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Should I get a road bike?

Old 03-20-16, 03:30 PM
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Should I get a road bike?

So I currently have a "city bike." My bike has fenders, racks, Dynamo lights, baskets..... Semi-upright positioning. Perfect for commuting, the farmers market, happy hour and all the everyday cycling. Perfect for cruising around sweat free in normal clothes.

I have been thinking I'd like to do more riding for exercise. The challenge is I am surrounded by hills. And my gearing is not ideal for the super hills nearby. And I am tempted to do some of those more race-y longer distance rides. Obviously that starts sounding like a road bike.

My bike, if I were to change to racier positioning is too big. It is perfectly sized for city riding. And I know I ride faster in the "drops."

So I am tempted to get a road bike. I also keep telling myself I like to go to the gym, but in reality pedaling outside is more my speed. I also think it might be cool to do a biathlon. A different bike for exercising might be good. And an indoor trainer makes more sense with a sportier bike.

I know that if I were to get one, an older steel road bike would fit the bill. I hate brifters and I prefer the dual brake options on old school road bikes. I don't need a super fast or super light bike. But something a bit easier to pose up on the hills. And go a little faster. I also don't like the aggressive geometry of new school bikes.

I tested an 80s era road bike at a local shop. It took me a bit to get adjusted to being lower. But it was easy to see the speed improvements and maneuverability differences. The gearing didn't seem low enough, and I didn't get to try the right hills.

N+1, is it a good idea to get a second bike? What do you guys think. Would the riding experience be different enough? Or tough it out on my current bike.
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Old 03-20-16, 03:36 PM
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Yes, noting that "road bike" covers a lot of ground in terms of position (more or less aggressive), tire clearance, and gearing.
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Old 03-20-16, 03:47 PM
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You could make do with your present bike by changing the gearing. I don't know what kind of crank you have, but probably you could change to a 46 -34 chainring combination.

I don't know where you live, but where I live fenders are a great help in keeping me dry. A lot of randonneuring bikes sport fenders; and dynamos and racks.

Some Soma Buena Vistas have been set up as randonneuring bikes.
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Old 03-20-16, 03:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt View Post
Yes, noting that "road bike" covers a lot of ground in terms of position (more or less aggressive), tire clearance, and gearing.
I want less aggressive, no flat bars, and gearing for my hills! But I think my vintage bias helps with getting the geometry right. I'd prefer the seat and bars to be just about even. I'll still be riding in the city. Uber aggressive is not for me. I've ridden a couple of road bikes recently and found most modern bikes all wrong for me!
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Old 03-20-16, 03:50 PM
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You said that you wanted a bike for "more exercising" and a road bike won't necessarily do that for you. It will let you ride more miles, but that doesn't equate to more exercise.
Part of my training is riding a cheap, heavy Walmart bike for 2 hours at a fast pace (fast for that bike). I only cover about 26 miles with it but the workout is much more intense that when I ride my road bike. The idea is that I train on the heavy and slow bike so that when I hop on the lightweight and fast road bike, I'm flying and so far, the efforts are paying off.
Save you money for upgrades, clothing or something else and just ride the bike that you have more.
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Old 03-20-16, 03:57 PM
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If you really want a road bike get a new one (2015 or 2016). There are dozens of brands and models to pick from. Visit a bike shop or two and test ride all that appeal to you. Then get the one that "speaks" to you. Be sure to post pics of the new bike.
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Old 03-20-16, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by ironwood View Post
You could make do with your present bike by changing the gearing. I don't know what kind of crank you have, but probably you could change to a 46 -34 chainring combination.

I don't know where you live, but where I live fenders are a great help in keeping me dry. A lot of randonneuring bikes sport fenders; and dynamos and racks.

Some Soma Buena Vistas have been set up as randonneuring bikes.
i have an internal hub. On some level I could play around with gearing, but I purposely set things up for an ideal city ride. Extra weight and all. The range I have now works pretty well for most conditions. But there are some good road rides that are much steeper nearby. I avoid steep roads to not sweat on my regular rides. Upgrading to another hub would be way pricey.

I like fenders. I also live in California. Rainy season ends soon. If I went for a second bike it would be a sunny day bike.

Originally Posted by RonH View Post
If you really want a road bike get a new one (2015 or 2016). There are dozens of brands and models to pick from. Visit a bike shop or two and test ride all that appeal to you. Then get the one that "speaks" to you. Be sure to post pics of the new bike.
The new ones don't speak to me looks wise. Too chunky / blocky and all have brifters which I hate. I also don't intend to spend a lot on a second bike. I love the geometry on the old school bikes. It is a shame my dad didn't keep his 70s road bike. It would have been perfect for me.

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Old 03-20-16, 09:19 PM
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Maybe you can go around the local bike shop and look at the different brands of bicycles, first choose your favorite brand. Preferably big brands, it can guarantee service.
Ask if you can test ride several bikes. With the help of a sales specialist, you should be able to narrow down your selection to 2 or 3 bikes. Even though they may have similar prices and components, they will feel different to ride. Take each for a 10-15 minute ride, ideally over some varied terrain including a short hill. In most cases, one bike is just going to feel better for you than the others. You want a bike to become a natural extension of your body.
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Old 03-20-16, 10:10 PM
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I am hoping to grab a bike better suited to a 30+ mile ride than my current setup. There are a few shops nearby that specialize in refurbishing old bikes. I've test ridden a couple of vintage road bikes. And 1 or 2 modern road bikes. I liked the vintage ones better by leaps and bounds.
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Old 03-21-16, 06:45 AM
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Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
I know that if I were to get one, an older steel road bike would fit the bill. I hate brifters and I prefer the dual brake options on old school road bikes. I don't need a super fast or super light bike. But something a bit easier to pose up on the hills. And go a little faster. I also don't like the aggressive geometry of new school bikes.
Those auxiliary brake levers were only found on department store bikes.

The quality road bikes didn't have them.

The more modern incarnation of those brakes are called interrupter brakes and can be added with most drop bar levers, brifters or not.

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Old 03-21-16, 06:56 AM
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The Buena Vista is steel. Go for something from the 80's that is alloy-frame and fits you perfectly. Get into those drops and be really careful, because your angle-of-visibility will be different. There will be a world of difference an you'll be able to cycle much farther and faster.
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Old 03-21-16, 07:08 AM
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I thought the biathlon was a winter sport involving skis and rifles?

Chain rings and cogs can be changed to get the gearing you want. Look for well-supported group sets so that there are ample parts available. Nothing wrong with good steel bikes from the past. Take someone knowledgeable and less emotionally invested when you go to look at potential purchases so you have someone to keep you grounded when making the buying decision.

You can get plenty of exercise on a road bike. The distance, difficulty, and intensity are all up to you.

Good luck, and post pics when you find "the one"!
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Old 03-21-16, 07:10 AM
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1. I've been fooling around with bikes for a lot of years. I've ridden lots of different kinds of bikes - road, mountain, fixed gear and now recumbents. Over that span of years I've had by far the most amount of fun on my road bikes.

2. Do whatever you have to do to make sure that it fits. On a mountain bike, for example, you are up and down and sliding forward and back on the saddle. On a road bike you may plant yourself in the saddle and hold once position for an extended period so fit is more important. On a road bike there's spot-on fit and there's not exactly.
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Old 03-21-16, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by RonH View Post
If you really want a road bike get a new one (2015 or 2016).
Why not do as the OP is thinking and get a used bike first and find out if this is something s/he wants to continue before investing in a new bike?
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Old 03-21-16, 07:36 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Those auxiliary brake levers were only found on department store bikes.

The quality road bikes didn't have them.
Not strictly true. E.g., Schwinn's top-of-the-line handbuilt Paramount from the 70s:



The more modern incarnation of those brakes are called interrupter brakes and can be added with most drop bar levers, brifters or not.
But I agree, interrupter levers are a superior solution. Or, if you spend most of your time on the top of the bars, guidonnet levers, which have been around for over half a century.

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Old 03-21-16, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Retro Grouch View Post
Do whatever you have to do to make sure that it fits. On a mountain bike, for example, you are up and down and sliding forward and back on the saddle. On a road bike you may plant yourself in the saddle and hold once position for an extended period so fit is more important. On a road bike there's spot-on fit and there's not exactly.
Fit could well be the biggest stumbling block to buying an older bike, you won't have the same choice of sizes you get when buying new, so shopping around could take a lot of time. For longer rides fit is all important. As for those old dual position brakes, we used to refer to them as suicide levers, among other uncomplimentary things. They were only mainly on low end bikes, so if you find a bike that has them, you will probably be looking at a lower quality machine. If you want a braking position on the bar tops, interrupter levers are the way to go without sacrificing braking performance
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Old 03-21-16, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by RonH View Post
If you really want a road bike get a new one (2015 or 2016). There are dozens of brands and models to pick from. Visit a bike shop or two and test ride all that appeal to you. Then get the one that "speaks" to you. Be sure to post pics of the new bike.
You can get a new one, but you'll save a ton of money by getting an 80's steel road bike, possibly a triple, and generally, you can ride the tops, drops, or hoods, and still get braking done. If that still is insufficient for braking hand position, a set of interrupters are cheap and easy to install, give you the dual hand position you speak of. If there classic and vintage fans in your area, you may be able to pick up a pretty nice used one very cheaply. If it doesn't work out, you don't have a lot invested and can recoup most of it back.

Also consider, price-wise, the aluminum/carbon bikes from the 90's and early 00's. They have have everything you need in a bike, a very competitive price, and again, you can add the interrupters. Shifting is modern, generally on the bars, and they are a bit lighter than many of the 80's road bikes. Bikes in this class also come with triple cranksets or even compact cranksets, and can get you on the road without breaking the bank. If/When you decide you like the sport and activity, you can move "up" to a new bike, if that's considered "up," and by then you've got an idea of what you want, and even more important, what you don't want.

Before you do any of that, though, find your size. 90% of people who drop the sport simply never had a bike that fit correctly, so the exercise was more about creating aches and pains than getting fit.

As far as a new bike, well, shops depend on their sales, and you can get great prices on close-out 2013's to 2014's. I've seen Shimano 105-equipped CAAD 10's by Cannondale for $999 in bike shops. That's a pretty sweet deal. The advantage to a new bike is 1) the shop SHOULD fit you properly, 2) warranty, and 3) Service after the sale. Good bike shops don't often discount bikes, because the margin is not great, but the good shops provide excellent service after the sale. If you are not mechanically inclined, this may be your best bet.

As far as biathlons, etc, sounds like a nice plan, just don't go overboard and get disappointed, and don't get discouraged by any lack of knowledge about bikes. I know very good triathletes who can't change a tire. Doesn't seem to slow them down or infringe on their enjoyment a bit.
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Old 03-21-16, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
I am hoping to grab a bike better suited to a 30+ mile ride than my current setup. There are a few shops nearby that specialize in refurbishing old bikes. I've test ridden a couple of vintage road bikes. And 1 or 2 modern road bikes. I liked the vintage ones better by leaps and bounds.
If there are shops locally that do as you say, you live in a golden area. I envy you.
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Old 03-21-16, 09:33 AM
  #19  
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I scanned Craigslist and it looks like there is a shop I didn't know about around 2 miles from home that rehabs on the cheap and offers a 6 month warranty! Seems like a good spot to go. There is a mid-80s Peugeot mixte with new wheels that could work.

I have about 4 or 5 shops that do a lot of vintage rehab, some go high end and convert them into city bikes. Some others target students looking for cheap bikes. Not quite sure the niche this new shop is going for, but it is worth a look.

It seems like, since vintage steel is hip with hipsters it would be easy to resell later.

I don't need a super nice 2nd bike. It would serve as a backup beater as well. My soma is decked out as the dream bike and works perfectly for around town in normal clothing. The road bike would have different purposes and doesn't need everything.

Thanks for the tip on auxiliary brakes. That seems like a must have for riding busier streets with better visibility. Drops would be a big adjustments.
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Old 03-21-16, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
Thanks for the tip on auxiliary brakes. That seems like a must have for riding busier streets with better visibility. Drops would be a big adjustments.
You are on the right track. Test the road bike style of riding with a less expensive (but quality) used bike. You will like the drop handlebars for the multiple hand positions, even if you never ride 'in the drops'. If you have small hands there are drop bars with less drop and reach, which could be easily swapped out. You might also prefer a narrower handlebar than most men use. Good luck.
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Old 03-21-16, 11:05 AM
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I see the guys from the "Spoke" at a lot of swaps. Last I heard they were having a clearance going on. Good people.
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Old 03-21-16, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by curbtender View Post
I see the guys from the "Spoke" at a lot of swaps. Last I heard they were having a clearance going on. Good people.
This is one of my place to check out! Before I got my soma I went there as an option, but didn't find the right thing. And well they weren't super experienced with dynamo lights so I ended up going in another direction. They have good selection and also are the OG Raleigh dealers. Last time I went they had some new in box 90s Raleighs that were in the back of a warehouse somewhere! They were a great price.

Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
You are on the right track. Test the road bike style of riding with a less expensive (but quality) used bike. You will like the drop handlebars for the multiple hand positions, even if you never ride 'in the drops'. If you have small hands there are drop bars with less drop and reach, which could be easily swapped out. You might also prefer a narrower handlebar than most men use. Good luck.
The multiple hand positions are the big reason I thought it might be good to get a road bike. Changing the drop, reach, width would be a good swap as well. I got narrower bars for that reason on my soma, and in my test rides I have found the brake levers are a little far. I also have a really short torso. So I don't want a long top tube, but my legs are pretty long. So dialing in the perfect top tube length and seat height will be critical.
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Old 03-21-16, 02:44 PM
  #23  
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If the 80s road bike was a good fit, why not just buy it and change the gearing a little. You might get away with as little as changing the cassette/freewheel to one with more teeth on the inner ring. It might also require changing the RD if the existing one will not cover a wide enough range of gears (maximum difference between inner and outer cogs). They come in a wide variety. I have an 11/36 cassette and a Shimano Deore SGS RD-M591 derailleur with Dura-Ace bar end shifters. I'm not sure what other shifters this RD is compatible with.
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Old 03-21-16, 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
I tested an 80s era road bike at a local shop. It took me a bit to get adjusted to being lower. But it was easy to see the speed improvements and maneuverability differences. The gearing didn't seem low enough, and I didn't get to try the right hills.
I have a dozen bikes, including a Spesh Roubiax. My favorite rides are a heavy hybrid all purpose bike and an 80's 12 speed with 700x20.5 tires. Hence, I support your thinking... a light, fast, responsive bike is a blast some days.

However, if you're thinking what you want is hill climber, think again when it comes to some of the C&V bikes. Whoever designed those 80's racer drivetrains either never heard of hills or those burly men of the last century had no problem with corn cob clusters, charging up hills 42x21. That's not me. So, if hill climbing is a big part of your riding experience, you'll need a modern compact double or an old triple crank to save your knees. If you end up putting one of those wide jump freewheel on a older bike you'll have big jumps in the gear options, not so fun. As a compromise you can put an alpine-type crank on the front, maybe getting a 34x25 climbing options and still have a fairly tight spread in he rear ...but you will be spending some money on upgrades.

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Old 03-21-16, 03:08 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by VegasTriker View Post
If the 80s road bike was a good fit, why not just buy it and change the gearing a little. You might get away with as little as changing the cassette/freewheel to one with more teeth on the inner ring. It might also require changing the RD if the existing one will not cover a wide enough range of gears (maximum difference between inner and outer cogs). They come in a wide variety. I have an 11/36 cassette and a Shimano Deore SGS RD-M591 derailleur with Dura-Ace bar end shifters. I'm not sure what other shifters this RD is compatible with.
Mostly I want to minimize customizations / new work. Would like something that is fairly close to what I want as is. I am not handy and can't (and don't want) to change out the parts myself. Willing to invest more once it is confirmed I "like" road bikes.

The one I tried had a new rear wheel and original front wheel. Not sure how I feel about that. I do want to test a couple more options. And I have 3 more nearby stores to check out. I also saw an OK craigslist option, but it is a little far away.

That being said, picking out a steel road bike frame I like is important, as I doubt my aesthetic tastes will change. Changing out bar tape, shifters, wheels, etc could all be on the table at some point. Vintage frames seem to be better suited to create a touring or rando or whatever sort of ideas I may have that require a faster / more comfy bike for longer distances.

I don't need to be a speed demon by any means. I like the idea of going farther, and do want some somewhat practical options available. Like a rack (but no baskets).
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