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Old 09-16-08, 07:27 AM   #1
terry_opie
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Bike Suggestions?

I'm looking for a new bike and really want some suggestions. I hope this is the place to post questions like this. I've been trolling the site for a while now, and finally decided to sign up today.

I mainly ride on roads, asphalt paths, or packed gravel trails. I have lower back problems, so I'm mainly looking for a comfort/hybrid that will have me sitting mostly upright. I'm also not exactly on the small side, I'm 6'1" at just over 250lbs. (part of the reason I'm trying to go biking more). I'd be willing to spend upwards of $500 (preferably less though )

I've been riding my current bike, a dept store Mt bike, but with the way I have to lean forward on it, I can only ride 1 maybe 2 days a week before my back starts screaming at me to stop... So, its time to get a "real" replacement. Hopefully one that will stand up to daily riding for many years to come, and allow me to ride daily without the pain I experience now.

Any suggestions welcome!

Thanks!

Last edited by terry_opie; 09-16-08 at 08:51 AM. Reason: Change Title...
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Old 09-16-08, 09:55 AM   #2
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I don't usually like to use the "R" word but lots of folks with back pain issues have found relief on a recumbent bike. At your price bracket an EZ-Rider may fit the bill.
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Old 09-17-08, 02:41 PM   #3
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Terry, I have arthritis in my back and it has bothered me for almost 15 years. Take a look at Trek's 7000 line of Hybrid bikes. Zero back problems from the bike. I have done many 50+ mile days too. A properly fitted Hybrid will allow you to ride more often.
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Old 09-17-08, 04:05 PM   #4
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The "best buy" in cycling are the mountain bikes in the $400 price region. These bikes come in a wide range of sizes and are tough and reliable. A rider can put on tires designed for trail riding, light "slick" tires for riding on pavement, or "blend" tires that have a slick center strip and "teeth" on the edges for riding on dirt trails. They are great for commuting to work, and for two day tours. The long chainstays make it possible to put on a rear rack and saddle bags and use them for getting groceries.

In a hundred mile "race", a road bike would be faster. But, for a ten mile ride, a mountain bike can be just as fast, and twice as comfortable.

A "trick" with back pain is to raise the bars level with the top of the saddle. The taller the frame, the easier it will be to get the bars level with the saddle. Something else that helps with back pain is to ride every day...try to ride at least 300 days per year. Even a short 30 minute ride will help both to relax the back and shoulder muscles, and to make them stronger for your next ride. The worst thing for your back is to ride just one day a week.
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Old 09-17-08, 10:05 PM   #5
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The "best buy" in cycling are the mountain bikes in the $400 price region. These bikes come in a wide range of sizes and are tough and reliable. A rider can put on tires designed for trail riding, light "slick" tires for riding on pavement, or "blend" tires that have a slick center strip and "teeth" on the edges for riding on dirt trails. They are great for commuting to work, and for two day tours. The long chainstays make it possible to put on a rear rack and saddle bags and use them for getting groceries.

In a hundred mile "race", a road bike would be faster. But, for a ten mile ride, a mountain bike can be just as fast, and twice as comfortable.

A "trick" with back pain is to raise the bars level with the top of the saddle. The taller the frame, the easier it will be to get the bars level with the saddle. Something else that helps with back pain is to ride every day...try to ride at least 300 days per year. Even a short 30 minute ride will help both to relax the back and shoulder muscles, and to make them stronger for your next ride. The worst thing for your back is to ride just one day a week.
Alan, I have to respectfully disagree. Most people buy mountain bikes because they think of the most severe terrain they MAY encounter. It is kind of like the tens of thousands of us Americans who buy an SUV and drive it to the mall. To me mountain bikes off a harsh trail are inefficient and cannot keep up with even a comprable hybrid bike. If you take equal riders and put one on a mountain bike and the other on a road bike and ride on the street for even 5 miles it will not even be close. How can a bike that is twice the weight with tires 3 times wider and 1/3 the air pressure hope to keep up? They simply cannot.
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Old 09-19-08, 08:59 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by terry_opie View Post
... I have lower back problems, so I'm mainly looking for a comfort/hybrid that will have me sitting mostly upright. ...
Be aware that sitting too upright may aggravate your back problems. Since you'll be putting less weight on your hands, more weight will have to be carried by your back. And, hitting bumps will tend to push you straight up rather than rocking you forward.

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... I've been riding my current bike, a dept store Mt bike, but with the way I have to lean forward on it, I can only ride 1 maybe 2 days a week before my back starts screaming at me to stop...

I'm also not exactly on the small side, I'm 6'1" at just over 250lbs.
I'm wondering how big that bike is -- specifically, how long the reach is from the saddle to the handlebars. I learned that I could ride for hours on a friend's roommate's *-Mart bike simply because it was big enough for me (his own bike was too small, and killed my lower back within 20 minutes every ride). Since you're my height, I'd say that if your current bike's reach is shorter than 29-30 inches, it's too small for you, and is forcing you to hunch forward just to grab the handlebars.

No matter what kind of bike I ride -- MTB, hybrid, road -- if it fits, it doesn't hurt my back... and my back isn't in the best shape, either.
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Old 09-21-08, 07:34 AM   #7
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I think BarracksSi is right on track.

At 51 I bought my first bike in June on impulse, with no research as to whats available and the pro's and con's. It was a comfort bike, because I wanted "comfort."

And it was/still is comfortable for 30 minutes or so, but as I began getting in better shape and extending my rides I began developing lower back pain.

After doing some research here and the internet in general I decided I needed to get less upright, and since I already spent most of my fun money on the new comfort bike, I jumped on the first thing that came along on Craigslist, as not having a bike is no longer an option for me. Too much fun and good excersize!

It was an 18 year young mountain bike with very little wear. (Rock Hopper Comp.)

My first ride on it was not fun, as I was not used to the new position. My upper body and neck wore out fast---but my back did not hurt. Long story short I worked my way into mountain bike shape and now love it. I can still get some back pain but only after a long (for me) 25 mile ride.

I would love a new road style bike, but I just can't make myself ride on streets, (yet) - so the mountain bike on bike paths is fine. Like I said, I am having a blast. I am an old dirt biker at heart anyway.
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Old 09-21-08, 08:15 AM   #8
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I think BarracksSi is right on track.
I hope so!

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And it was/still is comfortable for 30 minutes or so, but as I began getting in better shape and extending my rides I began developing lower back pain.

After doing some research here and the internet in general I decided I needed to get less upright,...
The best way I can describe how a forward lean is often more comfortable is to compare it to spending a few hours in a bar. If you sit for long enough on a free-standing stool, you'll start slouching and feeling sore in your lower back. But, notice what people do when they've been there long enough -- they put their elbows on the bar or table and lean forward, taking weight off of their back.
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Old 09-21-08, 09:57 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by terry_opie View Post
I'm looking for a new bike and really want some suggestions. I hope this is the place to post questions like this. I've been trolling the site for a while now, and finally decided to sign up today.

I mainly ride on roads, asphalt paths, or packed gravel trails. I have lower back problems, so I'm mainly looking for a comfort/hybrid that will have me sitting mostly upright. I'm also not exactly on the small side, I'm 6'1" at just over 250lbs. (part of the reason I'm trying to go biking more). I'd be willing to spend upwards of $500 (preferably less though )

I've been riding my current bike, a dept store Mt bike, but with the way I have to lean forward on it, I can only ride 1 maybe 2 days a week before my back starts screaming at me to stop... So, its time to get a "real" replacement. Hopefully one that will stand up to daily riding for many years to come, and allow me to ride daily without the pain I experience now.

Any suggestions welcome!

Thanks!
I usually don't like to give advice on what bikes to get anymore, but because you stated a budget, surface types, and that I was once in your situation not too long ago... In no particular order:

1. Marin Muirwoods Urban series
2. Kona Smoke Asphalt line
3. KHS Urban Xpress Urban series

And, yes, they are all steel framed, flat bar, hybrids.

Good luck in your search!
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Old 09-21-08, 01:28 PM   #10
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All about bicycling and pain
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Old 09-22-08, 08:22 AM   #11
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Thanks all for the suggestions...

My back pain comes from degenerative disc disease (DDD). My lowermost disc is completely dried up, and the symptoms are moving up. I've learned to live with the pain, but riding just seems to inflame it. Unfortunately I really need to lose some weight, which should make things a whole lot better.

I agree that the pain while riding is probably because the bike isn't sized for me. When I used to have the seat where it should be for proper fitting, I was leaning nearly completely forward. Which with my gut ( ) wasn't a good thing for my back. I lowered the seat quite a bit to get a better riding position and now I'm dealing with the strain of not having enough room for my legs to get good leverage on the pedals, which indirectly leads to strain on my lower back, and more back pain.

So I think BarracksSi is right on track... I need to not necessarily get a bike where I'm totally sitting upright, but just get a frame thats more fitted to my size.

I'm going to look at a few Trek's this week, and I'll have to look into the other suggestions too.
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Old 09-22-08, 08:41 AM   #12
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All about bicycling and pain
Thanks for that link... It definitely pointed out quite a few things that I now know I'm doing wrong. I guess I'll be doing a bunch more reading tonight after work.
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