Help me choose a bike.
March 8, 2007 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Please help me choose a bicycle.

So, I would like a bike. I haven't had one in a while and I've never chosen one for myself. I want to ride to the library and to haul groceries, for the most part, as well as general exercise. I'll be riding on the road and maybe some trails. No mountains.

My preferences:

1. Cruiser style. At least, I think that's what it's called -- they're meant for riding around town and look kind of retro.

2. Ability to buy locally. I know I could probably buy one online, but I'd like to develop a relationship with a shop.

3. A decent price. I don't want to spend $1000 on this little venture.

4. Must be pink.

5. Must be sturdy. I'm pretty fat so I don't want to feel like the bike and I are going to collapse when I hop on.

Also, what else would I need? I know I'll need a helmet and a lock. What do I use to carry stuff? I like the idea of a basket but I think there are other options. What's best? Do they still make streamers or those things you put on your spokes that make the clicking noise? (Okay, mostly kidding about that last bit.)

Thanks!
posted by sugarfish to Travel & Transportation (19 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have a Specialized Crossroads - it's a hybrid, so it's sturdy, but not as heavy as a mountain bike. It's my "get around town" bike (and my only bike); I just wanted something to bike around town with, and not worry too much about getting a flat tire if I hit a pothole. Also, it's got a super comfy seat. So it's not exactly a cruiser, but it's much more laidback than some of the road or mountain bikes out there. I spent under $400 for it, and I recommend getting it from a local shop - often, they'll adjust it for free after a few months, and give you a free tuneup. Yes on the helmet (you don't need an expensive one, but you do need one), and yes on the lock - I have a U-lock.
posted by saratravels at 12:54 PM on March 8, 2007


A friend/ex-coworker of mine has an Electra Hawaii (flash site, can't link directly to the Hawaii page; look under cruisers) and swears by it. It's a three speed, it's a cruiser, it's sturdy, it's $350 and it comes with fenders. Trust me, you want fenders if you're going to be using the bike for day-to-day stuff. Your local bike shop should be able to order it and set it up for you.
posted by cog_nate at 1:00 PM on March 8, 2007


Oh, and it's pink.
posted by cog_nate at 1:01 PM on March 8, 2007


If it must be pink out of the box, go with the Electra; if not, Trek makes rock-solid urban bikes that will last forever. Buy one and find someone in your town that will paint it.
posted by pdb at 1:14 PM on March 8, 2007


A lot of the del Sol cruisers are quite pink. Saw these in person at a LBS once, and they looked sturdy and retro (didn't ride one though). I believe most were in the $400 - $500 range.
posted by mikepop at 1:53 PM on March 8, 2007


From the ads I've seen of the Electras in Bicycling magazine, they look sweet!

Besides a helmet, carry basic tools with you in case of a flat (patch kit, pump and crescent wrench if wheels aren't quick-release). Oh, and learn how to fix a flat, of course. Good luck, and happy riding!!!
posted by ObscureReferenceMan at 2:00 PM on March 8, 2007


Trek makes pink bikes, too! I know that at least one of their cruisers comes in pink, and I think one of their comfort bikes does, too.

I just bought a bike after doing a lot of research, but what helped me out more than all of the research was doing some test rides. I went to a few different local bike shops and took at least a few bikes from each out around the parking lots.

I love the look of Electra bikes, and I love the whole flat-foot design of the townies, but I ended up getting a Trek hybrid. It has a low-step though, so it looks a bit like a cruiser. They don't come in pink, though.

Depending on how much you're planning on carrying, you may consider getting a rack and some panniers. Many different companies make grocery panniers, which are designed to hold grocery bags (go figure). You also may want to get lights, even if you're not necessarily planning on riding at night.
posted by amarynth at 2:19 PM on March 8, 2007


For carrying stuff, ask at your bike shop about panniers - bags that usually come in pairs and go on either side of your back wheel, attached to a rack. (Or there are baskets that attach back there too - either way, better than extra weight up front.) Like most bike equipment, these can cost a little or a ton; you don't have to pay through the nose for a pair that's fine for hauling groceries. If you'll be riding at night, you'll want lights; if it doesn't come with a kickstand, you might want to add one, and I agree you'll want fenders - not that you have to buy all the extra stuff up front.

Your plan to buy from a local shop is a good one. Look at a couple of different places, do some test rides, and find someone at the shop who'll show you how to find a frame size and seat height that fit you. You'll probably like how the cruisers feel, but if it turns out you don't, ask about hybrid or comfort bikes. Trek and Specialized are good brands, but there are others that are equally good and cheaper.
posted by clavicle at 2:20 PM on March 8, 2007


Baskets are fine, but heavy items will effect your steering. A rear rack will be better. For a cruiser, I suspect those rear rack baskets that aren't really panniers would be best. However, I normally just strap a box on top of the rack, with bungee cords..

I like to go like hell, anywhere, with any load. That includes day trips, in and out of public transit, 50lbs of groceries (100lbs on a trailer), and etc. So, from my perspective, buying a cruiser is too constraining. Since it sounds like you know what you want, I won't go on about it.
posted by Chuckles at 2:46 PM on March 8, 2007


I love my Giant Cypress, but for a more retro and pink look, the Giant Simple W is pretty cool looking (not to mention very reasonably priced).

In the Chicago area, I'd try Johnny Sprockets first, and maybe Kozy after that.
posted by j-dawg at 2:52 PM on March 8, 2007


I LOVE my Electra bike!
posted by k8t at 2:58 PM on March 8, 2007


Kona makes some pretty sweet cruisers that come in pink if I remember their catalog correctly. Get a rear rack + a milk crate (spray painted whatever color you want!) for carrying stuff if you want to go totally retro.

Cruisers are cool for traveling-about-the-town, but if you are going to be taking rides purely for exercise without a destination, you'll tire of it quickly.
posted by jtfowl0 at 3:28 PM on March 8, 2007


i have a raleigh retroglide with seven speeds and i love it. i'd recommend a cruiser bike if you are in it for the journey, not just the destination. most importantly, if you love it, you will ride it and getting out there into the wild blue wander is what its all about.
posted by ms.jones at 8:14 PM on March 8, 2007


I bought my wife an Electra for her birthday a few years back and she loves it. I'll probably be picking one up for myself this spring.
posted by JaredSeth at 8:21 PM on March 8, 2007


REI sells the Electra Townie 3 for $390; you can order it online and if you pick it up at your local store the shipping fee is waived. They sell a half-dozen other cruisers, too.

REI is currently running a promotion wherein members (including the just-joined, it would appear) get 20% off any full-priced item. . . there are two REIs in the chicago area, in Niles and Oakbrook Terrace.
posted by FlyingMonkey at 9:56 PM on March 8, 2007


If you're really looking for a good, comfy, styley bike for not much money, buy an old Schwinn Varsity and paint it pink.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 1:07 AM on March 9, 2007


My husband bought me the Kustom Kruiser Kosmopolitan for our anniversary and had a 3-gear changer and front basket installed on it. It's the coolest, classiest bike in town!
posted by platinum at 12:28 PM on March 9, 2007


Excellent, thanks so much, everyone. I will be styling on a sweet pink bike soon.
posted by sugarfish at 12:38 PM on March 9, 2007


Yay, I ordered my Electra Hawaii today. I got to ride one that was in the shop and it was great fun. Thanks again everyone!
posted by sugarfish at 5:16 PM on March 24, 2007


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