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Old 07-11-12, 09:06 PM   #1
mygirlpebbles
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Seeking Advice Please

Hello everyone. I'm a newbie - not just to the site but to bicycling. I'm a 51 year old female from the Philadelphia, PA area and will (hopefully) be cycling on bike paths and trails (D&R Canal Trail, Wissahickon Bike Trail and the Schuylkill River Trail) on weekends. I prefer to be more upright than bent over due to previous cervical spine surgery. I'm 5'2" with a regular sized torso and short legs.

I borrowed a 19" Trek 3700 last month and after a 13 mile ride on the D&R with a lunch stop halfway, I had major neck, left shoulder and arm pain with numbness/tingling in my left hand due to being on a frame that was too large for me plus the bent over position on a mountain bike.

I've tested several bikes. All were men's/unisex (not WSD) with a 15" frame: 2012 Trek 7300, 2012 Trek 8.2 DS, 2012 Cannondale Adventure 2, 2012 Fuji Absolute 2.0 and 2011 Fuji Crosstown 1.0. I had some left arm pain with numbness/tingling in my hand on the 7300 (big disappointment - it was my favorite). I was too bent over on the 8.2 even with a stem riser. The Adventure was nice but I didn't like the twist shifters, they felt awkward. I didn't like the way the Absolute felt beneath me - I was actually a bit nervous on it.

I felt the most upright on the Crosstown. But it's considered a comfort bike and I heard you can't ride very far on one. Also, the specs show that it weighs 35 lbs. Should that be a concern? The price at my LBS is $370 before tax. Is that a good price? The MSRP was $549. The seat was a bit uncomfortable (probably because it's a men's) so they're going to put on a Bontrager Women's Boulevard Gel Plus Saddle for an extra $12. They usually run $40 - $45. I tested it on the Trek 8.2 at another LBS and liked it.

http://www.bikepedia.com/QuickBike/B...+1.0&Type=bike

I've been checking out the forums for a few weeks and I've learned so much - and I have a lot more to learn. Everyone seems very nice and helpful.

Any suggestions, comments or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much!

Peggy
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Old 07-11-12, 09:28 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum. You are asking some good questions, and I won't try to answer them all, because others will chime in shortly.
As a former bike shop owner and Fuji dealer, I'll just comment on the Crosstown. The crosstown 1.0 is the top of the Crosstown lineup. Fuji's bike hierarchy has low numbers higher on the food chain than higher numbers.
Anyway, the 1.0 is a great bike, even though the components have been downgraded about one level since I sold them. My wife has one with the step through frame, and she loves it.
The one thing I think Fuji should do with that model is lose the suspension fork. It really serves no useful purpose in my mind on a bike with such an upright riding posture, and it adds unnecessary weight.
If the price quoted was for a current year model, it's a great price. MSRP is $549
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Old 07-11-12, 10:24 PM   #3
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Have you ridden a Townie?
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Old 07-11-12, 10:41 PM   #4
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What Dan said, with a couple of additions....
You'll get used to the Grip Shifters, if you buy them. I don't like them much, either, but I have them on one bike and they're not a problem.
No serious or semi-serious cyclist I know is happy with any kind of gel seat. There probably are exceptions, but I've tried two of them and gave them away. Try to find something that accommodates your anatomy.
The hand/arm numbness could be a position issue. Ask the bike shop guys to advise you on fit and setup to take some of the weight off your hands. Raising the handlebars may help.
I agree that the suspension fork is overkill for that bike, but I'm not sure it would be a deal breaker if I liked it otherwise.
Let's see, what else...? Oh--I wouldn't buy a comfort bike for myself, but I have a friend I've been trying to interest in cycling for years. He didn't like it at all until he rented a comfort bike on vacation. He enjoyed that so much he wrote a check for it on the spot, and he's riding 20 or 25 miles a week. That's not much, but it's 20 or 25 more than he was doing before. Thirty-five pounds is a lot these days, but you don't really feel it all once you're moving.
Finally, the Townie is a good suggestion. Check one out if you can find a dealer.

Last edited by Velo Dog; 07-11-12 at 10:44 PM.
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Old 07-12-12, 12:28 AM   #5
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Velo Dog has it about right on every point except not many like the gripshifters. You can get used to them but the conventional changers are better for most riders.

Short female and there is a womans specific frame made by most manufacturers that suits the shorter female better. It's not just the colour either as the components are better suited and the frame has a shorter top tube.

"Comfort" bikes are fine for the use you want to give it but in the main they are heavy. Suspension forks at that price just add weight and are not necessary.

Look at the hybrid bikes. May be a bit above your price range but they are basically a road frame with straight handlebars. Shorter top tubes-especially in the Womens form and lighter weight.
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Old 07-12-12, 06:10 AM   #6
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13 miles on a first adult ride is outstanding. I did .8 miles.

I bought a 7300 for my first bike and the suspension fork came in handy for about 1 mile of the 2700 miles I put on it. The bike did get me riding. The good news is that all the aches and pains you describe are pretty typical of someone beginning to ride. There are methods and bikes that can cut down on aches and pains but they all introduce compromises.The more upright the seating position the more weight on the saddle. The downside is higher wind resistance as you ride faster.Wider, softer saddles feel better in the few first miles. As riding distance increases the extra width begins to cause skin irratation caused by rubbing and numbness as the extra width compresses muscles used in riding.

My point in the above is that as you ride more your taste will change but you need a bike to get you thru the first miles. The bike/saddle I ride now would have been extremely painful in the beginning.

The Crosstown 3.0 is cheaper than the 1.0 and has a solid fork. I like the adjust-ability of the handlebars and the wide gearing it offers. One thing that needs to be addressed is the Local Bike Shops (LBS). For a beginning cyclist, finding a shop that will take care of problems is important. I've heard praise and condemnation of the same shops so I don't know what to tell you to look for. I do all my own service and just accept that I'll have to resolve problems myself. Bicycles do require service and all shops should give you a free tuneup after the bike is ridden 100-200 miles. It's kinda like the breakin service for a new car.
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Old 07-12-12, 07:30 AM   #7
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Giving everyone fair warning. Getting ready to launch into a pro-recumbent rant. Getting locked and loaded.
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Old 07-12-12, 08:14 AM   #8
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I'm more partial to the drop bars on my road bike, I actually have the fewest issues with numbness on that bike. On my upright bar bikes ( a hybridized 80's mountain bike and a tandem) I have found that putting the bars too high and too far out in front of me causes more problems. My tandem was causing me serious hand numbness until I put a shorter and lower stem on it. One rule of thumb I have heard is that the bars should obscure your view of the front hub in your usual riding postion. I find I am more comfortable with the hub just slightly visible in front of the bars. If your bike doesn't already have one, you can get inexpensive adjustable stems to experiment with postions.

On the saddle thing, that's very much a personal preference, but more gel and padding does not necessarily equate to more comfort. All that padding and gel compresses against the soft tissues of your butt and actually causes aching rather than relieving it. (But I have a bin of wide, gel filled tractor seats if you want one, just cover the shipping cost for me) I recently upgraded my wife's end of the tandem from a Serfas Gel saddle to a leather Brooks B67s. Other than some remaining minor issues with dialing in the adjustments just right, it solved most of her comfort issues on the bike. Fairly pricey saddles, but worth it, IMO.

Or, you can get a 'bent. But I'll leave the pro-recumbent rant to the experts on that subject.
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Old 07-12-12, 08:15 AM   #9
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I'm with Dudelsack....I'd recommend a small recumbent with 20" wheels. The seat and riding position resolves all the spine and hand pain issues. Even an inexpensive one will provide the comfort to keep you riding....

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Old 07-12-12, 09:03 AM   #10
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Trek Navigator 2.0 in an appropriate sized frame.. the WSD on those is a step thru.
26" wider tires for unpaved canal tow path rides, smooth tread

the stem is adjustable angle , to bring it up higher , upright position
they include a suspension seat post, a shock absorber under your seat,
and fork, and triple crank .. aluminum frame.. under $500..

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Old 07-12-12, 09:06 AM   #11
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+1 on a recumbent. Either a recumbent bike or maybe a trike. My wife loves her trike. In years past we have bought her 3 or 4 DF bikes. She never rode any of them much at all. Riding the trike just this spring she probably has 3 times the mileage as she put on the combined DF bikes.
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Old 07-12-12, 09:14 AM   #12
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How do you folks in recumbents like riding narrow gravel trails on them..
at slow speeds?

Just wondering..
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Old 07-12-12, 09:17 AM   #13
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Wow, a 19" bike would be waaaaay to big for you, how did you manage to ride it? It's no wonder you had some pains. Other than that you seem to be doing everything else correctly. Going to a bike shop(s), getting fitted, trying different bikes, test riding, doing some research.
About the weight of the bike, when you first start the issue will be getting it on and off a car rack, if you plan on doing that. Don't worry about it for riding just yet. Put some miles on it, get used to riding, build a fitness base, then worry about a lighter, different styled bike.
Don't worry about how many miles you can ride on a "comfort bike". You can ride it as far as time allows. The bike doesn’t know, and doesn't care, how far you take it, or what kind of bike it is. My wife and I did an impromptu 35 miles on Sunday. Me on my single speed, her on her comfort bike. It took a little longer than on our road bikes, but we enjoyed every inch.
There is some good advise above about the women specific designs, you may want to look at them. My wife is short, and she has a wsd bike, and it fits her almost perfect, she rides it a lot.
The main thing is to get a bike that you will enjoy riding. If you don't, you won't ride it.

My wife and I ride the D&R from Frenchtown to Lambertville/New Hope a couple times a year. She usually rides her road bike, she likes it that much, and the surface is smooth and hard enough so it's not a problem. It's a nice ride, hope to see you out there.
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Old 07-12-12, 09:18 AM   #14
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Giving everyone fair warning. Getting ready to launch into a pro-recumbent rant. Getting locked and loaded.
Why do recumbent riders rant?
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Old 07-12-12, 09:26 AM   #15
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How do you folks in recumbents like riding narrow gravel trails on them..
at slow speeds?

Just wondering..
Bent riders untie and throw off the chains of wedjudice.

Hmm. That sentence looks funny. Can't put my finger on it, though.

I've not tried riding narrow gravel trails, yet. My bent has 26X1.35 tires, and I could easily enough replace them with 1.5 knobbies. I wouldn't want to try twisty singletrack on it. There is a loose gravel dirt road on one of my routes in the middle of nowhere, but as I only have 1800 or so bent miles under my belt, I'd be a bit hesitant to try it. But I might.
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Old 07-12-12, 09:26 AM   #16
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Why do recumbent riders rant?
Because it's there.
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Old 07-12-12, 09:34 AM   #17
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My wife got a Diamondback Front suspension MTB, and had issues with her hands. I added high rise "chopper style" handle bars, and she is now a happy camper.

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. . . Suspension forks at that price just add weight and are not necessary. . .
+1

I might add that weight is not the only issue. Another name for shock absorbers could be "energy absorbers". Every time the springs compress, the energy has to come from somewhere (Newtons law of conservation of momentum). That somewhere is your forward momentum,
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Old 07-12-12, 11:38 AM   #18
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Just saying, its part of the parts pick.. they come out of the carton like that.

in specifics: Navigator 1.0 single middle sized chainring rigid fork and seatpost..
non adjustable angle stem..

costs less.. get less..

NB smaller size + WSD proportionally will have less reach to the bars
so posture will be more comfortably upright.

and you can look over your shoulder to see behind you.

[on a recumbent you absolutely need a mirror. ]

perhaps the OP does not want to be so low as to be harder to see
in city traffic situations..

recumbents are fine on open roads.. IMHO.. longer WB the better..

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-12-12 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 07-13-12, 12:12 PM   #19
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Wow, thank you all so much for your advice. I'm still looking...planning on going out again this weekend. I'm trying to find a LBS who has the Navigator in my size to try out. Please keep the suggestions coming. I appreciate it very much and will address you all individually when I have more time online. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and a chance to get out and ride!
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Old 07-13-12, 12:26 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
How do you folks in recumbents like riding narrow gravel trails on them..
at slow speeds?

Just wondering..
Both fine and dandy. Since I live only 2 miles from the Katy Trail, I ride the crushed limestone trail lots. Why would you think it might be any different?
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Old 07-13-12, 12:30 PM   #21
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I felt the most upright on the Crosstown. But it's considered a comfort bike and I heard you can't ride very far on one.
So how far do you think that you will ride on a bicycle that, for whatever reason, you find uncomfortable?
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Old 07-13-12, 01:19 PM   #22
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Mrs. Grouch has a Greenspeed recumbent trike that she LOVES.

Positives are it is ultra-comfortable and fun to ride. It feels like you're driving a sports car. Mega "cool grandma" points.

Negatives:
1. It's a long way down into the seat. (Doesn't seem to bother Mrs. Grouch.)
2. It's bulky to transport and to store. (But it folds to fit inside Mrs. Grouch's Saturn SL1.)
3. It's a little slower than a conventional bicycle. (Mrs. Grouch doesn't care.)
4. It's a little pricy. (But there are less expensive alternatives.)

You do need a mirror for riding on the street. If that's a deal breaker, you're probably too biased to think this far out of the box.
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Old 07-15-12, 06:57 PM   #23
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Thank you all again for your terrific advice. After 8 visits to LBS's (with my VERY patient boyfriend), I finally decided on a 2012 Trek 7300 WSD in the berry color. Went for a 9 mile ride today and I'm really liking my first "big girl" bike.
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