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First bike. Big budget. Help!

Old 08-26-15, 08:54 AM
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First bike. Big budget. Help!

I don't know a whole lot about bikes and I've never owned my own bike. However, I'm athletic and active and have thought about buying a bike for a long time now.

I never bought a bike because I just never got around to it but now I'm in the unusual position of needing to buy a bike that will probably far exceed my needs as a first bike. I'm doing some work for a bike shop and I'm exchanging my services for a bike with a value of up to $1,000 which is a lot for a first bike.

My options are bikes by Jamis, Felt, GT and Raleigh.

I think the vast majority of the riding I will do is casual riding on roads and bike paths. But knowing myself, once I get into this I'll probably want to do some off road riding so I think I should get something along the lines of a hybrid or cyclocross bike which is designed for both.

I know I don't want anything with a suspension fork or hydraulic brakes. No hydraulic brakes because they are high maintenance and the maintenance can be pricy. I'm unsure about a bike with a drop bar. I tested the only drop bar bike the shop had and I didn't love it but the bike wasn't really set up for me. The shop is guiding me in the direction of drop bars and everything I read makes me feel like a drop bar is the way to go and that I will learn to love it. So I'm willing to try. I don't want to get anything less than ~$800 because I don't want to leave that much money on the table; I want to be as close to $1,000 as possible (and will go a touch over if I need to).

Given these parameters the only bikes that seem to make the cut are the Felt V100 ($850), Felt F85X ($1200) and Jamis Nova Sport ($800). Are there any others I should consider?

One of the guys at the shop thinks I won't be happy with the felt the F85X because it rides really low so isn’t great for casual riding. It's the highest priced bike of the three so I'm drawn to it because I won't leave any money on the table but I would have to come out of pocket.

I think all the suitable Raleighs in this price range are hydraulic so they're is out. The shop isn't so hot on GT bikes and researching them suggests that they are not a preferred brand so I didn't consider them. But if I did the bike would be their Grade Alloy Tiagra. Should I consider this bike?

The riding position of the drop bar bike I tested had a lower stance than I am used to (but not as low as F85X). It seems like an upright posture is more comfortable for casual riding with friends and such. And it seems like the lower riding position would get more tiring but I know that's meant for long rides so probably just a bias because of what I’ve ridden in the past. I’ll get used to this, right?

I've done my fair share of research before asking here. I know that when people ask questions like this the advice usually goes something like "Try the bikes out for yourself and buy whatever you like. Who cares what people tell you." Unfortunately, that's not an option because the shop doesn't stock any bikes in this price range so I can't try any of these out.

Based on the information I’ve gathered I’m leaning towards the Felt V100. What say you? And is there another bike made by Jamis, Felt, GR or Raleigh that I should consider?

Sorry for such a long first post. Thanks in advance for any help!
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Old 08-26-15, 08:57 AM
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Get one that has a good fit to your body.

Brand doesn't matter.

Save some $$ for Helmet, Shoes, Shorts, Lights, Pedals, Gloves, Computer
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Old 08-26-15, 09:05 AM
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I would suggest really thinking hard about whether or not you will spend any amount of time off road.
New riders(myself included only 5 months ago)love the option/possibility of a 'do everything' bike but if you don't want to have to go through the purchase process again and probable cash loss of getting a new bike fairly soon down the road really try to decide up front if off road is for you. Most people that start on the road and get into it only want to go faster on the road and in that case a cyclocross would not be the best bike.
I started shopping looking for a cyclocross and ended up soon after with an endurance road bike (Specialized Secteur Elite) and have no regrets. It's a great bike that was under $1200 and I love it.
Good luck either way!
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Old 08-26-15, 09:06 AM
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$1,000 is not a lot for a bike and you will discover that if you get into cycling. It's kind of entry level. I'm not saying there is something wrong with that. But, with time in the cycling community your perspective will change. I mention this because if you do decide you're all in for cycling it won't be long before you are looking for $3-4K bikes. But, I digress. My advice is to listen to what 10 Wheels said.
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Old 08-26-15, 09:15 AM
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What we imagine our riding will be like, and what we actually wind up doing after (and if) we get into it, are often so different that the first bike is more for experiencing the sport and learning what you like.

It sounds to me like your bike shop is being helpful, with opinions anyway. I'd be inclined to give some serious consideration to their advice. Perhaps they'll be willing to add accessories like fenders, rack, light, helmet etc if the price tag is under $1K.
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Old 08-26-15, 09:21 AM
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I'm guessing you want to do this for the sport? Unless you need a commuter as well, you need to choose between two sports: Road biking & mountain biking.

If you get a hybrid, it won't be able to fully do either of these sports because a hybrid won't be able to keep up with other roadies on pavement and you won't be able to handle a trail with too many roots. A cyclocross bike isn't a "road hybrid" btw. It's another sport that I wouldn't recommend getting unless dirt roads and grass fields were what you're going to ride on. OR if you need a bike you get around on as well. (Handles a rack with weight better than a solely roadie).

Jamis tends to have the best value of components, so I'd probably go with their Ventura Comp or Race if road. But if the trail is your chosen path, the Jamis Komodo Comp is a great one too.
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Old 08-26-15, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by bakes1
I would suggest really thinking hard about whether or not you will spend any amount of time off road.
New riders(myself included only 5 months ago)love the option/possibility of a 'do everything' bike but if you don't want to have to go through the purchase process again and probable cash loss of getting a new bike fairly soon down the road really try to decide up front if off road is for you. Most people that start on the road and get into it only want to go faster on the road and in that case a cyclocross would not be the best bike.
I started shopping looking for a cyclocross and ended up soon after with an endurance road bike (Specialized Secteur Elite) and have no regrets. It's a great bike that was under $1200 and I love it.
Good luck either way!
Totally agree with that. Cyclocross bikes are newbie magnets because everyone thinks they want to be able to do everything. Then they realize that going to the trails takes too much time/effort and just ride on the road or fall in love with dirt riding and want to do that most of the time instead of dealing with the cars. In any case, you are left with a bike which is only really good at, well, cyclocross racing and wanting something else, whether a road bike or a mountain bike.
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Old 08-26-15, 09:48 AM
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$1,000 isn't a huge budget for a new bike and accessories like helmet, floor and frame pumps, multi tool, clothes, shoes, pedals, saddle, etc...

The most important thing is fit. Find a bike that fits and meets your needs. Realistically assess what your needs are. The person who wants something comfortable for riding around town will want something different from the person looking to compete in road races, or do a cross coutry loaded tour. A lot of folks think they want a bike that can do 80% roads and 20% trails, but find it is more like 99% roads, with very short detours on dirt, grass or packed gravel once in a blue moon. Or they really need a trail bike or mountain bike because the riding is more like 90% off road.

Your best bet is to work with the folks who will be selling you your bike.

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Old 08-26-15, 09:54 AM
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I'd be a bit leary of a bike shop that only had one bike in stock with drop bars.

Not that it'd necessarily be indicative of a bad bicycle shop, just one that caters to a different market.
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Old 08-26-15, 10:41 AM
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Thanks guys, I didn't expect so much advice so fast. Great food for thought.

Originally Posted by 10 Wheels
Get one that has a good fit to your body.

Brand doesn't matter.

Save some $$ for Helmet, Shoes, Shorts, Lights, Pedals, Gloves, Computer
As I said, the store doesn't stock any of these bikes so it's hard to say what will fit best.

Originally Posted by bruce19
$1,000 is not a lot for a bike and you will discover that if you get into cycling. It's kind of entry level. I'm not saying there is something wrong with that. But, with time in the cycling community your perspective will change. I mention this because if you do decide you're all in for cycling it won't be long before you are looking for $3-4K bikes. But, I digress. My advice is to listen to what 10 Wheels said.
Oh, I know $1K is not a lot for a bike in general. But it is a lot for a first bike. If I wasn't playing with house money there's no way I'd drop this much on a first bike without knowing what I really need. In fact, I'd probably buy a used bike as my first. I could see myself spending even more than $1,000 if I really got into it and needed something better down the road.

Originally Posted by wphamilton
What we imagine our riding will be like, and what we actually wind up doing after (and if) we get into it, are often so different that the first bike is more for experiencing the sport and learning what you like.

It sounds to me like your bike shop is being helpful, with opinions anyway. I'd be inclined to give some serious consideration to their advice. Perhaps they'll be willing to add accessories like fenders, rack, light, helmet etc if the price tag is under $1K.
They are being helpful, but this thread has already given me better advice.

Originally Posted by EllDC
I'd be a bit leary of a bike shop that only had one bike in stock with drop bars.

Not that it'd necessarily be indicative of a bad bicycle shop, just one that caters to a different market.
This is 100% accurate. In fact Felt only lists them as a dealer of their lifestyle bikes, not performance bikes. This shop very much caters to casual riders.


I think you guys are right. I was kind of in the 80 road 20 trail camp. But for starters I'm going to be a very recreational rider of paved surfaces and who knows if it will ever go beyond that. I would like a bike that I can at least experiment with on trails but I never considered the effort that goes into trail riding. I do plenty of hiking and trail running but I guess biking a trail requires more effort than hiking a trail. And I don't mean the physical exertion part. I mean you have to get your bike to the top, ride down and then figure out how to get back up. At the end of the day I think I might just prefer to do it on foot.

I still think that the Felt V100 is a solid contender. But the Jamis Nova Sport is a cyclocross which you guys seem to think is a bad compromise if I'm mostly going to be on pavement. Correct? The F85X is definitely out.

I didn't mention that I also want disc brakes and no fenders. So I really don't see any Jamis bikes that are in the price range with disc brakes, no hydraulics, no suspension fork and no fender. And the V100 is the only Felt bike that meets the criteria.

I guess I should also consider the GT Grade Alloy Sora (not Tiagra) and GT Grade Flatbar Elite as a flat bar option.

Assuming that they all fit me well and that I'll be riding mostly casually with friends on paved surfaces and that comfort is more important than performance, is there one of these three bikes that you guys think jumps out as a clear winner? (Four bikes if the Nova Sport should be considered.)

The drop bar vs flat bar decision is kind of a big deal. I never pictured myself having anything other than a flat bar but I feel like I should bite the bullet and go for the drop bar. Agreed?

I wish this forum had the karma option, I'd be giving it to all of you. Thanks so much!

Last edited by uscpsycho; 08-26-15 at 10:47 AM.
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Old 08-26-15, 10:49 AM
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Loooonnnng exposition.

$1g is not much for a bike. If you want something sweet, Nashbar has an Ultegra Cavalo for $999 right now. Not a bad deal at all.
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Old 08-26-15, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by jfowler85
Loooonnnng exposition.

$1g is not much for a bike. If you want something sweet, Nashbar has an Ultegra Cavalo for $999 right now. Not a bad deal at all.
Not an option. It has to be Felt, Jamis, Raleigh or GT.

Sorry for the loooooooong posts.

Long story short, help me pick Felt V100, Jamis Nova Sport, GT Grade Flatbar Elite, GT Grade Alloy Sora. Recreational/casual riding with emphasis on comfort over performance.
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Old 08-26-15, 11:17 AM
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Originally Posted by uscpsycho
Not an option. It has to be Felt, Jamis, Raleigh or GT.

Sorry for the loooooooong posts.

Long story short, help me pick Felt V100, Jamis Nova Sport, GT Grade Flatbar Elite, GT Grade Alloy Sora. Recreational/casual riding with emphasis on comfort over performance.
Look at the Jamis Aurora. No discs, but then mechanical discs on a road bike are in a state of development right now anyway.

The Aurora lists for $939 and is a touring geometry steel road bike, so you get a more upright and comfortable riding position but can still go fast and use the drops on descents.

It runs 32 tires stock so that means it can handle some light off road as well as the pavement.

JAMIS BICYCLES

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Old 08-26-15, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by uscpsycho
...
They are being helpful, but this thread has already given me better advice.
...
Good luck with your decision then.
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Old 08-26-15, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by ShortLegCyclist
Look at the Jamis Aurora. No discs, but then mechanical discs on a road bike are in a state of development right now anyway.

The Aurora lists for $939 and is a touring geometry steel road bike, so you get a more upright and comfortable riding position but can still go fast and use the drops on descents.

It runs 32 tires stock so that means it can handle some light off road as well as the pavement.

JAMIS BICYCLES
Thank you for the suggestion! It sounds like it would be a good bike for me. However... I know I'm being superficial but I really dislike those fenders. I want a sporty looking bike. That looks like something my mom would ride if she got a bike. Can those come off?

I didn't realize disc brakes were still kind of experimental. I thought they've been around for a few years now.
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Old 08-26-15, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by uscpsycho
Thank you for the suggestion! It sounds like it would be a good bike for me. However... I know I'm being superficial but I really dislike those fenders. I want a sporty looking bike. That looks like something my mom would ride if she got a bike. Can those come off?

I didn't realize disc brakes were still kind of experimental. I thought they've been around for a few years now.
Just take the fenders off- it's about a 5-10 minute job ( and later wish you kept them on when riding in the rain or on a muddy path).
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Old 08-26-15, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by uscpsycho
Not an option. It has to be Felt, Jamis, Raleigh or GT.

Sorry for the loooooooong posts.

Long story short, help me pick Felt V100, Jamis Nova Sport, GT Grade Flatbar Elite, GT Grade Alloy Sora. Recreational/casual riding with emphasis on comfort over performance.
No need to apologize, I'm adept at cutting through cluttered writing.

Have you been on any of said bikes? Why is online not an option?
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Old 08-26-15, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by jfowler85
No need to apologize, I'm adept at cutting through cluttered writing.

Have you been on any of said bikes? Why is online not an option?
You cut through the cluttered writing a little too much ;-)

I'm bartering my services to a bike shop for a bike valued up to $1,000. So I have to buy from them and they do not stock high end bikes so I can't try them out. They will order this bike for me sight unseen.
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Old 08-26-15, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by uscpsycho
You cut through the cluttered writing a little too much ;-)

I'm bartering my services to a bike shop for a bike valued up to $1,000. So I have to buy from them and they do not stock high end bikes so I can't try them out. They will order this bike for me sight unseen.
I do it for fun helping others with grad school application essays.

Hmmm...I take repetition as emphasis, so in that case the Jamis looks the sportiest to me. Slack headtubes are supposedly more comfortable, thus less sporty. That's a generalization, not an axiom. Honestly, your first bike really doesn't matter all that much, because your riding preferences will change over time. Especially if you are the tinkering type, then I see aftermarket components in your near future, whatever the ride.

Keep in mind though, if you plan on commuting this winter and live in an area that gets rain/snow, fenders would be of great benefit to you.

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Old 08-26-15, 12:34 PM
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The Raleigh Grand Sport looks decent if you're open to a classic-inspired road bike. There's also the Clubman disc (that comes with fenders and has the disc brakes you want,) for a little bit more, but it also jumps up to Tiagra. Another possible consideration, if you trust the bike shop and/or yourself, would be to get a flat bar hybrid and convert to drop bars and brifters or barcons (or do trekking bars and call it a day.) It does play with the geometry a bit so it'll have some special consideration, but there are some flat bar hybrids (Bianchi Strada comes to mind, not sure about the options from the brand listed though) that are really just the road bikes with flat bars and down specced components.
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Old 08-26-15, 12:48 PM
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I'd go with a gravel road/adventure bike. Leaves you with plenty of options where you decide to ride.

You have GT, Schwinn, Diamondback and Raleigh.

If you go flatbar, well within your budget.

With Marin you have an urban 29er and Giant offers its ToughRooad SLR version which is the same thing.

As for hydraulic disc brakes, they're reliable and no need to be afraid of them.
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Old 08-26-15, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by uscpsycho
Long story short, help me pick Felt V100, Jamis Nova Sport, GT Grade Flatbar Elite, GT Grade Alloy Sora. Recreational/casual riding with emphasis on comfort over performance.
The Jamis Nova Sport looks nice but its more cyclocross specific. I'd go for their Quest Sport (or Quest Comp if funds permit) for the road bike option. Its steel so should have a decent ride on the road. I know it doesn't have the disc brakes, but many still don't. I wouldn't let that be the deciding factor since caliper brakes still work fine. Fit and ride should be the deciding factors. You really need to find a place that has this brand in stock so you can go for a test ride on them.
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Old 08-26-15, 12:54 PM
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you have been given a lot of really good advice... one thing I would note in your statements... you will not get a sporty looking bike that is designed to give you the "all around" performance you seem to be looking for...but then like most of the others I do not think your actual riding experience will require that, or even be satisfied with it.
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Old 08-26-15, 03:26 PM
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The Felt is an awesome bike. I have one a few years older, almost 5k miles so far this year. Super comfy and quick for an endurance bike.
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Old 08-26-15, 04:25 PM
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You might want to just go with the Jamis Quest Comp. It is a road bike, but steel. If the skinny tires are not to your taste, you can go up a size. My wife rides an lower end earlier version of this bike and I can say from experience that the riding position is not too aggressive. Again, no discs, but unless you ride a lot in the rain, you don't really need them.

JAMIS BICYCLES
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