Need Bike Buying Advice

by Mike Holman

We’re looking to buy a bicycle for my wife – touring type (ie mountain bike with smooth tires).  Does anyone have any advice or suggestions?

Open to buying new or used – not sure what price to think about.  Something lighter would be nice.  In our area (Riverdale/Beaches) in Toronto there is a Canadian tire as well as a bunch of smaller bike places.  Has anyone bought a bike in that area?  How about Kijiji – can you get a used bike that isn’t stolen off it?

Ideally less than $500 would be good.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mr. Cheap

I’d definitely get one with 2 wheels. Unicycles look like fun, but they don’t go very fast…

2 Steve in Montreal

Buy a bike from a bike shop not a Big Box store. You’ll get after market service, advise and more selection of last years models.

3 Julie

The name of the type you are looking for is a hybrid.. (here’s a good primer http://cycleloft.com/page.cfm?pageID=63).. I would not get a bike at Canadian Tire unless you get Norco.. I would suggest going to the library and looking at the Consumer Reports on hybrids.. short of that I’ve been riding a basic model Giant Cypress for 9 years now (cost $475 in 2000) and after probably 15,000kms it is still going strong.. it is worthwhile spending a little more than $500 to get a bike that will last.. basically you can drop $300 on a piece of crap, or buy a good bike for a couple of hundred more than that. good brands: Giant, Specialized, Cannondale, Dimondback, Gary Fischer, Kona… little bike shops will often throw in free bullhorns (attachment to end of handlebars to make hill climbing easier), a bike pump and/or Spring tune-up next year..and maybe tax off? you will also want to get a bell (~$2) and maybe a rack on the back to hold panniers…MEC has awesome serratus panniers made in Canada..
If your wife can hold off until July all the bike sales start about then..
An alternative is to go to the shops that sell used bikes..
happy riding

4 Four Pillars

Thanks for the advice guys – we’ll take a look around at some of the cycle shops. We’re definitely not looking for a high end bike – we’re talking fairly short rides (10km or less) to local parks kind of thing.

Good bikes have a habit of disappearing…

5 Steve in Montreal

I have a trek hybrid. Nice all purpose bike. Try to get one where the front wheel detaches easily so as to lock it to the frame. Speaking of which, find a good lock. It only takes a few seconds to cut through cable or thin chain. Also thieves also use compress liquid nitrogen to literally freeze the lock and break it.
Worth a blog entry once you get set up.

6 Potato

If you intend to keep the bike on the roads and paved paths then I recommend getting a hybrid with slightly larger, narrower tires (generally, they come in the same diameter as a road bike, but slightly thicker with more tread than road slicks). The smaller, wider mountain bike tires are pretty much a necessity if you’re going to go off-road or even on loose gravel, but they’ll just slow you down on the pavement.

The front suspension can be nice to smooth out the ride, and Wayfare, who is not a confident cyclist thinks it helps her balance even on the sidewalk, but I personally always figured it was a waste of money.

7 mfd

Hey FP,

You live in the beaches area eh? We’re practically neighbors. I agree with Steve and get it at the big box. You know you don’t want something fancy so just go to Canadian Tire

8 Tyler

If looking for something new and good quality, the Trek store on Yonge south of eglinton is a good start, lots of product of varying prices and a very knowledgeable staff

9 Trish

I bought a mountain bike a few years ago and the only advice I have for your wife is to get a bike that is the proper size for her. I had a problem where my arms had to reach too far for the handle bars and my shoulders and neck would be sore every time I rode. You can adjust the height of the seat for most bikes but there’s usually not much room to move the seat back and forth. Also, you’re more likely to find a knowledgeable staff member at an independently owned store.

10 Colourful Money

Of course you can get a bike off Kijiji and Craiglist without it being stolen! Many ambitious, at the time, people will vow to get exercise riding bikes only to give up days later. Good luck on your search!

11 Elaine

Go to a good bike store and get a proper fit session. A bike doesn’t do you much good if it’s too uncomfortable to ride it.

12 pacific
13 Matt

http://www.silentsports.com/store/content/23/Swaps/
I bought a touring bike (Norco Alta) for about $400 from the swap sale at Silent Sports in Thornhill. It’s next weekend. There are usually a ton of bikes. Make sure to show up before it opens as there will be a line-up and usually the first people in get the best bikes. You can get some great deals on new and used bikes and the staff are really helpful. I also recently bought a nice mountain bike from Toronto Police Auctions on Ebay for $60. There are lots of deals out there if you look for them.

14 HybridBikerEnthusiast

I had a 26″ wheel Schwinn Searcher. Has like road tires that are smooth-like and then on the edges has like knobbies of tred for making turns or for light use gravel/mud areas. Check with the Schwinn bikes, also Target has some other brands too of comfort bikes. Its around 200, not the most expensive, but it should last a year or two of very active riding. If you want to do lots of road travel , day after day, try a hybrid with some thinner tiers,and maby a 27″ wheels. Check with Sears, Target, and Kmart to see. Sometimes you can walk into Kmart and test a bike out, other stores get all bent out of shape and don’t want you testing any bike.

15 MLR

I actually bicycled across Europe.

It would be worth it to get a good bike maintenance book and learn how to work on them yourself.

Then the cheapest route is to get a bike from one of the direct from manufacturer stores. You pay less because they don’t have a storefront and you don’t get any service once the bike is yours. You could even, if you care enough, build your bike from components you choose.

If you don’t feel like working on it yourself I don’t have any good advice All of the bike stores rip you off because you get “free lifetime checkups” and stuff like that.

Oh and if you are worried about people stealing your nice bike: Wrap the frame in electric tape or put stickers all over it, get a chain and a u-lock. Works for me, your paying for the components not the paint job 🙂

MLR

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