Have been on many test rides & want to be riding my new bike in the next week or two. Only issue is picking from the 3 bikes I like best. Based on test rides I like & dislike things about each of the bikes. I am most concerned about the ability of the bike (especially the wheels/tires/spokes) to support me & be my go-to bike for many years to come. While I see the specs on the website, I have no clue how these translate in terms of durability & reliability for me. I would greatly appreciate any advice or recommendations others can provide on these bikes—whether based on the specs or actual use of these bikes, current or previous years. Please also let me know if you think none of these bikes will be a good choice for me. List of the 3 bikes, the prices @ my LBS & a link to the page that compares specs of bikes below
On a related note I am somewhat confused on how much to spend on my bike. I hear mixed things on this. From spend as much as you can afford as otherwise you will want to upgrade shortly after you purchase, to make your first (or first in a long time) purchase something nice but not too expensive as you will outgrow your current bike rather quickly. I had hoped to stay under $500 out the door for my bike (including basket, kickstand & light), but may be willing to raise the budget a little if the quality of the bike was significantly better & would provide me an overall better biking experience. Thoughts on this?
• 2012 19”/Large Women’s Raleigh Detour 2.5 ($329)
• 2012 19”/Large Women’s Raleigh Detour 3.5 ($389)
• 2012 19”/Large Women’s Raleigh Detour City Sport ($599)
Included in LBS price: Out the door quality check (adjustment, tighten & true wheels etc), free accessory installation, free adjustments for first 2 years, one tune-up & lifetime extended parts warranty.
Link to specs via compare function @ Raleigh website: http://tinyurl.com/d5patb9
Test ride notes: I find all 3 bikes comfortable to ride once I am off & riding. The 2.5 & 3.5 both feel a little cramped on take-off, but as soon as the pedals make the first few spins around things are very comfortable. I prefer the handle bar height (adjustable) and seat on the 2.5 & 3.5—at least for the 10-15 minute test rides. I am struggling to find much difference between the 2.5 and 3.5 outside of the price. The City Sport rides smoother (e.g., easier gear shifting, more comfortable take off) & comes with some features I would eventually like to have for my bike (fenders, rack, bell, kickstand) but has a very uncomfortable seat (LBS estimates $30-$100 to replace) and a much higher price tag. I can stop & put the ball of my foot on the ground while sitting on both (important to me as I am still recovering from a bad 5th metatarsal break), but this is more comfortable on the City Sport.
LBS states that $200+ price difference isn’t that much (true, from the bike perspective, but not necessarily the wallet perspective) and the amount of upgrades on the bike was surprising for only the $200 price difference. Don’t know if this is true or not and would appreciate any input on this issue.
Notes on me: I used to MTB a lot & rode a Trek MTB that would take just about anything & required little maintenance/repair. When I started working extremely long hours at a desk job my mountain biking stopped. I have gained a lot of weight since my mountain bike days & I now weigh in around mid-upper 200s (I can’t believe I am sharing this!) While I want to bike for fitness/weight loss, I primarily want to bike because I enjoy it, it energizes me & makes me happy. Also it seems a shame to live in such a bike friendly city & not do so.
When I started test riding I thought I wanted a cruiser type bike, envisioning myself with a cute girly colored Electra Townie type bike with a wicker basket on the front riding blissfully around my neighborhood or to the market. My test rides reminded me how much I enjoy biking for much longer distances and how valuable different speeds can be in hilly areas. Also realized I prefer 700cc tires over the 2” tires on cruisers & Raleigh was one of the few brands that fit my body style (5’9 with a very long torso and shorter legs) decently.
Like many Athenas I am subconscious about my weight, but biking itself doesn’t make this worse—not yet @ least. Maybe the 1st time someone yells something awful @ me this will change. I still plan to ride in my neighborhood & have a cute wicker basket, but also hope to spend weekends with my husband logging many miles on the extensive bike path system in the Madison area. The bike paths are mostly paved, a few are gravel/dirt. My upmost concern is the bike’s ability, in particular the wheels/tires, to support me & not leave me with embarrassing breakdowns/trips to the repair shop.
Warm regards, Forum reader & first time poster