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Old 08-30-06, 06:56 PM   #1
PoloStep
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newbie help: Differences in Road Bikes

What's the difference between my $250 used Nishiki and all the other road bikes I see people using, like Bianchis, Fuji, Treks, etc.

What's the difference between a $500 and a $5000 road bike (other than carbon fiber components)? What's the difference between all the frame angles, fork designs, axles, etc., in relation to ride performance? What do those bikes do that my bike can't? I just can't wrap my brain around the whole thing. I get so overwhelmed when I walk into a bike shop.

I would appreciate it if someone could either direct me to an online resource that will explain everything to me, OR a long drawn out response explaining everything to me - OR!, a phone call, or all three. I have larger philosophical questions about biking, as well.
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Old 08-30-06, 07:59 PM   #2
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Wow, that alot of question.

I'll start with:

Yes there are difference between them. But because of the law of diminishing returns, the higher you get on the price the less "improvement" you will see.

The others should take over.
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Old 08-30-06, 08:11 PM   #3
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Different bikes have different goals. Within road bikes, some are designed to be all-around bikes, some are designed to be comfortable while touring, and some are designed for performance. You'll see differences between bikes based on those factors.

When you move up the price range, you'll see the following differences;

Weight is reduced. Lighter frames, wheels, forks, tires, and other components.

Stiffness tends to increase, which means less power going to flexing the frame and more into going forward. This isn't an absolute, depending on the bike, and also because there's a trade-off between stiffness and shock absorption.

If you're looking at performance-oriented bikes, nimbleness will tend to increase. Different bikes are in different places along the spectrum - think sports cars vs sporty cars vs family sedans.

Aerodynamics will improve.

Brakes will get more effective.

Shifting will improve drastically. Expensive shifting systems shift *right now*...

Finally, the mechanicals will work smoother, as the more expensive components have better tolerances and better bearings.

Hope that helps.
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Old 08-30-06, 09:31 PM   #4
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Try www.sheldonbrown.com or several books on bikes in a good library.

A rule of thumb is: You can get it cheaper; You can get it stronger; You can get it lighter; You can get any two of these but never all three. Unless you have a Fairy Godmother and repeal the laws of Thermodynamics.
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Old 09-02-06, 04:03 PM   #5
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The expensive bikes you can dream of owning. If you set your sights lower, then you can own your dream.

Getting away from the rubbish bikes that are around- You pay for quality of parts- lightness of the frame and a name. A top racer will need a top end bike. The average club racer does not. A bloke that rides 20 miles a week needs a bike that works. A bloke that rides 100 miles a day- needs a bike that works well.

If you are fit and an accomplished rider- Take a brand like Bianchi and get a few test rides on a few models. You will soon find out what makes a more expensive bike better- or not worth it. If you notice no difference between a mid placed model in the range and your current bike then don't worry about the differences. However- after a test ride on a good bike- you would notice the difference.
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Old 09-02-06, 05:13 PM   #6
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Book stores and bike shops have lots of good books that provide an overview of bikes and bike design. The questions you have asked get hundreds of pages of discussion in those books.

A "good" used road bike from the 1985 to 1995 era often can be found for around $200 to $250 at a bike shop, or for as little as $25 at Goodwill or Salvation Army. The best of that bunch weigh between 21 pounds and 23 pounds, have excellent wheels and excellent drivetrains. They perform about as well as a typical 2006 road bike selling for $500 to $700.

What is the difference between a 2006 road bike selling for $600 and one that sells for $1,200? Very little that makes a significant difference in the quality of performance on the road. A $600 road bike provides about 90% of the performance of a $1,200 bike. And, a $1,200 bike provides about 90% of the performance of a bike selling for $2,000 or $3,000.

Any road bike that has first quality wheels and tires and that fits you well and weighs less than 23 or 24 pounds can provide excellent performance for fitness riding, recreational riding, and commuting. If and when you get a racing license, you could benefit from a 16 pound bike, selling for $3,000. But, for most cyclists, a $3,000 road bike is as "necessary" as having a Indy racing car for driving to Krogers for a loaf of bread.
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Old 09-02-06, 05:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PoloStep
What's the difference between my $250 used Nishiki and all the other road bikes I see people using, like Bianchis, Fuji, Treks, etc.

What's the difference between a $500 and a $5000 road bike (other than carbon fiber components)? What's the difference between all the frame angles, fork designs, axles, etc., in relation to ride performance? What do those bikes do that my bike can't? I just can't wrap my brain around the whole thing. I get so overwhelmed when I walk into a bike shop.

I would appreciate it if someone could either direct me to an online resource that will explain everything to me, OR a long drawn out response explaining everything to me - OR!, a phone call, or all three. I have larger philosophical questions about biking, as well.
There's a really big difference between a $500 and a $5000 bike when you come back to the rack and find it stolen

Other than that the extra $4500 may buy you a couple of percent performance increase but the other 98% is still the engine (you) With the extreme high end performance components you start losing reliability and longevity in exchange for lightness, which is fine if you're a pro using the bike for one climbing stage and every fraction of a second counts.

Go for comfort first then performance if you're not a pro, otherwise you won't enjoy riding and therefore will eventually not ride. That means test riding different bikes untill you find the one that just feels right. So what's the relationship between angles, fork design, ect? that's got little to do with price and everything to do with engineering - Google will get you there. In terms of components/gearing/drivetrain check out Sheldon Brown's site.... http://www.sheldonbrown.com/ it's the definitive source, Sheldon is also a member here.
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Old 09-03-06, 04:23 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shakeNbake
Wow, that alot of question.

I'll start with:

Yes there are difference between them. But because of the law of diminishing returns, the higher you get on the price the less "improvement" you will see.

The others should take over.
+1

One of the truest statements I've heard. Most riders can achieve their goals with a nice Shimano 105 or Campy Veloce equiped bike. Those are the ultimate bang for the buck groups out today. Yes there are lighter groups. You have to measure in grams not ounce to tell the difference though.

IMO, you can get a great riding bike for $1000 to $1200 If you buy online you can even pick up an Ultegra bike for that money. Good luck on your choice whatever it is.

Tim
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Old 09-03-06, 12:27 PM   #9
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And even shimano 105 is overkill imho for the rec rider.
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Old 09-03-06, 01:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ericgu
Different bikes have different goals. Within road bikes, some are designed to be all-around bikes, some are designed to be comfortable while touring, and some are designed for performance...
Hi ericgu!

You're completely right about different goals. Above a certain price point, though, almost ALL road bikes are "designed for performance" which is a polite way of saying "they're racing bikes." This has significant consequences:

Racing bikes have steeper angles and less "hands-off" steering stability
Racing bikes are lightened, sometimes to the point of fragility
Racing bikes sacrifice versatility for sprinting and climbing performance
Racing bikes, lacking mounts for racks and fenders, make poor commuters

What does this mean for the OP? It means that unless the OP is wanting to race (or to look like a racer) that her/his money is wasted above a certain price point. What might that price point be? It varies with brand, but I'd be willing to argue that above the $1,500 mark, you're primarily paying for racing features.

Some folks just like to ride racing bikes. The OP may be one of them. In general, though, the general cycling public is poorly served by racing design, IMHO. My opinion is certainly the minority on this forum, so value the advice at what you paid for it.
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