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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Chicagoland
    Posts
    836

    Need some help from the 50+ Ladies

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    Hi Ladies!

    My mother (age 52) recently got a new job and it's only 3 miles from her house. She has expressed an interest in getting a bike to go back and forth to work. She has asked for my help in finding one that will be comfortable for her at her level. I haven't seen her on a bike since the early 80s, so I'm thinking beginner. She also has Crohn's Disease and in the past year was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. The RA sometimes affects her hips also.

    So my question is... Which bike would you recommend? I am very proud of her for taking such an active role in getting herself healthy. She recently started doing Yoga and she seems to think it's helping with the RA.

    I'm not sure how to help her. She lives 3 states away and the only advice I've given her so far is to find one she likes with a comfortable saddle. She's feeling very overwhelmed by all the different types of bikes that are out there and doesn't want to go to teh LBS until she at least has any idea of what she wants.

    Please help!!!

    Andrea

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Western Canada-prairies, mountain & ocean
    Posts
    6,984
    I suddenly felt a little old when reading the age of your mom ...and you're a cycling daughter, presumably? ( I don't have children but my oldest niece is 24 yrs.)

    Since she hasn't cycled in several decades and with her current medical problems, it might be a good idea for her to start with a bike where she is in a more upright position. Bike should not be too heavy and no tires that are very knobby. It will slow her down, unless she wants to do off-road trail riding in the woods.

    The saddle should be adjustable in height..as well as the position of the saddle (ie. moving the saddle angle up or down).

    I know other members here might disagree with me, but most definitely she needs to start with a hybrid bike with several gears...the more gears the better, so that she can make the ride easier on her when the terrain in her riding area changes. Or when she gets better at cycling.

    She should visit several local bike stores for bike fit and try cycling their bikes around the block before purchasing anything. No Walmarts. Please don't. She will regret spending her money after she rediscovers her love of biking. She will want a better bike.
    Last edited by shootingstar; 09-01-2008 at 10:24 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Chicagoland
    Posts
    836
    Thanks shootingstar!

    I am a cycling daughter and will be 30 in 2 weeks. She's asking me for help because my father will push her into a bike that is way too advanced for her. He's a techie kinda guy and likes all the latest and greatest advancements. I could see him trying to get her into a road bike w/ drop bars...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Delaware
    Posts
    528
    I can identify with the arthritis problem. I doubt she will want to be swinging the leg over the seat to get on or off so definitely recommend the most angled top bar.

    If she goes with a step-through she will probably be limited with very heavy bikes at the local bike stores. Even though she won't be swinging it up on a bus rack like I do, the heavy bikes just feel clunky.

    3 miles doesn't sound like a lot unless you are a new biker who may be a little hesitant about anything but very flat ground. My arhtritis flared today something terrible and it was all I could do to finish 4 miles. Consequently, though she may not think she needs a lot of gears, I think it is very important to get her a bike with really easy granny gears for those terrible days.

    I can recommend the PereformanceBike "Soft Tail" Saddle. It's gel, a bit wider but it's definitely not a tractor seat and seems to work perfectly in keeping down the jarring of spinal arthritis pain.

    Running around to bike stores is confusing and exhausting for beginners. Have her do a little internet window-shopping.

    Here are some ideas:

    Trek Women's 7000

    '09 Trek Women's Navigator 3.0 This one is heavier than the others but comfortable.

    2008 K2 T:Nine Skye Ladies Comfort Bike

    GT Transeo

    Is there any way you can visit her and take her bike shopping? She would love that!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,498
    I assume the RA has affected her hands, as is typical?

    So, ease and comfort in braking and shifting is critical. It might be best for her to get a coaster-brake bike (Dutch style) rather than rely on hand braking. And a careful fitting is definitely in order.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Riding my Luna & Rivendell in the Hudson Valley, NY
    Posts
    8,408
    If she lives in a flat area like Iowa or Florida she's not going to need very many gears, and in fact it might just be frustrating for her to have them. If flat, 3-7 gears should be plenty.

    A 3 mile commute is not very long, so it's important to get her a simple bike she LIKES and feels she can control, with the idea that she might want something more 'intimidating' later if she takes to biking. She can always sell her first bike.

    I agree that if the bike comes with big honkin' knobby tires, have them switched to lighter tires as a condition of sale. She's not going to be barreling down any mountain trails any time soon, and it'll be hard enough for her as it is to push along until she's in better shape. On a smooth paved road, knobbies won't give her any more traction than smooth light tires...in fact maybe even less. You might want to put Kevlar/flat resistant tires on her bike though, to give her a better chance of not getting a flat.

    Yes she needs a more upright bike- a hybrid or a touring type bike would be good. Comfort bikes are 'ok' if they are not too heavy. And watch out for big puffy foam saddles- they can be very painful! Beginners tend to like straight bars with clearly numbered shifting on the handlegrips. No harm in this for 3 mile commutes.

    You might want to get her to read this or print it out for her to read:
    http://bicyclesafe.com/
    Lisa
    My mountain dulcimer network...FOTMD.com...and my mountain dulcimer blog
    My personal blog:My blog
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Boise, Idaho
    Posts
    1,104
    DH commutes on his Specialized Expedition and seems to really like it. His ride is about 10 miles one way and hilly. He's got armadillo tires and could probably also use some slime in at least the front tube.

    On the other hand, I do not like MY Expedition at all for that kind of riding. The "spongy" feeling that goes with the suspension stuff that is supposed to make it more comfortable doesn't work for me.

    I like my little "ancient" hybrid Trek aside from the weight of it. I'm using it to carry stuff like groceries - sometimes with a trailer. Someday if I get more serious about that I may invest in a lighter version, but the hybrid is definitely a good choice with smooth tires. Sometimes you see "city" or touring tires with a bit more tread than road bike tires and that might be nice for if she has a gravelly ride. It can also help with the confidence we sometimes lack in those smooth tires when starting out!

    (I have a Specialized Dolce saddle on the Trek. It was nice on the Expedition too)

    Karen in Boise

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Norwood, MA
    Posts
    484
    I started commuting 8-9 years ago, now I'm retired, so I have license to give advice full time. I am not a fan of twist-shifters. One winter I rode a bike with twist shifters and had wrist pain all winter that took months to go away. It has never come back since I sold that bike and have stuck to either flat bar or drop shifters of the conventional styles.

    I absolutely think that the first priority has to be a frame that fits her, but if she is not too short or too tall, the bikes with flat foot technology might be a good choice if her hips are affected.

    There are advantages to internal-geared hubs for commuting, most importantly the ability to shift gears while stopped. The Dual-Drive systems combine a triple chain-ring with an 8 speed IG rear hub, giving 24 gears, but still allowing you to down shift from a stop.

    There is a trade-off with a front-suspension, you do lose some power, so it is important that your gearing makes up for that.

    Another option to consider for brakes would be disc brakes. If she is going to commute in wet weather, they are ideal and I feel they require less grip strength.

    Finally, don't count your Dad out completely. Get him on board in researching the available options and what might work best for her special needs.

    Bikes I would suggest looking for
    http://www.breezerbikes.com/index.cf...TOKEN=81605061
    especially the Town bikes and new Finesse
    http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-US/bikes/lifestyle/
    especially the Suede and Transend series
    http://www.civiacycles.com/civiacompletebike.php
    if she thinks she could use a diamond frame, like the Suedes, this comes fully dressed
    http://www.electrabike.com/04/bikes/...06_twn_15.html
    the Townies tend to look like they were designed for a little girl, but this isn't too bad if you add your own fenders

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Chicagoland
    Posts
    836
    Wow! You ladies are awesome. Thanks for all the great info.

    Now to answer some of your questions...

    Oakleaf- the RA is only slightly affecting her hands. She has more trouble with Carpal Tunnel.

    Everyone- she will probably have tiny hills (southeast Michigan)

    newfsmith- She's 5 ft even, so size might be a problem...

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Seattle
    Posts
    8,548
    Steer her AWAY from the bikes with the giant tractor seats. They are VERY uncomfortable after you sit in them for more than 10 minutes.
    Mimi Team TE BIANCHISTA
    for six tanks of gas you could have bought a bike.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    California
    Posts
    95

    commuter bike

    I am the practical one. I would encourage your Mom to buy a nice used bike to start. That way she can figure out if its for her or not- without alot of expense. I would buy a light weight cross bike or mountain bike with slicks - not knobbys. I would change the grips to make them padded and comfortable. I would also sit more upright. She needs a frame that fits comfortably and she can get on and off the saddle easily. Gears are important too. She will want enough gears to spin easily. She should look for a bike that is easy to shift - not all the shifters are easy to reach and maneuver with arthritis. My daughter is 13 and has juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Certain movements create different types of pain - so she will want to try several out to see where the pressure points are for her. My daughter has trouble with her ankles and fingers right now. And she certainly should pick a style and color that make her grin from ear to ear. Good luck - let us know what she decides.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Mrs. KnottedYet
    Posts
    9,110
    I would simply add to all the great suggestions here that at any age but particularly over 50 with some range of motion issues etc it's all about the fit. Whatever she gets it must fit her.

    I often say you're buying two things when you get a bike:
    the frame
    the bike shop

    You're stuck with the frame. If you get a good one it's a lifetime bike. She may swap everything else after miles and miles of happy riding. The frame is the "soul" of a bike and determines fit and ride feel.

    The shop! Her LBS will be her mentor when you are away, her coach, cheering section and guru. Find a shop that does not talk over her or down to her.

    Instead of plugging in this bike or that and links to bikes I'd visit her, do some bike shopping and Mom/Daughter bonding time, find an LBS and tell them "she wants to do this" and try their bikes in that range!!
    Fancy Schmancy Custom Road bike ~ Mondonico Futura Legero
    Found on side of the road bike ~ Motobecane Mixte
    Gravel bike ~ Salsa Vaya
    Favorite bike ~ Soma Buena Vista mixte
    N+1 bike ~ Brompton
    https://www.instagram.com/pugsley_adventuredog/

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Norwood, MA
    Posts
    484
    I'm so sorry, almost all of the links I posted probably will NOT fit your Mom. They are all bikes I thought would be nice, but couldn't try because the frames were too big for 5' (and shrinking, heightwise anyway) me. She may need to consider a MTB with street tires as they are often available in 14 inch frames. For a stock bike for someone her size, Terry is worth considering, but they don't have any step-thru frames. If cost is not a big consideration, she might well want to look at the Waterford Godiva series. Interestingly, very few manufacturers or even custom builders, make step-thru or mixte frames anymore, which is a real loss for older men and women. You may need to teach your Mom how to do the diamond-frame with a skirt mount: Put the pedals in the 3 & 9 o'clock position, lower the frame to the ground with the rear facing pedal up. Then step over bike with one foot between the front wheel and chainrings, below the downtube; and the other above the toptube. Finally, raise the bike into position between your legs. I'm off to take some pictures, can't describe it any better than that.
    Last edited by newfsmith; 09-02-2008 at 09:16 AM. Reason: right-left, up-down alway a problem

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Location
    Norwood, MA
    Posts
    484

    illustrations for my previous post

    These may make my description easier to understand, I hope.
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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Delaware
    Posts
    528
    Thanks! I'll try that the next time the hip arthritis muscles spasm hit....which should be in about 10 minutes when I go out for today's ride.

 

 

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