advice on first bike needed please

Jezebel

New Member
Hi,

I am new to cycling: I recently learned to ride a bike at 50+

However, I really am not confident on bikes with big wheels: they seem very large and I dont feel in control. I want to go really slow and that makes me unstable and I also think I am going to mow down people and dogs. I think the issue is that I feel I dont have sufficient control. the size of a standard bike makes this feeling magnified.

I am thinking that a folding bike, with a lower center of gravity, would work for me.

However, I need to bike to practice on. I will be using on flat ground, cycle lanes and paths and not roads.

I have been looking on-line at new and second hand bikes. But I cannot decide what to do.

Yesterday I almost bought a new bike from my local bike shop. I went in wanting to buy the Tern A7 but looked also at Dawes Kingpin. I prefer the Tern but the Dawes has got a bit more for the money: better tyres, mudguards etc. I like the idea of puncture resistant tyres but I can just buy them and fit them onto any bike, cant I, so it seems silly to be swayed by that.

However, since then I have read about the issues with the Tern falling apart and am a bit put off Tern now.

Also, I am thinking its a bit silly to spend £500 on a bike before I know I will be able to even ride the damn thing. I am thinking that if I buy a cheap second hand bike to see how I get on then I can buy an upgrade when I am ready and then I will have a better idea of what to buy. I may even be able to buy a standard hybrid bike at that stage but just for now, I dont want this.

So please: what make and type of bike should I look out for second hand to start out and build up confidence?

Thank you so much!

Jez.
 

mitchibob

Well-Known Member
Location
London, UK
If you live near a Brompton Dock, I'd suggest giving Brompton Bike Hire a try, even though it's a little more expensive than when I used them, it's a good way to try one for a little while.

However, I'm not sure you'll necessarily find a bike with smaller wheels more stable. Larger wheels have a larger gyroscopic affect to keep you upright and balanced more easily. Small wheels tend to be more twitchy and less stable, although easier to get going due to less inertia, but then also suffer from less momentum, and higher rolling resistance. Perhaps they are a little easier to control at slower speeds, but that might just be flatter wider handlebars versus drop bars.

If you've tried 700c sized wheels so far, maybe try 650b instead? Or maybe something right in the middle is better for you. But I wouldn't necessarily say a bike with smaller wheels and lower centre of gravity is more stable. More fun, definitely.
 
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CanucksTraveller

Macho Business Donkey Wrestler
Location
Hertfordshire
+1 to @mitchibob

Your physics is a little off Jezebel, bigger wheels are more stable. I get your thinking, my daughter thought the same thing going up to big wheels... "Argh, look how tall the wheels are, I'll fall over!" she said. 2 rides later she's bombing along woodland tracks without a care and commenting how much easier the new bike is to ride.
Yes I said, you've got two much bigger gyroscopes keeping you stable.

Try not to ride too slow early on, riding really slowly is a skill that you need to work at.

Keep your current bike and ride it more, possibly somewhere quieter where you're not worrying about pedestrians. You'll get better the more you ride.

Buy a small wheeled bike by all means, when or if you still want one, once you've got more competent. It's not the answer to your current wobbling though.
 
I would definitely recommend the advice above. A small wheeled bike can be fun to ride, but the smaller wheels do make them turn very quickly which could be a bit off putting. If you don't need a folding bike for storage purposes then go for a larger wheeled bike, you'll soon stop wobbling and wonder what all the fuss was.

As for Terns falling apart, don't believe everything you read on the internet. In their very early days, they had a bad batch of frames which did snap at the hinge joint and they did themselves no favours with their response to this. However, this was 8 years or so back now. I've owned a Tern for the last 5 years and put thousands of kilometres of fault free riding on it. It's my main commuter/dogsbody bike and serves me well all through the year. One Caveat to all this though comes with weight. The Terns hinge pins are rated for 115kg and I know of several folk, both personally and anecdotally who have had the pins fail. With clothes/bags etc it is easy to come close to this limit if you are fairly stocky built in the first place.
 
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Jezebel

New Member
OK, thank you for your replies.

So, I'm wrong then, that I would have more control on a smaller wheeled bike?

My alternative was to buy a Pashley trike but I do want to try a 2 wheel bike.

I don't have a bike at all at the moment. I learned on a hire bike, a medium sized Ridgeback.

I did want to buy a cheap folding bike but on gumtree they are all snapped up - It seems with carona virus all the bikes in the world are being sold. Plus I worry that I would buy something that was about to fall apart.

There is a Brompton bike hire at the local station, and I did think about this. I dont want 16 inch wheels and I was told in the bike shop to avoid Bromptons as I might find the steering a bit 'twitchy'. (Although they are aesthetically beautiful - I saw one and wanted it)

Lord, should it be this hard? There is a bike charity i guess i could try there for a standard 2 wheeler BUT that's £80 miniumum.

I am 5 feet 6, about 10 stones. (and live in a house the size of a postage stamp so size is important but that;s not why I wanted a folding bike.

What might i look out for?

Thank you so far.

Jez.
 

mitchibob

Well-Known Member
Location
London, UK
There is a Brompton bike hire at the local station, and I did think about this. I dont want 16 inch wheels and I was told in the bike shop to avoid Bromptons as I might find the steering a bit 'twitchy'. (Although they are aesthetically beautiful - I saw one and wanted it)
Yes. They are a little twitchy, but not in a terribly bad way, but definitely more so than a bike with larger wheels. But I really don't think you can get a good idea of your ideal bike without riding a few different ones for a little time.

If you have the Brompton bike hire near you, spending a bit of with one might change your mind, especially if you can borrow a bag to go on the front. Stick a relatively heavy bag on the front, and if anything, they're a little more stable, and definitely more stable than a big wheel bike with panniers or heavy rucksack. But as you can keep the Brompton bike hires as long as you like, it gives you time to actually live with one for a bit and see how you get on.

If you live in a tiny place, Brompton is ideal, as folded, take up very little space, and having inside your flat, and being able to take into places easily means never owning a lock and having those security worries of a larger bike. Not necessarily as useful at the moment, but you also never have to book them onto trains.
 

Gunk

Veteran
Location
Oxford
Bromptons are a doddle to ride and my daughter who lacks some confidence after an accident last year on holiday has been able to ride mine. The gearing is also very simple so there are few distractions.

The only problem is that you won’t get a good used one for £500. They are about £650 for a decent example. But they hold their price and fold to nothing, they’ll fit under the stairs or in a cupboard.

523513
 
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All uphill

I didn't recognise you but I knew your bike
Location
Somerset
You say there is a place near you that does up bikes and sells them for £80?

That sounds like a good low risk way to get started. Can they put you in touch with someone who is qualified to give you an hour's cycle confidence raining?

Our town has both the above and has seen lots of new cyclists over the last two years.

Good luck! If you persist you will love it!
 

Smudge

Über Member
Location
Somerset
Carrera Intercity 20" folder from Halfords might be worth you looking at. £350 is under your budget and you can usually get a test ride at Halfords, even if its only round their car park. But not sure how test rides are going with this current situation.
The Intercity gets good reviews and it has an 8 speed freehub, as opposed to freewheel on most cheap folders.
 
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Jezebel

New Member
Thank you again.

I have had the free 2 hour tuition provided by our green council, which is how I learned to 'ride' a bike in the first place. i was rising around those slalom things, so i had pretty good control. however, its the other people who scare me. i have had a chat with a person who gives tuition to disabled people and he says i qualify for a further 2 hours tuition when the restrictions are lifted.
I know its about confidence. when i went out cycling I really struggled, went slowly so i felt i was in control, wobbled. one experienced cyclist in lycra shorts shook his head at me and muttered under his breath that he blamed the Tour de France. On holiday in France i rode trike and cycled 15 miles a day very happily (again, to the bewilderment of local French people who were just calling out 'bizarre'). i loved that trike but i dont think they're practical for what i want. That being said, had i just given in and got one 2 years ago, i would have been cycling for 2 years as opposed to wanting to be riding a bike.

I will look for 26 inch wheels and i think a small frame - i think that's about 16 inches? not sure how the owners will fee about a person rising their bike who can barely get it to stand up.

Jez
 
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Jezebel

New Member
So, there is split consensus of opinion here.

1. either get a standard bike and get on with it, or 2. get a folder.

I was half way through buying a Dawes Kingpin (I hesitated because it looked scary and less attractive than the tern.)

Not sure what to do....

options:

1. Get a new tern
2. buy a cheap standard bike.
3. Practice with a Brompton.

Jez
 

rogerzilla

Legendary Member
A Kingpin or a Raleigh Twenty is a good idea. Easy to mount and the ride is a bit like a traditional roadster, surprisingly. Either can be had for about £20 but a properly working one is a bit more. If you're on Faecebook try the Raleigh Twenty group. People rescue them and sell them on, not generally for a profit.
 
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Jezebel

New Member
I have rented a Brompton.

I have 'ridden' it around the local park on grass. The paths are a bit slanted so I have ended up in a few bushes. I have fallen over a few times. (Ridden is a loose term - the grass is fairly long and the ground isn't exactly even - it was hard work to steer it and I see that it is light on steering - in fact it reminded me of the trike I rode in France).

I havent been on a bike for 3 years so at least I rode it around a bit (husband of course got on and showed me how its done, even though he hasn't ridden a bike in 100 years, etc,)

I have it for the day, have ridden it for an hour, and will take it out again later today when it is less crowded and cooler. But so far there is no joy in this and I can't foresee there will be any joy - for me. I keep it upright but I am not enjoying it. Thank goodness I didn't buy a bike of any size, new or old.

I think I will have to bite the bullet and buy a Pashley TR1. If I enjoy that, at least I am out cycling, as opposed to looking in fear at a bike I cant ride.
 

ianrauk

Tattooed Beat Messiah
I have rented a Brompton.

I have 'ridden' it around the local park on grass. The paths are a bit slanted so I have ended up in a few bushes. I have fallen over a few times. (Ridden is a loose term - the grass is fairly long and the ground isn't exactly even - it was hard work to steer it and I see that it is light on steering - in fact it reminded me of the trike I rode in France).

I havent been on a bike for 3 years so at least I rode it around a bit (husband of course got on and showed me how its done, even though he hasn't ridden a bike in 100 years, etc,)

I have it for the day, have ridden it for an hour, and will take it out again later today when it is less crowded and cooler. But so far there is no joy in this and I can't foresee there will be any joy - for me. I keep it upright but I am not enjoying it. Thank goodness I didn't buy a bike of any size, new or old.

I think I will have to bite the bullet and buy a Pashley TR1. If I enjoy that, at least I am out cycling, as opposed to looking in fear at a bike I cant ride.
Keep at it. Riding experience and joy will come.
 

12boy

Veteran
Location
Casper WY USA
While it is true that little wheels do not have the gyroscopic power big wheels do, small wheel bikes have lower top tubes, with Bromptons being among the lowest. Very easy to mount or dismount and put your feet on the ground if needed. The Brompton front mount bag capabilities, unlike bikes which carry their weight off saddle, handlebars or a rack over the rear wheel, actually improves the ride and handling since it attaches to the frame. The other benefit of folders, besides storing them in a small space, is the ability to tuck them into a small vehicle or public transport. Many bring their Bromptons into the store, bar, or restaurant with them and so prevent them being stolen. I've heard a lot of opinions that small wheel bikes are slower and no good in off road conditions. The off road part is true, since little wheels cannot ride over bumps or crevices like larger wheels, but the speed part less so. I have a half dozen bikes of different types and I am pretty slow on them all. Every bike is a compromise betweern price, weight, durability and function. Try as many as you can and hopefully you will find one that just seems the most right.,
 
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