What to buy
I'm 55 yrs old. Havent riden for a long time. Just lost 38lbs and ready to start riding. I want to buy the right road bike. I've been looking at Bianchi and Masi. Sure could use soeminsight from those with expereince. Appreciate any help you might give.
As you are likely aware, a bike purchase generally has two parts:
Originally Posted by JackT
1. The frame, which gives the bike its brand name (Giant, Lemond, Bianchi) and can be made from steel, aluminum, carbon, titanium, and I have heard of magnesium? or combinations of materials - i.e., a carbon fork with a steel frame; these vary in quality and weight, i.e., Reynolds 853 is a high quality, low weight steel. There are tremendous debates about what material is best, generally some combination of ignorance and knowledge, and conflicting theories of materials and construction. Frames can be sort of "standard" or "compact" or they can be differently shaped such as a recumbent, hybrid (sitting straight upright), etc.
2. The components, such as Campagnola (Campy) or Shimano, and each of these brand names has different levels of quality components, i.e., Shimano has Sora (24 speed with different shifters and the cheapest), Tiagra, 105, Ultegra, Dura Ace, each costing more and supposedly higher qulaity and less weight, and Campy has Record, Chorus and others.
Usually, your bike from the standard Local Bike Shop (LBS) comes with a preset package - a frame and a component set. For example, my Lemond Buenos Aires came with Shimano 105 components.
So, you need to look at both components and frames, and your wallet.
Given everything said above, it is all less important than how the bike fits you, and what you are going to be using the bike for and your riding style.
Once you decide to get a bike, a good Local Bike Shop should spend some time with you discussing your riding experiences, how much you will be riding and over what kind of terrain, and what you want out of a bike (speed? dependability? low cost?). Then you should get properly measured on some sort of fitting machine or with certain vital lengths of your body. Most important is the length of your legs as compared to the length of your upper body. One of the most important dimensions is the length of the top tube. I have very short legs and a loonngg upper body, and am hard to fit. There are many other dimensions - seat height, bar height, etc., which are important, particularly for a road bike and for what comfort level you might want and degree of "bending forward" of your upper body. The least important on a road bike is the clearance between your crotch and the top tube when you are standing over the bike (standover height).
Anyway, they all cost a lot, but some a lot more than others. John Kerry has a Serotta at about $10,000, I have a Lemond BA which cost $1,600, and I also have a Winsdor Leeds (Sora) which I got brand new on the internet new for $290.00 (but I knew what size I needed from past experience).
And you know what - they all get from one place to the next in about the same time!
(I am 65yo, and didn't start serious riding until I was 58yo - so you are not unusual. Have fun!)
Last edited by DnvrFox; 11-29-04 at 07:02 AM.
Live to Ride,Ride to Live
I am a great fan of offroad or cross type bikes, and that has a lot to do with the fact that I really do a lot of all terrain riding, taking dirt roads, singletrack, pavement, or whatever I encounter, and a strict road bike isn't that conducive to that kind of riding. I do this mainly because the roads where I live have practically no shoulders so I stay off them as much as possible. Also, when road riding I will often ride long distances (50-100 miles) even when I am by myself, so I want a comfy bike.
Originally Posted by JackT
I has a Bianchi I liked a lot once, but I am a great believer in steel frames. I would just as soon have fat tires, whether they are slicks, treaded, knobbies, or snow studs (yes, there are people who DO ride in snow, although singlespeeds and fixed gears are best suited to that because derailleurs will freeze up), and a steel frame, for long distance comfort. I'm not going to break any speed records, but I am not trying to.
Whatever you do, don't get cheap. You get what you pay for.
I'll second DenverFox's post: style, fit, frame, and components. One of the issues with this forum is that sometimes (particularly with this question - it comes up a lot), the respondents have very definite opinions which can be a little misleading because someone like you (or me a few months ago) lacks the perspective to know what's fundamental and what's not.
Originally Posted by JackT
My insights: road bikes are more and more commoditized - if you go with one of the well known brands (Trek, Cannondale, Giant, LeMonde, etc.), you'll find that they are competitive. It is very unlikely that you will buy a "lemon" or "get taken for a ride" if you go to a few LBS'es (local bike shops) and spend some time talking to them about your needs - you will get the picture fairly quickly about the major parameters. Honestly, as with a lot of consumer items, you probably won't know what your "dream bike" is until you have ridden a modern road bike for a while to find out. People here tend to argue a lot about frame material (aluminum, steel, carbon fiber, titanium) and components, but a lot of this is pretty subjective. For example, a lot of folks say that "aluminum frames yield a harsh ride", but others will consider this "responsive". So listen to what others say, but you're the one that's going to ride it, so you should spend as much time as you can just testing out different bikes. At this stage of the game, you should probably be more interested in how the bike feels when you ride it, turn, stop, than in whether you'll be able to edge out Lance in a duel up Alpe D'Huez because his components are a few grams lighter. You can always upgrade components. Make sure that you get the right size and are fitted properly, because this would be the toughest thing to live with if you don't.
In my case (I'm 53, haven't ridden a roadie in a long time - just a mtb), I knew I wanted to spend about 1K. I looked at Trek, Specialized, and Cannondale. Most models in my range were aluminum frames with carbon fiber forks (cf absorbs shocks). Carbon fiber or Ti frames are another click up in price. I rode them all, and while I would notice more differences now, at the time they all seemed similar. I thought the Cannondale was the most responsive and that felt good to me, so I went with that. It has Shimano 105 components which have functioned flawlessly so far.
One thing that you do want to think about (which I did not) is whether you pick a "double" or "triple". This refers to the chainrings (the gears on the front). The standard is a double (two chain rings), but they also make triples (three chain rings). The main advantage to a triple is that it has a very low gear (sometimes called a "granny gear") which you would use to go up steep (or long hills). If you live or plan to bike in a hilly/mountainous environment, you should consider a triple. If you're a flatlander, a double would be more appropriate. I live in a hilly place (not mountainous), so the double is okay, and pushes me to work on my climbing.
As this is the end of the model year, you may find some good prices now on '04 models. Also, you'll end up spending additionally on helmets, pedals, shoes, water bottle cages, pumps, tubes, patch kits, etc.
Finally, I took a "basic repair" course at the LBS which was well worth it. I won't be building wheels anytime soon, but I can do most of the basic adjustments, change a flat, etc. now.
Time for a change.
Originally Posted by DnvrFox
You can take 5 identical bikes from 5 different manufacturers, and they will all feel different, so make your choice to a great extent on comfort. I ride off road, and have a very good friendly LBS who took time and care on sorting my last new bike. I did not care what make it was, but it had to fit. I went for a smaller frame than I would normally, but had the seat post changed to compensate for it, to bring ride height up to normal. I wanted a higher stem then so this was changed aswell. The tyres were rubbish, so I got a good deal on new tyres, providing I donated the supplied ones to a local charity that they assist. They also put me off Disc brakes, which are the current rage on MTB's, as my type of riding is better suited to V brakes, so They saved me a few £'s aswell.
I do not know if it is the same on road bikes, But one frame will appear on several grades of bike. The difference being the groupset that is fitted. Once I had the frame to fit me, I then chose the groupset to fit my wallet.
I have now realised that Over the past few decades, I have been riding bikes that do not fit, are uncomfortable, have occasionally not worked properly, and I have been guided by fashion and not requirements. Thank goodness that I have finally done what My LBS told me to do and that is to listen to what they are saying.
By the way, I can vouch for the quality of Bianchi, as that is my new solo, along with the 10 year old Kona Explosif that I cannot part with as it is such an excellent bike, And the quality of the Dale Tandem is now excellent, but cost double the cost of the bike to get to my requirements
If you haven't ridden in a long time, then maybe you only think you want a road bike. I would say that a good used one from a reputable LBS would be an idea to chew on. This way, your investment would be minimal and if you really get the bug, you can springboard to the bike you really want.
I have sold many road bikes to older customers who "were getting back into cycling". And then they found the position was not as comfortable as they remember it being when they were young and numb. So after some flirtations with a road bike, quite a few come back to trade for something more comfortable, or they hang the bike in the garage and move back on the couch.
Of course, this is not always the case. But I have seen it too many times to not at least mention the possibility.
I am 53. I found a typical road bike bent me too far forward.
Gave me some real interesting pain. I have the longest, steepest
stem they make on my bike.
In the last couple years. the bike manufucturers have discovered our wallets. They make bikes that are fun, but more forgiving, and less bent over. So you have a ton of choices.
1) Hybrid (IMHO- bleecchhh)
2) Traditional sporty bike..
3) Noveau sport bike... Specialized Sequoia and it's hundred imitators
4) 'Plush' high performance road bike.. Specialized Roubaix, trek Pilot, Litespeed Classic, Habanero ( http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/habanero.html -really nice bike- ) etc
5) Other possiblities include touring bikes and cyclocross but their
not a perfect fit unless you plan on camping or getting muddy.
You can see there's a lot to chose between. Try a bunch of bikes, remember that adjust for inflation a '69 Schwinn varsity would be about a grand. Bikes get interesting (again, my opinion) around a grand. $2K is where you start seeing really nice frames and components. There are some great deals on leftover 2004 models. And if you want my real opinion, call Waterford, they'll make one just for you. I don't own one, I work on the other side of the country from them. I just like their bikes.
Live to Ride,Ride to Live
This is absolutely true: the best bike in the world isn't much fun to ride if it's uncomfortable for you.
This is your basic Stratolounger:
Last edited by michaelwlf3; 11-29-04 at 06:18 PM.
I've been getting back into biking, and went the second-hand followed by a better second-hand route. My own 2 eurocents would be to either work out what fit you need, or get measured or fitted at a reputable LBS. Also, I'm sure you're aware that different frames have different geometries, and as I found out the hard way, not all frames are suitable for all riders.
At 53 I got back into cycling this spring. I found I could no longer tolerate The riding position of a DF road bike. I opted to go 'bent. Since then I've never looked back. It is just a thought you might want to explore. And it you thinK there are lots of road bike offerings I think there are far more variations of 'bents.
Having just barely gotten back into biking, I would suggest:
Originally Posted by JackT
1. Ignore the web comments about sizing a bike. Compact frame makers like Giant use a different system than traditional. Let the local bike shop, [LBS], size it for a proper fit for you.
2. Don't get locked into a brand: either of bike manufacturer or component "quality level". Too much of this is subjective. Just make sure your bike is a commonly manufactured bike and compenents are at least average.
3. Figure out what type of riding you want to do:
A. weekend touring?
C. bike trails
D. enjoying the scenery and taking your time, or pushing, pushing, pushing
E. Off paved road, i.e. mtn biking?
F. mostly level or mostly hilly?
G. Fair weather only, or in the rain?
Depending on your answers to the above, your perfect bike will vary.
4. To get a rough idea of bike's abilities from users, go to the review forums, these are sister forums. The first will cover basic bikes, and second will cover most components or accessories you might want to add.
5. Shop at least 3 LBS to make sure you are getting good advice and not just being shown what's available at that LBS
6. Test ride at least 5 bikes, and retest ride on a different day at least 2 bikes.
7. Before you take delivery of your bike, be sure to review your needs and ask the LBS if the standard gears are right for your needs. The LBS can change gears to better match your desires at no cost to you.
Bikes have improved and riding is more fun than it used to be because even thought the body doesn't work at well, the bikes work better and you will be addicted quickly.
I am 62 and not typical. I elected to start daily commuting 6 years ago. I quickly moved from a $600 flat bar bike to a mountain bike then to a Cannondale T2000 touring bike. Find local bike shops you can trust. Find one that will fit you professionally. In my case the big box store bikes were never an option. I can destroy components on cheap bikes in hours.
HiYoSilver hits most of the nails. I find the older I got the more I was willing to spend to be comfortable. Your type of riding can change. Donít be afraid to change bikes or add to your collection. I like some offroading but most of my riding is done on pavement for extended rides now. I still have all three bikes.
At 55 get a triple. You may use it very little but when you find that steep hill you will thank me. Get disk brakes. They stop when wet. Get the best components. I may be a minority but I find any bike at or under $1000 has reduced levels of components. If you can afford it, consider a custom made bike. Everyone I have known with custom made bikes have said they would never buy another bike off the shelf. That is my direction now
Join a bicycle club. What a wealth of information. They also provide group rides for regular riders and those new to the sport. Sometimes the local club will also get discounts at LBSs.
I am fifty and I have a Bianchi steel which I bought back in the days of 6 speed. And I have to say that I still to this day love this bike. But what I've learned now from all the years of cycling is this, you need to have the bike fitted to your comfort zone in many ways. The stem height, the seat comfort: pertaining to width, design, and material, and the reach to the bar. As for the components of the bike, that is up to you on how much you are willing to spend. The more the better the equipement, and then it depends on how much you are going to ride, if not a lot then there is no use in buying an exspensive bike. I have a custom DEAN Titanium frame that I had assembled on my own, and what I have learned from all the years of riding was put into my dream road bike. That would be the seat that worked for me, also the type of seatpost, the length of the crank arm, the type of stem and length, the carbon fork, the type of drop handle bar that appealed to me, the type of clipless pedal, Ultegra groupo components, and even the way the bar tape and the way I taped it was a factor for me, and finally the wheels; who can forget that. I laced my own Velocity aerohead rims with DT revolution spokes laced radially except for the drive side where I did three cross with 14/15 gauge. So what does this mean, I have the bike set up exactly the what I want it to be, and you can't buy that off the showroom floor of any bike shop. That's after purchasing 8 bikes in my life time.
Last edited by rmwun54; 12-13-04 at 03:19 PM.
Originally Posted by CRUM
Hybrids are nice, but for pure efficiency, I feel the road bike cannot be equalled on smooth pavement. That said, I ride occasionally with another older gentleman that walked out of a shop with a brand new Trek 5200...........................with comfort bike handlebars on it, and a comfort bike stem. The shop switched the shifters to MTB shifters, and it rides along quite well in a very comfortable position. As people on bikes, we're seen as "unconventional", yet so many of us get stuck in conventional categories within the cycling community. Each individual should stick with being "unconventional" and do what works for them.