Buying a road bike for wife

cyclingnolycra
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Buying a road bike for wife

Postby cyclingnolycra » Tue Feb 27, 2018 5:29 pm

Hi,

Wife and I are into cycling, she goes around once a week with me. At the moment she uses a steel vintage step through bike with 7 gears. She's quite fit though, we've done a 37km ride with over 500m of elevation nonetheless it is a real struggle for her up the hills with her 15kg bike.

I just got a carbon road bike (had a mountain bike before) so would like to ensure she can keep up/go further, but I'm not sure how to go about getting her a bike - should it be a women's specific bike? She is 173cm tall, fairly slim. Don't want to spend more than say $700? Don't mind second hand.

Or is it better to get a men's bike and hope for the best, or change the saddle?

Or should I just go to a bike shop to get her fitted? (It'd probably have to be reid at this price point...)
I think she should avoid cleats for now, maybe after she gets used to the position on the road bike (her old bike means she's quite upright)

Thanks for the help!

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Thoglette
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Re: Buying a road bike for wife

Postby Thoglette » Tue Feb 27, 2018 7:44 pm

cyclingnolycra wrote:should it be a women's specific bike? She is 173cm tall, fairly slim

Not at that height. 54 to 58 cm 700C frame will do nicely.

cyclingnolycra wrote:change the saddle?

Yes. Saddle needs to match her "sit bones". I posted a link to a good article about a week ago....

cyclingnolycra wrote:I think she should avoid cleats for now, maybe after she gets used to the position on the road bike (her old bike means she's quite upright)


First question: is her seat at the right height? That is, is she straightening her legs fully on the down stroke.

Second: What are the gear ratios on her current bike and what are the gradients of your hills? Hauling 5kg more than necessary is a struggle but the wrong gears are a bigger one.

Third: has she ridden your bike? An upright position is more comfortable at low effort levels and inspires confidence. A dropped position allows more power generation but (especially in extremes) takes some getting used to. (You may be able to "flip" her current bars and drop them a few inches in the north road style). On most modern bikes you can get a range of bar heights by playing with the stem, but only within limits.

On a related note: Standard (23mm) road tyres will be much less comfortable than what she's used to.
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10speedsemiracer
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Re: Buying a road bike for wife

Postby 10speedsemiracer » Tue Feb 27, 2018 9:20 pm

cyclingnolycra wrote:Hi,

Wife and I are into cycling, she goes around once a week with me. At the moment she uses a steel vintage step through bike with 7 gears. She's quite fit though, we've done a 37km ride with over 500m of elevation nonetheless it is a real struggle for her up the hills with her 15kg bike.

I just got a carbon road bike (had a mountain bike before) so would like to ensure she can keep up/go further, but I'm not sure how to go about getting her a bike - should it be a women's specific bike? She is 173cm tall, fairly slim. Don't want to spend more than say $700? Don't mind second hand.

Or is it better to get a men's bike and hope for the best, or change the saddle?

Or should I just go to a bike shop to get her fitted? (It'd probably have to be reid at this price point...)
I think she should avoid cleats for now, maybe after she gets used to the position on the road bike (her old bike means she's quite upright)

Thanks for the help!


I have nothing to add to what Thoglette has said, all good advice.
The only thing I wanted to add was a possible alternative that may not have been on your radar, being a lightly used flat bar road bike. A lot of these are sort of unisex in geometry (one maker has recently dispensed with making female-specific bikes, saying there was no point, can't remember who though, it may have been Specialized) and if the appropriate saddle is fitted, then it's down to sizing and adjustment. At 173cm a 54cm flat bar, like a Specialized Sirrus (just an example),

Image might be a good option.

Also buying used is a good way to get bang-for-buck as long as you're able to identify major issues if they arise. If not, buy new. Buying used has the added advantage of minimal outlay should your wife feel the need to upgrade in the near future.

The flat bar may be a good way to transition from upright step-thru, to a slightly sleeker riding position without going all the way to drops and brifters. Plus will be a lighter bike with more viable gearing (hopefully) and modern braking.

Gumtree and the eBay are full of little used flat bar roadies, some of which are quite decent bikes.

Anyway, just my $0.02
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Re: Buying a road bike for wife

Postby Duck! » Tue Feb 27, 2018 11:21 pm

cyclingnolycra wrote:... should it be a women's specific bike? She is 173cm tall, fairly slim. ....
Or is it better to get a men's bike and hope for the best, or change the saddle?

Try both. All off-the-shelf bikes are designed to a set of average measurements, so there's always compromise to some extent. Women's specific design (WSD) bikes are designed to a slightly different set of averages to an equivalent men's bike. For a given height, women typically have a a shorter reach, therefore an equal-sized WSD frame will usually have a slightly shorter top tube than the men's version, along with other more easily-changeable bits like narrower handlebar & wider saddle.

Ultimately it will come down to your wife's individual proportions as to whether a WSD or standard frame will be a better fit for her.
I had a thought, but it got run over as it crossed my mind.

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Re: Buying a road bike for wife

Postby Kronos » Wed Feb 28, 2018 3:29 am

Thoglette wrote:
cyclingnolycra wrote:should it be a women's specific bike? She is 173cm tall, fairly slim

Not at that height. 54 to 58 cm 700C frame will do nicely.


It depends on leg length and inseem (inside leg), you would assume that to be the case that a person of somewhere around 173cm could fit a 54 to 58 but legs come in all lengths and I've personally seen people that tall that can't stand over a 54 with sufficient clearance that you would recommend that bike to someone you did not know. There are lots of issues with going purely off of height as it doesn't take into account stumpy legs, vs. long legs, torso length, or just leg length in general so it tends towards best not to assume and go and talk to someone who can do the proper measurements first.

As per above reach adjustment is an issue so pound for pound womens bikes will tend towards having a shorter top tube. They will also have different requirements for saddle shape, perhaps crank length, and stem also. If you can't discern these differences then you really need to see a specialist fitter (not just your bike shop type but one that pretty much does nothing else). There's a couple that I'd recommend but going to Planet Cycles may not be an option if you don't live in Queensland and probably not on your budget. That being the case I'm not talking about a store fitter, I am talking about someone who has been a brand ambassador and bike mechanic for some of Australia's biggest wholesalers and retailers of bikes and bike parts among other things and they are the sort of people you want to talk to.

In the long run its best just to ask as you can go a fair way wrong if you don't know what you're doing and working out the geometry first will decide whether the person will need a womens specific geometry or whether they can run a mens specific bike frame. The factor is you can change everything else on a bike but once you have the wrong frame size and geometry trying to make things fit is a bit like polishing a turd. You can make things kind of fit but it will always be a turd, its just some people wont know it is a turd.

There's nothing specific to women's bike frames other than the geometry which is generally not quite as long for the same size in mens bikes. The other thing of course is that they come in different colours and different brands Giant = Liv... but then women's specific colours are a bit hit and miss... then there is some men that like the brighter colours or more bespoke livery of womens bikes. I've found myself looking at women's bikes from time to time because of the extra choices in colours and such so it happens.

There are other specifics though, for whatever reason the turd burgalars in the marketing division of most of the major brands tend to suggest that womens bikes should be equipped with lower specification groupsets as an average (because women can't be serious riders?) So you may have to take this into account if you look at womens specific bikes.

It's all fairly interchangeable these days, you might just have to do some fine tuning at the saddle, stem and cranks to get everything right in terms of fitment. I really wouldn't worry about whether its a mens or womens bike. For $700 I'd be looking at getting a better deal on a secondhand mid level bike, even one that's a couple years old as opposed to new.

The usual caveats apply. I wouldn't buy a secondhand carbon bike unless its checked over first, and ask the number of kilometres that any ally bike has done as well as the usual checks for wear and tear, cracks and any visible signs of porous corrosion which in either case do not buy and walk away.

There is always an abundance of cheap secondhand bikes and you almost never buy the first one you see.

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Re: Buying a road bike for wife

Postby cyclingnolycra » Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:36 am

Thanks for the advice guys. When she gets on my 54cm bike she is reaching a bit for the handlebars, suggesting a women's geometry may be helpful for her. Given that buying a women's saddle isn't particularly cheap as well I might try to find a women's bike for her.

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Re: Buying a road bike for wife

Postby Mububban » Thu Mar 01, 2018 12:05 pm

cyclingnolycra wrote:Given that buying a women's saddle isn't particularly cheap as well I might try to find a women's bike for her.


I know your username has "no lycra" in it, but do you and/or her wear padded cycling shorts (knicks)? You can wear them under normal shorts (no undies, just the knicks) and the padding makes an incredible difference in comfort on road bike saddles.

You could also try popping a cushy mountain bike saddle off any old dead MTB you find lying around, it'll be much more comfortable.
Or a $15 gel saddle cover from Big W. I put them on my kids' bikes, it especially helps my daughter be more comfortable.
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On Saddles

Postby Thoglette » Thu Mar 01, 2018 1:03 pm

Mububban wrote:You could also try popping a cushy mountain bike saddle off any old dead MTB you find lying around, it'll be much more comfortable. Or a $15 gel saddle cover from Big W. I put them on my kids' bikes, it especially helps my daughter be more comfortable.

Mub, have you actually ridden a bike with such torture devices for more than 5km? :shock:

Trying lots of saddles is good but if the "soft" one is comfortable, it's not because it's soft. "Hard" saddles (that fit) are more comfortable than "soft" ones for a number of reasons.

There's two things a saddle needs to do: support your sit bones and not mash your soft bits. Sounds simple but by all reports (e.g. Lovely Bicycle , Alaska Velo and UK Women's cycling) the wide variation in physiology makes selecting and setting up a saddle on a drop-bar bike even more of a crap shoot for women than it is for men.
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Re: Buying a road bike for wife

Postby Kronos » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:02 pm

cyclingnolycra wrote:Thanks for the advice guys. When she gets on my 54cm bike she is reaching a bit for the handlebars, suggesting a women's geometry may be helpful for her. Given that buying a women's saddle isn't particularly cheap as well I might try to find a women's bike for her.


One of the ways to fix reach issues is by using a shorter stem although when it gets down to 90mm and below things kinda start looking less than functional in terms of the geometry of a bicycle. Then there are other issues, once your stem gets that short you run into handling issues, the steering of the bike becomes twitchy and its just not that much fun to ride.

Another way is that you can also change the saddle position on the bike, or go for a straight seat post instead of a setback one to gain more reach and to bring her as the rider further forward on the bike. However, the other side of that is that you might end up with functional issues with her legs/knees if you put the saddle too far forward on her bike. You may also end up with her looking like she's riding a triathlete or time trial bike.

She may either need a women's specific bike or alternatively you could try a 53 or 52, the problem with that is seat post height. If she's inexperienced she may find a high seat post and lean over position far too aggressive. You can add spacers under the stem, and flip the stem upside down but then that makes your bike a bit ugly in the first place.

A women's specific bike, with a women's specific saddle may be the order of the day, the good news is that you can entice her with all the pretty colours available (if she's into that). The bad news is as per above, you will find a collection of bikes with lower spec groupsets. This does and does not matter for bikes for newer riders. The shift experience wont be up to the standards of higher end groupsets which will make the riding experience a bit annoying (that type of click clack type of shift experience that isn't synonymous with higher end Shimano/Campag shifting) if you have a better speced bike to compare it to, and if she gets more into it, she will start to notice also. "Why does my bike click and pop when yours does not..."

On a second hand bike you should be entering into the mid range of bikes at $700 with Ultegra, or SRAM Rival groupsets being more common. It might be the case that you would find a womens specific bike with 105 or Tiagra groupsets.
Last edited by Kronos on Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Buying a road bike for wife

Postby Arbuckle23 » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:19 pm

Kronos wrote:Another way is that you can also change the saddle position on the bike, or go for a straight seat post instead of a setback one to gain more reach and to bring her as the rider further forward on the bike. "


I am far from an expert, but every bike fit video and article I watch & read states that saddle position is to get over the pedals correctly only.
It should not be used to adjust reach, that should be done by getting the correct size frame and/or stem length.
But am prepared to be howled down as I know nothing :D :wink:
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Re: Buying a road bike for wife

Postby Kronos » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:21 pm

Arbuckle23 wrote:
Kronos wrote:Another way is that you can also change the saddle position on the bike, or go for a straight seat post instead of a setback one to gain more reach and to bring her as the rider further forward on the bike. "


I am far from an expert, but every bike fit video and article I watch & read states that saddle position is to get over the pedals correctly only.
It should not be used to adjust reach, that should be done by getting the correct size frame and/or stem length.
But am prepared to be howled down as I know nothing :D :wink:


Which is where I said you may develop functional problems with your knees/legs, its not really best practice. It may not happen overnight but years of riding in the wrong position will damage your knees. The best practice is to find a bike with the right top tube length in the first place. This is where womens specific bikes help when you run into issues with stem length.

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Re: Buying a road bike for wife

Postby fat and old » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:45 pm

FWIW I'm 174cm and ride a 51 (530 TT). It fits.

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Re: Buying a road bike for wife

Postby Kronos » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:52 pm

fat and old wrote:FWIW I'm 174cm and ride a 51 (530 TT). It fits.


I'm 178cm and ride a 54, but I have short legs. A 54 was the best fit for me. I just run a shorter stem to fix the rest of the "reach" issues that may develop. The last time I had a professional fit my bike for me the jibe was "where's your legs son..." But it proves the issue that the leg to torso issue is a real thing for all types of people. It's good though, I have the traditional fist worth of seat post above the seat tube, and my roadie looks like a classic racing bike.

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So you think you're average fit?

Postby Thoglette » Thu Mar 01, 2018 2:58 pm

fat and old wrote:FWIW I'm 174cm and ride a 51 (530 TT). It fits.

Lovely Bicycle points out that averages are, well, just averages.
Dave Moulton (who's made a few frames over the years) had something to say about Designing Bikes for Women. And averages.
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Re: On Saddles

Postby Mububban » Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:20 pm

Thoglette wrote:
Mububban wrote:You could also try popping a cushy mountain bike saddle off any old dead MTB you find lying around, it'll be much more comfortable. Or a $15 gel saddle cover from Big W. I put them on my kids' bikes, it especially helps my daughter be more comfortable.

Mub, have you actually ridden a bike with such torture devices for more than 5km? :shock:

Trying lots of saddles is good but if the "soft" one is comfortable, it's not because it's soft. "Hard" saddles (that fit) are more comfortable than "soft" ones for a number of reasons.


Hmm, my reply seems to have disappeared into the ether.

No I have never used a gel saddle, I ride my stock MTB saddle in normal shorts, and my road bike in padded knicks.

I'm aware the female pelvis rotation is different to males, I'm simply passing on the feedback from my wife and daughter, who both could not ride their stock saddles, but can now comfortably do 10km+ after the addition of a gel seat cover. My wife rides a fairly upright bike (ala Giant Cypress) and my young daughter is on a hybrid/flat bar roadie (Reid Viper).
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Re: Buying a road bike for wife

Postby Mububban » Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:21 pm

Kronos wrote:The last time I had a professional fit my bike for me the jibe was "where's your legs son..."


Ha, when I had some golf clubs fitted the guy couldn't believe how short my arms were compared to my overall height. He measured me 3 times just to make sure. Apparently I'm a T-Rex :D
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Re: On Saddles

Postby Thoglette » Thu Mar 01, 2018 3:47 pm

Mububban wrote:I'm aware the female pelvis rotation is different to males, I'm simply passing on the feedback from my wife and daughter, who both could not ride their stock saddles, but can now comfortably do 10km+ after the addition of a gel seat cover. My wife rides a fairly upright bike (ala Giant Cypress) and my young daughter is on a hybrid/flat bar roadie (Reid Viper).


Interesting. For me I found the gel helped (initially) hide the misfit but ultimately both chaffed badly (as it bunched up and wore) and cause overheating of the nether regions. Chamois in the shorts worked better than gel. But that's a whole other converation.

I've rented a few bikes recently with padded "comfort" saddles. All horrid, even if one was about the right width. For an upright bike, I'll take a B66 (or similar wide, sprung, saddle)
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Re: Buying a road bike for wife

Postby Kronos » Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:20 pm

Gel seat covers are bin food. You're always better off getting a saddle that fits and you wont run into that problem in the first place.

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Re: On Saddles

Postby cyclingnolycra » Thu Mar 01, 2018 4:56 pm

Thoglette wrote:Mub, have you actually ridden a bike with such torture devices for more than 5km? :shock:

Trying lots of saddles is good but if the "soft" one is comfortable, it's not because it's soft. "Hard" saddles (that fit) are more comfortable than "soft" ones for a number of reasons.


Funnily enough I rode my prior bike (mountain bike) with a gel seat cover, no padded shorts. I did 40km+ rides but I admit my butt got a touch sore. Looking forward to what it feels like on the new bike (haven't done any decent length rides yet)

When I made this account I was adamant I wasn't going to get into the lycra thing... but I just bought some cycling shorts online for myself and wifey... when I say a women's saddle I mean a road bike saddle designed for women, not one of those saddles that are super soft and squishy designed for cruiser-type bikes.

I ride a 54cm and I'm 175cm tall. I can stand over the cross bar but there isn't much space there... reach seems okay though.

Keen to buy her a 2nd hand women's road bike due to the reach thing for her (see above) but there isn't much out there honestly in this price range. The good ones are pricey, doesn't seem to be much in the way of decent entry-level stuff that isn't quite old. Was just thinking of getting the women's reid osprey for $550, does that sound reasonable?

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Re: Buying a road bike for wife

Postby Kronos » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:21 pm

If the cutout in your saddle isn't designed properly for your junk then the seat is bin food. For a man you can also end up with erectile dysfunction if you keep riding on a crap saddle. You definitely need the right saddle for your sit bones (they're different for women) and your junk (which is also different for women). A pig is still a pig even if with makeup on, a crap saddle is still a crap saddle even with a gel cover on it. It doesn't matter whether its hard or soft if the shape is crap.

Reid road bikes I put in the same category as department store bikes, they're OK for the purposes of a road bike but I wouldn't be expecting anything special. You can probably get her on a 53 or 52 also with the right adjustments.

There is some margin for going a couple sizes smaller. Small bikes are harder to move on if you don't like it though. 54 is the most common size for the average height of people in Australia. So a womens bike with that size is good for her and good for getting rid of later.

Think mostly about what you can buy and adjust in terms of the cockpit (handlebars, stem, etc) and the seat height. Everything else is a bit of a compromise.

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Re: On Saddles

Postby Thoglette » Thu Mar 01, 2018 5:41 pm

cyclingnolycra wrote:..doesn't seem to be much in the way of decent entry-level stuff that isn't quite old. Was just thinking of getting the women's reid osprey for $550, does that sound reasonable?

My commuter is nearly 35 years old. Age is not that big of an issue, particularly for steel (Aluminium frames have fatigue issues if ridden hard for long periods).

The Osprey's perfectly functional but you are paying for newness.

The bargains are the bikes that got bought, ridden once or twice then hung up in the garage. Look for bikes with original tyres; original brake pads and barely a mark on the rims (but replace both tyres and pads if more than a few years old).
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Re: Buying a road bike for wife

Postby baabaa » Thu Mar 01, 2018 6:39 pm

Had a good run with ergon saddles, helps as you can pick your width, better still they have a new line of womens saddles which may help in your search ( sr for road and sm for mountain) They are pretty flat saddles so while not for everyone , if that works for you then that flatness helps on long rides as you can shift forward and back without having to sit in the designed sit in spot( if that makes sense)
http://www.ergon-bike.com/en/article-ne ... -2018.html
and then find your saddle
http://www.ergon-bike.com/en/product.html?a=saettel

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Re: On Saddles

Postby 10speedsemiracer » Thu Mar 01, 2018 7:21 pm

Thoglette wrote:......

The Osprey's perfectly functional but you are paying for newness.

The bargains are the bikes that got bought, ridden once or twice then hung up in the garage. Look for bikes with original tyres; original brake pads and barely a mark on the rims (but replace both tyres and pads if more than a few years old).


This, exactly this. Unfortunately though, the buyer profile that engages in this behaviour often bought the wrong bike to start with (some sort of shabby hybrid) although the number of sub-$400 Specialized Sirrus and other similar bikes floating around, which have had exactly the usage Thoglette describes, is surprisingly high (I've bought a bunch of them). They clean up well, need very little in terms of expenditure, and sell quickly.

Bike fit at this end of the $ spectrum is a case of adapting whatever comes close. All mass-produced frames are made to suit a band of measurements typical for riders of a certain height per frame size. Say a Medium frame is advertised as suiting riders 170cm-180cm and you fall into this category, and also align with the sizing assumptions for leg length/torso/arm reach etc, then chances are good that you can get comfortable and ride effectively on this frame. Most people do.
There is some overlap between frame sizes, but it really is a case of getting on a bike, trying to adjust it to suit, and being prepared to walk away if it doesn't.

I'm with Thoglette on this, be patient and find something on eBay/Gumtree/Bike Exchange for $300-$400, spend a few $s on freshening it up and use it as a learning/acclimatisation experience before investing big $s on a Giant/Felt/Bianchi/whatever carbon thing. It may be a case of your wife not liking the flat bar bike at all. Much less likely to drop $s selling a 3-4yo Specialized/Giant/Fuji, than selling a near-new Reid.
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Re: Buying a road bike for wife

Postby Duck! » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:11 pm

Male or female, finding the right saddle is unfortunately a case of trial and error; no particularly quick or easy way around it. Internet recommendations for this, that or the other brand are not worth a pinch of ant poo, because every one is different. The only person who can know what is the right saddle is the person who will be sitting on it (same deal goes for helmets and shoes, but they're beyond the context of this thread for now).

Fortunately, most of the good brands will have a trial program through their dealers, so you can try a few saddles out over decent length rides to work out what is going to suit, without the expense of buying a saddle that may ultimately not be right. Others, such as Pro (a Shimano subsidiary) for example have a 30-day refund or exchange period. Sure you have to buy the saddle initially, but you then get a month to try it out, and if it doesn't suit, swap it & try another saddle for a month, etc.....
I had a thought, but it got run over as it crossed my mind.

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Re: On Saddles

Postby Kronos » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:14 pm

Or you wait around and find an older bike that comes in proper sizes (54, 53, 52). I've seen "medium" as low as 51 and as high as 56. You have to cross reference the brand specific chart to find out exactly what it is. Gumtree and ebay will have the types of bikes you want. Search your local area. My 2007 Trek 1500 SLR (Tour De Lance, disco livery) came in at $300 with full Ultegra 10 speed, and the shifters people generally want.

The seat was crap and so was the stem, but that's what happens. Like the above posters said ridden around the block for 10000km and then sat in the garage. There are some caveats with that, steel and aluminum do corrode particularly if you live on the coast, so as per usual caveat emptor, check it thoroughly for any signs of rust, and consider any bike with rust/corrosion as bin food by the time you take a Taiwanese Trek and fix corosion in my case, all you have is a cheap Taiwanese frame, but its little different if you repaint any bike frame.

As to prices of saddles and the correct stems, even at the average punters price (not my price) You can pick up a decent stem and saddle for $200 if you're on tight arse Tuesday, but its really not that expensive to make an old bike right. It just means getting bearings for what is "right" and what's not "right" and realising what is right at the time is going to be sold to someone like me within a matter of days.

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