Rugged, Inexpensive, Functional All-Terrain Bikes?

Something for summer

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XCSKIBUM
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Rugged, Inexpensive, Functional All-Terrain Bikes?

Postby XCSKIBUM » Mon Mar 08, 2010 7:06 am

Now that I have caught the XC ski bug the snow is rapidly disapearing. I desperately want to maintain a (mobile) weight loss/fitness routine.

Wifey & I were considering some folding bikes last year to use as shuttle vehicles for our kayaking adventures. Now I am looking for something W/a bit more all-terrain capabilities.

I am not looking for maxium performance nor am I interested in a lot of "bells & whistles". I am looking for a pair of inexpensive yet good quality utilitarian bikes that can be ridden on the trails we ski as well as for some on-pavemant shuttle service. Moderate (not extremely steep) grade climbing ability on trails is all I really need.

Since we are on a limited, fixed income, inexpensive trumps maximum performance but I want something rugged that will hold up over the long run.

Any suggestions?
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Postby kuan » Mon Mar 08, 2010 7:24 am

Your tire choice is going to be important. For riding the ski trails you will need fat knobbies. For general riding you wlll be better off with slicks. When I first started using my bike as a general purpose vehicle I took the knobbies off my MTB and put slicks on.

IMO the best general purpose bicycle out there is an older steel frame with friction shifters. Something like this frame here http://www.re-cycle.com/bike.aspx?pic=3327 only with a few gears. Put a rack on the back and use it for everything.
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Postby Askel » Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:34 pm

I tend to be a little... umm... 'oblique' in my bike buying habits. Not everybody thinks the way I do, and I tend to change my way of thinking a lot. But I'm also cheap, so maybe this advice will be of some use.

For good, utilitarian, all terrain value- you just can't beat the aluminum framed, 26" wheeled mountain bike. Any good bike shop will have a variety of them starting as low as $250. Cheap to buy, cheap to maintain, and will tackle just about any terrain. If you buy from a good bike shop- you're almost guaranteed to get something that'll be easily upgradeable too, so if certain features or parts aren't working out for you- they can fix that pretty quickly. Just make sure you get a frame that fits (and a good bike shop will help you out with that too).

But that's not what I did. :D

If you're looking to lose weight, the all time knock-out calorie burning machine in my book is a road bike. Spend a couple hours out spinning on the road and it's just unreal how many calories you can burn.

The only problem is- most modern road bikes really kind of suck for anything other than racing.

That's why my favorite bike ever is The Cheap Cyclocross Bike. My favorite is the Kona Jake: http://www.konaworld.com/bike.cfm?content=jake Plenty of other brands out there too, but some of them tend to be a little too race oriented. Look for something with a frame that has provisions for fenders and racks.

Pavement, gravel, two tracks are no problem for this bike. Singletrack is doable, but I wouldn't consider it ideal by any stretch. Add some racks and fenders and you can haul stuff anywhere in any weather. I've raced, toured, and commuted on mine for a couple of years now and it's absolutely the last bike I'd ever sell.

Although, starting this year- I'm looking to start racking up the big miles in more dirt oriented events. This is on my short list: http://www.konaworld.com/bike.cfm?content=kahuna We'll see if it can replace the Jake as my most favorite bike ever.

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Postby Askel » Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:46 pm

kuan wrote:IMO the best general purpose bicycle out there is an older steel frame with friction shifters. Something like this frame here http://www.re-cycle.com/bike.aspx?pic=3327 only with a few gears. Put a rack on the back and use it for everything.


If you're a big dude- I'd be cautious about steel.

At 200+, lots of fancy name brand steel frames just feel like wet noodles under me. Cheap chromoly is rarely a problem- but there's no way I'd pay big bucks for fancy tubesets.

Of course, like I said I'm a little weird in my tastes. Lots of people would disagree with me on this.

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Postby Biffbradford » Mon Mar 08, 2010 1:49 pm

Almost 10 years ago I got a Bontrager MTB off ebay, 26" wheels, suspension fork that's about shot, and a hard tail (no rear suspension). I still ride that beast. I'm well past the 200lb mark :? but ride that thing everywhere now. I've just got platform pedals on it so I can just hop on with running shoes and GO. No messing around, just hop on and ride. I'm sure it's worth less than $200 now and so it even sits outside during the winter. When I'm ready, it's ready. You can run those big tires on the soft side so the ride is real smooth no mater what you're riding on. Snow covered roads, lumpy grass, trails. pot holes, what ever. So, that's my suggestion. :-)
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Postby enevala » Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:46 pm

You could also do something like this:

http://nowbikes-fitness.com/product/mar ... 0084-1.htm

Simple, cromo frame, rigid fork (cheap suspension forks are really bad when you're over 200 lbs...trust me), a good selection of gears, and you can go wider on the tires to get some float on dirt. Plus the riding position is going to be a little more upright and easier on your back than a road or mountain bike.

If you want a bigger wheel, there's this:

http://nowbikes-fitness.com/product/mar ... 3443-1.htm

Pretty much the same thing w. a 29'er wheel (700c rim).

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Postby Askel » Mon Mar 08, 2010 3:45 pm

enevala wrote:You could also do something like this:

http://nowbikes-fitness.com/product/mar ... 0084-1.htm

Simple, cromo frame, rigid fork (cheap suspension forks are really bad when you're over 200 lbs...trust me), a good selection of gears, and you can go wider on the tires to get some float on dirt. Plus the riding position is going to be a little more upright and easier on your back than a road or mountain bike.

If you want a bigger wheel, there's this:

http://nowbikes-fitness.com/product/mar ... 3443-1.htm

Pretty much the same thing w. a 29'er wheel (700c rim).


I'd disagree on something minor here- cheap *air* forks are horrible if you're over 200 lbs. I can't stand them- however, I've liked nearly every recent coil sprung/oil damped fork I've tried. They tend to be a little soft, but that suits me fine. Only problem is *nobody* makes them anymore. Almost everything is air sprung or just a crappy elastomer fork.

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Postby Biffbradford » Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:41 pm

That's why I never fixed my old Rock Shock fork. It's essentially stuck in the extended position until I go off a curb or something, then it gives. Perfect! :D
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Postby XCSKIBUM » Mon Mar 08, 2010 6:56 pm

Askel wrote:
If you're looking to lose weight, the all time knock-out calorie burning machine in my book is a road bike. Spend a couple hours out spinning on the road and it's just unreal how many calories you can burn.

The only problem is- most modern road bikes really kind of suck for anything other than racing.


The only "pavement" around these parts is state & county roads, most of which have 55 MPH speed limits.

This is the "boonies", the "aeroplane" (twin torboprop) turns around here! There would be far more rugged trail riding available on mostly flat terrain W/some rolling hills. Any riding I would do to access the trails would be along, not on the paved roads.

Sears has a cheap "department store" type of dual suspension all-terrain bike. Most of the negative reviews I have read pertain to assembly & the need for adjustment. I am willing to do some adjusting/tuning if the price is right. There are quite a few positive reviews that say about what I would expect from an honest perspective, a good bike "for the money" once it is assembled/tuned.

Since Sears has a money back guarantee & I can return the bikes to the local store, all I would be out is some aggrevation & shipping if I did decide to return them.

I'm not looking to "race" or do any radical off-road stunts, I just want to be able to negotiate back country trails, logging haul roads, abandoned town roads, horse trails, etc. I want somethging that can (slowly) negotiate a few creek crossings & ravines, not neccessarily @ speed.

The bikes weigh just over 40#, I know that's a bit heavy, but compared to the excess baggage I carry the weight of the bike would not be an issue.

I expect the bike to be a bit overloaded by my bulk to start, but I think if I take it easy until I shed some #### it would stand up to the type of riding I want to do.

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_1260 ... me=&mv=cmp
Is that wax in your pocket or are you happy to be XC skiing?

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Postby Biffbradford » Mon Mar 08, 2010 7:36 pm

You get what you pay for and if I was asked who makes a good bike, Sears wouldn't be the first name that would come to mind. Not that I'm 'dissing Sears bikes, I had one when I was 12 and loved it. :D

My .02: that bike is probably made in China and made to break down.

What town are you near? Maybe we can help you find a bike shop nearby where you can talk to someone in YOUR area that rides and knows exactly what would work for 'ya. Even if you didn't buy from them, you'd get some good advice from someone who knows your area.

:-)
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Postby Askel » Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:09 am

Well, nearly all bikes are made in China- at least any that I'll be able to afford, so I wouldn't hold that against it.

I gotta say pass on that one too. Only one size availble? No specs listed on parts? Walk away.

The thing that will kill you on lower end bikes is the stuff with bearings. Hubs, headsets, and bottom brackets. These all need to be setup by somebody who knows what they're doing and then checked on a semi-regular basis. Sears is not the place to do this. A good bike shop will usually offer some sort of free basic tune up deal with the sale of a bike.

My local shop usually does steady business in Jamis hardtails. Usually pretty good value for the money. Check out the X1/X2/X3/XR: http://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebikes/ ... index.html

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Postby XCSKIBUM » Tue Mar 09, 2010 7:56 am

After an inquirey about parts availability I have decided to NOT get the Titan Glacier.

I do however want full suspension. My riding is probably going to be vastly different than what most of you do. I need a bike that will traverse some rugged albeit fairly flat terrain. I will need to cross creeks & wash gullies as well as detours around blowdowns.

How about this inexpensive full suspension bike?

It has different size (aluminum) frames available & a full list of components. It weighs a ful 10# less than the Tatan Glacier.

http://www.abikestore.com/Merchant2/mer ... mds24-bike
Last edited by XCSKIBUM on Tue Mar 09, 2010 8:45 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby kuan » Tue Mar 09, 2010 8:05 am

Please don't do Sears. There's more to assembling a bicycle than one might initially think. Please trust me. I put together a lot of bikes.

They do not face the BB. You will need to grease the seatpost yourself. They don't use a torque wrench. The brakes will have to be adjusted. They do not lube the cables. The wheels will not be true. You get lousy rim tape. You will pinch flat.

I know you want inexpensive and all, but if you could swing something like this

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/win ... 29comp.htm

I think you will be much happier.
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Postby enevala » Tue Mar 09, 2010 8:57 am

I used to wrench on old Volvos...trust me, I know about chasing electrical problems (quick-rot wiring harnesses anyone??). Don't get me wrong, I used to really enjoy doing the work, but over time, I just got tired of the maintenance overhead.

I want my car to work and be reliable while being easy to fix, same with my bike. I want to be able to ride my bike w/o having to worry about fixing it first, or having it break while I ride.

A bike shop bike will (generalizations follow):
1. Be assembled to manufacturer spec.
2. Be less prone to mechanical failure due to higher grade of components.
3. Components that do fail, will be current "off the shelf", and replacement parts will be SIGNIFICANTLY easier to obtain.
4. Be backed by the manufacturer (warranty) and the bike shop, if there are any problems with the unit, it can be serviced or replaced.
5. Be lighter and easier to ride. 40+ pounds is way too much for an enjoyable ride (fwiw I weigh about 225). When you're a big guy, a couple of extra pounds here or there on a bike doesn't make a huge difference, and actually can be the result of beefier parts (which is an advantage for us)....but a 40 LB bike....no thanks.
6. Be safer to operate. A full suspension bike bears most of its load in the front and rear suspension, rather than in the frame. Cheap suspension components are a huge safety risk in my book, this is one area where where "lower cost" is not an advantage. In all honesty I would avoid any full suspension bike in the price range you described.

As far as the Lake Placid touristy thing goes, maybe hold off until the end of the riding season. Often bike shops that do tourist rentals, sell off their units at the end of the riding season, and good prices can be had. I'm assuming that there are shops in the LP area that do this....might be worth asking around and checking out.

HTH

Eric

Edit: List of bike shops in your area:

http://www.bikeadirondacks.org/bikeshops.html#shops
Last edited by enevala on Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:11 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Biffbradford » Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:00 am

Knee jerk reaction to the Cadillac: I like it better. At least it has some name brand parts on it like Kenda, Suntour, and Shimano.
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