Bicycle recommendations needed

I’d like to get a bike for recreation and exercise. Efficiency and effectiveness of the ride are not high on my list of requirements, stability and safety of use are. Looking at the various models today, I had the following impressions:

  • I like wide, off-road tires for grip and stability
  • I prefer more vertical sitting position
  • I prefer drop frame to straight frames for ease of dismounting
  • I like cowlings over the chain to keep the pan legs out of it
  • I like mudguards

I am undecided on the question of suspension. In theory, for mixed road and off-road use, double front and back suspension would lead to smoother ride. Would I be giving up controllability and ease of precise steering with the softer suspension?

What safety gear and wear would I want, besides a helmet? Elbow, knee, hand protection?

I am less concerned with the cost of the bike than with getting it right for me on the first try. Since I don’t care about super light weight, perhaps that would partially offset the other features I seek. I also don’t care if the frame is traditional mens or womens model, so long as it fits my requirements.

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12 Responses to Bicycle recommendations needed

  1. Benny says:

    You may want to look into a beach bike, simple, sturdy and able to go on almost any terrain. I have a “no-speed” version. No gears, but there are 3 speed versions as well.

  2. Paul Koning says:

    Sounds like what you’re looking for is a traditional Dutch street bicycle, except that you presumably need a wider range of gears because of hills. If you want to keep pants out of the chain, you need an enclosed chain; a cowling over it isn’t enough. Then again, just a spring clip or rubber band around the pants cuffs will take care of that.

  3. Nomen Nescio says:

    the most important thing about a bicycle is that it be comfortable for you to ride. otherwise, in the long run, you will not ride it. so, no matter what other advice you are given — including by me — if it points you at an uncomfortable bike, that advice is wrong.

    a suspended front fork will not impact precision of steering unless it is faulty, or made of pot metal. certainly not unless you’re putting that bike through very strenuous paces, which from the rest of your requirements, seems quite unlikely. have no fear on that regard; get a suspension fork, or not, precisely as feels more comfortable to you.

    safety equipment includes primarily your brain — use it well, stay out of trouble. secondarily, a pair of riding gloves — if you fall off, you’ll catch yourself with your hands, and road rash on the palms hurts. knowing how to fall is an invaluable skill for a cyclist. knee protection is less useful as your knees are unlikely to impact anything, but if the weather permits long pant legs they might save your shins from road rash.

    the styrofoam hats sold today for bicycling use are… controversial. they probably do more good than harm, on balance, but people tend to think of them as obligatory equipment without which one cannot safely ride a bicycle, and they’re just not that. some also tend to think of them as panaceas, with which one cannot be less than safe on a bicycle, and they’re FAR from that. wear one if you want, it’s very unlikely to hurt you, but be aware that a modern bicycle helmet is designed to be stylish, lightweight, and comfortable to wear, in that order; keeping you safe is a design purpose somewhere further down the list. wear a bicycle helmet, by all means, but please be aware of its shortcomings and limits.

    if — hopefully, when — you get up to taking somewhat longer rides, you’ll want a repair kit for fixing flats along at all times. because bicycle tires still get punctures. puncture-proof tires do exist, they’re called motorcycle tires, and generally won’t fit into a bicycle frame. a flat-fixing kit (and frame pump) will be useful, eventually, if you stick with cycling.

    in the somewhat shorter term, some way to carry a little cargo along will help. riding for exercise, a basket or something can carry extra clothing if you get too hot or cold; if you live close enough to a grocery store, it can carry a bit of shopping and turn your exercise machine into practical transportation. it’s worth it.

  4. Emily says:

    How about a ladies Schwinn? Tires not as wide as a BMX bike or mountain bike, but wider than a racing type bike. There have been some nice looking bikes like that made lately.

    I recommend keeping the chain open, that way if you derail you can put it back on easier. Just get some rubber bands or put your pants in your socks.

  5. Timothy Covington says:

    My recommendation is to check with local bicyclists as to which bike shops they use. Then, go to one of these and they will help you choose the bike best for you.
    I will ad that I have never noticed a decrease in control on bicycles with front and rear shocks. It has added to my control since the tires spend more time in contact with the ground.

  6. Michael Morrow says:

    Give this page a look. These sound like the types of bikes you are looking for

    They don’t have off road tires but you are unlikely to find off road / mountain bike style rims with chain and mud guards.

  7. Kevin Feeney says:

    One thing you might consider is a recumbent bicycle. I used to enjoy regular bicycles, but found that my butt, wrist, and neck weren’t liking the seat and riding position all that much as time went by. I switched to a recumbent about 10 years ago and immediately was more comfortable, which translated into riding a lot more and enjoying it more. If you want to do much off roading, then they wouldn’t be a good fit, but for just going for a ride, or to the store, or for exercise, I highly recommend them.

    I joke that it’s like taking a lawn chair for a ride! And with the seating position the view is much better. I would never switch back. Here’s a website from the best recumbent shop in NY, which won’t do you much good except that he has a lot of good information on the site that might inform your choices.

    I have one of his Linear bikes outfitted with a mid drive motor that allows me to commute to work over hilly terrain (1000 ft climb at one point). Good luck in your search.

    • Paul Koning says:

      I’ve never ridden a recumbent bike, but I’ve seen them come down the road several times. They are the most frightening vehicle I have ever seen.

      • Kevin Feeney says:

        Is that because of the speed that an aerodynamic bike can achieve going downhill? I routinely exceed 40 mph on some of the hills with mine. 🙂

        They look odd to the eye, I admit, but as an engineer, form follows function. My Linear recumbent lets me have a very comfortable seating position with none of the health impacts one risks from riding a rail, my neck and wrists don’t complain from being bent into uncomfortable angles, excellent view not even encumbered by handlebars (underseat steering), good aerodynamics, lower height in case I do take a spill (less kinetic energy available to damage my head), and a feet first instead of head first posture in a crash. What’s not to like? Takes about 10 minutes to learn to ride one. I would never go back to a diamond frame bike, except for mountain biking.

      • Paul Koning says:

        No, because it looked like the rider was not in control. That was at quite moderate speed. It didn’t seem to be going in a straight line as a normal bike does, and it didn’t appear that the rider had good visibility ahead. (As in: I could barely see the head.)

  8. Paul Belcher says:

    Take a look at Townie Electra.
    Might be what you are looking for.

  9. Fred says:

    Helmet and maybe gloves would really be all you need. All the other padding and armor is for the gravity/downhill crowd.

    Is go to your nearest actual bike shop (ie, not Walmart) and ask about what they’ve got for hybrids and go from there.

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