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  1. #1
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    Overwhelmed by Choices!

    HI! I grew up riding a 10 speed bike, but I want to buy a new bike to ride for fun and exercise. I want to sit upright and have handlebars that go strait, not the curled over ones. I also want either a step through frame or at least one with a "lady style" bar that is lower. Besides this, I don't know what to get, or try out. I am overwhelmed with all my choices. I will be riding on paved trails, and the road. No rough or really steep rides. How do I know how many speeds to get and what do you use them all for? I also dont want to go too cheap, or too expensive just because I dont know my stuff. What type of features do I need to be sure of and what type of questions do I ask the bike salesperson? THANKS! Kat

  2. #2
    Senior Member SweetLou's Avatar
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    Sounds like you would want a hybrid or comfort bike. Do you know what brands the bike shop carries? Giant along with most brands have this type of bike. Some have shocks, some don't. Shocks do add a little comfort but add weight and make you work a bit harder. You will want to ride a few and whichever one is the most comfortable is the one you want.

    The cheaper ones will have gripshifters and probably a 7 speed freewheel, probably single wall rims also. The more expensive ones will have trigger shifters, 8 or 9 speed cassette and double wall rims. It probably won't matter which one you choose. If you are kind of heavy, the double wall rims will hold up better.

    These type of bikes will give you an upright comfortable riding position. It's not my type of riding, but they are very nice for the type of riding you want to do.
    Learn what's a platform pedal.

  3. #3
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    I'm 5 foot 6 inches and about 120#. I think I saw Trek and Specialized at my bike shop. I will look for others as well. Opinion on how much to spend on a helmet? There are so many price ranges, I want quality and safety but whats the diff between them all?

  4. #4
    Senior Member SweetLou's Avatar
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    120, the single wall rims will be fine. But the double wall rims would be better. Both companies make hybrids. You say no steep hills, then any of the hybrids I saw on their sites should work for you. You might want to get a triple (three front cogs) that will give you a 21 speed bike, but if you don't have any steep hills, then even the entry lever one front cog giving you 7 speeds will be fine.

    Bikes have multiple gears for different terrain and weather. You want to pedal in a gear that is not too high that you tire too fast or one too low that you don't go anywhere. One of the biggest mistakes of novice riders it using too high of a gear and tiring quickly. It's usually better to pick a lower gear and pedal quicker than a high gear and stomp on the pedals.

    The most important thing is how you feel on the bike. If you are not comfortable, you won't ride it. Ride as many of the ones that you are interested in. Try shifting on your test rides, see if you like the grip shifters or the trigger shifters better. Other things you want to look for in a bike is the fit. Do you feel cramped or are you reaching for the bars? How's the braking (learn to use the front brake, another novice mistake is not using the front brake)?

    Do you have a budget in mind?

    As for helmets, there is no real difference when it comes to quality or safety. All helmets meet the same CPSC standards. When you pay more for a helmet, you might get better air flow, lighter and maybe better adjustability. But, even the heaviest helmet is very light. Find one that you like, fits you and is comfortable.
    Learn what's a platform pedal.

  5. #5
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    I would go back to those bike stores and ask around to see what bikes they would let you try. It is trying after all and you are not obligated to buying anything. If the sales people are pressuring you to buy a bike, you should walk out of the store since they are just trying to sell you a bike, and not getting your the bike you want, or the bike that you feels best suits you.

    The 'lower' ones are what I think are dutch frames(?) which I would say are cruiser types of bikes, in line with the step-through models. They are nice but I would not discount the idea of getting a hybrid. They are very nice bikes to ride on even if it does not seem easy to get on. After about a week, it will seem very natural. I am afraid I'm not too knowledge about these bikes, as they aren't too popular in my opinion.

    I agree with the others, and you probably want to get a hybrid. I would not worry too much about the gears now, but mostly everything in the hybrid lower-endish range will have a 'triple', which is three cogs(chainring) on the pedals, and 8 of those 'cogs'(cassette) in the back. What you want to ask the sales people is about bike fit since it sounds like you don't have much experience in this region.

    You can ask about the differences in women's bikes vs unisex ones, and see if they know the answer to that. I always find it good to also ask questions you already know the answer to, just to see if the sales people know there stuff. How are women's bikes different? Generally the handlebars are shorter to accommodate the shorter torso length on women vs men, and the top tube length is shorter. The top tube is the horizontal bar that connects the front and back of the bike. With that said though, there is nothing wrong with women riding unisex bikes, or even men riding women's bikes. It's all about how it feels when you are on the bike and how it rides.

    Finally cost, if you are unsure about how much to spend on a bike, 500 dollars is a good starting point for a good bike that'll last. The cost of helmets really seems to dictate on how 'cool' they are. More expensive, the more 'cool' they are to other cyclists. Other than that, the functional aspect is that they cool your head better, but don't provide any more protection compared to a 40 dollar helmet. It's really up to you if you think the extra cooling is worth like 3 or 4 times of a cheaper helmet. Personally I wouldn't spend too much on helmets because once you take a hit on it, you should really get a new one even if it seems undamaged. It is damaged, and probably will not save you the next time you take a hit.
    Last edited by 8Fishes; 08-21-11 at 01:08 AM.

  6. #6
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    Specialized Vita step-thu is the style you probably want.
    Koga Miyata (famous Dutch company) do the Sportslady
    Last edited by MichaelW; 08-21-11 at 03:00 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Shop for a bike shop before you start actually shopping for a bike.

    Visit bike shops in your area and tell them exactly what you have told us. Eventually you'll find somebody who will ask you the "right" questions and direct you on your way. I think there are a lot more differences among bike shops than there are among bike brands. If you ever have a warranty issue, for example, think about who you want working for you?

    Find a bike shop with the right people, buy a brand that they carry, and you'll never go wrong.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wartburgpanda View Post
    HI! I grew up riding a 10 speed bike, but I want to buy a new bike to ride for fun and exercise. I want to sit upright and have handlebars that go strait, not the curled over ones. I also want either a step through frame or at least one with a "lady style" bar that is lower. Besides this, I don't know what to get, or try out. I am overwhelmed with all my choices. I will be riding on paved trails, and the road. No rough or really steep rides. How do I know how many speeds to get and what do you use them all for? I also dont want to go too cheap, or too expensive just because I dont know my stuff. What type of features do I need to be sure of and what type of questions do I ask the bike salesperson? THANKS! Kat
    The more you ride, the more it will eventually become a lifestyle change. Think of this anticipated purchase as a transitional stage. Go low cost and then maybe you will move up. Too low and you will end up at a big box store like Walmart and Costco. Not saying they're all bad bikes, but you need service and the local bike shop will do that for you.

    The local bike shop will guide you as to how many speeds to get and how to use them. All bikes need maintenance after putting in the mileage. Manufacturers have already assembled a package bike for you because you are specific about how you are going to use the bike. Tell them somethings like this:

    I am a rider who wants to ride sometimes wearing a skirt or dress. I do not plan on using the bike to carry groceries, books, or a laptop. I do not plan on riding at dusk or dawn or at night. I used to have a 10 speed bike back in the 80's and it had a curved handlebar and its not for me now. I don't care to ride fast and I am the type of rider who likes to smell the flowers and take pictures, stop at the cafe once in a while. I don't plan on joining a bike club for group rides.

    If its a good bike shop, they will know what you want by giving them your requirements and let them sort it out mechanically and feature wise. But if you want to micro manage the details, then that's a different story.

    The helmet thing, if you don't ride fast then you don't sweat as much and heat does not become an issue. Riders who sweat and ride fast and long will want more ventilation and the price goes up. Other thing, its also a fashion thing. So is the bike.
    Last edited by Garfield Cat; 08-21-11 at 09:43 AM.

  9. #9
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Kat, narrow the field by 1st choosing the dealer.
    visit several if you have them in abundance around you.

    then get a bike from them. the dealer's employees will help your selection.

    Our town has Treks, another town has Specialized,
    its a territory thing, based on population, so a big city will have several
    brands at different dealers.

    type of wheel is a dividing point, narrower and taller 700c-35 wide
    operate at a higher PSI ..
    versus 26" 2" wide tires. lower PSI, More volume.. a first level of shock absorption.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 08-21-11 at 11:34 AM.

  10. #10
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    How many hills do you have around, even if they're pretty mild? If you are in a table-flat place (eg: new orleans, nebraska, etc) then you might look at a single speed cruiser, or a cruiser with an internal gear hub. Electra makes a bunch of those with the pedals further forward so that you can have good leg extension and put your feet on the ground, and I see them all over the place, almost as many as I see of Walmart cruiser bikes, which I see more of than I do Walmart mountainbikes. Popular with a lot of people who aren't really interested in going particularly fast or far, and just want something no-frills and comfy to get around on.

    Thnen there are the hybrid/comfort bikes. My wife has a Trek Navigator 3.0 that she likes a lot that works well; it has a good selection of gears. However, maybe if you talked more about where you rode and what sort of things you imagine yourself enjoying doing on your bicycle, we could craft our suggestions better..

    Semi trucks have oodles and oodles of brakes for the same reason a bicycle does. Your engine - your legs - works best when it purrs along at a nice steady pace of say, 90-100 rpm (which I assure you feels like you're whirling your feet around and not going anywhere the first time you try it.) However, your bike has to accelerate out of intersections, sometimes you're going downhill with the wind, sometimes you have the wind in your face and sometimes you're going up a hill. If you have a lot of gears, you can shuffle the gears around so that no matter what, your legs are still purring along at that gentle and comfortable optimum pace. Road bikes have huge numbers of gears because they are spaced very close together - for best speed, they want to be as close to perfect on gearing as they can get. Mountain bikes have oodles of gears because they want their low gears to be really, really low and their upper gears to still be pretty fast. Comfort bikes have oodles of gears because it's cheaper to grab a mountain bike gear set than it is to try to build an optimized gearing system for a use that usually can get by with a fairly small range of gears.

    I saw you asked about helmets. Go ahead and find one that's comfortable and not too spendy. Bicycling is an extremely safe activity and you aren't likely to have the helmet do anything for you, even if you are in a wreck of some sort. As far as safety is concerned, it's much more important to make sure you have a strong headlight and tail light (I don't care if you only ride in the middle of the day, riding without active lighting is unsafe riding), learn the road rules (find a Road 1 class in your area if you can), and make sure your bicycle is well maintained (check the tires and brakes regularly, make sure nothing is wearing out or coming loose, learn basic maintenance)
    Last edited by JusticeZero; 08-21-11 at 12:19 PM.
    Current stable: Sun Atlas X-type (mine), Trek Navigator 3 (wife), two Sun Revolution cruisers (wife, daughter)

  11. #11
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SweetLou View Post
    Bikes have multiple gears for different terrain and weather.
    Weather?
    Craig in Indy

  12. #12
    Senior Member SweetLou's Avatar
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    Yes, I generally use a lower gear in head winds and a higher gear for tail winds. Also, in winter, I can't ride as fast and use a lower gear than summer. I have a flip flop hub and use a one tooth lower gear in winter.
    Learn what's a platform pedal.

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