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  1. #1
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    Road or Hybrid??

    Hey folks..

    I am a 50+ aspiring bike rider after some 30+ years of no biking (or any other sports for that matter!).. was busy recovering from a few back surgeries over that time.

    So, I thought I should get an upright oriented hybrid. Tried a whole heap of them, but somehow found myself more excited about the higher end lighter weight more sporty ones, which is this is the opposite of what I thought I should buy. Aint that crazy?

    So, after almost deciding to go with either a Fuji absolute 1.0 or a Specialized Comp, I was at a store that carried a 2012 Fuji robix 2.0 or roubaix 2.0 (sorry, don't remember the exact name) with a nice discount. So, I thought what the heck, let me try it. For the few minutes I rode it (since the store was closing) it felt very light, fast, simple different. When I stopped, I almost fell down every time, whereas this didn't happen when trying a hybrid, but it felt so sleek and cool :-)

    So, I am now utterly confused as to what to get. I will ride the bike for exercise, on a paved trail. I may be too afraid to ride in the streets so may prefer the side walk instead. So, should that lead me to buy the hybrid? would the road bike hurt my back on the long run?

    HELP!

  2. #2
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    First, welcome. It sounds like you need to do a few more test rides! One thing to consider is that many folks here (self included) find that the stretched out position of a road bike is easier on their backs. (I found this to be true for motorcycles to. The typical upright "chopper" position but my back in agony for anything over an hour.) Do any of the bike shops you're visiting do rentals? Oh, one other thing to keep in mind, regardless of the direction you go. Get a good fit from the shop before you leave. It can make all the difference in the world.
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  3. #3
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    I would certainly consider a road bike, particularly one of the more upright styles, what is called by the trade an "endurance" frame, and what the cycling press sometimes call a "plushbike". With your hands on the brake hoods, you're just about as upright as the sportier hybrids, and when you get in the drops, you can really get up and go. With a hybrid, you're more or less locked into one seating position. I have both, and find I'd rather not ride the hybrid more than an hour at a time.

    If you do decide on a hybrid, you may want to add bar ends to give you some more hand positions.
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    The last store where I found the road bike wasn't even a specialized bike store, but it was an outdoors sport, so they definitely don't have rentals. I can see if the other bike stores have rentals. By the fit do you mean the bike size? I thought I would get a 17" hybrid but they told me it is too small. The one I just tries (Fuji road) was 54 cm. I thought the bar was too close to my privates, but they thought it was the right fit. It seems the bike world has changed drastically since the last time I rode a bike :-(

  5. #5
    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    The concept of "privates protection" is the least thing to worry about when sizing a bike. I have short legs and a long body, and have no problems

    As to the stretched out position, I was having problems with my back a few years ago (I have since had a L4-L5 fusion), and the only bike (I have several) that was comfortable was the stretched out position of a road bike. However, it varies considerably with each person and their own back situation. Test out several bikes.

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    Senior Member NCbiker's Avatar
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    I had the same perspective when I started riding as well, as a 54 year old with a bad back, I thought I would like the more upright riding position of a hybrid. It didn't take long to find that this upright position, while comfortable for short rides (up to 10 miles), was not so comfortable on longer rides. As my cycling fitness improved, I switched to a touring bike with drop bars, a more aggressive position and found it to be much more comfortable on longer rides. I did 650 miles last month on my drop bar bike and had absolutely no problems with my back. There was a transition going from the hybrid to the drop bar bike, but it didn't take long before all my riding time was spent on my touring bike. I also suggest you try a cyclocross bike which also has dropbars, but with it's wider tires has less of a harsh ride than that of a skinny tire road bike.
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    Wow.. thanks folks for this excellent feedback. I didn't even know there was a type called cyclocross! Too bad that I only tried hybrids in the few local stores I visited, as I never thought that I may consider a road bike. I guess I can go back and see if I can test road bikes. I will ask specifically for less aggressive seating position, right? Can you suggest some types I should focus on? I would like to stay within $1,000 if I can or even less, unless this would get me a crappy bike.

    What about my perceived difficulty with the dismount? is that something I would learn as I go? I also found the shifters to be integrated with the brakes, whereas I only held the horizontal part of the bars, I even think I should add brakes to the horizontal bars if I end up with a road bike.

    Incidentally, do some stores do more detailed fit than others?

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    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Fit - a whole new can of - well, not worms, but . . .

    This can range from a young inexperienced guy saying it looks OK, to a 4 hour $400 ReTul session with an experienced, well-trained professional fitter.

    Generally, a more experienced person in a decent LBS will get you in the ballpark.

    Shop for a really good LBS (local bike store) before you shop for a bike. Good advice can be invaluable.

    The dismount? - well, at almost 73 yo, I have never had any problems. You should adjust easily.

  9. #9
    Senior Member NCbiker's Avatar
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    Checkout a Surly Crosscheck if you can. http://surlybikes.com/bikes/cross_check. You will get used to dismounting as your flexibility will increase the more you ride. At first I had to lean the bike way over to dismount. I remember almost busting my azz while dismounting during a test ride. I find it helpful to bend my leg at the knee as I'm swinging my leg over the seat. You'll get the hang of it quickly.

    Different shops will offer different levels of fitting services. Some might just have Uncle Buck come out and visually size you up, while others will offer a professional fitting service that uses a video camera to record your peddling and position. Whatever method, it's critical you find a bike that fits and is comfortable to you. Don't hesitate to test ride bikes.
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    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Go with the bike that really "turns you on." One that begs you to ride it.

  11. #11
    Senior Member NCbiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    Go with the bike that really "turns you on." One that begs you to ride it.
    +1 just be careful not to ride a bike you can't afford, as you won't be able to get it out of your head.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member bike56's Avatar
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    Get a road bike,some folks set them up at first in a more upright position{lower seat,higher bars** almost like a hybrid.Then as you get use to riding and your back stretches out,you can go to a more traditional road bike set up.Some bike fitters don't have a clue how to set up a bike for some one over 50.For me now,the most comfortable position for my back is in the drops,which seems counter intuitive,but your back will stretch over time.Have fun and good luck
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  13. #13
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    That long stretched position works for me aswell but does not for everyone.

    I rode MTB's and when I changed to road I got a bike that felt right on length but soon found out that I had got a size too small. No problem- Longer bar stem to push the bars further away and even raised the bars to get the more suitable position for my ageing back. Soon found out that I had it all wrong and a year later got a bike that fitted. Longer top tube and lower bars was how this bike was set up and it worked.

    On the dismount. With the bike properly set up I cannot touch the ground with my feet when on the saddle. I also have the problem in that there is minimal clearance from the top tube with feet on the ground. Just lean the bike to cure both.

    You do need the LBS to help with that first bike fitting. A wrong size bike and even the correct size not set up right will not help your back or your riding.
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  14. #14
    Lance Legweak HIPCHIP's Avatar
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    I have a really bad back and I ride a Felt Z series bike, which is the relaxed geometry, so a road bike that you sit a little more upright on. I'd check into that and if you can afford it, go the next level higher than you think you can afford as I wish I had done that. The Z4 is a really nice ride as is the Specialized Rubaiux.

  15. #15
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Importance of the LBS-----

    The right LBS will want to keep you as a customer so will treat you right from the word go. They will sort the bike for your intended use and advise you on the alternatives- and remember that the final choice is yours. Sizing and a fairly critical problem I find with a "Sports shop/Department store" is that they do not carry the stock required to get the correct fitting bike. They have only one or just a couple of sizes of bike and whether it is the right size or not--That is the one they try to sell you. Then there is the final fitting. Saddle position- bar position and even brake lever position has to be right. An LBS will do this for you and also assist later on when it needs adapting.

    But the Fuji Roubaix is not a bad bike. Not the best around but we all have that problem no matter what bike we choose. But only if it does fit correctly.

    Found the bike on the link below in the archives. Take it that the bike is a 2012 and follow through to road bikes and Roubaix 2.0

    http://www.fujibikes.com/archive#
    Last edited by stapfam; 10-04-12 at 03:01 AM.
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  16. #16
    Beicwyr Hapus Gerryattrick's Avatar
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    As someone with lower back and neck problems I find it difficult to ride a road bike but I only really found that out after some extended rides. My advice would be to try out both road and hybrid, but not just on short rides around the block.

    Is it possible for you to borrow or hire both sorts of bike, either from the bike shop or a friend, for a couple of days so that you can try them on rides lasting at least an hour? It is an important decision as the wrong choice could put you off cycling for ever.
    Last edited by Gerryattrick; 10-04-12 at 04:16 AM. Reason: Error

  17. #17
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    This is all very useful information. I guess I will try to rent a bike over the weekend from a local bike store. I found one that rents road bikes for $100 a day or part of day, so I will go check him out. I am guessing that they actually won't do any fitting for rentals?

    The information that road bikes can be set with a lower seat and a higher handle bars is quite interesting and new to me. Does this apply to a specific type of road bikes, or do all of them come with this possibility?

    Is the $1,000 a decent range or would I only find inferior bikes at this range?

  18. #18
    Oh! That British Bloke .. ThatBritBloke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexLex100 View Post
    The last store where I found the road bike wasn't even a specialized bike store, but it was an outdoors sport, so they definitely don't have rentals ...
    Whichever type of bike you buy I would very strongly urge you to buy your bike from a bike shop. They will have the experience, the stock and the resources to help you choose the bike that is appropriate for you.

    I help out at a LBS - Local Bike Shop - and frequently have the customer who states that they are returning to cycling after xx years and, btw, they have a back issue, so could they please look at a hybrid bike so they can sit upright. Indeed, in the end they may even end up buying one. But bear in mind that shock from the road is passed up vertically through the seat and can often be more of a problem for you if your back/spine is also vertical.

    A road bike, of whatever configuration, will mean that those forces are transferred obliquely to your spine and, as a by-product, lead to a strengthening of your core which can only help.

    However, with a road bike it's essential to have it fitted to you. The difference between riding a properly fitted bicycle and one "off the shelf" can be huge, especially for those of us with compromised mobility. Any good bike shop should be able to help you with this.
    Last edited by ThatBritBloke; 10-04-12 at 06:42 AM. Reason: addition ...
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  19. #19
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    Welcome to the 50+ and to BF. Back surgery veteran here, X3, two laminectomies and finally a 2 level PLIF with plates, cages and screws of the Ti variety, add in 13 abdominal surgeries and wrecked abdominal musculature and you have the picture of someone that would be put on a comfort bike by a lot of shops. I ride a road bike, 2012 CAAD 10 4, stem is not flipped up and is 15mm below the stock level on steering tube spacers. That is to tell you and back surgery veteran can comfortably ride and standard road bike. (Get ready for a few people to tell you about buying a recumbent bike, or you are an idiot, in their opinion.) As Stapfam said the finding a good LBS should be first in your shopping. they should be ready to listen to you and your needs, not try to sell you the most expensive road bike or tell you that someone over 50 needs a comfort bike type ride.

    The Fuji Roubaix you rode is a really nice bike, before you buy this bike you should find out if the dealer is going to be your cup of tea and ride it more than a few minutes before closing. The idea of a cyclocross frame, wheelset and gearing is not a bad one at all. They have a more upright stem and head tube arrangement and can use a wider tyre than most pure road bikes. Renting some are not a bad idea for a long term test ride but in finding a truly good LBS you ought to ride several different bikes for longer test rides, first.

    The LBS you choose should totally fit the bike to you, stem length and height, seat height and seat choice, pedals and shoes/cleats, bar shape and several other parameters. if the bike does not fit properly you will most likely either sell it to get another model/fit or give up bicycling out of frustration.

    You have heard from some of our most knowledgeable members about fit, an LBS, possible types of bicycle and several other aspects of buying a bike. Read on for more advise here and begin the search for a good LBS that you will get along with well. Best of luck in finding the right bike for you and don't hesitate to ask any questions here or at bike shops.

    BTW, we need pictures of which ever bike you choose, a first ride report and your choice of post ride Pie to celebrate. Oh yeah, schedule your colonoscopy and shingles vaccine soon.

    Bill
    Last edited by qcpmsame; 10-04-12 at 07:08 AM.
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  20. #20
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Get a road bike. The forward lean is good for back problems.



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  21. #21
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    Looks like the Fuji Roubaix has the standard horizontal top tube. Other road bikes have the slanted top tube and that will give you more room so that you won't feel like falling off the bike when stopping. The hybrids have the standard platform type pedals.

    If you go with a road bike, you might want to stick with that pedal type on a road bike till you get used to the bike and its handling and shifting. Then consider buying the pedal systems commonly used for road biking.

    Long term back problems. By riding on a road bike, I actually got stronger with the core muscles. But I also did specific exercises for strengthening. I think what happens is that a rider who has that desire to be "sporty" will do whatever it takes to stay on that road bike. That motivation is for me the biggest factor.

    Leaning forward is how to justify staying on a road bike. There is a balancing act with this and its about weight distribution between stress onto the arms and ultimately the hands on the handlebars. To avoid this stress, the core muscles need to get stronger so that the torso when bent forward, will not put pressure on the hands. Some riders have a flat back posture when riding and some have a curved back posture. This is even true with the pro riders. If you get a chance to watch on T.V. the Tour de France, you will see the various back postures. I don't know which posture will help you avoid back problems. But I think for me, the flat back helps me to strengthen the core muscles.

    Logically, I should consider a recumbent for back and neck issues that may pop up in the future. I don't know when.

    Hybrid, road, recumbent. Confusing? If you want it bad enough, you will go road and just face the consequences as they present itself. All the rest is compensatory actions to prevent pain.

  22. #22
    Senior Member GeorgeBMac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TexLex100 View Post
    This is all very useful information. I guess I will try to rent a bike over the weekend from a local bike store. I found one that rents road bikes for $100 a day or part of day, so I will go check him out. I am guessing that they actually won't do any fitting for rentals?

    The information that road bikes can be set with a lower seat and a higher handle bars is quite interesting and new to me. Does this apply to a specific type of road bikes, or do all of them come with this possibility?

    Is the $1,000 a decent range or would I only find inferior bikes at this range?
    $100 a day for a rental seems high to me... But, I think it is an excellent idea. Partly it will give you an idea of how a certain type of bike feels to you. But, perhaps more importantly, it can help you figure out how and where you will ride...

    I ride on packed Limestone Rails-to-Trails and started out on a road bike with slightly wider tires. It worked well for me. Even the drop bars worked well (although I hardly ever use the drops).

    Then when I road a friend's upright mountain bike for a week, my back was killing me...

    So, when I went shopping for a hybrid, I told the bike shop I wanted a forward leaning position. He said: "Don't worry, I can take care of that". He proceeded to give me a half dozen bikes to ride and, when I liked the Trek DS he flipped the stem and yes, I had the forward leaning position I needed.

    So, the road bikes look sleek and fun and fast -- and they are! But they are also limited. And, you don't need to go to drop bars to get the forward lean so many people need for longer rides.

    But, you DO NEED an LBS who:
    -- Knows what he is talking about (that means years of experience selling AND RIDING bikes)
    -- Is looking out for YOU and wants YOU to be a succesful cyclist (and is not just trying to sell bikes.)
    -- Can fit the bike to you and customize it to meet your needs
    -- Service it after the sale

    For myself: I love my road bike with the drop bars and I love my hybrid with a (nearly) flat bar and I ride them both.

    But, the biggest difference for me has been the bike shop. The LBS I shop at has supported me, answered all my stupid questions all summer long, and helped me to find the stuff that makes my cycling a safe and pleasant experience.

    So, for me: it is half the bike and half the bike shop.

    Like Stapfam said: First find a GOOD bike shop...
    --------------------------------------
    bikes: 1992 Cannondale R500, 2012 Trek DS 8.5, 2008 LeMond Poprad

  23. #23
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    I started biking again two months ago. I'm 63 and haven't owned a bike in 20 years. Bought a used Fuji Absolute 4.0 and within a month owned a road bike. I ride the road bike on solo missions, the Fuji is perfect for cruising with my wife. She talks and stops a lot, in addition to being a bit unpredictable, so riding with her with anything other than bare pedals can be exciting! Just added bar ends to the Fuji for a couple more hand positions. As I started to get my legs back, I got REAL tired sitting upright into a stiff headwind on the Fuji, and additionally, basically only one hand position. Sweet bike - have ordered a bullhorn handlebar to improve the uprightness. I like having them both.

  24. #24
    USMC Veteran qcpmsame's Avatar
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    As to the brakes for the flats of a drop bar, don't use the 70's turkey wing "safety brake levers" on any bike. They flex and have poor feel. A brake interrupter lever set would be better for this set up.

    Bill
    "I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me" Philippians 4:13

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  25. #25
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Whatever you do, DO NOT get a recumbent. They're only for old people or the disabled.



    Seriously, though; for trails I'd get the hybrid. But bear in mind that sooner or later you may want to expand your riding to include club rides and/or the road; at which point the hybrid won't cut it anymore.

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