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  1. #1
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    Comfort and efficiency for older, gentle rider

    I finally got my wife out on a mountain bike last week, and she loved it. After one machine-made super smooth, flat but twisty trail - she said it was the most fun riding she had ever done. (We have gone on tours and done city riding.) She rented, and enjoyed, a hardtail last week, but was enamored by my FS when we inadvertently ended up on a lot of rocks and roots.

    So now I want to keep the interest going and buy her a comfortable, efficient first bike. I figure I can get the most bang for my buck by buying used, so I will check my local CL classifieds, as well as PinkBike and the MTBR ads. The bike will be ridden on roads to get to trails, so it can't feel like a lead weight, but I also need it to really smooth out modest rocks and roots. Realistically it will never be ridden at speed, and never have to deal with drops or jumps. Comfort, and efficiency.

    The model that jumps to my mind first is the Salsa Spearfish. It is targeted towards all-day comfort and reasonable terrain, while also maintaining high pedaling efficiency.

    I'm wondering which other specific models I should keep an eye out for?

  2. #2
    Fat-tired Roadie
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    I love my Kona Hei Hei. As I have mine set up, it can get a little harsh at speed. But someone not plowing through chunk or catching occasional airs could use less pressure in the suspension. It's a lot smoother than my hardtail, that's for sure!
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  3. #3
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    Damn, can't get my wife on a bike for anything, we will swim, play tennis, racket ball, together, but no biking, you are very lucky.
    2015 Niner RIP 9, ZTR ArchEX
    2012 Specialized Camber 29 FSR
    2003 Giant Warp DS3

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by techt View Post
    Damn, can't get my wife on a bike for anything, we will swim, play tennis, racket ball, together, but no biking, you are very lucky.
    hehe I know the feeling! You're lucky indeed OP!

  5. #5
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    Get her on the right size Spearfish to see how she likes it.

  6. #6
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    Demo, with your wife several bikes and the decision will be crystal clear. She will like one based on fit. feel, color, or whatever, but let her have 2 votes to your 1.

  7. #7
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    Re: Comfort and efficiency for older, gentle rider

    Quote Originally Posted by techt View Post
    Damn, can't get my wife on a bike for anything, we will swim, play tennis, racket ball, together, but no biking, you are very lucky.
    Right there with you. More bike for me I guess

    On the note to the OP, you should be looking for a cross county full suspension, no idea what style the spearfish is, but a XC style will be lighter enough with thin enough factory tires to give her good pedal efficiency, and the suspension will handle modest rocks and roots well, you may want to fine tune to her preference making it a little extra soft. Lockout would be a huge plus, you could tune the suspension extra squishy for the trail and lock it out for the road.

  8. #8
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    An important thing for comfort (and grip) is big tires with low pressure. If the road riding to the trails is fairly long, just up the pressure and then let some out when you're on the trail.

  9. #9
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    2 things....Grips & Saddle. Get the bike sized well, obviously, but give these two things due time also. Can make or break even a well sized bike.

    Check out Ergon GP1 Grips too. Some find them too much grip but for others it changes riding from a hand numbing experience to something that is tolerable.

  10. #10
    slow:biker
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    Consider a fatbike. Easy to ride to the trailhead, big volume + low pressure = comfort. Lack of suspension gives you the efficiency. The fact that your wife will be going low speed brings a fatbike into play and decreases the need for full suspension. I own both full suspension and a fatbike and ride both on rocky, rooty trails. They only time I miss the suspension is when the speed get up, and only waaay up at that.

  11. #11
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    I would typically agree with Eastman, I ride my fatbike more than anything. but it's tougher on the climbs. Fatbikes are smoother but they get smoother when you lower the tire pressure. My 29er hardtail is at least 10% faster and notably less effort on the climbs. For proper comparison I have pretty much the lightest tire/wheel combo available for either option.

  12. #12
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    Yep, as I read this I was thinking 29+ Krampus. Depends somewhat on how tall she is. There are 26 and 27.5 + tires and bikes coming out.

  13. #13
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    would ride a fat bike before you buy one. the fat tires do add comfort, but they also add a lot of weight right where you don't want it. they also add a lot of rolling resistance. decades ago this strategy was popular on 3 wheelers with no suspension. since this dirtbikes and ATVs have gone back to suspension and smaller tires

    i would ride a few short travel full suspension XC bikes if i were you. trek superfly FS, specialized epic or stumpjumper FS, even the salsa spearfish, see what frame geometry you like.

    my dad is 66 and absolutely loves the superfly FS...which is extremely similar is basic design to that spearflsh

  14. #14
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    Try a bunch - short list would be some of the Giant/Liv offerings (Maestro is pretty efficient, they're actually doing intelligent things with regard to wheels/sizing overall), if you have a local Trek/Specialized LBS try there as well. Salsa Spearfish, RockyMountain Thunderbolt/Element, or Niner RDO are also ones to look at (depending how spoiled you are for LBS action).

    Get the cockpit set up correctly (get it sized correctly, sort out stem size/rise, run a GOOD saddle she likes, usable grips, and futz with the brakes/shifter mounting until it feels dialed) and you'll be in great shape. Pretty much any XC/Trail type bike will run great (light enough to climb well, capable enough to smooth out bumps, with 2.1/2.2" tires still quite capable in sub-par conditions), the bit of extra cost to get Deore/X5 and solo air suspension components will be worth it in efficiency.

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