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  1. #1
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    3 months to 50 - What Bike?

    I'm a total bike newbie and only 3 months shy of my 50th birthdy (I just received my first AARP mailing!). I have not been on a bike for over 20 years. I'm in pretty good shape and very active. I'm 5'10" and about 170 which is currently 5 lbs. over my normal weight. I was recently introduced to a number of bike trails in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio/Erie Canal Trails) and I'm interested in riding the trails for fitness and fun.

    I visited a local bike shop and they were suggesting either the Trek 7.3 or Trek 7300. Thye are priced about the same ($600). I'm willing to spend this much for a good bike, however I want to make sure that this type of bike would be good for the surfaces I will be riding. They are paved / crushed stone and in pretty good shape. Am I heading in the right direction? Can I get by with a $300 bike? Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

    Jim

  2. #2
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Big problem in suggesting a bike for you as everyone has a different choice. Not knowing if you want a bike to ride or a bike to get serious with does not matter. The first bike you buy is only to tell you what your second bike will be. ---And the 3rd and the 4th-------

    My suggestion would be to get to the LBS (Local bike shop) to get somewhere near the right size and to get it fitted for you. If it does not feel 100% comfortable on a test ride- then it is not the bike for you so get to the LBS and try several types of bike till you find the one that screams "Buy Me".

    But for bike trails I would recommend a straight handlebar and rigid forks. At the price range you are looking at-A basic bike will be better value but also look at the sale bikes. The 09 bikes will be dropping in price very shortly to make room for the new models so a few bargains to be had soon.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  3. #3
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Is Trek the only brand you've looked at? There are many, many other brands that are as good or better.
    Visit a few bike shops.
    My bikes --> 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2013 Cannondale CAAD 10 2 (5) "Racing Edition"

    Life is like a 10-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use. ~ Charles Schultz

  4. #4
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    $600 is a good place to start. Try a few bikes and see what you like. Also try a couple of the more expensive ones to see what you're missing.

    We are as gods, we might as well get good at it.
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  5. #5
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    I'm about a year downriver from you. Here is what I did.

    I shopped around for a dealer who really cared for me as a person and as a customer. I followed his recommendation. After riding several of his bikes I followed his recommendatioin to buy a hybrid. It cost nearly twice what you say you want to spend and the price just about gave me a heart attack. But, it was very nice to ride. Because it was nice to ride I rode a lot.

    Second season, this year, I found that I really wanted to ride roads. The hybrid just wouldn't do that as well as I wanted. So, back to the LBS. Again I rode bikes until I found one that met the primary criteria: Comfort. I ride a lot on rough, rough roads with cracked pavement, loose gravel and potholes. Comfort!! I ended up again with a bike that was way more expensive than I wanted to spend. But, it is full carbon and is very comfortable, climbs the hills very well and can crank out the miles with little effort. This time the price only caused a few palpitations. I love the bike. I can crank out distance and hills and enjoy it.

    For a road bike there simply is no substitute for a modern full carbon bike if you want comfort. Other materials are cheaper and have other redeeming values. But, modern carbon bikes have flex built in that dampens road shock while at the same time being very stiff where they need to be.

    Now I have two bikes that fill all my needs. I've got Way More money in them than I wanted. But, they are comfortable, perform very well and are durable. Plus, when I get ready to sell either or both there will be relatively more residual value than cheaper bikes.

    Oh, why no used bike? Simple, when starting out I didn't know enough to make a good deal. Now I do; which is why I bought another(3rd) bike off Craigs List a couple months ago.

  6. #6
    Senior Member ntime60's Avatar
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    Visit several bike shops in you area, if you can or go to the next larger city that has a few. Test ride as many as you can. See what fits. See what you like, the seat, the pedals, shifting, turning, balance, breaking, acceleration, turn at speed, tight circles....in other words put them through their paces for your own good.

    Try out hybrid bikes, road bikes, comfort bikes, mountain bikes...recumbents. Figure out what YOU like after all it is YOU who will be riding it, so it is YOU that must be happy.

    Finding the right LBS is as important as buying the bike. If they want to push you into something quick then find another shop. If they let you ride many different bikes and want to listen and chat with you then you're probably at the right place.

    I had my choice down to 4 in about 10 minutes and 2 weekends for the final 4, then I bought 2.
    2009 Trek 7.3 (Black), Cateye Strada /w cadence. My Cycling Adventures

  7. #7
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I will disagree with Latitude over the Carbon Fibre bikes. My C.F. bike took a lot of sorting to give as compliant a ride as any of my other bikes. I was under the impression that C.F. has flex built into it but not all of them do. The main components for a comfortable ride are the wheels- the tyres and tyre pressures. My most compliant ride is the aluminium framed lightweight Boreas Ignis. This is a race spec frame and boy is it comfortable.

    But saying that- My ride of choice now for my area is the C.F.Giant- but that is due to its climbing ability and the fit of it.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  8. #8
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rktman View Post
    3 months to 50 - What Bike?
    You do know that you do not have to wait until you are 50 to buy the bike; right?

  9. #9
    Senior Member John Bailey's Avatar
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    I started my serious biking 6 weeks ago. I'm not nearly a fit as you, and I'm ten years older, but I'm fairly athletic and strong. I found a bike shop that took the time to talk to me for awhile. I was set on a "comfort" type bike. I was looking at the Trek Navigator. The bike shop guy didn't tell me what I should get, but he pointed out my background in outdoor sports and suggested I might like something a bit more aggressive. Boy was he right. I ended up buying a Trek FX-7.3 and loving every minute with it. I've averaged 186K per week in my first 6 weeks. I've done numerous 50K days, one 80K, and one 100K. Most of those K's have been on paved paths. However, the 100K was done entirely on crushed limestone. The bike handled the crushed limestone very well. Last Sunday I did the 80K, and 20K were on an old two track dirt road. There was a lot of standing water, sand and loose gravel that was a little rough, but we got through it OK.

    I'm using this bike as a transition as I would like to move toward a road bike with drop handle bars in the near future. The Trek has been a great bike, but the way you describe your fitness, I would at least consider a road bike right off the bat. Also, there are many good brands out there, so you shouldn't limit yourself to just one.


    Whatever you decide, if you go through a good bike shop, I don't think you can make a bad choice. And, I would concur with CB HI that you don't have to wait until you're 50.

    John

  10. #10
    Old Fart gapwedge's Avatar
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    Why wait until the winter to get your bike when you have 3 months of great fall weather to ride? Good luck in your selection.
    Age: 59

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  11. #11
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    Think second hand.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
    ...I was under the impression that C.F. has flex built into it but not all of them do....

    But saying that- My ride of choice now for my area is the C.F.Giant- but that is due to its climbing ability and the fit of it.
    Hmmmm, looking at your avatar, maybe you had one of those "stiff upper lip" bikes.

  13. #13
    MoneyBags
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    Come on, you're 50 and you're going to buy some $600 piece of junk? You have earned this:





    If you're on a budget you could probably get Campagnolo Record instead of DI2 but that's where I'd put my foot down. Life's too short to ride cheap bikes.
    Last edited by MoneyBags; 08-25-09 at 02:19 PM.

  14. #14
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    Hey - thanks to everyone. I guess what I'm hearing is that I really need to spend some time on a few different bikes before I pull the trigger. I never realized the choice and variety available before stopping by the LBS. Thanks to everyone for the responses.

    Jim

  15. #15
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    I'm no expert here but have been down the same road so I'll offer my 2 cents FWIW.

    First, I feel you pain on the AARP mailings. Nothing makes you feel older and /or warrents purchasing a new "toy" more than your first mailing ;-)

    That said, like your first girlfriend, your first bike, won't likely be "the one". Any bike you choose will be a compromise based on your feelings at the time. Your feelings/wants/needs will almost certainly change if you stay with it. FWIW, I started out with a ( $325 schwinn Sierra) 26" wheeled hibrid and initially loved it for it's upright riding position and cushy comfort. However, within a few years, I craved a lighter, faster bike that would be less tireing for longer rides so recently moved on based on good advice recieved here.

    Newbe old guy seeks advice

    My personal advice is to reseach here then test ride every style and brand bike you can get your hands on before you settle on a style/model that fits YOUR more educated wants/needs list for the proper ballance of comfort, speed, weight and price. Then if your still not in love with anything, shop the used market so you can save your $ for a more informed decision once you've riden a bit.

    Also FWIW, I test rode a 7.3 a few weeks back and thought it was a pretty versitile road/fitness bike. Not sure it would be my choice for crushed stone surfaces though.

  16. #16
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    One of the problems when you start out is that you do not know what type of riding you are going to get into. This means that you do not know what type of bike to get and the choice on types is immense. I rode Mountain bikes for years but 3 years ago I went road. Didn't want to spend a fortune on a bike but did not want too cheap either. I got a Giant OCR3- a respectable bike but way down on spec for a good road bike.

    6 months in and I nearly gave up road riding. The bike was comfortable but it did not work aswell as the mountain bikes. It was harder to propel the thing forward and speed was difficult to maintain. Had a chat with my LBS and it was the wheels. Changed them and it transformed the bike. It now had the speed- was easier to keep moving and was a joy to ride. In fact it was so good- it got me up a mountain on holiday in France.

    But- I had also realised that I had bought the wrong bike- the size wasn't right- it was heavy- spec wasn't there and Although it gave me a taster for road riding- I realised I had to get a better bike.

    I now have 4 road bikes- including the OCR- and each has it's use- except the OCR that is a loaner to short people that want to go for a ride. But there is no way I would have spent the fortune I had on the second bike when I started out. And I did not know a great deal about road bikes in any case so could not have chosen correctly except by chance.

    Get to the LBS and try a few bikes out and this will be with the type of riding you decide you may want to do in mind. Poinless getting a Mountain bike for road use- even if you do plan on the odd rough surface MUP to ride on. And pretty pointless getting a high spec road bike if you are doing trail riding.

    It doesn't matter what bike you get initially- providing it fits and you like the colour. All that first bike is going to tell you- is what your 2nd bike is going to be. By the time you plan the 2nd bike- you will know what you should have bought in the first place.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  17. #17
    Senior Member Timtruro's Avatar
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    A flat bar road bike/fitness bike sounds like a good fit for you. I went from a comfort bike to a flat bar road bike to a carbon fiber road bike. It seems that many have made similar journeys. Go by the bike that feels right, you'll know it when you ride it. Trek is just one of many good brands.
    "If there are no cigars in heaven, I shall not go." -Mark Twain

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  18. #18
    Senior Member FlatSix911's Avatar
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    Lots of good advice so far ... here's my 2 cents:


  19. #19
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Stapfam is a great source of advice on trail and trail/road bikes.

    There are a lot of bikes to choose from. I would have to disagree that when you try a bike in a shop if it does not feel right at first it won't be right. If you have not been on a bike in ages, it is impossible to know what will work for you, i.e what "feels right". I agree that you should try a lot of bikes, buy one that seems to work for you and ride it for a year. At the end of the year you will know more about what you want. Now for this first bike, I would consider a cyclocross or rigid MTB. These are good utility bikes you will want to keep when you settle in to what you really want. I would go steel on a cyclocross (my preference) or AL on an MTB (due to weight). I would stay away from CF at first until your body adjusts and you know what you want.

    Good luck - and we grant you a temporary membership until you have reached an appropriate age to post here.
    "Of all the things I ever lost I miss my mind the most." Mark Twain
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  20. #20
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    Summary:

    -Find a LBS that cares for YOU, not the other way around.
    -Ride different bikes from them until you are happy. Well temporarily happy anyway because you don't really know what kind of riding you are going to do.
    -Have the shop fit the bike to you. Then go back as needed for further adjustments (as you get experience you will want the bike to be adjusted a bit differently). Some people I know say they have been back to the shop once a month for a year before everything meshed. Others didn't change their style much and it was good out the door. But, I bet you will change and the bike will need to change to match you.
    -Buy New. Used bike only if the LBS is selling it and warrants it. The fact is you just don't know enough yet to buy a used bike on the street.
    -Remember the bike is going to cost way more than you want to spend. But, you need to spend the money to get a good fitness and fun tool. Besides, if you change later you will be able to get a big chunk of your money back on resale.
    -Don't let the myriad of bike brands overwhelm you. For our intents and purposes slight differences in the numbers of one maker to the other are meaningless. Something like distinctions without significant differences.
    -The result will be something you can have fun on.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rktman View Post
    I'm a total bike newbie and only 3 months shy of my 50th birthdy (I just received my first AARP mailing!). I have not been on a bike for over 20 years. I'm in pretty good shape and very active. I'm 5'10" and about 170 which is currently 5 lbs. over my normal weight. I was recently introduced to a number of bike trails in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (Ohio/Erie Canal Trails) and I'm interested in riding the trails for fitness and fun.

    I visited a local bike shop and they were suggesting either the Trek 7.3 or Trek 7300. Thye are priced about the same ($600). I'm willing to spend this much for a good bike, however I want to make sure that this type of bike would be good for the surfaces I will be riding. They are paved / crushed stone and in pretty good shape. Am I heading in the right direction? Can I get by with a $300 bike? Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

    Jim
    A $300 bike may work if you buy it used. A 'good' set of wheels is $300. Have a look at the Surly Cross Check. http://www.surlybikes.com/crosscheck_comp.html

    With the right tires you can ride it in the winter too.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclinfool View Post
    Good luck - and we grant you a temporary membership until you have reached an appropriate age to post here.
    I love this place.... over 20 responses to my stupid question. Thanks to eveyone! Thank you as well for the temporary membership! I'm going with my son to the LBS tonight and I'll post back what happens.

    Jim

  23. #23
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclinfool View Post
    ...I would consider a cyclocross or rigid MTB. These are good utility bikes you will want to keep when you settle in to what you really want. I would go steel on a cyclocross (my preference) or AL on an MTB (due to weight)...
    I'm not aware of an aluminum rigid MTB on the market today. There are some nice lightweight steel ones, though, but they aren't cheap.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  24. #24
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    I'm not aware of an aluminum rigid MTB on the market today. There are some nice lightweight steel ones, though, but they aren't cheap.
    I think you are right

    Plenty of hardtails with Aluminium frames but for a rigid- I can't think of any off the top of my head. I thought I had you with the Kona Fire Mountain and the L'anai- but even they have suspension forks nowadays.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  25. #25
    Senior Member MinnMan's Avatar
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    I'm quite new to this game (been riding 6 weeks) and at the moment I'm very happy with my $500 KHS touring bike (Flite 220). On the other hand, I ride on roads and paved trails and I don't think it would do particularly well off a paved surface. The more experienced folks here surely think that this isn't much of a bike, but I don't yet know enough to know the difference, and for the time being I'm loving it.

    Also, I'm 20 months shy of 50 and yet the people here seem to tolerate my presence quite amicably. Thanks guys.

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