I've been reading the forums a lot lately learning as much as I can because I really want to get a bike and get into biking. I was at my local shop over the weekend to do some test riding. I was really pleased that based on what I was describing that I wanted to do, I was shown the bikes that I was expecting to have recommended. At any rate, the more opinions, the better!
I am looking for something for almost exclusively road riding, commuting from time to time, and maybe an occasional trail. I am not really sure that a road bike is the answer because I intend to stick with it, but I'm probably not ready to spend that much just in case, plus the roads aren't exactly in tip top shape around here. I do want a nice bike though. I rode a Trek 7.2 FX, a 7.5 FX, and a Giant FCR3. The 7.2 was really nice, the 7.5 was amazing...really light and really fast, but a little pricy. The Giant rode nice, but the seat was rather uncomfortable...the Treks were just more comfortable to me. I was really interested in the 7.3 FX, but they didn't have it in stock and they said that they can't get them until the next year's models are released.
So, am I on the right track? The other concern I had about a road bike was that I would probably be buying a rather low end road bike, so maybe it would be best to get a higher end hybrid with better components. Maybe this isn't of concern at all. Any advice for me?
Also, any recommendations on helmets? I don't need anything fancy, just something to keep me safe. How about locks? And, are computers worth having? I think it would be nice to keep track of the distance I am riding and the speed I am going. Any recommendations?
If seat is the only factor keeping your from a Giant, you can work with the shop to swap out with one you like. I don't think they would be able to put one of the stock Trek saddles on but they could swap in (maybe some cost) a saddle they do sell. You can a really nice saddle that way.
Sounds like you are on the right track. One thing to consider is that you may change how and what you like to ride in the next few years. If you are unsure, then don't go hog wild on this bike. Use it to see if you like the sport with the idea that you will get something a little nicer after you have some experience and opinions about what you want.
Get the most comfortable helmet you can. Giro, Bell, Limar and Louis Garneau are the largest sellers. Giro and Bell have the largest selections. Garneau used to only be low end but may have some middle and upper end models now. I bought a Limar recently. Most comfortable helmet I have ridden. Don't worry about the cost, you will likely have the helmet for years. If you don't it will likely be because it saved your noggin in a crash where you will be glad you had a good helmet. Most if not all helmets pass the ANSI standards, so they should be adequate. Some will just fit you better than others. By fitting you better, they should sit and stay in position rather than sliding around and exposing your forehead (most common ill fit). By being comfortable, it will not discourage you from riding and/or wearing the helmet. Remember with cost you are paying for some technology (vents and weight), but mostly for fit and comfort features.
If you have the spare cash for other stuff, I'd recommend comfort items first. Gloves (some people don't wear any). Good bike shorts ~30-80, depending on what you get. For a computer, I always liked the Sigma line. The BC1600 is what I use. I have used them for about 10 years now. I like having a cadence function. I don't use it often but I appreciate it for little sprints and challenges I do on my rides. Others have integrated heart rate monitors (hrm's) but I run a seperate one. I don't even use it that much unless I have some sort of event I am working up for. Then I become a slave to it.
I try not to go where I am going to be out of sight of my bike for very long. I have a cheapie discourage the quick snatch and grab type lock. I rarely use it. If you are in a major city and/or don't have good bike storage spend the bucks on the better all metal locks. I am not sure what is currently recommended but hopefully someone can chime in on that.
I like the idea of the fitness bikes but I don't quite get them. The look like sport-tourer type geometry with flat bars. I would figure riders would want a little more variety in their hand positions. For those of you that ride them, do these bikes go distance well? Maybe the seating is more upright than what the pictures might suggest.
1974 Schwinn Super Sport, 2003 Trek 7500FX and 5500
When I started back riding in early 2003, I bought the 7500fx, then $700. Great bike for a lot of fun or a solid work out. If you will be riding ANY off road, then the road bikes will be a pain. The FX series will work okay. Not great, like a mountain bike, but okay.
The more I rode, the more I wanted additional positions for my hands. I added bar ends. That worked for a while, but I then converted it to drop road bars and brifters for even more hand positions and a more road bike feel.
There is nothing wrong with a low end road bike. The FX's will have similar quality components, just not road components.
This spring I bought a 2005 Specialized Allez, an entry level road bike, on closeout for $499. It has a geometry similar to the FX. I added clipless pedals and changed the stock wheels for better ones. Now I have a bike that I really love for longer and faster rides. They don't get easier, just faster and further.
The helmet brands recommeded are all good. Fit is critical. The more holes, the more air flow in the hot summer. Lighter colors are cooler on the head and can be seen better.
I bought a Cateye Astral 8 computer for the FX. It runs speed, cadence, trip distance, total distance, ride time, average speed, and max speed. When I bought the Specialized, I was able to purchase a set of wiring cables so I could use the same computer for both bikes. Nice savings.
Good shorts, either road or mountain, are a must. Gloves are nice. As are wrap around sunglasses to keep the bugs out of your eyes. If they come with light and dark lenses, so much the better.
Don't forget a rear blinky light, a bike pump and water bottles. (I have found the white ones reflect more sunlight to keep drinks cooler longer. The clear ones work like a greenhouse.) A wedge beneath your seat to carry your ID, cell phone, spare tube, snack, and bike tool is nice to have.
I use a cable chain with a 4 digit combination lock.
The flat bar road bike/fitness style is quite good . It is much more agile and lively than a traditional hybrid and that flat bars and controls give confidence to newbie riders. The medium sized tyres (28-32mm) and gears are just about right too. Check that you have threaded eyelets for a rear luggage rack + fenders.
You dont need a high end bike for regular riding and midr range major brand machine is up to the task.
For commuting you may want to add rack and fenders. A U-lock is recomended for urban use.
Gloves are for safety if you take a slide. Waterbottle is pretty vital in summer and a puncture kit is useful anytime you are riding futher than you care to walk. A bag of some sort to store stuff is useful.
Computer is a nice to have rather than essential.