Need advise for purchasing road bike for mature rider f



GoGo635

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Dec 29, 2010
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My husband and I want to start riding bikes together, primarily for exercise and recreation. Can someone recommend a good road bike w/o drop down handle bars. we've priced them and got an education, but it is somewhat overwhelming. We are 50-plus in age, relatively good shape, and would like a bike that we will not have to necessarily change, once we become acclimated again to riding. We went to two distributors: One carried Giant and the other Specialized (carbon fiber bikes.) Would appreciate any helpful info from a seasoned rider. thanks
 

Steve_A

Active Member
Sep 7, 2010
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First of all, welcome to the forum and congratulations on getting into cycling. I'm in your age range as are several others here. I'm an experience cyclist, getting back into it after a break of several years. The issue of drop bars vs. upright bars is a sticky one, but not insurmountable. Not to be discouraging, but because you need to know, here are some things to consider. 1. Drop bars, regardless of the height at which they are mounted (relative to the seat height), are better. I say because they offer 3 times as many hand positions as flat, mountain-style bars, or as swept-back, cruiser style bars. I recently went through the process of converting my road bike to flat bars, and soon decided to go back to the drop bars. Your hands will get more fatigued and sore if you don't have the ability to switch positions. Modern road brake-shift levers (aka Shimano STI, for example) offer a very comfortable primary position for your hands on top of the hoods. You also have the options of riding more upright with your hands on flat center portion of the bars, or down in the drops. These three positions vary the angle of your wrists, and this is a good thing. 2. With a proper stem, you can raise the drop bars up to a level that is comfortable for many (I'd say most) riders. If you have back problems and need to sit perfectly upright, that would be the exception. 3. The bad news is that modern, mass-produced, quality bikes are now made with "threadless" forks, which dictates a type of stem system that offers less hight adjustment than older "threaded" forks. I won't go into the detail here, but there are some options for raising the stem on a threadless system, and they may be sufficient to get it a good height for you. 4. Yes, a drop-bar bike can be converted to upright bars, and vice versa. However (and I've just gone through this myself a few times), you have to change the brake/shift levers, bars, and possibly the stem. You have to be mindful of the type of brakes on your bike and whether the brake levers are compatible; also true for the shift lever functions. Many would tell you that you should just buy the type of bike you need with the bars you want, but that's difficult if you haven't ridden much. If you start with flat bars, you may eventually (or in a short time), wish for drop bars. So I don't have any easy solution for this question. Your LBS will, of course be happy to sell you a bike and convert it later, if you're willing to pay.

I'll stop for now, and see what others suggest. Good luck, Steve
 
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GoGo635

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Dec 29, 2010
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Thank you, Steve, for the info. We are going out today to test drive, if you will, a bike or two. The last bikes we owned in our earlier years were made by Schwinn or Huffy, so, needless to say, we are upgrading with quality and expensive bikes. We are sold on carbon fiber road bikes. The LBS owners have been very helpful, but it has been an education. We have narrowed the bikes down to either a Specialized or Giant. Do you know anything about those brands for the average bike rider? I also heard that Trek was a good one as well, but we have yet to see one. If we are going to pay $1000-plus for a bike, we want the best for our money and a bike that will last us a few years, until we are ready for the Tour de France (LOL). We are looking forward to the ownership of our new bikes, and I hope they throw in a bottle of Advil, because we will probably need it. Thanks again for taking the time to respond. I'm enjoying this part already. Friendly.  
 

Steve_A

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Sep 7, 2010
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Good luck in your bike search. You will definitely want to look at the Trek line, as they are the largest bicycle maker, at least in the US. I can't help you much on carbon fiber, as I'm not really a fan. $1000 plus will get you a lot of choices in good bikes. Be aware that it's still somewhat at the lower range for pure road bikes. On the other hand, I wouldn't advise that you spend any more, considering that your needs are evolving. But at this time of year, some good deals can be had. I would urge you to look at bikes other than CF; such as aluminum and steel. Even titanium if you're so inclined. I would also suggest reading on the Rivendell Bicycle and Velo Orange sites: for alternate viewpoints, nice bikes and some very informative articles. Steve
 

Scotttri

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Oct 11, 2005
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If your planning on doing alot of rideing, i'd recomend getting Shimano 105 groupset ( or equivelant ) or higher ( depending on whats in the budget ) it will generally last longer.
 

lemarmot

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Dec 2, 2010
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Glad to hear you're getting back on bikes. I did the same in advanced adulthood, and it was the best thing I've done in a very long time. Not too many things are this much fun and good for you at the same time. But if you're going to ride for fun and exercise, I'm not sure why you're wedded to costly carbon fibre. If you're committed to maximum performance -- I guess you are, if you're sold on CF -- I think you should rethink your somewhat contradictory preference for flat bars. Drops are better in just about every way. If you prefer a more upright riding posture most of the time, just add cross levers to your brakes. For about $25, you get the heads-up riding position and instant, fingertip access to your brakes. It's great in urban traffic.
As for brands, Giant and Specialized are both respected companies. My comfort cruiser is a Specialized. I've had it for six years without a single problem, and the LBS that sells them has been excellent.
 

maddogbubba

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Jul 5, 2010
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I would have to agree with STEVE_ A . you will have more hand positions to choose . for me this can either make or brake my ride . Also Scotttri makes a good point about components/groupset . you want to have a reliable and smooth braking and shifting bike . shimano 105 is a great start for entry level . It will deliver to you high performance and reliability . GIANT ,SPECIALIZED , TREK are the big guys in the industry , plenty of dollers to put towards research and design , however there are other manufactuers that are as good if not better .check out Scott bikes , Felt bikes , Orbea bikes .I' m 44 so comfort does play a role in my riding but performance should not be overlooked . My opinion - get into carbon fiber bikes and don't look back . you will have no regrets .I have seen Scott CR1 on sale at my LBS for 1400.00 . I'm guessing if your buying two bikes you could get them to come down in price a little . Good luck .
 

Steve_A

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Sep 7, 2010
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I agree that Shimano 105 is an excellent group and serve you well for a long time. That's what I have and it has served me well, and I'll probably never need to upgrade. That being said, I wouldn't limit my choices if a bike comes with another groupset. You may have to spend substantially more if you are hell-bent on 105. I'm betting that the next lower Shimano group (is it Sora or Tiagra, I don't remember) will also serve the OPs well. As I stated, I don't agree that you should get into carbon fiber necessarily. If you get a well-fitted bike with quality components, and take some time to get it set up to your liking, you will not regret your choice, regardless of material. Good riding in the New Year, everyone!
 

Scotttri

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Oct 11, 2005
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Ultimately find a good bike shop who is willing to let you both do a descent test ride on both flat bar and drop bar variant bikes, also Aluminium and Carbon fibre frames and higther end and lower end group sets. and from there make a decision. If your buying the bike with the intantions of keeping over a long period of time with minimum upkeep, quality is the way to go, but everyone has different needs and budgets. Also take into consideration in your budget things like cycling clotheing, shoes, bags, pumps, spare tubes, helmut, water bottles and cages etc. It all adds up, and usually you can get some of these items thrown in.

Another key pointer is to make sure the shop you go to knows how to do a correct bike fitment. A good fitment can make a $400 bike feel better then a $5000 bike.

Good luck and enjoy!!!
 

oldbobcat

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Aug 31, 2003
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Originally Posted by GoGo635 .

My husband and I want to start riding bikes together, primarily for exercise and recreation. Can someone recommend a good road bike w/o drop down handle bars. we've priced them and got an education, but it is somewhat overwhelming.
Giant Rapid (for your husband) and Dash (for you) or Specialized Sirrus.(for your husband) and Vita (for you). The Dash and Vita are women's versions of the Rapid and Sirrus, which means the frame dimensions and saddles are tweaked to fit women more comfortably. I prefer the Giant because it's clearly a road bike with a flat handlebar, while the Specialized is built on more of a hybrid concept--mountain bike gearing at the lower levels and more of a mountain bike style frame. Try them both--you might find the Giant a sportier ride but the Specialized more comfortable.

If there's a Trek dealer nearby, you might want to look at Trek's take on the Sirrus concept, the FX range. But you really don't have to.

Both of these lines come in various component levels, but for exercise and recreation, don't get hung up on this. More money gets you a carbon fiber fork that is lighter and usually more comfortable than steel or aluminum, more gearing options, crisper controls (brakes and shifting), and more weight savings (lighter wheels and other components). I generally recommend the most expensive versions of these bikes for retired dentists who plan to ride at least 100 miles a week, while the rest of us can be happy with a little bit less. The Giants start at a slightly higher, more expensive level, so on price the Rapid 3 compares to a Sirrus Elite. And you already know why I prefer the Giants.

Regardless, they're all comfortable, reliable, and fun and easy to ride. Just choose a price level that isn't going to break the bank and go have yourselves some fun.
 
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rjstange

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Dec 25, 2010
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Hello GoGo. I just started riding seriously again this last March. I am 52. I started with the Giant Rapid, and loved it (still do). I also got my wife the ladies version (Dash). I got to where I was riding it well over 80 miles a week (sometimes over 100-120), and was getting very serious about my riding. Even though I was keeping up with the road bike guys on my Rapid, I was just getting too serious to continue that riding level on the Hybrid. I am now riding a Giant Defy road bike, and love it as well. Both the Rapid and the Defy have Shimano 105 components. They are just great. Reliable and pretty darn tough. I picked Giant because of their reputation, but mainly because of the LBS (local bike shop) which are known here to be the very best in service before, during, and after the sale. Lifetime tun-ups was really important, and they did not make me feel like an idiot when I started getting into biking again. There are so many wonderful bikes, and many of them will serve you well. My final advice is; 1) make sure you love the way it looks....it matters 2) Do some research on the dependability of the bike 3) Visit the LBS's in your area, and pick the one that you like the most or have the best feeling at 4) Buy that bike and ride it like you stole it. 5) Enjoy !!!
 

Easywriter882

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Dec 22, 2010
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Great advice by all commentators but the thing is a bike is a piece of exercise equipment. Use it or you wasted your money. :) Stay consistent in your riding, dont go to hard or too far too soon, that takes the fun out of it. Your body will let ya know how much to keep adding or what you can safely get away with. Find paved trails away from traffic if you are rank beginners, as you grow more comfortable in your abilities to stay away from cars and judge people's intent at a glance, and stop on a dime with change left over, then by all means hit the road Jack. :)
On the road, head on a swivel all the time, NO IPODS in your ears, dont ride into the sunset, anticipate every driver is a potential hazard as you would oil on the road. Understand when a light goes yellow, be aware the car behind you might be trying to make the light, stay to the right. Approaching intersections, look back at the driver well before you get to it to ensure his sees you slowing and dont be afraid to use hand signals. Ive resorted to staring angrily at some drivers before they get it, "back off, leave me some room in case you or I make a mistake."
All the best GoGo and all the other new cyclists out there.
 

rparedes

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Jul 21, 2007
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Originally Posted by GoGo635 .

My husband and I want to start riding bikes together, primarily for exercise and recreation. Can someone recommend a good road bike w/o drop down handle bars. we've priced them and got an education, but it is somewhat overwhelming. We are 50-plus in age, relatively good shape, and would like a bike that we will not have to necessarily change, once we become acclimated again to riding. We went to two distributors: One carried Giant and the other Specialized (carbon fiber bikes.) Would appreciate any helpful info from a seasoned rider. thanks
I'm 57, so can relate... Giant makes great bikes; I have two. They typically give you the best value for the money (at least in my area) Specialized, Trek, Scott, Felt and many other are also very very good bikes. Check the Performance Bikes store brands also: Scattante, Fuji. Choose the one that fits the best, has the right gearing and a brand that you feel comfortable dealing with your LBS. When I started riding again about 7 years ago, after a looong lay off, I bought a flatbar bike very similar to the Rapid. After about one year of riding, I got the bug and traded the flatbar bike for a Giant OCR with shimano 105 (more like a touring roadbike; now it's called Defy), a couple years later I bought a carbon frame bike, a Giant TCR, and have not looked back (in the process, I got fit, lost a lot of weight, became more flexible and now I can't live without riding my bike).
Get a flat-bar road bike that fits you the best ( I would not worry too much about frame material), that you can ride and get comfortable, has the correct gearing for the terrain you want to ride (Ask your LBS) and if you really get into biking, then you will know exactly what you want later on.
BTW, changing from a flatbar to a drop bar or vice versa could run up to $400 or more depending on the type you choose
 

60over

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Oct 14, 2012
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I started riding six years ago and bought a 300 dollar Jamis Citizen I accumulated 1200 miles in five years. Last year I purchased another Jamis hybrid for 800 and the dealer said it was the closest thing to a true roadbike because it had the straight bars. I put 3600 miles this past year and now would like to purchase a true road bike this next spring. I am 62 and in great health. Anybody here have a suggestion what to buy? I live in a area that has. No bike paths so I am on county roads and streets a lot. I'm short 5ft 8in. I love biking and can't wait to get a real road bike