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A bicycle for my wife

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Hi guys,

I know a number of you guys know a bit about bikes so I thought I'd ask a question. My wife has been expressing some interest in getting a bike. But she does not want anything fancy. Basically just a few gears and no need for suspension.

My question is: what is the difference between the "hybrid" bikes and cruisers aside from design (and perhaps number of gears)? Looking at something around the $300 mark, is there really much difference? There are some hills around here and I would love it if biking managed to sneak in a bit more exercise for the both of us. She's not much of a fan of exercising so I'd hate to buy a bike that is horrible for hills (for example) and have her hate riding it. (I don't want her to hate riding either way, of course.)

I've been looking at a Trek because I'm familiar with them and have always had good luck with them myself. They also seem to have a huge range of bikes that she might like.

Is Raleigh any good any more? Any other suggestions?

thanks,
b
post #2 of 16
I think of cruisers as single speed bikes with coaster brakes made in that classic cruiser style out of heavy steel. They can be had with gears, and v-brakes, and aluminum frames these days which ruins the look but oh well. Hybrid bikes take an upright mountain bike frame and pair it with slightly larger diameter 700C road wheels (with narrower, smoother, and higher pressure tires). I think a hybrid will be the best bike for her. Both styles are upright and comfortable for beginners but cruisers are usually heavier and the fat, low pressure tires will be slower. Not to mention the gearing and brakes. Modern cruiser still won't have the gear range of a hybrid. Raleigh is not what it used to be. Made in China and sold at department stores. I'd probably stick with Trek but if you're getting a cheap bike, Performance Bike is pretty good. Good discount and some coupons come out from time to time.
post #3 of 16
^^ Good advice. Also check Canadian-made brands like Norco. I wouldn't buy online, though; she needs to ride a few around and get fit by a decent bike store. http://www.norco.com/bikes/city_and_...eau_ladies.php Also do some research on the best ladies' saddles at www.roadbikereview.com -- it will make a huge difference as to whether she enjoys riding or not.
post #4 of 16
If she is just looking for something to cruise around the neighbourhood, get her somethine she likes the look of, cruiser/hybrid does not matter.

If she is wants it more for running errands or putting miles on then either get her a hybrid (700c wheels, slicks) or a mountain bike and switch the tires out.

I'll also add kona into the mix for bikes, a bit more expensive than your price of $300 ($350-399) but good bikes.

Rule number one at this price point is to buy it at a bike shop and get one she likes th elook and feel of.

I'd also budget for a helmet and good women specific cycling shorts.
post #5 of 16
This info so far has been right on track. Here's an important question: what type of build does your wife have? Is she heavy set? If so, go cruiser, she'll be more comfortable and at some point might be in shape enough to change styles. If she is in half way decent shape, do go hybrid, as Doink mentioned, 700 c tires, so you will have a) less rolling resistance and b) greater efficiency per each rotation of the pedals.
post #6 of 16
I'd get a used bike, find one in good shape- $300 on a used bike could buy something considerably better then an entry level bike. I am partial to Gary Fisher in general, but it really depends on the quality of the various parts.
post #7 of 16
My wife expressed the same sort of interest, so I bought her a Trek Calypso. It's a cruiser style of bike (which she likes the looks of), comes in a wonderful soft yellow with a tan leather seat (which she also likes the looks of), yet it's made from aluminum, so it's not as heavy as the typical cruiser. Seven speeds, easy gripshift shifter, and hand brake rather than coaster. $300.

Words of warning however, it's difficult to "pop" off the front wheel on cruisers, so if you're using a roof rack, you need to buy a two wheel tray that will fit the bike's unique geometry, and also it's difficult to attach things like child seats or burleys to them . . . which explains why my wonderfully light Klein is now saddled with a 20 pound child seat. :-)
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the replies guys. We will definitely try them out first--that's a given. I hadn't given much thought to the saddle, but that is important.

I was not aware of the difference in tires. I guess she'll just have to decide which she likes better.

TCN, I'm not familiar with "burley." Do you mean paniers, a basket, etc.? That would be too bad if it's difficult to attach that sort of thing to it, as I'm sure after a while she'd be into riding down to the farmer's market. My wife also likes that range of Treks.

I'll check out Kona which is, admittedly, not one of the first brands I thought of. The only ones I've ridden never really fit me well. And I'll check Norco as well.

thanks,
bob
post #9 of 16
My wife rides a chrome BMX bike. I dig it.
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by rdawson808 View Post
Thanks for all the replies guys. We will definitely try them out first--that's a given. I hadn't given much thought to the saddle, but that is important.

I was not aware of the difference in tires. I guess she'll just have to decide which she likes better.

TCN, I'm not familiar with "burley." Do you mean paniers, a basket, etc.? That would be too bad if it's difficult to attach that sort of thing to it, as I'm sure after a while she'd be into riding down to the farmer's market. My wife also likes that range of Treks.

I'll check out Kona which is, admittedly, not one of the first brands I thought of. The only ones I've ridden never really fit me well. And I'll check Norco as well.

thanks,
bob

Burleys are those buggies that every yuppie couple with kids pulls them around in. Usually seen with bright orange flags flying above them.

That said, I believe paniers will be more difficult to attach to most cruiser style bikes, although a front basket would be no problem. You might also be able to attach a seatpost rack which will function well but is usually limited to carrying 20 pounds or less.
post #11 of 16
She would probably do best with a hybrid. If she is just using it to tool around in, don't worry about the components too much, or stuff like disc brakes. She is not going to need anything particularly high performance. The two things that are going to determine whether she finds riding it comfortable are the weight and the size. Make sure to get the right size. It makes a world of difference. For reference, I am 5'11", and ride a 21" frame.

The Specialized Hardrock is a decent bike. It may closer to $450 for a stock frame and components though. As previously mentioned, Kona makes a good bike. Again, the price may be closer to $450. Giant and Diamondback also makessome pretty good bikes at reasonable prices, but again, may be a little more expensive than $300. You may want to spend a little more, if just to get a lighter frame. The difference between steel and chromoly is very noticeable, as is the difference between chromoly and aluminum.

I would also invest in a set of good paniers. Ortlieb makes the most waterproof ones, if she is thinking of carrying papers, a laptop, or something that you really don't want to get wet, around. Including the rack, the paniers will cost about $130. You can get down as low as $100, but I rather like my laptop.

I ride a DIY hybrid. Essentially took the mountainbike tires off my Rockhopper and put on slicks. Great for commuting (about 20 miles a day). For mountainbiking, I put on the fat tires and take off all extraneous crap. It allows me to get the best use out of one machine.
post #12 of 16
If she wants a decent but stylish bike, check out the bianchi milan.
post #13 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by LA Guy View Post
She would probably do best with a hybrid. If she is just using it to tool around in, don't worry about the components too much, or stuff like disc brakes. She is not going to need anything particularly high performance. The two things that are going to determine whether she finds riding it comfortable are the weight and the size. Make sure to get the right size. It makes a world of difference. For reference, I am 5'11", and ride a 21" frame.

The Specialized Hardrock is a decent bike. It may closer to $450 for a stock frame and components though. As previously mentioned, Kona makes a good bike. Again, the price may be closer to $450. Giant and Diamondback also makessome pretty good bikes at reasonable prices, but again, may be a little more expensive than $300. You may want to spend a little more, if just to get a lighter frame. The difference between steel and chromoly is very noticeable, as is the difference between chromoly and aluminum.

I would also invest in a set of good paniers. Ortlieb makes the most waterproof ones, if she is thinking of carrying papers, a laptop, or something that you really don't want to get wet, around. Including the rack, the paniers will cost about $130. You can get down as low as $100, but I rather like my laptop.

I ride a DIY hybrid. Essentially took the mountainbike tires off my Rockhopper and put on slicks. Great for commuting (about 20 miles a day). For mountainbiking, I put on the fat tires and take off all extraneous crap. It allows me to get the best use out of one machine.
How is that working out for you?

I ride a hardtail Iron Horse, and would be interested in switching some things out to make it more road efficient, especially for those times when I just don't feel like hitting the trails.
post #14 of 16
Giant and Trek may be your best bet at finding something close to that range, if you can spend a little more, you may want to take a look at Marin, I believe they have a bike in the $400 range.
post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Southern-Nupe View Post
How is that working out for you?

I ride a hardtail Iron Horse, and would be interested in switching some things out to make it more road efficient, especially for those times when I just don't feel like hitting the trails.

Pretty good. The slicks definitely make the ride a lot easier. There is really no reason to have fat, nubby tires for a commute, and especially when you are carrying stuff) unless you are really looking for the exercise. I've been timing my rides, and you definitely take off 1/5-1/4 of the time with slicks on, and the ride is easier to boot.
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