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#1
Old 03-26-2013, 08:33 PM
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Best bike for recreational street riding - $ 300 - $ 500

Rider is a young twenty something woman 5'11" approx 220 lbs. Most of her height is in her waist so she does not have super extra long legs. Her inseam is 31-32 inches.

Price range $300 - $500 Use is recreational street riding for exercise. Not anticipating trail usage.

What type of bike should I get?

What size should I get?
#2
Old 03-27-2013, 11:13 AM
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#3
Old 03-27-2013, 11:36 AM
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Well, best advice is to find a good bike shop and let them fit you to a bike; $300-500 should get you in a decent-enough bike, especially if they sell used bikes. You'll want probably something hybrid-ish; that is, a bike with dropped handlebars (like a road-racing bike), but at least medium-weight frame and wheels and tires that are wider than a road-racing bike. Riding with dropped handlebars is a little harder to get used to initially, but way way more comfortable for rides longer than 10 minutes.

Finding a good shop is easier said than done, of course, but that's the best way to go. One hint is if they don't talk about fitting you to a bike (both finding the right size frame to buy, and setting up the seat and handlebars to fit you after you buy it), they're not a good shop.

I also recommend reading this: http://bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/, for safe riding.
#4
Old 03-27-2013, 11:43 AM
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I wanted the same thing a couple of years ago and I picked a Trek 7100. It is an awesome bike and right in your price range. It is a hybrid with a front suspension and can handle light trails but it excels on just regular street riding on any type of road or sidewalk. You can go surprisingly fast in the higher gears and it has upright handlebars which we are requirement for me.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 03-27-2013 at 11:45 AM.
#5
Old 03-27-2013, 11:56 AM
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Yup, another vote for going to a good bike shop.

There are many, many elements that go in to finding a bike that really fits. Getting a good bike that works well and fits properly is often what makes or breaks someone enjoying bicycles.

For instance, shortish legs with a long waist may mean you want a smaller frame with a long top tube. If you can't find that, you might want to exchange the stem or bars to get the bike fitted properly. Or a larger frame with a drop-tube could work better, but you might need to trade out the cranks. And a woman may be a lot happier with one of the seats built for women rather than the standard styles - but not necessarily; some women love 'em and some hate 'em - it's all just what fits your body best.

See why you want a good bike shop? You don't need to understand all that, they'll know it and should be willing to help you find the right frame and trade parts out to get the right fit.

Also, many people learn to ride as kids in a really bad position that will cause physical problems if they ride much. Getting a bike that fits for the position you *should* be riding in (and learning what that is) rather than what you're used to can prevent hurting yourself. They can show you that. They'll also generally show you how to do minor maintenance and repairs; many offer free minor tuneups for new customers to keep the bike in top shape as it's breaking in.

$300-$500 is fine for a beginner-level bicycle. They'll probably also have used bikes, so you may be able to upgrade a level for the same money.

I'd look at either road-style or hybrid-style, depending on the person and their fitness level and what they're planning to do. But the style is really really a personal-comfort thing. You've got to go to the shop and try bikes out. Take 'em out for a spin and ride long enough to really get a feel for the bike. Again, a good bike shop will be used to this.

Between brands - meh. Anything in the LBS will be good. It's really just what works for you.

Anything in a big-box store is likely dangerous. Google up on broken welds sometime.

Last edited by redtail23; 03-27-2013 at 11:58 AM.
#6
Old 03-27-2013, 01:03 PM
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I'll second to finding a *good* bike shop. Some of them aren't. There's a level of snobbery that sometimes goes along with the sport, It took three tries before I found one that wanted my money for a road bike.
#7
Old 03-27-2013, 02:16 PM
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Get something with no suspension (lighter weight, less to go wrong, not needed if not riding off-road)

Get something with smooth tires. (knobby tires have much higher rolling resistance and worse traction on pavement)

If you find a bike you like and it happens to have disk brakes, OK, but I would not consider them a selling point. Disk brakes add weight, expense, and have few advantages on-road, and virtually none if you don't ride in the rain. Modern rim brakes on aluminum wheels work fine, weigh less, and are cheaper. Disk brakes require a heavier, stiffer fork that gives a harsher ride.

I will go against the grain on the dropped bars. They are great for an experienced cyclist in good condition. * They are fairly useless for a casual cyclist in less than great physical condition, and stand a good chance of souring someone before they get to the point of being able to exploit the advantages, They are likely to ride on the flats for comfort, with poor steering leverage, and no access to the brakes, and using the brakes from the hoods on dropped bars is awkward enough that it has lead to crashes for new users. Straight (mountain bike style) bars are better, but old-fashioned swept handlebars will be more comfortable.

Biggest newb mistake is probably seat too low/bike wrong size. This makes it much harder to pedal and can lead to knee pain or worse. A decent bike shop will put her on the right size bike and adjust it to fit her proportions. If she can put her feet flat on the ground while sitting on the saddle then the seat is too low, unless it is a dutch style bike or semi-recombent like stoid has.

The more speeds it has, the fussier it will be to shift and keep adjusted, the faster the chain and other parts will wear out, and the more expensive parts will be. 9 speed rear wheels are a pretty good value point these days. If you go to 10 or 11 rear cogs it will add a lot of expense or be total crap.


*You power a bike by pressing down on the forward pedal. The harder you press down, the more of your weight you need get over the front pedal. Since your butt and other leg are behind the front pedal, you need to lean your upper body forward to do that. This also helps pre-load your hamstrings which can add power and improve efficiency. The harder you are pedaling, the farther forward you need to lean. This is why road racing bicycles have dropped bars...they allow you to lean way forward and pedal really hard. If you are not in good enough shape to pedal that hard, then you end up putting a lot of weight on your hands, leading to sore wrists and numb hands. You will notice that even TDF riders are not on the drops for most of the race...only when sprinting really. Drop bars are also helpful for cutting air drag at high speeds or when fighting a headwind. They also offer multiple hand positions, which can be helpful on hours long rides. Casual cyclists don't get much use from these features.
#8
Old 03-27-2013, 02:27 PM
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I can't give much advice when it comes to the right type of bike but I know about prices. The cheapest road bike I could find new was $500.
#9
Old 03-27-2013, 03:00 PM
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Location: Alabama
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As others said, find a good bike shop. One that doesn't cater to bike snobs exclusively. (If the clerk or owner ignores you while he chats endlessly with a spandex-clad customer, go and find another shop.)

Bicycle brands don't mean much, especially for conventional road bikes and hybrid bikes. They all have standardized aluminum frames made in Taiwan (often the same factory), and critical drivetrain components made by SRAM or Shimano.

You might also look at "city bikes". They are similar to hybrid bikes, but equipped more for practical use and/or style. They usually come with mudguards, kickstand and luggage rack or basket as standard equipment, while these are all add-on options for hybrid bikes. Some come with generator lights. Many city bikes have single-speed or 3-speed internal gear hubs; these are adequate for recreational riding on flat terrain, and are simpler and more robust than the 24- or 27-speed gear systems on hybrid bikes.
Some city bikes have 7, 8 or even 11-speed internal gear hubs which are really nice.

Last edited by scr4; 03-27-2013 at 03:04 PM.
#10
Old 03-27-2013, 09:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shagnasty View Post
I wanted the same thing a couple of years ago and I picked a Trek 7100. It is an awesome bike and right in your price range. It is a hybrid with a front suspension and can handle light trails but it excels on just regular street riding on any type of road or sidewalk. You can go surprisingly fast in the higher gears and it has upright handlebars which we are requirement for me.
I have a Trek 7200 that's about 10 years old that I've put abou 12000 miles on. It's comfortable and has held up maintenance wise. I mostly ride on trails but it's fine on the street. It is getting old and I've been thinking about a city bike like scr4 mentioned.

I also affirm that you should have a good bike shop. I love the one I use.
#11
Old 03-27-2013, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LateComer View Post
I have a Trek 7200 that's about 10 years old that I've put abou 12000 miles on. It's comfortable and has held up maintenance wise. I mostly ride on trails but it's fine on the street. It is getting old and I've been thinking about a city bike like scr4 mentioned.
The whole Trek 7000 series is good for this type of thing. They are all closely related. Mine has tires that are dual purpose. They are knobby on the sides for soft area grip like dirt trails and bald on the main surface for fast street riding. It works really well. I did have a good bike shop fit me with lots of different bike. Most of them were more expensive than that but I practically had bugs in my teeth after I took mine out for a ride for the first time. You can get better bikes somewhere but it will cost you many times more. I recommend that whole series wholeheartedly to people that just want a fun and dependable bike that can go most places.

Last edited by Shagnasty; 03-27-2013 at 09:39 PM.
#12
Old 03-27-2013, 09:59 PM
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Location: N.E. Indiana, USA
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I have a Specialized Crosstrail that is pretty close to what the OP describes. Mine was closer to 750 bucks but mine has the disc brakes and front suspension. I don't ride off road much but I do a lot of urban exploration and appreciate the suspension and bigger tires when riding on broken/rough pavement, gravel, grass and so on.
The Crosstrail comes in models with regular brakes and forks or at least did a couple years ago when I bought mine.
Specialized Crosstrail
#13
Old 03-27-2013, 10:28 PM
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I also have a Trek 7100 (As well as a road bike and mountain bike). I prefer my road bike for smooth asphalt, but it doesn't work well for rough asphalt, sidewalks or crushed limestone, if I had to pick one bike I'd pick the 7100

Comfort Bikes and Mountain Bikes are really too slow for typical recreational riding so I wouldn't look there.
#14
Old 03-28-2013, 12:10 AM
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I've been very pleased with a succession of Specialized's over the last couple of decades (they occasionally are stolen). I have relatively short legs for a man and the frames fit me better. I find front suspension very useful for urban on-street riding.
#15
Old 03-28-2013, 01:36 AM
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I'd stay away from those thin high pressure tires that double as cheese slicers. Other than that the price should include extras such as back rack and travel pack. From there decide whether she wants a ram's horn handlebar or a straight back bar. then what type of shifter setup and then the type of seat. Modern derailleurs aren't the big decision they were years ago.

Personally, I'd get the lightest bike for dollar. And given her long legs I'd have a bike shop fit her to a comfortable frame size.
#16
Old 03-28-2013, 01:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdcastle View Post
Comfort Bikes and Mountain Bikes are really too slow for typical recreational riding so I wouldn't look there.
It all depends on your idea of what "typical recreational riding" is. (Although MTBs are unsuitable for street riding, at least until you replace the knobby tires for something smoother, and if you're going to do that, why get an MTB in the first place?)
#17
Old 03-28-2013, 01:39 PM
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Mountain bikes don't serve any purpose for street riding. There is no reason to pedal a heavy bike around unless you want the advantage of working harder for each mile ridden. I'd prefer to ride further and experience more of the world around me.

Last edited by Magiver; 03-28-2013 at 01:39 PM.
#18
Old 03-30-2013, 05:14 AM
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Rent or try out different kinds before you buy.
#19
Old 03-30-2013, 08:31 AM
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Go with the bike shop, and go with Trek.
I swear by the brand.

Try these--

http://roadbikereview.com/cat/la...9_5669crx.aspx


http://roadbikereview.com/cat/la...7_5669crx.aspx
The Drift 1 is a lot of bike for $350 simoleons.
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#20
Old 03-30-2013, 08:34 AM
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BTW--buy a goddam helmet and WEAR IT!

Do not skimp or omit the brain-bucket!

#21
Old 03-30-2013, 01:44 PM
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REI has knowledgeable people and also have a service department. Some offer classes on maintenance, also. I bought one of their brand bikes and was very happy with it.
#22
Old 03-30-2013, 04:59 PM
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Go to the websites of a few of the name brands and sheck out the street/fitness bikes.

Some to check out:
Trek 7.1 FX Stagger
Jamis Allegro Sport Femme
Specialized Crossroads
Giant Escape 3 W
#23
Old 03-30-2013, 09:22 PM
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The OP didn't ask for advice about whether to wear a helmet or how much to spend, but someone shouted advice anyway, so I'd point out that if the OP chooses to wear a helmet and wants to buy one, there's no reason not to scrimp, since the $15.00 one from Walmart meets the exact same impact standards as a $100+ one from the famous brands. No maker is going to exceed those standards because marketing it as such would open them up to liability, and exceeding the standards would make it less marketable in other ways (thicker, heavier, hotter, more expensive, etc.).

That said, some of the cheapest ones, from ProRider, are actually certified to Snell B-95, which is older and slightly more strict than the more common CPSC standard even if they look dorky even by bicycle helmet standards. I recall some of Specialized's also meet B-95, but the all have a sharp point in back that I'd think would easily snag on something in a crash.

I wasn't aware the Trek made "fitness bikes now" but one line you do want to stay away from is the Navigator series, which are comfort bikes and too slow unless you ride on a lot of really rough trails. The Fuel series are hard core mountain bikes, and you won't find one anywhere close to your price range anyway.

Last edited by Mdcastle; 03-30-2013 at 09:26 PM.
#24
Old 03-31-2013, 10:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdcastle View Post
...since the $15.00 one from Walmart meets the exact same impact standards as a $100+ one from the famous brands...
You're right, but there are other benefits to high-end helmets: they are lighter, better ventilated, and usually more comfortable (more adjustments, better padding, etc). These may make the difference between hating your helmets vs. wearing them every time as a habit.
#25
Old 03-31-2013, 11:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mdcastle View Post
The OP didn't ask for advice about whether to wear a helmet or how much to spend, but someone shouted advice anyway, so I'd point out that if the OP chooses to wear a helmet and wants to buy one, there's no reason not to scrimp, since the $15.00 one from Walmart meets the exact same impact standards as a $100+ one from the famous brands. No maker is going to exceed those standards because marketing it as such would open them up to liability, and exceeding the standards would make it less marketable in other ways (thicker, heavier, hotter, more expensive, etc.).
Quote:
Originally Posted by scr4 View Post
You're right, but there are other benefits to high-end helmets: they are lighter, better ventilated, and usually more comfortable (more adjustments, better padding, etc). These may make the difference between hating your helmets vs. wearing them every time as a habit.
I agree. Buy the most comfortable and least dorky looking helmet you can find, regardless of price. I always had crappy $7 helmets from the toy section at Target when I was a kid and I never wore them. I got in a pretty bad wreck when I was a teenager and upgraded to buying whatever helmet I wanted every two years and I've not ridden without a helmet since.
#26
Old 04-03-2013, 08:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor View Post
BTW--buy a goddam helmet and WEAR IT!

Do not skimp or omit the brain-bucket!

ALSO... unless all riding is guaranteed at all times to be exclusively in bright sunshine (which of course is impossible) LIGHTS. LIGHTS LIGHTS LIGHTS.

I am a nightowl by nature, so I knew going in that lights would be rop of my list when I switched to biking, but really they need to be on everyone's. I'm consistently floored by the number of my fellow bikers who either have none at all , or the ones they have are so weak and puny they might as well have none.

I guess it's from being a driver for so many years, but I'm sort of nuts about it. I wear a 900-lumen headlight strapped to my helmet (which allows me to automatically direct the light where I'm looking at all times...seems very no-brainer to me), I have two white lights on my bike facing forward, plus a red/yellow forward, and depending on what's broken, I have anywhere from 3-6 other red/yellow blinkers all over the back and sides. I also have reflectors all around, more of both on my bike trailer, and my dog goes with me most of the time so he has a human-size refelective vest, a bright red blinker on his collar, and I have white lights on my left pointing down where he's positioned next to me.

If I ever get hit, either the person who does it did so while having a seizure of some kind, or they meant to.

My neighbor told me I looked like a UFO coming around the corner...
#27
Old 04-03-2013, 10:02 PM
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The most frustrating thing I encountered with my old bike, a Schwinn road bike, was that they cut corners on the rims. They were constantly getting bent. I had them straightened by a really good bike shop (more than a few times) so I'm pretty sure they were just crappy rims and or spokes. My Specialized rims have taken some pretty hard knocks and are still straight as an arrow with no adjustments so far.
Point being...you get what you pay for.
#28
Old 04-04-2013, 02:44 PM
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Word, on the helmet-wearing. In my only unplanned dismount to, I controlled my fall with my hands, rolled onto my right side and shoulder, and as I slid to a gentle stop in the gutter, the last thing that happened was my head fetching up against the curb. What felt like an almost gentle bump caved in the top and side of the helmet completely!

Any helmet is a writeoff after it gets dinged up -- they're designed to give up their structural integrity for your precious brain -- but this was a really impressive amount of damage. I bought a new helmet immediately, of course.

My brain still works great,* thank you.





*some readers may experience different results
#29
Old 04-04-2013, 06:57 PM
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My position on helmets and lights is demonstrated by my actions: on a handful of occasions, I've ridden a short distance of a few blocks on side-streets in dry weather without a helmet, and the same short distance at night, on side-streets with streetlamps, with my front white light on the fritz. However, I've never ridden at night without a working rearward flashing red light, and I got off my bike and walked it on the sidewalk the one time that light was dead at night. As Stoid said, the lights are so motorists in oblivious charge of a ton of gas-guzzling machinery can see you. Also like Stoid, I'm flummoxed by seeing bicyclists at night with no lights, only reflectors.
#30
Old 04-04-2013, 08:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailboat View Post
Word, on the helmet-wearing. In my only unplanned dismount to, I controlled my fall with my hands, rolled onto my right side and shoulder, and as I slid to a gentle stop in the gutter, the last thing that happened was my head fetching up against the curb. What felt like an almost gentle bump caved in the top and side of the helmet completely!
The only time I ever was glad of it I wasn't even on the bike! I was walking out of my house in the backyard to get on the bike and I tripped over my own feet, and for the first time in my entire life I could not stop myself from landing on my face. I scraped the shit out of my nose and cheek and was acutely conscious of the fact that the bill of my helmet had hit the cement straight on, telling me that if I had not been wearing it I would absolutely have broken my nose and very likely my braincase right at my frontal lobe.
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