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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 04-12-08, 06:59 PM   #1
smarterbike
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Ex-Runner Seeking Advice

After pounding the pavement for forty years, a recent knee surgery has me convinced to get into cycling. Under the recommendation of Tom Stormcrowe, I'm soliciting this subforum for advice. I'm trying to figure out what type of cycling would be the easiest on my knees. Any suggestions would be most helpful. I'm starting from scratch here. I'm 6'3", 195 lbs, in decent shape, although the last few weeks have been rather sedentary.
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Old 04-12-08, 07:11 PM   #2
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In short, go to a local bike shop (LBS) find a bike that you like, that fits you (both on a physical and personal level) an go ride. Start out easy and see where it takes you.

Some things that you might consider, and that might help us advise you further.

1) What kind of roads do you intend to ride on? City streets, Bike Paths, or Off road trails?
2) Do you want this to be a bike for long distance riding or for tooling around town?
3) Will this possibly be a primary form of transportation, i.e. to and from work, the grocery store, etc.
4) Do you want a bike you can race on?
5) What is your budget?

<EDIT> at your height weight you shouldn't need to worry much about being to big for anything off the shelf with a few very small exceptions.
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Old 04-13-08, 05:49 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Halthane View Post
In short, go to a local bike shop (LBS) find a bike that you like, that fits you (both on a physical and personal level) an go ride. Start out easy and see where it takes you.

Some things that you might consider, and that might help us advise you further.

1) What kind of roads do you intend to ride on? City streets, Bike Paths, or Off road trails?
2) Do you want this to be a bike for long distance riding or for tooling around town?
3) Will this possibly be a primary form of transportation, i.e. to and from work, the grocery store, etc.
4) Do you want a bike you can race on?
5) What is your budget?

<EDIT> at your height weight you shouldn't need to worry much about being to big for anything off the shelf with a few very small exceptions.
Thanks for your questions. They really helped me see that I'm leaning toward mountain biking. I now realize that I'll start off on bike paths, maybe work my way up to fire roads. I definitely prefer riding where there are no cars, so I don't think I'll be doing much riding on the streets. I'm not really interested in racing at this point, either. My budget is around $1000, plus or minus a couple hundred. I plan on vising some LBSs this week and try some out. Thanks again!
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Old 04-13-08, 05:58 PM   #4
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With a budget of $1K, you've got options out the wazoo

Take a hard look at prety much any of the Specialized line of Mountain bikes. Look at some of the mid to upper Hardrocks from Specialized, for example. With a set of slicks they make a really nice pavement bike that stands up to abuse, and put the knobbies on for dirt.
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Thanks for your questions. They really helped me see that I'm leaning toward mountain biking. I now realize that I'll start off on bike paths, maybe work my way up to fire roads. I definitely prefer riding where there are no cars, so I don't think I'll be doing much riding on the streets. I'm not really interested in racing at this point, either. My budget is around $1000, plus or minus a couple hundred. I plan on vising some LBSs this week and try some out. Thanks again!
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Old 04-13-08, 06:11 PM   #5
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About your budget, make some room for accessories like riding shoes, gloves, maybe small handlebar and/or saddle bags for tools, keys etc, maybe talk the shop into giving you some loot like bottles and cages. I don't remember where i read it but get the best frame you can afford and be prepared to upgrade the components after after getting comfotable with the bike and knowing what you want. Same for shoes and pedals, Shimanos 3'd from the bottomn PD-M520 is a great workhorse pedal, and if you want a platform on one side the PD-A530 has the same mechanism but only on one side.

For mountain bikes the wheel strenght issue isn't so big, as they are made for jumping off stuff and generally being beaten around but the lower spoke count wheels on some of the pricier bikes might be a bit too soft for a big guy. You're only 195lb so maybe they would do too.

For you riding, look at medium knobby tires, the most aggressive ones will give too much resistance, and the slick ones maybe a bit too little grip.

At this price level, hardtail mountain bikes are the ticket, you *can* get a full suspension bike for $1000 but it won't be suitable for the kind of riding you plan to do. Look at the Trek 4500 or Kona Cinder Cone. In a certain price range most bikes have the same components, of course there are lemons too.
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Old 04-13-08, 06:53 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by smarterbike View Post
After pounding the pavement for forty years, a recent knee surgery has me convinced to get into cycling.
You will most definitely want to learn the art of "spinning". In order to help your knees the most, you will want to always ride (or as close to it as possible) at a cadence of 95+. The cadence is the rate at which your feet go around during the pedal stroke. It's measured in revolutions per minute (rpm). Get a cycle computer to help you with this measurement. If you're going up a hill and not spinning fast enough, shift to an easier gear so you can get as close as possible to this 95+ rpm. If you're spinning as fast as you can and can't spin faster to keep up with your speed, shift to a harder gear. Learn how to do this now when you're first starting out so it will be easier.

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Under the recommendation of Tom Stormcrowe, I'm soliciting this subforum for advice.
Excellent source for advice.

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Thanks for your questions. They really helped me see that I'm leaning toward mountain biking.
Any mountain bikers here can speak up? I'm thinking it won't be as easy to maintain a high cadence on rough roads/trails as on pavement/streets. Or am I mistaken?

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I now realize that I'll start off on bike paths, maybe work my way up to fire roads.
Just make sure you get plenty of miles/hours riding on flat roads before trying and climbing. And, with potential knee issues, I mean plenty. Any pain when you start, back off immediately and do flat land again.

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I definitely prefer riding where there are no cars, so I don't think I'll be doing much riding on the streets.
Certainly understandable.
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Old 04-15-08, 07:32 PM   #7
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CraigsList / Bike Rack

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Originally Posted by Black Shuck View Post
About your budget, make some room for accessories like riding shoes, gloves, maybe small handlebar and/or saddle bags for tools, keys etc, maybe talk the shop into giving you some loot like bottles and cages. I don't remember where i read it but get the best frame you can afford and be prepared to upgrade the components after after getting comfotable with the bike and knowing what you want. Same for shoes and pedals, Shimanos 3'd from the bottomn PD-M520 is a great workhorse pedal, and if you want a platform on one side the PD-A530 has the same mechanism but only on one side.

For mountain bikes the wheel strenght issue isn't so big, as they are made for jumping off stuff and generally being beaten around but the lower spoke count wheels on some of the pricier bikes might be a bit too soft for a big guy. You're only 195lb so maybe they would do too.

For you riding, look at medium knobby tires, the most aggressive ones will give too much resistance, and the slick ones maybe a bit too little grip.

At this price level, hardtail mountain bikes are the ticket, you *can* get a full suspension bike for $1000 but it won't be suitable for the kind of riding you plan to do. Look at the Trek 4500 or Kona Cinder Cone. In a certain price range most bikes have the same components, of course there are lemons too.
Thanks for all the information. I'm feeling better equipped already. Was wondering if anyone has recommendations for a good bike rack for a mid-size car. I'll most likely be driving to my riding destinations.
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Old 04-15-08, 07:37 PM   #8
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Also, drop by the 50+ Forum - at least it sounds like you might be a candidate - if you have been pounding the pavement for 40 years.

Some excellent advice there, also.
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Old 04-15-08, 07:37 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by mkadam68 View Post
You will most definitely want to learn the art of "spinning". In order to help your knees the most, you will want to always ride (or as close to it as possible) at a cadence of 95+. The cadence is the rate at which your feet go around during the pedal stroke. It's measured in revolutions per minute (rpm). Get a cycle computer to help you with this measurement. If you're going up a hill and not spinning fast enough, shift to an easier gear so you can get as close as possible to this 95+ rpm. If you're spinning as fast as you can and can't spin faster to keep up with your speed, shift to a harder gear. Learn how to do this now when you're first starting out so it will be easier.
Thanks for the training parameter. I was on a stationary bike yesterday and the best I could do was about 65 RPM at zero resistance. Guess I still have a ways to go.
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Old 04-15-08, 07:39 PM   #10
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Thanks for the training parameter. I was on a stationary bike yesterday and the best I could do was about 65 RPM at zero resistance. Guess I still have a ways to go.
You will build up - practice. With some video training tapes I get up to 150 rpm, but it takes a bit of time.
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Old 04-15-08, 08:02 PM   #11
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Being a serious runner that converted to cyclig and tri's, I'm sensitive to knee and other problems from a running overload. But before you decide cycling is the answer for fitness, what is the source of the problem that prompted surgery?

Was it an injury? If so, what prompted it? How did the surgery go?

The thing to keep in mind is avoiding the problem again.
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Old 04-16-08, 06:14 PM   #12
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Being a serious runner that converted to cyclig and tri's, I'm sensitive to knee and other problems from a running overload. But before you decide cycling is the answer for fitness, what is the source of the problem that prompted surgery?

Was it an injury? If so, what prompted it? How did the surgery go?

The thing to keep in mind is avoiding the problem again.
Thanks for the perspective. To the best of my knowledge, I tore the medial meniscus in my left knee during an intense run back in January. It was well below freezing that day, I was running on hard pavement, and my surgeon thought it was a "cumulative" injury that had been coming on for a long time. That day I just pushed it over the edge.

The surgery went well. My surgeon said my knees are actually in pretty good shape and that I should be able to resume running in several weeks. I love to run, but I don't want to have to go through all the hassles again. My right knee feels like it could go just like the left one did. It will have taken 3 months to diagnose, treat and recover from this and my physical conditioning has really suffered. It seems like cycling makes more sense at this point in my life. I just hope I enjoy it as much as I enjoy running.
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Old 04-16-08, 06:36 PM   #13
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You will find cycling is as enjoyable as running but it does take a while to get the "mental" benefits. I used to go out and run whenever I had a stressful day or suffering some emotional event and running instantly cured me. I don't quite get the same from cycling butit's close.

Glad to hear your knees are okay. The reason I asked is structural imbalances in the feet and legs set people up for injuries, especially with running because it is weight bearing. You don't sound like that's a problem though.
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Old 04-16-08, 09:32 PM   #14
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You will find cycling is as enjoyable as running but it does take a while to get the "mental" benefits. I used to go out and run whenever I had a stressful day or suffering some emotional event and running instantly cured me. I don't quite get the same from cycling butit's close.

Glad to hear your knees are okay. The reason I asked is structural imbalances in the feet and legs set people up for injuries, especially with running because it is weight bearing. You don't sound like that's a problem though.
Interesting that you mentioned structural imbalances. Right after my injury, I purchased some rather expensive orthotic inserts ("Foot Levelers") that were a computer-generated design based on a scan of the underside of my feet while standing. While these orthotics brought significant relief of pain prior to surgery, I find that they exacerbate the pain in my injured knee following the surgery. Although I tried to stick it out as you would during any break-in period, I have since abandoned them. Wish I had put that $335 toward a new bike.
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Old 04-17-08, 11:11 PM   #15
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As far as bike racks go, I prefer the roof-mounted Yakima system. Yeah, it's expensive to set up, but worth the money in the long run.
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