My wife, up until now, has viewed the act of riding a bicycle as another form of torture. I was surprised to hear her say she would be very willing to ride with me if she had a decent bike (semi-light weight, good gearing choices, etc...) that was comfortable. I talked with her and found out she doesn't like to be bent over (the classic road-racing/riding position) as it hurts her back. (I'm of the impression that she's a bit out of shape and the muscles in her back aren't up to snuff. But... c'est la vie.)
Well...being the knowledgeable pro bike rider I am with all the answers...I thought I'd ask you guys What bike frame would you recommend? I don't know if a mountain bike would be a great idea due to the limited hand positions. My children sometimes complain of sore/numb hands after riding (on the road) with Dad.
So: tourist frame, hybrid? Recumbent? At the least, I suppose a low saddle, high handlebar position. Then of course there's the seat. Any comfy seats you ladies would recommend?
Sounds like she would prefer a more upright English position. Maybe after she rides for awhile she will want/be able to try different riding styles.
Touring frames are not much different in position from racing, the back is just not as flat and there may not be as much reach to the bars but they are basically the same.
Hybrids, comforts and cruisers will give you a more upright position. There are many threads here praising the various comfort bikes (Trek, Giant, and some others I know I am forgetting). Recumbents will let you feel like you are getting about in your lounge chair.
All of these characteristics are somewhat secondary though. What will be important is that she is comfortable and enjoys the bike. It may be that she has not been set up very well on road style frames, which can lead to back and other pains. Traditional setups may still be an option but psychologically she may need a different style to get her going.
From all I have read regarding women and saddles I am left believing that there are no best saddles. With all womens saddles you can read stories on both sides of the aisle. I hear the Terry saddles mentioned frequently. I can understand this as I do a particular sport that requires specific boots. I have yet to find a boot that I like. I have even tried professional customizations with no luck. Trial and error seems to be the phrase of the day for women and saddles.
The best advice anyone could give would be to take her to a bike shop or two and test ride some bikes. It may take you a couple of visits to figure out what would work best and what she likes. But the effort could well lead to a lifetime activity for you two.
Good Luck. Write back about how it turns out, good or bad.
Std hybrids and their modern lighter-weight varients (Specialized Sirrus style) are all pretty good as general purpose bikes.
If your wife is shorter (<5'2") then 26" MTB wheels are the thing to use. The only lightweight hybrid bike using MTB wheels is the Terry Susan B. Every other attempt is a heavy comfort-style bike not much use over 10 miles.
I would recommend you not spending a lot of money on this bike as it will probably end up in the basement. I talked my wife into buying a hybrid about 5 years ago. She picked it out. It is comfortable, but it all comes down to the fact that she really doesn't like to ride bikes.
If I had it to do over again, I would also look into less complicated gearing. My wife's bike has 21 speeds. I wish it was a SS or had a max of 3 gears.
There are so many choices in the comfort/hybrid marketplace right now. Dozens of options to pick from. A good LBS is the way to go.
Some bikes to perhaps start with are:
Crank-Forward designs. Sit you up very straight, low seat position, you can put both feet on the ground while sitting. There are very cushy designs with big tires like the Electra Townies and Trek Solo. The Giant Suede models offer a bit more performance, with narrower tires. And then there is one designed for higher performances, Rans. Several of these are available in single, 3-spd, 7-spd, 8-spd, and 21 to 24-spd variants. I've read of people doing 50+ mile rides on these (well, much longer on the Rans). Many testimonials about people getting back into biking after years of inactivity using these designs.
Comforts: Lots of these around, like the Trek Navigator series on the cushier side. Specialized has a Crossroads bike with more performance, or the same frame with cushier tires called the Expedition. One of my favorites is the Crossroads Elite.
Hybrid/Comforts with a bit better performance, but still pretty comfortable include the Fuji Crosstown (I like the 1.0), Trek 7300 or 7500, or Giant Cypress.
And Hybrids oriented to another notch of road performance would include the Marin San Rafael (there are others in this line, both up and down from this model), or Cannondale Adventure 400.
Lots of others too. I've ridden all of the above (and more) and these are the ones I would consider again.
Dawes Kalahari, Puch Prima Super Sport, Graham Weigh 853
Originally Posted by mkadam68
Thanks to all of you for the info. Keep it comin'.
You could hybridise an older frame. I took a nice touring frame, and built it up with a mix and mtb parts, and nice touring wheels. I could have built it for a lot less if I had cut some corners.
Another option would be to find a decentish 10 speed in her size, strip off the heavy/superfluous parts, and make it flat bar. I rode a bike like that for a long time, and it was nice. Just be sure to reduce the gearing by using an mtb/touring chainset and a wide range freewheel. Nice and cheap, plus you get some spare parts and a cool retro bike.
I had previously suggested the Trek 7300 or 7500. Or you can go down to the 7200 or 7100. All basically the same geometry, just with better components. All provide good value for the money.
For the most part you just find the type of bike which suits you best, and then if you buy a Trek, Giant, Specialized, Raleigh, Gary Fisher, Jamis, or Fuji (sure I'm forgetting someone), from a local shop that provides good support, you'll be getting a decent bike.
I'm assuming you are shopping in the $250-$500 or so price range.
Good ideas. I have a Trek dealer in town (like...who doesn't anymore?) and I'll definitely think about the 72/73/7500s. I visited their website, and, while not for me, perhaps my wife could use a test-ride. Thanks.