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New to bikes and no idea where to begin!

Old 05-17-20, 10:53 AM
  #1  
curlyp
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New to bikes and no idea where to begin!

Hello all!

Iím reaching out to the community for advice. I am new to biking and have no idea where to being looking for one or what kind. I mainly want one so I can go on bike rides with my kids. My kids just learned how to ride without training wheels and there anxious to go around the neighborhood!

A few years ago I had back surgery and have a cage build around my lower spine. I also had my foot reconstructed as well! I would have gone to target to buy one, but I would assume Iím not going to get the most comfortable bike.

What type of bike should I be riding? Do I want skinny tires or really wide ones? I donít want to spend a ton of money on a bike either - but I assume with my surgeryís I would need a special one?

Thanks in advance for reading.

CP
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Old 05-17-20, 11:04 AM
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Originally Posted by curlyp View Post
Hello all!

Iím reaching out to the community for advice. I am new to biking and have no idea where to being looking for one or what kind. I mainly want one so I can go on bike rides with my kids. My kids just learned how to ride without training wheels and there anxious to go around the neighborhood!

A few years ago I had back surgery and have a cage build around my lower spine. I also had my foot reconstructed as well! I would have gone to target to buy one, but I would assume Iím not going to get the most comfortable bike.

What type of bike should I be riding? Do I want skinny tires or really wide ones? I donít want to spend a ton of money on a bike either - but I assume with my surgeryís I would need a special one?

Thanks in advance for reading.

CP
Perhaps you should consult with your physician first before asking advice from strangers. I am more than happy to make some recommendations, but make sure you have the all clear from your doctor.
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Old 05-17-20, 11:43 AM
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As MRT2 says get some professional advice from someone who can examine you in person and see your charts, you may need to see a rehab specialist or something like that to determine what kind of bike you can ride, if any. Maybe a recumbent would be better but who knows.
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Old 05-17-20, 11:48 AM
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I guess my "thousand dollar" question to you is do you really want to spend a thousand on a bike that will last you for awhile or are you on a budget and/or willing to spend a couple of hundreds in a used or Walmart bike? How much riding do you think you'll be doing and will this bike be for casual riding in the neighborhood or do you plan on taking it to the local trails? IMHO you can either spend it up front and get a nice bike and be set or go cheap and then having to upgrade later. Just my 2 cents......
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Old 05-17-20, 11:55 AM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
Perhaps you should consult with your physician first before asking advice from strangers. I am more than happy to make some recommendations, but make sure you have the all clear from your doctor.
I appreciate this. I have already been cleared from my physician to continue ďnormalĒ activities a couple years ago. Obviously, I have limitations I need to follow and some physical restrictions that will keep me from performing certain things. I really have to watch how heavy things are when I lift and how far I can lean forward (especially, for a period of time).
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Old 05-17-20, 11:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Pugs2xLove View Post
I guess my "thousand dollar" question to you is do you really want to spend a thousand on a bike that will last you for awhile or are you on a budget and/or willing to spend a couple of hundreds in a used or Walmart bike? How much riding do you think you'll be doing and will this bike be for casual riding in the neighborhood or do you plan on taking it to the local trails? IMHO you can either spend it up front and get a nice bike and be set or go cheap and then having to upgrade later. Just my 2 cents......
The honest answer is...I donít know. I havenít rode a bike since I was a teenager! The main purpose is to just ride with my kids, but how knows. I may really like riding that it becomes a part of my life to exercise and help stay active.
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Old 05-17-20, 12:17 PM
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Got back to biking about 4-5 years ago and my "startup" bike was a dual-sport Schwinn from Walmart for $300. It wasn't a bad startup bike with decent Shimano components but it's quite heavy. Wasn't long before I grew out of it and now I have a lighter speedster which I use to commute to/from work. Didn't think I would get into biking as much as I did and now I find that I'm quite moody and grumpy if I'm not on my bike and "have to" drive to work during the week. Guess it's true for some that biking does make one happier.
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Old 05-17-20, 12:24 PM
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You've got several issues that could be just nothing, or could make cycling a major problem.

I'd encourage you to try to either borrow a bike or rent a bike, and just see how it goes.

I like drop bar road bikes, but for just tooling around the neighborhood with toddlers, an upright bike would be just fine. "cruiser", "classic MTB", etc.

Some of the less stressful "bikes" to ride would be the recumbent trikes (assuming you can get up and down easily enough). They'll pop up on the local classifieds from time to time, but usually aren't cheap.
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Old 05-17-20, 12:25 PM
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Originally Posted by curlyp View Post
The honest answer is...I donít know. I havenít rode a bike since I was a teenager! The main purpose is to just ride with my kids, but how knows. I may really like riding that it becomes a part of my life to exercise and help stay active.
OK then. You might be in for a little sticker shock when you see what new bikes are selling for these days. Your basic bike shop quality bike will start at $500 to $550 and go up quickly from there. I am as frustrated to tell people this as people are to hear it, because prices are up from just a couple of years ago, with features such as disc brakes, which are probably not all that necessary for the casual rider becoming standard on entry level bikes, while you have to jump up to the next level to get what I would consider an acceptable quality drivetrain, which IMO is something the entry level rider will notice. So practically speaking, you are talking about $700 for one step above entry level, and $550 for entry level.

So brands/models to consider. Trek FX or Verve models. Giant Escape. Kona Dew/Dew Plus. Jamis Coda. Or Specialized Sirrus. This is not an exhaustive list. No doubt every bike shop has these models or something similar that competes on price. There is no bargain basement option that will compete at the $200 or $300 price point. Bikes at the $550 to $700 price point will get you around the neighborhood and beyond, and will last you for a decent amount of time before you have to spend a lot of money on repairs or upgrades, or to consider replacing them. If you spend less than that retail, then you are getting something that won't last that long or you won't enjoy as much. And if you spend more, you are getting more bike than you can use right now, though if you know you are committed to cycling, that is not necessarily a bad thing as you will not need to upgrade for some time.
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Old 05-17-20, 12:31 PM
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Doctors and strangers are the same - none will really care. You are your best advisor so gather ideas and get moving.

I dont know you and I doubt it will be possible for you to share in full what your condition and ambition is. However, I have seen many people with conditions cycling and there surely is a way for you to do so as well.

Here are my thoughts:

The old people in Germany are almost exclusively on a "holland type" bikes, just google "dutch bicycle" and you should get the idea. It is a "women" bicycle but both men and women ride it for it is easy to get on, easy to get off, relatively easy to pedal and stay safe while sitting upright. Bending is hard for the elderly and from what you said about your back I think its best to start with a bike that offers you a relaxed position. Anything with a lowered top frame will serve the same purpose but choose one where the geometry allows you to hold the wheel while sitting upright.

As you are planning to cycle with your kids and not win Tour de France aim at fat tires, you will be slower but safer while riding and bigger tires means better shock absorption. By fat I dont mean fat bikes, although its a flavour that is up to you

Ultimately as you said you are on a budget I would look me for a second hand bike around me and pick up one that is a "dutch" style touring bike. The tires on it will not be thin road bike ones for sure but if you need to change them just pick the biggest size that will fit. Make a test ride before buying and pay attention to your position, is it an easy going or you have trouble somewhere?

If however after the test ride you feel upright is not for you due to your leg and back condition there are tricycles and hand cycles but I really know very little about these. I am sure someone here will give you a tip but be ready to do your own research.

Best of luck amigo!

Last edited by veselatakurabii; 05-17-20 at 12:36 PM.
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Old 05-17-20, 12:41 PM
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I would get a hybrid. People love to hate them because they're not a hard core road bike, or a dedicated mountain bike or such.

I have an endurance road bike (2007 Cannondale Synapse) and a hybrid (2014 Cannondale Quick CX). In the early 2000s I also had a 2001 Cannondale H400 CAAD3 Hybrid.

A hybrid is not a bike you will want to ride on a 40-100 mile ride. That's what road bikes (or endurance road) are for. But a road bike will not be as comfortable for a casual rider hanging out with the kids. A hybrid will be more versatile than a "comfort" bike or cruiser, though.

I have my Quick set up currently with 40mm WTB Nano tired (trail tires). But I also swap over to 32mm Continental Grand Prix Four Season tires for commuting and road riding. It has a rack on back to which I secure panniers for my commutes. But lately I've been working from home, and have more time to ride with my kids, so I put on tires that would allow me to do trail riding, which they enjoy. It's not a dedicated road bike, and it's not a dedicated mountain bike. But it's comfortable for those 1 to 25 mile rides, and really versatile -- more so than my road bike.

Since you intend to ride the bike with your kids, possibly to the park, that sort of thing, I'd get a bike that is a good casual ride. Your kids are young but will get older, to get a bike that will be good for longer rides as they mature. Get a bike that you can put a trunk or panniers on if you want, to carry lunch or outdoor play stuff to the park. Much of this is satisfied by a decent hybrid. And with a hybrid you can customize it with tires for the road, or with tires for trails, or in-between tires.

I used to be shy about suggesting a hybrid because of what they are not: They're not long ride, efficient road bikes. They're not fully suspended mountain bikes. But there's a lot of riding that doesn't fit into those two categories either. With young kids, and even kids growing into their teens you yourself would be best served by a bike that isn't specific to road or mountain, and that has versatility as its design objective.

Most brands have good fitness / hybrid bikes. If you spend less than $800, you'll be getting very low end components usually. And if you spend more than $1500 on a hybrid, you probably have overdone it. The sweet spot is 900 to 1100. A bike in that range will last you a good long time if you take care of it, and will be made with industry-standard components that can be serviced or replaced. The $200 big box store bike is a false economy. That $200 is the last $200 you'll ever spend on it, because there's nothing really worth fixing on it. But then if you ride enough, you'll be looking for a replacement in a couple years. Meanwhile, it's heavy, clunky... you're better off in that 900-1100 range. If that range isn't what you want to spend on a bike, look for a used one that would have sold within that range when it was new. Again referring to my own experience: My old H400 was in "that range" (in y2k adjusted prices), and my Synapse was in the $1600 range. But for a road bike that's approximately where the sweet spot begins. My Quick CX, I didn't want to spend $1k on a bike, so I bought it used for $500, but then put a new chain, cassette, and tires into it. So I was up to $700 for a bike that would sell new for $1000. Maybe not a great deal, but I saved a few hundred and got the customizations I wanted.

One of the first things you should do is buy pedals. Even if the bike comes with pedals, get rid of them and swap out to some large platform pedals with grip bolts.
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Old 05-17-20, 07:10 PM
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doaswald suggests a hybred. His is a well reasoned response. Most hybreds are actually sold as mountain bikes. What you get is a small frame with somewhat low gearing. Probably a good idea given your situation. So it's not a hard core mountain bike and it's not a hard core road bike, it's a cross between the two but it favors the mountain bike side of the equation.

One of my bikes is a hybred, a Trek 4500 that i bought new in 2005. While it has sat still in my garage most of the time I've owned it, but it has aged well. I see these Treks and the more budget 3700 on craigs list all the time. You should be able to pick one up for about $100 I have tried a few different seats and do routine work on it so it runs solid. I have also put what are sold as street tires on the bike, they are quite wide 26x2 inches. Knobby tires on the road is a lot of unnecessary work.

I'm planning on riding a number of road tours this year, lord willing, half, metric and full centuries which I will use my road bike. But for training I use my hybred with it's street tires on a local rail trail. My thinking is the extra weight (compared to my road bikes) and the low gearing will sort of make up for the lack of hills on the trail. As the weather here is just starting to improve I've been using my hybred to do a metric century a week, this was week two. A metric century is 62 miles. So it's work but it is possible to do that kind of riding on a hybred. My intention is to do this ride every week for the next 20 weeks.

If I can add this without offending anyone. The Rail Trail I use locally is one of the bigger rail trails in the North East, the D&L. Even with all the lock downs we are experiencing this trail is packed with riders on the weekend. So I get to see a lot of bikes, and bikes with riders of all kinds of experience. It is not that unusual to see riders beaming with pride riding their shiny new WalMart Schwinn or whatever bike. OK fine. Most of the people that i see stopped on the side of the trail fiddling around with their bikes are the WalMart type customers. It may be the bike or it may be the lack of talent that assembled the bike I don't know. I have had this kind of rider smirk at my Trek as it's a hard tail with V brakes but not many of them are doing 60 mile rides non-stop either.

Last edited by Thomas15; 05-17-20 at 07:32 PM.
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Old 05-17-20, 07:33 PM
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Thank you to everyone who has replied. I can tell youíve put a lot of thought in your responses - I really appreciate the in-depth and detail. Although, most of it is ďGreekĒ to me, it is helpful.

I seem to have a better idea of what to look for now. Based on the recommendations, I should look for a hybrid or cruiser. It seems though the hybrid would be more versatile for my situation.

I am shocked at how expensive the bikes are! I didnít realize they can cost thousands, but then again, I am new to this genre.

I definitely do not want to pay around $1000 for a bike without knowing how much use it would get outside of riding around the neighborhood or at parks with my kids. It seems the best bet for me would be to look for a secondhand or used bike.

How do I know what is actually a hybrid bike? Iím looking on Facebook marketplace and craigslist, but Iím not sure how to tell. Folks are posting that itís a hybrid bicycle, but I have no idea of knowing if they are lying or not.
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Old 05-17-20, 07:49 PM
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Not sure if you have this in your area but where I live, there's a non-profit bike shop and their mission is to get people to bike more. Their shop is opened to the public where you can earn shop time by donating your time to "work" in the shop by disassembling and restoring bikes that were donated by people. Anyway, they sell used bikes that have been restored with new parts (tires/tubes/chains, etc....) and they're reasonably priced. If you have such resource, I would start there if you're thinking of a used bike instead of Craigslist which can be risky. I know some members on here are against Walmart bikes but my first bike was purchased from Walmart for $300 and it's a Schwinn Dual-Sport Hybrid. Not the best but it's a good starter bike that won't put a dent in your wallet.

Here's the bike I'm referring to.

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Schwinn-D...grey/129458755
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Old 05-17-20, 08:08 PM
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If you can afford to spend about $600 then it would be worth it to visit a local bike shop or two or three. I like Trek and Cannondale but there are others that are good, Giant is another one. Talk to them and let them inform you. You might think well this is a lot of money to spend and it is. We are all frustrated with the cost of this hobby. I mean buying the bike is just the beginning of the expense. I mean I have about $400+ in electronics on two of my 5 bikes, a $200 repair stand and quite a few dedicated bike tools and spare parts. Then there is clothing and helmets. And you thought it was as simple as just going to the department store and telling the clerk "I want that one".

Obviously those of us that post to a specialty forum are going to be more than a little more than just casual. So true, we tend to think big on this topic whereas you might have a much more modest plan. What will happen is if you obtain a good solid bike that fits you properly, you will find this to be a most enjoyable past time. If your bike is ill fitting or prone to breakdowns or is just plain old heavy, you will ride it once or twice then that will be it.

We don't generally give our kids expensive bikes for numerous reasons. When I was a kid I had a department store bike and loved it. But then i got a paper route and thus earned some money and one of the first things I did with that money was buy a "real" bike. Even at the tender age of 13, i quickly found out that money spent = performance realized. We as adults especally as we begin to get into shape are not going to keep at it with equipment that is, to be frank, a pain in the tush.
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Old 05-18-20, 11:51 AM
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Iím looking around on Craigslist and FB marketplace and found a few. Any thoughts on the following:

- Schwinn Moab Elite Hybrid with Shimano STX Alivio shifting rear and front

- Raleigh M50 hybrid with Shimano Alivio shifting

- Cignal Ozark Trail Hybrid with Shimano sIS shifting

- Specialized Globe 3 cruiser with center pull brakes in front and coaster breaks in rear
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Old 05-18-20, 12:05 PM
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The best advice I can give, given your possible limitations - is contact a local bicycle shop. Talk to the local owner/operator. I'm lucky, as I have one close.

Explain all of your concerns over the phone, and request that you see them in person, to ride several different types of bikes.

This is the only way you can figure out what kind of bike you can actually ride.

And, buying locally, will get you a higher quality bike, one that will last a while.
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Old 05-18-20, 12:10 PM
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One more question - where are you??? Might be someone close who can help you.
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Old 05-18-20, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Wanderer View Post
One more question - where are you??? Might be someone close who can help you.
I am in Ohio.
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Old 05-18-20, 08:45 PM
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I called my local bike shop today and after speaking with the owner, Iíve come to the conclusion that I will fork up the money to buy a brand new bike.

I explained the situation and limitations I have and he suggested a hybrid bike (same as many of you did). Then he took it further. Not only do I need to get the right bike category (hybrid), but I need to have it fitted, sized, and adjusted properly to fix my current needs (similar to having a suit tailored to fit).

I didnít realize that having a bike to big, to small, improper handle bar placement, degree leaning forward, etc can play a major role in how comfortable or even aggravate my surgery.

My health and body functionality is more important than saving a buck. I would rather spend the $400-500 (price range he gave me) for a bike that fits me and is comfortable than ending back on the surgeons table!

Thank you all for your guidance and recommendations!
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Old 05-18-20, 08:50 PM
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Good to hear. Now comes the hard part. What accessories to get? Lol. You'll soon find out getting a bike is like buying a new cell phone - different charger, case, cord, etc......
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Old 05-18-20, 08:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Pugs2xLove View Post
Good to hear. Now comes the hard part. What accessories to get? Lol. You'll soon find out getting a bike is like buying a new cell phone - different charger, case, cord, etc......
lol! What seat and pedals do you all recommend? I would like to have some idea going into the shop tomorrow. I donít want the shop to take advantage of the situation or try to upsell me on stuff that is not needed.
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Old 05-18-20, 09:06 PM
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You can accessorize your bike as you progress in your new venture. First thing first is to get acclimated to it, learn when to/not to shift, downhill/uphill, conditioning and getting your body to adjust to this new regiment. This is just the beginning.
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Old 05-18-20, 09:20 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by curlyp View Post
lol! What seat and pedals do you all recommend? I would like to have some idea going into the shop tomorrow. I donít want the shop to take advantage of the situation or try to upsell me on stuff that is not needed.
A seat is called a saddle and from there... 😎

You are on the right track buying from your LBS. Good luck.
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Old 05-18-20, 09:26 PM
  #25  
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I'm in ohio too, if you are anywhere near south west area like dayton/cinci.....there is a bike shop called kettering bike shop..the owner had some physical issues and he still rides, he may be a great source of information , he is very honest and great to deal with.
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