Choosing a bike help

I’m 54 and wanting to add biking to my workouts instead of just running/occasional kayaking. I’m 6’2” and about 230 lbs and if I ever bike outdoors it will be on easier trails as biking here on the road in GA is dangerous imo (roads just not set up for it). I have an old GT Tempest 26” Mtn Bike but looking closely at it it seems to need a lot of work - new chain, new cassette, new crankset (couple broken teeth on it and bent pedals), maybe new derailer, brakes are poor, etc… Not sure it’s worth trying to fix up so considering something new to go with the trainer I’ll be getting. Mostly I’ll be on Zwift or other apps with as, said, only rare ventures outside with the bike.

Here are options I’m considering.

  • REI 27.5” co-op DRT 1.1.
  • Giant Talon 4
  • Specialized Rockhopper 29

I don’t really want to spend too much given it’s mainly for Zwift training. Any suggestions on others or if the above should not be considered at all? I’d consider used but honestly being mostly a bike ignoramus I dunno what to look for.

Maybe I should consider a hybrid bike or does it really matter for my intended use?

Thks for any advice.

From your description of the GT it would be pretty costly to repair.

What sort of trainer are you planning to buy? If you are shopping for a direct drive trainer, where you remove the rear wheel from the bike before putting it on the trainer, it will be easiest if you get a bike with 8 speeds on the cassette or more. The REI DRT 1.1 is 7 speed, and I think the old GT is as well, so they would be a little bit more difficult to use with a direct drive trainer, but not impossible. I would avoid that if possible.

The Giant Talon 4 has a 1x8 drivetrain so it doesn’t have a lot of gear choices to offer (total of 8). The Rockhopper has a 3x8 drivetrain (total of 24 gear combinations but realistically 20-22 gears to choose from). That seems better to me for Zwift, but both of them should be compatible with a direct drive trainer. Some direct drive trainers come with no cassette, some come with an 11 speed cassette which you can’t use with an 8 speed bike, and some come with a choice of cassette so you could order it set up for 8 speed.

If you’re planning to get a wheel-on trainer, where you leave the rear wheel on the bike and a roller applies resistance to the tire, you will want to install a smooth tire on the bike.

Direct drive trainer is the best option for Zwift if you can afford it. Zwift is supposed to be releasing their new direct drive trainer (Zwift Hub) on Oct 3 and it’s available with your choice of cassette pre-installed. It’s also $499 so it’s less expensive than many others.

Hybrid bikes are also good for Zwift but either should work. Bikes without disc brakes also have one advantage for use on a direct drive trainer: if you pull the brake lever while there is no brake rotor in the caliper, it can make it more difficult to reinstall the rear wheel when you want to ride outdoors. You may have to pry the brake pads apart.

Yeah, direct drive. Was probably just going to start out with the one Zwift is about to release which is of course the Jetblack volt which does have the 8-speed cassette option.

I agree on the 7-speed. That is what my old GT is and realizing it’s a pain as just not supported well now. Leaning towards the specialized since they have an ongoing sale but dunno yet for sure.

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Hi @Russ_Petersen Not sure if you’re still looking or if you’ve purchased yet. Couple of things to consider:

-Flat bar vs drop bar bikes. You’ll want the bike to be comfortable, so you’ll want to see about test rides of the bikes you’re considering. For example if you’ve got flexibility limitations, a flat bar bike might be best. Yeah you’ll be riding inside, but you’ll still be riding it, so a test ride outside before you buy (or inside on a trainer) is a good idea.
-Disc brakes shouldn’t be a limitation. If the bike has mechanical disc brakes (with a cable), there’s no problem. If it has hydraulic brakes, you just need one small item. If you get a bike with disc brakes and a direct drive trainer, just stop into a bike shop and tell them you need a disc brake spacer. Tell them you’re putting the bike on the trainer, and you can get a little plastic spacer that clips into the brake caliper, preventing it from being used. (the issue with hydraulic disc brakes is that, without that spacer, if you pull the lever, the pads will get stuck together. You can force them back apart, but it’s a pain. The spacer fixes that issue.) If the shop doesn’t just give you one, they might charge you a buck or two.
-Also look into the saddle. Saddle fit is much more important than a lot of people realize. You don’t need a lot of padding so much as a saddle that’s the proper width. A good local shop can help you with that too.
-Check Craigslist. A hybrid bike with a 10sp cassette likely won’t be that hard to find. 6’2" is tall, but not super tall. A hybrid in the 58cm range would be a good starting place. Or a drop bar bike of course if you don’t have flexibility concerns.

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Thks. I ended up buying two Specialized Rockhopper 29’s for my son and I . Awesome for riding on the trails (which we did today) but we’ll see how it goes as a Zwift bike. I got the Zwift hub with 8 speed cassette but it’s gearing is wrong for my bike so need to swap out with a cassette that matches my bike.

Thks for the brake tip. I did not know that. Mine came with mechanical brakes but planning to upgrade them to Hydraulic on my bike as I’m over 200lbs so could use it. Definitely on the trail today I noticed front brake really could use more bite. They seem more than adequate though for my son who is only 135 lbs.

Saddle that came on the Rockhopper is very nice (for outside). Inside on the one zwift ride I did so far I found myself getting a bit sore in the tailbone. Really considering the " Wittkop mtb touring" seat I found on Amazon (they won’t let me include a link). Dunno yet for sure though. I could also get bike shorts with padding I guess but think I’d rather swap the seat when riding on Zwift. I imagine a seat post is not pricey so could easily swap back and forth between the stock one for outdoors and this one for indoors.

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Nice :slight_smile: As Paul mentioned above, look into a smooth treaded tire for the trainer. (you don’t want it to feel like indoor gravel riding, lol) EDIT: nevermind, forgot the whole Zwift Hub part, derp.

Also, you don’t necessarily need to go hydraulic braking for stopping power. I’m 200lbs, and I installed Avid BB7 mechanical disc brakes on one of my gravel bikes. Went from ‘being able to slow down’ to being able to actually stop. That would take a lot less work than switching from mechanical to hydraulic. (If your Rockhopper has post-mount brakes…which I think Rockhopppers do.) My other gravel rig has hydraulic, and I do like them better, but the BB7s work just fine, I have no plans on changing them for that bike.

Were you getting sore in your tailbone, or in your sit bones? I’m guessing sit bones–if you’re on your tailbone the saddle def doesn’t fit :smiley: You could use a method like this link below to figure out what width saddle you need. Again, I’m convinced that proper width is more important than padding. In fact, too much padding on a saddle can cause you to sink into the padding too much–the padding then presses up against blood vessels and such, and you end up with worse problems than with a proper-width saddle with less padding.

…look into a smooth treaded tire for the trainer.

He got a Zwift Hub (direct drive), no trainer tire needed.

Indoor riding generally makes you more sore than riding outdoors since you don’t move around on the saddle as much. If your saddle is good outdoors, it should be good indoors too, you just may need to get used to it. Standing up every once in a while (maybe every 10-15 minutes) helps a lot. Padded bike shorts (and chamois cream!) help a lot too - you’ll end up wanting them when you start doing longer rides. If you’re not into the look, you can wear gym/cargo/whatever shorts over them.

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Doh, thanks. I forgot that point when I went to reply.

Thks. Yeah, picked up two bike shorts yesterday on the Amazon sales. Hoping they will be enough as I like the seat that came with the bike. Might be a bit narrow for indoor riding as it’s a MTB seat but nice seat so we’ll try to use it with shorts before looking for a slightly wider seat. I just need to fine-tune my connection to the trainer now. I don’t want to have to adjust de-railer every time I take the bike on and off the trainer if I can help it so need to see if I can play with spacers on the trainer enough to get it to match spacing of cassette on back wheel to my frame. After that I should be fully good to go. As it is now only a few gears are smooth when on the trainer.

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