What kind of bike should I get?
June 25, 2012 5:29 PM   Subscribe

I need a bicycle. What should I get, what brands to consider, which brands to avoid?

Gonna take the plunge and use the bike to go back and forth between work, maybe ride the 15 miles out to the beach from time to time. I live in flat, coastal city, with a few bike lanes, but not many bike paths. So my instinct to get a mountain bike may not be correct. I am a 6 ft male, budget of around $200, maybe $300 if it's really worth it.

If there's a particular bag you'd recommend for carrying a change of clothing, that would be great.
posted by Brandon Blatcher to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (29 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
How far is your work commute?
posted by The Deej at 5:33 PM on June 25, 2012

3 miles, so i can see myself taking longer routes or detours, just because.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:37 PM on June 25, 2012

I just got rid of a mountain bike in favor of a cruiser style bike.

Cons on the mountain bike, for me personally: putting a lot of weight on my wrists was hard. I have tendonitis from too much typing, and the mountain bike really aggrevated it. And I bike 99.9% on paved roads.

Pros for the new bike: wow, insanely smooth ride. It easy accomodates a back rack, which i can load up a ton. I like the step through frame much better. On the downside, the bike itself is fairly heavy so I don't look forward to the first time I have to carry it up a flight of stairs. My average ride is something like 10 miles to run errands, so a more laid back bike this made sense for me.
posted by lyra4 at 5:38 PM on June 25, 2012

First, you should go to your local bike shop (not a sporting-goods store or department store) and tell them your budget and what you'll be riding for. They will help you pick a bike that suits your needs and fits you properly. Be sure to do test-rides on several bikes before you make a decision. Also, don't forget to budget another $50-100 for lights, locks, and a helmet—these are musts.

I have two Banjo Brothers bags that I like quite well, but in the summer, they make my back sweaty. You may want to go with a rack and panniers if you don't want the back sweat.
posted by smich at 5:39 PM on June 25, 2012

I bought a $200 costco bike for just this circumstance and it's been fine. Great, even. The secret is that all bikes have wheels, and wheels make travel easy. You kind of can't go wrong as long as you get a bike that's the right size and make sure everything's tight/not put on backwards/etc.

I'm much more into biking now, and often have bike-envy, but frankly a lot of it is elitist bullshit. Any bike today is going to be functional and safe and likely better engineered (in some important respects) than any bike made 50 or 60 years ago. From a utilitarian perspective, it would be hard to find a bike that couldn't meet your requirements.

Definitely get a bike rack and a set of cheap panniers (bags that hook onto the rack).

If you're going to be a "rain or shine" commuter, get fenders. They provide some protection from mud and water etc.

Always get the metal "U" locks. The other kinds are too easy to cut through.

I personally love the idea of internal gears. Maybe kind of sort of less efficient and a few ounces heavier, in general, on the one hand, versus years of maintenance free worry and stationary shifting on the other? Sign me up. I'll never even notice the disadvantages.

One option in your search is to keep an eye out on craigslist or talk to people you know. You could easily find a perfectly cromulent bike for free, or close to it.
posted by jsturgill at 5:49 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

One last thing: Is there a particular type/kind or brandon of seat padding one should consider? Nobody wants a sore ass.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:53 PM on June 25, 2012

To counter jsturgill's point- new bikes on the low end of the market today are made with incredibly shoddy parts that will rarely last a year with heavy use, and will cost more in maintenance/replacements over time. Some new bikes are so bad the wear parts aren't even replaceable. This is not true of many older bikes, and even if you get a used bike for $150 and spend $75 on new parts and a tune up, you'll end up with a better bike than any new bike you could get for that price, if you shop carefully. You really want a bike snob friend to help you browse craigslist, etc., because that's the way to get the most for your budget.

A vintage steel mountain bike with a plain frame, without shocks or any of the stupid things they did to mountain bikes since the 90s, with some components upgraded and moderate, not super-fat tires without too much tread might be a good choice. Semi-fat tires feel nice and cushiony but slow you down relative to skinny tires. Otherwise, there is no compelling reason to get a mountain bike- they are not necessarily more comfortable or sturdy for regular city riding, and getting disc brakes serviced is expensive and a pain in the ass.

If you think you're always going to ride on flat pavement, it's even better to get a road/hybrid bike, which will be easier to mount a rack on, will be lighter and more responsive to steer, and you might like the feel of drop bars on your hands after a while for the reasons lyra mentions. You don't have to ride super skinny race tires; go up to ~32-35mm tires and it will have extra comfort. I've said it before and I'll say it until they stop making them: totally flat bars feel secure and nice for about two miles, then they hurt your hands, wrists and shoulders. Any bar but a flat bar. There are many other bar styles to choose.

If the bike fits you right, you won't need alot of seat padding. You may need a week to break in your butt, but if it hurts after that, the saddle or something else is adjusted wrong. You can look into padded shorts, but they're expensive, and you probably won't need them on a properly fitting bike for rides under 10 miles.
posted by slow graffiti at 6:01 PM on June 25, 2012 [6 favorites]

Yes, definitely bike shop. At that price range, you'll need to find one that sells used bikes, though. Sorry, but a big box bike is going to go downhill fast if you're commuting every day; doubly so if it has gears. The "any bike today is better engineered" statement above is incorrect.

Padded saddles generally don't do you any favors. Padding is much worse for your junk than a firm, well-fitting saddle. (It's because the pressure is everywhere when you sink into the padding, whereas with a firm saddle, you're perched on our sitbones.) It's less comfortable to start out with, but it'll be better after a week, especially if you're only going a few miles.

If you can't find something used that you like, maybe find a Linus dealer?
posted by supercres at 6:03 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

For a short ride, you have lots of options. There will be lots of great suggestions here, but a lot of it will come down to preferences, personality, riding style, and goals. You are fortunate that your commute and geography allow you a wide range of choices.

That said, i won't really give you a recommendation but I'll just give you my data point: I ride 5 miles each way on my work commute. In to work is pretty easy, with an overall elevation loss of about 175 feet, which means my ride home is all gently uphill, so it's a little bit of work. (A couple blocks are a bit tougher than the rest.)

I used to ride a 24 speed Gary Fisher commuter bike, but like lyra4 I started getting numb wrists and tailbone pain. So I switched to an old school beach cruiser style, the 3 speed Electra Zarape, and was surprised at how much more comfortable it was. Not the kind of bike for lots of hills, but fine for my rides. That bike is way above your budget, but there are 3 speed cruisers in your price range.

I've since started riding this single speed old style cruiser, and it has now become my regular commuter. It's not for everyone, of course, but it may be worth considering, if you're not concerned with going fast. It was under $200.

I wouldn't hesitate to ride either of my cruisers 15 miles, but would probably prefer the 3 speed.

(I'm 5' 10" about 220, and 50 years old, so nowhere near the classic cyclist build.)
posted by The Deej at 6:09 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Second Deej on a single speed if where you live really is flat. Less expensive, fewer things that can break, beautifully simple. That said, the second you encounter even the smallest hill, all these advantages are out the window, or you live with it and build really strong legs.
posted by slow graffiti at 6:13 PM on June 25, 2012

I own a bike shop, probably the least elite bike shop in the area. Sub $250, heavy, Chinese made bicycles available at chain stores are pretty much the biggest piles of crap ever. My husband and I have worked on these for years, and it's just awful how terribly they're made. I feel terrible telling customers it's legitimately not worth fixing their bike that they dropped $200 on last year at Target because it's so broken, especially when they could've dropped $200 on a used bike that would have lasted twenty years.

Seriously, try out an old late 80s/early 90s mountain bike, pre-shocks and ridiculous crap, and upgrade to better tires for city riding. It's basically what a hybrid is, for less money.
posted by kpht at 6:14 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

Agreeing with others- 1) find a bike-savvy friend to help you negotiate your purchase; 2) shop Craigslist for the best deal; 3) avoid bikes from big-box stores like the plague; 4) get a bike that fits well & all your other concerns about comfort will dissapppear. In 3 months your 3 mile commute will be an effortless pleasure!
posted by TDIpod at 6:26 PM on June 25, 2012

Getting a bike-savvy friend to help out is a great idea, especially if you are shopping craigslist. Kind of like buying a used car, it's hard to know how a used bike has been maintained.

Consumer Search has some suggestions for non-road-bike commuter bikes.
posted by roomwithaview at 6:38 PM on June 25, 2012

In your budget you can get either a pretty shitty new bike or a pretty great used bike. The great thing about bikes is that they haven't really gotten that much better over the last 30 years, and they don't really wear out or break beyond repair unless they are seriously abused. My bike is older than I am (it will celebrate it's 30th birthday this year!) and I love the hell out of it. So, you can get a great bike for $200-$300, but you need to buy used.

You also need to be careful, because while there are a lot of great bikes out there in your price range, there are also plenty of turds. As others have said, you are probably going to want in-person assistance here, the kind of hand-holding that MeFites can't quite do due to the limitations of this medium. Fortunately if you are lucky enough to have a friend who is into old bikes, you can bet that they would love to help you out. There are few pleasures as great as introducing someone new to the joys of classic bikes! So, hey. If you have a friend who is of the cycling persuasion, now is the time to buy them a drink, cozy up, and tell them that you're in the market for a good used bike and could use some advice.
posted by Scientist at 6:42 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Another good point about a bike shop is when they assemble and tune a bike, it is done properly. The cheap bikes some low-wage employee at a big box store assembled is not going to be even close to adjusted/assembled well.
posted by annsunny at 7:12 PM on June 25, 2012 [3 favorites]

Listen to kpht. Do not buy a bike from a box store. A decent used bike and a tune-up will be so much better than your typical new Target bike that it's hard to consider them to be the same type of device.
posted by ellF at 7:16 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Hey, it occurs to me that we could do a lot better than "lol, find a friend and ask them" if you could answer some questions about what you want out of a bike. I am also qualified as an Internet Expert to give you some pointers as to what to look for if you decide to go exploring in the world of used bikes, though I am hardly the most qualified person on MetaFilter in this regard.

The biggest thing in my mind in selecting a particular style of bike is whether you place a premium on comfort or speed. I'm a huge fan of 80's Japanese road bikes, but if you aren't interested in sitting on a small saddle, leaning forward, and supporting yourself with your wrists, then you probably wouldn't like one. You also probably wouldn't like a road bike if you want something that is comfortable above all -- on a decent road a well-fitted road bike is not an uncomfortable thing at all, but those skinny tires can make potholes and cracks and expansion joints feel a lot sharper, and the riding position does require a little bit more effort from the rider. On the other hand, when the conditions are just right, and that big space opens up in the road, and you have a nice smooth stretch of tar in front of you, you can just fly on one of those things and it feels great, smooth as silk and perfect and like you're cutting through the very fabric of reality.

They are nimble and fast and fun, and if you're commuting you might definitely appreciate the extra speed and the ability to cut through traffic and dodge idiotic unobservant drivers. I'd recommend something Japanese, from the 80's, with a steel frame and lugged construction. Also I'd actually recommend a touring bike (or what is sometimes rather aptly called a commuter bike) rather than a road bike as they are built a bit more durably and have niceties like more mount points for luggage and such that true road bikes sometimes lack. They are a bit heavier but you'll honestly never notice unless you're actually racing competitively. Others would make different recommendations and they'd probably be totally valid. Some people prefer French or Italian bikes, which have maybe a bit more flair but are sometimes also a bit fiddlier.

If you don't really care about that stuff and just want something that is nice and comfy and gets you there (possibly in style) without any fuss, then you want a cruiser. You'd be looking for something from the 70's or 80's, possibly American, definitely with a three-speed hub gear in the back. You want nice fat tires and a laid-back seating position that will keep you comfortable and relaxed. You steer these things more from the handlebars and less with your body compared to a road bike. Pedaling is less of a full-body experience as well. The seats are bigger and cushier, and those big tires make a serious difference on crappy roads. A good cruiser is basically a couch, albeit a couch that you can pedal to work.

These are not necessarily slow, though they are definitely slower than the lighter, twitchier machines I described above. Especially if you get one with the aforementioned hub gear, you can actually breeze along at a pretty brisk clip on one of these things. Commuting on a cruiser is definitely doable though personally I feel a bit less secure riding in city traffic on one, because I don't find them nearly as maneuverable and they tend to have significantly wider handlebars. I'm willing to posit that part of that is just down to what I'm used to, but I know what feels good to me. Your mileage may quite literally vary.

In between you have hybrids, which are not quite as fast and nimble as road bikes nor quite as comfortable and cushy as cruisers. The seating position will be more upright, and they will tend to have flat bars -- more like a mountain bike, in fact, but the gearing and the tires and the overall layout will be more suited to road riding. I don't know if I'm really sold on hybrids, though plenty of people like them. I think they lack a bit of style, for one, and I don't care for flat bars -- I like drops, which give me more than one place to put my hands so that when my wrists or whatever get tired I can shift to a different position. Or, on a cruiser, you'd have a seating position that meant you weren't putting your weight on the bars, so you would be less likely to wear out to begin with. Also I feel like there aren't as many good old hybrids out there as there are road bikes or cruisers, but if anyone knows better then please feel free to correct me.

I actually don't recommend mountain bikes for city riding. The shocks and the heavy construction are unnecessary weight for city work, and don't really contribute to a better ride. Shock absorbers and such make the bike feel a bit more numb and don't really give a better ride under typical urban conditions, in my opinion -- tires make a much bigger difference on roads. Also, mountain bikes are geared lower than road bikes, which is kind of a waste on a road because you don't need five different types of hill-climbing gears but you might want five different gears for different cruising speeds. They're really specialist machines and aren't as good outside of their element. You'd also be paying for a lot of specialist features which would be worthless in an urban environment.

As far as looking at used bikes, your local bike shops are good places to go because you're less likely to run into garbage there, but prices will also be a bit higher. Also, people who want to sell a bike usually do it themselves rather than selling to a store, so you'd also be limiting your selection quite a bit. If you go hunting on Craigslist, there are a few things you'll want to look for in general -- things you'll want to avoid. One, keep an eye out for stolen bikes. If it's clearly wearing a hasty coat of spraypaint, or if the owner seems uncomfortable talking about how they got the bike and/or why they're selling it, or if they're not willing to sign a simple written agreement stating that the bike is theirs and that they are transferring ownership to you, then you have a moral duty to keep walking. Don't encourage bike thieves by helping them profit from their work. Plinth's coworker, who knows about these things, left a great comment in a question I asked a couple of weeks ago in which he gave some more tips on how to avoid buying a stolen bike.

Also, lots of people have already mentioned this but don't make the mistake of buying a used Wal-Mart bike. Such a thing will probably already have worn out its brakes and transmission, and nobody but nobody will be able to readjust them in a way that will actually stick. A used Wal-Mart bike is truly a sad and unfortunate thing, hardly a bike at all. Do a little googling on the make and model (Oh, the owner doesn't know the make/model of the bike? It's probably stolen.) of whatever bike you are looking at before you consider buying it. You'll be glad you did.

Keep an eye out for signs that a bike has been abused, too. A rusty chain is a classic sign -- somebody who lets the chain on their bike go to rust probably never does any other maintenance either, and that can definitely add up over the years to take a bike which ought to be perfectly serviceable and reduce it to a pile of crap. Oftentimes this isn't permanent damage, but it means you'll have to have a lot of work done on the bike (or do it yourself, working on bikes is fun and educational) before it's rideable, and that will add to the cost considerably. Or the bike might actually be broken and require new parts to be any good. Missing paint isn't necessarily a deal-breaker (I think it adds character, personally) but missing paint can lead to rust and rust is definitely no good. A little bit of light spotting here and there won't seriously compromise the bike and is easily corrected, but it bespeaks an owner who did not take great care of the bike and can't even be bothered to clean it up a bit for sale. Serious rust is bad news and you should just walk away. So is serious denting or any kind of significant frame damage. Bike frames are pretty strong, it takes real abuse to fuck up a frame, or a serious crash.

Well. That's about all I can think of off the top of my head. Please come back and give us more questions or point us in the direction of what you're looking at, we want to help you! The bike community on Ask Metafilter is great and full of people who want to see you on a bike that you love.
posted by Scientist at 8:02 PM on June 25, 2012 [7 favorites]

The problem with relying only on advice from people on the Internet, rather than a cyclist friend, when getting a bike off Craigslist is that people on the Internet can't tell you whether a frame has been through a crash or not, while a friend who sees the frame in person can (or at least has a better shot). Non-original paint, slightly kinked or dented tubes, or visible welds are a starting place. Dropouts and derailleur hanger are a telling part of the frame as well. Everything else can be tuned up or replaced, but you do not want a crashed frame that some jerk on CL is trying to pass off as safe.
posted by supercres at 8:16 PM on June 25, 2012

I went to a bike shop and described what I wanted - not that different from you - and got this Specialized Globe Work for under $500.

Mainly, I wanted a bike for around-town, errands, commuting, but also for fitness and longer weekend rides of 15-25 miles, ish. And I wanted it to be tough enough to take on gravel roads and rough roads, and fast enough to maybe ride in another triathlon if I ever do one again.

This is a great all-round bike and I really like it. Because it's a "city bike," it isn't covered with name brands and sticker labels. It's totally neutral, so it won't be a thief target. I really like that a lot as this lets me not be a vehicle for advertising.

Anyway, I had good success and the bike shop guys prescribed the perfect bike for me.
posted by Miko at 8:18 PM on June 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

And I wanted an upright ride, and that's a key consideration.
posted by Miko at 8:19 PM on June 25, 2012

I work in a bike shop. I'm not trying to be snobby, but it's going to be pretty hard to find a good quality bike that's going to hold up to 15-mile commutes to the beach for under $300. If you're stuck at $300 then I suggest you look at something used.

If you don't want used, then my standard advice of shopping around bike shops, finding the one that you click with the most, and trusting them with your $300 still applies.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 9:11 PM on June 25, 2012

I'll add one specific suggestion if you are interested in a cruiser. If you have an Electra dealer nearby, check out the 7d cruiser. It's a 7 speed bike with a slightly pedal-forward geometry, under $300. I don't own one, but I am very happy with my Zarape, mentioned above, and my wife loves her Electra Karma cruiser.

As far as racks, etc., a rear rack is crucial for commuting in my opinion. Many people prefer backpacks or messenger bags, but i'd rather let the bike be the mule, not my sweaty back. I use a trunk bag that connects with 4 Velcro straps to the rack. Easy to mount or remove. I keep my patch kit, multi tool, an emergency rain poncho (very thin disposable) and an extra inner tube in it, and still have room for my jacket, lunch, or whatever. Be sure that the rack you select will work with your bike; they are not universal.
posted by The Deej at 9:34 PM on June 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

there is a lot of great info on here, but honestly, bikes are intensely personal machines. what works for one is not necessarily a given for another and there is a whole spectrum of bike nerdery. it sounds like you're coming into this blind, and bikes can be a really big world with endless obsessions over details you're not going to notice for a while. the easiest way to get the most return on your initial investment is to rope in a friend who is a serious bike nerd and respects your needs, and can help you find a good used vintage steel bike that will get you up and going immediately, and $200 for a bike and lock is not unreasonable if you go that route. but sometimes you don't know a person like that and the sheer amount of (often conflicting) info coming at you seems like bs because there are millions of bikes available at every price point, and when you don't know what to look for it seems like a lot of pointless irrelevancies. or they have shitty taste and you don't want a stupid fixie with bullhorns and don't want to figure out how to resolve all that before you get in the saddle, you just want to pedal.

that was my experience, anyway. here is how I 'got into' bikes after not riding one for over 15 years, and not wanting to harass my bike nerd friends too much with my lack of knowledge at the beginning:

- spent all winter researching, admiring, and lusting over $1000+ new Public, Linus, and other European-style townies. Decided I could not live without a Public M8 because of the internal hub, nearly step-through frame, fun colors, and ability to mount racks. I had dreams of riding to work in a dress, just like the ladies on Lets Go Ride a Bike! - stylish! un-sweaty! not a bike messenger, just a lady using her bike to get where she needed to be, not making a big deal about it with cycling shorts and clipless pedals and shit! This bike seemed perfect for those projected needs.

- panicked at the thought of spending over a grand on something I wasn't sure that I'd be into a year from then. Found a decent knock-off with only 3 gears, but at 1/3 of the price, on bikesdirect.com. Bought it (~$350). Bought a u-lock, a helmet (I live in a city with helmet laws), a multi-tool, and some rechargeable lights to mount on the front and rear (another ~100$)

- bribed a bike nerd friend with a bottle of bourbon to assemble the bike for me - it was shipped mostly assembled, but needed to have the front wheel, handlebars, and rack mounted. I probably could have figured it out, but it would have taken me several hours and I am not sure I would have felt terribly confident in my work after. he got it together in less than an hour and helped me adjust the saddle for my height, which is kind of hard to do by yourself.

- spent the next three months riding my bike and obsessively reading the bike forums. less than a month after I had the bike, I realized I hated half the things about it (the wide handlebars, the lack of more than three gears, the upright position, the pedals) and spent another 400$ on components to change what I didn't like. Bribed my friend again to help me swap out the saddle, stem, handlebars, brake levers, and re-run the cables. By this point I could manage the pedals and half-clips, bar tape, and leathers myself, but was frustrated by my inability to do this stuff on my own.

- signed up for a 6 week class on basic bike mechanics at a local bike shop. by the end of the class, I was capable of putting a bike together from random parts. which I promptly did, building a bike pretty much exactly opposite of what I thought I wanted at the beginning - a road bike, with a traditional diamond frame, drop bars, a derailleur, and a bunch of details I had no clue about when I bought the mixte. Then I did it again, this time pulling off all the fancy components I bought to make my first bike more palatable, and then I sold my first bike, recouping my initial investment from another lady who wanted to ride to work in a dress.

... that got long. Anyway, like I said when I began this saga - bikes are intensely personal machines, and it's going to take some time to figure out what you want, like, and need. if you don't have a bike nerd friend to help you navigate craigslist, try a cheap but not totally terrible road bike from bikes direct and ride the hell out of it over the summer. If you don't have a bike nerd friend to bribe to help you assemble it, a bike shop can do it for you for a fee. you'll figure out pretty quickly what you like and don't like about it, and where you fall on the spectrum of nerdery. and if it turns out that you're just a summertime rider, well, you kept to your budget.

have fun! biking is one of the best things ever, seriously. :)
posted by par court at 2:15 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Check to see if you have a bike co-op in your area. If they're anything like the ones here in LA, they'll have used bikes for sale for a decent price. They'll also know what if any repairs need to be done on the bike and will show you how to do them. For what it's worth, the ones here always tend to have a surplus of taller mens frames.

If you're going to lock up in a city, you'll want to think about having a bike that is decidedly uninteresting looking and possibly no quick release skewers. I lock my frame and one wheel with the u-lock and cable the other wheel.

I've been really happy with my banjo brothers market pannier for big loads and my detours ballard market pannier for smaller loads/when I want to carry the pannier as a backpack once I'm off my bike.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 3:55 AM on June 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

Lots of great advice here about picking a bike. As for bags, I absolutely love my Ortleib bags- they hold what seems to be infinite amounts of stuff, they are waterproof, and you can use the optional arm strap to remove them from the rack. Be sure, too, to get a sturdy rack that can hold the weight that you're putting in the bags- the cheap racks can't really hold up to weight in side bags.

posted by foxy_hedgehog at 6:07 AM on June 26, 2012

Brandon, also, if you can stretch your budget at all, I was surprised to learn my bike shop offered financing.
posted by Miko at 6:27 AM on June 26, 2012

Lots of good advice here, but specific to the saddle question you should expect that anything will be uncomfortable at first. Your intuition isn't your friend here. Your butt will hurt at first and you will swear that you need some spongy super soft doodad to put over the saddle to make it bearable.


After a period of one or two weeks you will adapt and long term you will be more comfortable. If you still feel beat up by the saddle after two weeks, look into a different one.
posted by dgran at 7:47 AM on June 26, 2012

I came to basically say what Mandyman did about bike co-ops, so I'll just say that you'll probably be happiest with a touring bike or cruiser, and that her internal hub makes me totally jealous on the regular (no more greasy gear stripes from inevitable chain pops on my old junker mountain bike).

As far as city riding goes, mountain bike tires added (for me) the equivalent of 15 percent to the grade I felt like I was riding on, and once I got slicks I was amazed at how much easier the ride was. Unless you're doing trail riding, you don't need those knobbies.

I will say that I'm glad I got a steel frame — it does absorb more road noise than aluminum (think how your hands sting on a bat — get gloves if you go aluminum) — even though it's a bit heavier. But when I bought my bike, some 15 years ago, I told them I wanted something I could throw down a flight of stairs then ride, and it's been good for that. I've been hit by cars a couple times and aside from a bent fork, it's pretty much been fine. (It got a little fucked up when I broke my leg, but it went through the crash better than I did.)
posted by klangklangston at 2:24 PM on June 26, 2012

I cant imagine why anyone would ride, let alone, buy a cruiser.
It is in fact a very specialized, narrow use-case machine, not fit for anything but slow riding on short distances on flat terrain.
N'thing the advice to get a bike-savvy friend to evaluate used bikes within your budget ( witch is frankly very low).
Then again, 3 miles isn't very long, and you could probably ride the distance on pretty much anything without major discomfort. If the 3 mile commute is truly your only objective, it doesn't really matter. Just get a bike and ride.
posted by Thug at 2:29 PM on June 26, 2012

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