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What's the right bike for me?

I’m sure this has been asked a million times, but as a newbie I’m going to throw it out there and see what I get.

I currently own a cheap department store bike, and it does OK for getting me back and forth to work which is about a mile away, ans also for taking a casual ride around town. However, it’s time to step it up a few notches and get a REAL bike. I’m looking for recommendations.

Here’s my info:
– Not concerned about going off road, so a mountain bike is not what I’m looking for. Neither is racing a concern.
– Main use will be commuting to work and riding around town, and hopefully increase to more lengthy regular rides for fitness
– I have fleeting thoughts of RAGBRAI in a year or two, so I’d like something that wouldnt be out of the question to take on RAGBRAI if I pursue it.
– The thought of sitting a little more upright, rather than the bent over position, appeals to me.

And on the physical side (if that matters for bike size), I’m 5’8, 210 lbs, and age 46.

Budget wise – I’d like to stay under $700 or close if possible.

Any specific suggestions on make and model of bike would be highly appreciated.

11 Replies

“Bicycle Bill”, August 25, 2013 at 1:59 pm

The right bike for you is the one that you will actually ride.  I know too many people who listened to friends, read magazine articles and reviews, watched to see what the pros were riding, and then dropped a bundle on a bike only to have it wind up hanging from the rafters of the garage inside of a year.



SFC JKL 2, August 25, 2013 at 6:10 pm

1: The one you will ride.
2: The one that fits.
3: Sounds like you are looking at a hybrid. Wider tires and fenders to get you around town. With a little work on the engine and a pair of slick tires, you will be plenty fast.
4: Cyclocross bikes are another alternative. Usually more race oriented than your standard hybrid, but beefier than a road bike.

Whatever you buy, go thru a bike fitting. You will be amazed at how much difference it will make in your comfort and efficiency.


Davy Sprocket, August 25, 2013 at 6:44 pm

I agree with SFC JKL2 that it sounds like you need a hybrid for that more vertical ride. Trek and Specialized and others have some good entry level hybrid bikes right around $700. You should be able to find something to meet your needs. Just make sure you get fitted and you like the feel of the bike. Hats off to you for realizing the lack of quality of the box store bikes. If you bought one new just before Ragbrai, you would wear out the bottom bracket bearings. They are cheap!

Good luck and hope to see you on Ragbrai soon.



Muscatine Mike, August 25, 2013 at 9:47 pm

The TrekVerve 3 is looking good to me. Is a hybrid a mistake for RAGBRAI?


jwsknk, August 25, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Witless slicks hybrid should work fine. But, also thimk about hand position, you will want some variety on long rides. Addition of bar ends of replacing flat bar with mustache bar.


Paul, August 26, 2013 at 5:52 am

+1 on one you will ride. If you are open to considering it, A good commuting recumbent is a used Rans Rocket. You can find them for 4-500 bucks. They are solid little rides.

Good luck and yes, do lay in plans to go on the ride!


mootsman, August 26, 2013 at 10:54 am

Upright positions are appealing but distribute more weight to your butt which will pay a price on longer rides. People sometimes compensate too quickly for sore shoulder and neck muscles before they can adapt to a more bent over position. Save money for clipless pedals, good shoes and shorts as they also pay off in both comfort and efficiency.


rjjensenia, August 26, 2013 at 11:58 am

I think mootsman has some good points.

Before making a purchase I would test-ride a few diferent bikes. Try the more upright, and also the more convential road bike. I have known people that went with the upright thinking it would be more comfortable, but on long rides they regretted the decision.


ts, August 26, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Personally, I don’t know why anyone needs shocks to ride on the road. If you like the riding position of the Verve, take a look at the 7.4 FX. I suspect that as you start getting in shape for longer rides and start preparing for RAGBRAI, you will quickly outgrow the hybrid. In fact, as you ride even more, you will probably start wanting something faster still, like the Trek 1.1 road bike. While you are test riding the Verve, try riding the FX and 1.1 just to see how they feel. Also, ask your bike shop about a future trade-up.


Muscatine Mike, August 26, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Thanks to everyone’s valuable input. I test drove a Trek FX 7.1 today which was on sale for $399. I really liked it, but then I’ve been riding a box store bike so can’t say I’m a real connoisseur of bikes. I liked the wide handgrips that are on the verve, and the bike shop said they’d put them on the FX for me. Also wondering if while I’m having them do that, I should have them put the handlebar extensions on for an alternate grip position. Since I’m just getting back into riding after about a 20 year hiatus, I thought I should start with a less expensive bike and then I can afford some of the accessories I may want later (rack, bag, mileage tracker, etc.)


Paul, August 26, 2013 at 5:27 pm


Sounds like now you should just have fun riding your bike. I suggest your next bike accessories be delicious treats and beverages at each ride’s destination. Mark each time you leave your car parked at home as a victory.

See you on the ride!


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