The Chainlink

i want to ride more and get better ... is my bike holding me back?

i really love riding my bike. would i love riding a different bike more? would a different bike make riding easier? i'm here because i'd like input from people who aren't trying to sell me a bike (unless someone has the perfect used ride for me in their garage).

currently riding a dahon foldie - which i love. it fits me well and is really cute. 

i tried three bikes today. Trek Lexa: loved how light and quick it was, but can't ride anything so bent over. Trek Hybrid 7.3Fx: liked it a lot, solved the bending over issue. Marin Bridgeway: loved it, but too hard on my knees, not enough extension; also didn't feel as light and quick as the lexa.

based on this first round, hybrid was the best combination of comfort and performance. i loved the lexa - but it's probably off the table because of some health issues (see below).

none of them was terribly expensive, but i'm not sure i really need a $700 - $900 bike. a used bike would be great. i don't know or care about brands (yet).

i'm 5'4"/102lbs - i was trying 15" bikes and they seemed to be the right fit.

i have severe joint problems (special snowflake issues here) so need to sit upright as much as possible to reduce stress on back and neck, but also get as much leg extension as i can to reduce stress on knees. i also have a really short torso and very long legs. i don't want to go into much detail, but these are severe chronic problems so there is no wiggle room nor is it a matter of getting used to a new fit.

combine two previous points and: i need a relatively light bike. the bikes i rode today were all light. it was nice. my foldie, EFRON, is at the upper end of what i'd need (25lbs or so).

i'm a very beginning rider. i am also old and broken down so have no aspirations of racing or riding centuries or whatever bullshit. just want to get around town, do some group rides. under these circumstances do i even need a new bike?

i've been to uptown and working bikes but don't know what to ask for. i found a seller who has some used marins (bobcat trail) for a great price, but is that what i'm looking for? it's almost two hours away, so i don't want to go all the way out there and realize no dice.

tl;dr ... is it time for a different bike? do i have to spend a fortune? am i too special a snowflake for that answer to be no?


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thanks for the quick response.

at the store, i told the guy i didn't get enough extension when i pedaled (my knees were always quite bent). i asked him if i needed a bigger size or the seat raised ...  he said it was a function of how the comfort bikes are built. so that's what i was going on.

 

i ride a dahon eco 7 speed.

 

i say need only because i feel like riding my bike takes a lot of effort. i wonder if there's another bike that suits my particular needs but will let me ride a little faster and a little further. i don't ride much, so a little could mean a big difference (cost is part of that equation). right now i ride maybe 5 miles SLOWLY at a time - and that's work for me. i have never passed another rider. does that give a better frame of reference?

 

i'm not determined to get a hybrid - of the three i tried today, the hybrid was a decent middle ground. but i'm not sure it was a $600 middle ground. i'm absolutely not sold on it - i have absolutely no idea what bike fits my bill and am looking for any advice to get me started.

thanks!

 

I'm sure people will tell you that it all comes down to personal preference which is true. From the sounds of it you want something light and quick but need to be upright. It is possible to find a bike that you like or make some changes to the bike you already have in order to make an ok bike perfect. A few things to consider are the stem, bars, and seat. If the bars are too low and stretched out look for a stem that is shorter and angled up. If you have a set of drop handle bars you might be better with a moustache or flat bars. If you still need more hight look into some risers. If that is still too stretched out look into some cruiser bars. Finally if you are going from forward to an up right position on a bike look into a larger seat. A small seat will hurt when sitting upright.

 

You don't need to spend an arm and a leg to get something that will work for you. I hope some other people can give better examples but you might want to look at the windsor essex listed below. It's pretty cheap and might get you in the right riding position. It's got a coaster break and is single speed which might not be what you are looking. I'm also not sure about the weight.

 

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/essex.htm

 

I have a few folding bikes, though no Dahon, which I use in preference to regular bikes, and it seems likely that you can get your current bike to be as comfortable as anything by adjusting the seat forward, up, down and backward, maybe changing the seat, maybe adjusting the location or type of handlebars. A folding bike has a nice low step through usually and you can often rig it to carry as much as a regular bike, plus it folds. Plus you already have it. As for the gears and so on, a different bike might have more but this is a flat city and a small selection of gears is probably simple and sufficient. 

So my 2 cents would be to think of ways to spiff up your existing bike first. I'd probably go to Rapid Transit since they sell Dahon and lots of other folders, though the other 2 shops you mention are also among my favorites, and I'd resist any suggestion to buy a new bike until you're sure the folder won't work. Ask them to help you optimize your riding position for comfort, describe what you think would be perfect, and be ready to buy a seatpost, a seat, a stem or a handlebar if that's what it takes. It'll be less than $600.

Another thing that I found was holding me back last winter was old bearings - it's amazing how much better you roll when they're greased! Maybe true the wheels if they're dragging on the brakes, be sure the tires are firm - it might roll better than you think.

If you have back and neck issues, you might want to look into recumbents.  But those won't be cheap.

Adult Tricycle SUN recumbent (Lockport)

http://chicago.craigslist.org/wcl/bik/2423915950.html

Adult tricycle --Sun EZ-3sx--21 speed.Very good condition-shunting seat for small & tall- young & old people.
-ready to ride.If riding a tricycle is easy and comfortable.

Wheel Base: 56.5"
* Overall Length: 73"
* Width: 30.5"
* Seat Height: 22"
* Weight: 56 lbs
* Weight Limit: 300lbs

Price: 570$
Question please call; -- 773-418--2378--

a trike might fit the bill if only you didn't have to lift it.

I think I need to be more clear - my current bike is extremely comfortable, fits my body perfectly and is light enough for now. I'm worried that because of the smaller wheels and such that I'm spending too much energy for the speed and distance I'm getting. 

Is it efficient? Would a lighter bike with thinner, bigger tires be easier to ride? Would I go faster and farther than I do on my little foldie? The first Trex was so much faster and easier to ride - but it wasn't comfortable because I had to ride bending over. 

I don't want a new bike. I love my bike. Is there a more efficient and comparably comfortable bike out there for me? I am completely comfortable if the answer is that I'm a shitty rider.  I've been accused of worse. 

Thanks. 

knowbody said:

Adult Tricycle SUN recumbent (Lockport)

http://chicago.craigslist.org/wcl/bik/2423915950.html

Adult tricycle --Sun EZ-3sx--21 speed.Very good condition-shunting seat for small & tall- young & old people.
-ready to ride.If riding a tricycle is easy and comfortable.

Wheel Base: 56.5"
* Overall Length: 73"
* Width: 30.5"
* Seat Height: 22"
* Weight: 56 lbs
* Weight Limit: 300lbs

Price: 570$
Question please call; -- 773-418--2378--

a trike might fit the bill if only you didn't have to lift it.

Oh - FWIW, bike is in perfect shape, everything is inflated, trued, lubed, etc. My bike is awesome. I am the problem - I want to be sure I'm riding the bike that maximizes my lameness (literally and figuratively). 

Your bike is fine. 

 

Tire size issues are offset by the gearing of the bike.

 

If it fits and you are comfortable on it unless you move to a road style bike (super light, drop bars, etc...) you are not going to really gain anything.  In fact if you go to a cruiser or comfort style bike you may well loose gearing options and end up with larger tires that have greater rolling resistance.

Awesome, thanks. I got the same info this weekend, but then the sales guys threw me off (their job, I guess). The test ride on the first bike was really slick and glidey, which also got me thinking twice. 

notoriousDUG said:

Your bike is fine. 

 

Tire size issues are offset by the gearing of the bike.

 

If it fits and you are comfortable on it unless you move to a road style bike (super light, drop bars, etc...) you are not going to really gain anything.  In fact if you go to a cruiser or comfort style bike you may well loose gearing options and end up with larger tires that have greater rolling resistance.

This is why you should never go to a bike 'mega-store' type place; they want to sell you a bike they have in the shop, make some numbers and win a sales contest.  Small shops that rely on service and repeat customers will tend to steer you to what you need regardless of their desire to sell a bike.

Ironika Leigh said:
Awesome, thanks. I got the same info this weekend, but then the sales guys threw me off (their job, I guess). The test ride on the first bike was really slick and glidey, which also got me thinking twice. 

notoriousDUG said:

Your bike is fine. 

 

Tire size issues are offset by the gearing of the bike.

 

If it fits and you are comfortable on it unless you move to a road style bike (super light, drop bars, etc...) you are not going to really gain anything.  In fact if you go to a cruiser or comfort style bike you may well loose gearing options and end up with larger tires that have greater rolling resistance.

i was actually at a small neighborhood store. they have never tried to upsell me in the past - and told me i didn't need a tune up for EFRON. so, no fleecing. i've been going since they opened last year.

I did not think there were any 'small' Trek stores because of the volume rules trek has when it comes to being a dealer...

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