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Test Riding and what to look for as a complete beginner

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Test Riding and what to look for as a complete beginner

Old 01-29-20, 07:38 PM
  #1  
aabb
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Test Riding and what to look for as a complete beginner

Hi. I have no cycling shoes and no pedals, so how exactly am I to test ride the bikes I am interested in? Its a dumb question that I guess the answer to would be just buy them I assume.

Secondly, what type of test ride should I ask for? I think a 5-10 minute test ride is pointless, so maybe I should ask to rent the bike and if I buy the bike to have the rental fee credited towards the bike's purchase (but in my research so far very few places around me rent bikes, and when they do they tend to be super high end bikes).

Third, and most importantly, what am I even supposed to look for when I test ride? I'm a complete beginner, last time I rode a bike was when I learned how to ride bikes as a kid. How am I supposed to figure out if any discomfort or awkwardness is due to the fact that I'm a beginner and it will take some getting used to OR if its because something is wrong (e.g. saddle is uncomfortable, etc.)?
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Old 01-29-20, 07:58 PM
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At a bike shop, they may put on cheap, platform pedals for test rides.

What type of riding do you think you will do ?
What's the terrain like near you ?
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Old 01-29-20, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
At a bike shop, they may put on cheap, platform pedals for test rides.

What type of riding do you think you will do ?
What's the terrain like near you ?
I think I will mostly do roads, say 70%, with some gravel for sure. So I was looking at the Domane SL 5, but recently came across a 2019 Cervelo C3 discounted from 5k (CAD) to 3K (Ultegra vs. the SL5's 105 groupset). The C3 only has 32 tire clearance, however. Right now its pretty much between those 2.
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Old 01-29-20, 11:18 PM
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Originally Posted by aabb View Post
I think I will mostly do roads, say 70%, with some gravel for sure. So I was looking at the Domane SL 5, but recently came across a 2019 Cervelo C3 discounted from 5k (CAD) to 3K (Ultegra vs. the SL5's 105 groupset). The C3 only has 32 tire clearance, however. Right now its pretty much between those 2.
Does that say $3000 discounted from $5000?
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Old 01-29-20, 11:28 PM
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As your first bike, look for a used one that costs under $500. You don't know if you'll like it or all the details of riding yet. Most people do not get their first bike right and a $500 garage ornament is much better than a $3000.

You don't need special shoes or pedals to ride a bike. Start with flats and slowly move to a nicer set of flats or clip ins if you get into cycling.
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Old 01-29-20, 11:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Nyah View Post
Does that say $3000 discounted from $5000?
yes it does

edit: Msrp of 5k, now itís 3K3, so a discount of 2k
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Old 01-30-20, 07:17 AM
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Bridges for sale here, discounted.
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Old 01-30-20, 07:18 AM
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Originally Posted by 63rickert View Post
Bridges for sale here, discounted.
sorry what?
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Old 01-30-20, 07:38 AM
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Test ride those two bikes that are on sale. Make sure they fit before buying though. You have to get the right size no matter what. Those two bikes are two good ones to test ride. Enjoy. There are road bikes, gravel bikes, hybrids, fitness bikes and mountain bikes (with 5 categories).
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Old 01-30-20, 07:51 AM
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Originally Posted by katsup View Post
As your first bike, look for a used one that costs under $500. You don't know if you'll like it or all the details of riding yet. Most people do not get their first bike right and a $500 garage ornament is much better than a $3000.

You don't need special shoes or pedals to ride a bike. Start with flats and slowly move to a nicer set of flats or clip ins if you get into cycling.
Agree 100%. You are a complete beginner and its like someone who is taking driving lessons to get a license buying a Ferrari.
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Old 01-30-20, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by San Rensho View Post
Agree 100%. You are a complete beginner and its like someone who is taking driving lessons to get a license buying a Ferrari.
Yup. And there's a decent chance that one year out you realize that you're really a Land Rover kind of guy.

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Old 01-30-20, 08:27 AM
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It's your money, but you don't need to spend three thousand dollars to get into cycling. Think of your first bike as a starter bike not the last bike you will ever buy. Nearly everyone I know who's into cycling is not still riding their first bike, and many people own several bikes. If I were buying a new bike for someone in my family, I'd get something like the Domane AL 3. Versatile and good enough that it won't really hold you back as you are getting started. Ride it for a season or two, see what kind of riding you like to do, then you will be a lot smarter when you go to buy your next better bike. You can either sell the first bike or keep it as a backup/rain bike. I personally don't think you'll learn very much on a test ride. As a new rider you won't be able to tell the difference between fit that is adjustable and characteristics of the bike itself. You can tell how the bike is going to fit by sitting on it in the shop, and once you get your fit dialed in, you can tell just by looking at the frame geometry.
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Old 01-30-20, 08:49 AM
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The dealer will install some platform pedals for you.

You can glean from a quick test ride whether the bike is going to fit or not, and you can get a feel for the handling characteristics. Like whether it is light and lively or heavy and ponderous. You may even be able to talk a dealer into an extended test ride.

You cannot know from a test ride whether it is THE bike for you. We all have to kinda become one with the bike over time to know that. I do think a test ride can tell you if it is NOT the one for you.

At that price point, as long as the bike fits, you cannot really make a bad decision. Just know that it will take time to really get comfortable on it once you buy it. While it may happen, I think it's unrealistic to expect a new or reentry rider to buy a bike and go for for a perfectly comfortable 30 mile ride.

Kingston touched on this. You do not have to spend 3K on a bike to get a very good one. If you were to hop on a $400 bike then an $800 bike, you'd feel a substantial difference and be able to tell that doubling the price is well worth it. If you went from that $800 bike to a $1600 bike you'd also be able to feel a difference, though not as pronounced. Then from a $1600 bike to a $3200 bike the differences will become more subtle and less palpable yet. There is a point of diminishing returns. Because people on this forum love to argue over trivial crap, I'll qualify my post by saying that I don't speak in absolutes, but rather generalities.
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Old 01-30-20, 09:02 AM
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I'm going to go even stronger on this point than the other posters--it isn't just what surfaces you're going to ride on, you don't know whether you're looking for a bike to do little 10 mile jaunts, pounding 50 miles, grinding out 100 miles, or zipping through 150. I'm not even sure you know what kind of handlebars you'll be comfortable with. I don't think you know whether you're going to want to push yourself hard or just go for a comfortable pace and look at the scenery.

All of those are perfectly legitimate uses for a bike, but very few of them require really high end equipment, and the likelihood that a decent low cost bike is going to limit you at this skill level is pretty much zero. You likely will "outgrow" your first bike, but it isn't clear at all what the direction of that "growth" is likely to be.

I know shops that will let you take a bike out for a half hour to an hour provided you let them hold your drivers license. Maybe a good idea to call around and see if the shops in your area allow this, and focus your shopping on them. Try out a variety of types of bikes with platform pedals. Later on you can decide whether clicking in is for you, but that's a whole other discussion.
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Old 01-30-20, 09:31 AM
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The price range doesn't matter as to the length of the test ride, most shops if there is area to ride will let you do a 10-15 min ride, some areas like in large cities don't really have the space for a good test and most shops don't have the insurance in place to cover a rental. The shop I was at that did rentals often rented really cheap for cruising the Erie Canal towpath and high end from buying out the sales rep's demo fleet at a huge discount. But it doesn't take long to know if a bike is a reasonably comfortable fit. And the shop should be willing to spend some time with you on a trainer or the like dialing in some of the fit with reach and set back. Seats are a different issue. I've had plenty that within 5 min I knew were uncomfortable and have discarded, as a real beginner finding a seat uncomfortable after 35-40 min won't be surprising, your butt has to get used to sitting on one and shorts help. If it is more then discomfort but physical pain or numbness then the seat is no good. Saddle sores are a slightly different issue.
As to many of these people claiming shop used, don't. As a completely new person you have no clue what you are looking at. You possibly don't even know if someone is selling you a crap brand, a good brand that's an antique or something so broken down that it looks polished but will cost another 500 to fix let alone if the fit is good enough to adjust. From my own experience, if you can afford a 3k dollar bike then get it. The Cervelo, if it fits, sounds awesome and like a great bargain; if it fits. The difference between bikes does get incremental as prices go up; you can't help but notice the difference between a 700.00 bike and a 3k. You might not notice the difference between the 3k trek and the originally 5k Cervelo though I suspect you still might notice some difference, it is diminishing returns. I have cheap bikes and more expensive bikes, mine run from about 1200 upto 5k, the 1200 always needed some changes to get them just right, usually I tossed the wheels and tires for better and I'm quite happy with them, but the nicer bike always brings a big smile to my face when I hop on. Maybe it will mean you end up with a 3k wall hanger but maybe it means you'll enjoy it enough you'll want to keep hopping on.
Although jumping on the whole kit is common when getting into cycling I wouldn't always bother, if you don't know how to use the shoes and pedals they're a distraction to getting a feel for the bike. Worst case they make it hard enough to initially just get on and ride that you don't bother. A good pair or 2 of shorts and maybe a jersey but don't bother with more initially. Sneakers on a pair of platform pedals might not be cool to the racing crowd but work just fine for training and learning the bike. My touring bike has platforms, my mtb has dual sided XT which I hardly clip into unless racing and my road bike has clipless, though I use MTB shoes with the road bike for walking, you can figure out your style as you go. But besides shorts, get a seat pack with levers, CO2 pump, spare tube, a lesson in how to use them, a floor pump for home, a pair of bottle cages and bottles and a basic cycle computer. You can see from the list how costs add up for accessories already so focus on the necessities.
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Old 01-30-20, 10:03 AM
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Last time I bought a bike (touring bike), the sales folks were amazed at how long I was riding each bike. It was only 2-3 miles, but the shop was near a nice residential area with hills, flats, straight and curved roads, so I wrung each one out. I didn't buy the one I went there to buy, because another one just felt better.

Mike J. has a good write-up on what to expect and what to look for during a test ride. Check out: How to evaluate a road bike on a test ride | Almost-Daily Diary
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Old 01-30-20, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by aabb View Post
Hi. I have no cycling shoes and no pedals, so how exactly am I to test ride the bikes I am interested in? Its a dumb question that I guess the answer to would be just buy them I assume.

Secondly, what type of test ride should I ask for? I think a 5-10 minute test ride is pointless, so maybe I should ask to rent the bike and if I buy the bike to have the rental fee credited towards the bike's purchase (but in my research so far very few places around me rent bikes, and when they do they tend to be super high end bikes).

Third, and most importantly, what am I even supposed to look for when I test ride? I'm a complete beginner, last time I rode a bike was when I learned how to ride bikes as a kid. How am I supposed to figure out if any discomfort or awkwardness is due to the fact that I'm a beginner and it will take some getting used to OR if its because something is wrong (e.g. saddle is uncomfortable, etc.)?
In the past 2 weeks...
- you narrowed your purchase down to a Bianchi Impulso GRX-600 or Orbea Terra M20-D IX. You were told they are both great bikes and also told they are way more bike than you need, as well as not being the same/similar geometry or components so its as if you dont know what you are looking for.
- then you were on to the Bianchi Infinito CV and were again told its an absurdly expensive bike for a beginner as well as way more bike than you need/will benefit from.
- next you discovered Giant and realize they cost less than the more boutique/limited brands you had narrowed your purchase to.
- a conclusion is then made to buy a Trek Domane SL5.
- the Domane SL5 is suddenly too heavy because...youtube. The bike is continually complimented and basically every poster says to not worry about the weight penalty.
- a visit to a shop nets you a new bike to consider. A Cervelo C3 is now tempting you due to a massive discount. Once again, its advised to not spend this much due to you not knowing what you like/want/need and not being able to fully(or mostly) benefit from the bike.

And now you are asking about how to test ride a bike.

You have been to and spoken with multiple shops. You have declared multiple bikes are your final choice. But you havent ridden any yet?

I recapped because I dont feel like working right now and because it hopefully shows a couple trends to you. 1- you are universally being told you wont benefit from bikes in the price range you are wanting to spend(though if you want to spend that much, so be it). 2- dont get so hung up on tech and components. Instead, focus on geometry and what fits you well. The only way to know that is to actually ride the bikes. You are considering and have declared you will buy bikes that are quite different in fit(geometry) and feel(again, geometry).

Have you not asked any of the shops you have visited/spoken with what their demo/test ride policies are? Please do that. None will require you to have cycling shoes or bring your own pedals. If you want to do that, they will accommodate, but it isnt required. Or better phrased- any shop that would require you to bring your own pedals is a shop you should avoid.
The saddle isnt a good reason to buy or not buy a bike. Most stock saddles are generic/OEM so they can be serviceable for many while still being inexpensive. This is because saddles are often removed and selected after purchase to fit the rider.


Good luck- I really hope you take to cycling since you are going all in on the first purchase.
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Old 01-30-20, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
In the past 2 weeks...
- you narrowed your purchase down to a Bianchi Impulso GRX-600 or Orbea Terra M20-D IX. You were told they are both great bikes and also told they are way more bike than you need, as well as not being the same/similar geometry or components so its as if you dont know what you are looking for.
- then you were on to the Bianchi Infinito CV and were again told its an absurdly expensive bike for a beginner as well as way more bike than you need/will benefit from.
- next you discovered Giant and realize they cost less than the more boutique/limited brands you had narrowed your purchase to.
- a conclusion is then made to buy a Trek Domane SL5.
- the Domane SL5 is suddenly too heavy because...youtube. The bike is continually complimented and basically every poster says to not worry about the weight penalty.
- a visit to a shop nets you a new bike to consider. A Cervelo C3 is now tempting you due to a massive discount. Once again, its advised to not spend this much due to you not knowing what you like/want/need and not being able to fully(or mostly) benefit from the bike.

And now you are asking about how to test ride a bike.

You have been to and spoken with multiple shops. You have declared multiple bikes are your final choice. But you havent ridden any yet?

I recapped because I dont feel like working right now and because it hopefully shows a couple trends to you. 1- you are universally being told you wont benefit from bikes in the price range you are wanting to spend(though if you want to spend that much, so be it). 2- dont get so hung up on tech and components. Instead, focus on geometry and what fits you well. The only way to know that is to actually ride the bikes. You are considering and have declared you will buy bikes that are quite different in fit(geometry) and feel(again, geometry).

Have you not asked any of the shops you have visited/spoken with what their demo/test ride policies are? Please do that. None will require you to have cycling shoes or bring your own pedals. If you want to do that, they will accommodate, but it isnt required. Or better phrased- any shop that would require you to bring your own pedals is a shop you should avoid.
The saddle isnt a good reason to buy or not buy a bike. Most stock saddles are generic/OEM so they can be serviceable for many while still being inexpensive. This is because saddles are often removed and selected after purchase to fit the rider.


Good luck- I really hope you take to cycling since you are going all in on the first purchase.
I understand your intentions, but the way you worded a large portion of your response is not great. Comes across as negative. If you don't feel like answering my questions, then great, don't answer - no one is forcing you. You could just read what I have to say and not reply.

Secondly, what do you honestly expect? Im completely new to this. I will not take the advice of some LBS who often try to sell bikes that exceed people's needs. I would much rather take the advice of people who just want to help without benefiting financially in some way from my purchase.

I am thankful for everyone who has provided tips and suggestions and opinions so far in this thread and the others. It has helped me learn a great deal and day after day I am much better in understanding what bike I want, hence this thread about the test ride as I am getting close to purchasing one.
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Old 01-30-20, 11:10 AM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by mstateglfr View Post
In the past 2 weeks...
- you narrowed your purchase down to a Bianchi Impulso GRX-600 or Orbea Terra M20-D IX. You were told they are both great bikes and also told they are way more bike than you need, as well as not being the same/similar geometry or components so its as if you dont know what you are looking for.
- then you were on to the Bianchi Infinito CV and were again told its an absurdly expensive bike for a beginner as well as way more bike than you need/will benefit from.
- next you discovered Giant and realize they cost less than the more boutique/limited brands you had narrowed your purchase to.
- a conclusion is then made to buy a Trek Domane SL5.
- the Domane SL5 is suddenly too heavy because...youtube. The bike is continually complimented and basically every poster says to not worry about the weight penalty.
- a visit to a shop nets you a new bike to consider. A Cervelo C3 is now tempting you due to a massive discount. Once again, its advised to not spend this much due to you not knowing what you like/want/need and not being able to fully(or mostly) benefit from the bike.

And now you are asking about how to test ride a bike.

You have been to and spoken with multiple shops. You have declared multiple bikes are your final choice. But you havent ridden any yet?

I recapped because I dont feel like working right now and because it hopefully shows a couple trends to you. 1- you are universally being told you wont benefit from bikes in the price range you are wanting to spend(though if you want to spend that much, so be it). 2- dont get so hung up on tech and components. Instead, focus on geometry and what fits you well. The only way to know that is to actually ride the bikes. You are considering and have declared you will buy bikes that are quite different in fit(geometry) and feel(again, geometry).

Have you not asked any of the shops you have visited/spoken with what their demo/test ride policies are? Please do that. None will require you to have cycling shoes or bring your own pedals. If you want to do that, they will accommodate, but it isnt required. Or better phrased- any shop that would require you to bring your own pedals is a shop you should avoid.
The saddle isnt a good reason to buy or not buy a bike. Most stock saddles are generic/OEM so they can be serviceable for many while still being inexpensive. This is because saddles are often removed and selected after purchase to fit the rider.


Good luck- I really hope you take to cycling since you are going all in on the first purchase.
^this is a very kind and measured input, considering. @aabb, you ought to listen to this.

Your pattern strikes me as one that reflects immature (or maybe as yet untested) decision making. You likely need a more mature mentor to take you through this. Your first bike will not be your last bike. Not by a long stretch.

Also, if you are trolling, Bravo.

Last edited by Phil_gretz; 01-30-20 at 01:17 PM.
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Old 01-30-20, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
^this is a very kind and measured input, considering. @aabb, you ought to listen to this.

Your patter strikes me as one that reflects immature (or maybe as yet untested) decision making. You likely need a more mature mentor to take you through this. Your first bike will not be your last bike. Not by a long stretch.

Also, if you are trolling, Bravo.
How is it immature decision making? If I am paying 3k or 4k for a bike I better know for sure it is the bike I want. Yes, you cannot be certain, but I should be confident in my decision. And what better thing to do than ask in a forum of people who know much more than me?

Also, you have people telling me test rides won't tell much especially as a beginner and especially for a 10 minute test ride, while you have people like yourself saying the opposite, and you wonder why I have not test rode yet? I guess you just want me to completely trust whatever the LBS salesman (who probably works on commission or owns the shop) and blindly drop 3k?

And you even think I'm trolling. Which I won't even waste my time responding to.
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Old 01-30-20, 11:33 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by aabb View Post
How is it immature decision making? If I am paying 3k or 4k for a bike I better know for sure it is the bike I want...
So far just about every single response has advised you not to spend that much on your first bike, yet you appear to be ignoring the advice of a lot of experienced people who have been doing this for a very long time. That's not something mature decision makers do.
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Old 01-30-20, 11:34 AM
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aabb
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Originally Posted by kingston View Post
So far just about every single response has advised you not to spend that much on your first bike, yet you appear to be ignoring the advice of a lot of experienced people who have been doing this for a very long time. That's not something mature decision makers do.
No, this is literally the first thread where people have suggested spending much less. All of my previous threads have been about bike X, bike Y, and how that compares to bike Z.
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Old 01-30-20, 11:41 AM
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Originally Posted by aabb View Post
I understand your intentions, but the way you worded a large portion of your response is not great. Comes across as negative. If you don't feel like answering my questions, then great, don't answer - no one is forcing you. You could just read what I have to say and not reply.

Secondly, what do you honestly expect? Im completely new to this. I will not take the advice of some LBS who often try to sell bikes that exceed people's needs. I would much rather take the advice of people who just want to help without benefiting financially in some way from my purchase.

I am thankful for everyone who has provided tips and suggestions and opinions so far in this thread and the others. It has helped me learn a great deal and day after day I am much better in understanding what bike I want, hence this thread about the test ride as I am getting close to purchasing one.

I think the point you're missing is that the experience you'll have actually getting on bikes is far more important data than the massive amount of verbal advice you're seeking. For all we know at this point, you might figure out 5 minutes after getting on a bike that riding isn't for you.

The nicest way I can put this is that it makes no sense to talk about the finer points of difference between expensive bikes when you really have no definition of how you want to use the bike, and the only way you're going to figure that out is by riding bikes.

Basic question--have you ever ridden a bike with drop bars?
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Old 01-30-20, 12:04 PM
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To the Original poster. The amount of money for a first bike is a personal decision. I spent approx 800 bucks on my first road bike. Rode it for 2 years and really liked it. I then spent 2800 bucks on a Specialized Roubaix Elite.( carbon, 105). It is a really sweet bike. I do not get much more enjoyment out of the newer bike than my first bike ( Jamis) Being a new road rider, i did not know what to expect. I enjoy the riding and fitness associated with riding. Did 14000 miles in 3 years on the first one. Have 9000 miles on the 2nd in 2 years.
You could buy a used bike from one of the bike shops and I would feel comfortable that it was in good condition for me to find out if I want to spend more on a better quality bike. You could save your money for a while and make sure you want to continue to ride.

Bottom line in my opinion is buy what you want and spend what you want. You do not have to spend a fortune to get a quality bike and enjoy it. Does not have to be top of the line ( carbon, di2, hydraulic brakes, etc) to be a "good" bike and able to go as many miles as you care to go. Get one and take care of it, will take care of you.
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Old 01-30-20, 12:30 PM
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I don't know the financial situation of the original poster. Maybe $3k is no big deal for him. If that is the case, buy whatever you want.

But I do think that most people make a few mistakes with bike selection for the first several years they are riding, before really settling in to what they want. So because of this, it may make more sense to spend less on those first few mistakes. Then you figure out what type of rider you are and what you really enjoy, and you can tailor a second or third bike to that type of riding.

On the other hand, the Trek Domane is a very versatile type of a bike with a riding geometry that works for many people. And you may get lucky and end up with a very nice bike that you love. And sometimes it takes something new and awesome to spark interest in a new hobby, since you now have skin in the game.

My first road "nicer" bike was something my Father just bought for me on sale, and I got very lucky. I was 14 years old, nearly fully grown, and had outgrown my old 24" wheeled bike. The local bike shop happened to have a 1988 Fuji Sagres SP from the previous model year on sale. Similar to the modern "endurance" category, this bike was part of the versatile "sport touring" category, meaning it was similar to a racing bike with a more relaxed geometry. It was a total accident that I ended up with this bike, but it served me well for many years, before the 1990's mountain bike bug got me. It was also significantly nicer than my older gas pipe "ten speed", and having that nicer bike encouraged me to ride harder and further.

Sometimes having a nicer bike for the first time can be the catalyst that sparks a lifelong interest in cycling.
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