General Question

loveurmindnsoul's avatar

I need advice on roadbikes or biking/cycling in general?

Asked by loveurmindnsoul (380points) July 21st, 2010

I have always wanted to bike or cycle more seriously and my friend got a roadbike from a garage sale and wanted me to bike w/ him. I looked on Craigslist for a used road bike and found one for 250, it is a Centurion Diamondback

What I’d like to know is how can I learn more about biking, repairs, maintenance, materials, brand and types. I want to know about what different frames or rims, gears, wheels do and their quality.

Is there a good biking/cycling community/forum or website?

Thanks =D

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13 Answers

jaytkay's avatar

Primarily I would say don’t worry about specifics – just start riding.

You will have endless questions after a few miles – is this bike too small/big? Do i need different gears? Can I get the seat lower/higher? Can I move the handlebars lower/higher? Are the brakes good enough? What shoes work best for me? How can I fix a flat tire?

And once you start asking questions, you will find that Sheldon Brown answered a lot of them for you. He passed away a couple of years ago, but he is still helping thousands of cyclists every day.

Happy riding! Let us know if you have more questions!

Dr_C's avatar

Back when I got my first road bike I got a lot of help from the people at both the Trek Store and Performance Bicycles… but I got most of my info from the Bicycling Magazine forums.

Even people hanging out outside your local bike shop.. you’ll find most cyclist are friendly and talkative and eager to help. Every one of them will be more than willing to share tips, stories and talk shop.

missingbite's avatar

Pick up a book called “Big Blue Book of Bicycle Repair” put out by Park Tools. Great book that you can learn from. Also, like @Dr_C said, pick up Bicycling Magazine. Great source. On top of that, just ride. You will find out quick if you like it or not.

judochop's avatar

@loveurmindnsoul it would help me to know what town or city you are in. Chances are there is a specific forum for your area that will lead you to group rides and biking events. You should also check with your local bike shops, chances are (again) that there is a shop that works as a co-op and will offer either free classes on repair and maintenance or will allow you use of their tools while someone is working.
The three biggest things to concern yourself with while biking are these:
1. Handlebars. This is where you are resting your arms, hands and shoulders.
2. Seat. Super important for obvious reasons. Assuming by your avatar that you are a female I doubt that a male seat is going to feel good for you on longer rides.
3. Pedals. Either get yourself a nice set of lock in pedals and shoes or purchase decent pedals with nice cages and double straps.
Things to concern yourself when searching for a bike.
1. Is it the right size for you? Go to a shop and either get yourself fitted for a bike ($25) or make sure you feel comfortable on what you get. Things you can’t change like the top bar distance and the drop tube can ruin your cycling experience if they are not the right size.
2. Components. Shifters on the bars or on the brakes are much nicer and way more user friendly than shifters on the bottom bar.
3. Keep in mind that if you purchase a bike for $250, used and find out that you don’t fit in to it, changing things like the bars, stem and neck can get super expensive fast.
4. Tires. Make sure it has decent tires. A good set will run you around $100. Yes it makes a difference and you get what you pay for.
5. Seat (again). Good saddles range in price from $100 to $500 dollars. Make sure you like the one you are getting for $250 with the bike.
My only other bit of advice to you would be to get some good clothing. People may make fun of riders on the road wearing kits but there is a reason they are worn. They offer a forgiving amount of padding in the derrière and hug your body and wick away sweat thus offering you a more comfortable ride.
New riders often want to start out pushing themselves with all they have got. Take it slow and build yourself up. Don’t skip between all the gears, find three you like and stick with them. Once you learn to cadence and breathe correctly the rest will become natural to you.
Congrat’s, I always love to hear of folks getting serious about biking. If you ever have any questions please feel free to ask.
Oh’ and get yourself a decent helmet. This is a must.

gondwanalon's avatar

Join a cycling club or group where you can go on weekly rides and can pick the brains of your cycling buddies for answers to all you ever wanted to know about the sport.

jerv's avatar

Nothing teaches you more about a bike that breaking it and having to fix it yourself without replacement parts. That is how I learned to true a rim as well as I did. The same goes for keeping the derailleurs and brakes adjusted properly, keeping things cleaned and lubed, etcetera. Of course, some of those things are a little different on a mountain bike, but the biggest difference is the amount of abuse the rims take, and the amount of crud you get everywhere in a given amount of time; I seriously doubt you’ll “taco” a rim after a jump or get mud in your crank housing.

When it comes to gears, that really depends on your legs. I ran gears on my second mountain bike (back in my younger days) that made people think I was insane; a 28/38/48 set of rings with a sprocket that went from 28 to 11 teeth. Trust me, it takes strong legs and a strong chain to use a 48 tooth ring on an 11-tooth sprocket with knobby tires, and there is no way I could do that today.

@judochop I assume that by “decent”, you mean lightweight and well ventilated yet still tough enough to do it’s job, right?

judochop's avatar

@jerv by decent I mean don’t shop for a helmet at Good-Will which is most likely expired. Helmets do have a shelf life. I know several riders that have been hit by cars, or have been in life threatening accidents including myself. The helmet above all is the most important part. You can ask my friend Scott who got pushed off his bike by door mirror from a truck while he was on a bridge. It shoved him right in to the pylon corner. It cracked his helmet and still split his head. Without it, it would have possibly split his head in half.
I wiped out last year at 40mph on a downhill. My helmet was flat on the side from sliding.
Another buddy got hit last year from a car speeding up and trying to turn in front of him. The driver did not realize how fast he was going, I was behind him. He smashed his head on the car and then on the pavement. Broke his leg, knee and arm but not his head.
Helmets. Use them please.

loveurmindnsoul's avatar

Thanks a lot! I also found advice on REI’s website

loveurmindnsoul's avatar

What is a good helmet you would recommend? I heard great things about Bell & GIro

jerv's avatar

Personally, I have only ever owned Bell helmets and have never been disappointed.

Ron_C's avatar

I grew up doing bike repairs on my English Racer. I had the only 3 speed bike in the neighborhood and had to learn about it when I was 10. The shop mechanic where my dad bought the bike taught me the most. As far a general information for the beginner @judochop had the most comprehensive and practical list.

I know that I am an anachronism but I refuse to wear a helmet. I have been cycling for close to 60 years and have plenty of accidents but never had one where the helmet would have helped. I am old and dorky enough without the helmet. For kids, helmets are probably a good idea, for adult, mature riders, you just look like a dork and safety freak.

jerv's avatar

@Ron_C While I too have never wiped out in a way that a helmet would help, I find helmets are great for avoiding tickets. It is the law here in King County, WA.
They also mean I can be slightly less careful hauling ass through the woods; I can let small branches hit my helmet instead of my head or having to duck or slow down.

Ron_C's avatar

@jerv they actually give you tickets for not wearing a helmet?

I always wear glasses while riding. Bugs and small branches just bounce off. I will wear a hat in wooded areas especially if I will be riding at dusk when the mosquitoes come out. I hate to have bugs walking around in my hair.

I once broke the windshield on my motorcycle. When I got home I had a helmet full of bugs and a cricket inside my shirt. Very creepy.

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