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  1. #1
    mom
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    best comfortable, fast, easy bike?

    When I was a kid, I loved to ride my bike. Now I'm 31 and relatively fit, but I can't seem to ride anymore! I can swim for miles, and I can ride for miles on perfectly flat roads, but as soon as I hit even a tiny incline, I can't seem to make the bike go. It's not that I get really tired or anything. I just slow down exponentially. My husband is at a loss. Anyway, we've only ridden a few times, and always on some random, borrowed mountain bike. I'm thinking that part of the problem has been the bike...? He's convinced me to buy my own bike, and though I'm skeptical, I really would like to go out and ride with him and my son (for whom we just got a bike seat!). So...I could use some buying advice.

    We'll ride primarily (maybe exclusively) on paved surfaces. I'm looking for something comfortable (pretty upright and not too stiff), fast/easy to ride (thus light and with big, narrow tires, right?), and relatively inexpensive. I figure that should be a hybrid, but there just seems to be such a range out there. Advice? I'd love to hear about specific makes and models.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    One Hep Cat Joe Dog's Avatar
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    I would look for a bike like this:

    http://www.rei.com/online/store/Prod...ory_rn=4500865

    This is an REI "house brand" bike, and I an not pushing REI bikes, but rather the TYPE of bike. A lot of manufacturers make bikes like this, so your local bike shop probably has a few to try.

    I picked this on because it was built/designed for comfort, provides an upright riding position and has some niceties like a carbon fork to tame the bumps. It also has room for fenders and a rack (a lot of frames do not). Even if you do not want to put fenders on your bike, this will give you room to put on some wider tires, which will also smooth out the ride and make it more pleasant. I would stay away from "hybrids" based on what I know. The ones I have seen are pretty average and aimed at people who think they should have a bike but only ride it a few times a year.

    Here is the specs summary copied from the REI site, this will be useful as you look around for a bike. Check your LBS bikes for the following features, see if the price seems reasonable, and be sure to get one that fits:

    - 6061 aluminum frame with carbon fork is designed for a versatile, comfortable ride that's sure to get your legs pumping and your face smiling!

    - Relaxed frame geometry offers stable handling

    - Shimano drivetrain provides 24 smooth-shifting gears for an easy transition from steep climbs to fast downhills

    - Ritchey mountain flatbar is comfortable and Shimano shifters easy to use

    - Angle adjustable stem allows you to dial in the perfect fit

    - Comfortable Velo Aero Plush saddle helps ensure your legs will be the only thing burning while you ride
    Rack and fender-friendly frame promotes the dream of packing up what you need and riding off into the sunset

    Again, I am not pushing an REI bike on you, rather, I want to clue you in on the kind of bike I think you might be looking for. My wife is looking for something similar and I am eyeing this one up for her.

    Good luck with your search and write back to let us know what you got. We'll want pictures, too!!

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    I think Joe Dog's post is 100% on the money.

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    Nice pick. If you are looking for something less expensive, Giant has some very good choice Hybrids. you'll get a pretty decent deal with any Giant, Trek, Gary Fisher, or Raleigh hybrid.

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    mom
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    good advice, thanks!
    i'm going to go to my local bike shop this week and check a few out.

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    Kim
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    In the summer of 2004, there was a guy I wanted to get to know better and his passion is riding. So, even though it had been at least 30 years since I rode a bike. I talked him into letting me ride one of his bikes ( a Trek)for a charity event. It was great fun. Within a month, I had bought my own- a Specialized Crossroads. I have put almost 3500 miles on since then without any problems. Plus- extra added bonus- riding is an excellent way to see what someone is really made of. We still ride as often as possible.

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    Could just be like me... your shocked by how hard a hill can really effect a bike. Things that I walk up without even thinking "ah thats a hill" definately cause my legs to burn when im pedalling up them.

    Hills seem more "amplified" somehow by the fact that your on a rolling contraption as opposed to just walking up them.

    Then again, new bikes are always nice to play with but honestly... I dont think your problem will go away, but rather it'll fade enough due to the psychological effect of having a new bike

    Take shooting for example... I bought a new shooting jacket and because I could no longer blame my old shooting jacket for making my shooting crud, I felt better!... it was new and funky! I shot a damn nice grouping and it ended with a great practice. Went back a week later, the psychological value of the new jacket had worn off... I shot just the same as the old jacket, a lot of this stuff is all in the mind. Its strange... but true

  8. #8
    Senior Member Itsjustb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mom
    When I was a kid, I loved to ride my bike. Now I'm 31 and relatively fit, but I can't seem to ride anymore! I can swim for miles, and I can ride for miles on perfectly flat roads, but as soon as I hit even a tiny incline, I can't seem to make the bike go. It's not that I get really tired or anything. I just slow down exponentially.
    mom, I'm only asking this because I've learned the hard way. You're familiar with how to use gears?

    I ask because:

    1) I bought a bike for my wife a few years ago (she was about 28 or 29 at the time) and discovered no one had ever shown her how to use the gears correctly. Hills killed her on the first part of our first ride until I showed her how to select the right gear. She still doesn't love hills, but at least she can deal with them.

    2) A guy in the Commuting forum just posted an email from his friend who'd been commuting for a few months and just barely making it up a hill, with his legs burning at the end. Turns out--yes, you guessed it--he didn't know how to change gears on his bike. Now that he does, he's making it up the hill with no problems (probably because his legs are now like iron after all that).

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by tacomee
    I think Joe Dog's post is 100% on the money.
    I think Joe Dog is 80% on the money. My wife is considering the same thing, a new bike that fits her for riding the road. You might want something a little more stable and possibly with some shock absorber, though the carbon fork will work wonders.

    Here are the Trek offerings that I would recommend.


    Trek 7.5FX....same price, better gear set, bigger tires.

    http://www2.trekbikes.com/bikes/bike...d=1341000&f=26

    Trek 4900 Mountain Bike. This is a great bike for the money, really good components. It will be stable with a child's seat. I would put a set of narrower tires on it and it will climb any hill you wish to climb.

    http://www2.trekbikes.com/bikes/bike...d=1032600&f=19

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    How tall are you?
    A lot of smaller riders have problems when pedalling bikes fitted with long MTB style cranks, this is especially apparent on climbs.
    If you are of M size (>5'4") then a lightweight fitness/flat bar style road bike would be ideal. If you are much smaller then you need to look at something more like the Terry Susan B.
    It looks like a normal hybrid bike, that is because everything is scaled down for smaller riders, including the wheels.

  11. #11
    Senior Citizen DiRt DeViL's Avatar
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    Go with a hybrid, you get the posture of a mtb and the speed of a roadie; it's the best of both worlds.
    "Life is not like a box of chocolates ...
    it's more like a jar of jalapenos.
    Whatever you do today,
    may burn your ass tomorrow."


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    I've ridden almost 20,000 miles since August of 2003 when i started. A lot of cycling is mental. One of the first things that novice riders succomb to is wind and hills. Wind and hills can easily take the fire right out of you and want to make you turn your bike towards home.

    Early on, i had to learn how to mentally process riding in wind and hills. The perceived lack of speed and adequate movement causes a newer rider to grow frustrated when tackling these obstacles. He/She feels like they are working very hard yet the bike is barely moving, so they grow mentally frustrated.

    I learned to just relax and spin the pedals. Just look down at the ground and if it is moving, you are good to go. Just enjoy the ride. Now, I can ride into staunch winds and steep hills and often don't even think about it. It just takes time. Wind and hills slows every bike down. If you consider the fact that you are just like a grain of rice moving against a gigantic air mass, you soon realize why wind slows you down.

    So maybe it isn't a different bike you need but rather, just practice with your mental abilities.

  13. #13
    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    I think Joe Dog is 80% on the money. My wife is considering the same thing, a new bike that fits her for riding the road. You might want something a little more stable and possibly with some shock absorber, though the carbon fork will work wonders.
    What exactly is unstable about the REI bike? Also, if she is lacking power in the hills, a shock absorber is the worst thing she can get. It will sap the power from each pedal stroke sabotoging her efforts.

  14. #14
    One Hep Cat Joe Dog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slowandsteady
    What exactly is unstable about the REI bike? Also, if she is lacking power in the hills, a shock absorber is the worst thing she can get. It will sap the power from each pedal stroke sabotoging her efforts.
    I have not ridden the REI bike - it might be fast handling and unstable, but I don't know that. Too twitchy would not be good, but that's sort of the definition of "too", isn't it? I shied away from shock absorbers and springy seat posts for power, but that is a matter of preference. I just prefer a stiffer bike and I get out of the saddle for the bumps. The Trek (above) looks like a good bet. I did look at the REI bike after the earlier post and the ONLY thing I did not like about it was the welds (cosmetic issues, not structural).

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    If you haven't already made your decision, it might be interesting to check out one of these. The unusual geometry permits a much larger seat, feet-on-the-ground seat height, no weight on wrists, back straight, neck not bent. Even at 31 I would've appreciated that, and I really appreciate it at 58

    - Dave

  16. #16
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    A lot of companies make a hybrid bike similar to this:


    The suspension seatpost does nothing as far as my wife could discern. The front suspension fork was also pretty useless; added weight and robbed power. Upright geometry, comfortable to ride. Hers had the grip shifters which work okay; more expensive models have trigger shifters which work better.

    This is the bike she now rides:


    Trek 7.5FX WSD
    It's faster, lighter but has the low gears necessary for climbing hills. On the flats, she flies. I bought it for her 52 birthday. You are leaning forward just a bit but you can get an adjustable stem to pull the handlebars back towards you if you like. And no, she doesn't have the saddle as high as the one in the picture. She's ridden it on dirt roads with no trouble at all. It was designed for women so it has smaller handlebars and smaller brake levers. The distance from the saddle to the bars is shorter, too since women have shorter torsos than men.

    IMHO, this is the best combination of speed, comfort, and hill climbing capabilities.

    Another option is something like this:


    Similar to the above Trek FX but has drop handlebars. May be a bit too aggressive for you but I'd give it a test ride.

    One problem that I've seen is people either buy a bike that's too aggressive or not aggressive enough. My wife's hybrid was fine when she started riding but then it held her back. Other people get a road bike then stop riding it because their back hurts. Generally, the more upright the bike, the slower you'll ride. Recumbents are a big exception to this.

    Here's something comfortable but not too fast:


    Trek Soleride. Feet can touch the ground while you're in the saddle. Handlebars are adjustable. Gears are low. Comfortable but slow.


    Specialized, Giant, Cannondale, Marin, Jamis, Fuji, etc. carry bikes similar to these.
    Last edited by bbattle; 07-14-06 at 01:44 PM.

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    Check Kona's 'Asphalt' bikes like the Dew range. I recently bought a Kona Jake (cyclocross style, kind of like a rugged road bike) and was pretty impressed with their line of bikes on short test rides and ogling them in the shop...

  18. #18
    <2<wheel<<REWIND< digitalia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mom
    When I was a kid, I loved to ride my bike. Now I'm 31 and relatively fit, but I can't seem to ride anymore! I can swim for miles, and I can ride for miles on perfectly flat roads, but as soon as I hit even a tiny incline, I can't seem to make the bike go. It's not that I get really tired or anything. I just slow down exponentially. My husband is at a loss....
    just curious, mom... do you have trouble getting up out of the saddle when hitting the hills?

    i ask because my girlfriend, 29, who's just started biking with me after having not ridden in over 10 years, can't seem to get up out of the seat to give it some *oompf* when needed on my older mountain bike. something about center of gravity guys vs. girls?

    joe

  19. #19
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    You will probably be more comfortable if your riding position is leaning forward with your weight over the pedals. It will take some weight off your butt, and make it easier to ride up the hills. I borrowed my daughter's Giant Cypress when I was in the UK last month, and I think a similar bike would suit your style.

  20. #20
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    You will probably be more comfortable if your riding position is leaning forward with your weight over the pedals. It will take some weight off your butt, and make it easier to ride up the hills. I borrowed my daughter's Giant Cypress when I was in the UK last month, and I think a similar bike would suit your style.

  21. #21
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    You could get a Greenspeed tandem and then the whole family can ride easily!
    I set up reins on ours so our 6 year old can sit up front and drive.
    I'll have to add a picture so you can see what I mean.
    DEFINETLY family fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by mom
    When I was a kid, I loved to ride my bike. Now I'm 31 and relatively fit, but I can't seem to ride anymore! I can swim for miles, and I can ride for miles on perfectly flat roads, but as soon as I hit even a tiny incline, I can't seem to make the bike go. It's not that I get really tired or anything. I just slow down exponentially. My husband is at a loss. Anyway, we've only ridden a few times, and always on some random, borrowed mountain bike. I'm thinking that part of the problem has been the bike...? He's convinced me to buy my own bike, and though I'm skeptical, I really would like to go out and ride with him and my son (for whom we just got a bike seat!). So...I could use some buying advice.

    We'll ride primarily (maybe exclusively) on paved surfaces. I'm looking for something comfortable (pretty upright and not too stiff), fast/easy to ride (thus light and with big, narrow tires, right?), and relatively inexpensive. I figure that should be a hybrid, but there just seems to be such a range out there. Advice? I'd love to hear about specific makes and models.

    Thanks!
    Having a bike that fits you can help out with comfort, and it can make hills easier, but it won't make them easy. My guess is that part of your problem with hills is the bike, and part of it is that you don't have cycling-specific muscles.

    But if you want to ride more, you do need your own bike.

    The best thing you can do is find a decent local bike shop (LBS), tell them what you are looking for, and test ride a few bikes. A good shop will be able to fit you well, and put you on a bike that you can afford.
    Eric

    2005 Trek 5.2 Madone, Red with Yellow Flames (Beauty)
    199x Lemond Tourmalet, Yellow with fenders (Beast)

    Read my cycling blog at http://riderx.info/blogs/riderx
    Like climbing? Goto http://www.bicycleclimbs.com

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by mom
    When I was a kid, I loved to ride my bike. Now I'm 31 and relatively fit, but I can't seem to ride anymore! I can swim for miles, and I can ride for miles on perfectly flat roads, but as soon as I hit even a tiny incline, I can't seem to make the bike go. It's not that I get really tired or anything. I just slow down exponentially.
    When hills come, some people tend to crank up, use all their energy, jump on the pedals and mash through the hills. Then others tend to take it easy and climb slowly. I tend to be like that. And I also am able to climb long long hills without problems, as long as I have really low gears.

    Barring any adjustment problems with the bike, I suspect that what you need are lower gears. Depending on your current setup, a wide-range cassette (ex.: 11-32 instead of 11-25) or a triple with a smaller than standard small chainring (ex.: 50-38-24) would help in your situation. Judging by your experience, you are built for the long run, and given the appropriate low gears, you'll learn very quickly to pace yourself for multi-mile hills.

    P.S. Gearing sold with road bikes (and even with many hybrids) isn't adequate for most people.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

  24. #24
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    Michel Gagnon is right about the chainring gearing size that you will need to consider. The chainring is what you are pedaling, so a standard road triple is 52/42/30, a mountain bike 44/32/22, a hybrid 48/36/26, so really think about your ability and the gears you will use. The smaller the gear number the easier, the bigger the harder. Then there is the cassette the gears on the rear tire, where the bigger the easier and the smaller the harder.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Sci-Fi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mom
    When I was a kid, I loved to ride my bike. Now I'm 31 and relatively fit, but I can't seem to ride anymore! I can swim for miles, and I can ride for miles on perfectly flat roads, but as soon as I hit even a tiny incline, I can't seem to make the bike go. It's not that I get really tired or anything. I just slow down exponentially. My husband is at a loss. Anyway, we've only ridden a few times, and always on some random, borrowed mountain bike. I'm thinking that part of the problem has been the bike...? He's convinced me to buy my own bike, and though I'm skeptical, I really would like to go out and ride with him and my son (for whom we just got a bike seat!). So...I could use some buying advice.

    We'll ride primarily (maybe exclusively) on paved surfaces. I'm looking for something comfortable (pretty upright and not too stiff), fast/easy to ride (thus light and with big, narrow tires, right?), and relatively inexpensive. I figure that should be a hybrid, but there just seems to be such a range out there. Advice? I'd love to hear about specific makes and models.

    Thanks!
    A bike with dropped handlebars, a typical touring or road bike, takes advantage of a woman's lower body strength and upper body strength (arm, shoulder, back, abdominal) is developed quickly as a beneficial side effect. IMHO, it's a better choice for women than a hybrid or mountain bike, with their relatively straight handlebars, for the conditions/purposes you outlined/had in mind.

    Another option would be to look at a twist shift (6 or 7 speed) cruiser bike. The handle bars are the traditional curved back...probably similar to what you had when you were a kid. The seats are relatively comfortable (main complaint among women) and you are in a more upright position. The tires are fatter and add a measure of comfort, but don't expect it to be a speed demon (20+mph) unless you change the tires to a more skinny profile. Bought a PT Cruiser bike for my GF since she wanted a more traditional bike and she's happy with the all-around performance and comfort even on 40-50 mile rides over various terrains. She's planning on adding a rear rack with a pair of Wald 582 rear folding grocery baskets.
    Here's a pic of her bike:

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