Recreational & Family - Suggestions for bike(s) for Wife
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08-10-08, 09:58 PM
All, I have been lurking around here for about a year or so and have not had a need to post. You do cover just about everything.
My wife is now open to getting a bike to ride with the family. My son 5 is now a monster on his Trek Float (best way to teach a kid yo ride by the way). We also have a girl that is about 3. We live in the Northern VA area and have tons of choices for trails. We are very close to the WO&D (paved) and s short drive to the C&O Canal (hard pack gravel). These are the types of trials we would do as a family in addition to just riding around the neighborhood. If she was to go without me, she would probably tow the girl in a trailer. If I am able to go, I would get trailer duty. For reference, I have a mountain bike and road bike.
The delima is the paved vs gravel and which bike to suggest. She is a newbie rider and may not be comfortable with a skinny tire on a trail like the canal. But a full mountain bike will be a chore to push on the pavement.
Any suggestions of what to get? Any specific models?
08-10-08, 10:07 PM
What about a mountain bike or hybrid that you can put fat or skinny tires on? Before my wife and I bought our road bikes we had mountain bikes only. In addition to the standard tires we also each had a set of 26" x 1.25" "slick" tires. We would put whatever tires on that were appropriate for what we were riding.
08-11-08, 11:04 AM
My wife is riding one of these:
Either a mountain bike with slick tyres, or a hybrid should fit the bill. The hybrid I ride came with 42mm tyres, although I have since moved to narrower ones.
I think the most important aspect in your choice is gearing. If you want your wife to pull a trailer you need to make sure you get a bike with very low (mountain bike) gearing. I have a triple chainset with a 28 - 28 lowest gear, which I would say is not really low enough when pulling children in a trailer up a step hill. I just about manage OK by mashing, but my wife would never be able to mange without lower gearing.
08-11-08, 03:39 PM
What is the max mileage she would most likely ride for a single trip?
08-11-08, 08:30 PM
She would probably ride about 10 to 20 miles. I doubt that she is looking to be pushing 20mph either.
The lower gearing is something to consider for her. I am leaning toward a hybird type with a few sets of rims. A second set of rims is far less cost than a second bike.
Do the flat bar road bikes have lower gearing or are they more a straight road bike?
08-11-08, 08:58 PM
Tires of around 1.5" - 1.75" wide (35mm-42mm) with a smooth'ish tread roll just fine on pavement. Not like a 23mm, 120psi road tire, but pretty well. One of my bikes is a mountain bike with slicks and it's an easy, smooth rider on both pavement and gravel trail.
"Flat Bar" hybrids can vary a lot on gearing. The most typical gearing is a 48/38/28 triple on the front, and an 11-32 rear cassette. There are some that have gearing more akin to a road bike, but those tend to be more expensive, lighter bikes that may have some carbon fiber components. If she'll be pulling a trailer on level ground, this gearing is fine. People have been pulling heavy loads for years with single-speed bikes on level ground.
To get really low gearing, you'll either going to have to a get a mountain bike, or have them swap the crankset on a hybrid.
Is she going to try to ride long distances at aggressive speeds or climb steep hills? If not, then either a mountain bike or a hybrid would likely work out well. Just make sure you get a bike that fits well and that she is happy with.
08-11-08, 09:02 PM
To get an idea on the gearing ... you say you have a mountain bike. Try putting it into the middle ring on the front, and the largest cog on the rear. Most hybrids will have a gear that is a bit easier than this combination.
08-12-08, 05:22 PM
Encourage her to go out and test ride bikes. If you'll overwhelm her, let her go out alone. The main thing is to get her out and on long enough test rides that she can really figure out what she liked. Make sure she knows that a bike shouldn't hurt... a lot of women get overwhelmed with the gearhead stuff and are used to sports sucking and being painful, so they assume bikes have to hurt too.
If she's got short legs (30" inseam or less), she may find 26" wheels work better fit wise. If she's got really short legs (28" inseam or less), 26" wheels are almost a must. If she's got longer legs, wheel size doesn't really matter. (also, if a broken spoke or tire emergency will freak her out, 26" wheels might be better... they're a smidge stronger and the tires tend to be sturdy)
If she's nervous about weird handlebars, encourage her to try them. I learned a ton from trying as many weird bars as I could, and I am a lot happier with my bike as a result... and I know exactly what bars I'd swap to if I could. (current bars are fairly nice, but not perfect)
For hauling, you want low gears (and so does she). Show her Sheldon Brown's gear calculator and have her play around with it once she's narrowed it down to a few favorite bikes. A 20" low is not too low for hauling a real load up hill. If her joints are at all fussy, really push for lower gears. They do help, even if she's prone to mashing. If she's got plenty of low gears, it will be easier for her to want to ride.
FWIW, I have a Breezer Villager and love it to death. Cushy tires, lights so I can be seen even in bad weather, fenders so rain is no big deal... and for me it is just right for longish rides. But everyone's body is different, and a Breezer might not suit her.
08-13-08, 07:07 PM
Thanks all for the wonderful advise.
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