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  1. #1
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    Help me to choose the right type of bike, PLEASE!!!

    HI!

    I'm new to the forums and came here hopping to get some help.

    I'm very confused on what kind of bike type and size is right for me, mountain?, road?, hybrid? comfort? It seems that I want features from each category.

    The main reason for buying the bike is becasue I'm overweight, so I want a fun way to excersice and loose weight. I'm 35 years old, 5'11.5" tall that weight 218 pounds. I want a comfortable, solid bike that I can run very fast when riding on roads or any hard surface trails. I also want to ride offroads, NOT extreme-hardcore-suicide-down the hill-trails, but small to medium bump and pot holes semi loose to compacted dirt trails with some grass, mud and sand here and there. There are also many hills here, so I'm going to be running those often, either on roads or offroads. I like to ride in a upright possition, but tend to lean forward when I want to go faster or when the wind hit me hard.

    At the beginning I plan to ride the bike from 6 to 12 miles daily and 20 to 30 miles on weekends (again road and offroad combined), but I know that I will want to ride longer and farther as my physical condition gets better. Also as many times as possible for utilitarian tasks like going to the grocery and video stores (that luckily are close to me).

    Technical charasteristics that I will like to see on the bike are lightweight (everybody wants that!), very good transmission components with rapid fire shifters, as many speeds as possible (remember the hills) and suspension on the fork and seat post. Budget is $1,150, little bit more if I know that I will get better components.

    I was thinking on the Cannondale Comfort 1000 headshock, but I don't know if that kind of bikes will be good in the future to ride longer and farther. Actually I was told that comfort bikes are marketing hype that are good at nothing. Other problem is that local byke shops in my area brings only mountain or road bikes, so I can not test drive those bikes to check if they are right for me before spending my 1,000 bucks.

    LBS are a little bit elitist here. In the first store that I visited the clerk interrumps our coversation each time that an athletic shaved legs guy shows up and I have to wait until he finished to continue with me. At the end he looks to me like saying "go get a Huffy at Walmart". They don't even know how the SRAM dual drive hub and crank system works on models that bring that option, and I visited 3 shops that call themself pro's and it was a fustraiting experience.

    Last but not less important question, Is this a good period to buy a bicycle? Because It seem that manufacturers change models in this period of time. Should I wait until october or november for the new models? Saving money with old models is not my concern but to get the better and newest components for my money.

    I will really appretiate all your comments!

    Best regards

    Edil

  2. #2
    pnj
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    first I would say do not buy from a shop that does not seem professional or has un-nice employees. shop around if you have to, it's worth it.

    I would say get a mountain bike. a road bike is out of the question if you want to go off road. and a comfort bike, well......I think they are good bikes actually. the reason you hear bad things about them is your asking people that "really ride".
    what I mean by that is, comfort bikes are comfortable and are good for the person who just wants to pedal around and have gears. once a person gets serious about riding the switch to a road bike or a mountain bike. ( a comfort is kinda in the middle) so if you ask a "serious" rider about them, they will have a different opinion then the person who rides them once a month (who probably loves them because they do exactly what they want it to do.)

    I can't recomend a brand but for that much money they are all nice IMO.
    4130

  3. #3
    Senior Member Inoplanetyanin's Avatar
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    If you plan to ride off road sometimes, then light sport/road bike would probabl not be the optimal choise. Instead, a mountain bike, that is one of the most durable.
    Hybrid is carring this name because it has features from different stles of bikes.
    I believe you would know exactly what you want, after you try different bikes at the shop.
    Good luck, sir.!

  4. #4
    Pat
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    Well, I guess it depends on what is meant by a "comfort" bike. I have seen some that look just fine. They have a relaxed geometry for more stable handling, a more upright posture, wider tires for a softer ride and so on. The one I saw was a little heavy 25 lbs so it is not a high performance rig. But it is a perfectly good choice for a person who wants to maximize comfort at the expense of performance.

  5. #5
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Hi,
    sounds like you want a cyclocross bike. They are fast, capable in the dirt, but not dogs on the road. Swap tires (or have a 2nd set of wheels) and you have a great road bike. Test ride a couple, like the Kona Jake the Snake, Surly makes one but I forget the name. Both are in your budget.
    Old Man Maine

  6. #6
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    A cyclo-cross or light-touring bike would be ideal. If you fit narrow tyres, they are fast and efficient on the road. They have clearance at the brakes and frame to fit wider tyres suitable for good trails. The racing-style drop bars are comfortable and efficient, but are usually placed higher up than on a racing bike, to give a more relaxed riding position. Some models come with a double chainriong, but a low ratio one (36/48 teeth), but for you, a road triple would be preferable (30/40/50).
    CX and light touring bikes are the perfect all-rounders. I use one of the latter for pretty much all my riding, from the daily grind of commuting, shopping trips, weekend fun rides and off-road exploration. They are lighter than most hybrid or comfort bikes, and more fun on the road than an MTB.
    Purist racing CX bikes have Al forks and no threaded eyelets, so pick one of the modern style with touring features, such as a steel fork and threaded eyelets for luggage rack and fenders.
    In addition to the Kona and Surley, check out
    Bianchi Axis, Volpe and San Remo,
    Jamis Nova and Aurora
    Fuji
    Trek XO

  7. #7
    pnj
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    I've never seen a cyclo-cross bike that had suspension.
    EdilCS mentioned front and seat post suspension...........

    25 pounds is light to me.......
    your using it to get in shape, the weight of the bike will make the workout harder (but you have gears), so YOUR weight will come off faster.
    4130

  8. #8
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    Test ride a Specialized Sirrus. Careful not to overshop!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Ebbtide's Avatar
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    According to your plan I would guess you'll be down to 185 lbs by mid to late August (if you eat right). Having said that, if you are mainly going on the road I would get a road bike, AND and cheaper mountain bike for off road (once you get down to weight and shapen up you will need task specific bikes e.g. Road and Mountain). I think the Cyclo-cross is a happy medium between the two as PR has many trails that I could not pass up.

    I ride a hybrid (Trek 720) and I don't really think it is suited for off road use (for me).

    Good Luck, and hopr this helps,

    ehenz
    The love of oil is the root of all evil

    And before I forget to mention it, this is one polite and professional forum.

    Thanks,

    Ehenz

  10. #10
    A Heart Needs a Home Rich Clark's Avatar
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    I agree with the 'cross bike recommendation. You could add a suspension seat post if it seems necessary. Suspension forks are unnecessary for road riding, and are really more about enhancing control and handling on rough terrain than they are about comfort. Mostly they add weight and maintenance issues.

    IMO if you must have one bike to go on both pavement and trails, a cyclocross bike offers the fewest compromises.

    Once upon a time you could buy mountain bikes with rigid forks and put high-pressure slicks or 'cross tires on them, and you'd have pretty much the same thing. You could still build one -- Surly makes a nice rigid cro-mo fork for 26: wheels -- but they're gone from the market except at the entry level.

    RichC
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    Commuting/Touring: 2000 Novara Randonee (Sora/Tiagra/LX, fenders, lights)

  11. #11
    Footballus vita est iamlucky13's Avatar
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    I kind of like the idea of a cyclo-cross bike for it's versatility, but I'm not sure about comfort, but that's something for you to figure out on a test ride.

    From what you said, my instinct says to go with a mountain bike or maybe a hybrid. My personal choice would be a hardtail mountain bike for a little less than your total budget, then either get a set of slick tires or else an extra set of wheels with slick tires mounted. This would make it really easy to switch between a good road setup and the standard mountain setup.

    Bike shops are just starting to get next year's models in, but the ones near me haven't started dropping prices yet. When they do, you have the chance to get a great deal, but you might still have to get a new one if they can no longer order in a 2003.
    "The internet is a place where absolutely nothing happens. You need to take advantage of that." ~ Strong Bad

  12. #12
    Senior Member acurran's Avatar
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    And another type to consider is a recumbent. They are very comfortable and offer a lot of support for heavier people. Good for long rides. I ocassionaly ride mine on some dirt trails.

  13. #13
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    Thank you very very much for all you responses!!!

    Keep on it!!!

    I will prefer not buy a bike from a shop with unsupportive people, but I haven’t found two shops selling the same brand of bikes. Lets said that I decide for a Kona bike (just to mention a brand), and that shop is the only place where I can get one. What I'm going to do then? I had visited 4 LBS so far and only one gave me good support, but they sell Raleigh exclusively which is not one of my options.

    As soon as I read your posts I call the shops to ask about the cyclo-cross models. You know what they told me: "I’m soryy, What you said? Cyclo-what?". Unbelievable!!! They know nothing about it. To be honest me neither, but then I quickly check the web and found all sorts of information about the bikes and the sport of cyclocross. When I call them back and explain it to them, they told me the same thing, “We don't sell that because nobody ask for those kind of bikes, but if you want we can make a $pecial order for you from our catalogs”. I don’t even want to ask about recumbent!!!

    Given the choices that I have from local stores it seems that a tweaked mountain bike is my "forced" choice. We will see.


    PAT, Possibly my problem is that I don't like the comfort/performance tradeoff. I want both!. Isn't possible to have excellent performance and comfort on the same bike?

    EHENZ, Are you serious? Do you really think that I can loose that much weight in that brief period of time?. Searching the web I found that running a bike for 45 minutes at an average of 11 mph you can burn 300 calories. If I run twice a day I will burn 600 calories. How that translates to loosing pounds, I don't know, but running up to 60 minutes twice a day is part of my plan. There is lineal park with bicycle trails very close to where I leave. It has a 13 Km long paved trail with another 20 km of an off-road trail. There is where I'm planning to ride daily.

    Best regards

    Edil
    Last edited by EdilCS; 06-26-03 at 07:16 AM.

  14. #14
    Senior Member acurran's Avatar
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    Originally posted by EdilCS
    Given the choices that I have from local stores it seems that a tweaked mountain bike is my "forced" choice. We will see.
    Probably a mountain bike is a good choice to get you started anyway. I have owned all 3 major categories of bikes: road, mountain and recumbent. Mountain is the most versatile and a good all round choice. A road bike will generally be lighter and faster but more limited where you can take it and ledd comfortable. Personally I don't care about getting from one place to another as fast as possible, it is about enjoying the ride and getting the exercise. You can put slick tires on the mountain bike and it will be more efficient on the road and still ok for some off-road.

    At $1150 it seems like your budget is quite high for a starter bike especially since you are not really sure which way to go. If I were you I would spend less on a first bike and upgrade a few years down the road or buy a second bike for variety when you know what features are important to you. You can get a decent mountain bike for around $500. When I was buying a mountain bike I got a Specialized Hard Rock Comp for $450. I had actually intended to spend a bit more and buy the next model up, the Rock Hopper, but after comparing the bikes I found that the geometry of the Hard Rock suited me better since it gave a more upright ride which I found more comfortable. Remember that some of the features you are paying big $ for may make the bike better at performing a particular task (such as some hard-core mountain biking activities) that you don't care about but may compromise on comfort or something else e.g. a big suspension fork may be great for rough downhill stuff but is extra weight to push up the hill.

    The main thing is to get yourself a bike that feels comfortable and is enjoyable to ride. No need to over-analayze it in terms of compnents and all of that stuff. Just make sure the frame size is right. If in doubt go with a larger frame size since too small a frame is something that can make your ride uncomfortable.

    Just my two cents.

  15. #15
    A Heart Needs a Home Rich Clark's Avatar
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    Originally posted by EdilCS

    PAT, Possibly my problem is that I don't like the comfort/performance tradeoff. I want both!. Isn't possible to have excellent performance and comfort on the same bike?
    Yes, but the problem is that most riders' definition of "comfort" starts to change as soon as they start racking up the miles.

    You see, the true soul of comfort on a bike is perfect fit, because the most likely sources of discomfort is stress on your joints or chafing and abrasion from an ill-fitting saddle.

    Sure, there will be muscle soreness and tenderness "down under" at first, as you acclimate to using new muscles and such, but over the long term a comfortable bike is one that lets you ride long distances, staying in the saddle for hours, without overstressing your knees or your elbows or your back or your neck.

    There's a reason why overwhelmingly the people who ride that much ride road bikes, with drop handlebars and narrow, unpadded saddles: they're more comfortable. The rider's weight is distributed more evenly, so it's not all on the saddle. The handlebars offer a variety of positions for the hands to reduce fatigue. The saddle supports the rider via his "sit-bones" -- the ischeal tuberosities" and doesn't compress or chafe the gluteal muscles (which are, after all, supposed to be helping you pedal the bike, which isn't as easy when you're sitting on them) or other softer, more sensitive tissue.

    Cyclocross and light touring bikes are really just heavy-duty road bikes, designed to be able to go off the pavement and to carry loads.

    It's hard to believe that a Kona dealer wouldn't be familiar with the Jake-the-Snake, which is among Kona's most famous and best-selling models. That's the sort of bike that I think would meet your stated needs over the long run, and which you'd never need to replace or upgrade.

    Maybe these dealers just don't think of them as cyclocross bikes, and you'd do better asking for the specific model -- Jamis Nova, Trek XO1, Kona Jake-the-Snake, etc.

    You really owe it to yourself to find one to test ride before you pick something else, if it's at all possible.

    RichC
    Training: 2002 Fuji Roubaix Pro (105 triple)
    Commuting/Daytripping: 2001 Airborne Carpe Diem (Ultegra/XTR, touring wheels)
    Commuting/Touring: 2000 Novara Randonee (Sora/Tiagra/LX, fenders, lights)

  16. #16
    Senior Member chip's Avatar
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    You'll never be happy with a real mountain bicycle...and you might even have aproblem handling a comfort bicycle,they can be demanding also?Then the only thing for you is a cruiser.I'm over weight myself so I know first hand...all my bicycles are modified>there kinda like cruisers and comfort bicycles all rolled in to one?

  17. #17
    Senior Member Ebbtide's Avatar
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    EHENZ, Are you serious?
    Okay, perhaps I'm too optimistic. At Christmas I weighed 230 lbs, Now I'm at 189.5 and have been doing just about everything you plan to do. My diet has changes a bit and I'm guessing I intake about 2400 calories a day, and about 30 grams of fat (I really don't know what is safe or recommended but it is working for me, I just read labels). I eat all the same foods, just less of them. IIRC one pound is equal to about 3200 calories so, if you burn 600 a day you will shed about a pound a week if you maintain your current diet with a day off here and there. Shave off 600 calories a day via diet, bingo, two pounds a week. And 12 weeks from now you'll be 24 lbs lighter (24 from 218 in 194). And now you want to run too......

    I'm 37 and have been sitting on my butt for about 7 years and not exercising. I can't believe how healthy I am getting and how great I feel. The big trick for me has been sticking with the plan.

    Good luck,

    ehenz

  18. #18
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    Hello Edil

    I had your same dilemma several months ago. I wanted precisely what you want in a bike and did a tremendous amount of research mostly on this fine website and on the discussion forums at roadbikereview.com. First I thought I wanted a comfort bike, then a hybrid and finally I concluded that if I could only have one versatile bike it would have to be a cyclocross. None of the local bike shops had any in stock and they all said if they special ordered one I would have to pay full retail price I was quite skeptical about buying one sight unseen and without a test ride, but did it anyway. I narrowed the choices down to these, but many riders recommend the Surly Crosscheck, Jamis and Fuji:

    Bianchi Volpe - MSRP $850
    Bianchi Axis - MSRP $1300
    Cannondale Cyclocross - MSRP $1100
    Kona Jake the Snake - MSRP $1050

    I'm sure I would have been satisfied with any of these bikes, but ended up with the Kona and I think I'll be very happy with it for many years. It rides a bit rough offroad without suspension and the stock knobby tires pick up a lot of mud and fling it all over. It rides OK on the road but I plan on buying a set of extra roadwheels soon which will make it a good bang-for-the-buck, versatile bike.

    Thanks to all of you on this website for sharing your wisdom.

    Good luck on your decision in beautiful Puerto Rico and don't become a bike-snob.

    Rob

  19. #19
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    Hi again!

    I received a call from the Cannondale dealer. They told me that the Comfort 1000 headshock is out of production. But that's not all. Cannondale is going to drop that model from their next catalog. Anyways, I was already decided not to buy that bike, but that serves as a warning that I should wait a couple of months for the 2004 models.

    Thanks to your suggestions I had decided that comfort models are not for me. The more I read about cyclo-cross, the more I like the idea of getting one of those. I haven't stop considering the mountain bikes though.

    Getting a Kona bike is not going to happen. I call 7 dealers and none of them brings Kona bikes. Still I can choose between Bianchi, Cannondale, Trek and some other more exotic brands.

    Now check this out, even if they have the bikes in stock and assembled, they will not allow me to try any bike before buying it, none of them, and all sales are final. One shop told me that all what they can do is to rent a bike at $6/hour or $30/day rate. Not all models are available for rent.

    New question, how do you measure proper fit?

    I will keep reporting on my bike search.

    Edil

  20. #20
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    When it comes to bike fit, many websites and books assume you are a racing athlete who wants to ride fast with a low stretched out areodynamic position. For the rest of us, who ride a little less fast, we prefer a more relaxed and comfortable riding position.
    Check out the fitting advice from
    www.peterwhitecycles.com/fitting.htm

  21. #21
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    Hey Edil

    Your bike shop will measure you for fit. I am 5' 10" and wear a 30" inseam pant size and was fitted to a size 54cm bike frame. I have plenty of room on that size and could probably even go a size lower. Since you are taller than me, you would probably size at a 55cm, but let the pros measure you. You can fine tune the fit by altering saddle and handlebar positions.

    If you decide to buy a cyclocross bike, Cannondale is the only manufacturer that I know who offers a stock front suspension model and that option adds $200 to the price over the unsuspensed model. Nashbar and other online accessory stores sell closeout model suspension forks at a discount under retail price. Generally, the higher end cyclocross bikes use carbon fiber forks, as suspension forks are really frowned upon by the roadbiker community and it is they, not so much the mountainbikers, that cyclocross is marketed towards.

  22. #22
    A Heart Needs a Home Rich Clark's Avatar
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    Peter White's site as noted by MichaelW is excellent, and his fitting system works for me. There is also good information at www.wrenchscience.com, www.coloradocyclist.com, and www.sheldonbrown.com. Sheldon's site is, of course, among the premier cycling sites on the Web and has tools and information for beginners, advanced cyclists, and mechanics alike.

    The bike market in Puerto Rico sounds very buyer-unfriendly. As much as I recommend cyclocross bikes, I have a hard time suggesting you buy one without ever having a test ride. The same goes for any other type of bike, but it's a problem if you can't even rent one.

    Are there any local cycling clubs? There must be. I's suggest contacting one and asking for shop recommendations as well as whether the policies you describe are always applied, or whether there's some other way to get a test ride. And maybe through a club you might find owners of bikes similar to what you're looking for and arrange to get a look at them.

    RichC
    Training: 2002 Fuji Roubaix Pro (105 triple)
    Commuting/Daytripping: 2001 Airborne Carpe Diem (Ultegra/XTR, touring wheels)
    Commuting/Touring: 2000 Novara Randonee (Sora/Tiagra/LX, fenders, lights)

  23. #23
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    T H A N K S, T H A N K S, T H A N K S ! ! ! !

    Rich, I follow your suggestion and contacted the Puerto Rico Cycling Federation. Their purpose is all sport related but they gave me the numbers of two recreational cycling clubs and BINGO!!!. The information that I get from the clubs was very good, for example they let people to ride and try their bikes!!! . The people that I talk with didn't know of anybody that use CX bikes but they gave me the name of the dealer that sells Kona bikes here in Puerto Rico!. The problem is that I'm gonna have to drive for 3 hours to get there. I contacted the dealer by phone and the owner sounds very friendly. Anyway he politely told me the same thing, that he doesn't have cyclocross units on stock that that's have to be a special order and that he strongly suggest to get one of his mountain bikes with hybrid tires. I have more specific questions about CX bikes but I think that is proper to post them in the CX forum. Go over there please!

    Michael and tbobby, thanks also for the sites with the information about bike fit. I'm checking all of them. I also call Cannondale directly and they told that the 2004 models are expected to be released at the end of July so I'm going to wait and research more in the meantime.

    Options for CX bikes are now; Kona, Cannondale, Trek and Bianchi and for mountain; all of those plus Specialized and Gary Fisher.


  24. #24
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    I suspect that a CX bike is going to be a problem for you. The key to performance is to get the best tyres for your terrain, and high performance mid-sized 700c tyres can be a specialist item in a small island like yours. Racing width and large hybrid style sizes are easy to get, but touring and cx tyres are not so common. Check the availability of tyres and correctly sized inner tubes.
    Semi-slick and slick MTB tyres may be more widely available to you. If this is the case, you may want to consider a lightweight cross-country style MTB. Look at a hard-tail (front suspension) or ridgid bike. Kona still make a quality ridgid fork.
    A cx bike may be a bit faster on the road, but with appropriate tyres, a lightweight MTB can be fast and efficient.

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    I just went through this myself last fall. You want fun, fast, comfortable, on road, off road.....I got the Trek 7500 hybrid - fork and seat suspension, rapid fire shifters - I love that bike! I have done a metric century on it and quite a few off road trails as well. It can not take heavy duty off road trails, and I would recommend not getting the front shocks - it's more weight and 38C tires have enough shock absorption. Have since got a road bike for more serious mileage. Gook Luck!

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