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himurastewie 07-16-08 06:41 PM

Looking for some recommendations..
Hello everyone -

I've been lurking the past few weeks, soaking up as much info as I can. I've ran a few searches for threads on recommendations for noobs, but I figured I'd try to get a little bit more specific information on a certain few models I've been thinking about. First a few things about me: I'm a big fella, 6'3", 325ish, 25 years old, and not getting any younger and I'm looking to really start losing weight again, ugh. My weight has rebounded over the past 2-2.5 years or so from a low of 215ish, back to where I am now.

Now to the specifics: I'm looking at a road-like bike, without getting a really dedicated road bike. I'm kind of like Alton Brown, for you Food Network watchers, and sometimes have trouble living with so-called "unitaskers". My budget is also on the lower end, I'm thinking <$1200.

The shops around here are somewhat few and far between, so my choices are a little limited. I've got access to Trek, Giant, Cannondale, and Specialized. I'm also somewhat thinking toward the future, and getting a bike that will grow with my shrink, if that makes any sense. I want a bike that's going to serve me well as my riding capabilities become stronger and more rounded.

So far I've got my eyes on a few different models: the Trek 520, the Specialized Tricross Sport Triple, and the Cannondale Synapse 6 or 7. I like the idea of the Trek, being a steel bike kind of hearkening back before aluminum and carbon became the 'in' things. The Specialized because it's a cyclocross style, without being over the top, and the Cannondale for the same reason as the Specialized.

I'm leery of carbon anything at my weight, but having read some other threads, it doesn't seem like it should be a big deal. My lack of wallet volume also keeps the carbon bogeyman away too.

My ultimate goal for all this is to be able to comfortably ride anywhere I please, and more or less replace my car and the four dollars a gallon it consumes.. well, sips I guess. Who would have thought a '98 Civic could do nearly 50mpg. But as they say, why pay for what my legs can do for free....

My current bike is a lovely "Schwinn" Ranger from the local Target. It's not half bad, as bikes go, but it has its issues. The front fork with its 'suspension' component likes to compress when I simply sit on it, which I don't see as a great sign to begin with. The saddle is uncomfortable, but that is a relatively simple fix. More worrying however, the brakes need some serious tuning as well as the derailleurs as it doesn't really want to shift, that is, smoothly if at all. Needless to say, it doesn't inspire great confidence, and in my case, a lack of confidence leads to a lack of riding. I fear taking it down to my local shop will result mostly in chuckles and a repair/adjustment bill that was nearly as much as the bike cost to begin with.

Hence, my dilemma. Do I seriously consider dropping the cash and getting a nicer bike now (within the next few months), or just ride the wheels off my Target bike, praying I don't kill myself in the process, and venture on to the nicer bike at a lower weight?

Thanks everyone for reading and hopefully helping me come to some sort of conclusion!

c_m_shooter 07-16-08 06:49 PM

All the bikes you are looking at are great choices. Find a local shops that stock them and do some test riding. If you can't decide between two of them, go with the shop that is most helpful. You may have trouble finding bikes in stock at your size, so don't be offended. The 520 is not likely to be in stock at most shops, but the tri-cross should be. Just ride anything they have in your size, it will help with your decision, even if it isn't a bike you were initially looking for.

Also visit park tools website. You can probably tune tour Target bike up yourself.

CACycling 07-16-08 06:55 PM

At 6'3", I doubt the Target Schwinn is anywhere near your size. If you can make it fit you (which I doubt) getting it adjusted to work properly isn't a bad option in the short run. Another option is an old MTB from Craig's List or garage sale (probably need a 21" to 23" frame for your height) and ride the heck out of that till you drop a bit of weight and figure out what you really want to do. (I rode a $40 Craig's List MTB for 1,000 miles before moving to a road bike and it helped me decide which way to go). Good luck and keep riding. You'll be amazed how fast the weight drops if you just keep riding.

wrk101 07-16-08 07:02 PM

I would keep an eye out on the used market. I would also consider an interim bike, perhaps a rigid frame mountain bike. There are a lot of good Trek steel models out there. Around here, I see one every week or two on the local Craigs List. Heck, I picked up a Trek 520 myself last week (used).

Plus, you are going to find out you will want N+1 bikes anyway.

ScrubJ 07-16-08 07:04 PM

My vote is with shooter on this. I don't think you could go wrong with any of the bikes you've listed. The 520 is a good old touring platform so there are lugs and bosses for just about any kind of rack or fender you might want to mount. The cross bikes are durable at lest in part due to their intended use. Check the Craig's List in your area and you may even want to wander through some thrift stores.

himurastewie 07-16-08 07:05 PM

Unfortunately the shop I went to didn't have either of the three. :P They had a bunch of Madones and Roubaixs and fancy expensive stuff, with some of the lower end Treks and Specs, Trek 1.2 and Spec Allez, etc.

The guy who wandered over to ask if I needed anything did mention that anything they had on the website could be shipped over to that shop, but I don't want them to go through the trouble just to try it on. I could travel to one of the other locations and see if some are in stock there, but I have issues with driving a potentially long distance and not ending up getting anything.

The store (the website and all locations) have the bikes for less than suggested MSRP. They're generally about $150-$200 less than what the mfrs say they should be priced at. I'm currently leaning toward the Trek, but I'm a little concerned about its weight (lol), being a steel bike and all. I would like something that can still cruise at a good clip, but that still retains its functionality of being a more multi-purpose bike that I could potentially take on a long ride someday. The Sport Triple and the Synapse sound like they could fit the touring bill decently, since I would figure their frames would be stronger than most since they're designed for mixed-road riding.

I guess I need to weigh the benefits of each vs. the tradeoffs. Potentially faster bikes in the Cannondale and the Specialized (plus they're both pretty hawt looking), vs. a bike more geared for touring and maybe general puttering around town/work/school/wherever. The speed freak in me shouts GO FASTER, while the rest of me says "Eh, you'll get there eventually".

10 Wheels 07-16-08 07:08 PM

Ride what you have but keep looking at Craiglist. I started on a handme down MTB, then bought a $15 road bike from CL. Rode it 1500 miles before getting a New $800 road bike that was the perfect fit.
It take time, just keep going. Go slow.

c_m_shooter 07-16-08 08:25 PM

None of the bikes is going to be faster than the others, assuming they all have slicks. Bike weight is a non-issue for Clydes. It's all about the motor. Test ride some of the road bikes anyway, just for sizing purposes, and to make sure you are comfortable with drop bars and shifters. The more bikes you ride the more confident you will be with your decision, especially if you have order the one you want. If you find one that you are comfortable on, check the manufacturers website for geometry information. When you order a bike you need go by the top tube length, which will decide your cockpit length; and the head tube length, which will give you an idea of how high the handlebars will be. Of course the stem angle and length will play a factor too, but you can change that. Good luck.

txvintage 07-17-08 01:07 AM

The 520 is a classic, and does a lot of good things well. It is comfortable to ride distance on, and is built for loaded touring. This means it can haul groceries, or commute if desired.

The Tricross is another good option. It's aluminum, but built in a bit more rugged fashion than your average road bike. It will probably have braze ons for accessories, and may even have bosses for fenders. These can used to haul groceries and commute as well. The thing with this one is, either change tires, or keep an extra wheel set, and your off road through the local woods if you so choose.

I'm not really up on the Cannondale's, so it's hard for me to offer much about them other than Cannondale makes a fine product.

The 520 and the Tricross both come with Triples. Over in the Roadie forum, most scoff at these, but the extra chain ring and lower gears are nice to have if you encounter an incline or a heavy headwind.

Ride them all if you can and try and decide which one fits the best. If in the end there are a couple that each is acceptable, then go with the LBS that offers the best deal, worked with and treated you the best, and has a good service department. An LBS that will take care of you is well worth the few extra dollars if your choice is one bike from store A for a hundred bucks less than the same bike from store B if store B has better service.

It's hard to go wrong with getting a bike for the interim from CL or the local paper, providing you can get one that fits. If it doesn't fit it will be discouraging. Heck, I sort of fell into the vintage hobby thanks to the "Interim" strategy. It may be awhile before I buy a new bike the way it's going.

turkdc 07-17-08 06:29 AM

I just purchased a Tricross about 2 weeks ago! I freaking love the thing. My situation is a little different than yours as I already have a road bike (Cannondale) and a full suspension mountain bike (NRS 2 which is for sale $900).

I really wanted a more rugged bike with drop handlebars, but wider tires for riding the local limestone covered rails to trails, trail. The tricross fits the bill perfectly. It is a smooth and comfortable ride. The steering is quick yet stable and the carbon fiber bits (seatpost and fork) really soak up the vibration. It is not as fast as my Cannondale, but with the wider (and slightly softer) tires, I guess that is to be expected.

The only complaint I had was the squeeky front brake problem that others on this forum have encountered. I adjusted the toe-in on the brakes and that completely solved the issue.

Biking is a great way to lose some pounds and improve cardio fitness. If you can afford to, I would buy a better bike. There is nothing more discouraging than having to ride a bike that either doesn't work right, or doesn't fit your body well.

Best of luck to you in your bicycling adventure!


Tom Stormcrowe 07-17-08 06:40 AM

I would suggest you buy sooner rather than later, though. There's going to be a 15+% price increase in the near future, with possible downgrades in specs as well over into the next model year. (Not that I've heard anything yet about downspeccing, but it fits in the pattern to try to hold price increases down!).

himurastewie 07-17-08 07:58 AM


Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe (Post 7077238)
I would suggest you buy sooner rather than later, though. There's going to be a 15+% price increase in the near future, with possible downgrades in specs as well over into the next model year. (Not that I've heard anything yet about downspeccing, but it fits in the pattern to try to hold price increases down!).

This makes sense. I'm sure it's related to that 95% increase in price that the Chinese are paying for Iron now. Everything seems to be getting more expensive, from bikes to kitchen knives (another passion of mine...). I just got my financial aid "leftovers" from school and I'm trying my damnedest not to spend it just yet. I've got a few other considerations to do with it (wedding, bills, other stuff).

To turkdc: Thanks for the insight on the Tricross. Your mini-review there kind of confirmed some of my suspicions about durability and some other things. I wouldn't expect it to be as fast as a dedicated road bike, but maybe with some good road tires I bet it could make a good case for itself. That seems kind of counter-productive, but it does fit into the versatility aspect I'm looking for.

To txvintage: Thanks for that about the 520. I do admire the workhorse personality it seems to have. I'm looking for something that will be comfortable, be at least relatively quick, and can do more than just "GOFAST". I'm not so much concerned about whether or not its a triple, especially at my weight and fitness level. Roadies can scoff all they want, until its my turn to return the favor when they can't carry a bag or two of groceries home without switching bikes. :lol:

To everyone: Thanks for all the ideas and suggestions. I've looked on CL but haven't seen too much that's really worth it just yet. I've also got this issue with settling.. I've done that a few too many times, or put something off for something else, so at this point I think I'm ready to just go for broke and get what I really want as opposed to an interim that I may not be as happy with. That's kind of what happened with the Targetbike. Yes it's something to start with, but not something that I really wanted, it just happened to be the current "deal". So as soon as its financially viable, I think it is indeed the right time to buy something new.

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