a really serious rider would never ride a triple.

    (3) So you dumped the $850 road bike and bought a $1700 road bike. (Including the cost of some pedals and the new bars.) With 10 gears in the rear and a full 3 lb lighter than the Divano, and without that confusing third chainring and its unnecessary 1.5 oz (really, how often do you ever ride up a hill, anyway?), it’s the perfect bike. But you can’t ride it at night, and you can’t ride it to the grocery store, and you can’t ride it in the rain (well, you can, but if you fall and put a nick or gouge in the carbon frame you’ll need a new $2300 bike).

    (4?) And now you’ll dump the $1700 carbon road bike and buy a $1200 steel road bike. Sure, it’s 5 lb heavier than the Divano, and it does have that vexing third chainring, but it also has a luggage rack, and you’ll be able to attach a headlight to its handlebars. Carbon makes everything more complicated anyway.

  6. Franky

    A random search on Novara Fusion brought me to this post – it’s one of a number of bikes that I have. Being a guy that likes to wrench on bikes, I decided to transform the Fusion into my commuter. My wife has the Novara Gotham and frankly, I was experiencing a touch of envy as well. Here is are the mods:
    – Renlaced the handlebars with VO Tourist bars
    – Ergon BioKork grips
    – VO Model 3 touring saddle (leather)
    – Replaced front brakes with CR720 Tektro cantilevers
    – Replaced the front and rear lights with Axa LED units

    The rig is transformed into one sweet commuter. Considering that I got a ripping ‘end of season’ deal on the bike from REI, I had no qualms about sinking $350 or so into it. It’s set up for rain or shine and can carry a serious load (groceries, etc.).

    To my way of thinking, city bikes fit the Porteur or Randonneur frame geometries. If you are looking at Randonneur bikes, check out Velo Orange – if money is no object, Rivendell’s rock and Hufnagel is off the hook. Lots of US made / designed products so you will pay more but the quality is there.

    Cantitoe Road is also a good source for components.

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  10. Dave

    My biggest bike mistake was also buying the Novara Fusion. Stupid decision by me. I can’t imagine this bike is a good idea for anyone. Heavy, heavy heavy. Too much crap on it. Gear hub and disc breaks complicates rear wheel removal when I was hoping it would simplify. All the attachments rattle. I am constantly tightening them. I should / will just remove some of this stuff.

  11. Rabbi Hosssain Khan

    This is THE article!! The one everybody should read before buying a new bike. Great Job!

    Really useful stuff, especially as I’m currently looking at new bikes. I’ve been pretty realistic with myself and I’m looking logically at the bikes that I like. My only issue is test riding. There’s only so many bikes available to be demoed and it’s not always possible to test ride every bike you think would be right for you. Any advice for the ever-growing problem of online shopping and direct-buy setups such as Bird/YT Industries?

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