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what to look for?

Old 06-24-02, 01:07 PM
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gekko1
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what to look for?

i'm making the transition to road bikes and would like some sugestions on what to look for in purchasing my first road bike. such as frame materials, aluminum, chromo or steel. i am a heavy guy at 180 lbs. threaded/non threaded forks, does it matter and anything else. gears, wheels, hubs. thanks.
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Old 06-24-02, 02:19 PM
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Originally posted by gekko1
i'm making the transition to road bikes and would like some sugestions on what to look for in purchasing my first road bike. such as frame materials, aluminum, chromo or steel. i am a heavy guy at 180 lbs. threaded/non threaded forks, does it matter and anything else. gears, wheels, hubs. thanks.

For steel Id look for Reynolds tubing or something comparable.

For aluminum, 6000 and 7000 series(if you find a 7XXX frame) are about the best there is. Check the welds, good welds are consistent and should bulge out but be symmetrical in pattern and shape. Make sure there is no discoloration/cracks etc on or around the weld.

Aluminum gives a harsher ride but can be leveled out with a steel or carbon fork. Aluminum is lighter than steel.

Steel gives the best ride (my opinion) but can be heavy.

I have no experience with titanium.

I like both threaded and non threaded forks. threaded are nice with a traditional quill stem because you can adjust it more often if need be and I like the traditional idea of a threaded/quill set up. Non threaded are simpler in design and are a great choice too, much more modern.

Componet groups are going to have more to do with what you use the bike for. If you want to race, you will want 105 (shimano) or above Id guess (or something from Campagnolo line); they are lighter ,more reliable and much more resistant to wear. If not then Sora or Tiagra are quality parts that are more geared towards value vs. sheer performance, but still miles ahead of most of the no name or junk components.
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Old 06-25-02, 09:16 AM
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Originally posted by gekko1
i'm making the transition to road bikes and would like some sugestions on what to look for in purchasing my first road bike. such as frame materials, aluminum, chromo or steel. i am a heavy guy at 180 lbs. threaded/non threaded forks, does it matter and anything else. gears, wheels, hubs. thanks.
Bikes are not like automobiles. When you buy a Ford, you generally get a Ford engine, a Ford chassis, Ford wheels etc. Bikes are a bit more like Personal Computers. The manufacturer makes the frame and hangs components on it. All of the manufacturers pretty much use the same components at the same price range.

A frame has some effect. The biggest effect is geometry - that is whether the bike is "laid back" for smooth riding or "aggressive" for high performance. Frame material has some effect. Oversized aluminum will be light but tend to have a harsher ride with decent high performance. Steel tends to be a little heavy but gives a good ride and handling characteristics.

As to the components, Shimano 105 is a good blend of performance vs price especially if you are thinking about high performance riding. If not, you might want Tiagra or Soro.

Wheels - people get into pretty fancy aero wheels these days. I have read that aero wheels do improve performance by about 15 seconds in an hour time trial if you can average at least 25 mph. Very very few cyclists can turn in 25 mph avgs in time trials so most people are buying these wheels for looks.

Gears - that is pretty individual. I tend to ride a high rpm which means I use lower gears than most riders. On short steep hills (less than 1 mile), I do fine with a double chain ring set up. But on long climbs (like in the Rockies), I like a triple so I can sit and spin. Some people will not consider a triple - it seems more a matter of ego than anything else. But if that is what they like, they can do it that way. It is no skin off of my nose. On higher end road bikes with double chain rings, most bikes come with gears that are a little high for the avg fit rider (we are not all on the Tour). I would advise getting a rear cluster that is a bit backed off - instead of a 12-21 a 12-25 (if you have any hills that you are going to ride).
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Old 06-25-02, 10:30 AM
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Gekko -

If you're fairly serious about your riding, I suggest you go to a LBS and get fitted first before looking at bikes. That way you'll have a better idea of which bikes are best suited to your individual build and riding style. Seeing how you are in S.F. you shouldn't have a problem locating a good bike shop. Ask your roadie friends which shops they are happy with.

Frames are also a matter of aesthetics. I have a hard time imagining myself on either a compact geo. frame or a large tubed AL frame.
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Old 06-25-02, 12:23 PM
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how can i tell if a frame's geo is laid back or agressive? thanks.
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Old 06-25-02, 12:40 PM
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Originally posted by gekko1
how can i tell if a frame's geo is laid back or agressive? thanks.
The first thing to try is to take different bikes for a spin and see how they feel. Do you feel like you're tucked over the bars? That's agressive.

Quantitatively, it usually refers to the angle of the headtube and seattube. A 54 cm Trek 2300 has steeper angles [73/74] than a 53 cm Lemond [73/73.25] or a cyclocross bike [typically 72/73] or a touring bike [typically 70/73]. That makes it more agressive. The handling will be a little more positive, or "twitchy," depending on your preference.
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Old 06-25-02, 02:07 PM
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what about straight and curved forks, pros and cons?
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Old 06-25-02, 04:25 PM
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To be honest, with carbon fibre forks, the differences in ride quality between straight and curved forks is pretty minimal. Back in the days when bicycle forks were only made of metal, a curve could give a fork slightly more vibration damping properties than a straight blade.

What is more important these days is the fork blade cross-section [though this really only bears at time-trial speeds] and fork offset/rake, which is the measure of the position of the hub relative to the steering axis. This latter can be really important, since it has a lot to do with how responsive a bike will be.

Typically, forks with less offset [say, 40 mm] give a bike more responsive/twitchier handling than forks with more offset [say, 45 mm]. Also typically, but not always, straight blade forks have less offset than curved and are constructed in such a way to be stiffer than curved.
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