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Make the bike that doesn't exist with simple means?

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Make the bike that doesn't exist with simple means?

Old 05-24-22, 02:32 AM
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Question Make the bike that doesn't exist with simple means?

I'm looking for my next bike and can't find an existing bike that fits my wishes. My plan is to buy a complete bike and adjust parts. I need help with understanding what to look for in the bike and how to adjust things. I'm on a budget and the bike is not used for high-level sports. It will have two purposes: 1. transport around the city, and 2. going on rides with my dog. This includes gravel roads and trails. She will be both beside me and hopefully some mushing (pulling in front) in the near future. The second purpose makes things harder. I've always ridden a city bike, but we're starting to more often choose trails and the city bike just bounces about, sounds like it will break and is generally uncomfortable and wobbly to control on trails.


My personal physical situation:
  • I can handle almost any bike with good proficiency (not unicycles )
  • I have MS with some weakness in one leg
  • I have a back injury
  • I am too tall for most bikes (186 cm with long legs and short arms)


My wishes for the bike:
  • Mountain bike tires (preferably a little wider even, but absolutely not fatbike wide, I want to keep good pressure in them for city riding)
  • (near to) City bike posture (due to the back injury)
  • High saddle (due to super long legs and the weakness makes low saddles really heavy to ride)
  • Good breaks (for the mushing)
  • A "flatter" fork (so I wont go flying when doggo pulls me over some larger tree roots or something)
  • Need to be able to ride it 1-handed with good control (if/when correcting/controlling dog on the side, yes she's very good and used to coming on rides, but if we pass a very interesting dog or she sees a squirrel, she may need temporary hands-on control on the leash while breaking and leaning)
  • Pref only 1 gear in the front and up to 7-8 in the back (but this is a luxury wish, not a must)


It's the first three wishes that make it hard. I'm thinking of getting an entry level XL framed hard tail and changing the stem to an adjustable one. Then angle it up as much as possible and possibly turning it backwards. After searching the inet for information, I found that turning it backwards will really mess with the handling, but I'm afraid the angling alone wont be enough? Are there other/better options to get the handle bars up (by quite a bit) and a little back? How far forward can a saddle go? Or do you know of a bike that has the above features? A hybrid bike is not upright enough for me due to the height of the saddle I need and the shortness of the steerer (?).


Unfortunately, I can't build a bike from scratch with all the best parts. Like I said, I'm on an entry level budget.

Hope someone can help! Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-24-22, 05:29 AM
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Something like this?

You would have to change it to a 1X in front, but that is easy and really unnecessary to ride it.

And have you considered attaching the dog to bicycle at the rear for walking? Much safer.
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Old 05-24-22, 12:23 PM
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Yeah, if you are going to travel with your dog, then make sure it is on your bike with you or in a trailer.

Unless your rides are only going to be slow and short, the dog won't like it, but it might be dedicated enough that it'll try to keep up until it dies from exhaustion. In this day and time, using a dog to pull you might be considered animal abuse.

Why not a recumbent trike for you?

Welcome to BF! where you will always get more than you ask for! <grin>
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Old 05-24-22, 03:58 PM
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Well yes, you want a used MTB. Craigslist. An upright position is not at all what one needs - that's the worst thing for a bad back. The upright position puts compression loads on your spine when you hit bumps. That's bad. Leaning forward puts your back in flexion, which is what you do want. The reason you don't see bikes like you are describing is because they're a bad idea.

I have a primer on bike adjustment here: How can I fitting my bike
This is written for road bikes, but MTB fitting is the same, substitute "bars" for "hoods". As you say, you can adjust bar height with stem angle, but watch that your upper arm/torso angle stays at about 90°. Never adjust reach with saddle position.

You won't find an inexpensive used MTB with only one ring in front. No big deal - shifting the front is not hard if it's adjusted correctly.

Ask you doctor for a prescription for physical therapy for your back. Almost all back issues can be fixed enough to ride a bike with therapy. For starters, just go for walks with your dog. As you walk, consciously rotate each hip in a circular motion so as to flex your lower spine a little. For me, that hurt like the very devil for the first mile and then got better. Eventually I was walking with no pain at all. But talk to your therapist.

And no, don't ride your bike with your dog on a leach or harness. Especially with a bad back! If you want your dog to pull, get a dog cart. https://k9carting.com/
If your dog is bred for pulling, it'll love it. You can teach it the voice commands. I think that would be a gas.
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Old 05-25-22, 11:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Oakman
Something like this?

You would have to change it to a 1X in front, but that is easy and really unnecessary to ride it.

And have you considered attaching the dog to bicycle at the rear for walking? Much safer.
Yes! This is more or less the general shape I'm looking for, but on a MTB frame.

Last edited by Mascha; 05-29-22 at 01:31 AM. Reason: Asked another question to which I realised I already know the answer.
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Old 05-25-22, 11:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01
Yeah, if you are going to travel with your dog, then make sure it is on your bike with you or in a trailer.

Unless your rides are only going to be slow and short, the dog won't like it, but it might be dedicated enough that it'll try to keep up until it dies from exhaustion. In this day and time, using a dog to pull you might be considered animal abuse.
I am actually doing this to give my dog the exercise she wants and needs. Since I can no longer run myself, I want to ride a bike so she can run. She's of working lines. We've been doing it for years, a 6-7 km run is her max (with a small breather to poop in the middle). The abuse would happen if I did not try to solve this so she could run. Now, we used to do this along biking lanes with a citybike, but I'd like to move us to the forest, hence the solution searching.

Originally Posted by Iride01
Welcome to BF! where you will always get more than you ask for! <grin>
So I see! <big smile>
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Old 05-25-22, 11:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
Well yes, you want a used MTB. Craigslist. An upright position is not at all what one needs - that's the worst thing for a bad back. The upright position puts compression loads on your spine when you hit bumps. That's bad. Leaning forward puts your back in flexion, which is what you do want. The reason you don't see bikes like you are describing is because they're a bad idea.

I have a primer on bike adjustment here:
This is written for road bikes, but MTB fitting is the same, substitute "bars" for "hoods". As you say, you can adjust bar height with stem angle, but watch that your upper arm/torso angle stays at about 90°. Never adjust reach with saddle position.

You won't find an inexpensive used MTB with only one ring in front. No big deal - shifting the front is not hard if it's adjusted correctly.

Ask you doctor for a prescription for physical therapy for your back. Almost all back issues can be fixed enough to ride a bike with therapy. For starters, just go for walks with your dog. As you walk, consciously rotate each hip in a circular motion so as to flex your lower spine a little. For me, that hurt like the very devil for the first mile and then got better. Eventually I was walking with no pain at all. But talk to your therapist.

And no, don't ride your bike with your dog on a leach or harness. Especially with a bad back! If you want your dog to pull, get a dog cart.
If your dog is bred for pulling, it'll love it. You can teach it the voice commands. I think that would be a gas.
Lots of assumptions to unpack there!

I have a doctorates in physiotherapy and am under all treatments available (living in Sweden, so it's provided) for my specific issues. Back problems can be more than vertebrae being unhappy. I wont go into what exactly is wrong with me as you'll understand, but I do want to address a misconception you seem to have. For many back problems (especially those you have not had a look at to know how the muscle synergies are working), putting load on a flexed back is NOT what you want. It's a recipe for a herniated disc. That's why walking is such a good idea (as you mentioned). It keeps your spine upright in it's natural curvature.

I did pick up a second hand xcaliber 9 from 2020 yesterday and gave it a test ride today (more than the checking for faults ride at the sale) to find out what I want and need. It has a shorter adjustable stem and in the most upright position it shows me the thought works, but it needs to be a bit longer, so will shop for one tomorrow (national holiday today). The back break needs to be tightened and the fork needs higher pressure (but maybe not so much if I can get up a bit more). I will also be looking at maybe swapping sides on the bars. Having the back break and back gearing left and the rest right.

In traffic, I do not want my dog to pull for obvious reasons. But yes, once we get to ride in the forest more, the idea is that she'll be attached to the steering stem with an antenna. She'll then be wearing her pulling harness that we've used since a few winters back now (for other mushing sports like kickspark and xcountry skiing). My Rottweiler mix is not bread for pulling, but she does love running (might be the 25% husky in her ). Even though she doesn't pull very powerfully, she does know the words for left, right, faster, slow down and stop, as we've been using them for a few years now.

Thanks to all the commentators! It really helps.
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Old 05-26-22, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Mascha
Lots of assumptions to unpack there!

I have a doctorates in physiotherapy and am under all treatments available (living in Sweden, so it's provided) for my specific issues. Back problems can be more than vertebrae being unhappy. I wont go into what exactly is wrong with me as you'll understand, but I do want to address a misconception you seem to have. For many back problems (especially those you have not had a look at to know how the muscle synergies are working), putting load on a flexed back is NOT what you want. It's a recipe for a herniated disc. That's why walking is such a good idea (as you mentioned). It keeps your spine upright in it's natural curvature.<snip>
You are very well educated and I've been riding bikes for 70 years and am not totally uneducated. Right now for obvious reasons I'm researching the age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and function.

One does not want to ride with a curved back. Rather roll your pelvis forward so that instead of sitting on your ischial tuberosities, you are perching on your inferior pubic ramus. Your back should be almost straight. Modern saddles are designed for this posture. The point of this is not aerodynamics as many people assume, rather it's comfort. When the bike hits a bump, the spine is thus loaded in bending (flexion) rather than in compression. This is actually helpful for the back muscles and issues that we all get eventually, like thin discs, fractured vertebrae, arthritic facets, and lumber stenosis - I have them all. I don't have a ruptured disc but I ride with people who do. The idea is to reduce compression loads. Of course the back muscles will load the spine in compression in trying to prevent this bending. This is undoubtedly true but it's a more gentle pressure than the compression of a vertical spine when hitting a bump. I think the muscular response is useful in that one's back gets stronger and thus less affected by the strains of daily living. I can't count the people who've told me they've injured their backs by making a slightly wrong move with their bodies. That shouldn't happen.

Ski joring with dogs looks like a lot of fun. I've seen it but not done it. Raced Nordic in my youth. Also wonderful back exercise!
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Old 05-27-22, 11:39 AM
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Riding a bike with a dog on a leash, especially a strong dog, never ends well. Might be ok for some time, but the last chapter is always something bad. If my main objective is "running the dog," then I'd consider a trike.
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Old 05-27-22, 11:49 AM
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Maybe a dumb question, but do you have the widest tires possible on your current bike can fit? If you run the widest possible tires at the lowest pressure that you can this might be good enough for your trail riding, and your speed in town will not be as affected as you think. My dog rides in a trailer to the park so I can't offer advice there.
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Old 05-29-22, 01:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
You are very well educated and I've been riding bikes for 70 years and am not totally uneducated. Right now for obvious reasons I'm researching the age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass and function.

One does not want to ride with a curved back. Rather roll your pelvis forward so that instead of sitting on your ischial tuberosities, you are perching on your inferior pubic ramus. Your back should be almost straight. Modern saddles are designed for this posture. The point of this is not aerodynamics as many people assume, rather it's comfort. When the bike hits a bump, the spine is thus loaded in bending (flexion) rather than in compression. This is actually helpful for the back muscles and issues that we all get eventually, like thin discs, fractured vertebrae, arthritic facets, and lumber stenosis - I have them all. I don't have a ruptured disc but I ride with people who do. The idea is to reduce compression loads. Of course the back muscles will load the spine in compression in trying to prevent this bending. This is undoubtedly true but it's a more gentle pressure than the compression of a vertical spine when hitting a bump. I think the muscular response is useful in that one's back gets stronger and thus less affected by the strains of daily living. I can't count the people who've told me they've injured their backs by making a slightly wrong move with their bodies. That shouldn't happen.

Ski joring with dogs looks like a lot of fun. I've seen it but not done it. Raced Nordic in my youth. Also wonderful back exercise!
And there we have it. You and I have very different issues to consider. I guess your name threw me off there.
Also "curved" can mean anything. Curved forward is flexion (natural in the upper back), curved backwards is extension (natural in the lower back and achieved by among other things tilting the pelvis forward like you described). Please, stop trying to explain my work to me now. Thank you.
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Old 05-29-22, 01:18 AM
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Originally Posted by blacknbluebikes
Riding a bike with a dog on a leash, especially a strong dog, never ends well. Might be ok for some time, but the last chapter is always something bad. If my main objective is "running the dog," then I'd consider a trike.
Thank you for your concern. We've done it for years and she's very well behaved. It's also quite common here. It sounds like it's less common in the states (if that's where you and the other concerned people are located) .
Did you have any answers to my questions about adjusting a bike to fit my needs?
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Old 05-29-22, 01:29 AM
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Originally Posted by billridesbikes
Maybe a dumb question, but do you have the widest tires possible on your current bike can fit? If you run the widest possible tires at the lowest pressure that you can this might be good enough for your trail riding, and your speed in town will not be as affected as you think. My dog rides in a trailer to the park so I can't offer advice there.
Thank you for replying to my question!
I considered this as well, but my old bike did not support any wider tires that could hold less air, unfortunately. It was the most upright city bike you can ever imagine (an old-fashioned Dutch bike if that means anything to you) with a well suspended saddle. So, it had very narrow forks and "weak" (?) wheels.
But since I started this thread I managed to buy a second hand Trek Xcaliber 9, which I'm working on adjusting now. Its 29" wheels with the very wide tires are like a dream! <3
I'm pretty sure I can get it to the right balance between upright and far forward.
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