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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 08-01-06, 07:12 PM   #1
notenspeed
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bikes for women: shopping day 1 !

First, thanks to everyone who responded to my first thread. Everyone was very helpful. I am full of hope and excitement Today I went to a different LBS. They only sell Trek, but it was a very useful visit. I tried a cruiser first, thinking it would be my best bet. It had a suspension seat and front fork, and the seat was really padded. The tires weren't really fat, but the top bar was! I think it was a Calypso. I rode for 10 minutes, and had to stand 5 times because it HURT so bad I thought "I guess I'm not ready to ride at all." (By the way, I called my doc and he's on vacation, but the nurse who rides thought this upright position and padded seat would be best. We'll see what he says on Monday, and my physical therapist is supposed to be calling back.)

Before leaving, I tried a hybrid: 7.3 FX. It leans forward more, but seems like it would still be upright enough in traffic. Surprise! this felt much better. I guess leaning forward takes a little weight off my bottom. I was still a little uncomfortable, but I think it's the kind that goes away in a couple of weeks. Also, the seat was tipped just slightly back, which I don't think was a good idea. Also, on this bike, instead of having to stand to take off pressure, I can just tip my pelvis. Problem: when I shifted from 3 on left and 8 on right, to 2 on left, I heard a big clunk. Did I do something wrong? or is this a warning sign?

Then I tried a road bike. OK on flat top part of bar, but I can't use the drops at all (pinches in front), plus the tires were skinny (25). Way too skittish for me Then I tried Pilot, which seemed like a similar setup to the 7.3 FX Hybrid, but with too skinny tires (28 I think) and weird shifting that I don't like. There were no numbers to tell me where I was, and my small hands couldn't grab the bottom brakes or shifters (same with road bike).

So tomorrow, it's back to the first LBS. I know more now, so maybe I'll get more help. They sell several brands. My plan: 1) ask if every bike I ride is women's or comes in a women's design. 2) NO cruisers or tires skinnier than 30. (But I might try a Townie, just to check my first impression and because of the foot forward design, which might be a totally different feel.)

Then Thursday, I'm looking at a local used bike, and riding for an hour. It's a women's Trek 4500 2003 for $100. I think she said that it was a mountain bike, but she put on skinnier tires and more upright bars.

Then Friday same with a used $250 trek hybrid.

I saw a women's saddle that might help: it's cut out in the middle. Also, bar ends would give me another hand position.

Thanks, L
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Old 08-01-06, 10:02 PM   #2
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Sounds like you got some good service! Congratulations for being on the right road!

Any recumbents in the picture?
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Old 08-01-06, 10:19 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notenspeed
(By the way, I called my doc and he's on vacation, but the nurse who rides thought this upright position and padded seat would be best. We'll see what he says on Monday, and my physical therapist is supposed to be calling back.)

Before leaving, I tried a hybrid: 7.3 FX. It leans forward more, but seems like it would still be upright enough in traffic. Surprise! this felt much better. I guess leaning forward takes a little weight off my bottom.
That nurse gave you the opposite of good advice. Let's start from the top.

Saddle material: A soft saddle is BAD! Your "sit bones", or ischial tuberosities, will sink into the padding, allowing all the squishy gel material to bruise your more tender parts. This, obviously, will cause quite a bit of pain. Many saddles advertise their padding virtues by inviting the customer to squeeze with their thumb. How stupid is that? If you can exert 130+ pounds of pressure with your thumb to simulate the sink in, then remind me to never ever shake your hand. Firm, with just maybe a bit of padding is best. I personally swear by my leather Brooks B17, and many others do as well. A soft saddle is good for about 5 miles.

Saddle size: Alright...I'm not saying that you're fat. But I am saying that it is anatomically likely that your sit bones are a couple centimeters wider spaced than a man's. Hence wider women's saddles. Brooks (and many others), make women's specific saddles.

Geometry: An upright geometry puts more weight on your butt...which means you sink in more. (Reference above comments on sinking in.) A "road" bike with proper geometry and handelbars level with the saddle will result in a lighter seat, and approximately 30% of your weight supported by your arms...allowing longer trips, and also meaning you don't soak up all the bumps in your tush and spine...your arms can "flex" to absorb, and your back can also flex with the bumps, rather than receiving the impact in a more vertical dimension.

Hope that helps.
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Old 08-01-06, 10:24 PM   #4
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Couple more things.

Setup: Level, with the the back of the saddle sitting ever so slightly higher than the middle. (You can do a search on this.)
If you tilt it forward, you will "fall" forward, tiring your arms out, and when those tire; sliding forward to inflict more pain.
If you tilt it aft, you will not "fall" forward, but you will not be able to crouch into drops...because you'll have the horn in the way impacting things again.

There are women's specific drop bars that account for reach issues. They're shaped differently. I almost bought one...even though I'm a guy I have small hands. My wife does have a "women's" road bar, and it made a HUGE difference for her.

Experience will quickly (and very quickly) move you beyond needing "numbers" to shift with.

How narrow were those tires? I think you'll find 28mm aren't very "skittish" at all.
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Old 08-02-06, 07:07 AM   #5
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Another thought: have you checked out Terry bikes? They are specifically made for women and come in all kinds of designs (hybrids, touring, road, etc.) They do a lot of internet sales, and will work with you on the sizing. You can email the company with your "issues" and Gorgena Terry herself will likely write back to you. (You can also call.) If there is no LBS near you that carries Terry bikes, you can order one from the company and they will send it to your LBS and pay the LBS to set it up for you. They let you keep the bike for 2 weeks to try it out. Terry is also the company that pioneered bike seats for women. I think they would be sympathetic to your situation, and may have even worked with other women who have similar physical requirements. Good Luck.
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