Newly obsessed, totally in the dark, can't afford to waste money, need bike advice :)

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by moonpool, Sep 17, 2012.

  1. moonpool

    moonpool New Member

    Sep 17, 2012
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    Ok, the stats: female,44yo, 5'8' 210, riding on country asphalt (speed limits 35mph - few cars in an hours' riding time), riding solely for fitness/weight loss, will never race, ride down serious mountain trails or do anything tremendously extreme. I am already reasonably fit - riding 10-20 miles is not hard for me in the slightest (ok, my butt hurts). Top concerns are safety (there are deep ditches on the sides of the roads I ride on - 18-36 inches deep everywhere), handling, cost.

    I am riding a large, heavy, full suspension mountain bike - it's a beast and even I know it's not the right choice, but it is what I have and I will continue to use it for a few months until I prove this latest obsession of mine is sticking. Even with this grossly inappropriate metal monster beneath me I am ecstatic every time I ride. I have severely arthritic knees and this has returned a level of athleticism to me that has been absent for the past few years (I'm a former all-American soccer player). I have four kids and one income to the household, so spending this kind of money on myself is completely unheard of and I don't want to waste it. I have zero idea where to even start, aside from going to the LBS, but I hate going somewhere like that completely "cold" and sounding like an idiot.

    I have been riding about 8-10 miles three to five times a week, goal of 13-15 miles at the same frequency, and would like to get my mph up from the rather pedestrian 11mph that I average now on our hilly terrain. Basically I want to bust my butt for an hour minimum, be stronger, be fitter, but above all feel and be safe out on these back roads. So where do I start???

  2. Brian in VA

    Brian in VA New Member

    Jul 10, 2011
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    First, congrats on finding the joy of cycling to help return your fitness! I've been riding in earnest for about a year and it's really quite amazing to me, too.

    For what it's worth, I think you need to make a list of your goals and prioritize them. I started out riding a hybrid and while it was very comfortable to ride, I found myself stuck at about 15 mph for an average speed and because I was so upright, the wind resistance I felt was demoralizing.

    Going to a road bike will enable you to ride more efficiently and make the hills easier to climb. As far as handling, I'm not sure I'm qualified to comment but I can tell you than my road bike seems much quicker to move out of the way of an approaching vehicle. (I ducked one last week that I thought was going to hit me for sure.) No matter what bike you get, you'll want to stay out of those ditches you described; even a MTB diving into one of those doesn't sound much like fun to me.

    If you go to a LBS, you should be able to understand everything that is available. You might even be able to get a test ride to better understand what feel good to you. At minimum, you'll probably be spending $600 if you decide to buy something there. That is one route to go. It has a great deal of value to helping you understand is your proper size and fit, as well as what the different types of bike are and, more importantly, how they feel to ride. While all bikes look basically the same, the don't all feel the same. Subtle differences can make a big different in ones comfort.

    Another method is to search Craigslist for a used bike. When I made the decision to buy a road bike, I went this route as I wasn't sure I was going to stick with it, either. I lucked out and got a 15 year old Giant, carbon frame road bike that was mechanically sound for $200 including clip in pedals and shoes. I spent some time adjusting everything to fit me, eventually took it to a mechanic for a complete once over to ensure all was well as I'd decided to ride a century and wanted to make sure it wouldn't let me down. That cost me about $250 as I got new tires and a new stem to make it just a little more upright. (There are a number of threads in this forum to help you figure out what size bike you'll need. Start there and then adjust.) Since then, a year or so ago, I've put about 1600 miles on it and it's been an absolute joy.

    In any case, your best purchase will be one that is comfortable, mechanically sound, and feels right to you.

    Good luck and keep up apprised of what you find!

    Enjoy the ride!

    Brian in VA
  3. jpr95

    jpr95 Active Member

    Oct 11, 2010
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    If the point is to get fit, who cares whether the bike is easy or hard to ride? The "route" to getting fitter is to exert some level of effort for some amount of time. If you ride 11 MPH for 50 minutes now, a lighter bike may mean that you have to ride 13 MPH for 50 minutes to get the same benefit. BUT, I doubt the difference would be that much even.

    I'd save your money for now. It's far more beneficial to lose the weight off your body than your bike right now. I doubt that you would be even remotely comfortable on a road bike that puts you in a more aerodynamic position. I'm 6'0", 183 lbs., and when I'm riding my drops on my road bike, my legs still hit my (still-shrinking) gut a little bit--but not as much as 2.5 years ago.

    Besides, the slower you ride, for a given amount of ride time, the closer you are to home should you have a major mechanical breakdown.

    My point is that effort (power) level means far more to fitness than speed does. A lighter bike only lightens your wallet.
  4. Dave Cutter

    Dave Cutter Active Member

    Jan 15, 2012
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    I returned to cycling when a foot problem was keeping me from walking.... more than to or from the car. Driving home one day I saw a used bike for sale and thought... at least I could get outside. After I bought the old used bike a friend that was moving away gave me a road bike ( getting rid of excess stuff).

    It seems like everyone has a used bicycle hanging in the garage.

    As other recognize your obsession with bicycling you may find yourself offered cheap or free bicycles of lighter weight. Keep reading here and at other forums and you'll pick-up lots of bicycle knowledge. If you live in an area that has winter down-time... the off season is a good time to watch cycling DVDs and borrow cycling books from the library.