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Getting back into cycling after 20+ years and need help choosing a bike

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Getting back into cycling after 20+ years and need help choosing a bike

Old 03-22-17, 11:40 PM
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frogger42
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Getting back into cycling after 20+ years and need help choosing a bike

Hi. I'm new to the forum and found it while trying to do some research on a bike purchase. I'm 44 years old and haven't ridden a bike since college. I've decided to get back into it for fitness and weight loss. I think I have it narrowed down to a few models, but would like the input of some of you that are more experienced.

First, some info about me. I'm 5'11" and 295 (hopefully not for long once I get on the bike). My absolute max budget is $1k, but I'd like to keep it lower than that. In my area, the roads near my house are paved, but not very smooth. There are some greenways I can go to, but some of them and hardpack sand and/or gravel in sections and paved in others. For those reasons, I'd like something capable of handling gravel and light trails, but as I advance in my fitness, I'd like something I can take out on longer rides and go faster.

I'm focusing on two brands at the moment, Fuji and Trek. The reason for this is that I have a family member that owns a shop about an hour away and those are the brands he carries. However, if I find something that is just a really great fit for my needs and budget in another brand, I'm sure he'd understand if I bought elsewhere.

My first inclination was a Fuji Tread 1.5 or 1.3. I like the looks and the fact that it would be a capable road bike for longer rides, but still should handle the rougher roads and greenways around here. However, I'm concerned that at my current weight, a drop handlebar might not be great for me or my back. I also looked at the Fuji Crosstown 1.1 and it looked good, but it is pretty heavy and looks like it might not be great when I'm ready for longer rides. The two I'm looking at now the hardest is the Fuji Absolute 1.1 and the Trek Zektor 3. I like the fact that the Absolute has carbon forks and Shimano 105 gears, but I'm concerned that the 700 x 28c tires might not be wide enough for the conditions I'll be riding in. The Trek Zektor 3 has the 700 x 32c tires that the Fuji Tread has, but has Shimano Sora gears and no carbon forks. It is, however a little less expensive.

So, my questions are, is the Fuji Absolute capable of regular gravel riding and supporting a heavy rider? Are the carbon forks that much of an advantage for this type of riding? Are the wider tires on the Zektor 3 a more critical feature based on the conditions I've described than the carbon forks and Shimano 105 gears? Of the models I've mentioned, what would you recommend or is there something else you would suggest?

Follow up question, I noticed that the Wheelset for the Fuji Absolute 1.1 says Vera Corsa DPD22 double wall rims, 28 / 32h, alloy disc hubs, 14g stainless spokes. Does the 28 / 32h mean that it can take 700 x 32c tires? Do any of you know if the frame can accommodate those? If I could just put wider tires on the Absolute, I think it would meet all my criteria.

Thanks in advance for all the help, and as I get my bike purchased and start back into this sport I loved so much when I was younger, I hope to stay an active member of the forum.

Last edited by frogger42; 03-23-17 at 12:25 AM.
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Old 03-23-17, 06:43 AM
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The 28/32 means that there are 28 spokes in the front wheel and 32 in the rear. Only way to tell what tires might fit is to measure or to go to the store and try them (after all, it is all in the family, right? Why give them your business if they won't let you try different tires?)

I weigh just a little less than you and I ride on 23-mm tires. 28s would be wide enough to support you (that is more about tire pressure and wheel strength) but whether or not you would want much wider tires depends on where you plan to ride.

personally, unless you were riding deep mud or deep gravel (and needed Much wider tires, with knobs) i don't think the extra 4 mm would be a deal-breaker---but try to measure clearance All around the tires (brakes, fork top, seat stays, and chainstays) or simply swap a set of wheels just to test at the family shop. (Also, all tiers marked a given width aren't the same width and maybe not even the marked width.)
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Old 03-23-17, 06:59 AM
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First thing, ask your contact there to find the "recommended" maximum weight for the bikes you are looking over. Many of the road bike options are going to have a weight limit recommend around 250 INCLUDING bike and equipment. Particularly you will want to find this out about the carbon fork bikes you are looking at. NO, I am not telling you carbon will explode etc etc etc.
Next consider wheels and spoke count. The higher the spoke count and (generally speaking) the wider the rim the stronger the wheel will be. Additionally the bigger the tire width the heavier load capacity it has. I would certainly not consider wheels with low spoke count until you have achieved the goal of losing some of that weight, or think about having some wheels built for a road bike. If you check the "clyde" forum there are stories abound of people having issue with stock wheelsets.

I would likely suggest that you take a look at low/mid end mountain bikes. Go cheap, but get one that fits and SEE if you actually ride it. You should be able to score a decent riding bike for around $500 with a wheelset that will work for now. Save money and go with rim brakes, and go with the cheap lock out front "shock" option. It will be slow handing, good for the dirt and rough sections, and have low gearing good for getting cold legs working again.

Last, avoid the "cushy seat" option. You likely will have to change whatever seat comes with a new bike. Even with getting a seat that is anatomically correct for you, your butt IS going to hurt at first. The big cushy seats are rarely designed in such a way to make riding distance good on your posterior.
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Old 03-23-17, 07:06 AM
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I was in same boat as you were. I haven't rode a bike for almost 30 years and 3 years ago I decided to take biking again. I was 260lbs that time, I bought a Specialized Contour (hybrid bike) and rode it 3 times a week (combined with low carb diet). I lost 60 lbs in 6 weeks. Now, I'm riding carbon fiber road bike.

So, I would recommend you get mountain bike or hybrid bike like I had. That would be best path.
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Old 03-23-17, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by JMH714 View Post
I was in same boat as you were. I haven't rode a bike for almost 30 years and 3 years ago I decided to take biking again. I was 260lbs that time, I bought a Specialized Contour (hybrid bike) and rode it 3 times a week (combined with low carb diet). I lost 60 lbs in 6 weeks. Now, I'm riding carbon fiber road bike.

So, I would recommend you get mountain bike or hybrid bike like I had. That would be best path.
+1 on this advice. Something with an upright bar, slightly bigger tires and at least 32 spoke wheels. You can always upgrade later like the poster said above.
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Old 03-23-17, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by JMH714 View Post
I was in same boat as you were. I haven't rode a bike for almost 30 years and 3 years ago I decided to take biking again. I was 260lbs that time, I bought a Specialized Contour (hybrid bike) and rode it 3 times a week (combined with low carb diet). I lost 60 lbs in 6 weeks. Now, I'm riding carbon fiber road bike.

So, I would recommend you get mountain bike or hybrid bike like I had. That would be best path.
I agree with the MTB idea. Find a fully rigid MTB on CL and put some semi-slicks on it. Then, as you lose the weight you will get a better idea of what you want long-term. If you buy the MTB on CL, you might not lose any money if you move on to a different bike in 6 months.
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Old 03-23-17, 10:27 AM
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Welcome to bikeforums! I'm a 55-year-old commuter. Do not worry about the weight of the bike...especially if you live in a relatively flat area. A 28-ounce waterbottle, full weighs about 2 pounds. Two water bottles, about four pounds. The percentage of the "extra weight" of one bike over another is a small percentage of the total package with rider.

Two years ago I bought a Charge Plug, which is similar to the Fuji Tread. I have drop bars, but have them raised a bit. I am very comfortable.

My main commuter for years was an old mountain bike. With higher-gearing and 26x1.65 road slicks, it is a fast, comfortable bike, despite being around 30 pounds. I then picked up an old Nishiki 12-speed with 700x23 tires. I eventually went to 700x32. They were more comfortable and worked better on the occasional loose dirt.

My new main commuter is the Plug which came with 700x32s. My third pair of tires, which I just bought are Continental Touring IIs which seem more like 28s. You wouldn't think 4mm would make a difference in loose dirt, but it does.

Any way I ride for fitness, so I figure, any extra weight is an extra workout. But really,the weight is not an issue except on long gradual inclines, and even then...not so much. The old MTB commuter has very low gears, and my lightest bike, the old Nishiki International 22-ish pounds is the toughest to climb steep hills because of the lack of lower gearing.

If you are planning on sand or gravel sections, 32s are a minumum. but a smooth 38 or wider tire would be better (make sure they will fit).

Also, in my experience over the years, my opinion is that aggressive, blocky tread is only needed in mud or snow. And also the "hybrid" street/trail tires that have a smooth center section, but knobs on the side are a poor compromise. They roll smooth and easy on going straight, but when cornering you transition to the knobs which grip less and make for poor less secure cornering. Merely letting some air out of big, smooth tires will help plenty on gravel.

And as far as padded seats; most people seem to do better with firmer seats, but after commuting seriously for 25 years, I do better with a padded gel seat cover on my Charge Plug, TWO on my 83 Nishiki road bike, and a padded, gel seat with springs (and a long nose) on my MTB. I've had no issues with chafing, nor my man parts. However, everybody is built and shaped differently.

No matter what you ride at first, you will discover what works for you and what doesn't. Your second bike will be a better purchase.

Good luck, ride safely and go, Go, GO!
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Old 03-23-17, 01:17 PM
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If I had known so many smart people were going to respond I wouldn't have bothered.

Enjoy your ride.
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Old 03-23-17, 07:37 PM
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Thanks for all the replies so far. I did speak to my cousin and he confirmed that the Fuji Absolute will take the 700x32 tires. I fact, one of the lower trim levels comes with them from the factory.

Also considering a Raleigh Willard 2. The prices ordering direct are really good but it concerns me that there is no dealer anywhere near me so I can't get warranty work done if needed. Also, still not sure if I will be comfortable with drop bars until the first 20 or so pounds come off.

Right now, I think the Absolute is the front runner but I haven't seen one in person yet.

CORRECTION: I just discovered there is a Raleigh bike dealer a little under an hour away from me so I'm going to at least check out the Willard if they have one in stock before I buy.

Last edited by frogger42; 03-23-17 at 10:53 PM.
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Old 03-23-17, 09:30 PM
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The Fuji Absolute looks like a good choice. It has low gearing and a triple on the front that should get you over most hills until you are in better shape and it has rack and fender mounts, so you can easily set it up as a commuting or shopping/utility bike.
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Old 03-24-17, 11:33 AM
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Keep in mind that at some point you will learn the importance of having a Backup Bike. Most commonly, the current bike becomes the Backup Bike when a More Desirable Bike is purchased.
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Old 03-24-17, 09:51 PM
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Thanks for all the advice guys. After doing a bit more research and a couple of talks with my cousin, he mentioned another brand I did not know he carried. He is ordering me a Breezer Radar Expert. I should have it in a couple of weeks. It's not top of the line, but plenty to get started for a reasonable price, and as JanMM mentioned, it will make a good backup if I stick with this and upgrade in a couple of years.
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