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Overweight and looking to get started!

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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.

Overweight and looking to get started!

Old 03-18-15, 07:27 PM
  #1  
Shadowgurl
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Overweight and looking to get started!

So I'm looking to get started into biking. Pretty sure I want a road bike as I don't think I'll be getting into trail riding.

My issue is that I'm around 285 lbs and terrified to buy a bike that will fail...of course embarrassed to go into a store to ask too....

Any tips on what I should look for?

Currently entertaining the idea of this on:

CCM Endurance 700C Road Bike | Canadian Tire

Any suggestions or help would be totally appreciated.

Thanks in advance

Melissa
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Old 03-18-15, 07:43 PM
  #2  
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Welcome to the site! I am not going to tell you what to buy, but as a beginner to riding, I got a road bike and found the riding position too aggressive and I had a lot of discomfort from the riding position of a road bike. I also had issues with getting flat tires a lot running those skinny 700cx25 tires due to my weight, terrain, pressures, etc. I had much better experiences and no flat tires riding other type bikes. Maybe a hybrid or comfort bike would be a better choice for you to start out with? I would hate to see someone start out with the wrong bike and end up not enjoying the ride and giving up. As I lost weight and became more fit, I was able to ride road bikes.......

Everyday Traveller Women's 26" Comfort Bike | Canadian Tire
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Old 03-18-15, 07:49 PM
  #3  
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You can go hybrid as well. A bit more upright and you can change your tires to get more road style if you wish. I suggest going to a local trusted bike store and riding a hybrid, road bike, etc. I know you said you are embarrassed to go into the store but you need to. They will be happy to see you and you are not the first person who was not a thin rail to walk in the store. Seek out a friendly face and tell then what your plans are. Then come back in here and share your experience and the good people of this forum will help you learn more about what you were looking at so you can then be more informed.

So.... my recommendations are to look at hybrids and road bikes. Do it at a friendly local bike store. Share back here then go back in.

Most bike stores have bikes in the brands they carry that will work for you.

I rode a Cannondale hybrid (Quick 5) when I was much larger because I couldn't bend over on the road bike and be comfortable. I set my sights on getting a road bike when I lost enough weight and that's what I did. I went to a Raleigh Ravenio and beefed up the rims to handle things.
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Old 03-18-15, 07:50 PM
  #4  
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Originally Posted by Johnny Mullet View Post
Welcome to the site! I am not going to tell you what to buy, but as a beginner to riding, I got a road bike and found the riding position too aggressive and I had a lot of discomfort from the riding position of a road bike. I also had issues with getting flat tires a lot running those skinny 700cx25 tires due to my weight, terrain, pressures, etc. I had much better experiences and no flat tires riding other type bikes. Maybe a hybrid or comfort bike would be a better choice for you to start out with? I would hate to see someone start out with the wrong bike and end up not enjoying the ride and giving up. As I lost weight and became more fit, I was able to ride road bikes.......

Everyday Traveller Women's 26" Comfort Bike | Canadian Tire
I also got flats, etc. when I went to the skinnier tires on my hybrid. I had to stay away from them for a bit until I lost enough then put them back on.
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Old 03-18-15, 07:51 PM
  #5  
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How long since you last rode a bike? On any kind of regular basis? If it has been a long time, I think you might be more comfortable on a Hybrid or Mountain bike. Most returning cyclist, with the exception of a notable group of roadies, prefer the upright seating position that these two types offer.

If you're comfortable jumping into new activities, have access to great bike paths, and have familiarity with braking from drop handlebars, then you might try that Canadian Tire bike but if I were you, I'd go to a bike shop and get some advice there to supplement what you get on this site.

Good luck.
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Old 03-18-15, 07:56 PM
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Thank you for the quick replies. Very much appreciated.

Any thoughts on a Trek 820? I was looking that one too...
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Old 03-18-15, 08:04 PM
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Thoughts on a Trek 820?
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Old 03-18-15, 08:08 PM
  #8  
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I started riding around 280lbs on a Trek 7200 :-)....it did not break in over 2000 miles :-).

I'd just steer away from low spoke count wheels, that said my Trek has 32 spoke wheels, and I never had to touch them once :-).

The first bike you linked, hard to tell a lot about it from their webpage really.

If you have local bike shops stop in and see what they have...one benefit is often that they will let you trade up, I paid $809 for my Fuji Sportif 1.5, and they committed to give me at least $500 in trade if I trade it it, and 1.5 year warranty, an extra 6 mos past the Fuji warranty.

I'm kinda partial to Fuji but the other makers have bikes in this price range, if you did a little deeper you can get into something like this :-).

Fuji Bikes | ROAD | ENDURANCE SERIES | FINEST 2.3

The Giant Avail is a maybe "nicer" bike in a few ways, but it has lower spoke count wheels...not as good for a bigger rider IMHO

Avail 5 (2015) | Giant Bicycles | United States

But it will all depend on what you feel good riding, lady my wife knows from work rode clear across Iowa on one of these...

Fuji Bikes | LIFESTYLE | FITNESS | SILHOUETTE 1.9 DISC
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Old 03-18-15, 08:15 PM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by Shadowgurl View Post
Thoughts on a Trek 820?
Myself I am not a big fan of suspension forks :-)..........

7.2 FX WSD - Women's collection - Trek Bicycle

That bike there is set up about exactly like my 7200.

I know it has low enough gearing to go about anywhere, 28/38/48 up front, and 11-32 in the back, 8 speed, 700x35 tires which is good, 32 spoke rims, again good. Until you get used to shifting a lot you can run on the middle chain ring, the 38 and really get by pretty good there unless it gets really windy or really hilly, or both :-).
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Old 03-18-15, 08:17 PM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by Willbird View Post
Myself I am not a big fan of suspension forks :-)..........

7.2 FX WSD - Women's collection - Trek Bicycle

That bike there is set up about exactly like my 7200.

I know it has low enough gearing to go about anywhere, 28/38/48 up front, and 11-32 in the back, 8 speed, 700x35 tires which is good, 32 spoke rims, again good. Until you get used to shifting a lot you can run on the middle chain ring, the 38 and really get by pretty good there unless it gets really windy or really hilly, or both :-).
I would steer more towards that, than this, for example.............this frame is weaker with that tube down lower, in my opinion anyway...:-).

Go ride lots of bikes :-)....if your shy go to bigger stores and further from home if need by, the test rides are free :-).

7.1 FX Stagger - Women's collection - Trek Bicycle

But you might hop on a road bike and be good to go, you will only know by riding, the ONE hand position gets tiresome on a hybrid, there are ways to add a few more hand positions, but the road bike offers at least two, then 3 as you drop weight. I could not breathe right at say 250 on the lowest part of road bike handle bars, called the "drops"

Last edited by Willbird; 03-18-15 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 03-18-15, 08:21 PM
  #11  
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You're not so heavy that a bike is just going to slowly crumple and drop you to the ground the second you climb on I've ridden when I was a lot heavier than you, and lots of other people have too. It's always good to keep the tires inflated properly, and sometimes the thicker tire tubes work better for heavier riders, but those are issues I had more when I was around 350 than I have since I've been below 300.

It's more about finding the bike that is comfortable for you personally than it is about us recommending or not recommending a specific model. Do you have back problems? Knee problems? Wrist problems? Do you have a short torso and long legs, in which case the female-specific bikes may be more comfortable? What are you planning to do with the bike, short rides around the neighborhood or 50 mile rides? You can't look at a picture of a bike online and decide whether or not it will be comfortable for you.

The other reason to go into a bike shop and have them help you find the bike that's right for you is that you'll need little repairs from time to time, and you'll need to be comfortable with going into the bike shop for those repairs. Believe me, most people who work in bike shops love bikes and think everyone should be riding a bike, and will be happy to help you find a bike.
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Old 03-18-15, 08:22 PM
  #12  
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This was me after riding one month, so your not alone or unique where you are now :-)....that was after a 100k ride :-).



Count the calories and ride every day, this happens :-).

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Old 03-18-15, 10:10 PM
  #13  
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Where are you located?

I recently worked in a Trek LBS. I do NOT recommend the 820. It is a decent bike for kids to go to and from school but that is about it. I don't recommend for adults.

I was close to 260 when I started back riding and I went with an FX. I added a road bike when I was about 245.

If you get a hybrid and get a suspension fork, get one with the lockout so you can choose to have the suspension or not.
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Old 03-19-15, 12:05 AM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by Shadowgurl View Post
My issue is that I'm around 285 lbs and terrified to buy a bike that will fail...of course embarrassed to go into a store to ask too....
I have yet to hear one good thing about a CCM bike. Buy their hockey equipment, not their bikes. Are you in Canada?

OK... as to the part of your comment that I quoted. Yeah, you're larger than you want to be. Yeah, you're embarrassed. Yeah, all the other cyclists you see are scrawny waifs. Yeah, some people are going to be d-bags.

I think if you can step back from your fears and keep an open mind, you'll find that people want to help you so try not to pre-qualify people as judgmental. It's hard, I know. Give 'em a chance and let the people in shops near you give you a hand picking out a bike. 285 is far from too heavy to ride a bike. You may have periodic troubles with lightweight wheels but overall, nothing is going to explode on you so move forward and be positive.

And welcome to bike forums - this particular sub-forum is a pretty friendly place most of the time. Stick around and enjoy the place.
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Old 03-19-15, 02:39 AM
  #15  
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If you like the idea of a road bike but are concerned about durability and comfort at your weight, consider a cyclocross, gravel or touring bike. They all are similar to road bikes but tend to be beefier with more relaxed geometry. Another advantage is that you can mount tires larger than 700x28c which will reduce the chance of pinch flats and decrease road vibration. There are lots of them out there in steel, aluminum, carbon fiber and even Ti. I started at about your weight and am still a Clyde. My personal preference is good quality butted chrome-moly frames. Modern steel frames can be surprisingly light, very durable, and more easily repairable than other materials. I also really like the feel/comfort of a good steel frame.

I strongly suggest working with a LBS as fit and setup have a huge impact on comfort. One size fits all bikes from big box retailers are a real crap shoot in regards to fit and there are no options for swapping out parts to increase your comfort and control. For example, a bike shop would usually be willing to make adjustments like a change in the stem length/angle or swapping a straight for a setback seatpost for a minimal charge to make sure a bike fit you right.

Don't be scared of "road" bikes either as there is a pretty large variety of bikes that fall in this category. There are extremely aggressive road bikes out there but there are also endurance and comfort geometries available. Frame failure is unlikely unless you go with something ultra-light, but you might have to address the wheels. Entry level or low spoke count wheels can prove problematic for a large rider. My suggestion is usually to just make sure the stock wheels are 32 spokes or more and to get them properly trued and tensioned by the shop. Catastrophic failure is rare, more commonly a wheel will keep coming out of true and/or start breaking spokes. If that is the case, you will have to look at a more durable wheelset. Like I said, I'm a big guy and I have a butted chrome moly frame with CF fork road bike that has an endurance (less aggressive) geometry. It does have upgraded wheels, but I wouldn't have hesitated to ride this bike stock at your weight.

As far as the Trek 820, in your original post you stated that you were thinking of a road bike. The 820 is a decent, entry level mountain bike, but a road bike it is not. With slick tires it might make an OK commuter but you don't need the suspension for riding on paved surfaces. The modern 820 is a far cry from the 820 of the 1980s and 90s which was a rigid (no suspension) chome moly bike that made a great commuter, still not a road bike though. If you like the flat handlebars there are flat bar road bikes or hybrids that lean toward road bike styling.

Last edited by GravelMN; 03-19-15 at 02:49 AM.
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Old 03-19-15, 06:03 AM
  #16  
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first off, congratulations on making the move to improve your health...
Go to a local bike store, they will be glad to see you....people like you who are just getting into the sport are the future of the local bike store....
I agree with the folks who are advising you to stay away from bikes with front suspension at an entry level price range.
I also agree that at the moment a true road bike may be a bit aggressive for you...
The trek FX series that was mentioned is a great bike... my wife has the FX 7.5 and loves it...she has other bikes, including a very nice, high end, carbon fiber road bike... but for general purpose riding, doing multi-use paths and on rough roads, the FX is her "go to" bike.
Biking is a great means of exercise with minimal stress to joints and muscles compared to many other types of exercise... and with a proper diet really works for weight loss... healthy weight loss... I myself, lost 80 lbs when I got into riding....
so go into that LBS, standing proud, and tell them what you want to do, and get their help and support getting it done.
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Old 03-19-15, 09:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Beachgrad05 View Post
Where are you located?

...

If you get a hybrid and get a suspension fork, get one with the lockout so you can choose to have the suspension or not.
Shadowgurl... Beachgrad worked at a very cool shop... Unlikely Cyclist... that catered to regular cyclists but had an understanding for those of us that are on the PLUS size. If you are anywhere in the So Cal area, I suggest you look up that shop.

That said... cultivate a bike shop. Check out the ones in your area and don't be embarassed to ask them specifically if the shop has worked with or catered to those with weight issues and fitness problems. If not, move on. Tell the shop you are a complete beginner and will look to them to rely on their advice. When you go to the shop know your price range, know exactly what sort of riding you plan to do and know your goal. This is important as I noticed you mentioned a bike with a suspension fork. Unless you plan to do some sort of trail riding, or your trails are gravel - rails to trail, stay away from suspension. At a certain price point (less than $1500, most suspension is worthless). Plus there is so much to know and learn.... unless you have a friend who knows alot of bikes, you need the service of a friendly bike shop. All what Judi said.

You need to physically go to a shop and sit and ride bikes. Period. Doesn't matter what worked for this person or not; what matters is what works for you and you won't know until you physically sit on that bike and spin it around the parking lot. If you buy a bike you aren't comfortable on you won't ride it and then it just becomes a clothes hanger in the corner.

Also alot of shop organize rides for new customers/riders. Generally some instruction as to how to ride is given. There really is alot of skill involved especially learning how to ultilize the aerobic benefit of cycling. I can't tell you how many "newbies" I've trained* who can't use their gears and think "mashing" is best. Wrong... it is not. Spinning will be your friend. Combine cycling (aerobic) with weight lifting (anaerobic) will help you lose weight or at least get fit. Also, if both feet can touch the ground at the same time, your seat is too low (and your knees will hurt) ... but that's a confidence thing and the seat should be raised over time...

Also think about a used bike... but remember a Bike Shop who is friendly and caring is worth its weight in gold!

*I organized and ran the beginner rides for my clubs for a number of years...

And Willbird thanks for posting your before and after... encouraging!!!
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Old 03-19-15, 10:24 AM
  #18  
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Since you are angled toward road riding, I would throw in another vote for the Trek FX line. I ride a 7.2 FX that I bought at the start of last season, and I weighed over 300 for the whole time.

No problems whatsoever with the bike, and the riding position is a little less upright than bikes with a "comfort" geometry, so you don't catch too much wind.

But to be honest, I would follow the suggestions above and go try a few. I wouldn't go for something that was too aggressive and hope to condition into it, at least to the point where you think you will be happy with it forever. However, I wouldn't hesitate to get one that was slightly too aggressive... since it will last longer before you feel compelled to upgrade. And then it would be a decent second bike for times you just want to cruise.

With all of that said, I would also check out some road bikes. As long as you are comfortable on the hoods or flats, I wouldn't worry about how you feel in the drops, since when I migrate to a drop bar bike, I don't expect to spend much time in the drops anyway. Even distance racers spend very little time in the drops, so you don't have to assume that the droops are where you should be riding most of the time. In my youth, I figured that the hoods/flats were good as a break from the drops where I usually rode. I am over that completely. For some road bikes, the hoods/flats could be roughly the same position as a road oriented flat bar bike. For road bikes, I would ask to see relaxed road, touring or cyclocross bikes (the latter 2 usually accommodate wider tires).
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Old 03-19-15, 12:46 PM
  #19  
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As @Pamestique says above finding the shop is key. If a shop acts dismissive or critical...leave...find THE one. They are out there. I am still affiliated with The Unlikely Cyclist tho that is not the Trek store that I referred to. With The Unlikely Cyclist, I am more of a volunteer than employee...I lead the shop rides and do a little marketing (I hand out shop business cards to women cyclists and some men that I meet). Rarely I work in the shop. The Unlikely Cyclist sells Bianchi and Cannondale plus Public city bikes. The Trek store I worked at from last July until this past February was Jax Bicycles in Long Beach.
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Old 03-19-15, 01:46 PM
  #20  
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not sure, but something here might be interesting

Bikes for heavy riders ? what are you riding? Super Clydesdale
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Old 03-19-15, 03:19 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Shadowgurl View Post
My issue is that I'm around 285 lbs and terrified to buy a bike that will fail...of course embarrassed to go into a store to ask too....

Melissa
I can't speak for all stores. But in the past 6 months I've been to:

2 Trek Stores
Performance Bikes
REI
2 different Specalized/Raleigh bikes stores
2 or 3 independent stores

Rode with 2 different riding clubs

Done 1 charity race

In all that time, nobody has ever done anything to make me feel bad for my weight. Everyone I've met has been encouraging. Everyone has offered advice only when asked. Multiple guys that were trying to get fit even let me try out their bikes to see how they felt.

All stores were straight up about road bikes being best but there would be extra maintenance at my weight (350 on Feb 28 which was the date of our race. 338 yesterday). We bought some Trek comfort bikes to start and have since moved to something a bit more aggressive that was used (since both me and the wife wanted a bit more distance and speed but were not ready to buy new bikes knowing that when I dropped 30-50 more pounds we could consider something more permanent or I may use a carbon bike as a carrot to drop 100 lbs in the next year). Every time I walked into a store I got advice that did not feel generic. I was not upsold. And when I told them I was probably going to buy used on Craigslist and be back in 6 months but wanted advice for a bridge bike, they still kept being helpful and friendly. One even offered to help us with the Craigslist listing on our Trek bikes.

Don't let the fact that biking is generally a "slender" hobby intimidate you. Local riding groups and stores always seem to be happy to help and are some of the friendliest people I've met.
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Old 03-19-15, 05:06 PM
  #22  
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Here another vote for the Trek FX. I'd suggest the 7.2 or higher.

Many of us have used performance hybrids (such as the Trek FX... most manufacturers have a performance hybrid line) as the gateway drug to road bikes. The hybrid is very welcoming and forgiving and reminds you of how much FUN bicycling is. After six months to a year (and the loss of a few pounds), one typically notices that, gosh, those other kids with road bikes go faster, and they don't complain about their hands hurting after a couple hours, and... and... I want a road bike too!

Which is fine, as the hybrid remains your faithful quarter horse, even after you buy a thoroughbred. Nothing beats the hybrid for running errands, especially if you want to keep your road bike light and nimble.

As others have said, you're shopping for a bike shop as well as a bike. A good shop should be helpful and supportive, and should be looking to gain a longterm client... not just sell a bike.

Good hunting!
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Old 03-20-15, 12:09 PM
  #23  
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I found this one

1991 Trek 6000 Mountain Bike - 19" frame

obviously older, but looks to be in good condition.

Im headed to a bike shop on sunday to get their opinion on it and other things I might not be aware of.

Thanks to everyone here that posted so far, Im feeling much more comfortable with walking in and getting some great advice!!!
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Old 03-20-15, 12:21 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by Beachgrad05 View Post
As [MENTION=57577]... The Trek store I worked at from last July until this past February was Jax Bicycles in Long Beach.
I have sent three women and one guy (new beginners) to the Jax store in Irvine, although I went with them, the salesperson was cordial, polite, patient and understanding. Jax is not MY shop but I like Trek bikes especially for newbies and my experience people there are cool.

Again find a good shop then worry about the bike...
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Old 03-20-15, 12:33 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Pamestique View Post
I have sent three women and one guy (new beginners) to the Jax store in Irvine, although I went with them, the salesperson was cordial, polite, patient and understanding. Jax is not MY shop but I like Trek bikes especially for newbies and my experience people there are cool.

Again find a good shop then worry about the bike...
headed to a trek dealer on sunday
ive only got one in my area....just outside of Toronto Canada
they should be decent...was just happy to find a used trek and wanted someone elses opinion on it
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