So I live in Colorado where everyone has insanely expensive bikes. I really wanted to start biking outdoors, so I bought a relatively cheap bike a few weeks ago for $300 and the chain broke after going on a few rides. Luckily I can return it to the store. However, now I am thinking it may be better to invest more money in a really sturdy bike. I am just a little lost on what sort of bike would be best for my needs and could use some advice.
I indend to ride on trails and in the mountains. I want to start riding my bike to work each day (round trip- about 2 hours). I am a hard-core exerciser and I would like to be able to keep the bike in the high gears most of the time to provide more resistance. Is this bad for the bike? Or are there bikes that are specifically suited to providing resistance?
I really don't want to spend $4,000 on a bike. I think $1,000 is probably my limit. However, I intend to use this bike alot, so I want something that will hold up to alot of use. If anyone else lives and bikes in the mountains and can recommend some brands and models of bikes, I would appreciate the input.
I bought a Fisher that I ride on roads and in the mountains. It even takes a pounding going down trails on a ski hill in the summer (rocks and roots and potholes). I bought it new for around $800 Cdn.
I love my bike - never had a problem with it.
Look for something used. You're talking about using the bike for some pretty different styles of riding, so you may need to choose a style of bike that doesn't necessarily suit all of your riding goals. For general riding around and commuting to work, a crossover bike might be good. If you want to spend a lot of time on mountain trails, a more aggressive downhill bike might be better.
Keeping your bike on the high gears doesn't hurt it at all. When you're off the paved road, though, you probably want to be on at least the second sprocket. Trying to downshift suddenly if you hit a soft patch or a sudden hill can mangle up your gears and/or throw off your chain - not the end of the world, but it'll stop your ride until you can fix it.
I used to love my Trek Y-frame, but they don't make them anymore and can be hard to find. It's a downhill twin suspension bike. Go for at least an aluminum frame, carbon fiber is better unless you're going to be throwing yourself over steep cliffs. There are a lot of good brands - Trek, Cannondale, Gary Fisher, Mongoose, tons more. My current bike is a Diamondback, which is a little hit or miss - they make some really good bikes but also some crappy Walmart-grade ones.
Good luck and happy riding.
For a two-hour round trip work commute, you might want to consider getting a road bike, unless part of your commute will be on dirt/gravel roads. Then a hybrid like a Marin San Rafael DS2.
Since getting my bike, I've noticed that I really don't go off-road all that much. It is a commuter, so it stays on the road all the time. In retrospect, I probably should have gotten a road bike.
If you go the full road bike route, Specialized, Trek and Cannondale make some very nice road bikes for under $1000.
A word about the high gears and pedaling with high resistance: Riding in a high gear does put more stress on the bike, but more importantly, also your knees. Experienced cyclists tend to stay in lower gears and peddle at higher rpm's (also called Cadence). It is easier to maintain this style of pedaling because it is more of an aerobic activity and it saves your knees.
Ensuring that your bike shop adjusts your bike so it fits you properly will also save your knees (seat/handlebar height, position and angle needs to be "Fitted" to be correct for your body).
For under $1000 you can get a good entry bike in any style. I recommend going to a bike shop rather than a department store or sporting goods store. They should be able to steer you to the right type of bike.
Riding on trails and commuting on roads on the same bike will require a compromise. The type of tires that will give good handling and traction on the trails will slow you down on pavement.
Riding with a lot of resistance is not bad for the bike. But it will also slow you down and can cause you to get fatigued very early in a ride. I think you will get more enjoyment and a better workout if you learn to use a higher cadence.
Look into mountain bikes, or cross bikes, that retail for about $1200, and keep a few makes/models in mind. You'll be able to get one on a good sale for $800, and you might never have to buy another bike.
With more research, you could go even cheaper by buying used.
I got a Trek 8000 hardtail for adventure races. The mountain bike legs of those races are technically easy, but are long (80+ miles) and have huge elevation gains. It is adequate and comfortable on the road, but you do get passed by people on road bikes. If I was riding to work as well, I'd get a cross bike.
I am new to biking. Last year, my husband and I rented bikes where ever we chose to ride. We really liked the Trek bikes we used at one place that we went to several times over the year.
This year, we thought we were going to end up spending a lot of money on buying the bikes. When we finally went to the bike shop, we were pleasantly surprised to buy Trek mountain bikes for about $400 each. We have been using them every week, averaging 30 miles a trip and have had no problems.
I agree with trh, your best best is to go to a bike shop. They will be able to fit your needs to a bike. They will also be there to make repairs and assist you. If you don't feel comfortable at the shop you first go to, try another. You might want to go to a few shops and see what works best for you.