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  1. #1
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    First bike for 40 years old female (never rode before) - advice in Canada

    Hi, Iím a newbie here and am not really sure this is the right forum, so let me know if Iím wrong.

    Please donít laugh but I am a 40 years old female living in ON, Canada and I never ride a bike before. I finally decide to learn and will attend a class specifically for adults next week. I need to buy a bike now and of course; I have NO clue of what I should be looking for. I donít want to spend $$$$ but also donít want to buy something too cheap that will break in a few months. What do you suggest?

    I am thinking about going to GEARS and talk to the specialists there, but am also afraid they will try to push something that will be $$$ and that I really donít need now. After I learn (hopefully that will not take too long and be painless, lol) I would like to ride just for fun, on the weekends and after work, there are tons of parks and trails where I live (Mississauga, ON). I donít need a very sophisticated bike at all, but something that is comfortable, safe, not very $$$ but that will last a while until I feel more confident and then decide to spend more.

    What do you think? It is a good idea to go a specialist store? Is anybody here from Canada and heard about GEARS, can I trust them? A friend suggested me to get a Wal-Mart bike only and ride it until it breaks, but I am not sure this is a good approachÖ is it stupid to buy something nice now when I donít even know how to ride? If I go to a store, what should I look for?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    My wife learned at 35, so I have dealt with this. The problem with a Walmart bike is that it can easily frustrate you due to bad shifting etc when you get to that point and makes you not want to ride. My wife actually started with a Trek Pure, which is pedal forward and allows you to have the saddle lower yet still get the proper leg extension. The problem with that approach is she quickly outgrew it.

    I'd look at a hybrid, possibly something used but it has to be the right size and in good condition. I am not Canadian and not familiar with GEARS but finding a good (or two) shops that you like and trust are essential.

  3. #3
    Senior Member bikemig's Avatar
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    I'm not Canadian either but ON has fabulous bike riding. So just give yourself a budget and then go to a bike shop or two or three. Find someone who is willing to work with you and your needs. That way you'll find the perfect bike. You probably don't want or need a full on racing bike whether road or mountain and so some type of hybrid should work well for you. Fat tires are good when starting out riding and it will make a great commute bike if you decide to get a road bike later. Plus hybrids some with flat bars which are good when starting out.

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    when somone says they haven't ridden since they were a kid or never learned to riden and ask what bike to get, i almost always have the same answer- get a used mid-range mountain bike ( from a bike shop), ask the shop to put touring type tires on it. $200-300 usually covers bike and tires. learn to ride the bike and ride it for a few months. soon you will start to figure out what type of bike fits your needs better.
    PS. A mountain bike (especially a hard tail model with a rigid fork) may not become your ultimate ride, however many have one around as a utility bike or knock about commuting bike - a pragmatic cycling tool.
    Last edited by martianone; 05-17-12 at 07:12 PM.
    ride long & prosper

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    Senior Member IthaDan's Avatar
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    Whatever you get, make sure you can get the seat down far enough to reach the ground with both feet flat. Have someone take the pedals OFF, and ride that thing like a Hobby Horse until you feel comfortable balancing for a decent distance and stopping without putting your feet down.

    It's a little unorthodox, but it works for adults that don't know how to ride a bike at all.

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

  6. #6
    Senior Member BikinPotter's Avatar
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    Good for you! It's wonderful that you have decided to ride a bike. Buying a bike is a bit like buying shoes or clothing. You need for the bike to fit you properly. Perhaps someone on this forum can recommend a bike shop in Mississauga. In the city where I live (Seattle) there are small repair shops around which sell good used bicycles, and could help you find a proper fitting bicycle which will also fit your budget. I agree that purchasing a bike from a big chain like Walmart will only get you a cheap crappy bike that you will never want to ride. Since you are just learning and plan to ride strictly for recreation (that's how the obsession begins) you might consider cruisers or comfort bikes. They usually have big cushie seats and handlebars which allow you to sit more upright. I personally like mountain bikes. The big, fat tires and more relaxed geometry works well for me. Plus unless they're super fancy they don't really hold their resale value. Which means you can find one fairly inexpensively. They are slower than a road bike or hybrid. Search online for used bikes. Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpeters11 View Post
    My wife learned at 35, so I have dealt with this. The problem with a Walmart bike is that it can easily frustrate you due to bad shifting etc when you get to that point and makes you not want to ride. My wife actually started with a Trek Pure, which is pedal forward and allows you to have the saddle lower yet still get the proper leg extension. The problem with that approach is she quickly outgrew it.

    I'd look at a hybrid, possibly something used but it has to be the right size and in good condition. I am not Canadian and not familiar with GEARS but finding a good (or two) shops that you like and trust are essential.
    Wow, I thought I was the only adult who didn't know how to ride a bike, lol... can I ask you how was your wife's experience? Did she learn fast/easy? Did she fell many times when she was learning? I am getting very nervous about it, which is very stupid I know! I wonder if it is something that it takes weeks/months to learn... hopefully not years!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by martianone View Post
    when somone says they haven't ridden since they were a kid or never learned to riden and ask what bike to get, i almost always have the same answer- get a used mid-range mountain bike ( from a bike shop), ask the shop to put touring type tires on it. $200-300 usually covers bike and tires. learn to ride the bike and ride it for a few months. soon you will start to figure out what type of bike fits your needs better.
    PS. A mountain bike (especially a hard tail model with a rigid fork) may not become your ultimate ride, however many have one around as a utility bike or knock about commuting bike - a pragmatic cycling tool.
    Really? That's interesting, I thought mountain bikes were only fro more advanced riders... I didn't even look at them and to be honest, they do like very "professional" for me, lol.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikinPotter View Post
    Good for you! It's wonderful that you have decided to ride a bike. Buying a bike is a bit like buying shoes or clothing. You need for the bike to fit you properly. Perhaps someone on this forum can recommend a bike shop in Mississauga. In the city where I live (Seattle) there are small repair shops around which sell good used bicycles, and could help you find a proper fitting bicycle which will also fit your budget. I agree that purchasing a bike from a big chain like Walmart will only get you a cheap crappy bike that you will never want to ride. Since you are just learning and plan to ride strictly for recreation (that's how the obsession begins) you might consider cruisers or comfort bikes. They usually have big cushie seats and handlebars which allow you to sit more upright. I personally like mountain bikes. The big, fat tires and more relaxed geometry works well for me. Plus unless they're super fancy they don't really hold their resale value. Which means you can find one fairly inexpensively. They are slower than a road bike or hybrid. Search online for used bikes. Good luck! Let us know how it goes.
    When you say cruiser/comfort, do you mean something like these? Are GIANT bikes good for beginners?

    http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-ca/....w/9814/49447/

    http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-ca/....w/9813/49446/

    http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-ca/....w/9812/49443/

  10. #10
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    Welcome To Bike Forums, Sinay!

    Since you live near the country side and have access to dirt trails, I'd say, start cycling with an entry level hardtail mountain bike. You can practice on empty baseball, football, soccer fields, or perhaps even school playgrounds, that are either sparsely populated, or vacant altogether. The Boulder is a 26" hardtail mountain bike (HT MTB), and will be easier to mount and dismount. It will also be easier to keep yourself from falling, since your feet will most likely be able to touch the ground, in order to save your balance. MTN bikes also have wider tires and will be easier for you to maintain your balance on them.

    I would strongly recommend the following:

    The Giant Boulder ~ $360
    www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/bikes/boulder.w/9061/48966/

    * With a mountain bike like the Boulder, you can upgrade it whenever you like with the very best of components in the future, once you've acquired both greater cycling skills and a deeper appreciation for cycling. Otherwise, if you lose interest, you haven't invested very much and you can sell the bike on Craigslist for about 75% of your original purchase price.

    Once you've mastered the basics of cycling, the next step will be to purchase a bicycle that will truly fulfill your needs and desires. The Boulder MTB can always be used for those occasional weekend cross country treks. However, if you should ever want to join a road or touring club, you're going to want a different style of bike for certain. Therefore, just keep your MTB and plan for your next bike, next spring.

    Your next bike should be where you spend more money....Right now, just learn how to cycle and set yourself up for a future investment, should you decide to delve deeper into MTN biking.
    Last edited by SlimRider; 05-17-12 at 07:59 PM.

  11. #11
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    I say go to a local bike shop and look for a comfort/hybrid bike with no suspensions.

  12. #12
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    Buy a Trek 7.1 FX, list price $469.99 US, or a Trek 7100 for $489.99 (women's version also available). There are better deals out there, but this is a good safe bet if you don't want to do a lot of research. 90% of the LBSs will service it. If it turns out you love biking, these bikes will serve you well for years and they're easy to upgrade. If not, it's a name brand you'll have no trouble selling.

  13. #13
    Senior Member BikinPotter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinay View Post

    Yes. That's the sort of thing. A step through frame might be nice for you. A friend of mine has a Suede. She loves it.Please be sure to get a helmet to protect your head, and some gloves to protect your hands.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sinay View Post
    Really? That's interesting, I thought mountain bikes were only fro more advanced riders... I didn't even look at them and to be honest, they do like very "professional" for me, lol.
    lots of adults never had the opportunity to learn to ride in their youth, learning to ride as an adult is easy. once you get a bike, don't be in a rush to actually ride it. ask the bike shop to take off the pedals and lower the seat as far as it will go ( also ask them to show you how to put the pedals bac on and raise the seat when needed). take your bike to a level smooth area with little traffic - like a school parking lot on the weekend. straddle the bike and sit on the saddle with your feet on the ground. then use your feel to push your self along on the bike. next raise your feet and coast or glide a short distance, just a couple meters. The get comfortable coasting farther propelling yourself with your feet. Next start getting comfortable steering and utilizing the brakes. Once you can coast 30 meters or so, steer and use the brakes, try to find a slight incline to coast down. If you can coast a hundred meters, you will soon be ready to ride a hundred km. Put the pedals back on and raise the seat to a more normal riding position. Starting along a kerb, get on the bike and coast along, soon steer out from the kerb, put the foot away from the kerb on a pedal in down position and coast along. Soon try a couple of pedal strokes.- you are now riding.
    ride long & prosper

  15. #15
    Senior Member BikinPotter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by martianone View Post
    lots of adults never had the opportunity to learn to ride in their youth, learning to ride as an adult is easy. once you get a bike, don't be in a rush to actually ride it. ask the bike shop to take off the pedals and lower the seat as far as it will go ( also ask them to show you how to put the pedals bac on and raise the seat when needed). take your bike to a level smooth area with little traffic - like a school parking lot on the weekend. straddle the bike and sit on the saddle with your feet on the ground. then use your feel to push your self along on the bike. next raise your feet and coast or glide a short distance, just a couple meters. The get comfortable coasting farther propelling yourself with your feet. Next start getting comfortable steering and utilizing the brakes. Once you can coast 30 meters or so, steer and use the brakes, try to find a slight incline to coast down. If you can coast a hundred meters, you will soon be ready to ride a hundred km. Put the pedals back on and raise the seat to a more normal riding position. Starting along a kerb, get on the bike and coast along, soon steer out from the kerb, put the foot away from the kerb on a pedal in down position and coast along. Soon try a couple of pedal strokes.- you are now riding.

    Riding with no pedals...you can be just like this little guy. https://www.pinkbike.com/video/147106/

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    Learning to ride as an adult is very different from returning to cycling if you learned as a kid.
    You may want to consider a "learner bike", something cheap, simple maybe used or borrowed. The ladies style, open-frame is better to learn on, and it should be the correct size or a little smaller rather than too large.
    Start learning on grass not tarmac, you will probably fall over a bit. Make sure the bike doesnt have any sharp sticky-outy bits and that the handlebar ends are properly capped.
    Cover your arms and legs to protect your skin. A helmet is not so important on grass but probably sensible. Gloves are really important if you are falling. If you do fall on grass, tuck your chin and elbows in, hold the bars and roll with the fall. Dont reach out to break your fall, that will break your shoulder bone.
    Kids are much more resistant to breaking. I did all my falling aged 4.

    Make sure that your class is one for "learning to ride" rather than "learning to ride on the road"

    Recently departed cycling guru Sheldon Brown has a wonderful archive of stuff including Starting and Stopping.

    Dont forget to practice stopping.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BikinPotter View Post
    Riding with no pedals...you can be just like this little guy. https://www.pinkbike.com/video/147106/
    Wow, this kid is AWESOME! :-)

  18. #18
    Conquer Cancer rider Boudicca's Avatar
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    Gears is a good store. They are a little expensive, but they know their stuff and they should be able to help. If you can go in at a quiet time, you will probably get more time with the sales person.

    Work out if you want to ride mainly on the roads, or on unpaved trails and talk to them about the options. If you plan to ride the Waterfront Trail (which is paved) and other trails through parks, that counts as riding on the road.

    Personally I would go for a nice hybrid without suspension -- it could be $500 or so, but that's a complete guess.

    Remember you will also need things like a lock, a bell and a helmet, so save money for that.

    And you will get a much better bike than you would get from Walmart or Canadian Tire.

    And good luck with the learning to ride. Post and tell us how you are getting on.
    Zero gallons to the mile

  19. #19
    Senior Member BikinPotter's Avatar
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    Yeah, the video makes me laugh every time I watch it. He's going to be a terror when he's older. I mean that in a good way.

    I checked out GEARS website. Reminds me a bit of a big store we have here in Seattle. Some folks love it, others are less impressed with the service. GEARS has a number of good Google reviews. You'll probably be fine shopping there for your first bike. Perhaps you have a friend willing to go with you while you check out bikes. Might help you feel more secure, because it can be a little intimidating to step into a new world, where there are so many different types of cycling.

    In my head I see several classes of cyclists. Folks like me who are pretty much the bottom feeders. We have a reasonably good bike, we mostly use our bikes for recreation, maybe some commuting. Then there are the hardcore nonprofessional riders who spend a lot of money on their bikes and gear, and a lot of time on their bikes. Within that group are the amateur triathletes, racers, etc.. Then there's the oddball classification: car-free, recumbents, trikes, HPV, ice bikers . Not that i believe they are odd. Just the opposite! But by conventional western standards they are considered a little nuts. i dont know what the driver/cyclist relationship is like in Mississaugua, but in most of the USA we're treated with annoyance and sometimes overt hostility. Bicycles are not taken seriously as a viable transportation option. Finally, there are the professional athletes, racers, cyclocross and mtn bikers, who breathe a rarified air.

    Good luck finding your bike, and enjoy your class! Let us know which bike you buy, and how your class goes.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by sinay View Post
    Really? That's interesting, I thought mountain bikes were only fro more advanced riders... I didn't even look at them and to be honest, they do like very "professional" for me, lol.
    Older mountain bikes without suspension make excellent "around town" bikes. Here's mine. The frame and most of the components were a freebie, and I put perhaps $100 into getting it roadworthy.

    Old Red by Yo Spiff, on Flickr
    2000 Bianchi Veloce, '88 Schwinn Prologue, '88 Trek 900, '92 Trek T100, 2000 Rans Tailwind

  21. #21
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Crank forward type bikes are good choices
    for people that want to stop flat footed rather than tippy-toe.
    many brands offer them, Trek calls that the Pure model..

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boudicca View Post
    Gears is a good store. They are a little expensive, but they know their stuff and they should be able to help. If you can go in at a quiet time, you will probably get more time with the sales person.

    Work out if you want to ride mainly on the roads, or on unpaved trails and talk to them about the options. If you plan to ride the Waterfront Trail (which is paved) and other trails through parks, that counts as riding on the road.

    Personally I would go for a nice hybrid without suspension -- it could be $500 or so, but that's a complete guess.

    Remember you will also need things like a lock, a bell and a helmet, so save money for that.

    And you will get a much better bike than you would get from Walmart or Canadian Tire.

    And good luck with the learning to ride. Post and tell us how you are getting on.
    OK... I have a very dumb question, sorry... what does it mean to have a bike "without suspension"? Is it better for beginners? Easier? Safer?

  23. #23
    Senior Member Garfield Cat's Avatar
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    I don't know if you drive a car but you probably know a shopping cart at the local supermarket. That shopping cart has no suspension and you feel every bump on the road in the parking lot. Now, imagine if the same shopping cart had springs to soften the ride. That would be a suspension bike.

    Suspension on the seat post, suspension on the front fork for the front wheel, even suspension for the rear wheel, kind of. But mostly front fork and seat post. Softer ride, good for those who don't really care about high performance. The more suspension on a bike, the softer the ride and you will feel more comfortable on longer rides. Its all about comfort. The trade off is performance.

    If you drive a car, then you will know that sports cars have a beefed up suspension and its a harder ride but it handles better like on turns. That same sports car may even have low profile tires (little side walls) to make it turn better, more responsive.
    Last edited by Garfield Cat; 05-18-12 at 02:16 PM.

  24. #24
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    This is a front suspension fork below:

    mountain-bike-suspension-fork.jpg

    Also referred to as a "suspended fork".

    A suspended fork doesn't really matter if you're buying a bike just to learn how to cycle on. I personally, believe that learning on a hard tail mountain bike is easier than on most other bikes.

    OTOH, if your learning bike will be your only bike, you'd most probably be better off without it, unless you're going to do some serious mountain biking. In that case, you'll need a bike with a better suspension fork than what you'll find on an entry level mountain bike. That will increase the cost of the Boulder MTB substantially when upgrading...
    Last edited by SlimRider; 05-18-12 at 09:19 PM.

  25. #25
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    My understanding has been that the main reason for suspension on a full fledged mountain bike is to maintain traction on varying terrain. On a non suspended mountain bike/hybrid/cruiser, you have nice wide tires to soak up road vibration. Suspension is not really needed for street riding.
    2000 Bianchi Veloce, '88 Schwinn Prologue, '88 Trek 900, '92 Trek T100, 2000 Rans Tailwind

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