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  1. #1
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    Entry Level Road Bike Recs?

    Just starting to get into the sport. Not interested in hardcore training or racing, just looking for something both zippy and comfortable. I'd love a bike that I can push myself in for a couple hours, then do some sightseeing and exploring at a more relaxed pace, before riding home again, if you get the picture. I don't have a hard dollar limit, but I'd strongly like to keep it under $1000, and hopefully a good deal less than that. I'd really love some recs of bikes to try, preferably models that offer excellent value that more experienced riders have been impressed with.
    Last edited by Albatrosspro; 06-01-12 at 11:11 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member catonec's Avatar
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    So, a version of this question gets asked every 4.3 seconds around here. You are a newbie but are you the kind that knows how to assemble a bike or are atleast willing to learn how, or are you the kind that just wants to jump on and go. I would recommend learning how to assemble/ fix/ maintain....

    with that said if you are not skilled with wrenches and the sort Ill recommend just walking into your local bike shops (all of them) talking to the guys and getting a feel for what they like and what catches your eye in your price range.

    Bicycles come in different sizes and you want to make sure you are riding the correct one. while you are at the shops you can probably test ride a few in the parking lot and determine which feels right. there are also numerous charts and graphs to be found on the internet. It is not an exact science.

    If a little elbow grease and mechanical aptitude are kinda your thing then Ill suggest looking at the offerings from Bikedirect. these are my top picks for you. You will need to assemble these yourself or pay your LBS to do it for you (approx $100). You may also want to the wheels checked out/trued before riding them ($25).

    If your just starting out dont forget to allow some extra cash for the accompaniments such as a helmet, rear blinky light, water bottles, seat bag,.....

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...intour_xii.htm $999
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...rvus_al_xi.htm $899
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/fuji/fuji_sl3.htm $999
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...sprint_xii.htm $899
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...ntnoir_xii.htm $799

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...e_x_carbon.htm $1295
    2010 Kestrel RT900SL, 800k carbon, chorus/record, speedplay, zonda
    1997 Trek ZX6000, 6061w/manitou spyder, xt/xtr, time atac

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by catonec View Post
    So, a version of this question gets asked every 4.3 seconds around here. You are a newbie but are you the kind that knows how to assemble a bike or are atleast willing to learn how, or are you the kind that just wants to jump on and go. I would recommend learning how to assemble/ fix/ maintain....

    with that said if you are not skilled with wrenches and the sort Ill recommend just walking into your local bike shops (all of them) talking to the guys and getting a feel for what they like and what catches your eye in your price range.

    Bicycles come in different sizes and you want to make sure you are riding the correct one. while you are at the shops you can probably test ride a few in the parking lot and determine which feels right. there are also numerous charts and graphs to be found on the internet. It is not an exact science.

    If a little elbow grease and mechanical aptitude are kinda your thing then Ill suggest looking at the offerings from Bikedirect. these are my top picks for you. You will need to assemble these yourself or pay your LBS to do it for you (approx $100). You may also want to the wheels checked out/trued before riding them ($25).

    If your just starting out dont forget to allow some extra cash for the accompaniments such as a helmet, rear blinky light, water bottles, seat bag,.....

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...intour_xii.htm $999
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...rvus_al_xi.htm $899
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/fuji/fuji_sl3.htm $999
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...sprint_xii.htm $899
    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...ntnoir_xii.htm $799

    http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...e_x_carbon.htm $1295
    Thanks a lot for the response, sorry to clog up the boards with newbie stuff, to be honest I'm not sure why BF doesn't have a dedicated forum for newbie questions/beginners.

    As far as my mechanical aptitude, I have zero experience with working with bikes, and very little experience with tools (assembling a computer is about as close as I've gotten). I'd be willing to learn, however; come to think of it there are probably free or low-cost co-ops in my area where people could help me build one out of a box.

    However, I have a bigger question about your suggestion. I was just in a bike shop today, actually, test riding a Giant Defy 3 and talking with a rep. I happened to ask him about bikesdirect stuff (a friend had recommended it), and his response was that Mercier, Motobecane, Dawes, etc. are all brands that have been bought by Chinese companies and whose quality is now pretty questionable... the parts are all worth something to a connoisseur, but it's a big hassle for someone like me to deal with and the bike as a whole might not really be worth what I pay for it. I recognize he has an incentive to dissuade me from online stuff, but I talked to this guy for a while and he gave me like zero pressure, in general he came across as very honest. I guess I'm wondering what other people think? Does the bikesdirect stuff make sense for a beginner who might be willing to learn a bit about bike maintenance, but is far more interested in just getting out there to ride? I'd be a bit hesitant to do this, unless the savings really is that great and the quality is fine....

  4. #4
    Senior Member a1penguin's Avatar
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    Unless you purchase an expensive or custom bike, the frames are not going to be made in USA. The brand name bikes are probably made in Taiwan and BD frames are unknown, probably Chinese. The components on BD bikes are brand name and perhaps not always the latest model. The rest of the parts, stem, wheels, seat post, etc are probably not too different on the low end bikes. Most people are pretty happy with their BD bikes from what I've seen on these forums. Some specific models are quite popular.

    The newer generation Sora and Tiagra components shift very well according to many on this forum. But Sora has different shifters than Tiagra and people generally prefer the STI shifters on Tiagra. If you consider BD, you can get a nice 105/Tiagra mix bike for under your budget.

    The Trek 1.5 looks like it is comparable to the Giant Defy. You should definitely try other brands of bikes in your price range. Perhaps you can find a 2011 bike that has Tiagra components in your price range.
    2012 Cannondale Synapse 3, 2012 Trek 7.5 FX Disc, 2003 Trek 2200 WSD, 1997 Specialized Rockhopper Al Comp

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    I recently got my first road bike. Another vote for bikesdirect.com a great option if you're looking to buy new.



    Motobecane Mirage Pro ($500) Love the free shipping and no tax.

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    Oh nice, I guess I'm gung ho for BD now! Any other recs from there? Success stories? The Fuji that was posted above catches my eye, maybe just because it's a brand that is actually widely sold in stores as opposed to some of the others... maybe I'm being a little too paranoid about this though. Still, it's an awesome looking bike: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/fuji/fuji_sl3.htm. Is Shimano 4500 18 speed considered good? Still don't know much about gear options.

  7. #7
    Senior Member catonec's Avatar
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    as penguin pointed out, most bike frames are made in asia somewhere, now a days they are the experts. Motobecane is not the company it was 30 years ago but it is still putting out very nice frames. I ride a kestrel which is an american company (pa. 1987) but my frame was made in Taiwan. I had no reservations about it. I did not buy my frame from BD but they did carry it at one point.

    the fuji i linked to is pretty. your gearing options can be summed up like this. Your front chainrings (crank) will have either 2 or 3. your rear cluster (cassette) will have 8, 9, or 10, cogs (campagnolo makes an 11). so over all you will have 16, 18, 20, 24(rare), 27, or 30 gears. the number of teeth on each chainring or cog will dictate the actual cranking power available (the combinations are huge). For the most part, your extreme low gear and extreme high gear ratios will be equal (sorta) but the steps in between will be less with a larger cassette. there is a gear ratio calculator on sheldon browns web site.

    Shimano components are the "industry standard". they have a range of product lines from just functional to high performance. it goes from low to high, Sora, tiagara, 105, ultegra, dura-ace. 105 is a very nice compromise for the recreational rider. each level gets lighter and more "precise" in its action but also more expensive.

    ordering bikes online, although frowned upon by the bike shops is, your best way to save some cash on a brand new machine. Yes they will use components a year or 2 old, maybe use an off brand stem or seatpost, but it all translates to more savings in your pocket. I think you will get a bike with better drivetrain components and wheels for the same money as a lowend bikeshop bike for the same cash.

    Buying from a shop however will most likely give you a year of tuneups, and maybe a slight discount on some of the extra gear. Having a relationship with a group of techs and the support they can provide is more valuable to some people than the $300 they could save of the top. Just for your information and to add to the uncertainty and confusion.


    Learning bicycle mechanics is not that hard, there are some specialty tools used but you wont need any for an assembly (more for dis-assembly). There are numerous videos on utube that can walk you through almost any aspect of it. And if push comes to shove and your stuck, or cant get it just perfect, then you can bring it in to your co-op or lbs. good luck.

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    2010 Kestrel RT900SL, 800k carbon, chorus/record, speedplay, zonda
    1997 Trek ZX6000, 6061w/manitou spyder, xt/xtr, time atac

  8. #8
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    Ok thanks. Another thing I should mention is that I really want to be able to go on long rides, being out on the bike all day. Are there certain bikes (on BD for instance) that would be better for long durations? I'm a bit concerned with head tube here, since a friend mentioned that a very short head tube can be uncomfortable for newer riders over long durations.

  9. #9
    RT
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    +1 to all the stuff catontec said. Not much to add except that if you keep your bike in good repair, you should have no issues with long rides. The fit of the bike is worth tons more than the name on the downtube.

    As for the head tube, typically the longer the head tube, the more relaxed the geometry. This is supposed to equate to a more comfortable ride. I own one of each (short and long head tube) and can say that they both fit well.

    It's all about fit.

  10. #10
    Senior Member rebel1916's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by a1penguin View Post
    The brand name bikes are probably made in Taiwan and BD frames are unknown, probably Chinese.
    .
    BDs house brands are all made in Taiwan. I believe by Kinesis.

  11. #11
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    I should preface this statement by saying I have not bought my new bike yet. I'm still putting together the cash and as usual everytime I get the budget squared away the washing machine breaks or something. This time it was the extraction of 4 wisdom teeth that belong to my 15yr old son.

    But, the best advice I've gotten on the board was to visit my LBS. I went to 2 of them and learned more in that day than from all the reading I've done online. One of my shops gives you lifetime adjustments with the purchase of a new bike. That's huge for me. I'm very good with wrenches and have rebuilt one vintage bike minus paint, and upgraded components on 2 other bikes. But if I hit a dead end and can't get a new bike adjusted right, being able to take it to the shop without worry of cost is priceless in my book.

    Only problem is that it was the Giant dealer and I seemed to have developed a real diamond cutter for the Felt at the other shop.

  12. #12
    Senior Member a1penguin's Avatar
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    That CF fuji for $1000 may not be a bad choice. You are sacrificing better components for carbon fiber frame. I've never seen Shimano 4500. A quick search seems to indicate it's Tiagra. The wheels are probably pretty low end and heavy. But you can upgrade the wheels easily enough. I would recommend searching for reviews on any of the BD models you are thinking of purchasing.
    2012 Cannondale Synapse 3, 2012 Trek 7.5 FX Disc, 2003 Trek 2200 WSD, 1997 Specialized Rockhopper Al Comp

  13. #13
    Super Course fan redneckwes's Avatar
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    If you don't need the latest tech, there are some great deals to be found on the used market, it does take some patience however.
    http://bicyclenut.bravehost.com/Bicy...nt%20page.html

    The last two bikes on my list are a 50's Lenton Grand Prix and a '64 Raleigh Record.

  14. #14
    babylon by bike Standalone's Avatar
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    This is my usual advice: go to the "Classic and Vintage" forum. Ask around. Buy a decent old bike that is in good shape from CL. Become fast, efficient and safe on an said old school road bike. Then buy a more serious road bike-- one that your own experience will help you choose. Put fenders on the old one and ride it to work/in the rain/shopping/the bar/etc.

    Worked for me-- I turned in a 6 hour hilly century before really considering anything modern. And now, on a more modern bike (still only $350 used) I'm more mentally toughened up by being habituated to DT shifting 12 speeds, and believe that I am a better rider for it.

    The other bonus is that, with the upgrades/tuneup to the old road bike, your budget can be spent on a local CL seller, local bike shop, etc. Rather than sending $1000 "direct"ly to Taiwan.
    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. Christopher Morley

  15. #15
    Super Course fan redneckwes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Standalone View Post
    This is my usual advice: go to the "Classic and Vintage" forum. Ask around. Buy a decent old bike that is in good shape from CL. Become fast, efficient and safe on an said old school road bike. Then buy a more serious road bike-- one that your own experience will help you choose. Put fenders on the old one and ride it to work/in the rain/shopping/the bar/etc.

    Worked for me-- I turned in a 6 hour hilly century before really considering anything modern. And now, on a more modern bike (still only $350 used) I'm more mentally toughened up by being habituated to DT shifting 12 speeds, and believe that I am a better rider for it.

    The other bonus is that, with the upgrades/tuneup to the old road bike, your budget can be spent on a local CL seller, local bike shop, etc. Rather than sending $1000 "direct"ly to Taiwan.
    This /\

    I didn't want to say it, this being the "41" but Standalone nailed it. Old road bikes may be a little heavier, (21-24lbs for a decent one), but they ride great.
    http://bicyclenut.bravehost.com/Bicy...nt%20page.html

    The last two bikes on my list are a 50's Lenton Grand Prix and a '64 Raleigh Record.

  16. #16
    babylon by bike Standalone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redneckwes View Post
    This /\

    I didn't want to say it, this being the "41" but Standalone nailed it. Old road bikes may be a little heavier, (21-24lbs for a decent one), but they ride great.
    A quality bike shop can also set anyone up with a decent new bike that suits their budget. I started a relationship with mine when I was sold a basic fuji hybrid as a "get back into cycling" bike. Nothing wrong with picking up a Jamis or a basic Trek/Specialized road bike. Mid/entry level stuff is pretty cool too.

    But an old school route is a true path to a deeper understanding of the sport and yourself. So if you'd like to be a little zen about things and maybe learn to work on your own bike, a midlevel steel japanese road bike is a sweet spot for a serious newbie.
    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. Christopher Morley

  17. #17
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    I just checked out a giant defy 5 at the LBS, it was 650.00. seemed like a nice entry level road bike.
    Elitists suck.

  18. #18
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    I just bought a Trek one.five and love it.
    10' Trek 7.2FX - - 11' Specialized HardRock 29er -- 12' Trek one.five Road Bike

  19. #19
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    Wait sorry... are you guys suggesting I try to find a bike to buy from someone on Classic and Vintage? As in get it shipped from somewhere else in the country? Just not sure how this stuff works.

  20. #20
    Warning:Annoying to jerks RaleighSport's Avatar
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    >.> I just built a sub 20lb very fast bike for under 200... got my frame and fork from a fellow C&V guy... I wouldn't recommend it to a novice though.
    “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”


    ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson in His Journals

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by RaleighSport View Post
    >.> I just built a sub 20lb very fast bike for under 200... got my frame and fork from a fellow C&V guy... I wouldn't recommend it to a novice though.
    Yeah, that's my feeling about it, and I was surprised to see a few people suggesting it to me above. I've had bad experiences in the past buying bikes on craiglist, and that's when I actually get to test ride it. The idea of ordering something (a complete bike, not components) from a stranger online for several hundred dollars is... well, sketchy to me at best.

  22. #22
    Super Course fan redneckwes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albatrosspro View Post
    Yeah, that's my feeling about it, and I was surprised to see a few people suggesting it to me above. I've had bad experiences in the past buying bikes on craiglist, and that's when I actually get to test ride it. The idea of ordering something (a complete bike, not components) from a stranger online for several hundred dollars is... well, sketchy to me at best.
    Sketchy?
    Your safer, and probably ahead of the game in the long run, buying an older, high quality machine and having it checked out then you are with a base level mail order bike from bikesdirect. The only reason for a novice not to take it on is mechanical skills, but if you are having the mail order new bike built up at the LBS anyway...

    C&V will teach you what to look for, and how to separate the good deals from the junk, most C&V posters do all of there own work. You can, and probably should find your bike locally to save on shipping.

    Buying a new bike just so you don't have to learn about mechanics and maintenance is a sure fire recipe for getting constantly stranded and/or paying the bike shop to do everything. Any bike, ridden often will develop issues you will have to attend to, but learning on an older bike will present you with issues that a novice is capable of overcoming.
    http://bicyclenut.bravehost.com/Bicy...nt%20page.html

    The last two bikes on my list are a 50's Lenton Grand Prix and a '64 Raleigh Record.

  23. #23
    Warning:Annoying to jerks RaleighSport's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Albatrosspro View Post
    Yeah, that's my feeling about it, and I was surprised to see a few people suggesting it to me above. I've had bad experiences in the past buying bikes on craiglist, and that's when I actually get to test ride it. The idea of ordering something (a complete bike, not components) from a stranger online for several hundred dollars is... well, sketchy to me at best.
    Quote Originally Posted by redneckwes View Post
    Sketchy?
    Your safer, and probably ahead of the game in the long run, buying an older, high quality machine and having it checked out then you are with a base level mail order bike from bikesdirect. The only reason for a novice not to take it on is mechanical skills, but if you are having the mail order new bike built up at the LBS anyway...

    C&V will teach you what to look for, and how to separate the good deals from the junk, most C&V posters do all of there own work. You can, and probably should find your bike locally to save on shipping.

    Buying a new bike just so you don't have to learn about mechanics and maintenance is a sure fire recipe for getting constantly stranded and/or paying the bike shop to do everything. Any bike, ridden often will develop issues you will have to attend to, but learning on an older bike will present you with issues that a novice is capable of overcoming.
    After reading both those responses I'll clarify it a little. I wouldn't recommend buying a frameset and trying to build it from the ground up to someone in your position, now buying a whole bike from one of my C&V brethren, I can actually recommend since most all of them actually will be looking out for you rather then their own wallets.

    Example 1: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-with-Dura-Ace
    Slightly out of your price range.. but jebus look at that bang for your buck.
    “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”


    ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson in His Journals

  24. #24
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    Go buy you a entry level from a LBS that you like and will take care of you, this will take the worry out of the purchase for you, get you up and pedaling out on the road trips you have in your head and end the day happy.
    It worked for me on my FELT F90, over time I learned more about this road bike addiction that you too will develop, I have upgraded it over time into a bike I love and am happy with.
    Happy trails.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by RaleighSport View Post
    After reading both those responses I'll clarify it a little. I wouldn't recommend buying a frameset and trying to build it from the ground up to someone in your position, now buying a whole bike from one of my C&V brethren, I can actually recommend since most all of them actually will be looking out for you rather then their own wallets.

    Example 1: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-with-Dura-Ace
    Slightly out of your price range.. but jebus look at that bang for your buck.
    Ok, yes I must admit that kind of bike is quite tempting. Of course with such small dimensions I see why he's having trouble selling it. (I'm about 5'10", 54cm frames seem to work well for me.)

    I've been to two LBS now, will most likely go to a couple more before I make a decision. Here's where my options are so far:

    1) '09 new Giant Defy 3, $699-- rode this first, it felt fine. Pretty standard entry-level.

    2) New Scattante R570, $899-- didn't realize this was Performance Bike's house brand until later. It rode OK, but it was really hard to tell since roads around shop sucked.

    3) Something from bikesdirect (why do I keep going back to that Fuji? I'm sure it would be a mistake, $1000 just for carbon frame, will def need to redo wheels, perhaps more, not to mention accessories. I doubt I need full carbon that bad).

    4) Something from C&V. Still a bit wary, though I do love the idea of getting an awesome premium older bike (older, not ancient) that I can learn on. More tips on how to look on here would be very much appreciated. The dedicated classifieds page on BF is not all that long and has more components than full bikes.

    5) Keep going to LBS. Probably a good plan regardless.

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