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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    5

    Getting back to biking, which hybrid?

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    I'm getting back on a bike after about 10 yrs of not biking. My last bike was a Specialized hybrid that was stolen.

    After having 2 children, I think I'll probably just be going on around town rides with family.

    In my 20s, I commuted 10 miles each way to work in hilly Portland, OR. I'm a bit wimpy about hills so sometimes I made it up the most grueling on my route and sometimes I walked. Hills are my weakness, so I'm hoping for a bike that will make the hills easier, not harder. And I'd like something that fits well - I've never had a bike that fit well and think I might have been able to tolerate longer, tougher rides if my bikes had fit. But maybe I'm fooling myself.

    So far I've tested the following:

    Jamis Citizen 1 and 3 - seemed fine, but the bike store staff didn't impress me, couldn't answer my questions well and actually suggested I go to a higher end bike store (this place sells skis except in summer)

    Jamis Coda Sport - ditto about the store and I didn't like the straight handlebar and leaning over more
    (Also the store didn't not have any Jamis women's bikes in stock, however they were all on sale with pretty good prices)

    Electra Townie - thought I would like this since I want to be comfortable, but the forward position of the legs felt weird to me and a bit hard on hills

    Trek Verve 3 WSD in 16. This felt incredibly upright. At first it was comfy and I liked the handlebars, but I had to slow way down to turn so I'm ruling this out. Also standing to go uphill, my butt was bumping the seat as I pedaled - pretty distracting

    Trek FX WSD 7.1 in 17.5. This handled very nicely but I found the straight handlebar uncomfortable. At first I thought leaning over slightly more was bothering me, but then I realized it just the angle of the wrist on the straight handlebar. I think I would need to change out the handlebar, making the cost more like the Konas below.

    Electra Verse 21 size 16.5 in hot pink (my daughter would pick this one). I actually liked the fit of this bike and liked the handlebars, found it fine going uphill, but it didn't handle as well as the Trek FX. Probably if I hadn't already ridden the Trek, I wouldn't have noticed the handling, but now that I've noticed it, I think it'll bother me. The bike store clerk said the handling was different on the Trek FX and this one because of something about the type of stem. This bike with FX handling I think would be perfect.

    Kona Dew Deluxe size 49 (not a women's bike). This seemed ok. I found myself scooting back on the seat - something I use to always find when I biked in the past. Again, didn't like the straight handlebar. The shop said they could put something different on (for extra $$ of course) and this shop seems to have very good mechanics.

    Kona Dr. Good - size 53, also not a women's bike. I liked the handlebars and the way it handled but think the bike was too big. Standing over it with feet flat, I could feel that I was slightly touching the top tube. But testing it I stopped and straddled after braking from a fast speed and didn't land on the top tube. The store didn't have a 49 in stock. Also it's a 7 speed - all the other bikes I tried were 21 speed. The store owner says from the top speed to the bottom it's the same and just missing the smaller gradations. Actually seemed fine on hills, just a bit confusing with a bigger jump to next gear, but I'm sure I would get used to that. But not sure he's right that I'm not doing without even lower gears for hills.

    The store with the Konas thinks I will like the Kona Coco, which they have coming in late next week. I'd really like to buy a bike before this weekend. Don't know if I should just pick from the above or wait to try the Coco and the smaller Dr. Good. Also wondering if the Konas not being proportioned for women will eventually bother me.

    Another plus of the Konas is the store is a few blocks from me and gives lifetime tuneups if I buy the bike there (and as I said it's my understanding they have the best mechanics in this area).

    And finally, I've always wanted a Terry bike and thought they were all thousands of dollars, but I'm seeing a Terry Susan B online for what seems like a great price. Of course, I can't test ride it. I was surprised when I measured my stand over height for this bike I was an 18 or even 20". Taller than I'd thought. But maybe I've been compensating with too small bikes to the reach isn't too far.

    I also have been reading about the advantages of 650 instead of 700 wheels for smaller women and the online Terry is the only of these bikes except the Elektra Townie to have wheels smaller than 700. I am 5ft 4in, so not sure if I need the 650 wheels or if that's just for those 5ft 2in and under.

    For those that made it through this post - thanks and I'm looking forward to feedback.

    Sadie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Posts
    10,952
    Welcome and congratulations for your return to riding!

    "women specific design" bikes don't work for all women. For SOME bike manufacturers the only difference appears to be the saddle and colors, for others there are geometry changes. For some women the changes in geometry don't work for us, it depends on our proportions and other needs. I've never found a "WSD" bike that actually fit me. I am 5'3 and 700cc wheels were too large for me. My custom bike had 26 inch wheels, if it had been more of a traditional road bike it would have had 650 wheels.

    In the end, test ride, test ride, test ride. Test ride everything and go with what works best for you. See if they will allow you to go for longer rides than just in the parking lot - pretty much everything feels good in the parking lot Good luck with your search - and there is a LOT to be said about having access to great mechanics and life-time free tune-ups! That last bit is rare...

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    5
    Hi Catrin, thanks for responding!

    I agree that free lifetime tuneups sounds great, so I'm hoping the Coco will work when it comes in. But I also don't want to get a bike that doesn't fit right just because of the lifetime tuneups!

    I'm trying to compare geometries online of the different bikes I'm looking at, but finding it all a bit confusing. Is there a recommended size fit guide that gets into the numbers? I've only seen recommendations for having at least an inch in standover height. What about estimates for recommended reach for different heights, torso length and arm length? Is there anywhere to look at the numbers on that?

    Also, I'm wondering if I need 650c wheels, but haven't found any locally to test out. When the 700c are too large - is that generally because of toe wheel overlap on a smaller bike or is there something else to think about?

    Thanks!
    Sadie

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,102
    You're looking at a variety of bikes that are really different. A Townie is a cruiser and any of the FX hybrids are more like road bikes. I'm hearing some wavering in what you are really looking for; is it a cruiser type bike that would be ok for riding with your kids or into town if it's flat or a bike you can ride for road rides for fitness and ride with your kids?
    If you want to work on the climbing skills, get the FX or something else like it. I think you'd be frustrated with bikes that are more of the "comfort" variety.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
    Specialized Oura

    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,828
    I don't know anything about hybrids, but I think possibly with the FX you would just need a different stem rather than a different handlebar. If you explain why you are uncomfortable to the people at the shop, and if they are any good, they can suggest a solution and let you know what the cost would be.

    Good luck!!

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    5
    Quote Originally Posted by Crankin View Post
    You're looking at a variety of bikes that are really different. A Townie is a cruiser and any of the FX hybrids are more like road bikes. I'm hearing some wavering in what you are really looking for; is it a cruiser type bike that would be ok for riding with your kids or into town if it's flat or a bike you can ride for road rides for fitness and ride with your kids?
    If you want to work on the climbing skills, get the FX or something else like it. I think you'd be frustrated with bikes that are more of the "comfort" variety.
    Crankin, thanks for this input - I didn't realize until you said this that I am a bit confused about what I want. My goal was a bike to ride with kids mostly around town (which is a lot of short steep hills) or on flat packed dirt trails - the easy ones. But the former biker in me is of course wanting to improve on hills, so yeah, I don't think I want just a cruiser comfort type of bike. Also I am thin-boned and lightweight so I'd like a bike that handles well because I've never been gifted at just muscling through with an uncomfortable or awkward bike.

    Ny biker, the height of the FX handlebar was fine, but the angle of my hands on the straight bar is very uncomfortable on my wrists, even though it's a women's width bar. So I don't need to go more upright, but do want the handlebar angled towards me instead of flat so my shoulders and wrists will be more comfortable. Does that make sense?

    Also, I am thinking that I'll be ok with the FX 7.1 instead of a higher end model if I get the Trek because I'm not going to try to do serious long distances or start racing or anything - is that faulty thinking?

    Thanks,
    Sadie

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Houston
    Posts
    1,352
    Just to emphasize that no bike is a one size fits all when it comes to wsd vs men's, I'm 5'3 and I ride a Jamis men's 48 (with 700 wheels.)
    2012 Jamis Quest Brooks B17 Blue
    2012 Jamis Dakar XC Comp SI Ldy Gel
    2013 Electra Verse

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Posts
    2,560
    I have the Trek Fx 7.1 and it is perfect for me. Great for cruising around, handles well, and I haven't had any mechanical issues. I don't want a really expensive bike because I occasionally lock it up in NYC. It's not a road bike, but it's zippy enough for me. I think you'd like it better than a cruiser -- those are fun but limited. It's possible that once you start cycling again, you will want to do more than town rides, and the Fx will give you more flexibility in what you can do.

    I don't know if this is an issue w/r/t the straight handlebar -- but I found that core strength is very important in how comfortable my entire upper body is on the bike. If you are holding yourself up with your core, rather than leaning totally on the handlebar, it makes a huge difference (for me, anyway).

    Good luck! Bike shopping is fun.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    central NY
    Posts
    407
    Quote Originally Posted by redmustardseed View Post

    Ny biker, the height of the FX handlebar was fine, but the angle of my hands on the straight bar is very uncomfortable on my wrists, even though it's a women's width bar. So I don't need to go more upright, but do want the handlebar angled towards me instead of flat so my shoulders and wrists will be more comfortable. Does that make sense?


    Thanks,
    Sadie
    Makes perfect sense. The Terry bike I mentioned in my PM to you came with a straight bar. I had to change it out for something with a "sweep". The straight bar just had me in an awkward and uncomfortable position.

    After spending a year or two researching, I would recommend stop researching and try to find a bike that fits well and makes you happy (and I will try to do the same). At 5'4", you should have many options, both in men's and women's bikes. I'm only 5'0". I went for a fitting the other day, and the fitter said that with my proportions, I would actually do fine with a men's bike, if they made one small enough.

    It sounds like we're leading somewhat parallel lives. Which Specialized did you have stolen? My Sirrus was stolen last month. And I'm thinking of getting the Jamis Coda next month when I'm near a Jamis dealer.

    The FX's are nice, and switching out the handlebar isn't too expensive in the overall scheme of things. Good luck, enjoy, and have fun!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Posts
    23
    I'm only 5'0" as well. I ended up purchasing a Specialized Vita Comp in an XS frame, which fit me better than the Trek frame, which wasn't as small. It's a hybrid, but more towards a road bike in terms of stiffness of frame, carbon fork and wheels. I'm having some issues with numbness in my hands and tingling even when wearing gel filled half gloves, but that might be an issue with my neck and a pinched nerve, so it's not something I'm attributing to the straight handlebars (yet). I will be having my LBS re-evaluate my position to make sure.

 

 

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