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Grossly Outta Shape? Or Cheap Bike?

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Grossly Outta Shape? Or Cheap Bike?

Old 11-15-20, 03:27 PM
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Cacti
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Grossly Outta Shape? Or Cheap Bike?

So I went on my first ride on a bike in 42 years after purchasing and putting together a Gravity BaseCamp LTD27 MTB

I seriously thought I was gonna be going on 20 miles rides in my first week. Boy was I wrong! I can barely do 3 miles. THREE MILES!!! This is nothing like I remembered when I last rode a bike at 17. Back then, distance wasn't even a thought. It was just a matter of how long it would take to get somewhere. I'd ride across the entire city of Chicago or well into the suburbs every day no problem. Now I can only go 1.5 miles from my house and back?!

I can't figure out if it's the bike (yes, it was cheap, but all the reviews I read were positive. I honestly can't find one bad review on it), how much is due to me being grossly out of shape, or how much is due to my not having ridden a bike in so long

I got passed up left and right like I was standing still today. On inclines, the bike comes to a complete stop and I hafta really get on it to get up a hill. Sometimes when it's flat it almost seems normal, but at other times, it seems like I should be going faster than I am. I'm sure part of it is I don't know how to shift yet. At times, it seems like I should be in a higher gear even though pedaling would be harder, it would overall easier because I could keep the gained momentum more consistently. But then I hit a patch where it's just hard to get through even though it appears level

Don't get me wrong.. I LOVED riding! But my average speed was 8mph! I just read where a poster averages 16mph on his rides. I'm sure he's younger, in much better shape, AND has a much better bike. Does anyone here remember when they were a new rider as an adult? Is it me, the bike, or some combination of both?

I'm not going to use this forum for a personal blog, but I'm determined to do a 20 miles ride before April. Any suggestions on exercises/workouts that might help would be greatly appreciated. OR.. If it's just a crap bike, I'd appreciate knowing that so I don't waste my time

Thanks,
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Old 11-15-20, 03:34 PM
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Road racers average 20+ mph.

I stopped riding at 16, started up again at 27. After the first ride of 2 miles when I started up again, I had to crawl upstairs. I wasn't in bad shape overall, but cycling takes muscles that aren't used in normal activities.. I know nothing about your bike, but my bet is that a few more rides are in order before giving up on the bike.

Do the wheels turn smoothly? Tire pressure right? Seat height right? Were you shifting right?

If you were 17 in 1978 years ago, well, you're not 17 any more.

Last edited by philbob57; 11-15-20 at 03:38 PM.
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Old 11-15-20, 03:35 PM
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Kind of hard to tell if there's something wrong with, say, the hubs, underinflated tyres, you, or a little of everything without seeing the bike, spinning its wheels, crank, and pedals, and so on.
But if it is you, don't worry, you'll get there

Edit: As for being a new rider, I can't really. It's almost 45 years ago I had my first bike (3 yo), and never stopped riding.
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Old 11-15-20, 03:37 PM
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Out of shape my guess.
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Old 11-15-20, 03:39 PM
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Lay of the Doritos and the couch and get in the saddle. In three months you will feel stronger.
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Old 11-15-20, 03:40 PM
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There are many here more knowledgeable than me. I’d suggest you lift a wheel off the ground and spin it. If it takes a while to slow and the same is true with the other....then you just need to keep at riding.
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Old 11-15-20, 03:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Cacti View Post
So I went on my first ride on a bike in 42 years after purchasing and putting together a Gravity BaseCamp LTD27 MTB

I seriously thought I was gonna be going on 20 miles rides in my first week. Boy was I wrong! I can barely do 3 miles. THREE MILES!!! This is nothing like I remembered when I last rode a bike at 17. Back then, distance wasn't even a thought. It was just a matter of how long it would take to get somewhere. I'd ride across the entire city of Chicago or well into the suburbs every day no problem. Now I can only go 1.5 miles from my house and back?!

I can't figure out if it's the bike (yes, it was cheap, but all the reviews I read were positive. I honestly can't find one bad review on it), how much is due to me being grossly out of shape, or how much is due to my not having ridden a bike in so long

I got passed up left and right like I was standing still today. On inclines, the bike comes to a complete stop and I hafta really get on it to get up a hill. Sometimes when it's flat it almost seems normal, but at other times, it seems like I should be going faster than I am. I'm sure part of it is I don't know how to shift yet. At times, it seems like I should be in a higher gear even though pedaling would be harder, it would overall easier because I could keep the gained momentum more consistently. But then I hit a patch where it's just hard to get through even though it appears level

Don't get me wrong.. I LOVED riding! But my average speed was 8mph! I just read where a poster averages 16mph on his rides. I'm sure he's younger, in much better shape, AND has a much better bike. Does anyone here remember when they were a new rider as an adult? Is it me, the bike, or some combination of both?

I'm not going to use this forum for a personal blog, but I'm determined to do a 20 miles ride before April. Any suggestions on exercises/workouts that might help would be greatly appreciated. OR.. If it's just a crap bike, I'd appreciate knowing that so I don't waste my time

Thanks,
It does sound like it may just be you, in which case just getting out and riding will make a difference as you build up the necessary muscles and your endurance. The bike isn't anything amazing, but as long as it is working properly, you are quite a ways away from the bike being what is holding you back. That said, if you want some peace of mind about it being the bike I'd suggest putting it in a repair stand if you have one, or just lift one end off the ground at a time possibly with the help of a second person and just make sure things are moving smoothly. With the rear wheel off the ground run the pedals by hand and just make sure that the chain isn't rubbing anywhere, and that when you stop pedaling the wheel keeps turning for a while. If it doesn't, figure out what is causing it to stop. Do the same thing with the front wheel off the ground, but rotate the wheel by hand since the pedals won't work for it. If there's no rubbing and the wheels keep spinning pretty well, then don't worry about the bike, and just keep trying to push yourself to do a little bit more every time you go out.
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Old 11-15-20, 03:54 PM
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Once when I was bike-less (for a couple of months due to having my bike run over by a street sweeper), I borrowed my then-gf's bike:

Something was wrong in the IGH which eventually locked up completely in the middle of anintersection while I was turning, leaving me on my butt in the middle of traffic. We had it swapped at the bikeshop, but it didn't help much. It was like treading molasses. When I finally got a new bike, I decided that she too needed something that was better to ride on.
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Old 11-15-20, 04:38 PM
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Were you riding (and intend to ride) gravel trails? Is so, why in the wide world of sports did you get a bike with a springer fork? Those cheap forks do nothing to aid in mountain biking, but they do add weight (about 4-5 pounds) and they do rob you of energy. That's right, a large portion of the power that you intend to go towards the back wheel, actually is absorbed (stolen) by the springs in the forks.

Make sure that the springs are locked. Also, with such low gearing (24/32) you shouldn't have any trouble going up some very steep climbs. Make sure that you are using all three front rings while riding. I've seen new riders "insist" on staying on one ring...you paid for 21 gears - use them all.
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Old 11-15-20, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Cacti View Post
Now I can only go 1.5 miles from my house and back?!
The good news is you made it back! Keep it up, you'll be gaining strength and stamina as time goes by.

I doubt the bike is a problem as long as it is adjusted properly.
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Old 11-15-20, 05:15 PM
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https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...tain-bikes.htm

Gravity as with most BikesDirect offerings) is a less expensive alternative to name-brand bikes,. The parts selection is usually a little cheaper but the important parts are usually brand-name, and the whole bike will be worlds better than most big-box-store offerings.

That said, you got one of the cheapest of the range (27.5 hardtail MTBs) which means you have a .... Heavy .... bicycle.

Add o that the fact that you have extra-wide tires .... and you have a bike which should be competent for most fire-road and mild single-track for a young, energetic rider.

Horrible choice for a road bike.

So .... nothing wrong with the bike per se, but it is definitely the wrong tool for the job ... and yes, sorry, you are probably very out of shape, at least for the type of sustained effort riding a heavy bike might require.

I wish you could blame the bike.... because if that were valid I could blame all my bikes, even the sort of expensive ones. Unfortunately gravity and friction are not swayed by even the finest rhetoric.
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Old 11-15-20, 05:18 PM
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But also .... make sure the brakes aren't dragging. A very experienced cyclist on another site just posted how he took a two-hour ride and the whole time was thinking how he was feeling terrible that day .... only to find when he got home that the rear brakes had been on the whole time.
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Old 11-15-20, 05:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
But also .... make sure the brakes aren't dragging. A very experienced cyclist on another site just posted how he took a two-hour ride and the whole time was thinking how he was feeling terrible that day .... only to find when he got home that the rear brakes had been on the whole time.
Most of US have done that. Check your Wheel Spin each time you ride.
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Old 11-15-20, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by AlmostTrick View Post
The good news is you made it back! Keep it up, you'll be gaining strength and stamina as time goes by.

I doubt the bike is a problem as long as it is adjusted properly.
This is sort of the "right" answer (others have hinted at the same.)

it is great that you want to get back into biking. Don't overdo it, be patient and persistent, and you should see steady if slow gains.

I biked non-stop for a few decades, then took several years off you kill myself with a marriage and a career. I didn't die---but almost---and when I decided to get back on the bike I was nearly 100 pounds overweight and hadn't lifted anything than a loaded spoon in the whole time .... at least i did a lot of reps with full spoons, right?

Riding a bike is a ton of fun and decent exercise (great exercise f you want it to be) but as an older man starting an exercise regimen, you need to realize that your limits are a lot lower than theyused to be and recovery takes a lot longer.

if ou choose to you can get as fit as you were 20-30 years ago .... but it will take time and dedication. And in the meantime, you will have to take it easy and be happy just to be doing as much as you can do.

There are no requirements. You can be as slow as you feel like, you can ride hard if you want or stop and rest if you want. You can plan to do three miles and do one or five. Just listen to your body, not your ego or your expectations, and once you hit your rhythm you will be having so much fun the numbers won't matter .... and then one day you will look at the numbers and be amazed at how much you did and how easy it was.

Just keep smiling. If you are enjoying it, you are doing it right.
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Old 11-15-20, 05:42 PM
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After a 10 year stop from riding awhile back I had the same first ride you just described. Don't worry about speed for now. The good thing is, time in the saddle and distance will increase a LOT the first couple months as long as you go out most days. Ride 5 days a week for a month and you will think nothing of 10 mile rides and will be looking for a longer ride once a week to expand you horizons.
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Old 11-15-20, 06:09 PM
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Cacti After 18 years of commuting 9 miles each way, and plenty of 20-30 mile weekend rides I was forced off the bike for a year by a non-cycling injury. Once I was able to walk without excessive pain I began walking on the treadmill, then jogging the 40 minutes my commute would take, eventually working in intervals of running.

When I was confident I could ride again without compromising my recovery from the injury, I hopped on my bike and made it one mile before my legs began screaming. It took a month or so to work up to the 9 mile ride, and then another 6 months to be able to pedal up all the hills here in Colorado Springs.

Also, from the ages of 24-28 I swam a mile every morning (also about 40 minutes). It was 73 lengths of the pool at the YMCA. I stopped after developing an allergy to chlorine. Two years later I hopped in a pool and managed one length before my arms went dead. And then I couldn't even climb out of the pool.

So if I were you, I'd check my bike to make sure the wheels are turning easily, but I suspect the real problem is you are using muscles you normally don't use.

The good news is, with perseveranceand patience, you should get to where you want to be.

Last edited by BobbyG; 11-15-20 at 06:21 PM.
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Old 11-15-20, 07:29 PM
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Assuming your bike is adjusted properly, seat height, etc and the tires are inflated properly then I think you are simply out of shape for cycling. If you haven't ridden in a long while it takes a while to get your muscles and cardio vascular system built up for cycling. Don't get discouraged, it takes a while. I would ride every other day for awhile, increase the distance and speed about 10% each ride. you need the rest day to recover and build up to match the increased demands. You will increase your strength and endurance and before long you will feel great and start to really enjoy the cycling. Hang in there !
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Old 11-15-20, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
Out of shape my guess.
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Old 11-15-20, 08:13 PM
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Don't get discouraged, Cacti. I started riding three years ago after a not having been on a bike for 40 years. I was in pretty good shape, but not necessarily in good cycling shape. I was riding 8 miles four times a week and it seemed like I was pushing it. Now I'm riding 15-20 miles every day and could go further but don't have the time to ride more. Keep riding and your body will adjust and you will be able to go farther.

As to your speed, don't worry about it. Yes, as others have noted, your bike will be slower than most on the road, but so what? You're doing it for exercise, so just keep riding that bike and you will build up strength and endurance. You don't need to be fast. I started on an inexpensive bike too, which I rode for 20 months, at which time I had a good idea of what I really wanted to be riding and got a new one. Don't be too quick to give up on your current bike. But, you should make sure the saddle is at the right height for you.

Keep riding and it will get easier.
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Old 11-15-20, 08:17 PM
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Originally Posted by BCAC View Post
There are many here more knowledgeable than me. Id suggest you lift a wheel off the ground and spin it. If it takes a while to slow and the same is true with the other....then you just need to keep at riding.
I got the bike Tuesday, put it together Wednesday, and it's spent more time upside down than me riding it. First there was a rubbing sound in front wheel. I adjusted the brake pads. Then the rear wheel. I worked on that for like two days and watched YouTube videos on adjusting my hydraulic brake system. I get one wheel perfect, then the other one starts making a sound. Maybe I'm being too much of a perfectionist. I didn't want ANY noise or friction. Today I said screw it and took it out regardless. It's definitely making noise, but it's beyond my capacity to fix. Maybe I'll take it to another bike shop next week (I took it to one last week and the dude said it's a nice bike and supposedly fixed it until it wasn't)
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Old 11-15-20, 08:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Skulking View Post
It does sound like it may just be you, in which case just getting out and riding will make a difference as you build up the necessary muscles and your endurance. The bike isn't anything amazing, but as long as it is working properly, you are quite a ways away from the bike being what is holding you back. That said, if you want some peace of mind about it being the bike I'd suggest putting it in a repair stand if you have one, or just lift one end off the ground at a time possibly with the help of a second person and just make sure things are moving smoothly. With the rear wheel off the ground run the pedals by hand and just make sure that the chain isn't rubbing anywhere, and that when you stop pedaling the wheel keeps turning for a while. If it doesn't, figure out what is causing it to stop. Do the same thing with the front wheel off the ground, but rotate the wheel by hand since the pedals won't work for it. If there's no rubbing and the wheels keep spinning pretty well, then don't worry about the bike, and just keep trying to push yourself to do a little bit more every time you go out.
Thanks for the response and advice. I'm sure most of it is me. I've done everything you mentioned and more. I'm going to take the bike into a shop next week and let someone who knows what they're doing look at it. I definitely hear a sound, but can't tell if it's normal not having ridden in so long and have nothing else to compare to
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Old 11-15-20, 08:25 PM
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Originally Posted by CargoDane View Post
Once when I was bike-less (for a couple of months due to having my bike run over by a street sweeper), I borrowed my then-gf's bike:

Something was wrong in the IGH which eventually locked up completely in the middle of anintersection while I was turning, leaving me on my butt in the middle of traffic. We had it swapped at the bikeshop, but it didn't help much. It was like treading molasses. When I finally got a new bike, I decided that she too needed something that was better to ride on.
See, this is what I'm worried about. That I got a defective bike somehow. I'll find out when I take it in for a proper inspection

I'm a newbie here and don't know much about bikes, but keeping it out of the way of street sweepers just makes sense lol Thanks!
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Old 11-15-20, 08:27 PM
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No problem
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Old 11-15-20, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Gary in NJ View Post
Were you riding (and intend to ride) gravel trails? Is so, why in the wide world of sports did you get a bike with a springer fork? Those cheap forks do nothing to aid in mountain biking, but they do add weight (about 4-5 pounds) and they do rob you of energy. That's right, a large portion of the power that you intend to go towards the back wheel, actually is absorbed (stolen) by the springs in the forks.

Make sure that the springs are locked. Also, with such low gearing (24/32) you shouldn't have any trouble going up some very steep climbs. Make sure that you are using all three front rings while riding. I've seen new riders "insist" on staying on one ring...you paid for 21 gears - use them all.
I'm unfamiliar with the term "springer fork", but this is a hardtail with lockout suspension on the front. I've been riding with it locked. I plan to ride "mostly" on paved surfaces, but will definitely take it on some easy mountain trails at some point. I was told before I bought it that MTBs are fine for urban and paved biker path riding. If I ever get a second bike, it will definitely be more geared towards a road bike tho

Edit: Also great advice on using the all the gears. I've mostly been using only the 2nd front gear and all 7 in the back (I heard it's important not to cross the chain too much to prevent stress). And you're right. Gong up hills is very easy in the lowest gears. It just takes forever and feels like you're riding in place lol
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Old 11-15-20, 08:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...tain-bikes.htm

Gravity as with most BikesDirect offerings) is a less expensive alternative to name-brand bikes,. The parts selection is usually a little cheaper but the important parts are usually brand-name, and the whole bike will be worlds better than most big-box-store offerings.

That said, you got one of the cheapest of the range (27.5 hardtail MTBs) which means you have a .... Heavy .... bicycle.

Add o that the fact that you have extra-wide tires .... and you have a bike which should be competent for most fire-road and mild single-track for a young, energetic rider.

Horrible choice for a road bike.

So .... nothing wrong with the bike per se, but it is definitely the wrong tool for the job ... and yes, sorry, you are probably very out of shape, at least for the type of sustained effort riding a heavy bike might require.

I wish you could blame the bike.... because if that were valid I could blame all my bikes, even the sort of expensive ones. Unfortunately gravity and friction are not swayed by even the finest rhetoric.
Thank you for this! No apologies necessary for pointing out the truth (I'm out of shape). But you've been a tremendous help informing me about the bike I bought! Definitely explains some things
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