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  1. #1
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    Newbie - Please Help - Mountain or Hybrid

    First let me apologize for my ignorance but my head is spinning trying to figure out how to get started in this sport.

    I have always been, and plan to always be a runner. However, as I find myself getting older (40), I am struggling with more and more nagging overuse injuries. I'm currently recovering from a stress fracture in my foot. I guess my body doesn't hold up to the pounding like it used to. I typically run about 50 miles a week but as you guys know it's more about the hours of running at a given effort than anything else. I also use a rower quite a bit for upper body and core cross training.

    All this to say that I think I'm at the point where I need to back off the running and I'm really getting excited with the idea of cycling. The problem is I'm extremely intimidated with what I don't know and I need some help and advice on a first bike.

    I live in a small town surrounded by mostly farmland. My riding would be almost 100% on gravel country roads. I don't have easy access to any typical mountain bike type trails so no technical riding. And I really don't want to get killed by riding alongside the highway. I've tried to read as much as I can about what type of bike would be best for this type terrain and it looks like I can go with a traditional hard tail mountain bike or some sort of hybrid. It looks like there are several options in both categories. Ideally Iíd like to go out and ride for a couple of hours instead of a run.

    I've read that beginners shouldn't go out and drop a couple of grand on their first bike which makes a lot of sense. But I also am willing to spend some money for what will best fit my needs. Iím just not sure what defines or fulfills my needs. Unfortunately there are no bike shops around here to help me out. Can you guys give me some advice? I'm a male, 5'9" 140lbs if that matters at all.

    Thanks.

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    Hi there WestTX28!

    Welcome to Bike Forums!

    Please answer the following questions, so that we may best help you:

    1)Do you have any hills that you're planning on climbing with this bicycle?

    2) What is the absolute most you're willing to spend on your first adult bike?

    3) Can you describe in greater detail what type of surfaces on which you'll be riding?

    * I mean describe the terrain...Roots, Rocks, Crevices, Inclines, loose soil, ect...

    Respectfully,

    - Slim

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    Thanks for the reply

    1)Do you have any hills that you're planning on climbing with this bicycle?
    Hills are kind of subjective. I would say some slight hills but mostly flat.

    2) What is the absolute most you're willing to spend on your first adult bike?
    I'd like to keep it under $1000 unless there is a good reason to go over that. I come from the school you generally get what you pay for.

    3) Can you describe in greater detail what type of surfaces on which you'll be riding?
    Pretty much 100% gravel /crushed stone county roads. Mostly packed but some loose spots. I would think it would be pretty rough on tires.

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    How about a cyclocross bike? They look like a road bike but actually have a slightly more upright riding position. They have room for wider tires and have cantilever or disc brakes. Road bike design has advanced in leaps and bounds in comfort. You can grasp the brake lever bases as if they were grips, and still reach the brake levers with your index and middle fingers, so the bike feels just like a hybrid until you choose to use the lower part of the bars. Cyclocross bikes will also have extra brake levers you can use while holding the horizontal middle part of the bar, like the old 1970s brake lever extensions, but they work much more positively.

    I have ridden older road bikes on crushed limestone trails. If they are well packed, you don't need wider tires than 1970s era 27x1-1/4 road bike tires, which is 32 mm.

    I haven't thought much about your situation, but I am just throwing up another alternative.

    If you do go MTB, I would get a 29er because they are best for cross-country, rolling easy over somewhat rough but basically flat ground.

    Most bikes called hybrids strike me more as comfort bikes.

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    How about a cyclocross bike?

    I read some about the cyclocross bikes and browsed some of the threads in that section of this forum. They look intimidating as hell. I didn't know if they would be suitable for my situation and a first bike. But this is the kind of advice I’m looking for. Any specific one you would recommend?

    Just before this reply I was looking at the Trek 8.5 DS. Looks like they call it a dual sport bike. Any opinions on that?

  6. #6
    we be rollin' hybridbkrdr's Avatar
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    This is just my own opinion, but I don't think you need 50 miles a week of running. I might be mistaken but I believe I read Bob Kennedy (who ran 12:56 for 3K) ran 3:35 for the 1500m at the age of 18 on 35 miles a week. If you had a long run on Sunday and a day off on Friday, you might find that more relaxing, manageable.

    In any case, if you live in Canada, I saw some bikes on sale at Sports Experts. The Diadora bicycles lately were on sale with quality Shimano parts. In general, Shimano Tourney < Altus < Acera < Alivio < Deore < Deore SLX or LX < Deore XT.

    I'm leaning more on the side of thinking someone who wants to start out might be better off saving a few dollars and getting a bike equipped with Acera which some people find acceptable. There are bikes like the GT Traffic 4.0 or Giant Roam 1 etc.

    But, someone had a point here with the cyclocross bike. It's kind of hard to guess what you'd be more comfortable doing. You could really go harder with drop bars on a cyclocross bike. But, I find the upright position of a hybrid more comfortable. And higher-cost hybrids I find have a more aggressive posture which I find a little similar to mountain bikes.

    Then you have choices between rigid forks or suspension forks. And disc brakes or V-brakes. If you want lighter, cheaper, longer lasting and in my opinion, less complicated to work on, I'd go with V-brakes and a rigid fork. But that's a personal choice. I won't sermon anyone who wants disc brakes and a suspension fork.

    The 700c wheels of a hybrid will get you there faster and allow you to roll on grass easier than 26 inch wheels. But to roll around on trails, you may want 37mm to 42mm tires. Well, enough rambling for me...
    Feeling Good by David Burns

  7. #7
    Senior Member dsprehe89's Avatar
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    You could always go with a cheap (lower end) Trek or Giant 29er MTB, and get a second wheelset and put a set of skinny tires on the second set and have both a hybrid and a mtb. If you go with something like the Trek Marlin you should easily be able to do that for under $1000, specially if you get it now (right before winter) cause LBS's are getting ready to go into their slow season and are trying to sell everything they can. And just shop around for a cheap decent wheel set. The marlin has pretty much the lowest component group set that SRAM makes, but it should still be good enough for what you want also, this way if you happen to stumble upon some local trails that you didn't know about you can try them out without having to get a whole new bike.
    infinitesimal - The amount of actual performance improvement gained from most cycling expenditures.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zephyr11 View Post
    AMish hardtail = An all-black bike with no rear-suspension that is intended to be ridden on farms. It also has the ability to bunnyhop over piles of horse poop. Most also have bashguards because showing up to church with a pant leg that got ripped up by your chain is frowned upon.

  8. #8
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    It sounds like a MTB, hybrid, and cyclocross bike are all capable of working for you, so I guess the best idea is to go test out some of each and find out what you like. I think I'd probably be looking at the Cyclocross bike most if I were in your position, but that's just what I think sounds best. And to support garage sale GT's comment on the crushed limestone, I've been fine riding on some with my Motobecane, which has 25mm tires, though that is probably packed down a little more than usual.

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    I don't think you need 50 miles a week of running

    It's really not as much as it sounds. Again it's more an accumulation of time running. I would think cycling would be the same way.

    I'd go with V-brakes

    I was kind of thinking the same thing. With non-technical riding I don't know what kind of hard stopping I would need to do to stop my 140lb body without throwing me over the front anyway. I noticed the cyclocross bikes seen to have V-brakes.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by WestTx28 View Post
    First let me apologize for my ignorance but my head is spinning trying to figure out how to get started in this sport.

    I have always been, and plan to always be a runner. However, as I find myself getting older (40), I am struggling with more and more nagging overuse injuries. I'm currently recovering from a stress fracture in my foot. I guess my body doesn't hold up to the pounding like it used to. I typically run about 50 miles a week but as you guys know it's more about the hours of running at a given effort than anything else. I also use a rower quite a bit for upper body and core cross training.
    Why not consider a bike that is easy to ride and easy on your body......A Cruiser.

    Cruisers come single speed or with hub gears or derailers plus they ride like limousines !!
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

    Originally Posted by krazygluon
    Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
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  11. #11
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    Hey there again WestTX28!

    Since you're really not commuting anywhere and primarily want this bike for exercise. A hybrid would be just fine. Also, since you're almost completely on flat gravel, with minor inclines, I think that a hybrid bike, with wider tires would be perfect for you. You have no really challenging aspects about your terrain, with the exception of the occasional loose gravel. Therefore, wider tires on a hybrid should resolve your cycling issue quite easily.

    Here are several suggestions that I have listed in the order of preference:

    www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/mountain/cross_country/sawyer/sawyer/#/
    The Trek Sawyer ~ $1500

    http://cannondale.com/2012/bikes/rec...ick-cx-1-21051
    The Cannondale Quick 1 CX ~ $1500 (Front Suspension- HeadShok with Lockout)

    www.cannondale.com/2012/bikes/recreation-urban/recreation/quick-sl/2012-quick-sl-2-20954
    The Cannondale Quick SL 2.0 ~ $1100

    www.cannondale.com/2012/bikes/recreation-urban/recreation/quick-cx/2012-quick-cx-2-21057
    The Cannondale Quick CX 2.0 ~ $1100 (Front Suspension with Lockout)

    www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/bikes/model/roam/9024/48880/
    The Giant Roam ~ $880 (Front Suspension with Lockout)

    www.schwinnbikes.com/bikes/hybrid/2012-sporterra-comp-mens-14564
    The Schwinn Sporterra Comp ~ $660 (Signature Series)

    www.performancebike.com/bikes/Product_10052_10551_1093005_-1_20000_400327
    GT Karakoram 2.0 -29" ~ $550 Hardtail (Front Suspension with Lockout))

    * Front suspension is not really needed here for you. However, it has been included on most including the Lockout option.

    The last two suggested bicycles are inexpensive, but have good components.

    Check list for most recent modifications.
    Last edited by SlimRider; 10-28-11 at 01:30 PM.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
    A Cruiser... they ride like limousines !!
    At 140lbs I would go with a cruiser 3 speed and coaster brake then if your feeling better get a cyclecross still under $1000 total and you will have two bikes

  13. #13
    Senior Member dsprehe89's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    A front suspension is not needed for you. Therefore, I ruled hardtail MTN bikes out.
    While it might not be needed, there is no problem with getting a bike with a fork with lock out and then he'll have it if he wants it and lock it out when he doesn't. It's always nice to have the avaliability there.
    infinitesimal - The amount of actual performance improvement gained from most cycling expenditures.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zephyr11 View Post
    AMish hardtail = An all-black bike with no rear-suspension that is intended to be ridden on farms. It also has the ability to bunnyhop over piles of horse poop. Most also have bashguards because showing up to church with a pant leg that got ripped up by your chain is frowned upon.

  14. #14
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    I was thinking the other day that if I could only have one bike it would be a mountain bike. A 26" for me. You can change the performance of a mountain bike considerably just by changing the tires. There are tires made specifically for gravel roads. I would get a nice, fat road tire of some sort and a fork with a lock out, as has been suggested.
    more cops have been killed by donuts than guns in chicago it is a medical fact ask any doctor.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dsprehe89 View Post
    While it might not be needed, there is no problem with getting a bike with a fork with lock out and then he'll have it if he wants it and lock it out when he doesn't. It's always nice to have the avaliability there.
    Yeah, but he's fundamentally on the flats, with gravel. He didn't mention any rocks. Gravel is almost pebble-like, it's small. Too small to raise his bike above the plane of the ground. Suspension is only needed for an appreciable variation in planar heights. That's not happening on the flats or small inclines with just gravel.
    However, the Lockout is still a nice feature!
    Last edited by SlimRider; 10-28-11 at 11:52 AM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nightshade View Post
    Why not consider a bike that is easy to ride and easy on your body......A Cruiser.

    Cruisers come single speed or with hub gears or derailers plus they ride like limousines !!
    Yep, I'd also make sure you try out a cruiser or two. I love riding my Trek, and with mine having an 8-speed hub and flipped north road bars, it's capable of going at a pretty decent speed too if I feel like it. Though it sounds like you don't have much as far as hills go, so a 3-speed will probably be fine.

  17. #17
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    Older rigid or front suspension mountain bikes can make great bikes for commuting and general transportation. Strong wheels and frame can readily cope with rough ground or a few potholes. A simple change of tyres can adapt the bike for whatever conditions you're going to use it for. Most of the time, I'd recommend tyres that are smooth in the center of the tread, with knobs on the sides which come into play in rough terrain. I use Schwalbe land cruisers for combination road/trail use on one of my bikes and find them well suited. If you find you're going to be riding a longer distance on the road, throw on a pair of fat slicks.

    I'd definately recommend looking at used bikes for a first bike purchase. Your first bike will almost never be exactly what you want, but will give you an idea of what you do want. You can then go and spend a bit more money on a second bike.
    I've got a bike, you can ride if you like it's got a basket, a bell that rings and things to make it look good- Pink Floyd, 1967

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    Slim -
    I tried to send you a private reply to your message back but being a new member I don’t have enough points yet.
    I can't thank you enough for spending the time to help me out. I am a member of running and rowing forums and enjoy spending time helping and learning from others in those communities. I knew there had to be an equally excellent cycling forum. I'm so glad I found bikeforums.

    The Jamis Coda Elite you pointed me to looks nice. I see there are current threads on steel vs. aluminum frames.

    I need to make a drive to the Dallas/Ft Worth or Austin area and find a good bike shop to get fitted properly. Both are a couple hours away but I'm sure would be well worth the trip. I just want to become as knowledgeable as I can beforehand.

    Do you usually go through a local dealer to purchase bikes like this or are there online sources?

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by WestTx28 View Post
    Slim -
    I tried to send you a private reply to your message back but being a new member I donít have enough points yet.
    I can't thank you enough for spending the time to help me out. I am a member of running and rowing forums and enjoy spending time helping and learning from others in those communities. I knew there had to be an equally excellent cycling forum. I'm so glad I found bikeforums.

    The Jamis Coda Elite you pointed me to looks nice. I see there are current threads on steel vs. aluminum frames.

    I need to make a drive to the Dallas/Ft Worth or Austin area and find a good bike shop to get fitted properly. Both are a couple hours away but I'm sure would be well worth the trip. I just want to become as knowledgeable as I can beforehand.

    Do you usually go through a local dealer to purchase bikes like this or are there online sources?
    Yes, WestTx28!

    There are great online sources, but you'd have to be familiar with your size or "fit" for the proper bicycle. That's why it's almost always best to make your bicycle purchase at a local bike shop. However, there are online sizing charts avaliable and if you can find a bicycle nearby that's relatively your size, you can guestimate your actual bike size. It's alright if you make a mistake, because most reputable online bike sources will either ship you another bike, or refund your money. There are online videos available that explain how to measure your bike size, if the one you use for your guestimate doesn't have a printed size anywhere labeled on the frame.

    Three great online bicycle sources are as follows:

    1) www.bikesdirect.com

    2) www.nashbar.com

    3) www.performancebike.com

    Thus far, I have reason to trust the bikes on these websites. Hopefully, they will meet your standards.

    I believe that Performance will deliver to their nearest Performance outlet. You then are expected to pick your new bike up at that location.


    - Slim

    PS.

    Also, when you go through a bicycle dealership, you establish a relationship with them. They can make routine needed adjustments to your bike, tune it up, and repair it, all under warranty. That can't happen with online purchases. Also, if your bike has a factory defect, your local bike shop will usually be able to detect it, and validate your warranty for either a replacement bike or frame. Alternatively, they can just vouch for you to receive a refund.

    * I'm not certain about Nashbar.com and bikesdirect.com, but Performance has a lifetime customer satisfaction clause and a lifetime guarantee on their frames.
    Last edited by SlimRider; 10-29-11 at 06:20 AM.

  20. #20
    Member JamesSGE's Avatar
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    A hybrid would be a reasonable option

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by JamesSGE View Post
    A hybrid would be a reasonable option
    I rode around on a trail today on a hybrid with 700x45mm tires. I think it's true that you can roll around a little easier with 700c wheels. But parts of me felt like having an even smaller bike with 26 inch wheels and slightly smaller frame with a front suspension fork so I could jump around and do somewhat daring maneuvers. However, it's true you have choices and compromises to make if you want that. A front suspension makes the bike a little heavier and the 26 inch wheels are not as fast.
    Feeling Good by David Burns

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    Quote Originally Posted by WestTx28 View Post
    I read some about the cyclocross bikes and browsed some of the threads in that section of this forum. They look intimidating as hell. I didn't know if they would be suitable for my situation and a first bike. But this is the kind of advice I’m looking for. Any specific one you would recommend?

    Just before this reply I was looking at the Trek 8.5 DS. Looks like they call it a dual sport bike. Any opinions on that?
    I like cyclocross bikes but make do with '80s 12 speed bikes. I never tried a modern cyclocrosser. The older, lower end road bikes came with wider rims and tires than today's road bikes, almost hybrid or cyclocross size. The brakes aren't as strong as cantilevers but I don't ride in mud. It destroys the hilly trails and is discouraged in my area. The only advantage to a new cyclocrosser for me would be the shift/brake levers which let you shift without releasing the handlebar, and are much more comfortable to grasp from the top of the bar.

    I have a hardtail mtb but I find that unless the riding really demands 54mm wide knobbies, it can feel a bit slower than other bikes. It's a personal choice. On trails, a more efficient, narrower tire is better most of the time although you have to corner a bit more carefully.
    Last edited by garage sale GT; 10-29-11 at 09:58 AM.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by WestTx28 View Post
    First let me apologize for my ignorance but my head is spinning trying to figure out how to get started in this sport.

    I have always been, and plan to always be a runner. However, as I find myself getting older (40), I am struggling with more and more nagging overuse injuries. I'm currently recovering from a stress fracture in my foot. I guess my body doesn't hold up to the pounding like it used to. I typically run about 50 miles a week but as you guys know it's more about the hours of running at a given effort than anything else. I also use a rower quite a bit for upper body and core cross training.

    All this to say that I think I'm at the point where I need to back off the running and I'm really getting excited with the idea of cycling. The problem is I'm extremely intimidated with what I don't know and I need some help and advice on a first bike.

    I live in a small town surrounded by mostly farmland. My riding would be almost 100% on gravel country roads. I don't have easy access to any typical mountain bike type trails so no technical riding. And I really don't want to get killed by riding alongside the highway. I've tried to read as much as I can about what type of bike would be best for this type terrain and it looks like I can go with a traditional hard tail mountain bike or some sort of hybrid. It looks like there are several options in both categories. Ideally I’d like to go out and ride for a couple of hours instead of a run.

    I've read that beginners shouldn't go out and drop a couple of grand on their first bike which makes a lot of sense. But I also am willing to spend some money for what will best fit my needs. I’m just not sure what defines or fulfills my needs. Unfortunately there are no bike shops around here to help me out. Can you guys give me some advice? I'm a male, 5'9" 140lbs if that matters at all.

    Thanks.
    If you are going to be riding primarily gravel roads, I'd go with a straight up 26" hardtail mountain bike. It has several advantages over hybrids and/or cyclocross bikes for gravel and loose surface roads. First the tires are wider so it will roll easier over irregularities on a gravel road. A thin tired hybrid or a thin tired cross bike requires more skill to ride on a loose surface than a mountain bike. Where a thin tire will dig into soft patches, a wide mountain bike tire (2") will float over the soft stuff easier.

    Second, a front suspension...especially one with a lock out on the front fork...does more than just provide you with comfort. The suspension allows the wheel to ride up and over irregularities. This makes control easier because the tire doesn't get trapped in ruts.

    Finally, a mountain bike will do most everything that a road bike will do, only slower. A road bike can't do everything a mountain bike does...even a hybrid or cyclocross. Just because you don't have mountain bike terrain like my state does, doesn't mean you can't find places to explore on a mountain bike.

    Look at a Specialized Rockhopper ($880) or something similar. A fork that can be locked out is always a plus.
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    I think they created 29ers because the larger wheels roll better over uneven but basically flat ground, at the expense of being a bit heavier, slower to accelerate, less manouverable, and weaker than 26" MTB wheels. It's a cross-country bike.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    If you are going to be riding primarily gravel roads, I'd go with a straight up 26" hardtail mountain bike. It has several advantages over hybrids and/or cyclocross bikes for gravel and loose surface roads. First the tires are wider so it will roll easier over irregularities on a gravel road. A thin tired hybrid or a thin tired cross bike requires more skill to ride on a loose surface than a mountain bike. Where a thin tire will dig into soft patches, a wide mountain bike tire (2") will float over the soft stuff easier.

    Second, a front suspension...especially one with a lock out on the front fork...does more than just provide you with comfort. The suspension allows the wheel to ride up and over irregularities. This makes control easier because the tire doesn't get trapped in ruts.

    Finally, a mountain bike will do most everything that a road bike will do, only slower. A road bike can't do everything a mountain bike does...even a hybrid or cyclocross. Just because you don't have mountain bike terrain like my state does, doesn't mean you can't find places to explore on a mountain bike.

    Look at a Specialized Rockhopper ($880) or something similar. A fork that can be locked out is always a plus.
    That was an interesting well-thought out way of putting it. If there was a Michelin Tracker or Continental TourRide in 2.2 inches for 700c, then I'd go with a 29er for everywhere touring. It's kind of weird though that I may go with a 26 inch bike for touring if I can't get those tires in that size.
    Feeling Good by David Burns

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