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Beginner - Need advice on bike purchase

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Beginner - Need advice on bike purchase

Old 01-11-18, 11:01 AM
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Beginner - Need advice on bike purchase

All,

I am new to Road Biking and have been wanting to get into training for a Triathlon. I know I could post in the Triathlon section, but from my research I have found that the best option is to get a road bike to start with and move forward from there to make sure I get into it enough to warrant moving up to crazy expensive bikes. That being said, I need to find a bike that is generally good with a little room to enhance and customize and there are so many options it is blowing me away. I have found some relatively well priced used bikes such as a Cannondale Synapse (2015) and a Specialized Allez Sport (2013). I am wanting to see if I can get some input on what I need to be looking for and if one of these is better than another for a beginner that wants to get into Triathlons. Both are 58cm and I am 6'2 - I seem to be right on the line as one bike place told me to get a 58cm and another told me I need a 61cm. Thank you guys so much for your input/advice!
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Old 01-11-18, 11:59 AM
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Fit. It's all about fit. Most frames from top makers are good, and components are normally good, as well, so it comes down to fit. If you're not comfortable on the bike, you'll hate it. Go to a local shop that can fit you for a ride, and go from there. While quality frames and components are important, they are all secondary to fit.

That said, dedicated tri bikes are your choice, rather than a modified road bike. They're usually aero with a riding position optimized for aero, as well. Remember that in most tris you can't draft so aero plays a big role.
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Old 01-11-18, 12:31 PM
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I agree with the above poster on fit being the most important thing. But suggestions of where to start would be easier if you let us know things like budget, expected riding/training routine, etc.

I disagree with the mention that a dedicated tri bike is where you should start. The only reason I say this is because we don't yet know what kind of triathlon you're training for, distance and such. If this is your very first road bike and Triathlon I think your idea of starting on a normal road bike is the right mentality. Positioning will be more comfortable, and training more enjoyable. You can add clip on tri bars for dirt cheap and train a bit with them as you get closer to your race.

Many of the people I ride with do regular mid-sized triathlons using their road bikes and even my most serious Tri riding partners do most of their training on their road bikes, with about 25% of their work on their dedicated tri bikes due to squirreliness and traffic.

Look forward to getting more info from you
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Old 01-11-18, 12:37 PM
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For a first bike, not sure I would recommend a tri bike---harder to sell if things don't go as planned.

Test rides and research is where it is at.

For most Modern frames 58 should suit you---but I am about your size and ride 56 (weird build.) You might also have unusual proportions which might mean yo need a bigger or smaller frame---and every bike varies slightly anyway.

Best thing to do for most folks is to buy a cheaper bike which can serve as a rain-bike/ backup later on and after several hundred or a thousand miles, when you really know how you ride and what fits you, Then spend on a serious bike. Get a $500 bike from BikesDirect or something, or $700 at the bike shop and do a lot of miles.
Later, you might spend $1500-$1800 but you will get the Right bike which will last you for a Long time and the only upgrades would likely be wheels and saddle.

Also ... if you buy a basic road bike, you will always be able to ride in a variety of conditions and situations which might be good for training. That way your next, big purchase could be a really good tri bike if you determined that was still your path. And you would still have a regular road bike for errands, days with a ton of hills to climbs, rainy days, and days when a friend wanted to ride---or when the tri bike was in the shop getting upgrades.

EDIT: @robbyville makes a good point about sprint tris---if the bike leg isn't going to be that long a tri bike, which might be harder to manage in traffic, would not be a huge benefit in the race either--the race would be too shot for the aero advantage to really make a difference.

Last edited by Maelochs; 01-11-18 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 01-11-18, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by rbarwic1
All,

I am new to Road Biking and have been wanting to get into training for a Triathlon. I know I could post in the Triathlon section, but from my research I have found that the best option is to get a road bike to start with and move forward from there to make sure I get into it enough to warrant moving up to crazy expensive bikes. That being said, I need to find a bike that is generally good with a little room to enhance and customize and there are so many options it is blowing me away. I have found some relatively well priced used bikes such as a Cannondale Synapse (2015) and a Specialized Allez Sport (2013). I am wanting to see if I can get some input on what I need to be looking for and if one of these is better than another for a beginner that wants to get into Triathlons. Both are 58cm and I am 6'2 - I seem to be right on the line as one bike place told me to get a 58cm and another told me I need a 61cm. Thank you guys so much for your input/advice!
For someone just starting out on a bike, I'm going to agree with others that proper fit is key. You are better off spending money to get a proper fit on a less expensive bike than buying a "good" bike that doesn't fit you properly. If you are uncomfortable on the bike, you will be slower regardless of what bike you buy.

I also would tend to advise staying away from a Tri/TT specific bike in favor of a standard road bike and maybe some clip on aero bars. I would also recommend avoiding a "race" specific frame geometry for someone just starting out. You mentioned the Allez Sprint, and while I absolutely love mine, I also would absolutely recommend against someone getting that as their first road bike unless they have a lot of other cycling experience, say XC or DH MTB.

I would honestly suggest go to a shop that will get you properly fitted on a $700-1200 bike. Throw some clip on bars on it when you get to that comfort level, and then give it a year or two and see how you like it. If you get to where you're competing a lot, or find that you're riding 3,000-5,000 a year or more, then go and drop money on a better bike and save the first one as a backup or loaner. {edit** Also, wheels are probably the best "first upgrade" you can make. A good set of wheels can make a cheap bike faster and more comfortable, and can be transferred to your new bike when you get to that point {/edit**

Last edited by pesty; 01-11-18 at 01:14 PM.
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Old 01-11-18, 02:49 PM
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I do not compete in triathlons, but if that was my incentive I would want a tri-bike. Otherwise you're giving up a competitive edge. It's not trivial.

I wouldn't want to have only a tri-bike for a general purpose road bike.
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Old 01-11-18, 04:23 PM
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Felt makes some inexpensive Tri bikes that are pretty sweet. If I were doing triathlons, I would want a Tri bike. As mentioned though, probably harder to sell, especially if you're not a common 56/58 size.
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Old 01-11-18, 04:33 PM
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The replies are correct, a road bike might be a better choice if you're going to do some general road riding, as well. My reply assumed you wanted to compete in tris.

But I got the "fit" part right.
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Old 01-13-18, 11:36 AM
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I got into road cycling was the the intention of doing triathalons since I am a runner. I am glad I did not buy a tri bike. I love riding but lost my interest in a tri. road bikes are more versatile. My suggestion would be to buy an entry level road bike with aero bar clip ons. If you compete and like it, buy a nice tri bike and train with the road bike.
I'm 6'02 as well and have had 58's and 61's. Sizing of bikes is not standardized between brands. My old Felt was a 61 while my Colnago is a 59 and my
kona is a 58. Get a fit and be comfortable.

Last edited by Shuffleman; 01-13-18 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 01-13-18, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by rbarwic1
All,

I am new to Road Biking and have been wanting to get into training for a Triathlon. I know I could post in the Triathlon section, but from my research I have found that the best option is to get a road bike to start with and move forward from there to make sure I get into it enough to warrant moving up to crazy expensive bikes. That being said, I need to find a bike that is generally good with a little room to enhance and customize and there are so many options it is blowing me away. I have found some relatively well priced used bikes such as a Cannondale Synapse (2015) and a Specialized Allez Sport (2013). I am wanting to see if I can get some input on what I need to be looking for and if one of these is better than another for a beginner that wants to get into Triathlons. Both are 58cm and I am 6'2 - I seem to be right on the line as one bike place told me to get a 58cm and another told me I need a 61cm. Thank you guys so much for your input/advice!
Let yourself find out if you like bike riding in general. I mean road bike riding. It would take a while to get in conditioning for bike riding. Triathlon is quite a ways off. Even tri guys have two bikes and I see them on road bikes doing road bike rides. I would imagine where I am at, there are a lot of Tri riders. Every once in a while, I would ride up to a tri rider on Pacific Coast Highway.

Tri riding is another skill set.
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Old 01-14-18, 08:24 PM
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All,

Thanks for the good information. I have been doing a lot of reading and research and have come to the decision to buy a road bike for now and use it in the first few sprint to half tris and see if that passion develops.

Now, even though I am getting a first road bike I am assuming that 105’s are the lowest I should go in regards to components? From what I understand the Claris is the 8 speed and should be avoided, the Sora is the 9 and the 105’s, ultegra, and dura aces are th 11’s? I might have grossly made assumptions off reading that are incorrect, so please accept my apologies if I stepped on anyone’s toes. I am just trying to figure everything out. Seems like frame, brand, etc is not really a big deal at this time? From what I can tell I don’t need to jump to carbon, just stay with aluminum/steel at this time with carbon forks perhaps? Not trying to break the bank on the first bike, but want the best setup possible for 500-700 ish. Whether craigslist or Facebook marketplace, etc.

Thoughts?

Thanks for everything all!
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Old 01-14-18, 08:45 PM
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As others have said, I'd definitely avoid a Trip Bike for your first ride. I know their appearance can be tempting..as some of them look very cool, but in the end, unless you're a professional, any good road race bike will do in amateur triathlon. As others have said it's all about fit. You might find a trip bikes geometry too aggressive and that'll lead to pain or injury.
So a good endurance geometry bike or race geometry bike will likely do the trick.

As far as components go, I think 105 is a great place to start, it's probably the most solid group you can buy and it's every bit as competitive as higher priced models.

In this range there are a ton of bike manufacturers that make great bikes and it's really up to you and what you like and what feels the most comfortable. But don't make that mistake where you buy for looks and ignore how comfortable it is. The prettiest bike may be the least comfortable, so just test ride a few, buy the one that feels the best.. and know that depending on your budget, there's a good chance the bike will come with junk wheels and a junk seat.

If your budget is $500-$700, you'll probably be looking used in the 105 range, but I've bought several used bikes and as long as you buy from a reputable seller, you'll be fine.

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Old 01-15-18, 01:31 PM
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Would it benefit to ride my mountain bike for a while until i get enough funds to get a good bike? Or is that going completely in the wrong direction?
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Old 01-15-18, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by rbarwic1
Would it benefit to ride my mountain bike for a while until i get enough funds to get a good bike? Or is that going completely in the wrong direction?
There is not "best way." Whatever course you choose, you can make it work.

That said .... I would recommend Against riding the MTB because it would be so different---it will use different muscles in different ways.

I mean, still ride it off-road, for sure .... but i recommend getting a cheaper road bike so you can learn what you really want and need in a road bike.

You need to figure out where you need or want your contact points, you need to see if cycling on the road suits you, you need to decide if you really want to do tris, and if you want to do sprint tris or Ironmans or whatever.

If you like cycling and only do a couple sprint tris a year, you might not want to have to ride a tri bike all the time. if you decide to live in a van and tour the nation riding tris, you probably will want a dedicated tri bike--or two.

You will need to find how your body adapts to being bent over and how bent over you like to be. Riding a mountain bike, even on the road, simply won't tell you anything about riding a road bike.

Also ... if you save up for a long time and get a fat chunk of cash and buy a bike ... you are purely screwed if it is not the right bike and the right size ... and if it is your first road bike, you would be guessing at all those things.

Others might disagree, but i say to all first-time road bike buyers .... buy something as cheap as you can tolerate and ride it until you know exactly what you wish you had bought, and buy that.
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