2

A few weeks ago I decided I would start commuting by bike since I live in a central location in a fairly bike-friendly city (mainly to campus, work, gym, etc), through roads, and trails that are not always in great shape. So I went out and bought a used Kent Sierra Madre in good shape for $140 at a local bike shop, which turned out to be a comfort bike.

My mistake was not looking up this bike before buying it, and not even knowing what a comfort bike was (I just assumed it was a hybrid and did not know it was a comfort bike until I got home and googled it, woops). It's a good bike, it's comfortable to ride, stable and does what it's supposed to do I guess, but it's definitely not clicking with me. I feel like all the weight, the very upright riding position, suspension, and wide tires are making my pedaling way too inefficient, I can't go as fast as I want to go.

In hindsight I wish I had continued searching in other bike shops and gotten something like a touring bike, which I think would fit my needs a lot better than the Kent comfort bike. I know I didn't spend a lot on it, but I'm a student and my budget is tight, so buying another bike is something I should consider very carefully.

Any thoughts on how to best approach either getting used to this bike, getting another one, reselling, etc? Has anybody had any experience with this model or with comfort bikes in general and would like to share experiences with them? If I did decide to buy another bike, would a touring bike fit my needs more than a road bike?

  • 3
    Have you tried going back to the shop? Most decent shops would let you exchange it, especially when exchaning a used bike. – whatsisname May 16 at 1:48
  • 2
    I'm slightly concerned that, when I Googled that bike to see what you were talking about, the places that had them in stock were only charging about $180 for a new one. $140 sounds like a lot for a second-hand one, unless it was in nearly new condition. – David Richerby May 16 at 9:05
  • 1
    You'd be lucky to get a perfect bike straight up. I'm on about bike number 10 and its only almost right. You're doing it better with used bikes - imagine the costs of buying new bikes and not gelling to them over time. Test rides are critical. – Criggie May 16 at 9:51
  • @DavidRicherby I agree, I should've looked up the bike while I was at the store. – Bluasul May 16 at 21:33
  • @whatsisname Unfortunately the store's policy is that used bike sales are final :( – Bluasul May 16 at 22:05
6

First thing is ( as suggested by @whatsisname )go back to the shop and ask for an exchange, explaining why. Worst happens is they say no.

Presuming they say no, have a conversation about about finding a way to get you onto a bike that suits better. You will essentially have have two choices - try to make the bike suit you better, which will almost certainly have limited success, or write it down to experience, sell the bike for what you can get for it and buy something more suitable. Keeping in mind the total cost of the bike, I do not recommend spending money making it fit better - it will only ever be a comfort bike.

Free stuff - things like seat height and handle bar height. If the bike shop that sold it to you will not take it back, they should make some adjustments for you (If not, put the cost down to experience and find a better bike bike shop).

Looking at the picture of the bike a few thoughts- the rear spring/shock will be gobbling up power as you pedal. Tighten the preload as much as you can (or replace the 'shock' with a solid tube). The effective top tube length (The tube that goes from the seat to handle bars) appears very short. This gives a very upright riding position which is less than ideal for speed (but good for comfort). Not much can be done to change this - putting the seat back as far as it will go, and lowering the handle bars might help a little.

Pump up the tires to a reasonable pressure. Check sidewall for max pressure. Play with pressure starting at highest on side wall and lowing it a few PSI at a time till you find a sweat spot of comfort vs rolling resistance.

  • 1
    “The effective top tube length [...] appears very short. [...] Not much can be done to change this - putting the seat back as far as it will go [...] might help a little.” Bad idea, saddle position shouldn’t be compromised. Instead, try to get a longer stem. – Michael May 16 at 12:43
3

Many people would call the Kent a hybrid, and 'comfort' sounds more like a marketing term designed to highlight the suspension. I think you just learned a lesson about what you want out of a bike, so don't feel to bad - you didn't buy the wrong bike type by mistake.

Other answers provide some good advice on adjusting the Kent to make it a bit better for you. If you want to pursue finding a different bike that is better suited to your needs, start by thinking about what features you want a bike to have first rather than what 'type' you want. These days not all bikes fit nicely into well defined types, so providing a list of features to bike store staff will give them a better idea of what to show you.

It seems like you already know some features you want: less weight, no suspension (which is a good idea, at this price point suspension does nothing but add mass), more leant-forward riding position, narrower tires. At a budget of a couple of hundred dollars (presumably US) you are not going to get a particularly lightweight bike, but this need not be a problem.

A 'touring' bicycle traditionally means a drop-bar bike. Do you want drop bars or would flat bars be more suitable? Flat bars don't necessarily mean the riding position is upright, there are plenty of models of bikes with flat bars and a faster riding position.

If you want to research bikes online, try looking at 'commuter' or 'city' bikes - which will have flat bars, as well as hybrids, or entry level 'endurance road' for drop bar bikes.

  • 1
    To me, a "city" bike suggests an extremely upright position -- at least as much as the asker's bike. – David Richerby May 16 at 9:07
  • @DavidRicherby I guess it suggests different things to different people. To me a city bike is fast and nimble - able to keep up with traffic when required, but also able to negotiate obstacles on bike paths etc. Something like the BMC alpenchallenge comes to mind – Andy P May 16 at 13:25
  • @AndyP If you do a Google image search, you get a continuum with Dutch-style bikes at one end and your BMC looking a bit sportier than what I'm seeing at the other end. (Or, rather, that's what I get. These days, with Google trying to personalize results, you might get something completely different!) – David Richerby May 16 at 14:06
  • This is proving my point about bicycle types – Argenti Apparatus May 16 at 14:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.