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  1. #1
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    Newbie having trouble

    Hello all!

    I got a new bike for Christmas to do some hobby bicycling to get myself in shape. However, I'm having trouble actually working the bike.

    I'm very overweight, which is most of the problem. When the pedal comes all the way up in the revolution, it comes up so far that I have to shift my hips in order to accommodate my leg coming up so high, which throws me very off-balance and I've fallen a few times. I've tried changing the seat hight, and it makes no difference to the problem. Any hints on something I should look into? Do I need to lose weight some other way before getting on a bike? Do I need a different bike? Any help is appreciated

  2. #2
    Senior Member George's Avatar
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    You have to raise the saddle up so when your heel is just resting on the pedal. If you can't get the saddle that high I think you may need a bigger bike.
    George

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    Thanks for the advice George

    Fixed that part so now it's fitting me properly, but am still having the same problem :/

  4. #4
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    So, when the pedal is down and you're sitting on the saddle, you can rest your heel on the pedal like George advised? If so, and the pedal is still too high in the up position, it seems you need shorter crankarms. Can you take it to a bike shop to see if they can fix it for you?

    --J

    [edit] And welcome to the Forums, by the way! [/edit]
    To err is human. To moo is bovine.

    Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


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  5. #5
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    Lol! Well hell, that makes so much sense I want to slap myself on the forehead

    Thanks for the advice and the warm welcome

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    As Juha said, it could be that the crankarm length is too long for your inseam. There are different formulas available to calculate the appropriate crank arm length. All the ones I have tried come out close to the same answer.

    It would be simpler to go to a good bike shop to figure out what you need in terms of fit than to figure it out here. They will probably be able to tell you pretty quickly what they think.

    If it is a crank arm length issue, be prepared for a ~$50 bill or more (I would guess) if they have something inexpensive, otherwise maybe more towards $100+.

    I hope it is just a crank arm length or other adjustment issue. I hope it is not a flexibility and mobility issue for you. Maybe even reaquainting yourself to biking? In any case, I hope the shop can help you out. If it turns out that they don't think there is a mechanical or fit issue to fix, I hope you keep at the cycling. It is a great way to get out, be active and meet people. After you have tried it a little bit, look for a local club and see if they have some rides that fit your speed and distance.

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    Email for new group DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Check in with the Clydesdale and Athenas Forum. You should find lots of help. These are folks (like me) who are a bit larger than the average poorly nourished skinny person.

    http://www.bikeforums.net/clydesdales-athenas-200-lb-91-kg/
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  8. #8
    dbc
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    Typical crankarm lengths run from 165 mm to 175 mm. That's at most 10 mm (less than 0.5 inch) of difference. The problem is not with the crankarm length.

    A visit to a bike shop, or asking a biking friend to take a look may be your best bet to finding the problem.

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    Update:

    Went to the bike store today, and apparently my newbie definition of the fit of the bike with the pedals was quite a bit different than the proper way to do it, hehe Raised the seat a good three inches above where I'd had it set (I was having trouble getting ON the bike where I had it so I wasn't raising it any more, but the bike shop gave me some tips about how to do that while not looking like a tard). Rode it a block or two and was perfectly fine!! Yay!! They said it didn't look like I needed shorter cranks, but if I started having trouble to come back and they'd have no problem fixing me up with some smaller ones.

    Thanks so much for all your help guys!! I can't wait to go out for my first real ride!!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Fibber's Avatar
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    PepperAnne,

    I can picture your situation, as I remember my wife had problems of this nature when she first tried biking again. Larger leg mass can make it hard to manipulate the ankles, knees and hips as a thin person would. She felt out of control with the seat all the way up, and with it down, her pedaling was awkward. She quit when she fell, and wouldn't try it again until she thankfully was able to loose some weight.

    But in retrospect, I think we could have done better had we tried a different bike design. You really might benefit from a less conventional bicycle frame design, such as the 'pedal forward' approach used by the Electra Townie, Giant Sedona, or Trek Pure. Even thinner, she likes her Giant Sedona DX-W. She can have the seat lower so that she can put her feet out flat on the ground, yet gets proper leg extension. Perhaps you can return the bike you bought, and consider one of these. Best of luck to you.

    Steve

  11. #11
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    I see regularly see hundreds of riders around Madison, Wisconsin. I estimate that about 2/3rds of them have their saddles too low, with maybe 10-15% having them extremely too low. I don't know how some of them can even ride that way more than a few blocks. My knees ache just seeing them.

    And I agree with Fibber that many people would find a more relaxed frame to be more comfortable and make riding fun. Between the semi-relaxed frames like Trek Navigators and Specialized Expeditions, or all the way to a crank forward design & cruisers, there are a lot of comfy bikes out there.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

    There are two types of road bikers: bikers who are faster than me, and me. Bruce Cameron - Denver Post

  12. #12
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    +1 on checking out the Clyde/Athena forum. There are lots of riders there that are starting out riding for fun and fitness, and are a very supportive group. Start out easy. Don't try to ride too far at first. It is better to get some than to have to walk back because you exceeded your abilities to ride.

    Since you are a novice do check out where you will ride ahead of time. You may think a park with a nice MUP (multi-use-path) may make a nice place to go for a ride, but you it might turn out that on the weekends they are so full of pedestrians, roller bladers, and cyclists that it may be challanging just to deal with the traffic.

    Happy riding,
    Andr้

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    Thanks to those who directed me to the Clyde/Athena forum - it's so encouraging to know that I'm not the only one having to start small (or large, as the case may be)!

    Small update on how it's going: I went for a 1 mile ride yesterday! However, I learned that it's very hard to detect small inclines when you're driving your intended route in a car So I ended up doing the first half mile downhill, thinking it's going so wonderfully, then the last half mile I was slogging up a small hill the entire way and had to stop and rest a few times (I know, very out of shape lol). To top it off, when I got back home I found that my seat had slid back down into the post :/ So I'll be taking it to the LBS tomorrow to see about getting the bolt tightened or whatever they do.

    I've worked out a different course (walking it this time so I can see hilly parts), and I think my next ride will go better. I plan on riding late mornings in the daytime since I work night shifts, so hopefully I won't have to deal with too much pedestrian/bicycle traffic on the paths.

    Fibber and Tom - I'll definitely keep that advice about a more relaxed bike in mind, but I think I'll try working with this one a little bit more and see if I can't get it to work better for me. Cost is a factor right now, and I absolutely love my bike so I'm willing to work a little bit


    But oh man, that first half mile of the ride! That small glimpse of how great this is going to be is more than enough to keep me going and getting all these little kinks ironed out. Thanks all so much for your continued help and encouragement!

  14. #14
    flying on 2 wheels conurejade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PepperAnne View Post
    Thanks to those who directed me to the Clyde/Athena forum - it's so encouraging to know that I'm not the only one having to start small (or large, as the case may be)
    Welcome! You'll have a great time on the bike - just keep up the good work. I'm definitely still Athena material - even after losing 55 pounds so far. My Trek that I started on looks vastly different today than it did originally - I've made MANY fit/equipment adjustments as my fitness level increased and my weight decreased. Your LBS sounds like good folks; they can be a valued ally so cultivate them well

    See ya in the Clyde/Athena forum!

  15. #15
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PepperAnne View Post
    ...I think my next ride will go better.
    Hey, you finished the ride, you can't do much better than that!

    --J
    To err is human. To moo is bovine.

    Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


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  16. #16
    Pants are for suckaz HandsomeRyan's Avatar
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    Welcome to BF and the wonderful world of cycling! Although I lost about 55lbs this year, I'm still solidly a clyde @ 6'2" 215lbs. Cycling can be a great hobby for larger people becasue it is lower impact on the joints and it can be done on so many levels from a leisurely 1 mile greenway ride to a 200 mile double century.

    Quote Originally Posted by PepperAnne View Post
    ...when I got back home I found that my seat had slid back down into the post :/ So I'll be taking it to the LBS tomorrow to see about getting the bolt tightened or whatever they do.
    Adjusting the seat post is something you can do at home in about 2 minutes with only basic tools (sometimes no tools at all). No need to take it to a bike shop to have this done.

    Your seat post has a clamp right where the seat meets the frame. It will either have a quick release clamp that looks similar to this:
    or it will have a clamp with a socket screw like this:

    If it is quick release with the lever, great, you shouldn't need any tools. If it is a socket screw type, you need an allen wrench of the appropriate size. (if you don't have a set of allen wrenches you can usually pick up a set for $1 in the 'hardware' aisle of your local grocery store)

    The quicke release is opened by prying up the lever arm on one side of the clamp. you should then be able to screw the nut on the opposite side a couple turns, raise the seat to the desired height, and push the lever back down. It will take firm pressure to get the lever back down but this is what holds the seat so you want to make sure it is tight enough that it won't allow the seatpost to slide down again.

    For the screw type, loosen the screw with an allen wrench, push the seat to the correct height, tighten the screw back down.

    I don't know if i did a great job explaining it but you'll figure it out once you are looking at it on the bike.

    There are lots of great tutorials on basic bike adjustment and maintainance on the web. If you plan on doing much riding it would be very beneficial to learn things like how to adjust a seat and seat post, how to change or patch a tube/tire, how to adjust your brakes, how to clean and lube the chain, how to check for propper tire pressure, ect.

  17. #17
    Senior Member sonatageek's Avatar
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    Always great to hear about someone getting back on a bike. You'll be amazed at how your rides will get longer and easier the more you ride.

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    AHA! Thanks so much for the tips Ryan - you were a lot better at explaining it than the manual was!

    Successfully completed a 1 mile ride today!! Saddle stayed in its spot the entire time, and the easier course worked well for me also. It finally feels like I'm well on my way

  19. #19
    Pants are for suckaz HandsomeRyan's Avatar
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    Congradulations on getting the seat adjusted and on the mile ride. You'll be amazed at how quickly your speed and stamina will improve if you ride regularly.
    When I first got (back) into cycling last spring I was about 277lbs and 5 miles into my first ride with my (first)new bike (a 10 mile round trip ride) I was so tired and winded I gave serious consideration to calling my wife to come get me. Fast-forward to today- I'm about 215lbs and I can ride 20-30 miles of greenway trails without even begining to feel winded. My goal for 08 is to complete a metric century. (A metric century is a 100km bicycle ride)

    There are a few item I highly recomend people pick up if they want to ride often:
    #1- Bike shorts. I know, they only look good on riders with the bodies of olympic athletes but they really do make riding more comfortable. Who cares what other people think? I may be fat but at least I'm excercizing.

    #2- Clipless pedals. Most people think these are only for "serious" cyclist but I think they are wonderful for all cyclists! They hold your foot in the correct position on the pedal and allow you to use the pull stroke as well as the push.

    #3- A decent air pump. I prefer one with a built in pressure gauge. You will need to check your tire pressure at least once a week, and not only is riding with low tires harder, it will also wear out the tires faster.

    Enjoy your bike and let me know if you have any questions about anything I posted. I don't know a whole lot about bkes but I'm an excelent liar.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by HandsomeRyan View Post
    There are a few item I highly recomend people pick up if they want to ride often:
    #1- Bike shorts. I know, they only look good on riders with the bodies of olympic athletes but they really do make riding more comfortable. Who cares what other people think? I may be fat but at least I'm excercizing.

    #2- Clipless pedals. Most people think these are only for "serious" cyclist but I think they are wonderful for all cyclists! They hold your foot in the correct position on the pedal and allow you to use the pull stroke as well as the push.

    #3- A decent air pump. I prefer one with a built in pressure gauge. You will need to check your tire pressure at least once a week, and not only is riding with low tires harder, it will also wear out the tires faster.

    Enjoy your bike and let me know if you have any questions about anything I posted. I don't know a whole lot about bkes but I'm an excelent liar.
    Congrats to you Ryan on your weight loss and improved riding. You probably are very close to being able to do that 100k. Slow and easy is the key and make sure you eat and drink to keep from bonking. I always found that when I could do ~40miles no problem, I could do almost any distance if I did not over exert.

    Congrats to you PepperAnne for getting through your first obstacle. The hills will get easier but they never become easy .

    +1 on the bike shorts, especially for ladies. Saddle comfort is typically much more difficult for you all too. A good bike shop will let you try and exchange saddles until you find one you like. This can be a long and trying process, but ultimately very important for the long run. After you have ridden for, say a year, and you have a saddle you like, consider purchasing a second one as the models do change. You could be without a favorite saddle when your original one wears out or is wrecked.

    +1 on the clipless pedals. Another benefit is that they prevent a foot slipping off the pedal causing scary moments and sometimes crashes and/or injury. Toe clips can do the same for non clipless pedals. The downside to clipless is that most are not very good with street shoes, you should get bike shoes to go with those clipless pedals. There are some clipless options that limit these problems but are not as widely used, so ask if you are interested in this route. Bike shoes are not as comfortable to walk around in as street shoes but some are more comfortable than others. Toe clips don't have that problem. Another downside to clipless is that almost everyone eventually falls because they do not click out in time. It usually happens within the first few months of getting them and usually in a very public place. Once is usually enough that you don't let it happen again . Rarely is it the shoe/clip that is the problem. Typically it will be the rider quickly realizing they need to unclip and they don't do the movement correctly. Not being able to get out of toe clips will likely not be as big of an issue. You should not need to crank down on the toe clip straps such that you can't get your foot out.

    +1 on the pump with gauge. The accuracy of the pump gauge is not super important (+/-5lbs). As long as you get within in the ballpark of your desired pressure, you will be fine.

  21. #21
    Pants are for suckaz HandsomeRyan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by masiman View Post
    Congrats to you Ryan on your weight loss and improved riding.
    Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by masiman View Post
    ... Another downside to clipless is that almost everyone eventually falls because they do not click out in time. It usually happens within the first few months of getting them and usually in a very public place. Once is usually enough that you don't let it happen again.
    I agree everyone who uses clipless pedals will fall. I can also agree that it will often happen in a public place. I can not however agree that it will only happen once. I fell probably a half dozen times while learning!

    I must confess I've only ridden with toe clips once so I don't have much to base an opinion of them on. For my Commuter/Green way/Utility bike I got Shimano 324's that have a platform side if I don't feel like putting on my bike shoes. 99% of my riding is done in the clips though because I love them that much!
    Shimano 324's:

  22. #22
    Pants are for suckaz HandsomeRyan's Avatar
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    PepperAnne- I just realized that unless you have friends who are avid cyclists you probably have no idea what "Clipless Pedals" are. I'll try to explain them and hopefully what masiman and I are talking about will make more sense.

    Clipless pedals are bicycle pedals that have a special mechanism that attaches you foot to the pedal using a special cleat mounted to the bottom of your shoe. This type of pedal creates a very efficient connection between you and your bike. The alternative is something called toe clips which consist of a strap on top of a standard platform pedal that secures your foot to the pedal. The advantages of either type of pedal include:
    • allows pull on the upstroke in addition to the push on the down stroke of pedaling
    • hold proper foot placement for maximum power delivery to the pedal
    • look really awesome
    • allow even novice riders to bunny-hop over small obstacles in the road or trail
    • prevent foot from slipping off pedals

    The terminology is very confusing because a "clipless" pedal is a pedal that a special shoe clips into. Below are some pictures of toe clips and various clipless pedals.

    Toe Clips:




    Clipless Pedals: The various types from different manufacturers use slightly different cleats to clip in, that is why each of the examples looks a little different. Although they use slightly different mechanisms, they all achieve the same thing.





    And the shoes used with the clipless pedals:




    I know we are throwing a lot of information at you. There is absolutely nothing wrong with just riding a bike the way it came from the factory. Things like clipless pedals, hydration systems, and lycra pants can improve the cycling experience but are completely optional. Sometimes I ride in lycra with my clipless pedals, other times I wear jeans and tennis shoes. I don't want to scare you off from cycling because you think you need $1,000 in equipment to go ride on the greenway trails near your house because that simply is not true, I'm just bike crazy!

    I'm sure you are tired of reading my rambling but there is one more thing I have to say-
    Please tell me you wear a helmet when you ride. I know in most places adults do not have to wear helmets but as another BF.net member stated so well- "the cool thing about brain injuries is that they only happen once". All helmets sold in the US are required to pass the same safety tests so a $13 helmet from walmart is ever bit as safe as a $90 helmet from the bike shop. Regardless of where you ride, a helmet is a great investment. [I'll put away my soap box now]

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    Quote Originally Posted by HandsomeRyan View Post
    All helmets sold in the US are required to pass the same safety tests so a $13 helmet from walmart is ever bit as safe as a $90 helmet from the bike shop. Regardless of where you ride, a helmet is a great investment. [I'll put away my soap box now]
    Aha, I did not know this about helmets. I was waiting a couple weeks to get one since I wanted to make it an *investment* and get a good one I could trust (and okay I'm a girl so of course vanity played into it a little bit). Will get one ASAP now, and probably invest in a good repair kit now with items mentioned

    I'm a take problems as they come kind of person, so I think I'll pass on some of the "extras" right now since my ride went really well. However, anything to teach me the lingo (especially with pictures!!) is greatly appreciated! The clips look kind of dangerous as well, I think I'll wait till I feel more steady on my bike and riding in some traffic to give those a shot, although I do like the thought of being able to pull the pedals up in addition to pushing.

    Better to have way too much information than not enough, so thanks everyone for your continued help

  24. #24
    Pants are for suckaz HandsomeRyan's Avatar
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    The biggest difference between a $90 bike shop helmet and a $13 Wal-Mart helmet is going to be the number and size of vents. The number/size of vents = how comfortable the helmet will be in the summer time.

    The Bell Citi pictured below has 16 vents and is on sale for $27.95 @ Nashbar.com


    The Gyro Atmos pictured below has 26 vents and is on sale for $119.95 @ Nashbar.com


    Both helmets above will protect your head about the same in the event of an unscheduled dismount from your bike, but looking at the pictures you can clearly see which one will offer more comfort in the summertime. I chose two examples on extreme ends of the spectrum, there are a lot of quality helmets that can be had for less than $30 that would be very comfortable to wear in the summertime I just chose a helmet I know to have few/small vents to demonstrate the concept. Helmet shopping is best done when you have plenty of time to try on lots of different helmets becasue if it isn't comfortable, you won't wear it.

    Weight is also a factor, the higher the price, the lighter the weight should be but for leisure cyclists this is not really an issue.

    --------------------------------------------

    I completely understand wanting to ride the bike as-is for a little while. Although I only got back into cycling last spring, I have been interested in cycling since i was about 10 years old so most of the bike accessories i own were collected over time and not all purchased at once.

    --------------------------------------------

    Clipless pedals are not as dangerous as they look. To "unclip" you twist your foot and it pops right out. Everyone falls a time or two while learning to use them because you have to train your legs to twist before trying to put a foot down when you come to a stop. The "crashes" that occur while learning are usually just falling over at a dead stop and the only thing that gets hurt in the fall is the riders pride. Every time I have seriously crashed in clipless pedals (crashed while riding, not stopping) they have unclipped themselves so i was never "stuck to the bike" after a crash. I look at them like airbags in cars- Yes, there is the potential they could hurt me, but there is a much higher likelyhood of them preventing injury by keeping my feet on the pedals until I choose to release them. As with all things in life, the superiority of clipless pedals is an oppinion and there are many people who prefer toe clips and even regular platform pedals.

    --------------------------------------------

    Maybe you posted it and I just missed it but what Make/Model of bike did you get?
    Last edited by HandsomeRyan; 01-10-08 at 05:08 AM. Reason: added info

  25. #25
    Email for new group DnvrFox's Avatar
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    All helmets meet the same safety requirements. The more expensive ones are more expensive because they have more venting holes - therefore they need to have the rest of the helmet built more strongly to make up for the weaknesses inherent in more venting holes; and weight, looks and "snob appeal."

    Get one you can afford. Actually, because the venting holes leave an opportunity for branches, etc,. to get through the helmet, the cheaper, more solid ones are likely safer.

    So much info is being thrown at you. Just ride your bike using the pedals that came with it, buy a decent reasonable helmet and have fun. You are a long way from needing clipless, etc., especially considering the expense and learning curve.

    One step at a time.

    Have fun, mostly. If you don't enjoy it you won't do it.
    Gone - email me at dnvrfox@aol.com for new group of old 50+ folks

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