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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 07-19-11, 12:38 PM   #1
Thalia
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Is My Comfort Bike Holding Me Back?

I have a Diamondback Wildwood, and in a lot of ways I love it. It's very comfy to ride, it's super-stable and handles great, and it's just fun. I've been riding frequently since ... around the beginning of April, I think? My comfort level on the street and my willingness to go farther afield have dramatically increased.

But my neighborhood is super-hilly; everywhere I go is on at least a slight grade, usually much more than a slight one, and I'm generally going dowhill on the way out, and all uphill on the way back when I'm carrying more stuff and have already been riding a few miles. The elevation gains are still kicking my butt! I know that I've gained in fitness and stamina, but it's not paying off in being able to breeze through that last half-mile to mile of climbs to get home, especially when I've got a full load of groceries onboard.

How much of this is me being a big wuss, and how much is due to riding a big heavy upright bike? It does have 21 gears, although I can't say that dropping to the low gears in the front seems to help too much; it mostly just makes me reaaalllly slow without making my perceived effort that much lower. I do think that I tend to push too hard on upgrades, because when I ride them with 10-year-old and go super-slow, they feel more or less effortless; but by myself I'm hyper-conscious of going slow with cars behind me ... even when I consciously tell myself to take it easy, I seem to be pushing too hard.

I really don't want a super-aggressive bike -- I love being able to look over my shoulder easily, and I enjoy being upright. But I'd be willing to upgrade to a better bike, and maybe one with slightly more efficient geometry (I'm intrigued by the Trek Allant) if it would give me more power uphill. I'd like to start doing 10-mile rides instead of five-mile ones and run errands farther afield, but I'm not sure I can struggle up five miles uphill on the way home ...
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Old 07-19-11, 12:49 PM   #2
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I'm not much for hybrid/comfort bikes, so I'm probably not the person to ask ...

But at first blush, looking at the Allant, I don't see it being much different from your current ride.

For commuting, grocery getting, I'm sure both would work just fine ... as for longer rides ... it's not the bike

It's your lungs and your legs
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Old 07-19-11, 01:15 PM   #3
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Thalia, This isn't really a bicycle issue as the gearing on that bike will get you up most hills, but you're just not going to be riding very fast while climbing in the granny gear. If you want to ride uphill faster, you're just going to have to work hard at it. It will get faster and easier with practice.

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Old 07-19-11, 01:25 PM   #4
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You have good gearing for hills.

Takes time to learn what you need for each hill.
Start in your lowest gear and go slow.
Shift to higher gears when you get stronger or when the hill is a lower grade.
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Old 07-19-11, 01:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thalia View Post
How much of this is me being a big wuss, and how much is due to riding a big heavy upright bike?
Assuming you're just at the 200 pound Clydestale cut-off, the 15 pound difference between a 30 pound comfort bike and $5000 road bike at the minimum weight allowed by UCI for racing is slowing you down almost 7% (a fraction of 1 MPH).

More weight on you means even less effect from a heavier bike.

IOW, don't worry about it.

Quote:
I really don't want a super-aggressive bike -- I love being able to look over my shoulder easily, and I enjoy being upright. But I'd be willing to upgrade to a better bike, and maybe one with slightly more efficient geometry (I'm intrigued by the Trek Allant) if it would give me more power uphill. I'd like to start doing 10-mile rides instead of five-mile ones and run errands farther afield, but I'm not sure I can struggle up five miles uphill on the way home ...
If you can ride five miles you can ride ten miles at a less intense pace provided you don't run out of gears. For that matter you can probably ride 10 miles at the same pace but perhaps not on consecutive days.

Given low gears that allow you to ride "super-slow" and "feel effortless" you probably won't be running out of gears on the way back.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 07-19-11 at 02:20 PM.
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Old 07-19-11, 01:41 PM   #6
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i'm not sure what model year your Wildwood is, but from the Diamondback website, the 2010 model has: Kenda Comfort w/ puncture resistant K-shield 26x1.95 tires. one option you might also consider before buying a new or different bike, is a slick road tire, or a thinner all-terrain tire. i was having a most difficult time pushing my 2.1 Kenda Nevegal sized tires on paved trails around town, and so i switched to a 1.95 sized tire with less rolling resistance and it made a HUGE difference for me. so much so, that i want to go to an even thinner tire when these tires wear out. as for climbing hills or slight grades of less than 5%, i can personally testify that yes,...it does get easier with time. i started riding on a bike path with a 3 to 5 percent grade a couple of years ago and i hated it at first, but now i love it! a great work out at half the distance of a flat trail. good luck with whatever choice you make.

Last edited by DiamondDave247; 07-19-11 at 01:45 PM.
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Old 07-19-11, 01:50 PM   #7
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The cars can't tell if you are going 10mph or 5mph. Go in a lower gear up the hills instead of wearing yourself out mashing. I'm happy going up hill if I can more or less keep a straight line and not fall over.
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Old 07-19-11, 02:05 PM   #8
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I think I might be too stubborn about not using the really low gears, then. And swapping out the tires might be worth trying.

Quote:
The cars can't tell if you are going 10mph or 5mph.
That is a very, very good point. I just need to get over being self-conscious. Riding at my daughter's pace feels effortless when I leave the chain on the middle front ring, btw.

I weigh 175, and obviously that is a lot to carry uphill! I will say that I can tell an ease-of-riding difference going the same route with a load of groceries packed on the bike than doing it without. Maybe I need to stop buying milk and wine ...

Thanks, everyone! I think I was hoping that the answer was "you have a ****ty bike," but alas.
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Old 07-19-11, 02:27 PM   #9
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There is absolutely nothing wrong with checking out the Trek Allant. I think there are enough differences between the two bikes to warrant a test ride.

If your Wildwood has a suspension seatpost and/or fork, they might be sapping you of energy while you ride. You could switch those items out, but the money may not justify it in the end (at least the fork). Also, as another poster mentioned a change in tires may do wonders for how the bike rides.

Maybe you've reached the capability of the bike you have and now want something more suited to your riding style. Nothing wrong with looking around and test riding as many bikes as you can. That Allant has me intrigued as well.
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Old 07-19-11, 02:45 PM   #10
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I just switched from a Trek 7100 WSD to a Giant Transend because of similar issues (I was commuting and couldn't handle a particular hill.) I am not saying it was the bike, all I can say is that with the new bike I'm fine handling a hill that I had been trying 3+ times a week for 2 years (and by try I mean I was walking the top third every single ride.) Now I can handle the hill while in 2nd gear without feeling stressed. My best guess is that my 7100 was a bad fit for me both in terms of sizing and geometry. Might try heading to the LBS and seeing if someone can help you tweak the bike and see if that helps, and if not, I am all for trying something different. Getting something different did help my ride (I was considering ditching riding all together before the change.)
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Old 07-19-11, 03:14 PM   #11
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I know NOTHING!

- however -

If you can afford it, I would shop for a really decent Hybrid with it's lighter overall weight, less rolling resistance with skinnier tires. It may be a bike that you either replace your current bike with -or- keep your other bike for those more mellow rides when you don't really want to pedal for fitness sake.

Personally, I want an additional bike.... maybe something akin to a Hybrid comfortable bike. I bought, and am growing to LOVE, my touring road bike with it's drop down bars.... though I never use the drop down part of the bars. But it would be nice to have a bike with upright seating, comfortable to ride, and something to hang lugguge or baskets off of......
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Old 07-19-11, 06:03 PM   #12
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I used to ride a Dback Wildwood Citi and really liked it for the most part, but hills were always tough. I switched to a much lighter hybrid this year, closer to a road bike, and it has made a huge difference for me. Part of it is more riding, so my fitness improved...but I am able to go much farther and on more routes than I would have with the Wildwood. Good luck with your decision.
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Old 07-19-11, 06:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by goldfinch View Post
The cars can't tell if you are going 10mph or 5mph. Go in a lower gear up the hills instead of wearing yourself out mashing. I'm happy going up hill if I can more or less keep a straight line and not fall over.
Same here, Goldfinch.

The way I tell that I'm getting stronger at climbing is that I notice that I can get closer and closer to the top of the hill before I need to drop to my lowest gear. Some hills that I used to have to walk up I can now climb even without resorting to my lowest gear. I get stronger every ride.
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Old 07-19-11, 07:27 PM   #14
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Without exception the single most overlooked cause for a "slow" or hard to pedal bike is tire pressure especially the back tire.

Many will win disagree with me but to cut rolling resistance by a factor of about 90% the tires must be pumped rock hard ,or close to rock hard, to eliminate back tire "squish" that acts like a boat anchor on the bike.

http://www.schwalbetires.com/tech_in...ing_resistance
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Old 07-19-11, 07:33 PM   #15
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Comfort bikes with very shallow seat angles can almost be considered "semi-recumbent". Recumbent riders have to learn to spin up hills because they don't have the option of climbing out of the saddle. You may have to ride in a similar fashion, learning to use the whole pedal stroke and spinning a fairly fast cadence.
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Old 07-19-11, 07:36 PM   #16
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The cars can't tell if you are going 10mph or 5mph. Go in a lower gear up the hills instead of wearing yourself out mashing. I'm happy going up hill if I can more or less keep a straight line and not fall over.
That's where I'm at right now in regards to going uphill. I'm pretty slow on level ground; when it tilts up I become a turtle LOL.

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Old 07-20-11, 05:45 AM   #17
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No reason the Wildwood can't keep you going once you get stronger and yes, maybe change tires. When I returned to biking after cardiac problems, I rode folding bikes and recumbents; both of which have to be geared down and spinning to get up hills. Now that I've got some upright bikes, and getting stronger, I have relearned the joy of standing up on the pedals and tackling hills. I agree that narrower tires help a lot; I have 700-32 Schwalbe Marathons on Redemption, and ordering some 26x1.3 Continental Contact Sports for The Pig. I now look for hills!
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Old 07-20-11, 10:11 AM   #18
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I love The Pig as a bike name!

I will check my tire pressure and consider swapping 'em. This discussion has been SO HELPFUL!
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Old 07-20-11, 10:31 AM   #19
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Does your bike look more or less like this?



Does it have a front fork? If so, can you "lock it out" so that it doesn't move?
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Old 07-20-11, 11:20 AM   #20
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It has a suspension front fork -- I don't know whether it's lockable, but can probably find out. It's true that I don't need the suspension in the fork (or the seatpost!), since I ride on well-paved streets.
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Old 07-20-11, 11:25 AM   #21
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If you have a suspension fork, it's robbing you of (some of your) energy. You're pushing the shock absorbers around, and that power that you're generating isn't doing anything at all to move the bike forward. If you stand up on the pedals when you climb, you're putting a lot of work into flexing the stem. Plus, shocks are heavy. If yours can be locked, so that it "pretends to be" a normal fork, then that will help with the first issue, even if it won't make it weigh any less.
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