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By Lloyd 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.


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Leon 5:47 pm 01 Apr 14

patrick_keogh said :

Lighter bikes are often built with better quality components, materials and construction methods.

Unless you can afford titanium, lighter bikes typically use aluminium alloy or carbon fibre components. Neither of these materials is as durable or reliable as steel. A friend of mine had a problem with the headset bearing on his carbon framed bike, that simply would not have happened on a steel or alloy frame. The headset bearing was so poorly constructed that it had to be replaced.

Mordd 7:57 pm 28 Mar 14

Be ultra cool and get a recumbent, no lycra required, just call Flying Furniture Cycles, your local Canberra recumbent specialist: http://www.flyingfurniture.com.au/

patrick_keogh 4:55 pm 28 Mar 14

Leon said :

The lighter the bike, the more likely it will break.

Not quite Leon. Your statement would be true in the case of all other things being equal, but they seldom are 🙂 Lighter bikes are often built with better quality components, materials and construction methods. So the common modes of failure (broken spokes, broken axles, cracked forks, broken drivetrain components) appear to occur more frequently on cheaper, heavier bikes than they do on a lighter bike with better quality components and attention to detail.

dtc 3:12 pm 28 Mar 14

Nanouk said :

Sorry, I am not sure I understand what you ask.

Look, all else being equal a lighter bike is probably better

But as lighter bikes are usually much more expensive, there is little benefit in pursuing a light bike for the sake of commuting.

Leon 11:49 am 28 Mar 14

Nanouk said :

dtc said :

So a total mass of, say, 115kg (100kg rider, 5kg pack and 10kg bike) is much easier to move than a total mass of 118kg (13kg bike?)

Of course, paying that extra $500 for the lighter bike takes some of the weight out of your wallet

buy a light road bike.)

The lighter the bike, the more likely it will break.

A lighter bike will feel more responsive, but research has shown that reducing overall weight by 3% (by spending the extra money to buy a bike that’s 3kg lighter) will reduce you journey time by only about 2%.

On the other hand, tests by Greenspeed indicate that a pair of 80 psi semi-slick tyres will reduce your rolling resistance by about 14 watts, compared with 65 psi mountain bike tyres.

Nanouk 12:58 pm 27 Mar 14

dtc said :

So a total mass of, say, 115kg (100kg rider, 5kg pack and 10kg bike) is much easier to move than a total mass of 118kg (13kg bike?)

Of course, paying that extra $500 for the lighter bike takes some of the weight out of your wallet

Sorry, I am not sure I understand what you ask. I just mean that a 100kg person on a 8kg bike will move more easily than on a 15kg bike. And I really don’t think that he should buy a mountain bike or even an hybrid bike. I am telling this because I am 100kg myself, and a lighter person wouldn’t probably feel a 5kg bike difference. When you are overweight, are not a good rider, are not much into sport, just moving yourself on a bike is quite a challenge. So I am sure you all gave him good avices, but I stick to it: buy a light road bike. We are not sure how long how often how step he will use his bike, but he wants to “start really slow”, so I think a helpful advice for him not to be discouraged is to take an easy bike and take easy rides (no I guess he won’t use his bike in the bush, so why on earth would you want him to get a mountain bike?). For instance, I bought a bike one day, a good quality mountain bike: my normal 9km ride back home took an hour. Fortunately I managed to get an exchange the same day and rode back home the same way on a lighter road bike and it took me 40 minutes. (yes, it is incredibly long anyway, but that’s going uphill all the time and I am not a good rider like you… :p)

patrick_keogh 1:31 pm 25 Mar 14

Leon said :

Did you mean to say that each of the individual factors contributes to the performance of the whole package?

If that is what you meant, then we can continue our rational discussion of the relative effects on performace of individual factors such as suspension and squishy tyres.

Well across my collection of bicycles, many of the individual factors come into effect…

Weight is a minor factor, rotating weight (tyres and rims) much more noticeable. Zero effect when riding with constant velocity on level ground, but any change of speed, altitude or direction you can notice.

Rolling resistance of the tyres. Definitely a factor. Even between different brands of 23mm slick road tyres I can notice a difference. There is recent research that shows that rolling resistance as a function of tyre pressure is VERY dependent on surface dynamics, so 110psi is not always best.

Aerodynamics only really a factor riding into the wind or at relatively high speed or for relatively long distances. It does mean however that my drop bar bikes are better than my flat bar bikes under these conditions. This could bring in fairing as an idea, but it has proven impractical in varied (e.g. crosswind) conditions.

Suspension. It definitely soaks up energy. All of the work to do those compressions and rebounds comes out of your legs. So much so that I will routinely lock out the suspension when it is not required (fire trails, paved surfaces or climbing). After an off-road ride, put your hand on your suspension. That warmth came out of your leg muscles. Any suspension system also contributes mass, but this is frequently a minor contributor. As an aside, the same goes for all those riders you see bobbing their heads. Your head is heavy. Moving it around costs energy. Your body pays.

Suspension dynamics, whether it be frame materials/design, suspension, correct tyre pressure, saddle compliance. Here’s the flip side for suspension. If you don’t have it and your body is part of the suspension system instead, then it requires energy to maintain body position. So on rough surfaces and long distances this will cancel out the energy costs of the suspension. That’s why a lot of road riders moved to titanium or carbon fibre. Not the weight, but because the suspension dynamics are less tiring than aluminium frames.

So what does all this add up to? There is no such thing as a “most efficient” bike. That depends on riding conditions. All other things being equal, on a flat, smooth surface, a track bike with narrow, high pressure tyres and only one gear is the most efficient. For non-extreme cross country mountain bike courses, it appears that at least front suspension adds value. Around town, commuting etc., I would value acceleration, steering and braking over efficiency anyway.

Last, the slowest and most de-energising ride is one where you have to stop to fix two flat tyres. That is why tubeless tyres are a runaway success on MTBs and why they will probably take over on road bikes too, as they did on cars. It also explains why heavier but more puncture-resistant tyres like the Schwalbe Marathons, Conti Gatorskins etc. are popular.

After all this slightly technical discussion, don’t lose sight of the fact that most bicycles will do pretty well at the task. That is why the bicycle continues to be the world’s most popular form of non-pedestrian transport.

dtc 1:07 pm 25 Mar 14

Nanouk said :

I don’t know much about push bikes, as I ride mostly an electric bike myself.

But I lost 12kg with an electric bike, so I guess you will indeed lose some weight with a normal bike!
Having tried a few bikes (but can’t remember names or anything), my only advice is to get a LIGHT road bike. A heavy bike, or a mountain bike on a nice road => it will be a nightmare to move your weight. I am 100kg myself, unless you are heavier than that I wouldn’t worry about bike strenght: yes, it will withstand your weight. So take the lightest bike, so you don’t add that to what you will have to move. :

So a total mass of, say, 115kg (100kg rider, 5kg pack and 10kg bike) is much easier to move than a total mass of 118kg (13kg bike?)

Of course, paying that extra $500 for the lighter bike takes some of the weight out of your wallet

Leon 10:10 am 25 Mar 14

thatsnotme said :

Leon said :

If you really believe that the Anthem is slower than the Masi because of its suspension and not because of its big squishy tyres, then you can test your theory by (1) locking out the Anthem’s suspension and seeing if you can measure any improvement in your average speed, and/or (2) putting 38 mm tyres on the Anthem (similar to the ones on the Masi) and measuring the speed improvement.

We’d all love to know the results.

The fact of it is, that it’s the whole package that contributes, not any one individual factor.

This is the sort of twisted statement that we love on the RiotACT.

Did you mean to say that each of the individual factors contributes to the performance of the whole package?

If that is what you meant, then we can continue our rational discussion of the relative effects on performace of individual factors such as suspension and squishy tyres.

Nanouk 1:09 pm 24 Mar 14

I don’t know much about push bikes, as I ride mostly an electric bike myself.

But I lost 12kg with an electric bike, so I guess you will indeed lose some weight with a normal bike!
Having tried a few bikes (but can’t remember names or anything), my only advice is to get a LIGHT road bike. A heavy bike, or a mountain bike on a nice road => it will be a nightmare to move your weight. I am 100kg myself, unless you are heavier than that I wouldn’t worry about bike strenght: yes, it will withstand your weight. So take the lightest bike, so you don’t add that to what you will have to move. 🙂

I also want to second another person here about helmets. When I was closer to work I used to ride a proper push bike and I did have a little accident (all by myself but still: head injury – hospital etc). My helmet broke and probably protected me quite a lot. But forcing people to wear helmets gives them a wrong sense of protection and makes road less safe. So even if it is sometimes protect you, it most probably make your ride less safe.

And there was another question about kids… I used to ride with my child to day care every day, 9km one way. He liked it a lot and it wasn’t too hard, as it was with my electric bike. 🙂

KB1971 7:47 am 24 Mar 14

Leon said :

KB1971 said :

Suspension helps you to go farther, faster because it reduces rider fatigue. It absorbs far less energy than, for example, a knobbly or underinflated tyre. The world’s fastest upright bicycle had full suspension.

Not necisarily, I have Giant Anthem duelly 29er and a Masi cyclocross bike. They both weigh 13kg, the Masi has 700c x 38mm tyres on it.

Yep the Anthem is smoother to commute on because it has the suspension but I work way harder than the Masi and the average speed can be up to 5km different depending on the day.

If you really believe that the Anthem is slower than the Masi because of its suspension and not because of its big squishy tyres, then you can test your theory by (1) locking out the Anthem’s suspension and seeing if you can measure any improvement in your average speed, and/or (2) putting 38 mm tyres on the Anthem (similar to the ones on the Masi) and measuring the speed improvement.

We’d all love to know the results.

No doubt smooth tyres will help but not a lot. I also still have my Specialised Hard Rock which I started back into riding on.

I was using knobbies on it for ages and then went to some Maxis Worm Drives (completley smooth in the middle, knobs on the outside) and they made an improvement on my commute but only by a minute or so.

On the Anthem the suspension doesnt lock persay, it just increases the damping. This is extremely efficient on the front fork with only a little bit of movement when pushed hard but the rear shock is nowhere near as stiff on its hardest setting. I still bobs up to 10mm which is a lot of power from my pedal strokes that is being used.

Sorry to disapoint you though, I wont be putting smooth tyres on it anytime soon, its too much fun in the bush!

Hosinator 1:52 am 22 Mar 14

puggy said :

Hosinator said :

These days the CRX has been replaced by the Giant Cross City (which we also own and both my wife and I ride, and is used to tow a trailer.)[/quote>

Another thread hijack, but when you’re carrying a child, either in a seat or trailer, how far are you riding? I’d like to continue riding (for the more predictable commute times!) but don’t know how far a commute I can subject my daughter to!

Puggy, it’s 15km one way. I find that with the toddler seat we can have a chat (she’s 2.5 years old, but loves to talk and sing.) It’s a lot harder when she’s in the trailer, but because she loves to sing she keeps herself entertained.
I use the time to teach her things like directions, such as left, right or straight ahead. I also point out hot air balloons, water, trees or simply encourage her to sing. This keeps her entertained, so much so that she can’t contain her excitement when we ride to daycare.

thatsnotme 7:11 pm 21 Mar 14

lloydincanberra said :

Hey everybody, I would like to reply to you all individually but just wanted to say thanks heaps for all the advice. Looks like a mountain bike of sorts is the go so will try some of the stores recommended. I really appreciate this so thanks again.

Just keep in mind too, that if you get bitten by the cycling bug, you’ll almost certainly be lusting over better stuff soon 🙂 That’s not a bad thing though – whatever you pick up now will teach you a heap about what you like, what you don’t, and what you wish you’d bought instead! If you re-read this thread in 6 months time, you’ll probably read it completely differently to how you are now. Everyone on here has different experiences, but ultimately your own experience will guide you best. Grabbing a bike and just riding will teach you heaps more than this thread will.

Sandman 4:31 pm 21 Mar 14

I’m a non-Lycra occasional cyclist and use a Giant Yukon with street tyres for chasing the kids around the bike paths. It has front suspension so takes out some harshness from the bumps but is still firm enough that it doesn’t take extra energy to pedal. It’ll go off a gutter with ease and you don’t cringe if you hit a raised slab on the footpath.
Tyres are Schwalbe Big Apples, a smooth lightweight tyre that has a decent size to it and absorbs bumps nicely. Not particularly cheap but Well worth it. I’m 90odd kgs and usually tow a kiddy trailer too. The tyres glide nicely and have a good low rolling resistance.
I paid $50 for the bike, $50 for a new brake caliper (disc brakes) $150 for the tyres and tubes and $30 for a big wide comfortable seat. $280 and it’s set up just perfectly for what I do. The wife tends to use it rather than her $800 skinny wheeled Hybrid bike when she can get away with it too. Bike shop sold her the wrong bike in my opinion. Pity she didn’t tell me beforehand that she wanted to buy a bike.

dtc 2:42 pm 21 Mar 14

This is what happens when you ask about bikes and the bikers get involved! Postalgeek has the right idea, keep it simply.

You just want a mid level hybrid or mountain bike, Giants are good as are Treks and a few other major brands. Look at their base or mid spec models, above that you dont need. Disc brakes are nice but not essential. You will probably only use 10 gears, so anything above 21 isnt worth the effort. Suspension is nice, most bikes have them, you dont need remote lock out or even lock out – just leave the suspension on its much more comfortable.

Tyres and bike weight and loss of energy from suspension all that other stuff makes a bit of difference BUT if you are riding for fitness and commuting, riding something that is 10% less efficient is arguably a good thing – it means you have to work harder and you get fitter quicker! Having thinner pumped up tyres or a extra lightweight bike or saving the weight of the suspension is fine if speed or efficiency is your goal, not if comfort and fitness is a goal. You wont notice the difference unless you are hopping between a hybrid and a road bike, which you wont be. Thin tyres slip as soon as it starts raining and you are crossing the road with all the built up oil slicks…

Get a reasonably soft saddle that isnt too wide or just put a gel cover on.

Lots of lights and reflectors (reflective tape is good)

I have been commuting for almost 20 years for what my experience is worth.

BTW if you join Pedal Power, a lot of bike shops give you 5% or 10% off, which will pay for the membership and you also get insurance cover (limited but better than naught)

Holden Caulfield 2:16 pm 21 Mar 14

lloydincanberra said :

Hey everybody, I would like to reply to you all individually but just wanted to say thanks heaps for all the advice. Looks like a mountain bike of sorts is the go so will try some of the stores recommended. I really appreciate this so thanks again.

Pushys Fyshwick is pretty good.

lloydincanberra 1:25 pm 21 Mar 14

Hey everybody, I would like to reply to you all individually but just wanted to say thanks heaps for all the advice. Looks like a mountain bike of sorts is the go so will try some of the stores recommended. I really appreciate this so thanks again.

Postalgeek 11:08 am 21 Mar 14

puggy said :

Hosinator said :

These days the CRX has been replaced by the Giant Cross City (which we also own and both my wife and I ride, and is used to tow a trailer.)

*Repost because I failed at quoting*

Another thread hijack, but when you’re carrying a child, either in a seat or trailer, how far are you riding? I’d like to continue riding (for the more predictable commute times!) but don’t know how far a commute I can subject my daughter to!

I used both rear seat and trailer, and I’d go with trailer. Skip the cheaper bench seats and go with a bucket seat like Croozer or Chariot if you’re going to be doing regular commuting with the kid. Lot more comfortable for the child and easier on their little back. More protection from weather and small accidents. I did 30 minutes each way without too much issue. Sometimes they would fall asleep. Obviously the performance reduction is more significant with a trailer, but it’s about the kid for me.

As for Schwalbe Marathon Plus, I have them on my commuter. They’re not bomb-proof, but I’ve had very few punctures to date cycling through all sorts of crap in the cycle lanes.

As a general observation we’re in cathead season, so watch out for those distinctive leaves creeping onto the path. Horrible stuff.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tribulus_terrestris

puggy 9:27 am 21 Mar 14

Hosinator said :

These days the CRX has been replaced by the Giant Cross City (which we also own and both my wife and I ride, and is used to tow a trailer.)[/quote>

*Repost because I failed at quoting*

Another thread hijack, but when you’re carrying a child, either in a seat or trailer, how far are you riding? I’d like to continue riding (for the more predictable commute times!) but don’t know how far a commute I can subject my daughter to!

As for commuter tyres: Schwalbe Marathon Plus. Heavy, but bullet proof. I had been running Vittoria Randoneur Cross Pros. One puncture in 5000km, but I did go through two sets, ’cause I’m a heavy bugger (yes yes, I did rotate them).

puggy 9:23 am 21 Mar 14

Hosinator said :

These days the CRX has been replaced by the Giant Cross City (which we also own and both my wife and I ride, and is used to tow a trailer.)[/quote>

Another thread hijack, but when you’re carrying a child, either in a seat or trailer, how far are you riding? I’d like to continue riding (for the more predictable commute times!) but don’t know how far a commute I can subject my daughter to!

As for commuter tyres: Schwalbe Marathon Plus. Heavy, but bullet proof. I had been running Vittoria Randoneur Cross Pros. One puncture in 5000km, but I did go through two sets, ’cause I’m a heavy bugger (yes yes, I did rotate them).

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