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Old 12-29-05, 12:18 PM   #1
tivoli1
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Newbie questions!

Hi there. My son, a bike racer, referred me here. Yesterday, my husband and I took a bike ride in NYC on the bike path all the way downtown. We had a great time. It rekindled a real enjoyment of bike riding. We used to do lots of bike riding when we were first married, always with the kids on bike paths on our vacations, etc. We didn't do biking all the time, but it has been a part of our lives.

Anyway, fast forward to yesterday! Now, I'm 40 lb overweight, 51, female, and I don't exercise AT ALL. Although we did about 10-12 miles yesterday! (Was very tired!)

So, I'm interested in bike riding for exercise and recreation. I'd like to consider a new bike and comfort is paramount. I expect to ride about 20-30 minutes a day for exercise (at the beginning) and for recreation between 10-15 miles with increasing frequency, maybe more as time goes on. Budget is not a big factor...if I have a wait a little to replace my current bike to get quality, I will.

So, where do I begin to shop for a good quality bike? Am I even asking the right questions?? Thank you!
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Old 12-29-05, 12:28 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by tivoli1
Hi there. My son, a bike racer, referred me here. Yesterday, my husband and I took a bike ride in NYC on the bike path all the way downtown. We had a great time. It rekindled a real enjoyment of bike riding. We used to do lots of bike riding when we were first married, always with the kids on bike paths on our vacations, etc. We didn't do biking all the time, but it has been a part of our lives.

Anyway, fast forward to yesterday! Now, I'm 40 lb overweight, 51, female, and I don't exercise AT ALL. Although we did about 10-12 miles yesterday! (Was very tired!)

So, I'm interested in bike riding for exercise and recreation. I'd like to consider a new bike and comfort is paramount. I expect to ride about 20-30 minutes a day for exercise (at the beginning) and for recreation between 10-15 miles with increasing frequency, maybe more as time goes on. Budget is not a big factor...if I have a wait a little to replace my current bike to get quality, I will.

So, where do I begin to shop for a good quality bike? Am I even asking the right questions?? Thank you!
Welcome to BF. I think your first step is to let your fingers do the walking and find your local bike shops, then give them a visit and take a look at some of the bikes they have, asking any questions that come into your mind and doing some test rides. If it were me, I'd take that little tour first, then come back in here with the recommendations and advice you got, for a second opinion. There may even be some folks in here from your area who have had experience with the shops in your area.

The big thing to remember when looking for a new bike, make sure that it fits you, will serve your cycling needs (your son is the racer, not you) and fits your budget. Once you get that bike, take it easy and just increase your riding distance and speed as you feel comfortable, taking the time to rediscover and hone your riding skills. The whole point is to have fun, not to suffer! Good luck, and believe me, you will find lots of good advice and helpful tips in these forums.
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Old 12-29-05, 12:43 PM   #3
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Welcome to BF. I think your first step is to let your fingers do the walking and find your local bike shops, then give them a visit and take a look at some of the bikes they have, asking any questions that come into your mind and doing some test rides. If it were me, I'd take that little tour first, then come back in here with the recommendations and advice you got, for a second opinion. There may even be some folks in here from your area who have had experience with the shops in your area.

The big thing to remember when looking for a new bike, make sure that it fits you, will serve your cycling needs (your son is the racer, not you) and fits your budget. Once you get that bike, take it easy and just increase your riding distance and speed as you feel comfortable, taking the time to rediscover and hone your riding skills. The whole point is to have fun, not to suffer! Good luck, and believe me, you will find lots of good advice and helpful tips in these forums.
100% right. Main thing as, as many here have found out- You buy a style of bike that seems to suit you, but then change your mind. Give us an idea of what type of riding you will be doing? Mainly road, bike trails, tarmac, dirt paths, offroad and whether it is flat terrain or hilly. We can only offer our advice, but what type of bike are you riding at present and is it suitable for what you are doing?

You might be asking the questions but we will throw just as many back at you- just to be a little more helpful on our answers.
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Old 12-29-05, 12:53 PM   #4
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All I can say about getting a bike that is "comfortable" is it may not be the right bike for you.
Almost every weekend I see a cyclist who appears to be a few years older than me and very overweight. He has been riding a recumbent (pronounced "comfort") for a few years and hasn't lost a pound. He isn't working hard enough to burn calories or fat.

I was 55, six feet tall, and 240+ pounds whan I started riding in 2000. I'm now 61 and much lighter. The "comfort bikes" that got me in shape are listed in my sig.

Don't sell yourself short and get the wrong bike. Cycling is great fun and a good workout a few times a week will get the weight off.
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Old 12-29-05, 12:58 PM   #5
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I think that the first cut has to do with where you expect to ride it: paved roads, loose gravel, level trails or steep climbs. That will focus the kind of bike you should be looking for.

Once you make the decision as to the type of bike that you want, how the bike fits and your budget will pretty much determine everything else.
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Old 12-29-05, 01:14 PM   #6
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Thanks for your collective input. I can say for certainty, at this early point, that it will most likely be exclusively paved roads and paved paths, that part I'm sure of. A combination of suburban roads (somewhat hilly area) for straight exercise, and city streets plus city paved bike paths for recreational riding.

I hear you about "comfort" Ron. In my initial looking around the web, I came across the word "recumbent" and wondered if I should consider that type of bike. I think, since I will be in the city, it would probably be more dangerous in terms of sight lines of other vehicles. I've come across the Trek bikes that are designed just for women and am wondering about that brand. I have a Trek 720 which is about 12-15 years old.

I read something about a triple crank something, which sounds like I may want that feature for lower gear ability, if that's what I remember it is. Thanks for the input, it's very helpful.
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Old 12-29-05, 01:41 PM   #7
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Um.........me too. I'm 51, 6'3" and 320 pounds. I have decided to start biking regularly again. Recently I stayed at a hostel that had an old, old, owuld bike that I rented for $5 per day. It was a road bike of a type I would not consider owning, even in a new version, as it was not at all comfortable but I rode and rode and rode. I enjoyed it very much even if it left me with a sore...I mean with sore body parts and walking funny.

I'm also looking for a comfortable bike but not necessarily a "comfort" bike. After my numbing experience on vacation, I did look at some recumbents and found a Burley that was comfortable and would have stretched the budget without busting it altogether; but in addition to the consideration expressed here that recumbent riders can get insufficient exercise, I decided I want a bike I can take on the train or put in a car rack and that would allow me to be a little less conspicuous.

There has been some buzz here about Electra's Townie. One of my four local dealers rents them but I have yet to have free time during daylight hours when it has not been raining. The shape looks as if it would be comfortable. I don't require the 'flat foot' design but the upright riding position would help me avoid neck and wrist discomfort--and I don't care if it fouls the aerodynamics. I also want a bike that is less stressful in the nether regions and I welcome suggestions. Raleigh makes a bike of similar design ( Um.........me too. I'm 51, 6'3" and 320 pounds. I have decided to start biking regularly again. Recently I stayed at a hostel that had an old, old, owuld bike that I rented for $5 per day. It was a road bike of a type I would not consider owning, even in a new version, as it was not at all comfortable but I rode and rode and rode. I enjoyed it very much even if it left me with a sore...I mean with sore body parts and walking funny.

I'm also looking for a comfortable bike but not necessarily a "comfort" bike. After my numbing experience on vacation, I did look at some recumbents and found a Burley that was comfortable and would have stretched the budget without busting it altogether; but in addition to the consideration expressed here that recumbent riders can get insufficient exercise, I decided I want a bike I can take on the train or put in a car rack and that would allow me to be a little less conspicuous.

There has been some buzz here about Electra's Townie. One of my four local dealers rents them but I have yet to have free time during daylight hours when it has not been raining. The shape looks as if it would be comfortable. I don't require the 'flat foot' design but the upright riding position would help me avoid neck and wrist discomfort--and I don't care if it fouls the aerodynamics. Raleigh makes a bike of similar design ( http://www.raleighusa.com/items.asp?...temid=270&va=0 ) and has a line of comfort bikes and what they call 'cross' bikes that I want to look at. Raleigh has an appeal to me that is not entirely rational: it was the Cadillac of bicycles when I was a kid and now I can finally get myself one, as long as they have a good bike for me that is a fair value.

My objective is to enjoy riding. I was able to ride twenty miles at a time on a poorly fitted, loose, rough shifting bike, so I expect I ought to be able to start at a similar rate with a new, well fitted, tight bike. I'd be riding on pavement and occasionally on a packed dirt track. I'd like to be able to make the eighteen mile round trip to my district swimming pool a few times per week--I've surveyed routes in the car and there are some hills that could be a bit of a challenge. Eventually, I'd like to be able to make the 76 mile (one way) trip to the beach, with an altitude change of approximately 800 feet--over the coastal hump. Mostly, I expect to do short road rides (I live in the country, so the trip to the pool is mostly over country roads, with less than a mile in town), bike trails and short trips that I could walk but would be more likely to drive if I didn't have the bike as an option.

Dear Tivoli1, I hope I'm not crashing your party. You and I seem to be seeking something similar and are about at the same place in our search, so I'd like to participate in this thread as a fellow inquirer.

Last edited by BroMax; 12-29-05 at 01:46 PM. Reason: to make it more personal ("tivoli1" instead of "writer")
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Old 12-29-05, 01:43 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by tivoli1
Thanks for your collective input. I can say for certainty, at this early point, that it will most likely be exclusively paved roads and paved paths, that part I'm sure of. A combination of suburban roads (somewhat hilly area) for straight exercise, and city streets plus city paved bike paths for recreational riding.

I hear you about "comfort" Ron. In my initial looking around the web, I came across the word "recumbent" and wondered if I should consider that type of bike. I think, since I will be in the city, it would probably be more dangerous in terms of sight lines of other vehicles. I've come across the Trek bikes that are designed just for women and am wondering about that brand. I have a Trek 720 which is about 12-15 years old.

I read something about a triple crank something, which sounds like I may want that feature for lower gear ability, if that's what I remember it is. Thanks for the input, it's very helpful.
Never going off paved roads to me means that you should be looking at a bike fitted with slicks- not the mountain bike heavily treaded tyre. A triple crank is fairly common on bikes nowadays and will give you lower gears, but unless you are very hilly, or you are ultra unfit, should not be a requirement on road. On the type of bike- you should be looking towards road bike- not necessarily racers, and you are right- trek do make women specific bikes. There is a breed called a hybrid that may suit you better than most others. But get to a shop- in fact go to 3 or 4 shops, and talk to them. Then try a few of the different bikes. Just sitting on them and you will find one that feels better than the others. My wife was lucky 15 years ago. She went to a particular shop- they asked a few questions, sat her on one bike- decided it was not right, and sent her out for a trial ride on another. That was the one she bought and it is perfect for her. She still has it, and still rides about 2,500 miles a year on it. For her the bike is comfortable, it has proved trouble free and is the right colour.
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Old 12-29-05, 02:14 PM   #9
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BroMax, go for it, no problem. stapfam, I am truly unfit, have had no exercise at all in recent years. But, as I've had a trainer in the past who made me do all sorts of boring exercises and who then moved away 2+ years ago with no exercise since then, I think the bike is something that I can actually enjoy, which is appealing to me right now. The Electra looks interesting. I will look into a road bike and a hybrid. Can I get a cushy ride at all, or does everything have to be HARD on the bike (thinner tires, hard saddle)
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Old 12-29-05, 02:19 PM   #10
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... but in addition to the consideration expressed here that recumbent riders can get insufficient exercise,
The insufficient exercise argument is just plain silly, IMHO. And pretty amazing too if you think about it. (ie don't get that bike, it's too efficient!) Work is work. If you're not getting enough exercise, no matter what bike you're using, the solution is simple: pedal harder. Blaming the bike for the rider is totally unjustified. After all, I see lots of overweight people on mountain bikes; but I'm pretty sure it's not the mountain bikes' fault.
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Old 12-29-05, 02:31 PM   #11
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BroMax, go for it, no problem. stapfam, I am truly unfit, have had no exercise at all in recent years. But, as I've had a trainer in the past who made me do all sorts of boring exercises and who then moved away 2+ years ago with no exercise since then, I think the bike is something that I can actually enjoy, which is appealing to me right now. The Electra looks interesting. I will look into a road bike and a hybrid. Can I get a cushy ride at all, or does everything have to be HARD on the bike (thinner tires, hard saddle)

Some makes/models to consider:

Bianchi Avenue: http://www.bianchiusa.com/06_avenue.html
Fuji Crosstown: http://fujibikes.com/2006/bikes.asp?id=185
Jamis Citizen: http://www.jamisbikes.com/bikes/06_citizen.html
Raleigh Venture: http://www.raleighusa.com/items.asp?...temid=306&va=0
Giant Cypress DX: http://www.giant-bicycle.com/us/030....05&model=11058
Trek 7300: http://www2.trekbikes.com/bikes/bike...d=1324600&f=25
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Old 12-29-05, 04:28 PM   #12
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BroMax, go for it, no problem. stapfam, I am truly unfit, have had no exercise at all in recent years. But, as I've had a trainer in the past who made me do all sorts of boring exercises and who then moved away 2+ years ago with no exercise since then, I think the bike is something that I can actually enjoy, which is appealing to me right now. The Electra looks interesting. I will look into a road bike and a hybrid. Can I get a cushy ride at all, or does everything have to be HARD on the bike (thinner tires, hard saddle)
The tyres dont have to be thin, high pressure slicks, they can be wider and softer. The electra is not a favoured bike,but check out the local shops. They can advise more fully. Whatever you do- do not go for full suspension- they will be expensive for one that works efficiently ---$$$$ and lots of them. There are bikes that are comfortable, but as I say The local bike shop (LBS) can advise.
It does not matter how unfit you are- If you want to get fit/lose weight-- you will put the effort in if you try. Biking is fun- if its not, then make it fun. I am probably not the best person to advise you on the fitness side, but there are plenty here who bought a bike for the same reasons as you that can.

Admittedly not a biker- but at the gym I go to- there was a girl 2 years ago that was unfit- not overweight, but if it was a male- I would call her weak and puny. 2 years later and you cannot call her that. On the exercise machines she is up to my standard on time and level and thinking about joining some form of Sports club at the gym. She has the fitness to do anything now.
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Old 12-29-05, 04:44 PM   #13
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The insufficient exercise argument is just plain silly, IMHO. And pretty amazing too if you think about it. (ie don't get that bike, it's too efficient!) Work is work. If you're not getting enough exercise, no matter what bike you're using, the solution is simple: pedal harder. Blaming the bike for the rider is totally unjustified. After all, I see lots of overweight people on mountain bikes; but I'm pretty sure it's not the mountain bikes' fault.
Come on! It has to be the bike's fault. Otherwise we'd be blaming a human. Society no longer permits assignment of personal responsibility. The manufacturer of the mountain bike on which you saw the overweight person should be sued.
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Old 12-29-05, 06:00 PM   #14
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This is not the first "what-bike-fits-thread" these days. My opinion:
Sit on any bike you can get (maybe your child's bike) for a 5 miles ride and write down all the things you didn't like (except the hurt at the extended backbone).
You will know what you don't want to have, you will know what you want to have.
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Old 12-29-05, 06:14 PM   #15
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Full suspension, that is for mountain bikes, is that correct? Or is that available on road and hybrid bikes? Is there a recommended position, the lower handle bars and/or rolled bars or the higher up handle bars as (I think) I've seen on the Trek Pilot series. Have there been any comfort comparisons made in regard to upper body positions? I will go to a few LBS, definitely.

chipcom, thanks a bunch for the bike referrals! i'll check those out, over and over.
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Old 12-29-05, 06:44 PM   #16
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Full suspension, that is for mountain bikes, is that correct? Or is that available on road and hybrid bikes? Is there a recommended position, the lower handle bars and/or rolled bars or the higher up handle bars as (I think) I've seen on the Trek Pilot series. Have there been any comfort comparisons made in regard to upper body positions? I will go to a few LBS, definitely.

chipcom, thanks a bunch for the bike referrals! i'll check those out, over and over.
Unfortunately, most 'comfort' and many 'hybrid' bikes come with front suspension forks, making them heavier than they need to be. I'd give you some options for road bikes like the Pilot (which is a good choice, but pricey), but I am not sure if you'd like the more aggressive riding position of dropped-bar road bikes or flat barred road or fitness bikes, based on what you originally stated about your weight and condition. I know many women that are of a similar age and condition that just plain don't like these types of bikes, while my own GF who is 43, petite and slim loves her flat-barred Raleigh Route 1. If you think you'd like to try some of these types of bikes, I'd be happy to give you some choices to look at. One question, do you think you'd like dropped- bars or flat bars?

If I misread your comments about your weight and physical condition, I do apologize!
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Old 12-29-05, 08:22 PM   #17
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I don't know what I didn't show you this bike before...I think these Breezer's are fantastic bikes:

http://www.breezerbikes.com/bike_det...e&bike=liberty
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Old 12-29-05, 08:27 PM   #18
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For newbies, I always say "At least go sit on an Electra Townie." You may like it!
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Old 12-29-05, 08:33 PM   #19
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Thank you! My husband says most likely flat bars rather than the rolled ones, with a more upright type of sitting, but I'll have to see for myself. He also thought the specific women's designed trek bikes looked like a good idea. But, again, will print out these ideas and will see what feels good. And, yes, as I said before, I am quite overweight and really in zero physical condition right now. But, here I am on a bike forum, and with a history of many, many enjoyable bike rides with our family over the years on Cape Cod's wonderful bike paths, plus a son who's a racer and would love for me to get in shape, so maybe something's clicking now. I hope so! I will say I feel like I am too far forward on my Trek 720 that I've had for over 10 years when I went on it the other day..first time in ages. I'll check out all those bikes, thanks.
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Old 12-29-05, 08:55 PM   #20
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If you do decide to visit a local Trek bike shop, also consider the 7.5FX WSD and 7.6FX WSD. It doesn't sound like you need the suspension, and in the end they are just heavier. I started riding again a little over a year ago with a Trek 7500, but just recently traded it in for the new 7.7FX and it is just as comfortable on the bike paths that I ride on and it is much lighter and more responsive.
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Old 12-30-05, 04:47 AM   #21
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I did look at those Trek bikes online, I'll check them out. I spent a lot of time looking at the Breezer bikes, especially the Liberty, and that bike looks like it does it all. I'll have to try it, there's only one shop near me that has it. For long rides, at this point for me, a long ride is 10-15 miles, can the upright position be as comfortable as, say, being at a lower riding angle? That's something that I could not establish until after a purchase and I'm wondering if there were any comparisons done about sitting position comfort vs. length of ride.
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Old 12-30-05, 06:47 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tivoli1
I did look at those Trek bikes online, I'll check them out. I spent a lot of time looking at the Breezer bikes, especially the Liberty, and that bike looks like it does it all. I'll have to try it, there's only one shop near me that has it. For long rides, at this point for me, a long ride is 10-15 miles, can the upright position be as comfortable as, say, being at a lower riding angle? That's something that I could not establish until after a purchase and I'm wondering if there were any comparisons done about sitting position comfort vs. length of ride.

An upright riding position is plenty comfortable. The biggest advantage of a more agressive angle is aerodynamics, unless you are a strong rider in which case the more aggressive position also allows your legs to support more of your weight than your arms and okole. I think the Liberty is perfect for relaxed rides of much longer than 10-15 miles. The fact that it is already equipped with fenders, rack and an internally powered lighting system is also a big plus. You have the ability to carry 'stuff', and are more prepared for wet or dark/low light conditions. Keep one thing in mind when comparing different bikes...you are not out to race, you are out to enjoy yourself. The more comfortable you are, the easier it is to have fun and the longer you can ride.

But the bottom line is that you should take any bike for as long of a test ride as possible and choose whatever feels best to you, keeping in mind that some adjustments can be made.
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Old 12-30-05, 06:56 AM   #23
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In the past year I've learned something. There are two types of hybrid: a hybrid that is built more like a comfort bike and a hybrid that leans toward a road bike.

I was ready to move up to a better bike after outgrowing my old mountain bike on the local rail-trail. My lbs said a hybrid was the way to go on this trail...so I didn't shop around because I wanted to support the local guy. I ended up with a Raleigh Passage 4.0, which is a fantastic bike! I was very happy with it for about a month...until one day a Marin Sausalito hybrid caught my eye in the used rack at the same lbs. I rode it around the parking lot, and I can't tell you what a difference there is between my bike and this one! I couldn't resist buying it. The Marin hybrid is lighter, with thinner tires, has a different saddle (more thin, less "comfort"), and straighter handlebars. It's easier to get some speed with the Marin.

Funny...my husband is now getting into cycling and absolutely loves the Raleigh. He says it's more of a Cadillac, and the Marin is more of a sportscar. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's a sportscar, but I will say it's "sportier."

One's not better than the other. Test ride some different bikes and ask yourself which style you're likely to be happier with.
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Old 12-30-05, 02:17 PM   #24
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Thanks again. I may be leaning toward getting a city bike like the Breezer Uptown, since I expect to spend a fair amount of time biking around the city in the next year. At home for exercise, I can use my Trek for the foreseeable future. Anyone know of a better/comparable city bike other than the Breezer? I'll do some research, but so far that Breezer sure looks great.
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