Budget Roadbike for a Novice? Help a Sister Out!

[image via fixedgear]
So, I have a younger sister. She lives in Washington DC and works in the legal/financial sector. She does not read this blog, nor would she be interested in my approach to bicycles - which is fine, but it also means that I am not really able to help her. And the thing is, that Sister has signed up for a 60 mile charity ride to promote a cause that is personal and important to us. The ride is this summer, so she wants to buy a roadbike and start training. She has never ridden a roadbike before, and her current bike is a "comfort bike" type of step-through hybrid which she occasionally rides on the local trails. She tried to buy a roadbike at her local bike shop recently, but that experience left her more confused than ever. She can't imagine riding a bike like the ones they had her try, because the positioning felt dangerous and unnatural. But she knows that she can't do the 60 mile ride on her hybrid.

What then am I to suggest in terms of a bike that will feel as "comfortable" and "not scary" as possible? She wants to spend well under $1,000 (she said $500, but I doubt that's an option). She has no desire to mess with a vintage bike. And things like lugs are not even remotely a priority. She wants a modern bike that will feel stable and safe, and will allow her to complete the 60 mile ride while being able to keep up with the others in her group. I should also add that we are not the same size, so sending her one of my bikes is not an option.

[image via Bianchi USA]

Given the circumstances, I am thinking Bianchi Volpe - maybe there will be a 2010 model on clearance at her local bike shop. Or else something by Salsa or by Surley? Alternatively, I recall seeing aluminum Bianchi, Trek and Jamis roadbikes in the $700-800 range, but have no idea what models they are or whether they are any good. But really I am just grasping at straws here. I know that some of my readers ride "normal" modern roadbikes and roll their eyes at my preference for lugged steel and quill stems. Any advice from that camp? I am also thinking of what she should be asking the person who will be helping her at the bike shop. If she wants to get the handlebars higher, does she need to tell them to insert spacers - or how do threadless stems work? She thinks that I "know about bikes" and doesn't understand why I can't just tell her which bike to get. I am out of my depth and at your mercy!


  1. Easy, get a Torker :-)


    My wife has the single speed version (U-District) and it's been a good bike for the money.

    The other good option is of course pawn shop hunting, though that comes with it's own set of issues and costs.

  2. Why not do it on her hybrid? She may want to change the seat, but the only requirement to ride a metric century is a bike that won't break and the will to keep turning the pedals. I did a metric century this past Saturday on a recumbent trike. It took forever (6 hours), but I finished and had a nice time.

    She can start training now on the hybrid by riding longer distances and times. While my longest ride on my hybrid was 50 miles, 60 is certainly within reach.

    Also, why not donate the $500-1000 to the cause instead of buying a bike it sounds like she doesn't want?

  3. If she can find a Specialized Secteur 2010 model, bike shops are clearing them out for $500-$600. Relaxed, comfortable geometry, and decent specs.

  4. Jon - Her hybrid is uncomfortable even for short rides (it's a "comfort bike" type of thing with neither here nor there geometry), can't go very fast, and is no good up hills. This will be a serious charity ride and the route will be hilly.

    Thanks for the Torker & Specialized suggestions. Hmm, the sloped top tube on the Specialized may enable her to make the handlebar/saddle height ratio more comfortable.

  5. Oh boy...I like modern bikes, but from a women's perspective, it's hard to get one in the lower price ranges. Not because there aren't good bikes, but it's harder to make those bikes fit! How tall is your sister?

    I think any bike can fit. If I were shopping for something like a $700-800 road bike, I'd look at that Volpe myself. But some things to keep in mind for comfort:

    Out of the box, all those road bikes are built for men. So they have long cranks, wide, long reaching handlebars, and STI-shifters that are NOT small hand friendly. Cranks are probably not something she'll be able to change, might not matter anyway. As for handlebars, I personally prefer something more woman friendly (i.e. the Salsa Poco), and think this is the first thing that has to change on an entry road bike. Also, most bike shops won't get this, but you CAN bring in STI-levers with shims and what not. Make sure the reach is right, or it will be torturous to shift!

    I think if all this stuff is taken care of, your sister could feel totally comfortable right off the bat on a road bike -- and she might never switch back!

    As for the bar height, threadless stems are super easy to swap out and most shops will change the stem on a new bike for free. She can get one with as high a rise as she needs to bring the bars to an appropriate height (even higher than the seat, if need be). There are adjustable threadless stems if she wants to play around with bar height, but those are heavy and ugly and all around not as good.

    Good luck! I love getting people that sort of like bikes into road biking. Road bikes totally changed my perspective on biking! :)

  6. Ah, I see. Another option would be a Specialized Vita. It's a straight-bar road bike that's between $500 - $1200, depending on the model. Best of luck to her on her ride.

  7. If she is not interested in bikes then she could just donate the money!

  8. Yep, the Secteur is designed for the saddle & bars to be level with each other. It's a very "plush" ride, at least for what you can get from an aluminum frame.

  9. If it were me, I'd get a Surly Cross Check. You can get them for about $1000. They're steel and can fit big comfy tires. They have the semi-horizonal dropouts, so she can always switch it to a sturmey archer hub in the future if she wants. Geometry is about half way between racy and touring-y.

  10. She can do the 50 on a hybrid but may have trouble keeping up. What about something like a Trek FX? a bit more upright but still very road worthy. should be pretty comfortable too and would let her commute, bike path, etc.

  11. maybe more than she wants to spend, but the surly lht is a great value and will last.

  12. If she's specifically looking for a more upright position on a road bike (which is just fine, most folks probably should) a high rise stem like this:


    Can work wonders. That particular one is a bit long IMHO, but there are lots of options. You might have to have a shop put on a new front brake cable as well.

  13. The Surly Pacer is an excellent option - the LHT is also a great bike for the price but may not by "sporty" enough for the ride she is doing. The Pacer is sporty with out being super aggressive like most modern road bikes, it has more of a 'vintage' road geometry.

    The great thing about Surly is that they make frame sizes that are small enough to fit women comfortably -- my wife rides a Surly LHT and loves it. When she was shopping for a bike, she found that trek etc didn't make frames that were small enough to feel like she was really in control of the machine.

    In terms of fit, the bike shop will have to add/subtract spacers and she may have to try a few different stem sizes/shapes...any good bike shop should be willing to swap the stem, spacers etc and let her keep test riding until it feels right.

  14. I like the bike above, (http://www.bikesfortherestofus.com/search/label/Bianchi) but I would consider a cheaper touring-style bike.
    Fuji makes affordable road bikes, set up for a reasonable bar position: http://2009.fujibikes.com/Womens/Sport/Finest20.aspx
    REI makes several good quality road bikes in the $800 to $900 range: http://www.rei.com/search?cat=4500133&brand=Novara
    They also sell the Raleigh Grand Sport for just over $600: http://www.rei.com/product/796451 (I would consider a stem with more rise)
    Online, the Raleigh sport is as cheap as $500: http://taylorsbikeshop.com/product/raleigh-sport-50816-1.htm
    Though I would personally prefer one of their Steel road models: http://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/steel-road/port-townsend-11/ ($850 at REI)

    Or, perhaps she doesn't need drop bars; STI shifters tend to drive up the price of road bikes. In that case, there are any number of hybrids available for under $400, like this Fuji: http://www.fujibikes.com/bike/details/crosstown_3_0; with the extra $100 you can replace the seat and buy a pair of mustache bars, or get North Roads and flip them upside down for a more aero, more comfortable position.

  15. The Torker certainly looks interesting. The Jamis Satellite Sport is another decent option if you want to stay with steel. Jamis even makes a "woman-specific geometry" version (The Satellite Sport Femme). One of the Providence LBSs is selling a 2010 model for less than $600. Spouse has a Satellite (a step up in components from the Sport) and loves it.

  16. Velouria said...
    "She thinks that I "know about bikes" and doesn't understand why I can't just tell her which bike to get. I am out of my depth and at your mercy!"

    Tell her the truth as strange as it may sound. That truth is learning about cycling is a journey not a destination. Explain to her that her very best advice will come from an honest bike shop when SHE tells them what she needs and why.

    Advising a relative, or close friend, is fraught with danger since whatever happens , good or bad, will be your fault no matter what. That is why it's best to point her at a bike shop and slide outta the way. :)) Heck, I won't even advise any of my sons on which bike to buy 'cause it never works out since we are different people!!!!

  17. If the hybrid has a decent set of gears, I have a suspicion that only a few components (handlebars, seat) could be swapped out to make it more her style. If she plans to use a new one beyond the charity ride, though, or if she just wants a different bike, your suggestions will work fine.

    She'll probably see people on all sorts of bicycles at the charity ride, perhaps even a few on bikes mostly identical to her current one.

  18. Jamis has some pretty comfy touring bikes with easy to raise handlebars. I think that's going to be the biggest thing for her to deal with on a road bike.

  19. I know that they're much maligned by bike history purists, but I would recommend at least considering a bikesdirect.com bike. My LBS guy, who is not so snobby about bike branding, says that he's worked on quite a few of them and they do hold up through the years. Of course, is that your sister wouldn't be able to get a test ride, so that might be an insurmountable issue.

    I personally ride a custom-built 42cm Surly Pacer (I'm short) and find it very economical and comfortable. It cost me about $600 fully built up and including taxes, but the model was last year's model.

  20. Maybe you should suggest that she check out local Goodwill's or the like. Maybe go to a high income area and check the one there even! I got my current road bike for $10 and all it needed was a new set of inner tubes for the tires and new brake pads.

  21. I got a Bianchi Brava and love it. The geometry is good and feels save, me like your sister felt terrified about road bikes and this bike feels good. I also liked the Bianchi Imola but since I'm short the 46" was a little big big for me (geometry is different from the Brava...) but it might work out for her and it comes with better parts and in the celeste color.
    I also checked the Jamis and I really liked them, they are good quality and look nice, I liked that some of the frames were steel but my problem was that the one I liked didn't come with a triple and that was a must for me. The Salsa is also nice but didn't feel as comfy and also read some reviews online that left me wondering about it.... I also checked the Giants, they make one for about $700 but didn't feel a nice and the geometry was too aggressive.
    The line of fuji for women were marginal, they felt a bit more flimsy but the geometry was good and I didn't feel so stretched out. They are cheaper too. Perfomance has many on stock so she could try them out. One thing she could also do to get a less aggressive reach is to change the stem to bring the bars closer. I did that with my Brava and made a huge difference.
    Best luck to her!

  22. nhallberg said...
    "If she is not interested in bikes then she could just donate the money!"

    She wants to do the ride. But that doesn't mean that she should be required to spend months learning about bikes. I think the difficulty of "just getting a bike and riding it" is a huge reason why not more people cycle. After all, if someone wants to run, it's much easier to buy a pair of sneakers and no one tells them that they must either study sneakers or not run. Same with tennis and tennis rackets and so on.

  23. I have last year's Volpe in metallic green and I absolutely love it. Here's a picture of it from when I first bought it: http://img249.imageshack.us/i/dsc00767c.jpg/
    I bought it for $850 at 15% off. Regarding fit, I've been riding mine with the handlebars slightly above the saddle, just because that's how it fits me best. I bought a 49cm and at 5'3", the standover is slightly high but the top tube is perfect. I think it fits her criteria of being "stable" very well. I've fallen in love with the smooth ride of mine, and after riding my dad's CAAD9, I don't think I'll ever want to switch to aluminum. Also, I've found that, being a cyclocross/touring-ish bike, the riding position is a considerable amount more upright than a racing bike. BTW, the crosscheck is VERY similar and is definitely worth considering. The only reason I bought the Volpe over the Crosscheck is that I found it on sale at the time.

  24. Pauline said...
    "I personally ride a custom-built 42cm Surly Pacer (I'm short) and find it very economical and comfortable. It cost me about $600 fully built up and including taxes, but the model was last year's model."

    Wow, that is a great deal! Unfortunately, I have not seen bargains like those around these parts, last year's model or otherwise!

  25. I think some of the newer Raleigh women's road bikes like the Capri 2.0 are well below the $1,000 mark (a couple of shops here have them in the $500-700 range). They're advertised as being a road bike for people getting started with road biking, so while they might not have the top of the line components, they are modern, lightweight bikes designed with women in mind at a fairly low price (for a road bike). Perhaps someone here though has owned one and can share more.

    The other suggestion would be Specialized, as I have seen a number of womem's road bikes from them priced under 1,000.

    In the end, though, it comes down to what is comfortable for your individual height. The only suggestion I would have for doing a longer ride like that is to take the bike out on at least 1 or 2 longer rides to see how it handles. Also check to see if the shop has a good return policy - you don't want to feel like you're stuck with the bike if you ride it and then decide it doesn't work!

  26. Anon 8:51--You make some excellent points. Even some of the so-called "women's" or "women-friendly" bikes are not fitted for women. In particular, I think of the early Terry bikes. They had 24 inch front wheels, which made for a smaller frame. However, the geometry was off, and so were things like crank and stem lengths. I knew a few female riders who bought those early Terrys only to sell them and buy "men's" bikes that could be made to fit better.

    Anon 9:49--I second your recommendation of the Jamis. In particular, I would tell Velouria's sister to look for a Jamis Satellite Sport Femme. It's has a good-quality cro-mo frame and decent parts. Local shops here in NYC sell it for around $650. It's also available in a somewhat lighter version with nicer parts: the Satellite Femme.

    If she can find a 2010 model, she might save some money. She might also like one of the colors offered last year: a shade of green I like to call "Bianchi Gelato" or "Celeste de Menthe."

    Although they're not lugged frames, I've always found Jamis to be a company that makes quality products and offers good value for the money. In fact, my first good mountain bike, which I bought when I first started to do some serious off-road riding, was a Jamis Dakota.

  27. I'm not sure of a specific model, but I agree with you when you say she should look for something on clearance.

    She might have good luck with something close to a cyclo-cross style bike. My wife has one and loves it because it's got a lighter frame and good positioning for power on longer rides, but still has larger tires that don't smash too hard against ruts int he road.

    The particular cyclo-cross style bike my wife rides is a Kona Dew Drop that she found on clearance at a local shop. The rear rack on the linked picture is after-market, but it's a great rack with a clip on basket (perfect for riding to errands in the city as well as touring).

  28. Not just the bike, but how 'bout seeking suggestions for a good shop somewhere near DC?

  29. I agree with Walt D. I would add more, but there are too many questions. Height? Weight? Arm lenth? Leg length? Standover height? Is the route paved? How's the pavement? Does she want to hang onto the bike for other uses? what are the other uses? etc.

  30. How about checking out a local nonprofit bike shop for a used bike, since she's not super into biking yet? These organizations are cropping up all over the country, and many are doing great things for the community, like providing used bikes at low costs, teaching people how to work on their own bikes, and offering workspace and assistance for cheap or even free.

  31. I guess I'm confused. Your sister wants to spend $1000 on a one-time charity road ride? Why not just rent her a bike, or borrow one from a friend, then donate the other $800-900 to the cause? That just seems like a monumental waste of money otherwise.

    If she plans on riding her bike more often, on the other hand, then she should listen to you and let you help her find a really good, used bike that will fit and function as she requires (her requirements made me think of your Shogun project immediately). After all, you are designing that bike precisely for a woman like her: scared to ride a road bike, but wanting to do longer rides. Does she just not like chipped paint? What's the issue with an older bike? If she wants your help, then she should understand your area of expertise. You know good quality, attractive vintage bicycles that will work for her needs and last her for the rest of her life. You could easily find a beautiful late 80's or 90's bike, in great condition, with high-quality components that will last forever, and still be well under that price range.

    What does it mean that she doesn't want to mess with a vintage bike? What's to mess with? This isn't a 1940's rod brake roadster you're talking about. Buy a sweet late-80's woman's road bike off CL, put on a new Technomic stem and wider tires, throw on some bar shifters, and get your sister on the road. That bike will be no more likely to break or be fiddly than a modern one.

    Or, you know, she could go to her lbs and let some random guy who's really into BMX and who is 6'2" try to fit her to a new bike that's just a scaled down version of a man's bike. How exactly is this a good deal for her money?

    Totally puzzled by all this. If you were my sister, I'd be WORKING the angle.

  32. Years ago I did my first few big events on crappy second hand road bikes, and I mean junk by these standards. My wife did a full century in sneakers on a Mongoose Crossway with fat commuter tires. This (for your sister) is just a metric century and a young healthy person on a hybrid or mountain bike with knobbies could accomplish it in four or five hours at most. For a newbie there will be some suffering and ass soreness in the final hour and a half, which is no big deal, she’s young and she’ll live, and it’s for a good cause. I wouldn’t even encourage her to spend $500 unless there’s real enthusiasm and genuine interest in cycling irrespective of the “event”. I agree with above, give the money to charity. OTOH, the moment someone says - wow I love this and want to go farther faster and ride every day - I say go buy a good quality bike. Doesn’t sound like she’s there.

    As an aside, BTW, I agree with above praise of Jamis bikes, for the price. My wife rides a mean Jamis cross bike, it’s about 10 yrs old now, but it’s still pretty sweet.

  33. Ooh! How about a bike from Public bikes? The A7 or D8 would work fine for a ride like that while still being a city bike/all-rounder she can ride for transportation. They're quite cheap as far as new built-up frames go, plus they're very hip, with lots of fun accessory options and classy colors.


    Ecovelo just did a review of the D3: http://www.ecovelo.info/2011/02/16/mini-review-public-d3/

  34. A quick word about the idea of using her hybrid for this event. My wife joined me for a 40 mile group ride a few months ago on a hybrid she bought at her LBS several years ago. No one bothered to properly fit her, which was never an issue because she only used the bike infrequently for running short errands. The 40 mile ride resulted in a sprained knee because the crank arms, as well as the bike in general, were too small for her. She couldn't ride for 8 weeks.

    As for getting a bike for under $500, she can probably get a pretty decent used, though not vintage, bike on Craigslist. It won't be a 2010 or 2011, but a 6 or 7-year old Trek, or Specialized, etc. in that price range shouldn't be too hard to find.

  35. You could look at Craig's List in the DC area and send her some links.

  36. snarkypup said...
    "I guess I'm confused. Your sister wants to spend $1000 on a one-time charity road ride? "

    She wants to spend $500 ideally. And she does plan to keep riding the bike after the event, not to mention to train on it regularly between now and the event.

    My Shogun project or any of my other bikes won't work for her, as we are not the same height.

    Plus I respect her preferences and don't want to convince her that "my type of bikes" are superior just as I would not want others to convince me that modern road bikes are superior.

  37. Personally, I think that for a novice, getting a first bike used on Craigslist.org is a great idea. It will be much cheaper (can even be below $500) than a new bike, and, as long as it's the right general frame size, it will probably be enough to hook her on cycling and let her learn what bike aspects are important to her for future bike shopping trips. She'll probably get higher end components for the money, too.

    It worked for me! And my craigslist bike, incidentally, was exactly $500 with a full shimano 600 (predecessor to Ultegra) drive train and a high-end wheelset. It's a trek 2300 frame; it's light and fast and got me hooked! It even drew me into transportation cycling as well, although certainly no one would have recommended a carbon road bike for lugging stuff around town, had I asked.

    All this aside, I recommend against (entry-level, at least) Fuji bikes. They seem to be cheaply built, and I've seen a lot of them develop chronic high-maintenance problems after a year or so of riding.

  38. Veloria, I get that she doesn't like the same bikes you do, and that's fine. But can't she get a pretty, slightly used road bike off CL and have you help her fit it properly? You can get her to take her inseam measurements, and figure out the top tube lengths with her on various possibilities, then help her with a taller stem if she needs it, etc.

    Think about my Panasonic:

    It was $300, and I probably over-paid. So slap on the taller stem, as I did. Add on bar end shifters at the same time, and you'd have an ideal bike for what she needs, for a lot less than $500. Or she could learn to use downtube shifters, as I have, and save that money. In the end, the bike would be much nicer quality than anything comparable in the price range, beautiful and infintely rideable for this. It would look "modern." And I'm totally confident you could appreciate that aesthetic enough to help her get it up and running. I don't buy for a second that you can only appreciate certain lugged vintage steel :). You wouldn't buy the same bike she would, but you can help her pick one from a selection of suitable bikes. And then talk her into white tires.

  39. why not let borrow one of your bikes?she pays for the shipping to and fro and donates the money she would have used on a bike to a charity..

  40. Kyle - We are not the same size and my bikes won't fit her. I guess I should put that in the post. But besides, she wants a bike of her own, to use both before and after the ride.

    Craigslist is a good idea and she is all for getting a used bike, but even for C-List I need to get idea of what models to look for - which I definitely am now thanks to your suggestions.

    snarkypup - You don't need to convince me about prefering vintage bikes to modern : )

  41. What size is she? I may have a lovely gently used Cannondale roadie that would fit the bill (not mine, a friends that can no longer ride due to arthritis :( )

  42. Thanks Luc, I'll ask her about it. Of course, the problem with getting a bike for her here is that she won't be able to see it and try it first - I think she would prefer to get it herself in the DC area.

  43. definitely recommend the Torker Interurban. Price is under $600 MSRP, components are decent and the reviews are good.

  44. Ah, a case of sister knows best, but falls on deaf ears? If I were to recommend a bike for my sister she would ignore everything I suggested and buy the latest cheezy bike. She wanted a car she that she would not feel bad about the dead dolphins in the gulf of mexico and I helped her find a delica and the recycled fryer goo biodiesel coop in her area....and then she went and got a new gas car with a loan....so one can't win!
    I would NOT recommend a surly lht as it's a touring bike meant for LOADED transcontinental travel. Maybe a cross check or pacer, but they are still kind of pricy. And if she's not that into cycling it would be a wasted expense. In my mind I would want my sister to get a beautiful quality steel bicycle that has good components, style etc, but if your sister wants modern and easy, then you have to start looking at the big bike companies. The best bet would be for her to check out some bike shops and ask about last season sales. The only bike shop in my area carries Giant so I see oodles of giants around. I giggled as I passed a couple in spandex racing on their giant road bikes the other day-but they giggled at me on my vintage raleigh upright in a grey wool coat etc..so chacun son gout(-but I still passed them.) One giant was more than enough for me which I still ride in dire occasions, but they have entry level road bikes and what they consider training bikes which are bikes with road gearing etc but have straight mountain bike type bars and might seem more stable. I imagine your sister might not want to go second hand, so an entry level major brand bike would probably be fine. 60 miles is no small
    feat and if she isn't used to cycling it could be difficult. I did a metric century on a bike that was ill fitting with a horrible saddle and oh it was terrible. The distance wasn't a problem but I was so uncomfortable and it was not fun at all. So, not only does she need to train, she needs a decent enough bike, a good saddle and a proper fitting!
    good luck telling her!
    me, I'm lugs and quills all the way!

  45. If she wants to buy a used bike, the real problem is that, until recently, very few road bikes were made for women. They may have had step-through, drop-bar or mixte frames. But they still had the same dimensions and other specifications as men's bikes.

    In the 80's, Miyata, Nishiki and Fuji made women's specific models of road bike. They turn up from time to time in thrift and bike shops, and on eBay and Craig's List. If she has time and patience, she could get a nice bike with the necessary changes (to the stem, handlebars or whatever else) for less money than she'd pay for a new bike.

    On the other hand, if she gets a new bike, she can probably get it sooner and have that much more time to ride it before her event.

  46. I did a 100km (just over 60 miles?) all night charity ride with BIG hills on a hybrid - pictures here http://becksldrt.posterous.com/nightrider-2010-we-did-it maybe she could just get a new, better model, if that's what she's comfortable on? mine was a ridgeback with 21 gears. it cost about £350 new a couple of years ago, so would be very affordable and was comfortable all night. Had no problem keeping up with people either.

  47. A quick google produced a Wash Dc LBS and a bike that would work for 589:

    (disclaimer: not taking into account anything other than price and location)

  48. http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/doc/bik/2228093160.html

  49. Erm... I did a 60mile charity ride myself on my hybrid just a few days ago and I was fine. There were hills and a very steep bridge, too. I had no issues, and I was comfortable on it...

    So I would argue that she doesn't necessarily need a roadbike at all.

  50. ok, a lot of different opinions here, so here's another one.
    first of all, if her sister wants a modern bike and not a "lovely bicycle bike" let her be. if she wants a new out of the shop bike it's her choice regardless of the reasons. respect it.

    now about the bike. recently i bought kona honky tonk, a road bike, but not a race replica and i must say it's beautiful anf i feel great on it. i'm not a woman, but i'm not tall (170 cm)and this is my first road bike so i'm in a similar position like your sister. also, the reason i bought this bike is a 1000 km ride this summer.

    why honky tonk? it is light steel frame (i prefer steel), has a nice retro look, great components, and not too racy positon. if you can find a 2009 model off some late storage clearance (like i did) or on slightly used, you'll get nice downtube shifters (dura ace) instead of STI which is good if small hands are a problem. these shifters are placed quite high so they are easy to use. i raised (rotated up a bit) the bars on mine to make it a bit more comfortable and i'll probably change hoods postion but it's quite ok even as it is now.

    downside is that there is very little space for mudgards, especially on the front. actually i think that a front mudgard with 28 tires might not be a possibility. rear is ok.

    other kona options to consider are kona dew and jake. [i'm talkin about kona because here in croatia they recently had great deals so couple of my friends bought there bikes last year so i have an idea what kind of bikes they are.] dew is a great commuter/touring aluminium bike and if you can still find model with dropbars (or fit them afterwards) it would be a great choice. jake is a bit more sportier cyclocross bike, but a friend uses it for allround cycling and did a brevet last year with it and turned out perfect for it.

    hope it helps and not only makes the choice more difficult :)

  51. Marin Natural Fit series could be a good choice for her. It is alumunum with upright position and road components. Feels like racing bike.

  52. I've done similar distances over hilly terrain on my DL-1, and I'm not tremendously fit. The bike is less important than your frame of mind. If you are in the right frame of mind, being comfortable is the next most important thing. Personally I'd suggest getting a good quality everyday transport bike; she'll probably use it more than a road bike both before and after the event.

    It takes a while to get from being a novice cyclist to developing the mind and body to be even reasonably comfortable riding a road bike for that kind of distance. Road bikes are great if you want to cover a great distance at a high speed on a regular basis. A roadster is just as capable of doing the same distances, just a bit slower. For a charity ride I think it deserves consideration, if she wanted to do these kinds of distances more regularly I'd suggest the road bike (and the associated development of relevant experience).

    Ideally more gears than three would be ideal, but I have some similar rides with three gears. When you consider some of the distances and terrains covered by people on penny-farthings it kind of puts things into perspective.

  53. rather than a brand new bike, how about an almost new road bike, the price of a minimally used 2007 will be far less or you'll get a lot more bike for your money.

    lot of good lbs will have trade in's too.

    could you also pick bikes off gumtree/craigslist that might suit her? I just wouldnt buy a new bike unless theres tax breaks or finance involved.

  54. i'd recommend sthg like a

    -kona dew drop
    -norco vesta

    a lot of bike for the buck

  55. Trek pilot is discontinued for 2011 but she might be able to find a 2010 model cheaply. It is the perfect road bike for her with an upright geometry, smooth stable ride and the 2.1 version has really nice components. Also the Raleigh Clubman is a great steel bike. R.e.I. carries last years's models in her price range.

  56. Not much to add to all the comments from people who are really expert about geometry - but I am a bit of an expert in being a wuss on a bike. If she's going from a flat bar hybrid, she may find the transition to drop handlebars particularly nerve-wracking (I speak as someone who hasn't actually managed it...). Fitting touring (butterfly) bars will give her a number of hand positions without the scariness of going right down in the drops. Also, she may find that if the saddle is raised to the 'correct' position for full efficiency then it will feel quite frightening at first if she's been riding a more upright and lower bike. She should maybe get the shop to adjust it up to the right height, make a note of it, and then lower it for a bit until she's comfortable with the bike's handling, and gradually raise it up to the original position as she gains confidence.

  57. Velouria: I live in the DC area and might be able to help your sister. I'll email you offline. (Steve)

  58. Here's my opinion and, it's worth exactly what you have paid for it.

    I do not think you should make any suggestions regarding not getting a bike and just giving the money to the charity. That is a cop out. She has asked you for help getting a bike. She has already made the decision to ride in the event. It's her decision. Plus, riding in a charity event like this gives her a connection to the event and the people who care about it that cannot be obtained by just giving money (although there is nothing wrong with that). There is a chance that she will meet other riders who she likes and ends up enjoying cycling and wanting to stick with it.

    So, my advise (same value as my opinion) is help her get a nice bike that she will continue to enjoy and not need to replace immediately if she gets into riding. If she decides she does not want to continue with riding, it will be easier to sell.

    Good Luck to Ms. Sister!!

    My aunts used to call each other "sister". :^)

  59. I recently had a similar plea for help locally. If I were to pick one bike from today's market to rely upon for all use, it would be the Surly Cross Check. They have nice steel frames,comfortable but responsive geometry,plenty of clearance and braze-ons for any accesories. We all know she will spend more than she intends, have her get something really versitile for the long run.

  60. I would suggest that she first concentrate on figuring out what size bike she needs. If she is not going to end up buying from a LBS then I'm sure there are some independent folks on CL that would help her so that she doesn't feel sleazy getting info from a shop and then buying used elsewhere.
    Speaking of CL, I was poking around the DC site and found this:
    We have these events in Portland/Southern Maine and they are great opportunities to find good used bikes and meet people from every corner of the cycling community. If they're anything like ours I would suggest arriving very early and be laser focused on what you're looking for.
    It can take 2-3 bikes before you figure out what you want, so spend as little as possible on the first real bike, it will not be a keeper even if she decides to continue riding.
    A $300-400 bikesdirect/CL bike with money left over for shorts/jersey/pedals/shoes will put her right in her target price range and get her happily through the training and the charity ride. Good luck!

  61. If she's in the DC area, may I suggest she go to Bicycle Space at 4th and I NW? http://www.bicyclespacewdc.com/. They are the friendliest bike shop in the world, or at least the city, great with questions and will not sell her more bike than she needs. They carry Jamis, Surly and Kona, among others, and I think they are honest enough to recommend something else if that would be right. (Don't work for them, just love them.)

  62. It's too bad she can't train on the hybrid. I know I had planned to do my tri on my mountain bike. I did my training really at the gym in spinning class. For real world riding it was the sorte. Then I was able to borrow a road bike. Do she belong to. A gym? Can she start for mindless trainig spinning and then take her time looking for a bike to borrow. For me I was not I treated in rod bikes and didn't want one. But then after riding one, I appreciTe them greatly. I'm glad I didn't make a quick purchase... Is the hybrid ok for now for short trips to get real world feeling in? Vee

  63. Have her check out the Bicycling.com reviews. Note all the prices are retail so you can usually find the bikes for less in the real world.


    I would also suggest going to REI (5 stores in greater DC area), good place to test ride and they have a wide selection of traditional road and flat bar road bikes. The Raleigh Capri looks interesting as it has a compact double (50/34) instead of the usual, in this price range, triple.


  64. If she want to test ride a variety of bikes to make a decision I would have her try the Specialized Dolce Compact, the Cannodale Caad Femme, the Trek 1.2 WSD. All good bikes, good components for under $1000.00. With that said I know a lot of people who own Jamis bikes and they are good solid bikes and have a very good reputation. I personally have never tested one, but have heard good things and I see quite a few of them.

  65. I agree that we don´t know enough to recommend a bike for her. Is there anyone who lives in DC that could recommend a reputable bike shop. V., can you ask Harris or Wheelworks to recommend one_

  66. what size? i know someone selling a Fuji Mixte 10spd with 700c wheels..CHEAP!$70.00..Its light, but upright.i could see someone easily doing 60 easy, cruising miles on..just a thought..

  67. I recently bought the Kona Honky Tonk in 2010 red. Lovely low cost steel framed road bike with high bars(5cm of spacers). smooth ride and very safe. Felt like a much faster version of my hybrid in terms of stability.

    Comes with 28mm tyres and will take 30mm and mudguards...

    Here was my post about it...


  68. If she wants to spend less under $500 then one option is the Fuji Newest 3.0 -- Performance Bike has the 2010's on sale now (and they have stores near D.C. that could help her fit it). The Newest 3.0 is a perfectly fine bike for a beginner -- I reviewed the 2009 model on my site (and no big changes in 2010):

    Also, if she wants to go up just a little bit, I have the Giant Defy 3 and it really has been a great bike. I also reviewed it on my site:

    I hope she finds the right bike for her!


  69. I agree with Richard who said...
    "She can do the 50 on a hybrid but may have trouble keeping up. What about something like a Trek FX? a bit more upright but still very road worthy. should be pretty comfortable too and would let her commute, bike path, etc."

    I and my wife have trek FX hybrids, me the 7.3, her the 7.2. I sometimes ride with the LBS group on 25 mile rides and keep up a 16 - 17 mph pace even though the gearing is more "mountain" than road (big ring is 48 teeth)and I've gone on solo rides of 40+ miles, and it's still fine for errands and commuting. Just so you know, a new 7.3 lists at $679, but Trek has at least 3 prices, list, a discount level that all dealers will quickly go to (about $50 cheaper) and closeout for last years models (save about $100). If looking for last years model, have the dealer check the Trek warehouse, and get one shopped in. That's what we did for my wife, got a 2009 in 2010, took 3 days to ship from Wisconsin and cost under $500, for a new bike.

  70. Thanks so much to everyone for the suggestions, this is beyond what I expected!

    Re doing the ride on her hybrid: First, her bike is way different than the pictures of hybrids some of you linked to. It has MB tires, suspension, very upright handlebars - I have seen pictures and it is clearly not the right bike for this ride. Second, both I and several others I know have hurt themselves doing long rides on such bikes, so for that reason alone I would not recommend it to her.

  71. BTW, Trek usually has two versions of the WSD. One with the top tube high, and one with the top tube in a step through configuration. Still straight, not a loop design, just attaches to the seat tube lower. That was one of the things the wife insisted on with the fx 7.2. Everything else about the bikes are the same.

  72. Somewhat to my surprise, she says that she is fine mounting a diamond frame. It's the extremely leaned forward position that freaked her out. At the bike shop they had her try the bikes on a trainer, and from what I understand they must have had the saddle raised way above the (drop) handlebars - the "proper way". But I think if she just gets the bike set up with the saddle and bars level, she'll be okay. She's way more athletic than I am and just needs to ease into the whole low handlebar concept.

  73. On a slightly related note, my used 10 speed arrived today. I should start by saying, it was free, it has pretty lugs.... it arrived in about as many pieces as possible. I don't mind doing as much assembly as possible myself, but I'm torn since I'm:
    a - slightly intimidated
    b - completely broke.

    Is there a link anyone would recommend to show me how to put as much of it back together as possible and hopefully save some money? It is a diamond frame. There are center pull brakes and old style shifters. As nearly as I can tell, everything I need is in the box except a chain tool and new cables.


  74. If that's the case the adjustable stem on the Fuji Newest 3.0 may give her a bit more comfort while she eases into low handlebars.

  75. Erin - Join bikeforums and ask this question on the Classic & Vintage subforum. You will get precise instructions before the day is over!

  76. I'm still a little unclear on the nature of the problems with the hybrid bike. Of course, the frame geometry can't be fundamentally altered, but one can do a lot with saddle position, stem height and reach, handlebar type, and so forth. If the hybrid is uncomfortable for your sister even on short rides, that might suggest that it's not fitted properly. A bike shop ought to be able to tell whether or not that's the problem and, if so, what it would take to correct it. I know that a lot of purists don't like hybrids. They're not my favorite. But my parents (ages 82 and 78) have been riding hybrids all over the U.S. and Europe for a number of years. They ride what at their age I would call long distances -- 25 to 50 miles per day. They are perfectly comfortable because the bikes fit them. Of course, they aren't speed demons. Anyway, I wouldn't dismiss the hybrid so quickly. If the bike isn't too heavy and it can be adjusted to fit your sister (assuming it currently doesn't), then she ought to be able to do 60 miles on it. It might be hard for her to keep up with dedicated roadies, but that would likely be the case no matter what she's riding, no?

  77. From the sounds of thing recommending,and re-recommending, and re-re-recommending the hybrid just isn't going to fly. I've not seen the bike in question, but from the description Velouria gave of it (above) I can imagine it. I am very fit and an experienced tourer with many thousands of miles behind me, in all sorts of conditions, and i would not care to ride any distance on the sort of hybrid bike that I am imagining she has.

    Sure hybrids - in the generic sense - can work just fine; my sense is this particular hybrid just ain't going to do it. Ergo - new bike.

    On a blog like this she will get hundreds of suggestions, so many as to be useless. Her best bet is going to a knowledgeable shop, picking one she likes the look and feel (and price!) of and having the bike fitted properly - and sympathetically - to her. Someone has to be there, listen to her, and pay attention to what she wants and proposes to do. It can't really be done by blog posting, however well intentioned.

  78. ^ You are probably right! Still, I couldn't help but try. I have looked up the bikes that have been suggested and I can see how some of them could really work for her, so I will email her some links to specific models, as well as some pointers for what kind of thing to ask for from the bike store people.

  79. My comment seems pretty unneccesary at this point, but I'm posting it anyway!

    I agree with some previous posters that REI is a very un-intimidating place to test ride bikes. They carry a variety of styles and brands (but not the most recommended ones above, like Jamis), many of which are lower priced. Unfortunately this is not the best season for getting a bike on sale there. There may be a better independent store in DC, of course, but I don't live there so I don't know!

    I believe you when you say that her bike won't work for the ride but, as others have pointed out, that doesn't mean she needs a road bike with drop bars, either. Some hybrids are more sporty than others.

    Also, I don't think I'd recommend a Surly to someone who is not necessarily super interested in bikes yet. They are a "good value" but still pretty pricey for a newbie.

  80. About 40 miles north of DC is Mt Airy bicycles. Lots of used AND vintage frames: http://bike123.com/
    If my brother was in DC, that's where I'd send him. "just sayin'..."

  81. how about some moustaches with the nitto dirt drop stem? I swear by these bars, and they are a cheap (in comparison to a new bike) way to make any old road bike feel a heck of a lot safer. Plus they look f-ing sweet!

    they put you slightly more upright but still far enough over that you get a more efficient leg angle. They offer several different hand positions, with enough versatility for longer, speedier rides as well as city riding. I put them on my mom's 83 trek, which was my first adult bike, and they made me waaaay more comfortable than the original drops. I kept them on my new LHT and plan to ride with them across the country this summer.

  82. I could make about 10-bike specific suggestions here, but I won't. I'm doing my first charity ride this year and it will either be on my dutch bike or my folding bike since I lack a road bike. Getting a specific bike seems silly unless her current bike isn't comfortable for day to day riding.

    Craigslist is not a great place unless she has help from a person who knows about bikes. There's a place called Phoenix Bikes (http://www.phoenixbikes.org/) in VA near DC that rehabs and sells bikes to support community efforts. She could give back to the community while she buys her bike and get some assurance that it is properly tuned up.

  83. When I laid out the design parameters for the Kogswell P/R with Matthew Grimm, we had riders like your sister in mind... I think wide tires are a must - both for safety (railroad tracks, potholes, cracks in the pavement) and stability. Larger wheels might be even better - 700C will make the bike more stable yet, but of course less nimble. Find a bike with little wheel flop, as that makes it more stable at low speeds. (Almost all bikes are stable at high speeds.)

    Jan Heine

  84. I have to admit that I did not read all 80 comments, however, this is what I recommend:
    1) If she doesn't like the position drop bars put her in, she can put a set of riser bars on instead - this should be easy and fairly inexpensive.
    2) About handlebar height - for threadless headsets, adjusting the height of the handlebars can be a little bit of a pain, cuz it's basically determined by the length of the steer tube. You can have higher bars either by leaving the tube uncut and putting in spacers or by using a steer tube extender. But steer tube extenders can also be kind of a pain, since she'd probably have to go to a shop to have the height of the bars adjusted (from what you say about her interest in bikes anyway). But if she does want to raise the bars up, she might want to check out this stem, called the Octagon - it will have to be put in at a shop, but once it's on, she can adjust it herself - and it will allow her to play with the height and determine what's comfortable for her.

  85. I just sold my 2009 Bianchi Volpe.

    The Good:
    • Decent components for the price.
    • Slight top tube rise makes it easier to get comfy on it.
    • Light.
    • Rear rack mounts.
    • **My 35 Pasela TGs fit with fenders!**
    • Models 2010 and earlier have a Deore rear derailleur. Newest has Tiagra. Not as good in my opinion.

    The Bad:
    • The front forks on these have far too much flex in them. Stock the bike was unsafe and unridable because the front fork flexed so much that while breaking the bike would shudder uncontrollably. Putting the 35 pasellas helped to dampen vibration. Another fix was to move the cable stop from the top of the stem to the fork. My curent bike has cantis and I'm familiar with the little bit of shudder but the Bianchi Volpe has a dangerous level of it. Just google Volpe shudder and you will see it's a common problem.
    • Only one set of eyelets.

    I brought the bike home like this:

    Sold it like this:

    I would probably not recommend canti brakes for a beginner bike. Feeling safe is so important. But the Volpe once fixed was a great bike.

  86. I'd suggest that she choose a few models, try them out at bike shops, then shop for them on craigslist. If DC is anything like Denver, you can find barely ridden road bikes for a fraction of the new cost almost anytime on CL. Another price savings tip is to buy last year's model.

    My road bike is a women's specific K2. Not a brand well known for road bikes, although their mountian bikes get great reviews. It's the most comfortable road bike I've ever had and at over 2,000 miles on her now, I've never regretted the purchase for a second.

  87. 86 comments and counting... you do manage to get us riled up.

  88. Yes, sorry about that! I honestly expected to get just a couple of suggestions. But then I never anticipate which posts get lots of comments and which won't.

  89. One of my two main rides is a 1991 Trek hybrid fitted with flat bars. I've ridden it quite a bit. I saw guys doing BRAG on mountain bikes with front suspension forks.

    So it's not the fact that your sister's bike is a HYBRID that's the problem, it's that the bike doesn't fit her/is uncomfortable. You can have the same problems on a road bike (a Bianchi, BTW), like MY sister did when she rode the MS150 ride on a bike that wasn't adjusted to her quite like it should be.

    My old hybrid isn't quite as fast as my Novara (REI brand) road bike, and not quite as comfy, but part of that comes from the flat bar. I don't have many hand positions I can switch to, and that tends to tire my hands out.

    I never know exactly what to say to folks who aren't very familiar with bikes, though. You can say "Get something that feels comfortable", but what feels comfy when you start out may not be quite as comfy after you've been riding a while and have more experience.

    She should test ride a lot of bikes and see which ones feel best to her. I'm partial to touring bikes, but I've been riding drop bars since the 70's. I can't imagine how confusing bike-buying must seem to someone who hasn't ridden much, and who isn't comfortable on a bike to start with. :(

  90. Janice, you hit the nail squarely on the head with your comments about flats vs. drops, and not being happy with one position once you get acclimated to riding a bit. But some people seem perfectly happy to ride for many miles/years with flat bars. Sister just won't know until she gets a reasonably-fitting bike and rides for a while. (Steve)

  91. My first thought when reading this post was that she should be perfectly able to do a 60 mi ride on a hybrid bike, particularly if that's what she feels comfortable on. Perhaps a change of tires would suffice to make it roll more smoothly? In warmer weather, I ride an early 90's, non-boingy mountain bike equipped with 1.5" slicks 20 miles per day on the road (sometimes up to 50, even) over hilly/mountainous terrain for recreation, in addition to vehicular cycling.

    If she wants to feel the part on the ride, and test the waters of what riding a drop bar road bike is like in comparison to her hybrid, then I guess there is no getting around purchasing another bike. But, this suggests something to me- this is to be a limited use item, and possibly a disposable one- in other words, time to hit up Wally World.

    Yes, I know all the pedalphiliacs will get velodramatic about actually seriously suggesting a BSO from a big box store, but hear me out about this one-


    Here's a $160 bike that ships for free, and is about the best entry price point you're likely to find. Have this bike set up at a LBS to ensure that the wheels are trued and tensioned, the hubs and BB are properly greased, and you're off and rolling.

    But wait, you say that supporting such a large corporate entity is detestable? I agree. That's why we need to consider the 90 day no hassle return policy. She can try road cycling, and if she doesn't like it, or decides she really does and wants something nicer, she can get her $160 back, and has supported the LBS in the process.

    This is all well and good if she is capable of riding 22.5" frame, as you don't specify whether she's taller or shorter than you are.

    If she's shorter, there's another option, though not quite as appealing- it's the same bike in 19" mixte (sic) format from the other big box retailer, whose name is often pronounced tar-zhay by the cognoscenti.


    Here it's $180, you pay for shipping, and good luck returning it. It makes less sense, but it's still a very good budget option compared to the $1000 bikes some have suggested. With a simple bar/ brake lever swap, as well as the addition of a rack and fenders (which the frame has provisions for, though the caliper clearance might be suspect) it could have a future as a workable city bike.


  92. One nice point about REI: they have the world's best return policy. If she joins as a member, she'll get great discounts (there should be a member sale coming up soon... March, I think. Usually those are 20% off), and she'll be able to return anything she buys for any reason at any point. That's right: she can try out the bike for a month, and if she doesn't like it, she can bring it back and get her money back. I try to never abuse this policy, as I really, really want them to keep it. And 90% of the time, I keep what I buy there. But every now and then, I buy something technical and HATE it after I've taken it out in the field a half-dozen times. REI lets me take it back, no questions (or even receipt!) asked, because I'm a member.

    Just a thought. They aren't cheap, but there are reasons for that.

  93. Erin B and anyone else in that position, you need a bike kitchen.


    check the comments for a bike kitchen near you.

    Failing that, Haynes Bicycle Manual has step by step photographs of building a bicycle from the frame up.

    Good luck and have fun.

    Also, Velouria, a DC bike kitchen might be a good starting point for your sister's search.

  94. I would suggest either Proteus Bikes, a woman owned bike shop or College Park Bikes.Both are in a suburb of DC and home of the University of Maryland.
    All of my bicycles have come from College Park Bikes. They have a large selection of used bikes as well as new ones.Larry Black has quite a collection of vintage bikes for sale.
    Check out their web site at bike123.com
    Proteus as a woman owned bike shop might be a ggod choice also.I have heard many good things about them as well.
    Some people do not find College Park Bikes to be their cup of tea.I suggest going in Winter on Thursday nights when they are the least busy.As I said all of my bikes have come from College Park Bikes as well as 2 that my wife owns, a 70's Raleigh Super Course mixte and a 60's chrome Schwinn Paramount mixte.They do great work.
    If your sister would like, she can contact me at wjbonsai@comcast.net Good luck!

  95. Since the course will be hilly, a road bike's gearing may be too high for a beginner.
    I suggest a touring bike with lower gearing and perhaps a more comfortable handling.
    The Fuji Touring 2011 is at a good price for a touring bike, has a threaded headset and severall different sizes. It may be worth a test ride.

  96. Velouria, I hope you'll let us all know what your sister decides.

  97. There are plenty of bikes too choose from, but its really better for her to go to a bike shop ride a bike and get fitted. So many bike shops are a turn off but thats who sells bikes and we need to find the good ones and patronize them.

    Proteous in Collage Park MD has Bianchi's, Kona, and Jamis among others. They all make steel road bikes. Proteous has been around for ages. Its pretty low key grungy and friendly.


    College Park Bicycles in College Park has a huge selection of used bikes (thousands) If you know what you want they probably have something similar. They are related to Mt Airy Bike. I've bought stuff at Mt Airy, they are nice enough.

    Plenty of bike shops I just wouldn't waste my time in, but those two aren't too offensive.

  98. @Jazzboy Wow. I didn't know that Fuji had a threaded headset. 64cm too! Do you know anything about the tire clearance?

  99. Late to this party, but I did want to echo some of the comments about women's specific bikes or components that help a men's bike fit better.

    From my experience with centuries and triathlon, I honestly wish that I had gotten a women's specific bike to begin with rather than swapping out components to make the bike fit. Saddle is one thing (so many stock saddles suck - say that 3x fast), but feeling too stretched out because the stem is too long, or the handlebars are too wide, or the brake levers are too far away for small hands to reach, or the crank arm is too long - EVEN IF THE FRAME FITS - is an expensive, uncomfortable, and annoying process to go through, especially for someone who is new to cycling for sport & distance. So, what she may spend outright on a women's bike, might result in things being more enjoyable at first, and more economical over the long haul.

    That said, if she wants to do any reasonable amount of commuting on her bike, and not use it as exclusively a road bike, then have her look for a bike that she can add a rack and fenders to. Not sure if the Specialized Vita has braze-ons or extra dropouts, but maybe something like that would work for her. And IMHO, Surly makes great bikes, but even at 5'7" I find their drop bars really wide and the brakes hard to reach.

    That said, she should go to a recommended LBS and not let them fit her in a way that she is not comfortable (i.e. bars & saddle at the same height). And if her LBS tries to talk her into something she is not comfortable with, then she should leave and go somewhere else, or try to talk to a manager. Sorry to sound annoyed about the issue, because most LBS employees are really well-intentioned, but when you say "I'm not comfortable" or "this doesn't feel right" then it doesn't matter if something is "the proper way" or not. It's like you starting with raised bars on your Rivendell - it felt right to you, which made you enjoy riding the bike, so you rode more, and then the bars came down.

    Best of luck to your sister. I'm sure she'll find the right thing eventually. It just takes time.

  100. My only experience with modern road bikes is the Giant Avail 1, which I find very comfortable. I used it for a two-week ride from Richmond, VA to Philadelphia, PA, which was around 600 miles. However, I transitioned to this bike from a steel Fuji diamond frame road bike from the 80s, which I used for rides from 10-55 miles in length.

    Giant is the brand that most cyclists on Bike & Build use for their cross-country trips. I think the geometry is less aggressive and more comfortable? The majority of B&B participants are complete novices to cycling. The 2011 Avail 1 retails for over $1000, but the Avail 3 is around $750. You can find older models for less.

    Oh, and I'm 5'0 woman. Hope this helps!

  101. Didn't feel like reading through 100+ posts, but think about this - my mother, who wants to ride bikes a lot more regularly, doesn't feel comfortable with diamond frames, and will only ride step-through or mixte frames. As such, I'm building up a Mixte for her.

    however, if she is cool with a diamond frame, I'd seriously suggest either buying her a newer, used, diamond frame, or getting a Surly Pacer. Both would be cheap enough, but would be very comfortable, fenderable, and comfy for her.

  102. Are there any shops in Boston (or D.C.) that specialized in secondhand refurbished bikes? You can often get a much better bike secondhand for the same amount of money, and I dunno about the shops elsewhere, but the shops here guarantee their work for six months, that kind of thing. And many of them are excellent at helping you find the perfect bike for the kind of riding you want to do.

  103. I'd recommend a Lemond Zurich. High end in its day, fast and stable on the road. Used to be $2000 in the mid 1990s, it can be had today from $400-$600 on eBay. Reynolds 853 steel which is a classic and time-tested ride.

  104. I'm pretty late to this party but I wanted to add that there's a couple of local bike swaps coming up, so that might be an option. One's in Mount Pleasant (Lamont Park) on March 26th from 12-2 PM and the other's in April near Eastern Market. There are lots of great deals on D.C. Craigslist too, but it requires some persistence.

    D.C. doesn't do secondhand sales, but MD and VA don't have the same restrictions. Off the top of my head, College Park Bicycles (in College Park) and Bike Club (in Falls Church) sell secondhand. I wouldn't predict that rocking deals would be had, but it's always worth a shot. Our many internet forums of bicycle concern might be helpful as well.

    I usually do some kind of CL/bike swap combo and have found it to be pretty economical. My LHT ended up being about $300 and has a B-17, full fenders, VO porteur rack, and old XT components. If she wants to go that route, I'd be happy to help.

  105. Sorry for the late posting (I only check in every couple weeks), but if she hasn't found something yet, I highly encourage your sister to check out BicycleSPACE on I Street NW, between 4th and 5th Streets. (They're just east of Chinatown.) A relatively new shop, so not a lot of people know about them yet, but the salespeople really do care about getting people on the right bicycle for them, and will take the time to talk through what they really want/need. The streets outside the shop are surprisingly quiet, so she can take some decent test rides.

    Given what you've said, I'd steer her to a flat-bar road bike/hybrid. One of the Jamis Codas or one of the Kona Dews. They'll handle 50 miles without a problem, but will be comfortable for any number of uses. The lower ends are close to $500 (she will have to spend a bit more than that, but can safely stay well below $1,000).

  106. All right, she bought a bicycle: a Marin Venezia, 2010 model in white! It has a sloping top tube, which positions the handlebars slightly above the saddle and she feels better on it than on other bikes she's tried.

    Thanks again for all the suggestions!

  107. Glad to hear she found an appropriate bike !

    For the sake of others who may read this, here is how we recently dealt with a similar situation.

    There are several options, in my mind, when one is buying a bike they're not sure they'll keep riding.

    My son wanted to try road biking, but given his penchant for 'flash in the pan' thinking, I declined to spend the minimum $ 700 at our LBS for his (very, very nice) entry level bike.

    [Admittedly, I let a new Benotto Modelo 850 sit & rust - from 1987 to just last year, (it was a $ 700 bike back then), so I was reluctant to repeat that mistake !]

    What to do ? What are the options of buying at the lower price levels - with confidence that one won't get 'taken' ?

    Walmart.com is always an option.

    They have a nice, very nice Schwinn CF-1000, a carbon fiber fork & rear triangle / aluminum combo bike with decent level compoentry for just $ 550. It gets 5 star reviews & 93 % recommend it to friends.

    If that is too much, one can always get the 'standard' in-stock at every Walmart road bike - the GMC Denali 21 speed (3 front, 7 rear gears, with generous ration spacing for hills).

    This Denali, though an entry level road bike, has an Aluminum frame that gives a nice, stiff & responsive ride.

    [This Walmart GMC Denali gets 4.3 stars from over 200 reviewers, so it's meeting many folks expectations.)

    We went this route. Keep in mind, Walmart has a 90 day return policy - just keep the bike in nice condition & your receipt, too.

    (This no fault 90 day return policy applies to the 'Online Only' fancy Schwinn CF 1000, or the in-store cheaper Denali...)

    The bike has a couple of glaring weak spots:

    Tires & Pedals (maybe the seat, too)

    The Denali road bike come with 700x 32c tires - more of a 'hybrid' size than a true road bike size.

    We went to Kenda Kwest 700x28c), really makes the bike roll much smoother, while preserving the rim / tire ratio - if you have potholed, rough pavement roads, this helps avoid 'pinch / pothole flats'.

    This amounted to a huge 'weight savings', of over 1.5 lbs less + waaaay less rolling resistance.

    Now the Denali feels much closer to the more expensive Benotto stable mate....

    The other thing: we ditched the stock pedals in favor of standard Bontrager Sport platform pedals with toe clips, much more efficient use of your energy.

    Ok, this bike was $ 160, plus the cost of the tires ($ 22 at wheelvillage.com)and pedals ($ 25 at LBS).

    Guess what - he's taken to road biking very nicely. In the recent 25 mile charity ride, he finished well ahead of me & many others on their $ 3000 carbon fiber bikes, on this Walmart special that cost around $ 200 !

    Yes, it's heavier, at 28 # than many others. But it rolls smoother than any comfort / hybrid / mountain bike would, under any circumstance.

    The great thing is, if he lost interest & let the bike sit, I'd be out almost nothing - which was the whole plan.

    If the bike was a poor performer, right back to Walmart it would have gone.

    As it is, it's our 'beginner bike' - good because he's got 4 younger sisters, one of which is planning to ride it, as soon as we order the much nicer Schwinn CF-1000 for him.

    He's showing much good promise as a serious road biker. And a 16 year old has boundless energy - he doesn't notice the extra few pounds - it's making him stronger for the upgrade Carbon Fiber bike.

    Anyhow that's a few thoughts that I hope can benefit others !

    I've also heard good things about the bikes & customer service over at www.roadbikeoutlet.com - they sell Gavin & Vilano bikes at very reasonable prices - if you're ordering online, they seem to make a lot of folks very satisfied, too.

    Their Vilano TUONO receives great reviews as an superb entry level bike, a notch above the Walmart Denali, for just $ 280, shipping included.

    Take care, nice blog !

    David in East Texas


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