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Help me get my girlfriend to stop complaining and pedal

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Help me get my girlfriend to stop complaining and pedal

Old 08-25-20, 05:43 PM
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tjc4golf
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Question Help me get my girlfriend to stop complaining and pedal

TLDR:
  • My girlfriend complains her bike "hurts my neck" and claims she needs a new "women's" bike.
  • I think the frame fits her and if anything we just need to tweak things like stem, bars, seatpost, etc. Also maybe work on her fitness.
  • Pics of her on the bike are at bottom.
  • Her measurements, the bike's measurements, and output measurements from online fit calculators can be found in this spreadsheet (look at both tabs).
  • Please let me know if you have any suggestions as far as what I can do to make her rides pain free.

The details...

My sister moved overseas and couldn't take her bike with her so my girlfriend got it. Bike was an entry level Giant hybrid with a sticker that identified it as a "women's" bike.

Saw a old Cannondale SM500 on Craigslist. Looked like good bones for an upgrade and I like old 26" MTB to gravel conversions (though I kept flat bars on this one) so I bought it.

We had both bikes for a week or two. Made sure she rode the new bike 2x before selling the old one. She told me she liked the new bike better - especially how the wider tires on the 26" smoothed out bumps.

So I sold the Giant and upgraded the Cannondale. 1x10 drivetrain with Deore shifter and SLX clutch derailleur. Carbon bars, saddle, and seatpost. Nice Schwalbe rubber, etc.

Below are some pics of her riding the Cannondale after I fixed it up (sorry they're huge - couldn't find a thumbnail option). I tried to get a couple with her leg extended and a couple with her pedals parallel.

Now she complains it "hurts my neck" and the "old one never made my neck hurt". She thinks the new bike hurts because it's not a "women's bike". I tell her there's no such thing as a women's bike (outside of marketing dept) and if the geometry works then the geometry works.

As far as I can tell the geometry works. I made a spreadsheet with (1) her measurements, (2) the Cannondale measurements, and (3) the outputs of a bunch of online bike fit calculators.

Here's a link to the spreadsheet (note: don't miss the second tab). Each website gives slightly different recommendations but overall I'd say they validate the fact that the frame fits her. Seat tube and top tube measurements are pretty spot on.

So I'm thinking any fit issues don't require a new bike - just need to dial in the cockpit (stem, handlebars, seatpost setback, etc).

Unfortunately the online fit calculators seem to focus mostly on getting the frame right. To the extent that they suggest more detailed fits it's for a road bike or a mountain bike. With a flat bar hybrid / gravel bike I'm not sure trying to copy them makes sense.

Questions:
  • Can anyone recommend specific handlebar reach and handlebar stack targets based on her measurements?
  • If not specific measurements then some directional advice? I'm thinking she might like 3" or 5" riser bars (bars are currently a few inches below the saddle) but that's just a hunch. I'd rather approach this scientifically than just guessing, buying parts, installing parts, and checking. That's expensive and time consuming.
  • Could this be a form / fitness issue? It's been awhile but when I first started cycling I didn't use my core to hold me up so I had a lot of weight on my handlebars which bothered my back and neck. I think she might have too much weight in her hands.





Last edited by tjc4golf; 08-25-20 at 05:55 PM.
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Old 08-25-20, 05:51 PM
  #2  
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Looks like the seat might be a little high, her knee looks locked.

I didn't really want to say anything, but her head, what's wrong with it?
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Old 08-25-20, 05:59 PM
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Saddle looks too high going by the leg extension on the first two pics.
Saddle looks too far back also, as best I can tell by her position without being able to see the saddle.

Fix those two and perhaps you might also somewhat correct the things that make her shoulders hurt. Which are the fully extended straight arms.

I'm not a flat bar fan. They only give you one position. Unless you count riding with elbow very bent and elbows slightly bent as two positions.

I found that when the spouse don't like a bike, even if they aren't valid reasons, they won't like the bike ever. Maybe you'll have better luck. Mine still thinks she has to have a step through.

She knows you put her pic up...... right? Otherwise you are in deep s#*t if she ever finds out. <grin>

Last edited by Iride01; 08-25-20 at 06:02 PM.
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Old 08-25-20, 06:03 PM
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You could try a stem like I use and the added grips allow for more hand placements that can help with hands and shoulders.
Frank.
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Old 08-25-20, 06:41 PM
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I agree with the above; seat too high and too far back.

Glenn
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Old 08-25-20, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Hit Factor View Post
Looks like the seat might be a little high, her knee looks locked.

I didn't really want to say anything, but her head, what's wrong with it?
Iride01 also thought the saddle looks high. Lowering is easy. I'll do that.

I just blurred her face for anonymity.

Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Saddle looks too high going by the leg extension on the first two pics.
Saddle looks too far back also, as best I can tell by her position without being able to see the saddle.

Fix those two and perhaps you might also somewhat correct the things that make her shoulders hurt. Which are the fully extended straight arms.

I'm not a flat bar fan. They only give you one position. Unless you count riding with elbow very bent and elbows slightly bent as two positions.

I found that when the spouse don't like a bike, even if they aren't valid reasons, they won't like the bike ever. Maybe you'll have better luck. Mine still thinks she has to have a step through.

She knows you put her pic up...... right? Otherwise you are in deep s#*t if she ever finds out. <grin>
Hit Factor also thought the saddle looks high. Lowering is easy. I'll do that first.

Seastpost is the setback type. That can be replaced with straight seatpost. Also easy.

Bars are personal. Drop bars give you more hand positions but are narrower / less stable (though that's changing a little bit with gravel bikes) which isn't great for beginners such as the gf. Also, brakes and gears are optimized for the drops meaning brakes and gears aren't as accessible in other positions which makes them less safe than flat bars which isn't great for beginners such as the gf. Also, 1x is still more rare and expensive in road / drop configurations. All of this is debatable / my opinions.

I'm worried about the same thing happening as happened with your spouse. Appeals to logic and science seem to be falling on deaf ears.


Originally Posted by Helderberg View Post
You could try a stem like I use and the added grips allow for more hand placements that can help with hands and shoulders.
Frank.
Good idea. Cheap and easy too. Like it.
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Old 08-25-20, 06:55 PM
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Seat too high, maybe a bit too far back, and and handlebar too low.

Also newbies and casual riders will want a more upright position so replace the straightbar with riser bar.
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Old 08-25-20, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by GAtkins View Post
I agree with the above; seat too high and too far back.

Glenn
Those are easily fixed and will be fixed.

Lots of comments on saddle position. Any thoughts on handlebars / stem?

If I do a Google image search for "women's hybrid bike" most bike have bars above saddle.

If I do a Google image search for "women's gravel bike" most bike have bars in line with saddle.

Her bike is a bit more slammed. Bars are 2-3" below her saddle. Thoughts on riser bar or riser stem?

Sunlite offers 3" and 5" riser handlebars with a 31.8 diameter. I'm thinking one of those might help. Agree?

If you agree, any science to choosing the 3" or 5" or is it all feel?
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Old 08-25-20, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
Seat too high, maybe a bit too far back, and and handlebar too low.

Also newbies and casual riders will want a more upright position so replace the straightbar with riser bar.
Ok, cool. Responses rolling in faster than I can reply. Just replied to another message asking about bars.

Thoughts on 3" riser vs 5" riser? Is it mostly just personal preference at that point?
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Old 08-25-20, 07:08 PM
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Smile

Originally Posted by tjc4golf View Post
Those are easily fixed and will be fixed.

Lots of comments on saddle position. Any thoughts on handlebars / stem?

If I do a Google image search for "women's hybrid bike" most bike have bars above saddle.

If I do a Google image search for "women's gravel bike" most bike have bars in line with saddle.

Her bike is a bit more slammed. Bars are 2-3" below her saddle. Thoughts on riser bar or riser stem?

Sunlite offers 3" and 5" riser handlebars with a 31.8 diameter. I'm thinking one of those might help. Agree?

If you agree, any science to choosing the 3" or 5" or is it all feel?
I agree. My gut tells me to try the 5" first. Combined with lowering the seat, that'll help get the weight off her hands more.

Oh, on the complaining part, I got nothing on that my friend! )

Glenn
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Old 08-25-20, 07:23 PM
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As Lance said to his team early one year, "If you folks don't want to pedal, I'll find people who do!"

OTOH, looks definitely worth some taking some interest.

Looks to me like the frame is too small, stem too short, larger frame might not need the riser stem. I think she looks too far back simply because the bike's too small.

My fit primer: How can I fitting my bike
Follow the instructions. If they don't work, i.e. stem needs to be stupidly too long, saddle's way back on the rails, etc., frame's probably too small.
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Old 08-25-20, 07:59 PM
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It just looks odd. Definitely too high but also maybe too small for her. She’s reaching down. Your frame measurements of the bike may be off. This bike’s serial number should have the size in it, then you can look up the geometry, see:
https://vintagecannondale.com/info/serial_numbers/
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Old 08-25-20, 08:50 PM
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Aside: be kind. She does hurt, and after trusting you to be right. Thread title and scare quotes need work.

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Old 08-25-20, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by tjc4golf View Post
Thoughts on 3" riser vs 5" riser? Is it mostly just personal preference at that point?
Yes, mostly personal preference. A cruiser bar would also work, it's got both rise and sweep. A cruiser bar would be one of your best option for riding comfort.

If these changes puts her in an upright position enough, you may also need to change the saddle into something wider and with more padding in it because an upright position will put more weight on the saddle.
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Old 08-26-20, 03:43 AM
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The Bontrager IsoZone Grip offers a lot of support. This could help reduce arm pain. https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/e...lack_greylight
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Old 08-26-20, 06:55 AM
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saddle is too high, handlebar is too low.

while it's great to have a calculator spit out measurements, the thing that matters in the end is her subjective experience.

my wife is just over 5 feet tall. I got her a small (not extra small) women's 29er and put a narrow handlebar with a lot of backsweep on it (Origin8 Batwing) and she feels comfortable and confident on it. we've ridden trails that I find challenging and she just smashes through them, or fails and tries again. I also set her up on an old Fuiji road bike with a 46cm frame and 650C wheels. it's a bit too big for her but we replaced the drop bar with a riser bar and a short stem. it works great, but we had to play around with the fit a lot until we found something that works for her.
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Old 08-26-20, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by tjc4golf View Post
Bars are personal. Drop bars give you more hand positions but are narrower / less stable (though that's changing a little bit with gravel bikes) which isn't great for beginners such as the gf.
Not just bars, but bike, riding preference and most everything else are ..... personal choices.

But while you say wider bars make you more stable, I'd say that stability they add is exactly the sort of thing that might be causing a pain in the neck and upper shoulders. Spreading your arms more at the base makes you more rigid at the shoulders and you body absorbs all the jolts of the road transmitted though the arms right in that shoulder/neck apex made rigid by the wider spread hands.

Narrower bars might seem a little more unstable at first by some, but your body is able to better spread the force of those jolts over a larger area where they can be absorbed better.

Also, brakes and gears are optimized for the drops meaning brakes and gears aren't as accessible in other positions which makes them less safe than flat bars which isn't great for beginners such as the gf. Also, 1x is still more rare and expensive in road / drop configurations. All of this is debatable / my opinions.
That's a stretch in my opinion.... but as you said, it's an opinion.
A properly fitted drop bar bike has people riding more on the hoods and in the forward part of the drops. Both of which give excellent access to brakes and shifting. While the horizontal part of the bar is still available, I find myself using it less and less since switching to STI's instead of shifting on the down tube.

Regardless, no matter where my hands are they find the brakes quite quickly.

I will agree with some others that the frame looks small. More appropriate for off road use if it was set up for that. But I've seen some pro tour riders on frames that looked tiny too. If you have the year and model of that frame, you might check what the manufacturer recommended for sizing.

If you GF doesn't like the bike, she won't like the bike. Let her pick out the bike she likes. Would you like someone to pick a bike for you? If she happens to pick a bike that might not be quite the bike for the riding style you like...... well that is something you'll have to come to terms with.

Last edited by Iride01; 08-26-20 at 07:54 AM.
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Old 08-26-20, 08:09 AM
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How tall is your GF? That's a very small frame, to small to setup for her without looking funky. The seat needs to be way jacked up, riser bars, I think you/she needs a frame a couple of inches taller. That will help with the seat to handle drop that is possibly giving her the neck issue.

I recently sold a Cannondale like that, the buyer was about 5'1".
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Old 08-26-20, 08:13 AM
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Give up now.
Once your gf has trashed the bike in her brain she’ll always be unhappy with it. If she has an accident it will forever be your fault for making her ride that bike, something your Grandkids will hear about half a century from now.
Sell it and get her a bike she wants to ride.
Get someone else to make fitting recommendations. Everyone knows random person making suggestions >> smarter than bf/husband making the same one. Haha
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Old 08-26-20, 09:23 AM
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Wrong style, she might like something Dutch Oma type bike , where she sits very upright

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Old 08-26-20, 10:43 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
As Lance said to his team early one year, "If you folks don't want to pedal, I'll find people who do!"

OTOH, looks definitely worth some taking some interest.

Looks to me like the frame is too small, stem too short, larger frame might not need the riser stem. I think she looks too far back simply because the bike's too small.

My fit primer: How can I fitting my bike
Follow the instructions. If they don't work, i.e. stem needs to be stupidly too long, saddle's way back on the rails, etc., frame's probably too small.
She didn't like the original stem that came with the bike. Said it was too long and she was stretched too far out so I put on the short stem. Pic from Craigslist post showing bike with original stem at bottom of this reply.

I think the frame is big enough. She's 5'6" and the frame is 18". I think going from a 135ish (don't have either with me at the moment - so can't measure) stem to a 45mm stem makes the frame look small and pushes her back on the saddle.

Thanks for the link to the fit guide. Will check it out and take into consideration.


Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
It just looks odd. Definitely too high but also maybe too small for her. She’s reaching down. Your frame measurements of the bike may be off. This bike’s serial number should have the size in it, then you can look up the geometry, see:
https://vintagecannondale.com/info/serial_numbers/
Familiar with Vintage Cannondale. I did my homework when I purchased the bike (had to replace rear flywheel wheel with freehub wheel and wanted to confirm dropout spacing). Serial 51807914928:
  • 5 = rear dropout spacing (i.e. 135 mm)
  • 18 = frame size
  • 0791 = production date (i.e. July 1991)
I forgot to look in the catalog for geometry before hand measuring though. Geometry screenshot included at bottom of this reply.

I have yet to find a Cannondale size chart from that era. But according to typical size charts a 5'6" person would get a 17" so I doubt the 18" frame is too small.

I think part of the reason it looks small is because she complained she was too stretched out with the stock stem ~135mm and I over-corrected by going with one of the new-style 45mm short stem (and wide bars).


Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Aside: be kind. She does hurt, and after trusting you to be right. Thread title and scare quotes need work.
Thanks for your concern. But I think your concerns are misplaced. Tone can get lost online. Wouldn't be going to this trouble if I didn't care.


Originally Posted by cubewheels View Post
Yes, mostly personal preference. A cruiser bar would also work, it's got both rise and sweep. A cruiser bar would be one of your best option for riding comfort.

If these changes puts her in an upright position enough, you may also need to change the saddle into something wider and with more padding in it because an upright position will put more weight on the saddle.
Agreed. Good input.


Originally Posted by mack_turtle View Post
saddle is too high, handlebar is too low.

while it's great to have a calculator spit out measurements, the thing that matters in the end is her subjective experience.

my wife is just over 5 feet tall. I got her a small (not extra small) women's 29er and put a narrow handlebar with a lot of backsweep on it (Origin8 Batwing) and she feels comfortable and confident on it. we've ridden trails that I find challenging and she just smashes through them, or fails and tries again. I also set her up on an old Fuiji road bike with a 46cm frame and 650C wheels. it's a bit too big for her but we replaced the drop bar with a riser bar and a short stem. it works great, but we had to play around with the fit a lot until we found something that works for her.
Agreed. Hopefully I can find something that works for my girl too.


Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Not just bars, but bike, riding preference and most everything else are ..... personal choices.

But while you say wider bars make you more stable, I'd say that stability they add is exactly the sort of thing that might be causing a pain in the neck and upper shoulders. Spreading your arms more at the base makes you more rigid at the shoulders and you body absorbs all the jolts of the road transmitted though the arms right in that shoulder/neck apex made rigid by the wider spread hands.

Narrower bars might seem a little more unstable at first by some, but your body is able to better spread the force of those jolts over a larger area where they can be absorbed better.

That's a stretch in my opinion.... but as you said, it's an opinion.
A properly fitted drop bar bike has people riding more on the hoods and in the forward part of the drops. Both of which give excellent access to brakes and shifting. While the horizontal part of the bar is still available, I find myself using it less and less since switching to STI's instead of shifting on the down tube.

Regardless, no matter where my hands are they find the brakes quite quickly.

I will agree with some others that the frame looks small. More appropriate for off road use if it was set up for that. But I've seen some pro tour riders on frames that looked tiny too. If you have the year and model of that frame, you might check what the manufacturer recommended for sizing.

If you GF doesn't like the bike, she won't like the bike. Let her pick out the bike she likes. Would you like someone to pick a bike for you? If she happens to pick a bike that might not be quite the bike for the riding style you like...... well that is something you'll have to come to terms with.
Hadn't thought about the impact of wide bars on neck tension. You may be onto something there.

Agree that flat vs drop is subjective. I can use brakes and shift when on my road bike's hoods but it doesn't feel as natural as when I'm in the drops. Also, hard braking when on the hoods feels sketchy to me. I like being in the drops to better brace myself against braking forces. Also, I feel that if you're riding a road bike you should spend most of your time in the drops. Road bikes were meant to go fast.

When I was a bike novice, I would have loved to have someone help me pick out a bike. I know more now but I'm still no expert so if someone from the pro peloton wanted to help me select and fit a road bike then I'd be down. Same with my MTB. If Nino Schurter or his fitter want to give me some time and advice I'd gladly listen.

On a related note, she's currently in the market for a camera and let her brother pick it out for her because he's an amateur photographer. So she appreciates help picking stuff out when she doesn't have expertise.

Originally Posted by Mr. 66 View Post
How tall is your GF? That's a very small frame, to small to setup for her without looking funky. The seat needs to be way jacked up, riser bars, I think you/she needs a frame a couple of inches taller. That will help with the seat to handle drop that is possibly giving her the neck issue.

I recently sold a Cannondale like that, the buyer was about 5'1".
She's 5'6". It's an 18" frame (serial number leaves no doubt). Cannondale made some 15" frames in this era. Maybe other smaller sizes too. Maybe you sold one of them. Guy who we bought from was over 6' tall. Too small for him in my opinion. You can see how he had it set up in the pic at the bottom from his Craigslist post.

Originally Posted by billridesbikes View Post
Give up now.
Once your gf has trashed the bike in her brain she’ll always be unhappy with it. If she has an accident it will forever be your fault for making her ride that bike, something your Grandkids will hear about half a century from now.
Sell it and get her a bike she wants to ride.
Get someone else to make fitting recommendations. Everyone knows random person making suggestions >> smarter than bf/husband making the same one. Haha
Ha. Made me laugh. It's odd how things seem to work that way sometimes, isn't it.


Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Wrong style, she might like something Dutch Oma type bike , where she sits very upright
Maybe it's the wrong style. Maybe it just needs to be dialed in. Time will tell.


And here are the pics mentioned above:
  • Geometry chart from 1991 Cannondale catalog. It's 100% an 18" frame as confirmed by serial number.
  • Pic from craigslist post. This is how 6' plus guy had it setup for his commute to work. Not saying it fit him but I think going from an old school, long stem to a modern MTB short stem gives it the appearance of being smaller than it actually is. I also think 26" wheels make bikes look smaller than they are but that just might be me.





Last edited by tjc4golf; 08-26-20 at 10:57 AM.
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Old 08-26-20, 11:08 AM
  #22  
phughes
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Originally Posted by Hit Factor View Post
Looks like the seat might be a little high, her knee looks locked.

I didn't really want to say anything, but her head, what's wrong with it?
Her seat is more than a little too high.

Last edited by phughes; 08-26-20 at 12:44 PM.
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Old 08-26-20, 12:22 PM
  #23  
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I know you're trying to save money by fixing up an old bike, which I can definitely appreciate, but you will save both of you a lot of frustration if you just get her an Electra Townie.
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Old 08-26-20, 12:40 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by phughes View Post
Here seat is more than a little too high.
Agreed. You're not the first (or second) to mention this. Will be lowered.

Originally Posted by kingston View Post
I know you're trying to save money by fixing up an old bike, which I can definitely appreciate, but you will save both of you a lot of frustration if you just get her an Electra Townie.
Who doesn't like paying less? That said, if my primary goal was to save money (1) I wouldn't have sold the Giant and (2) I wouldn't have upgraded the Cannondale (it was perfectly serviceable and being used as a daily commuter when purchased).

The Electra Townie is a lot heavier and has crappier components everywhere I look (with exception of the brakes but she has plenty of braking power with the cantis). She's already comparably slow and a bike such as the Townie would only make her slower. So I'd just be trading one frustration for another.
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Old 08-26-20, 12:50 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by tjc4golf View Post
Agreed. You're not the first (or second) to mention this. Will be lowered.



Who doesn't like paying less? That said, if my primary goal was to save money (1) I wouldn't have sold the Giant and (2) I wouldn't have upgraded the Cannondale (it was perfectly serviceable and being used as a daily commuter when purchased).

The Electra Townie is a lot heavier and has crappier components everywhere I look (with exception of the brakes but she has plenty of braking power with the cantis). She's already comparably slow and a bike such as the Townie would only make her slower. So I'd just be trading one frustration for another.
I know I wasn't the first, as evidenced by the fact I quoted someone who said her seat was "a little too high." I said it was more than a little too high, which it is, by a large degree. Get that sorted out before doing anything else. I suspect the majority of her issues are related to that. Once she feels comfortable, she may also start liking the bike. Take a look at this for help getting her seat height set properly: be/SEAT HEIGHT - HOW HARD CAN IT BE? - The Steve Hogg Bike Fitting Team

And also here: https://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com...d-can-it-be-2/

As for the Townie, many people ride them and love them. It won't necessarily make her slower, besides, I didn't see where it was mentioned she was racing. In the end, she has to be happy with the bike, not you.
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