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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    West Tennessee & Ashe Cty NC
    Posts
    21

    Seeking opinions on bike to consider for lower back sensitivities

    Hi ladies,
    I am in the process of "coaching" my husband into purchasing a new bike he can ride comfortably to improve his cardio. I have a 2015 Specialized Vita Elite and I love it for current use on paved bike paths - no roads for me we have too many crazies here. However, we are moving to NC mountains, and will have only neighborhood paved roads and gravel mountain trails to ride on (i.e.-VA Creeper Trail) - so no more smooth riding which means I may have to change bikes at some point. For his selection, the LBS we shopped today suggested a mountain bike style for him with front suspension, seat post suspension, and less forward bar/stem as he has lower back pain (degenerative disc), and is not very fit at the moment (225lbs at 5ft9in, age 57). He road tested a KHS?sp model and could feel every bump on the street in front of the shop. We went over to the sister shop $$$ where they suggested a Scott Aspect 930 with added adjustments of suspension seat post, and handlebars moved closer to help with getting him more upright and less strain on lower back. I am wondering what other considerations we should look into for the concern with lower back pain in avoiding jarring. For example, riding over speed bumps in a car can be very painful in sports suspension vehicle versus his Suburban. I am certain there are women out there who have lower back pain due to degenerative discs in the lower 5 who have found solutions which allow them to cycle comfortably and I am eager to hear opinions and experience so I can coach to be successful in finding a good bicycle style/fit match so I will have a partner to ride with when we move. Thank you
    It is a good day when you wake up - better if the sun is shining!

    2015 Specialized Vita Elite Carbon disc 18 speed
    2016 KUAT Sherpa 2.0 2" - luv this baby!
    1985 Raleigh Marathon 12 speed is history as of 2017

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Traveling Nomad
    Posts
    6,664
    Have you considered a recumbent bicycle or tricycle for him? They are more expensive, but sometimes good deals on used ones can be found on craigslist or ebay. I know he would want to test ride before buying to make sure it would work, but it seems like that would be a more comfortable solution for his back issues than an upright bike, even with suspension.

    Where in Ashe County are you moving? My mother and step-dad own a vacation cabin outside of Jefferson/Lansing, and my DH and I own the lot next door, right on the North Fork of the New River. Looks like we're going to have to sell soon, as my step-dad is in failing health.

    We have had many fun times there over the years and love the Virginia Creeper Trail. That's the only place we've ridden there other than short rides on the (unpaved) neighborhood road on our mountain bikes as the paved roads tend to be narrow, curvy, and very steep. We were much more comfortable riding mountain bikes with suspension on the Creeper Trail, as it can be bumpy in places. We tried it with our Bike Friday folding road bikes, which have wider tires than standard road bikes, and found those pretty uncomfortable, especially on our hands when going in the downhill direction. Front suspension is a real help with all the vibration.

    Good luck in your move and bike search!
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    680
    I'm with Emily on the recumbent. Lower back issues are what drive a lot of folks into going with recumbents in the first place. Not every bike shop carries them, however, so you might have to do some looking. At least visit with a shop that really knows this type of bike. Not all shops do.

    If you do go with a traditional MTB, one thing I would highly recommend is to go with plus size wheel setup, be it a 26+, a 27.5+, a 29+ or even a fat bike. Take it from me, someone who now only uses plus size MTBs, wider tires will do a lot to add comfort to trail riding. They're not a substitute for suspension, as some will claim, so do add that, but 3" and up tires do smooth out the trail and, especially in loose gravel, make for much less fishtailing and spooky steering. They also make for a very stable bike to ride and that's also a big plus for saving wear and tear on the back.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2015
    Location
    West Tennessee & Ashe Cty NC
    Posts
    21
    we purchased land in JL to build. VA Creeper and Todd River ride are probably be the two places we will ride off JL property. I'm not certain the recumbent would do well for VA creeper trail, so that was why leaning toward MTB style. He definitely won't be jumping or going super fast, just a more tolerant ride. The recumbent might actually be worse as compression on the lower spin in that position you can't lift yourself up to absorb through your legs...
    It is a good day when you wake up - better if the sun is shining!

    2015 Specialized Vita Elite Carbon disc 18 speed
    2016 KUAT Sherpa 2.0 2" - luv this baby!
    1985 Raleigh Marathon 12 speed is history as of 2017

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Traveling Nomad
    Posts
    6,664
    Quote Originally Posted by AngelontheRoad View Post
    we purchased land in JL to build. VA Creeper and Todd River ride are probably be the two places we will ride off JL property. I'm not certain the recumbent would do well for VA creeper trail, so that was why leaning toward MTB style. He definitely won't be jumping or going super fast, just a more tolerant ride. The recumbent might actually be worse as compression on the lower spin in that position you can't lift yourself up to absorb through your legs...
    Yes, good point. I'd look towards a full-suspension MTB, then. Maybe a fattie? I would think the cushioning would be phenomenal. Not as good for the Todd River trail, as I think that's paved (but not sure, haven't ever ridden it, think I read about it, though). Good luck!
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,479
    An off-road recumbent?

    First thing is position. Being more upright on a mountainbike is very important for me to keep my back from hurting. It's not really a problem on a road bike, but the terrain makes a difference. Next, when I go over bumps, I lift up off the saddle, even if it's just a few millimeters. Is that possible for him? Or will it be if he has time to improve fitness? I do have degenerative disc disease; I'm 47 and had back surgery on L-5 and L-4 when I was 30. It's important to get a well-fitting bike, so he can develop his position correctly, core strength, etc. Also, stay on smoother surfaces until his body is a little stronger. That helps. Full suspension bikes are really designed for people to stand a lot and go over super-rough terrain. I don't think that is necessarily correct for him. So power-transfer made from a material that flexes (like steel), may be better for his entire body.

    The body position of a Salsa Fargo would work well for him. It's very upright compared to most bikes, and the new ones can take midfat tires (around 3 inch width, which provide a smoother ride). You could have it built with a high end front suspension fork (though might not be necessary, and if you do, make sure to run the type of fork by someone outside the shop before shelling out $$$). A steel frameset is compliant, and flexes a lot, so that is a type of suspension, too, provided when the bike flexes under rider weight. Salsa makes a lot of good mountainbikes that have dual suspension, too. I'll have to check and see if any are upright. (Non will be as upright as the Fargo). Also, there is such a thing as a Thudbuster seatpost. They effectively make a hardtail into a softtail. That could be worthwhile for him. (But again, suspension may not be completely necessary. It depends on a lot of factors).

    Also, Wahine recommended a seatpost that can help with hip and lower back-pain. It's more expensive than the Thudbuster. But Wahine is a bike-fitting physical therapist, so she knows what she is talking about. Here is the thread. The link she gave no longer works, but I think this link is the one she is talking about. Though both front suspension and a special seatpost could wait a few months, then he can decide whether he really needs either. I'm thinking not if he gets the right bike. In this case, suspension may be substituted for a poor bike match and fit. Not good.

    http://forums.teamestrogen.com/showt...364&highlight=

    Otherwise, Niner makes bikes that have a higher stack than most, so are more upright. They are not cheap. I think Breezer does, too.

    Salsa Fargo comes with rigid fork, but can be built with a suspension fork. This is worth testing, IMO. You would need to specify that you are interested in testing a bike with mid-fat tires (or plus, which is another word for the same thing), since that bike can be built with either 29 inch (diameter) regular width, or 27.5 (diameter) plus width, so wider, and absorbs bumps better. (It's also available in Ti or titanium, if you want to spend a lot. ). Actually, steel may be more comfortable. Depends, though. Not all mixes of steel and titanium are the same.

    http://salsacycles.com/bikes/fargo/

    You didn't mention budget. That makes a huge difference in what we can recommend.

    Quote Originally Posted by emily_in_nc View Post
    Yes, good point. I'd look towards a full-suspension MTB, then. Maybe a fattie? I would think the cushioning would be phenomenal. Not as good for the Todd River trail, as I think that's paved (but not sure, haven't ever ridden it, think I read about it, though). Good luck!
    One thing to consider with rider weight is that a larger person on a larger bike will cause the bike to flex a lot more than a smaller, super light weight rider on a small bike. Small bikes have shorter tubes, and don't flex as much. A 225 lb 5'9" man on a medium or large frameset will cause the bike to respond much differently.

    Also, the more upright full suspension mountainbikes tend to be make for All Mountain or similar, so they are designed to be ridden on extreme terrain, and are supposed to be uncomfortable on more normal cross country. Cross country full suspension bikes are not all that upright, from what I can see. (I've checked a lot of them). Niner and Breezer are still the best option there.
    Last edited by Muirenn; 06-28-2017 at 05:42 AM.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles

    Surly Krampus!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    680
    Muirenn is right about being careful when choosing from today's current MTBs. MTBs have become very specialized - specific types of riding on specific types of terrain. The current design for serious trail bikes is a long top tube and short chain stays, coupled with low head and seat angles. The idea is to put more bike out in front of you with you, the rider, closer to the rear wheel for better traction. This combo also is great for hopping logs, climbing rocks and other obstacles. On my bikes with this geometry, though, I can definitely feel my back doing more work than on bikes with more traditional geometry (me sitting more upright in the center of the bike). After a long trail ride, can definitely feel my back has had a workout and I'm in great shape. In short, I think this kind of MTB would be a poor choice for someone with back problems.

    I also agree that the Fargo is a great bike for both pavement and gravel roads and trails that are not too techy (lots of twists and turns, lots of sudden steep climbs). A serious trail bike it is not, despite what some fans claim. What it is, though, is a super comfy pavement, gravel road and back roads bike. Really at its best for the kind of riding described for your husband. It's a very comfy bike to ride for long hours on the road. Eats up those road cracks like a suspension bike. I sold mine only because I didn't get along with the SRAM shifters (prefer Shimano road shifters on a drop bar bike). Have to say I miss my Fargo, though. Still tempted to get that 27.5 + version for gravel road work.

    Have also been considering a Surly ECR which is basically a steel touring/backpacking bike with the kind of geometry that would be easy on the back. Comes with 29x3" wheels and a Jones loop bar which I use on my Surly Pugs fat bike. Very comfy for long distance riding.
    Last edited by north woods gal; 06-27-2017 at 05:45 PM.

 

 

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