Need a bike recommendation for my wife

My wife is interested in cycling to work. It’s about 6km (I think). She’s not an experienced cyclist, nor does she intend to do any distance riding, racing, or anything like that. She’s seen the new Taichung YouBike, and she’s interested in something open like that. She wants something without the frame bar running from the seat to the handlebars. What are the disadvantages to a design like that? Assuming it’s a good design, what are some trusted manufacturers? What things should we consider while we’re shopping around?


First of all, welcome to the sub-thread SlowRain. When you say "something without the frame bar running from the seat to the handlebars, do you mean something like this?

From what you described above, a commuter bike for someone that is not an experienced cyclist, I wouldn’t really suggest such a frame either. Disadvantages is that mounting and dismounting from those kinds of bikes, especially for someone wearing business attire, is a little troublesome.

You probably want to look at something like this if she likes the frame of youbikes.

I think the some questions are what is your budget? Do you want to park it on the street? If she’s just using it to commute, I suggest heading over to Carrefour and buying one for about 1500-2000NTD or better yet, search Facebook for a second hand buy/sell/trade group in Taizhong and see if anyone is selling their old bike.

If you want something nice that maybe one day you or maybe your wife would like to use for recreational purposes, I wouldn’t rule out Giant or Merida. These two are the big brands that you see many people riding. However, their name does come at a price. The cheapest bike that is similar to the youbike is a little under 4,000NT. If you’re concerned about the quality of the frame, I would go with the above mentioned brands. If you really don’t care too much about name or quality and just want to get from A to B, the bikes they sell at Carrefour or RT-Mart get the job done. They are unlikely to get stolen too :wink:

Bikes missing the top tube (seat to bars) are a bit more wobbly than bikes with the full triangle, and they bend a bit in the middle when going over bumps. As a non-serious rider, your wife would probably never notice, especially if she is small.

However, do encourage her to ride with the saddle higher than she’d probably be happy with (i.e., she should have to get off the seat to put her feet on the ground). she will have more control, ride stronger and probably longer and faster, and ultimately not damage to her knees.

Agree with this point. I have to say for many commuter riders, they tend to have a very slouched position when riding, which initially is comfortable, but after awhile it may result in some injury in the knee or even your back if you’re slouched too much.

A quick way to measure the right height is if she’s sitting on the saddle and has to extend her toes to the max to touch the ground.

Thanks for the replies.

Yep, that second picture is pretty much what she’d like. She doesn’t want to worry about shifting gears or anything like that. She’ll be parking it under a roof at work (kindergarten/day care/cram school) and in the underground parking at home. She may be riding it in the rain on occasion when the weather surprises her, but it won’t be during the plum rains or anything torrential. Budget is not a problem as these bikes aren’t super expensive, so Giant and Merida are both fine (I’d rather not buy the stuff they sell at Carrefour). However, Taichung streets are among the worst in the developed world, so the suspension and seat will be important, as well as longevity. Any suggestions there? Any gimmicks that we should avoid?

Bikes without the top bar running from seat to handlebars are called ‘step through’ in polite English or ‘girlie bikes’ in standard English. It’s easier to get on and off if you are wearing a skirt or a kilt.

I just bought an electric version recently, and if price is not an issue, perhaps she might be interested.

With the NT3000 gov’t subsidy it comes in at just under NT15 000

um, cheap suspension. Avoid it: heavy and will rust faster than a… well, pick yur idiom.

Better to get an all aluminium bike (with as many aluminum gears, brakes, etc), that she will use for longer, before the rust claims it. It’s inevitable and rapid with iron parts, but less so with alloy handlebars, etc. . The rake of the fork and the geometry of the bike should be sufficient in most of these city bikes for adequate bounciness.

I’m thinking something like this, but fewer gears (maybe only three in the back?

not in Taiwan probably, but you get the idea.

However, quality engineering and materials in that kind of bikes will be hard to find: the demographic is much cheaper.

Another option that’s a reasonable ride and build is the Giant folding range (or Brompton, etc).

Honestly, you’re best bet is to just find a local store and see what they have to offer. Take some of our advice and keep it in the back of your mind, but I think what’s mot important is what your wife likes, right? Your suggestions will only go so far haha

Sorry, I don’t think an electric bike is what she wants. NT$2,000 vs. NT$4,000 is a nominal difference to the budget; NT$15,000 is too much, and it’d be heavier. Plus, she already has a scooter; she wants this purely for exercise.

I can see the reasons for not worrying about a suspension. Can something be done with the seat to provide more comfort, or is a seat a seat no matter what?

What about storage options? I’d like something waterproof where she could keep an emergency raincoat as well as carry a few books if she needed to. I worry that baskets have a way of accumulating other people’s garbage.

Somewhat true, but I need to get her on board with quality first. Her way of choosing the one to buy is to select the pink one. She’ll overlook almost any quality issues just because of the color.

Well that changes a few things. I was just thinking it was a commuter bike. :slight_smile:

You can always buy a more cushioned seat, but I wouldn’t have to worry too much about the seat getting uncomfortable if she’s only traveling a total of 8km to and from work.

On a “step through” bike, there really aren’t too many options for storage, it’s either the front basket or tying something down onto the rear rack. You can look into something like the picture I initially posted where the owner of that bike attached a bag to where the basket usually is. There is that option, but I guess the only big difference is it may cost much more than a basket, especially if you want it fully waterproof.

You also might want to find a store that speaks English if Mandarin is an issue.

Sorry for the confusion. She wants to exercise more, so her idea is to go to work a couple days a week by bike. She’s not interested in riding it as a pastime.

The distance is about 6km one-way, so 12km or so each time. It’s not the distance that worries me so much, it’s the roads. Whenever we go outside of Taichung City, we’re always impressed with how smooth the roads are. Taichung has among the worst roads in the developed world. I’m wondering what kind of a seat can help make the ride more comfortable over broken, patched, uneven pavement.

I see these cylindrical, pencil-case-like bags on some handlebars. Is there a quality, waterproof one that people can recommend? That’d be fine for an emergency raincoat. A rack on the back should be fine for things like books. I assume that’s a common add-on to most bikes, even on step-through bikes.

My wife is Chinese, so language isn’t a barrier.

Anything else to consider?

INitially she will gravitate towards the big padded seats, but for long term and long distance (6km will feel like a long distance for her, i think, at first) you’re better off having a less padded narrower saddle. Perhaps use a gel pad at first until her butt HTFU.


It will take a lot for you to convince her to get the less padded narrower saddle. It will look very uncomfortable to her and also may look uglier too. You not only have to convince her, but you have to convince the store employee too that, that’s what you want.

Make sure you do not get lost in conversation when your wife is speaking to the store employee on what she wants. This may be key :smiley:

I wouldn’t rule out a double bar “step through”, it may be a little more stable than the traditional step through that my initial posts’ picture. urodacus said she may not notice the frame getting bent, but if you want her to get a better quality bike, you might want to consider this.

With regards to the waterproof pouch, you might want to ask the store about it, but a rain coat can always be strapped onto the back rack, if you’re concerned that it may get stolen there, don’t buy a very expensive rain coat :smiley:

I had to Google it.

She likes this last one. Does it come in pink?

My Chinese should be good enough to handle the discussions. I just wanted to do some research first on the basics.

Thanks for all your help. We’ll go shopping after payday. Let me know if there are any more things she should consider.

I have no clue whether it comes in pink (according to the Giant site it doesn’t). The model# for above is the Giant T360. I would call the store in advance and see if they have it in stock. Most shops usually keep only one of the “step through” bikes in stock at their stores since they are not very high in demand.

I would highly recommend getting a back light (maybe a front one too) for her. Yes, the bike already has front and back reflectors, but really, it’s very hard to notice in the dark.

When you buy bikes from Giant, regardless of price, they will gift you something. With this bike, the Giant shop will most likely gift you the front basket and lock. Since you won’t be getting much of a discount (or any kind of discount), try to coax them into giving you a cheap front and back light. I’m not sure what the bike theft is like in Taizhong, but personally, I wouldn’t get anything that looks remotely expensive, it will probably get stolen.

If you are worried about theft of the accessories, a quick alternative is heading over to an LED shop and buying a LED blinker and use it as a back light and one of those cute animal LED front blinkers that doesn’t give you much of a “headlight” function, but lets on-coming pedestrians/bikers know to gtfo of the way :smiley:

Okay, so my wife is a bit impulsive. We went to just take a look, but ended up buying a Giant iNeed Espresso. It wasn’t my preference, but I’m not the one riding it. I liked the T360 better, but my wife felt the pedals were too high. She is short, but I think she just needed to get used to it. The problem with what we got is the wheels are pretty small, but that’ll just be better exercise. We got an LED front light, a back light, cable lock, and helmet. It wasn’t cheap, but she’s happy with it.

I’m not too worried about theft. Both places she plans on parking it are relatively secure.

Sorry about the pink comment. I was just kidding around. I should’ve put a smiley after it.

lubricate, lubricate,and lubricate. I’m talking about the bike here. At least monthly, spray or wipe down all parts other than the rims with WD40 or similar, and get a chain lube like FinishLine dry lube for the chain: also once per month, and specially after rain. You will lengthen the period before rust by years if you keep that little chore up, and she’ll enjoy riding a shiny bike for much longer.

IMHO, bikes that rust don’t get used, and bikes that don’t get used rust.

she’s probably got too many gears that she’ll never use, but the smaller wheels are no more or less exercise than the normal big ones, just a bit rougher over bumps and holes.

Congrats on the new bike.

I had a feeling your wife would go with the momentum line that Giant has, those bikes are very hippie :smiley:

I advise everything that urodacus said. Make sure you give it a good wipe down after rides in the rain and if it doesn’t rain, once a week or maybe even once every two weeks would really help preserve the bike.

Well, she’s tickled pink with her bike. Looks kinda cute in her pink and purple bicycle helmet, too. She rode it to work and back this morning just to try it out, even though she doesn’t go to work until this afternoon. Wednesdays and Thursdays are her long, tiring days, so I assume she’ll ride her scooter this afternoon just to avoid a bike ride after work tonight. The plan is Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. We’ll see.

When you say to wipe it down with WD40, you mean spray a little WD40 on a cloth and wipe the whole frame–avoiding the tires and rims–right? What about lubricating the brake cables? And after a rain, it’s to get moisture away from the metal parts. Would you use WD40 then, too?

Ooh yes. wipe an oily/WD40’d rag over all steel, iron, and alloy parts to remove water. Cables need you to spray a bit into the cable housing if you can, or even better, use chain lube in there if you can. they need less attention as they’re easily replaced.

Occasionally lube inside the gear mech, especially the springs which tend to rust the fastest due to their metallurgy. grease, chain lube, +WD40 all have their place here.

Water-based lubes should be restricted to the bedroom. :smiley: