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Current Bike-Buying Plans - cellophane — LiveJournal
the story of an invisible girl
Current Bike-Buying Plans
I have a thick patch of rough skin on one of my fingers. It's been bugging me for the last couple of days, because the edges of it are peeling off. I've been picking at it, wondering what it's doing there.

This afternoon I finally realized what it is: it's a callous from tying my skates. You have to pull very hard to tie a skate properly, and the nylon laces rub your fingers in the same place each time you lace up, building up calluses over time. I haven't skated since March 6, and now my calluses are going away.

It was kind of a sad feeling. It also reminded me how long it's been since I've gotten any serious exercise. If my hands are getting softer, imagine how flabby my muscles must be getting! I'm looking forward to the time when my physical therapists say it's okay to try bicycling again. I plan for that to be my "thing" this summer....it should be a good safe exercise for my knee and leg muscles, plus good for the rest of me once I heal and can start going somewhat-fast.

I had dinner at my parents' house this evening, and we were talking about bikes. I told them my current bike-buying-plan. (My plan changes every few days, which is why I never bought one last summer. Paralyzed by indecision. But I'm hoping this plan will "stick".) I want to buy a decent "hybrid" bike, one that is very comfortable, and that has low gears that will be easy to pedal even when I don't have a lot of leg strength yet. I also want to make sure it will be good for dirt trails as well as roads.

My theory is that this is all I will want (be able) to ride for awhile anyway. But later on in the summer, when I get stronger and more serious about biking, I plan on buying a second bike -- a fairly nice road bike. This is assuming that I find bicycling as enjoyable as I used to, and that I'm doing it regularly. If that is the case, then I will consider myself to have "earned" the (much more expensive) road bike. I will need one, if I want to do any rides with the local biking club, and especially if I decide I want to do a Century Ride in the fall like I'm hoping to.

If it turns out I don't ride a lot after all, or I get caught up in some other endeavor, then I will only have spent money on the one bike, the less expensive type. But I'll still have a nice bike I can cruise about the neighborhood on, and that I can take on dirt trails with friends if I desire.

When I explained all of this to my family over strawberry shortcake this evening, my dad offered, "We could give you your sister's old road bike for free!" I laughed at him.

My sister and I were both given 10-speeds when I started high school back in 1985. I still have mine in my garage, but it is very old. The frame (a "girl's" frame) was bent once and re-straightened. The gears, chain, and brakes are rusted, and it doesn't have any modern hardware. My sister's bike is just as bad. "No Dad, it's Sis who is into antiques, not me. I like new stuff."

"Yes but I like Real antiques, not crappy old bicycles," she responded.

"Maybe one of those ones with the really big wheel in front?" he asked as he buried his strawberries in whipped cream.

She frowned at the strawberry on her fork. "That would be an antique, but I think they were really hard to ride."

My mom set down her coffee and chimed in at this point, "Yes, they were hard to ride!"

I looked at her in surprise. She spoke with such authority! "You sound like you've ridden one....just how old are you, anyway?"

She had to admit that she had never ridden one -- she wasn't actually that old. Too bad. That probably would have been a neat ride!
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encorecrazay From: encorecrazay Date: May 5th, 2004 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Gee, my 12 speed Peugeot is 12 years old and is good shape, not rusted at all. Although I need to pump some air in the tires and I do carry a patchkit with me, plus a pump (but I always have). Any competent bike shop should be able to rehabilitate yours. If not, check the Play It Again Sports type places for a possible bargain or garage sales.
cannibal From: cannibal Date: May 9th, 2004 12:52 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm sure my Fuji Touring is about that old... but I replaced the gearset when I got it and it is a 16 speed. Best $150 I ever spent, I've gotten a ton of use out of that bike in the 8-9 yrs I've had it. The new one for $840 comes with a Shimano Deore 27-speed (wow).

Rennie, why don't you check with your brother? He's totally into biking. Plus remember me telling you about cyclesmithy? He owns a bike shop in Chicago and might be willing to give you a discount if you tell him you were with me at the auction and loved his cute little car. (he got the Ghia City Car, I think) http://www.cyclesmithy.com/
From: ex_dcl Date: May 6th, 2004 03:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I've been looking at the the Trek 7300 for a while now.....it seems to be a good blend of that sort of thing....
pi3832 From: pi3832 Date: May 6th, 2004 06:40 am (UTC) (Link)

The wrong decision is better than indecision

I told them my current bike-buying-plan. (My plan changes every few days, which is why I never bought one last summer. Paralyzed by indecision. But I'm hoping this plan will "stick".)

Just buy the bike. In fact, buy one this weekend. Get the wrong bike. Spend too much money on it.

Stick it in the garage and take people out to look at it.

"Ridden it yet?" they'll ask.

"Nope," you'll say, "But I'm going to ride the shit out of it, someday soon."

"Did you get a good deal?"

"Don't care."

"Are you sure this is the right bike? I read a review--"

"Don't care. That's my bike and I'm going to ride the shit out of it someday soon."

Mike gets all philosophical: The future doesn't exist. Stop worrying about it so much. Improve your present. Obviously Mike's system has not purged itself of last night's entertainment yet.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: May 6th, 2004 12:38 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: The wrong decision is better than indecision

Thank you for that tip! It's good to have somebody affirm my preferred haphazard approach to a purchase. Yes, I think this is the best approach for me. (See how well it worked with my printer? And now I love my new printer!)

Otherwise, every time anybody recommends or suggests anything, or shows disapproval, I change my mind. Again. I keep looking for that Perfect Deal, and the Perfect Bike, and I end up with nothing at all.

Talked to my PT, and I can most likely ride by the end of May!
thenisaid From: thenisaid Date: May 6th, 2004 08:50 am (UTC) (Link)
I bought the cheapest Bianchi hybrid--the Avenue--and it's been the perfect bike for me. Lots of low gears, durable (I've biked through two winters with it), and comfortable -- though I did immediately replace the saddle, because I'm all about protecting the delicate pink parts. It was about $350, if I recall correctly. I did switch to skinny tires this year, because for me it's just a road bike, and the skinny tires work better on snow. Go figure!
renniekins From: renniekins Date: May 6th, 2004 12:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
hm, that's good to know. Do you have a saddle-recommendations? I often get very numb after riding for awhile, so I think a girl-specific one would be a good idea...
pi3832 From: pi3832 Date: May 6th, 2004 12:50 pm (UTC) (Link)

Doin' my part to stimulate the economy

Just think--if you go ahead and buy the bike now, you can spend the time between now and the end of the month accessorizing it.
thenisaid From: thenisaid Date: May 6th, 2004 01:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have the Terry Chubby Cheeks saddle. It has a well-padded, wide rear, a tailbone cutout and a depression to protect the personal parts, and it's gel foam. They make one that's not so wide that's supposed to be really comfortable, too. If you call them and tell them all about your biking habits and your butt, they'll tell you want saddle to buy.

Terry also makes women's bikes specially sized for shorter women, but most of them are pricey.
bjorng From: bjorng Date: May 6th, 2004 08:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
The gel seats are really cool. I borrowed a friend's bike before I got mine, and his had a saddle with the gel. Sooo comfy.
thatguychuck From: thatguychuck Date: May 6th, 2004 12:53 pm (UTC) (Link)


Work was *rough* today. There was a bunch of screw ups back to back to back, and someone cost me several days of work. I was having a *bad* time and was extremely frustrated.

"I've got to get out of here. I'm going for a walk. ... Hey Dave, do you mind if I borrow your bicycle?" "Sure," he said.

This is the first time I've ridden in approximately a year.


I don't know if I've ever mentioned it to some who read this, but riding a bicycle has been the greatest passion in my entire life. I love it with my entire being. It gives me something I don't get from anywhere else.

I love it.

And I rode a great super-duper expensive bike today. And I didn't like it as much as my $80 10+ year old bike.

Sure, it was nifty. Sure, it was lightweight. But it wasn't a road bike, and it wasn't something that I was really comfortable with. I'm sure it'd do great going over a mountain, but I was riding in Ann Arbor.

The key was that I was riding a bicycle. It didn't matter what kind of bike I was riding. I *still* loved it. The $500 model brought me the exact same joy that a $80 model did.

If anyone is ever looking to pick up a bicycle DIRT cheap, go to a police auction. The last one I went to, at least 20 bikes DIDN'T sell. Not because they were to expensive, but because nobody wanted to bid $0.20 because then they'd have to take it home, and everyone who wanted a bike already bought one. There were at least 100 to start with.

So yea, buy a bike. Go with Mike's suggestion and don't wait. Don't get the perfect bike. Don't get the best deal. Get a bike that looks pretty. Get a bike that the neat salesguy likes. Get a bike that has the neat banana seat. Get any bike that strikes your fancy.

They're all bicycles. They are all good. :)
renniekins From: renniekins Date: May 6th, 2004 02:08 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Happiness

Thanks for the pointer! You guys are right, I just need to get something I think I'll like.

I remember you saying before how much you like biking. Why haven't you been riding in a year?

You can come biking with me soon....
pi3832 From: pi3832 Date: May 6th, 2004 03:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmph. I took my brother's bike for a ride last autumn, and all I could think was, "Where's the throttle on this thing?"

I loved bicycling as a kid, but now that I can go further faster and easier, I have trouble going back. Why explore the neighborhood when you can explore the state?

Or states as the case may be.

(Is it rude to make jokes that Rennie probably won't get on Rennie's LiveJournal?)
bjorng From: bjorng Date: May 6th, 2004 09:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had a master plan like that too. Then one day, I just bought a bike. It wasn't even at a store I knew much about, or even here in town. I'm happy enough with the thing (I got it in 2000). I haven't modded it much, but I did buy a new saddle right away. And last year, the clippy pedals. This year, it'll probably be a new wheel (or two).

And I still haven't popped for that upscale road bike. (That was part of my plan, too.) So far I don't miss it, and frankly logistically it's easier for me to just have one bike. Plus I'm cheap. ;)
From: ex_erikvolso370 Date: May 8th, 2004 07:08 am (UTC) (Link)
A few pointers, from a Bike Nut™

Low gears: Yes,they are good, but you don't want as low as you think you do. The idea is to work some. The trick is to learn to spin.

This may be harder for you than most -- your legs are certainly in awesome shape, but they're in shape doing something very different. In skating, you want strength. In cycling, you want speed and strength

The trick to riding is spinning the pedals, not stomping on them. Your cadence (the rate you spin the pedals) should be at least 70rpm. Most competent riders are well over 80, Lance Armstrong's base cadence is 120rpm.

Why? Simple fact of physics that nobody belives until they actually try it. Given a set gear, the faster the pedals are moving, the easier they are to move.

So. Work on cadence. You'll be stunned at not only how much faster you can go. My average speed over 20 miles went from 12mph to 17mph just by learning this -- and I changed from an ultralight aluminum road bike to a much heavier steel touring bike.

Two: Saddles. Everyone knows you need big, comfy, cushy saddles. They're wrong. I just swapped out my gel saddle, and it's the best move I made.

Demontration time. Get a ruler. Hold the ruler across the base of your palm. Don't push hard yet, just touch.

The rule represents the saddle. The palm represents your butt. You'll note the two bumps, and the valley between. For reasons that I think are obvious (and are definitly unisex) you don't want pressure in the valley.

Indeed. Note that when you sit down on a hard surface -- a rock, an unpadded bench, whatnot -- note that you don't push down on anything sensitive. Why?

You sit on two very small patches. They're called the ischial tuberosities, or more simple, the sit bones. They're built to sit on.

Now, take that ruler, and wrap it in gauze. The gauze represents padding. Lay it across your hand. Note what the gauze does. It fills the valley.

This is the problem with overpadded saddles. You sink into them, until your sit bones encouter something stiff enough to support them. The extra padding pushes up -- and pushes on places you don't want it to push. Women lose fast -- swelling and massive pain. Men lose slow -- compression on a never leads to numbness and impotency. Neither is good.

So? What's the trick. Finding a saddle that fits, and setting it up right. A good saddle is just as wide as it needs to be, and no wider. Unlike a chair, your thighs will be moving constantly as you pedal. You skate, you'll have very well built thighs. This is a problem if you have too wide a saddle. You'll chafe. This really hurts too.

(More elided, since I hit the comment length limit)

Terry has been mentioned already. They are worshipped by female riders, and I'm a big fan of them too. I just put a Liberator Men's saddle on my bike, and it is much nicer to ride.

I dislike hybrids, because I really like drop bars -- they're the most flexible handlebars out there. However, if you do get one, the most important thing you can do: Unless you always ride in mud, dirt and rocks, GET RID OF THOSE KNOBBY TIRES.

On pavement, they're exactly wrong. They're loud. They're slow, and they're dangerous. You try to turn, the knobs bend, and suddenly, you don't have traction.

If you have 26" wheels, you want Ritchey's "Tom Slick" tires. If you have 700C wheels, there are lots of tires. Get them. They're cheap, and they'll make your life easier.

Finally. Remember that demonstration with the palm and ruler? Well, it just so happens that it is an even better analogy than first presented. There's a nerve running there that you don't want to compress (indeed, it's the same nerve that gets abused in Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, just futher along.) So, buy good cycling gloves -- but not *too* padded.

Lots and Lots more info, almost all of it good (and the ones that are pure opinion are marked as such) can be found at Sheldon Brown's website. The link is to the beginner's page, but there's lots more info there. Good stuff.

Have fun.

cannibal From: cannibal Date: May 9th, 2004 12:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree on trying to maintain about 100 rpm, Kathy told me that.

I was also thinking that you may want road tires with a hybrid that you like instead of a real road bike, but don't know anything about brands. If you actually ever take the bike on the trail, might consider just getting an extra pair of wheels (especially if you can find a nice, new, lightweight pair, designed for road and not hitting big bumps offroad) for your bike so you can quick-change from road bike to mountain bike, might be cool, and certainly cheaper than an expensive new road bike. If you really want to quick-change that'd be kind of expensive because you'd need an extra gearset too, but the gears you get on a new bike aren't usually ideal anyway, and you might be able to get something nicer, and again better for the kind of riding you typically do.

I know one person who actually took her mountain bike on the trail, Yan, and she enjoyed it but was always getting beat up from falling off (youd enjoy the injuries), she took a course up at one of the metroparks. But she also has a cheap road bike she got used in Italy.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: May 10th, 2004 07:43 am (UTC) (Link)
SG goes trail riding quite a lot, her and the alleged boyfriend. But not "mountain trails", more like "dirt paths", I think. She's one of the reasons I'm interested in something that'll occasionally go offroad, so I can try it with her!
cannibal From: cannibal Date: May 10th, 2004 08:04 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I didn't know that. Sounds like a good idea. I guess if people invited me to go trail riding I might consider that too.

Things I like about my bike:

It is really quiet. I can come up beside people and they don't even hear me. I think of every bit of extra noise as something to fix, if something is rattling or scraping that means it is causing extra friction, which is inefficient and means you have to work harder.
Knobby tires make noise, and to me they feel a lot harder to pedal on pavement. But tires can be changed, I guess 15mins to change tires, or 1min to swap wheels with a quick-release.

It is really light. Extra weight, again, means you need to work harder. Plus if your bike is light enough that you can just pick it up and carry it across the street if you run into a difficult intersection that you have to share with pedestrians, that's really handy.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: May 10th, 2004 07:47 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow, thank you very much for all of the information, plus the very helpful website!

I am currently recovering from knee surgery, and I'm not allowed to go bicycling yet. That's another reason I'm concerned about low gears, as well. But in less than a month I should be cleared to ride, and I want to have something by then!

Thanks for the advice, and I just may come bug you again after I visit some bike stores. *smile*
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