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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 05-05-12, 06:48 PM   #1
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Help Needed-Which Bike?

Have been on many test rides & want to be riding my new bike in the next week or two. Only issue is picking from the 3 bikes I like best. Based on test rides I like & dislike things about each of the bikes. I am most concerned about the ability of the bike (especially the wheels/tires/spokes) to support me & be my go-to bike for many years to come. While I see the specs on the website, I have no clue how these translate in terms of durability & reliability for me. I would greatly appreciate any advice or recommendations others can provide on these bikes—whether based on the specs or actual use of these bikes, current or previous years. Please also let me know if you think none of these bikes will be a good choice for me. List of the 3 bikes, the prices @ my LBS & a link to the page that compares specs of bikes below

On a related note I am somewhat confused on how much to spend on my bike. I hear mixed things on this. From spend as much as you can afford as otherwise you will want to upgrade shortly after you purchase, to make your first (or first in a long time) purchase something nice but not too expensive as you will outgrow your current bike rather quickly. I had hoped to stay under $500 out the door for my bike (including basket, kickstand & light), but may be willing to raise the budget a little if the quality of the bike was significantly better & would provide me an overall better biking experience. Thoughts on this?

• 2012 19”/Large Women’s Raleigh Detour 2.5 ($329)
• 2012 19”/Large Women’s Raleigh Detour 3.5 ($389)
• 2012 19”/Large Women’s Raleigh Detour City Sport ($599)

Included in LBS price: Out the door quality check (adjustment, tighten & true wheels etc), free accessory installation, free adjustments for first 2 years, one tune-up & lifetime extended parts warranty.

Link to specs via compare function @ Raleigh website:

Test ride notes: I find all 3 bikes comfortable to ride once I am off & riding. The 2.5 & 3.5 both feel a little cramped on take-off, but as soon as the pedals make the first few spins around things are very comfortable. I prefer the handle bar height (adjustable) and seat on the 2.5 & 3.5—at least for the 10-15 minute test rides. I am struggling to find much difference between the 2.5 and 3.5 outside of the price. The City Sport rides smoother (e.g., easier gear shifting, more comfortable take off) & comes with some features I would eventually like to have for my bike (fenders, rack, bell, kickstand) but has a very uncomfortable seat (LBS estimates $30-$100 to replace) and a much higher price tag. I can stop & put the ball of my foot on the ground while sitting on both (important to me as I am still recovering from a bad 5th metatarsal break), but this is more comfortable on the City Sport.

LBS states that $200+ price difference isn’t that much (true, from the bike perspective, but not necessarily the wallet perspective) and the amount of upgrades on the bike was surprising for only the $200 price difference. Don’t know if this is true or not and would appreciate any input on this issue.

Notes on me: I used to MTB a lot & rode a Trek MTB that would take just about anything & required little maintenance/repair. When I started working extremely long hours at a desk job my mountain biking stopped. I have gained a lot of weight since my mountain bike days & I now weigh in around mid-upper 200s (I can’t believe I am sharing this!) While I want to bike for fitness/weight loss, I primarily want to bike because I enjoy it, it energizes me & makes me happy. Also it seems a shame to live in such a bike friendly city & not do so.

When I started test riding I thought I wanted a cruiser type bike, envisioning myself with a cute girly colored Electra Townie type bike with a wicker basket on the front riding blissfully around my neighborhood or to the market. My test rides reminded me how much I enjoy biking for much longer distances and how valuable different speeds can be in hilly areas. Also realized I prefer 700cc tires over the 2” tires on cruisers & Raleigh was one of the few brands that fit my body style (5’9 with a very long torso and shorter legs) decently.

Like many Athenas I am subconscious about my weight, but biking itself doesn’t make this worse—not yet @ least. Maybe the 1st time someone yells something awful @ me this will change. I still plan to ride in my neighborhood & have a cute wicker basket, but also hope to spend weekends with my husband logging many miles on the extensive bike path system in the Madison area. The bike paths are mostly paved, a few are gravel/dirt. My upmost concern is the bike’s ability, in particular the wheels/tires, to support me & not leave me with embarrassing breakdowns/trips to the repair shop.

Warm regards, Forum reader & first time poster
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Old 05-05-12, 09:05 PM   #2
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although steel frames may be alittle more comfortable/ forgiving, I prefer aluminum thus making my choice the city sport. this one also has disk brakes and higher level components, thus validating the higher pricetag. the city sport has a rack built onto it and fenders? thats a plus. and it looks cooler, hands down I vote for the more expensive option/sorry.
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Old 05-07-12, 10:33 AM   #3
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You should get the one that's most comfortable to you. The price difference might seem like a lot, but if you're riding more often because you like your bike, it's worth it.

Personally, I went with the hot pink Townie with a wicker basket (I even made my own liners for it so I can change the look ). I tried a few bikes before I bought it...tried as in bought them off Craigslist, fixed them up, rode them until I figured out I didn't like them, and then resold them. I can't tell in the parking lot of the LBS if something is going to be comfortable for ten or more miles...most bikes feel decent for the first few miles. I have the same issue with long torso and short legs, but I'm 5'3" so that makes it harder to find a bike that fits well. I found that I absolutely have to be able to touch the ground well when I stop, because I had leg surgery a couple of years ago and even stepping the wrong way on it or standing too long can give me a stress fracture in my foot. The low handlebars of a mountain bike didn't work well for me either...I could manage the first few miles but riding in that position made it feel like I didn't have room to draw a deep breath, and I got lightheaded on the hills. I tried a bike with a suspension seat post and front fork, and it was a nice soft ride, but the suspension seemed to have trouble with my weight and partway through the ride the front suspension seemed to bottom out and then my hands were at a bad angle and started hurting. When I bought the Townie, I had narrowed my choices to a Giant Suede, Trek Pure or the Townie. It does pretty well on the hills, but the furthest I've ridden on it so far is about seven miles (the roads around here aren't safe so I circle around the neighborhoods). I might buy another bike next year, not to replace the Townie but just because the Townie seems to use different muscles in my legs and buns than the other bikes I've had, and it would be nice to be able to alternate bikes to work all the muscles. Those Raleighs look pretty nice, I'll have to figure out where they carry them locally and check them out.

I noticed you mentioned wanting to ride on gravel/dirt...I think that puts a lot of strain on the wheels, especially for riders who weigh more than average.
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Old 05-07-12, 11:04 AM   #4
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You say,
& required little maintenance/repair.
first thing I would try to suggest is that maintained wheels last longer than those that are ignored.
Spokes break when they loosen in tension, and the J bends break after flexing cycles.
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