Hello everyone -
I've been lurking the past few weeks, soaking up as much info as I can. I've ran a few searches for threads on recommendations for noobs, but I figured I'd try to get a little bit more specific information on a certain few models I've been thinking about. First a few things about me: I'm a big fella, 6'3", 325ish, 25 years old, and not getting any younger and I'm looking to really start losing weight again, ugh. My weight has rebounded over the past 2-2.5 years or so from a low of 215ish, back to where I am now.
Now to the specifics: I'm looking at a road-like bike, without getting a really dedicated road bike. I'm kind of like Alton Brown, for you Food Network watchers, and sometimes have trouble living with so-called "unitaskers". My budget is also on the lower end, I'm thinking <$1200.
The shops around here are somewhat few and far between, so my choices are a little limited. I've got access to Trek, Giant, Cannondale, and Specialized. I'm also somewhat thinking toward the future, and getting a bike that will grow with my shrink, if that makes any sense. I want a bike that's going to serve me well as my riding capabilities become stronger and more rounded.
So far I've got my eyes on a few different models: the Trek 520, the Specialized Tricross Sport Triple, and the Cannondale Synapse 6 or 7. I like the idea of the Trek, being a steel bike kind of hearkening back before aluminum and carbon became the 'in' things. The Specialized because it's a cyclocross style, without being over the top, and the Cannondale for the same reason as the Specialized.
I'm leery of carbon anything at my weight, but having read some other threads, it doesn't seem like it should be a big deal. My lack of wallet volume also keeps the carbon bogeyman away too.
My ultimate goal for all this is to be able to comfortably ride anywhere I please, and more or less replace my car and the four dollars a gallon it consumes.. well, sips I guess. Who would have thought a '98 Civic could do nearly 50mpg. But as they say, why pay for what my legs can do for free....
My current bike is a lovely "Schwinn" Ranger from the local Target. It's not half bad, as bikes go, but it has its issues. The front fork with its 'suspension' component likes to compress when I simply sit on it, which I don't see as a great sign to begin with. The saddle is uncomfortable, but that is a relatively simple fix. More worrying however, the brakes need some serious tuning as well as the derailleurs as it doesn't really want to shift, that is, smoothly if at all. Needless to say, it doesn't inspire great confidence, and in my case, a lack of confidence leads to a lack of riding. I fear taking it down to my local shop will result mostly in chuckles and a repair/adjustment bill that was nearly as much as the bike cost to begin with.
Hence, my dilemma. Do I seriously consider dropping the cash and getting a nicer bike now (within the next few months), or just ride the wheels off my Target bike, praying I don't kill myself in the process, and venture on to the nicer bike at a lower weight?
Thanks everyone for reading and hopefully helping me come to some sort of conclusion!