Looking for bicycle recommendations - Update: got it and here it is!

Joined
Feb 7, 2005
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Annandale, VA
As some of you might know from my posting I'm an avid fan of bicycle racing. I've been putting off an item on my bucket list for years but figured it's time to give it a try while I'm on this side of the grass. I'm seventy-one and in excellent health. I have a reconditioned gym elliptical machine and have been burning 580 calories a day for the seven years I've been retired. I underwent some extensive examination early this spring and have a good ticker with no apparent problems. I recently broke 190# on my way down from 220# two years ago.

I'm looking for recommendations and suggestions to begin riding. I'm not an alpha male and have no interest in setting personal records or competing with anyone. Winning is NOT the only thing in life! I live in the heart of northern Virginia which is strictly city dwelling. My riding would likely be limited to bike trails and paths. A few road bikes I tried 5-10 years ago were too harsh (jarring) and uncomfortable. I'm looking for a good bike and accessories which would be fun to ride. I've had orthoscopic surgery on both knees for torn meniscus successively back in 2000-2001. Outside of an artery relaxer, Benicar, Voltarin gel on my knees is all I use for aches and pains. Yesterday at my physical my blood pressure was 114/63. There's no time like the present to start.

Any ideas? What kind/brand of bike should I consider? I think $1500 would be the most I'm prepared to spend. Thanks in advance.
 
Joined
Dec 6, 2006
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West of Boston
I would suggest going to a local, reputable bike shop and talk to them...there are so many good brands out there (I personally ride Cannondale for my road bike and Specialized for my cross bike) that it will get confusing, quickly.

A good bike shop will be able to present you with something to address your specific needs...and make sure you're properly fitted.

Your budget should accommodate a very solid bike. Don't forget a good pump to top off your tires before a ride and some basic maintenance items.

You may also want to add a pannier...so I'm saying out of your $1500 budget, maybe carve $125-$150 off for accessories.
 
Joined
Aug 15, 2007
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Kalamazoo, MI
Agreed on just going to a shop for recommendations. The quality of the shop and service provided is more important than the brand and model of bike, especially at this price point. Most shops carry a few brands, several models from each brand at various price points. Also make sure you budget for a comfortable helmet and lights. I'm a bit paranoid, so I ride with a super-bright LED headlight and seizure inducing LED tail-light, both of which were pretty reasonable.
 
Joined
Jul 21, 2007
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5,262
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NJ
No brand recommendations, just some outfitting ideas that everybody else will probably flame on:

  • Helmet, cleats, gloves. You don't want to be on the road without any of them.
  • If you're getting a roadbike, consider 28mm tires instead of 23mm. It's a lot more comfortable and resistant to punctures and unless your intention is to join the local 30+mph "rocket" there's no need for slim tires.
  • Get a good pump. And get a good pump for on the road (or at least CO2 canisters). Bring a spare tire or learn how to patch 'em. Most people dislike patching, but it's a lot cheaper and wasting less resources than buying a new tube for every flat you encounter.
  • Saddle: Brooks. Yeah, I'm old style. Once broken in, there's no substitute. Personally I like the flyer—it's a bit wider and the springs take out out most of the vibrations on the road—but it's not as hardcore looking at the B17, so if you value looks over comfort you might want to go with that one instead.
  • In road bikes, more expensive does not always mean better. My bike shop owner explained that the main difference between Shimano Dura-Ace and Ultegra is the price; Dura-Ace is lighter, but it also breaks easier. If you're not gungho about reducing the weight (losing weight is a lot cheaper) on your bike, staying away from the ultra expensive, super light-weight components but picking "regular" light weight instead is the way to go
  • Read up on bike safety. If you share the road with cars, there's a couple of things you need to know, and not everything is as intuitive as you think. I had to relearn a lot when moving to the US as much of what is not considered a safety issue in The Netherlands is a safety issue in the USA (quiz: what is the deadliest kind of accident for bikers and how can you easily avoid it?)
 
Joined
Dec 3, 2009
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Meadville, PA
Rich - I am not a hardcore biker by any means, nor do I have the expertise that many here do. My wife and I wanted comfortable bikes that we could ride together. We ended up getting Trek Navigator 2.0's. Very comfortable seat, reasonably upright riding position, stable on roads, paths and gravel trails. Not something you would take off-road on rough trails, but great in town. We are both pretty happy with them. Note that we are not trying to set any land speed records, and are not doing high mileage rides. Our normal daily ride is about 10 miles, and up to maybe 20 on days when we are not working. It is a comfortable, recreational bike, and less than half of what you are looking to spend.

http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes/2012/archive/navigator_2_0
 
Joined
Nov 15, 2011
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Virginia
To give yourself a little more comfort on your joints and since you will probably be riding on the W&OD trail, I would look at a full suspension mountain bike.
 

Butlerkid

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This spring, Justin had to replace his bike. He had ridden it till it was falling apart.

After much looking at every bike store and major brand in the area, he bought a Giant. He LOVES it! The store gave him about 15% off list. Definitely worth looking at.
 
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I've been riding one of these for years. No neck, wrist or butt pain. I don't think it's any easier on the knees, though. Seriously, unless you live in a very hilly area or you're going to be riding on very rough trails, I highly recommend it. Some people look at it and decide immediately it's not for them. Others smile, try it and love it.

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There are many other brands of recumbent bikes out there besides the one I ride.

DAB
 
Joined
Jun 23, 2013
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SFV, CA
A word of caution on the bike shops. Some of them are like car dealers, they're just concerned about having you walk out of the door with the most expensive bike rather than the bike that would be the best fit. One thing they should offer and you should insist on is a proper bike fitting. This will help out your back and knees in the long run and make for a more comfortable ride. Do some research on what this entails so that you don't walk in with no knowledge. If it looks like they're skipping steps or just doing a half-### job, walk out and find another store.

If you're looking for road bikes, go for ones that are made for touring rather than flat out racing. The touring ones generally offers a more upright position which is easier on the back and allows for a more comfortable longer rides.

You might want to go for steel construction rather than the latest and greatest carbon fiber frames. I find steel to absorb bumps and vibrations better than carbon fiber does. The weight difference isn't all that big of a deal if you aren't going to be racing. They're also more durable and if the bike takes a harsh tumble, you don't really have to comb over it inch by inch looking for any signs of cracks (which you should do for carbon fiber bikes).

Also, as stated above... not a huge difference between Shimano Ultegra and Dura-Ace. Dura-Ace is lighter, but sacrifices durability. It's an important difference if you're a weight weenie. If you're not, you probably won't notice. With that said, I find that there's a significant difference between SOME Shimano 105s vs Ultegras, particularly in the shifters.

Edit: With that said, I ride Felt bikes. They used to be excellent deals about 5 years ago, but it seems like their prices went up recently. Not sure I would recommend them anymore.
 
Joined
Jun 1, 2005
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Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
We've been riding Giant hybrid bikes for the past few years. Comfortable, great for paths, road and moderate trails. Cross between a mountain bike and road bike, I have a pannier on the back for mine.

Comfortable to ride for long distances as well.
 
Joined
Aug 7, 2006
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87
Specialized Roubaix is one of the more popular "comfort" bikes available. I used to ride one before upgrading to a Look 695. I did quite a few centuries on my Roubaix. It's a great bike and definitely absorbs much of the road vibrations when compared to something that's designed to be a pure speed machine like my Look. Trek, Specialized, Giant, and Pinarello all make great "comfort" bikes--bikes that you'll see pro riders on during some of the races during the season.
 
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Wait a minute. If you're talking about "comfort" bikes.... I also own one of these. This one has under seat steering. Not as speedy or light as my other bike, but VERY comfortable. Not recommended for mountainous terrain. Ryan Vanguard (this particular model not made anymore)

This picture is not me - I found it online.
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Joined
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SE Wisconsin
I agree with the bike store / fitting recommendation. Shop a few bike stores and see what they recommend. Get their feedback on a proper fitting and what it includes.

We bought a bike for the wife from one store. It was a in/out and she never really was comfortable on the bike and therefore it sat a lot. While into my biking I found a shop that offers fittings so we did it for both bikes. Her bike is now more comfortable and a pleasure to ride. We even changed tires on it to get a better ride.

As for brand I have Trek blood running through me. Only reason is I shop for quality and so far each of their bikes I have owned has lived up to that so why look elsewhere. That's just me though.
 
Joined
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Alaska
If it's been a while since you looked at bikes you are in for a big surprise in how much things have changed. For what you describe as your needs/desires, a casual mountain bike will probably do you nicely. For one thing, virtually all of them come with front suspension and disc brakes nowadays. For your needs rear suspension would be over the top and likely out of your budget anyway but you can get a suspended seat post. If you keep wide knobby tires on the bike and only inflate to 45 psi or so with the suspension as described, you won't believe how comfortable the ride is compared to back in the day. You can even add a gel saddle for further posterior comfort.

With any accessories you might want to add you can easily fit this within your stated budget and likely substantially less.
 
Joined
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Annandale, VA
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #18
Lots of great suggestions and recommendations. The comments raise many questions and responses. I'll reply in general rather than post a lot of confusing quotes.

I've been to a few stores and they vary from objective to pushing a specific brand. I wanted to get recommendations from owners before going in.

I'm confused about the light recommendations. Do you REALLY mean you prefer seizure inducing lights? :confused:

By cleats, are you referring to those special shoes which interlock with the pedals to keep the foot positioned properly? By 28mm vs 23mm tires, that's the width of the tire tread..right? I don't think I'm interested in those thin rock hard tires. I'd prefer more give; the jarring I experienced test riding one bike was very upsetting. No, I'm not at all interested in the 30+ mph crowd. Patching is a non-issue. I've overhauled car engines and done carpentry. The weight of the Shimano vs. Dura-Ace doesn't influence me. I'm looking at the bike for enjoyable exercise and fitness, not setting PRs. I did use a Life Fitness exer-cycle for years and that saddle was sheer agony. What are the various brand/seat types and thier relative advantages and disadvantages?

Likewise I think a more upright seating position is in my preference. As I drive I see the younger lads flying about on their 'crotch rockets' all hunched over with their butts in the air; it seems so uncomfortable just to appear cool. :rolleyes: I think a touring style bike seems more my type. Again, I'm not interested in paying a premium for a stiffer feather light bike; the idea is exercise and comfort, not speed.

I'm not interested in a recumbent bike. After the Exercycle I used a recumbent Life Fitness cycle for a few more years; I didn't care much for it.

Tom, yes we saw literally thousands upon thousands of the Gazelles during our two short weeks in the Netherlands. These seem to serve more an 'errand' function than for exercise. With their kid seats and baskets and upright handle bars and step-through frame they are more suited for zipping to and from the local store.

Thanks everyone. I'll check out the links and brands and models.

Larry, keep at it! Hearing 'man you look great!' from my doctor yesterday was music to my ears. I have always felt that it's almost never too late to get back in shape. Now that I'm in my seventies I'm even more sure about this. My grandmother lived into her nineties and her kids (my mother and uncles & aunts) well into their eighties. I want to remain healthy and active until my time ends. Unfortunately my father had a heart attack in his fifties and eventually died of congestive heart failure at seventy-two after being significantly limited the last ten years of his life.
 
Joined
May 9, 2008
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houston tx
Rich: I have done short commutes here in Houston and have recently stretched out by a little for 12 miles one-way. I am using right now a Fuji Nevada 26" mountain bike pimped out with fenders and swing-up handlebars.
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I HIGHLY recommend you look at Giant 29" bicycles. It's between mountain bike and road bike "fat" tires (cushioning road bumps), but it is 29 inches diameter, and that really makes road bumps less stressful. Well, all of the 29'ers will do that. The 29'ers also have the front chain gear sized for straight road-riding, so when you get going it's easier to keep going at speed.

And the main thing with Giant is I think they will be a good $$ less.

Yes, the clips are special shoes with the cleat under your metatarsal arch. I've fallen (rolled over) much more since getting cleats, so it really helps learning how to fall. Also check to make sure the 2 screws are really tight because that's a big part to not being able to un-clip. Clips are not sold with the shoes, but come with the pedals. I've only had the one pair of Shimano and they're ok.

Nowadays there are several different prostate-friendly bike seats. The company I bought mine from has morphed and I don't know who they are any more. I covered up their name with some lycra cloth and leather 'cause I didn't want to advertise anything right at that part of me.

All said and done, I'm saving up for a Giant (brand) 29-inch (giant size tires) bike.

Oh, there are also some bikes with a 29-inch tire on one end and a 26-inch tire on the other to take advantage of the strengths of each. Of course, those open up jokes about those last two numbers.

BTW, I'm 61 now.
 
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Joined
Oct 25, 2007
Messages
3,767
Location
Potomac Falls, VA
Rich, we are fortunate to have some nice local stores that will spend time with you to fit your bike. I recommend Spokes which has several locations. Big Wheel bikes is another good chain but less stores. REI carries Cannondale and finally Bike Lane in Reston town center. The local shops will provide maintenance and adjustments for the first year of ownership.

I've bee riding a Trek chromoly hard tail since 97 and added a Trek Madone 2 series for road work. I log over 1k miles outdoor a year. I appreciate their Wisconsin heritage. Hope to see you out on the trails soon!
 

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