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comfortable touring bicycle ideas
Old 06-04-2011, 01:29 PM   #1
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comfortable touring bicycle ideas

Hi, My DH and I really enjoy bicycling but I'm starting to find the bent over position to be uncomfortable. I'm looking at recumbents, crank forward bikes, three wheeled recumbents etc. Have any of you made the switch from a traditional road or touring bicycle to one of these more comfortable bikes? How difficult was it to retrain your muscles? How do you transport it? Can you pull a trailer or attach panniers? What brand and model do you have and what are its pluses and minuses? Thanks
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Old 06-04-2011, 01:38 PM   #2
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You can get tons of info on this at bikeforums.net.

There's a lot you can do before going to a "bent.". That is, raise handlebars, etc. You might be surprised at how comfortable you can be. But some people love their bents.
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Old 06-04-2011, 04:23 PM   #3
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Perhaps you could opt for style over comfort in your biking adventures...

Fashion, bikes and dandies: The Seersucker Social - WTOP.com
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Old 06-04-2011, 06:43 PM   #4
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My DH and I recently bought Terra Trike Cruiser recumbent trikes. We absolutely love them. We had to put a hitch on our Ford Fusion and purchased a carrier from Terra Trike that can carry 2 trikes.

There is a lot of optional equipment you can get. There is a trailer available. We purchased a day tour pacakge that included quite a few things. We also purchased deluxe fenders because you are low to the ground and need protection if you go thru puddles. Terra Trike has quite a few models available.

You can purchase directly from the company or find a dealer. We went to a dealer located about 3 hours from us because he had different brands we were able to try.

Here is a link to their products:
TerraTrike - Models Overview - Official Site Of The World's Most Comfortable Recumbent Trike / Recumbent Bike
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Old 06-04-2011, 07:35 PM   #5
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Perhaps you could opt for style over comfort in your biking adventures...

Fashion, bikes and dandies: The Seersucker Social - WTOP.com
From time to time I see a young woman pedaling along on an 60s style women's bike, knee lenth full skirt, perhaps a ribbon in her hair. I love it. Reminds of an early 60s Radcliffe student, or a French woman in a 50s movie by Francois Truffaut. Tout est perdu!

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Old 06-04-2011, 07:57 PM   #6
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We have a couple Schwinn's that are pretty comfortable for 5-20 mile rides. Not sure of the models, but they were purchased at Costco 2 years ago.
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Old 06-04-2011, 08:03 PM   #7
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You can't go wrong with this model:



Who can tell me what the woman in the car says at the end?
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Old 06-08-2011, 01:40 PM   #8
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Just guessing, but might be "can I get a bike like that?"
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Old 06-19-2011, 08:54 PM   #9
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I have a Rans Fusion (crank forward) that I really like. It's a great city bike as I can wind through crowds by using my feet to "paddle" the bike. It is quite comfortable, it feels similar to riding a Schwinn sting ray from the 70's though I can't do wheelies on it (and just as well as I'm sure it wouldn't be on purpose).

Riding up hill can be a challenge as I can not stand up and peddle.

I think have a regular diamond frame bike and a crank forward is the best of both worlds.
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Old 06-19-2011, 09:36 PM   #10
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I ride two different bikes often. One is a commuter bike with flat handlebars and the other is a nice racing bike with drop handlebars. Sometimes I ride my BIL's bike when I am on vacation.

As for comfort, it is all about fit. My BIL's bike has the handlebars too far forward for me, so it stretches me out and puts too much weight on my hands.

My commuter bike has only one position for the hands, so one cannot go long distances without some numbness.

My road bike with drop handlebars fits me perfectly like a hand in a glove. I can move my hands to 5 or 6 different positions and I am not stretched out. I can ride upright it I want or I can ride down low.

So I wonder if the uncomfortable bent-over position for you is more about fit and not about the bent-over position. Things to adjust are stem length, stem height, seat position (fore & aft, to get knees in correct position with respect to the pedals), seat height, width of handlebars, and a few other things.
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Old 06-20-2011, 08:04 AM   #11
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......................So I wonder if the uncomfortable bent-over position for you is more about fit and not about the bent-over position. Things to adjust are stem length, stem height, seat position (fore & aft, to get knees in correct position with respect to the pedals), seat height, width of handlebars, and a few other things.
Good point. This is one major advantage for buying from a good bike shop. They will fit a bike to you and set it up properly.
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Old 06-20-2011, 09:42 AM   #12
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Here's a journal page from a friend who just started a bike tour yesterday:

Z & G Trees to Sea Tour: Klamath Falls to Tulelake: Tailwinds from Heaven

Yet another 57-year-old friend with a young wife or girlfriend.
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Old 06-20-2011, 10:08 AM   #13
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My wife and I have lots of experience with this, having owned at least 20 regular bikes from racing to cyclocross to mountain plus a half-dozen recumbents over the years.

I would say it it comes down to how long your rides are and what kind of terrain you're dealing with. In our case we live in a small town where the more lightly-trafficked, scenic paved roads turn to dirt eventually, and we like to go out for 1-2 hours at a brisk clip to get some exercise. Cyclocross bikes or an all-surface bike like the Specialized Tricross work well for this kind of riding, provided you size them right. They have beefy tires and forgiving frame angles.

Now even these "comfort" upright bikes aren't remotely in the same league as recumbents for comfort. With a recumbent you don't even need special bike shorts. Chafing and neck/head strain simply don't exist. There are a bewildering number of designs, so you would want to test ride a few options at a dealer who specialized in them. At a minimum, you want to ride a long wheelbase bike like an Easy Racer and a shorter one like a Bacchetta. Here is one good dealer to get an idea of brands and prices:

http://www.angletechcycles.com/

Disadvantages for recumbents: 1)price - they are not mass-produced and for a given level of quality are about double that of uprights; 2) many of the best are large and not easily transported; 3)you use different muscles than with an upright bike - you can't stand up to climb a steep hill, for example. These take a season or two to develop, and if your love is climbing mountains quickly these aren't the bikes for you.

Otherwise, recumbent bikes the trikes (check out the Cat Trike) are pretty awesome.
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Old 06-20-2011, 11:00 AM   #14
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First of all, love your forum name, which describes two of my favorite activities. Are you on Ravelry? There's a lot of discussion on the Casual Bicyclists group about this very topic. (lots of women of a like age....)

I had the same issues, and my chiropractor suggested a crank forward. I'd had a hybrid that was fitted pretty well, but still had back/hand issues. I bought an Electra Townie 21D, which suits me very well for the time being. I was warned that it was only good for rides of 10-15 miles, but have ridden 25-30 miles comfortably, and I am not in great shape. It is heavy, but the gears are enough that I can deal with mild/moderate hills. I've replaced the seat.

DH rides a Specialized road bike several times weekly, but he bought a Townie 21D also so we could ride together on rougher paths/roads/whatever. He likes both of them, and finds he uses different muscles. When he wants to get his miles in, fast, he takes the road bike out. When we ride just for fun or on trips, we take the Townies. I ride mine about 5 days a week (good weather). We've had them less than a year, and I've logged over 1000 miles. I paid about $440 at a local bike shop, but friends have bought them for less. Best investment I've made in years.

We take the bikes frequently on short trips in our minivan. We've removed the back seat of the van (which we don't use anyway) and DH uses a 2x4 with fork clamps (?not sure what they're called) screwed into it. We take the front tires off and the bikes just fit. We can stay in hotels and leave the bikes locked in the van in the parking garage until we're ready for a ride.

We do catch some flak about not riding "real bikes," mostly from DH's carbon fiber/lycra friends. But we have a really good time, and my back doesn't hurt when I get off the bike.

(there's an old infamous thread on the bikeforums site called "Avoid Electra Townie." It's pretty funny. I didn't find a lot of helpful advice on that site about crank forward bikes in general, but then I got tired of looking and just went and tested some bikes.)

Good luck -- you'll find a bike you like.
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Old 06-20-2011, 11:27 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by bikeknit View Post
Hi, My DH and I really enjoy bicycling but I'm starting to find the bent over position to be uncomfortable. I'm looking at recumbents, crank forward bikes, three wheeled recumbents etc. Have any of you made the switch from a traditional road or touring bicycle to one of these more comfortable bikes? How difficult was it to retrain your muscles? How do you transport it? Can you pull a trailer or attach panniers? What brand and model do you have and what are its pluses and minuses? Thanks
You can certainly attach panniers onto a trike or other recumbent bike and there is plenty of info on them at bikeforums.net and blogs at crazyguyonabike.com. However, trikes are heavy and difficult to transport so I would take another look at regular bikes and your fit. Most bikes emphasis a racing fit, and it's easy to get you sitting more upright with some new handlebars or a different stem. The saddle can be moved as well and a bike with a sloping top tube and headtube extension will allow you to sit with a more vertical back
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Old 06-20-2011, 03:36 PM   #16
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Is it okay for a woman to wear an all black compression pants like this one?

Double Dry Cold-Weather Men's Compression Tights | Shop Champion
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Old 06-20-2011, 04:26 PM   #17
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Go to a couple of local bike shops and check out what they have. The person who said your discomfort might be poor fit could be right. They make road bikes that have a more "relaxed" geometry and are easier on your back. I've got a herniated or bulging disk that causes tingling and occasional numbness in one leg, but it's great on the bike. The PT people and a chiropractor say it's because the bent over position stretches my back out.

Fit is everything in the cycling world!
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Old 06-21-2011, 11:54 PM   #18
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It is true recumbents are expensive, but it is so worth it if you like to do a lot of riding. They are not difficult to transport nor heavy. We did have to buy a special bike rack for the recumbents that was around $450 as well as get a hitch put on our vehicle.

We take a 2 hour bike ride almost every day. We have 24 speeds and we just put then in a low gear to get up hills. We probably spent around $5000.00 all together with buying 2 trikes, accessories for them, hitch and bike rack, but it was worth every penny since we are getting a lot of use out of them.
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Old 06-22-2011, 12:02 PM   #19
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Yet another 57-year-old friend with a young wife or girlfriend.
You sound wistful!
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Old 06-27-2011, 12:58 PM   #20
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I made the switch to a recumbent a few years ago; that was definitely the right choice for me. I went with the top of the line (at that time) Cycle Genius which had decent components for less than $1K.

My only real advice echos a couple of others: Find a bike shop with several types and try them out. (I spent most of one summer test riding every recumbent I could find.) After making the switch, nothing hurts when I ride: No more sore neck, back, wrists, etc.

If I remember/recall correctly, it only took me two or three weeks to really get used to riding the recumbent. I just have a normal 3 bike rack attached to a hitch for transport; it handle my recumbent and a normal bike at the same time with no issues.

Good luck.
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