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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Eventually, someday, (when my lovely wife permits), I would like to buy a better bike than the one I currently ride. I ride a Schwinn '02 Fastback Sport, which is entry-level in its components, but it does the job. However, it is all aluminum, and seems very unforgiving on less-than-smooth surfaces, i.e. most of the highways and streets I ride. I ride pavement exclusively, simply because that is all my bike can manage. I live on a farm, with dirt lanes, and I could get some traffic free rides in with the kids if my bike was better suited to that.

So, what do I want? First of all, I am not a racer, so I do not need anything ultralight. Nor does the handlebar need to be so low in relation to the seat. Second, I am 6' tall, and 328 lbs. I need a strong bike, that is configured to make climbing easier. It needs to stop when I say "Whoa." I also have a rear rack that I like to keep installed simply for convenience's sake. While I would still ride on pavement most of the time, I may find myself wanting to take a dirt road or trail at times.

I do not know much about 'cross bikes, hybrids, or "comfort" bikes, so I need some advice. I also do not anticipate any inheritances in the future, and the bills keep coming, so money is something I try to use wisely. What would you ride, in my situation? (other than the couch...I do too much of that already)

Some questions I have that may prompt responses:

What about steel? titanium? CF?

Disc brakes? Linear pull? Cantilever?

What size tires? (currently riding 700 x 25)

Is custom-built that much more expensive?

Where would I look online for info?
 

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Lemond

slowmo1 said:
Eventually, someday, (when my lovely wife permits), I would like to buy a better bike than the one I currently ride. I ride a Schwinn '02 Fastback Sport, which is entry-level in its components, but it does the job. However, it is all aluminum, and seems very unforgiving on less-than-smooth surfaces, i.e. most of the highways and streets I ride. I ride pavement exclusively, simply because that is all my bike can manage. I live on a farm, with dirt lanes, and I could get some traffic free rides in with the kids if my bike was better suited to that.

So, what do I want? First of all, I am not a racer, so I do not need anything ultralight. Nor does the handlebar need to be so low in relation to the seat. Second, I am 6' tall, and 328 lbs. I need a strong bike, that is configured to make climbing easier. It needs to stop when I say "Whoa." I also have a rear rack that I like to keep installed simply for convenience's sake. While I would still ride on pavement most of the time, I may find myself wanting to take a dirt road or trail at times.

I do not know much about 'cross bikes, hybrids, or "comfort" bikes, so I need some advice. I also do not anticipate any inheritances in the future, and the bills keep coming, so money is something I try to use wisely. What would you ride, in my situation? (other than the couch...I do too much of that already)

Some questions I have that may prompt responses:

What about steel? titanium? CF?

Disc brakes? Linear pull? Cantilever?

What size tires? (currently riding 700 x 25)

Is custom-built that much more expensive?

Where would I look online for info?

Poprad. I think the steel frame would be much smoother and forgiving for you, and it's a cross bike and can take the dirt and rock roads. I think you can get one new with good-105 level components for about 1300.00 or so. That's the first bike that springs into my mind reading your story, although there are probably SEVERAL others. I ride a Kona Jake the Snake cross bike, and I love it, but it's ultralight aluminum, and not the smoothest ride out there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have been spending a good deal of time going back and reading previous threads dealing with steel frame bikes, and I am gathering that steel is often the preferred material for a "comfortable", responsive ride. The problem I have with all the beautiful bikes posted is the prices....:eek:

I realize that I may get flamed for this question, but is it impossible to find a well-built frame with strong wheels for less than $1200-1500? Obviously custom is out of my league. So what about less-espensive brands, like Fuji, or Jamis? I am not so hung up on the pedigree of the bike as long as it rides well and doesn't beat me to death on the rough pavement.

Does anyone know of an online resource that has the ability to compare steel framed bikes from various manufacturers?
 

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Try tires first.

In my opinion, the cheapest and most effective solution is fatter tires. At least try fatter ones out before buying a whole new bike. I'm assuming you like your current bike's handlebar height, and it's just the overall comfort not the fit you don't like. How much tire clearance does your bike have?

My 'fast' road bike has 700x25 tires like you, and they aren't nearly has comfy as my commuter, which came stock with Continental "Country Ride" brand tires. More air volume, less air pressure, something even I notice at 140lbs.
 

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My impression is that you are an intelligent and pragmatic guy. Read this bit for it can answer your question about bike materials:

“The campaign to sell light weight relies heavily on the misleading practice of comparing frame weights and converting the difference to a percentage—this frame is 30 percent lighter than that one, and so on. Consider: A 2.8-pound carbon fiber frame is 35 percent lighter than a 4.25-pound steel frame. That 35 percent sounds like a lot, but you can’t ride a frame. Add 17 pounds of parts to each frame to make them bikes, and now the difference (21.25lb vs. 19.8lb) shrinks to 7 percent. But what’s a bike without a rider? Add a 170 lb rider, and now the difference (191.25lb vs. 189.8 pounds) is just three quarters of one percent—and you give up longevity to get it.”

Rivendell Bicycle Works

The point I'm trying to show you is that the material is unimportant. You have a clear idea on what uses you have for a bike. What would suit you, in my opinon, is a steel frame bike that has 700 x 38 tires on it. It's easy to clamp any brand of rack on the back of a steel bike. The tires are lower rolling resistance on dirt than a skinny tire would be. You could still go fast on the bike. Your weight would be such a large percentage of the total weight of the bike that a beefy steel frame weight means nothing.

You might do well to find out who the local steel bike builders are in your area. Shod with low to mid-range components and wheels, you could get a great bang-for-the-buck that way. It's possible a local builder might have a frame made for a guy your weight and size laying around. It will be really hard to build a high-quality bike in your price range, but definately doable.

As far as brakes, cantilever brakes would clear bigger tires. It's easy to build a steel frame with the braze-ons for cantilever brakes.

You have made a good start, by researching. Check out the site I got the blurb from:
http://www.rivendellbicycles.com/
To give you an idea of how many builders there are in this country look here:
http://www.bikesutra.com/custombikes.html and here as well:
http://www.handmadebicycleshow.com/index.html

You can visit local bike shops, tell them what you have said to us, and see what they can do for you.

Don't buy into the modern industry insanity. You do not need a racing bike. The insanity is the majority of off-the-rack bikes are of a racing geometry. For example, the most comfortable bikes are ones that have the handlebars above the seat. Check out pics of the bikes the biggest manufacturers market. All you see are seats way up in the air. Another insanity issue is you can't find many bikes that will take tires wider than 700 x 28. Wider tires, still much smaller than mountain bike tires roll more smoothly and can roll in a wider variety of terrain. A cyclocross bike may suit you well, but one also has to look at the geometry of many of them, which lean too much toward racing.

Good luck in your search. Continue to question and learn. I hope you find the wisdom to seperate the wheat from the chaff. There is a bike out there for you. Go find it.
 

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"Sport" model

My next bike probably will be a "road-sport" design such as the Gunnar Sport. Frames of this type, also refered to as "sport-touring" are somewhere between a racing frame and touring. They have longer stays and a little more upright position. Most are designed to take wider tires, fenders and rack. You give up very little in performance but gain a lot in comfort and practicality. The Gunnar, and others are steel, which I like, but I agree that the design is more important than the material. Gunnar gets great reviews, but might be a little out of your current price range -- I think about $1000 for frame and fork.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Insight Driver said:
You might do well to find out who the local steel bike builders are in your area. Shod with low to mid-range components and wheels, you could get a great bang-for-the-buck that way. It's possible a local builder might have a frame made for a guy your weight and size laying around. It will be really hard to build a high-quality bike in your price range, but definately doable.

You can visit local bike shops, tell them what you have said to us, and see what they can do for you.

Good luck in your search. Continue to question and learn. I hope you find the wisdom to seperate the wheat from the chaff. There is a bike out there for you. Go find it.
Thanks, ID. I read in Bicycling Magazine a good while back about a custom builder located in Georgia, and as I recall, the city wasn't far from where I live. Unfortunately, I can't remember the builder's name, or the city. Can anyone help me out with that?
 

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When I started riding again, after too many years off the bike, I was about your wieght. I don't wiegh that much any more, thanks to riding. I currently ride a cheapo aluminum frame. The only place I really put money in my bike was a good set of custom-build wheels. I gut Ultegra hubs, 36 rear spokes, and 32 in the front. Both are straight-gage, and 14 gage at that. The wheels have held up to over 7000 miles of riding, with only one truing, and one broken spoke.

I think you will be fine on any bike you want to ride, as long as you don't go crazy light. And I would agree with the other responders to this thread, that you need wider tires. 32's wouldn't be out of the question.

As you loose weight, you might want to start riding longer distances. I would keep the traditional drop-bar geometry, but not have too much drop between the seat and the bars, just as you said.

I think you are right on track. If you want a steel bike, get one. There are several stock bikes out there that will work for you, and I personally think you would do fine on aluminum if you like it. You might want to consider a cyclocross bike, and use a non-knobby tire on it.

Riding will help you. I know from experience. You will just feel better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thrift Store Run

My wife and I went AWOL today. I am off work, and she was supposed to be laying down, resting. (She is about 8 months pregnant, and on semi-bedrest) However, I had been on this forum off and on all morning, and I had been elsewhere, researching steel frames, and finally I couldn't stand it. I had to put my hands on a bike, any bike, as long as it wasn't mine...so I told her my harebrained idea of going to town, and she immediately agreed, said she was about to go crazy from being cooped up in the house for the past several weeks. So we loaded the kids up and headed into town.

I threw my bike rack in the back of the van.....you know, just in case.....no luck though. I did manage to catch two of my favorite LBS's and made a quick run through just to remind myself of what nice stuff looked like. Saw a very nice Colnago President, as well as a Trek Madone 5.9SL, and a Trek with "LiveStrong" on it....kinda cool. At the other shop, I looked at the '06 model of the Schwinn Fastback Sport, $550, but I was bummed out when I saw that they had been upspec'd from a few years ago, when I got mine. Now they have a carbon fork, Alex rims, and Vittorio tires. Fire engine red---that would look nice with my LAS helmet! I left before I could get into trouble.:cryin:

I was looking for an old non-suspension MTB frame that I could mount slicks on and set up a crash-proof "round-the-farm" ride that I could tinker on and play with....maybe come up with my own version of Frankenbike. I will keep my eyes peeled, watch for yardsales, etc.

In regards to having wider, softer tires, can I do that with the rims I already have? I am riding the stock Mavic CXP-22, I think it is. As I said, the tires on it are 700x25. I realize that the brake calipers limit the tire size also, but how big can I go on these rims?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
slowmo1 said:
I was looking for an old non-suspension MTB frame that I could mount slicks on and set up a crash-proof "round-the-farm" ride that I could tinker on and play with....maybe come up with my own version of Frankenbike. I will keep my eyes peeled, watch for yardsales, etc.
Well, waddayaknow! Look at what I just found on Ebay with 20 minutes to spare, and won for $20 plus $35 shipping! Hey, if nothing else, I can let my wife ride it, and if she won't, I'm not too proud!
 
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