What to get
Greetings from Portland, Oregon. I just found this site today and would value your feedback. I'm a 51-year-old man looking for the right bike. I've been to several local bike shops and have test-ridden Trek, Specialized and Bianchi but the truth is, I'm confused which to get. I want a bike that's nimble and reasonably fast to ride around the neighborhood and on short commutes but I'd also like to work up to long-distance rides such as Seattle to Portland (just for the challenge, not to win). I'd like to be able to ride in wet weather, too, so I'm thinking disc brakes may be in order, although I'm open to other opinions on that. One other thing before we talk money: I'm not very mechanically inclined so whatever I get has to be reliable and not require tinkering expertise I don't have. My budget is (preferably) under $800. Hybrid or road bike for my situation? Do you have any specific recommendation of a bike that would fill my need?
Tested: Trek 7100 and 7300, Specialized Sirrus Elite, Bianchi Boardwalk and Stradus.
there are a couple different flavors of bike you might also
want to consider. One is the lite tourer. That's what I have.
I have used it for everything from commuting to week long trips.
The Bianchi Volpe is an example. A new category that I think I will dub Comfort Road was created the Specialized Seqouia. It's a
nice bike, and worth a test ride. Bikes like this will let you go farther and actually be
more comfortable on days when you're spending hours in the saddle. If you are too upright it kills your butt after a couple hours.
Don't let the "51-year-old man" get in the way of your buying the bike you really want.
Some folks have the idea that those above some unknown certain age should get "old-folks" bikes. Sort of like buying a Buick or a Mercury when you really want a sleek sports car.
I bought my Lemond Buenos Aires at age 59, 5 years ago, and it and I are still going strong.
I LOVE the feel of ease and speed and smoothness and quiet. As close to flying like a bird as I think you can get on the ground.
My brakes have always worked great - wet or dry, although we don't have nearly as much "wet" here as you do!
You might also consider a cyclocross bike.
Some folks like Bents.
Hey, get whatever REALLY TURNS YOU ON!
In the past 5.5 years, I have about 8,500 miles on the Lemond, and about 8,000 miles on a mtn bike, and another 1,500 miles on my "kick around" (meaning cheaper) road bike.
IMHO, for me, I wouldn't get a hybrid. It is a compromise bike, meaning it is good for bike paths and light riding, but I wouldn't take it seriously.
Above ALL, the bike must fit you well. Really important. A good LBS can help immensely here.
I purchased the Specialized Sequoia Sport and have no regrets. It has been a terrific first bike, and I have over 3000 road and 1000+ trainer miles since last April.
I found purchasing a bike worst then a car. I ended up going 2-3 times to my LBS before actually making the purchase. I guess the most important thing to remember is comfort.
Good luck with your decision.
Funny, after doing about four hours of bike shopping yesterday, the very same thought occurred to me: that this is much worse than buying a car!
Ride as many of the bikes you can for at least 12 miles on each, then try to decide or at least narrow it down. Then from that point simply pick the bike that looks the best to you! That's right, looks; your going to have to live with that bike for a long time and if the color and/or graphics don't appeal to you then you may find yourself uninterested in riding it after awhile.
Brakes can be a problem when wet. They dry off as you apply pressure, so on rainy days, I just give them a couple of pumps a bit early to dry them off. It isn't a problem.
In my estimation, road bikes are far more comfortable for riding any sort of distance (over 15 miles). You have far more positions with the dropped handlebars and this allows you to shift around which prevents fatigue (well in the upper body at least).
Formerly Known as Newbie
And here's 0,02 euros from someone who rides purely hybrid (and is quite happy with it). Certainly, if money is not an issue, buying a special bike for each purpose is the way to go. I for one cannot justify that kind of spending, so I have a hybrid which I use for commuting, leisure rides and touring. However I am going to change to dropped handlebars in the near future for reasons Pat stated above.
I don't think disc brakes are a necessity unless you go downhill racing. I use V-brakes year round (our winters can be harsh) and they provide enough modulation and stopping power for me.
Ride the Road
If you are on a budget, you might want to stay wawy from disc brakes. They are more expensive to start with and to maintain, especially if you want to do your own repairs. I suggest looking at cross bikes. I agree that hybrids aren't all that good for long riding (like Portland to Seattle). Something with dropped handlebars is a good idea.
Be sure to leave enough space in your budget for the incidentals, which can exceed the cost of the bike if you're not careful. You will want a frame pump (with a flexible nozzle, do NOT get a fixed minipump), basic metric tools to work every bolt and screw on the bike, spare tubes, tire levers, a patch kit, possibly a rack (although you can upgrade to that later), fenders (although you can buy those later), rain gear, shoes, lights if you will ride when it is dark, etc. Oh, and a seat bag to hold all this.
I use a surly cross-check, which I bought $750 stock built (minus pedals) last fall, but some folks have said the price has doubled in the last year. I use it for commuting and long weekend rides (20-100 miles). Surly also has a Long Haul Trucker that just came out. It might be better suited for what you want, but I haven't seen any prices for a built-up bike. My guess is it is out of your price range.
Last edited by Daily Commute; 08-09-04 at 05:53 AM.
Life is good
DnvrFox is right. Get the bike you really want.
Originally Posted by DnvrFox
I'm 59 and bought my Litespeed Tuscany at the "ripe old age" of 56.
Don't worry about fitness or strength. It will come as you build up the base miles.
As far as tinkering goes, any bike will require some basic maintenance every week, like cleaning the chain, repairing flats, etc. Bike mechanics isn't rocket science. Just pick up a basic bike maintenance manual (or download the free one here) and do the things you want to do and let the pros do the rest. Many cyclists actually enjoy working on the their bikes and don't like hauling it to the LBS.
For a doit-all general purpose mount for fitness, long rides, maybe a bit of commuting/shoping/utility duty, then the best style is probably light-touring.
An expedition-touring bike like the Trek 520 will do, but is less fun unladen.
Both the Sequoia and the Volpe can be classed as light-touring styles. You should look for:
Drop bars but not in an extended, low racing position
Lowish gears, suitable for your terrain
Frame fittings to take luggae rack and fenders
Brakes and frame capable of taking medium tyres (32mm)+ fenders. You can use V-brakes, cantelever brakes , or the longer type of caliper brake. All will work with a winter setup.
First, find yourself a bike shop who understand touring bikes. Race-only shops can sometimes be a bit blinkered.
Get what you want and feels good to you. Get a good fit to make the most out of your rides. I just switched from a road bike to a recumbent. I'm 53 and had to "re-learn" to ride ('bents are somewhat different in handling characterisitcs). I commute 18 miles. Funny thing, the wife still hasn't figured out how I can smile after the 18 mile commute! As she says" how can you be smiling after pedaling all that way!" Good luck on your search.