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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 08-02-08, 09:50 PM   #1
mc2600
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Getting back to bikes and overwhelmed (model help)

Hi,

So, I haven't ridden a bike in about 8 years. Used to all the time ... stopped ... got fat and lazy, and now I want to both get back into biking and back into shape. I'm posting in the commuting forum because I'll mostly be riding on pavement (roads and paved bike trails - I live in Lansdowne, VA, so I have the W&OD trail to play on) ... and I have questions! :-)

I have been reading everything I can find online about bike choices and components for the last few days, and am completely overwhelmed. I plan to visit one or more lbs's this week (if anyone is local and can recommend one, I'd appreciate it) ... but I'd like to know enough about what I don't know so that I can ask intelligent questions and make a smart choice.

Here is what I can tell you about what I want ... and I'm hoping someone can offer either bike recommendations or point me in the direction of a resource/book/whatever that'll give me details without totally overwhelming me.

* I'll mostly be on pavement, but I'd like to have the option to do a light trail. I've keyed in on a hybrid (probably performance) because of this.

* I'm a big guy ... 6' and 290. I need a bike that can handle it. I have a big frame and carry a decent amount of muscle, but I'll definitely be dropping 40+ lbs before I see abs again.

* I'd rather not do the whole "entry level until I see if I'm serious thing." I dive into things completely when I do them (and obsessively). I don't mind spending $$$$$ on a great setup, but I want value for it ... not just the most expensive thing in the shop.

* From what little I have been able to gather from forums, I think I'd like to try a Cannondale Bad Boy Ultra and a Janis Coda Elite. But, when it comes right down to it, I have no idea what the various component mean or are ... and why I might or might not want them.

Any help, comments, feedback ... even questions or ask or bikes to test out ... would be very much appreciated. I'm very excited about getting back to this ... and need some help to make it happen.

Thank you in advance.

Michael
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Old 08-02-08, 10:07 PM   #2
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You might want to check out the Clydesdales forum as well. The people there will know all about bikes that can handle big riders.
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Old 08-02-08, 10:13 PM   #3
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A 'performance' hybrid is a good way to go. Cannondale and Trek both make great ones. check out the Trek FX series. go to your LBS and see what they recommend, chances are they'll be more than happy to help you since you don't want the cheapest thing in the shop.

a cyclocross bike is also something to look into. they have drop bars, and are among some of the most versatile bikes out there. i don't know much about them, though, so you'll have to reasearch for yourself.

since you're a big guy check out the clydedales forum, they have a lot of good info.
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Old 08-02-08, 11:20 PM   #4
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... I dive into things completely when I do them (and obsessively)...
It sounds better to say being very passionate in what you do, IMHO.

Good luck in your choice!
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Old 08-03-08, 12:52 AM   #5
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I'd still enter the foray without a big commitment.
What seems like a wonderful bike at first, probably won't be 2 months down the road.
I'd suggest getting a used bike off Craigslist and riding it for a month. That will tell you MUCH more about what YOU like/dislike.
Then go for the new bike and either sell the old one for about what you paid for it, or keep it for a back up.
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Old 08-03-08, 02:05 AM   #6
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maybe rent a bike or two from a shop.

The Trek FX line aint bad, it's what i ride right now, and has been reliable for the short time ive had it. Sans one flat.

There are better bikes beside Trek of course, some cheaper of coruse and some more. I say just go rent some and see whats up, 290 lb/s isnt exactly light, sorry lol! It's ok man i was up to 230 3 years ago, and started karate and lost 50 pounds..im about 185 right now...the cycling helps, but dont burn the weight a good shotokan class will burn.
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Old 08-03-08, 06:09 AM   #7
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Tell us why you've chosen a hybrid and what you like about the 2 models you listed. That will help. Do you prefer the flat bar or the drops? Do you like fat tires or skinny? etc. If you can point out ANYTHING you do or don't like, that will help.

Also, it would help to do this once you've done a few test rides on very dissimilar bikes. Ex - ride a hybrid, a road bike, and an MTB. Then tell what you liked about each.

It helps to know you're a clyde and that you won't always be riding on pavement because that will help with tire and frame material recommendations. More info like that helps.
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Old 08-03-08, 06:14 AM   #8
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Road surface, gradients, power, and taste seem to figure in.

For a bigger fellow, the road surface drives tire choice. Which limits options.

Hill climbing calls for stiff bike, low gears, stable at low speed.

Power - comfort bikes don't like high power, racing road bikes don't like wimpy power.

Taste in what folks want vary so much.

My favorite loaf along bike is the Giant Cypress DS with front & rear suspension, gears for pulling stumps. Will tow the dog trailer up our brief 25% hill segment without flinching.

My commuters (we swap, so I have a choice of 2) are steel. One is a Schwinn Paramount, large size, set up ala Rivendell w/high bars. The other is a LeMond Wayzata, essentially set as a cyclocross bike with drop bars. Both handle mid-power well, but don't really like being driven really hard. 105 and Tiagra level stuff.

My go-fast bike is a tiny compact carbon thingie with a smooth handling geometry and DA level components. Does not like low power. Likes lots of power, up hills especially, and encourages one to hit corners very very fast.

Same person, different uses, all handling steep grades.

For flat canal path work, I'd probably have a fixie with extra cogs along and a freewheel on the flip side, but that's just me. Saw a Raliegh like that yesterday - a utility single speed.

Different uses, different tastes.

One thing, I don't generally like flat bars if I'm going to have any weight on them at all. My hands hurt.
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Old 08-03-08, 06:18 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Kapaun View Post
I'd still enter the foray without a big commitment.
What seems like a wonderful bike at first, probably won't be 2 months down the road.
I'd suggest getting a used bike off Craigslist and riding it for a month. That will tell you MUCH more about what YOU like/dislike.
Then go for the new bike and either sell the old one for about what you paid for it, or keep it for a back up.
I am with this one. Start with a used bike.
Several riders have gone out and bough a New Hybrid.
Now ( four months later) they are looking for something else.
Most of us start with mountain type and end with a road bike that fits.
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Old 08-03-08, 06:51 AM   #10
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Would I be heretical if I said don't touch aluminum or anything but steel? At your weight (and mine), and wanting a long-term rider, I would think that steel would suit your better than alu. Am I alone in thinking this?

-Jon
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Old 08-03-08, 06:55 AM   #11
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Your LBS is the best bet for advice on a bike. Most are pretty good and they will treat you well.

40 lbs to see abs again? I can tell you from personal appearance that at 250 your not going to see any indication of abs. 8>).
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Old 08-03-08, 07:37 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mc2600 View Post
* I'd rather not do the whole "entry level until I see if I'm serious thing." I dive into things completely when I do them (and obsessively). I don't mind spending $$$$$ on a great setup, but I want value for it ... not just the most expensive thing in the shop.
I'm like you. And I don't like to buy anything used.
But what everyone is saying is definitely true. Whether you decide to buy new or used, the chances of you not being happy with your purchase fairly quickly is fairly high. There are soooo many different styles of bicycle out there and there is no way for us to tell you what you want/need. You can give us a good idea of the style of riding you *think* you want to do, the position you *think* you want to be in, etc and we'll try to get you in the ballpark but I would still expect you'll be looking at changing up some stuff, if not looking for a whole new bike pretty soon. Especially if you have an obsessive personality.
So just keep that in mind going in.
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Old 08-03-08, 07:38 AM   #13
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Michael,

You didn't mention the distance you'd like to travel. Distance makes all the difference in the type of bike you buy.
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Old 08-03-08, 07:45 AM   #14
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I'm like you. And I don't like to buy anything used.
But what everyone is saying is definitely true. Whether you decide to buy new or used, the chances of you not being happy with your purchase fairly quickly is fairly high. There are soooo many different styles of bicycle out there and there is no way for us to tell you what you want/need. You can give us a good idea of the style of riding you *think* you want to do, the position you *think* you want to be in, etc and we'll try to get you in the ballpark but I would still expect you'll be looking at changing up some stuff, if not looking for a whole new bike pretty soon. Especially if you have an obsessive personality.
So just keep that in mind going in.
+1,000 to everything he said
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Old 08-03-08, 08:21 AM   #15
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I for the most part commuterized (Hybrid) a Cannodale full rigid mountain bike that had more of a road bike geometry. I really like it for around town riding and most of my commute. The upright position is great in traffic and lets you see over cars and through SUV to see what is coming up on the other side.

I like the bigger tires for taking the harshness off expansion joints and road irregularities. Its also not uncommon to need to jump off a curb and again as a (previously big guy) my old road bike scare the hell out of me dropping off curbs on the 1 1/4's. Also can get nice thick treads to help prevent flats (check out the Specialized flak Jacket Hemisphere, Crossroad and armadillo).

The two problems I have is it is a mountain bike and geared as such. 28mph is around 100rpm cadence in top gear. I run out of gear. Now a factory built hybrid that you are looking at may have a bigger top gear chain ring and not have this problem. Mine is 42 with a 11 on the rear. I would like to see something like a 46-48 on the big chain ring. That would get me up in the mid 30's for top speed. I LOVE the low gears on my bike because I still do take it on single track and trail ride it.

Now this plays into the second problem. Being upright and riding at speed you are wind drag and that makes you work harder to maintain that speed.

I have wrist issues and I was having a lot of problems with drops and why I went with riser handle bars. Not upset at my choice because 90% of the time it is what I like but I am toying with putting some of these on for windy days or long flats. http://www.performancebike.com/shop/...tegory_ID=5255

Riding has helped me drop 30lb since Feb.
That was my main goal was improve my health to get off Cholesterol and blood pressure medicins. Next test is in 30 more days. See what sort of changes I have made.


Read this thread. First ride and I almost get hit bad
Some good links in it to riding recommendations for new commuters. Wish I had read those 3 months ago when I started commuting. They would have saved me a couple near misses.


Most of all...have fun, make riding a part of your life not something you make time for in your life.
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Old 08-03-08, 08:38 AM   #16
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+1 for checking the Clydes forum, they're gonna be your key to finding a solid hybrid that can handle the punishment. The concerns I have with your bike choices:

1) Disc brakes (I've heard) stress wheels more than V's. Add that with weight, and you could be popping spokes, esp if you carry extra load on the bike for commuting or running errands - so you may want to look into a bike w/ higher spoke count, or figure on having a rear wheel built for the bike. I have discs on 32-count wheels, but I'm about 40# lighter (NO ABS TO BE FOUND ANYWHERE ) - tho' I do try to baby the bike a little when heavily loaded, and not go bombing down hard trails. You might be fine on 32h, again, checking with the Clydes will lend more insight.

2) Suspension - it'll soak up energy on pavement. On trail you may bottom out, you'll want to be sure to ride the setup if you can find it at an LBS and see how it rides.

Componentwise, I like the Coda Elite a little more. The SRAM derailleurs on the Bad Boy are supposed to be nicer, but I ride on ShimXT's and they work fine for me. The BB7's on the Coda Elite are sort of the benchmark standard for cable disc brakes. The BB5's are ok, tho'. The steel frame I'd worry less about busting up with my weight, too.

Hope that helps!
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Old 08-03-08, 10:04 AM   #17
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Thank you for all the help, so far.

I have made some refinements based on what I have read here, and posted a new summary on the Clydesdale forum. Even at my target weight, I'll still be solidly in the Clydesdale camp ... so might as well start hanging out over there.

Here is the new thread I created in the Clydesdale forum ---> http://www.bikeforums.net/clydesdales-athenas-200-lb-91-kg/449494-bike-selection-help-returning-bikes-after-long-time-away.html#post7195200

Thanks again for the help.

Michael
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Old 08-03-08, 10:45 AM   #18
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Co-Motion Americano. It has a 145mm non-dished rear tandem hub, 3x9 tourer gearing, higher-end componentry all-round. It will work for you now and later.
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Old 08-03-08, 07:56 PM   #19
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I didn't see anyone with local knowledge checking in yet. You have 2 very good (IMHO) shops nearby. Spokes Etc's Ashburn store is just off Rt 7 at the Harris Teeter center just east of the Clairborne Parkway overpass. Pedal Shop is on the W&OD at Ashburn Rd (next to the old general store and an Antique shop). Both worth checking out. Further away, Bicycle Outfitters in Leesburg (no experience with them) and Plum Grove Cycles (more higher end bikes, they do carry Cannondale), A-1 in Herndon, Bike Lane in Reston Town Center (new) and Performance in Reston near Whole Foods. More shops as you head into Vienna, Fairfax, and Arlington, and of course, in DC.

Jamis Coda is a good choice - my son has one and we have used it on paved roads and for loaded touring on the C&O Towpath. Not many Jamis dealers in the area - I think the closest is in DC. Because of your size, another idea might be an MTB with road tires. About any of the places I mentioned can handle this.
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