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  1. #1
    Member Froudone's Avatar
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    Hybrid vs. Road/Feeling stupid noob

    I have searched the archives and read all the posts regarding hybrids vs. road bikes, including the brand new one that was posted today. 1.) I just want to vent (or whine) and 2.) for the other person (noob) who is trying to make the decision between hybrid and road... I want to say this much

    I feel really stupid now. I am the proud/befuddled owner of a brand new, Trek 7.5FX WSD 15" bike which is absolutely beautiful, but...

    I started riding about 2 months ago. Averaging 20 miles per weekend and finding out that I absolutely love it and it is the best form of exercise for me without having to feel like I HATE exercise because it is so much fun.

    I signed up for the Tour de Pink and started riding longer distances, pushing myself. I was on a Mongoose MTB (actually belonging to my daughter) which was heavy and lethargic and my dear sweet husband had put "Slime" tires on it! But I was plugging away at it and loving it especially after taking the MTB tires off and putting road tires on it. Decided I would buy myself a good bike. Started shopping, asking questions, trying out different rides on short parking lot "test rides".

    Everyone told me that with 2 ruptured discs in my back and the back pain I would experience from long distance riding, that I would definitely want to get a hybrid. So that was where I put my focus.

    Made the Tour de Pink this weekend on my brand new(only had for a week now) hybrid, rode with my 12 year old son (therefore not nearly the speed I would liked to have run) and lo and behold, we get back to start and my lower back hurts, my hands are irritated from being in (for the most part) the same position the majority of the time and now I'm thinking, was this a dumb choice or what?

    The bike is feather light to me, I love everything else about it, and it is definitely a speedy little number. But is it the bike, is it the fit, is it the way I ride, or have I just made a HUGE mistake buying a flat bar bike that doesn't allow me to change positions much?

    From reading the archives here at BF and the number of times the question has been asked, Hybrid or Road? I have come to the conclusion that it is such a variable related question and depends far too much on the individual person/rider for a "forum" to be able to answer the question in any cut and dried fashion. But, that said, I still can't help but wonder if I purchased a bike that is too small for me? Maybe I'm not riding in the right position? It did seem I was a little more stretched out on daughter's old MTB....

    I am a petite 5'2" female and I bought the WSD 15" and the LBS manager even "fitted" me. I just don't feel confident that I made a good choice and I'm wondering if I should go back and trade it in, and if I do, what I should trade it in on?

    Any suggestions on what I should do first? It really bites being so new at this and not being able to test ride a LOT of bikes on a long ride to be absolutely certain that what you are buying is really going to be comfortable after 20 miles.

    Froudone

  2. #2
    Senior Member badmother's Avatar
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    First of all since you just started riding maybe your budy just got an "overdose".

    Next is I am thinking you should be able to make quite alot of adjustmenton your present bike. Maybe try riding the MTB a bit more. If it is much better than the hybrid maybe bring both bikes to the shop and tell them to make the hybrid as close to the MTB as possible.

    Sounds like you want to ride fast and want different hand posisions. I am sure you can put dropbars on the hybrid if that is what you want.

    Also if your back want a more upright ridingposition you can put swept back handlebars, wider saddle perhaps (or maybe your back want a sprung saddle).

    Search for "handlebars, ridingposition, backpain" and soon. Maybe you end up on a recumbent? I`we been "leisure riding" for almost 10 yrs. This summer I tryed out an old folder, quite upright position. Did not realise how much I rode it in a short time. After some time I could hardly walk. Kicking the football for the dog made me cry out. Then I realised what was wrong and kept away from that bike some few weeks.

    Do`nt worry. Read alot and see if you can borrow different bikes to see what you like best.

  3. #3
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    Fit bar-ends to give some variation in hand position. When riding a long distance, once in a while, try to reach behind your back to touch your shoulder blades with one hand. Then try it with the other hand.

  4. #4
    Member Froudone's Avatar
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    Thanks! That was one question that I left out of my OP. I wondered if maybe just adding the bar ends would help me. I may try that out first. Thank you again.

  5. #5
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    If you are not comfortable with the fit of your hybrid, take it back to the LBS and see what they can do to make it right.

    Road bikes get a bad rap from those who don't know any better. You don't need hybrid, comfort, cruiser type bike to get an upright riding position. You can have a drop-bar bike...including all the hand positions drop bars offer AND a more upright position. Basically you need to find a shop or builder that subscribes to...or at least understands Rivendell's theories concerning how to fit a bike. http://www.rivbike.com/article/bike_...izing_position

    Here's my issue with flat-barred bikes, even with bar-ends, for distance riding...you are sitting there like a big parachute, catching wind rather than slicing through it. You can fit a flat-bar bike with aero-bars, but personally I don't think you'd like them, given your back problems. Drop bars, even riding on the hoods or the tops, give you a better aero position than flat bars at the same bar height, because you can tuck your elbows and keep your arms closer to the center of your body...and you can always use the drops and/or add aero bars as well.
    Last edited by chipcom; 09-09-08 at 11:42 AM.
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  6. #6
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    How far did you ride? Was it non-stop? All sorts of things could have gone wrong. You may just not have been used to riding the distance. Saddle position could have been wrong. Bike could be sized wrong. Bars/stem in wrong position.

    Riding a bike that new for that distance prolly wasn't a good idea. More time to give the bike a proper shake down as to what you liked and didn't like was needed. Ride this bike the way you did the other one,and take note of what's not right. How does the seat feel,your knees,back,wrists/hands,shoulders/neck etc. Then go to your LBS and ask them to diagnose the problem.

    All sorts of things could possibly be done to get the bike to be comfortable. Adjusting the fit,different seat/bars/grips,etc,etc.

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  7. #7
    Member Froudone's Avatar
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    Thank you both chip and dyna. I hadn't thought about just taking the bike back into the LBS and asking them. I guess in some ways it seems sort of embarrassing to go back to them and say, "I picked this bike, I paid good money for this bike, but I think I didn't make the right choice" or even worse, "What am I doing wrong here that I'm not enjoying this as much as I did two weeks ago?" LOL

    They were friendly/helpful enough that they probably wouldn't make me feel like a total idiot if I took the bike back in and told them I wasn't comfortable. At least they were nice enough that they will probably wait till I walk out to laugh at my ignorance! ;-)

    Thanks again guys for the reassurance and good advice.

    Froud

  8. #8
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    i had some trouble with my light hybrid bike but eventually changed it enough so i can do longer rides with it. i raised the handlebars (came with an adjustable stem) so it would be slightly higher than my seat (short arms) and added ergon grips with built in bar ends. i have to ride with gloves because the ergons are slippery when sweaty. the ergons are $25 to $30 but are the single most important addon that made the flat bar comfortable for my hands. two of my riding buddies added ergons and would agree with me.

    search for ergon(s) on bikeforums for other reviews.

    of course right after i made the performance hybrid more comfortable i ended up getting a road bike. the road bike is worse for my back and neck, but my hands are okay. it seems that the more riding i do, the less pain i get. it took some time to differentiate the pain from a bad fit, and from me being not fit enough for riding. one of them gets worse, the other gets better.

  9. #9
    Member Froudone's Avatar
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    Actually, my new bike came with the ergon grips and they take some getting used to. I tend to think they are a bit too wide to be really comfortable, but I haven't used them that long to see yet....so I will give them a little more time. AND I think I will try adding bar ends.

    As for the distance, since I picked up the bike on Labor day, I have ridden one 15 mile ride and was signed up to ride 23 for Tour de Pink but since my son decided to go, only rode the 13 miles with him. I realize that is not a very long distance, but after riding much longer distances on the MTB with no back pain, that is probably what makes me a little concerned right now is that I had lower back pain after such a short distance riding....

    Someone else mentioned to me the possibility of the adjustable stem, perhaps if I take it back to the LBS and explain how the ride felt on Sunday, they could tell me the options for my stem/grips/bar ends.

    I will at least give that a try first.

    I hadn't really thought about it much, but with two deaths in the family last week, I never went to the gym and worked out either - so your point about not being fit......may actually be more of the problem the my "bike fit". Will have to take that into consideration also just didn't think that one week would make THAT much difference...

    Thanks again

  10. #10
    ... and lovin today livin4eternity's Avatar
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    Great advice above on fit, fitness, set-up, etc. As an alternative, recumbents are easy on the back. People ride recumbents for many reasons, but one of them is because of back pain experienced on upright bikes. I do not have problems with my back but I love my recumbent bike. You could check out the "recumbent" section in this thread for more information. Just one more option.

  11. #11
    Flying Under the Radar X-LinkedRider's Avatar
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    Yes the handlebar extensions work great just to provide your hands and wrists with more position options. I did my tour on MTB handlebars with extenders that I taped up like a road bike. I slant my extenders almost straight forward instead of upwards to great a longer position for me. I use this position in cruise mode when I can lay my elbows or forearms down on the handlebars and just grab the extenders.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    It takes time to figure out what works and what doesn't. I stayed with my hybrid for over a year before switching to a road bike. Between that time I started to experiment on the hybrid. That meant a lot of riding on my own to sort things out. It also meant a tricked out hybrid with skinny tires, aero bars.

    So after 2,000 miles on the hybrid, I knew that the next bike had to be a road bike. Could I have know earlier? Perhaps, but I gained a lot of conditioning and handling confidence that I didn't have. Doing 50 mile rides was fun. Getting conditioned to do that was a personal satisfaction. As far as injuries, I had my share with back aches, numb hands, and falls.

    When I got the road bike, I fell a few more times because of the pedal system. So my learning isn't over. I have gone to chiropractors, pro bike fitters, but no acupuncture. I firmly believe that older riders need to consider some sort of strengthening exercises like Pilates for core muscles. The other way takes too long.

  13. #13
    Member Froudone's Avatar
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    GarfiedCat, good points! I think some of the people who told/recommended that I start out with a hybrid for that very purpose - learning.

    Perhaps I just need to stick it out, get back into my exercise routine, and experiment with the bike!

    Thanks!

  14. #14
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Froudone View Post
    Made the Tour de Pink this weekend on my brand new(only had for a week now) hybrid
    This may have been your biggest mistake. I know it's tempting to get that new bike out and ride it but if you've spent a significant amount of time training on one bike and then switch to another bike, especially a brand new bike, you are bound to have some issues. It takes a while for you to adapt to your bike (no matter what anybody tells you, you adapt to your bike...not vise versa) and to find all of the things you need to tweek to make it comfortable.

    Get either a different handlebar or some bar ends for more hand positions. Train progressively on this bike and, in the future, don't do any major changes the night before the ride you've been training for. No new saddles, wheels, shoes, pedals, bikes, etc.
    Last edited by cyccommute; 09-10-08 at 08:39 AM.
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    Don't lose hope!

    You'd be amazed at what a difference a few mm's of adjustment can make. Also (as mentioned several times already) what different bar/stem/grips/extensions/etc can do to improve your position(s) on the bike... If your new hybrid is close to the right size, then one or more of the above will get you where you need to be.

    Work with your shop - and the BF members. You'll soon be riding long distanes with more comfort. The main thing is to be patient and painstaking in approaching your problem.

    We're all here for you.

  16. #16
    Spark of the Divine Fire
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    I think bar ends will help you a lot. But you might want to research other kinds of handlebars too. I got a hybrid recently (moving up from a heavy, slow semi-recumbent), and ordered trekking handlebars for it. I'm so excited. I'll report later when I've installed them.

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  17. #17
    Flying Under the Radar X-LinkedRider's Avatar
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    I always liked those Auerobars too. The ones that are separate on either side of the neck of the handlebar. With the harm rests. How hot/sweaty/itchy do those armrests get?
    12' SuperiorLite SL Pro w/ Sram Rival | 10' SuperiorLite SL Club w/ Sram Force | 06' Giant FCR (Dropbar) w/ Shimano 5700 | 10' GT Avalanche 3.0 Disc

  18. #18
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    Like many posters have said, you more than likely didnít pick the wrong bike you just need t adjust it for the ride you like. It takes time to get used to a new bike. I started out with my Revive because I knew from the first that I wasnít in the physical shape I needed to be to get as road bike and enjoy it from the beginning. The comfort bike was easier on my back and gives me no problems with my hands or arms. I started putting on some miles and discovered that if I started pushing it to keep up with faster riders I developed some soreness in my lower leg. After a while the soreness decreased and I could pretty much ride the Revive up to 40 miles with little of no discomfort.

    Next I decided I wanted to try some dirt and some climbing so I bought a MTB. My first two rides were 25 and 22 miles within a week. My back didnít bother me but my arms and hands were very painful. I liked everything else about the bike so I went to my LBS and got a different headset that brought the bars in and up till I was comfortable with it. Now the MTB is a dream to ride. Not as easy on my body as the Comfort bike but faster and much better suited to the dirt. I still need to do some tweaking but my LBS suggested that I ride it till I need to replace something so I will have a better idea what I want.

    Most of my riding friends have road bikes so I decided I needed a road bike for longer rides. I will admit that I only have 50 miles in two rides on the road bike but I was surprised that the seat didnít bother me more. Now the soreness is in my upper leg and lower back. Not as bad as it was during the first 500 miles on the Revive but soreness nonetheless. So I have learned to get the bars in the right position and the seat adjusted for a diamond frame but I will have to get used to the riding position of the road bike just like I had to on the MTB. My problem now is personal fitness not getting the bike fit to me, and if my back starts hurting I can always ride my Revive for a day or two.

  19. #19
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    People in the know know that there's just no substitute for a road bike for riding distances like that. It could be that you overdid it a little to start, but eventually, if you keep wanting to ride, you will benefit from a road bike that can be fitted conservatively, like a touring bike. A road bike doesn't necessarily have to be an all-out road racing bike, contrary to popular gonzo newbie road bike owner opinion around here. But by the same token, also contrary to popular opinion, an upright position is usually harder on the back, not easier.

    I myself used to subscribe to and recommend the Rivendell philosophy on bike fitting, but they have gotten a little extreme in their views, so I can't really use them as an example anymore. I mean, I would never, ever recommend riding with the handlebars higher than the handlebars if you can avoid it (Ok for riding around the neighborhood, but not for any serious distance), but, on the other hand, for pleasant, serious but recreational riding, like touring, you want a road bike that will allow you enough adjustment room to have your drop bars anywhere you might want them from level with the saddle to an inch or two below. On such a bike, the drop bars aren't there for speed, but rather for the hand positions (and hand positions are also body positions, so this matters a lot).

    If you end up looking for such a bike, there are some on the market, and they are generally the road bikes that have a triple setup just like your hybrid does. They aren't ideal in the sense that they can't take fenders or tires much wider than 25 mm, but they will do the job if you don't need those characteristics. Then there's always the real, full-blown touring bikes.

    I have no idea what your bike shop can do for you, but one thing you could do first is to try adjusting your existing hybrid to be a bit more like a road bike position. If you put bar ends on the flat bar, you can have a decent hand position. Put the bars level with the saddle or a little lower, make sure the saddle is in a good position (high enough, neutral fore-and-aft). Then try the same rides with that setup and see if you like it better. You might even find that it suits you and that's road-bike like enough for you like that.

    I think that some of today's more performance-oriented hybrids are the true descendents of the classic 1960-70's 10 speeds like the Peugeots, Schwinns, Raleighs and so many other makes that everyone rode in those days... as long as they haven't been ruined by having plastic carbon parts on them, and they don't have front suspension. All they are missing is the drop handlebar, but that can be fixed easily enough (assuming you won't be needing an unusually short stem in order to get the bars close enough to you where they need to be).

    Good luck. I'm sure it wouldn't hurt to talk to your bike shop though. You never know, they might be able to offer you some kind of deal.

  20. #20
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by angelaharms View Post
    [
    I think bar ends will help you a lot. But you might want to research other kinds of handlebars too. I got a hybrid recently (moving up from a heavy, slow semi-recumbent), and ordered trekking handlebars for it. I'm so excited. I'll report later when I've installed them.

    Angela
    You might also look into an Albratross bar. I fitted my hybrid with these years ago and they work pretty well. You can add handlebar tape to the curves for a variety of hand and back positions.

    Some examples


  21. #21
    Member Froudone's Avatar
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    Wow, thank you ALL so much for the advice and encouragement! I am definitely NOT giving up hope, especially not after all the suggestions you guys have made. In fact, I registered this morning for a 34 mile ride and will start in with the LBS right after work today to make some trial adjustments and start working towards making my new hybrid more long distance friendly just for me.

    Along with the pure enjoyment I have found in riding so far, you guys have definitely reassured me that I want to be in this for the long haul so I will definitely stick around to learn the tricks and take advantage of your cumulative experience to keep me............on the road!

    With much gratitude!
    Froudone in Katy, TX

  22. #22
    Spark of the Divine Fire
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    Quote Originally Posted by X-LinkedRider View Post
    I always liked those Auerobars too. The ones that are separate on either side of the neck of the handlebar. With the harm rests. How hot/sweaty/itchy do those armrests get?
    I find them pretty appealing too. I find myself resting my forearms on the handlebars when I'm in a headwind or otherwise want to be down low. Can't really see drop bars working for me, right now, so I fantasize about aerobars. Don't know if it'd work.

    I think they don't get itchy and sweaty because there are cloth pads over the plastic.
    Rides: 2008 Raleigh Detour 4.5 (Ivy) and 2006 Trek Sole Ride 100 (Lurch)
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  23. #23
    Senior Member dguest's Avatar
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    I am going to have a simular dilema. We just ordered ne Specialized Crosstrail elites, so we could ride in the local Cycle for Life charity ride with our employers cycling team. We plan on doing the 65 mile ride. We ordered these bike as 2009 models and have just found out that they will not be in the LBS until the day before the ride. We currently ride Big Box Schwinns so we are wanting to ride the new bikes this longer distance. but it looks like we will be attempting this distance on bikes that we have not even sat on prior to the ride.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dguest View Post
    I am going to have a simular dilema. We just ordered ne Specialized Crosstrail elites, so we could ride in the local Cycle for Life charity ride with our employers cycling team. We plan on doing the 65 mile ride. We ordered these bike as 2009 models and have just found out that they will not be in the LBS until the day before the ride. We currently ride Big Box Schwinns so we are wanting to ride the new bikes this longer distance. but it looks like we will be attempting this distance on bikes that we have not even sat on prior to the ride.
    Not to be blunt, but that sounds like a kinda bad idea. If you are able to train for this charity ride on yoru current bikes, why can't you ride tem for one more day, THEN take the time to get used to your new ones?
    Or, hit a few bike shops this weekend and see if you can't find something similar to the bikes your ordered but are available now?

    I've ridden my newest bike (my 2nd "quality" bike) over 700 miles and I only just now feel like I'm getting the fit dialed in.

  25. #25
    Senior Member tntyz's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    Location
    Nabob, WI
    My Bikes
    '03 Trek 7500, '08 Madone 4.5
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    I made the switch from an old Murray MTB to a Trek 7500 a few years ago.

    Review the fit with your LBS. They should be able to help. Get bar ends and get them adjusted to a comfortable angle. Being able to move your hands around really makes a big difference. Review the fit with your LBS. Oh, I said that already!

    This year I've started to log some more serious miles and have been thinking about getting a road bike. I really do feel like a big green sail when I'm out in the wind. I keep reminding myself, however, that it's not about distance and speed, it's about exercise and fun.

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