Thursday, May 10, 2007


Congratulations Matt and Heidi!!!

Since I've moved to the Pacific Northwest, I've been waiting for the weather to get nice so I can enjoy this outdoorsy corner of the country. I've been loving it, but one bit aspect is missing...cycling. I want to invest some money and time into buying a bike and relearning how to ride one (the last time I was on a bike besides Alan taking me out once or twice, was when I was a kid riding around my neighborhood). Many people at work bike-commute, and I just think that is so awesome! So, any suggestion as to what I should get? Used/new? Hybrid? Any other things I should pay attention to?

And just for fun, here's an article about how global warming with affect sex trends, and here's a neat little story about tax returns.


Alan Rosenwinkel said...

Bike Style: Road/Racing bikes are ideal for going fast, but aren't too comfortable. Mountain bikes are great for traction and can take a beating, but are heavy and non-aerodynamic, making them bad for long distances. Hybrids/Touring bikes offer a compromise between comfort, speed, durability and traction. The exact balance depends on the specific bike you get.

Frame Material: There's Steel, Aluminum, Carbon Fiber and Titanium. I'm guessing Carbon and Tatanium are too expensive for you, in which case your left with Steel and Aluminum. Steel is softer, which tends to give a more comfortable ride, but is a little heavier and will rust, so it requires a bit more care. Aluminum is light and wont rust, but some say it's too stiff a material for a truly comfortable touring bike. Personally, i'd go with aluminum but i've never taking my bike for 100+ miles rides so I can't really say.

Components: Next are the brakes, derailer and crank set. The two main manufactures are Shimano (Japan) and Campagnolo (Italy). Like Mac and PC, some people swear by one, some the other. Personally I think the low-line Shimanos suck, but the high-end are awesome. I've never tried the Campagnolo. I really like the Shimano 105 component set. Anything better is a waste of money unless you are being timed, and too much lower you'll start to notice the drop-off in quality quickly. .I am a bit of a snob about this though. Others might tell you that the Tiaga or Sora would be fine, especially if you aren't going on really long rides and thus weight isn't as critical.

New or Used: Used bikes or previous year models are great way to go. Like cars, bikes depreciate after they leave the store so you can avoid paying so much by buying used. Dealers will also try to push old models out the door to make room for the new ones, so you can get a good deal there too. You can tell by looking at a bike if it's in poor condition, so as long as you know what to look for, RUST!!!, you should be safe buying even an expensive used bike.

If possible, you might want to find someone who knows what they're doing to come with you if you don't feel like becoming an expert yourself. My brother helped me out when I was looking for mine and it made life a lot easier.

I have two Treks and I love them both. I think Dave has a Trek touring bike too, if I'm not mistaken. Also, although A regular bike dimensioned for a women is fine, you don't need a "women's bike" with that stupid low bar. In fact, if you get one of those, I'll come kick your ass.

Daina said...

(I second the congratulations to Matt and Heidi!!)

Hey guys, I have a similar question. I want to get a bike I can use for commuting to work (25 miles each way) as well as eventually for racing. My price range is around $1K. Does anyone have any suggestions for new or used bikes that I should take a look at? Is it worth splurging to get more carbon fiber, i.e. how much difference is there really in speed and comfort?

Also, often when I've ridden bikes I'd get lower back pain after 30 or 60 minutes of riding. I read one review where a woman had a similar experience until she found *the* bike that fit her best, a Woman Specific Design (Trek WSD), and now she has zero back pain. Is this typical, i.e. should I spend tons of time trying out different bike frames to find the right one, or is it more important to do core strength training to alleviate the back pain?


dave hiller said...

I have a Trek 520, which is their touring bike. It has held up great for me, even on the rare occasion that I actually take it touring. However, I don't think it's the bike to get unless you really do plan on carrying significant weight around.

If you just want a bike to wander around town, I'd recommend a hybrid or some other relatively upright style. For Daina's description - 25 miles each way plus the possibility of racing, I'd get a real road bike. It can make a significant difference in time, and I'd rather sacrifice a bit of comfort to make that 25 miles in 1:20 instead of 1:40.

I am neither a woman nor have a ridden a women's bike so I can't really comment on that. Certainly the geometry of the frame can have a big impact on comfort though.

Alan Rosenwinkel said...

I pretty much exhausted my knowledge of bikes in the first post and I especially don't know what specific dimensions are ideal for easing back pain, so I would suggest going to a reputable bike shop and asking them for some advice. They can measure you and tell you what size bike will fit you, though it might take some fiddling with the seat and handlebar heights to get any bike to fit right, even if the frame is ideal for your body. The key picking shop to go to :-)

Alos, if you really intend to use the bike for racing one day but are on a budget, you might want to get a great light frame and skimp a little on the components, which can then be upgraded later on when you get into racing.

Good luck!

Daina said...

Thanks guys for the help! I ended up with the REI brand (Novara) women's design bike (Carema), which is mostly aluminum frame with some carbon fiber parts, and comes with Shimano Tiagra components (one step down from Shimano 105's which, I was told by the REI guy, is considered "barely raceable"). I think as I ride it I'll get a feel for which components, if any, I want to upgrade for racing. I've taken it for a 22 mile bike ride and am quite satisfied with the speed and comfort it affords so far.

The REI staff were super helpful and spent a good number of hours helping to fit me and get my bike set up. As far as I can tell, the Novara is no worse than Trek. It also has the added bonus of REI's "return anything at any time if you're not satisfied for a full refund" guarantee. I got the 2006 model, which as Alan suggested, was marked down quite significantly, from $899 down to $680.

The bike is also a cute powder blue with flowers :-)

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