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Old 10-23-09, 10:30 AM   #1
LadyAlathia
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How to choose a bike for multi uses?

I am aching to get back in the seat, but it's been a long time since I've owned a bike.

I need to know how to choose the RIGHT bike for my needs. Normally, it wouldn't be a big deal - I'd just get whatever cheap off Craigslist, but I've got a little one to worry about now. ^_^

I'm planning on using the bike for "quick" trips to the grocery (I live two miles from anything resembling civilization) and trails around the area parks. Not planning on going offroading or anything, but I need something that will safely hold a basket full of groceries on the front, and a 30 lb toddler on the back, without blowing a tire on the way.

Is there a special type of bike that's best for toddler seats? a certain type of wheel I need? What size bike is best for a petite woman (5' tall)?

If I know what I'm supposed to be looking for, then I can try finding it at a deal - but I don't want to buy a bike on the cheap, just to find out it's not the right type for me.

Thanks so much for helping!!
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Old 10-23-09, 11:38 AM   #2
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I read you. I'll actually exoplain very little. I'll direct you and the pictures will do the talking along with just a few comments. As for the child's seat; any Local Bike Store (LBS) will oblige. The seller of a used bike might be able to as well. I can't.

www.jamisbikes.com Great bikes , great site, easy and simple. DO click-on bikes, the 2009 part up-top (NOT the 2010 PDF) Citizen is not cheap, it comes in a 14.5 Fem.
www.giant-bicycles.com more complex, bigger site; 1) Women, 2) On Road 3) LifeStyle
Cyress is VERY popular bike, not cheap. This and others like it are favored for comfort and adjustability. Note the adj. h. bar etc. Shocks don't matter.
Jamis can't be found all over, Giants CAN. Trek and Specialized are popular also.
They too can be easily found in any town. Their sites bug me. The Fuji site bugs my PC but it's another good choice.
My intent is not to shill one or the other. The sites SHOW what's what. In a 2 or so hour period, while the baby's napping, you can become aquainted.
Knowlege obtained can be directly applied to a used bike generally costing two or so unless it's old. These bikes can be called anything. I characterize them as all around street utility bikes. I don't reccommend dept. store boughts. Though some large Sporting Goods Chains and Ski Shops have fairly good ones, less costly at times.
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Old 10-23-09, 11:44 AM   #3
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Recommend riding the bike around for some time until you feel comfortable on it before taking child on it. I wonder even if it's a good idea to ride the bike for a while, then install the baby seat and also a rucksack with 30 lbs weight and see how it feels. Ride around for a while, so you get comfortable.

Also might be good idea to get gloves for toddler and yourself, also eye protection. Dont wanna be riding around and get some dust in your eye then squinting while a toddler is on board.

Just giving out some safety tips, but sorry I dont know much about which bike to get.
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Old 10-23-09, 11:47 AM   #4
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and good tips they are
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Old 10-23-09, 11:51 AM   #5
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I like a commuter bike. The Schwinn Super Sport DBX is reasonably priced and will do whatever you want it to. Take it light touring, commuting, road riding, CX and even mountain biking by switching wheelsets. If I had only ONE bike. That would be it.


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Old 10-24-09, 12:42 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by NormanF View Post
I like a commuter bike. The Schwinn Super Sport DBX is reasonably priced and will do whatever you want it to. Take it light touring, commuting, road riding, CX and even mountain biking by switching wheelsets. If I had only ONE bike. That would be it.
This was my first thought, too, but when I reread your post, I wondered about maybe a comfort bike or hybrid with flat (rather than drop) bars. Two miles is nothing on a bike, 10 or 12 minutes even for a novice rider, so you don't need multiple hand positions to avoid fatigue. Since many people aren't comfortable with drops (my wife's been riding for 30 years and still doesn't like them), they might be a complication.
Thirty pounds is a good-sized load for a baby seat, especially for a petite rider. The weight isn't a problem for the bike or the wheels (you and your child together certainly weigh at least 100 pounds less than I do by myself), but 30 pounds shifting around back there can throw your balance off. For that reason I'd suggest something with room for large tires, at least 700x35 (or 26x1.5, if that's what you wind up with), and bigger if possible. There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of tires that will work for you, and they're easily changed.
I have a basket on one of my bikes, and I often carry loads of 15 or 20 pounds from the store. That weight on the front will change the handling of the bike a little, though. I'd probably try a few rides with a loaded basket and a few with the kid in back before i combined the two and headed for the freeway. And, of course, you need a helmet for the child.
I'd go to two or three bike shops and tell them what I wanted to do, then let them recommend something. My neighbor owns one of our local shops, and he said he has a couple of bikes in the $400-$500 range that will do what you want AND be durable and versatile enough that you could use them for many years for other types of riding with just a tire change and a few minor modifications.
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Old 10-24-09, 02:38 PM   #7
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Visit some of the shops in the Tampa area. You can ask for recommendations of good shops in the Southeast Regional subforum. Lots of Tampa area folks there.
Tell the shop owner/manager what your budget is, what type of riding you'll be doing, tell him/her about the toddler, carrying groceries, etc.
They'll set you up with the right bike for your needs and budget. And if you get the run around go to another shop.
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Old 10-24-09, 02:47 PM   #8
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Have you considered a bike and trailer combination? Seems as though it would be a lot safer as the shifting weight of the child will not throw you off balance. Child seats give me the willies since they raise the center of gravity so high on the bike. There is a good reason why cyclotourists use panniers to carry the heavier weight, not the top of a rear rack. I even use them on my recumbent trike when I want to carry groceries rather than strap them to the rack. A trailer probably will work better for the groceries as well.
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Old 10-26-09, 01:20 PM   #9
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I should mention it comes with 25cm tires stock but you can throw on 35cm. Can't do that with a typical road bike.
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Old 10-27-09, 07:56 AM   #10
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just pay attention to the fact that most, not all, but most kid seats are designed for 26" wheeled bikes. If you want to go a different route, trailer might be your best bet.
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Old 10-27-09, 08:12 AM   #11
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Well i would hesitate on that Schwinn if you are serious. You are probably looking for more of a hybrid than a road bike I would think. Check out Giants, FCR serious, Trek FX, Specialized cyclocross, and similar bikes. These should all provide you with a fair bit of speed, comfort and not make you uncomfortable on a non paved path.
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Old 10-27-09, 09:15 AM   #12
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Take a look at Breezers:
http://www.breezerbikes.com/bikes.cfm

With a child in the back and groceries in a basket(s) and/or bags hanging from the handlebars, a 'U-Frame' makes balancing and getting on and off your bike easier. Any more groceries than that...you need a trailer, either for your child or to hold groceries.

Extended length rear racks are hard to find, but that would allow either panniers or fold-out baskets to be added to the rear rack (behind the child seat) to hold groceries. But a trailer can hold more stuff and there usually are quite of few used trailers for sale that are in good to excellent shape.
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