Bike choice and fitness

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
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Claireysmurf
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Bike choice and fitness

Post by Claireysmurf »

Dear all
I have had a search through previous threads and don’t think I have found the answers I want. Apologies if they are numptyish questions; I am new to this forum, so please be gentle and sorry for so many questions.
I am a 42 year old woman, 180cm, perhaps 3-4 stone overweight (BMI 29.3), not that fit but surprisingly strong.
I returned to cycling about a year ago and bought a Brompton M3L. I really love it and find the small wheel manoeuvrability, acceleration and general feel of perkiness very appealing. I have managed a fair few 25 mile rides on it and one hot summer day, a 40 miler. However, I have found some of these very hard going and feel that my fitness has plateaued. I would like to do a few charity rides, some 100+ mile per day leisure rides and maybe a tour. I bought a Kona Dew FRR City 2011 in August but don’t find I want to ride it; other than up and down hills, I can’t do anything more with it than I can with the Brompton and it feels heavy and sluggish to me. I also had a Carrera TDF road bike last year and didn’t get on with it as I felt too canted over for the drop handlebars and came off the bike a couple of times because of poor road surfaces including inexpertly laid drop kerbs.
As a teenager and early twenty-something, I had a Raleigh Arena and then a (huge at the time) 25” Viscount Sprint – both with drop handlebars. At that time I managed a few quickish 50-60 milers.
My questions relate to improving my fitness and bike choice. I have included a list of bikes, below, that I think are reasonable choices (and would welcome constructive comments about their suitability or of alternatives). I want a bike to ‘do most things’ and would hope that it will really endear itself to me in the way that the Brompton or the Viking have. I am pretty sure that I will not want to race but I can be a little competitive at times and don’t always want to potter. However, I do find that the whole road bike/lycra combo feels a bit undignified for me!
My budget I guess is up to about £1200 but if I could get away with less, I would be happy to. I would want any bike to be specced up with full length mudguards, rear carrier (ideally front one too) and bottle holder(s). I am happy with a gent's frame.
With a better bike and training, is my target distance (100+ miles/day) attainable by summer? I would appreciate any suggestions to work towards this.
I have made the assumption that steel is best for the frame. Having clipped a car with the Brompton and it just bouncing, I worry about carbon. I also think that I will prefer the forgiving nature of steel rather than alloy or aluminium. Am I being too narrow in my thinking? A couple of my choices break some of these rules (e.g. I believe the Genesis Croix de Fer has carbon forks)
Kona Sutra Think this may be too hybrid-ish for me
Dawes: Horizon - don't know much about it
Galaxy – second favourite but not sure I like the bar end shifters
Super Galaxy - would need to be a used one?
Ridgeback: Horizon is this a good way of having some of the Panorama's benefits at a lower price?
Panorama My current favourite but slightly worried it may be a bit heavy - have been offered a 2011 model for £1100
Genesis: Equilibrium
Aether
Croix de Fer
Claud Butler: Regent – should I be aiming higher?
Dalesman – Pretty much excluded this unless I can find it heavily discounted (but the £650 pre Christmas offers have disappeared)
I would also consider an 80s to noughties quality tourer like a Raleigh Randonneur.
Again, apologies for so many asks, but any info gratefully received
Claire
eileithyia
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Re: Bike choice and fitness

Post by eileithyia »

Was it he drop bars you were not so keen on? What about a road bike with flat bars. One of my friends who has been trying road recently is using this type of set up.
http://www.primera-sports.com/products/ ... -9965.aspx

Where are you located, there are ladies riding in non competitively in quite a few areas.. perhaps linking up would be good for you.
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells
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Claireysmurf
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Re: Bike choice and fitness

Post by Claireysmurf »

Thanks for that.
I'm in Cardiff and have posted for a bike buddy on this site
I'm not against drop handlebars as such, but I think that some road bikes must be a lot lower than others. I have had some (mainly postural) problems with achey shoulders and wrists.
One bike I forgot to add was the Dawes Karakum (but believe this is alloy)
Claire
reohn2
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Re: Bike choice and fitness

Post by reohn2 »

Before doing anything try fitting a pair of 35mm Marathon Racer tyres to the Kona,it will improve performance no end (I have a Kona Dewdrop) I run mine at 50psi front and 70psi rear,I weigh 81kgs.
You can buy the tyres cheap here:- http://www.planet-x-bikes.co.uk/i/q/TYS ... wired_tyre

The Croix de Fer now has steel forks and is rated as a good alrounder.
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horizon
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Re: Bike choice and fitness

Post by horizon »

Claire: all the Galaxies, Horizons etc are much of a muchness - they are all steel touring bikes and the only difference between them is price (and quality of course). But have you thought about an Audax bike? Lighter, still steel, more practical than a road bike and fast enough for your 100 milers. Here's one but there are many others of course. It will take a rack, already has mudguards and neither the riding position nor gearing is extreme and you are saving about 3 kg over a touring bike and it comes in at less than £1000. The next one is even cheaper.

Dawes Audax
Dawes Audax
audax.jpeg (46.29 KiB) Viewed 1853 times


Dawes Clubman
Dawes Clubman
audax2.jpeg (88.82 KiB) Viewed 1851 times



PS Your budget of £1200 sounds a lot but takes you out of anything custom built and leaves you with a relatively small number of bikes to choose from - all good quality touring bikes but from very few manufacturers. However if you go for Audax, then at least you know where to start looking.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher
gbnz
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Re: Bike choice and fitness

Post by gbnz »

eileithyia wrote:Was it he drop bars you were not so keen on? What about a road bike with flat bars. One of my friends who has been trying road recently is using this type of set up.
http://www.primera-sports.com/products/ ... -9965.aspx

Where are you located, there are ladies riding in non competitively in quite a few areas.. perhaps linking up would be good for you.


I'd agree that a road bike with flat bars can be an excellant compromise. It's quite possible to average 20mph over distance, sprint at speeds, yet still set off wearing wellingtons and a barbour coat (If desired).

Aside from anythiong else, it's always amusing watching the lycra clad road racers, struggling to keep up
eileithyia
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Re: Bike choice and fitness

Post by eileithyia »

If you are in Cardiff it might not be too far to do a trip out to Worceter and St. Johns st cycles, where they can advise on bike fitting, and you could get a decent ,following a fitting from them?

Where do you want to go with your fitness, what do you want to be able to do?
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells
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Audax67
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Re: Bike choice and fitness

Post by Audax67 »

If your prime aim is to get fit then what you do has to be fun. The weight of the bike and its rolling resistance do make a difference to this: you'll have much more fun if you feel as if you're flying along under your own power than if you're slogging and counting the aches.

With that in mind, I'd suggest the following:

- Get yourself measured. Achy wrists and shoulders, and ultimately many other problems, will result from bad position. Getting measured doesn't mean that you have to buy a made-to-measure bike, it just means that you'll be able to buy the right standard size and adjust it properly.

- Considering the distances you're talking about, forget about bikes that are built essentially for town & touring. Consider instead a lighter Audax bike. Lighter wheels, tyres and frame do make a big difference when you're starting, especially if you want to tackle mountains (and you will.) When I got going years ago, moving from a paterfamilias Raleigh to a light MBK Audax-style bike doubled the distance I did simply because it was so much easier.

- Go for metal frame & fittings, be they steel or aluminium (or look at one of Spa's titaniums). Aluminium is the least pleasant to ride on, but there are a lot of alu bikes available at good prices, so you can't ignore it completely. Once you start on longer rides you can clamp handlebag bags and seatpost racks onto it: that'll be sufficient for a couple of days.

- Don't worry about avoiding carbon forks. You never (well, hardly ever) need to clamp stuff onto the forks of an Audax bike, and carbon forks to make a difference in the amount of punishment your hands, arms and shoulders receive. I've ridden an Audax bike with carbon forks for the past eight years and been over some very nasty roads, but they're still OK. Famous last words perhaps, but you'll still get years out of a decent fork. They do build aeroplanes out of the stuff.

- You might consider bullhorn handlebars instead of flats or drops. They give you a decent variety of hand positions and a more comfortable fore-&-aft grip than drops do. They'll also take STI levers.

I'd also suggest making an initial target of the shorter-distance Audax rides, where you're not racing but pacing yourself to beat the clock over distances of 200 km or more. The required average speed is well under 25 kph (~15 mph), so they don't drain your energy. I don't know if the UK has any UAF-style Audax rides, where you ride in a pack at ave. 22.5 kph under supervision of road captains, but they're a great way of learning to pace yourself, and of finding out exactly what you are capable of.

But then, I'm biased. ;)
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tatanab
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Re: Bike choice and fitness

Post by tatanab »

eileithyia wrote:If you are in Cardiff it might not be too far to do a trip out to Worceter and St. Johns st cycles,

They are in Bridgwater not Worcester.

Have you tried talking to your local shop, Reg Braddick, established 65 years ago. When I rode in that area I don't recall anybody having a bad word to say although I never used them myself. While in there, ask if they have a contact for "South Wales Veterans Cycling Association". This is or was a loose group which I rode with when I was down that way, and a fine bunch I thought they were. The point is that you will receive lots of experienced advice from people standing in right front of you. The secretary at that time was Ray Braddick, who I always assumed had some connection with Reg Braddick.
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horizon
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Re: Bike choice and fitness

Post by horizon »

tatanab: I'm just wondering what the OP would do with that advice, no matter how good. The number of off-the-peg Audax-style bikes isn't huge and it's quite likely that the OP will have to buy a bike that broadly fits her requirements in terms of size and price and go from there in terms of saddle, stem etc. In fact, it may be better just to make a start and do the tweaking over the months ahead as she gets to know much more precisely what she needs.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher
Ayesha
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Re: Bike choice and fitness

Post by Ayesha »

Audax67 wrote:If your prime aim is to get fit then what you do has to be fun. The weight of the bike and its rolling resistance do make a difference to this: you'll have much more fun if you feel as if you're flying along under your own power than if you're slogging and counting the aches.



That, I'm afraid to say, is a myth.

Fitness, definition; is the ability of the body to transport fuel and oxygen to the working muscles. To improve this, you MUST work.

Fitness only improves when the body's systems are worked harder than before. If not, the cardiovascular, capillary and pulmonary systems will stabilise or deteriorate.

Cycling NEVER gets easier. It gets faster. :wink:

I ride TTs on a Specialised SWorks. I train on a Dawes Giro 500 with full mudguards ( 8 lb heavier ). My five mile time on the Dawes is 35 seconds behind the SWorks. 4 % .
My work on the Dawes is ( hopefully ) a little greater than my last TT or training session. If I didn't work harder, I wouldn't improve.

So in conclusion, a bike of 50% greater weight and 50% greater drag hinders me by only 3.5 to 4 % ...

The weight of the bike is secondary compared with the weight of the rider's 'non contributing mass'. :D :wink:

PS My new year's resolution is to get faster on my bike, so I joined Zumba !!!
karlt
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Re: Bike choice and fitness

Post by karlt »

Ayesha wrote:
Audax67 wrote:If your prime aim is to get fit then what you do has to be fun. The weight of the bike and its rolling resistance do make a difference to this: you'll have much more fun if you feel as if you're flying along under your own power than if you're slogging and counting the aches.



That, I'm afraid to say, is a myth.


Correction - doesn't work for you. For some of us, if it feels like a slog we don't work harder, we just say "bugger it" and don't feel like going out. On a bike that feels faster we feel more positive and actually put more effort in. Certainly true for me.

Take the hard slog approach to its logical conclusion and we should all ride dragging a ship's anchor behind us.
Ayesha
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Re: Bike choice and fitness

Post by Ayesha »

karlt wrote:
Ayesha wrote:
Audax67 wrote:If your prime aim is to get fit then what you do has to be fun. The weight of the bike and its rolling resistance do make a difference to this: you'll have much more fun if you feel as if you're flying along under your own power than if you're slogging and counting the aches.



That, I'm afraid to say, is a myth.


Correction - doesn't work for you. For some of us, if it feels like a slog we don't work harder, we just say "bugger it" and don't feel like going out. On a bike that feels faster we feel more positive and actually put more effort in. Certainly true for me.

Take the hard slog approach to its logical conclusion and we should all ride dragging a ship's anchor behind us.


There is some weight in your argument ( pun intended ).

After a few miles ( say twenty ), the body has conditioned to doing some hard work. The heartrate has been elevated and now reduced to cruising. The circulatory system is dialated and blood flows readily. The muscles are hot and ready to take another pounding.
This is when one can seem to 'fly' for reduced effort.

Before a 10 mile TT, I will ride a pre-conditioning ride of maybe 20 miles, with intervals. Then eat some High GI CHO.
I get better results than reserving my energy for the event by not riding before it, even with the carbo drink.

This said, the feeling of speedy transit for not much work can be experienced on any bike. You just have to catch your body in the right condition at the right time. Even on a Raleigh 20 !! :lol:
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Re: Bike choice and fitness

Post by Big T »

Between us, my wife and I have several of the bikes mentioned by the OP, so perhaps I can comment. Also, my wife has gone from being a beginner 4 years ago to doing JOGLE and 100 mile+ rides.

I have a Ridgeback Panorama and my wife has a Dawes Horizon. They are great load luggers and very comfortable to ride. The Horizon is quite a bit heavier, due to cheaper (heavier) components and a heavier frame. However, they are not the fastest bikes to ride. That's not an issue if riding alone, but we do quite a bit of cycling with a group.

Given a choice, we'd both either ride our Audax bikes or our Summer bikes. I have a steel audax (which is my favourite), which is good for carrying small loads and also quite nippy, due to lighter weight, narrower tyres than the touring bikes. It's stil quite comforable to ride. My wife's favourite bike is her Specialized Dolce Elite, which is a women-specific road bike. This has a shorter top tube than a man's bike so you're not so stretched out. Also the handlebars are at almost the same height as the seat, so you are not so canted over.

I do find steel bikes more comfortable than aluminium (can't afford carbon or titanium), though my summer bike is Alu. I do notice a bit more road buzz and vibration when riding it.

I also have a folder (Giant Halfway). It's a great town bike and good for taking on trains, but I wouldn't choose to ride any great distance on it, though some people do.

Also, a friend has a Croix de Fer and it's quite a heavy beast.
Last edited by Big T on 13 Jan 2012, 12:09pm, edited 1 time in total.
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GavinC
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Re: Bike choice and fitness

Post by GavinC »

Bit of a left field suggestion, but if you like the small wheels of your Brompton, what about a Moulton? Small wheels and full suspension, they are IMHO a joy to ride.

The TSR range runs from £950 to about £1800 for the various models. A new TSR9 costs £1200 although mudguards and racks will add to that. Alternatively, a secondhand APB or TSR should be well within your budget.

There are other small wheelers (Bike Friday? Airnimal?) that may also fit the bill but I've no experience of those.
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