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Thread: Getting started

  1. #1
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    Getting started

    Hi all. I am early 40's, 6'1" and 260lb. Until recently I had never gone on a real ride. I have a 2005 Schwinn MTB from a generic big box that I used to putter around at 2MPH while the kids learned to ride. Recently remarried, and my wife likes to ride (she has a Cannondale hybrid). We decided this was something that we would do together. A couple weeks ago we rode 50 miles during a week-long vacation. Yesterday we did 15 miles at 11-12MPH.

    I am now ready to buy a road bike and start riding regularly. Our subdivision is large and low traffic - probably 8 miles without overlapping. We also have three very nice bike paths - one is 1 mile from the house and the path is approx 10 miles, and then the other two are long (30-50 miles) and an easy drive from the house. I don't feel comfortable on the road yet, so I plan to stick to the paths for the time being. I envision a good ride being 30 miles at 14-15 MPH, and I think that this is within my wife's capability also.

    I started shopping today. I would like to spend $500-1000 for the bike. I guess the first thing I need to decide is flat bar vs. dropped. I test rode in store and the drop bar does feel odd, but I guess you get used to it. I'm wondering if it is overkill for my first bike and if I should start with something more familiar and plan to upgrade in 2-3 years if I continue to improve.

    LBS #1 recommended Specialized Sirrus Sport and Secteur Sport Compact. I asked about my weight and was told no special equipment, even wheels. They also sold Giant but suggested that the longer wheelbase Specialized would be more comfortable for me and therefore didn't show any Giants.

    LBS #2 recommeded the Fuji Roubaix 2.0 for drop bar and Scattante FR-330 for flat bar. He suggested HD wheels (Mavic) but only after I rode for a while and wore out the original wheels.

    I have a couple more places to go to see Trek and Cannondale. I don't have great feelings about the advice from either place yet. I think that I liked the Specialized bikes better, but not entirely sure why.

    Comments greatly appreciated. Spending a lot of time reading here trying to glean all of the great advice for parts and gear specially tailored to my size.

  2. #2
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Go with drop bars. Most ride on the flat parts, curves and hoods. The drops are for fast riding. You have more comfort with drop bars. More places to move around on long rides.

    Wheels, 32 or best 36 spokes. Get them checked and serviced every 2500 miles.

    A friendly bike shop is more important than the brand of bike.
    Just get a bike that has a good fit.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member dbikingman's Avatar
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    I would recommend a drop bar bike, I think in the long run you would be happier. Especially if you plan on riding on a MUP or road mostly. That being said I like the Sirrus, for a flat bar bike. Ride all the different bikes you can and you will get a feel for what you like. At you weight I wouldn't worry about any special requirements for your bike. I started out a little above your wieght and road stock parts with no problems. I will say that I am easy on my bike. I also asssume that if you are just starting to ride, you will probably want to adjust you diet and start losing some weight which will happen quickly at first unless you are already on a weight loss program. This will lessen the need for beefier parts and increase your enjoyment. I've lost enough weight that I am needing to get refitted for my bike.

    My only other advice is think about keeping the MTB and riding that for awhile or buying a used bike. Doing 15 miles on a MTB at 11 -12 mph is respectable. I like to suggest that you ride what you have until you get a good base, because the bike that feels good today may not be the bike that feels good after you are in better shape. I found that after riding for awhile I was in better shape, more flexible and had more knowledge of what I wanted/needed drop bars, compact crank vs standard crank vs triple, tire size just a variety of questions that you answer as you ride and learn the area you ride. Some would recommend getting in a 1k miles before deciding on a new bike since you already have a bike to ride. If you have money burning a hole in yoiur pocket you can purchase thinks like bike clothes, tools, shoes, pedals, and other accessories that will transfer over to your new bike.

    Welcome to the forum. And as a side note the smart money is on your SO ending up with a better bike than what you get

  4. #4
    Senior Member dbikingman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
    Go with drop bars. Most ride on the flat parts, curves and hoods. The drops are for fast riding. You have more comfort with drop bars. More places to move around on long rides.

    Wheels, 32 or best 36 spokes. Get them checked and serviced every 2500 miles.

    A friendly bike shop is more important than the brand of bike.
    Just get a bike that has a good fit.
    +1

  5. #5
    Born Again Pagan irclean's Avatar
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    I agree about keeping the MTB - a tune-up and a set of slick tires might just give that Schwinn a whole new personality. Then you can take your time choosing your dream bike as you continue to get stronger (and hopefully, leaner). In the end you end up with your dream ride and a reliable back-up bike with priceless sentimental value. It's a win-win!
    Gettin' my Fred on.

  6. #6
    Perma-n00b Askel's Avatar
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    My advice... Damn the budget, buy the bike(s) you really want. The one that you just *have to* ride.

    Until cycling is fully integrated in your lifestyle, you'll find a zillion reasons not to ride. Best make sure one of those isn't your bike.

    Another category to look into: cyclocross bikes. Eminently practical, well built (clyde friendly!), and they sure aren't your dad's frumpy looking touring bike or mom's hybrid.

  7. #7
    Senior Member CACycling's Avatar
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    When I started riding again 3 years ago, if you had told me that I'd be riding a road bike with a list price of $2K I'd have thought you were high. After putting 1K miles on my old MTB, I was planning to upgrade to a new MTB but the folks around here convinced me that a road bike was a better choice. They were so right. After a couple of lesser road bikes ('77 Schwinn dumpster find followed by a new, entry-level road bike), I bought Fujis for my wife and I and we love them.

    As you mentioned Scattante and Fuji, I asume you have a Performance Bike Store nearby. A little patience can get you a great deal at PBS. I picked up my wife's '06 Fuji Finest 1.0 and my '08 Fuji Roubaix RC for under $1K a piece (around 50% off list on each) plus, with the buyers club and coupons, got almost $300 in additional merchandise for free.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbikingman View Post
    And as a side note the smart money is on your SO ending up with a better bike than what you get
    Of that I have no doubt....

    I appreciate all of the advice. In other hobbies where I have more knowledge, it sounds like the same type of advice that I would be giving. Part of the drive for a new bike is on principle. It's been almost a year since I completed a very important two year commitment at work. About part way through the project, my wife and I hatched this idea that I would get a good bike when I finished. Both she and my Mom want to see this happen, and I believe that in the work-intensive world that we live in, not following through on the reward part leads down a bad path. I think that I agree with the advice about just changing tires on my current bike, but like I said I think this gesture is important in terms of the principle, too.

    Between kids reaching an age where we are chasing them around to their activities and a decent amount of work travel, I think that I am being realistic in saying that my goal is one good 2 hour ride per weekend. If I can do more then that's great but I don't want to set myself up for failure and unreasonable expectations about how much I can do, including expanding to a lot of road time away from the paths.

    Thanks for all of the helpful comments. I'm learning a lot reading through the pages of advice in this section.

  9. #9
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    LBS #2 sounds like Performance (Scattante is their house brand). My only experiences with Performance lead me to question if you'd get the same service that I expect from a good LBS. Making sure the bike fits, and getting all the adjustments just right, is part of the service I expect - and I've seen the local Performance outlet just sending folks off on bikes without even a rudimentary fit. Maybe the one near you has better trained staff - or maybe what I saw was just the exception. I only go into Performance once or twice a year. BTW, I don't think there's anything wrong with the Scattante frames - if you're happy with the customer service at Performance and like the bike, then go for it.

    The advice on wheels - to run what the bike comes with until they wear out or break - is pretty good. However, if the shop detensions/retensions the wheels they generally will last much longer and you'll be a lot less likely to break spokes. Most affordable bikes come with machine built wheels, and the tension of the spokes is often not even. With heavier cyclists, this becomes important.

    JB

    Edit: Also see if the bikes will fit larger tire sizes. This becomes a matter of preference, but I like to run 25's and if my frame fit them I'd be at least trying out 28's. Most road bikes come with 23's or 25's. Wider tires let you run a more reasonable air pressure, giving a better ride with little compromise in rolling resistance.
    Last edited by jonathanb715; 08-17-10 at 12:02 PM.
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  10. #10
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    +1 on the wheels. Buy from an LBS who knows what they're doing and get them to ensure the wheels are properly tensioned before you take the bike home. As a sidenote, I'm surprised the Giant stockist didn't show you a Defy, which does have a longer wheelbase than a full-on racer, might be just as comfortable as the Specialized, and is a lot of bike for the money. I agree with everyone else about the drop bars, you won't spend more than 20% of your time in the drops but the variety of hand positions, the STI shifters, and the potential to get more aerodynamic when you want to push on, are worth having.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  11. #11
    Senior Member CACycling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonathanb715 View Post
    My only experiences with Performance lead me to question if you'd get the same service that I expect from a good LBS.
    My "LBS" has been primarily PBS for the past 3 years and I am comfortable saying no, you won't get as good of service. Our Performance has a couple of good wrenches but the rest would be more at home assembling xmart bikes. However, if you are patient, shop their sales and use their coupons, their prices beat Bikes Direct plus you can get a Fuji or Schwinn instead of Motobecane or Windsor (and have a brick and mortar store to come back to is there is a problem - like when the FD on my wife's new bike could not be brought into adjustment and they replaced it on the spot without question). If money weren't an issue I'd shop at a true LBS but it is an issue so it's PBS and the internet for me.

  12. #12
    Come here often? <wink> exile's Avatar
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    Go out and reward yourself. But beware, the wife will feel the need to reward herself also.

    If you are looking to go for more distance or time in the saddle then a road bike would be the way to go in my book. At the top of your price range ($1k) you might be able to get some good deals if you are willing to wait for a month or two when the 2011's start showing up (although some have I believe). Just keep test riding as many bikes as you can. From what i'm reading though there may not be that much of a discount, but wait and see if its not pressing.

    Otherwise like another poster mentioned see if you can spruce up your Schwinn. Put on some slick tires and maybe some bar ends to see if it feels like a new bike. Upgrade the pedals or saddle and see if that also improves feel or comfort. It doesn't have to be that expensive and things like the saddle can be transferred from one bike to another.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member CACycling's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by exile View Post
    Go out and reward yourself. But beware, the wife will feel the need to reward herself also.
    What's worked for me is to get wife a bike slightly better than the one I want first. Then it is easy to justify "catching up" to her level of bike.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rojeho View Post
    Hi all. I am early 40's, 6'1" and 260lb. Until recently I had never gone on a real ride. I have a 2005 Schwinn MTB from a generic big box that I used to putter around at 2MPH while the kids learned to ride. Recently remarried, and my wife likes to ride (she has a Cannondale hybrid). We decided this was something that we would do together. A couple weeks ago we rode 50 miles during a week-long vacation. Yesterday we did 15 miles at 11-12MPH.

    I am now ready to buy a road bike and start riding regularly. Our subdivision is large and low traffic - probably 8 miles without overlapping. We also have three very nice bike paths - one is 1 mile from the house and the path is approx 10 miles, and then the other two are long (30-50 miles) and an easy drive from the house. I don't feel comfortable on the road yet, so I plan to stick to the paths for the time being. I envision a good ride being 30 miles at 14-15 MPH, and I think that this is within my wife's capability also.

    I started shopping today. I would like to spend $500-1000 for the bike. I guess the first thing I need to decide is flat bar vs. dropped. I test rode in store and the drop bar does feel odd, but I guess you get used to it. I'm wondering if it is overkill for my first bike and if I should start with something more familiar and plan to upgrade in 2-3 years if I continue to improve.

    LBS #1 recommended Specialized Sirrus Sport and Secteur Sport Compact. I asked about my weight and was told no special equipment, even wheels. They also sold Giant but suggested that the longer wheelbase Specialized would be more comfortable for me and therefore didn't show any Giants.

    LBS #2 recommeded the Fuji Roubaix 2.0 for drop bar and Scattante FR-330 for flat bar. He suggested HD wheels (Mavic) but only after I rode for a while and wore out the original wheels.

    I have a couple more places to go to see Trek and Cannondale. I don't have great feelings about the advice from either place yet. I think that I liked the Specialized bikes better, but not entirely sure why.

    Comments greatly appreciated. Spending a lot of time reading here trying to glean all of the great advice for parts and gear specially tailored to my size.
    You really have 3 options at this point:

    1) Something more touring oriented, with drop bars nice and high (with spacers under, so they can be lowered later on) the ability to add racks, fenders and bottle cages at some point, nice medium gearing and the ability to go with wider tires.

    2) Get a hybrid similar to your wifes, with the idea that you can save your nickels and dimes for a set of nice bikes a couple of years down the road.....

    3) Take the Schwinn to a decent bike shop and get them to give it a good going over, swap the tires for something smooth, that takes decent pressure, it really depends on how well it fits and how much work it needs to make it work for you. If it's a big box bike, and it costs more then $100 to fix it up, dump it and move on.

  15. #15
    Senior Member spthealien's Avatar
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    The LBS should have showed you the Giants. The Defy series (they have an all aluminum, half Al/half carbon, and all carbon versions) are plushy and ride very nicely. Plus, I find your money seems to go slightly further with Giant than several other brands.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rojeho View Post
    ... and I believe that in the work-intensive world that we live in, not following through on the reward part leads down a bad path.
    I gave up way too much of my free time over about a two year period, doing software work on a couple of small venture projects. Before long, the hours got to me, especially spending the short summers indoors, in front of the blue glow of a computer screen. That finally paid off, and I got a very nice road bike as a reward for my efforts - I took it home Sunday evening. A fun "toy" that can only be used outdoors, is poetic justice for all the long nights wasted working.

    You should reward yourself.
    Don't believe everything you think.

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