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Advice for a Cycling Noob

Old 05-29-12, 11:26 PM
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Albatrosspro
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Advice for a Cycling Noob

[Sorry if GCD is not the right place for this; I didn't see a forum specifically for people new to cycling.)

After biking casually at different times through much of my life, I've finally decided to really try getting into road biking. I'm leaning towards a new entry level road bike of some kind, hopefully around $1000. Mostly, I just want a bike that gives me the feeling of going fast, and really allows me to push and enjoy myself. Though I'm not looking towards building up to racing or anything competitive - it's not my goal or my style - I still want to jump into the sport and really get a taste for it.

I will be biking primarily on paved roads and trails in my area that are popular with cyclists. However, what I'm really looking for is something that I can just treat as a second (albeit wheeled) pair of legs-- hop on, ride for 10 miles for the exercise, then switch to regular roads for a bit to take to the library, a friend's place, etc. I guess what I'm saying is that I want something at least a little forgiving, that is not only reasonably light and quick but won't punish me for leaving the pristine bike path. (Still, I should add that this is not at all for commuting or anything truly bumpy.)

One personal note: There are a lot of guys in my suburban area who just love to buy $3000 bikes, obnoxious Lance Armstrong tube shirts, and take to the road in full ******baggery. Anything I can do to avoid that image would be appreciated. (Just throwing it out there.)

Mostly I'm just looking for a great bike for these goals and great value. Thanks!
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Old 05-31-12, 09:25 AM
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Rule 1: there are more asshats in cycling, especially on road bikes, than any other sport with the possible exception of downhill skiing. And I say that as a guy who's been riding since 1972. All you can do is ignore them and don't become one.
For the riding you describe, I think I'd recommend a hybrid. Lots of people will disagree, but I have several bikes, and the one I ride most often, just to hop on and go, is a hybrid. I've done everything from fire trails to a fast (for me) century on it with just tire changes to accommodate the conditions. It's comfortable, reliable, fast enough and didn't cost a ton (I bought better bikes before I retired than I can afford now--I have two $3000+ bikes in the garage and love them, but the one I grab-and-go is the hybrid).
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Old 05-31-12, 09:38 AM
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My advice would be different.

1) Avoid buying a new road bike for the first 1000 miles at least.

2) Scour your local Craigslist to find the seller* who refurbishes and flips 1980s mid-level road bikes. Contact the seller and present him with an opportunity to furnish a bike for you, giving him your height and other sizing information. Begin to do your homework...

*this person will know A LOT about bicycles, will love the sport, and will likely be obsessed with doing everything to the best of his abilities. I know several of these folks - they're out there. Heck, many of them contribute daily to the C&V forum here.

3) While looking for the local best flipper, make sure to follow up on ads to test ride several used bikes that are in your size, but only ones that have been restored, not "raw" old dirty ones.

4) Once you locate the right seller, ask him to dial you in fit wise, test ride a few, and will find you one within 30 days that will be a first rate ride. You might pay $300, but you'll have a bike that will be suitable for learning what you really want later on.

My two cents. This method will work - you'll be riding soon and won't have dumped significant money into a bike that doesn't work for you (the internet "what bike should I buy?" or LBS "sell me a bike", routes).

PG
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Old 05-31-12, 09:40 AM
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Do you ride now? Is there a group that you want to ride with?

If you're buying your first bike, think of it as the "test bike". Ride it for around 1,000 miles and make a mental list of what you like and what you hate about it. There's a good chance that after 1,000 miles those things will change significantly. Remember all that when you eventually go out to get the "good" bike.

If there's a group that you'd like to ride with, buy a bike that's similar to what they have. You can't really ride singletrack on a road bike and you won't be able to keep up on the road with a mountain bike if everybody else has road bikes.
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Old 05-31-12, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Phil_gretz View Post
My advice would be different.

1) Avoid buying a new road bike for the first 1000 miles at least.

2) Scour your local Craigslist to find the seller* who refurbishes and flips 1980s mid-level road bikes. Contact the seller and present him with an opportunity to furnish a bike for you, giving him your height and other sizing information. Begin to do your homework...

*this person will know A LOT about bicycles, will love the sport, and will likely be obsessed with doing everything to the best of his abilities. I know several of these folks - they're out there. Heck, many of them contribute daily to the C&V forum here.

3) While looking for the local best flipper, make sure to follow up on ads to test ride several used bikes that are in your size, but only ones that have been restored, not "raw" old dirty ones.

4) Once you locate the right seller, ask him to dial you in fit wise, test ride a few, and will find you one within 30 days that will be a first rate ride. You might pay $300, but you'll have a bike that will be suitable for learning what you really want later on.

My two cents. This method will work - you'll be riding soon and won't have dumped significant money into a bike that doesn't work for you (the internet "what bike should I buy?" or LBS "sell me a bike", routes).

PG
Not everyone shares your faith in Craigslist sellers.

You might wander over to the Over 50 forum because there are a lot of newbies over there and the old-timers are happy to share their experience with you. Just don't tell them your real age and ignore the colonoscopy threads.
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Old 05-31-12, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
You might wander over to the Over 50 forum because there are a lot of newbies over there and the old-timers are happy to share their experience with you. Just don't tell them your real age and ignore the colonoscopy threads.
And even the grouchy ones can be bribed with pie.
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Old 05-31-12, 09:52 AM
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I think a a touring or cyclocross (CX) bike is a good idea. These are not fragile road-racing bikes, but tougher bikes that can fit fatter tires and tackle rougher terrain when required. Touring bikes are generally heavier but have more gears than CX bikes, which are designed for CX racing and are lighter and quicker handling. However, with some 28 or 32mm wide high pressure road tires you can travel 97% as fast and as far as a true road bike on either.

However, the 'type' or 'brand' or 'weight' or quality of bike are less important than the fit of the bike - to enjoy riding and ride often you need a bike that you can ride without discomfort. THe main advantage of these bikes over hybrid bikes is the drop handlebars which offer multiple hand positions to avoid neck, back, hand, and arm fatigue from staying int he same position for hoursa at a time. But drop bars take a bit of getting used to and can not be used to their full potential if the bike is not the right size for the rider.

I think you should go to the LBS and see what sort of touring, CX, or 'road-sport' bikes they carry. That way you can discuss fit and even try the bike out to be sure it is comfortable. Most LBSs can also help you make adjustments or swap parts if necessary to dial in the fit for you..
Used bikes are often a great deal, but you usually don't get a selection of sizes to choose from, and unless you have ridden a road bike and know how they are supoposed to fit you will be kind of in the dark.
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Old 05-31-12, 10:10 AM
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Good advice here. My main ride is a 30 year old touring bike. Second choice is a $25 Schwinn hybrid.

$1,000 is a realistic number. You can get a bike that will last you for decades to come. Get a good floor pump also. Most bikes I see have underinflated tires.
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Old 05-31-12, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
Not everyone shares your faith in Craigslist sellers.
In my area (DC Metro) there are three that I would trust. I'm one of them. Their selection of bikes, fairly high turnover, and obvious attention to detail are evident. You have to know what you're looking for, though...

Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
... the old-timers are happy to share their experience with you. Just don't tell them your real age and ignore the colonoscopy threads.
Hey! I resemble that remark. Just had my 2-year colonoscopy a couple of months ago. Let me tell you about it...
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Old 05-31-12, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Albatrosspro View Post
One personal note: There are a lot of guys in my suburban area who just love to buy $3000 bikes, obnoxious Lance Armstrong tube shirts, and take to the road in full ******baggery. Anything I can do to avoid that image would be appreciated. (Just throwing it out there.)
Maybe they think you're a ****** bag too. Or do you also think that hockey, football, and baseball players are DBs for wearing sport appropriate clothing and equiptment?
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Old 05-31-12, 11:00 AM
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In most of the world, people ride bicycles in regular clothing, so there's really no need to go the full dress route. My rural neighborhood is a popular spot for the full dress types to come and ride, arriving by car of course. I have nothing but good will toward these fine folks, who represent maybe 70% of the riders in this area, but as a local I prefer to seen as such and find regular shorts and tee shirts just fine for most riding. Although I do opt for padded shorts on longer weekend rides.

I agree with those who suggest a relatively inexpensive CL used bike for the first 1,000 miles or so to better learn what it is you want in a bike.
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Old 05-31-12, 11:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Albatrosspro View Post
[Sorry if GCD is not the right place for this; I didn't see a forum specifically for people new to cycling.)

After biking casually at different times through much of my life, I've finally decided to really try getting into road biking. I'm leaning towards a new entry level road bike of some kind, hopefully around $1000. Mostly, I just want a bike that gives me the feeling of going fast, and really allows me to push and enjoy myself. Though I'm not looking towards building up to racing or anything competitive - it's not my goal or my style - I still want to jump into the sport and really get a taste for it.

I will be biking primarily on paved roads and trails in my area that are popular with cyclists. However, what I'm really looking for is something that I can just treat as a second (albeit wheeled) pair of legs-- hop on, ride for 10 miles for the exercise, then switch to regular roads for a bit to take to the library, a friend's place, etc. I guess what I'm saying is that I want something at least a little forgiving, that is not only reasonably light and quick but won't punish me for leaving the pristine bike path. (Still, I should add that this is not at all for commuting or anything truly bumpy.)

One personal note: There are a lot of guys in my suburban area who just love to buy $3000 bikes, obnoxious Lance Armstrong tube shirts, and take to the road in full ******baggery. Anything I can do to avoid that image would be appreciated. (Just throwing it out there.)

Mostly I'm just looking for a great bike for these goals and great value. Thanks!
First find a LBS you like and people you trust. Then just about everyone makes a road bike within your budget, or at least close. example: http://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebik...port_spec.html They may have 8-9 speed cassettes but more than likely they will be more relaxed than a full on race bike. But a good bike store will sell you a bike that fits and a bike that fits is more likely to be ridden. just leave the platform pedals on it and you can use it to jump on and ride. Or if you wish you are allowed to use MTB pedals on a road bike and thus MTB shoes for walking.

And just remember there just may be a reason some of the people in your area ride the bikes they ride and dress the way they do. If as you say you jump into the "sport" you may find yourself riding faster than you expected or maybe even riding with a group. If you ride with a group you might even work up a sweat, it happens. If you wear cotton or many other shirts when you sweat and shorts or pants with a flat felt seam in the crotch you just might discover it is uncomfortable on a fast warm ride. You might even discover a wicking jersey and bike shorts are more comfortable than what you wear to walk around in. then one day you might try a cycling jersey and maybe even cycling shorts and all in one swoop you will be looked on as a Lance wannabe. In truth many roadies would love to be able to ride like Lance, Roberto, Andy or Codel but that is a different story. Then you may be bitten by the N+1 bug and someone in a group you ride with offereds to sell you their $3000.00 road bike for $1100.00 and you can't pass up the deal. Then one day someone new on a utility or commuter bike sees you riding by and says to themselves, look at that Lance wannabe, even if you never wanted to be like lance. Just sayin.
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Old 05-31-12, 01:41 PM
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There are cylcing specific clothes made that are not plastered with offensive logos, you all realize, right

JK. I have 'racing' type clothes that are tighter fitting and have cycling logs, and I have baggy cycling shorts (with a tighter liner and chamois) and plain cycling jerseys that can be worn to a restaurant or café without feeling like a DB or like I have to cover my crotchular region with my hands as I walk. Tighter clothes are actually more comfortable to ride in but less comfortable to be seen in. The best choice depends on where and how I plan to ride.
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Old 05-31-12, 02:43 PM
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I bought my first road bike off CL for $350, rode it for a while to make sure it fit me, then spent $300 doing a complete overhaul and replacing a couple drivetrain components. I absolutely love it. I figure I'd have to at least double my outlay for an equivalent new bike. But since the bike was so cheap, and already used, I'd have just turned around and resold it for what I payed for it had it not fit me right.

With regard to CL ads, only bother with ones that are very specific about the bike, as non-scammers are more likely to include this type of info, like "this is a 54cm Cannondale XXX with 105 drivetrain, XXX wheels, and a new XXXX that I had put on". If the ad reads "this is a blue bike with them skinny tires and racing handlebars that I have to get rid of because I'm uh....moving" run away!
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Old 06-01-12, 02:08 AM
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I think there are good bikes in the $1000 price range. But that is a lot of money, so you probably want to make sure you buy the right bike. I also see you said you want "to try to getting into road biking". It seems like you have some doubts and spending $1000 to find you don't like biking would be sad. So, I'm on the side of trying to find a bike on craigslist, ride it for a while and figure out what you like or done like. You may be able to sell the CL bike on CL for almost as much as you paid for it.

I agree that going to some LBS and looking at various bikes might help you decide. Other than road biking and not racing, there aren't many other details about what type of riding you want to do. Hills? Touring? 20 mile or 100 mile rides?

There are several categories of drop bar road bikes: performance/aggressive/race, plush (relaxed geometry, but still fast), touring, cyclocross cover most of what you will see them called.

While I agree that elite road cyclist can often be snooty, most of the cyclists that I encounter are pleasant and friendly enough. i generally exchange pleasantries while waiting at red lights.
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Old 06-01-12, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Albatrosspro View Post
One personal note: There are a lot of guys in my suburban area who just love to buy $3000 bikes, obnoxious Lance Armstrong tube shirts, and take to the road in full ******baggery. Anything I can do to avoid that image would be appreciated. (Just throwing it out there.)

Mostly I'm just looking for a great bike for these goals and great value. Thanks!
Stay away from the Road forum here, it's chock full of some of those kind of folks ! Personally, I'm a big fan of Trek and I'd reccomend the 2.1 series with the 105 group on it. I think it's a quality bike for the price ($1400 MSRP). However, like most other modern bikes it's full of brand placement and can be very "loud" looking to some.

If that is a problem for you, I'd suggest going on Craigslist and getting a metal-framed road bike that fits you that is a good price. Take a little bit extra and get it repainted to a functional but non-flashy paint job and you will sitting pretty.

For clothing, unless you plan on doing countless miles, then just use a regular T-shirt. It won't keep you as cool, but you'll look more normal than someone in a cycling kit. Also invest in some mountain bike shorts. They can come in a baggy look, but still offer a nice chamois padding inside.
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Old 06-01-12, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Dudelsack View Post
You might wander over to the Over 50 forum....Just don't tell them your real age and ignore the colonoscopy threads.


57 years old
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Old 06-01-12, 02:28 PM
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For the record, I am a Jens Wannabe.

And contrary to popular opinion, a road bike will not disintegrate if ridden on rough pavement or even gravel. Unless of course it's made of carbon fiber.
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Old 06-04-12, 02:40 AM
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Hey, thanks for the responses, didn't realize this thread had been replied to. I started another that's much more specific to bike-hunting, and have been lucky to have some great help there: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ike-Recs/page2.

As far as the comment at the end about the road-bike culture, I had a feeling it would come to bite me. I'm not blaming people for wearing sports-specific clothing, but rather a certain snooty attitude that can accompany it. I think some of the posters above know what I'm talking about. There happen to be a lot of these in the area where I live, who have more disposable income than anything else.
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