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  1. #1
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    best bike for exercise

    What's the best style of bike for cardio-vascular exercise - upright or recumbent?

    I'm looking for something to give me a moderate workout. I've been walking 25 miles/week, but progressive arthritus in my foot is making it more difficult. Looking at cycling as a substitute exercise. I've test ridden both recumbent and comfort bikes. Any suggestions?

    ron

  2. #2
    Slow and unsteady
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    I once owned a recumbent (Bike-E. I think they have been discontinued - not sure) and a variety of road, mountain and hybrid/comfort bikes.

    When I ride an upright bike, I'll eventually have some problems with my "seat" or hands, sometimes enough to make me quit riding for awhile.

    When I rode the recumbent, I had only a little tightness in the lower back area.

    But, the recumbent was very slow going uphill and when pulling away from stop signs, etc. Plus it handles like a large truck. And it was very difficult to haul it somewhere to start a ride.

    I've found out that I can cope with riding the upright style of bikes if I keep the saddle height at a proper setting (discovered through trial and error) and don't ride every day.

    So I prefer the upright bikes. Better climbing, better acceleration, easier to haul. An upright bike will probably be much cheaper than a recumbent with the same quality of components and frame.

  3. #3
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Originally posted by radioflier
    What's the best style of bike for cardio-vascular exercise - upright or recumbent?

    I'm looking for something to give me a moderate workout. I've been walking 25 miles/week, but progressive arthritus in my foot is making it more difficult. Looking at cycling as a substitute exercise. I've test ridden both recumbent and comfort bikes. Any suggestions?

    ron
    Whatever bike you can ride is best.

    I hear arguments all the time about the various merits of 'bents / diamond frames. Depends who you ask.

    But, anything that is not ridden will be a waste of money and give you no cardio whatever.

    You can vary the hills and speed and sprints to increase heart rate on either bike.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

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    You're certainly correct about the recumbent being more costly than the upright. I've been looking at $400-500 comfort bikes, and a comparably equiped recumbent is 2 - 3 times as much.

    And a bike hanging on the garage ceiling unused is certainly not going to give me any exercise - I know that from having a mid-70's Sears 10-speed hang for 20 years and never on the ground! I finally gave it away when we moved 4 years ago.

    I test road a SPECIALIZED and a GIANT comfort bike last week and was really surprized how different they were to ride compared to what I remember the old Sears bike being like. A world of difference. That's got me thinking I may just be able to do an upright this time.

    Also, since I don't know exactly how much I'm going to ride, I hate to drop a grand (+) into an unknown. I would like to think I'll get an hour/day in (I'm retired), but who knows.

    Ron

  5. #5
    Senior Member trmcgeehan's Avatar
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    Whatever type you buy, you need to attack some hills if you're going to gain cardio-vascular fitness. Get your heart rate up to 75% of its maximum for at least a half hour. Figure your maximum heart rate at 220 minus your age. Take 75% of this. I started doing this a few months ago, and try to do 50 miles a week. I used to take blood pressure pills, but my blood pressure has dropped so much, I no longer need to take them. Your resting heart rate (taken first thing in the a.m. before you get out of bed) will tell you a lot about your cardio vasucular fitness. Normal is 72 beats per minute. Mine is 48 (at age 64). I believe Lance Armstrong's is 32, which means his heart is pumping a lot more blood with each beat, and therefore doesn't have to pump as often as the average person's heart.
    "I am a true laborer. I earn that I eat, get that I wear, owe no man hate, envy no man's happiness, glad of other men's good, content with my harm." As You Like It, Act 3, Scene 2. Shakespeare.
    "Deep down, I'm pretty superficial." Ava Gardner.

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    I agree a motivated rider can get fit on any bike .Many bent riders mention it relieves stress on joints and that may be a factor to you in putting in the miles to build fitness.On the other hand try the comfort for an extended ride and if your joints don't complain you may be able to save some money(keep in mind its usually well into a sustained ride that the joints start acting up).As well some limited stress on the joints(if not enough to keep you from riding)may be beneficial in strenghtening connective tissue,supporting muscles etc(sort of the use it or lose it philosophy).In such case proper bike fit and range of adjustability of the bike and your positioning on it become important factors. Good luck and get out riding whichever you decide on.

  7. #7
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    For older riders, a modern road bike make be too aggressive and hard on your body. Most comfort issues on an upright can be addressed by looking at how you fit the bike. A more relaxed style of upright, such as a light sport/touring bike or the new breed of cyclo-cross/touring bikes make excelent fitness machines.

    As far as cardio fitness goes, what matter is how hard your heart and lungs work. Different styles of bike may move at different speeds under your power output, eg on a long flat road, the recumbent will go faster, but on a long climb, the upright will get you to the top first.
    Make good use of the gears. Modern triple chainring road systems are well designed for general fitness riding.

  8. #8
    Around now and then DnvrFox's Avatar
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    For older riders, a modern road bike make be too aggressive and hard on your body.
    I am an older rider (63yo) and handle a road bike just fine. It is extremely difficult to make any generalizations about what anyone can ride. Personally, I would prefer the purchase of a road bike.

    Also, since I don't know exactly how much I'm going to ride, I hate to drop a grand (+) into an unknown. I would like to think I'll get an hour/day in (I'm retired), but who knows.

    You will likely surprise yourself. Biking is extremely addictive and you may soon find yourself on much longer rides.

    One other alternative would be a mountain bike with "slick" 1.25" x 26" tires (you could get an upgrade when you bought the bike). Something like a Specialized Hardrock, the basic model. Should cost about $350.00.

    You would also need water bottle and holder or two, rear wedge, some decent biking shorts, patch kit and pump. An excellent tire to avoid flats is a Specialized Cordura slick with the Armadillo technology. Almost never have a flat. This will probably be about an extra $80.00 or so but well worth it.

    Anyway, anything that gets you started and you can enjoy is worthwhile. You can always add a road or recumbent bike later. I started 4.5 years ago with a mtn bike and then added a road bike. My wife (65) started 3 years ago with a Specialized Mtn bike and now also has a road bike.
    DnvrFox - still bicycling, swimming, walking and weight lifting at 74yo is participating a bit in BFN 50+.

  9. #9
    Forum Admin lotek's Avatar
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    Just a thought,
    will a recumbent work on trainers? Rollers?
    might make a difference if you want to use it
    through the winter. . .

    Marty
    Sono pił lento di quel che sembra.
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  10. #10
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    I join the YMCA during the winter and work out/swim/etc. I really worked on my legs this past winter in anticipation of getting a bent this spring. Went for a 4 mile walk yesterday and could really tell the winter work paid off.

  11. #11
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    Modern road bikes (and the people who sell them) often assume you want to ride in the modern aerodynamic style, with a very flat back, low and stretched out. This is OK for someone who has been riding for ages, but can be a strain for someone begining, or returning to cycling. You dont have to ride road bikes this way, and the non-competition styles of road bike, like
    http://www.bianchiusa.com/site/bikes/24_SanRemo.html
    assume a less aggressive, more comfortable riding position.

    There is a thread of questions which comes up "I have a road racing bike and I want to go on a tour/use it for commuting, how do I attatch things". We can usually suggest some hacks to make it work, but with a more general purpose style of bike, you can attatch fenders and luggage without any modifications.

  12. #12
    hehe...He said "member" ChipRGW's Avatar
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    Originally posted by lotek
    Just a thought,
    will a recumbent work on trainers? Rollers?
    might make a difference if you want to use it
    through the winter. . .

    Marty
    Look at this pic...


    Lowracer on a trainer
    Sometimes you just let the rabbits run, but sometimes you gotta let the dogs run.

  13. #13
    Forum Admin lotek's Avatar
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    Well,
    That answers my question, doesn't it?
    still don't know about 'bent on rollers.
    (sounds like the name of a neopunk cyclist rock band!)

    Marty
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  14. #14
    hehe...He said "member" ChipRGW's Avatar
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    Me neither...
    I just thought it was a good opportunity to post a pic of this awesome lowracer I saw a couple weeks ago. Homebuilt. Slick looking machine.
    I don't see why you couldn't put one on rollers, provided they could be adjusted for the wheelbase.
    Sometimes you just let the rabbits run, but sometimes you gotta let the dogs run.

  15. #15
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    A friend loned me his bike for a week while he's on a business trip. This is my first exposure to rapid-fire shifters - so far they have worked well. I've noticed they are available only on a select few models of comfort and cross bikes. Is there something I should know about these?

    Ron

  16. #16
    The Zon Is On! Middi-zon's Avatar
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    Originally posted by radioflier
    A friend loned me his bike for a week while he's on a business trip. This is my first exposure to rapid-fire shifters - so far they have worked well. I've noticed they are available only on a select few models of comfort and cross bikes. Is there something I should know about these?

    Ron
    There are 3 types of shifters available on today's market, ones integrated into the brake levers, rapid fires (aka triggers), and grip shifts. On the integrated shifters you move the brake lever side to side to shift, these are on road bikes and very expensive high end mountain bikes. Grip shifts shift by turning part of the grip on the handle bar. Most mountain bikes have rapid fire shifters for their quick shifts and shimano brand loyalties. Some have grip shifts made popular by SRAM. Most comfort bikes have grip shift for there ease of use, and the primary customer of comfort bikes wants simplicity. I swear by my triggers, I wont shift with anything else on a mountain bike

    -Middi-zon
    That's just my opinion, I could be wrong.

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  17. #17
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    Are triggers any less reliable under normal road use?

    I'm finding the terrain (all neighborhood streets) I'm going to be riding on has more rises and falls than I thought, and I'm going to be shifting more than I imagined.

    I have no interest in going off road with this bike - I'm looking at Raleigh and Gary Fisher with triggers; Giant, Specialized, and Trek with grip shifts.

  18. #18
    Pat
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    Well since you are giving up walking because of arthritis in the feet, I would think that you are no longer exactly young.

    So, performance is not a huge deal. You are not going to win the Tour de France.

    So which bike should you chose recumbant or diamond?

    You have test ridden both. If I were you, I would go with the one I liked best. Diamond frames (upright) tend to climb hills better, accelerate from a stop better, corner better, and so on. Being up higher, you probably have better visibility on a diamond frame and parts will be more available.

    Recumbants are generally prefered by people who don't like dealing with the saddles on upright bikes. Recumbants are faster on descents and on flat and into head winds.

    As for which bike is better for exercising, the bike you ride the most is and I expect that you can answer that question better then anybody.

  19. #19
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    You're right, I'm not exactly one of the younger bunch. I'm 56, retired with lots of time on my hands, and about 25 lbs overweight. Looking for cycling to take care of the last part!

    I prefer the Easy Racers Sport recumbent I rode, but the price of admission is the big holdup there. The $400+ comfort/cross bikes aren't nearly as comfortable as the recumbent, but a lot easier on the wallet. I'm thinking for going for a cross bike for a couple of seasons; if I seriously enjoy this sport, then I'll spring for the recumbent if so desired at that time.

    Ron

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