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Old 05-20-11, 06:36 PM   #1
fsrgp
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Where to start?

Hello, I'm a 61 year old male in Minneapolis thinking of getting a bike. I haven't been on one for over 35 years. Might get me back in good shape and help me loose the extra 50lb. I'm carrying around. I am 6'3" and around 230lb. I Stopped into a couple of bike shops today and looked at a Trek 7100, a couple of Specialized comfort models and a Cannondale (too expensive). At this point I have to rely on the sales people and of course each one says the one they are selling is the best. Any advice is surely welcome.
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Old 05-20-11, 06:44 PM   #2
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Virtually at the same stage of life as you.

Bought bikes at Xmas for the same reasons.

Wife and I both got Specialized Elite Low-Entry models. Put 60 plus miles on them so far and am very happy.

It's a hybrid model with a front shock,nice.

And I would evaluate how you swing your leg over the bar getting on and off. I can do it now, but I want to keep this bike for ten years, and the thought of swinging that leg every time on and off led me to the "low entry" version.

35 years ago we called them "girls' bikes", but I'm very happy with my choice.

Just try one in a bike shop .

good luck
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Old 05-20-11, 06:57 PM   #3
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The fact of the matter is, at similar price points, there's little difference between competing models of comfort hybrids. The quality is pretty good too. Once you step up from big-box store bikes (also known as "Bicycle-Shaped Objects" or BSOs) to bike shop bikes, there's nothing that really should be avoided. They're all pretty good.

I started again (also after 35 years) just over five years ago on a $400 comfort hybrid. I put 4,000 miles on it, and it was still going strong--with ordinary maintenance items--when it was stolen.

Your best bet is to shop for the dealer you like best, then buy whatever comfort hybrid they sell at your chosen price point, making sure it fits well first.
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Old 05-20-11, 07:00 PM   #4
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What kind of riding? Road, bike path, dirt? Want to do distance and ride with others?
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Old 05-20-11, 07:19 PM   #5
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Wow, Thanks for the response everyone!!! I have no idea what kind of riding I'll do. I suppose I'll try some of the local trails (lots of them in Minneapolis and suburbs). Some are paved and some are crushed rock. I just went to Consumer Reports, they like the Schwinn Midmoor for the money. Also checked about-bicycles.com, they like the Voyager GS by Schwinn better. Any thoughts on these? They fit my budget better, but, if they are not decent quality I will step up. I don't want a bike I will be sorry I bought.

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Old 05-20-11, 08:12 PM   #6
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Wow, Thanks for the response everyone!!! I have no idea what kind of riding I'll do. I suppose I'll try some of the local trails (lots of them in Minneapolis and suburbs). Some are paved and some are crushed rock. I just went to Consumer Reports, they like the Schwinn Midmoor for the money. Also checked about-bicycles.com, they like the Voyager GS by Schwinn better. Any thoughts on these? They fit my budget better, but, if they are not decent quality I will step up. I don't want a bike I will be sorry I bought.
I'm a little older than you, about the same size, but I've been cycling seriously or semi-seriously for 40 years. I'm pretty much just a geezer out for a ride now, but I've raced a little and done about every kind of riding there is, from technical mountain biking to multi-day road tours.
With that experience, I'd sort of recommend against a "comfort bike" unless you're sure that's what you want and need. I don't know any of the bikes you mentioned, but in general, something like a hybrid or touring bike will provide about the same level of comfort and stability (with fat tires, 35mm or larger) but (with a tire swap) let you branch out if your interest level changes. I've done gravel fire roads and paved centuries on my Atlantis, for instance, just by changing the tires. A few things to look for:
Avoid the butt-up, head-down posture that's supposedly more efficient. It actually is better aerodynamically, but it's hell for us old guys to hold for long and it doesn't make much difference at 12mph. My handlebars are all level with my saddle or slightly higher, and I'm never lowering them.
Get something with room for big tires, at least 700x35 or 26x1.5. Wider would be better. You can always use skinny tires on a bike with room for fat ones, but the reverse isn't true.
Don't be fooled by a puffy, super-soft saddle. It feels great in the shop but will hurt in 20 minutes. Saddle selection is an individual thing, so recommendations aren't particularly valuable, but I've never met a gel saddle I could tolerate.
If you decide on a road bike, look for low gears. The more-or-less standard 53/39 crankset with 12/26 or so cassette will kill you. I recommend a triple crank, and you'll soon find that even the 30-tooth granny is optimistic.
Consider a midrange mountain bike with appropriate tires. You may like the riding position, and tire swaps to suit different conditions are easy and cheap.
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Old 05-20-11, 08:28 PM   #7
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Some good suggestions. If it were me I would not get a bike with a front shock unless you are planning on doing more rugged trail work. For paved paths, crushed rock and the occasional fire road an MTB with no shock will work just fine, the shock just adds weight and robs energy. I would also make sure the bike can take a front and rear rack and fenders, that means mounting eyes on the front and rear forks. I say this because if you get into this, you are looking at a setup that you can turn into a grocery getter, touring, or commuter bike which is something that even a hard core roadie or stump jumper can always use in their stable. It will also just make a comfortable MUP bike if that's all you ever want to do. I agree with the triple crankset, preferable with MTB gearing. And yes - make sure it fits well.
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Old 05-20-11, 08:40 PM   #8
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I live in Minneapolis - what you need as much as a new bike is an LBS (local bike shop) where you feel comfortable talking to the sales people and where you'll feel comfortable going back when you have further questions or need adjustments. There are LOTS of great LBS in the Twin Cities, though some focus more on the higher end. I personally frequent The Hub (at their Minnehaha location, but they also have an outlet at Cedar/Riverside) and Freewheel. Both The Hub and Freewheel are coops. Penn Cycle is a local chain that also has good knowledgeable staff. I personally have not that been happy with the folks at Eriks- they've always seemed like they want to be catering to a younger crowd- but YMMV.

The Grand Rounds paved trails around the rivers and lakes go forever here - for the most part, you only end up on crushed limestone if you head out west towards Minnetonka. On the paved trails, you will be fine on a comfort bike but also might enjoy a hybrid or even an entry level steel framed touring road bike. The latter could serve you well now and keep serving you after you get in a little better shape.

Ride a few bikes and pull the trigger soon - it's prime cycling season right now!
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Old 05-20-11, 08:44 PM   #9
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One point, avoid the Schwinn's you mentioned, they both have light weight low spoke count wheels.

I and several others have had bad luck with them. One their 24 spoke wheels broke and dumped me
in the street last February.

Go for a 36 spoke wheel.

I started a year ago on an $80 Walmart bike, and now ride an old vintage Trek fitness bike.

When you get your bike, your need to ride it, every day,,, every day.

I started doing five and six miles a day, now I do 100's and today I did twenty in under an
hour.

I ride every day!
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Old 05-20-11, 08:56 PM   #10
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I live in Minneapolis - what you need as much as a new bike is an LBS (local bike shop) where you feel comfortable talking to the sales people and where you'll feel comfortable going back when you have further questions or need adjustments.
That's what I think too. Shop for a bike shop first. When you find the right one - you'll know it. I think that there's bigger differences among bike shops than there is among bike brands.
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Old 05-21-11, 12:05 AM   #11
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Retro and MinnMan have it right. Look for the LBS (Local bike shop) that you like and "Seem" to get good advice from. Some shops will just sell you a bike.

Make of bike doesn't matter if you have the right LBS-but the style of bike is down to you. Road or Smooth trail riding and don't get an MTB unless you plan to get more adventurous and try the hills and the Rough tracks. So look at the type of riding you will be able to do and get a bike that is suitable for that use. The LBS will be able to help you on that choice as they know the local area.
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Old 05-21-11, 07:32 AM   #12
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Back to the drawing board. This is all great advice. One thing I didn't mention is that I have a very bad back (3 fused vert. in lower spine), thats why I thought a comfort bike would be best (more upright sitting position). MinnMan - I live in Minnetonka near Hopkins, so, I will probably encounter more of the rock trails you mentioned. I have been to Eriks and Penn, I'll stop at some others next week, maybe have a bike by the weekend. Velo Dog - I will look at and test ride some other styles. Would renting a few bikes over the next few weeks to try them, for more than a trip around the parking lot, be a good Idea? That would set my purchase back awhile.
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Old 05-21-11, 07:58 AM   #13
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Would renting a few bikes over the next few weeks to try them, for more than a trip around the parking lot, be a good Idea? That would set my purchase back awhile.
Odds are that the bikes for rent aren't the same ones as the new ones for sale. There should be no problem taking a bike out for a 10 mile ride to try it out at a good LBS. I've done at least that when I've shopped for a new bike. You just leave your ID at the or credit card at the desk and then you can go for a half hour ride.
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Old 05-21-11, 07:58 AM   #14
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Renting a few bikes might be a good idea although it might be hard to find one that fits. I am also around your height and have bought most of my bikes by looking at geometry charts and ordering them on faith.
People always say to test ride bikes before you buy but I can never find a bike my size to try.
If you have to sit straight up a comfort bike may work, or a hardtail mountain bike. Maybe even a cheap cyclocross bike.
The challenge is going to be finding your fit/position.
Most of us have tried multiple saddles, too.
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Old 05-21-11, 08:00 AM   #15
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Some good suggestions. If it were me I would not get a bike with a front shock unless you are planning on doing more rugged trail work. For paved paths, crushed rock and the occasional fire road an MTB with no shock will work just fine, the shock just adds weight and robs energy. I would also make sure the bike can take a front and rear rack and fenders, that means mounting eyes on the front and rear forks. I say this because if you get into this, you are looking at a setup that you can turn into a grocery getter, touring, or commuter bike which is something that even a hard core roadie or stump jumper can always use in their stable. It will also just make a comfortable MUP bike if that's all you ever want to do. I agree with the triple crankset, preferable with MTB gearing. And yes - make sure it fits well.
+1
Totally agree with this.
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Old 05-21-11, 10:29 AM   #16
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One thing I didn't mention is that I have a very bad back (3 fused vert. in lower spine), thats why I thought a comfort bike would be best (more upright sitting position).
Not necessarily. The forward position on a road bike supports your spine at both ends. All that upper body weight is moved off the lower spine to the arms. An upright puts all the weight on just one end. Flexibility is another issue entirely. And I still think a comfort hybrid is the place to start.


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Would renting a few bikes over the next few weeks to try them, for more than a trip around the parking lot, be a good Idea? That would set my purchase back awhile.
That's actually a pretty good idea, provided you can rent one like you're looking to buy. As MinnMan says, that could be the hard part. But, even if the rental bikes are different, you might find that renting one for a weekend will ally all your fears, and then you can proceed with your purchase with a little first-hand knowledge of yourself.
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Old 05-21-11, 01:48 PM   #17
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Don't assume an upright position will be better for your back. Try a few different types of bike before choosing one. You may decide a comfort bike is best or you may gravitate toward something more sporting like a fitness hybrid or a relaxed road bike. You never know til you try it.
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Old 05-21-11, 02:06 PM   #18
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Bad backs are not what will denote what style of bike you get. I have a back problem and when I went road after 16 years on MTBs- I chose a road bike with a fairly relaxed riding position. Short top tube and bars just below the saddle. I could not ride any length of time in the drop position-and I am talking 10 seconds and my back was screaming. Got a high rise stem to bring the bars up to saddle height and it was no better. 6 months later and I decided to "Practice" that drop position. 20 seconds at a time on a straight bit of road and I would force myself into the drops. 1 month later and the drop position was comfortable. Next bike was a Race geometry bike with a longer top tube and the bars 4" below the saddle. I still ride on the hoods (On the brake levers) most of the time but into a headwind- Going downhill or if I want to catch the rider in front and the drop position is comfortable. That long low body stance seems to help my back.



The black bike is the relaxed Geometry bike and you can see the height of the bars in relation to the saddle. Typical older rider configuration.

But the bike that is comfortable is the Boreas- and that includes long road rides up to a metric. Above the metric and I use a bike that is similarly set up to Boreas but with a triple Crank.

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Old 05-21-11, 05:56 PM   #19
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Thanks for all the good info. Sounds like I should try several types of bikes and find a bike shop that is really interested in helping me find the right one with the correct fit. The two I mentioned above sounded like they were going to let me ride around in the parking lot, maybe I just misunderstood. I can speak a little more intelligently when I go to the next shop. I will explore the rental piece but the obstacles defined above may make that a challenge, I'll let you know. Another issue - how well do trunk mount 2 bike racks work? Are the bikes protected from each other? Do they scratch up the paint on the car? If I buy or rent I'll have to figure out how to haul them around (my wife already has a bike that she rides once in awhile, a Giant I found at a garage sale a couple of years ago, it seems to fit her well and she likes it for now, but, may want to upgrade her soon too).
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Old 05-21-11, 07:50 PM   #20
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Another issue - how well do trunk mount 2 bike racks work? Are the bikes protected from each other? Do they scratch up the paint on the car?
I have a really simple Saris Bones 2-bike rack. It works great. 2 minutes to mount or dismount and no problem with scratching. They're not expensive.
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Old 05-22-11, 06:20 AM   #21
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I have an old one - about 15 years, works great - goes on easy and caries 2 bikes. It's no the banging of bikes together you have to worry about - it is gingerly putting the inside one on the rack so it does not scratch the tubes. I think they have improved this aspect in new designs.
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Old 05-22-11, 07:43 AM   #22
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One thing I didn't mention is that I have a very bad back (3 fused vert. in lower spine), thats why I thought a comfort bike would be best (more upright sitting position).
Oh dear! You may even want to consider the dreaded "R" word - recumbent.

If you decide that's a possibility, don't waste your time with the people at a conventional bike shop. Find a recumbent specialist shop. Recumbents are a developing technology. There are many variations on the recumbent theme. They ride and handle quite differently from one another. People who don't speak fluent recumbent aren't going to be able to guide your decision.
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Old 05-22-11, 07:45 AM   #23
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Great news, I think thats the one they cary at both shops I was in. I'll pick one up this week. I read the posts here over and over. There are a few terms and components I don't quite understand so I printed everything in the thread to take with me as I continue shopping. Can't wait to get out there again, May even take a day off work this week to shop.
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Old 05-22-11, 07:54 AM   #24
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Go for a 36 spoke wheel.
Good suggestion.
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Old 05-22-11, 03:16 PM   #25
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Welcome. I've been riding since 07. I was lucky in that my neighbor, who got me riding, had 4 different types of bikes. The hybrid, which has some road aspects with straight bars, was the one I gravitated to. I was able to ride that bike for weeks before I decided a hybrid was right bike for me to buy. Four years later, I've upgraded to a road bike. Not sure you have the opportunity to ride some different types to see what works for you, but that would certainly be an option worth trying to find.

One other thing, with regards to buying an inexpensive bike, if it's what you can afford, then by all means get the best bang for your buck. However, if it's just because you don't want to spend much on a first bike, well that may or may not be the best decision. A good bike should have a decent value years down the road. A name like Specialized, Giant, Trek, Cannondale, etc, command better pricing when looking to resell or trade up. Just my thoughts there.

Good luck to you!
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