Newbie cyclist questions: advice?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by cleanup, Aug 1, 2009.

  1. cleanup macrumors 68030

    cleanup

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Location:
    Toronto
    #1
    Warning: long post.

    Hey guys,

    I've been on the hunt for a entry-level road bike lately. I ride a 16" Trek 3700 mountain bike to and from work and school, but for some reason find myself working rather hard with its heavy frame and treads. It seems to lose momentum very fast and the ride isn't very zippy or smooth.

    I haven't been able to find a deal that fits my budget yet, as I've never ridden a roadbike, and thus am not willing to invest too much initially, as I still love my Trek and plan on keeping it for rainy/snowy days when the knobbly wheels might help.

    But for now, I want to get a smoother/quicker ride on my daily commute. Since even entry-level roadbikes are out of my league, I was considering a few options:

    1. Get a cheap commuter cycle (like the Kona Dew) and slap some dropbars on it. The Kona Dew runs me around $450 CAD around here.
    2. Get an affordable single-speed (I was eyeing the Fuji Track, on sale right now for $479 CAD, or the Giant Bowery Mashup, a bit pricey at $650) and get some brakes on there. Maybe lower the gear ratio a bit.
    3. Keep hunting for a decent roadbike deal. I've seen Norco CRD2s go for $450 and Specialized Sirrus' Sports for $600. Used.

    My main question is, how difficult is it to ride a single speed? I ride around the U of T campus area generally, normally only as south as Dundas. There's the slightest elevation gradient going north on Bay.

    Keep in mind I'm a relatively novice cyclist. I was only avid when I was a child--I did a lot of mountain-biking, then had a few accidents and moved to a city where I didn't dare cycle (Shanghai).

    My price range is anything between $300 and $600 I suppose, but I would rather keep it under $500. So my budget is tight, and my needs aren't big. My only caveat is that I want to avoid the enormous field of vintage cycles that I'm not sure about the reliability of.

    Cheers. :)
     
  2. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
    Location:
    Toronteazy
  3. Gonzo3333 macrumors 6502a

    Gonzo3333

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #3
    If you want to have a more speedy response to the bike you have right now get some "road" tires for your mountain bike. If the bike you are riding now has a front suspension, find an aftermarket fork (without suspension) and a bike shop that would install it for you.

    You could save some serious money by using your existing cycle and modifying it so it fits your needs. The first step you should take is swapping your knobby tires for a more smooth tire and inflating it to it's max inflation pressure. The max inflation for the tires I use is 100 psi ((I will put 125-130 psi depending on temperature) that is kind of anal though and you should be fine anywhere around 100 psi or so))

    As for single speed and if you do not live in an area that has lots of hills just go Fixed. It may take a little bit longer to get the hang of, but you will find great rewards in your abilities once you get use to it. I am going to take a picture of my bike and upload it in a few minutes for you.

    Good luck making your decision.
     
  4. cleanup thread starter macrumors 68030

    cleanup

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Location:
    Toronto
    #4
    I've thought of this, but I've heard that there are some difficulties in making a mountain bike more road-friendly. I can't get true road tires, but just thinner commuter-type tires, which I suppose are alright. As for dropbars, I'd have to get new shifters. And a fork would be rather expensive, wouldn't it? And I'm also not sure if I can use my current rims.

    So I'd need:

    New wheelset
    New fork
    New dropbars
    New shifters/brake levers
    Service
    Tax

    Which would all add up to quite a bit, would it not? Probably in the $300-400 range? Especially because of the wheelset and fork. I mean, I'm essentially replacing nearly everything except the frame! And don't road forks only fit 700c wheels? I don't think my 3700's frame could handle those.
     
  5. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #5
    I do what Gonzo3333 suggests. I have a mountain bike and two sets of wheels (knobby for off road and slick for on road). I'm currently eyeballing road bikes only because I'm ridding more now and 35lbs is a lot of bike move on century rides.


    Lethal

    EDIT: I was writing as you posted. Slick tires make a h-u-g-e difference even if they are still fatter than true road tires and I personally wouldn't recommend dropbars for a commuter as it will reduce visibility (both your ability to see around traffic and traffic's ability to see you). Also for a commuter I'd keep the fork w/front suspension unless you only ride places w/pristine asphalt. ;)
     
  6. Gonzo3333 macrumors 6502a

    Gonzo3333

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #6
    Here's a few pictures of my "rig". It is simple and gets the job done. Then again the city I live in has no real hills, so not having any gears to switch to makes no real sense to me.

    The first thing you should do is check out some tires that do not have any knoby bits on them. You can still ride the bike you have now and make it feel like a brand new bike with new tires. Check out this website http://www.biketiresdirect.com/slzz/slicksemi-slick_mtb_tires/products.htm?gclid=CNXmloL8gZwCFSQMDQodZjuY_g
     

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  7. cleanup thread starter macrumors 68030

    cleanup

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Location:
    Toronto
    #7
    Hmm, sounds good. If I can fit the new tires on my old rims, that would be fantastic. I wouldn't mind investing in a nicer-looking wheelset, though.

    How much would a set of dropbars or bullhorns + new shifters run me? Or is there any way I could keep my current shifters?

    Cheers! :)

    Nice fixie btw, Gonzo!

    Alright, I'm gonna grab some sleep, but will be checking this thread first thing in the morning!
     
  8. Gonzo3333 macrumors 6502a

    Gonzo3333

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2009
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #8
    Choices choices choices.

    A friend of mine that has nothing but "mountain" bikes bought a fork from Surly http://www.surlybikes.com/forks.html

    It must have been "the Investigator" or "Karate Monkey" he spent less than $300 converting his machine to a more conventional urban transport. The only thing that really matters is finding a bike mechanic that is honest and willing to do the work for you. You may end up with a really unique Frankenbike that nobody expects to work.

    Then again it is all a matter what you like and don't like. Make sure you feel comfortable with what you will be riding in the future. Comfort is the utmost important feature of any bike you will own. If it feels awkward in any way after a week, try something different.

    Anyway, it is time for me to go to bed. If it were up to me I would say try giving single speed a try, worse comes to worse you don't like it and forget about it.

    Good Luck and safe riding

    JerryO
     
  9. mzd macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2005
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    #9
    honestly the post suggesting slicks for your mountain bike is the most affordable option. most people on campus ride mountain style bikes. i put slicks on my mountain bike and i biked 487 road miles across Iowa with it on RAGBRAI twice. i didn't need to buy anything else, aside from tires and tubes. you can do this for under $100 USD and you'll be fine for anything but serious road riding (i.e. racing). you don't need a new fork, drop bars, or any of that stuff. my tires are 1.75 inches x 26 inches and fit on my existing rims. they are easy to change over yourself or the guy at the bike shop can do it for you for a nominal fee.
    but, fixies/single speeds are all the rage now and very trendy. i'm not sure if there is something like craigslist in your area, but if so, people offload old road bikes very often. just look for deals. you should be able to get an old roady for about $150USD. then if you enjoy it, you can pimp it out and convert it to a fixie.

    btw, this is my bike - the Trek 7000 in the foreground with the slicks:
    [​IMG]
     
  10. cleanup thread starter macrumors 68030

    cleanup

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Location:
    Toronto
    #10
    If I do want to get drop bars, though, will I run into problems with geometry? It's only a 16" frame. I think a 21-22" (50-52cm) roadbike is my size.

    Cheers!
     
  11. cleanup thread starter macrumors 68030

    cleanup

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2005
    Location:
    Toronto
    #11
    So today I ended up getting some semi-slicks. Just some cheapo $25 Bontrager Comforts. With labour and tax ran me about $85 including the new tubes. About the same as a cheapo vintage roadbike, but my Trek rides quite a bit better I imagine. I can now comfortably ride on the highest gear nearly all the time (which will help get me in the mood for a fixie/ss) which is fantastic! When the winter comes I might get a <$100 beater to thrash around, then in the spring, perhaps a proper roadbike/fixie!

    I'm also finding myself holding the handlebars near the stem to keep my elbows together and my profile lower. Also helps me get in the mood up for a new bike later. I might take my Cateye off of there and tape it so that it's more comfortable (In just an hour or so of riding I took off a rather large piece of skin on my thumb without noticing).

    One thing I have noticed, though, is that despite the front suspension still being there, I've lost a bit of the cushioning that I got on the old knobby tires I had. I did raise have them raise the pressure from 70 psi to 100. Does that have much to do with it or does the tire tread also matter?

    So as for now I have a decent hybrid type ride. If only it wasn't so heavy! I should've gone with a Trek FX or something similar from the get-go! :eek:

    Thanks for all the help, guys! :)
     
  12. iJohnHenry macrumors P6

    iJohnHenry

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2008
    Location:
    On tenterhooks
    #12
    Get a used light-weight 10-speed, and leave it in 10th.

    I depends on your route, but I could go from Scarborough to High Park and the Island without shifting.

    But, then again, I have been away from the game for so long.

    Oh, added benefit. Less chance some doofus will try to boost your ride. ;)
     
  13. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2002
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    #13
    Less rubber and a higher tire pressure will mean a more jarring ride. This is the reason that comfort bikes and cruisers have big tires at relatively low PSI. Comfort vs performance is the trade off.


    Lethal
     
  14. kindablue09 macrumors regular

    kindablue09

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2009
    #14
  15. AMessy macrumors member

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Location:
    Green Bay, WI
    #15
    I would just keep riding your bike as is with the new tires you got and keep saving for a road bike.

    You should be able to find a used Aluminum frame with shimano 105 level components in the $600 USD range. I'd just save until you could get on something like that even if its next year some time.
     
  16. Ugg macrumors 68000

    Ugg

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2003
    Location:
    Penryn
    #16
    Yeah, mountain bikes have reached the end of the line as far as all around bikes go. It's too bad that good commuter style bikes are still hard to find.

    When you get a decent road/commuter bike, you'll be amazed at how fast you can go after pedaling that mountain bike around. It'll get you in shape if nothing else.
     

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