Author Topic: Touring bike for out-of-shape newbie  (Read 4224 times)

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Offline jonesmae

Touring bike for out-of-shape newbie
« on: March 26, 2011, 12:22:44 pm »
Can anyone suggest a touring bike that's appropriate for someone who's middle aged, out of shape, and new to touring?  I'm a six-feet tall female and currently weigh 200 lbs.  I don't need the latest technology, but I do need a bike that's comfortable and not too heavy.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Touring bike for out-of-shape newbie
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2011, 01:03:06 pm »
Until you get somewhat into shape, the bike won't matter. Anything will be fine, including whatever you have in your garage. Comfort won't matter much because your conditioning level won't allow you to be on it long enough to get uncomfortable. Ride it a mile or two for a while until you work your way up to five miles a day. During this time, you can begin shopping for a better bike.

If you're already in shape to do five miles a day, then you're ready for a real bike. Unless you have a self-contained tour planned for this year, I wouldn't get a touring bike to start with. Visit your local bike shop and ask them for recommendations for an entry-level road bike. Don't let them sell you a bike with a low-spoke count, high saddle and low handlebars that looks ready for the Tour de France. On the other hand, also don't let them sell you something that looks like a beach bike or has a cushy seat with springs or is only useful for riding down to the park or is a mountain bike. Tell them you want something on which you can work up to 50-mile rides (if that is indeed your goal). A price between $500 and $1500 is probably about right for this bike. This bike will also be good for van-supported tours (where a van is carrying your gear).

If you do want to go on a self-contained (i.e., carrying your own gear) tour in 2011, then my first choice would be to see if there are any shops with touring bikes in your area. If you have an REI near, visit them to look at the Novara touring bikes. Otherwise, you may be forced to have a shop order one for you. Consult the ACA buyers guide and ask your shop which of these bikes they can order for you.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Touring bike for out-of-shape newbie
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2011, 03:24:39 pm »
While I normally agree with what John writes, I disagree with him in this instance.  Go ahead and start riding until you're comfortable doing 5-10 miles at a lick, and then go shopping.  It seems to me that, if you're going to spend $500-1,500 on a touring bike, it doesn't make sense to start by spending $500-1,500 on a different road bike.  My take on it is to go ahead and find that touring bike -- it's a special kind of road bike, and you can start getting ready for a tour by riding it now.

I agree with looking at the AC buyer's guide.  Most (if not all all) touring bicycles will work.  Then check manufacturers' web sites, locate the nearest dealers, and start calling around.  They may be hard to find, so unless you live where bike touring is popular, you may be in for a long search.

If at all possible, try two or three different models before you pick one.  You're looking for a bike that feels right.  Sounds nebulous, and it may be, but when you find the right bike, you'll know it.  Don't buy it if it doesn't feel quite right.  I'd want the dealer to swap stems to get a good fit, and double-check the wheels for tension and true (tension is often inadequate on machine-built wheels).  Given your weight, you may want to get the bars set about even with the saddle -- don't leave the shop with the bike if your thighs are hitting your stomach when you're pedaling!  Check out a gear calculator like -- I'd say you should accept low gear of no more than 25", with 20" preferred, if you're ever going to tour in hills or mountains.

If you can't find a bike shop carrying a touring bike within a reasonable distance, you may have to order one.  Most LBSs can get the Surly LHT.  Since it's just March, other dealers should be able to get their favorite brand of touring bike for you.  Make sure you and the dealer understand you're not going to pay for a touring bike that doesn't fit you (see above).  Pick one, cross your fingers, order it, wait for it to come in, then have fun!
« Last Edit: March 26, 2011, 10:53:08 pm by pdlamb »

Offline Tourista829

Re: Touring bike for out-of-shape newbie
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2011, 08:36:42 pm »
26" or 700c wheel Surley LHT. Best bang for the touring dollar. I might switch out the saddle.

Offline bogiesan

Re: Touring bike for out-of-shape newbie
« Reply #4 on: March 29, 2011, 09:01:01 am »
Look carefully at recumbents. Easy to research online, difficult to test ride unless you are in a large market.

David boise ID
I play go. I use Macintosh. Of course I ride a recumbent