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  1. #1
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    First bike after 24 years away? Could use some advice.

    I can't believe I'm posting this.

    I'm a part-time pro photographer and I read about 80 million posts like this a week on the photography forum I'm on, and they always tweak me, but honestly I've been researching this and I'm finding myself pretty lost... So here I am asking for help.

    Let's see if my experience with the photo stuff helps me give the right info about me. I appreciate any help anyone can give.

    Ok...

    • I'm looking for excercise/recreation
    • I'm about 5'8", all torso... I'm very blocky. I weigh 230lb currently. (yes, I'm overweight but if you saw me you'd be shocked... I'm not terribly round... at my thinnest I'm like 200lb.)
    • Speed is fun, but I'm also older than I used to be and not QUITE as daring as I was way back when
    • I probably have a budget of around $1000.... some flexibility there
    • I live in a pretty hilly countryish area
    • Right now I'm riding my father in law's Trek Navigator 300 to just sort of get my feet wet... it's going fine. The upright posture is somewhat comfortable, but I suspect part of why my butt hurts
    • I ride almost entirely at night.
    • I'll ride in cool weather, but won't ride in rain or snow.
    • I do 8-15 miles max per ride, I imagine my lifetime max will be 20.
    • Our roads are fairly well paved, but have occasional bumps... no major potholes or anything, just leftovers from frost heaves and such
    • I would like to be able to use this bike when I go out with my daughter as well (she's 10... so totally a casual ride there)
    • I ASSUME I want a roadie... but who knows. I definitely do not want a mountain bike as I'm doing ALL roads.
    • I like monkeys


    Ummmmmmmmmmm... I can't think of what else might be relevant.

    Thanks so much everyone!

  2. #2
    Senior Member IthaDan's Avatar
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    I never thought I'd say this, but a flat bar road bike, or a fitness bike (same thing, different marketing departments). Might be just right for you. Relatively comfortable, but a little more aggressive than a true hybrid (these have road caliper brakes) and certainly still fast enough to keep your interest. Ride that for a while then graduate to a bike with drops as you become fitter and gain flexibility.

    Honestly your best bet is to shop around and find a local shop that does fittings and can get you set up and out the door. Leave the wallet at home the first time you go in.

    Shimano : Click :: Campy :: Snap :: SRAM : Bang

  3. #3
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    What bicycle dealerships are in your immediate vicinity?

  4. #4
    The Left Coast, USA FrenchFit's Avatar
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    Except for your last bullet, not the monkey reference, your post screams 26" hardtail or rigid mountain bike with road tires,, set up ride a little more upright than a dedicated bomber, maybe 15" frame. Sorry, reality sucks.. not so sexy.

    I have a gorgeous Trek ZX MTB I use for commuting, like the one below with better bars, it's a joy to ride with slicks. A MTB doesn't need to be something clunky, and I avg about 15mph on mine, very stable. Stable is good for night riding, you will encounter immovable invisible objects from time to time, and you'll ride right over them. They are fast enough to chase down most Freds on their CF roadies, but comfortable for chilaxing with the kids. I probably have all of $900 in mine, and that' s with some pricey components. There are some great used bikes out there...that aren't made in China, just saying.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by FrenchFit; 05-08-12 at 10:57 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Mobile 155's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EarthMonkey View Post
    I can't believe I'm posting this.

    I'm a part-time pro photographer and I read about 80 million posts like this a week on the photography forum I'm on, and they always tweak me, but honestly I've been researching this and I'm finding myself pretty lost... So here I am asking for help.

    Let's see if my experience with the photo stuff helps me give the right info about me. I appreciate any help anyone can give.

    Ok...

    • I'm looking for excercise/recreation
    • I'm about 5'8", all torso... I'm very blocky. I weigh 230lb currently. (yes, I'm overweight but if you saw me you'd be shocked... I'm not terribly round... at my thinnest I'm like 200lb.)
    • Speed is fun, but I'm also older than I used to be and not QUITE as daring as I was way back when
    • I probably have a budget of around $1000.... some flexibility there
    • I live in a pretty hilly countryish area
    • Right now I'm riding my father in law's Trek Navigator 300 to just sort of get my feet wet... it's going fine. The upright posture is somewhat comfortable, but I suspect part of why my butt hurts
    • I ride almost entirely at night.
    • I'll ride in cool weather, but won't ride in rain or snow.
    • I do 8-15 miles max per ride, I imagine my lifetime max will be 20.
    • Our roads are fairly well paved, but have occasional bumps... no major potholes or anything, just leftovers from frost heaves and such
    • I would like to be able to use this bike when I go out with my daughter as well (she's 10... so totally a casual ride there)
    • I ASSUME I want a roadie... but who knows. I definitely do not want a mountain bike as I'm doing ALL roads.
    • I like monkeys


    Ummmmmmmmmmm... I can't think of what else might be relevant.

    Thanks so much everyone!
    I agree with the flat bar or maybe a plush road bike. But another good choice would be a Cyclocross. Many of the advantages of a road bike but more tire options. Not as heavy as a MTB.
    The reason many reccommend a drop bar bike is because of the different hand positions. Giant defy comes to mind. Jamis Ventura, Specialized Aliez. Both Giant and Masi make some good flat bar bikes. Go try a few and see what you like.
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein.

  6. #6
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    This is great, everyone thank you all.

    I have to say, I'm not too surprised that the flat-bar road-bike type of solution is being presented as an option... when I saw them at the store I actually thought to myself "oh, hey, maybe that's what I need."

    But yeah, as French said... not so sexy...

    Dan... you said "you can't believe I'm saying this, but...". Can I ask why you say that? What makes me unique that you are recommending something you wouldn't usually?

    BTW, I also want folks to understand... Yes, I'm 230lb, but I'm not as heavy or out of shape as that sounds. I really am just a seriously structurally stocky guy. I look like a gangster in a double-breasted jacket. Not sure if that affects anyone's thoughts at all.

    Thanks again, everyone. This is great.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    When I re-entered bike riding, it was on a dumpster-sourced cruiser. Decided to ride the thing for year. If I had the dedication to ride it regularly for a year, I'd then get myself what i really wanted.

    Currently in the garage are a road bike, touring bike, mountain bike, hybrid, and a cruiser. They all have their place. From my summit of lofty wisdom, I'd say buy a decent hybrid and commit to it for a certain length of time. Then decide. You can sell it or keep it.

  8. #8
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    Last edited by SlimRider; 05-09-12 at 12:40 PM.

  9. #9
    Dane silvercreek's Avatar
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    You can have a pretty dog gone nice bike for under $1k. If you're into vintage bikes you might consider a nice collectable one. That way you can have fun and make an investment at the same time.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/20832064@N03/sets/

    1976 Takara Grand Touring
    1976 Raleigh Technium
    1976 Raleigh Sports
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    1954 Schwinn Jaguar
    1954 Schwinn Phantom

  10. #10
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EarthMonkey View Post
    • I do 8-15 miles max per ride, I imagine my lifetime max will be 20.
    BS. You'll exceed that within the next month or two.

    Look into fitness hybrids or flat bar road bikes; you might like those.

    EDIT: I wrote that before reading the rest of the thread, so maybe there's a trend there...
    Last edited by Doohickie; 05-09-12 at 12:19 PM.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  11. #11
    Senior Member IthaDan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EarthMonkey View Post

    Dan... you said "you can't believe I'm saying this, but...". Can I ask why you say that? What makes me unique that you are recommending something you wouldn't usually?
    Usually I just recommend a drop bar bike and tell people to suck it up and deal with it. Also, I've been a strong supporter of owning n+1 bikes, which kind of skips the jack of all trades, master of none types. I think i mentioned it to you because you not only have a budget that will actually get you on something you might actually enjoy riding and crave riding, but because there's an enthusiasm in your post. *shrug*

    Shimano : Click :: Campy :: Snap :: SRAM : Bang

  12. #12
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    I agree with IthaDan. A flat-bar road bike (I like that Jamis because of the disc brakes!) is basically a hybrid with some road-upgraded parts. It'll be a nice bike even if you later decide you need an N+1, which can be more specialized for whatever style you find you like the most.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Sangetsu's Avatar
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    I got back into cycling several years ago after a 20-year holiday. I bought an old steel-framed Pinarello at a pawn shop for $200. I aired up the crappy looking tubular tires, oiled the chain, and went for an 8 mile ride.

    The next day my butt was quite sore, sore enough that I stayed off the bike for a couple days. But I got back on the bike again, and did another 8 mile ride. After riding three days a week for a couple of weeks, my butt stopped hurting.

    After a month or so, I began riding 4 days a week, and I doubled my distance to 15 miles a day. On Sunday I would ride for twenty miles. I began to lose weight. After a couple months, I began to increase the speed of my rides, pushing myself hard for a few minutes, and then riding easily for a few minutes. I began to sleep batter at night, and the weight continued to come off.

    After four months, I was shopping at the local bike shop, and the owner invited ms to go on their Saturday group rides. I was nervous about riding with "real" cyclists, but what the hell, I had been wearing Lycra for a few months, if I could be brave enough to be seen in public wearing bike shorts, I was brave enough to ride with a group.

    There were actually two groups, the fast group for the wannabe racers (and a few real ones), and the slow group for beginners and old people. I chose to ride with the latter bunch. It didn't take long for me to become comfortable riding with others, many were far more ridiculous looking than me. I learned to ride in a pace line, and often spent so much time in the front that I burned myself out, and couldn't get back onto the end of the group.

    I graduated to the fast group. But not for the reason you might think. I moved to the fast group because there was an attractive female rider whom I sometimes talked to before the rides began. It takes nerves of steel and the courage of a lion to pick up on an attractive (very attractive) woman while wearing bike shorts. Riding with real racers is nothing in comparison.

    The fast ride was truly fast, but my new girlfriend was an accomplished amateur racer, and she encouraged me. The other riders in the group gave me some respect. Not due to my riding ability (I had very little) but because I had befriended the most attractive female rider out of our 100-odd person group.

    In time I became quite fast. I made friends in the group, and learned about strategic riding. I began focusing on sprinting. Within one year of buying my pawnshop bike, I was finishing consistently in the top 5. My body was lean and hard, my resting pulse was in the 40's.

    I bought a new bike, and entered the local amateur races. My body was hooked on endorphins, at the end of a 100 mile ride I would already be looking forward to riding the next day. I would wake up in the morning after a race with my legs so sore that I could barely walk. I would get dressed, hobble to my bike, and join the 40 mile morning group ride. After 20 minutes my legs would loosen up, and I would be hammering away at the front.

    Be careful when you start riding, it can be a life-changing experience. But it's a good one.

  14. #14
    MAK
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    I agree with one of the earlier posts when they pointed out that you'll be exceeding milage expectations in a month.

    A few years ago I was in a similar situation. I hadn't really ridden in 20-25 years and wanted to get back into it. I didn't expect to go far or go fast and planned to be a fair weather cyclist only. After a lot of research and LBS visits, I decided that a hybrid would suit me best. It was fine for a while. Then I joined a local club for the comeradery and to expand a bit. What I found was that a hybrid can do everything but it doesn't anything exceptionally well. (I know that some will disagree.) After a year I got an entry level road bike and haven't looked back. I now own a mid to high level road bike and a single speed in addition to the hybrid and entry level bike. While I expected to just ride the neighborhood and maybe ride to local parks, I ended up riding across Georgia (BRAG) four times and across Iowa (RAGBRAI) twice. I'm a ride leader for my club and probably do 150 miles a week from April through September. I still ride from September through April but just less.

    Cycling can easily become an addiction.

    In short, don't limit yourself. If you're in a hilly area, a road bike will help you the most. Don't go crazy but you probably want to set your expectations for yourself a bit higher. BTW - I'm two inchs taller and ten pounds heavier and I'm in my 60's.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Mobile 155's Avatar
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    My first reccommendation is almost always a drop bar road bit for commuting. I don't dislike the more classic old road bikes except you limit yourself to old wheels because they don't have the rear axle spacing for most new wheels. If you already had a bike to commute on with modern spacing a N+1 with an old bike would be fine.

    The flat bar road bike suggestions may come from the limited distance to asked about. Flat bars tend to be lighter than MTBs and so are more suited to longer rides for most people, not all.

    However once you decide to ride longer distances a drop bar will be hard to beat. If you do go for a drop bar I suggest STI shifters and Shimano 105 or better or SRAM Apex or better. The key is try any bike you plan on buying. Don't order one online if you aren't positive you are going to like it. Good names to look for are, Giant, Trek, Specialized, Masi, Fiji, Focus and Jamis in the price range you mentioned. I would avoid anything sold at a Big Box Store even at the price you are looking for.

    The only thing you might need to remember about a flat bar bike is you only have one hand position and that can be hard on the hands after only a few miles. They do make bar ends and extensions that help and there are some people that don't have a problem with one hand position.
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein.

  16. #16
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    This is giving me tons to think about, and I actually really appreciate the stories of people's experiences on returning to biking. I've been a little frustrated this week because I don't mind riding in damp, but it's been outright raining all week which has kept me off the bike for a few days... really irksome.

    Obviously a lot of folks are leaning flat-bar. I'm going to go (probably this weekend) to a shop and spend some time kicking tires and riding a bit to get some idea for what they're like. It's going to be a bit before I make a decision. I'll leave my wallet at home as one very wise soul here suggested.

    You've all been fantastic. Thank you so much.

  17. #17
    Senior Member IthaDan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mobile 155 View Post
    My first reccommendation is almost always a drop bar road bit for commuting. I don't dislike the more classic old road bikes except you limit yourself to old wheels because they don't have the rear axle spacing for most new wheels. If you already had a bike to commute on with modern spacing a N+1 with an old bike would be fine.

    The flat bar road bike suggestions may come from the limited distance to asked about. Flat bars tend to be lighter than MTBs and so are more suited to longer rides for most people, not all.

    However once you decide to ride longer distances a drop bar will be hard to beat. If you do go for a drop bar I suggest STI shifters and Shimano 105 or better or SRAM Apex or better. The key is try any bike you plan on buying. Don't order one online if you aren't positive you are going to like it. Good names to look for are, Giant, Trek, Specialized, Masi, Fiji, Focus and Jamis in the price range you mentioned. I would avoid anything sold at a Big Box Store even at the price you are looking for.

    The only thing you might need to remember about a flat bar bike is you only have one hand position and that can be hard on the hands after only a few miles. They do make bar ends and extensions that help and there are some people that don't have a problem with one hand position.
    I think I figured it out- my recommendation for a flat bar was not only based on your current experience being on a hybrid and a smooth transition, but based on flat bar shifters being a lot cheaper than brifters and that you can get a lot more bike with flat bars for the same money. That, coupled with being used to turning over gear constantly due to the OP's profession, led me to think that an intermediary step of a bike (flar bar road) might be a good idea for the OP. Plus, being realistic and realizing that $1000 is not a lot to spend for something as tech and gear heavy as cycling meant that good gear might make this stick.

    Normally people who post on here asking which bike to purchase imply that the bike they're buying will be the last bike they'll EVER buy.

    Shimano : Click :: Campy :: Snap :: SRAM : Bang

  18. #18
    Senior Member Sangetsu's Avatar
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    Cycling need not be expensive. I started with a 20-year-old used bike, and it was more than good enough for the job. Of course it had only 12 gears, and down tube shifters, but it worked well enough for me. I bought some rather inexpensive Canali shorts and jerseys, a Gyro helmet, and I upgraded to Shimano SPD clipless pedals and cheap Lake cycling shoes. Altogether my initial outlay was under $500.

    I made upgrades as I went along, many were for comfort reasons. The Lake shoes were the first to go; I would get hot spots on the bottoms of my feet during long rides, and sometimes the shoes would pop off the pedals. I upgraded to Look pedals and higher grade Shimano shoes. The Canali shorts were okay for rides under 50 miles, but after a year of riding I was doing 300 miles or more per week. I tried different brands of shorts, and found Assos Sportsline to be the most comfortable.

    As for the bike itself, I was going to upgrade it to use Campy Ergo-power shifters/levers, but someone saved me the effort by stealing my bike. I maxes out my credit card and bought a Colnago Master Light with a Campy Record 9 speed group, and Mavic Helium wheels (top-shelf items at the time). It's been 13 years since I bought this bike, and I still ride it today.

    Personally speaking, I dislike flat bars or riser bars. They are okay for going to the grocery store, and a quick commute to work, but drop bars offer more positions for your hands, and allow for a better riding position. Your seat should not be supporting your full weight, your hands and arms should carry a good share as well.

    Speaking more of comfort, it is important that your bike fit. A good fitting bike will be much more pleasurable to ride. Find a good shop to fit your bike to you. Some of my local shops are helpless when it comes to fitting a bike. They have the hardware, but often don't know how to use it properly.

    Don't fixate too much on the bike or clothes. Riding should be fun regardless of what you ride. I did a century ride on an old and rusty 1955 Schwinn cruiser. I didn't go very fast, but I had a great time, and was able to enjoy the scenery more than usual.

    Find any excuse you can to ride, and never make excuses not to ride. At the time I was doing all of my heavy riding, I was working in a stressful position at a finance company, doing at least twelve hours a day. Riding burned off the stress, and gave me a good way to enjoy life even more.

  19. #19
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    For any heavy rider I would say make sure you have strong wheels; Mountain bikes, hybrids, cyclocross, and touring bikes tend to come with heavier but stronger wheels than road bikes. I'd also say make sure the frame is strong enough; mountain bikes, hybrids, cyclocross bikes, and touring bikes tend to have stronger frames.
    As a guy with a long torso and short legs I'll mention that mountain bikes and hybrids tend to have a shallower seat tube angle and proportionally longer top tube, and come stock with longer seatpost, which can make it cheaper and easier to get a proper fit without resorting to extreme offset seatpost and extra long stems (but you probably will need the stem and/or bars changed).
    Last edited by NightShift; 05-12-12 at 06:41 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by sprockets View Post
    I talk to myself regularly - crazy is the technical term I believe. The only time I shut up is when I'm riding. (that's the best time to listen to all those voices in your head :D )

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