I have an Electra Townie 7d, and I'm quite fond of her (sorry, I do anthropomorphize my bike) as a commuter and farmer's-market hauler, but I'd like a more efficient bike for afternoon-trips (say, 50 miles round-trip), mostly on rails-to-trails with gravel or dirt surfaces.
I have done 40 miles on the Townie, but it's harder than I think it needs to be. She's slow (I sometimes have trouble keeping up with my husband on his Trek FX), she absolutely loathes even slight uphill inclines, and because so much of my weight is thrown backward, the longer rides give me a numb butt.
- Hefty. Figure me + gear + water = 250 lbs.
- Casual rider
- Forty. FORGET about anything but a relatively upright position.
- Not great at bike maintenance (I can fix a flat, change brake pads, and adjust my saddle... that's about it).
What I think I'm looking for (feel free to disagree):
- Something in the hybrid/fitness/touring line
- Aluminum frame (I don't trust myself to maintain steel properly; also, my Townie is heavily scratched, so...)
- No fancy "suspension" forks, please.
- Women's geometry (mixte or step-through a plus, but not required)
- Straight handlebars, possibly with upright bar-ends
- Quality components and minimal maintenance a HUGE plus. Internal hub, maybe?
- Braze-ons for two bottle cages and a rear rack (I'm old; on day trips I carry first aid for the bike AND for me...) Rear fender a plus, but I can live with a mudguard.
What bike models might work? How do I best eliminate models that won't? Let's say a maximum of USD$3000 for price, but cheaper would be fabulous. Please also rec good components that I should be looking at, considering my weight.