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Old 09-23-04, 06:24 AM   #1
mitchj
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Need Help Switching to Road Bike

Hi Everyone - I've been riding a hybrid for a number of years now
(Univega Via Montega ) . This year I've got my most miles in ever and I'm
realizing, that as my speed improves, further improvement is limited
by my bicycle. So, I'm considering two options:

- putting thinner tires on my hybrid. Advantage obviously is that
its' the cheapest option. But, something tells me that I'll still
be limited by the bike's geometry... and a road bike is better. The
other thing is that I do quite a bit of cycling along the towpath
of a local canal (hard pack dirt & gravel) and I don't want to be
constantly switching tires back & forth.

- getting a road bike. Disadvantage is cost. I don't want to
spend more then $850.00. If I'm going to go this route, I need
some recommendations of good bikes/what to look for in this
price range. Bicycling magazine's website has a "bike finder", but
most of the brands they've come up with, I don't recognize. My
first inclination was Trek (since I know the brand), but it wasn't
even on thier list. Bianchi (another brand I've heard of) was on the
list, but the Brava they recommend has a steel frame (isn't that
heavy??). Also, keep in mind that I'm 45 years old, with an intermittently
bad back --- what are the advantages/disadbantages of the comfort
bikes (like the Trek 1200C) vs. the standard road bikes (like the Trek
1200).

Thanks,
Mitch
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Old 09-23-04, 06:35 AM   #2
DnvrFox
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Steel is Good for a road bike. Current fabrications of steel are quite light.

The difference in weight between a good steel frame and aluminum,carbon or titanium is of significance only to more "hard core" bikers, etc. Losing 2 pounds of body fat will gain you more.

Don't go by brand, go by what frame fits you best. Most road bikes are going to be of high enough quality that what you might want to look at are the components, not the brand of bike. Bikes are sold in two separate parts - the frame and the components, which are standard between bike brands.

Specialized, Bianchi, Lemond, Trek, Cannondale, etc., are all top quality, but will feature the same components, i.e., either Shimano: Sora or Tiagra or 105 or Ultegra or Dura Ace or similar Campagnola components.

Some claim steel will give you a better ride, but frame geometry is the single most important factor in ride, along with tires.

Some will recomment a recumbent if you have a bad back. Depends on the back problem, however. Bents are used by a lot of folks, and most bent riders love them.

Get thee to a good Local Bike Shop and start trying out bikes. Have them spec you out for what type of bikes will fit you best.

You should think about Shimano 105 (or comparable Campy) as your bottom rung of component quality. 105 will do just great.

FIT is the most important thing. Certain frames fit certain body build better. I.e., Lemond's frame fits folks like me with a long body and short legs better than some other manufactured frames.

Last edited by DnvrFox; 09-23-04 at 06:50 AM.
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Old 09-23-04, 06:55 AM   #3
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Excellent suggestions in the above post. A good bike shop to give you a good fit is a necessity. Get whatever bike fits your fancy and does the job you want it too. I used to ride a road bike. This spring I started a conditoning program by getting back on the road bike. I decided to switch to a recumbent. It was a choice I've not regretted in the least. I do some commuting now. I find myself riding more and even joined a cycling club to do some organized rides. A recumbent offers many advantages to us "seasoned" cyclists. They are fun, comfortable, and fast. I will not ride anything else now.

'bent Brian
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Old 09-23-04, 07:41 AM   #4
DieselDan
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With a budget of $850, you could buy a new wheelset for road use to put on oyur hybrid. Then you'd just need to swap the wheels out to go between road riding and towpath riding. You could even customize your gearing between the two wheelsets. With quick releases, wheel changes aren't very difficult. Get an inexpensive repair stand if your back is giving you trouble changing wheels, and you may still be under budget enough.
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Old 09-23-04, 12:06 PM   #5
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A little background reading on various styles of road bike.
Bruce Gordon has an educational rant on race vs touring bikes at http://www.bgcycles.com/bruce.html

Torelli, importer of fine, traditional Italian steel bikes has lots of good info (rather than marketing hype) on standard racing bikes.
http://www.torelli.com/home.html?default.shtml&1

Points to decide: do you need threaded attachments on the frame to take fenders (and possible a light luggage rack). If you do, its better to get these on your frame from the start rather than struggle to attach stuff to a clean race-ready frame.
Do you need gears suitable for a racing athlete or a leisure rider: the latter usually chose a triple chainset.
Do you want a frame designed for a low aerodynamic racing position, or one with a more relaxed (higher) position for slower, longer rides.
So called Comfort bikes are kind of marketed at newbie leisure riders, as opposed to "serious" race bikes but in the UK we have a branch of serious endurance riders (called Audax), who put together very light , high quality bikes along those lines.
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Old 09-23-04, 12:07 PM   #6
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I, too, just got a roadbike with about your budget. I found that even Shimano 105 parts pushed bikes into the $1000 range, and I just was not prepared to do that. I ended up with a specialized allez with sora/tiagra parts ($620, so my budget can accomadate clipless pedals eventually), and it feels like a dream to me after my mountain bike. I figure if I get really into it (I mostly run), then I'll need somewhere to upgrade to, right? The other bike I was considering was a fuji roubaix, which I often hear described as a good value. My parents (dad also has sort of a bad back) love their raleigh roadbikes, and have put a lot of mileage on them.
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