First time looking for a road bike

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by Owboduz, May 27, 2014.

  1. Owboduz

    Owboduz New Member

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    I've been trying to work out what I should be looking for in a road bike. I know enough to know that I want drop bars. I thought I wanted disc brakes until I started reading into them--now I'm pretty certain I don't want them. I'll probably use the bike for commuting when its dry and for long distance riding.

    Beyond that, I don't know what to look for in a first-time road bike.

    I don't have a huge budget; it would have to be under $1500.

    I'm on my second hybrid and I'm starting to feel like it's holding me back. I've been cycling 6-12 miles daily for a year and I feel like I could do better. I recently switched to tires which are more rigid and have a higher maximum pressure. It added 2.5 miles/hour to my average speed. I suspect that a road bike would do even more for me. I also want to try using drop bars; I've only ridden hybrids and mountain bikes in the past, so just flat bars or risers.

    I don't know how relevant this is, but I would consider clipless pedals, since I like the idea of toe clips, but I don't feel like I can get in and out of them fast enough. I like aero bars; I have a pair of them on my hybrid and use them whenever I feel it is safe to do so--not in traffic, etc.
     
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  2. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    If you want to use it for commuting also, you might have to think about where on the spectrum you want this bike to be. You can commute on a race bike if you don't mind having no provisions for real storage. You can race on a commuter bike if you don't mind never winning. Make a list of must-have items, then use that to start eliminating bikes - you've already got drop bars and rims brakes on the list. A $1500 bike will likely be aluminum and should have at least a carbon fork, if that's something you want. You may be able to find a full carbon bike if you shop around for deals - decide if that's a must-have item. In that price range, you're not likely to get a full group set. You'll likely get a partial 105 or Apex group with compromises, likely on the crank, brakes, cassette, etc. You'll have to decide which components you're willing to compromise on or whether you want to go with a brand that offers few compromises than another. You also might want to ride both Shimano and SRAM equipped bikes to see which shifting style you like better (I hate SRAM's double tap). Keep in mind that bikes in that price range do not come with pedals, so budget in another $200-400 for shoes and pedals.


    You could get something in the middle like a Trek Domane that's plenty fast, but also has rack and fender mounts for carrying a (limited) amount of cargo for commuting. You can get a nicely equipped one of those for well within your budget.
     
  3. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    double post
     
  4. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    You're going in at a great price level, where you'll get an upgraded allloy frame and a 10- or even 11-speed drivetrain. If you shop with your needs in mind it will be very difficult to make a mistake. Just see and test ride as many bikes as you need to make a decision.
     
  5. Bluman

    Bluman New Member

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    I'm a biking n00b, so take my advice with a grain of salt. (At 30, this March was my first time on a bike since about 14.) But back in March I went to my LBS with a budget of $1200 for a road bike and simply test rode everything in and around my size. I wound up with a Giant Defy 2 and the only thing I regret is that I went with a 54 when, ideally, I should be on a 56 or maybe a 58. I'm 6'0" but shorter trunk and longer legs than my brother who rides a 58cm. That said, I love my Defy and am putting at least 100 miles on it every week now. Once I got used to it, the saddle's very comfortable for about 4 hours at a time. As I get more seat time and make small adjustments to, it's getting more and more comfortable.

    At my local bike trail (level & sheltered from wind) I can already maintain 20mph for well over an hour. It's kind of funny thinking how I used to think maintaining 15 mph was fast and now 20 is starting to feel slow. It's also surprisingly comfortable on descents. My computer logged a max of 42.2 mph on a 1/2 mile hill and I was surprised at how smooth the ride was. Though I can't really compare it to other bikes since the Defy's the only bike I've ridden for more than just a 3 mile test ride.

    What I'm just learning about my Defy is that it has mounts for racks and I can turn it into more of a commuter or day-tourer (is that a thing?).

    Oh, at this point in the year, check your local bike shops for last year's models and other sales... mine has some full carbon bikes ~25% off. (i.e. $1800 bikes for $1300-$1400)

    But moral of the story is to test ride everything in your budget for as long of a ride as the local dealers will allow.
     
  6. new_rider

    new_rider New Member

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    I almost rolled my eyes when reading the thread title. I thought OP would have a $150 budget. :) $1500 for a first timer: wow!

    Money ain't everything, but it sure can buy you a nice bike.

    1. I think the most important step is to get a fitting. Get the right top tube length, adequate standover, and a head tube height that are as closely suited as possible to your physique and flexibility. The cost of a fitting is all over the map, from $50 for a basic fit, to $300 for a multi hour, computerized retul analysis. Most shops will offer a partial to full reimbursement if you buy a bike with a fitting.

    2. Bicycling Magazine is sometimes criticized for rather superficial coverage, but I think this year's 'best of' issue is pretty darn helpful. They list bike weights along with their reviews this year. It's a nice comparative guide.

    3. Do a lot of test riding.

    4. The quality of the lbs makes a big difference. Some shops are close to criminally negligent with new bike builds. Others take several hours and are absolutely meticulous.

    You've got a lot of options at your price point and with a little bit of shopping, not only will you get a boss bike, but you'll find a shop that can fit you and do some great mechanical work for you.
     
  7. new_rider

    new_rider New Member

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    OP is not going to find any $1500 bikes with an 11 speed drivetrain.
     
  8. Owboduz

    Owboduz New Member

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    I should probably clarify... I'm in the UK, so that $1500 is actually £1000.
     
  9. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    105 5800 is 11-speed, so he very well could - though I'm not sure how many bikes currently come with the 5800 group installed.
     
  10. Owboduz

    Owboduz New Member

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    I realise that this is a UK specific bike, so there may not be a lot of general knowledge about it, but coming in around half my budget is this B'Twin with a carbon fork: http://www.btwin.com/en/road-bikes/sport-road-bikes/18381-rennrad-triban-500.html

    I understand that a triple chainset is a bit unusual for road bikes, but other than that, how does it look?
     
  11. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    Under $1500 for your first bike? How about under $800 for your first bike? I am always concerned with a new person comes on a forum wanting to start a new hobby and want's to spend money fast, problem is most people who start a hobby like this, or a some sort of workout machine, usually quits the hobby after about 3 to 6 months tops and then they bought an expensive bike or machine that becomes expensive garage art. If you find an adequate bike for under $800 (personally I would find one used for less than $300, but that's just me), and if you find yourself still riding a lot after 2 years or so then go looking for a really nice bike. Why spend $1,200 (besides the garage art comment I made) and then ride it for 2 or so years and then buy a better bike because you outgrew it? Save that $400 to $900 and add to it over the next 2 years if you're still riding and love riding then you have a good start on a new and better bike.

    by the way, just a thought that's all, not trying to tell you what to do.
     
  12. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

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    He will if the 2015s with 105 come out this summer. And most indications say they will. Besides, I didn't say he will find one, I said he might.
     
  13. Owboduz

    Owboduz New Member

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    Fair enough, but I'm not sure that applies to me. I spent $700 a few years ago for a nice hybrid, which did, for a while, become something like garage art. I started riding it more seriously in 2011 and 2012. I had to sell it when I moved at the end of 2012. I bought a new, $500 hybrid in early 2013. I have been riding it constantly. I did a 60 mile charity ride on it. I feel like it's holding me back. I think I'm in that second spot you mention, where I've added to it over a few years, and I'm ready to take the next step on a new and better bike--this time a road bike.

    I did allude to this in my first post...

     
  14. new_rider

    new_rider New Member

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    Zero.
     
  15. new_rider

    new_rider New Member

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    I agree that $1500 is probably too high for a first drop bar road bike. Some people just never adapt to drop bars, or just don't take a liking to road bikes in general. They handle very differently than hybrids esp compared to flat bar hybrids. I won't bother with all of the specifics, but you'll notice the difference immediately in a quick parking lot test ride, and then in your general riding if you buy one.

    I think $800 is a great price point. The trek 1.1 comes in right at that price point for example.

    I just think it's better to start with a lower investment road bike to see if you actually like that type of bike and that type of riding. Your first bike is also a great starting point for your NEXT bike as far as getting a better understanding of what you want exactly from a road bike.

    I don't know about anyone else, but it's a challenge for me to find an off the rack bike that fits my physique optimally. Your first bike will give you a better sense of what your next bike should be like: frame angles, head tube height, top tube. You'll also get a sense for whether you want a stiffer frame or a more comfort oriented frame. Whether you want something to tour with, or something racier. Whether you can handle very tight gearing, or wide gearing.

    Theoretically, a good shop will ask a lot of questions to help you narrow down your choices to something which is best suited for you. However, a lot of novice riders don't know what they really want, and won't know until AFTER they've bought and ridden their first road bike. And often, a shop doesn't want to invest a lot of time and will want to sell a size that's been sitting in the shop for a long time, or a model that's slow to move.

    A good shop should size you properly, but MOST shops are pretty lazy when it comes to proper fit. Getting a bike's fit dialed in can take 2-4 hours initially and then may require numerous visits afterwards to get the rider position optimized.

    Realistically, most shop employees don't make squat and don't want to invest several weeks of intermittent visits to get a rider properly setup.

    It's really up to you to ride, insist on changes and them compromise with the shop, ride some more, experiment with seats, perhaps stem length, handlebar tape, and so on.

    Even if you are willing to do all of this, some people just can't adapt to a road riding position and bike. The front end can seem really twitchy, or the toe overlap with the front wheel may bother them, or they don't feel right in the drops and so on.

    Anyway, this post is getting ridiculously long.

    So tl, dr: spend half of what you were going to, and try to get fitted properly, but realize that your first bike is just that: a first approximation.
     
  16. Owboduz

    Owboduz New Member

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    @new_rider, I appreciate the insights on fit and the differences between riding a hybrid and a road bike. One thing that might make a difference, though...

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by new_rider . I agree that $1500 is probably too high for a first drop bar road bike. Some people just never adapt to drop bars, or just don't take a liking to road bikes in general. They handle very differently than hybrids esp compared to flat bar hybrids. I won't bother with all of the specifics, but you'll notice the difference immediately in a quick parking lot test ride, and then in your general riding if you buy one.

    ...

    Even if you are willing to do all of this, some people just can't adapt to a road riding position and bike. The front end can seem really twitchy, or the toe overlap with the front wheel may bother them, or they don't feel right in the drops and so on.

    Anyway, this post is getting ridiculously long.

    So tl, dr: spend half of what you were going to, and try to get fitted properly, but realize that your first bike is just that: a first approximation.


    I have been riding with aero bars on my hybrid for about 11 months. They took some getting used to as well, but I love them! Will it be similar with drop bars?

    I've been looking more at the road bikes around $750. There seem to be some good options in there, and I'm struggling to find reasons to pay more than that on a first road bike.
     
  17. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    FWIW. YOU may want to consider adding some DROP BAR clip-ons to your current bike before you pony up for a "Road" bike ...
    [​IMG]

    • I thought they stopped making these types of clip-ons over a decade ago, but someone else on this Forum spotted them & inquired about them.
    • The price is probably ~$30 ... while not cheap, it is less expensive than a new bike and/or Drop handlebars (which you can retrofit onto your bike, BTW ... as per the following, below) + Road shifters ... retrofitting Drop bars + Road shifters will set you back about $200 +/- if you can DIY ... it isn't particularly difficult ...
    • YOU will need to have the manual skill to remove-and-replace the cap from a pickle jar AND from a 2-liter soda bottle.
    [*]allow 2x-or-more that amount if you have a bike shop do it

    BTW. Just as you were able to put narrower tires on your current wheels, you CAN put different handlebars on your Hybrid ...

    • These are two MTB frames which were designed for 26" wheels BUT are equipped with 700c wheels & Drop handlebars ...
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    If YOUR Hybrid has a Suspension Fork, then replacing it with a Rigid Fork could be beneficial.
     
  18. Owboduz

    Owboduz New Member

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    Make no mistake, my hybrid was not high-end. It has a 7-gear freewheel instead of a freehub, and it has a quill stem. All told, this means that if I wanted to convert it to road bike use, I would need to replace:
    • The cassette, if not the whole rear hub.
    • The shifters
    • The derailleurs
    • The brake levers
    • The handlebars
    • The stem
    • The rims

    I might be mistaken, but I think I would have to replace the brakes as well.

    So that leaves just the forks, frame, seatpost, saddle, and crankset untouched. It also leaves me without a hybrid for city and winter use.

    A second bike makes more sense to me.

    In order to validate that a road bike is really what I'm looking for, I will ask around at my office (the bike park is full of road bikes) and see if anyone will let me try theirs out before I "pony up" for a road bike.
     
  19. AyeYo

    AyeYo Member

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    While I can understand the thoughts behind going entry level on a first bike, consider things from another angle. You already know you like biking. There's a good chance you'll like road biking too. You go out and spend $800 on an entry level bike, then a month later you've got the upgrade itch and you're wishing you had just gotten more bike in the first place. Now you're out $800 (maybe $400 after you sell it) and you're back at the bike shop looking to buy something nicer, but with a lot less money in your bank account.

    Unless you're rolling in money, $800 is already a lot of money. If you're going to spend a lot of money, you might as well spend more and get something you won't feel the need to upgrade in a week. Maybe you don't need to go up to $1,500, but consider something in the $1,000-1,100 range that will at least be full or nearly full Tiagra/Apex, have a carbon fork, and brakes that don't totally suck ($800 bike brakes are usually non-brand jokes). If it was my money, I'd spend the full $1,500 after shopping around to find a good deal. In fact, that's exactly how I got my road bike. Local shop had a year old Felt Z5 (2012, back when they were full 105) stickered for $2,300 and after some negotiating gave it to me for $1,500 because it was a year old, no one likes firetruck red bikes, and it had some small paint chips on the rear drop outs. They also had a previous year Madone 4.3 they offered to me for $1,650 (sticker was $2,100), but I liked the ride of the Z5 better. Deals are out there if you're patient.
     
  20. maydog

    maydog Well-Known Member

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    $1500 will buy you a lot of bike, as will $800. Entry level is as rideable, raceable as more expensive bikes. A quick look at a few manufacturers sites shows the difference between entry ($800) and a sub $1500 bike is primarily the groupset, number of gears. Getting closer to $1500 and above bumps you up to another level with better (lighter) frames.

    One gotcha I find with off-the-rack bike in these price ranges is the poor quality wheels. Often the wheels are cheap and/or poorly built and will fail in short order if the spokes are not properly tensioned and the hubs adjusted.

    I started out riding 8 speed triples and still do on an almost daily basis. The granny ring gets not love. Over time I acquired a 9 speed trip and now I also have 2 10 speed double bikes. The extra cogs in the rear are nice, but by no means a deal breaker - you won't really appreciate them unless you ride something with less anyway.

    If you start with 8 or 9 speeds, uprgrading to 10 later on wont set you back much cash. I recently purchased a brand new pair of Tiagra 10 brifters for $85 which work great. The cost of an upgrade should only be the cassette, chain and brifters. The cassette and chain are already consumables and will need replacing at some point anyway.
     
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