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Cycling (on the homestead and around town)  RSS feed

 
Angelica Harris
Posts: 49
Location: Statesboro, GA
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So, I'm looking to buy a bike, but not just any bike, a bike with the ability to handle grassland and paved pathways, cobblestone and uneven walkways, all with the same efficiency while keeping me from falling off. Hah I realize the not falling off part is more my area than the bike's, but I would like one that would encourage good posture whether I'm sitting or standing. And hopefully have a seat that doesn't feel like a sharp, uncomfortably placed rock. I know that sometimes the way a bike's frame is designed has a lot to do with how good you feel while using it. However, I really don't know much of anything about bikes at all.

In any case, does any one have any suggestions? I would like to practice using it over the summer and building my stamina as well, so that eventually it won't be a tough choice choosing to bike somewhere as opposed to driving... just a matter of good timing on my part. I think this will be a fun, arduous, and worth it undertaking, since gas isn't going to be getting any cheaper and I really would like to lessen my impact on the environment, because I drive long distances fairly often.
 
Todd Parr
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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For comfort, recumbents are the way to go. I bought a recumbent trike built by Catrike (Expedition is the model) and I will never ride a regular bike again. I found bike riding to be miserable. I tried different seats, different postures, all that stuff, but I was still miserable after riding for a short period. With a recumbent, you can literally ride for hours without anything hurting. It's like sitting in a lawn chair. The drawback is of course the price, but I have seen pretty good deals on recumbents on Craigslist.
 
Alex Riddles
Posts: 50
Location: Columbia Missouri
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I agree with Todd about the comfort of recumbents. I have test ridden a few. But I can't afford one myself. Another thing to consider is the low profile. It is a huge advantage on a long ride with a headwind. But if you are riding on the road you will be far less visible to cars.

As for upright bikes I have ridden for years on plastic seats and hated them. I finally spent the money on a leather brooks saddle. I was warned I would have to ride a few hundred miles before it was broken in. But I have to say straight out of the box it is the most comfortable saddle I have ever ridden.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I ride a mountain bike on the road, and off-road. It seems heavy, and slow compared to road bikes. But I can put it in the lowest gear, and ride up all the hills on my 13 mile round trip commute, and I can ride across the grass, and through the plowed field. When I drag a trailer with small diameter wheels (like recombinants have), it's about more than I can manage to pull it over a lawn.

Having a rear suspension makes it harder to attach trailers, saddle bags, and carriers. Around here, the roads sure are rough, so I think front and rear suspension helps with the ride. Makes the bike heavier though. Harder to go up hills, but helps in zipping down them on the way home. The seat on my bike cost more than the bike, because I wanted something that didn't irritate my masculinity.

Posture sucks on a bike... If I'm riding fast, or against wind, I usually do the laying down on the bike posture. Sure makes the trip fly past. I sure was sore for the first month I was commuting by bike as muscles adjusted to new ways. I change clothes before and after my commute, because clothes that are appropriate for working in the garden are inappropriate for biking. I don't mind biking 1/2 mile in the wrong clothes, but any more than that, and I'm changing into biking attire, which to me is a kilt and an A-shirt. Lots of bikers wear spandex, but out of respect for the sensibilities of my Mormon neighbors, I cover the spandex with a kilt.

I love that the weight is melting off!!!

I get lots of bragging rights from commuting by bike. Lots of satisfaction from the exercise and the increased fitness.






 
Steve Landau
Posts: 20
Location: Vermont
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As a biker all my life, I look at bikes as tools. If you are going on dirt -single track (deer paths) then a mountain bike, 2.5" tires or wider.
http://www.bikepacking.com/bikes/


If its gravel roads, you can look more for cyclocross.

And if your are a real permie, go electric with this:





 
chip sanft
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Location: 18 acres & heart in zone 4 (central MN). Current abode: Knoxville (zone 6 /7)
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I've been riding for a long time and will offer some thoughts:

* Tire size is the important thing for being able to ride on uneven surfaces (as Steve indicates). You want something wide but not too wide. I'd think 40 mm would actually be enough for most surfaces, but bigger will be better for soft surfaces. Knobby surfaces give grip.

* Different companies' frames are set up differently. My own bike -- ostensibly a touring bike -- could take 40 mm tires and be ridden on trails (and some people do that).

* The shape of the handlebars and dimensions of the frame are less important than finding one that fits you properly. A quality bike shop can advise you about this and it's not something you can determine without measuring and/or much experimenting. The proper size will make a huuuge difference.

* If you're worried about a rough ride, not inflating your tires above 50# will give you a smooth ride and improved traction. Many people like suspensions but they add moving parts that break and wear out.

* Steel can be repaired.

* I love my Rivendell Atlantis and ride it daily all year round. Surly also makes bikes that people swear by.

* Brooks saddles are indeed really comfortable. And pretty, and repairable, too.
 
Todd Parr
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Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Alex Riddles wrote:It is a huge advantage on a long ride with a headwind. But if you are riding on the road you will be far less visible to cars.


The low posture really is a huge advantage on a recumbent. I live in hilly country, and when I ride with friends on traditional bikes, I can easily pass them downhills without pedaling when they are still pedaling as far as possible. I was very worried about the visibility issue before I had a recumbent, but it seems that the are so novel that everyone notices them immediately. I am fortunate that I have never had any kind of close call. I also have a pretty tall flag, and will be putting a good strobe on soon. That said, I still avoid high traffic roads when possible.

Joseph Lofthouse wrote: When I drag a trailer with small diameter wheels (like recombinants have), it's about more than I can manage to pull it over a lawn.


That is a valid point about many recumbents. Mine has a 26" rear wheel, so I don't have that issue, but I certainly can't ride across a field or the like, and hills are harder on recumbents than traditional bikes until you get used to them. I read a very good article about a guy that rode his recumbent trike from Oregon to Death Valley up and down mountains with over 100 lbs of extra gear in his trailer, so it can definitely be done. You would just have to be in much better shape than I am I would say that unless someone is really going to ride a lot, the recumbents are too expensive.
 
Angelica Harris
Posts: 49
Location: Statesboro, GA
food preservation forest garden hugelkultur
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Wow, guys, all the comments are super helpful. I'm looking into finding a bike shop nearby to see what frame would be best for me, so that will let me have something a little more substantial to go by when I am picking something out. My mom has a recumbent trike and I'll finally get to give it a try during the summer. I'll see how I like the ride for sure by trying it out around town.
 
Todd Parr
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Posts: 1317
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Angelica Harris wrote:Wow, guys, all the comments are super helpful. I'm looking into finding a bike shop nearby to see what frame would be best for me, so that will let me have something a little more substantial to go by when I am picking something out. My mom has a recumbent trike and I'll finally get to give it a try during the summer. I'll see how I like the ride for sure by trying it out around town.


Don't do it unless you are ready to buy one They are so much more comfortable than a regular bike, you will never want to go back.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
Posts: 2611
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
506
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I went and tried other bikes recently.... One thing I forgot to mention about my current bike is that the frame where I have to swing my leg to get onto it lower than typical. I ain't getting any younger, so the lower frame height was really helpful to me in getting on and off.
 
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