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  1. #1
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    Newbe old guy seeks advice

    Hi all, While this is my first post, I would like to state that I've been lurking here for a few weeks and have run dozens of searches. The info, experience and advice here seems top notch.
    Still, I have a few things to run by the over 50 crowd in particular. Please bear with (or just ignore) me as you see fit.

    First about me/situation: I'm 51, 5'7", 220 ( yea I know :-() and not particularly athletic although I do walk a little daily. I'm now trying to get into biking again for exercise and fun. I've got a few friends that bike ( one road bike, one flat bar) but I'm not sure how much I would ride with them. Basically I plan to do mostly 5-10 mi back road trips with the occasional ( 1xmonth?) 20-25 miler. I don't ever see myself going much longer than that as my time is limited and hobby interests broad. Roads/paths around here (MASS/RI) are paved but spotted with pot holes, bumps, cracks etc. My last bike was bought in 97' and is a 33#, 1.9" x26" tired Schwinn hybrid with full upright position and shock absorbing seat post, etc.) Super comfy, and it did all these things OK, but I think I'm ready to give up A LITTLE comfort for some speed/ bike lightness to help concur hills and motivation ;-).

    So given my gut, age and general "needs", I've been thinking that a flat bar fitness/road bike would do the trick. Then I start reading about hand fatigue and ( 5-10 min) test riding and wonder if I would be better served in the long run with a road bike ( like a Fuji Newest, Cannondale Symapse.) My dilemma is this: I THINK the flat bar ( like a trek 7.3/7.5 , Fuji Absolute 2, Jamis Alegra 2) would suit my needs best but worry about outgrowing it quickly. The road bikes ( like the Fuji Newest I tried) were lighter and faster but I worry about the effects on my back and potential flats on local conditions. (p.s Only road bikes I would consider would ahve to have the extra brake levers on the top hold position as well.)
    I have a decent budget of $600-$1000 or so but unfortunate in that the 8 LBS's I've visited are low on stock in my (small/15") frame size.

    Couple of specific questions:

    Will I really reap teh benifits of a $1000 frame/component set over a $600 set?
    Will the road bike positioning be harder to get used to. ( If she sits int eh garage because i don't Love it", it was wasted $.
    Will a 24# road bike ride that much fastr/easier than a 27# flat bar set up?

    Constructive thoughts and advice , both general or specific are welcome!

    Thanks in Advance,
    Dave

  2. #2
    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    I'd suggest riding your present bike at least three times a week, distances as long as you can handle, on routes you find most pleasant. With a month or three of that experience and fitness under your belt you know much better what you want in a new bike.
    George
    Laissez les bon temps rouler

  3. #3
    too old for bike shorts? cyclehen's Avatar
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    If your current bike is comfy and works ok, I'd also suggest waiting and riding for a while before you decide. You may find that your riding plans change (the bug bites hard, or not at all).

  4. #4
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    Quick, easy, cheap (compared to new bike) path to a zippier ride: Replace your 1.9" tires with 1.25" higher pressure tires, such as

    http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...00_20000_23014

    http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...00_20000_23014

    http://www.hostelshoppe.com/cgi-bin/...sory=991765887 (1.5" but 100psi)

    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...2_10000_201496
    RANS V3 (steel), RANS V-Rex, RANS Screamer

  5. #5
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    After 15 years of Mountain biking- I changed to road bikes 3 years ago. No problem on the change over of riding position- except I did not get into the drop position often and then only for short spells. It hurt my back---so--- it was practice getting into the drops. After about 3 months I had no pain and felt comfortable in that position. Not that I use it much but Downhills- into a headwind or if I do want a bit of speeds- I can use it.

    On the bike. I started cheap with a Giant OCR3. Good bike but it was not long before I needed something better. A Year later and I got a far better bike at a far higher price. The difference on the ride of the expensive bike is well worth it- but there is no way that I would have paid that for a bike a year earlier.


    And on sizing- I am 5'6" with a 30" inseam. Lighter admittedly but look at the compact frames that seem to be everywhere nowadays. Suits us shorties down to the ground.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member limeylew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gcottay View Post
    I'd suggest riding your present bike at least three times a week, distances as long as you can handle, on routes you find most pleasant. With a month or three of that experience and fitness under your belt you know much better what you want in a new bike.
    I'll sure 2nd this sound advice.

    It's really hard to tell another person how they will feel on 'such and such' a product.

    You sound like you're on the right track, in that you are both trying and thinking.

    GOOD LUCK to you.
    Lewis.
    A cyclist is a cyclist's worst enemy.
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  7. #7
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    Thanks for the thoughts and keep them coming. Sounds like good advice. I'll keep riding, thinking and comparing a bit longer. (This will likely put me into a next year purchase as shops are selling out pretty fast.) I think an upgrade on the tires would certainly be $ well spent in any case. ( I will keep this bike regardless.) Took a 12 mile ride today of fairly flat ground but hit a 15-20K headwind for a few miles of it. Tired me out quick since I was sitting completely upright. I can see the need to get lower under certain conditions.

  8. #8
    Senior Member kr32's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gcottay View Post
    I'd suggest riding your present bike at least three times a week, distances as long as you can handle, on routes you find most pleasant. With a month or three of that experience and fitness under your belt you know much better what you want in a new bike.
    Quote Originally Posted by cyclehen View Post
    If your current bike is comfy and works ok, I'd also suggest waiting and riding for a while before you decide. You may find that your riding plans change (the bug bites hard, or not at all).
    Quote Originally Posted by JanMM View Post
    Quick, easy, cheap (compared to new bike) path to a zippier ride: Replace your 1.9" tires with 1.25" higher pressure tires, such as

    http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...00_20000_23014

    http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...00_20000_23014

    http://www.hostelshoppe.com/cgi-bin/...sory=991765887 (1.5" but 100psi)

    http://www.nashbar.com/bikes/Product...2_10000_201496
    All good stuff here.
    I hope you find what you are looking for and have fun doing it.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Red Baron's Avatar
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    Some VERY good advice given, motivation is the key, its not the bike its YOU. Good luck !!!!
    **Fate is a fickle thing, and in the end the true measure of a person is not fate itself, but how they master it**

  10. #10
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Think of headwinds and wind resistance as some of the best training you can get. Hills and headwinds are your friends.

    Get narrower tires.

    Have fun.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  11. #11
    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    Hills and headwinds are your friends.

    Have fun.
    Death and disease are also your good buds. Enjoy.



  12. #12
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Around here, if wind wasn't my "friend" I would never ride!!

    When Latitude65 and I rode together, one of his comments was. "I'm not used to all this wind!"
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 08-09-09 at 04:18 PM.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  13. #13
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WeeHooker View Post
    Thanks for the thoughts and keep them coming. Sounds like good advice. I'll keep riding, thinking and comparing a bit longer. (This will likely put me into a next year purchase as shops are selling out pretty fast.) I think an upgrade on the tires would certainly be $ well spent in any case. ( I will keep this bike regardless.) Took a 12 mile ride today of fairly flat ground but hit a 15-20K headwind for a few miles of it. Tired me out quick since I was sitting completely upright. I can see the need to get lower under certain conditions.
    Could you maybe get lower on your present bike? Ask your LBS if you are not into wrenching yourself. Also look into "ergo grips" if you worry about hand numbnes.

  14. #14
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WeeHooker View Post
    Basically I plan to do mostly 5-10 mi back road trips with the occasional ( 1xmonth?) 20-25 miler. I don't ever see myself going much longer than that as my time is limited and hobby interests broad.
    Thanks in Advance,
    Dave
    Welcome Dave. I think I said the same thing about 8 years ago.

    About 40,000 miles and 7 bikes later I still remember that first 12 mile ride........good luck and just make sure you enjoy whatever you decide to do!

  15. #15
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Welcome Dave!

    It takes time. I expect the bike shops will have plenty of bikes, what they don't have in stock the distributors will be pushing them to help empty out thier supplies as well. I would ride as much as I can until late September and then shop. You will have about a 2 week window for the best selection and price. But if you aren't ready then wait until next season.
    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
    If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

  16. #16
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    Put bars ends on your bike, set low to simulate the position of hoods on a road bike. This will give you a variatiion of hand position and will allow you to get lower for headwinds. Bar width reduction might also help. For new bikes look at cyclocross bikes like the Kona Jake and the Specialized Tricross - the fatter tires will be kinder to you on rough roads, and triple chainrings allow non-athletes to get up the hills.

  17. #17
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    Oh, get a new bike, fer cryin' out loud!
    Seriously, if you do decide to get a new ride, consider a cyclocross bike. They can be had cheap, they'll take big tires, they're durable, and nobody will give you grief about the second set of brake levers.
    There are also other road bikes that will accept wide tires and take a beating, and there's no reason you can't get the same position on a road or cross frame that you get on a hybrid. You'll just have the option of the drops.
    I'm not aero and I run my bars almost even with the saddle and I ride 6K miles per year on all kinds of roads. 36 spoke wheels are my friends.

  18. #18
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big john View Post
    ... consider a cyclocross bike. They can be had cheap, they'll take big tires, they're durable, and nobody will give you grief about the second set of brake levers.
    There are also other road bikes that will accept wide tires and take a beating, and there's no reason you can't get the same position on a road or cross frame that you get on a hybrid. You'll just have the option of the drops.
    Concur. An old road bike, such as my crummy old UO-8, makes a great cyclocrosser.
    Quote Originally Posted by big john View Post
    ... 36 spoke wheels are my friends.
    Absolutely, positively! Paired-spoke and other low spoke count wheels are for racing. They cannot be trued, and they cannot limp home with a broken spoke. If you want practical, durable wheels with a superb strength-to-weight ratio, you need at least 32 spokes per wheel, not 32 spokes per bike.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  19. #19
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    I would not weight your local road conditions too heavily in your choice of a new bike, unless you actually plan on spending a lot of time on gravel, jeep roads in the woods, etc. I ride from Worcester down into northern RI fairly often, and the roads down there seem no worse to me than any other New England country roads. Regular road bikes with skinny (700X23C) tires handle that stuff just fine. You quickly learn to dodge the bad bits.

  20. #20
    Grumpy Old Bugga europa's Avatar
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    Buy a cycle computer for your current bike if you don't have one.
    Start looking at bikes now, sitting on and riding as many as you possible can.

    DO NOT BUY A NEW BIKE UNTIL YOU'VE DONE 500 miles.

    By looking now, you get a good feel for what is out there and what isn't. You'll fine tune your bulldust detector. Sooner or later, you'll find yourself walking into a shop and going straight to one style of bike or even a specific make and model - that's when you'll know what your heart is telling you and to be honest, that is all that really matters.

    The 500 mile bit (easier for me because I did 500 kms and kilometres are shorter ) has three purposes. Firstly, by forcing you to wait while looking, you look effectively - ignore 'special offers', there'll be another 'great deal' in a month's time. Secondly, the distance allows your body to put on some condition. Third, it allows you to work out what sort riding you're actually doing as opposed to what you think you'd like to do - the two are usually wildly different, especially with regards to time and distance.

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  21. #21
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    Echoing various comments to ride your current bike for a month or so, leave the plump tires on-
    their little extra weight is a good trainer. Most cyclists aren't happy to have headwind- that too helps with training, as noted above.
    Latter half of sept thru early oct is usually a good time to get a bike- a cyclocross style bike is a great suggestion [i'm biased toward a Surly CrossCheck- it is so versatile and adaptable to what may be your changing needs- plus the ride is comfortable] Get a fitting with the handlebar level with seat - this will address your back concerns. Also swap out the cyclocross style tire with a touring/commuting tire - 32 mm Marathon is a good balance of features. I cannot agree that skinny eg 23-25 mm tires are a good choice for your current riding. A cyclocross bike will probably come with more of a racing saddle; swap it out for something more touring/commuting - a lot will suggest a Brooks B-17. They are a great saddle, I have three - but other saddles would be better at this time for you - the Serfas Rx or Terry Cite are good examples of what might work better, plus they are less $. At this time- stay with flat pedals; like MKS touring. Everyone probably will suggest going with clipless, IMHO resist that until next summer or a future bike. Commute by bike, if you can - even just once a week. Don't worry about distance, speed or time - just ride what you are comfortable. Cycling should be fun and a pleasure - so many are focused only on the sport aspect they forget the satisfaction of seeing and experiencing the world from a bike seat.

  22. #22
    I STILL miss East Hill :) Rollfast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by big john View Post
    Oh, get a new bike, fer cryin' out loud!
    Seriously, if you do decide to get a new ride, consider a cyclocross bike. They can be had cheap, they'll take big tires, they're durable, and nobody will give you grief about the second set of brake levers.
    There are also other road bikes that will accept wide tires and take a beating, and there's no reason you can't get the same position on a road or cross frame that you get on a hybrid. You'll just have the option of the drops.
    I'm not aero and I run my bars almost even with the saddle and I ride 6K miles per year on all kinds of roads. 36 spoke wheels are my friends.
    Gee, it's a close heat as to which is MY fastest bike, the '95 Schwinn Classic Cruiser SS or the Fiftywhatever Namesake Brand. Get new if you want but nothing beats learning what works and making it do that. Nothing beats experience, and you already know a lot of that, I'll bet. Of course, my goal has always been to get up Hospital Hill without checking in

    I used to do 12-24 miles from Nyssa to Ontario and back when I was in my teens, taking either the local highway or the old back road with two big switchbacks on relatively flat road. Traffic was a lot lighter then.

    That's probably a good goal for me again. Going into Payette is about as good as it's a good climb coming back from the bridges into Fruitland and the uphill bridge on the Snake River from Ontario is all downhill the other way--WHEEEEEEEEE!

    Well, I may only be 43 but when I'm 50 I'll have been 7 for 43 years

  23. #23
    Senior Member Riverside_Guy's Avatar
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    I'd go with europa's advice... ride a LOT before you look top get anything new. I just got back into cycling after a long hiatus and every ride brings new thinking about what I'd want. And how to equip myself correctly. And I'm still not totally decided.

    Yes I had issues more with my arms more than hands... but it was muscles, and by now I'm not bothered (flat bars, not sitting upright). That's why europa was right... put some mileage in before you decided what to upgrade to... part of that process is building up the muscles specific to cycling. Once you're there, things change... when I started out in June, I almost thought I'd want some lower gears than what I had... but now I stay mostly in the higher gears and could actually see an even higher gear than my highest.

    As for bikes, I've been partial to hybrids. When I go for a new bike, I think I'd opt for some suspension help... I'm not exactly a lightweight and do tend to get tossed around a lot on uneven roads (one of my bike paths is quite bumpy).

    Good luc and safe riding!

  24. #24
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    Wow, I'm impressed with the number consistency of insightful response's Iíve gotten on a newbie post. Great community! Rest assured, Iím getting and value your message. Have to agree that the ride, read, test ride and wait approach is likely the best . ( Although the "GO buy a new bike" post was tempting I'll hold off a bit till I'm smart enough to make a better decision based on my ďneedsĒ vs wants.
    That said, I should qualify that I'm not 100 % new to this. I have ridden my current bike well over 1000 mi (maybe x2) over a 3 year period. Iíve just returning from a 3-4 yr hiatus from regular peddling during a particularly busy period in my career ( as mechanical engineer/project manager).
    Funny, since Iíve been back riding 2-3 times a week this past month, Iíve come to realize how much I missed it and how good it makes me feel ( physically and mentally.) I think Iím re-hooked.

    As an aside, my fishing buddy offered me his Jamis Ventura for the evening last night .
    Since he is about the same stature as me, I jumped on the opportunity. I wanted to get an honest feel for how a decent road bike felt/performed on local conditions for more than a 10 min ride. It was eye opening. Even though I was a bit stiff (I had ridden my hybrid earlier for a good jaunt,) I found the riding position, ride quality and ease of peddling to my liking. Most impressive was that at one point I had to climb a steep(!) 1/2 mi hill and made it up without stopping or even slowing down to a crawl. Never could have done that on my current hybid . This old dog is learning something already!
    Thanks again.
    Dave

  25. #25
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WeeHooker View Post
    I found the riding position, ride quality and ease of peddling to my liking. Most impressive was that at one point I had to climb a steep(!) 1/2 mi hill and made it up without stopping or even slowing down to a crawl. Never could have done that on my current hybid . This old dog is learning something already!
    Thanks again.
    Dave
    Thats it- Take tomorrow off work and get to as many shops as you can in the morning- cos in the afternoon you will have to check out if the new bike really does work

    If a newer bike made that much difference- you can see what you will have to do. Reckon you have about a month before the sales on 09 bikes start coming in- so get out and test ride pretty darn soon.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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