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A Place to Start for the Beginning or Rusty Returning Rider

By Jim Joyce

Editor Note: Every so often people ask us for advice on purchasing bikes. For those riders who are new to biking, or have been "out of the loop" for many years, we are printing this Q&A. Ordinarily, our Guru of Grease, our Chairman of Chain, Andy "The Mechanic" Wallen, fields these questions but Yours Truly decided to give him a break this time. 

Hello,

We are a Venture Outdoors family and I saw your site link.

We are new to biking and am looking for a bike for our college daughter for riding around the neighborhood and parks for exercise and fun!

She 50 tall, so that narrows it down some! We are thinking maybe a 10-speed with a wider tire and soft seat would be ideal.

I have no idea if such a bike exists! I looked on the site but I think I am reading bike code! Can you suggest a particular type of bike or features or brands for me as a place to start? What category, key words would you suggest I put in the search box in the classifieds? These look to be more than I want to pay for a beginner. Any suggestions where to look or what to buy? 

Wed like to spend more like $200 or less and are hoping for a better quality used bike. We are in the Pittsburgh Area.

I really appreciate your help. Thank you!

Jessie

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Jessie Hipolit
MOUNTAIN VIEW COACHING
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * 
For a Fresh Perspective!
36 Swallow Hill Road
Carnegie, PA 15106
412-429-9287

Jessie,

I think you would be interested in a "hybrid." This is a cross between a road bike and a mountain bike and every bike shop would know what you are talking about. Hybrids have relatively wide tires and can be ridden on grass, over small curbs, and on packed gravel trails without problems. However, they get you there much faster than mountain bikes when you're not on a mountain bike trail. You sit upright on them. 

One type of hybrid is also called a "cruiser," which looks like a bike from the 50s and 60s, is often seen at the beach, but can have many gears like the "10-speed" you refer to. It has a more sleek, fluid look than a hybrid, but is often heavier, and that can make a difference on hills (and Pittsburgh's got 'em!). BTW, there are not many bikes out there with only 10 speeds anymore. But there is a sizeable contingent of single speed purists these days, too. But, again, single speeds are better for flat areas.

Being a believer in local bike shops, I'd say first look for a used one at a shop that does trades and sells some used bikes. I bought an excellent, non-suspension mountain bike that way years ago and still use it regularly on rail trails (both asphalt and packed gravel) and on some mild narrow, singletrack dirt trails. If they don't sell used, consider purchasing the budget model hybrid (or cruiser) that they offer. You may pay a third more than your target $200, but you will get a warranty and can take it right back there for service if you run into problems.

Forget about the department store/big box store bikes--problems are inevitable and you will likely end up spending on repairs at the local bike shop what you saved on the purchase. 

If you don't want to go that route, you can post a classified "wanted ad" and restrict to your region via E-Bay or a website like ours, which offers free classifieds (www.bikexchange.com/cgi-bin/classifieds/classifieds.cgi). 

Hope that helps, Jessie. Best of luck!

Jim Joyce, Editor and Founder
Bikexchange.com: The Bicycle Exchange
ibike@bikexchange.com

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