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Old 09-13-13, 10:40 PM   #1
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Need help with buying an entry level road bike

I'm sure you get someone in my shoes on here a lot, so please bear with me; I would really appreciate it/appreciate the help

For the past two years, I have been riding a very cheap bike that I got at a bike auction for 40 dollars. The name of the bike was painted over, but essentially it probably came from Kmart, Sears, etc back in the 1990s. It has held up, but can only really commute with it and not use it for real road cycling. So for the past three months I have been looking around and there are just so many options and with the limited experience I have, I can't decipher and differ between them. I can afford up to $500, so looking for an entry level bike/whatever that can afford me with the best quality/value. However, as I have found out, virtually all LBS sell bikes that start at $600 (the cheapest I have found in my area). $500 itself is really pushing my budget, which I know is a small budget considering how expensive road bikes can get but it's all I can afford for now/within the next four years (just a college freshman). So, does anyone know of any good entry level road bikes/really any road bike that will fit into my budget and last/hold up at least for the next four years? I'm looking to do some serious riding/mostly with local road cycling groups but maybe a fun competitive tournament/race to raise money for a good cause kinda thing if the opportunity arises. Nothing beyond that though. I've been looking around websites like bikesdirect, amazon, etc and they have a lot of bikes at the $250-$500 range, but have no clue which one to go for/which is the best value/quality. Also, there is a local seller on Craigslist, selling a bike for $500 (he claims he built the bike for $900) and it seems like a good bike, but I'm not really sure. I'm 5'10 and would assume the size he lists (54cm) should fit me (I know it won't be exact, but good enough?). Any help would be much appreciated!

Here are the specs from the seller on craigslist:

Shimano 10-speed Shift Cable and Housing

Shimano 105 FD-5700 Clamp-On Front Derailleur

Shimano 105 CS-5700 10-Speed Cassette
SIZE: 12/27

Shimano 105 RD-5700-GS Rear Derailleur

SRAM Apex Compact Crankset

Scattante XRL Comp Road Bike Frame with Fork and Headset

Shimano 105 CN-5701 Chain

Vuelta Corsa Lite Road Wheelset

Nashbar Carbon Fiber Seatpost

Pro Turnix Tri Carbon Saddle

3T ARX OS Road Stem

3t Ergosum Pro Road Bike HandlebarSIZE:

Ritchey Design Pro Biomax Saddle

Continental gator hard shell tires. About 400 miles on them.

(if you click the picture, it should hopefully zoom in/get bigger. If not, please let me know and I'll try to post a bigger one)

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Last edited by markm87; 09-13-13 at 10:54 PM.
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Old 09-14-13, 05:14 AM   #2
we be rollin'
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It's worth more than $500.

In general, for road bikes, you'd have...
Shimano 2400
Shimano Sora
Shimano Tiagra
Shimano 105

I spent months doing research on bicycle parts. From what I've seen, if you're looking at a bike with disc brakes and suspension forks, a bicycle with the same price as one with rigid forks and V-brakes or caliper brakes will have higher quality shifters and derailleurs. However, if someone was looking at a bike with Tiagra or Deore shifters and derailleurs, it may have cheaper bottom brackets, hubs and brakes. In other words, sometimes a bicycle from a manufacturer may be cheap but you can see where they've cut corners to reduce the price.

Someone building his own bicycle may have used higher quality brottom brackets, hubs and brakes which means for $500, you'd never find this quality level in a bike shop. It's probably a steal although it depends what someone thinks of the ride/frame.
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Old 09-14-13, 10:13 AM   #3
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there are really only two things
that can go wrong when you buy a bike

the bike does not work properly or breaks down soon after you buy it

the bike does not fit

if the bike breaks
you fix it
higher quality bikes tend to have components that
are more durable and
stay in adjustment longer
cheaper bikes are harder to keep running perfectly
but when they work
you will be able to do all the road riding you want

bikes come in different sizes
except for most department store bikes
and different bikes fit differently
even different models from the same manufacturer
although adjustments can usually be made to get the fit more
dialed in
for your body and preferences

of the two possible problems
the second one is much much more important

if the bike doesnt fit
no matter how lightweight it is or how many gears it has
it will not be any fun to ride

most people fit a narrow range of sizes
with one more or less ideal size
and a couple other sizes that will also work
but are more likely to need adjustment
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Old 09-16-13, 12:37 PM   #4
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That specific bike looks like a good deal -- if it fits you. 54cm may fit you, or it may be a size small. It's very hard to say, because each manufacturer uses different sizing guidelines, sometimes even different across their model range. Some frames have traditional geometry (horizontal top tube), some have compact geometry (top tube slopes up to the handlebars), and this makes these measurements difficult to use empircally. At 5'10", I'd recommend a 56 or 58cm traditional frame, but a 54cm could work.

Your biggest fit problem with this frame may be handlebar height. It looks like the bars are mounted at the top of the headset stack already, so you couldn't raise them higher. However, you could turn the handlebar stem upside down (to make it slope up) which would get you more height. I mention handlebar height because this bike has an aggressive body position compared to non-road bikes. You may want higher handlebars until you get used to being leaned so far forward. You can get handlebar stems in many lengths and angles, and you might even try an adjustable one with variable angle to help you dial in your best riding position.

This specific bike is a solid entry-mid level road bike, with good components and a decent aluminum frame. Aluminum "racing" frames like this are very stiff but also quite fast. As an new road biker, this would be a good bike. It may seem aggressive at first, but you could ride this bike for years without ever feeling the need to upgrade.

For comfort, you may want to put fatter tires on the bike when these wear out. 25mm is a noticeable change from the (usually) standard 23mm tires without being any slower. 28mm tires may or may not fit. That's usually the limit on "racing" frames. You may want to put on a more comfortable seat as well; enthusiast bikers tolerate way stiffer seats than noobs do.

The final question is the condition of the bike. Is it clean? Has it been serviced by a professional? Sounds like the seller built it himself, so it may have quirks or errors (we all mess things up sometimes) from a home build. Or it may be sparkly perfect. If you're unsure, have the bike inspected by a shop before you buy. This bike has a quality frame with quality components, and is a good deal if it fits and is in good shape.
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Old 09-16-13, 03:39 PM   #5
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Overall deduction on bike ,,,,,, it's got good components 105 is good! size,, for you at 5'10" sounds real close to what you need, if frame is in good shape and you ride it and it feels right, then I don't think you can get a better deal for 500.00! of course you know there is something you will have to buy or fix , but overall it looks good,,,,,,,,,,imho
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Old 09-16-13, 10:46 PM   #6
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Bike shops are useful, you can take test rides..
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