most suitable bike

Discussion in 'UK and Europe' started by Jon Marshall, Mar 26, 2003.

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  1. Jon Marshall

    Jon Marshall Guest

    Hi all

    i recently purchased a mtb ( not expensive one ) and have been using it regularly for the last
    couple of months or so. It's mainly used for country lanes etc. and a bit of off-road ( but nothing
    serious ) - i like wandering off into the unknown and need the exercise. I still find it pretty
    heavy going ( i was and am horrendously unfit tho ) and was wandering if this is the right sort of
    bike for it's intended use. Couple of questions:-

    1) would i be better off with a hybrid - if so could anyone suggest some good makes.
    2) as most of my cycling is on the lanes are there better tyres i could be using - i still have the
    original knobbly ones on.
    3) my knees suffer quiet a lot - i've adjusted the saddle/handlebars a fair bit but can't seem to
    fix it - any suggestions.

    Any help would be much appreciateced

    Jon
     
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  2. "Jon Marshall" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...

    > i recently purchased a mtb ( not expensive one ) and have been using it regularly for the last
    > couple of months or so. It's mainly used for
    country
    > lanes etc. and a bit of off-road ( but nothing serious ) - i like
    wandering
    > off into the unknown and need the exercise. I still find it pretty heavy going ( i was and am
    > horrendously unfit tho ) and was wandering if this is the right sort of bike for it's intended
    > use. Couple of questions:-
    >
    > 1) would i be better off with a hybrid - if so could anyone suggest some good makes.

    As I said in a recent post, I am very impressed with my Marin bear valley hybrid, and having ridden
    it quite a bit I am a firm convert to hybrids, but this is probably not suited to country lanes with
    thorns & hedge trimmings to puncture those narrow slick tyres!

    > 2) as most of my cycling is on the lanes are there better tyres i could be using - i still have
    > the original knobbly ones on.

    Using knobbly tyres *on* road will sap *loads* of energy! Having said that if you do a lot of
    cycling on "lanes" you will find a lot of things which will puncture tyres if those lanes do not
    carry much traffic, so getting slick tyres could get you more punctures.
     
  3. Nc

    Nc Guest

    "Jon Marshall" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Hi all
    >
    > i recently purchased a mtb ( not expensive one ) and have been using it regularly for the last
    > couple of months or so. It's mainly used for
    country
    > lanes etc. and a bit of off-road ( but nothing serious ) - i like
    wandering
    > off into the unknown and need the exercise. I still find it pretty heavy going ( i was and am
    > horrendously unfit tho ) and was wandering if this is the right sort of bike for it's intended
    > use. Couple of questions:-
    >
    > 1) would i be better off with a hybrid - if so could anyone suggest some good makes.

    Unless your current bike is either *very* heavy (eg. super-cheap full suspension model, or made of
    old bedstead) or totally the wrong size, I would stick with it and adjust it to suit your riding.
    Much cheaper than changing for yet another, which might also be not quite right.

    If its hard to move along the flat, consider whether the bearings in the wheels, pedals or bottom
    bracket need adjustment or lubrication (or even the chain needs a clean and oil ? !). Well adjusted
    bearings can make a huge difference to cycling effort.

    > 2) as most of my cycling is on the lanes are there better tyres i could be using - i still have
    > the original knobbly ones on.

    For what you're describing, fit fairly smooth tyres. I routinely ride a tourer with slick 28mm tyres
    on bridleways (fat by racing standards, very skinny by MTB standards), a fatter nearly smooth tyre
    on a MTB rim will be fine in all but the most extreme conditions.

    Pump the tyres up hard - depends what it says on the tyre, but 80psi might not be a bad starting
    point. A "track pump" with a pressure gauge for pumping tyres at home is a good investment - you'll
    wonder why you put up with a normal pump.

    > 3) my knees suffer quiet a lot - i've adjusted the saddle/handlebars a
    fair
    > bit but can't seem to fix it - any suggestions.

    Look up the rule of thumb for saddle height, eg. Sheldon Brown's website
    (ie. check the numbers I'm giving). Take your crotch to floor measurement. Set the saddle so that
    from a pedal at the base of its stroke to the top of the saddle is 109% of the measurement you
    took (yes it looks high!). Then ride for a few days, and adjust from there, with adjustments of
    the order of .25in. Adjust your handlebars to suit where you are sitting.

    Make sure you pedal quickly and in a low gear. Aim for at least 60rpm, ideally a bit higher,
    80-90rpm would be fine. Don't be tempted to slog along in a high gear with low number of pedal
    strokes per minute.

    If you've got short legs, consider whether you should change the pedal cranks for ones with a
    shorter throw. You can get 160mm and even 150mm cranks for around £30-£40 for the set, including
    three chainrings. (Normal cranks are typically 170mm long).

    NC
     
  4. Smudger

    Smudger Guest

    "Jon Marshall" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Hi all
    >
    > i recently purchased a mtb ( not expensive one ) and have been using it regularly for the last
    > couple of months or so. It's mainly used for
    country
    > lanes etc. and a bit of off-road ( but nothing serious ) - i like
    wandering
    > off into the unknown and need the exercise. I still find it pretty heavy going ( i was and am
    > horrendously unfit tho ) and was wandering if this is the right sort of bike for it's intended
    > use. Couple of questions:-
    >
    > 1) would i be better off with a hybrid - if so could anyone suggest some good makes.
    > 2) as most of my cycling is on the lanes are there better tyres i could be using - i still have
    > the original knobbly ones on.
    > 3) my knees suffer quiet a lot - i've adjusted the saddle/handlebars a
    fair
    > bit but can't seem to fix it - any suggestions.
    >
    >
    > Any help would be much appreciateced
    >
    > Jon
    >
    >
    >
    You really must get your position sorted before you can cycle any serious distance.

    Try this site for some help:

    http://www.camcycle.org.uk/newsletters/33/article24.html

    Make sure you use all your gears. If your pootling around on muddy lanes you should be twidding a
    very easy gear. This will give you more control for the technical bits etc. and will be easier on
    your knees.

    Knobbly tyres are best for the lanes but as others will point out they'll kill your speed and energy
    on the road (but you'll get fit fast!).

    Get that position right though.
     
  5. Eatmorepies

    Eatmorepies Guest

    > For what you're describing, fit fairly smooth tyres. I routinely ride a tourer with slick 28mm
    > tyres on bridleways (fat by racing standards, very skinny by MTB standards), a fatter nearly
    > smooth tyre on a MTB rim will be fine in all but the most extreme conditions.
    >
    > Pump the tyres up hard - depends what it says on the tyre, but 80psi might not be a bad starting
    > point. A "track pump" with a pressure gauge for pumping tyres at home is a good investment -
    > you'll wonder why you put up with a normal pump.
    >
    > > 3) my knees suffer quiet a lot - i've adjusted the saddle/handlebars a
    > fair
    > > bit but can't seem to fix it - any suggestions.
    >
    > Look up the rule of thumb for saddle height, eg. Sheldon Brown's website
    > (ie. check the numbers I'm giving). Take your crotch to floor measurement. Set the saddle so that
    > from a pedal at the base of its stroke to the top
    of
    > the saddle is 109% of the measurement you took (yes it looks high!). Then ride for a few days, and
    > adjust from there, with adjustments of the order
    of
    > .25in. Adjust your handlebars to suit where you are sitting.
    >
    > Make sure you pedal quickly and in a low gear. Aim for at least 60rpm, ideally a bit higher,
    > 80-90rpm would be fine. Don't be tempted to slog
    along
    > in a high gear with low number of pedal strokes per minute.

    I agree, get the fit right by referring to any one of several books/Sheldon Brown.

    But the big things are; pump the tyres up hard and use low gears. Fitness will follow as night
    follows day.

    John
     
  6. "NC" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...

    > Pump the tyres up hard - depends what it says on the tyre, but 80psi might not be a bad starting
    > point. A "track pump" with a pressure gauge for pumping tyres at home is a good investment -
    > you'll wonder why you put up with a normal pump.

    This will probably be one of my next purchases, as I'm not kidding but the bike shop have pumped up
    my tyres so they are as hard as steel no kidding! I don't know how long they will keep this pressure
    but it sure makes for low rolling resistance.

    > Make sure you pedal quickly and in a low gear. Aim for at least 60rpm, ideally a bit higher,
    > 80-90rpm would be fine. Don't be tempted to slog
    along
    > in a high gear with low number of pedal strokes per minute.

    I'm always amazed at the number of cyclists who use a very low cadence. They must be under the
    assumption that they are doing *less* work riding this way, but I'm sure that for a given speed
    using a low candence must use far more energy.

    Finally I have not used toe clips for many years and have forgotten just how much easier they make
    cycling as of course it means one leg is helping the other by pulling up while the other is
    pushing down.
     
  7. W K

    W K Guest

    "Adrian Boliston" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > "Jon Marshall" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    > news:[email protected]...
    >
    > > i recently purchased a mtb ( not expensive one ) and have been using it regularly for the last
    > > couple of months or so. It's mainly used for
    > country
    > > lanes etc. and a bit of off-road ( but nothing serious ) - i like
    > wandering
    <...>
    > > 2) as most of my cycling is on the lanes are there better tyres i could
    be
    > > using - i still have the original knobbly ones on.
    >
    > Using knobbly tyres *on* road will sap *loads* of energy!

    Which is good... saves you having to find big hills for this purpose!!!

    >Having said that if you do a lot of cycling on "lanes" you will find a lot of things which will
    >puncture tyres if those lanes do not carry much traffic, so getting slick tyres could get you more
    >punctures.

    The originals on a dead cheap bike? Very probably not. ( soft rubber etc.etc.). The common slicks
    seen are specialized ES. They might be horrible, but horrible as old boots, and tough as old boots
    too, so better than many knobblies.

    A bike equipped with such things will do just as much as a hybrid, and I'd rekon will do a good job
    until you're doing 30 mile days out or many hours a week. At this point you might have more of an
    idea as to which way you'll want to go with your next bike. Although to be honest this didn't work
    for me, I still don't know, and so I got a slightly more expensive MTB and put slicks on it.
     
  8. Mark

    Mark Guest

    "Jon Marshall" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Hi all
    -snip-
    > 3) my knees suffer quiet a lot - i've adjusted the saddle/handlebars a
    fair
    > bit but can't seem to fix it - any suggestions.
    As a number of posters have pointed out, proper position on the bike and full use of all the gears,
    especially the lower ones, are key factors in protecting your knees. A third factor, IMHO, is
    keeping your knees warm and protected from wind. Any time the temperature is below about 20 deg C I
    wear tights or some kind of long pants when cycling- I've noticed a big difference in how my knees
    feel after a ride since I started doing this.

    How unfit is "horrendously unfit"? If you have been seriously overweight for some time then your
    knees will have taken a beating just from supporting all that extra weight. Do you feel that your
    knees are being injured by your cycling or are they just being strained as you exercise and improve
    your overall condition?

    HTH - mark
     
  9. Pete Biggs

    Pete Biggs Guest

    Jon Marshall wrote:
    > i recently purchased a mtb ( not expensive one ) and have been using it regularly for the last
    > couple of months or so. It's mainly used for country lanes etc. and a bit of off-road ( but
    > nothing serious )
    > - i like wandering off into the unknown and need the exercise. I still find it pretty heavy going
    > ( i was and am horrendously unfit tho ) and was wandering if this is the right sort of bike for
    > it's intended use. Couple of questions:-
    >
    > 1) would i be better off with a hybrid

    Perhaps slightly but I would persevere with the mtb for a bit longer at least. What model is it? You
    might be better off with a lighter bike (hybrid or mtb) if it's a heavy cheap one with suspension.

    > 2) as most of my cycling is on the lanes are there better tyres i could be using - i still have
    > the original knobbly ones on.

    Yes. As long as the bit of off-roading you are doing is not very rough or muddy, I recommend 1.5"
    Schwalbe City Jets. They'll give you a faster, safer and more enjoyable ride on road and they're
    reasonably tough and practical (and inexpensive). See: www.wiggle.co.uk - tyres - mtb road
    Alternatively, you might like dual-purpose tyres with some knobbly bits on the sides.

    > 3) my knees suffer quiet a lot - i've adjusted the saddle/handlebars a fair bit but can't seem to
    > fix it - any suggestions.

    I agree with the advice given about saddle height (high - although leg shouldn't ever be dead
    straight) and using the gears well and not pushing like mad.

    Different (type or model) pedals might help if using toe clips or clipless pedals to allow more
    "float" (free rotation).

    ~PB
     
  10. Bikingbill

    Bikingbill Guest

    I don't think the cadence (pedal rpm) makes any difference to the energy used. Energy used is
    basically the weight you are shifting (rider plus bike so pretty constant) times the distance
    travelled. So distance is what matters. Using a high cadence means you are putting less energy into
    each pedal stroke by doing more strokes. The effect of this is to put less overall strain on your
    musculo-skeletal system. The other thing is to keep warm. Cold muscles are inefficient and prone to
    injury. It is easier to cool down if you overheat than it is to warm up if you chill. HTH, Bill

    Two wheels are cool but four's a bore.
     
  11. Dave Kahn

    Dave Kahn Guest

    "NC" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...

    > Make sure you pedal quickly and in a low gear. Aim for at least 60rpm, ideally a bit higher,
    > 80-90rpm would be fine. Don't be tempted to slog along in a high gear with low number of pedal
    > strokes per minute.

    This is particulary important if Jon has knee problems. I would suggest even 60 is too low. Cyclists
    have known for over a century that a high cadence is required for efficient cycling. To new cyclists
    this seems wrong as they find they get out of breath quickly, and a lower cadence / higher gear
    feels gentler in spite of the protesting knees. Sports scientists have also been known to get this
    wrong. John Forrester has a good article on this at
    http://www.johnforester.com/Articles/Cycling/Physiology.htm .

    --
    Dave...
     
  12. Tony W

    Tony W Guest

    "Dave Kahn" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...

    > > Make sure you pedal quickly and in a low gear. Aim for at least 60rpm, ideally a bit higher,
    > > 80-90rpm would be fine. Don't be tempted to slog
    along
    > > in a high gear with low number of pedal strokes per minute.
    >
    > This is particulary important if Jon has knee problems. I would suggest even 60 is too low.
    > Cyclists have known for over a century that a high cadence is required for efficient cycling. To
    > new cyclists this seems wrong as they find they get out of breath quickly, and a lower cadence /
    > higher gear feels gentler in spite of the protesting knees. Sports scientists have also been known
    > to get this wrong. John Forrester has a good article on this at
    > http://www.johnforester.com/Articles/Cycling/Physiology.htm .

    These suggestions of a higher cadence to reduce stress on the knees are most certainly valid.
    However, if the OP has an established style of low cadence, high torque cycling he may find it both
    uncomfortable and tiring to try to switch immediately to the style recommended.

    I know when I made this switch a few years ago it was a gradual process rather than a Road
    to Damascus conversion -- and even today, on long flat stretches, I can revert to my earlier
    bad habits.

    I would strongly recommend the OP to lower his gear. Initially, I would not worry too much about
    cadence -- lowering the gear ration will reduce the torque and so the stress placed on the bones &
    muscles -- in particular on his knees. OK, initially he will cycle slower -- but his cadence will
    increase naturally as he becomes more familiar with his new cycling style.

    My method of achieving this change was simple. For several weeks I banned to use of the big
    chain-ring -- moving from my earlier norm of only using the middle and granny 'once in a blue moon'
    to simply never using the big ring.

    (The only problem was when cycling in a group when my reduced speed became obvious -- but, by
    maintaining the ban on the big ring I forced myself to pedal faster).

    Once my style had changed I allowed the big ring again but now live in lower gears most of the time.

    T
     
  13. Pete Biggs

    Pete Biggs Guest

    Tony W wrote:
    > These suggestions of a higher cadence to reduce stress on the knees are most certainly valid.
    > However, if the OP has an established style of low cadence, high torque cycling he may find it
    > both uncomfortable and tiring to try to switch immediately to the style recommended.

    I agree, and just a _small_ increase in cadence (or reduction in force/speed) can help a lot.

    If selecting the next gear down often feels uncomfortable (legs whizzing round too fast), then
    changing the cassette (sprocket set at the back) for one with closer ratios can do the trick.
    However, to get the most out of these, you do need to change gear very frequently as the gradient
    changes, and I accept that not everyone would enjoy doing that (or is prepared to make sacrifices to
    the range, or change chainrings, to get closer gears). Works very well for /my/ legs and knees,
    though. I now pedal much happier with 9-speed 13-26 (and similar) blocks than I ever did with my old
    6-speed 14-32.

    ~PB
     
  14. bikingbill <[email protected]> wrote:
    >I don't think the cadence (pedal rpm) makes any difference to the energy used. Energy used is
    >basically the weight you are shifting (rider plus bike so pretty constant) times the distance
    >travelled.

    No, not at all. Even with a not entirely bogus formula for energy - which you don't have - you'd
    disregard efficiency, which is the real question here.
    --
    David Damerell <[email protected]> Kill the tomato!
     
  15. Smudger

    Smudger Guest

    "David Damerell" <[email protected]> wrote in message
    news:Ez*[email protected]...
    > bikingbill <[email protected]> wrote:
    > >I don't think the cadence (pedal rpm) makes any difference to the energy used. Energy used is
    > >basically the weight you are shifting (rider plus
    bike
    > >so pretty constant) times the distance travelled.
    >
    > No, not at all. Even with a not entirely bogus formula for energy - which you don't have - you'd
    > disregard efficiency, which is the real question here.
    > --
    > David Damerell <[email protected]> Kill the tomato!

    Absolutely. Twiddling is the way to go. More efficient, better, faster and more stylish.
     
  16. Smudger

    Smudger Guest

    "Pete Biggs" <pLime{remove_fruit}@biggs.tc> wrote in message
    news:[email protected]...
    > Tony W wrote:
    > > These suggestions of a higher cadence to reduce stress on the knees are most certainly valid.
    > > However, if the OP has an established style of low cadence, high torque cycling he may find it
    > > both uncomfortable and tiring to try to switch immediately to the style recommended.
    >
    > I agree, and just a _small_ increase in cadence (or reduction in force/speed) can help a lot.
    >
    > If selecting the next gear down often feels uncomfortable (legs whizzing round too fast), then
    > changing the cassette (sprocket set at the back) for one with closer ratios can do the trick.
    > However, to get the most out of these, you do need to change gear very frequently as the gradient
    > changes, and I accept that not everyone would enjoy doing that (or is prepared to make sacrifices
    > to the range, or change chainrings, to get closer gears). Works very well for /my/ legs and knees,
    > though. I now pedal much happier with 9-speed 13-26 (and similar) blocks than I ever did with my
    > old 6-speed 14-32.
    >
    > ~PB
    >
    >

    Easy answer - ride a fixed gear.
     
  17. Eric Nolan

    Eric Nolan Guest

    I previously had a Raleigh Max, which was pretty cheap and nasty. Calling it a MTB would probably be
    a bit misleading, probably better to say it was a cheap MTB-lookalike. When I decided to start
    cycling again I traded that in for a hybrid which was more than twice the price. The difference was
    night and day, but I am sure that many factors contributed to that. A much dearer MTB would probably
    have been a lot better too.

    My tyres are treaded but not very much so. I'm convinced that going to these from knobblies was a
    large part of the improvement. When these ones wear out I might replace the back one with an almost
    completely slick tyre and see how that goes. Unless you are burning to get a new bike I'd replace
    your existing tyres with something a bit more road friendly and see how much of a difference that
    makes. I don't cycle on any dirt tracks (or worse) but I do encounter a lot of major potholes, glass
    and miscellaneous crap in the road. I've had three punctures in 1400 miles. One sliver of glass
    somehow weaseled its way in to the front tyre and multiply slashed the tube, one 4 inch screw that
    went in to the back tyre and through both sides of the tube (I had to use a pliers to get it out)
    and a pinch flat from riding across one of the 'we dug a trench here and filled it in with tarmac
    and gravel, good enough for us' things, back wheel left the near edge and slammed directly in to the
    far side which was quite sharp. I felt the tyre completely compress and the rim hit the road. Thirty
    seconds later I'm off the bike wondering if I should replace the tube now or walk the rest of the
    way. What I'm saying is that I think that's a pretty good record for punctures and at least two of
    them knobblies probably wouldn't have helped. Keep them at high pressure though, I bought a track
    pump and it's very very handy.

    As far as your knees go, the advice from earlier posters is all excellent. It might just take you a
    while to get used to it though. My arse was constantly complaining for three weeks, my knees and
    legs for about six (less strident complaints but longer lasting). This was probably a result of
    going from 0 to 18 miles a day with no real working up to it. It may just be taking your body a
    while to get used to the excercise.

    Eric.
     
  18. Pete Biggs

    Pete Biggs Guest

    Smudger wrote:
    >
    > Easy answer - ride a fixed gear.

    Answer to the question: "what is the last thing I want to do?" :)

    ~PB
     
  19. James Hodson

    James Hodson Guest

    On Wed, 26 Mar 2003 22:47:20 -0000, "Adrian Boliston" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >I'm always amazed at the number of cyclists who use a very low cadence. They must be under the
    >assumption that they are doing *less* work riding this way, but I'm sure that for a given speed
    >using a low candence must use far more energy.
    >

    Hi Adrian

    I do, of course, agree with you. However, a few days ago, on my way home from my local set of shops,
    I was overtaken by a chap (far younger than me) riding a hardtail MTB; I was on my road bike. Also,
    the wind was behind me, which helped. Anyway, I was in his slipstream and to keep the speed I wanted
    to go had to pedal about one rev every fifty or sixty yards.

    Bliss.

    James

    --
    A credit limit is NOT a target.
     
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