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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello everyone, first time post here. Need your expertise!!!

I have been cruising the forums now for a few weeks and need your help. Let me start with a little background. I am a 23-year-old male in So Cal with some spiratic lower back pain. I was in a car accident a couple years ago and went through 4 months of physical therapy concentrating on my neck and lower back. I have gone about a year w/out any pain, but it seems it has creped up on me again after a weekend of water-skiing.

I have been mountain biking for 6 months now, but would like get into road biking. I am in the market for a new road bike in the $1500 - $2000 range. I am really struggling with deciding between a comfort bike like the Trek Pilot 5.0 or Specialized Robiax due to the back pain or going with something sporty like the Cannondale R1000 or LeMond Zurich. Any negatives on these bikes?

Is the pilot style bike the only fix for lower back pain? Could a standard road bike be adjusted to accommodate those with back pain? Also, will an all carbon frame help at all or would I be ok with an alum w/ carbon fork? I have had no issues with pain on my mountain bike and have not experienced any pain in my spin classes.

I have been visiting the LBS weekly, but can’t seem to make a final decision. Please help!

Thanks in advance!
 

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BS the DC
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The Pilot style bike has a relatively short top tube and a relatively tall head tube, which will releive the amount of flexion of your low back. This can be mimicked with a sporty bike by using a number of spacers under the stem, flipping your stem up and using a slightly shorter stem. It seems as though you want a sporty bike. My advice is to see if you can rent or borrow a sporty bike and take it for a long ride. See if it is comfortable and if it causes any back pain. I don't think frame material will make a huge difference in back pain.
 

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RoadBikeReview's Member
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bzzbenz said:
Is the pilot style bike the only fix for lower back pain? Could a standard road bike be adjusted to accommodate those with back pain? Also, will an all carbon frame help at all or would I be ok with an alum w/ carbon fork? I have had no issues with pain on my mountain bike and have not experienced any pain in my spin classes.
A standard road bike could be adjusted, by putting on a high rise stem (stems come with different angles, some are 7 degrees, some 8, et cetera; purchase a 17). You could then put that stem so that it was angled upwards. This would bring the handlebars up more, while still giving you a "racy" fit. However, this could be chancy - a road bike isn't purpose built to do that.
Carbon frames could help you, but you need to test ride them first. Basically, ride of the bike is determined by many things, such as the length of the chainstays, thickness of the downtube, headtube angle, etc moreso than the material. If you were to get on an ultra short-chainstayed CF bike with a supersteep headtube and a vertical seatpost, you'd be fried. You'd feel every pebble. Moreso important for you is to look for somewhat longer chainstays, and a seat tube angle of about 72, 73 degrees. Seat tubes range from 72 to 74 degrees usually. If it's 73.5, don't get it. That's a pure racer. Geometry is more important than material. Sure, material could be helpful, but not tooo much.
Something you could try would be a Trek 5000 or 5200. They're designed for a very smooth ride, while still being racing machines. I personally hated the feel, because it was far too smooth. However, it could be perfect for someone like you.
There's nothing wrong with a Pilot. It's more upright, so you're slower according to a lot of people. Slower by .1mph, maybe. It's not significant, and comfort is more important. Comfortable and unaero is faster than uncomfortable and aero.
-estone2
 

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You don't have to be more upright on the Pilot though. You can flip the stem so it is lower and or get a longer stem if you want to be stretched out. I think the Pilot gives you more options. You can run larger tires which does more for comfort than anything in my opinion. You may actually be faster on the Pilot because you are more comfortable. Performance will be based more on your ability than the bikes. Pilots are still geared for performance they just allow you to be comfortable. Try to do some extended rides though. You won't really know how comfortable or uncomfortable a bike is by riding around a parking lot.
 

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dgsbikes said:
You don't have to be more upright on the Pilot though. You can flip the stem so it is lower and or get a longer stem if you want to be stretched out. I think the Pilot gives you more options. You can run larger tires which does more for comfort than anything in my opinion. You may actually be faster on the Pilot because you are more comfortable. Performance will be based more on your ability than the bikes. Pilots are still geared for performance they just allow you to be comfortable. Try to do some extended rides though. You won't really know how comfortable or uncomfortable a bike is by riding around a parking lot.
For his back he's gonna want to be upright.
Comfort does provide for natural better performance, I said that.
I guess I didnt make it clear - in terms of pure aerodynamics the Pilot would be slightly slower. However if you are uncomfortable on everything but the pilot yes, you will in fact be faster on the pilot, thus the fastest thing for him WOULD be a Pilot.
Extended rides are good. Go for a flexible dealer - if they wont let you take it for a 20 minute test ride, screw em. If they wont let you take it for a 20 mile test ride, that's somewhat understandable, but if you've built up a solid relationship with your LBS they might trust you enough to let you do even that.
-estone2
 

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BS the DC
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dgsbikes said:
You don't have to be more upright on the Pilot though. You can flip the stem so it is lower and or get a longer stem if you want to be stretched out. I think the Pilot gives you more options. You can run larger tires which does more for comfort than anything in my opinion. You may actually be faster on the Pilot because you are more comfortable. Performance will be based more on your ability than the bikes. Pilots are still geared for performance they just allow you to be comfortable. Try to do some extended rides though. You won't really know how comfortable or uncomfortable a bike is by riding around a parking lot.
I agree. I have a Litespeed Veneto (Pilot style). I have little or no back pain. I just like the comfort position vs. being stretched down and forward. My stem is flipped down which puts my bars about even with my saddle. I ride on very bumpy roads so I installed 28c tires. This might not be the best set-up for racing, but it's ideal for everything else. I even enjoy an occasional fast group ride with some friends that race. I find I can get plenty low and aerodynamic by going to the drops. On traditional bikes I was rarely comfortable in the drops.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
Thank you guys for all your help! I finally decided on the Specialized Roubiax Expert. I took the bike out for a 45 mile ride to the beach and back yesterday on the local trail. I have to say that I love the bike. I was almost sold on the LeMond Zurich, but the Expert offered more bike, and although it was more money, I am happy with my purchase. Thanks again!
 
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