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Are Hybrid Bikes A Good Option For Back Pain Rehab

Back injuries are one of the most debilitating. Most of us try to work through life as best we can despite chronic pain.

Eventually, it degenerates to the point of needing surgery.

Occasionally, you meet the odd soul who is tired of being trapped by their body and become obsessed with finding an untapped healing method that might, finally, grant their relief.

Weight management is at the heart of back pain relief. Maintaining a healthy BMI reduces the strain on the ligaments and spine. Just like the astronauts on the moon, weight loss endows the body with “superhuman” capabilities.

Cycling is the premier low-impact exercise.

While this article is by no means meant to take the place of a certified health professional, there is some research that points to the effectiveness of daily exercise in pain management.

There are folks who walked with a cane, but after riding their bike, they were able to function for several hours without any assistance. It is fascinating how exercise helps everything from strokes to Parkinson’s.

The key is to listen to your body and to not push too far. In fact, for the first several weeks, you will want to go on short rides and stop well before you get fatigued. It is easy to overdo it on a bicycle and allow that fatigue to cause an accident.

Riding a bicycle allows moderate core strengthening. This natural strengthening can further protect the back and begin to relieve pressure points.

An active cardiovascular system also helps remove toxins and inflammatory agents from circulation. Combining stretching with exercise is an excellent way to provide lasting recovery.

Keep in mind that this is a journey that takes time. Those who are committed to reversing the damage often spend 5 to 10 years in daily recovery. The most successful stories will likely have invested 5 hours per week of stretching and purposeful exercise. This focus allows the scar tissue and the damage to slowly be stretched into place and then provides time for healing to take place.

It takes an obsessive personality to impose their will on an incurable problem like this.

So, as you incorporate cycling into your rehab, don’t expect it to be a panacea. But, it can play a role.

The most important aspect of choosing a bike for cycling with back pain is to get the correct fit. Cramming your body on a bike that is too small is a perfect way to cause more problems.

You want to be upright and in a neutral, comfortable position.

Additionally, you will likely want to get a seatpost with a shock on it. This can be added to almost any bicycle and cushions the spinal column from being jarred by the road.

A step-through frame design is often associated with Women’s bikes, but this can let you quickly get on and off the bike without dramatically swinging your hip over the seat which can easily lead to more injuries.

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The Top 2 Women’s Hybrid Bikes

Cycling is notorious for being an uncomfortable sport.

Granted, often the perceived discomfort is misplaced: most people who associate discomfort with cycling should likely blame it on poor sizing or the wrong bike style.

However, I’d be remiss to skim past these complaints. Cycling does not need to be uncomfortable.

Follow these tips when shopping, and you’ll get a comfortable ride that will let you crush your fitness goals while falling in love with the sport of your life.

Tip #1 Get The Proper Size

When you browse the bike aisle at Walmart, you will see rows of bikes sorted by style and “size.” On closer inspection, there are only three sizes: 24″, 26″ and 27″.

Now, they are also starting to have some 29″ and 700c sizes (700c and 27″ are often interchanged on their displays.)

The maddening thing about this sizing system is that it does not show you bike size, only tire size.

Which is about as useful as ordering your ice cream flavor by cone type.

(See? Even that sentence makes no sense)

All bicycles come in different frame sizes. Larger frames fit taller people, and shorter frames make riding accessible to shorter folks.

This is a key component for comfort. If you are scrunched up on a bicycle that is too small, you will suffer from wrist pain, knee pain, and neck pain. Ride long enough this way, and it can lead to irreversible problems.

Small bikes are essential, especially if the rider is under 5 feet tall. Getting a frame small enough to allow for confident dismounts is a matter of safety.

When you get on one of these, you should be able to raise the seat, so your leg is almost straight when on the pedal in the bottom position. Initially, this position might feel a little tall, but it will feel right once you start riding.

In this position, you should be able to comfortably reach the handlebars and sit upright in a natural position.

Some of the fitness hybrids will lean you forward, but even then, it should not cause undue pressure on your wrists.

Tip #2 Get The Proper Comfort Features

Hybrid bikes are great for both asphalt and gravel riding. Some of the models are designed with comfort in mind.

These models offer shocks on the front wheel and under the saddle to smooth the road.

Additionally, the saddle normally has a plush feel to it. If the saddle isn’t comfortable, you can look at swapping out the seat.

Ride the bike you are thinking of purchasing. Ten minutes should be more than enough time to pick up on any major comfort issues.

Tip #3 Go For The Right Features

Some of these hybrids are excessively heavy. If you are a small person who needs to load it in the back of a pickup with 4-inches of lift, weight matters.

Many of the more sport-oriented models way almost as little as road bikes. These often have slightly narrower tires and are designed for longer distances.

Most of the models are designed for comfort and to offer smooth urban riding. But if you want to do more sport-oriented riding (such as triathlons), you want to watch the weight and find one of the lighter models.

What Makes A Women’s-Specific Hybrid Different?

Top Tube

For the past hundred or so years we’ve associated women’s bikes with a step-through frame design. Ostensibly, this swoop in the top tube was created to allow room for women’s skirts.

As a side note, this lower top-tube design was first popularized by monks who needed bikes that had room for their robes.

In an era where there are fewer gender differences in dress code, the sloped top tube is considered an antiquated design. Many women-specific bikes have done away with it.

However, for the shorter rider, this design feature is all-but-essential. Thankfully, most of the manufacturers still incorporate it on their 15-inch and smaller frame sizes, to provide that easy, step-through access.

This feature is also helpful for men and women who struggle with lifting their leg over the seat. The patient who has recovered from hip surgery will appreciate the easier access, regardless of gender designations.

Distance To Handlebars

Ideally, these models will have a shorter distance between the handlebar and the seat to allow for a more upright ride.

Study after study has demonstrated that women enjoy sitting more upright then men do. This varies from rider to rider. For some, it will have no bearing.

Ladies with shorter torsos or who are buxomer will subconsciously appreciate the more upright position that a shorter top tube creates.

Typically we are talking about less than an inch of difference, but it can make all of the difference on long rides.

The Best Cheap Hybrid Bikes For Women

Schwinn Wayfarer

The Wayfarer is an excellent classicly-styled model. The 700c road wheels are taller than the common 26-inch models. This taller wheel translates into more effortless speed.

The fenders keep mud and water from flinging on the rider, and the mounted rack makes this one a perfect object for riding as a commuter or simply using it for evening beer runs.

The rear derailleur and shifters are a little weak and won’t hold up to aggressive shifting. The trick with these entry-level shifters is that you let up off the pedal when you shift and then pedal lightly for one revolution to allow it to shift into gear.

This model only comes in the 17-inch frame size, so you need to be at least 5’2″ for this model to be a good fit. But it should fit women up to 5′ 11″.

Diamondback Clarity

This 2016 model is close to closing out, but if you can still find it, you are bound to get a steal. (Otherwise, just go with their current version of this).

This is a sportier model than the wayfarer and is ideal for the lady who wants a fitness-focused bicycle. You could ride this one around town, take it on cross-state gravel rails-to-trails rides or use it to compete in your first triathlon.

The frame is lightweight, making this one a real pleasure to pedal.

They also didn’t skimp on the gearing quality. The disc brakes deliver dependable stopping, and the Shimano Altus is a reliable middle-of-the-road shifting option that should hold up to 10,000+ miles of normal use.

As you can see, there are some significant variations inside the “hybrid bike” category.

A hybrid combines the best of both road and mountain bikes. It is an excellent, affordable option for daily fitness.

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Best Place To Buy A Women’s Hybrid For Under $200

Shopping for a dependable bicycle on a tight budget is always a challenge.

Bicycles have many moving parts, and it is easy to get “scammed” on a model that is not worth the money you have invested. Backyards are full of bikes that are broken and rusting. The cost to do repairs after the first season of riding is more than the entire price of the bike.

Thankfully buying your bike online can now offer better opportunities to get a good deal. Many sites offer reviews to help ease this buying process, and bike manufacturers are forced to create a better product to avoid negative reviews.

Buy Used

Pawn shops and craigslist are two excellent places to find an affordable bike. Granted, the best brands will often cost over $200, but you will be able to buy top brands for 50% (or better) off the new price. These are golden opportunities to get a high-end machine that will last you for decades.

Be suspicious if the bicycle looks heavily used. While grips, pedals, and seats can all be easily replaced, excessive rusting and scrapes may indicate that bicycle has been abused, and you may need to invest in repairs.

Also, inspect the tires. There should be plenty of treads and the tires should not have easily noticeable micro-cracks in them that would indicate dry rot. Tires can add up quickly at $30 a piece, so try to avoid this cost.

Buy Online

There are many companies who have started selling directly to the consumer. Shopping with these brands can let you get a very similar model to what you buy at a luxury bike store but for 20-40% less.

Online closeouts don’t last long, but if you can find a model in your size, it can be an excellent way to get an unbelievable deal.

Government Auctions

This little gem is an excellent place to get bikes that were part stolen and whose owners were never located (or who received insurance payouts and therefore never followed up on the bicycle).

Many of the auctions can be bid online, but you will need to arrange pickup on your own. Additionally, some auctions allow you to view the merchandise before you bid.

A Good Fit = A Good Investment

Regardless of where you shop, it is essential that you focus on getting the best deal possible… for you.

Bicycles are a very personalized purchase, and sizing should be the most important consideration. It is better to have a road bike that fits you than a hybrid bike that doesn’t.

Prioritize proper fit over everything else. When you sit on the bike, you should be able to raise the seat to the point that your leg is almost straight when the pedal is in the bottom position.

In that position, it should be relaxed and comfortable to reach the handlebars. You should not be leaned aggressively forward, nor should you feel “Scrunched.”

A bicycle that fits well is a bicycle that you will love riding. Prioritizing your fit and comfort ensures that your money will reward you with endless weeks of summertime fun and fitness.

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Is The Raleigh Brand Any Good

One of my dad’s first bikes was a Raleigh. He had purchased it with the money he saved up from his paper route and from doing lawn jobs.

When he left for college, his dad traded the bike with him for a down payment on a VW Beetle.

So it stayed with the family for quite awhile.

If you don’t have that kind of heritage with the Raleigh brand, you might not have the same emotional connection. For today’s shopper, it is one of those models that you find online, but that don’t find in many stores.

Which comes across as suspicious.

Rebranding

The Accell brand bought out the Raleigh brand name (alongside other brands such as Diamondback). This new corporation uses their massive joint buying power to negotiate better deals on bike manufacturers.

In a cut-throat industry that relies heavily on overseas products, this kind of purchasing power is essential.

However, the savvy shopper will often notice very similar bike configurations inside the Accell family of bikes. There is nothing wrong with that, but it does seem as though the Diamondback line has a more robust marketing budget.

Accordingly, it is more likely that you run across one of the other models than it is that you will see a Raleigh.

Direct To Consumer Focus

Local bike shops are being pressured only to carry one brand at a time. Similar to how you have car dealers who are dedicated to being
the “Subaru” or “Volkswagen” dealer, these shops are pressured into carrying solely “trek” or “specialized.”

In decades past, brands like Raleigh could slip into these shops as an alternative offering and pick up some sales from customers who wanted to break the mold.

Now, they are being forced to get creative.

The internet is offering more options for brand exposure, and the Accel group has embraced that by providing their models direct to the consumer. Not only can this provide a better price point by eliminating the “middle-man,” it means that you can work directly with the manufacturer on warranty issues.

The downside is that this model makes it difficult to test drive the bike and you’ll still need to create a relationship with your local bike shop to get your repairs done.

The good news is that this is a high-end brand that any local bike shop can work on.

Warranty

While I rarely see complaints about the manufacturer’s quality, it is always good to research the brand’s warranty policies.

Most of the frames come with a generous lifetime warranty. Compared to the 5 to 7-year warranty many of the models.

There are differing warranties n the components. Most of those components are covered under the manufacturer’s warranty. In my experience, those last for right around one year on most components

Keep in mind that frame warranty work typically requires you to ship the bike back. Shipping costs can run anywhere from $50 to $120 depending on your carrier and the distance.

The good news is that warranties are rarely needed on these bikes.