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Old 03-19-10, 09:14 PM   #1
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Biking for months in the gym - help me buy a real bike :-)

Hello all,

I'm totally new to cycling. Back when I was in middle school/high school, I had a small kid's mountain bike, so that's the only actual bike experience I have to draw from. I have been in the gym for the past couple of months training on a stationary bike, and now I'm ready to look into getting a real bike. I set a pretty ambitious goal this month of trying to do 30 miles (according to the meter on the machine in the gym) a day, but I ended up taking about one rest day a week.

I'm looking into either a cyclocross bike as a hybrid, or getting a road bike. The two versions I've looked at closely so far are the Tricross and Secteur from Specialized. I'm sort of wondering what I will be missing if I pick one or the other. For example, will I hate biking on trails if I get the road bike, or will I miss the speed if I opt for a cyclocross? My budget is pretty flexible, as well, so it would be useful to know what I ought to aim for in the first decent bike I buy. What features do you consider not worth passing up? Drive-train, brakes, aluminum/carbon, any information or preferences you can provide would be really useful to me. I'm planning on doing a mix of bike path/trail/road biking until I get a handle on what I enjoy the most.

I'm absolutely excited about getting outside and enjoying real cycling, but I need a little guidance

One last question - how much better is it to bike outside than on a stationary in the gym?

Last edited by Alopex; 03-19-10 at 09:20 PM.
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Old 03-19-10, 09:48 PM   #2
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IMO the cylcocross is a better buy... it will still be very streetable & plenty fast, especially compared to your old mtb. if you are planning on doing mixed riding, you would likely regret buying a road bike.

once you start biking outside, you will wonder how you ever managed 30 miles/day on a stationary.

as for what you shouldnt pass up... i dont know, I really like my cross bar brakes. the tricross has em. you can add em to any bike that doesnt. just make sure you feel comfortable on the bike. if you find it has components you dont love, you can always upgrade.
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Old 03-19-10, 10:26 PM   #3
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Real world biking vs stationary is like night and day. Wind resistance, balance (obviously you have ridden a bike, that's not a big problem) and flats.

Go to a bike shop and test out the bikes. Get fitted, make sure you test out the right size bike. Testing an improper size bike will cloud your decision. Take at least a 10 mile ride if possible, to see if the bike feels good.

Remember the bike is only part of what you will need. You will NEED a helmet. I have a tendency not to wear it on the canal path and when on my mountain bike on the road (rare these days) but when on my hybrid bike or off-road, helmet is 100% on all times. Trying to make my helmet wearing more...consistent... You might want cycling gloves, cycling shorts (they work!) some athletic shirts (the synthetic fiber wicking type, they are great). You should also have: water bottle(s), frame pump or micro pump, wedge bag (goes under seat) to keep a tire repair kit in, bell (?), chain lube, etc.

The tricross might meet your needs, but a Hybrid might do better yet. Go find a good bike shop and take a look around. See if you like anything.

You cant go wrong with Specialized...that is for sure!
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Old 03-20-10, 02:38 AM   #4
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As an "EX" mountain biker- I would say- decide what you want to do. If it is rough offroading then get a mountain bike- unless it is just roughish trails that are flat- then the Tricross would be OK. But if you are on the road for the majority of your rides with just abit of Trail riding on a smooth surface- then go for a proper road bike.

It is the correct bike for the use you are going to put it to.

I Mainly ride road and do not have a cyclocross type bike. The road bike has done a few dry unmade trails with the just care being taken at speed on the downhills to protect the wheels. Cyclocross bikes will work on the road- Road bikes will work on smooth trails- but both will put you at a disadvantage on the use they are not designed for. But I do have to admit that both could do either.

Gym training is good but road riding is completely different. Roads go up and down- have winds and traffic. None of which occur in the gym. You may have some good fitness- but remind yourself of that when you at the top of your first 2 mile 5% climb with a 20 mile headwind and a temp somewhere near freezing.

Several parts you should get right from the start. Helmet is a must and I would also suggest Cycling shorts and gloves. The rest can come later. For the bike you need a Spare tube- Puncture repair kit- Tyre levers and a Pump. All enclosed in a "Wedge"--A bag to fix it to the bike under the saddle. Water bottle and carrier you should be able to get free from the shop or new with the bike.

But my preference or anyone elses does not matter. Get out and test ride the bikes. The shop will assist you on sizing and one of the bikes will say- "Take Me home". But also test ride the Roubaix- a very popular bike for road riding.

Good choice on specialised but remember that you have a bit more pain to go through in riding a bike- Mainly Butt pain but as it is a Specialised dealer they will have a thing called an "Assometer" This will assist in getting the correct size and type of saddle from new. (Saddles are normally the first thing to change on a bike so get somewhere near the right one right from the start.)
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Old 03-20-10, 06:00 AM   #5
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Cyclo-cross bikes make good all-rounders for road and trail use. You can use fatter tyres if you prefer off-road and narrower, high pressure ones if you ride mainly on the road.
The lower end CX bikes usually have threaded eyelets for waterbottle, racks and fenders which makes them useful as commuters and even touring bikes. High end competition CX bikes have no eyelets and are not so useful outside of racing. Note that "low end" for CX starts quite high up the scale.
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Old 03-20-10, 06:19 AM   #6
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You have some decisions to make.

One option is to get a bike this year, and then another one next year. So you could get a cross bike or a hybrid and
in a year or two get a road bike.

A LOT of people get back into the sport, buy a bike, and then a year or two later get another one.

A cross bike would be a good choice. Traditional road bikes used to be called the Sport category. My bike
is a Gunnar Sport, for example. That category seems to be called Plush now.

Either way, they are a lot like a cross bike. Part of the reason is that many cross bikes aren't intended for racing.
They are for guys like you, that want a bike that can do well on the street and still bomb down fire roads.

Either one would serve you well.

If it fits. Getting a good fit as an adult is crucial. You'd be surprised how many people buy a bike too small.
Talk to the guys at every shop you visit about how they find the right size for a person.

Here's an example of a sport bike.

One of the ways you can tell a sport bike is the brakes. They will have 57mm 'long reach' brakes.
This will let you put on larger tires for a plusher ride.

Here's the thing... either a cross bike or a sport can take a 32c tire which will do ok on a dirt road.
But the better the tire is in the dirt, the worse it will be on the road....

My standard advice is this.. go to several shops, try a bunch of bikes. Buy the bike you love.
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Old 03-20-10, 03:03 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Alopex View Post
One last question - how much better is it to bike outside than on a stationary in the gym?
Well, the view changes, which keeps things interesting. On the other hand, you can't just zone out and pedal--or get too involved with the changing view.

Whatever bike you get, bear in mind that the purpose of your first bike is to teach you what you want and need in your second bike.

So if you take to cycling like it appears you will, no matter what bike you buy first, you'll soon be looking for a second bike.

I went through three bikes, one every nine months, until I figured out what was really important for me to have. Fortunately, I'd heard this advice and kept to the budget end of things while I sorted out my riding style, riding preferences, and what I liked on a bike. I still have and ride all the bikes except that very first one.
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Old 03-20-10, 04:17 PM   #8
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Have to agree with TSL- That first bike will not be your last. I rode MTB's for 16 years but 4 years ago went road. I knew nothing about Road bikes so I had two choices- Buy respectable or Buy cheap. I did not even know if I was going to stay on road bikes so I used my loaf and followed the rule that this bike was not going to be right for me as a first time bike and bought Cheap. A year later I had decided to stay in road riding and there was nothing wrong with my Giant OCR3- except it was the wrong size- too heavy- had crap wheels and I could do better.

So along came the Better bike- A lot better. I had decided to keep the OCR as a wet/ foul weather bike but one bad ride in a storm with 30 mph winds and the OCR had to go. So along came good bike no 2. Then a year or so later I wanted a respectable bike for commuting and the two good bikes were too good for everyday use. So road bike No.4 added to the stable- along with the Offroad tandem- The Two hardtail MTB's that I still used and the Ful suspension that I never use and the------

You might think Bikes are expensive- but so are 16' X 10' sheds to house them all in.
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