Buying an entry-level road bike between $300 - $500

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by laplandlapin, Aug 28, 2013.

  1. laplandlapin

    laplandlapin New Member

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    Hi all,

    I'm hoping for some advice, as I'm looking to buy an entry-level road bike. While I enjoyed zipping around on my bike as a kid (it was a mountain bike, and I grew up in relatively rural areas), I haven't seriously biked ... ever. A few years ago, I bought a single speed bike for about 100 bucks, and it worked great ... but I've since moved, and had to leave it behind.

    What I hope to do with it
    Firstly, I am not looking to race or cycle competitively in any manner. I really want this bike to do two things:
    • Get me from my apartment to work (approximately 4 - 5 miles, depending on the route)
    • Give me a chance for some open-air exercise during the weekends (10 - 20 mile rides)

    My budget
    I'm hoping to spend between $300 and $500 on a road bike. I don't need anything fancy, just something reliable and easy to maintain. Apart from the big brand names (Trek, Specialized, etc.) I really don't know which brands I should trust and which I shouldn't. Your suggestions and input will be heavily weighed!

    My stats
    I understand that weight and height matter when selecting a bike, so here we go:
    1. 5' 11"
    2. 185 lbs
    3. In athletic shape (run/lift 4+ times per week)

    Based on this, how should I determine the size of my bike?

    Some options
    I was looking at a few links on the web, and was hoping that some of you might be willing to take the time to tell me what you think of these options:

    #1 - Schwinn Phocus ($285)
    http://www.amazon.com/Schwinn-Phocus-Bicycle-Black-18-Inch/dp/B00AWNI07K/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_S_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=1J54J3T0C11G8&coliid=I3MYJA7MDYCHW5

    #2 - Schwinn Axios 700c ($325)
    http://www.amazon.com/Schwinn-Axios-Bicycle-Silver-18-Inch/dp/B00AYCY17C/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_S_nC?ie=UTF8&colid=1J54J3T0C11G8&coliid=IB48K4ROTP7DR

    #3 - Schwinn Phocus ($445)
    http://www.amazon.com/Schwinn-Phocus-Bicycle-Silver-18-Inch/dp/B00AWNI21E/ref=pd_sim_sbs_sg_4

    I know that these bikes are way below the standard specs that most of you ride on, but I would really appreciate your advice. If you have any suggestions for bikes in this range, please let me know! I don't really know where to start looking, so I just went to Amazon, which I'm sure is not the best place.

    Thank you!
     
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  2. JimmyBubble

    JimmyBubble New Member

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    Lap- no offense, but you really need about a grand to get into something respectable. Something that won't constantly break down and is light enough for you to appreciate the speed and enjoyment of cycling. Scour Cragslist. I recently brokered a deal for a friend on a 2011 Giant TCR with SRAM Red upgrades. 3T, Fizik,Garmin. Ended up knowing mutual riders so I knew bike wasn't hot or busted. $1200. Guy needed the money and I was the first one there with the $$$. The deals are out there- spend $300-400 on something is a waste- you will be unhappy and looking to upgrade in months, if not weeks. Search "carbon" under bikes in Craigslist every morning. Then look for Shimano 105 or SRAM Rival. You should be able to find something quite nice for $750-1000 Good luck!
     
  3. laplandlapin

    laplandlapin New Member

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    Hey Jimmy,

    Thanks for the reply. I certainly don't take offense. Unfortunately, $1,000 is just a no-go for me. I want to be able to commute to work and take short weekend rides, and my budget is relatively firm. When I was a teen, I spent $400 on a mountain bike, and rode that thing for years without a problem. A few years ago, I bought a $100 city cruiser - again, no issues for over a year.

    I'm not looking for high performance or long rides, and I don't need an all carbon racer. But I do appreciate your input.

    Does anyone have any suggestions, given the parameters I've set out?
     
  4. jpr95

    jpr95 New Member

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    Bunk.

    Plenty of folks even ride the $100 Wally World specials. There used to be a frequent poster here who was putting in around 12,000 miles per year on Walmart bikes, buying a new one each year. I'd say he got his money's worth. I would say that he's probably better off and will get more bang for the buck spending that $500 on something used from the interwebz, provided he has the help of someone knowledgeable. The motor on the bike (the rider) is far more important to speed than the weight of the bike, and the rider has a far greater impact on aerodynamics than an over-the-budget bike.

    The important thing is to get a bike THAT FITS and go ride. If you can and want to upgrade later, great. If not, watch some online videos, buy a few tools and learn to do the maintenance yourself. Cheap bikes can be fairly rugged and can be tuned/maintained to give many years and miles of service.
     
  5. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    i would want to get a bike from a proper bike shop, not a department store. Service and a basic fitting is usually part of the deal and while I would personally popoo the idea of a $100 bike, entry level stuff in bike shops usually starts around $500 bikes and mostly works just fine. Carbon can be built into some nice frames but also absolute junk ones and is not a requirement for a good bike even for a bona fide race bike like my very own aluminum beauty!

    Of the bikes you listed, i would go for the most I could afford.
     
  6. old-n-slow

    old-n-slow New Member

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    There are many good used bikes out there that will give you exceptional value. For example, my son is selling a 4 year old Ridely aluminum bike with Campy Veloce components for around $600. He bout the bike used over in Israel and didn't leave enough time to sell it, so he brought it back. He said it's better than his old Specialized Allez which cost more than double new. Getting used is a good way to get into a road bike and if you really like it, you can upgrade a few years later without taking a major loss on the old one.
     
  7. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely. But to find they require someone who knows bikes to sniff 'em out. Someone who doesn't know bikes can get taken for a ride and possibly end up spending more than they should and for those folks, unless they have a friend who can assist, I would recommend against the used market.
     
  8. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    If you could stretch the budget a bit you could get Trek 1.1, a Diamondback Podium 1 or 2, or a Fuji Roubaix 1.5 (they're nearly always heavily marked down), you'd be getting so much more bike. And the support of a dealer.

    By the way, at 5'11" you'd most likely be looking at a 56 cm frame, the key dimension being the virtual top tube between 56 and 57 cm.
     
  9. JimmyBubble

    JimmyBubble New Member

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    Bunk??? Lol- then you suggest he ride a bike from Walmart? No wonder advice is free.
     
  10. old-n-slow

    old-n-slow New Member

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    Just like buying a used car, you need to know of have a friend that knows what they are doing. My son feels that the person who will buy his bike with want a entry level bike and have a friend that will tell him it's a much better deal than buying a new $600 bike.
     
  11. laplandlapin

    laplandlapin New Member

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    Hi everyone,

    Thank you very much for the feedback! I really appreciate it - and I'm definitely going to look at trying to find a reputable dealer in the area. I will also scour Craigslist, though I do get worried that, given my relative ignorance about the quality of certain brands and parts, I might end up being taken for a ride. I also assume that with a dealer, I will have a bike that really fits me, and is tuned for me.

    OldBob - I'll definitely look into the Diamondback Podium. It seems to go for $500, which is right in my price range.

    Thanks again to everyone!
     
  12. Ben J

    Ben J New Member

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    I just listed my Giant Sedona DX on Craiglist Boone, NC. Check it out. It is an excellent bike for the price I am asking ($275). New ones are listed at $510 at Bicycle Warehouse.
     
  13. JimmyBubble

    JimmyBubble New Member

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  14. JimmyBubble

    JimmyBubble New Member

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    BUNK? Hilarious- what are you? Twelve? Then you suggest a bike from Walmart? C'mon bro! Why don't you just suggest The Sledghammer? http://youtu.be/b7YW7EbeNkE
     
  15. alienator

    alienator New Member

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    Cheap bikes can also be kack and perform like crap, even if the owner has good wrenching skills.
     
  16. old-n-slow

    old-n-slow New Member

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    True, but in my son's case, he's worked the past 7 summers as as bike mechanic at a triathlon specialty shop.
     
  17. FlyingPancreas

    FlyingPancreas New Member

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    I'm a total bike noob so I cannot comment on the general quality of bikes in that price range; however, I'd bet the mortgage there are millions of people out there commuting regularly on sub-$500 bikes with no issues.

    The only advice someone with my teeny knowledge of bikes can impart is to go with a huge name - Schwinn, Diamondback, etc. The reason for this is that manufacturers who crank out a huge volume of bikes are able to get better deals from their component suppliers for buying large quantities, and hopefully that savings is passed on to the customer in the form of the best possible components at whatever price range.

    I do keep hearing that a proper fit is really critical and will make a massive difference in riding comfort and efficiency, so I'd ry to buy from a shop that can do that for you.
     
  18. jpr95

    jpr95 New Member

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    Read what I wrote again, only try to understand it this time. I used the cheap Walmart bikes as an example--plenty of folks ride them every day and make them work for them. I wasn't recommending them for the OP. My point was that you're flat out wrong that $1000 is needed to get a respectable bike. That's also rude to the OP, who posted his budget was $300-500.

    Even used car salesmen won't push a $40,000 car on someone who says their budget is $20,000.
     
  19. laplandlapin

    laplandlapin New Member

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    Hey everyone,

    I want to thank you again for your input and suggestions! Lucky for me, there's a guy in my office who does a bit of biking. He had recommended looking at some bikes from "bikesdirect.com". They range from $399 to $549, and seem to offer pretty decent value.

    Does anyone have any experience with these brands? Such as MotoBecane?

    My eye sort of stuck on a few that they have on offer (now only to get them in my size!)
    $449 Road Bike - Motobecane Mirage SL
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/road_bikes/mirage_sl.htm

    $399 CycloCross Bike - Gravity Liberty CX
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/gravity/liberty_cx.htm

    $499 Road Bike - Motobecane Mirage SLX
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/road_bikes/mirage_slx.htm

    I'm trying to keep my eyes open for good deals like this, and your (collective) input is always welcome! I think I even saw some bikes with carbon forks within the $500 range ...

    Thanks!
     
  20. JimmyBubble

    JimmyBubble New Member

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    So you ride cheap Walmart bikes? You're CRAZY bro! SLEDGEHAMMER!
     
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