Commuter / Hybrid recommendations for someone with back, neck and arm problems

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by Bike Fan, Sep 6, 2012.

  1. Bike Fan

    Bike Fan New Member

    Sep 6, 2012
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    [SIZE= 10pt]After spending a number of years as a young man heavily focused on riding, I sadly spent a number of years away from it, and I am now looking to re-enter again. However, I need some recommendations of bike types and brands to help me narrow down options. My biking years were spent in BMX, and now as a man with a family, my needs and options have changed substantially.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE= 10pt]I live in an extremely bike-friendly community, with a high emphasis on racing and road bikes. With this I find a possibly well-meaning but – in my opinion - miss-guided emphasis on racing technology used by high-level enthusiasts and professionals. Though there are a number of professional racers and high-level enthusiasts here, 99% of us are not. I am not a racer, and though I think some of these things are great, I am smart enough to know that they are not necessary. Unfortunately, all the opinions and options from locals have made it difficult for me to make a realistic, practical choice![/SIZE]

    [SIZE= 10pt]I am 5'7", 235 lbs., and because of some injuries from a car accident in ‘04, I have a few recurring nerve issues in my lower back, neck and arms. Though my Dr. does not believe that these should limit me in any way, I still need to keep these in mind in terms of equipment and riding position. [/SIZE]

    [SIZE= 10pt]I will be riding solo for recreation and exercise around the neighborhood and on our many paved bike trails, and leisurely with my wife (who has less of an interest in riding than me) and young son (who I will be teaching to ride in the 6 months). I will not be commuting to work, but riding at nights and on weekends, 2 – 10 miles/ride, with some rare occasions up to 20 miles. We have a combination of hills and flatland, and there is a nice dedicated mountain bike park in town (which I am feeling drawn to in some ways). We have four seasons here, but I plan to ride mainly in the spring, summer and fall, with no riding in the rain or snow.[/SIZE]

    [SIZE= 10pt]In doing some research, I have some thoughts about what I do and do not want, but need some guidance from your experience. Those who have similar back/nerve issue are particularly encouraged to share.[/SIZE]
    • [SIZE= 10pt]Budget: $600 (preferably with accessories, but this is not required)[/SIZE]
    • [SIZE= 10pt]Steel frames/fork over Aluminum or Carbon Fiber (due to durability and higher resistance to failure)[/SIZE]
    • [SIZE= 10pt]More upright riding position to ease pain[/SIZE]
    • [SIZE= 10pt]Excessive # of gears unnecessary[/SIZE]
    • [SIZE= 10pt]Straight pull breaks – seem lower maintenance than disk[/SIZE]
    • [SIZE= 10pt]No special riding pedals or shoes[/SIZE]
    • [SIZE= 10pt]No parts that I need to “baby”[/SIZE]
    • [SIZE= 10pt]Good weight/feature combo –not concerned about a few pounds here or there[/SIZE]
    • [SIZE= 10pt]Comfort more important than speed, but don’t want to feel like I’m riding through sludge[/SIZE]
    • [SIZE= 10pt]Ability to add accessories a plus (bottle, bell, rack, fenders)[/SIZE]

    [SIZE= 10pt]Based upon the above thoughts, I seem to have ruled out dedicated road race bikes and mountain bikes, with commuter road or hybrid bikes being the best options. I want something rugged, fun, with good handling and durable quality. However, I have a hard time finding info on these types of bikes – most focus on race or mountain bikes.[/SIZE]
    [SIZE= 10pt]Your comments are appreciated. Thanks![/SIZE]

  2. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

    Jun 10, 2004
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    You need to visit several LBS and tell them of your physical needs. Then they can work with you to point out and fit you to bikes for test rides. After all the test rides, by the bike that best fits your needs and rides best.
  3. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

    Aug 31, 2003
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    Ask to try an Electra Townie.
  4. MissVancouver

    MissVancouver New Member

    Sep 12, 2012
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    [SIZE= 10pt]Hi, I'm going to share my experience as a bike-commuter / weekend leisure rider. Let me know if you find it useful, especially as the type of bike I ride might be just what you're looking for as someone who has back/neck problems. [/SIZE]

    [SIZE= 10pt]I wanted to start bike riding and figured the easiest way to add it into my life was to bike commute to work and back, which is 10 minutes downhill to work and 20 minutes uphill back home. (Yes, originally the commute home took much longer.) At first I only did this sporadically on fairweather days, then once a week, then once or twice a week. Now, unless I have an after-work activity which necessitates my car, I bike-commute rain or shine except when it's icy or snowing. Safety first! [/SIZE][SIZE= 10pt]I'm also enjoying weekend leisure/fitness rides which now total 70km round trip (4-5 hours). I'm hoping to make it to 100km bike rides by next summer. [/SIZE]

    [SIZE= 10pt]I "built in" bike riding by going the cheap route. I bought a $100 police auction mountain bike (mid-90s era, cromoly-frame, 21 speeds, grip shifters, rigid fork, cantilever brakes, threaded stem) and took it to the LBS for a full overhaul. [/SIZE][SIZE= 10pt]This was fine in the begining, but I noticed that the longer I rode the more my back and neck were getting sore after my ride. I returned to the LBS for modifications [/SIZE][SIZE= 10pt]which included:[/SIZE]
    [SIZE= 10pt]1. replacing the old shorter stem with a tall stem, which raised the handlebars 6"[/SIZE]
    [SIZE= 10pt]2. [/SIZE][SIZE= 10pt]switching the flat bars to 3-speed style handlebars like you see on dutch bikes [/SIZE]

    [SIZE= 10pt]Here are my observations from my riding experience: [/SIZE]
    [SIZE= 10pt]1. raising the handlebars put me in a more upright position and relieved pressure on my neck [/SIZE]
    [SIZE= 10pt]2. switching to handlebars that sweep back also relieved pressure on my neck, as well as my back and wrists [/SIZE]

    [SIZE= 10pt]The problem is this ended up putting a more pressure on my sit bones, which is what caused me to undertake The Great Saddle Hunt of 2012. I went through a number of them before I finally took the plunge and bought a Brooks B67, which has springs and is narrow in the front and flares out wide in the seating area. Oh yes, AND a pair of [/SIZE][SIZE= 10pt]biking "liner" shorts that I wear under my regular shorts. [/SIZE][SIZE= 10pt]Although the seat has taken getting used to (UUUse the bike shorts, Luke..), what I've found is the wide seat fully supports my upright posture, the [/SIZE][SIZE= 10pt]springs are marvels at smoothing out the bumps/potholes on the road as well as gravel paths. [/SIZE][SIZE= 10pt]I'm have no trouble spinning even though I'm on a wide upright seat, probably due to the narrow taper in the front, and it's definitely not hindering my distance as before this last upgrade I was only able to ride 40km. Now I want to see if I can go 100km+. On my commuter. [/SIZE]

    [SIZE= 10pt]I'd say that my final tally, including the ridiculously expensive Brooks seat, is less than $500. I'm not going to count my rack and panniers as they're an optional item that I bought so I could go grocery shopping on my bike. [/SIZE]

    [SIZE= 10pt]Cheers! [/SIZE]