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Old 09-06-13, 07:11 AM   #1
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Bike Recommendation

I am want to get a new bike. I haven't been serious about riding since I was in my 20's, I am now 53. (marriage, kids, work, etc.....).

Last year, one of my college aged kids asked me to fix up my old Schwinn Continental for him to use at college. I did, found it a fun project and thought it would be fun to start riding it again. Unfortunately, my son graduated college, moved to Indianapolis and took the bike with him. He likes the retro look of the bike... Good for him and I am happy he wants the bike.

Back, in my youth, I rode that bike everywhere and I had a lot of interest in biking. It was an activity that went beyond just a normal kid's utilitarian need for a bike.

So, now I want a new bike where I can ride a few miles a day, rural oil and chipped roads mostly, back and forth to work, etc.

Why? I want to get healthier, ie. lose some weight, improve BP, cholesterol, heart rate, etc.. Over the years, I have added some weight and I want to regain some energy.

A local bike shop sells, Giant, Trek, Cannondale, Schwinn, Electra, GT, Sun and a few others.

Any recommendations are appreciated ... tia
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Old 09-06-13, 07:18 AM   #2
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Asking this forum for bike advice is like asking the local pusher for a starter kit.

Questions: where do you live? Type of terrain? Health issues? Temperment? Do you want to spin around the block and smell the roses, or hit the road and crush souls?

The choice is yours.
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Old 09-06-13, 07:45 AM   #3
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Yeah, there are a bazillion choices in bikes. What is your budget? Drop bars or flat? Do you need climbing gears? Want fenders or racks? Off road at all or strictly pavement?
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Old 09-06-13, 08:08 AM   #4
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Go to an established and reputable independent bike shop at a quiet time in the week.

Be prepared to spend a couple of hours discussing your needs and the means to address them.

A good bike shop should offer at least two or three top quality brands, at least a preliminary bike fitting service if not a full fit, and excellent back up. Some boutique-type bike stores only carry one brand, which may be very good, but it helps to have a choice.

There are a number of excellent bicycle brands, any one of which will provide you with an excellent product assuming you get good advice.

Beware of internet reviews and advice - except here, of course. You have to ride the bike.

You can already see top of 2014 bike reviews advising this or that model. Truth is, any one of the bikes in the top 20 will be a best buy for you if properly fitted and adjusted. I say that as a helper in a bike shop which stocks two brands (plus others) which invariably feature top 5 in any year. There are a number of brands which can be described as first division ...

Ride bikes ... get good face-to-face advice ...
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Old 09-06-13, 08:16 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by JGM411 View Post
I am want to get a new bike. I haven't been serious about riding since I was in my 20's, I am now 53. (marriage, kids, work, etc.....).

Last year, one of my college aged kids asked me to fix up my old Schwinn Continental for him to use at college. I did, found it a fun project and thought it would be fun to start riding it again. Unfortunately, my son graduated college, moved to Indianapolis and took the bike with him. He likes the retro look of the bike... Good for him and I am happy he wants the bike.

Back, in my youth, I rode that bike everywhere and I had a lot of interest in biking. It was an activity that went beyond just a normal kid's utilitarian need for a bike.

So, now I want a new bike where I can ride a few miles a day, rural oil and chipped roads mostly, back and forth to work, etc.

Why? I want to get healthier, ie. lose some weight, improve BP, cholesterol, heart rate, etc.. Over the years, I have added some weight and I want to regain some energy.

A local bike shop sells, Giant, Trek, Cannondale, Schwinn, Electra, GT, Sun and a few others.

Any recommendations are appreciated ... tia
http://stlouis.craigslist.org/bik/4032429080.html

http://stlouis.craigslist.org/bik/4049699325.html
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Old 09-06-13, 08:45 AM   #6
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For a first bike in your situation I'd look for something inexpensive and used that fits decently. The type of bike may not make much of a difference: road, mountain, hybrid. Get out and start riding. Once you've got a bit under your belt you might find a club in your area that offers suitable rides. After some months you'll have a better idea of what type of riding and what type of bike you might enjoy.

If you do buy used either go through the bike yourself and get a tune-up at an LBS. It's discouraging to experience breakdowns when you're just trying to get started.
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Old 09-06-13, 10:00 AM   #7
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Definitely do some window-shopping and info-gathering at one or more good LBS's. FWIW--A good LBS will hopefully match you up with a bike that'll be a good fit for you, your needs, intended riding style and budget. I've gone the independent info-gathering/decision-making route before, but I found that a good LBS would usually steer me into an equally good (and frequently even better) decision/choice without my having to put untold amounts of time and energy into research and decision-making. Whatever you do -- happy hunting/shopping, good luck with whatever the outcome is and try to hit the road soon, since winter is just around the corner (if you're in an area that gets winters).
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Old 09-06-13, 10:10 AM   #8
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Ride bikes ... get good face-to-face advice ...
That's the best, most succinct advice you're likely to get.

Fleshing it out a bit, start inexpensively. Yes, more expensive bikes tend to be nicer, but it's a progression of diminishing returns, not orders of magnitude. A $5000 bike is not profoundly different from a similar $500 bike. More refined, yes, but an order of magnitude? Hardly.

There are two things you can pretty much ignore: Brand and drivetrain "component groupset".

Brands these days do little more than design and specify the frame (if even that much), and then do the marketing. Everybody uses the same Asian job shops for manufacturing, and everybody buys their drivetrains from the same places. (Okay, nearly everybody on both, but you get the idea. And within the brands you specify, it's certainly the case.)

Drivetrain component groupsets, IMHO, get far more attention and hand-wringing than they deserve. You'll run into SRAM and Shimano most often. Neither company sells bad stuff at any price point. All my bikes are Shimano and I own bikes with bottom-of-the-line, mid-line, and top-of-the-line groupsets. The differences between them are marginal at best, and nearly indistinguishable when actually on the road and riding, yet the pricing spread is hundreds of dollars between each one.

I'm stirring up a hornet's nest with this one: IMHO, you can also safely ignore frame material. You'll hear all sorts of prejudicial remarks like "aluminum is harsh", "steel is real", "titanium is noodly", and that carbon fiber is like riding on the wings of angels. It's all baloney.

Bikes can be made crappy (crappily?) in any material. They can be made light or heavy in any material. They can be made stiff and responsive, or loose and noodly in any material. They can be made for a heavenly ride in any material, or harsh enough knock out your fillings. Material is material. It's what you do with it and how you use it that counts. And you can't tell that from a label on the downtube or by what's in the spec sheet.

So what does that leave?

Test ride the bikes. Let your body tell you which one is best for you.

And pick a nice color.

But start out with an assessment of how you think you're likely to ride routinely. That will direct you to the kind of bike--road, mountain, hybrid, or cruiser. Once you've chosen a genre, ride several choices within it, and choose from there.

Above all, throughout the process, have fun!

Last edited by tsl; 09-06-13 at 02:06 PM. Reason: Ti! How could I have forgotten Ti!
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Old 09-06-13, 10:15 AM   #9
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It really is difficult to answer your question without addressing all the variables others have already raised. For a "do everything" type of bike don't forget the cyclocross bike. Part of the problem is you may start out with an idea of how you intend to ride and the experience of riding may send you in another direction. OTOH this is the kind of "problem" you want in life.
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Old 09-06-13, 10:31 AM   #10
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Though I'm not the OP, I'd like to thank tsl for that post. That does indeed cut through a lot of marketing hype and other crap that makes the search for a bike difficult.

-- Sam (also currently searching)
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Old 09-06-13, 10:48 AM   #11
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Well, not to sound like I'm repeating everyone else, all I can do is tell you what I wen through.

I was in the same boat as the OP, was years since I last rode and the old steel Schwinn was too heavy, not enough gears and too small for me. I went to a LBS and got what I asked for, a lighter frame, upright position and more gears in the form of a Giant Sedona. I happily rode it for over a year, tooling around on the cities trails, then I started to notice that my abilities started to outstrip this new bike. I wanted to go further, out on the rodes and FASTER. The Sedona did not have enough gears, especially on the top end, not an agressive enough riding position and the twist shifters were annoying and hurt my wrists. The fat 26" tires were ideal for the suspension but slowed me way down. So I went back and bought a Giant Roam 2 - and with it I am pretty happy. It's more "road bike like" than the Sedona, more gears, larger 700C wheels, larger frame (it's toss up whether I should use a L or XL and I went with an XL on the Roam - better match) trigger shifters and hydraulic disc brakes (which I LOVE). This new bike is far better suited to me for the 100+ miles a week I now ride, rather than the 30-40 a week I rode on the Sedona.

So your needs may change if you get bitten by the "bug" an decide to ride more. If budget is an issue then like others said, look for used. Garage sales, Craig's List, Pawn Shops, heck, even a big box bike for around $100 might do, at least till you determine how you want to pursue biking. A friend at work, who turned my on to the Roam 2 after he bought one, eventually just dropped out of riding and now swears at himself when he sees the bike, gear and accessories he spent more than $1200 on sitting in his garage. He swears he's going to get riding again but never seems to find the desire.

So, decide for yourself. If you want to jump in both feet and don't mind the $$$ then go to a LBS and talk it over. et what you need NOW then reevaluate in another year or so. If you grow past the bike go back and discuss your needs and get something else.

Most of all KEEP RIDING!

EDIT: Just read TSL's post and it is superb. He's got good advice.
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Old 09-06-13, 10:56 AM   #12
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Asking this forum for bike advice is like asking the local pusher for a starter kit.

Questions: where do you live? Type of terrain? Health issues? Temperment? Do you want to spin around the block and smell the roses, or hit the road and crush souls?

The choice is yours.
We're waiting!
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Old 09-06-13, 11:52 AM   #13
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So, now I want a new bike where I can ride a few miles a day, rural oil and chipped roads mostly, back and forth to work, etc.
Trek FX and a Strava device to track your mileage.
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Old 09-06-13, 11:52 AM   #14
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Thank you for the comments.

TSL and Rootman's responses were particularly helpful. . As I mentioned in the OP, mostly it will be rural roads. I live in Southern IL, east of ST Louis. The terrain is relatively flat with moderate inclines. I don't want to be a ride around the block type rider. I will buy a bike that will get pushed as my stamina returns to a more youthful time in my life.

I have spoken off and on with a local lBS salesperson over the past couple years about getting back in to riding myself. I have purchased four bikes from this place in the last 15-16 years for my kids.

The salesperson keeps recommending a comfort bike. I'm not sure I would like that type of bike, but I can understand why he is recommending one, i.e. the upright position and a comfortable seat.
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Old 09-06-13, 01:03 PM   #15
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Thank you for the comments.

TSL and Rootman's responses were particularly helpful. . As I mentioned in the OP, mostly it will be rural roads. I live in Southern IL, east of ST Louis. The terrain is relatively flat with moderate inclines. I don't want to be a ride around the block type rider. I will buy a bike that will get pushed as my stamina returns to a more youthful time in my life.

I have spoken off and on with a local lBS salesperson over the past couple years about getting back in to riding myself. I have purchased four bikes from this place in the last 15-16 years for my kids.

The salesperson keeps recommending a comfort bike. I'm not sure I would like that type of bike, but I can understand why he is recommending one, i.e. the upright position and a comfortable seat.
Sounds like you are getting similar treatment to what I experienced. The too old for a road bike pigeon holing. So my first bike ended up being a hybrid. When I knew more and did a better job picking bikes I ended up with a road bike and a 29er mountain bike.

Both were selected the same way. I started with the lowest price and worked my way up. I rode each bike long enough to get a good feel for that bike. When I got to one that felt OK I stopped and bought that bike. Ended up I bought the cheapest carbon fibre road bike and a just above entry level 29er. I have been very happy with my choices.
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Old 09-06-13, 01:25 PM   #16
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Trek FX and a Strava device to track your mileage.
Yup. For those kinds of roads, I'd go with a hybrid or a cyclocross bike, depending on whether he wanted flat or drop bars.
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Old 09-06-13, 01:51 PM   #17
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I will buy a bike that will get pushed as my stamina returns to a more youthful time in my life.

The salesperson keeps recommending a comfort bike. I'm not sure I would like that type of bike, but I can understand why he is recommending one, i.e. the upright position and a comfortable seat.
Suspect the sales person is looking at your age and physic and making a recommendation based on that. If the idea of soft seats, flat bars and an upright riding position doesn't appeal to you, then look at other bikes. You don't have to be super fit or flexible to ride a drop bar road bike. Drop bars provide enough hand positions to allow riding more upright or aero in the drops. Spacers and angled stems can also be swapped to accommodate different riding positions as you improve your ability.

I started a couple years ago, a few years older then you, 40 pounds over weight and haven't been on a bike in over 30 years. My goal was to ride often to improve physical health. I knew that I wanted to push hard and that my end goal was to ride faster over increasingly longer distances. I wanted to start with a bike I didn't need to upgrade anytime soon. I purchased an entry level steel road bike (with drop bars) with Shimano 105 for under $700 that is still working great today. After completing 2 centuries this summer, I've been happy with both my progress and the bike.

So my recommendation is to look at the bikes that interest you most; a bike you won't soon outgrow and one that can be upgraded as your riding style progresses. Also, for chip seal and oil roads, find a bike that can accommodate at least a 28mm tire and if needed, fenders.

Good luck....
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Old 09-06-13, 01:56 PM   #18
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I was in the same boat as the OP, was years since I last rode and the old steel Schwinn was too heavy, not enough gears and too small for me. I went to a LBS and got what I asked for, a lighter frame, upright position and more gears in the form of a Giant Sedona. I happily rode it for over a year, tooling around on the cities trails, then I started to notice that my abilities started to outstrip this new bike.
That's pretty much the advice that my mother gave me on buying all things. You don't need a better (insert object here) until your abilities outstrip its capabilities. Get an inexpensive bike and ride it until it frustrates you. Then you'll know what you need. Your first bike is to teach you what you want in your second bike.
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Old 09-06-13, 01:58 PM   #19
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The salesperson keeps recommending a comfort bike. I'm not sure I would like that type of bike, but I can understand why he is recommending one, i.e. the upright position and a comfortable seat.
That's not necessarily bad advice. It's the right advice for enough older cyclists that it's become nearly cliché.

That's what the owner of the LBS steered me to when I presented my old, tired, out-of-shape self at his shop, saying I wanted a bike to ride to work. Despite the fact that I thought they were frumpy AARP bikes, I took his advice and that's what I bought.

Despite the fact that six months later the LBS owner exclaimed "2,000 miles! If I'd known that, I'd have sold you a better bike!", and despite the fact that nine months after that initial purchase I bought a racy road bike, and hardly ever touched the hybrid again, it was the right choice for me as a returning cyclist.

It was cheap, $380. It was reliable. I could get myself in shape without first becoming a contortionist. I didn't need anything other than my own incentive to hop on and ride it. And it helped me to figure out what type of cyclist I was becoming and what I wanted and needed in my second bike. And being so cheap, I didn't really think about the expense when I mothballed it. In fact, I thought that as tuition goes in the School of Hard Knocks, it was pretty cheap.

Turns out, I like road bikes. A lot. I currently own three, and I retired that first one along the way, and recently sold off another. But had I started out with a roadie, I don't think I could have afforded it in the first place, and all the special clothing and shoes and such were far to intimidating, not to mention expensive. Plus there was the matter of my strength and flexibility--both none.

In the end however, only you can decide if it's the place for you to start again. Given your history with a road bike, maybe not. But don't rule it out simply because they're frumpy AARP bikes.

Last edited by tsl; 09-06-13 at 02:02 PM.
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Old 09-06-13, 01:59 PM   #20
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As GFish said, drop bars allow you more options for riding positions over distances. I would have to say that I personally haven't ridden anything else to judge by but I couldn't imagine riding distances just sitting only straight up.
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Old 09-06-13, 02:31 PM   #21
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... And pick a nice color.

... Above all, throughout the process, have fun!
The two most important comments from this entire thread! Oh yeah, listen to tsl, he gives good advice.
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Old 09-06-13, 02:39 PM   #22
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At this point you've received as much information as you really need. All that is left is anecdotal stuff.

I started riding this time around about 6-7 years ago so I could bond with my son. I bought a mountain bike but was never any good at it. I installed road slicks on it and rode it around the streets for about two years, then I bought a really nice road bike.

The road bike was fun, but I wasn't much faster on it.

If I had to do it again, I'd buy the most relaxed upright road bike I could find, like a Rivendell. The Roubaix series also would be tempting.

So now I ride a recumbent, which is also fun. However, if I had it to do over again, I would have gotten a LWB bent, not a SWB bent.

Whatever bike you buy, you will wish you had bought a different one, so get used to it and enjoy.
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Old 09-06-13, 04:24 PM   #23
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It seems that when one is looking at hybrid bikes, they are sometimes differentiated by "fitness" or "comfort" labels. This is what I was running into when I decided recently to return to riding after a few years away. My first bike was a Trek 7200 FX purchased in 2001. It seemed to be a comfort bike and I was never truly happy with it as it just seemed too heavy to enjoy riding for any longer rides, so I just stopped riding in 2005. When I decided to start biking again, it seems that in the 12 years of Trek FX models since my original purchase it's now possible to get something a little more fun to ride, that while still upright, was lighter with skinnier tires. I bring up this distinction because I assume most major brands have similar styled bikes. When I took a 7.4 FX for a test ride at my LBS, I could tell in a few minutes of riding that it was going to be much more enjoyable to return to riding again.

I'm not necessarily advocating for any particular brand, just pointing out that there are more options out there, but you won't really know until you've test ridden a few bikes to see how they feel. I ended up purchasing 7.4 FX and I am happy with it. But I agree with others that where you start may not necessarily be where you end up as you begin to learn what kind of rider you are and what may be best suited to your needs. So, I just wanted to put in my two cents worth based on my recent experience.

Good luck in your quest and I'm sure you'll figure it out soon enough.
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Old 09-06-13, 05:17 PM   #24
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Bikes: Specialized Roubaix Expert Road and Specialized Stump Jumper FS Mountain
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I ride rural oiled and chipped roads on my Roubaix and have no problems. A slightly cheaper option would be a Secteur. Given your longer term objectives I think you'd be better off to start with a decent road bike than a hybrid. I know that some of the posters use them but I'll bet there are more hybrids sitting unused in garages than any other kind of bike. I expect this will draw some flack - and it certainly doesn't apply to everyone - but my perspective on hybrids is they suit people who really don't want to commit to riding.

Avoid comfort bikes like the plague!
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Old 09-06-13, 05:43 PM   #25
DiabloScott
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Originally Posted by bubbajoelouie View Post
It seems that when one is looking at hybrid bikes, they are sometimes differentiated by "fitness" or "comfort" labels.
The FX is more like a flat-bar road bike. Hybrids generally have a very upright riding position, 32mm or so tires, big ass padded saddle, curved handlebars and a shock absorber fork.




Flat bar road bikes are zippy and a lot of fun and good choices for anybody who doesn't want the full road bike position.

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