I'd appreciate any and all advice! I am a 58-yr-old woman who once really enjoyed cycling, meaning I rode about 100-150 miles per week, joined a club, did weekend touring, etc. Now I am 40+ pounds overweight and have arthritis in my shoulders, hands, knees and feet. My last "serious" bike was a nifty Cannondale hybrid--today I have an old touring cheapie in the garage, but it hurts so much in all kinds of places (especially my wrists) whenever I get aboard that I thought I would never be able to ride again, and have been limiting my activity to walking, swimming, and yoga.
Then I saw an article in Arthritis Today magazine about bikes built to be more comfortable with cushy seats and a more upright riding position. A light went on! Maybe, just maybe, I could find a bike that would suit my needs.
I went out and tried the Giant Revive, and really loved the lumbar support and the riding position, but did not love the price tag nor the really jittery steering as a result of the small front wheel. It also seems it would be difficult to put on a bike rack, and it's also extremely heavy. I've looked at but not yet ridden the Giant Suede and the Trek Navigator and Trek Sole Ride. I haven't checked out recumbents yet either, but I gather they are pretty pricey, plus I would worry about being that low to the ground when riding in traffic.
I have to say, that in 3 separate bike shops, my experience has not been pleasant. No one seems to be very interested in addressing my issues nor were the sales people very knowledgeable about their own comfort bike lines (and I don't think I should be invisible just because I'm not young, thin, and looking for the newest hot wheels!).
Bottom line: I want something for casual/exercise riding in my suburban neighborhood and my (very hilly) local state park that is super-comfortable on the joints and tush and not horribly expensive. (In my former life I would not have balked at $1000 for a bike, but now it wouldn't be worthwhile for the amount I'll be riding--I'd prefer to stay under $500, unless more would buy me something really fantastic and clearly worth it.) It should be easy to carry on a standard bike rack and capable of reasonable hill-climbing. Oh, and I discovered in trying the Revive that despite years of previous cycling, I'm more comfortable nowadays with being able to easily put my feet on the ground when stopped.
Any suggestions either for specific models to check out or specific features to look for as I continue my quest? Or am I looking for something that despite the new "comfort bike" labels doesn't really exist?
Thanks for your help!