Looking to upgrade to a better road bike - any recommendations?

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by shibbie, Feb 26, 2012.

  1. shibbie

    shibbie New Member

    Feb 26, 2012
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    I currently have a 1980s Schwinn World that I rescued from my parent's garage about a two and a half years ago. While it's in pretty good condition and was a good starter bike that commuted me 15 miles to and from work for a year, it is a) quite a bit too big for me and I find I ride awkwardly on my fingers much of the time and b) pretty heavy. I am currently in a better financial position to invest in a decent road bike so I'm ready for an upgrade.

    What I'm looking for:
    a) Road bike - with gears and all that. Though I live in Brooklyn and all, fixies are not for me
    b) Under $1000 (preferably more like $700-800) - er, and I think Brooklyn/Manhattan prices are probably inflated :( My roommate has a full set of Shimano tools, built his bike and has offered to help me/teach me with mine so internet sales are not out of the question.
    c) Reasonably light - I have to carry it up and down flights of stairs regularly (though any new bike is probably going to be lighter than my dear Schwinn)
    d) I'd like to be able to go touring from time to time - nothing too serious/competitive, but a few friends of mine are interested in going on long distance bike adventures/bike camping
    e) and exercise outside instead of at the gym on a spinner bike
    f) But let's be honest... I live in the city and the main function of this bike with be transportation <15 miles
    g) Oh also, I'm a 5'4" woman (about a 50 cm bike would fit said the friendly gentleman at the local bike store)
    h) aesthetically pleasing (I like simple paint jobs and clean lines).

    I recently test drove a Trek in the $1300 range at a local bike shop while shopping with a friend. And like wow! the difference! it fit and the brakes worked so well I almost threw myself over the handlebars at first and the whole bike didn't make this raucous noise when I shifted. It felt a bit twitchy though -possibly because I'm used to my giant hunk of metal and the weather was windy and snowing so I might not have gotten the best feel for anything. Also, aesthetically I don't like how the Treks look as much some other brands - Bianchi for instance - and not that look is the most important thing, but I want a bike to be proud of. That bike shop only had Trek and Specialized and I feel like most shops in the area just carry one or two brands so basically I'm looking for:

    a) brand/model suggestions in my price range
    b) bike shop suggestions if you happen to live in the NYC metro area
    c) General things to look out for when buying a bike - I am a first time bike buyer if pretty committed bike rider
    d) and/or things to look out for when choosing a bike shop (so many bike shops in the area is both a good and bad thing)

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks internet!

  2. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

    Aug 31, 2003
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    When you say you're interested in touring, I think that means attaching racks and, possibly, fenders. That means you need a frame that can handle that stuff, plus somewhat wider rims and tires, and a reasonably wide gear range. That could get you into a full-bore touring bike like the Trek 520, or a category I'm a little more excited about, the recreational cyclocross bike.

    It starts with a basic, inexpensive cyclocross frame (road bike for racing in the woods) and adds capacity for adding fenders and racks, plus recreational-level road gearing (either compact double or triple chainrings) and 9- or 10-speed cassettes.

    Ask you Trek dealer to show you a Lane. Other models to look for are the Bianchi Zurigo and the Specialized Tricross Sport. By all means talk to the dealers about what you envision using the bike for, and let them make suggestions.
  3. kdelong

    kdelong Well-Known Member

    Dec 14, 2006
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    At your price point, it is going to be a little difficult to find a good bike from a bike shop. You might be better off looking for a good condition lightly used bike. If you definitely want to buy new, you could check out Bikes Direct but this can be risky if you don't know what size you need and the fact that you cannot test ride the bikes before you purchase it.
  4. danfoz

    danfoz Well-Known Member

    Apr 12, 2011
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    IMO you can probably get a bike in your range suited to your needs. There was a recent article in Road Bike Action on what to look for in a $1000 bike. Most anything coming with eyelets is built to take a rack and/or fenders. Most of the major manufactures have a similar type of bike for various purposes along their ranges, with similar prices. Compared to your old Schwinn it'll all be night and day as you've come to see. If you really know what to look for go used but buyer beware and there's usually no refund. A good bike shop will (or should) help you fine tune your fit with a slightly longer/shorter stem, that type of stuff, etc., and will probably include a free tune-up 3 months after the purchase. Bike stores make low margin on bikes, higher on clothing and accessories so haggling is usually poor form. It's not a car dealership.

    A good bike shop will have friendly people there to help you whatever amt of $$ you have to spend. In your range it's likely to be an aluminum frame. Nothing wrong with that - I race with an alu frame. Nothing wrong w/steel either - it's durable, and usually rides well, but a little heavier than alu or CF. Something like the Jamis Satellite or Raleigh Clubman which IMO is exquisite looking (but which you'd also have to bump up your budget another $200). If you can manage visit a couple stores in both Bklyn and Manhattan to get a look at a few different brands. Once again, most brands will have similar models in similar price ranges with similar components but the aesthetics may vary quite a bit.

    In Brooklyn, there's a bike shop on 9th St and 6th Ave - 9th Street Bicycles
    And on 5th Ave and 12th or 13th - Bicycle Habitat
    Both within 5 blocks of each other. There's others, but I would avoid the one on 5th down by the Keyfood like the plague. Maybe if you have more than $5k, they do have a great selection of high end stuff but are generally speaking a bunch of a-holes.

    Btw nothing wrong with going for a bike with good looks, it's one of the perks of the passion. It's been a key factor in every one of my bike purchase over the last 3 decades.

    Edit: Finding the perfect bike is like a good date, with the right one it usually feels pretty good from the first moment.
  5. nfeht

    nfeht New Member

    May 3, 2009
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    Others here know more about bikes so I'll let them take care of that.
    I'm not sure if you will be riding in the rain. If so you may want to think about fenders. I don't have them on my 1984 Raleigh that I use to commute and sometimes wish I did. I'm thinking of adding some but I haven't come across the right set, I'd rather get soaked than ruin the bikes aesthetics. They do sell fender attachments, which since you may use this bike for touring may be a better fit.