My new bike

I'm going green! Just bought myself a bike. No, staring at that guy-on-the-bike in the Aussie Outback did not have a subliminal affect on me, the interest was there from before. Here's my new bike:

I own an electric bicycle, purchased from K-Mart, but I never ride it. The main reason is that I find it to be very uncomfortable -- I have a degenerated back, the lowest vertebra easily gets out of position and pinches the nerves -- then I'm in trouble. The road outside my place is gravel, unpaved, and a normal bike is just too hard on my back.

So, for sometime I reckoned what I need is a dual-suspension mountain bike, but they are too expensive. Then yesterday -- now don't laugh -- I happened to be in Toys-R-Us and found a boys 24-inch dual-suspension mountain bike, for just AU$69.99, discounted from AU$169.99. Yay, that's in my price bracket! So I bought it.

It's a delight to ride on the gravel roads here, except for the hard saddle. No problem that it's a "boys" bike, as the seat and handlebars are fully adjustable to suit my height. Besides, I prefer the slightly smaller wheels as it just fits inside my car.

I looked online at what's available in wide comfy saddles -- some of them cost more than my bike!

Man oh man, this thing has 18-speed gears! All I need is slow, medium, fast. Anyone reading this who is into bicycles? -- is it easy to modify/simplify the gears?

Posted on 7 Aug 2008, 20:00


Posted on 6 Aug 2008, 11:29 by Assasukasse
Hello, just use the multiplier (which is the one where your feet are) there should be 3 multiplier there, you can just select the middle gear for the back gear, and leave it as it is.
Then use the multiplier to change the strength:
the smaller one is the lightest but also the slowest, the middle one is the usual, and the large one is the fastest and hardest..
I don't know in your bike but the multiplier gear change is on the left in mine, and the normal gear on the right.

Posted on 6 Aug 2008, 12:46 by ANOSage
I think he means the multi-chainwheel? Either way, this is bad advice. Always set your dérailleur so that the cables are fully relaxed when you stop riding for the day. You will benefit a thousandfold from this strategy, especially when the machine is new and the cables most prone to stretch. Resetting the tensions can be a job for an expert on modern systems which have tensioners all over the shop.
Maybe you can swap the seat from the electric bike? Whilst you're at it, swap the hub motor, too. The system benefits from as low a cg for the battery pack as you can engineer. There are fold-up electric bikes, but they are expensive and mainly intended for City types.
We have been discussing some aspects of bikes on the Forum recently, although over-inflating tyres and running on bald tyres may not be appropriate in the Outback! Dougal seems to know a thing or two about bikes, too. The paradox you face will be fat tyres for comfort vs. thin tyres for reduced friction and hence, effort.

Posted on 6 Aug 2008, 12:50 by dogone
What a nice surprise. I just rebuilt my own 1991 Motiv 21 speed. Love it!

As to gearing, the easiest way to simplify things is to think of the three front chain sprockets as range selectors and the six rear sprockets as gears. On level ground then, you can leave the front on the middle sprocket (range) and shift among the six rear gears. You may only use the middle two or three gears but the others will come in handy.

As to the back, I had lower back problems for many years before discovering something called the Alexander Technique. It's a series of exercises and stretches that worked wonders for me. Google it and give it a go. Two things you absolutely *must* do; 1) align those vertebrae just before bed and upon waking. 2) build up those back muscles.

Posted on 6 Aug 2008, 15:06 by inged
back pain
I know this is no the place for this post, but I got caught by the Alexander Technique as dogone mentioned. My father has been suffering all his life from lower back pain, he has tried everything, literally. Once you pointed that out, I Google at it and got the answers why he's suffering from that, and why I suffer from neck tensioning. You never know what you can learn here! dogone, got a question what are the exercises/stretches suggested? I spend some time googling at it but most of the info is for selling the service or selling books, neither of those is easily reachable to my father. Sorry Barry for this unrelated post.

Posted on 6 Aug 2008, 16:03 by nic2109
Back problems
Barry; you have opened the floodgates! Almost everyone has a back-pain experience they want to share - and here's mine.

Following a sports injury one of the most helpful things was - paradoxically - more exercise. But different exercise. I took up regular swimming again which is low-impact but which strengthens the muscles and helps them hold the vertebrae in position. It wasn't the whole story (I needed surgery eventually) but was and remains a big help.

As for your bike: good on yer; you'll enjoy it. I'll echo Sage's advice to keep the front gear in the middle setting and use the rear ones for fast, medium and slow. But do drop into a slow gear as you finish. This will make it easiest for starting out next time, and also will reduce any cable stretching and thus prolong the life of your equipment.

Posted on 6 Aug 2008, 17:00 by lobster
Nice bike. Hope you find a broad flat seat.
maybe your relatives can look out for one for you . . .
I recently gave my folding bike to freecycle . . .
Now here is a funny thing. Most bike owners are a bit like the majority of Puppy users. They get on and pedal. They may inflate once in a while as required and will prefer help for punctures. Mostly speed and the latest gear is not an issue . . .

Yoga, Qi-Ong and swimming (excellent) will help your back - do they have water in Australia? Cycling, holes for windmills, gardening needs a little more care. Walking is good.

What fun

Posted on 6 Aug 2008, 21:57 by mouldy
seat of the situation
As somebody above mentioned, you can get either a broad more cushioned replacement seat or there was an aftermarket seat out there with two little pads sticking up that you sat on.

Ever who designed the standard bike seats hated men especially and didnt really like anybody. They were designed for torture. Or rather racing where you arent ever supposed to actually sit on the seat.

Posted on 6 Aug 2008, 22:05 by mouldy
guess you could make your own seat. Maybe use seat off riding lawnmower or something and modify it to fit bike. A bar stool seat might work...

Posted on 7 Aug 2008, 5:15 by SouthPaws
Pain Solution
Hey Barry, this might help out your back...

Pete Egoscue also has some materials available on just search his name there!

One of his books is titled "Pain Free: A Revolutionary Method for Stopping Chronic Pain". The website also offers some help.

Posted on 7 Aug 2008, 6:57 by cthisbear
Walk Backwards
Backwards Walking for Rehabilitation of Lower Extremities


MBT shoes: do they actually work?


Posted on 7 Aug 2008, 7:44 by disciple
"I think he means the multi-chainwheel? Either way, this is bad advice. Always set your dérailleur so that the cables are fully relaxed when you stop riding for the day."

I think this is another cycling myth - there is essentially no stretch in cables, and even if there was, anybody as intelligent as Barry would have no problem adjusting cable tension.

Don't assume that a "broad" saddle is a good idea either. It might be comfortable rolling down a long hill, but if you actually intend to pedal, it could cause you a lot of pain :( especially if you have your seat too low as is so common.

Different shaped saddles suite different people (the umm, wider you are, the wider your saddle), but generally men should have relatively narrow saddles, while women definitely have broader ones due to their particular anatomy. But the issue is far bigger than width, or even width and cushioning. It is about the whole shape of the saddle in three dimensions. Unfortunately even high-end bicycle manufacturers don't seem to care about finding good saddles, and it is virtually impossible to provide advice from a distance. You really have to find what best suits you from experience.

Posted on 7 Aug 2008, 8:10 by dogone
Unchain me
I was looking at the bicycle picture again when the solution to your gearing issues came to me. A chain! You need a chain! Install one. You'll be mazed at the difference it makes ;-)!

BTW, Disciple is no one to be toyed with, but I will disagree with his cable advise. All new cables stretch initially and then stop. They generally require adjustment after the first few weeks of riding and almost none thereafter. Slacking those cables between rides is a pain and quite unnecessary.

Posted on 7 Aug 2008, 8:17 by dogone
My apologies, disciple. It is ANOSage's cable advice I take exception to - not yours. Please forgive.

Posted on 7 Aug 2008, 8:32 by jeffrey
Seats and gears
Barry, I agree entirely with your findings on bike seats and gears. After almost 30 years without biking I now have a daughter who wants a biking companion so I bought a low end bike (but not as cheap as yours!). 18 gears is about 15 too many. I normally stick with the high gear at the pedals and flick through the six gears at the wheel as necessary. On level ground I seldom need the middle or low gears at the pedals.
On seats, my wife made me a sheepskin cover from a $2 bag of offcuts by joining two of them and putting a hem around the edge, doubled over to create a tube of material. In that she placed a draw-cord to pull the cover tight and tie it off under the seat. Don't know how good you are at sewing but it sounds like your price bracket! Doesn't look very manly but it's a good deal more comfortable.
BTW 4.0.5 works fine for me on my 500MHz Acer 4100 PC (at least as far as I've tested it).

Posted on 7 Aug 2008, 10:56 by Puppyluvr
Backs, bikes and crash tests..
Hello Barry,
At 44 yrs old, I too have taken to biking again, after like 30 years. Gas prices are killing us.I agree, 18 gears, what, am I gonna climb a mountain?..LOL I found an old $10 yard sale 27 inch 10 speed. Ive found if you set the handlebars as high as you can, it really helps the back the more upright I sit.
As for the back thing, I have a "shifted" disk down low, and yes, when it pinches the nerve, Im in a world of hurt.Along with stretching and being carefull, I use a product called biofreeze.Its like icyhot,without the hot.Helps a lot.
Dingo 4.0.6 crash test.So far only bug is if I select "command prompt" from the shutdown menu, it restarts X?? I think its faster than the 4.00 I use daily...

Posted on 7 Aug 2008, 17:14 by disciple
Yes, that sounds more feasible
"All new cables stretch initially and then stop. They generally require adjustment after the first few weeks of riding and almost none thereafter."

OK, I could believe that, although it is probably not due to cable stretching per se, but instead the caps on the cable housing being seated more firmly, and the cable taking on a permanent bend at tight bends, so that it hugs whatever it is bending around more closely.
In that case, Sage's advice would be bad, as you would be better off to get all the "stretching" over and done as quickly as possible.

Posted on 7 Aug 2008, 18:52 by ANOSage
Cables & gears
BS! Some of these guys sound as if they've never owned a bike and certainly have never taught a course in materials science, physics or any branch of engineering.

Posted on 8 Aug 2008, 2:57 by jrb
Barry, I find it hard to believe that a fellow who can compile a package with hundreds of programs and thousands of dependencies finds 18 speeds too complicated!
I'm assuming you have standard Shimano type shifters. Two levers on each shifter, one above the other.
Start with the left shifter and get the chain on the middle chainring (there are 3, inside, middle and outside) on the right crank (where your right pedal is). Leave it there until you are fully comfortable shifting the rear gears (right shifter).
For the right shifter, if pedaling feels too hard push the bottom lever once. If its still too hard push it again, etc. If pedalling is too easy push the top lever, etc.
As for pedalling, most beginners start pedalling at about 60 rpms (on the front cranks). Thats 5 revolutions every 10 seconds. (Be careful when looking at your watch). This is not the best for muscle endurance, performance and comfort. Tour de France riders vary between 85 and 120 rpms. At first anything faster than 60 may seem tiring but with a small amount of practice you should be up to 80 and will be able to keep it there for your entire ride. Don't push hard on the pedals, push fast and easy.
With regular riding your bum will adjust to the saddle, just don't overdo it at first. Real bike shorts (no seams) and a little vaseline makes a big difference too.

Hope this helps, good riding, jrb

PS: Hope you have a good helmet. They've saved my noodle on a few memorable occasions.

Posted on 8 Aug 2008, 5:53 by jrb
60 rpms?
5 revolutions every 10 seconds? Never know I was a math teacher. Try 10 revs every 10 seconds. Work it up to 13 or 14.

Posted on 8 Aug 2008, 8:52 by BarryK
Gears and saddle
jrb, yeah, I was being mentally lazy, have got it figured out now.

Good news on the saddle. I took it off the electric bike -- wider and softer.

Now I'm thinking, perhaps I'll transfer all the electrics too...

Posted on 8 Aug 2008, 12:30 by disciple
Not enough tension Sage
I'm not sure exactly how many comments you took so much exception to Sage, but I'VE obviously "never taught a course in materials science, physics or any branch of engineering." as I'm only studying my 4th year of engineering at the moment :)

But I DO cycle several thousand kilometres every year on my main bike, and I DON'T ever need to tighten any cables, and I DO have a collection of a couple of dozen other bikes, some of which DO get as much use from other members of the family as I give mine, so I can assure you that there is not enough long term stretch in a bicycle gear cable under normal conditions for it to cause your gears to go out of adjustment.

But, I have only ever used a couple of new cables (most of my bikes are recycled), so maybe I've just never had any of these modern stretchy ones made out of plastic or whatever you think you have in England :)

Posted on 29 Aug 2008, 19:58 by Gill Baits
3 speed hub
may be a 3 speed hub would be better suited to you I fitted one to a 26" wheel no problem the only thing is that you need to leave the derailer on the bike if it is a suspension one, I found my hub by asking around there is always someone who has a shed full of old bicycles and you can still get the parts to refurbish them if need be , new hubs are quite expensive I was given mine by an old guy who had a bucket full of old hubs just make sure that it has the same number of spokes 36 is the norm also make sure you get the shifter to suit it as well as I found them a hard to obtain and if you want a little more bounce in your seat you can get a suspension seat pole

Posted on 30 Aug 2008, 9:11 by BarryK
Re: 3-speed hub
Gill, that's a very interesting solution.
If I transfer the electrics to my mountain bike, the 200 watt motor sits beside the rear hub, driving it via a small chain, but perhaps that could also be setup to run through the hub-gearbox -- which would give great torque from the motor at the lowest ratio.

Yeah, I'll start collecting old bikes!

Posted on 8 Oct 2008, 22:15 by Aitch
Biking about in pics
Hi Barry

Hopefully you are now enjoying riding about a bit
How about adding some camera shots of 'the outback' near where you are - from what I've seen it's beaut up there
Here's a way to do it

As always, be happy