I've never bought my own bike before but I think it's time. I'm currently riding a hand-me-down men's road bike and Citibikes and I like a lot of (different) things about each. I've been to a couple of local bike shops and got some recommendations. I would like to hear Ask me recs both about specific bikes and about the bike buying process in general. I will mainly be riding this bike in NYC, hopefully to commute regularly between Brooklyn and midtown (8-10miles each way), I'll need to shlep my day bag on it (a clip on to the back rack), regularly carry it up and down minimum a half flight of steps, and lock it up on the street (day time only, not over night) without being too paranoid. I think my top budget is 1k but I'd love to get it lower.
This is what I like/don't like about the road bike I'm riding now:
+ I love the light weight, love it so much.
+ I love that it's fast and I can do hills even though I'm not the strongest rider
- It doesn't quite fit me. It feels like I get a lot of weight on my arms and some soreness in my back. I think having a women's specific bike would help with this.
(NB, the bike frame has been damaged such that multiple mechanics have both approved it for this season but don't like the long term odds on it, it seems to break down all the time, and I'm tired of pouring money into it, so despite what I like about it, I'd rather not keep it).
This is what I like/don't like about the Citibikes I ride regularly:
+ I love the upright posture and the general ride, so comfortable!
+ I love love the low-step. Not just because it's easier for wearing dresses and skirts, but because I can so easily hop off if the traffic is ridiculous, walk on the sidewalk for a block, and hop back on. Or hop off to jay walk (yes, I got a very expensive ticket for running a red light on a Citibike).
- It's too heavy and too slow. It's fine for the generally very short trips I do with it (2 miles max) but I would get too annoyed for carrying it home, and it would be too slow to justify commuting with (even my fast bike is already meaningfully slower than the subway).
I think my dream bike would be an upright step-through that's as fast and light as my roadbike, but I guess something has to give.
I'm fairly tall for a woman (about 5'8) and the bike I'm riding now is my step-dad's old bike (he's around 5'11), so theoretically I could do a men's bike, but I think if I'm going to pay real money for a bike I want it to fit great.
Here are the bikes I've been recommended so far (by local shops):
**Trek 520 ($1290): This is out of my price range, a men's bike, and a bit heavier than I'd prefer. But it was wonderfully wonderfully comfortable to ride (the bike shop had put narrower handlebars on and tipped them upwards).
**Kona Coco ($699) and Jamis Commuter 3 ($750): The bike shop didn't have either of these in stock. They leaned towards the Kona Coco, partly for the disk brakes, but liked the covered gear mechanism in the Jamis. (Also, the other bike shop said that Jamis is much slower with warranty parts and replacements and they've stopped carrying that brand). I'd have to put down a deposit for half the cost, but if I didn't like the bike after a test drive, could apply the deposit towards any other bike. They also offer free tune-ups for the life of the bike, which is great because I have poured so much money into mine just over a few years.
**Raleigh Alysa 2 or 3 ($599 and $799): Not a step-through but a woman's bike that they said would be fast and comparable in weight to mine. Didn't get to ride that one either.
Personally I'm very open to a used bike and don't care at all about color or anything, but none of the shops I stopped at carry used bikes and I don't feel I have enough knowledge to make a discerning second hand purchase.
Some other considerations/questions:
** I seem to have bad bike luck. Things constantly need repairing and for the moment I'm ignorant on bike maintenance and ideally would remain so at least for now. That said, I'd rather not be at the shop all the time. So having a bike that is less likely to need constant fixing would be great, and worth paying extra for.
** Bike direct: I'd love to pay less for a better bike and I've seen this recommended on other threads. On the other hand, the shops near me seem to offer meaningful perks for buying from them (test rides, free tune-ups, etc) that might make up the difference.
** Mainly I'll use this bike for getting around the city but hopefully will get to do occasional longer countryside rides. I don't have the space to have more than one bike, so this bike is it. I hope I'll keep it for years or even decades.
** $1k is a huge bike layout for me, but I can manage it. If it's between a $400 barebones replacement for my current bike - that I'll be itching to replace/upgrade within a year or two - and a $1,000 bike that I'll love and keep forever, I think it's worth it to me to pay more now.
** Weight - I'm finding it really hard to get a sense of how much bikes weigh. It seems like many websites purposely don't list it. Some of the bikes I lifted seemed to weigh, naked, as much or more than my current bike does with a kickstand, ulock, rear rack, water bottle holder, lights, etc. The Linus bikes were recommended in another AskMe and I really like the look of the Scout
, but for all I know they weigh as much as a Citibike!
General recommendations for a first time bike shopper. Feedback on these specific bikes, or specific recommendations for other bikes. Recommendations for preferred places to buy a bike in Brooklyn or Manhattan.
(I've seen these past two questions and found them super informative, if only, in a way, more confusing: But Which Bike is Right for ME?
and What kind of zippy bike to get