Young Old-Lady Newbie Looking for Help in Choosing What Bike to Use on First Bike Tour -- My First



SierraSlim

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Oct 4, 2010
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[COLOR= #0000ff][SIZE= 11px]Hey, Y'all! I'm so glad I found you![/COLOR][/SIZE]

[COLOR= #0000ff][SIZE= 11px]I'm a 59-year-old overweight female (don't hang up on me just yet, please, lol) who just rediscovered the love of biking this past summer, after having not ridden one since I was 12! Since I started riding on August 11, I have gone from having my most strenuous exercise be lifting the lever of my recliner and walking to the fridge, to riding 7 miles a day at 10-12 mph. I know that's laughably few miles for y'all and laughably slow, but for this ex-totally-sedentary, ex-recliner-snoozing gal, it's extraordinary, so no snickers, please. (At least not where I can see them.) /img/vbsmilies/smilies/tongue.gif [/COLOR][/SIZE]

[COLOR= #0000ff][SIZE= 11px]I do have a bike, a 3-year-old Electra Hawaii 3-speed beach cruiser in candy apple red. I named her Freedom because I feel like that's what she has offered me. (Is that too lame for these forums? If so, I'm sorry I'm such a dork.) I love riding her on the bike paths here, and I go riding 5-6 days a week, trying to add about a mile a week to my distance. I don't at this point ride in traffic, other than getting off to cross streets on the bike path. Aside from the apparently typical sore-bottom issue and the helmet hair, I am LOVING cycling!! In the process, I've lost 30 pounds so far, and want to both continue riding and improve my endurance so I can go further (farther???), continue losing weight, and get healthier as I get older, instead of just decaying. In short, I would rather wear out than rust out. [/COLOR][/SIZE]

[COLOR= #0000ff][SIZE= 11px]To that end, my sister and I are planning a 6-day bike tour this-coming summer, probably in June in Idaho. There is a sag-wagon-supported tour for beginners, on flat bike-path-type terrain it says, that we're dying to try. The most miles required in one day is 54, though I gather on that day I could quit or get in the wagon at some point, and only do 27, if I'm dying. Most days are about 30 miles. (But I WANT to ride every mile, and am working on a training schedule to try to be sure I can do so by that point, so I should be a lot less heavy and more fit by tour time.) Nights are spent in a hotel, so I can at least soak aching muscles in a tub and get a good night's sleep. [/COLOR][/SIZE]

[COLOR= #0000ff][SIZE= 11px]MY QUESTION -- and I do apologize for taking so long to get to it -- is: Can I ride my beach cruiser on a bike tour such as this? The tour group does rent bicycles if needed, and I can afford to do so. But if it would work, I would rather take my own. Being so new to biking, I worry that suddenly being on a different bike, indeed a different TYPE of bike, might make it more difficult for me. On rental bikes, how do you know the seat -- er, saddle -- feels good? (Not that mine feels very good now, lol.) I barely know how to change the 3 gears on my bike; would theirs have a lot more and different gears? Are tires different on tour bikes versus cruisers? (I TOLD y'all I was new and ignorant; don't say you weren't forewarned, lol.) [/COLOR][/SIZE]

[COLOR= #0000ff][SIZE= 11px]SECOND QUESTION: If the consensus is that I shouldn't use my cruiser, should I rent one of their bikes for $175 (which seems a bit steep to me, even though I can do it), or spend that much (and more?) toward a different type bike of my own to be used for touring, and train on it until June? I ask because I am anticipating liking this tour so much that I want to do others, at least one a year, in different areas. If you suggest buying a bike for tours, do you have any suggestions for brand/type/price? I have asked a few people this, but their answers are suspect because they all seem to be trying to sell me the bike they want me to use! It seems to me that their eyes light up with dollar signs when they see me wandering around the bike store, confused. But I figure y'all might advise me without trying to get into my pockets, so your advice would be more trustworthy to me. [/COLOR][/SIZE]

[COLOR= #0000ff][SIZE= 11px]I do thank you for any advice you can offer. It will be the miracle of my life if I pull this off, and I'm both excited beyond words plus scared to death of failing; but I think the fear will recede as the training advances and I feel more capable. THANK YOU ALL! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif[/COLOR][/SIZE]
[COLOR= #0000ff][SIZE= 11px]SierraSlim[/COLOR][/SIZE]
 

Steve_A

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Sep 7, 2010
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Welcome Slim! I'm your age and am a transplanted Californian (northern), just for an intro. Congratuations on getting back into cycling. I felt the same way 15 years ago when I got back into it, and I'm re-entering now for the second time. I'll give your questions a try and hopefully others here will chime in. I wouldn't suggest that you use your cruiser for the long tour. Even though you have 3 speeds (better than one!), that bike will hold you back in two ways: rolling resistance and weight. The large tires are wide and comfy, but they probably can only take about 40 psi of air pressure. They are much more resistant to rolling (harder to push along) than narrower tires with 80-100 psi. Also, your bike may weight twice as much as a modern city/comfort/hybrid bike. It wouldn't be bad to train on your bike, you're clearly getting more exercise that way. But for long distances you want efficiency. It's also just more fun to ride a lighter, more responsive bike, and to go a little faster. I'm not saying you should kgo out and buy a racing bike.

So, what to advise? Bike fit is generally acknowledged to be the most important factor. A good bike shop can help you there. The type of bike that I'd ultimately recommend for your tour is a hybrid, or comfort, or city bike (there are many variations which go by many names). It will have a lightweight frame, probably made of aluminun (don't let anyone talk you into paying for expensive carbon fiber), upright handlebars, and probably 7 to 9 speeds on the back wheel and 3 on the front (chainrings). Don't let that scare you. Modern bikes shift incredible well, and you don't have to use any more of the gears than you want to. But they sure do come in handy on the hills. Saddles (seats) can be changed to suit your preferences. Don't automatically go with the softest, widest one you can find. Again, if you buy a bike in a good shop, they should be willing to let you try out a few and swap them out before you buy the bike.

So all of the above would mean that you are dealing with shop, and a new bike. Of course that runs into money. I haven't done a lot of shopping (already have a nice bike), but I'd guess that you're going to be looking in the $700-$1000 range for something that will make you happy in the long run. However, deals are certainly possible, especially at this time of year. Also, bikes depreciate rather quickly, so if you knew what you wanted (or had someone handy to help you), you could do well on Craigslist with a gently-used bike. The more reading and learning you do, the better off you will be. Do some reading in the various threads on this forum. Here are some other websites that contain a wealth of knowledge: Harris Cylery/Sheldon Brown articles; Rivendell Bicycle Works. Both talk about fit and various other topics. Feel free to ask other questions here, or PM me. Have fun!
 

SierraSlim

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Oct 4, 2010
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[COLOR= #0000ff]Steve, thanks for the reply! In addition to my questions above, I was also afraid nobody would answer my question, lol, so I do appreciate it. And the information you provided is great, especially the other links to read (for me, information is power) and the things like not to be talked into carbon fiber -- which sounds like something I would totally fall for, lol. I didn't even know bikes could have different numbers of gears on different wheels, so there is much for me to learn. Your explanation of why not to use my bike was helpful, too; at bike shops they get so technical and so almost snobbish about buying the newest coolest bike that it's off-putting sometimes. [/COLOR]

[COLOR= #0000ff]Again, thanks for the reply. Right now I don't know so much that I don't know what I don't know, so don't know what to ask, if that makes sense, but I'm sure you'll see me sniffing for answers around here if you look on occasionally.[/COLOR]

[COLOR= #0000ff]Have a good one![/COLOR]
 

64Paramount

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Jul 25, 2009
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Welcome aboard, SierraSlim!

Just to add to Steve's good advice here is a link to a Trek WSD bike. WSD stands for Women Specific Design and are supposed to be more exactly tailored to fit women than regular bikes.

I'm not recommending you buy a Trek bike, or this bike in particular, I'm just using it as an example of the type of bikes Steve mentioned.

http://www.trekbikes.com/women/wsd_products/bikes/bike_path/73fxwsd/
 

SierraSlim

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Oct 4, 2010
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[COLOR= #0000ff]Hey, Paramount, thanks for the link. That is one pretty bike! (I know, we're probably not supposed to care if they're pretty or not, huh? Lol, sorry, I can't help it.) [/COLOR]

[COLOR= #0000ff]I did notice that one of the designs on the link was called 'stagger.' Does that just mean it's a women's bike (I see the lower bar), or does that refer to something else?[/COLOR]

[COLOR= #0000ff]Thanks for the welcome, too. I think I'm gonna like it here! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/tongue.gif[/COLOR]
 

Steve_A

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Sep 7, 2010
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Slim, Trek is the largest bike maker in the US, and most likely has the largest number of models available. So they are a logical place to start, at least for information and to see what the bike "universe" is like. There are many other name brands: Specialized, Cannondale, Giant, to name a few. Performance has shops all over and sell their own brands as well as others, including Schwinn. And there's nothing wrong with wanting a pretty bike. Don't ask me how much I've spent to make mine pretty!
 

Steve_A

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Sep 7, 2010
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Not to hog this thread, but I just wanted to say that I may have overestimated what one would spend for bike for Slim and her tour. I was in a shop today and saw decent comfort bikes in the $400 range. Also an acquaintance just got a new bike for about that. Don't know the details, but it's probably a similar bike to what is being discussed. More money gets you lighter weight and better parts. But "better" can be deceiving, because inexpensive modern (at least if they're made by Shimano) parts work incredibly well. So it's kind of a matter of diminishing returns.
 

SierraSlim

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[COLOR= #0000ff]Steve, I'm so glad to hear that, lol. The $500 range is a whole lot more appetizing than twice that, especially for a newbie who doesn't deserve how good a bike she can get yet! I'm already looking around and saw some on REI today that look similar to what you pointed out (with aluminum frames, not carbon fiber) for $499, so maybe I'm on the right track! Thanks again. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/redface.gif[/COLOR]
 

michael2u

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Oct 4, 2010
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First of all, I would like to congratulate you for joining here and I am very happy to hear that even at this age you are ready for the thrill and excitement of cycling. After reading a lot of interesting questions on this forum, I am very much impressed with this cycling forum and also want you all to visit [SIZE= medium][COLOR= #0000ff]www.slanecycles.com [/COLOR]and provide your valuable guidance over there also.[/SIZE]
 
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SierraSlim

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Oct 4, 2010
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[COLOR= #0000ff]Hey, Michael, thanks! I'm impressed that I'm tackling this new life at this age, tool! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/tongue.gif I got an email from a friend today who wanted to know who I was and what I had done with the old, sedentary Sierra, lol. I should tell her that Sierra died and went to biker heaven![/COLOR]

[COLOR= #0000ff]I will definitely go to your link and check things out. I just finished reading 15 pages of biking tips for road bikes here, and it was so informative! The problem for me is that I'm so ignorant that every bit of new information just brings up more questions. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif But eventually I'll get there. I DO wish I hadn't learned about snot rockets... some people are just SO gross, and now I'll be afraid to ever bike behind another guy,lol. [/COLOR]

[COLOR= #0000ff]Anyway, welcome to these forums. I hope to see posts from you often. [/COLOR]
 

64Paramount

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Jul 25, 2009
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Originally Posted by SierraSlim .

[COLOR= #0000ff]Hey, Paramount, thanks for the link. That is one pretty bike! (I know, we're probably not supposed to care if they're pretty or not, huh? Lol, sorry, I can't help it.) [/COLOR]

[COLOR= #0000ff]I did notice that one of the designs on the link was called 'stagger.' Does that just mean it's a women's bike (I see the lower bar), or does that refer to something else?[/COLOR]

[COLOR= #0000ff]Thanks for the welcome, too. I think I'm gonna like it here! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/tongue.gif[/COLOR]

Oh yes, we definitely care if a bike is pretty or not. I have 2 very pretty bikes myself. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/smile.gif

Any of the bikes in that link are women's bikes, the Stagger model just has that lower top bar, which I personally don't care for, but I suppose it might be appealing to some.

If you want to see all of the different Trek Women's specific bikes, use this link and then click Road, Triathalon, Mountain, etc. A new pop up window will open with all the models in each category :

http://www.trekbikes.com/women/wsd_products/bikes/
 

SierraSlim

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Oct 4, 2010
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[COLOR= #0000ff]Thanks again for the reply! I love the link you provided, and will be spending some serious time looking through it.[/COLOR]

[COLOR= #0000ff]I do think I like the stagger design, but that's probably a chick thing. Heck, I wish women's bikes still had the lower, step-through design so I wouldn't have to lift my decrepit old legs over those high bars, lol. What the hey -- it's exercise, as long as I don't get stuck in that position. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/rolleyes.gif [/COLOR]

[COLOR= #0000ff]Craigslist here has quite a few Treks for sale, as well as some of the other brands suggested, so I'm perusing that, too. I'm just not sure whether I should buy a new bike so I have a shop to gripe at if something goes wrong (and maybe a warranty???).[/COLOR]

[COLOR= #0000ff]Will keep lookin'. Have a happy.[/COLOR]