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Upright for 50 y.o + woman?

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Upright for 50 y.o + woman?

Old 07-05-20, 06:59 PM
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xar11
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Upright for 50 y.o + woman?

Looking to get a bike for mom who has back issues so being upright and comfort is the most important.
The wish list:
Front suspension for bumpy roads, upright sitting position, 7+ gears, and folding for storage, and less than $500.

I am having trouble finding anything foldable that has front suspension. She had an Electra (comfort/cruiser type) and the vibration from the road really troubled her due to stiff frame.

One option is to find an inexpensive mountain or hybrid style and add handlebar riser. But still can't find any foldables.

Any tips?
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Old 07-05-20, 07:08 PM
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Iride01
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I don't know. But I figured that eventually, if I ever get so stove up that I had back issues, that will probably be the time I'll be looking favorably at recumbents. There are both bicycle and tricycle recumbents that look pretty comfortable to me.

Otherwise, being upright for other than short periods of time just seems to hard on the butt for me. But if it is only for short rides maybe a beach style cruiser with really big tires or a "fat" bike might even be okay with or without suspension.

If it has to be folding, I really have no clue.
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Old 07-05-20, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by xar11 View Post
Looking to get a bike for mom who has back issues so being upright and comfort is the most important.
The wish list:
Front suspension for bumpy roads, upright sitting position, 7+ gears, and folding for storage, and less than $500.

Any tips?
I think you're asking for too much.
And I don't think she'd like it even if you did find one.
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Old 07-05-20, 09:00 PM
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xar11
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
I think you're asking for too much.
And I don't think she'd like it even if you did find one.
Which aspects do you think are too much? I might figure out a way without it.
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Old 07-05-20, 09:04 PM
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A rigid frame comfort hybrid cruiser should be comfortable. Don't over fill the tires. Most large tires for comfort cruisers can be run around 30-50 psi, depending on the tire, rider weight, etc. Tires are often marked something like 75-90 psi but it's rarely necessary or desirable to run them at full pressure.

There are very few folding bikes that can be as comfortable as a full sized bike. The shorter wheelbase prevents that. There are a few larger folding bikes. But if the emphasis is on riding, rather than storage, get a regular bike. Folding and unfolding a bike for every use will eventually be a deterrent to riding at all and eventually it'll gather dust before it gets old and gets sold.

If you do get a folding bike be sure it unfolds and folds as simply as possible. There are huge design differences. Check the folding bikes forum for tips. For example the Strida bike may be the easiest to fold and unfold, but it's not necessarily the easiest or most pleasant to ride. The Brompton may be the most practical folder, but pricey. Ditto, Bike Friday and a few other premium folders. Most of the affordable folders in the $100-$200 range are badly compromised and may discourage your mom from using them more than a few times.

When I resumed cycling in 2015 I was recovering from a broken neck and back from a 2001 car wreck. I needed a cane for longer walks until 2014. So I started with a comfort hybrid, an early to mid 2000s Globe Carmel. Upright ride, simple spring front fork, long wheelbase, thickly padded saddle with spring suspension. It helped at first. But the main difference was tire pressure. Getting better, fatter tires and running them around 50 psi really helped.

I still do that on my rigid frame/fork hybrid. I use Continental Speed Rides, a great value in hybrid tires, and run 'em around 40 psi front, 50-60 psi rear depending on whether I'm hauling groceries (heavier weight needs higher tire pressure).

Same with my road bikes. I usually set my skinnier 700x23 and 700x25 tires to around 85 psi rear, 65-70 psi front -- much lower than the sidewall specs suggest. At my weight (around 150 lbs) that's appropriate for me. Much more comfortable on chipseal and rough pavement.

And encourage your mom to do physical therapy. Due to the pandemic it'll mostly be self directed at home, which is harder. Check out the Bowflex channel on YouTube for some very good videos of 3-5 minutes on exercises that don't require any special equipment.

It's hard, I know. Been there. I was hit by a car again in 2018, breaking and dislocating my shoulder. Took about a year to recover. But I do some PT every day, even if it's just stretching and range of motion.

Pain from working stiff muscles and joints is a powerful deterrent, but it works. I don't want to end up like some of my family and neighbors, who were practically immobile by their 60s, unable to get up off the floor or couch without help. I was in nursing for years and was primary caregiver for three older family members. I don't want to end up like that if I can prevent it by doing some basic exercises now to regain strength and mobility.
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Old 07-05-20, 10:05 PM
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I went with my wife to buy a more upright bike a few years ago, something she could ride along with me to the beach and maybe the park. She ended up with a Specialized Vita, an upright comfort bike that is the women's version of the Sirrus. She complained about being too low on the bars so I put on an adjustable stem and set it to the most upright position. She still complained about her neck. She complained about the seat too, so I bought an add-on pad. She still has hardly been on the thing. My daughter used it a lot more than she did, but now my daughter decided she'd rather ride the Cannondale that my wife bought when we first started going out so she could ride with me. It also barely got used. And to be fair, my wife ran the marathon a few years ago so it isn't like she isn't athletic.

I'll just say that your mom will unlikely ever ride a bike a second time. She'll like the idea and try it but then not get back on.
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Old 07-05-20, 10:37 PM
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post
I went with my wife to buy a more upright bike a few years ago, something she could ride along with me to the beach and maybe the park. She ended up with a Specialized Vita, an upright comfort bike that is the women's version of the Sirrus. She complained about being too low on the bars so I put on an adjustable stem and set it to the most upright position. She still complained about her neck. She complained about the seat too, so I bought an add-on pad. She still has hardly been on the thing.
I had to do a double-take because as I read it, this sounded so familiar I thought maybe it was me.

Today, after more Sirrus-whining (this time about the riser Jones bar -- another $100 down the toilet), I put her on my drop-bar touring bike, and she was much more comfortable, making me wonder if this whole "upright" goal misses the mark.
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Old 07-05-20, 11:16 PM
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Originally Posted by zacster View Post
I'll just say that your mom will unlikely ever ride a bike a second time. She'll like the idea and try it but then not get back on.
Thanks for the comment.
My mom does like to ride and did so every weekend when the weather was good and before the current bike became unusable. The usual ride is ~25 miles.
Now there are different storage needs so i can't get a direct replacement.

Last edited by xar11; 07-05-20 at 11:29 PM.
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Old 07-05-20, 11:18 PM
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The only thing I can suggest is to try several different options, and see if any are comfortable for her.

Wide, supple tires at low inflation can help with ride comfort much more than a cheap (under $700) suspension fork.
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Old 07-05-20, 11:43 PM
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I put together a bike for my neighbor’s wife she is 60ish. She road it about 100 feet and never touched it again. Her husband bought it, it arrived I put the rest of the bike together tuned it up perfectly. He said she will ride it once and never again. He was right. Maybe you’re mom might try a rental bike for a day and see what she likes. Go from there...

Last edited by Hondo Gravel; 07-05-20 at 11:48 PM.
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Old 07-06-20, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by wgscott View Post
I had to do a double-take because as I read it, this sounded so familiar I thought maybe it was me.

Today, after more Sirrus-whining (this time about the riser Jones bar -- another $100 down the toilet), I put her on my drop-bar touring bike, and she was much more comfortable, making me wonder if this whole "upright" goal misses the mark.
You got it. That popular meme is the exact opposite of what works. The standard drop bar road bike with it's standard position is that way simply because it's the most comfortable and especially the easiest on the back. The problem is getting people to believe it and try it. All the riders with back issues I've dealt with have benefited from going even lower in the front. That said, it does take a certain amount of flexibility. One has to be able to rest one's hands on one's knees with knees locked back, no more, though being more flexible is always helpful for everything. The most important thing for hand/arm comfort is plenty of reach, light weight on the hands from correct saddle position, and as stated above, the largest tires the bike can fit, inflated to the recommended sidewall pressure, possibly the lowest stated pressure.

Getting the fit right is the biggest problem when buying a bike for a non-cyclist.
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Old 07-06-20, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Hondo Gravel View Post
I put together a bike for my neighbor’s wife she is 60ish. She road it about 100 feet and never touched it again. Her husband bought it, it arrived I put the rest of the bike together tuned it up perfectly. He said she will ride it once and never again. He was right. Maybe you’re mom might try a rental bike for a day and see what she likes. Go from there...
The rental idea is a very good idea. Provides a way of finding the type of bike which will work for her, without buying one which she may or may not end up being one she'll ride.
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Old 07-06-20, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by DiabloScott View Post
I think you're asking for too much.
And I don't think she'd like it even if you did find one.
+2. And anyway, if she needs suspension for a bad back, she wants rear suspension. That'll set you back even more because that must be built into the frame. A recumbent might not even need suspension if it had a nice enough seat cushion; but OTOH finding one for <$500 would require scouring CL and garage sales.
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Old 07-06-20, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
You got it. That popular meme is the exact opposite of what works. The standard drop bar road bike with it's standard position is that way simply because it's the most comfortable and especially the easiest on the back. The problem is getting people to believe it and try it. All the riders with back issues I've dealt with have benefited from going even lower in the front. That said, it does take a certain amount of flexibility. One has to be able to rest one's hands on one's knees with knees locked back, no more, though being more flexible is always helpful for everything. The most important thing for hand/arm comfort is plenty of reach, light weight on the hands from correct saddle position, and as stated above, the largest tires the bike can fit, inflated to the recommended sidewall pressure, possibly the lowest stated pressure.

Getting the fit right is the biggest problem when buying a bike for a non-cyclist.
And I just discovered something (new to me, not to the cross world) that will make a road bike even more workable is cross levers so you can ride and brake from the tops. I'm putting them onto my wife's old C'dale that she never rode for my daughter. Maybe I should have her try it.
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Old 07-06-20, 05:51 PM
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Op....have you considered checking out geared women specific Cruiser bikes?
Fatter tires, wider saddle, up right bars may be the answer.....there's a whole section dedicated to them.
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