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1st. Ride in 37 years; which bike to buy?

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1st. Ride in 37 years; which bike to buy?

Old 08-30-08, 10:14 PM
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1st. Ride in 37 years; which bike to buy?

While in high school and college me and my Schwinn Varsity were inseparable -- not a very cool thing in 1967 and the mid-west (interestingly enough, things changed a couple of years later).

Until today, I hadn't been on a bike since being hit by a motorcycle on my Schwinn while attending college (1971, Eastern Ill.). Luckily, I only suffered a broken elbow.

The accident was around midnight, the motorcyclist was running between 35 and 50 mph and all that was hit was my left arm. I speculated that I was hit either by his handlebars, or a mirror; just a few inches more, and I probably wouldn't be here.

Until I got to the hospital, I really didn't know what happened. I thought a car had thrown up a rock or ???

After being hit, I remained on the bike, and rode it 1/2 mile or so, to the local factory from where the motorcyclist had exited. Knowing I had a severely injured arm, I was concerned with stopping and having to throw my leg over the bike to get off. Under the circumstances all went well! After getting to the hospital, I met the gent who hit me. Ironically enough, he was a fraternity brother!

Fast forward 37 years later and 60 lbs. heaver, my wife and I test rode dozens and dozens of bikes today (big outdoor sale)! I was a little apprehensive given my size and simply not doing so for soooo long. But upon doing so, it's an uderstatement to say it was exhilarating!! And you never quite forget do you!!??

In the last couple of years I've lost 50lbs. Eating habits were changed, exercise was increased -- mainly walking and stretching. However, I still weigh in at 248 and obviously want to loose more!

Over the last few weeks, I perused this forum for many hours. I was concerned that placing my large posterior on a bike would cause spokes to bend and explode. Reading the clyde's posts helped change my apprehension, and prompted my fun back to the future trip today! Thanks to all those that have posted encouragement to us newbies. It really helped!!!

I'm looking forward to a bike purchase. Obviously, the question of which one, is an important one!

I rode several comfort and hybrid bikes -- Giant, Trek, and Cannondale. I realize it's going to take some time to get the muscles in shape, with the "seat muscles" being perhaps the worst (grin)!

I still want to test a Specialized (Crosstrail Sport), and Jamis, and maybe Raleigh and Schwinn. Is it true that most frames are made in China by Giant? So the differences are mainly related to the quality of components? My height is approximately 5'9". Inseam is 28 1/2. So I test rode small (mainly 15") frames. My rides here in Indianapolis will probably be mainly street, sidewalks, and gravel bike paths. While fortunately none of the bikes I rode today lost any spokes, I wonder about my weight and long term durability?

Any recommendations -- brands, components, models, types?

Cheers,

-Mike
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Old 08-31-08, 01:43 AM
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I've been on a '08 trek 7.3fx for about two months now, it's a great ride, although I've had to change several parts to get it to feel just right.

For me, I was very limited since I'm 6'9" but this bike has been great. It really boils down to comfort, and personal taste.

If I had no plans of trails, cared about bike weight, and wanted to go a little faster, I'd of gone with a road style.
But a slightly heavier less efficient bike only helps shed the weight quicker. For me, comfort and ability to handle non paved surfaces is what I wanted, but a "comfort" bike was out, since it's not what I personally wanted.

I started at around 270lbs, I'm at 255 now, no weight issues other then my wheel going out of true twice, but I'm hoping that it's more of a poor truing job. Beefed up wheels never hurt though, I'll be getting a Shimano LX hub, with Mavik A 719 or Velocity Deep V rims if the stock ones let go.

From what I've read, brand is a non issue for most bikes (frame build quality wise, like you said) good components and most importantly, the geometry and comfort are key.
Getting yourself fitted professionally for a bike would be a great step if you're wanting to be sure and get a comfortable bike.
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Old 08-31-08, 02:07 AM
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I started out a year ago on a Giant Cypress DX at 255lbs nice bike to start out I have since lost 70lbs and have moved on to road bikes. I know what you mean about it being exhilarating. The best thing to do is ride many different bikes to find one that you feel comfortable on. I think the most important is find a LBS you feel good about and that will work with you. Some people will say this bike is better then that bike but at the same price point they are all pretty close. Make sure the bike is a good fit, and the shop spends time working with you.
Shop for the bike store as much as the bike.
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Old 08-31-08, 05:13 AM
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lbear makes good points about shopping for a bike store as much as shopping for a bike.

I agree that for the most part, the quality of any given bike in a like price range is going to be similar. The frames are produced by a very limited number of manufacturers and sold to the name brands, so your assumption that many share characteristics is very true. Giant and Kinesis are the two big ones. There are a lot of people who don't want to accept that their gazillion dollar wunder bike was built in the same factory, by the same people, that built the $500 economy frame.

Another common factor is the component group. You will start to notice that within every price range, the groups will be very similar.

That leaves fit and LBS as the really big variables. Getting it right on these two are the most important. Don't be afraid to let some emotion help make your decision. If there is one bike that fits, you had good customer service at the LBS that has it, is in your price range, and it really appeals to you in the way it looks, go for it. You are more likely to ride a bike that you really like versus one that you settled for.
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Old 08-31-08, 05:21 AM
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Be sure and drop by the 50+ forum. Sounds as if you qualify!
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Old 08-31-08, 05:25 AM
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I would not forget about used bikes. Here is one in Indy:

https://indianapolis.craigslist.org/bik/817140762.html

Including many components upgraded by this owner, it is still half the new price. Use the difference to upgrade further. Or, simply feel good knowing you will not get clobbered if you change your mind and want to sell.

good luck
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Old 08-31-08, 06:48 AM
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Thanks for the replies + saddle questions...

Yep, I more than qualify for the 50+ forum (58 now, but will be 59 in a mo.). I have visited the 50+ forum, and will continue to do so.

I'm far from NOT needing encouragement and help. And I'm sure that after I begin ridding, more questions will surface. As I've found the BikeForums such a great repository of cycling information, I do intend to post my experiences and musings. If all goes well, in the next few months, I might be able to post suggestions and encouragement for folks in the position that I presently find myself.

Based on my experiences today at 2 different bike store locations (but same ownership), and seeing the various bikes mentioned in this forum, I was getting the idea that the bike store was as important as the bike and maybe even more so. Fortunately, here in Indy, there are several, and I plan to hit most, if NOT all, before making a purchase.

I like the idea of used. The Craig list link was appreciated. Unfortunately, the Gary Fisher offering is too large, or I would be seriously interested! But I will keep a lookout for other used bikes.

After ridding for the first time in so many years, I'm surprised that I have no more muscle aches than I do. Of course, I probably only rode the equivalent of a mile or so yesterday while testing. However, I do believe my butt is going to be the worse for the wear; which brings up the question of saddles?

I get the impression that in the long run a harder saddle is better than a soft, gel type, springy "comfort" one. Much like I've been reading about comfort vs road / non-suspended hybrid bikes. That’s what intrigued me about the Specialized CrossTrail Sport. As I understand it, it has a “coil spring w/ hydraulic lock out”, which I believe means that one can lock the fork for road terrain, but unlock it for bumpy off road use. If that’s correct, it seems like a reasonable, practical idea.

Getting back to the saddle issue, I imagine that it’s a very personal component – one tied to one’s own anatomy.

Because of the pain involved, I still quit vividly remember trying to break in my Schwinn Varsity’s leather saddle (41 yrs.ago)! And at 17, unlike today I was svelte, and in shape, so I’m more than a little concerned with what the process will bring today? How much pain is too much? Will it dissipate in time? How much time (many miles) will it take? What saddle type will be the most comfortable over the long haul, but break-in as soon as possible?

I ‘m thinking that the getting-used-to-the-saddle-process is as much of it getting to used to me, as me to it. Kinda’ like dog obedience training is more training the owner than the dog.

With that said, I would like to start out with a saddle that will conform to me and me to it without having to try several, and changing (so to speak) several saddles in mid-stream. If you can recall or relate to being a newbie, overweight, and out of bicycle ridding shape, what were your saddle experiences? What brand, style did you end up with?
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Old 08-31-08, 07:08 AM
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Weight has nothing to do with a saddle. I just installed a Brooks B-17, and I'm really starting to love it. Most comfortable saddle I have ever ridden.
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Old 08-31-08, 07:16 AM
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Saddles are a personal thing and there are probably as many opinions as there are riders.

That being said, here's my opinion. Brooks B-17. Yes it's a leather saddle and will need to "broken in" but it's not a long process. Many claim to be comfy right out of the box. Another nice thing about them is they can be found under $80, and will last a life time with the proper care.

I have one that I saved when I sold all of my bikes back in the mid 90's due to back problems. I kept it oiled and stored well, "just in case". I mounted it to my recently acquired "used" touring bike about three weeks ago. It's still heaven.

Buying a used bicycle can get you much more bike for the dollar than buying new, as long as it fits. Every bike I have has been acquired as a previously owned bike. Many are older, but well equipped. I got them for a fraction of what new bike with similar components would cost. It helps that I fall into the category of "Steal Is Real".

There are a lot of newer bikes to be had in the used market as well. Way to many bikes are purchased, barely ridden, and relegated to garage inventory. The good news is that they get put up for sale and a great savings, with very few miles on them.

Last edited by txvintage; 08-31-08 at 07:22 AM.
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Old 08-31-08, 11:55 AM
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Saddles are a very personal thing. But (no pun) IMO what is soft and comfy for short rides can end up being a real killer at a distance. Remember its a bike not a bar stool. Most good LBS will let you ride a saddle for a month and trade it back for something else if it doesn't work for you.
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