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Some questions etc..



 
 
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  #1  
Old August 15th 04, 10:05 PM
Douglas Harrington
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Default Some questions etc..

Alright, another newbie here...

Just starting to get into the sport at age 15 after finding a route to
the local bikepath in Rhode Island. Been riding one of those generic
wal-mart mountain bikes for the past few years. Half the gears don't
work and the ones that do can be fussy at times (like the lower gears
not locking in place as you approach a stop sign). One of the gears
is completely ruined as one of the teeth on it tore off, causing the
gear to tear in half (wow this stuff is made cheap). Luckily the
gears I use most often (7 and 5) work okay.

On the local bike path i've noticed people on what I believe are
called 'road bikes' (the thin tires). While I am struggling to hold
17mph these people, some looking in their mid 60s+ are speeding past
me. It seems whenever I see someone else on a mountain bike they are
struggling like myself. Are road bikes capable of faster speeds or is
it just the fact that I am just starting out and can't move that fast
yet?

Also, what type of bike would suit me best? - I ride on residential
streets almost all the time unless I am on the bike path (which is
paved as well). Just not sure how well something other than a
mountain bike would handle on the roads I have to go down to get to
the bike path - the shoulders are small and almost covered in sand,
gravel and other debris (such as the tar grit from the last hole the
DPW decided to dig).

Electronics... I have a garmin GPS which I wear around my neck when I
head out, but am wondering what other items there are that people use
while biking. The GPS has a handlebar mount but I am afraid of it
being stolen or damaged if I were to crash (took a corner too fast a
few months ago at an intersection and hit a steep curb - had the gps
been on the handlebars it would have been damaged).

What are the major differences between a mountain bike like mine and a
'road bike'? (Physical differences and how they ride/feel)

Is it better/cheaper to build a bike or to buy one pre-built? (And
what sites are there that sell bikes/parts?)

Not sure if I could build or buy a better bike with a few hundred
dollars but am interested in seeing whats out there (and building one
would be a nice project).


-Thanks for any help/info
Ads
  #2  
Old August 16th 04, 02:57 AM
Frank Krygowski
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Default

Douglas Harrington wrote:

Alright, another newbie here...

Just starting to get into the sport at age 15 after finding a route to
the local bikepath in Rhode Island. Been riding one of those generic
wal-mart mountain bikes for the past few years. Half the gears don't
work and the ones that do can be fussy at times (like the lower gears
not locking in place as you approach a stop sign). One of the gears
is completely ruined as one of the teeth on it tore off, causing the
gear to tear in half (wow this stuff is made cheap). Luckily the
gears I use most often (7 and 5) work okay.

On the local bike path i've noticed people on what I believe are
called 'road bikes' (the thin tires). While I am struggling to hold
17mph these people, some looking in their mid 60s+ are speeding past
me. It seems whenever I see someone else on a mountain bike they are
struggling like myself. Are road bikes capable of faster speeds or is
it just the fact that I am just starting out and can't move that fast
yet?

Also, what type of bike would suit me best? - I ride on residential
streets almost all the time unless I am on the bike path (which is
paved as well). Just not sure how well something other than a
mountain bike would handle on the roads I have to go down to get to
the bike path - the shoulders are small and almost covered in sand,
gravel and other debris (such as the tar grit from the last hole the
DPW decided to dig).

Electronics... I have a garmin GPS which I wear around my neck when I
head out, but am wondering what other items there are that people use
while biking. The GPS has a handlebar mount but I am afraid of it
being stolen or damaged if I were to crash (took a corner too fast a
few months ago at an intersection and hit a steep curb - had the gps
been on the handlebars it would have been damaged).

What are the major differences between a mountain bike like mine and a
'road bike'? (Physical differences and how they ride/feel)

Is it better/cheaper to build a bike or to buy one pre-built? (And
what sites are there that sell bikes/parts?)

Not sure if I could build or buy a better bike with a few hundred
dollars but am interested in seeing whats out there (and building one
would be a nice project).


-Thanks for any help/info


Douglas - I'm going to try to briefly answer some of your questions.
But first, and most important: realize that a lot of what you ask are
absolutely standard beginner questions. They are best answered by going
to the library or bookstore and getting one or more books about
bicycling. Get a decent, general book like _Richard's 21st Century
Bicycle Book_ by Richard Ballantine. Avoid specialized books until
you've built up a knowledge base.

Regarding your questions: *-mart bikes are junk. You need something of
bike shop quality.

Mountain bikes are slow on the road. The tires, the suspension and the
arms-out riding position soak up energy. For your use, you need smooth
tires, and (despite common misconceptios) drop bars (if not set up too
low) are best for anything but very short rides. Road, touring or
hybrid are all easier riding than mountain bikes (in order).

Don't ride in sand, gravel or other trash at the side of the road.
Learn the rules of the road and ride as a legal vehicle. Check out
http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/index.htm
for the basics.

Electronics: people have different tastes. I have a cyclometer (speed,
distance, time) on my bike. Nothing else. I prefer a map to a GPS.

Building a bike from parts is way more expensive than buying a complete
bike, and a novice could get killed by compatibility issues. One
possibility to save money, if that's what you want, is to find a used
bike. Maybe even at a thrift store, if you're very lucky. (I was once.)

Bike parts, equipment, etc: Try supporting your local bike shop. They
can teach you a lot. For mail order, google Nashbar and google
Performance Bicycles.


--
--------------------+
Frank Krygowski [To reply, remove rodent and vegetable dot com,
replace with cc.ysu dot edu]

  #3  
Old August 16th 04, 03:15 AM
dreaded
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Default


"Douglas Harrington" wrote in message
om...
Alright, another newbie here...

Just starting to get into the sport at age 15 after finding a route to
the local bikepath in Rhode Island. Been riding one of those generic
wal-mart mountain bikes for the past few years. Half the gears don't
work and the ones that do can be fussy at times (like the lower gears
not locking in place as you approach a stop sign). One of the gears
is completely ruined as one of the teeth on it tore off, causing the
gear to tear in half (wow this stuff is made cheap). Luckily the
gears I use most often (7 and 5) work okay.


im mostly a lurker and a newbie too but this is a very knowledgeable and
friendly group...
my own newbie thoughts:
-wal-mart is evil. better to shop at your LBS. better for the small
business, better for workers, the economy and general well being of the
bicycling industry- and you'll get a better bike too!

On the local bike path i've noticed people on what I believe are
called 'road bikes' (the thin tires). While I am struggling to hold
17mph these people, some looking in their mid 60s+ are speeding past
me. It seems whenever I see someone else on a mountain bike they are
struggling like myself. Are road bikes capable of faster speeds or is
it just the fact that I am just starting out and can't move that fast
yet?


-road bikes are faster for several reasons. firstly since there is thinner
tire contact with road = less friction. they are also more aerodynamic and
much lighter.


Also, what type of bike would suit me best? - I ride on residential
streets almost all the time unless I am on the bike path (which is
paved as well). Just not sure how well something other than a
mountain bike would handle on the roads I have to go down to get to
the bike path - the shoulders are small and almost covered in sand,
gravel and other debris (such as the tar grit from the last hole the
DPW decided to dig).


you might check out some of the new cyclocross bikes if yor have some dough.
they seem very versatile. it sound like you could also get away with a road
or touring bike with the right tires, just might need to watch out for that
sand! i have a touring bike that i use all over the city. it's not good for
hopping curbs but it's fast. if you dont have the dough for a new bike at
least ditch the knobby tires and put on some slicks. this will make the most
difference.


Electronics... I have a garmin GPS which I wear around my neck when I
head out, but am wondering what other items there are that people use
while biking. The GPS has a handlebar mount but I am afraid of it
being stolen or damaged if I were to crash (took a corner too fast a
few months ago at an intersection and hit a steep curb - had the gps
been on the handlebars it would have been damaged).


why use a gps when on the road? i just use maps.

What are the major differences between a mountain bike like mine and a
'road bike'? (Physical differences and how they ride/feel)

many differences. mtb riding position is more upright, they are slower,
heavier, the gears are lower, they usually have heavy suspension systems not
needed on the street, they are more durable, the wheels are much stronger.
road and touring bikes: see above

Is it better/cheaper to build a bike or to buy one pre-built? (And
what sites are there that sell bikes/parts?)


no question. buy one unless you know where to get free parts!


Not sure if I could build or buy a better bike with a few hundred
dollars but am interested in seeing whats out there (and building one
would be a nice project).

others in this group seem to like the trek line of bikes. i've never had a
trek. most important thing is to find one that "fits"
-alan


-Thanks for any help/info



  #5  
Old August 16th 04, 03:56 AM
Ben A Gozar
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Default

After finding this group a few months back, reading some excellent advice
and riding thrift store fixers since April, I bought a Kona Dew Deluxe for
myself. Residental bedroom community with bike trails and some dirt paths,
and some hills thrown in for good measure.

Excellent choice for me, as I am very happy with it. A semi mountain bike
with fast built in. gl

  #7  
Old August 16th 04, 06:25 AM
Pete
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Default


"Douglas Harrington" wrote

I may just hold off and buy a completely new bike.


That would be best.

Pete


  #8  
Old August 16th 04, 06:27 AM
Douglas Harrington
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Default

Thanks for everyones replies. I realize wal-mart bikes are junk, the
bike was a gift from back when I never really rode much (and when I
wondered why people had bikes with such thin tires).

As for riding with the traffic...
I try to stay in the shoulder at most times, but the roads without
shoulders (or with shoulders filled with sand/glass/tar) are usually
on one-lane roads where passing is prohibited. Is it best to stay in
the traffic lane until I find a safe/clear shoulder and then signal
the car(s) behind me to pass me? Also, at major intersections without
left/right turn only lanes, (like US6 which I cross now and then) I
assume it is best to get in a lane, rather than try to ride along the
side where someone going straight could hit me, correct? I see people
on road bikes moving with the traffic, but I just see everything a
little differently as I can't move that fast. Also, I always ride on
the right (with traffic flow).

I bought the GPS because I wanted it mainly for in-car
directions/mapping on my laptop. I just got one with a display and
some extras since I could use it while biking. Also want to get a
speedometer/odometer eventually, GPS has one but standalone is nicer
(had one but it broke a long time back).

As for replacing the tires - will those thin tires be able to support
my bike? The frame is steel and the entire thing is damn heavy
compared to a schwinn my mother used to own (that went in a yard sale
years ago). Might just wait a few months until I have some more cash
toward it and look on ebay/bike shops, with 2 gears working and one
that fails when you need it (dosn't lock and you end up having to walk
it across an intersection at times), I may just hold off and buy a
completely new bike.
  #9  
Old August 16th 04, 03:18 PM
Frank Krygowski
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Default

Douglas Harrington wrote:

As for riding with the traffic...
I try to stay in the shoulder at most times, but the roads without
shoulders (or with shoulders filled with sand/glass/tar) are usually
on one-lane roads where passing is prohibited. Is it best to stay in
the traffic lane until I find a safe/clear shoulder and then signal
the car(s) behind me to pass me? Also, at major intersections without
left/right turn only lanes, (like US6 which I cross now and then) I
assume it is best to get in a lane, rather than try to ride along the
side where someone going straight could hit me, correct? I see people
on road bikes moving with the traffic, but I just see everything a
little differently as I can't move that fast. Also, I always ride on
the right (with traffic flow).


Really - read http://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/index.htm

Another tactic to get you started well: Check
http://www.bikeleague.org/educenter/education.htm
to find a Road 1 class or instructor near you. Yeah, the idea of taking
a class in bicycling may seem odd, but the classes are very enjoyable,
and the typical price (less than $50) is low. You can't make a better
investment for cycling enjoyment.

And the instructor will probably answer every question you have, or can
dream up!

--
--------------------+
Frank Krygowski [To reply, remove rodent and vegetable dot com,
replace with cc.ysu dot edu]

  #10  
Old August 16th 04, 06:41 PM
Pbwalther
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As for riding with the traffic...

Riding safely in traffic is counter intuitive. Most beginners try to ride like
pedestrians on bicycles. They tend to try to avoid traffic. They are also
erratic and hence unpredictable and hence can be a danger to themselves and
others.

Forester, a traffic engineer, analyzed bicycle riding and wrote a book called
"Effective Cycling" where he tells you how to ride safely in traffic. I
believe there are websites devoted to it and you can do a search to find one.
Essentially, Forester found that riding your bike like you are a slow motorized
vehicle is the optimum method. He also found that commuter cyclists have the
lowest accident rates by far even though they ride on busy roads in rush hour.
The rates for them are so low that Forester was unable to estimate them (too
small of a sample size). By the way, it is estimated that a cyclist's chance
of getting killed per hour of riding is half that of a motorist. But half of
the bicycle fatalities occur at night with riders whom I believe have no lights
so that means if you are not one of those, your risk is 25% of a motorist.
Also once you get some experience, I would think your risk of fatality would be
about 10% of a motorist. I know, it does not FEEL that way. I feel "safer" in
a car but I think that is a false sense of security.
 




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