Cycling Around Town
August 13, 2019 6:38 AM   Subscribe

What is the best bicycle that's not too expensive?

I'm interested in purchasing two bicycles -- one for myself and one for my 16-year-old son.

My Schwinn hybrid from Walmart is on its last legs. The Huffy beach cruisers from Walmart didn't last.

I am looking for something that is better quality and not too heavy. We will be using these bikes to cruise around town and occasionally bike to school (4 miles one way). Looking to spend around $300 per bike, or less if possible.

Thank you.
posted by loveandhappiness to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
If you can get by without gears, there are a ton of manufacturers like this making decent-not-great single speeds in mass-produced cromoly steel. You should be able to ride those into the ground with very occasional tire and chain replacements.
posted by supercres at 6:44 AM on August 13


(If you know what you’re looking for, buying used can be a better deal, but it can also lead to a whole lot of frustration. Something new like that is a safer bet, at least.)
posted by supercres at 6:47 AM on August 13


Thank you supercres, appreciate your suggestion. These bikes look cool and definitely could be an option! The reviews are great.

I'm coming in to add that I would be willing to spend $400 --at least for the bike I would be using since I ride more often. Thanks again.
posted by loveandhappiness at 6:53 AM on August 13


Find a couple of local bike shops with people trusted by local bike people and talk with them about what you need. Post your geography and maybe people will have recommendations here. I think there are probably too many different makers and types to give you a single "best" answer.

I ride a single speed and love it - though I live in a flat city. Single speeds are cheaper because they are less complicated/have fewer parts.

Also, at least where I live, there are some very reputable sellers of used/refurbished bikes, which are cheaper.
posted by Mid at 6:55 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


Thank you Mid. I'm in Florida, USA --flat as all get out. Single speed fine.
posted by loveandhappiness at 7:03 AM on August 13


The Jamis Coda is a very good bike. I've had a Coda (which I rode quite hard for about five years and then it was stolen) and currently have the (more expensive) Coda Sport. I would probably have gotten another Coda if I'd realized how much cheaper they were.
posted by Frowner at 7:03 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


State makes good singles for sure. Jamis is also a good option. I had a KHS Urban X-press hybrid years ago that was my entry into more serious cycling, and it was fine, too.

$400 is a low figure for new, but you could probably find someone who bought a $500-600 hybrid bike and rode it for a year before deciding either (a) cycling wasn't for them or (b) it really WAS and that they needed a more serious bike.

Don't be afraid of a geared bike. Everything in the last long while (say, 5-10 years) is damn near maintenance free. I'm a fairly serious road rider, and modern gearing systems from Shimano and SRAM are really, really reliable with minuscule amounts of maintenance (basically, just clean and lube the chain from time to time -- which, honestly, you should do on a single speed, too).

Probably the best thing you could do here is find a cyclist friend or amiable local bike shop to help you find something used.
posted by uberchet at 7:10 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


I have a Linus Dutchi and I love it!!
posted by smorgasbord at 7:15 AM on August 13


If it's flat or flattish, I'm super happy with my State single-speed. I've probably pedaled 1000 miles on it so far. The core-line are $300 and go on sale for $200, although not often.
posted by ftm at 7:16 AM on August 13


Check your local bike shops' selections and find out what they'd charge for assembly or safety inspection if you're considering ordering a bike online. Many shops can sell you a new bike for $300 or less, though they aren't likely to include things like lights, fenders to keep the rain/mud/dust off, or a rack for carrying stuff.
posted by asperity at 7:26 AM on August 13


My 900 dollar one got stolen and I was unwilling to spend the same amount to replace it. I was happiest with the Costco bike I bought.
posted by beccaj at 7:50 AM on August 13


The Jamis Coda is a very good bike. I've had a Coda (which I rode quite hard for about five years and then it was stolen) and currently have the (more expensive) Coda Sport. I would probably have gotten another Coda if I'd realized how much cheaper they were.

I have one of these too. I don't ride it much, but more experienced friends who have borrowed it all say that it rides really well.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:28 AM on August 13


I have bought a couple used Cannondale's and been very happy with them - never paid more than 300$, and if they are not too heavily used, the original components are very good quality.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:33 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


Jamis bikes are great for the price.

I'm a big fan of the bare bones stuff from bikesdirect.com - their basic aluminum single speeds are in your price range. I've owned two over the last ten years, and I'm still riding one and using the other one for parts.

If you've got a decent local shop, have them size you so you get the right frame (and pay them to finish setting it up once you get it). Estimating what you'll need based on your height can have variable returns (my friend and I are the same height but are built differently enough that our frames are about 2" off).
posted by aspersioncast at 9:12 AM on August 13 [1 favorite]


May I suggest checking out your local bike coop?
posted by oceano at 10:39 AM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Lots of good specific model suggestions here, so I won't add to that. What I will say is, please don't buy another bike from a big box store. Go to your local bike shop, lay out your budget and desired use of a bike, and let them help you find one that works for you. Big box stores are great for a lot of things, but horrible for bikes - they are rarely assembled properly, because the people putting them together are also the people who put together tables, chairs, cribs, and whatever else comes off the truck.

It's also hard to get a bike that's sized properly from a big box - most of their bikes are one size fits all, or have sizing difference expressed in wheel diameter, not frame size (this is bad). There's also no service available; once you buy it, their obligation to you is over. If you buy from a bike shop, they'll make sure it's right before you leave the store, PLUS most shops will give you a free 100-mile/30 day tuneup, at which they'll tighten cables, re-adjust brakes, and make sure the bike is settling in properly for you.

Don't let the idea of a bike shop intimidate you - they'll work with you and your budget. They want you to be happy, because then you'll keep coming to them for parts, accessories, and other bikes in the future.
posted by pdb at 1:36 PM on August 13 [4 favorites]


Seconding bike co-ops. Many take old bikes, refurb them, and sell them at low cost (just enough to cover parts, often). These bikes are often very nice for the price you pay, the co-op does a good job on the refurb, and will usually show you how to fix any mechanical issues that come up (e.g. how to fix a flat, how to replace brake pads, how to adjust brakes, how to tell if your shifting is working and how to fix it if not). For your budget you could easily get a lovely steel or aluminum frame bike that will last for years and be comfortable and fast to ride, as well as able to carry groceries and bookbags. You and your son may find you like riding it so much you're interested in going longer distances, which a well-handled refurb would be able to do (this happened to me!).
posted by threementholsandafuneral at 3:37 PM on August 13 [2 favorites]


Please please please skip the big box stores. Those bikes are not very good quality at all. I definitely recommend visiting your local bike shop. There are some great, affordably-priced, decent-quality bikes that they will have, and they'll last much longer than your Walmart bikes.
posted by bluedaisy at 4:07 PM on August 13 [1 favorite]


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