Need loads of advice...

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Fourjays, 20 Apr 2010.

  1. Fourjays

    Fourjays New Member

    Forgive the long, rambling post but I know so very little about bikes (apart from peddling and steering) that I want to cover my bases and find out as much as possible. :evil:

    I've done a little riding over the years since I got my first bike many years a go. I'm now 21 (22 next week :rolleyes:) and just last week I got my old Townsend adults mountain bike out of the shed for a ride. Had it since I was 14 if my memory serves me correctly and it has served me well, but no sooner had I sat it down outside for a quick clean than the back tyre gave out a rather loud pop followed by hissing!

    I could just replace the tube, but there are a number of other things that aren't so good with it to be honest. The handlebars are starting to go rusty, the front brake (V-brakes) sometimes seem to get stuck on one side (have to pull it again to get it to release), the saddle is worn out and I think the front wheel is possibly slightly bent (when I brake it jerks at a certain point as the wheel goes round and if I lift it up and spin it it seems to wiggle from side to side as it goes round - but maybe it just needs to be taken off and refitted?). There are a number of more minor issues (plastic levers, etc looking weak), but it is very old though so I guess this is to be expected. It was second hand from a regular cycler who replaced many of the original parts so it is probably only down to him that it has lasted this long.

    I have considered replacing many of the worn parts, but the price seems to get into the range of a cheap bike (£100-£150 depending on just how much I replace - which is pretty much my budget) so I have been wondering whether it is time to get a new one or is it better to refurb what I've got?

    My main concern over a new bike is build quality - about five years ago my little sister was given a bike from Tesco's which was stored behind mine in the winter. During the course of the one winter the bike had gone rusty across the frame, which is a little disconcerting to say the least! To this day, my Townsend's frame is still rust-free and in good condition (bar a few scrapes across the decals from falls).

    I've also been wondering about the details of the bike itself such as suspension and hybrid bikes and so on. As I said, I don't know a lot about it but I'd like to get into cycling a bit more so as to get fit - I am a bit tubby and I do struggle a lot on the hills round here (manage just 4 miles before I am exhausted). I see many cyclists go up the rather steep hill here on road bikes so I'm curious as to whether the weight of my bike is causing me unneeded exhaustion or if I'm just a weakling. I also have quite chunky "Schwable" tyres, which I guess could make a difference (had them five years and they haven't worn much).

    Another issue is I probably need to purchase online for both budget and transport reasons... hard to get to a bike shop round here (have to use public transport, which also makes getting a second hand bike a bit difficult) and no doubt the prices will be much higher anyway. :biggrin: Finances are tight and the most I can manage is around £180-£200 (including any accessories).

    So should I get a new bike or is it better to refurbish my current one for a few more years life than to buy something cheap? If I go for a new bike, where do I start? :tongue:

    Here are some of the bikes I have come across and considered so far:

    Many thanks for any advice :smile:
  2. Alan Whicker

    Alan Whicker Senior Member

    Sounds to me like it's time for a new bike!

    If you're not going seriously off-road you don't need suspension. In any case, at the price point you're looking at it'll be a waste of money.

    I'm no expert, but the Falcon Subway looks reasonable. If you can stretch your budget a bit (£249), the Carrera Subway (different bike) at Halfords has a lot of fans on here.

    It might be difficult, but it would be well worth the effort to try and get to a bike shop (or Halfords) to try a bike for size, and loads less hassle in the long run than having to return a mail-order bike if it doesn't 'fit'.

    Have you got a Decathlon anywhere near you? Their bikes are very good value and I believe they've just started a mail order service.
  3. Moodyman

    Moodyman Guru

    If you can do your own maintenance and buy parts of the web, doing up your old bike is worth it.

    If you can't do your own maintenance, then it's not worth it when you factor in the labour charges of the LBS. It's new bike time. Alan Whicker's suggestions are a good starting point
  4. OP

    Fourjays New Member

    The Carrera Subway does look nice but would require a bit more saving up to manage.

    Nearest Decathlon is apparently over 50 miles although there are 2 stores which can deliver here. Price-wise they do seem to cater to the cheaper end better than others, presuming the cheaper bikes they do are good quality wise. :smile:

    Nearest place for any major stores will be Stoke/Newcastle-under-Lyme which is around 18 miles away.

    How important is the "fit"? I've always been under the impression that everything is of a fairly standard size/shape and you just adjust the seat/saddle height according to preference... which probably shows how little I know.
  5. Arch

    Arch Married to Night Train

    Salford, UK

    Another thought - second hand? If you're on a budget, you can get a better bike for less this way. It's more of a lottery of course, you might have to look at a few (via classified ads, Gumtree etc) before you find one that fits, as opposed to ordering one in your size. (ah, just seen your 'transport' issue. Still, it's a thought...)

    If you're going for new, then as Alan says, forget suspension, you don't need it and it adds weight. To make your cycling as easy as possible, get a bike with slicker tyres, and keep them pumped up hard. You'll soon find your endurance increasing.

    At the end of the day, I think either of those you linked to without suspension would do - the main thing is to have a bike, and use it, and if your budget is tight, then you have to stick with it (been there, done that). Once you have a bike, and you use it, then you can see about any little upgrades gradually.

    I've heard a lot of positives about Decathlon, although never been to one myself.
  6. Alan Whicker

    Alan Whicker Senior Member

    Fit is very important. If a bike's not comfortable you'll never use it, and comfort is more than just the saddle. Frame geometry and sizing varies widely between manufacturers. For example the Trek 7.3FX and the Specialized Sirrus are very similar bikes, but I found the Sirrus to be too stretched out for my arms. The Trek fit me just right, but I tried two different sizes. There are also other considerations like standover height (how hight the top tube is). If it's too high for you, it could be very painful getting on and off (and downright dangerous in an emergency) - especially if you're a man :smile:. Any good bike shop will set up a bike correctly for you.

    IMHO it would be worth taking a trip to Decathlon if you can - they let you test ride around the store! Their bikes are a mixed bag, but even the cheapest ones are miles better than any from Argos etc (but I haven't been in for over a year).

    If there's no rush it would certainly be worth saving, even if only to give you some more choices and give time for a perfect second-hand bike to pop up. They always do, sooner or later. Chances are, the small ads in your local paper will be a goldmine of old bikes from garage clearances. There are thousands of hardly-used good honest Raleighs (especially the ones made in the UK pre 1999) out there looking for a new lease of life.
  7. vickster

    vickster Legendary Member

    Not as good as your local friendly bike shop (might be worth going to one of those first as the ones around here often have deals on older model), but Evans cycles have a wide range and have a few 2009 hybrids £200 or under which might be worth a look. they have stores all over the country and also do mail order with a returns policy

    Remember to save a bit for accessories like lights, a decent lock and some padded shorts.

    I assume your company doesn't do a cycle 2 work scheme as this can save 35% or more and is taken monthly from gross wages so you don;t have to pay all up front. You can get some extra for accessories too
  8. OP

    Fourjays New Member

    I'm self-employed. :smile: Good to see such a scheme going though.

    There is a very small bike shop in a closer town, but if I remember right it was always more focused on selling a few children's bikes and doing repairs. Will have to try and check it out and see what they do these days - if it still exists anyway as so much has changed there.
  9. xpc316e

    xpc316e Senior Member

    I'd be seriously tempted to get a bike from somewhere like ebay. First get a decent cycling book from the library, so that you understand about frame sizes and correct fitting. You will also gain some knowledge about basic faults and wear & tear which will help when examining a prospective purchase.

    Ebay lets you search the locality, and you could always fix the puncture on the Townsend (good practice) and ride to view anything.

    Good luck.
  10. summerdays

    summerdays Cycling in the sun Moderator

    Check whether the bike shop does second hand bikes ... some do take bikes as part exchange and then have a few second hand bikes to sell.
  11. ASC1951

    ASC1951 Guru

    At 21 and 51/52? Scary. What is it that you do?

    As you are self-employed, you don't need the C2W scheme. You can set the cost of buying and running your bicycle against tax provided you do actually use it for business. Strictly speaking you should apportion the cost according to work/leisure use, but the figures are so small that your accountant is hardly going to notice if it's 100%.

    Or you could charge your business a mileage rate instead. The HMRC rate is 20p a mile.
  12. OP

    Fourjays New Member

    I'm a freelance web developer, although recently the stress has been getting to me a bit which is another reason I want to start riding more (apparently exercise can help).

    I think I'll perhaps have a go at fixing some of the Townsend's issues (without any expensive purchases) and doing some basic maintenance so I learn some more about the technical side while I get some money saved up. Who knows, perhaps it will run ok after a little work as the last person to maintain it was my "ex-father" (horrible, violent man that I've since discovered gave nothing but bad advice).

    For example I was always told to WD40 the moving parts, but I've recently read that WD40 is actually a "solvent" (what does this mean?) and no good for bikes. How do I go about undoing the damage this may have caused? Clean everything thoroughly and apply proper lubricant? What is a good lubricant?

    Thanks :angry:
  13. BrumJim

    BrumJim Poster

    Sorry to hear about your "father" experience. It'll define you, but don't let it break you.

    WD40 is indeed a great solvent with lubricating properties. Just apply lubricant on top - at the least it will have cleaned out any residual gunk. If it has caused wear damage, then there is nothing you can do except replace earlier than usual. There are many conversations that can be had over the best oil, but either something bike specific, or something very light - car engine oil is way too heavy (viscous). Personally I use Greenoil, mainly as I am not fit enough to justify spending extra money on increased performance, so I'll spend it on saving the environment instead.
  14. BigSid

    BigSid Senior Member

    On the financial front, you could estimate how much you'd save by using the bike instead of public transport and see if that would pay for a loan or HP to supplement your budget. You'd get a bigger choice on specification and/or accessories.

    N.B. Only do this if you genuinely believe you can afford it.
  15. Arch

    Arch Married to Night Train

    Salford, UK

    The Greenoil mentioned is good, but I use either Finishline, or the Halford own brand version of it (cheaper). The 'dry' type is quite adequate, the 'wet' type
    a bit thicker if you are likely to be doing a lot of wet and muddy riding.

    Good idea to have a go at the Townsend. It might not be brilliant, but with a very little work it'll be ridable and while you ride it, you'll be getting a better idea of what you want from a new bike. You mention that the front wheel is a bit wonky - truing it might be a job for an expert, although there are plenty of books and online vids that would show you how, if you are prepared to take your time and learn it. Plenty of folk ride around on terrible wheels - the main issue is that the brake will drag on one side or the other when the wonky bit goes by.

    A guy I work with, had a wheel a bit like a Pringle, he went to fix a puncture one day and found that the rim was actually split through and several spokes were broken! But he'd been riding it merrily.... The great thing about bikes, and especially bikes like your Townsend is that they will go on and on, fairly uncomplainingly, until they just die. Obviously, if you look after them, they go on longer, and are nicer to ride, but you can get by on most bikes....
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