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New rider needs bike advice please

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

New rider needs bike advice please

Old 11-11-07, 10:53 PM
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dominusx
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New rider needs bike advice please

Hi everyone, this is my first time visiting your wonderful forums and I need some help! First I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the insightful stickies on these boards, they have already helped answer a lot of my questions!

My situations is as follows: I live in San Diego and was recently inspired by a friend to begin cycling. I am looking for a bike so that I can start cycling to work each day (about 10 miles) and also take some trips down the pacific coast when I am ready. My friend has offered to sell me one of his bikes, a 2005 Specialized S-Works E5 for $1500, it has 10 speeds and 2 groups, all of the components are durace. It has only been ridden about 100 miles. Is this a good bike? My main concern with the bike is the ride felt a lot stiffer than I had expected and was rather uncomfortable for me.

Since I am a completely novice rider, I don't believe I can appreciate the difference between an entry level road bike and a more finely tuned machine. Is there a different bike someone would recommend for under 1500 that may be more comfortable? Or should I get this bike and just change the seat and pedals to better suit my body?
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Old 11-11-07, 11:09 PM
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the discomfort may be entirely a fit issue. having a bike fit you is the most crucial part of whether a bike feels comfortable or not. also...it could be that the tires and the pressure it was inflated to could be a factor...

hmmm...if you can find a geometry sheet or this bike, i'd try taking it to a LBS and having them take some initial measurements to see if this bike might be an ok fit or not. this is different from actually getting a bike fitted to you and should be free of charge (or, at least it is at my LBS). if the standover height, top tube length, etc all seem to match with your dimensions, there's a good chance that the bike can be fit to make it adequately comfortable.

otherwise...i really like my specialized roubaix. for $1500, i'd recommend trying to find a 2007 specialized roubaix elite triple (the elite only comes in triple) on closeout...you should be able to find it at right around $1500 at closeout price.

good luck!
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Old 11-11-07, 11:15 PM
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I've commuted on a $2000 road bike before. But that was because I could secure it indoors and meticulously wipe it down after it rained. There's no way I'd leave an S-Works out on some bike rack day after day.

If all you're doing is commuting, just save your money and get something that you won't mind beating up.
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Old 11-11-07, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by v1k1ng1001 View Post
I've commuted on a $2000 road bike before. But that was because I could secure it indoors and meticulously wipe it down after it rained. There's no way I'd leave an S-Works out on some bike rack day after day.

If all you're doing is commuting, just save your money and get something that you won't mind beating up.
oh snap! i didn't even think of that! yeah...i don't think i'd really want to commute with a $1500 bike or a s-works bike. unless you can drag the bike upto your office to store or something. for commuting, get a beater.
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Old 11-11-07, 11:29 PM
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Originally Posted by celerystalksme View Post
the discomfort may be entirely a fit issue. having a bike fit you is the most crucial part of whether a bike feels comfortable or not. also...it could be that the tires and the pressure it was inflated to could be a factor...

hmmm...if you can find a geometry sheet or this bike, i'd try taking it to a LBS and having them take some initial measurements to see if this bike might be an ok fit or not. this is different from actually getting a bike fitted to you and should be free of charge (or, at least it is at my LBS). if the standover height, top tube length, etc all seem to match with your dimensions, there's a good chance that the bike can be fit to make it adequately comfortable.

otherwise...i really like my specialized roubaix. for $1500, i'd recommend trying to find a 2007 specialized roubaix elite triple (the elite only comes in triple) on closeout...you should be able to find it at right around $1500 at closeout price.

good luck!
+1 on everything

It's a good deal, but it's not a screaming, "my friend's basically giving it to me" type of deal. Shop around a little bit.

On a road bike, the fit is very important because you are often in the same position for hours. Take it to the LBS and make sure it's the right size frame for you. There's a lot you can adjust after the fact, but some things that you can't. Good luck, and definitely shop around a little bit.
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Old 11-11-07, 11:34 PM
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Hey viking and celery, thank you both for your feedback. I will be able to store the bike indoor at my work, so I can take care of the bike in that respect. Could either of you educate me perhaps as to what differences you notice going from an inexpensive bike to a more race specific bike? Since the specialized s-works is the only road bike I have rode on so far, what differences would I notice going from the allez line that specialized offers to their s-works?

I am the same height as my friend, so I assumed that the bike was a good fit, but obviously there is more to a good fitting bike When I straddle the bike the top bar is about 1.5" below me, I have read that is an appropriate size. What is the best way to gage the top tube length for myself?
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Old 11-12-07, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by dominusx View Post
What is the best way to gage the top tube length for myself?
When I was getting fitted for my first road bike (2006 Schwinn Fastback 27, size "S", $600 on-sale), my LBS (Performance Bike) said that the optimum "reach" (top-tube length) is when you're seated on the bike, feet on the pedals (and it's being steadied by the sales associate)--you put your hands on the hoods (where you'll be riding 99% of the time), finger-tips on the brifters, and if you look down through the handlebars to the front hub: the front hub should be completely obscured by the handlebar. If you can see the hub forward of the handlebar, the reach is too short; if you can see the hub aft of the handlebar, the reach is too long.

This is definitely a rough guide, though, since it's affected by the height of the saddle, foreward/backward adjustment of the saddle, height of the handlebars in relation to the saddle, angle of the stem, length of the stem, angle of the handlebars.

And I don't subscribe to this as a hard-and-fast rule, either: my fit on my 2007 Trek 1500 (triple, size 52, $950 on-sale) puts me very far forward, with the front-hub just peeking out in front of the handlebars, and my knees well forward of the pedal spindle (K.O.P.S. method be darned).

Still, none of these tips hold a candle to getting the bike on the road for an hour or even half an hour (as in a test-ride). If you come back after 1/2 to 1 hour and something hurts (other than your saddle-area, unless you've been riding and you've gotten used to it), then the bike doesn't fit right and either it needs to be adjusted or you need to look at a different bike/size.
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Old 11-12-07, 12:22 PM
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Some people use race bikes for commuting but will it suit your own style?
The gearing can be quite high for non-athletic riders, if you have hills you may want lower gearing such as a compact double chainset or a triple.
If you need to carry stuff to work, consider your luggage arrangements. Backpacks are fine for light loads and shorter distances but will be a real drag for 10miles. Most ridres let the bike carry the load in a saddlebag, rear rack-top bar or a single pannier. Do you want a luggage rack? The clip-on type are not as good as traditional bolt on versions.
The riding position of many racebikes is set quite low for aerodynamic effiency. Many riders who dont race prefer to ride at a more moderate pace so comfort becomes more important Fortunately the major brands make road bikes for non-competative rides; these usually have the bars set a few cm higher up.
Its your choice, a competition race bike, a sportive road bike or some kind of light touring setup with luggage rack.
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Old 11-12-07, 02:21 PM
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If you are going to commute during the week, and that's all you're going to do, I'd say pass on the S-Works even though it is a great deal. Why do you need a dura ace road bike to pedal to work? It's set up with an aggressive geometry to be fast and stiff, comfort isn't even on the map. Tire clearance will prevent you from running anything but a 700X25 (skinny). You'd do much better saving $500-$600 and building something like a Surly or Soma: comfy and inexpensive steel cyclocross/light touring that will accommodate a rack and wider tires.

On the other hand, if you want a bike that absolutely rips, one that you can eventually ride with your friend on the weekends, the S-Works + messenger bag will work for you.

Where do you see yourself in 6 months? Once-a-day commuter or spandex-clad weekend warrior? Buy appropriately.

Oh and given what you've said, that S-Works sounds big for you. You should have more clearance on a compact geometry.
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Old 11-12-07, 02:30 PM
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Although there are better bikes for commuting I think a "race bike" will do just fine. Just so you know what you're getting: that's a pretty darned nice bike. If you need luggage space you can always get a rack that clips on to your seat tube and holds a bag with extra cloths, etc. Sure, a touring bike would be a better choice for commuting since they can cary more weight (and have the brakes to stop more weight) and a more comfortable ride, but for a 10 mile commute where you're not lugging a ton of stuff back and forth to the office (laptop, binders full of paper, etc) a road bike ("race bike") will do the job. And on the plus side, as you get in to the hobby you're going to want to go riding on the weekends, perhaps with friends. And that bike won't be seriously out-classed by anything. If you're too slow you'll have nobody to blame but yourself. No chance blaming the equipment. (There are faster bikes and more expensive bikes, and fancier bikes, but at that point the motor has more to do with the speed).
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Old 11-12-07, 02:56 PM
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For a beginner, the bike's fit is so much more important than the type of bike. An entry-level bike that fits correctly is better than a pro-level bike that fits poorly. Since you really have no idea what you need, you should work with a professional fitter to get the exact geometry you need. The pro fitter will start with basic frame size and then move to adjusting many of the other things. If your friends frame is the correct size, you could buy it and work with the fitter to get everything else right.

If all you want is to ride 10 miles, then get a cheap, used beater bike that feels okay to ride. If you are planning to do longer rides, you need a bike that fits, or you will quit the sport before you start. You can't just "grow" into a bike that doesn't fit.
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