Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

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Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby slowlydoesit » Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:10 pm

Hi, I've been reading, reading reading through the forum and I have so many questions, but what I really need is some solid advice to help me decide whether to upgrade.

I've been commuting to work on and off for the last year or so in Sydney. It's all paths and road and it's about a 20km round trip. I'm a large woman, and although I am losing weight I am still quite heavy for my height (~90kg and around 175cm).

My current bike is a 2007 Men's Norco Vermont http://www.norco.com/2007bikes/templates/model/enlarge.php?id=69&view=&deets=2, and I haven't added anything to it. I bought it because the bike store didn't stock any ladies bikes. I am not really happy with the look of the thing, I would prefer something more classic, but I recently bought a vintage Malvern Star which was really too rattly and felt flimsy and would have suited a much smaller person so I sold it.

I'm at the point where I would like to get some accessories, namely full fenders and a back rack but I keep getting told that I can't attach full fenders to a front suspension fork (FTR the split MTB fenders aren't my cup of tea at all). This has made me look around at other bikes that would be better suited to me and my riding.

At the moment, all I'm left with is confusion. I would be happy to spend up to about $1800 including accessories but I don't know if my current bike is actually worth saving. All the recommendations for ladies bikes seem to be suited to either a) really fit and small women who are really sporty or b) smaller casual female riders who just want something beautiful. I feel like I need something which will be practical and supportive.

I would really appreciate your assistance with some suggestions about whether I should keep my current bike or upgrade, and if so where do I start?
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by BNA » Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:39 pm

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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby wookie661 » Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:39 pm

You have a few options,

Flat bar roadie
Drop bar roadie
Hybrid (front suspension forks)
or maybe just a cruiser.

In my opinion, get a hybrid, they have the 700c wheels, front suspension forks and thin-ish tyres.
about fitting fenders, im actually just going for a pair that fit well, and work. Which happens to be the split type ones that mount to the v brake holes in the fork and move up and down with the lower forks.

if you can find a set of full metal fenders which also mount to the brake forks or even using rods to mount to the front hubs, that also fit underneath the front brake section, you should be fine, as they will move up and down with the front wheel.

so in my opinion, i dont see a problem with getting full fenders to fit to a hybrid bike with front suspension fenders.

as you said you are a larger ladie, i would honestly suggest a hybrid road bike with front suspension forks, and even disk brakes if you can afford it.

get a nice wide seat with heaps of padding, trust me, my rear end thanks me for it.

im currently riding a scott hybrid sportster 30 of course its a mens bike, but i would honestly go into something comfortable.

If your looking to ride for weight loss, then you can go fast when you push it, if your just commuting, you can go at a leasurely pace.

good luck.
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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby GraemeK » Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:52 pm

How about one of these - has mudguards disk brakes and is designed for commuting, looks kinda retro utilitarian - there are a bunch of other similar things like the commuters from Kona
but this seems like good value for the price.
http://www.cellbikes.com.au/Merida-11-S ... llic-White
Doubt that its worth spending money on your existing bike because it always costs you more to upgrade things like that than replacing them and if it was me I would go for a non suspension bike if you are riding mainly on roads and paths - The most important thing is to get a bike fit and buy the correct sized bike .
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Last edited by GraemeK on Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby Apple » Tue Mar 15, 2011 4:57 pm

I think a hybrid, I still ride mine to the shops when I don't take my road bike out. I wish I was tall like you :( I am only 162cm.
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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby slowlydoesit » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:36 am

GraemeK wrote:How about one of these ... http://www.cellbikes.com.au/Merida-11-S ... llic-White


Thanks, I don't know much about this brand, but you seem to understand my problem with the suspension fork, the upgrading and the commuting. I'll go check out this one. I originally did want something totally classic, but I really don't see many/any classic bikes out there suitable for commuting.
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Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby Comedian » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:18 am

Nah I reckon you should get a gazelle. They have everything you need for commuting and are tough as nails because they are meant to be ridden everywhere. By the time you add up all the super commuter stuff they have on them they are good value.

Also they look great, the riding position is upright which means they have good visibility and are comfy. Plus they have seats that don't bruise your arse so you don't always have to wear bike pants.

I'll put a link up tonight. If I had my time again it's what I'd do.
Once you can climb hills on a bike it's all downhill. :mrgreen:

Hopefully I'll know what that's like..... one day. :shock: :lol:

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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby Apple » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:47 am

You want this, but I took this photo in italy.
Image
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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby GraemeK » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:52 am

Comedian is correct - Gazelle have the sort of bikes you are interested in and are of excellent quality - some of the models are a bit heavy but they all come with all the commuter stuff you would want - Not sure why I did not think of them because if it the classic look you are after they have bikes that look the same as those from between the wars that you still see being ridden around Europe.
Also for what you get the price is reasonable and they have a reputation for being extremely robust.

http://www.gazellebicycles.com.au/compo ... ?task=view

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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby slowlydoesit » Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:04 pm

Comedian wrote:...get a gazelle...

Apple wrote:You want this...

GraemeK wrote:Gazelle have the sort of bikes you are interested in...


Huh wow, what serendipity - I think you've all got my number. I think a trip to see these people might be in order, thanks very much.
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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby x8pg2qr » Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:29 pm

You should start with how many gears, or how wide the gear range it is that you want. If you can handle 1x8 gears, then you have a far different set of choices, compared to 3x7 or 8 gears (i.e. front derailer & 21–24 gears). This being Sydney.

$1800 is quite a lot, so you have a bit of room of move. Even the Breezer Uptown Infinity could be in that price range.

If 1x8, then things like Giant Via, Breezer Uptowns, Cannondale Vintage 8 Feminine. Cellbikes has some Progear Retros. Clarence Street Women’s shop has a few. Some of those are internal hub bicycles. And then there’s a myriad of classic frames e.g. Allegro Bikes or Kronan Bikes in Melbourne, or those Pashley/Velorbis classic bicycles. Morgans Bicyclesin Alexandria has those (just a FYI, not a recommendation). NB that I think Melbourne is generally flatter than Sydney. There are few new boutique shops in Sydney e.g. Tokyo Bike in Surry Hills.

If 3x8, then last I checked, you would be entering Gazelle-type territory. My experience was you tended to forgo a full chain guard, with a front derailer. So, kitting out a ordinary hybrid (like you have) with mudguards and rack is a far more budget way to go—I didn’t find the Gazelles to have great components for the price. I’m quite sure that Christine Tham’s Giant bicycle has front fenders and front shocks. Here you go.
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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby CommuRider » Wed Mar 16, 2011 6:55 pm

Last year's Giant City Speed CS had some good specs

Image

http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-au/bik ... 293/39064/

8-speed Alfine internal hub, disc brakes, rack. RRP was $2,800 but should be discounted now.
Amateur oenologist and green-friendly commuter.
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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby Crawf » Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:22 pm

Edit.
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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby Comedian » Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:56 am

Hmmm... a gazelle with all the kit for $2300?
Image

Or a super classic dutch bike with 8 speed hub, roller brakes, hub dynamo - all for $1700. :)
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Once you can climb hills on a bike it's all downhill. :mrgreen:

Hopefully I'll know what that's like..... one day. :shock: :lol:

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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby trailgumby » Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:25 am

Roller brakes suck. Especially if you're carrying some mass, either on your person or on the bike, and are on hilly territory (this being Sydney). Discs or v-brakes would be my advice, with a preference for hydraulic disc if you can get it within the price limit.

I'd recommend 3x9 mountain bike transmission for the gearing: being able to sit and spin (pedal fast at ~90-100rpm) in an easier gear is gentler on knees and still gives you a good workout. If you go hub gearing, I'd recommend at least the more current 11-speed Alfine to get the required gearing range.

Allow some in your budget for trying a few different female-specific saddles. Saddles are *very* important for female comfort on bikes: unless you are narrow-hipped, men's saddles will be too narrow to engage with your sit bones, meaning your weight is taken on your other bits down there... not a comfortable thought. :x

Good luck with your search.
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Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby Comedian » Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:36 am

For what it's worth- my shimano Alfine hydraulic discs had been nothing but trouble on my commuter. They require constant maintenance.

I suspect that's why gazelle go for roller brakes.
Once you can climb hills on a bike it's all downhill. :mrgreen:

Hopefully I'll know what that's like..... one day. :shock: :lol:

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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby nitramluap » Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:42 pm

trailgumby wrote:Roller brakes suck. Especially if you're carrying some mass, either on your person or on the bike, and are on hilly territory (this being Sydney). Discs or v-brakes would be my advice, with a preference for hydraulic disc if you can get it within the price limit.


Disagree. I can stop just as quickly on my bike (with me and gear (2x panniers) - total 110kg) with my rollerbrakes as I can on my road bike with v-brakes. The real limiting factor is the traction between the tyre and the road.

The rollerbrakes win hands-down for an all purpose bike as they work consistently and effectively no matter how wet it is - rim brakes are not great in the wet. Hydraulic brakes are overkill and if you lose fluid, you've lost the brakes. If a cable starts to go you usually have some braking ability before it breaks entirely (extremely rare) and you don't have to worry about air bubbles in lines or any of that other nonsense.

Rollerbrakes require almost no maintenance (I've got 6000km on mine and the grease is still fine) and they are sealed - no pads to replace, no chance of debris getting inside.

For an all round bike, those Gazelles are great and they're designed to require minimal intervention. We have two of them - both with rollerbrakes, hub gears & dynamos & chainguards. They are used in all weather and we don't hesitate riding through mucky water - all the important bits are protected, and so is the rider :)

Edit: We also have a Gazelle Cabby. It weighs 38kg and I have had a 60kg load in it. I weigh 66kg. That's a heavy setup and it has rollerbrakes. Never had a problem with them, even downhill.
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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby trailgumby » Sat Mar 26, 2011 8:53 pm

nitramluap wrote:Hydraulic brakes are overkill and if you lose fluid, you've lost the brakes...

Yes, quite true in theory Paul, you can lose the brakes if you lose a hose connection. So tell me, does the prospect of that happening when driving your car worry you? Enough to replace the brake system with cable operated one? :D

No, I'd have been surprised if it did, and for much the same reason that it doesn't bother me on car, bike, truck or bus: if you pay the required (minimal) attention to maintaining they are nothing if not reliable.

If you don't pay attention, either system can be just as treacherous, as my colleague found out when a nut came loose on his cable operated v-brakes one day. Fortunately he was on a back road and his injuries were confined to skin loss and some nasty bruises - nothing more serious.

Maybe the roller brake units on the Gazelle are better, but the ones on another of my workmates' midrange Trek commuter were awful. My first thought was "How on earth do you pull up quick in traffic with these things in an emergency?"
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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby bosvit » Sat Mar 26, 2011 9:08 pm

Depends on your terrain of course but for a much cheaper alternative how about a Kona Africa bike?

http://www.konaworld.com/bike.cfm?conte ... bike_three

Tough as nails, only a three speed though but with full fenders and a very strong looking rack for $799, can't go wrong! Unless you have to tackle some decent hills of course
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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby nitramluap » Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:43 am

trailgumby wrote:
nitramluap wrote:Hydraulic brakes are overkill and if you lose fluid, you've lost the brakes...

Yes, quite true in theory Paul, you can lose the brakes if you lose a hose connection. So tell me, does the prospect of that happening when driving your car worry you? Enough to replace the brake system with cable operated one? :D

No, I'd have been surprised if it did, and for much the same reason that it doesn't bother me on car, bike, truck or bus: if you pay the required (minimal) attention to maintaining they are nothing if not reliable.


True, but the hydraulic lines are a little more robust in a car!

It is always very important to check the basics on your bike before heading out but the reality is that most people - particularly those that are not interested in such things - just don't bother.

I guess my point was that for an all-round bike as a mode of transport for someone who isn't interested in the technical side of things - the simpler the better!

Rollerbrakes are dead simple and have no parts that need replacing. Their only requirement is that there is enough special grease contained within the unit. Under normal conditions this shouldn't need topping up for 10 years. It is very important that it is replaced with specific rollerbrake grease and not normal grease - something some bike shop mechanics don't understand. Perhaps this is why your friend was having issues with the rollerbrakes? The results can be disastrous.

His brakes, if rollerbrakes, were probably the same as the Gazelle's rollerbrakes - made by Shimano.
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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby katrina02 » Wed Mar 30, 2011 5:50 pm

i got this bike a year ago and it is great for commuting. i love it. it comes in a range of sizes. it is so comfy. it is heavy, though. i see this as free extra training, as i don't go long distances or very fast.

http://www.specialized.com/ca/en/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?sid=09Carmel700
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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby Comedian » Wed Mar 30, 2011 6:03 pm

katrina02 wrote:i got this bike a year ago and it is great for commuting. i love it. it comes in a range of sizes. it is so comfy. it is heavy, though. i see this as free extra training, as i don't go long distances or very fast.

http://www.specialized.com/ca/en/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?sid=09Carmel700


Looks great. Looks a lot like my wifes bike, which she loves. :)

http://www.cannondale.com/aus/bikes/womens/recreation-bikes/adventure
Once you can climb hills on a bike it's all downhill. :mrgreen:

Hopefully I'll know what that's like..... one day. :shock: :lol:

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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby chippie » Thu Mar 31, 2011 8:22 am

As a new user to this forum this discussion has been very helpful and amusing at the same time! I'm going shopping in the month of June!
Cheers,
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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby shiftie » Thu Mar 31, 2011 12:38 pm

slowlydoesit wrote:I'm at the point where I would like to get some accessories, namely full fenders and a back rack but I keep getting told that I can't attach full fenders to a front suspension fork (FTR the split MTB fenders aren't my cup of tea at all). This has made me look around at other bikes that would be better suited to me and my riding.


Sounds to me like you need something like the trek tourer. It has all the mounting points for fenders and baskets etc and is built to take the weight.
http://www.trekbikes.com/au/en/bikes/wo ... evillewsd/
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Re: Upgrade advice for a lady commuter

Postby notwal » Sat Apr 09, 2011 8:22 pm

katrina02 wrote:i got this bike a year ago and it is great for commuting. i love it. it comes in a range of sizes. it is so comfy. it is heavy, though. i see this as free extra training, as i don't go long distances or very fast.

http://www.specialized.com/ca/en/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?sid=09Carmel700



It's heavy because its structurally irrational.
All those step through frames give away quite a bit of strength and stiffness just because of their structural geometry.
To get the strength and stiffness back they make the tubes heavier.

Weight doesn't matter much if you are riding in flat terrain. Once you get to riding in hills you'll curse it.
If I was riding in hilly Sydney I would go for a bike that doesn't make it any harder than it has to be.
It doesn't have to be flash or expensive just structurally sensible.
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