Yes, it's another noob looking for advice...

Discussion in 'Beginners' started by Arnolfini, 21 Apr 2008.

  1. Arnolfini

    Arnolfini New Member

    Hi all

    My apologies for the repetition, but I'm another noob looking for advice on which bike to buy!

    I had a bit of a search, but none of the threads seemed to quite match what I'm after, hence me starting a new one (sorry it's so long-winded)...

    First a bit about me:

    I'm an extremely unfit 29yr old. Don't smoke, but I'm several stone heavier than I ought to be.

    I want to take up cycling to lose a stone or two (or five), and generally improve my fitness. I'll probably start off with riding at weekends, then start doing the commute to work (it's only about 6-7 miles each way... albeit with several enormous hills). Once I'm reasonably fit I intend to have a go at the London-Brighton run, and possibly go on a few cycling tours.

    The vast majority (probably c90%) of my riding will be on roads, but I want a bike that's sturdy enough to handle some light off road use (by that I just mean parks, trails, bridleways, etc). As such, I'm leaning towards some sort of hybrid.

    The thing is, I haven't much idea what the good brands are, or what I should be looking for. I've set myself a budget of <£500, and I know I want the following:
    • It's got to be reasonably lightweight
    • Probably no suspension (I reckon it'll just slow things down, and I can't see it being necessary for my needs)
    • Lots of gears because of all the hills
    • I fancy something with disc breaks
    • I want a decent make
    • It needs to be able to handle my 15st7lb bulk (at least for the first few weeks, until the weight starts coming off)
    So far these three have caught my eye:

    Giant Escape M-Zero

    Marin Muirwoods 29er (I'm a bit worried about the chromoly frame on this one... does that mean it'll be heavy?)

    GT Zum (I know it's from Halfords... but I think it's quite sexy, and seems to be a reasonable price)

    To be honest though, I haven't a clue what I'm doing! If possible I want to have a bike by next weekend, but I want the most bangs for my buck, and want to be sure of the suitability of whatever I choose... Can anyone help?

    Oh yeah, and if anyone can recommend decent bike shops around the Croydon/Surrey area that'd be a bonus - especially if they have 0% finance deals available! :biggrin:

    Thanks in advance
  2. punkypossum

    punkypossum Donut Devil

    Other shops do the GT Zum, so you don't need to go to halfords...I test rode one at Evans, and suspect most gt dealers will stock it.
  3. OP

    Arnolfini New Member

    Thanks for the info punkypossum...

    I've seen several Zums online, but Halfords are the only one I've seen with that particular model (the S2 with carbon forks and disc brakes). To be honest I don't have any real problem with buying a bike from Halfords, so long as it's a decent bike!

    So what did you think of it after your test ride?
  4. Crackle

    Crackle Pah

    Can't help with the bike choice as I don't know any of them. I do have a Marin but not that one. You seem to have thought it all through though. Have you included things like, helmet, lock, rack, bag, clothes (raingear), pump & multi-tool in your budget?

    Also, 14 miles is a good commute distance per day, especially if you've some hills to get over too. When you first start can you break it up a bit. So say one day you cycle there but get the train or a lift back and slowly build up from there?

    Many people also recommend a book called Cyclecraft if you've not done any bike commuting before.
  5. OP

    Arnolfini New Member

    Thanks Crackle

    Yeah - I've already bought a helmet, and budgeted an extra £100-150 for the other bits and pieces (I'll no doubt add bits here and there in the coming couple of months).

    Thanks for your suggestions on building up to the commute, sounds like a plan... and that book looks like a worthwhile read too. I could do with a recap seeing as it's been nearly 20 years since I took my cycling proficiency test!
  6. Fab Foodie

    Fab Foodie hanging-on in quiet desperation ...

    Hi Arnolfini, welcome!

    You are a lucky man, because you live very close to this shop...
    Visit or phone and ask for Paul Smith, very nice man and very knowledgeable.

    Otherwise, don't discount drop-bar bikes, they'll handle a bit of towpath work.

    The bikes you have shown are pretty damn robust construction...if spending 90% of your time on-roads and want to do a bit of distance then they are the wrong bikes. On the road you don't need discs, neither do you need scaffold pipe forks or big fat tyres. If you want a flat-bar bike look at say a Specialised Sirrus:
    Bike Plus also do them, but I couldn't post a link.
    Such a bike will be real fun to ride on the roads, fast, sporty and effortless, and although they look a bit "lightweight" are amazingly tough.
    Trek Pilot range similar.
    Then check if you need full length mudguards, or might want to fit a rack for some load-lugging.

    Give Paul a call (I have no financial interest other than he has always good advice and friendly manner).

    Pearson Cycles tucked away in the High Street in Sutton are good too.

    Also important is to get good fitting advice and try before you buy.
    Just a thought.
  7. OP

    Arnolfini New Member

    Cool - thanks for the tips Fab! I'll give Paul a shout tomorrow... come to think of it, I think I might know Bike Plus - are they the one just opposite the Up The Creek comedy club (if it's still there, that is)?

    To be honest, I guess part of me is leaning towards the MTB-style bikes cos I just really prefer the way they look. I know that's a stupid thing to base a decision on, but I can't help myself!

    I'm also a little bit scared of the fragile looking road bikes....

    Still, I'll ring Paul, and maybe pop down at some point later this week.

    Thanks once again!
  8. Muddyfox

    Muddyfox Veteran

    Has Magnatom got you on commision ;)

    Have a look at the Mongoose Crossway 850 it ticks most of your boxes but it does have front suspension although it's only 63 mm and it does have lockout so you could lockout on the road and then use it for your light trails and canal towpath rides and it's got hydraulic disc brakes (2008 model) £499.00 or if you can live without the disc brakes then Evans have got the 2007 model in the sale at £329.00 Bargain

  9. OP

    Arnolfini New Member

    Ooooh... I like that one ;)

    I used to have a Mongoose BMX many many moons ago... (bought it from whatever Bike+ used to be, come to think of it!) - are they a respectable make for this kind of bike? ...Like I say, I'm utterly clueless, so apologies if I'm asking stupid questions!

    Edit: One other thing... if I wanted to take it over some slightly rougher stuff (not hardcore downhill stuff or anything, but maybe across the downs or something) - would it be possible to put knobbly tyres on a bike like this and give it a go? Or would I be likely to wreck it?
  10. Muddyfox

    Muddyfox Veteran

    Mongoose are a very good make of bike and light cross country style riding will Not damage this bike

    I have a Mountain bike with slick tyres on but come the sales at the end of the season i'l either buy a more road orientated bike with drop handle bars or a Mongoose 850

  11. punkypossum

    punkypossum Donut Devil

    Sorry, you might be right, don't know about that particular model...

    I hated the Zum, just could not get comfy on it, but then that's just me, a lot of people love it and it gets great reviews - the only way to find out is to testride it. Plus I think they have changed the geometry about slightly since I tested it...
  12. Tynan

    Tynan Veteran

    be adventurous and take advice from the shop, get something as roadie as you dare

    it will make so much difference to your enjoyment

    honest really really
  13. summerdays

    summerdays Cycling in the sun Moderator

    I've just bought the Escape M Zero, but not riden very many miles due to an "incompatibility":ohmy:xx( with the saddle. Purchased a new saddle yesterday so hopefully will now start putting on the miles:smile:.

    I went for disk brakes as I had managed to wear out my rims on my first bike in 18 months (due to my style of riding/not cleaning rims/hilly Bristol) and wanted better stopping in the wet.
  14. OP

    Arnolfini New Member

    Hmmm... so many choices!

    I rang round a few bike shops at lunch time today, who recommended the following:
    • Trek 7500 (looks like a lovely bike, but I have to admit the lack of disc brakes puts me off a little - I just really fancy the extra stopping power)
    • Trek Soho 2 (or 3 if I stretch the budget a little)
    • Specialized Sirrus (as did Fab) - although they said it really wouldn't be a good idea taking it off tarmac at all...
    • Specialized Globe Disc (don't really know much about this one)
    After Jakes Dad mentioned the Mongoose Crossway 850 I really took a shine to it (admittedly that's only cos it looks sexy and has lots of kit... I've no idea what quality the components are, but they look fancy!).

    Unfortunately I think I'll have trouble riding one as no one seems to have one around here (although most were happy to order it)... also two of the four places I spoke to said that whilst Mongoose make fantastic mountain bikes and BMXs, their hybrids are a little so-so (although I obviously have no idea on the validity of that statement). :wacko:

    Does anyone have any strong feelings about any of these bikes, or do they all sound OK?

    I have a sneaking suspicion I'll end up going to a dealer this weekend, and just going along with whatever they tell me!
  15. Fab Foodie

    Fab Foodie hanging-on in quiet desperation ...

    If you are looking for an all-round bike, you'll have to accept some compromise in some areas. I think you need to think about what those priorities might be. That's why many of us end-up with more than one bike, each one more focused to its use. In fact for on and off-road duties there is always the Specialized Tri-cross, but it is a big budget stretch. It's a Cyclo-cross bike, but makes a good commuter, an OK roadie bike, will do Audax and light touring duties....BUT it has drop bars and is more than £500.

    So, have a think about what is REALLY important.
    Otherwise, Trek Giant, Spesh, all good brands with good vfm.


    Also, just go through the check-list...mudguards, rack etc.

    Finally, you really need to try a few in the right size. Good luck!
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