Hey, one of my sons has expressed interest in a bike. He doesn’t need a great bike to start out but he doesn’t want a piece of junk, either. How are Schwinn’s these days? I saw one for $150 that looked ok.
IMO you can’t go wrong with older, rigid mountain bikes a la
For decent, cheap commuters. Don’t mind those prices, used bikes are way overpriced here. Almost certainly cheaper in most of the US.
You may want to throw slick tires on though.
Also, check your local bike shop for used bikes. I’ve gotten some great deals that way.
My understanding is Schwinn is now entirely overseas manufacturered these days and their quality has gone way way down. I have a friend who bought one a couple years ago and considered it unridable after 1 season.
I totally concur that finding a good solid used bike is a good move either through a local bike shop or Craig’s list. Go to local shops and get him sized up so you know what size and type of bike he would best start out on and then give a good lonely used bike a home!
Where I’m from, Shimano is the brand of choice for bicycles. I used to own one with a bright yellow frame that contrasted very well with the black decals, seat and tyres. I say used to, because I left it unlocked one fine afternoon and never saw it again. Sigh…
How old is your son? If he’s under 10, it’s ok to go inexpensive for a first bike. Used is a good idea. He will use and abuse whatever you buy and it will probably be stolen in the next few months. If over 12, I’d probably have a good conversation about bike theft, preference to use two locks, how you’re willing to get him a good bike etc., and start in the $400 range. Ask him if he wants to ride on dirt paths or go fast on roads (chances are he wants a mountain bike or BMX but good to have him part of the decision).
Also, do not get a bike that’s too big for him, please. Please! He won’t grow into it that fast. That plus later teenagers like using undersized bikes anyways, if it lasts that long before it’s stolen (probably won’t :) ).
In general, as a total beginner / uninformed parent or consumer, buying a quality bike is made easy by the brand Giant. They are a quality brand and good value even at regular prices, they’re the Costco or Toyota of bikes. Go with them.
Now I’m a cycling fanatic with a lot of money into bikes and gear, so take that into consideration. Not as ‘experienecd buyer’ but maybe as someone willing to spend more than you.
Edit: I’m also in Canada so maybe go with $300 to start, same as $400 in loonies.
He’s 24. I think I am going to recommend he go with a used bike. That’s good advice.
Here I was imagining an 8 year old :P
I got my road bike used, and it worked out great. A decent quality Trek road bike I got for about $500. I’ve put a few thousand miles on it, so it was a good choice for me. Used bikes, if he maintains it, can still last a long time.
Since he’s new to biking it makes sense to keep the investment modest. If he really takes to it then he can spend $500 or more on a bike. I spend $1000 on my Trek and I love it. I think I’ve put about 1500 miles on in the last year.
Ok, used can be good, but getting a beat up or cheap used bike can be a sure fire way to NOT encourage someone to take it up as a healthy activity. So aim for a decent one in my opinion.
That’s why I recommend checking bike stores. They usually restore the bike to good quality before the sell it. Buying from craigslist might be fine but you need to know what to look for in terms of wear and mechanical issues so you don’t get something that’s been run into the ground.
Oh, and make sure you get a bike that is fit for purpose!!! If you want to go recreational riding around the river, parks, etc, don’t get a mountain bike with big knobbly tyres and funky suspension! Get a road bike or hybrid with smooth narrow tyres. Your ride will just not be enjoyable without the right bike for the right conditions. The reverse is obviously also true.
Also (though maybe not immediately), learn to use and love cleats! Don’t be afraid, they aren’t all that scary and once you get used to them, you’ll seriously wonder how you never rode without them. There are lots of styles, so again choose the right ones for you - like a short ride around the park and down to the coffee shop? Take your hybrid with mtb pedals and cleats built into the sole of your shoes, etc.
Ok! So folks may recall that I got a Faraday Porteur a while back. I mentioned it in this thread while it was still on order. It was from the second production run, and there were some delays. I did eventually get it though. I figured I’d share my experiences with folks here.
Here’s my bike. I’ve replaced the original saddle (which actually was quite nice on its own) with a hornless IMS touring saddle, which is extremely comfortable, especially on the inherently rough crappy roads here in PA. I think in the million miles of roads in Pennsylvania, maybe 5 feet of them are actually covered in smooth pavement.
At this point, this is maybe my favorite possession.
The thing is extremely well built, with very high quality components. It has a set of shimano disc brakes, as well as a gates carbon drive instead of a chain. Since the carbon drive is essentially incompatible with a traditional derailleur, this has an 8 speed shimano internally geared hub. I’ve never had a bike with this kind of drivetrain, and I have to say I like it a lot. It’s essentially silent. You can shift gears while stopped. Overall, very nice.
The overall weight of the bike is heavy compared to many normal bikes, at 40 lbs, but it’s quite light compared to most e-bikes. I probably wouldn’t want to carry it up 3 flights of stairs, but carrying it up the steps to get into the office every day, and lifting it in one hand while I hold the door open with the other is never a problem.
It’s a pedal assist bike, so the motor only kicks on when the throttle is set to one of the two assist modes (basically a low and a high assist), and you are pedaling. The motor is a small 250W motor on the front wheel, as opposed to many bikes which place the motor either on the center of the bike or at the back. A nice effect is that the motor doesn’t interfere with any of the “normal” bike parts, and the bike itself ends up being pretty perfectly balanced. The drive kicks in very smoothly, and you always feel like you are riding a normal bike. You just feel like you are way stronger than you actually are. You pedal, and the thing goes faster than you’d normally go with the same amount of effort. Essentially, it just lets you ride in a higher gear with the same effort, and thus makes you go faster. Which ends up making it a huge blast to ride. The motor isn’t that large, so you’re still doing a good deal of work, especially when climbing really long, steep hills, but the thing just makes it easier.
If you ride with the assist on, in high mode, all the time, the thing seems to be able to get around 20 miles or so on a charge. I think it goes from empty to a full charge in around an hour.
The thing looks good. Literally every day for the past few weeks someone has said “Hey man, that’s a nice looking bike”. Seriously, every single day. And it is a pretty piece of machinery. The dual crossbars definitely give it a distinct look, but it still looks like a regular bike. The bamboo fenders, and the overall style of the bike give it something of a retro feel. Originally, the dual crossbars where where two batteries were located. Later design cycles replaced them with a single larger battery in the downtube, but they kept the dual crossbars because they looked cool I guess. Hiding the battery in the downtube helps contribute to the fairly sleek look of the bike, but it does have the downside of making accessing the battery harder. In order to remove it, you need to take out the bottom bracket, and then the battery slides out down there.
So, overall, this bike is totally badass, and I would highly recommend it.
However, my journey to this point was not without its bumps. Lets get into that.
When I first got my Faraday, it was #00275. The two hundred and seventy fifth one made! Neato. Unfortunately, there were some problems with it. The throttle did not work as expected, and as soon as you started pedaling the motor would seem to engage at full power. Now, since I had never ridden one of these until getting this one, I honestly didn’t know if this was how it was supposed to work or not. But it didn’t SEEM right, given that reviewers had specifically cited how smooth the motor engaged. Worse, at various points the motor would just cut out competely. Or the bike would turn off. All of this was extremely frustrating, and since the issues were inconsistent, it was difficult to know exactly what was going on.
Faraday had me work with a local bike shop, and they worked with them to try and figure out the issues. Unlike normal bike issues, where you can say, “Yep, that part there is grinding, or loose” the issues with the electronics are much more of a pain in the ass to diagnose, especially since normal bike shops aren’t full of electrical engineers.
The bike shop and Faraday had some issues deciding what the problem was, and I think they both kind of got annoyed at each other. Eventually, they pulled out the bottom bracket which contains the cadence sensor, and found that sure enough, a wire connecting it to the control board was nicked, probably at the factory when it was put in. That was causing the screwed up motor engagement. However, Faraday also seemed convinced that the battery may have a bad cell, so they had shipped a new battery and wanted that installed, which the shop did (although they were pretty convinced that the battery wasn’t the problem once they pulled out the bottom bracket in the process of switching the battery and found the damage in the bracket). So they replaced both the battery and the bracket. However, when I got the bike back, it wouldn’t charge at all. The NEW battery seemed to have a defect, which was mind blowing. After spending $3500 on this bike, I was starting to seriously regret my investment.
However, Faraday continued to work with me to fix stuff. At this point, they actually went the extra mile and just sent an entirely new bike out, replacing the entire thing. So now, my bike is actually #00455.
When the shop assembled the new one, it actually had a similar problem, with the motor cutting out periodically. When they told me this, I almost cried. But then they pulled out the bracket and checked the battery, and found that one of the connectors was clearly loose. They tightened it up and then everything seemed good. And since then, it’s all been riding perfectly.
So, some things to take away from all that… This is a really new bike, from a very small startup company. As an early adopter, you need to be willing to deal with some bumps along the road. Although in all my investigations online, I haven’t seen any reports from anyone else who ran into any of these problems, so maybe I just won the lottery in that regard. But I did know going into it that there was a risk of some technical hurdles when buying such a brand new product. Still, I was getting seriously frustrated for a while. After it was all said and done though, damn the thing is cool. Like, seriously unbelievably cool.
I’ve taken to using it to commute every day now. It’s gonna be sad come winter when I have to go back to driving my car, but I’ll get the most out of it while the sun’s shining.
That looks great. I have a Trek Ride+ which is also a pedal-assist bike, and I love it. I have a couple of steep hills on my ride to and from work, and having that extra bit of help makes all the difference, and results in me riding the bike most of the time.
I also got a hornless seat. It’s so much more comfortable. I can’t ever go back. Besides, there’s evidence that the horn can contribute to erectile dysfunction. Who wants that! :)
I noticed recently that Trek has come out with new models of their electric bikes. Some of them now also have a throttle to go along with the pedal assist.
I think that what makes the pedal assist awesome is two fold:
- it makes riding more fun, by basically just making you go faster. So if I’d normally be going 10mph, I’m going 20. Which is cool.
- it levels out hills that i normally wouldn’t attempt. It won’t get you up them without working, but it provides just enough extra push to make it so that you always make progress even up steep, long hills.
Certainly I’d get more exercise if I was riding a standard bike everywhere, with no assist. But the reality is that the assist makes it so t that I’m riding way MORE than i would without it. Cause i can ride around without the assist, and when i want to take it easy i just flip on the assist and keep cruising around. I’ve been putting on maybe 75 miles a week, which surely translates into some smaller amount of “real” miles… But whatever than smaller number is, I’m certain it’s still way higher than it would be with a normal bike simply because i wouldn’t enjoy riding it as much.
I’ve also started finding all kinds of new places around the city that i never noticed before, which is cool. Just because it’s fairly trivial to just zip over and check out anything i see that looks interesting.
Thats excellent, thanks for the write-up. I personally believe that many more of us North Americans could take more trips than we think by bike if we gave it a chance.
One of the nice things about riding a bike is that you notice the surroundings more as you pedal by. I have a hill I go up every day to get to work and a nice woman is out there quite often working on her yard. We exchange pleasantries and sometimes she cheers me on – “Pump! Pump!” she says, and laughs. I bike through an urban area but I have spotted a beaver a few times near a creek I ride by. He’s charming! I say hello to people as I ride and get the nod from fellow bike riders who pass me going the other way. I feel more connected to the world when I ride instead of driving.
Yes, it’s definitely something I’ve noticed as well, that you are much more “there” when riding by on a bike than when you are in a car.
Seconded. During the summer I tend to see the same handful of other bike-commuters, joggers, and dog-walkers every day, and we all nod and smile at one another. I also have a little community of friends down in the office-building locker room; we share stories of near-misses by inattentive drivers, comment on the weather, cheer each other on, and of course we are all united in our belief that we are far, far superior to those lazy folks that drive in to work.
Lots of critters too. The deer around here are pretty fearless, especially on the portion of my ride that is on a bike-trail: they basically refuse to move until I am nearly up on them, and I’ve had to stop and shoo a buck off the trail during mating season. And the woodchucks don’t give a rat’s ass about me or my bike – they just amble across the path with no thought to whether or not I’ll run them over.
The amorous affections of a horny buck? Some may see that as a good reason [I]not[/I] to ride a bike to work…