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Bike Searching

By lloydincanberra - 18 March 2014 49

Hiya. I am looking to get into cycling (the non lycra type!). I am overweight and havent ridden in a hundred years. Does anyone know what a good bike would be for the likes of me? I have researched and it seems that 36> spokes is the go as well as a damn comfortable seat!! I intend to start really slow so any good recommendations would be really appraciated.

What’s Your opinion?


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49 Responses to
Bike Searching
1
Solidarity 2:36 pm
18 Mar 14
#

Probably a GS500, or SV650 if you’re bigger.

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2
M0les 3:10 pm
18 Mar 14
#

It’s difficult to give general advice without just falling into the “I got good service from X…” (FWIW, I recently got a Trek 7.5 from On The Rivet in Philip and it’s just fine – & I have no financial interest in them either).

The best thing you can do is get fitted for a bike: go into any bike store and ask the staff. Most stores are limited to one or two brands generally, so there’s no real shame in shopping-around for looks/style/price. The wheel/frame size are most important to match the rider’s physique, the seat is surprisingly less-so (In other words, they’re all pretty uncomfortable after a while).

What you want to do with the bike is the next thing:
* If you want to go fast on smooth paving, a road/racer bike with skinny, slick tyres and a lower-down riding position and drop-handle bar might be the go.
* If you want to bash the bush, a mountain bike with fat, knobbly tyres, springs/shocks and a sturdier frame might be what you want.
* If you want to commute at lower speeds in relative comfort in an upright position, a town or hybrid bike (which are somewhere between the other two above) might be an option.

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3
Grail 3:45 pm
18 Mar 14
#

Assuming you’re talking about a push bike, I highly recommend the Lonsdale Street Cyclery. They have a decent range and will help you pick something that’s most suited to your stature, structure and fitness level.

The bike shop in O’Connor (next to Duxtons, which used to be All Bar None) used to have a seat profiling system which would attempt to match seats to your bum cheeks (technically, the Ischium bones, lower part of the Pelvis). Their custom-matched seats are a bit pricey, but it’s worth asking them and seeing if you can get a “test sit”. The comfort of a seat, unfortunately, is hard to gauge in anything other than a half hour of riding, but you can get a pretty good idea from your first bum contact. It’s also worth getting a slip-on gel pad for when you start riding, since it takes some time for your buttocks (and bollocks) to get used to the pressures of riding.

As for clothes, the main attraction of lycra is that it is tight-fitting. This means that you won’t get chafing on longer/sweatier rides. There’s nothing wrong with being overweight and wearing lycra: people will be just as judgemental regardless of what clothes you’re wearing. If you really want to avoid lycra, get some very loose fitting cargo pants (“below the knee shorts”). My experience was that cargo pants chafed less than shorts, mainly because the shorts had hem lines mid-thigh which was the part of my body moving the most.

I have two favourite T-shirts for riding. One is a relatively heavy weave “Ride to Work Day” shirt which is awesome for Winter. The other is a lighter weave shirt suitable for Summer, it lets a lot more wind through than the RTW Day shirt. You can also get jackets which zip at the front and have a mesh/open back, which are good for the cool foggy days of Canberran Winter when you want to keep the cold damp air from flowing down your chest, but you don’t want to keep your back hot and sweat-soaked.

In Winter I wear a pair of long lycra leggings under my shorts. It looks daggy but I stay warm. I also have two light polar fleece jackets, so I can wear zero, one or two layers of fleece as the conditions require. I do the same for gloves: one very tight fitting “under glove” and a looser glove which allows me to tailor what’s on my hands for the conditions.

As far as safety gear goes, the most important safety gear is a good pair of gloves. If you come off your bike, you will instinctively reach out to break your fall with your hands. A good pair of gloves will reduce the amount of laceration and embedded gravel you get in your hands. For most of the people I know, working hands are vital to their job, so protect them. Most people can cope with grazed knees much easier than grazed hands. There are also nerves in your palm that are very exposed, so there’s an extra reason to be more careful about your hands. My preferred cycling gloves will have “armour pads” for the ball of the hand (the fleshy bit just before the wrist), the metacarpals (the pads at the base of the fingers) and finger tips. I don’t go mountain biking much, so I have no need for “knuckle armour” to protect my hands from branches and rocks slapping into me as I’m riding, I just need the impact protection for my outstretched hand as I hit the ground.

I’ve been riding for 30 years, come off my bike a dozen times, even been hit by a car. In all those years I’ve never hit my head. I don’t believe that helmets do anything other than satisfy a bunch of worry-warts and helmet manufacturers (the safety standards don’t even simulate any realistic head injury scenario). Having said so, we have laws about the use of helmets so please pick a helmet that matches the laws and use it.

But back to your original question: I would look for a bike with higher pressure street tyres to start with. These will roll much easier, meaning you exert less effort to get anywhere. I’m not sure what the style of bike is called, but my current cycle is an Avanti Blade. This has a straight handlebar like a mountain bike (rather than the typical racing rolled-under bar), but a light-weight frame, high pressure tyres and about 21 gear combinations. There is a gear to suit whatever situation I face.

But like I said at the beginning, the folks at the Cyclery will be able to help you make a good choice, just be aware that high pressure tyres are much easier to ride on while you’re on sealed paths. Chunky, low pressure tyres are much better for bush-bashing, but soak up a lot of your energy making for a harder ride. Stay away from any suspension (except a compressible seat post for comfort) unless you’re into mountain biking. Suspension is just another way of turning your pedalling into heat without any benefit to locomotion. For mountain bikers, suspension is sometimes the difference between coming home on a bike versus a stretcher, because you actually want to absorb a lot of energy to slow down your forward movement.

One last thing: I highly recommend joining Pedal Power. They’re a cyclist advocacy group, and they send you a nifty magazine which has good advice and a number of aspirational articles of thin, energetic people riding across Australia, Asia, Europe or elsewhere. They also have a group insurance policy that means you’ll be covered for third party property and personal damage while riding your bike.

Hope this helps!

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4
neanderthalsis 3:46 pm
18 Mar 14
#

I got into cycling recently as a means to lose weight and increase fitness. I discovered that bikes can be bloody expensive and the bike shops will try to sell you their top of the line racer rather than listening to your request for a solid bike for pottering into work or around the lake. In the end I bought a second hand hybrid as I wasn’t prepared to pay up to $1000 for a new bike that I might have ridden once and stuck in the garage.

The Giant Roam might be a good place to start.

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5
xman_06 3:46 pm
18 Mar 14
#

A hybrid or “comfort” bike is probably the way to go. If you’re in Belco, pop in and see Paul at Ride365 – he’ll see you right.

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6
Leon 4:22 pm
18 Mar 14
#

I have ridden for over 50 years, and I regard seat comfort as the most important factor.
A bike seat should be very firm in the right places, so that it gives you proper support.
A seat that’s ideal for a racing position can be literally a pain in the bum if you ride upright, and vice versa.
Suspension is essential, whether it be in the form of a suspension frame, a suspension seat post or a sprung saddle.
Don’t overload your saddle and your pubis bone by carrying luggage on your back. Let the bike carry the weight.
Choose a bike with your preferred riding position. Upright is more comfortable than a racing position, but puts more weight on your bum and makes it even more important to get the saddle right.
Buying a bike that’s already set up the way you want, with the accessories that you want, is generally cheaper than buying a bike and modifying it.

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7
niftydog 5:48 pm
18 Mar 14
#

The Giant brand is usually the best bang for your buck and several shops stock it. I guess you’re thinking more spokes = stronger wheel, but don’t get too focused on the minute details. The staff will know which bike is suited to your build.

“Comfort”, “cruiser” or “town” bikes are, I guess, comfortable. High handlebar, low seat, upright position. But ultimately they always look awkward to ride to my eyes. If the plan is to get semi-serious eventually and climb some hills you’ll find the comfort bikes to be limiting. However, if you just want to tootle around on flat pavement like around the lake, then they’re ideal for that.

If you think you might get a bit more keen eventually as your fitness improves, then I’d be looking at hybrids or a mountain bike. Both have more traditional geometry with lower handlebars which will let you get out of the seat and crank up a hill. Hybrids have skinnier wheels (more efficient), but mountain bikes have suspension! Don’t forget to factor in service costs – something like an air-spring suspension fork requires routine maintenance and servicing.

Finally – the seat myth. A big, wide, soft and cushy seat LOOKS comfy in they shop, but they limit your hip movement, chafe your legs and when you haven’t ridden in a hundred years, EVERY bike seat will be uncomfortable. By all means, get one that’s padded and appropriate to your build, but make it firm padding (think German car seats) and give it a good try out before you commit.

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8
Roundhead89 7:27 pm
18 Mar 14
#

I suppose a Speedwell or Malvern Star is out of the question.

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9
gasman 10:10 pm
18 Mar 14
#

I must argue against the so-called comfort bike (aka hybrid aka city bike). They try to be jack of all trades but end up being master of none. They have high handlebars, with low saddles, which forces more body weight onto the butt, leaving you sore. They are great to ride stylishly 500m to the local cafe, but for anything more, they fall short.

For a first bike, get a decent quality mountain bike. Front suspension is good. Giant is good value, but the actual brand is less important than the fit. Go to a bike shop, not a department store. Between $500 and $2000 you get what you pay for. i.e. a $1000 bike is a seriously better ride than a $500 bike, and a $2000 bike will be noticeably better than a $1000 bike. Above $2000 the return on investment diminishes greatly. Highly advise to spend as much as your budget allows – you will get a better ride, and therefore use it more often. Over the 5-10 year life of a bike, the extra couple of hundred $ is not much, but you will have a more enjoyable time.

Mountain bikes are great on dirt and trails, but they are also great on bike paths and roads. I ride 18km each way to work. A mountain bike is only a couple of minutes slower over that distance than a road bike – 33 minutes, vs 35 minutes – but more comfortable to ride. Plus I can go up and down curbs, over gravel with ease, take shortcuts that I couldn’t do on a road bike. If you ride sealed roads/paths a lot, you can always put slicks (smooth tires) on the mountain bike for extra speed.

Mountain bikes ride a little more upright than a road bike, meaning less back and neck strain. The saddle is surprisingly not so important. Make sure your saddle height is set properly (usually higher than you think) so you put less weight on your butt, and more on your legs and arms. Lift your butt when going over bumps. The saddle is used more for balance than for supporting your weight.

If you haven’t ridden for years, it WILL hurt for the first week or 2. Your butt will be bruised, and muscles not used to doing work will be forced into action. Just keep riding! After the first 2 weeks, things get easier, and your fitness will improve very very fast. You will be surprised how a ride that seemed like torture when you first started will become easy and fun after a few weeks.

You don’t have to wear special clothes. Lycra is good because is doesn’t chafe, but shorts are good too. Cotton get really sweaty in summer, hence the cycle jerseys, but in autumn/winter/spring, it doesn’t really matter. If you are on roads, wear bright colours.

Bottom line – just ride! Its fun!

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10
thatsnotme 12:33 am
19 Mar 14
#

niftydog said :

Hybrids have skinnier wheels (more efficient), but mountain bikes have suspension!

The thing with suspension is that you don’t want to use it unless you need it. Suspension absorbs some of the energy that you’re trying to put onto the ground, forcing you to work harder. It’s for this reason that decent mountain bikes have suspension lock-outs, allowing you to lock the suspension when climbing, so you’re not wasting energy.

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11
Stormfront 8:57 am
19 Mar 14
#

OP’s remark “non lycra type” made me smile. Good on you,Lloyd.

Also thanks to people commenting, useful advices for when I decide to upgrade my mtb (just an average 570 bucks one I had bought 3 years ago).

Don’t want to hijack the thread, but have a question in regards to electric bikes: what kind of mileage do you get out of them? Are they worth the price here or is it better to get one from Sydney or Melbourne? Ty in advance.

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12
PBO 8:59 am
19 Mar 14
#

Why not get one that feels right for you? You do not have to get a new one at all, I recommend going to the Recyclery at the Green Shed in Mitchell and see what they have on offer and you may just find a gem.

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13
niftydog 10:25 am
19 Mar 14
#

thatsnotme said :

…It’s for this reason that decent mountain bikes have suspension lock-outs…

Not only “decent” MTB’s come with lockouts these days. The $500 Giant Boulder features a lockout, as does the $1200-1400 Talon – which comes in a 29er or 27.5…er!

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14
Holden Caulfield 10:44 am
19 Mar 14
#

thatsnotme said :

niftydog said :

Hybrids have skinnier wheels (more efficient), but mountain bikes have suspension!

The thing with suspension is that you don’t want to use it unless you need it. Suspension absorbs some of the energy that you’re trying to put onto the ground, forcing you to work harder. It’s for this reason that decent mountain bikes have suspension lock-outs, allowing you to lock the suspension when climbing, so you’re not wasting energy.

He wants to ride to lose weight and get fit, not pretend he’s Cadel Evans (MTB or TdF versions). Comfort is the better option in this instance IMO.

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15
cbrjoe 11:42 am
19 Mar 14
#

Stormfront said :

OP’s remark “non lycra type” made me smile. Good on you,Lloyd.

Also thanks to people commenting, useful advices for when I decide to upgrade my mtb (just an average 570 bucks one I had bought 3 years ago).

Don’t want to hijack the thread, but have a question in regards to electric bikes: what kind of mileage do you get out of them? Are they worth the price here or is it better to get one from Sydney or Melbourne? Ty in advance.

I ride an electric to work most mornings, Its a BH E-Motion NEO. 20km commute from Gungahlin to Manuka Area. I weigh around 95kg and I find that I get around 50Km range with heavy assist. I love this bike, I wouldn’t be riding to work without it, I can make the trip in around 40 minutes, which is slightly slower than the car in heavy traffic. The assist is fantastic, it still requires pedalling but just makes you feel like Lance Armstrong, I don’t even blink at hills anymore. Still feels like a workout, but I can arrive at work and not need to have a shower.

I ended up buying my bike online after a not so good experience with a local bike store. You will save money buying interstate.

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