View Full Version : bike recommendations appreciated

06-21-2004, 07:34 AM

I'm looking for road bike advice.

I've been an on again off again avid cyclist for my whole life. The last 10 years I've had a Bridgestone mountain bike. That thing is a workhorse and has more miles on it then my car does. I've ridden 5 California Aids rides on it and much more. Don't really do off roading. Mostly on the road. That said.....

Now I want a road bike. I've been reading all the other posts and the info is good but it raises a lot of questions too.

I've been looking at the Specialized Sequoia and Sirus and Roubaix. The reason I am looking here is they say they are designed more upright like a mountain bike but light like a road bike. The website says they are designed for comfort on long rides.

I have a lot of aches and pains all the time but I ride anyhow. My biggest problem is my upper back. After a long ride or after several consecutive days of riding I have such severe pain between my shoulder blades that it feels like there is a knife jabbed in my back. So I think (although I'm not sure) I would not do well with a low back position.

I'm 5'6" and I think my legs are average but my torso is a bit on the long side so I tend to feel cramped in the upper body area on a lot of the bikes I ride. I have my seat pushed as far back as possible on the mountain bike.

I am wondering what type of components and what type of material you all recommend the bike be made out of if I plan on riding three or 4 times a week. I tend to do 50+ miles a day on the weekends if I have time. I also try to take yearly biking trips where the mileage is longer and you ride for 7 days in a row. My goal is to cycle all around the world (except Iraq and Nebraska). The Specialized bikes I am looking at have several different levels of the same model and I'm not sure what the difference is but presumably it's better components. I think the frames are the same though.

So if any of you have advice please send it along.


06-21-2004, 07:44 AM
OK actually two questions.

One other pain I have is my hands have nerve damage from so much computer use over the years. Does anyone have any tidbits of info of how to prevent hand/arm numbness while riding? Or anyone know the easiest types of shifters?

Also... ok this is weird but if I ride in cycling shoes my feet go numb but if I ride in hiking boots they don't. I have been looking for cycling boots but I can't find any. Anyone have any recommendations here?

OK maybe with all my aches and pains I should switch to crocheting or something but you don't cover that much ground or get the wind in your face while crocheting.


06-21-2004, 09:14 AM
Which Bridgestone do you have? I'd love to get an MB 1.

Have you considered a Rivendell? They are a rather small company in the SF Bay area. The founder used to work for Bridgestone. Their speciality - in my opinion - is making a good looking road bike that's comfortable. Here's a link to them.


It's hard to tell from the bikes you listed what your price point is. A Riv may be more than you want to spend. I know I'll be putting a hundred+ miles a week on mine for more than ten years. That made the price a lot easier to swallow. :p


06-21-2004, 09:22 PM

That's an interesting site. Wordy for sure. It says it takes a year to get that bike made. Maybe that could be my next bike. I'm in the I want it now now now mode.

Also it's steel. I thought no one wanted steel bikes anymore.

I'll have to read more when I'm less blurry eyed from fixing computers all day.

The prices of the Specialized bikes I'm looking at (to answer your question) are between $700 and $1700.

Thanks for the info.

06-21-2004, 09:56 PM
I'm not sure why steel is not more popular. I rented an aluminum bike in Hawaii. My Riv is a lot more comfortable. It's a bit heavier, but that doesn't keep me from riding. I could ride a bike that was five pounds lighter, but I'd rather just lose 5 pounds off me. Personally I think a lighter frame really only matters if you are fairly light yourself or racing. In addition my Riv so well constructed that I won't need to replace it until I'm too old to get my leg across it and need a recumbent or a trike. :p Should I crash I can get the bent forks or tubes replaced. You can't do that with aluminum or carbon fiber.

I don't know about the wait time. It only took me about a month to get mine.


06-22-2004, 05:39 AM
I guess my question would be...What kind of riding do you intend to do???

I happen to LOVE the feel of carbon. I have been on a bike for
many a year and I personally think that my carbon bike has made me a better rider. I love the way it climbs, and gathers speed. Plus, it shelters me from some of the harshness of the road surface. I have a Trek 5200, but must add I saved for many years before I made the jump. I was a long time steel junky on a Bianchi and then a Terry before I went to carbon. My husband recently went back to steel...he said he just likes it better...and that's o.k. it does come down to personal preferance. I also recently made the decision to keep my "old school" Terry and convert it to Ultegra so I would still have a "touring" frame in the house.

I have seen and test rode all the Specialized bikes that you mentioned. My son is thinking about the Robaix. I find this to be more of a racing machine than all of the other Specialized out there right now. We have an Allez which I often head off to the store or the bank on, and that is fun ride, however it is aluminum
so that makes the ride a little harsh...much more so than carbon.
I believe the Robaix has mechanisms in the fork and rear triangle to give you the "best ride" To be very honest I did not like the Sirrus. I thought it was kind of "junky", but many of the women who ride them here love them.

The secret is...decide what you want to do with the bike, then ride as many of them as you can until you find THE ONE. Belive me, you will know when you have found THE ONE.

bon chance,

06-22-2004, 06:17 PM
Just to add my two cents.... I got a Bianchi Eros Donna this season. It has a Carbon Fork and I love it. The bike is just plain comfortable to ride. The Campi components shift really great. I'm gradually building up my distance. I hope to do my first century in the spring (if I don't get it done this fall!)

06-22-2004, 06:39 PM

You said that your worst pain is a sharp, shooting pain between your shoulder blades. Usually that's caused by too long a reach to your handlebars. Over a long distance, it can cause severe pain! Even a short distance, if it's windy and you're gripping the bars tightly can cause pain and tightness. A shorter stem might help. Is it possible that your frame is too big for you? Whatever bike you get, be absolutely sure that it is a good fit for you. A less upright position is not necessarily going to be a bad thing for you. What you want to avoid is being too stretched out and putting too much pressure on your hands and arms. You need to be able to keep a bit of a bend in your elbows and be able to comfortably reach the bars. That helps absorb road shock. Another option you could try would be aerobars........... they do give you different positions for your hands and might help relieve some nerve compression for you.

As for the shoes vs. hiking boots, I don't know what to tell you. Are the hiking boots you wear wider than the cycling shoes? Maybe your feet need more room and you could find a wider cycling shoe? Normally, people have trouble with numb feet if they're NOT wearing cycling shoes. Maybe someone else will have some ideas for you on this one. Lots of experience on these boards......:)

Good luck on the bike search. I certainly understand the "I want one NOW!" feeling.:D


06-22-2004, 06:54 PM
I ride a steel bike & I love it. It is custom, so the fit is perfect BUT I find that the road feel is superior, the cornering is more precise and it will bend before it breaks. The new steel is lightweight and responsive. I haven't heard that steel is out of fashion.

It sounds like you need to be fitted by your bike shop. Ask for somebody who rides and tell them what is going on with you. They can put you on rollers and look at your riding habits. You may need a more upright position to alleviate the pain between the shoulder blades, but it's hard to tell without watching you.

Components - I ride Chorus Campy because it seemed more female friendly - the gears were easier to shift than Record and I much prefer Campy over Shimano for quality & precision shifting.

I also love Continental tires. They have a nice road grip without sacrificing rolling resistance.

BTW, we're about the same size - I'm 5'5".

06-23-2004, 04:35 PM
Hey everyone,

I really appreciate all your wisdom. I have been to 4 more bike stores and no one has the Specialized Sequoia in my size. I did see them though which is a step in the right direction. I might have to travel to San Francisco (oh darn) to test ride one.

I've been reading some other boards and just like this one everyone has a different opinion but I'm gathering that people fear the weakness of carbon but love the comfort. But a guy who owns a bike shop said he has sold bikes for 10 years and out of all the thousands he's sold only one carbon bike got a stress fracture so he feels that carbon is fine.

So I will just ride them all as soon as I can find them. Someone suggested a Giant TCR and the Trek 1300c.

Interesting feedback about needing a shorter stem. I have swapped out my stem twice each time going higher hoping that would help my shoulder pain and it doesn't so maybe I should try shorter. Who knew!!!

All in all I think I just have a bad back and no matter what I ride it will hurt so I'll just deal until I'm in a wheel chair. Then I'll find a board to post to asking about carbon or titanium wheel chairs.

When I cycled in France the evening wine and cheese seemed to help my back problems so maybe I'll fill my water bottles with a nice merlot.

I'll let you all know the results of my test rides if I can ever find one to ride.

Thanks again.

06-23-2004, 05:00 PM
I had stabbing pain between my shoulders on my last bike. Turns out that the stem was too short AND the bars too narrow. If you have been back and forth with the stem, check out the width of your bars. I am short (5'4) with short arms, but I have fairly wide shoulders so my WSD bike fit well everywhere only after the stem was exchanged for a higher angle and the bars swapped out. Good luck!

06-23-2004, 06:44 PM
Also, as somebody already suggested, if you have a death grip on your handlebars, you'll get pain between your shoulder blades. I don't see how going higher could make it worse - I would think that the pain might come from cranking your neck up too far.

One thing I've done for neck/upper back pain on long rides is write the alphabet with my nose. It makes you move your neck in all different directions. Of course, I argue with myself, if I'm going to write in block or script (ha!) It really does work.

Sounds to me like you need a good massage therapist ;) Oh double darn! A trip to SF and a massage! You poor dear!

06-24-2004, 09:01 AM
Do you have any LBSes that do full bike fits?

I just had one done -- it took three hours. Two major things: one, they helped correct my riding posture and technique, and two, they adjusted my bike. I ended up with a much shorter cockpit than I ever thought would be comfortable, but with a proper posture, it's just right.

They also helped increase my pedalling efficiency, which is not a bad thing.

06-24-2004, 11:11 AM
Thanks. I didn't realize there was that severe of a bike fit opportunity.

I've been reading a lot about bike fit and what is correct. I live in LA so I would think I could find a shop that does that but over the past few weeks I've been to half a dozen shops and they basically say to me, "you want to be about 2 inches above the bar when you are standing on the ground."

I tell them that is so old school and they just jeer at me.

I'll call around and see if I can find a place but so far no luck other then the basics.

I like the writing the alphabet idea. (I wonder if I'll look like a bobble head) Funny because I count in French when I am cycling to try to keep my cadence steady and to practice my French (which ain't so good). I wonder if I can pull off a Rain Man and count in French and write the alphabet at the same time.

I can see the headline now. Woman wearing beret under her bike helmet crashes bike on side of road. Admitted to psyche ward babbly her ABCs.

I do have a good massage therapist and an acupuncturist too. Without them I'd look like Shrek all the time.

Maybe my new bike should be a unicycle.


06-24-2004, 11:30 AM
Standover height is one thing to look at, but there's a lot more to fit than how far your crotch is from the bar!

Here are some things from a mountain biking perspective, but most should apply ...

* Your wrists shouldn't be bent when holding the bars

* Fitters will measure the angle of your knee and do something with a plumb bob to make sure you're able to pedal properly

* The angle of your hips to your feet makes a difference -- in other words, whether you sit in front, on top of, or behind your cranks. Don't ask me what exactly it does, though.

My fitter did things like test my flexibility, measure the position of the ball of my foot relative to the rest of my foot, check the amount of bend in my spine ...

06-25-2004, 10:04 PM
Hey all,

Ok the bike saga and pain saga continues.

I did finally find a shop in LA with the Specialized bikes in stock in my size. Gonna check it out this weekend.

Re: the pain issues and all of your suggestions... I haven't ridden for a long time due to some health issues but I decided it was time to start again this morning.

I tried out some new form stuff that you recommended to me based on the pains I have from cycling (numb hands, knife between shoulder syndrome, numb feet).

I rode (the mountain bike) with my arms bent more then I usually do and I didn't use the extension bars so my hands were never wider then my shoulders per recommendations.

This of course made my back more hunched over which I thought would be a pain issue but now I'm not so sure. Maybe it's actually better.

It switched the stress points (or so it felt) from my lower arms and shoulders to my upper arms and lower back

It kind of hurt my biceps but that's a muscle that can get stronger and if it relieves my upper back that's a good thing.

The thing I noticed though is riding like this puts me in the road bike position meaning the mountain bike is hard to ride and I want the drop bars on a road bike. I was wondering if once I tested a road bike if I would see that I can't ride that low due to back pain but now I see it may be better for the ol' body.

When I was riding lower my hands fell in the angle of road bars so the mountain bike straight bars made me twist my hands into an unnatural position which put strain on them making them numb (they already are from computer use but it makes it worse). So again road bike looks like it may be good.

The other thing I noticed (and it was only a 55 min. ride so I could be wrong) is that my legs felt more powerful in this position so my average speed came in a whole mile per hour faster then it usually does when I first start back riding (and I wasn't trying to go faster).

The downside to it was it was harder to watch parked cars that had a driver in them ready to open a door or pull out into traffic.

I also rode in my new Merrill hiking boots. I have cycling shoes but when I ride in them my feet go numb. In the past when I rode in hiking boots my feet did not go numb so I thought it had something to do with the ankle height. But this am in my new Merrill's my feet went numb so I now know it has more to do with either the shoe itself of my back (bot not the ankel height). This is a good discovery becuase now I will try another cycling shoe.

I'm glad I tested this all out before I start test rode bikes because I can try other positions.

The other thing is I weighed my mountain bike. With one water bottle and the rack, bag, etc. it weighs 35 pounds. The road bikes I'm looking at are about 23 to 25 with nothing on them. So that will shave 10 pounds off which is significant - - especially for carrying the bike upstairs when I'm done. I could find one that shaved off 15 I'm sure but it's not worth the extra money.

Anyhow I'll see how my low back feels tomorrow but I now know why Lance's arms are so big. I always wondered. But if you cycle in the correct position you actually use your biceps. Who knew!!!

By the way.... have any of you been watching OLN. Some good stuff. This weekend is a marathon of The Lance Armstrong Chronicles. They also have a special about his 5 wins which has some good cycling footage in it. Plus I like the way it ends. He says that when he is no longer a racer and no one wants to talk to him anymore he will be a father and a cancer survivor and that's just the way he wants it.

Interestingly... I was at a bike shop the other day and there was a picture of Lance on the counter and I asked the owner if he thought Lance was going to do it again. He had the gall to say to me (a female customer who was looking to buy a $1700 bike) "ask Sheryl.... women always ruin men." (referring to Lance's girlfriend Sheryl Crow for any of those not in the know).

Well needless to say I left the shop.

I guess he doesn't value my money as much as a mans. Oh well!!! :)

quote: "Pain is temporary, quitting lasts forever" Lance Armstrong


06-26-2004, 09:20 AM
Ideally, you should be using your "core" muscles (the center of your body) to hold yourself up, not your arms. If you use your arms, your hands will go numb. I've been working on this, but it's hard, especially when you don't have strong muscles in that area in the first place!

06-27-2004, 08:35 PM
Dogmama wrote.."I ride a steel bike & I love it. It is custom, so the fit is perfect BUT I find that the road feel is superior, the cornering is more precise and it will bend before it breaks. The new steel is lightweight and responsive. I haven't heard that steel is out of fashion."

me too, me too! steel is real. People are shocked when they lift my bike and then find out it's steel, it's so light. But then when I heft 150+ lbs of me on top of it...I figure i can't be a real gram counter till i can't take 20% of the weight off the rider.

On the AIDS ride i was shocked to look at the speed I had cornering and downhills, it was so precise I thought I was going much slower (woah there nelly!). Nothing rides like custom fit steel.

Back to the weight, I read somewhere that the frame is less than a fifth the weight of the bike so take a well made steel frame with top components you have a very light ride.

Components - I ride Record but used to ride Ultegra. both have their good points. I miss my flightdeck which is not compatible with Campy. I have very small hands even for 5'1" and no problems with the Campy. My hands did get tired on loooong downhills but that's conditioning I gotta do.

07-01-2004, 09:58 PM
Hey all,

Thanks for your advice. I did it. I bought the the Specialized Sequoia Comp. It's really pretty and a nice ride (although to tell you the truth I think everything in that class is this one was just calling my name).

Still working on that riding form stuff. I find it very difficult to ride without holding my body up with my arms as some of you recommended. It puts my back in the weirdest position.

I have no idea if the bike fits or not. I spent hours with the gang at the bike store and my head is about to explode. Bottom line I think is if it feels right it is right. I think it fits way better then the bike I was riding but we shall see when I take it out for a longer spin this weekend. I may need to swap out the stem. We shall see.

Oh God I hope I don't have buyers remorse already. I guess just nerves of sliding the old bank card through. The guy at the store did say that if I changed my mind within a week he would take it back so that's cool.

I also bought some new shoes which may help my numb feet problem. I've only cycled in them on my trainer because I don't want to take them outdoors in case I don't keep them. They are a nice expensive pair of Simi's (I think tha't the name). I tried on several pairs and made the mistake of trying on these really nice ones. No turning back. Gulp.

So I am now going to transition from a mountain bike rider to a road bike rider. Hopefully I won't fall over. I can't for the life of me get my feet out of the clips easily yet. I'm pretty good at getting them in. Not clipping in on the road for a while - - that's for sure.

OK again thanks for all your advice.

I'm going to go look at my pretty new bike now. Would it be weird to sleep with it on it's first night home?



07-02-2004, 06:20 AM

Ride in good health and enjoyment:D

overly anxious for the tour, man I need a job!

07-28-2004, 06:47 PM
Check out the Giant OCR bikes. They are much easier to dial in for fitting.

I also have hand injuries (professional musician) and had problems with numbness on my comfort bike. After I rode my new OCR2 for a few days, I had pain in my back and hands. Took it back to the shop. They raised the bars and brought the levers up and closer. Also rewrapped the bar with thick cork tape on the bottom layer. They are holding foam to put on the bottom if the grip still hurts me. I have arthritis in my neck and tailbone - big time (I live on Vioxx). I am not having any problems after the changes were made at the shop. Oh, I forgot, they also put on a narrow handlebar and female specific seat at the time of purchase.

I looked at alot of other road bikes before I bought the OCR2. None of them were as comfortable as the Giant. I'm not having problems with pain in the back, hands or arms since the adjustments.

Important info that was offered earlier: stem height needs to be adjusted; width of the handlebars (they should not be much wider than your shoulders) and position of the levers (so that you are not over-reaching) must be considered. Good luck!

09-10-2004, 03:56 PM
I'm new to road bikes (using an oooold borrowed one at the moment), but I'm looking into buying a used bike. Does anyone have any information on a Cannondale Saeco R1000 (new in 2000) or the Trek 2000 Road bike (new in 1999). Also, I have NO idea about frame sizes! I'm 5'2" -- the Trek frame size is 52 and the Cannondale is 54 (the guy on the phone said inches, but I know that can't be right!). I haven't seen either of these yet, but I want to find out more info before I decide if I want to make the ride out there to give them a test.

09-10-2004, 05:32 PM

Those frames are going to be wayyyyyy too big for you! I wouldn't even ride them if I were you. They are sized in centimeters by the way. That is the seat tube length, and usually the top tube is a similar length or even a bit longer than the seat tube.

I am 5'2" also and ride a 46 cm Aegis Swift and could have gone with a 44 cm - the 46 is just on the edge of what I could stand over. But it's more than that - it's reach to the handlebars too. I need a top tube around 19" long, which is quite short.

With a frame sized 50cm or more, you would have to use an incredibly short stem to be able to reach the brake levers and would be sacrificing bike handling by using that short a stem. Just FYI, my husband is 5'10" and rides a 54 cm frame! Most 5'2" women ride a 48 cm or less (like me). Unless your arms and torso are really long in comparison to your leg, those bikes are NOT going to fit you. At your height you will likely fit much better on a WSD (womens specific design) frame. I rode a Trek WSD in a 47 cm and found it still just a bit long for me in the top tube. I think a Trek WSD in 44 cm would be right for me.

Good luck!


03-03-2006, 10:40 PM
I highly recommend Dr. Sarno's book "Healing Back Pain" and "The Mind/Body Prescription". If you are open-minded to Sarno's concepts, you will probably be able to alleviate your hand pains and numbness in a very short time period. It's worth the $26.00 to check out the 2 books, read them all the way through, and practise what he teaches.