bicycle prefrence

Hello fello bikers,

I am new to organized bike rides. Last year I did my first ride ever which was a century ride from Seattle to Bellingham, I had a blast on my bike from Walmart. I enjoy riding but have not gotten into racing and at this time have decided to concentrate on doing organized rides as opposed to races. Does anyone think that a comfort or hybrid bike would be better over a long ride if you are not concerned with speed? To be clear for those of you who have more experience in riding, by comfort I am thinking about back and neck comfort.


Dear Scottie79:

If your main concern is comfort, then I would recommend buying a bike at your Local Bike Shop, so it can be fitted to your body.

You don't mention your budget. If it's $100, then buy yourself an old-skool, used, mid-80s hard-tail mountain bike. If it's $1000, you have more choices.

Don't fall into some of the misunderstandings of what makes a bicycle comfortable. Some of my opinions, worth what you paid for them: 

  • Squishy gel seats may mean that gel gets squished into nether regions' more delicate areas, making them sore or numb. Sometimes a harder seat is actually more comfortable over longer miles. You want cushioning in your shorts, where you can control where it is - not your saddle.
  • Flat handlebars have only one or two hand positions. Putting on bar ends only gives you one more hand position. Drop handlebars give you many more hand positions. For a long ride, you may want to shift where you have your hands all day. Get a bike with drop bars.
  • "Comfort" bikes are comfortable for those who are rolling down the trail for a nice sunny 20-25 mile excursion. If you're going to be in the saddle for a back-to-back century, you might not find them that comfortable.
  • A lighter bike is faster, and then you get to the end quicker. Hybrid bikes are usually some blend of mountain and road bike. Are you going to be taking the bike off-road? If not, don't get a hybrid. You don't need to be riding a feather-weight carbon racing bike, but, if you're only going to ride the bike on the road, you can trade off some sturdiness for speed. 

I think your best bet is a road bike of some sort. Not a racing bike, but a road bike. Find a road bike that can take fenders, so you can use it for light touring or commuting, too. It can then be practical transportation as well as a bike you can use for STP.



Adding to what Claire said: in my own experience, what made the biggest difference in reducing back/neck pain was getting my road bike professionally fitted by a local shop. Best investment I've made. It's amazing how much impact even small changes in stem length/height, brake hood placement, and saddle fore/aft positioning can have --- especially over the course of hours on the road.

Many shops will do the fitting even if you didn't buy the bike there, but you need to be sure that what you're riding is "in the ballpark" enough to be fine-tuned to your body. If you're new to this, I'd recommend going through a shop from the beginning.

Thank you everyone for the comments, after reading your reviews I think I will just stick with the bike I have. After thinking about last years century ride I realize the only discomfort that I felt was from wearing a backpack. I think I will get saddle bags to strap on my current road bike.

Hi Scottie79,

Here's what you will almost never hear from anybody who wants to sell you bikes and parts: The trick to making your bike ride harder or softer costs less than $120. It's tires. Mounting a set of wider. lower-pressure tires will soften your ride much more than swapping your frame or wheels.

Also I agree with Claire that the shape of the saddle affects comfort much more than its softness. And any saddle will be more comfortable over along ride if you take regular breaks from it. Always remember to stand up and de-constrict the blood flow when ascending or descending.



Submitted by Jim Werner on

another direction to consider is a recumbent.  i've had lower back issues for ever and that was my answer.  they are not inexpensive but might be an option.  when i say a recumbent that can be either two wheel or three wheel.  if you have neck issues you will want a seat with a back that is not too far layed back.  what ever you ride do it for the enjoyment and not for what someone tells you you should ride.  should you consider this to be an option don't be surprised if you are not as fast as you are accustomed to being.  the muscle use is a little different and will take a while to develop.