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  1. #1
    Member pmhlb's Avatar
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    Newbie (57) ready to try biking again

    Hi,
    I have been eyeing the bike paths here in Ottawa (Canada) and have finally decided that it is time to give they a try -- after not having cycled for many years.

    I am short (5'2") and heavy, and cannot find a bike to fit me. Think I might check out the recumbents (the upright types). Anyone on this forum have advice for me? (I will also post in the recumbent forum.)

    Thanks,
    P

  2. #2
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    I would suggest visiting a few bike shops. Talk to the sales folks and when you find a shop that you feel comfortable with, follow their advice. They'll be able to properly fit you to a bike that will satisfy both your desires and needs.

    There are so many styles from which to choose these days both in conventional and recumbent styles.

    Good hunting.

  3. #3
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    I don't understand why you say you can't find a bike that fits you. What are the specifics? Like Cranky says, go to a good bike shop and talk to them about fit. Better, go to a few good shops, have the same talks, and then sift their different answers together. Good luck!

  4. #4
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Short at 5'2" is not a problem- Heavy is not a problem. Sounds like you are trying the wrong shops.

    And also what Gender are you? Inseam is another point.

    And have you looked into the requirements of Recumbents? White Goatee beard is a must and there are probably others too.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  5. #5
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum first off. Ottawa is a great cycling city, as you already noted. Bike paths and bike friendly streets everywhere.
    Keep looking until you find the right bike shop. You'll know it when you find it,
    Gearhubs demystified and other cool stuff.


    Rule #12: The correct number of bikes to own is n+1

  6. #6
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    Over 50? Check. Over weight? Check. Haven't ridden in a long time? Check. Not sure what to buy? Check. Yup, you're in the right forum. There is a bike that will fit your needs and fit you. You just have to find the right LBS to work with you.

  7. #7
    Let's do a Century jppe's Avatar
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    I've heard 57 is too old to be riding bikes. But what would I know???????
    Ride your Ride!!

  8. #8
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jppe View Post
    I've heard 57 is too old to be riding bikes. But what would I know???????
    I'm hoping not. I'll be 57 later this year.
    Gearhubs demystified and other cool stuff.


    Rule #12: The correct number of bikes to own is n+1

  9. #9
    Senior Member CACycling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
    And have you looked into the requirements of Recumbents? White Goatee beard is a must and there are probably others too.
    I beleive an engineering degree and aerobelly are also required for 'bents.

    As others noted, there are plenty of bikes out there that will fit you. Enjoy the search.

  10. #10
    Senior member Dan Burkhart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CACycling View Post
    I beleive an engineering degree and aerobelly are also required for 'bents.
    Well, I'm one for two on that one.
    Gearhubs demystified and other cool stuff.


    Rule #12: The correct number of bikes to own is n+1

  11. #11
    Member pmhlb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
    Sounds like you are trying the wrong shops.

    And also what Gender are you? Inseam is another point.

    And have you looked into the requirements of Recumbents? White Goatee beard is a must and there are probably others too.
    Well, it is nice to return -- after only a few hours -- to find lots of varied advice.

    I think I have indeed been trying the wrong bike shops; off to try recumbents tomorrow!

    My inseam is 29"; arms are also short. I am taller in the body than most 5'2" females, however.

    As well:

    • I hope the '57 is too old' message was in jest. (I was crushed!)
    • Have the degree (though not Engineering), and the belly


    Thanks, everyone for the encouragement!
    pmhlb

  12. #12
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    There is also the possibility of a custom frame for your torso and inseam dimensions. I would try going to a bike fitter who is not an employee of a bike shop. There are fitters out there who are coaches.

    This might seem to be overkill, spending hundreds of dollars just for a coach/fitter. But at age 57 it's not just about the bike. Its about your life health choices. Maybe in Canada, there's healthcare coverage for physical therapy.

    Can you imagine that? A doctor prescribing physical therapy evaluation and thereby getting a fitting with it?

    Now all we have to do is to find a fitter who is also a licensed physical therapist.

  13. #13
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    There are bikes specifically built for the Female form as you are different to "Most" Males. These bikes are termed WSD (Woman Specific Design?) and the frames are built slightly different. Shorter top tubes and a few other fitments like shorter reach brake levers and Female fitting saddles. For the shorter Female- these frames make a lot of difference and it does sound as though you fall into that group. (That's why I asked gender) So it still boils down to finding the Right LBS.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


    Spike Milligan

  14. #14
    jjmctag
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    I agree with all the other members, I'm over 60, under height and over weight. I started riding again after many years of being a couch potato, I went to several LBS in my area and talked to the staff until I found one that wanted to help me not just sell me a bike. I ended up buying a beautiful bike from them, had the owner professionally fit me and am now totally enjoying riding again. So take their advise and look into some good LBS and have a great time riding. I envy you, Ottawa is a fantastic city to live in.

  15. #15
    Senior Member trackhub's Avatar
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    You need to find a decent shop. There is a frame for almost everyone. There is surely a frame to fit you. Note I said "almost". Remember Houston Rockets basketball player Yao Ming? At 7' 6" there was not a production bike that would properly fit the man. So, the friendly folks at Gunnar bikes made him one. What say you?

    I digressed a little there. Definitely check out a decent shop, not a department store. There are plenty of people riding now who are of less than average height, who have found fine bikes to fit them.
    "The People will believe what the Media tells them they believe". George Orwell.

  16. #16
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    You didn't say how heavy you are - but if you qualify for Athena-ship, there are a lot of good folks and good advice in the Clydesdales and Athenas section of the forum.
    Craig in Indy

  17. #17
    Member pmhlb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garfield Cat View Post
    . . . Maybe in Canada, there's healthcare coverage for physical therapy.

    Can you imagine that? A doctor prescribing physical therapy evaluation and thereby getting a fitting with it?

    Now all we have to do is to find a fitter who is also a licensed physical therapist.

    Ooo, what an excellent idea. Will check into it! (We do indeed have excellent medical coverage here.)
    pmhlb

  18. #18
    Member pmhlb's Avatar
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    Small bike for big girl?

    Yesterday I went to a shop of re-vamped bikes; no luck. The fellow there suggested I try a small bike (20" or 24") -- for the sake of stability (getting on and off). I am 5'2"; my height is not in my legs and so getting on a 26" bike (usually what folks my height ride) is a bit of a feat.

    This may be the interim solution. What do you think?

    pmhlb

  19. #19
    Senior Member big john's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmhlb View Post
    Yesterday I went to a shop of re-vamped bikes; no luck. The fellow there suggested I try a small bike (20" or 24") -- for the sake of stability (getting on and off). I am 5'2"; my height is not in my legs and so getting on a 26" bike (usually what folks my height ride) is a bit of a feat.

    This may be the interim solution. What do you think?

    pmhlb
    Are you still talking about recumbents? If not, there are some things about bike sizes you don't know. I think you are talking about wheel sizes when you say 20", 24", etc.
    First, decide what kind of bike you want. If it's a mountain bike, most will have 26" wheels, (some 29"), but will be available in different frame sizes, such as small, medium, large. Some makers do market the frames in inch sizes and in your case you would probably want a 14" or smaller frame, (with 26" wheels).
    Road bikes are another matter. Sizing can be confusing so please ask questions relating to your fit on a particular type of machine.

    My friend in this pic is 4'10", or so and she does quite well on a custom road bike.

    Last edited by big john; 08-16-10 at 03:40 PM.

  20. #20
    Senior Member rdtompki's Avatar
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    Once you do find the right bike you'll find smallish women have an unfair power-to-weight advantage, their bike weighs nothing, they are low drag and impossible to draft. Good luck!
    Rick T
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  21. #21
    gone ride'n cyclinfool's Avatar
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    Fuji makes some very nice kids road bikes, I bought my daughter one earlier this summer.

    "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.

  22. #22
    Member
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    Here's another suggestion. I am 18 years older than you (57 is just getting nicely seasoned!). I'm short (5 ft. 2 inches), female, and somewhat overweight. I have two bikes, one touring bike built for me by True North, and a joy to ride distances. The other bike I got this spring; an Origami folder from MEC (communter design and made by Dahon). It is a great, sturdy little bike for around town. The 8 speed in hub gearing is great for the constant stop lights, and traffic, and it folds well for putting in the trunk of a car or taxi. It's the bike I use for all my short trips (up to 20 km) in town. With the low step over, there is absolutely no problem getting on and off. MECs service and return policy is second to none. If you hate it after a week, take it back!

  23. #23
    Member pmhlb's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the support!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ms. Bibendum View Post
    Here's another suggestion [an Origami folder from MEC . . . It is a great, sturdy little bike for around town. / With the low step over, there is absolutely no problem getting on and off.]
    Tried one yesterday, and still found it a bit difficult to get on/off. (I have short legs.) Think I will have to look around for a step-thru that has its bar almost on the ground.

    Any further advice is most welcome.

    pmhlb

  24. #24
    Member pmhlb's Avatar
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    P.S. I am no longer considering recumbents, and maybe not folders either.
    pmhlb

  25. #25
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmhlb View Post
    step-thru that has its bar almost on the ground
    Like this?



    That's a Sun Streamway, available in single-speed with coaster brakes, and three-speed and seven-speed models. I don't think they're sold in Canada, but according to the web site, they are carried at the Dick's stores in Watertown, NY (13601), south of the 1,000 Islands, and Plattsburg, NY (12901) south of Montreal. It's worth a phone call anyway.

    May I offer a slightly off-topic suggestion?

    Think about Tai-Chi classes. You mention balance and stability issues. In we older folk, Tai-Chi addresses precisely that matter, along with basic strength and flexibility. They are among the most popular classes at the senior center I attend.

    I can personally attest to what it does for the cycling muscles of the legs. I can feel the same burn that I do riding up hills, only without the huffing and puffing. I'm reasonably certain Tai-Chi helped me get better at hill climbing. (In addition to the flexibility, balance and stability matters.)
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

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