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Old 03-21-11, 02:47 PM   #1
Velo Dog
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Anybody "graduated" from a so-called comfort bike?

This is of academic interest only--I'm comfortable on my Atlantis w/Brooks B-17, and I'm not even thinking about a "comfort" bike. But...
A couple of friends of mine, in their 50s, want to start cycling. They're convinced they need big, fat, squishy saddles on laid-back, high-handlebar frames with big, fat, squishy tires
I've ridden those bikes only a little, but I hate them. The saddles are comfortable at first, but hurt after a few miles. The ride and handling are frustrating to me. They MIGHT work for the woman in this equation, but the guy is very fit (often hikes 10 or 12 miles for fishing or bird-hunting in remote country) and fairly competitive. They can't try my bikes, which are way too big for them, and the shops around here are pretty well stuck on test rides around the parking lot, not real try-outs.
Not sure what I'm looking for here, but I'm just wondering if anybody's bought one of those geezer bikes and given up on riding, or moved up to a "real" bicycle out of frustration after gaining some experience. Or am I approaching this from the perspective of a 40-year veteran rather than a newbie?
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Old 03-21-11, 03:20 PM   #2
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As I recall, a number of folks here in the 50+ forum have "graduated" in one way or another. I started out on a mtn bike - at that time - 13 years ago - somewhat of a "comfort bike," and after "on yer left" by several thousand bikes on a week's ride, decided to join the roadie crowd. But, heck, if they want to ride - and they want to ride a comfort bike - more power to them. I wouldn't worry, help them get started and enjoy bicycling, Ride with them a bit - perhaps at times a bit faster - and they may decide on a roadie, I am assuming these folks are not destitute.
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Old 03-21-11, 03:24 PM   #3
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One of the problems when you start cycling is how much to spend on that first bike. That is the main limiting factor on what type of bike a complete newcomer will get. Providing they are not going to go "Wallymart" And you get them to a shop to look at bikes-Then their wallet will steer them to the cheaper ranges.

4 years ago I went road after 16 years of MTB's so I did at least understand that I had to get a sensible bike if I wanted to give road riding a fair chance. Down to the LBS and looked. My brain would not get round the fact that a good bike was going to cost that much. So I went for the cheapest respectable bike that the shop had in stock. A Giant OCR3. Bike sense told me that it had enough quality of components to ensure that I could get a decent ride out of the thing.

But without the 16 years of cycling before hand- would I have realised that the OCR was about the lowest quality I could have got away with. I doubt it. So how are you going to convince your friends that you have enough experience to guide them on the choice of their bikes?

Don't think you will succeed but remind yourself that the first bike you get is only to serve one purpose. That is so the second bike will be what you should have bought in the first place.

1 year on from starting on road bikes with the OCR3- I got a decent bike. The OCR proved to me that I liked road riding and road bikes- proved that I had got the wrong size- That I had not spent enough on the Componentry side of the bike and that Even on road bikes- Stock wheels are Cr*p.

But when I started I would not have spent anymore than the minimum I could get away with for a new style of riding that I may not like. Only thing is that I knew what that minimum could be- Both on price and components.

So grab hold of your friends and take them to the LBS- show them the type of bike they can get for their money and advise them strongly. Get the right assistant in the shop to back you up and if they don't follow your advice it is down to them. If they are convinced that they want the "Comfort" bike with the wide saddle- let them get them. You never know- it may be the only type of bike they want

Till the second bike comes along.
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Old 03-21-11, 03:38 PM   #4
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I used a Giant Cypress for about 6 months and 1500 miles. Once I knew I would be riding often, I switched to drop-bar road bikes.

The hybrid was a good starter bike, no complaints.
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Old 03-21-11, 04:10 PM   #5
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I used a Giant Cypress for about 6 months and 1500 miles. Once I knew I would be riding often, I switched to drop-bar road bikes.

The hybrid was a good starter bike, no complaints.
me too
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Old 03-21-11, 04:46 PM   #6
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Nope. I did start with a MTB when I restarted cycling in 1990, thinking I would use it on and offroad. I soon realized that I needed a road bike to ride like I wanted to do. So I bought a 105 level Cannondale. The MTB, a rigid Giant Iguana was decent enough with a few inexpensive upgrades to get me started on some good singletrack riding but never was used on the road again. The Cannondale was fast and fun, but not comfortable. So a year later I got a good steel road bike that I rode for the next 18 years.
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Old 03-21-11, 04:55 PM   #7
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I rode a Raleigh Detour 'hybrid', commuting only, for a year. Then I went to a road bike and never looked back. Maybe they need that 'starter bike', and maybe they don't. Hard to say...
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Old 03-21-11, 05:40 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Velo Dog View Post
This is of academic interest only--I'm comfortable on my Atlantis w/Brooks B-17, and I'm not even thinking about a "comfort" bike. But...
A couple of friends of mine, in their 50s, want to start cycling. They're convinced they need big, fat, squishy saddles on laid-back, high-handlebar frames with big, fat, squishy tires
The bikes you say you "hate" is called a "Cruiser" and there's not a damn thing wrong with them since they are better suited to older riders who might remember then from days gone by.

As a matter of fact if it weren't for the Cruiser a lot of the racer boy bikes you seem to slobber over wouldn't exist today so let's have some respect here!

Since you dislike the Cruiser you souldn't worry about them since I doubt that your azz will ever sit on one long enough to understand them.
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Old 03-21-11, 05:41 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
I used a Giant Cypress for about 6 months and 1500 miles. Once I knew I would be riding often, I switched to drop-bar road bikes.

The hybrid was a good starter bike, no complaints.
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me too
Me three.

Trouble is, when you're over 50 and walk into a bike shop saying you want a bike, they trot out the hybrids. My eye kept being drawn to the road bikes, and I remembered loving road bikes in my youth, but I settled for the old man bike because that's what they said was best. (I wanted to commute 5-7 miles R/T three days a week, and maybe go shopping.)

Nine months and 4,000 miles later, I had a road bike.

That said, I don't begrudge the purchase or the advice one bit. (Although when the salesman found out how much mileage I'd put on it, he said, "If I'd known that, I'd have sold you a better bike.") It was after the fact, but the best advice I heard about first bikes was right here on BikeForums:
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The purpose of your first bike is to teach you what you want and need in your second bike.
I pass that advice along with every opportunity, because it worked really well for me. The Cypress was cheap ($380), I learned that I really like cycling, that I wanted a road bike, that I like close-ratio cassettes, that I don't like linear-pull brakes (V-brakes), and I made (nearly) all the newbie mistakes with it.

I learned about fenders and racks and panniers with it, I learned about lights and riding after dark with it, and I learned about studded snow tires and riding straight through the winter with it. I learned about saddles and crashing and cheap wheels and clipless with it. It was really cheap tuition in the school of cycling.

When I was ready, a road bike appeared--Yellow Bike. Five years later, I still ride that one a lot, and it's only one of four road bikes in the stable now.

Sadly, the Cypress was stolen from my locked storage room of the locked basement of the locked apartment building where I lived at the time. It was the final lesson it taught me--Always lock the bike, no matter where it is. All my bikes are locked now, all the time.

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Old 03-21-11, 06:10 PM   #10
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I started off on a $100 mountain bike from Academy. Quality was about what you'd expect, and I got tired of fiddling with derailleurs and brakes (which, on a $100 bike, are never quite right!) and got tired of breaking spokes. So I upgraded to a Worksman cruiser, single-speed. Now, that may seem a step back to you, but the difference that made was that I could ride every day and didn't have to be forever fiddling with adjustments. I put 7,000 miles on that bike. The seat was in fact quite comfortable, I rode a 200k brevet and several centuries on that bike with cotton shorts and tighty whiteys with no problem.

I upgraded to a Raleigh Sojourn primarly because I needed a better way to ride 200k rides. Seat was comfortable right off. The bike shop set it up with handlebars about as high as they could be placed, and it seemed like I was hunched way over to ride it, and it made my back sore at first. If I had test-ridden it, I might not have bought it. But after a few days, I adjusted to the bike and all was good. I've got a bit over 10,000 miles on that bike, and just completed my first 600k brevet on it.

Basically, I don't think you can convince other people of what they need. And in a lot of cases, people that bought $100 bikes probably made the right decision, because they're going to hang it in the garage anyway. But advise 'em as best you can and don't worry about it otherwise.
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Old 03-21-11, 06:46 PM   #11
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The bikes you say you "hate" is called a "Cruiser" and there's not a damn thing wrong with them since they are better suited to older riders who might remember then from days gone by.
I don't think he is talking about cruisers.


He is talking about comfort hybrids.


Not at all the same thing. Cruisers are kind of cool.
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Old 03-21-11, 06:52 PM   #12
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Didn't start out on them since they didn't exist when I started riding in the early '70s, but I rode hybrids, a Cannondale and then a Novara Big Buzz (don't call them Comfort Bikes), for 13 years before graduating to recumbents five years ago.
The 'bents are comfortable but are not Comfort Bikes.
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Old 03-21-11, 06:55 PM   #13
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Okay, it'll be interesting to see if I get any hateful or snobby comments because of this post, but just today I changed a tire (rear one, too!) for the first time ever in my long life (63 years!). Feeling really proud, too. Oh, and here's the main point: it was on my 4 year old Sun EZ1 cheapo recumbent, and as a reward, I went for a quick cruise of the neighborhood. Heaven! Too much fun! I am a firm believer that everyone should ride the bike they're comfortable with and enjoy. I get really tired of people on upright or regular bikes, I guess you'd call 'em, who won't even wave back when we pass. Come on! I know you see me. They just can't handle people reclining on lawn chairs and pedaling. Crazy. I believe anything you enjoy riding is super cool. Most Americans should forgo their SUV's, get bikes, no matter what kind, and trailers, too, for grocery store runs. We'd all be better off. As for my steed, well, recumbents (especially my very heavy one) are slow as ketchup on hills, but I'm not in it for speed. I just enjoy cruising around the subdivision streets. Okay, I'm done. Let the storm of anti-recumbent comments begin!!! I strongly suspect some readers won't be able to resist attacking "chair" bikes. I say your bike is just fine if you enjoy it, and you really shouldn't attack recumbents until you've tried one. At least one.
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Old 03-21-11, 06:59 PM   #14
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I tried one (bent) and I sort of liked it. It may even be on my bucket list, if I had a bucket list. Sorry to disappoint you with my response
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Old 03-21-11, 07:17 PM   #15
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No disappointment. Just expected the all too often slams on recumbents. I'm just happy when I see anyone on a bike. In nice weather, most able bodied people don't ride 'em when they could.......in comfort, too.
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Old 03-21-11, 07:35 PM   #16
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Old 03-21-11, 08:03 PM   #17
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Nightshade's rant aside, I understand where Velo is coming from. I started roading 2 yrs ago on a borrowed '89 Trek 1200. I got some good advice, in retrospect, regarding road biking.

Think about it. The sport is over 100 yrs old, and if you look at pics from back 80 yrs ago, very little has changed. Yes, there is carbon frames, clipless pedals, "brifters," high tech fabrics, and a lot of other technological improvements. But really not much has changed. Skinny tires, narrow seats, tight clothing, light frames, drop handles. There is a reason all these things have lasted all this time. For Road Biking, they are the best, and the years and the technology have only improved them.

For our 50 yo friends who want to get into cycling, 90 % of them will never ride more that 10 - 15 mi at a time, and never go over 12 mph. Any bike will suffice. If you want them to experience the exhileration of doing 25 on a bike, or the satisfation of finishing your first centry, forget it. They won't. It's not "in their blood."

My wife and my son are both excellent bowlers. I like it, but I'm not that good. I don't LOVE it. I LOVE cycling. I loved it as a kid with a paper route in the 50s delivering papers on my Cruiser.

I just wish I has discovered road biking 40 yrs ago. You wish the same for your friends, as do I. Fact of the matter is, not all of them have roading in their blood. I just don't know what the "blood test" is.
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Old 03-21-11, 08:05 PM   #18
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Nightshade's rant aside, I understand where Velo is coming from. I started roading 2 yrs ago on a borrowed '89 Trek 1200. I got some good advice, in retrospect, regarding road biking. "Spend as much as you can on a good pair of bike shorts" and "get a least 105 level components" were a few of the 'rules of thumb' from those in the know.

Think about it. The sport is over 100 yrs old, and if you look at pics from back 80 yrs ago, very little has changed. Skinny tires, narrow seats, tight clothing, light frames, drop handles. Yes, there is carbon frames, clipless pedals, "brifters," high tech fabrics, and a lot of other technological improvements. But really not much has changed. There is a reason all these things have lasted all this time. For Road Biking, they are the best, and the years and the technology have only improved them.

For our 50 yo friends who want to get into cycling, 90 % of them will never ride more that 10 - 15 mi at a time, and never go over 12 mph. Any bike will suffice. A soft, cushy seat is ok for an hour or so, great in fact, to the casual rider. Give me a good pair of bike shorts and a brick for a century. Drop handles may seem uncomfortable to the noob, but who wants to do 30 mi into a headwind with upwright bars?

If you want them to experience the exhileration of doing 25 on a bike, or the satisfation of finishing your first centry, forget it. They won't. It's not "in their blood."

My wife and my son are both excellent bowlers. I like it, but I'm not that good. I don't LOVE it. I LOVE cycling. I loved it as a kid with a paper route in the 50s delivering papers on my Cruiser.

I just wish I has discovered road biking 40 yrs ago. You wish the same for your friends, as do I. Fact of the matter is, not all of them have roading in their blood. I just don't know what the "blood test" is.

BTW, my wife and I got comfort Hybrids in '03 (Diamondback Wildwood) We enjoyed riding them for "pie rides" to Starbucks. Our friends were amazed that we rode a bike 8 MILES.

Last month we did a tandem ride with our club. 54 mi. I've done about a dozen centuries, and numerous Metrics. My wife does 20 - 40 mi a week. We come a long way baby.

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Old 03-21-11, 08:15 PM   #19
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+1
I've been hanging around here for over 2 years and I can't recall any vicious attacks on recumbents. As to the OP, trying to give unsolicited advice to beginners is very hard and it is probably best to let nature take its course.
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Old 03-21-11, 08:24 PM   #20
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+1
I've been hanging around here for over 2 years and I can't recall any vicious attacks on recumbents. .
I've felt the stings of occasional lighthearted teasing.
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Old 03-21-11, 09:02 PM   #21
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I graduated to comfort when I got rid of a Trek 750 and went to a LWB recumbent. I've never looked back. bk
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Old 03-21-11, 09:37 PM   #22
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I have yet to graduate, but I'm studying!

I have a geezer bike (as I read above somewhere) but it's a first bike, not a second bike ...although it will probably become a second bike someday. However, I have specific recurring circumstances where a fat-tired easy-pedalling if slowish comfort bike can be useful. My daughter and wife will probably always be in comfortland, but I'm already feeling the attraction of something more roadish. However, outside of BF and I can easily count on one hand the number of cyclists I know. Given that half of them are 8 to 10 inches shorter than me, it makes loaner tests a bit difficult.

It's like my other hobby of amateur astronomy. Before you plunk down $xxxx or more on a good scope, buy a competent safe scope. Then after a year or two you'll know what kind of good scope you want.
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Old 03-21-11, 09:38 PM   #23
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Velo Dog, Probably best to let your friends buy what they think they'll want as they're more likely to ride enough to learn whether they need a different style of bike or not. My sister decided to turn her Lambert into a stagnant display and get a new bike. I just told her to get whatever she felt like. She bought a step through hybrid with a gentle nod to mountain biking and she loves it.

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Old 03-21-11, 09:46 PM   #24
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After my 20 year "retirement" from cycling, I didn't hope to believe I could be the rider I was before (ahhh... my beloved Gitane) so I pictured myself doing a little time on the road here, a little "rough roading" there thinking that would fit the low and slow rider I would be, then, at 54 or 55 or whatever I was. Thus the "Kaitai" you see in my name came into my life. It took me a year to see that I was not only the rider I once was, I was more. I bought a road bike. A year later, I sold the Kaitai and got another road bike. This second one was a steel touring bike. Not as fast as my Giant but fast enough and still rugged enough to do the rough roaring I had in mind. It's the bike I should have bought in the first place
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Old 03-21-11, 10:57 PM   #25
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I didn't exactly "graduate" to a road bike but returned to one. I bought the hybrid because we were all getting new bikes at the time and I felt that a road bike wasn't going to last. I used to ride road bikes as a teenager in the late 60's, early '70's and I remembered how the frame would flex underneath me. I'm about 5'5" and I was about 155 pounds at the time so thought (wrongly) that I'd probably destroy the bike given the condition of the roads where I ride.

The bike sat mostly idle for a few years and so did I and the pounds started adding on. I was at 165 for 25 years and when I turned 50 the coach turned into a pumpkin and I put on 10, then 15, then 20, then 25. I once I got back into the saddle I realized that I really wanted to get back on a road bike.

I'd never ridden a bike with mountain bike type gearing so the 48/38/28 - 14-34 triple seemed really slow to me. I thought "well, ok.. better get some proper biking shoes" off to the LBS for shoes then a few weeks after that... "damn.. I miss having toe clips" back again for some clipless pedals. Before the end of my first season back in the saddle I'd had enough. It was time to get back in the saddle on a road bike.

Quote:
"Drop handles may seem uncomfortable to the noob, but who wants to do 30 mi into a headwind with upright bars?"
Exactly, I missed riding in the drops. The upright bars were for the birds and my mind was made up by the end of the summer. The trouble was, it was going to be hard to find a frame that fitted me because the 52cm frames at most of my local LBS's sold like crazy last year for all makes. I figured that the best thing to do was to wait until the 2011's came out and I came into my favorite LBS in January and bought a road bike.

I didn't want the agressive geometry of a pavement burner (I may succumb to that temptation but not this year) and I took the suggestion of the salesman at my LBS to go with an endurance bike with 105. I figured that I could always upgrade later.


I did a couple of 10 mile shakedown runs last Thursday and Friday and put in about 34 miles over the weekend (it was just above freezing and my toes got cold ) and I felt right back at home.
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