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  1. #1
    shewhobikes spinhappy's Avatar
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    Newbie lady needs bike advice

    Hey folks, I'd love to hear any advice about selecting a bike. I've turned into a spin class addict these past few months and on the weekends am riding my old ratty bike around local asphalt paths. I'm pushing 49 and am in pretty good shape. I enjoy riding around the 'hood, but my husband used to be a pretty avid mountain biker. I think he'd really like me to get a mountain bike, but we have to drive a ways out of town to use it, and I want to be able to hop on and go when I get an extra hour or two after work or on weekends. So I was thinking about a hybrid for starters. I'm planning to go to the local cycle shop this weekend to discuss all this. They have an excellent reputation and have been in business forever, so I'm sure they'll give good advice. In the meantime, I'd love any pointers or suggestions. Glad to find this forum. Cheers, and have a great weekend.

  2. #2
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Mtb's make good stable all around bikes even for road.
    You run 1.5 or so slick tires and they roll plenty fast.
    They also almost always have triples (granny gear) so going up hills is a breeze.

    You would then have the option to swap out the tires to knobbies and use the bike offroad if you vacation.

    The mtb's with inclined toptubes are nice as they have a low stand-over and low center of gravity.

    Mtb is one name..Tom Ritchey called them ATB, all terrain -road can be included, just change the tires.

    Good luck (forget luck -test ride) finding the bike right for your needs.

    >jef.

  3. #3
    shewhobikes spinhappy's Avatar
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    Merton, thanks, I'll check into that. I was afraid the hybrid might be a little of this and a little of that but basically not great in either direction. Jeff, good deal, I will try mtb and think about getting slick/knobby wheels depending on the day. Makes sense.

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    I have two hybrids: one low-end for winter and rain, and another nicer one - based on a fast road bike - for nice weather. I ride one of them between 16 and 20 miles almost every weekday, plus some weekends. Part road, part multi-use trail, part (gasp!) sidewalk designated as bike trail.

    I find hybrids perfect for my kind of riding, and far better than the heavier and out-of-place moutain bikes that I pass as they labor along. I often wonder if they realized that they bought the wrong kind of bike for the riding they do.

    However, I only occasionally go fully offroad -- the longest has been a three hour ride in the hills. If I were gonna do that often or do longer rides, I would definitely want a mountain bike but never would use the heavier mountain bike for around-the-town crusing. Waste of effort lugging the useless gear along, and less fun because they are pokier.

  5. #5
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    Like many other people I've met, I started with a hybrid, got hooked and bought a road bike the next year (and then a 2d road bike 3 years later!). Virtually every one of us found our hybrids pretty worthless for the kind of riding we do, and mine is pretty much limited to use on the crushed gravel multi-use paths near-by, but a MTB would be better for that, if I had to choose again. I like Merton's cross bike suggestion--ride it on the road, on the trail, commute, room for wider tires.

    Until you know whether you're a hard-core roadie, a cross bike sounds good, depending on what kind of riding you intend to do. Reading between the lines, you sound like you ride pretty hard, and if you want to do that and ride faster and stronger, you might want to go straight to a road bike. If you want to commute and do some weekend rides, cross may be the way to go. But, again reading between the lines, you sound fit and if you want to ride like you spin, the hybrid is the wrong choice, I'd say.

  6. #6
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aiguy

    I find hybrids perfect for my kind of riding, and far better than the heavier and out-of-place moutain bikes that I pass as they labor along. I often wonder if they realized that they bought the wrong kind of bike for the riding they do.

    However, I only occasionally go fully offroad -- the longest has been a three hour ride in the hills. If I were gonna do that often or do longer rides, I would definitely want a mountain bike but never would use the heavier mountain bike for around-the-town crusing. Waste of effort lugging the useless gear along, and less fun because they are pokier.
    What is useless gear?

    Pokier? Geez, guess my 21 pound chromoly racing mtb welded by Tom Ritchey just won't cut it eh?
    Bet your hybrids are above 25 pounds and no chance of any areodynamic riding positioning.

    Guarantee I can drop lower in a corner, corner faster and re-accelerate faster than any hybrid.
    I can go faster than most people on road bikes on hills (still sitting on the saddle), can pretty much keep up on the flats -(maybe 3 mph slower.)

    Have you ever even ridden an HQ mtb? Were talking a good mtb frame is above $600. Frame.
    A $400 complete Trek mtb is a truck.

    There is little chance you have more fun on your hybrid even in town, I spend my time bunny hopping, doing manuals, curb jumping, doing technical work to improve my riding skills.
    Then I go offroad and do it wild in the woods!

    I live on the North Shore of B.C Canada....most people just use mtb's for commuting with slicks, fenders.
    They all look pretty happy.

    If you got the dough, you can get 18-19 pound hardtail mtb's. They will do ANYTHING you want with little effort.
    Too bad I hate Aluminium...guess I'll have to keep riding my porky ol' steel bike.
    Man...21 freakin' pounds..it's too heavy!

    I'm ranting...sorry. My 67.3 cents on the subject.

  7. #7
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    Hi,
    the most important thing is the fit. If they're good they will spend some time making sure the fit is good. They will have a midgrade hybrid for $600-700. My wife has a Bianchi Strada, which is a steel framed hybrid at about that cost. I would upgrade the tires at the time of purchase (I hate flats). I upgraded the wheels on my wife's bike to make it livelier. Also a personal thing.
    Try the bike with the stock seat, you will need a couple weeks for your butt to get used to riding in any case. But, eventually, you will prob want to get a decent seat. I went through a zillion seats
    before wifey was happy. She uses a Brooks Finesse. Ah, scratch that, you can worry about that later. Just be aware any upgrading you do at the time of sale will be a little cheaper since you can swap parts. Don't forget the helmet.

  8. #8
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    A well made bike that fits you should be your first priority. WHICH bike is something like "which flavor of ice cream".

    A light mountain bike with only front suspension can also be a great "around the neighborhood" bike. The bike messengers in my town put lightweight slicks on light mountain bikes because they can take a beating from our horrible streets, and provide a good "cushion" against shock for their riders. For REAL dirt riding, just switch back to big, fat knobby tires.

    Likewise, a well-made hybrid, such as the Trek 7300, can make a good "road bike", using lightweight slicks, or a pretty good trail bike for smoother trails, using fat, knobby tires.

    Your enjoyment of any bike is related to how well it fits. The low, stretched out postion favored by Pro riders, and 25 year old "wanna be" racers is NOT the position that most riders over the age of 40 find comfortable. Especially if you will be riding in urban traffic, you need a bike that allows you to keep your head up so you can keep a close watch on traffic, and not a "fit" that puts your nose down against the front tire.

    I hope you will keep us posted on how things go.

  9. #9
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    The cyclocross might be an option, depends if you can ride in that position.

    I think (IMO) a bike designed for a type of riding specific will always be a better choice than a design hybridization.

    I would prefer to ride road bikes and mtb's (not ridden cyclocross).
    I FIND the mtb to be able to do both, the road bike is only designed for road. Singular purpose.

    I consider mtb's to be very safe bikes, very stable, low center of gravity, has multiple options as to how to set up for comfort or terrain.

    IF....I was to only have one good bike..my choice, mtb -I can modify it for street.
    2 bikes....one mtb, one road.
    3 bikes....mtb, road and downhill.
    If I ever get to 4, a nice folder too.

    I run riser bars instead of flats so i'm not so bent over.
    A hybrid would be excelent for a persons with back problems I'd think, and good for a 'recreational' bike.
    Problem is, if you really get into cycling, the design will hold you back.

    Sorry to seem all hot on my previous post, I really feel the mtb is THE major developement in cycling.
    Even cyclocross adopted the inclined toptube of the mtb.
    I've had road bikes, have a triathelon bike....I still prefer the stability of the mtb.

    I've avoided several accidents on the road by using my skills and the 'all terrain' aspect of the bike.
    I'm lousy at bunnyhopping road bikes .

    aiguy, your hybrids are probably perfect for you, and really nice rides.
    I don't want the whole planet to ride mtb's, I just recommend what I have found from my cycling.

    Hope you all have peaches to ride.

    >jef.

  10. #10
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    I agree with Jeff. If I was forced to ride just ONE bike (shoot me now) it would be a mountain bike. A properly setup mountain bike can take you down a pot-holed urban alley, into the park, down the gravel road, and then up on the dirt trail. If you live where there is snow, it can handle snow. It is truly the "go anywhere" bike.

    And, because a MTB is designed to take abuse, it is likely to spend more time on the road, and less time in the shop. My six year old MTB has spent just one hour back in the shop (because I'm too klutzy to replace a chain myself)...my other bikes...sigh.

    The subject of "fit" has come up repeatedly. MOST of the riders I see are on the wrong size bike. Thirty years ago, most people bought bikes that were too large. The new "fashion" is to buy bikes that are too small, hike up the seatpost, stretch down low to the bars, and then say "Why does my neck and crotch hurt so much?"

    So, after you decide on the type of bike, spend a lot of time and attention on getting the right size bike, getting the seat at the right "fore/aft" position, getting the correct seat height, and then put the bars up as high as the seat (because you plan to ride your bike, not race it).

  11. #11
    shewhobikes spinhappy's Avatar
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    Thanks everybody. All of this is VERY helpful. I'm getting a better perspective on how to think about where I'm headed with this purchase. What a cool forum! Glad I found you guys. I'll check back in after some shopping and test-riding. Cheers.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    There are so many different ways of bicycling that it's hard to advise somebody else, particularly if they live in a different area. I think that the trap that we all fall into is thinking that the kind of bicycling we personally enjoy best is fun for everybody. For example, one of the other posters said that, if he were limited to one bike, he'd choose his mountain bike. Given that same situation, I'd pick my road bike without hesitation. I love to get out on a country road somewhere and glide along on a bike that is so light and lively that it almost feels like it has a motor. The interesting thing is both of us is experienced with other kinds of bikes and riding and that neither of us is hedging, because we know where our enjoyment lies.

    I think that figureing out what you are really going to enjoy doing with it is the hardest part of choosing a first bike. The more accurate you are in making that prediction, the more likely you are to be completely satisfied with your selection. The temptation is to get a play-it-safe utility bike of some kind. That avoids being seriously disappointed, but it also precludes feeling the joy of being totally satisfied.

    If, after analyzing yourself, the kinds of other things that you enjoy doing now, and the kinds of things your friends and associates like to do, you think that a hybred or cyclo-cross bike or some other kind of "do-everything" bike is right for you I say go for it. If you find yourself choosing a middle-of-the-road bike just to avoid making a decision between a road and a mountain bike, I'd say you should take the time to think some more.

  13. #13
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    An MTB is a good choice if you want the option of offroad riding, but get a lightweight one; many MTBs are way overbuilt for general trail riding. The full suspension models are less practical on the road, and only required if you do more extreme downhill style off-roading.
    If you want to use the bike as a runabout and possibly commuter and winter bike, then get a frame which has threaded eyelets for luggage rack and fenders.
    Your bikeshop should advise you on correct fit. Make sure you buy the bike that fits you, not just the sizethey happen to have.

    The difference between the MTB wheel and hybrid (700c) size is overstated. Most of the difference comes down to choice of tyre. An efficient 1.5" slick tyres for MTB is comparable with a medium touring tyre (700c 28-32mm) for a hybrid.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeff williams
    What is useless gear?

    Pokier? Geez, guess my 21 pound chromoly racing mtb welded by Tom Ritchey just won't cut it eh?
    Bet your hybrids are above 25 pounds and no chance of any areodynamic riding positioning.

    Guarantee I can drop lower in a corner, corner faster and re-accelerate faster than any hybrid.
    I can go faster than most people on road bikes on hills (still sitting on the saddle), can pretty much keep up on the flats -(maybe 3 mph slower.)

    Have you ever even ridden an HQ mtb? Were talking a good mtb frame is above $600. Frame.
    A $400 complete Trek mtb is a truck.

    There is little chance you have more fun on your hybrid even in town, I spend my time bunny hopping, doing manuals, curb jumping, doing technical work to improve my riding skills.
    Then I go offroad and do it wild in the woods!

    I live on the North Shore of B.C Canada....most people just use mtb's for commuting with slicks, fenders.
    They all look pretty happy.

    If you got the dough, you can get 18-19 pound hardtail mtb's. They will do ANYTHING you want with little effort.
    Too bad I hate Aluminium...guess I'll have to keep riding my porky ol' steel bike.
    Man...21 freakin' pounds..it's too heavy!

    I'm ranting...sorry. My 67.3 cents on the subject.

    Little touchy, are we? You weren't one of the people on mountain bikes I dropped over the weekend, were you? If so, sorry!

    P.S. Our bikes weigh about the same and mine also is chromoly. But I wasn't able to get Tom to weld it for me, I think he was busy that day.

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    [QUOTE=MichaelW]An MTB is a good choice if you want the option of offroad riding, but get a lightweight one; many MTBs are way overbuilt for general trail riding. The full suspension models are less practical on the road, and only required if you do more extreme downhill style off-roading.
    If you want to use the bike as a runabout and possibly commuter and winter bike, then get a frame which has threaded eyelets for luggage rack and fenders. ..
    QUOTE]

    This is (at least part of) what I meant but didn't say. I would say that most of the mountain bikes I see laboring up (and down) hills around here are not Jeff Williams quality, but instead represent what an average first-time buyer is likely to spend (less then $400). In that case, spending money for full suspension in order to cruise the neighborhood/town/bike trails and paths strikes me as a huge mistake -- people spending money for stuff that 1) is heavy 2) they don't use often, and 3) probably isn't quality enough to stand up to real mountain biking should it ever come to that.

  16. #16
    shewhobikes spinhappy's Avatar
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    Very helpful, all of this. Many thanks. So here's what's happened...(drum roll

    I bought a Gary Fisher Big Sur (on sale, good price)...replaced the seat with one that's happier for gals (can't recall the brand right off, but it's the cut-out type); kept the knobby tires but had the LBS put on slicker, bit slimmer, tires for the roads and asphalt paths I ride on most. So far, so good. I LOVE the gears and the feel. I can't believe how much fun this is. Yeeha!

    Only issue I have, and it's important, is that I'm feeling a little neck/shoulder pain after about an hour and a half. Could be that the whole thing is new and I'm still dialing in (after a couple of rides.) I'm going to take the bike back in this weekend and have the LBS double-check the set-up, maybe adjust the stem.

    Any comments, advice, still appreciated! Thanks, guys!

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    Quote Originally Posted by spinhappy
    Very helpful, all of this. Many thanks. So here's what's happened...(drum roll

    I bought a Gary Fisher Big Sur (on sale, good price)...replaced the seat with one that's happier for gals (can't recall the brand right off, but it's the cut-out type); kept the knobby tires but had the LBS put on slicker, bit slimmer, tires for the roads and asphalt paths I ride on most. So far, so good. I LOVE the gears and the feel. I can't believe how much fun this is. Yeeha!

    Only issue I have, and it's important, is that I'm feeling a little neck/shoulder pain after about an hour and a half. Could be that the whole thing is new and I'm still dialing in (after a couple of rides.) I'm going to take the bike back in this weekend and have the LBS double-check the set-up, maybe adjust the stem.

    Any comments, advice, still appreciated! Thanks, guys!
    Nice choice, I'm sure you'll continue to love it. (And if like me, love it even more as you ride more.)

    Definitely good to have the store adjust the fit -- lots of things to fine tune there, and I am no expert on fit (though I have gotten mine correct through lots of trial and error. Stem height was the tricky one for me).

    One thing I have read here on the forums is that the shoulder and neck muscles are being used in riding (looking over shoulders, holding head/upper body in various positions, etc) differently than in just about any other activity. So that some soreness in those areas may be normal as your muscles accustom to this. This was true for me, and was independent of getting the fit right.

  18. #18
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    A Gary Fisher? ...your bike is probably nicer than mine (nicer, not FASTER!).

    Hour and half rides are long for starting up cycling. But it sounds like the bike works for you if you feel like cycling that far.

    The shoulder thing may be too stretched over the toptube.
    Slide the seat in mm increments foreward.
    It's too foreward if your hands are getting too much pressure and start going numb.
    You weight should be ballanced equally between the saddle, feet and hands.

    Lowering the saddle will make you sit more upright.
    A riser bar or stem to raise your hands if all else fails.

  19. #19
    I couldn't car less. jeff williams's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aiguy
    Little touchy, are we? You weren't one of the people on mountain bikes I dropped over the weekend, were you? If so, sorry!

    P.S. Our bikes weigh about the same and mine also is chromoly. But I wasn't able to get Tom to weld it for me, I think he was busy that day.
    Only time I get dropped is when gearing goes past 38+11, 25 mph flatland.
    http://www.oldmountainbikes.com/cgi-....cgi?bike=7P39 a later example of P-series racing bikes.
    My bike is a prototype P-series made from heavier grade steel used for forks so I have small diameter tube sets.
    I'm fairly obnoxious about comparing frames, but I had to find and re-build mine.

  20. #20
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    Neck and shoulder soreness: pay attention to how you ride. Do you keep your arms straight, elbows locked? If so, try bending them to absorbe shock. Definitely get fitted by the bike shop. You might need your seat adjusted front-back and/or a different stem.

  21. #21
    Senior Member jazzy_cyclist's Avatar
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    I tend to tell a lot of people this: until you ride a while, you won't really know what's important to you. But I think after a while, you will start getting definite ideas on what your next ride is gonna be...

    My wife is a spin fanatic -- I see spinners as oriented more towards road bikes, but as long as you can ride...

  22. #22
    shewhobikes spinhappy's Avatar
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    Hey folks, this is all very helpful. To hear from riders like all of you with so much more experience is the best sort of practical advice.

    Jeff, I'm feeling I have too much pressure on my hands, and at the same time my shoulders are all tensed, so I'm a little 'cornfused' about what exactly is wrong, but I imagine the good men of hte LBS will figure it out shortly.

    Jazzy Cyclist, I'm thinking the next bike will be road. I'm just a little in awe of them--they seem so tiny, those thin wheels....whoo! But I can't wait to get on one and see what it's like.

    Y'all have a great weekend. Saturday here is supposed to by 59 and no rain till the afternoon, so I'm hoping for a good ride in the a.m. Ciao!

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    Velogirl mentions the easiest possible solution to implement: remind yourself to keep your elbows flexed. It may seem obvious but quite typical to let the arms get too rigid; when I forget this, that stress travels up into my shoulders and neck. Assuming the more technical issues of fit are correct, this might solve the problem.

    As for your comment that "the next bike will be road," I think I implied that you would experience that, just not quite so soon! What a delightful feeling a good road bike can provide! But I'll also warn you that, shortly after you buy a road bike, you begin to fantasize about your next road bike--a lighter frame and wheels, upgraded compoments, maybe even custom.... Ultimately, you are limted only by storage space and your husband's tolerance!

  24. #24
    So say we all.
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    spinhappy: Beware! You're doing exactly what I did. A Gary Fischer mountain bike seems good to start with, but then you long for the speed of a road bike. Then you start haunting craigslist.

    I'm currently at the "find a social cycling group for a first ride" phase -- I'm going tomorrow AM. Just thought you'd be interested in knowing where you'll end up in a few months!

    Happy cycling!

  25. #25
    shewhobikes spinhappy's Avatar
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    Checking back in...Velogirl, I did check my form--good reminder, but that wasn't it. Took the bike back to LBS and we adjusted the seat backward a bit. (Jeff, your comment on "too much pressure on the hands" was a good tip.) Feels a LOT better. LBS guy says ride it awhile and if it's not just right we'll try a bit longer stem. Great!

    RedHairedScot, as predicted, while I was at the LBS browsing around I fell hard for those pretty LeMond road bikes... Hope your group ride went well.

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