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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all! Thanks in advance for reading this...I've done a bit of random article reading on the internet but nothing beats having my own personal questions answered by real people...

So here's the deal:

I learned how to ride a bike fairly late in my childhood, but have loved riding ever since. First owned a hand-me-down department store cruiser, then a department store MTB. Got to university and realized the campus was too big for my little legs to carry me to class on time. Got the only bike I could afford as a poor student, a second-hand Norco Hornet (that's a 24" wheel boys' MTB and I named her Little Miss Sunshine) -- solely for the purpose of getting around campus.

Now that I'm no longer going from class to class, I miss riding a bike and I'm interested in getting a new bike for the purpose of getting to work and/or around the city since LMS is now a real piece of junk and not an ideal bike for longer rides. So, here I am. I don't know what I need and I thought I might pop into a local bike store for help but first wanted to ask people who have opinions that are not based on sales commission :)

So, for the questions:

1. Should I be getting a road bike or a hybrid bike or ...? The ride to work is only 9km with several long stretches of low uphill gradients so I suppose I'll need something light and with low gears? I don't anticipate taking my bike out for really long rides or anything, and will for the meantime probably ride in fair conditions. The only good thing about my old MTB was the ease with which I could ride it over uneven terrain if I had to bypass some slow moving people/vehicles.

2. Is it even possible for me to find a well-fitting bike that isn't an MTB? I'm small -- as in, 4"10, 27.5" inseam, 95 lbs. A lot of road bike size charts seem to assume a minimum height of at least 5'1". Last time I bought a bike I deliberately sought a kids' MTB because it seemed like that's all they had for someone my size.

3. What can I expect to spend, or should I expect to spend given my inexperience/purpose? I was thinking maybe $400 including accessories. Is that realistic/too much/too little?

4. What kinds of accessories am I going to need? For sure a suitable helmet and lock, tail light and fenders perhaps? A good lock will be essential since I'm gonna have to leave my bike outside my building. Cable? U-lock?

5. My right arm is less steady than my left and therefore I've been using it for hand signals during my leisure rides across campus. Apparently I'm supposed to use my left. Is this annoying/confusing for other cyclists/drivers/pedestrians?

6. Anything else I should know?

Thank you!!
 

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Lot to answer here but I'll have a go at it and others will follow up. If you plan on doing almost all your riding on roads, then get a road bike. Bikes are designed to do a particular job just like a tool. A saw and a hammer are both very good tools, but they are hardly interchangeable. If you want to do a light off road trail, the hybrid may be the way to go. It will not be quite as fast, but it will have a more upright seating position so you might be more comfortable. That's a matter of personal preference.

Light is almost always better than heavy, but you already have an advantage. Your engine is much lighter than mine. Cyclists have a term called weight weenie where someone worries about every single gram they might avoid. Unless you are racing, the vast majority of people a little here or there isn't a big deal. Get what you like in your budget. You can spend as much as you want on a bike, and the top racers are in the thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars for a bike. What ever your budget, make sure its adjusted properly and works as it should. Nothing is more frustrating than a bike that doesn't shift right.

It sounds like you are planning to leave your bike outside. You might need both a U lock and a cable. What ever you secure your bike to, make sure you have the frame AND the wheels locked up. Quick release wheels are easy to walk off if you don't have them secured to something. Yet there is one other possibility that might work well for you. That is a bike that will fold up into a small size that makes for an easy carry on public transportation, or in your case to maybe store in a closet inside. Not only are thieves less of a problem, its out of the elements. Its something I would recommend you consider and ride before you buy. Dahon is one of the standards in folding bikes, but there are others and I think you should be able to get one of the 7 or 8 speed models in your budget.

Fit is important. Its why most people that get a department store bike often don't follow through with riding it. It's often the wrong size and an ill fitting bike is an invitation to injury. What ever bike you decide to get, make sure they help you fit it properly. The right local bike shop is the biggest help you are ever going to get. Most people that work there do so because they like to ride too and often have been there done that.

As far as the signaling is it confusing? Probably not. Is it better to use the left? In my opinion yes. It is the side on the traffic side and would be more visible to someone that may not be paying as much attention as they should. Unless there is a medical issue that would keep you from riding with one hand better than the other, Id recommend some practice in a parking lot doing the different hand signals. You will get the hang of it in no time.
 

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I'd say that you should go to your local bike shop and ride a variety of bikes, until you find one that fits you and feels good. At that distance, I wouldn't be too worried about weight and bike style. but you likely want a bike that has braze-ons for a rear rack and fenders since you'll be commuting. They key is is really about riding lots of styles, so that you can insure that the sizing is right, and your concern over arm strength. You may even want the LBS to switch brake side assignments if that makes you more comfortable.

some of the womens road bikes look just like the mens, but are smaller in different areas - may be worth getting on some of those.
 

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spin... spin.. spin
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test ride everything you can... even stuff out of your price range. it is important to find what you like before spending any money.

commuting can be the best part of your day...
i won't offer a lot more advice as i would be repeating a lot of what has already been said.

bikes while amazing do not always get better as the price goes up... when you find something you might like post it on here. people will give you honest feedback.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, everyone! All that's been said has been very helpful. In the meantime I've been collecting all the information I can, and learning a lot!

photosbymark - I figured a lighter bike is an advantage for road riding because it takes less effort for your body to move it but I never actually thought of my low body weight being an advantage as well.

By the looks of it I'll be needing pretty much the smallest frame anybody's got. I'd probably save money if I bought a second hand bike but I feel like with my size I'm better off just going into one of my local bike shops and getting help choosing a new one for my immediate needs. I've got a list of three to visit this week so we'll see how it goes...I've been reading that a lot of places don't carry XS bikes unless they're requested in but hopefully there will be some in stock and I'll be able to actually test ride a few. Or maybe I can get away with riding an S size frame? Who knows -- but I'm really excited to start looking :). I'll see what my local shops recommend and definitely report back to get some opinions!

Thanks again!
 

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Yesterday tired old man, Today retired old man
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If there is a Cannondale dealer I would recomend you look at a Quick-6. I picked one up a cupple of years ago to see if I wanted a Hibread. That bike is just a nice bike I call it my Timex, it is about $450 $500 bike but it just keeps on ticking the 700x35 make the bumps smother . That bike is on loan to a friend and thay like it as much as I do.
My .02
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So I went to bike shop 1 out of 3, and the guy suggested I go for another kids bike but spend some money on a better derailleur and other things because kids bikes are often made with less quality parts than their adult counterparts. The bike he showed me was a blue Norco Glide. Didn't get to test ride cause the weather out was pretty bad. It looked like a nice bike but I'm a little hesitant because I'm an adult and it kind of sucks to feel like I have something that should belong to a 12 year old :(. I'll be hitting up the other stores and doing more research so we'll see how it goes...
 

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spin... spin.. spin
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crazy right... and it is only $800.00... wish i was small enough to ride it. would love to get a Pina for that kinda cash.
 

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YAY BAIKS!
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That's not exactly a commuter bike though, is it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Ah, that Pinarello kids bike looks absolutely gorgeous. Too bad I can't have it...there aren't a ton of Pinarello dealers in the Vancouver area but I just stopped by one to see if they carry it. The guy showed me their Pinarello catalogue (from which it was absent) and told me that if it's not on there they probably can't get it. Sad. He did however show me a really lovely Argon 18 Xenon 650 for $799 and for a bike like that I'd be willing to go over my initial budget for sure. I didn't get to test ride it today since I'm short on time but I'd really like to soon. So far this looks the most promising. The hybrid Norco ladies bikes I tried at bike shop #2 were still big despite being the smallest ones available, and riding them also had me realize that I can't be comfortable in a completely upright position while riding. Makes the arms kinda tired.

Not completely decided yet since $800 is still more than I was initially willing to pay, but some opinions on the Xenon 650 might be good! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Well I guess a bike that isn't really meant for commuting is fine as long as it gets the job done and is light, well built and fast...so you know, a racing bike is fine too. At least I can pass all the city chic commuters wearing designer clothes and riding vintage road bikes :p
 
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