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View Full Version : Anybody own a road bike out there?


enwar3
08-21-2007, 09:06 AM
I'm thinking about buying a cheap old one off of Craigslist, and was wondering what I should look for when I go check these out. I'm just buying the bike for college and the occasional weekend spin, but I don't want it to become totally worthlessly broke after a month. Hopefully it'll be fun to ride as well.

So.. any road bikers out there with advice for me? =D

diegaa
08-21-2007, 09:19 AM
i think you should ask chess, he likes biking.

dacrymn
08-21-2007, 09:33 AM
Do you really want a road bike? Like, a good road bike? If you want something for college, the road bike really isn't for the stress you're going to put on it ( I assume you have a lot of books and crap). Granted, they're cool and you can go fast with only a few pedal strokes, but I don't believe it's practical for you. Plus they're expensive and unstable with backpacks and other things you're going to carry with you. You might want to look into a street bike, which is mainly for commuting and you might find it more practical for your purpose.

BUt if you still decide to get the road bike, look at the parts. You can check the quality through pictures of the welding, and look up the components. Shimano stuff is generally good, even their lower end (tiagra or something like that).

princess bossass
08-21-2007, 09:34 AM
I'm thinking about buying a cheap old one off of Craigslist, and was wondering what I should look for when I go check these out. I'm just buying the bike for college and the occasional weekend spin, but I don't want it to become totally worthlessly broke after a month. Hopefully it'll be fun to ride as well.

So.. any road bikers out there with advice for me? =D

How much are you looking to spend? This summer my mountain bike got stolen (:mad: jerks at least took the helmet, too--safety first!!:mad: ), so I made the transition to a road bike. For $300 I got a really nice outfit off Craigslist. It's a steel KHS frame, which isn't exactly a thief-magnet, but it's totally bombproof. I like steel frames, because I only carry my bike up one flight of stairs or across the occasional field of rocks, and I don't like to feel every bump in the road like you do with lighter, stiffer frames. Plus steel frames are much less expensive/easier to find used than lighter frames.

The frame I have is probably from a ~$400 bike, but the components the original owner had put on it were the equivalent of those on an ~$800 bike. He was asking $400, but once I got there he knocked it down to three, plus included his whole front/read light setup, pump, fenders, rearview mirror, and saddlebag with extra tubes. So I got a pretty good deal, but I think that happens a lot with Craigslist--people just get excited that you showed up and you're actually going to buy their used bike, so they're pretty flexible.

I think the important thing when buying a bike is to test ride it and go through all the gears several time, brake going downhill, etc., make sure it fits you well, etc.--and then learn how to maintain it.

As far as making sure it fits you, don't just look at overall frame size/height, but pay attention to the length of the top tube. If the bike is too short/long for your torso, you're in for a world of hurt.

I'd go with a steel frame, and invest in nice components rather than an expensive frame.

enwar3
08-21-2007, 09:42 AM
Hmmm.. I was just going to get a road bike cuz they're more fun to ride and faster. Never really thought the added weight of a backpack might make a difference though..

A hybrid would be the perfect fit, but those hardly show up on CL and I don't have the money to buy one new. I was going to buy a cheap bike under $200, since what will probably happen is I'll stop riding it after college.

J-man
08-21-2007, 11:05 AM
I have a Giant QCR 3. It's nice and wasn't to expensive for small weekend rides and what not. But if you are looking for a hardcore road bike (like tour de frrance style) it's not the bike for you. But it is nice for 30-40 mile rides.

enwar3
08-21-2007, 02:18 PM
I'm talking like 5 mile rides.... I would like to be able to take it on maybe 20 mile rides though. As in I would like a bike that could handle that. Any more advice from anybody before I starting my hunt?

angharad
08-21-2007, 02:30 PM
I bought a mid-range Mongoose (around $200) years ago, and haven't had a single problem with it. I use it mainly for roads (I did bring it to college with me), but it's fine for some trails and that sort of stuff. The most comfortable bike I've ridden, too.

OrangeOne
08-21-2007, 02:52 PM
I'm a bit of a cycling geek, I own a few bikes, etc etc.

So, to start with - you're definitely looking for a road bike? And not a mountain bike / commuter? Not that there's anything wrong with that, just remember that a road bike is much less flexible, they tend to only like hard flat surfaces, and dislike bumps etc. On the positive side, they're much more fun and rewarding to ride on roads, and you'll travel faster for less effort and enjoy on-road cornering much more.

Assuming you DO want a road bike, the news is good: they tend to last a long time, and only end up dead if mistreated very badly. Find a crack-free frame, and ensure the shifters* work flawlessly, on a modern road bike that's second-hand, these would be the two big-ticket items. Wheels/spokes are cheap fixes, as are most other accessories.

*Shifters: Should be 'STI' - the all in one brake and gear lever combination. All bikes from the last 5 years pretty much have them, from the 5 years before it's something to look for, these are infinitely better than the old 'levers' on the downtube.

enwar3
08-21-2007, 03:36 PM
Thanks OrangeOne - that was very informative.

I have some questions: Based on what I've been hearing, a commuter/hybrid bike may be better for me. I just don't want to have to WORK at pushing the pedals, like with mountain bikes. I also don't want the bike to be as heavy as mountain bikes are (read: very heavy). Just something light, fast, easy and fun to ride. Does a commuter bike fit that description?

EDIT: What should I be looking for in a commuter?

Char
08-21-2007, 04:14 PM
I commuted on my first road bike to and from school. It was an older Trek 1400 from 1990 or so, with the first Shimano STI's made for 105 (Shimano had a 4 tier system of quality level, of which 105 was and still is third from the top - might now be a fifth very bottom tier I dont know). I had clipless pedals for it (you wear special cycling shoes that clip into your pedals). I also had an adapter that allowed you to strap a normal shoe to the pedal. I used those sometimes, but was generally happier putting shoes, a notebook and a few other things in a backpack, as well as a lock.

A few things to note about that. A backpack is fine, but pack it more or less balanced well. Make sure its strapped to you tight and doesnt shift mid ride or on a corner. There should also be a reasonable weight limit of around 15-20 pounds. Road tires take a bit more getting used to if you havent ridden much. They're fine, but remember to brake carefully (early) in the rain/wet and brake in a straight line and with easy pressure on sand/debris so as not to lock wheels and skid. Helmet. Always wear that on a road bike - I'd say on any bike myself, but hella for sure on a road bike especially if its new to you. Clipless pedals take a little practice. Try them out a bit in a parking lot before you go off riding in traffic. Always have a frame pump or CO2 cartridge with you and a tube in your saddle bag in case you get a flat, as that's more common on road bikes until you get good at intuitively sensing and avoiding little pointy things. Have a local shop show you how to change it if you dont know how.

I'd say a bike like I had used might be $400 or so now? Something like that. Maintain it well. Basic lubing and cleaning and a seasonal shop visit and it will last you. Wipe it down always after a rain ride.

They are fun as hell. I now have two higher end racing bikes. I rode around the south of France in the Pyrenees two years ago with a backpack and loads of water etc, so they are very stable and easy enough in traffic - with practice. The higher end the road bike the more racy they are and harder to control but oh so much more fun. What you are looking for will be stable enough in a heavier road bike (note: that is still way lighter than a mountain bike - go ALU or steel). Just watch the speeds at first, brake easy, plan ahead for your foot down out of the clipless pedals at lights and always be ready to stop and put a foot down if you commute with them. Practice a little in a parking lot or bike path and you will be fine. Just be warned they are addictive and an adrenaline rush. :grin:

Remember too to know what size frame you need. Go to a local bike shop and see if you can get them to tell you. Quite important if you are ordering online.

Question then is, is that what you really want? Do you just want a tool to commute to school? If so, grab a hybrid or a commuter of some sort. Wider tires, but not as wide as a mountain bike with better traction, relaxed ride position, possibly normal pedals, just easier overall. Or do you want something double duty? Something to commute on but also to learn another fun sport? Go road bike all the way, but remember to do some safer riding for practice before actually commuting on it.

Kind of sounds to me like you want a commuter. Probably easily had for under $300? Something like that. Maybe stop by a shop and talk to the sales people about buying a commuter and get some useful info for what you want, then, armed with that, you could buy online. I dont really know a lot about commuters except to say there, you know, if it works, it'll work as a commuter. :p

Good luck, and have fun!

J-man
08-21-2007, 07:14 PM
I'm talking like 5 mile rides.... I would like to be able to take it on maybe 20 mile rides though. As in I would like a bike that could handle that. Any more advice from anybody before I starting my hunt?Well hell then. I would start small for sure. It might be best to go and check out your local bike shop and ask questions and shop look get on the bike and that sort of thing

enwar3
08-21-2007, 10:37 PM
Alright folks... now I need some real advice.

I picked up an old hybrid. But the front brakes squeak, so do I replace the brake pads, sand them down, or what?

Also, I've got quick release clamps on the wheels and seat. How can I remove these/replace them? Obviously the quick release will be a problem at college, since people can just come up and take your wheels off....

OrangeOne
08-21-2007, 10:49 PM
Alright folks... now I need some real advice.

I picked up an old hybrid. But the front brakes squeak, so do I replace the brake pads, sand them down, or what?

Also, I've got quick release clamps on the wheels and seat. How can I remove these/replace them? Obviously the quick release will be a problem at college, since people can just come up and take your wheels off....


Squeaking brake pads (and I'm no maintenance guru), try the following in order:

a. Clean the pads and the braking surfaces with soapy water and then rinse with water
b. Clean the braking surface with something stronger (alcohol based)
c. You could try sanding the pads I suppose
d. Replace the pads (or take it to your local bike store, tell them the problem, and ask if they think replacement pads will solve it)

Quick Releases: Wow, I so didn't see the problem until you highlighted it. I assume you'll be locking your bike up anyways? If so, just get a chain / lock on a metal cord long enough to loop through both wheels and the frame. There are many like this out there in the average bike store, and you'll be thankful you still have the QR's on there when you flat.

As for the seat QR: a simple bolt will do the trick, hell, while you're at the bike store see if they'll swap a used QR for a bolt!

PS. I hope you bought or are planning to buy a helmet. I've smashed my head through one helmet personally, and I'd hate to think what would have happened to my head if it were my head hitting the road.... [end non-requested mini-lecture :)]

enwar3
08-21-2007, 11:04 PM
Squeaking brake pads (and I'm no maintenance guru), try the following in order:

a. Clean the pads and the braking surfaces with soapy water and then rinse with water
b. Clean the braking surface with something stronger (alcohol based)
c. You could try sanding the pads I suppose
d. Replace the pads (or take it to your local bike store, tell them the problem, and ask if they think replacement pads will solve it)

Quick Releases: Wow, I so didn't see the problem until you highlighted it. I assume you'll be locking your bike up anyways? If so, just get a chain / lock on a metal cord long enough to loop through both wheels and the frame. There are many like this out there in the average bike store, and you'll be thankful you still have the QR's on there when you flat.

As for the seat QR: a simple bolt will do the trick, hell, while you're at the bike store see if they'll swap a used QR for a bolt!

PS. I hope you bought or are planning to buy a helmet. I've smashed my head through one helmet personally, and I'd hate to think what would have happened to my head if it were my head hitting the road.... [end non-requested mini-lecture :)]

Alrighty I will try the stuff for the brake pads tomorrow.

As for QRs, we're recommended to not get chain locks, since those can and have been cut. It's pretty standard at my university that everybody gets one of those black kryptonite U-locks. I suppose I could bring an EXTRA chain to lock both wheels together, but honestly is there another way around this? lol...

And I do have a helmet. As cool as it may or may not look, I value my life enough to wear one regardless =D

EDIT: When you say clean with something stronger, you mean like, rubbing alcohol?

OrangeOne
08-21-2007, 11:38 PM
Alrighty I will try the stuff for the brake pads tomorrow.

As for QRs, we're recommended to not get chain locks, since those can and have been cut. It's pretty standard at my university that everybody gets one of those black kryptonite U-locks. I suppose I could bring an EXTRA chain to lock both wheels together, but honestly is there another way around this? lol...

And I do have a helmet. As cool as it may or may not look, I value my life enough to wear one regardless =D

EDIT: When you say clean with something stronger, you mean like, rubbing alcohol?

Yeah, something like rubbing alcohol. I'm making this up as I go, but that would be the process I'd try.

I see what you mean about the chain locks. Well, the same bike store should be able to sell you non-quick-release axles, and then you'll just have to make sure you keep a 'spanner or two' in your 'saddle bag' along with your tubes etc.

enwar3
08-22-2007, 12:32 AM
OO, I might as well ask while I'm at it. What kind of stuff should I always have in my backpack? Pump? Other stuff?

I decided I might just bring a U-lock and a chain, and swap out the quick release on the seat. Not sure about the configuration yet though..

Duzza
08-22-2007, 12:38 AM
I'm not a regular rider but getting a road bike was a great decision! I got a pretty cheap one, but they are much easier to ride than a mountain bike. I just ride to tennis now and then, but I am a lot faster now :D

OrangeOne
08-22-2007, 12:42 AM
OO, I might as well ask while I'm at it. What kind of stuff should I always have in my backpack? Pump? Other stuff?

I decided I might just bring a U-lock and a chain, and swap out the quick release on the seat. Not sure about the configuration yet though..

- Small Pump
- Tyre levers (2 or 3 * plastic ones)
- Tube
- Baby repair kit or second tube (up to you, and dependant on other transport options should the unthinkable happen and you get 2 flats)
- $X (seriously - handy to have some real cash in there, in case you get caught wherever with no cash and no cash machine and no transport!)

...that's what I carry. And feel free to ask questions, I like talking about cycling :)

enwar3
08-22-2007, 07:43 AM
What exactly is a tyre lever?

I'm gonna go home and play around with tuning the brakes after work today. I'm starting to think I could get into cycling. It's got the potential to be one of my favorite hobbies: a mechanical counterpart that is extremely customizable, something I could sink a lot of money into, something I could tinker with. It's got all the signs =D Almost like shopping for computer parts and tennis racquets, two of my other hobbies. Only I gotta get some money first.

Also, where do I learn to replace/patch tubes and that kind of stuff? Learn-on-the-job when my first flat happens?

NetMuncher
08-22-2007, 09:23 AM
................

QuietDaze
08-22-2007, 09:45 AM
Very interesting thread. I soooo wish I could ride my bike to work. I have an old Raleigh and I still love it. It's only 6 miles to my job but hubby is paranoid about cars. And in all fairness, I'm paranoid about the 1 mile uphill part. lol

I used to throw it on the back of my car and ride on bike trails several times a week. Then I got an SUV and couldn't afford the hitch bike rack so I haven't ridden in years. This thread is inspiring me to go and pull out/clean up my bike and hit the trails. She definitely needs a trip to the shop for brakes and tires.

PS Yes, I also have a helmet as much as I hate it.

princess bossass
08-22-2007, 10:09 AM
What exactly is a tyre lever?

I'm gonna go home and play around with tuning the brakes after work today. I'm starting to think I could get into cycling. It's got the potential to be one of my favorite hobbies: a mechanical counterpart that is extremely customizable, something I could sink a lot of money into, something I could tinker with. It's got all the signs =D Almost like shopping for computer parts and tennis racquets, two of my other hobbies. Only I gotta get some money first.

Also, where do I learn to replace/patch tubes and that kind of stuff? Learn-on-the-job when my first flat happens?

A lot of colleges have a bike shop at the student union or somewhere on campus where you can learn the ropes of bicycle maintenance. Otherwise, bike shops often have maintenance lessons, or you can just go in and ask real nice for someone to show you how to change the tube.

If you do end up with a road bike, I agree with the posters who worry about a backpack and etc. You should invest in a nice messenger bag or a low-profile backpack that cinches up tightly and comfortably to your body so you're not slinging too much weight behind you and around the sides of your body. A side mirror helps, too--you can check what's coming up behind you in case you need to go around a stalled car, etc., without actually swivelling your head/body around.

OrangeOne
08-22-2007, 02:16 PM
What exactly is a tyre lever?

I'm gonna go home and play around with tuning the brakes after work today. I'm starting to think I could get into cycling. It's got the potential to be one of my favorite hobbies: a mechanical counterpart that is extremely customizable, something I could sink a lot of money into, something I could tinker with. It's got all the signs =D Almost like shopping for computer parts and tennis racquets, two of my other hobbies. Only I gotta get some money first.

Also, where do I learn to replace/patch tubes and that kind of stuff? Learn-on-the-job when my first flat happens?

A tyre-lever is a small piece of plastic about the size of a... a... about the size of your middle finger, but thinner. It's used to remove a tyre (tire in US speak) from the edge of the wheel rim. Sometimes you can do this with your fingers, sometimes the tyre is on very very tight and needs to be 'popped' off, a few tyre levers greatly assist with this process. They are usually made of very-strong plastic, and are nice and smooth on the ends to prevent you catching or damaging the tubes. They may also help with putting the same tyre back on.

As for learning, most tiny patch-kits will come with instructions, and I'd reckon a google / youtube on "changing a bicycle tube" will give you a million guidelines with pictures or movies.

I'd actually recommend taking both tubes out of your wheels and seeing how old they look, if they've been patched a couple of times or look too crappy, changing them now for new ones could be a good thing, get off to a fresh clean start.

enwar3
08-23-2007, 12:26 PM
Here's another question.... where should I buy a bike lock? Just a sporting goods store, or should I make it a point to visit a bike shop. Apparently all locks can be broken, so I'm having trouble deciding which kind of lock to get.

OrangeOne
08-23-2007, 02:33 PM
Here's another question.... where should I buy a bike lock? Just a sporting goods store, or should I make it a point to visit a bike shop. Apparently all locks can be broken, so I'm having trouble deciding which kind of lock to get.

Whilst I've braved most Qs so far, i can't really help with this one. If I were you, I'd go have a look at the big sporting store, then go to the bike shop, and see if they're really any better (I'd suspect they'd be pricier). Maybe I'm dreaming, but maybe some come with some sort of insurance - like some surge protectors do for your house?

Char
08-23-2007, 04:19 PM
And in all fairness, I'm paranoid about the 1 mile uphill part. lol

Once you conquer it, you'll be looking forward to going and beating it again but faster, even seeking another tougher one sooner or later. Its addictive when you feel yourself getting better and riding clear up a hill that was once a bit of trouble. Strange activity, cycling is. :D

This thread is inspiring me to go and pull out/clean up my bike and hit the trails. She definitely needs a trip to the shop for brakes and tires.

No time like the present. ;)

PS Yes, I also have a helmet as much as I hate it.

I dont like them either. Depending on when you got your helmet, you could get a new one if so inclined. Giro and Specialized have some great ultra lightweight, aero, and ventilated models now that you pretty much forget you have on once you leave the house. Kind of makes me chuckle at my old Bell I had from college hehe. It was akin to wearing a mutated ice cooler.