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  1. #1
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    Seeking bike recommendations - Petite woman, arm limitations, and we have HILLS!

    I commuted for a couple summers 10 years ago, but otherwise haven't done much riding since childhood. (I am 50.) I am in pretty good aerobic shape and have decently strong legs. But permanent surgery after-effects mean I have to be very careful in the use of my right arm - no weight bearing, only a relaxed grip, etc. A very upright position seems to be what I'll need for that. But my arm limitations also mean that the bike must be lightweight - otherwise I won't be able to lift it unto a bike rack (car or bus), up the steps, etc. I'll mostly be riding on pavement, almost always under 20 miles in a day (unless it works really well for me and I can use it to commute!), with occasional forays onto gravel or dirt. But the road is wet a lot here (definitely will add fenders), and there are HILLS! I'm also relatively petite (particularly, have a short torso).

    (I did read through the stickies in the "Over 50" forum.)

    Price-wise, I'd prefer under $600. There is a little bit of wiggle room.

    I know I'll need to do some in-person shopping and test rides to determine what will work best for me. But I was hoping that folks here might have some suggestions for good bikes to check out.

    Thanks so much!

    Linda
    Last edited by ldublyou; 02-07-11 at 02:41 AM. Reason: correcting typos!

  2. #2
    Super Moderator Allen's Avatar
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    Find a Giant dealer and look at the Suede, Cypress, and Via.
    You want one with the largest gear range you can afford (more gears).
    Prices should be in your range.

    Being short you may want 26 inch tires over 700c tires.

  3. #3
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    Thank you!

    Quote Originally Posted by AllenG View Post
    Find a Giant dealer and look at the Suede, Cypress, and Via.
    You want one with the largest gear range you can afford (more gears).
    Prices should be in your range.

    Being short you may want 26 inch tires over 700c tires.
    Thanks, Allen. I'll start with Giant...

    Linda

  4. #4
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    You might also want to explore the possibility of have a twin cable brake lever for your stronger hand. Found this via google:
    http://www.amazon.com/Pyramid-Alloy-.../dp/B000AO7H16 and
    http://www.google.co.uk/search?sourc...+bicycle+brake for some more

    Of course a back-pedal rear brake which I believe can be found on beach cruiser type bikes might be a useful alternative to the twin-cable brake.

    Good luck

    If you are going to be sitting more upright than usual, you may have to experiment with your saddle. A more upright stance usually requires a slightly wider one than might come with your choice of bike.

  5. #5
    Life is good RonH's Avatar
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    Linda, why not ask the folks in the 50+ forum (http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdispl...fty-Plus-(50-)). Many of us have a lot in common with you and can relate to what you're looking for.
    My bikes --> 2001 Litespeed Tuscany---2013 Cannondale CAAD 10 2 (5) "Racing Edition"

    Life is like a 10-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use. ~ Charles Schultz

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by atbman View Post
    You might also want to explore the possibility of have a twin cable brake lever for your stronger hand. Found this via google:
    http://www.amazon.com/Pyramid-Alloy-.../dp/B000AO7H16 and
    http://www.google.co.uk/search?sourc...+bicycle+brake for some more

    Of course a back-pedal rear brake which I believe can be found on beach cruiser type bikes might be a useful alternative to the twin-cable brake.

    Good luck

    If you are going to be sitting more upright than usual, you may have to experiment with your saddle. A more upright stance usually requires a slightly wider one than might come with your choice of bike.
    I hadn't even thought about the rear brake lever being on the right. Thank you so much for the twin lever suggestion and the links!! (I had thought about the wider saddle already...and given our hills and the desire for lighter weight, I don't think the back-pedal-brake cruiser bikes would work for me (unless they are radically different than what I am envisioning - which is certainly possible!!) Thank you for all of the suggestions.

    Quote Originally Posted by RonH View Post
    Linda, why not ask the folks in the 50+ forum (http://www.bikeforums.net/forumdispl...fty-Plus-(50-)). Many of us have a lot in common with you and can relate to what you're looking for.
    I'll check it out. Thank you!

    Linda

  7. #7
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    My pleasure, Linda.

    BTW, when I referred to cruiser bikes, I was only suggesting that type of brake, not the bike itself (shudder). Was also having "senior moment" and couldn't remember the phrase "coaster brake".

  8. #8
    Senior Member rkokish's Avatar
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    Sounds like you pretty much know what you need. Be aware that more gears doesn't necessarily mean a wider range - 21 speed bikes can have just as wide a range as 30 speed bikes. But more gears does mean more choices, more likelihood that you'll find a comfortable gear under a wider variety of riding conditions. Upright position and hills means that either a hybrid or a Mt. bike can suit your needs. Unfortunately, neither is particularly light.

    Brand is not particularly important these days. All the big companies (Giant, Scwhinn, Canondale, Specialized, Trek, etc.) make decent entry-level Mt. and Hybrid bikes in your price range. All will be similarly equipped.

    But, since weight is an issue for you, you might also consider a lightweight road bike with a high stem and ask the shop to equip if with classic English 3-speed handlebars and brake levers and rapid fire or twist shifters to handle the wide range gearing you'll want. Another handlebar option for you might be the less common but highly versatile "Butterfly" or "Trekking" bars. (sold at "harriscyclery.com" among other places). However, I don't know if you can get an decent road bike with these conversions for the price you want to pay.

    Much more important than brand is the shop you buy it from. They should have a reputation for good service, and a staffer trained to properly fit the bike to you and willing to take the time to do it right. There is no bike worse than one than doesn't fit properly and no bike better than the one you like to ride.
    Ron Kokish
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  9. #9
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    Thank you, Ron. The Butterfly/Trekking bars are very interesting. And that Harris Cyclery site is amazing - so much good info there. I hadn't thought of starting with a decent lightweight road bike and doing the conversions. Interesting idea. It does make me wonder if I might be able to pick up the bike itself used, cheaper, and then work with a good bike shop to do the conversions. Hmmmm. (Of course, that could also turn into a nightmare, if I started with a poor-fitting bike to begin with...) Lots of food for thought.

    Thanks again,
    Linda

  10. #10
    Senior Member bassjones's Avatar
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    One of the comfort/plush bikes might be a good option for you. If you're riding properly you should be supporting yourself with your core, not with your weight on your hands/wrists.

  11. #11
    Senior Member jeepr's Avatar
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    Just to expand on the converting a road bike theme, I just did one for my 14 year old daughter. She was in need of a new bike and wanted to move more toward a road bike. So a friend gave me an old 10 speed that he had in his garage that happened to be her size. I converted it to a 5 speed, added slightly fatter tires, a more comfortable seat, and a set of riser bars. It's a lightweight steel frame and it rides great for a fraction of the cost for a new bike.

    If you will be getting the work done at your local bike shop, go talk to them about bike sizes. If you get the frame in your size, most anything else can be adjusted. They may even have a used road bike. How well they sell depends on where you live. They are quite expensive around me, go 100 miles south and no one wants a "skinny tire" bike. If you can find one, used ladies bikes usually go for less than mens bikes.

    Good luck

  12. #12
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Your arm problem seems like the main issue. I'd suggest finding a friend who will let you borrow an upright bike, like a hybrid. Take it for a ride. If your arm seems okay, take it for a longer ride. Ride it two or three days in a row. If it works for you, great. I'm only familiar with one lightweight, road, straight bar bike - the Specialized Sirrus. I think it's a high-quality road option for someone who doesn't like drop bars. I'm sure other companies make something similar.

    If riding a straight bar bike is still hard on your arm, how about a recumbent? A friend who rides one raves about the fact that he never has to deal with sore wrists, sore forearms, sore neck, etc.

    If you're not sure whether you'll really take to bicycling, a $600 price limit may preclude some of these options. However, if you get into it for a long time, spending more will be worth it. Once you have the bike, there aren't a lot of expenses; you can ride it for many years without doing much to it except maybe buying tubes, new tires every few years, maybe replacing bar tape that gets frayed. My oldest bike is about 25 years old, and I still ride it.

    Of course, if you get into cycling you can always find things to spend money on. My bikes haven't "worn out", but I've still felt a need to replace them. I'm presently building up my 5th bike.

  13. #13
    Senior Member wiredfoxterror's Avatar
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    I have a problem with my hands, I've developed arthritis. As a result, I had to find a new bike to be my everyday bike. I can't do grip shifters anymore even for a short period of time, rapid fire shifters are okay but can still cause pain after a while. I also needed a bike which wouldn't put pressure on my hands, so upright it had to be. And a coaster brake instead of hand brakes. And it had to be lightweight.

    I found the perfect bike after a LONG look around, and buying and selling a lot of bikes on Craigslist as try outs. I bought a Trek Lime Light. Ultra light weight 3 speed automatic with a coaster brake, ergonomic grips and really comfy handlebars. It's like this bike was made for me!!!!! I ride everyday, and thoroughly enjoy it. Florida is flat, except for my property which is a steep hill, and I ride over at least one bridge everyday with no problem (I have to go over the river to get to publix). I bought it in January?

    Trek doesn't make this bike anymore, but I was able to buy new old stock from a Trek dealer. The bike originally retailed for $535, but I stole it for $250. Mine is an 18.5, but I know it comes in 16. I travel through 5 counties to see clients, so I looked around at a lot of Trek dealers for my bike. A few bike shops still have a couple. I also see the bike on Craigslist occasionally. It sounds like this bike might meet your needs too!
    Last edited by wiredfoxterror; 03-27-11 at 06:31 PM.
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  14. #14
    SE Wis dedhed's Avatar
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    maybe something like this. In your range even paying $50-75 for the LBS to assemble and adjust

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...fe_latte_x.htm

    Or with disc's

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...tte_x_disc.htm
    Last edited by dedhed; 03-27-11 at 08:55 PM.
    '68 Raleigh Sprite, '02 Raleigh C500, '84 Raleigh Gran Prix, '91 Trek 400

  15. #15
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    [QUOTE=wiredfoxterror;12420051]I have a problem with my hands, I've developed arthritis. As a result, I had to find a new bike to be my everyday bike. I can't do grip shifters anymore even for a short period of time, rapid fire shifters are okay but can still cause pain after a while. I also needed a bike which wouldn't put pressure on my hands, so upright it had to be. And a coaster brake instead of hand brakes. And it had to be lightweight.

    I also have arthritis problems and found a carbon fork to be the single, best improvement to combat numbness and general wrist and hand pain. If you should have any problems with your new machine (congratulations!), you should look into an upgrade.

  16. #16
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    I do like the Suede. My wife had a Suede; she's short and has short legs, so needs a petite frame. She loved the Suede a lot.
    But then one day, we went into the bike store, and they had a womens stepthrough Trek Navigator. (I think 2.0 or 3.0, not sure.) She fell in love immediately. Same upright riding position, but smaller, lighter, a wider range of gears (hers is 21 speed with a megarange granny, while the Suede only had 7) and a bit more nimble. And cute! It might be what you're looking for.
    Current stable: Sun Atlas X-type (mine), Trek Navigator 3 (wife), two Sun Revolution cruisers (wife, daughter)

  17. #17
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    If you want 700c wheels, which I was told roll easier especially up hills, check out the Trek 7100 WSD, under $500, upright hybrid. 700x35 tires which should be OK for smooth unpaved paths. I just bought one but have only used it on pavement so far, except for riding a little over the lawn. The Navigator has 26" wheels and a little bit different geometry. The Giant Sedona also has 26" wheels, the Cypress has 700c. I believe these all come in XS. Check out the Trek and Giant websites for details. Good luck with your decision.

  18. #18
    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    You may find that a recumbent bike or trike is just right for you. If you're at all interested, I suggest some reading of the forums at BentRider Online.
    George
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