Thread: Buying advice
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Old 10-13-15, 08:48 AM
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Location: Cedar Rapids, IA
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Bikes: 1997 Rivendell Road Standard 650b conversion (tourer), 1988 Schwinn Project KOM-10 (gravel/tour), 2013 Foundry Auger disc (CX/gravel), 2016 Cannondale Fat CAAD 2 (MTB/winter), 2011 Cannondale Flash 29er Lefty (trail MTB)

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The best deals are always found in lightly used bikes. Some folks buy new bikes every 5 years or so, and their cast-offs can usually be purchased at 25-50% of original price.

However, used bikes are limited by what is available, and as you said it's important to have a well-fitting bike.

Don't expect to get a free "fitting" from a bike shop (using a fitting gauge), but you should be able to test ride different models in different sizes to get an idea of your ideal frame size. Modern bikes with compact geometry come in fewer frame sizes, so it's not too hard to find the one that fits you best.

If the shop is friendly and helpful, consider buying something from them. Use the fitting/test ride process as a test for the shop, too.

Regarding frame material: aluminum and carbon are commonly used for light, stiff road racing frames. Aluminum is cheaper, whereas carbon is more expensive, can be lighter, and usually give a slightly more comfortable ride than aluminum.
I like steel a lot too, and road racing frames of high-end steel are usually much more comfortable than aluminum and/or carbon, and almost as light.

Within the last couple years, bike makers have been offering more mid-budget carbon framed bikes (around $2-3k), and aluminum is only used for the cheapest models of their road bike lineups.
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