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Old 12-01-13, 09:50 AM   #1
Shawnp204
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New and need some help please!!!!

Hello I'd like to start by saying sorry if I'm posting in the wrong area.

What bike is best for me????


I'm a newbie and wants to get into riding. My goals are to ride on the road only and ride for hours while being comfortable and maintaining a quick speed! I have been researching for a week now and I'm trying to figure out the best bike for my needs. I also want to add that a few years ago I had L3-L4 lumbar surgery, and want to know if a road bike is ideal for my back. I can ride a mountain bike or bmx with no back pain. And should I go with drop bars or flat bars?

Thank you
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Old 12-01-13, 10:27 AM   #2
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a mountain bike would probably be a lousy idea for your needs. it might put you in the riding position you want, but the heavy-duty frame and fat, knobby tires will just needlessly slow you down. conversely, an inefficient bike means you burn more calories! look for a pavement-oriented bike with smooth tires (not big knobbies for dirt and mud.)

it sounds to me that finding a bike that is comfortable for you after your surgery, and you can only figure out what that is by riding a few bikes. in extreme cases, someone with back pain would need a recumbent bike, less severe cases would want a "comfort hybrid," which is characterized by tall handlebars and a big saddle to allow a very upright position while riding. next would be a "fitness hybrid" or "flat-bar road bike," which, when fitted correctly, is aggressive but with a somewhat upright position. if you want to ride long distances, a touring bike or a road bike with "endurance geometry" might suit you. this is a bike with drop bars that are set up tall so relax the angle of your back. just stay away from "race-oriented" road bikes. most of us have no use for a racing bike, especially someone with back issues.

You can also take just about any bicycle and put a taller stem and/or taller handlebars on it. if the bike fits and you really like it, ask if a mechanic can re-fit the bike with a tallers rise/ shorter reach stem and taller bars if it has a flat handlebar. the bike shop might charge you a little extra for the parts and labor to do this, but they should also give you credit for the parts they have to take off the bike.

in the end, you're going to have to visit a few bike shops and test ride a few bikes. I recommend a few different bike shops because, having worked at bike shops over the past few years, I find that the level of competence among bike shop salespeople varies widely. go in and explain your situation and ask who the most experienced bike fitter in the store is. any bike shop worth anything will have some sort of basic bike fit knowledge and will let you test ride a few bikes.

how many bike shops do you have in your area? what bike manufacturers do they sell?

what is your budget? this should be the last question any bike salesperson asks after they figure out what style of bike you need, but be aware that something decent and durable will cost $500-1000. include a helmet, water bottle cages, blinky lights, and some cycling shorts (yes, you want the padded shorts!) in your budget.
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Old 12-01-13, 10:30 AM   #3
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The most important factor in comfort is the fit. You can usually raise or lower the handlebars on a bike to get them where you want them. You can even change the stem to bring them closer or push them out further. A bike will have a certain range of adjustment. So it is not going to be the bike itself in the end, but how you have it adjusted.

If you are riding with your torso approximately horizontal, then a big bump that jolts your pelvis up, that will put a shear stress on your vertebrae. Sitting up vertically, that bump will become compressive stress. Which do your vertebrae prefer?

In the limit, the fastest bike is not the most comfortable bike. There is always a bit of compromise.

There is also budget. The bikes I dream about are up in the $5000 range. To spend money like that, even if you can afford it, you really should know quite exactly what you want. If you are just trying to sort things out a bit, spend more like $800 which can buy a very nice bike, good enough so you can really see if the general set-up is what you want. That $800 could work for decades. Or maybe after 3 years you have figured out what you really want and then it could make sense to spend the big bucks.

Handlebar styles are a real blast! These days people are experimenting with all sorts of shapes! Straight flat bars don't make much sense. But look e.g. at something like this: http://www.rivbike.com/product-p/hb3a.htm

Have fun exploring and learning!
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Old 12-01-13, 10:31 AM   #4
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Excellent advice, mack turtle and Jim Kulula! Another option might be a hybrid. Here's the hybrid forum here so you can check out the different types. http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdispl...ybrid-Bicycles

Welcome to Bike Forums! And good luck on your search!
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Old 12-01-13, 10:35 AM   #5
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I was going to post a link to Rivendell too, but I forgot. i second that as a good starting point. Grant's advice for "non-racers" is pure gold, although I disagree with him about clipless pedals and padded cycling shorts.
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Old 12-01-13, 11:15 AM   #6
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thanks for the quick responses everyone. few more questions. with Drop Bars doesn't that keep your back straight therefore no pain? and i from reading i hear drop bars may take me some time to get used to. and on a hybrid bike i heard that riding long distances will put stain on your body and will get uncomfortable is this true?
i want to buy Specialized Brand. maybe the Secteur compact or the Allez 14 my price range is 1100 so could anyone tell me the best Specialized Road bike for that price range and a comfortable ride
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Old 12-01-13, 11:30 AM   #7
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Shawnp204

Take your time buying. You can get a very good new bike for $1100
but a GREAT USED bike for $1000.

Some older bikes-no suspension-were sold as mountain bikes-but they are really just road bikes with 26" tires relaxed geometry-and flat bars.
A bike like that-no suspension-with narrow 1 -1.5" smooth tires-is a pretty good do anything bike.
Not quite as fast as a pure road bike or as light-but rugged durable- versatile-since you can fit them with wider tires or even tires with read suitable for grass light trails etc
They can take drop bars flat bars or upright bars
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Old 12-01-13, 12:30 PM   #8
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thanks for the quick responses everyone. few more questions. with Drop Bars doesn't that keep your back straight therefore no pain? and i from reading i hear drop bars may take me some time to get used to. and on a hybrid bike i heard that riding long distances will put stain on your body and will get uncomfortable is this true?
i want to buy Specialized Brand. maybe the Secteur compact or the Allez 14 my price range is 1100 so could anyone tell me the best Specialized Road bike for that price range and a comfortable ride
I have a bulging disk, L3 and I have found success on the mtb, the hybrid. The road bike frame had to be custom built because I could not be on a road bike for more than 10 mins without pain - bending at the waist put more pressure on the spin in that location. It was better for me if I sat up more straight.
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Old 12-01-13, 12:36 PM   #9
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Ok so maybe I should stay away from a road bike. I want to build up to riding with groups, so what bike would be good for that and be able to keep up with the group?
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Old 12-01-13, 01:42 PM   #10
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Since you were interested in a Specialized, try out the Sirrus. It is a hybrid, but more road-like than many. It comes in several equipment levels, and is available with a compact front crank, upgraded gearsets, and carbon fiber. I just got a Specialized Vita Sport, which is the womens' version. Specialized does their "Body Geometry Fit" -included with their bikes. They latch your bike onto rollers, and fit it to you with calipers, measurements, as you are both sitting stationary on it as well as pedaling. I'll say that my Vita is a fast bike, and comfortable for my bad back. I don't know about fast rides with road bikes, but you'll be able to do the "B" group easily enough on one. My 2 cents and I'll defer to others more experienced as I'm a newbie as well, just returning to cycling after a 30 yr hiatus. BTW, Cannondale Quick is another respected hybrid.
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Old 12-01-13, 02:09 PM   #11
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I think that strength and flexibility are what you need to be able to ride long distances with low handlebars. On a hybrid sort of bike you can certainly keep your back reasonably straight. It's good to be leaning forward a reasonable amount because that lets you engage muscles more effectively. The advantage of getting really low is mostly aerodynamic. If you want to go out and keep up with folks at racing or serious training speeds, you'll get a real racing-type bike. But that might possibly not be a practical goal if your back is too tricky.
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Old 12-01-13, 02:28 PM   #12
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ThudBuster suspension seatpost will help, the LT is requiring less seat post extension, exposed .

they offer a range of interchangeable density Blocks for rider weight range at 190 # I'm near the max
250 is the limit. it takes up some road shock bumps

fast is about overcoming air resistance, faster you want to go the more it pushes back ..Physics 101.

a velomobile wins there, a recumbent trike inside a streamlined body .. part with about $6K/.
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Old 12-01-13, 02:31 PM   #13
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Wife had two laminectomies; road bike for her was uncomfortable. She had one of those comfort bikes but couldn't go very far in it. She now rides a Trek 7.1 FX hybrid and she is very comfortable in it. Her sitting posture is an ever-so-slight lean which makes for perfect comfort......for her.
I never had surgery, but do have spinal stenosis. I ride the Specialized Allez Elite and love it. I generally do not go into the drops, but when I do it's not a problem.
As other have said, your own comfort will be the deciding factor.
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Old 12-01-13, 02:47 PM   #14
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Whatever you get, don't get a recumbent. They're not real bikes.
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Old 12-01-13, 07:11 PM   #15
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Actually, you don't "bend at the waist" to hold the bars on a road bike. You rotate your torso downwards from the hips. Sit at a flat surface, such as a table or your computer desk, about 6" or so above your chair, and touch your chin to the flat surface. Your natural instinct will be to bend at the waist. Then, make a conscious effort to do it by rotating from your hips. This puts less pressure on your lower back. However, whether you can ride comfortably for long periods won't be known until you actually ride different types of bikes. Find a shop that offers longer test rides than a quick spin around the parking lot, and ride some. Ride drop bar road bikes. Ride hybrids. There are people who can ride flat bar bikes and do 5 hour centuries (that's averaging 20 mph). At my first century of this year, there was a guy on a 29-er averaging 20 mph in the group I was in, for the first 60-70 miles, until he made a food stop and we went on. There are hybrids marketed as "flat bar road bikes" that come with lighter wheels, and better drive train groups, than the standard hybrid. If you find you need more hand positions, you can add a pair of bull horns to the bar ends and ride in a wrist neutral position. But you really need to test out both types of bikes first, before deciding.
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Old 12-01-13, 07:17 PM   #16
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Whatever you get, don't get a recumbent. They're not real bikes.
And they are really uncomfortable and a bad choice for people with back issues...
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Old 12-01-13, 07:33 PM   #17
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thanks for the quick responses everyone. few more questions. with Drop Bars doesn't that keep your back straight therefore no pain? and i from reading i hear drop bars may take me some time to get used to. and on a hybrid bike i heard that riding long distances will put stain on your body and will get uncomfortable is this true?
i want to buy Specialized Brand. maybe the Secteur compact or the Allez 14 my price range is 1100 so could anyone tell me the best Specialized Road bike for that price range and a comfortable ride
The Forward Lean on a Road/Race bike will take pressure off of you back problem. 71 y/o here with two herniated discs in my lower back.
Pedaling with your hands on the Hoods will strengthen your middle core.

Just bought this last week.. for $200 (then sold the wheels for $90) Rode it 58 mi Sat, 50 Sun.



The used market here is good. Also got this one in the spring for $600, Full Ultegra (had 25 mi on it). Sold the Whs for $225



I have been able to get in 57,000 miles with the road bikes in 6 years.

Comfort comes into play when you and the bike have a perfect fit.
Took me 2900 miles to be ready for my First Century.

Good luck to you and Happy Miles.
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Old 12-02-13, 06:26 AM   #18
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You can always read the description of the Norco Valance A4 on their web site. They say the posture between a race bike and a hybrid. So, comfortable over long distances but aggressive enough for speed. The 47/57mm reach brakes would allow you to put 32mm tires according to my research.

Oops, I read more and realize maybe you need a touring bike, more upright.

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Old 12-02-13, 07:59 AM   #19
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most road bikes can be set up so that you don't have to lean forward very much, taking pressure off your hands and easing up on your back. don't rule it out until you have ridden a bike with drop bars that was set up for a non-racer. most people spend most of their time riding on top of the brake hoods when using drop bars, not down low in the drops. the advantage to drop bars is the multiple hand positions that you can use over varying terrain and over many miles.

the alternative would be a flat bar with bar end (those short bars bolted onto the ends of the handlebar that face forward like horns) or some "alternative" handlebar like a butterfly bar. the Novara Safari is a good long-distance, comfy bike with alt bars, for reference.
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Old 12-02-13, 08:21 AM   #20
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I had a L4/L5 fusion in 2008. The road bike should be fine for you. The advice about rolling your pelvis (above) is spot on.

With a herniated disc, you'll just want to avoid compressive impacts, so stay on the road. Have the bike shop work with you to get the bike posture to where it is comfortable for you. Explain what your concerns are, and see what they can do to help.
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Old 12-02-13, 09:00 AM   #21
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But OTOH most everyone knows that people that have back problems would be far better off on a recumbent bike or trike. No use doing further damage to a bad back.
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Old 12-09-13, 07:59 PM   #22
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THanks everyone for your advise! I ended up going with a bianchi road bike my local bike shop helped me and fit me to a bike... I have put over a hundred miles on it so far and I love it! No pain at all except for a sore ass due to getting used to the saddle lol
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