Please help me to choose a bike

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Clarice
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Please help me to choose a bike

Post by Clarice » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:47 pm

I haven't ridden a bike for awhile and need to re-learn this skill. Before I ride it as a way of transporting myself I need to ride it, period. :shock:
Given:
- a middle aged female of average athletic abilities needs to throw this bike in a car and drive some place flat and quiet; :cry:
- success of stage one is defined as not falling off the bike and not jumping off the bike for the fear of imminent falling. :geek:
I know very little about bikes, so I am unlikely to pick a good one on CL. I am thinking of buying a new one. Any advice is greatly appreciated. :)

suomalainen
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Re: Please help me to choose a bike

Post by suomalainen » Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:02 pm

Probably get a bike described as a cruiser or comfort or town or hybrid bike (not road or mointain). Most important features:

Flat handlebars
Relaxed geometry
Medium sized tires

All of which will contribute to your comfort.

If you buy new, careful of aggressive bike shop sales. If you buy used, take it to a bike shop for a tuneup (and/or learn to tune it up yourself).

Another resource for cheap new bikes:

http://bikesdirect.com

Clarice
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Re: Please help me to choose a bike

Post by Clarice » Sun Jul 15, 2018 8:42 pm

@ Suomalainen:

Thank you! I've looked at the website - very informative. Also, what do you think about folding bikes? Would that be a good fit, small woman (5'3", 115 lbs) - small bike? I won't have the problem of fitting a big bike into a Honda Civic... OTOH... it's possibly not that comfortable... I keep thinking...

suomalainen
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Re: Please help me to choose a bike

Post by suomalainen » Sun Jul 15, 2018 9:42 pm

Don't know much about folding bikes - no experience with them. Smaller diameter wheels will probably make it feel more squirrely and bumpy, so it depends on what surfaces you'd be riding on. Paved roads/trails with no potholes and over short distances, it's probably fine. Anything else, you'd probably hate it. Try before you buy, if you can.

Getting a regular bike into/out of a honda civic...hmm... :? If it's an old civic hatchback, that will be pretty easy. I have an '11 honda fit which is a hatchback and could fit my big ol' 29er mountain bike back there upright with the rear seats folded down, if I took off the front wheel. If the civic has a trunk, then you'll have to womanhandle the bike in there side ways (assuming the rear seats fold down) by sticking the rear wheel through the trunk access into the folded down rear seats. Try before you buy I guess would be my advice here. You'll get a small ladies frame, so it should make it easier and even a shitty bike won't weigh THAT much. 25-30 pounds maybe for a small frame? The more expensive bikes aren't really that much better. At some point the marginal increase in quality of components levels off, so expensive bikes are really about shaving weight for performance/weight-weenie reasons. If you end up riding a lot, then I'd put some money into better shifters/deraileurs (can never spell it right) to replace the entry-level crap, but everything else should be fine for every day riding.

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Re: Please help me to choose a bike

Post by jacob » Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:04 am

Eh, IIRC, bikesdirect requires some semi-skilled assembly (applying grease to the right places).
You could, however, buy it and have a bikeshop put it together for you.

I recommend getting something that looks like one of these: (+1 to hybrid)
https://www.statebicycle.com/collection ... ton-deluxe (internal gear hub, 3 speed is fine)
https://www.raleighusa.com/carlton-8 (external gearing, but only shifts on the rear, so simple)
https://www.linusbike.com/products/rambler-7 (external again, same)

In short: a hybrid/commuter bike, ideally with internal gearing (=no maintenance), and straight handlebars.

Avoid bikes that look like this:
https://www.sixthreezero.com/products/teal-single-speed ("the beach cruiser" nice and slow on flats, impossible everywhere else)
http://www.mongoose.com/usa/switchback-sport-20632 ("the MTB" knobby tires and suspension --- for the same reason driving a swamp-tired Jeep Wrangler on the road is dumb)
https://www.rei.com/product/124791/cann ... -bike-2018 ("the racer" lots of gears, hard to carry anything, you might not even be able to fit racks and fenders)
http://uniusa.org/wp-content/uploads/Outdoor.jpg (very easy to maintain, very hard to ride)

Having lots of gears is overrated unless you're involved in the "great race" (catching and overtaking any bike you see in front of you). Otherwise, it's just a maintenance hassle, carries risk of dropping the chain, and you always have to deal with cross-chaining. Approximately 75% of cyclist don't care to know what this is and so do it all the time :)

Folders are great. It's supereasy to get into a car. Smaller tires does mean you feel bumps more. However, it also means that the wheelbase relative to wheelsize is much bigger which makes them very directionally stable ("look no hands!"). It's a bit harder to stand up in the pedals compared to a regular bike ... or maybe not harder, but different! Brands are Tern, Dahon, and Brompton. I had a Dahon Boardwalk once which I still regret selling. It was a single-speed with a coaster brake (no cables whatsoever). I could carry quite the load (a hockey bag full of gear) on the rack. The problem with folders is that they often use off-standard parts => $$$.

vexed87
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Re: Please help me to choose a bike

Post by vexed87 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:31 am

Lots of great advice above.

They are harder to find in the UK and US markets because cycling is mostly viewed as a sporting/leisure activity, but bicycles typically found in NL, DK, DE are purpose designed with chain and skirt guards, dynamo lighting, pannier racks and fenders which make them ideal for commuting and transportation. Consider looking for a bicycle with an internal gear hub 8 or 11 speed if you live in a hilly area but still want a high gear for going fast, or 3 speed or single speed for minimal maintenance if you don't have to worry about hills or top speeds. If you want to splash out, a gates type belt drive cuts out the oily mess. A similar setup with standard chain drives can be had for much less but tend to weigh more and you can dirty your trousers or sleeves if you contact the chain with your clothes (usually when securing your bike or pedalling), this is remedied with either care to avoid it and an occasional clean and degrease (effort), or the aforementioned chain guard (additional weight). Even the low fuss belt drive systems need occasional servicing, and arguably harder for DIY maintenance than basic derailleur systems. Internal gear hubs are complex kit and belt drives require specialist parts and fitting, but for those who don't enjoy the DIY, they are ideal get up and go machines and will require minimal fiddling to ride smoothly. Derailleur geared bikes are more finicky but cheaper and easier for the home mechanic to maintain. Disc brake bikes are ideal for wet weather commuting, there's no loss of stopping power, and confidence inspiring in the event of an emergency stop.

As usual, you pay $$$ for convenience, but even a cheap bicycle is a simple mechanical contraption, and easy and cheap to maintain. I personally couldn't justify the $$$ for a belt drive bicycle, when I know a £300 hybrid could do the job with only slightly more fuss.

Sorry about the edits, I kept thinking of things to add :)
Last edited by vexed87 on Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:20 am, edited 8 times in total.

vexed87
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Re: Please help me to choose a bike

Post by vexed87 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:36 am


7Wannabe5
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Re: Please help me to choose a bike

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:33 am

I agree with advice offered by those with more expertise about bicycles. I have found hybrid style best for general use in variety of settings. My only note would be that you may wish to choose some level of compromise on handle-bar placement, if you intend to usually wear casual clothing while biking, because your assets will be more likely to be in full open view when you are riding in anything like racing position. I have found that I am less likely to choose my bike as means of transportation, if I have to concern myself with costuming.

Loner
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Re: Please help me to choose a bike

Post by Loner » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:08 pm

I’d vote hybrid too.

If you want to put the bike in your car through the trunk and back seats, make sure the front axle has a quick-release, like this: https://goo.gl/itfL4B Not this: https://goo.gl/y2FMLC It’ll make your life simpler. To put it in, remove the front wheel and put the bike with the handlebars turned 90 degrees, derailleur-side up (not to damage it).

Buying used might be worth it. Many good deals on CL. If you want to be technical about the fit, just read for 5 min. on Google about how to fit a bike to your height, but otherwise, if you are not going to ride thousands of km every year, just get something that feels comfortable. Make sure to try before you buy. You can have it checked by a bike shop or bike-knowing person. If you are looking at a couple of ads on CL, why not post them here? We are limited in what we can say, but we might be able to say something useful.

Like Jacob, I’d also advice against race bikes, those with downturned handlebars, because they are somewhat unstable. If you do get a hybrid, avoid “performance hybrids” for this very same reason. They have a “tight” geometry that makes the bike a tad harder to handle.

As a bonus, I’d recommend to get fenders. I’m an avid biker but never used them. I discovered recently how well they keep water off of you. It’s just about magical. A rear rack+pannier can also get useful if you want to carry a water/purse/book, whatever.

Happy riding!

jacob
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Re: Please help me to choose a bike

Post by jacob » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:52 pm

Loner wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:08 pm
Like Jacob, I’d also advice against race bikes, those with downturned handlebars, because they are somewhat unstable. If you do get a hybrid, avoid “performance hybrids” for this very same reason. They have a “tight” geometry that makes the bike a tad harder to handle.
I believe the term is "twitchy". This can be an asset if you're going fast and want to avoid potholes or rocks. It's a liability is you're carrying stuff.

Another term for performance hybrids is "fitness bikes". Methinks they're pretty much combine the worst features of MTBs and racers. Its the bike equivalent of a nascar truck.

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C40
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Re: Please help me to choose a bike

Post by C40 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:09 pm

+1 to Jacob's first post.

One thing to consider about a bike with an internally geared rear hub, is that if you would want to be taking both wheels off to fit the bike more easily into your car, it is much more difficult to get the rear wheel back on properly than it normally is on a drivetrain that includes a chain tensioner (the bikes with normal gears (where there's a set of metal sprockets on the rear wheel) all have tensioners, and sometimes single speeds or internally geared bikes do also have tensioners).. All that said, if the top/backs of your rear seats fold forward, you can probably fit the bike in there just fine without taking the rear wheel off..

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C40
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Re: Please help me to choose a bike

Post by C40 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:14 pm

jacob wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:52 pm
Loner wrote:
Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:08 pm
Like Jacob, I’d also advice against race bikes, those with downturned handlebars, because they are somewhat unstable. If you do get a hybrid, avoid “performance hybrids” for this very same reason. They have a “tight” geometry that makes the bike a tad harder to handle.
I believe the term is "twitchy". This can be an asset if you're going fast and want to avoid potholes or rocks. It's a liability is you're carrying stuff.
I believe the term here is "responsive".

The 'responsiveness' depends on the angle of the front fork, and the length of the seat-stays at the back (basically, it depends on the wheelbase (in other words - the distance between the two wheels). The closer the wheels are together, the more responsive it is)

wheatstate
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Re: Please help me to choose a bike

Post by wheatstate » Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:21 pm

All this advice is good. If it seems like too many details, I would connect with local cyclists.
It is easier to give advice when someone is shopping for a bike, than after that person bought a less than ideal bike.

See if there is a beginner ride or a woman's ride. Show up, see bikes, ask questions. Many have a food event after that you could join.
Volunteer at a local organized ride that is a casual and short distance, in order to meet people and see bikes.

Bike sizing is very important for comfort. Frequently, new riders switch bikes after a short time because they bought the wrong size initially. I would test ride and connect with someone of similar height and goals.
Some communities have a bike co-op to refurbish bikes and distribute them. These people generally give experienced advice.

A well ridden bike is a bargain at any price.
A bike that hangs in the garage is expensive.

Enjoy.

jacob
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Re: Please help me to choose a bike

Post by jacob » Mon Jul 16, 2018 1:50 pm

@C40 - You say tomato ... I say tomato ;-)

Clarice
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Re: Please help me to choose a bike

Post by Clarice » Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:13 pm

Thank you very much everybody!
To recap the collective wisdom, I am looking for the following:
- hybrid/commuter bike;
- flat handles;
- medium-sized tires;
- relaxed geometry (relaxed? ...as opposed to Euclidean? :lol: I have no idea what it means :) );
- internal gearing (I will remember this phrase as a question to ask. I have no visuals for that one either).

@7wb5:
For starters, I'll wear tight-fitting black clothing. My assets will be as safe as it gets. :D

I have a very high tolerance for getting muddy and wet, so I don't have to worry about these aspects of biking.
I've also decided that I am going to buy a bike first and worry about fitting it into a car later. I'll figure something out.
I've looked at CL - I'm too short for all of the hybrid offers. :roll:

@vexed87:
Thank you for the link. I am leaving the house in 15 minutes to visit a local distributor.

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Re: Please help me to choose a bike

Post by jacob » Mon Jul 16, 2018 5:34 pm

http://www.denmanbikeshop.com/thebikesh ... rnal-gears (This is important!!!)

How tall are you? Most riders in the US are somewhere between 5'2" and 6'0" ... outside of that you have to look around. Incidentally, it's not your height, it's your torso length that determines bike sizing. After all, the saddle can be raised/lowered to compensate for long/short legs. The top-bar not so much. (This is not so important)

You're getting way more detail here than you need. Maybe waste $50 buying an ill-fitting crap bike in order to learn what's wrong and right. Then know, adjust, and buy again.

black_son_of_gray
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Re: Please help me to choose a bike

Post by black_son_of_gray » Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:11 pm

@ Clarice
Some interpret "relaxed" geometry as meaning that your back as you sit on the saddle will be relatively vertical/upright. This gives you great visibility and more secure feeling. It's easier to hop off if things go sour. "Aggressive" geometry has your back angle in a flatter, more aerodynamic position. This requires that you crane your neck a bit more, and your weight distribution might feel a bit more unstable to you. It is considerably faster at higher speeds though, because cross-section/wind resistance/math ... but you probably don't care about that.

Somewhat non-intuitive: if you ride for a long time at once (e.g. hour or more), the "relaxed" geometry could feel a lot worse on your backside because a lot more of your body weight is borne by the saddle. A more "aggressive" geometry puts more burden on your shoulders and wrists (not necessarily more comfortable!), but less on your butt. In either case, saddle selection is crucial... and I don't really have any tips on that other than find something that works well with your sit bones (more cushion does not equal better).

Regarding getting muddy and wet... that is all well and good for the rider, but kicking up crap from the road straight into your chain ring isn't going to be fun. I've found (w/ a GPS tracking my speed) that biking under ~10mph I wasn't kicking up much water from wet pavement. Over that speed, though, I would end up with a dirty bike and the dreaded "butt stripe". So slow speeds in wet conditions could be a decent way to avoid fenders. Fenders are nice though, if you can tolerate the weight.

Loner
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Re: Please help me to choose a bike

Post by Loner » Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:53 pm

This is probably too much info, but just to clarify, wheelbase doesn't have that much to do with a bike's stability (stability being it's ability to auto-correct it's trajectory when you have you hands off). It's mostly in the rake and head tube angle (i.e.: mechanical trail: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_a ... ical_trail). This is important-ish for beginner cyclists because it doesn't require you to micro-correct the bike's trajectory all the time (what Jacob refers to as a twitchiness). It also helps prevent crashes to a point.

Then again, I think Jacob said it in all his wisdom: get a cheap bike that more or less fits the bullet points you listed, and learn from there.

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Re: Please help me to choose a bike

Post by Clarice » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:50 pm

@jacob:
The internal gear hub looks like something I would want. The first bike in your links is, unfortunately, for height 5'6'' minimum ( I am 5'3"). The event that prompted me to start this thread was a Sunday bike ride on the bike that I bought at Kmart in Hayward, CA in 1997. I have a trashy bike. I want a good one.

@vexed87:
Presidio 1 from your link looks like a perfect bike for me. Unfortunately, they don't sell them just yet. Are you aware of anything similar that I can buy now?

@black-son_of_gray:
Thank you! Got the geometry part. :idea: I definitely should go with the relaxed one - have full confidence in my butt. :lol:

I had a tour of local bike shops - they all pushing their bikes really hard and make it difficult to think on the spot. If I don't find something perfect LIKE Marin Presidio1 - I'll just wait for that bike...

vexed87
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Re: Please help me to choose a bike

Post by vexed87 » Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:38 am

@Clarice, The 2018 Fairfax SC2 IG looks like a similar model, no disc brakes though which isn't a huge problem. If you can find it in your size you will probably get some nice discount as it's last years model, sales usually start around about now but stock gets harder to come by. The Presidio 1 looks like a rebadge of the older Fairfax line.

I agree with jacob though, lots of cyclists will buy a bike and realise it's not quite what they wanted and end up swapping it and losing money in the process, been there done that... so I agree, buy a cheapo used bike on CL and take it for a tune up at your local bike shop. Just make sure you don't buy a rust bucket! Once you have a better idea of what you like on a bike, sell what you bought and get the bike of your dreams!

it took me 12-18 months of riding a road racing bike 15 miles a day to work out what I really wanted was a nice relaxed commuter.

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