Buying bike for wife: Mtn or Road bike?



cheapie

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Aug 16, 2004
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I love biking but don't actually get out and ride as much as I'd like. I have a trek 5200 road bike and a Klein Attitude mtn bike. I'm the average sales guy. I have decent toys but don't use them enough to get in really good shape.

I enjoy group rides, charity rides, and centuries. I also love the local trails here in Michigan and am always struck with how much more fun it is and wonder why I don't get out more often.

I have 2 kids, a 3yo and 1yo. We have plenty of babysitters nearby and I'd really like my wife to start riding with me. My wife works out all of the time and is in better cardio shape than I am so I'm not worried about the effort, I'm just not sure which she'll do better at/like more.

If we do road riding we can just hop on the bikes as soon as the sitter comes across the street and hit the country roads. There are several quality trails within 30 minutes that we could do on our mtn. bikes.

She's very much in favor of starting to ride with me but doesn't know which she wants to do.

I've asked her she's said the following two things: Mtn biking is scary. Isn't riding a road bike uncomfortable?

My replies have been: Yes, mtn biking is scary/fun. I wreck 2/3 times I hit the trail. But it's a rush and the scenery is beautiful. It's also more leisurely than road riding.

Road bikes are designed for speed and will not be as comfy as your Trek Navigator. However, with miles and proper setup/clothing, you'll get used to it. Charity and centuries are a ton of fun.

I'm leaning towards getting a road bike for her. I think it would be hard for her to learn how to draft and gain the confidence on descents, but I thought the same thing when she started to ski and now she's very very good. We're both Ski Patrollers now. If I get a mtn bike for her she won't be able to participate in the group rides I like so much.

And I can also rent a mtn bike in Moab or Asheville.

Do you guys/gals have any advice?
 

Mouse Potato

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Jun 26, 2003
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cheapie said:
so....no opinions?
I'm about as far from an expert as you can get, but I'd suggest getting her to try them out and see which she likes best. Hopefully you've got a decent bike shop nearby, where you can take candidate bikes out for some good, longish rides. A couple of laps around the parking lot doesn't count!

It might not be a surprise present that way, but you'll probably end up with a happier recipient, and choosing that sort of stuff can be a hell of a lot of fun in its own right, particularly if she likes gadgets or has any kind of engineering inclination.

Other than that...
  • If it were me, definitely a road bike. But that's just me.
  • Does she like speedy things, for instance driving fast, zipping around corners, stuff like that? If so, and given what you say about her skiing, that would tend towards a road bike being more suitable too.
  • On the other hand, if she's really into bush/nature trails, orienteering, stuff like that, a mountain bike would probably be better.
But you're the one that knows her, so if you take my suggestions and they backfire, don't blame me! :D :D :D

Whatever you get, get a good quality bike. If you get a cheapie (um, not "cheapie" as in you, but, well, you know what I mean! :p) "just in case she doesn't like riding", chances are it'll be sufficiently clumsy, clunky, heavy, or uncomfortable that she won't like riding as much as if you got a good bike to start with, or in the worst case, at all. And if she's already fit she'd likely outgrow a beginner bike very quickly too. (For me, it only took a couple of months from not being able to ride at all, to be able to spin out on the what-turned-out-to-be-undergeared hybrid that was recommended to me as easier to learn to ride on than a road bike.)

On the comfort side, I personally find the scooched-over position on road bikes more comfortable than the more upright positions on say hybrids (and no, I'm not a hunchback! ;)), but that's unusual. Good bike shorts and a good saddle help a lot with comfort whichever way you go, however. Saddle-wise, she'll really have to try 'em out until she finds one she likes. Saddles with cut-outs don't suit everybody so don't automatically assume they are better. Terry Liberators and Butterflys seem to get a lot of positive reviews, on the web and when I've asked at bike shops, but I've tried both and found them excruciating. My favourite is the Fizik Vitesse and I also have a pretty comfy Specialized Body Geometry something-or-other on the old hybrid, but I know people who hate those.

That's about all, except... good luck!
 

jabike

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Dec 8, 2004
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You mentioned that there are places close by to rent a mountain bike. Why not rent a mountain bike and see how your wife responds to mountain biking? I thought my wife would be afraid of singletracks as well, but she soon liked that type of riding. Eventually I had to get both a mountain and a road bike for her as well. She is still afraid of the group road rides with drafting and constantly having to be aware of who and what is around you. So, I guess basically I am saying that you can either flip a coin or rent a bike and try it. You may also find a shop that has some type of road bike they will let you try as well.
 

concord

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Apr 21, 2004
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Chino Valley, AZ
cheapie said:
we went to the LBS and looked at this bike

http://www2.trekbikes.com/en/Bikes/Road/Performance_Road/Alpha_Aluminum/1500_WSD/index.php

she liked it and they had her size in stock. i will likely buy it in jan if it's still there. it's only about $1k. i expected to spend more. she's already about 60 pounds lighter than me. i don't want to spend another grand to get a bike that will give her an even bigger advantage. lol.

I say forget the mountain bike and go for all the gusto and get her the road bike.
 

toa

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Dec 10, 2004
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cheapie said:
we went to the LBS and looked at this bike

http://www2.trekbikes.com/en/Bikes/Road/Performance_Road/Alpha_Aluminum/1500_WSD/index.php

she liked it and they had her size in stock. i will likely buy it in jan if it's still there. it's only about $1k. i expected to spend more. she's already about 60 pounds lighter than me. i don't want to spend another grand to get a bike that will give her an even bigger advantage. lol.
My kid-sister got a TREK WSD bike ~ a 2300 as I can recall (like a 5200 WSD without the carbon frame :)). It's a totally incredible little bike :D

As for road/mountain, IMO dosn't matter! Just get out there with your familiy, Back in university my sis and I spend countless hours on the road training and racing together. I usually did 90-120 minutes on my own first (doing intervals and high-end tempo) and then 90 minutes with her: for me basic endurance, for her....well lets say she had plenty of time for training her drafting skills ;)
 

Goosebeak

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May 12, 2004
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cheapie said:
so....no opinions?

Well, what worked for me was getting a Mountain Bike, and buying an extra set of wheels and fitting these with slicks for the road rides. I probably do more road miles than offroad, but I prefer MTB. Most races (rides?) in South Africa are road races, but I could never see my way clear to trying a MTB race on a road bike - did one on a hybrid and it nearly killed me!!!! :p
 

cheapie

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Aug 16, 2004
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this is what i bought my wife for valentine's day....

http://www2.trekbikes.com/Bikes/Road/Performance_Road/OCLV_Carbon-ZR_9000/2100_WSD/index.php

Trek 2100 WSD
Frame
ZR 9000 w/OCLV Carbon seat stays
Fork
Bontrager Race
Wheels
Bontrager Race
Crankset
Bontrager Race Lite 52/42/30
Rear Derailleur
Ultegra
Front Derailleur
105

Size
51 CM

sweet sweet bike. i spent WAYYYYY too much money on it. i told her it is her valentine's day, b-day, and anniversary present. she's very excited!

it was sunny and we were excited about weather so we went to the bike shop and demo'd the bike she had been looking at. since i was buying a bike for her mom as well, they gave me about $100 off on the combination. after looking at the 1500, which she liked, we looked at the 2100. it has a carbon seatstay and nicer components than the other one. but the paint job isn't quite as pretty (my wife's opinion). the carbon will make the ride much smoother, esp when we ride over 40 miles or so. so i opted for the 2100 wsd which was about $500 more. gulp. oh well. easy come, easy go. :eek:


i've read a bunch of reviews and they all love it. however, the guys crack on the stock seat on the non-wsd design. i wonder if the women's saddle is as bad.

now i gotta buy her shoes, shorts, jersey, etc. sheesh.
 

Ike90

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Feb 10, 2005
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Asking her, having her test ride both, is the best advice here.

In lieu of good advice, my opinion is the MTB all the way. Unless paved road riding is all you're going to do, an MTB offers much more stability and versatility. As was mentioned previously, you can always put street tires on a mountain bike and get along pretty well on pavement. Pizza cutters offer no such option in gravel or dirt.
 

tjocesq

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Feb 17, 2005
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cheapie: great gift!!! does she know how lucky she is? :D

re: saddle: that's a tough one, only she can answer. As she rides more she'll know where on her bum it is uncomfortable and make choices accordingly. I know some women who have slim hips and are more comfortable on men's saddles. some of us--well--as Mom's--the days of slim hips are gone and it is women's saddles, either with or without cutouts.

Again--I MUST commend you on your valentine's day gift choice! brilliant!!!
 

cheapie

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Aug 16, 2004
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tjocesq said:
cheapie: great gift!!! does she know how lucky she is? :D

re: saddle: that's a tough one, only she can answer. As she rides more she'll know where on her bum it is uncomfortable and make choices accordingly. I know some women who have slim hips and are more comfortable on men's saddles. some of us--well--as Mom's--the days of slim hips are gone and it is women's saddles, either with or without cutouts.

Again--I MUST commend you on your valentine's day gift choice! brilliant!!!

thanks! (i'll reply to you since, unlike the previous two posters, you noticed that i have already bought the road bike lol) she's 26 and we have 2 kids but she works out a lot and is thinner than before we had the kids.

she's a bit wary of the lycra so i bought her this for easy rides around town.
http://www.teamestrogen.com/products.asp?pID=8619

i did explain that on our longer rides, she'll get over the lycra, esp since EVERYONE else will be wearing it.

we put the bike on the trainer last night and she tried out her new shoes and rode for a while while watching tv. it will likely be a while until she get comfortable w/clipless pedals but she's excited about riding so that helps.
 

jabike

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Dec 8, 2004
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cheapie said:
thanks! (i'll reply to you since, unlike the previous two posters, you noticed that i have already bought the road bike lol) she's 26 and we have 2 kids but she works out a lot and is thinner than before we had the kids.

she's a bit wary of the lycra so i bought her this for easy rides around town.
http://www.teamestrogen.com/products.asp?pID=8619

i did explain that on our longer rides, she'll get over the lycra, esp since EVERYONE else will be wearing it.

we put the bike on the trainer last night and she tried out her new shoes and rode for a while while watching tv. it will likely be a while until she get comfortable w/clipless pedals but she's excited about riding so that helps.

My suggestion is that you buy the lycra shorts and at least get her to see how comfortable they are for riding when she is on the trainer. A few words from you like, "Those shorts really look good on you." should help her get over it. I had a friend that I had to work on for several months before she felt comfortable in lycra, but when she discovered that everyone else was doing it she found out that it is the perfect way to cycle.
 

cheapie

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Aug 16, 2004
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jabike said:
My suggestion is that you buy the lycra shorts and at least get her to see how comfortable they are for riding when she is on the trainer. A few words from you like, "Those shorts really look good on you." should help her get over it. I had a friend that I had to work on for several months before she felt comfortable in lycra, but when she discovered that everyone else was doing it she found out that it is the perfect way to cycle.


hahaha...WAYYYY ahead of you. she wore a pair of mine last night on the trainer. they looked a bit odd since i'm a lot bigger but she got the general idea.

me ---> Man...you look GOOD in those. you look tons better than most of the riders out there so i'm not sure what you're worried about!

:D
 

jabike

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Dec 8, 2004
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cheapie said:
hahaha...WAYYYY ahead of you. she wore a pair of mine last night on the trainer. they looked a bit odd since i'm a lot bigger but she got the general idea.

me ---> Man...you look GOOD in those. you look tons better than most of the riders out there so i'm not sure what you're worried about!

:D
Yea, but why is it the ones that look good in them are always so afraid to wear them in public and those that shouldn't be wearing them in the first place, well...I better just bite my tongue. . .
 

tjocesq

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Feb 17, 2005
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gentlemen--I can attest--flattery does wonders for us women! I now proudly wear spandex! Keep up the good work!

t