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Customer Discussions > Cycling forum

What bicycle should a 57-year-old woman who isn't rich buy?

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Showing 1-23 of 23 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 31, 2010, 10:53:07 AM PDT
My girlfriend is 57 and wants to get into shape and to explore the rail trails near Boston and on New England. She says she doesn't need "all the whistles and bells" but would like a dependable bike---preferably but not necessarily new. She has done some 10-speed biking and enjoys it. She's never really had a bike of her own, not a hand-me-down, since childhood. She isn't obese or have any particular needs. She doesn't have a fortune to spend---$300-$500 might be her upper price range? Do any of you good people have suggestions for her?

Posted on May 31, 2010, 11:08:02 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 31, 2010, 10:40:37 PM PDT
How tall is she? Can she ride a 26" bike with 18" frame and 30" stroke? Is she interested in a "comfort" bike or an all terrain bike? You can find a nice variety of low priced women's bikes at Brands are Mongoose, Pacific and Schwinn. All are brand new and can be shipped directly to her home. This is my store. I sell discount on brand new bikes. They are not expensive and are nice quality. I am an online dealer for Pacific Cycle. Check out my store for yourself once you have tested some bikes in your local store.

Posted on May 31, 2010, 12:05:33 PM PDT
It'd recommend going to a good bike store and trying a few out--if you go to a couple bike places and get recommendations, the picture will come clearer. I'm 48 and have been riding a hybrid Trek for abour 3 years and love it. I'm in Florida which is pretty flat, but I've rented hybrids in Maine & northern California, and found them to work very well in a variety of settings and on hillier terrain. The nice thing about hybrids is that they cross over from road to trail well, they are a more upright bike than most of the road/racing bikes you see, but not quite as upright as a beach cruiser/comfort bike. I'm going bike shopping w/my 70+ yr old mother next week, and I'm pretty sure she'll be more comfortable on a cruiser/comfort bike. If your girlfriend wants to ride on trails, she may need something more specialized--so make sure to let them know where you really want to ride. Trek is a very good but not silly expensive maker that I really like; Giant is a little cheaper and I rented one and it was fine, just not quite as great on the details. The bikes like Schwinn and Raleigh that were names when we were kids are I gather not so well respected now. A good Trek hybrid or cruiser will set you back $350-500 approx.--just to give a ballpark. I was getting priced more in the 300s for a Raleigh the other day in CT.

In reply to an earlier post on May 31, 2010, 12:24:25 PM PDT
Librarylady says:
It is funny because I have been looking for a good all around bike and I am a 55 year old woman. The bike that I have my eye on is the Torker bike 2010 Cargo - T. It has a place in the front and back to carry a picnic basket, ice chest, or my Boston Terrier dog. It has been getting great reviews. They are running in the $500 range, but it has a low step thru frame and is a three speed. I included the website at It comes in either green or gray color.

Posted on May 31, 2010, 3:14:00 PM PDT
N. Bauer says:
I am 56 y/o and just bought a woman's Giant comfort bike. I've ridden it on paved and dirt trails and so far, absolutely love it. It has shocks in the front and under the seat. It was regularly $379 and I got it for $329. Good luck!

In reply to an earlier post on May 31, 2010, 6:34:02 PM PDT
I agree with Miriam. You should definitely go to a local bike shop (owner-operated would be best) and talk to them about your options. Then have her try a few bikes (maybe even a few dozen if necessary) and find out what she finds most comfortable. For rails-to-trails any mountain, comfort, hybrid, or even cruiser bike should get the job done and there are hundreds out there in the $300-$500 range.
Of course, working in a shop that sells Trek and Raleigh I would probably show her a Trek Navigator 2.0 first, and then a Raleigh Venture 3.0 second. They are both in the mid $300 range and are very comfortable. There are many other bikes in this style from Giant, Specialized, Diamondback, and other brands that are of equal quality. I would watch out for Schwinn, Mongoose, GT, and any bike at Performance bike shop. The three mentioned are all owned by Pacific, which is a huge company more concerned with profit margins than quality, much as the Performance chain is.
I hope you find just the right bike and remember not to be pressured into buying a bike that's not right for you just because of the price or because the salesman will throw in a helmet if you "buy it today."
Most importantly, buy from a reputable shop rather than online or from a department store because one of the most important things about a bicycle is the way it gets built. I have seen very poor quality bikes last many years and many high-end bikes fall apart in months because of how they were assembled and adjusted.
Good luck out there and enjoy the ride!

Posted on May 31, 2010, 7:48:12 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 31, 2010, 8:23:19 PM PDT
R. Grant says:
Check out the web site from bikes direct. They have a wide range of bikes with top of the line components for much less than you would pay in most bike shops. Be advised that the brand names on these bikes are from bike sellers that went bankrupt. The names have been bought out mostly by factories based in Taiwan. The bikes are still high quality, most frames regardless of type and brand are made either in Taiwan or China, don't let anyone fool you by trying to get you to buy a bike at twice the cost by trying to tell you otherwise. You can get good deals on bikes from previous years stock at bike shops as well as getting properly fit for the bike. Most reputable bike shops have no problem with putting a mail order bike together for you should you go that route as you will most likely buy accessories and parts from them should you get hooked into biking. I bought my mountain bike at a bike shop, but my road bike I purchased from bikes direct. I am handy with adjusting and putting together bikes so it was not an issue for me to do so. The price was just too good to pass up and sincerely it would have cost at least one and a half times more if not double at a bike store. But that was my choice and I love the bike and have no regrets. My biggest gripe with bikes direct is that their stock on hand is not reflected accurately. You will not know if the bike is in stock until you check out and that is not a given. I had picked out a bike that showed as being in stock at the checkout even received confirming e-mails on it being shipped only to have my paypal account refunded as the bike was over sold (like an airline ticket) causing me some disappointment as I was really pumped up to get that bike. To their credit they gave me a 100 dollar discount on a equal or more expensive bike choice. I will include a few links to some bikes you may be interested in, but if you are more comfortable with buying from a bike shop just to be sure you have your girlfriend fitted properly (I know my fit so not an issue) then I would go that route but look for clearance deals on older stock just to save some money. Some of these shops still want a pretty penny for old stock and this is the only reason I mention bikes direct if you want to save money on a quality bike.
I picked these bikes because it may fit your girlfriends riding style. You will appreciate the gear range on hills!!

Forgot this class of bike, has a ladies step through and may be the best choice.

Posted on May 31, 2010, 10:32:40 PM PDT
Getting the bike fitted properly is very important. Also try a yoga-pilates program to add balance and core (hip, back, abdominal, chest and shoulder) strength to your fitness. see if your local community college has a fitness class. many instructors have a Masters Degree level education. here's a link with a bunch of neat stuff to get you started

and a little more advanced, pick just a few things you like from here at first.

go easy at first. you can always add more to your program later. good luck!

Posted on May 31, 2010, 10:41:40 PM PDT
B. Kaufman says:
A Torker Cargo-T is a specialized sort of bike, and as a result, it weighs 45 pounds, so if you have to carry it up or down stairs, or ride it up hills it may not suit you (and the price may be a bit higher than $650). There are other Torker models, and some are rather low priced(~$400), look at bike commuting blogs for reviews of other Torkers.

If you can get the 8 speed version of the Cargo T, from the Seattle bicycle shop that produces that variant, it would be really neat, however. All you need are lights and a pump.

Posted on Jun 1, 2010, 9:36:11 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 1, 2010, 9:38:50 AM PDT
Marilee says:
I'm in this lady's age range and ride about 30 miles a week, occasionally doing some bike touring over several days. I originally started out with a $450 Trek hybrid, which was well made and comfortable. When I realized I was going to stick with biking, I graduated to a Trek "fitness" model, which weighs less and costs more and is more like a road bike, but with straight across handlebars and 24 gears.

I highly recommend a hybrid bike for someone starting out, a bit unsure of where and how well one will ride, but probably going to use bike paths. A "comfort" bike is heavy and limiting and doesn't handle hills well, a road bike's tires are too thin to venture off well paved roads.

Most important.. go to a good dedicated bike shop and let the experts there help you choose, plus help with the very important fitting. They often sell refurbished used bikes. A badly fitting bike with mechanical shortcomings and problems, such as one might buy off ebay or Craigs list, have discouraged many a potential bicyclist, un-necessarily. You don't have to spend a fortune, but cheap bikes are often a waste of money and a false economy.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 1, 2010, 9:43:24 AM PDT
Yum E. Gumbo says:
REI is a good, safe bet...either online and/or if you have a store near you--all the better. I can no longer run due to chronic injury/back issues...just got into biking (50yo) and they helped me out a lot...can't go wrong with their satisfaction guarantee either. Lots of options for bikes (street, trail, touring, hybrid), pedal/shoe systems, etc. Oh, not to mention the 10% off you'll get back in the form of your annual dividend check when you pay the $20 lifetime membership fee to join the co-op. Good luck!

Posted on Jun 2, 2010, 6:47:18 AM PDT
I want to say I'm impressed, almost flabbergasted, that my post received so many thorough, detailed responses in such a short time. I am reading all of them and am very interested in what you all have had to say about selecting a bicycle. I told Kim that one of the good things about bicycling is that the bicycling community is an extremely good group of people. It may be a prejudice, but a prejudice in favor, and I stand by it. Thank you all so much for so generously taking the time to help. We will read all future posts and should be ready to go bike shopping pretty soon!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2010, 10:01:31 AM PDT
My girlfriend and I are both 50 and enjoy riding quite a bit. It is very addictive once you are able to easily ride for 2+ hours. I highly recommend visiting some local bike shops and get a feel for the personal service. You will appreciate that when you have issues and need help in the future. This is most important when starting out to avoid frustrations which cause the bike to sit idle in the garage. Pick the shop that you like, test ride their recommendations and then go home and check some reviews on the bikes they think will be good for your girlfriend. When you settle on a choice, buy it from the local shop. It is worth the extra few bucks. When you need help or adjustments or riding groups, they will always be there to make this fun and enjoyable. The employees and customers will become your friends and you will have an improved quality of life! You can't get that from a cheap internet deal. Sometimes cheap internet deals are the way to go, but bikes need a personal touch, ESPECIALLY when you are new to the experience. If you like to be healthy and invigorated, it is a life long relationship!

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 2, 2010, 11:51:04 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 2, 2010, 11:57:24 AM PDT
G. Morrison says:
Hi. I have nothing to do with the bike biz. The industry and bikes have changed a great deal since the 10-speed era. Most bikes nowadays use aluminum frames. Often these include "shock absorbers" in the fork, and, often the seatpost, to cushion the ride. I much prefer a chromoly (steel) bike--these naturally absorb shock in a much better way than the former. I feel your girlfriend will end up much less tired and ride more relaxed with chromoly (what better ten-speeds used in the past). For less money, you may obtain an aluminum bike without the "shocks." The shocks also add weight. Then, there's titanium and carbon-fiber (CF). CF is the lightest of all as well as the most expensive; it's serviceable life also is less than the others Once CF breaks, it's a "goner." Really, it's intended for pros and semi-pros. It does "give" well, however, and is less stiff than aluminum.

Comfort bikes are really heavy--they're intended for lazily "lolling" around with the family, not for serious exercise, touring, nor, for commuting. Adding heavy stuff and accessories to a bike may likely induce regrets. Most cheaper discount and megamarket store bikes are heavier and use inferior components. Your friend should keep an eye upon weight as well as comfort.

She must choose whether to ride upright with a straight-type handlebar or more downward with the curved (10-speed-type) bar. The former helps one to be more alert in traffic--the latter reduces wind resistance. Road bikes for serious traveling often incorporate chromoly with curved handlebars.

Most women's bikes incorporate an inherently weak frame, originally intended to accommodate dresses (ala, pics from the late 1890s). "Triangle" frames are far stronger. Given that your girlfriend insists upon a "step-through frame," if she desires to transport the bike easily, it's likely that she must purchase a special bar (to replace the top tube) to accommodate most hitch and car bike racks-.

I like my Giant Cypress ST--it's a "hybrid" with upright straight handlebars and chromoly (hence, the ST (steel)). It also was cheaper (costing about $300 a few years ago) than Giant's aluminum versions. I changed the seatpost, saddle, and, pedals to shed a little weight (the original equipment certainly is OK--pretty comfortable, actually). The bike comes in a version for women. It's not a mountain bike, yet, it's trail-ready. I did note later on that Trek has a chromoly competitor, also, as well as a model intended for traveling (say, with panniers--luggage for bikes). Probably Specialized, Cannondale, and, others follow suit with chromoly models.

Frankly, bike shops try to put me into something that they assume that I should ride. I'm difficult to fit--the personnel often don't fit me right--they even have the gall to insist upon their fit or they won't sell ("safety"). The Cypress ST at 18" is a as good a fit as I've found in my case. Most other bikes models offer 15", 17", or 19", which salespeople indicate should fit me, instead--these frames just don't cut it for me. (15" is a Danny Devito bike!)

Sure, have your friend visit many bike shops. Nevertheless, tell her not to let them talk her into something she'll regret later. She'll have to live with her decision until she divests for something else. Tell her not to let a shop pawn-off a bike on her that's a lesser bike than she deserves simply because others are out of her budget--in such a case, tell her simply to run out the door! A local bike shop often is a high-end, sole-proprietor-type biz which relied heavily upon credit and the turnover of many big-ticket bikes and over-priced accessories in the past. Nowadays, however, the local bike-shop biz certainly is hurting badly because of today's economy. Your friend should try a lot of makes and models of bikes. Also, have her visit many web forums and sites with reviews, anecdotes, and, other info from purchasers.

Posted on Jun 2, 2010, 12:21:17 PM PDT
G. Morrison says:
Just one more note: Have your girlfriend get some good bike clothes, especially, shorts/tights (or pants/tights for the winter). Such clothes are specialized, so, they are overly expensive, yet, they're definitely worth it! For one thing, they incorporate padding in key areas. Sugoi, Pearl Izumi, and, certain other brands offer very good investments in bike clothing....

For heaven's sake, please insist that your girlfriend purchase a helmet that fits and is adjusted correctly! A bike shop is a good idea for this. Helmets may be required by law--they definitely are smart for all riders. Adults, although they may ride in a mature manner, are slower to react and far less agile than kids; so, adults are less likely able to avoid accidents--everyone who rides needs them! Guys have told me they have cracked helmets over and over again....

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 3, 2010, 5:05:36 PM PDT
G.Morrison---You state "Guys have told me they have cracked (bike) helmets over and over again..."

It might be worth stressing that a helmet that has sustained an accident, whether visibly cracked or not, should be replaced. It might not be structurally sound anymore, even if it looks fine. And if I survived a bike mishap because I wore a helmet, I would consider that helmet a sound investment ten billion times over, deserving a full retirement with every pursuant honor.

And I add the following not to upset anybody, but my late father, in the beginning stages of Parkinson's, stumbled down a small set of concrete steps and hit his head. He lost an eye from the impact. My point is that you don't have to be in a humongous collision or crash at a high speed to sustain real, permanent damage. He was just walking! Since then, I always wear my bike helmet when riding.

Posted on Jun 3, 2010, 6:45:02 PM PDT
Head up to the North Shore to get away from the Boston crazy drivers and enjoy some excellent cycling in the woods around Topsfield, or the quiet coasta stretch of Rt. 1A between Ipswich and Newburyport MA. You'll find a lot of cue sheets, maps and other information at

Posted on Jun 4, 2010, 6:20:38 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 4, 2010, 6:24:19 PM PDT
justjoan says:
I am 58 yrs old and have been riding about 12 miles a day for the past two months. I am looking for a replacement for my old 18 speed Roadmaster which I bought a yard sale to see if I would really ride on a regular basis. My local bike shop has suggested a Schwinn Sierra 7 or GS (21 speed). I did a quick ride around the parking lot today and found the GS more like my current bike. Does this seem like a good fit for me?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2010, 9:00:05 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 4, 2010, 9:02:19 PM PDT
hi joan, here's the simplest guide to fitting i could find.

it's all about the geometry of the seat, peddles, handlebars and how comfortable and efficient you are riding. the fit may change over time as your body adapts and gets fitter.

also see my earlier post re core training

Posted on Jun 5, 2010, 5:42:38 AM PDT
I am in my early 60s with some back problems so when I bought my latest (after several years layoff) I bought a Giant hybrid - very well made, step through (my son insisted--sigh), easy to ride & shift. I have to admit it is comfortable, easy to negotiate and works just fine on the trails I use, which are paved or hard packed. you MUST have your girlfriend try out the bike - fit is all important. The mens version absolutely did not fit me.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 5, 2010, 12:53:18 PM PDT
B. Kaufman says:
You need to ride it more than just around the parking lot. Se if they'll let you take it for a longer ride, and then see how you feel, is it better or worse than your own, and then compare the other suggestion. Anything you'd like to change at the end of the rides(s)? If they will fit the bike to you, ask if they'll let you swap seats, seat posts, and stems for free, for a while (3 months?). All these things can make a pretty good fit spot on. If you get serious about it, you'll begin to wonder about the bars, and saddle soon enough, you'll soon have a boxful collecting dust unless they let you swap for free. And stems and bars can be expensive!

Posted on Jul 7, 2015, 5:19:45 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jul 7, 2015, 5:20:19 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 16, 2016, 1:44:12 PM PDT
Joan Thomas says:
Where is your store?
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Discussion in:  Cycling forum
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Initial post:  May 31, 2010
Latest post:  Mar 16, 2016

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