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  1. #1
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    Return to Riding ... Bike Choice Opinions

    I rode from the late 80's to about 2000 and then life got in the way and now I am returning to riding, mostly for fitness reasons. I have meniscus issues in both knees and my doc says to ride in gears that do not load my knees, so gearing for that is essential.

    Unfortunately, I sold my old bike, a very nice Lemond steel bike with Campy parts, a couple of years ago. I regret that now, but I am shopping for a bike to resume riding. The candidates are

    Bianchi C2C
    Scott Cr1
    Felt Z5

    Or, I have thought about a custom bike, but I am not sure if a stock bike can be adapted to fit well enough to ensure that riding does not result in additional health issues other than just normal wear and tear.

    What do you think about the custom vs. stock issue?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    Well, if you can afford a custom bike and can get it before Judgment Day, I'd do that.

    Many posters will tell you that you have to ride the stock bikes and see how they fit.

    One important question: do you accept your lot in life as a cyclotourist, or do you have visions of hanging with the Dawgs, crushing souls, and the like?

    If it's the former, I'd give the Rivendell line a long look. If it's the later, perhaps your joints will stage a mutiny.

  3. #3
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Custom will be fine----If you need it. Most will be able to fit a stock frame from one of the many manufacturers that are about.

    In fact- with the variations of build from one manufacturer to another- you may be spoilt on choice for standard bikes that will fit perfectly.

    Gearing and most bikes can be had with low enough gearing to suit your Knees- but that also depends on the type of mountains you intend to Climb.

    So if you were happy with your "Old" Lemond with certain gearing- then Look at a similar bike for fit and a triple for the knees- if they require them.

    So in other words- too many variables to give a perfect answer. What makes you think a custom frame would be required? What type of terrain are you going to be riding on? and what sort of rides do you plan?????
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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    Well if you're looking at spending around $2K, which I think is the price point for the bikes you mentioned, you can do what I did when I got back into riding after a long time away.

    I bought a Gunnar. Good steel frame. Costs about $800. If it doesn't fit right, for another $350 you can get it custom sized.

    Then your LBS can build it up to your specs.

    5 years ago I got my Gunnar Roadie with a nice paint job, stock sizing (fits fine) and a Campy Centaur gruppo for $2,200. I don't think prices have changed a lot since then, except for foreign exchange fluctuations.

    You need to have an LBS that will work on you with this, but that's the kind of shop you want any way.

    One more thing, I went for Speedplay pedals because of a history of knee problems. Great pedals, no knee problems.
    Gunnar Roadie with Campagnolo Centaur
    Breezer Uptown 8

  5. #5
    Senior Member Terex's Avatar
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    The new Scott CR1 is supposed to be quiet a nice bike. You would probably enjoy riding one of those with a compact crank if a stock frame fits. I had the older CR1, and now have an Addict R3.

    Like others have said, work with a good shop, test ride as many different bikes as you can, and see what works.

    Good luck getting back into riding!

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the comments. Here are some responses to a couple of the questions .... I plan to ride a combination of flat lands and hills doing rides five or so times a week for two hours or so. Moderate paced training rides are what I have in mind. I live in a foothill area east of Sacramento, so hills are part of the riding terrain and gearing so that I don't kill my knees is necessary. From what I have read, it seems as compact or triple will work for gearing.

    Why consider a custom? Here I will defer to your experience and hope for some confirmation or adjustment to my thinking, but if fit is the key to a comfortable bike that will minimize the risk of injury related to riding, then getting the a custom fit seems to offer the best chance for comfort and risk reduction. It is just unclear to me if a stock bike can be fit good enough, so that the information to add into the mix for a decision.

    I have visited a few LBS and a couple are on my short list -- both are close and both seem to offer excellent service. I have ridden a few bikes and looked at many more, so before I focus only on the three listed, I thought I should at least consider the costs and benefits of a custom .

    Thanks again!

  7. #7
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    Rather than a custom bike, you might consider investing in a professional fitting. They cost $200 or so, plus the cost of whatever parts you swap out. It's money, but much less than the cost of a custom frame.

    A shop that is "pro" enough to offer custom bikes is also pro enough to have access to good professional fitters. I'd start there. Get back into shape; get the custom bike when you've got a few thousand miles back under your legs.

  8. #8
    Pentapointed Member ahsposo's Avatar
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    Custom bikes, like tailored suits, are a great way to spend some of your excess income. If you've got it and want to spend it, why not?

    The wait time for one.

    BengeBoy's advice is what I'd do.

    As for the bikes you are considering I don't think you could go wrong with any of 'em. I have been riding Bianchis sort of by chance. When ever I'm in need of a bike suddenly here's this Bianchi, my size and equipped with Campy and on sale.

    I've got the 928 currently and it seems to be the direct progenitor of the C2C. It's a good bike for me. Comfy and no surprises. The bit I've had it in the hills since I got the bike indicates it descends like my old steel Bianchi. Solid.

    Compact double and ten in the back is a great set up for me. When I bought this bike I really overlooked the fact that it was not a standard double. I was living in a hilly area at the time and I remember thinking as I rode up a familiar hill the first time that I must have lost weight or the bike frame was making a big difference. I was thrilled. Then I realized what I had and was really glad I had it.
    Quote Originally Posted by toddles View Post
    If I gotta look up words, it's not worth my time.

  9. #9
    17yrold in 64yrold body
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    Hotwheel: being near Sacramento, you might want to check out Rex Cycles at 1915 I Street. My riding buddy had twisted the derailleur hanger on his bike, and since he is 6'8" could not easily replace the frame, so took it up to Rex's and they did a great job fixing it.

    While we were there I noticed that they have an adjustable frame setup for custom fitting. At the very least, you could get a fitting to see if a custom would be in order for you.

  10. #10
    Senior Member MinnMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Weak Link View Post
    Well, if you can afford a custom bike and can get it before Judgment Day, I'd do that.

    Many posters will tell you that you have to ride the stock bikes and see how they fit.

    One important question: do you accept your lot in life as a cyclotourist, or do you have visions of hanging with the Dawgs, crushing souls, and the like?

    If it's the former, I'd give the Rivendell line a long look. If it's the later, perhaps your joints will stage a mutiny.
    This is a great example of why I hang around the 50+ forum, even though I"m a year under age. I'll take Weak Link's posts over those of umd and patentcad any day. Yeah, I know Weak Link also posts to the Road forum, but the density of posts worth reading over here is just simply higher.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    Rather than a custom bike, you might consider investing in a professional fitting. They cost $200 or so, plus the cost of whatever parts you swap out. It's money, but much less than the cost of a custom frame.

    A shop that is "pro" enough to offer custom bikes is also pro enough to have access to good professional fitters. I'd start there. Get back into shape; get the custom bike when you've got a few thousand miles back under your legs.
    Good advice here. A good fitter can figure out just what you need in the way bike geometry, then you can go shopping for a bike that fits that geometry. Then the fitter can fine tune that after you have some miles on it. You might just find a stock bike that fits the bill. IMHO.

    Jim

  12. #12
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    All the bike fit stuff is good - can't add much there.
    So my $0.02 is to think compact double (50/34) if you are considering most normal terrain including rolling hills and triple if you are going after hills longer than 1/4 mile and steeper than 6%. In either case get a wide range cassette with a 27 or 28 low gear but don't give up the 12.
    Also - your doc is probably giving you could advice now for where you are at but I would go back and ask him what would his advice be if you markedly increased you leg strength and muscular support around you knees. You MAY find that if you do that over the next year or two you can ride fast club rides on hilly terrain with no issues. I climb quite a bit on a bad knee (quite a bit of meniscus removed) but I had to work to strengthen it in a very controlled manner before I no longer had to worry about it.
    "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.

  13. #13
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I'll speak to the knee thing. I have two road bikes, a Surly LHT and a Specialized Allez. I have triple chainrings on both of them. It's an obvious choice for the LHT, which I load up quite heavily on tours. Pushing that load up a steep mountain pass obviates the need for a low setup. It has a 24-tooth granny and a 34-tooth large cog in the rear. That has been sufficient to get me up all the hills I've encountered to date.

    The triple chainring setup on the Allez doesn't go nearly as low - I think the granny is a 30, and the cassette is a 10-speed with narrow intervals. The big cog isn't all that big.

    The only time I've had issues with my knees was when I rode another bike over the North Cascades Highway pulling a Bob trailer. It didn't have low enough gears so I had to grind out the miles in a too-high gear. My knees got so sore that I ended up aborting the trip (having Sherman and Wauconda Passes still to come.

    Anyway, the lowest low on the Allez still involves some grunting going up hills. I'm not suffering as much as people with doubles (although maybe a compact double would give me as low a low? I have no experience) but it's not as easy as the setup on the LHT. On that I feel like I could climb almost anything with ease - maybe going ridiculously slowly, but that's okay.

    So, to wrap this up (I can make a short story long, huh?) I suggest you look into a triple chainring, and maybe a 9-speed cassette, rather than 10-speed, for the simple reason that they seem to offer 9-speeds with a much wider range than 10-speeds.

    Okay, others will undoubtedly suggest a compact double and, like I said, I have no experience with them.

    The bottom line though is to make sure you have really low low to protect your knees. And then develop the habit of spinning - keeping a fast cadence - rather than grinding a higher gear.

  14. #14
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    Thanks for the comments and suggestions about bikes, fit, and gearing! I do plan to do a bike fitting before buying. Seems as if UC Davis http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/sportsm...cal_tests.html, Clay's Studio in Folsom http://claysfitstudio.com/, and Steve Rex in Sacramento are all good choices for a fit session. With that information in hand, then I can let the fit issues drive the bike selection and if there is value in a custom bike for my situation, then I will go that route, otherwise, I will go where the fit leads me for a stock bike with gearing that will suit my knee limitations. Great advice here and your experience and expertise is very helpful.

  15. #15
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBlueToe View Post

    So, to wrap this up (I can make a short story long, huh?) I suggest you look into a triple chainring, and maybe a 9-speed cassette, rather than 10-speed, for the simple reason that they seem to offer 9-speeds with a much wider range than 10-speeds.
    This has been the case, however, Shimano and SRAM will soon be marketing 10 speed MTB groups at several price levels making 10 speed a more viable option for wide range gearing.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  16. #16
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    I may ride hills and may have done so for a few years but Gearing is all you have to look at. Only went road 4 years ago and a triple with 30/26 was the lowest gear and I used it. Same hills on the next bike and a compact 50/34 and a cassette of 12/27. Those hils that were hard in 30/26 were just as hard in 34/27---But no harder.

    And by hills- have to admit that mine are not long- max of about 1 mile but vary between 10 and 12% with the occasional steep section at 15% and the basket of a hill at 16%

    With training-Hills no longer are. They may be just as tiring but they just take less time to climb.

    But if you are worried about the hills- Go for a triple. Then once you know what you want on a bike- in gearing- components and size- get what you want on the 2nd bike. All the first bike is there to tell you- is what you should have bought in the first place.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  17. #17
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    Update on choices ... Merckx vs Casseroll

    I have ridden a lot of bikes since I first posted and my options have changed some .... My two choices are a 90's era Merckx Corsa or a 105 equipped version of the Salsa Casseroll ... It seems either bike will work for daily two hour training rides, but I am wondering if the nod goes the Casseroll for the longer 4hour type rides. Any opinions?
    Thanks
    JR

  18. #18
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Those are two very different bikes. Search this forum for my posts on "Butternut" and "Casseroll" for my thoughts on the Salsa. It isn't a high performance bike, but it sure does eat up some miles.
    Here's the beginning of the story.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  19. #19
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    Thanks BD --- yes they are very different bikes. The Merckx is more of a traditional riding position and the Casseroll more upright. Both are very responsive and my guess is that for me the Casseroll would be more comfortable on 3-4 hour rides because of the more upright position. The Merckx is an easy bike to love ... so is the Casseroll ... there is the problem. It is similar to what an old Irish farmer said to me once ..." Did you hear the story about the cow who died in a field full of hay? She looked to one bale and then the other, then one bale and then the other, and in the end she wore herself out trying to decide which one to eat."

  20. #20
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Sounds like you need both.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  21. #21
    "Chooch" ciocc_cat's Avatar
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    Don't write-off steel - you gain durability and unbeatable ride quality. Check out Waterford Precision Bicycles at:
    http://waterfordbikes.com/now/home.p...ommand=showall
    "A bicycle built by a frame builder has the soul of the builder. A mass produced frame does not have soul. It doesn't know anyone." - Giovanni "Ciocc" Pelizzoli.
    “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” - Benjamin Franklin
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]My Ciocc San Cistobal
    Visit my website at http://ciocc-cat.angelfire.com/

  22. #22
    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    My humble suggestion is that you shop around and spend a few dollars on a used bike that seems to suit you well. Ride it for a few hundred or thousand miles and use what you learn to select your next ride.
    George
    Laissez les bon temps rouler

  23. #23
    Senior Member mkane77g's Avatar
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    Titanium!

  24. #24
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    The cold hard truth is it doesn't matter which bike you buy if it fits. Because once you get it you will have a better idea of what bike you want. The n+1 rule will infect you unless you learn you don't like riding at all. The first bike is a trainer for the one you need.

  25. #25
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    Hotwheel, When I injured my left knee the first time I knew I had to build a bike with a compact double or a triple. I went with the triple as most of my favorite routes are no worse than rolling hills, but there are a couple with fairly short, intense climbs. On a friend's suggestion I also used a slightly longer crankarm than my favorite for just a tad more leverage. Psych or not I think it was good advice.

    Proper fit is key to enjoying bicycling. More than likely an off the shelf frameset with a little tailoring will suffice...maybe with a little more refinement following a 3-6 hour ride, but I would expect that even on a custom frame. Of the last two bikes you wrote about, I like BluesDawg's suggestion. They're different enough for you to determine what you want/need now and when your fitness level has returned.

    Brad

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