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  1. #1
    Raleigh Fan
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    For the Cash-Strapped Buyer - What's Best Value in an entry-level Road Bike?

    I don't want to hear a load of negatives about bikes you've never ridden, or even been up close to. Please no bashing of Discount Outlet Bikes. Mainly, I want to keep the discussion friendly, prejudice-free, and the answers, strictly based on a rider's DIRECT AND PERSONAL RIDING EXPERIENCE. If you've had experience riding different makes at and near entry level, your comments comparing and contrasting what each has to offer, will be most valuable. No experience? Don't discuss it! Fair enough?

    It seems that the road bikes of today, would have more in common than those of yesteryear. I'd like to know where one is likely to get the most for one's money. In the beginner market, just how much bike can $300.00 buy? Is it always preferable to buy a new bike at the LBS, versus on-line? What about big retailers like Big5, REI, Sports Chalet, etc, etc? If you've heard from a lot of your cyclist friends, which on-line bike retailers have the best overall reputation for quality and customer service? How about your own experience good or bad that way?

    Thanks all,

    Big Bruce
    Last edited by BigBruce; 09-17-09 at 08:12 AM. Reason: adding a question

  2. #2
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    For your price the best bet is to find something used on Craigslist, ebay or at your LBS. IF you want something new i would probably go with a bike from bikesdirect.com, most new road bikes at bike stores that are 300 will be crap

  3. #3
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    specialized has a Steel allez for 2010 with tough wheels, fender clearance, and 8x2 drivetrain for

    $550.


    best price on a quality entry level bonifide road bike I've seen in a while. maybe schwinn has something like this too, don't know about raleigh.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  4. #4
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBruce View Post
    I don't want to hear a load of negatives about bikes you've never ridden, or even been up close to. Please no bashing of Discount Outlet Bikes. Mainly, I want to keep the discussion friendly, prejudice-free, and the answers, strictly based on a rider's DIRECT AND PERSONAL RIDING EXPERIENCE. If you've had experience riding different makes at and near entry level, your comments comparing and contrasting what each has to offer, will be most valuable. No experience? Don't discuss it! Fair enough?
    If you've been around bicycles long enough, you can get a good feel for what kind of bike you'll get for various price levels. I don't ride entry level bikes any more but I've helped plenty of people pick out entry level bikes of all varieties. By limiting your discussion to only those with DIRECT AND PERSONAL RIDING EXPERIENCE, you are attempting to silence those of us who have lots of experience with bicycles. Those of us with lots of experience can generally look at a bike and tell you if the bike is a good value, a bad value or something that's going to sit in someone's garage after 1.5 miles (the average mileage of HellMart bikes)

    The best value in an entry level bike is one that get ridden. Period. If the bike doesn't work or works poorly most beginners are going to throw their hands up and just quit.


    Quote Originally Posted by BigBruce View Post
    It seems that the road bikes of today, would have more in common than those of yesteryear. I'd like to know where one is likely to get the most for one's money. In the beginner market, just how much bike can $300.00 buy? Is it always preferable to buy a new bike at the LBS, versus on-line? What about big retailers like Big5, REI, Sports Chalet, etc, etc? If you've heard from a lot of your cyclist friends, which on-line bike retailers have the best overall reputation for quality and customer service? How about your own experience good or bad that way?
    I don't see why you would say that today's road bikes have more in common than those of an earlier era. A road bike is pretty much a road bike. Skinny tires, a frame, brakes, drivetrain, handlebars. Pretty simple. The only difference between cheap bikes now as compared to 30 years ago is the higher percentage of aluminum used on cheap bikes now. In the late 70s, frames were steel, wheels might have been steel, handlebars might have been steel, etc. Most bikes now...even the ones sold at HellMart...have much more aluminum in them. They are a bit lighter than older bikes.

    $300, however, doesn't buy much bike...not at a Big Box store anyway. Most of those bikes have very low end components that wear out quickly or are difficult to keep operating well. The Schwinn Varsity that HellMart sells, for example, comes in one size, has pretty poor shifter and derailers and weighs in at a svelt 32 lbs But that's going to be par for the course in $300 bikes. You can't get cheap and light.

    For about $300 more, you can pick up a Jamis Ventura Sport. The bike comes in sizes so that those people that aren't 'just average' (I'm about as average as you can get) can actually get a bike they can ride comfortably. A comfortable ride means that the bike will be ridden more and the person might progress from beginner to a higher level.

    The Jamis also comes with good shifters, good drivetrain, good wheels, etc. It's also 10 lbs lighter (22+ lbs) than the $300 bike. In the bike world 10 lbs is a huge weight savings! Also, at 22 lbs, the bike is pushing what was a world class bike weight in 1985. A 22 lb bike used to be a very fine, very expensive bike.

    As for where to buy: For a first 'good bike', a beginner should always buy from a bike shop. The bike won't be cheap...to begin with...because the bike will be assembled and checked by someone with some experience rather than by some kid who was working in the men's department last week. Out of the door the bike will work better and, like comfort, a working bike gets ridden. When something goes wrong...and it will...the bike gets taken back to the shop for adjustments. Most shops offer free adjustments for some period which is worth twice the extra money you pay. They might even show you how to do the adjustments yourself if you ask nicely.

    Not all Big Box stores are created equal, however. REI has trained bicycle mechanical staff who actually know what they are doing. That's why REI bikes are more expensive then HellMart bikes.

    For a beginner, I always council against buying on-line or used or Fleabay. If you are a true beginner, you don't know a derailer adjustment barrel from a star-fangled nut. You'll get a bike from an on-line retailer that comes in pieces. They may have instructions for how to put the pieces together but there is a little bit of art...black magic...to setting up a bike properly. Most newbies don't have a clue on which knobs to twiddle to get the bike to working well. If the bike goes to a shop to get the knobs twiddled, you can kiss your savings goodby!

    Used and Fleabay bikes require a eye to what to look for so that you don't end up with a broken and worthless bike...some of that black magic. A trip to the shop, a few upgrades here and there to keep it running, and you've ended up with a bike that costs the same as the Jamis but works half as well.

    Once you get some experience, you'll probably find that shopping in a bike shop is better all around. You can ask questions, ride a bunch of bikes, and get a feel for what you want. But by that time, you are no longer a newbie and will be shaking your head at their naivety.
    Stuart Black
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  5. #5
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Good entry bikes

    Giant Defy 3 $850

    Schwinn LeTour $700

    Trek 1.1 $660

    Specialized Allez double or triple $740

    Specialized Allez steel $610

    Cannondale CAAD9 7 $980 (a tad expensive but one of the best frames of the lot)

    Fuji Newest $750

    Jamis Ventura Sport $650

    All can be found for less than retail. The two outstanding values are the Jamis and the Trek. The Cannondale get honorable mention because it's a great frame...which is the heart of any good bike
    Stuart Black
    Solo Without Pie. The search for pie in the Midwest.
    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  6. #6
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBruce View Post
    In the beginner market, just how much bike can $300.00 buy?
    An entry level racing bike? New? I'd say "About half of one".

    Either up the ante or buy used. Probably both - $400 and some patience and research should be able to find a you a very nice used bike.

  7. #7
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    It might be worth checking Bikes Direct's site???

  8. #8
    Bianchi Goddess Bianchigirll's Avatar
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    I personally have not been in the new bike market for awhile except for a single speed. I really wanted a Bianchi San Jose but setteld for a BD Motobecane Fantom UNO. I am very satisfied with the quality of the bike.

    this being said I would recomend BD to a novice rider but you may still need to $400 to get a basic 'road' bike from them. if you are not familiar with working on bikes pay the $50 so at your local bike shop or maybe you can make a friend on Bike Forum to come and assemble for a nice Pinot Noir.

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...ington2_IX.htm
    Bianchis '87 Sport SX, '90 Proto (2), '91 Boarala 'cross, '93 Project 3, '88 Trofeo, '86 Volpe, '89 Axis, '79 Mixte SOLD, '99 Mega Pro XL Ti, '97 Ti Megatube, , '90 something Vento 603,

    Others but still loved,; '80 RIGI, '80 Batavus Professional, '87 Cornelo, '86 Bertoni (sold), '09 Motobecane SS, '98 Hetchins M.O., '09 K2 Mainframe, '89 Trek 2000, '?? Jane Doe (still on the drawing board), '90ish Haro Escape

  9. #9
    English Bloke
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    You may not want to hear it, but everything that cyccommute and meanwhile have said is bang on, and I can add little myself.
    Only to say that I wish I'd read their posts a year ago.
    "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty or safety" Benjamin Franklin

  10. #10
    Caustic Soccer Mom apclassic9's Avatar
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    I would suggest you ask around at the local bike shop - see if someone is selling a bike that is decent, and in your price range.

    Yeah, you're not BUYING a bike from the shop, but if you get hooked up witha bike you use, you'll be back for parts, accessories, and eventually, a new bike.
    As with mud, life, too, slides by.

  11. #11
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    Unfortunately, roadsters tend to be pricier than MTBs, or hybrids. Good buys can be had in the used market, but one must know what one is doing.
    I just sold a very nice Giant roadster for 300.00. It was almost 20 years old, but in excellent shape.

    If such a bike needed only a few repairs and you had to have the work done at a shop, you could easily double your money and it would be no bargain at all.

  12. #12
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
    It might be worth checking Bikes Direct's site???
    He said "good"

  13. #13
    Senior Member meanwhile's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
    >> It might be worth checking Bikes Direct's site???
    He said "good"
    He also said "$300".

  14. #14
    Senior Member rando's Avatar
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    Cigtech seems to like those GMC Denalis... (ducks, covers head)
    "Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world". ~Grant Petersen

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  15. #15
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    My first road bike was a Jamis Venture Sport and I still have it in the shed. I am waiting to upgrade the drive train before I put it back together but I do have all the parts for it. I have to say it was and is a very dependable entry level road bike. The Sora shifters and derailleur’s work well even if they were only 8 speeds at the time I got the Jamis. The rest of the bike is very serviceable and I will keep it as a backup bike now that I have built my Lapierre. If someone wanted a new entry level road bike I would have no problem recommending Jamis. I happened to get my on sale just before the new models came out for $500.00.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
    He said "good"
    ohh boy
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  17. #17
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Get around a few shops and saee if there are any 09 models still available at a price you can afford. Try to stay with Known names like Giant- Trek- Specialised etc. but I just managed to get 25% off a Giant OCR3 for a friend of mine. It was an 08 model but will do him for a few years.
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  18. #18
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    Being a bikesdirect.com bike owner I reccomend the bike from PERSONAL riding experience. It was a great entry level bike and the only reason I rebuilt and upgraded it is because my riding went far beyond entry level. The value for your dollar there is unsurpassed, and you can still build a relationship with the LBS by bringing it to them to assemble.

    THAT SAID...... You may find a better deal on an end of season low end Trek or Specialized that if you factor in the cost of putting together the BD bike it may come out the same. Both name brands are quality, as are many of the others mentioned by cyccommute.

    If you want to not only get a bike but get into working on your bike yourself, buy yourself a good bike mechanics book, and a Bikesdirect bike. You need no special tools other than allen wrenches to put it together, and you'll learn a lot about how a bike works.
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  19. #19
    Raleigh Fan
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    Here's some early info

    Quote: Cigtech seems to like those GMC Denalis... (ducks, covers head)

    There are very strong feelings generated by the real bottom-end bikes from WalMart, Target, etc.

    Now SHHHH - I own a GMC Denali, bought it about 2 1/2 months ago, have ridden about 8 times. I'm in the lousiest shape of my entire life - virtually NO endurance, or lungs, (just quit a 40-year tobacco habit in May 2009) and such a sedentary life from 1998 - now, I weigh close to 280 at 5'10". At age 57, you might say I recently came to some very hard conclusions, and getting into some kind of low-impact cardio-friendly exercise routine seems the only option I have if I want to enjoy a decent quality of life for much longer.

    I don't want to upset anyone's apple cart, (although I have to say that condemning ANYTHING without direct experience or direct knowledge, and relying on hearsay from 3rd parties, many of whom do have an axe to grind, strikes me as intellectually dishonest, the sign of a non-thinker, the potential lynch mob-member.

    MY experience with the Denali, has been good. Everything worked as assembled. Since purchase I've ridden all of 20 miles - Last time out, demonstrated best riding endurance yet, about 8 mile round trip course over a span of about 45 minutes. The Denali has a very comfortable feel on the bike path - somewhat reminiscent of the British Raleigh 10-speed I rode about 40 years ago. Quite controllable, and VERY comfortable. The Gel Seat has it all over the hard leather seats that were universal about 1970.

    The purpose of the Denali, was to be an inexpensive way of testing the waters so to speak - At $110 INCLUDING Sales Tax, HOW COULD I LOSE? I didn't, and I'm enjoying my ride experience, and realize that I definitely want to make cycling a part of my fixed lifestyle. NOW, (being my own man), I'm ready to START planning for the next bike. . . .

    The owner of the closest LBS, unfortunately doesn't do much discounting off MSRP. He frowned with intent disapproval when I told him I've been riding a Denali - much as if to say, ". . .and you're still alive to tell about it?" He showed me a Raleigh Road Bike, which lists at $600 and they sell for $580 (Big Wow), but he also said, they do twice a year services on the bikes they sell, FOR FREE, so if I kept the bike for just 3 years, I'd have saved about $350 on the price of the services, which makes some sense, but it also makes sense to learn how to do the services myself, and do brake and shifter adjustments, etc.

    To which end, I wanted to throw this out there. I found what the seller claims to be a 2004 Raleigh Technium 440 US Road Bike, for $130.00. A low-miles bike that looks very close to new, and should have a LOAD of life in it. Does anyone know how far into this decade production of this model has continued - It's damned near impossible to generate any meaningful info from Google, on this bike. Since they had the recall of the 1995 Technium, (which may have been the mountain bike variant), nothing much has been heard about these, and I wonder, in the biking community, does the Raleigh Technium 440 enjoy a decent reputation, or is it considered to be junk? I also wonder why Raleigh doesn't mention this model designation in any of their product catalogs I've been able to reference on the Internet?

    Another alternative I see, is the Motobecane on BD for $297.00 their most bottom-end model and there's another web-site where there are several entry-level Marin, Trek, Ralrigh, etc road bikes all on sale at $349.00. If you want to purchase on-line, this looks like a potentially less expensive route to owning a decent entry-level road bike.
    Last edited by BigBruce; 09-20-09 at 10:34 PM.

  20. #20
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Leader View Post
    Being a bikesdirect.com bike owner I reccomend the bike from PERSONAL riding experience. It was a great entry level bike and the only reason I rebuilt and upgraded it is because my riding went far beyond entry level. The value for your dollar there is unsurpassed, and you can still build a relationship with the LBS by bringing it to them to assemble..
    Being one also I can say that it's the biggest turd I ever purchased. Aren't opinions grand?

  21. #21
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
    Being one also I can say that it's the biggest turd I ever purchased. Aren't opinions grand?
    yes totally

    But to help out the OP, can you elaborate for him/her as to why?
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  22. #22
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rogue Leader View Post
    yes totally

    But to help out the OP, can you elaborate for him/her as to why?
    BB was junk. Cranks were low end no-name. Handlebars weren't even a standard size, and were actually sleeved with a split plastic sleeve which was then taped over to give the appearance they were the right size.

    Paint is absolutely terrible on it.... a fingernail will scrape it. Wheels are junk, with a no-name cassette on it. Cheapest chain money can buy. Not to mention that it weighs an absolute ton. 28lbs for a 48cm frame. It's not their low end either, it was like a $650 bike. Never, ever again. It sits in the garage and the kids ride it. In it's behalf, they haven't destroyed it yet and they're more than welcome to try.

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    Big Bruce: I've had three of those "technium" models (all refurbished and sold), the last one just a couple of months ago. I would be very surprised that Raleigh made those up until 2004. All the ones I've seen are strictly vintage....Late 70s or early 80s. The best have downtube shifters and decent Suntour components....Again, all thoroughly outdated bits.

    That being said, they are good solid bikes. Aluminum main frame tubes bonded to steel stress points and rear triangle. A nice compromise between light weight and stiffness.

    There were worries that these "bonded" joints might fail, but you still see plenty of these bikes on the road 30 years down the pike. Raleigh must have been doing something right.

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    I have a Dawes Lighting Sport that I got new from an ebay seller about 18 months ago (around $200). Have 800 miles on it. Can't complain. Initially though both wheels needed trueing and I had to loosen and move the whole front derailer to get it in a position to function correctly (along with expected/normal light assembly and derailer, brake tweaking). Chromoly frame. Alex rims (RP15F). Supposed to be model "2200" (I think) rear derailer (maybe front derailer is "2200" also, no clear model ID on either derailer other than Shimano). Old school/retro indexed shifting stem shifters that connect to the handlebar stem just above the headtub. Weighs around 28.5 lbs. (59 cm frame). Has two conventional chainrings up front, so no super-low gearing for climbing big hills if that is an issue. Tires not super flat-resistant, after about 500 miles I went with a thicker-skinned tire on the back wheel.

  25. #25
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    For reference which model did you get and how long ago?? Do they still offer it? I purchased mine just under 2 years ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
    BB was junk. Cranks were low end no-name. Handlebars weren't even a standard size, and were actually sleeved with a split plastic sleeve which was then taped over to give the appearance they were the right size.
    The one I have came with a Truvativ BB and Crankset, while its no Campy Ultra Torque like I have now, it did the job, and its spec'd on many lower end LBS models. That said there was some flex in it when climbing hard, which is one of the reasons I rebuilt the bike. It did the job fine for normal riding... Not so much for racing, but Its what I expected for a $500 bike.

    The handlebar thing I will give you, I thought that was wacky when I disassembled it. I chalked it up to being a cheap bike and moved on.

    Paint is absolutely terrible on it.... a fingernail will scrape it. Wheels are junk, with a no-name cassette on it. Cheapest chain money can buy. Not to mention that it weighs an absolute ton. 28lbs for a 48cm frame. It's not their low end either, it was like a $650 bike. Never, ever again. It sits in the garage and the kids ride it. In it's behalf, they haven't destroyed it yet and they're more than welcome to try.
    The paint on mine is great, however the paint on my friends Motobecane does not seem to be as nice quality wise. I guess it depends on the model. The paint job on mine (and other Mercier models) is more intricate maybe that explains the quality.

    I agree the wheels are junk (another reason I rebuilt it) however they are the same Alexrims offered on most low end models of LBS brands (my friends Allez was twice the price and had the same rims, and they sucked for him too). My cassette was KMC as was the chain, no shimano, but plenty of people here use them.

    Mine weighed 24 lbs (54cm) which is no lightweight, but again its a $500 bike. Check out the weights for most entry level bikes you will find similar weights. All this info is available on their website, so if the OP or anyone else doesn't like the component spec they only have themself to blame as its right there in black and white before you buy it.

    In the end, my entry level bike survived a whole season of Triathlon races, hard riding, etc. It worked fine when I stripped and rebuilt it, and I covered a good chunk of my cost selling the parts off it. I just wanted more performance, probably should have bought a better one when I got it, but I had no idea what I was doing, nor that I would even stick with this stuff for a long time.

    Overall its what you can expect for $500, and I cant see if youre in the market for it spending double the price when aside from the cheapo handlebars and stem you're likely to get the same thing.
    2009 BD Mercier Galaxy AL/Campy Veloce/PZ Aero Bars/Fulcrum 5's
    2008 Argon 18 Mercury/Dura Ace/Vision base Zipp Aero/Fulcrum 5's/Wheelbuilder Disc
    1992 Trek Antelope 800/Shimano 100/Some Cheap 26"wheel

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