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CIty Bikes...buying my son a bike, any recommends?
Posted by: Kraniac
Date: June 17, 2007 09:45AM
Im buying my son (14 years) a new bike.

We test rode a one speed road bike the other day...it had handbrakes and racing handle bars (bighorn sheep style i spose). It was a very nice bike.

He loved this bike..fast, nicely built, simple. But we are both concerned that it'll get beat up fast. He's young and doesn't always stay on the smooth road.

Are there any of these types of bikes (single speed and lightweight) that have slightly heavier rims, more tradtional handlebars...i spose more like an off road bike but with a city kid in mind...lightweight, good quality. the salesman at the bike shop...a good local shop, kept trying to insist that this was the bike for him...We both thought that it would have been better if it was a little less delicate.

Anyone here have any tips?

We live in the middle of Chicago
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Re: CIty Bikes...buying my son a bike, any recommends?
Posted by: IronMac
Date: June 17, 2007 10:17AM
You may want to look at a hybrid bike...a mix of racing and mountain biking components and geometry. A very good brand for this is Trek.
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Re: CIty Bikes...buying my son a bike, any recommends?
Posted by: Shakes
Date: June 17, 2007 11:51AM
I have 2 boys, 12 &14, and I bought them both Treks. They're durable and have many styles.
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Re: CIty Bikes...buying my son a bike, any recommends?
Posted by: johnc
Date: June 17, 2007 12:57PM
Re: CIty Bikes...buying my son a bike, any recommends?
Posted by: (vikm)
Date: June 17, 2007 01:34PM
I have an older GT mountain bike and I'd gladly trade it for one of these. It will be the next bike I get if I ever get another one...

Not sure you want your son riding around with "Little Bastard" painted on the side of his bike... then again, maybe you do ;)

[www.feltracing.com]

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Re: CIty Bikes...buying my son a bike, any recommends?
Posted by: Z
Date: June 17, 2007 02:07PM
Random thoughts -
How much growing does he have left to do? That may color how much you want to spend on the bike to start. Road bikes do take a bit more care around town, if he's planning on taking it anywhere off the pavement. Uprated (read: thicker and heavier) tires would be on the short list of after-purchase upgrades.

If he's more or less full sized, you could go steel or aluminum frame. Personally, from what I've heard from my friend who manages a bike shop, warned me away from aluminum frames when I was purchasing a couple of years back (say, 5 years ago) due to cracks and fatigue in the welds. That said, they are cheaper and lighter. The welding / assembly tech may have improved in the intervening years. I can't say.

Check craigslist - may be able to get a better bike for the same money + a tuneup.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/17/2007 02:13PM by Z.
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Re: CIty Bikes...buying my son a bike, any recommends?
Posted by: Mr Downtown
Date: June 17, 2007 02:19PM
I'm pretty keen on the Specialized Hard Rock, a mountain bike. Trek and others make similar models, but I've found the geometry of Specialized seems to fit my frame better. I particularly like the way it jumps off the lights and stop signs in ways no road bike can. A road bike is potentially faster over long runs, but city biking--even on the Lakefront Path--is a series of short sprints. The front suspension means I can take rough pavement, potholes, and jumping off curbs with no trouble. The new tires (I like Armadillos) don't have much more rolling resistance than narrow road bike tires, and you don't slide in the rain or on bridge grates. The hybrid bikes, with narrower tires and upright handlebars, seemed to have few real advantages and just never appealed much to me (very low coolness factor) and I suspect they won't to teenage boys, either.

I live in Chicago's Loop and ride the city nine months out of the year. I've had three bikes stolen in the past six years, so I've had the chance to try various options. FWIW, I've become partial to Kozy's (four locations); did not like my experiences with Village Cyclery (was secretly relieved when that bike was stolen).
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Re: CIty Bikes...buying my son a bike, any recommends?
Posted by: RAMd®d
Date: June 17, 2007 03:32PM
I've got a mountain bike, more of a mountain bike in name more than substance, heavy, OEM tire more for street than trail.

While it's nice looking and has moderately hefty rims and tires (I'd like to go a little wider), the crankset it too high (as it should be for an MB) for "city" riding.

This means the seatpost has to be waaaaay up there to keep the legs from cramping. Then the neck needs to be extended to keep yourself upright.

So, I'm looking for more of a "street" bike myself, but multi speed. I like the look of a lot of mountain bikes (Trek, Cannondale) but again, that crankset height is too much.

I'm looking for a graceful blend of style and substance.






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Re: CIty Bikes...buying my son a bike, any recommends?
Posted by: h'
Date: June 17, 2007 04:38PM
No disrespect to others intended, but the generic bike advice you're getting here has nothing to do with your son's obvious preference, and nothing to do with riding around "in the middle of Chicago".

What you're talking about is referred to as a "fixie". They are all the rage among young Chicagoans (aka "Hipsters"). Getting your kid any other kind of bike would be akin to making him wear a crewcut when all of his friends have long hair.
Here's a great forum to get advice:
[www.chifg.com]
It's -extremely- active, and well worth registering to get advice.
Some of the more popular models (and ones you're likely to have come across) are Jamis Sputnik (Rapid Transit/@North/Damen) and Bianchi Pista (Boulevard Bikes@Kedzie/Logan)-- although neither are pictured with handbrakes on their respective websites, it wouldn't surprise me if they had to install a brake to sell it legally in Chicago.

Many, many people ride such bikes in the city, and would not consider them too delicate. Your kid needs to know he can never hop a curb, needs to always put some effort into avoiding potholes, and otherwise needs to avoid stunts that put any kind of sudden force through the wheels. This would apply to most other bikes anyways.

There is a great workshop where one can learn to do their own wheels and such, with a youth biking focus, near North and Western:
[www.westtownbikes.org]
run by a friend of mine-- your kid should learn to true (and ultimately build) his own wheels if you want to avoid a $20 truing every time he hits a few potholes and gets a wobble-- Westtown bikes offers classes fairly frequently, and is for the most part donation driven.

Any chance you know which specific make/model he's asking for?

-h'
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Re: CIty Bikes...buying my son a bike, any recommends?
Posted by: h'
Date: June 17, 2007 04:43PM
I have been through many types of bikes, and have also arrrived at thinking that a middle-of-the-road mountain bike is the right thing for urban utility cycling.
The mid-90s steel mountain bike, with or without shock, will probably be my daily transport indefinitely.

Where did the new Kozy's end up exactly? Been in there?

Someone told me Kozy's is actually taking another look at Bridgeport, where they began and which they abandoned.

Heard about the new "green" Trek store? Anything happening with that yet?

-h'

Quote
Mr Downtown
I'm pretty keen on the Specialized Hard Rock, a mountain bike. Trek and others make similar models, but I've found the geometry of Specialized seems to fit my frame better. I particularly like the way it jumps off the lights and stop signs in ways no road bike can. A road bike is potentially faster over long runs, but city biking--even on the Lakefront Path--is a series of short sprints. The front suspension means I can take rough pavement, potholes, and jumping off curbs with no trouble. The new tires (I like Armadillos) don't have much more rolling resistance than narrow road bike tires, and you don't slide in the rain or on bridge grates. The hybrid bikes, with narrower tires and upright handlebars, seemed to have few real advantages and just never appealed much to me (very low coolness factor) and I suspect they won't to teenage boys, either.

I live in Chicago's Loop and ride the city nine months out of the year. I've had three bikes stolen in the past six years, so I've had the chance to try various options. FWIW, I've become partial to Kozy's (four locations); did not like my experiences with Village Cyclery (was secretly relieved when that bike was stolen).
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Re: CIty Bikes...buying my son a bike, any recommends?
Posted by: h'
Date: June 17, 2007 04:45PM
BTW, are you aware of this site?
[stolen.bikechicago.info]
A good education in how to get your bike stolen, at the very least . . .

Quote
h'
I have been through many types of bikes, and have also arrrived at thinking that a middle-of-the-road mountain bike is the right thing for urban utility cycling.
The mid-90s steel mountain bike, with or without shock, will probably be my daily transport indefinitely.

Where did the new Kozy's end up exactly? Been in there?

Someone told me Kozy's is actually taking another look at Bridgeport, where they began and which they abandoned.

Heard about the new "green" Trek store? Anything happening with that yet?

-h'

Quote
Mr Downtown
I'm pretty keen on the Specialized Hard Rock, a mountain bike. Trek and others make similar models, but I've found the geometry of Specialized seems to fit my frame better. I particularly like the way it jumps off the lights and stop signs in ways no road bike can. A road bike is potentially faster over long runs, but city biking--even on the Lakefront Path--is a series of short sprints. The front suspension means I can take rough pavement, potholes, and jumping off curbs with no trouble. The new tires (I like Armadillos) don't have much more rolling resistance than narrow road bike tires, and you don't slide in the rain or on bridge grates. The hybrid bikes, with narrower tires and upright handlebars, seemed to have few real advantages and just never appealed much to me (very low coolness factor) and I suspect they won't to teenage boys, either.

I live in Chicago's Loop and ride the city nine months out of the year. I've had three bikes stolen in the past six years, so I've had the chance to try various options. FWIW, I've become partial to Kozy's (four locations); did not like my experiences with Village Cyclery (was secretly relieved when that bike was stolen).
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Re: CIty Bikes...buying my son a bike, any recommends?
Posted by: Z
Date: June 17, 2007 05:37PM
Good point, h' - I'd missed the mention of fixed gear in the initial posting. Apologies for my random, off topic thoughts.

Kraniac - If he's so inclined, maybe consider building his own, with some support from you - few better ways to get to know a machine in and out than doing it that way. If he and y ou are amenable - [www.sheldonbrown.com] is a good resource to start at.

Sorry, I don't have more specific suggestions on models or suppliers of prebuilt single-speed bikes. Almost too many hills here in Anchorage for fixed gear bikes, though I've seen a few around and toyed with the thought of building one.
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Re: CIty Bikes...buying my son a bike, any recommends?
Posted by: Mr Downtown
Date: June 17, 2007 10:27PM
Quote
h'
Where did the new Kozy's end up exactly? Been in there?

811 South Desplaines, at Polk. Bigger, nicer store, but further from Printers Row in case I have to walk it over.
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Re: CIty Bikes...buying my son a bike, any recommends?
Posted by: Kraniac
Date: June 17, 2007 11:19PM
H',

Awesome info, much appreciated, thanks to everyone else as well. We did go to Kozy's today...Rapid Transit and Upgrade Cycle. Funny, from one store to the next he dug each bike more. Started with a Raleigh, "Rush Hour" fixed gear at Upgrade Cycle on Chicago and Milwaukee..on too a Kona "paddy wagon". same, concept at Rapid Transit (North&Wolcott), then to a Specialized "Langster" at Kozy's.

All nice bikes at a 600 to 650 price point.

The Specialized has an Alum frame and a carbon front fork and is very light and enjoyable to ride, very cool bike.

All of these bikes are stock with handbrakes, nice to have that option.

As far as being thought out for the city, the Kona "paddy wagon" had beefy rims with very tough spokes...a high spoke count on front and back wheels. I have to say that this one looks the most durable.

He did love the ride on the Specialized Langster, like i said it's a very light and responsive bike.

Yeah, all the hipsters are riding these bikes. I can see why. They are fast, mechanically simple and fairly tough.

I've been riding a Gary Fisher off road bike for almost fifteen years now. I love this bike..replaced the crank one time and, other than that, regular tune ups is all. It is, IMO, the perfect city bike with excellent components..I ride pretty much all year round. I like having the gears, though, I dont need 21 of em but they come in handy in the wind.

The son has been riding my bike when he needs it and he likes it. I admire his desire for something mechanically simple, pretty cool. you have to drop some coin to get components that aren't fussy.

Anyhow, that's the rundown. All of these bikes get pretty good reviews for bikes in their price range.

The westownbikes thing sounds great and Im going to look into it for both of us.

Thanks MUCH...

I have noticed a lot more bikers around town and it's encouraging. It used to be pretty lonely out there dodging the heavy steel. This city needs to seriously keep pushing the bike thing...I've lived here all my life and it used to be manageable...WAY too many cars here due to what I see as an irresponsible development surge...The density in Chicago is getting a bit stupid.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/17/2007 11:22PM by Kraniac.
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Re: CIty Bikes...buying my son a bike, any recommends?
Posted by: h'
Date: June 18, 2007 04:15PM
In a perfect world, the density surge would work against the need for cars. You'd be able to walk to pretty much any service you needed.

I'n mot a fan of Upgrade. Kozy's is unexciting but seems to have a respectable number of proponents. Rapid Transit may be a hair pricier, but is among the most knowledgeable shops out there.

I forgot about the Langster-- shiny black graphics on a dull graphite frame, right?

Anyways, I'd start a thread on chifg, totally playing the "dumb dad" thing, and see what happens.

My everyday beater and hauling bike is a Gary Fisher too. Bought it used off a guy in Bridgeport a few years ago; dunno if it's a "real" Gary Gisher like yours or a Trek GF (suspect the latter).
-h'
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Re: CIty Bikes...buying my son a bike, any recommends?
Posted by: h'
Date: June 18, 2007 04:18PM
Quote
Z
Kraniac - If he's so inclined, maybe consider building his own, with some support from you - few better ways to get to know a machine in and out than doing it that way. If he and y ou are amenable - [www.sheldonbrown.com] is a good resource to start at.

Actually, there's a high value placed on building your own bike in fixie circles, so expect not too much time to go by before someone puts him down for having a shiny, commercial, store-bought solution, and he's looking for an old road frame with which to do just that . . .



I suffer from the same sensitivity that you do. A few nuggets of wisdom were shared with me and I'm "trying" to incorporate them into my life. First, remember that nobody can hurt your feelings unless you let them. You can always reject what is being forced on you emotionally.
Second, nothing changes unless you change it. If you don't want the behavior to be repeated then you need to take action. Otherwise the kid has learned that his behavior is the way to get things done, because everyone lets him get away with it.
In the meantime I sympathize because I've been there.
-beerman
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Re: CIty Bikes...buying my son a bike, any recommends?
Posted by: Z
Date: June 18, 2007 04:35PM
And he'll have higher quality components and tools for that same $600 if he builds it himself.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/18/2007 04:58PM by Z.
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Re: CIty Bikes...buying my son a bike, any recommends?
Posted by: Kraniac
Date: June 18, 2007 05:15PM
We copped the Kona paddy wagon today from Rapid Transit. Cool shop, I like these folks. 1 year free service from flats to tune ups to a wipe down...bonus.

Building his own bike with my help? Yeah, I'd love to do that but right at the moment I am slamming it and he's on summer break. He wants to fly in packs with his buddies. The guy at Rapid Transit said that two fo the shop mechanics are involved in the Westownbikes clinics. We are gonna do a couple of those together...

This Kona is a very cool bike, we both rode it again today and feel very happy about it.

As far as a "fixie" guy putting him down for having a shiny stock bike...The boy cuts his own path and does not have a problem with stuff like this, he's cool.

He didn't even know about "fixies" before we started shopping..he got on one and loved it more than the geared ones he rode and that was it. As we were driving around town from shop to shop he started noticing them everywhere.

Thanks guys...
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