New to biking, have questions

So at 27 years old I finally learned to ride a bike (long story).

Without knowing very much I bought an old steel framed one speed schwinn. I'm not an athlete and my main intention is to get around and get a little exercise while not using a car. I've had it for a couple of months, and due to a pretty crazy heat wave didn't ride it for two of the three months I've had it. I have however walked a lot more during that time and I'd hoped that using the bike would be a little easier because of that.

It kinda was easier, but in some ways its really not. So now i'm debating, should I try to replace it with a multi-speed (mind I'm a broke college student). Should I keep trying and make myself stronger by handling the terrain on the one speed? There aren't really hills exactly where I am, just a lot of little slopes that feel like murder on my calves. What would be reasonable to pay for a used bike and how do I figure out if one fits me etc?

Replies

  • maric771
    maric771 Posts: 3 Member
    If there aren't really hills then a single speed will probably be fine. Your calves will loosen/strengthen up the more you ride. I started riding again after 40 years and it took time to stretch out my muscles and build strength.

    The best way to get fit for a bike is to go to a bike store. I find that most people who work in these stores are very passionate about biking. Pick a time when they are not busy and explain your dilemma, make sure to tell them you aren't ready to purchase right now but just looking for information. Let them know you are very new to this and they will probably take it from there. Many of them have connections for used bikes as well, people moving, upgrading, etc.

    Bike prices range from $50 at Walmart to several thousand. Don't forget to budget for a helmet and a good bike lock.
  • Lannie79
    Lannie79 Posts: 28 Member
    I agree with going to a local bike store rather than a big box like Walmart. A speciality store can help you find the right fit. My local store has a recycling program to rebuild bikes and sell at discount for those who can't afford it. Once you know your size, pawn shops are a good option to find inexpensive bikes.
  • canadianlbs
    canadianlbs Posts: 5,199 Member
    RebelGypsy wrote: »
    It kinda was easier, but in some ways its really not.

    the 'which ways?' part could be significant. i'm saying this because i took exactly the same kind of entry path that you did, and although i rode my first three idc-just-give-me-any-old-bike bikes for years, i don't feel as if it was good for me. nor was the first 'real' bike i bought, which was absolutely perfect aside from having a frame size better suited to someone 10 inches taller than me.

    i was at least 15 years older than you and have rheumatoid arthritis when i started riding - in fact it was having r.a. that made me go buy a bike. so there is that and perhaps you'll be more resilient than i was. but even so i think i've turned into a believer that a 'wrong' bike is the wrong idea, if you're going to use it a lot and if you have any options at all.

    if yours is bothering you in the sense of being ergonomically uncomfortable in any way, i definitely support at least shopping around and maybe talking to a few 'real' bike shops about simple things you can look for to get the right fit.

  • JeromeBarry1
    JeromeBarry1 Posts: 10,183 Member
    I have had the same multi-speed bike since high school, and I'm nearing retirement age. I ride it on weekends for exercise now. It's an 18 speed, and I use 13 to launch and 18 to ride. 18th is harder than your 1-speed, and I use it as exercise. Use yours. Build your muscle. Eat your protein. Get your credentials and get your career started. Keep riding.
  • Machka9
    Machka9 Posts: 21,222 Member
    RebelGypsy wrote: »
    So at 27 years old I finally learned to ride a bike (long story).

    Without knowing very much I bought an old steel framed one speed schwinn. I'm not an athlete and my main intention is to get around and get a little exercise while not using a car. I've had it for a couple of months, and due to a pretty crazy heat wave didn't ride it for two of the three months I've had it. I have however walked a lot more during that time and I'd hoped that using the bike would be a little easier because of that.

    It kinda was easier, but in some ways its really not. So now i'm debating, should I try to replace it with a multi-speed (mind I'm a broke college student). Should I keep trying and make myself stronger by handling the terrain on the one speed? There aren't really hills exactly where I am, just a lot of little slopes that feel like murder on my calves. What would be reasonable to pay for a used bike and how do I figure out if one fits me etc?

    First ... make sure the bicycle is set up correctly for you. It seems odd that your calves are being affected.
  • scorpio516
    scorpio516 Posts: 955 Member
    Machka9 wrote: »
    RebelGypsy wrote: »
    So at 27 years old I finally learned to ride a bike (long story).

    Without knowing very much I bought an old steel framed one speed schwinn. I'm not an athlete and my main intention is to get around and get a little exercise while not using a car. I've had it for a couple of months, and due to a pretty crazy heat wave didn't ride it for two of the three months I've had it. I have however walked a lot more during that time and I'd hoped that using the bike would be a little easier because of that.

    It kinda was easier, but in some ways its really not. So now i'm debating, should I try to replace it with a multi-speed (mind I'm a broke college student). Should I keep trying and make myself stronger by handling the terrain on the one speed? There aren't really hills exactly where I am, just a lot of little slopes that feel like murder on my calves. What would be reasonable to pay for a used bike and how do I figure out if one fits me etc?

    First ... make sure the bicycle is set up correctly for you. It seems odd that your calves are being affected.

    +1. If you said quads, that's perfectly reasonable and expected. I've never felt a burn in my calves, but almost every ride, I feel it in my quads.
  • robertw486
    robertw486 Posts: 2,344 Member
    For a broke college student, options at the local bike store might be limited. Personally I think fit is easier than most make it to be, but then again I'm comfortable adjusting things and turning wrenches.

    Sore calves could be from weakness in that area, but also from having your foot closer to the toes on the pedals. This might be a result of seat or bar positions as well as just foot placement.

    Since you are on a budget, you might just want to check out some used bikes at the school. Having gears gives you more options for riding or working out. But some time invested in doing your own maintenance and basic repairs goes a long way too. In the end, it doesn't take much money to find a bike to ride for either just some fun and transportation or fitness.
  • lbrschl
    lbrschl Posts: 3 Member
    I have found some really great deals on Craigslist and eBay for used bikes. I always go pick them up (from a bad experience with shipping). Do a little research and find the bikes that used to be really expensive back in the day. For you, maybe a Schwinn Super LeTour from the late 70's or early 80's. It's steel but light, and it will give you some leverage up hills. The bike is supposed to work for you - once you've been riding for a while and you're in relatively good shape, it's not supposed to kill you to go up a hill. (Of course, depending on the hill, that doesn't always work)
  • Tacklewasher
    Tacklewasher Posts: 7,122 Member
    Best deals I've ever seen on bikes are police auctions. See if there is one in your area.
  • CarolPre
    CarolPre Posts: 1,721 Member
    My husband bought his Schwinn at Walmart and loves it. We don't ride as often as we'd like to, so we bought our first bikes at Walmart to see if we were going to like it and stick with it. If we start riding more, we'll probably invest in better, more expensive bikes.

    Also, if you walk a lot, you might built up your endurance some, but use different muscles than bicycling.
  • TartsAndTattoos
    TartsAndTattoos Posts: 33 Member
    Perhaps go to your local bike shop (if there is one) and try out a variety of bike styles. I thought I was a mtn bike rider until I tried a commuter/ hybrid. I went with a more ergo- upright that I use daily to commute and run errands. Once you find your comfort style, start looking instead of buying something that in a month isn't quite right. Comfort will encourage you to ride more. And I believe you can find any style used. Good luck!
  • VegasFit
    VegasFit Posts: 1,237 Member
    Some great tips. I am new to cycling myself and currently on the lookout for a used bike. I have been using Offer Up and Craig's list. Haven't found what I am looking for yet I am hopeful about a bike I am going to see later this week and actually going to take it to a bike shop to be checked out before I decide to buy it. I agree about knowing your measurements before you start looking at used. Good luck!
  • NorthCascades
    NorthCascades Posts: 10,927 Member
    Be wary of used carbon fiber of unknown provenance and history.
  • Penthesilea514
    Penthesilea514 Posts: 1,189 Member
    So if you are a poor college student, I know my college police used to have a bike sale at the end of every year for unclaimed bikes that they had to cut from bike racks- some were very nice and sold at bargain prices. I don't know if all colleges do that, but you might want to look into it if you are really looking to save a little money. But know what you are looking for and/or buying.
  • worldtraveller321
    worldtraveller321 Posts: 150 Member
    Long term cyclist here. for all aspects
    from road, mountain, fat biking in winter. i know all aspects
    feel free to pm me for questions
  • _NicLovin_
    _NicLovin_ Posts: 121 Member
    Check for "Bike Swaps" in your area as well. Many of these events have shop owners, enthusiasts, as well as info booths for all levels of rider. The one in my area is a two-day event that has workshops on how to pick a bicycle for your body/riding style, as well as maintenance and repair. They also sell/swap new and used bicycles in all price ranges.