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Advise request for first time buyer

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

Advise request for first time buyer

Old 04-20-10, 08:26 PM
  #1  
Adonis91
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Advise request for first time buyer

Hi everyone. I initially tried to post a nice detailed question after registering but apparently I wasn't logged in so I lost it all. I'm disinclined to try go over it all again so maybe I'll just cut to the chase.

I am about to get into biking (my main motivation is to build my legs and endurance in the off-season; I play hockey in the winter months; I also enjoyed, and would again, as a child going on all day trips with my dad). So I plan on biking a couple of hours a couple of times a week with the occasional day long weekend ride. A road bike is obviously suggesting itself to me. The problem I am encountering is I am quickly realizing this can be a rather expensive sport. I don't mind paying for quality, but what I absolutely can't stand is wasting money.

Which brings me to my problem, I hear many people telling me, and have read in my online research, that it is inevitable that one will outgrow one's first bike. I can't help but feel sceptical about this though. It seems to me, from my naive and ignorant standpoint, that if one did things right, then that shouldn't be in theory a problem. I have a hard time with the concept of buying a mediocre bike, say for 1.5k, only to most likely have to get rid of it in a year or two. I say mediocre because I've test driven a couple, for example, a Trek 2.3, a Specialized Secteur, and a Cannondale (whose model I don't recall but which was in the same price range). They were quite fun and obviously a huge improvement over my mountain bike, but I also happened to try a Specialized Tarmac Comp Double Rival, which is a little over a 1k upgrade to those bikes. The experience was phenomenal, the handling was precise, the braking crisp and much more powerful than the other bikes, and the ride silky smooth (I never knew biking could be so fun and fast, something that appeals to a speed daemon like myself). I haven't tried others in this category, and would probably experience the same kind of thing.

So with this context, I can't help but wonder, is ~3k for a beginner's bike ridiculous? It certainly seems to be the case if one would outgrow it. On the other hand, slapping down ~1.5k for a bike that one knows will be disregarded fairly soon seems like a total waste of money. Now, because I generally don't trust salespeople, and because in my research I haven't found anything that would answer this question in any satisfiable way, I thought I'd turn to an impartial audience to elicit some advise. So I hope some of you will be willing to share your thoughts on this matter.

Best,
A
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Old 04-20-10, 09:00 PM
  #2  
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If you plan on keeping it for a long time and not upgrading, then no...if you have the money to spend, 3k isn't ridiculous. I went through the same dilemma when i was buying mine. I was debating between the Allez Elite and Cervelo S1. The Cervelo was gonna be about 600 more than the Allez so i chose the allez b/c I'm still in school. Looking back, I'm slightly disappointed that I didn't get the S1 and settled for the Allez Elite. BUT it isn't holding me back. Take a look at the S1 for ~2k full ultegra, and the bike explodes underneath you. Crisp handling and good components. Or see if you can find a 09 S1 on closeout which will be ~1700 if you like the bike. JMO

I read an article saying the true price of the bike can be determined by the price divided by number of years you will own it (or the number of miles you ride it. A bike that costs you 10k (i know...ridiculous) but kept for 10 years is essentially the same price overall as a 2k bike kept for 2.
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Old 04-20-10, 09:10 PM
  #3  
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If you have the money, and you really want a top notch bike, go for it. Try out that Cervelo, and a couple others if you can, perhaps a Madone 5.1, don't know where the low end (if you can call any of these bikes that) SuperSix falls in price, but try a few, find a good fit, and if you really like one of them, go for it!
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Old 04-20-10, 09:51 PM
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That's the model Tarmac I have and love the damn thing. Awesome bike. How much are you paying for it? It should be around 2400 to 2500. MSRP is 2700 and I can't believe a shop would be selling it for that price.
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Old 04-20-10, 10:07 PM
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$3k is a lot of money to spend without yet knowing what you like about road bikes. It's unlikely that you would select the same thing a year from now, with knowledge of how you ride and what features you like.

If you're looking to upgrade later, I might be tempted to buy a LESSER bike now.
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Old 04-20-10, 11:17 PM
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Thanks to everyone so far for their comments. They are much appreciated, but don't let that stop anyone else.

Jamoquio: Your claim is very reasonable that in a year or two from now I would probably buy a completely different bike (were I to be buying). But perhaps I can put the question this way: what is the likelihood that a year or two from now I would feel like I wanted a different bike, whether I bought a cheap, mediocre, or pricey bike now? I have in mind under 1k = cheap, under 2k = mediocre, and above being expensive but that's just a rough and crude initial impression which could be way off the mark for all I know at this point.
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Old 04-20-10, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by eippo1 View Post
That's the model Tarmac I have and love the damn thing. Awesome bike. How much are you paying for it? It should be around 2400 to 2500. MSRP is 2700 and I can't believe a shop would be selling it for that price.
Oh I didn't negotiate any prices or anything. Right now I'm trying to figure out what category of bike to buy. Then I'm going to begin testing more bikes in that category so I haven't yet figured out if I want the Tarmac or anything else (I must admit its sweet though).
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Old 04-20-10, 11:26 PM
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Hard to say, like you said you don't want to spend money if you don't even know your gonna like riding as often as you plan. You can drop 3k on a bike, ride it for 2 months, then get "bored" and move onto something else. I was in the same boat as you and i ended up buying a Trek 2.1. I like riding a lot and will probably keep riding daily like i do now, if a year or two from now i decide i need an upgrade then i'm gonna go ahead and get a new bike. Keep in mind you can always sell the "mediocre" bike if you go that route then upgrade to something better.
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Old 04-20-10, 11:37 PM
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Originally Posted by wrr1020 View Post
Hard to say, like you said you don't want to spend money if you don't even know your gonna like riding as often as you plan. You can drop 3k on a bike, ride it for 2 months, then get "bored" and move onto something else. I was in the same boat as you and i ended up buying a Trek 2.1. I like riding a lot and will probably keep riding daily like i do now, if a year or two from now i decide i need an upgrade then i'm gonna go ahead and get a new bike. Keep in mind you can always sell the "mediocre" bike if you go that route then upgrade to something better.
Indeed, but you can sell anything I suppose. Are bikes like cars in that respect, the higher the quality, the more it retains its original value? Also, how easy is it to sell bikes used?
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Old 04-21-10, 12:18 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by Adonis91 View Post
So with this context, I can't help but wonder, is ~3k for a beginner's bike ridiculous?
As someone who's bike is a lot better than his capabilities, I say if you can afford it, go for it.

I started with a Trek 1.2. Didnt like the Sora drivetrain, so I sold it and got an Al BMC Streetfire instead. This upgrade itself was well worth it... and then I ponied up for a Ridley and aero wheels - and that rig makes me *want* to get up at 6am and go riding.

Make sure you get a good fit as part of the process and you will be able to ride that bike for a long time.

There is a valid risk, however, that you wont know what style of bike you want until you've been riding for a while. Do you need an aggressive racer-style geometry, or a slightly more relaxed/upright one? Do you want an aero frameset, a super-stiff frameset or one that is better at absording road buzz. Of course, an easy solution to this is to get a second bike later.

Btw, one thing - a $2k bike is not mediocre. Plenty of people here racing and doing very well on a $1200 CAAD9-5.

in my research I haven't found anything that would answer this question in any satisfiable way, I thought I'd turn to an impartial audience to elicit some advise. So I hope some of you will be willing to share your thoughts on this matter.
Do let everyone at Bikeforum know what they say, as well.

V.

Last edited by guadzilla; 04-21-10 at 12:21 AM.
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Old 04-21-10, 12:57 AM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by vkalia View Post
There is a valid risk, however, that you wont know what style of bike you want until you've been riding for a while. Do you need an aggressive racer-style geometry, or a slightly more relaxed/upright one? Do you want an aero frameset, a super-stiff frameset or one that is better at absording road buzz. Of course, an easy solution to this is to get a second bike later.
Thanks for all your very helpful comments. I'll just reply to these for the sake of convenience. Very interesting point concerning the Geometry. I didn't realize things got so technical/specialized. Now just reasoning abstractly, I assume the most aggressive Geometry will be the most performing right? And since there is a "break-in" period, that is my body must adjust to the sport of biking in the initial stages, wouldn't I just immediately become comfortable on an aggressive Geometry as opposed to if I got used to a relaxed one and then tried moving toward a more aggressive one? As for Aero and Super-stiff, would you or anyone else mind describing that to me?

Btw, one thing - a $2k bike is not mediocre. Plenty of people here racing and doing very well on a $1200 CAAD9-5.
After I started getting some responses I realize I might have thrown some people off or offended with my term mediocre. I was simply going on the premise that bikes must be like cars (standard, luxury, exotic). But I guess highly fit people can compete on anything.

Do let everyone at Bikeforum know what they say, as well.
I'll try, and hopefully soon I'll be contributing on the forums.
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Old 04-21-10, 01:14 AM
  #12  
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You seem suspiciously reasonable for a newb. What is it with your rational questions and logical thinking? Can't wrap my head around it. Anyway, my vote is go for something a little higher end right now. Look around and you can find great bikes for pretty decent deals. I ride a Felt and love it and would recommend them to anybody. Lots of people seem to agree that with Felt you get pretty good bang for your buck. Also, you could go with a PedalForce frame and/or build-up bike. Great deals to be had there as well. Whatever you get, ride the hell out of it.
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Old 04-21-10, 01:38 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by Adonis91 View Post
Hi everyone. I initially tried to post a nice detailed question after registering but apparently I wasn't logged in so I lost it all. I'm disinclined to try go over it all again so maybe I'll just cut to the chase.

I am about to get into biking (my main motivation is to build my legs and endurance in the off-season; I play hockey in the winter months; I also enjoyed, and would again, as a child going on all day trips with my dad). So I plan on biking a couple of hours a couple of times a week with the occasional day long weekend ride. A road bike is obviously suggesting itself to me. The problem I am encountering is I am quickly realizing this can be a rather expensive sport. I don't mind paying for quality, but what I absolutely can't stand is wasting money.

Which brings me to my problem, I hear many people telling me, and have read in my online research, that it is inevitable that one will outgrow one's first bike. I can't help but feel sceptical about this though. It seems to me, from my naive and ignorant standpoint, that if one did things right, then that shouldn't be in theory a problem. I have a hard time with the concept of buying a mediocre bike, say for 1.5k, only to most likely have to get rid of it in a year or two. I say mediocre because I've test driven a couple, for example, a Trek 2.3, a Specialized Secteur, and a Cannondale (whose model I don't recall but which was in the same price range). They were quite fun and obviously a huge improvement over my mountain bike, but I also happened to try a Specialized Tarmac Comp Double Rival, which is a little over a 1k upgrade to those bikes. The experience was phenomenal, the handling was precise, the braking crisp and much more powerful than the other bikes, and the ride silky smooth (I never knew biking could be so fun and fast, something that appeals to a speed daemon like myself). I haven't tried others in this category, and would probably experience the same kind of thing.

So with this context, I can't help but wonder, is ~3k for a beginner's bike ridiculous? It certainly seems to be the case if one would outgrow it. On the other hand, slapping down ~1.5k for a bike that one knows will be disregarded fairly soon seems like a total waste of money. Now, because I generally don't trust salespeople, and because in my research I haven't found anything that would answer this question in any satisfiable way, I thought I'd turn to an impartial audience to elicit some advise. So I hope some of you will be willing to share your thoughts on this matter.

Best,
A
If this is cutting to the chase, I don't want to know what the original looked like.
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Old 04-21-10, 02:45 AM
  #14  
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Originally Posted by Adonis91 View Post
Now just reasoning abstractly, I assume the most aggressive Geometry will be the most performing right? And since there is a "break-in" period, that is my body must adjust to the sport of biking in the initial stages, wouldn't I just immediately become comfortable on an aggressive Geometry as opposed to if I got used to a relaxed one and then tried moving toward a more aggressive one?
Possibly. It could also be that the more aggressive position right away gives you backaches and other problems, and puts you off cycling. Or it could be that the more aggressive position is NOT the one which is suited for the type of riding that you do.

Keep in mind that while the most aggressive fit is indeed the best performing one, but it is also designed for racer-types in mind, who have a degree of flexibility, core strength and commitment to training that others may not always have. In such a case, by being scrunched into a position that is not suited for you, your performance would suffer.

Now, it isnt as much of an "either-or" situation as it appears to be. Most bikes can be adjusted for a fit a little by the judicious use of spacers (which move the handlebars further up) and choice of stems (which can extend the handlebars, and also, depending on their angle, move them up and down). So if this is a concern, you may be able to get a bike that can be set up in a slightly relaxed manner for now, and have some scope for making it more "aggressive" later.

What you will not be able to change so much is the nature of the bike. Some bikes are stiff jackhammers - designed for efficient power transfer at the cost of comfort. They are great if you are racing or doing shorter rides but can become quite tiring after a few hours. Others are designed to soak in the road buzz a little and still perform well. Knowing what you prefer only comes with riding for a while and figuring out what you can live with and what you need changed.

As for Aero and Super-stiff, would you or anyone else mind describing that to me?
To get a sense of some of these options, go to www.competitivecyclist.com and read up on what they have to say about the following bikes:
- Ridley Damocles -- a pro race bike designed for efficient power transfers
- Ridley Excalibur -- a race bike with some emphasis on comfort
- Cervelo S3 / Ridley Noah -- aero bikes
- Cervelo RS -- a race bike with some emphasis on comfort and also a slightly more upright position
- Look 566 -- similar to RS, slightly more upright riding position

That being said, I should also point out that the differences are relatively small in the grands scheme of things, and it could be possible to make a case that obsessing about these differences is overanalyzing things. Certainly, you could get any of the bikes above and get it to work for whatever type of riding you do.

You could just as easily buy a good "all-rounder' bike (your LBS can help you pick one) and tweak it for whatever type of riding you want. After a few years, upgrade. For a cheap upgrade, buy a new frame, sell the old one and transfer your parts over.

After I started getting some responses I realize I might have thrown some people off or offended with my term mediocre. I was simply going on the premise that bikes must be like cars (standard, luxury, exotic). But I guess highly fit people can compete on anything.
It isnt a case of "competing on anything" in the sense of managing with limited tools. $1500 gets you a very, very competent race bike - anything more tends to get deep into the realm of marginal improvemenets only.

V.
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Old 04-21-10, 02:47 AM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by Caad 8 View Post
If this is cutting to the chase, I don't want to know what the original looked like.
What, you'd prefer something like: "Hi, I am getting into road biking. What bike should I get?"
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Old 04-21-10, 04:28 AM
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I raced bikes and played hockey, both from a very early age and as time went on I was using and wearing good stuff. Tacks, and Peugeots for example. This was back in the day when you actually could do more than one sport, rather than having to do one like they do nowadays...
If you are using good hockey equipment, trust me you will probably want the better bike. You will eventually ride someone's really good bike and will then think you should have jumped to the better bike when you made your purchase. Performance frames are like pro skates. It's a different feel entirely.
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Old 04-21-10, 04:40 AM
  #17  
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I used to play hockey as well, although that was before I took up cycling - I am not sure if regular cycling is going to be all *that* useful for hockey, to be honest. Yeah, it will condition you to some extent, but a 1 min shift on ice is VERY different from a 2 hour typical aerobic or tempo ride.

V.

PS: If any of you are Devils fans... BWAAHAHAHAHAHA. (Sorry, had to get that in).
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Old 04-21-10, 09:22 AM
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The hard part about answering your question isweather or not you will use said bicycle purchase. Its hard to say "go and spend at least $x000.00 if we dont know if you like to ride or not. Most of us would rather be on our bikes than doing just about anything else. So spending a couple thousand or more seems reasonable to us, it may not to you. I would say figure out what would be a reasonable investment into this sport/ hobby for you. Keeping in mind a used bike doesnt have a big resale price, warrantys and shop services are not generally transferable. go out to different shops and ride as many bikes near this price point. You need to ride a bunch to figure out what you liked/ disliked about each one before making a judgement. normally the right bike will be fairly obvious in its comfort and performance for you. But if you dont know what is bad you cant really say whats good either. Welcome to the addiction.
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Old 04-21-10, 10:07 PM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by Copperhed51

You seem suspiciously reasonable for a newb. What is it with your rational questions and logical thinking? Can't wrap my head around it.
Thanks for what I think is a compliment and your input. To answer you, I teach people to reason and think logically for a living so if I failed to do it in practice, I guess that would make me a pretty lousy teacher.

Originally Posted by caad 8

If this is cutting to the chase, I don't want to know what the original looked like.
Longer and more (detailed) questions.

Originally Posted by roadwarrior
I raced bikes and played hockey, both from a very early age and as time went on I was using and wearing good stuff. Tacks, and Peugeots for example. This was back in the day when you actually could do more than one sport, rather than having to do one like they do nowadays...
If you are using good hockey equipment, trust me you will probably want the better bike. You will eventually ride someone's really good bike and will then think you should have jumped to the better bike when you made your purchase. Performance frames are like pro skates. It's a different feel entirely.
Yeah that tends to be the case with me and all the other sports I'm into (e.g. Tennis, Skiing). The beginner stuff was a complete waste. Though in Hockey I readily admit it was worth slowly building up to the performing stuff (was much harder to get good at).

Originally Posted by vkalia
I used to play hockey as well, although that was before I took up cycling - I am not sure if regular cycling is going to be all *that* useful for hockey, to be honest. Yeah, it will condition you to some extent, but a 1 min shift on ice is VERY different from a 2 hour typical aerobic or tempo ride.
As with all your other comments, this one is very apt as well. I guess I'll have to do a lot of hills then to get that short burst of intensity so that the hill is like the typical shift, riding down like scoring a goal, and the rest like waiting on the bench for the next shift.


Originally Posted by ls01
Normally the right bike will be fairly obvious in its comfort and performance for you. But if you dont know what is bad you cant really say whats good either. Welcome to the addiction.
Much obliged sir, and glad to be amongst you (in but a short time that is).
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Old 05-21-10, 10:00 PM
  #20  
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http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...ed+Tarmac+Comp
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Old 05-22-10, 12:17 AM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Adonis91 View Post
it is inevitable that one will outgrow one's first bike.
Unlikely. Get the Tarmac. It should be well under $3k.
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Old 05-22-10, 05:59 AM
  #22  
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Here is my humble opinion. If you can afford a $3K bike right off the bat, then you can afford to get an entry level bike now, make sure you enjoy the sport, then upgrade later.

There's no sense in buying a Tarmac Pro or whatever, only to have it sit in your garage for months with only 100 miles on it because you got bored. Get something simple now, like a Secteur, or even a Tricross (if you're focusing on Specialized of course....many other brands out there). Ride 5-600 miles, see if you really enjoy the sport, then set your sights on a "enthusiast" bike.

To put it another way, what would you regret more? Having $3K worth of carbon sitting in your garage doing nothing? Or having $1K worth of aluminum with 3000 miles on it, wishing you bought something better?
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Old 05-22-10, 06:21 AM
  #23  
WhyFi
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I have, admittedly, a limited scope when it comes to road bikes, but I'm a gear hound in every other hobby I've come across. My feelings thus far - with a solid frame and 105 (Ultegra RD) group, I'm not going to feel "need" to upgrade any time soon. New wheels are on the horizon, but any other upgrades will be for ****s and giggles, nothing more.
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Old 05-22-10, 07:28 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by simonaway427 View Post
Here is my humble opinion. If you can afford a $3K bike right off the bat, then you can afford to get an entry level bike now, make sure you enjoy the sport, then upgrade later.

There's no sense in buying a Tarmac Pro or whatever, only to have it sit in your garage for months with only 100 miles on it because you got bored. Get something simple now, like a Secteur, or even a Tricross (if you're focusing on Specialized of course....many other brands out there). Ride 5-600 miles, see if you really enjoy the sport, then set your sights on a "enthusiast" bike.

To put it another way, what would you regret more? Having $3K worth of carbon sitting in your garage doing nothing? Or having $1K worth of aluminum with 3000 miles on it, wishing you bought something better?
+1, to buy a $3K bike with no idea what you like in terms of frame geometry, or even if you'll like the sport at all seems pretty crazy to me
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Old 05-22-10, 07:37 AM
  #25  
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Bikes are expensive and there's always a risk that you'll either decide you don't like cycling, discover it doesn't fit well or find you prefer a different type of riding. It doesn't help that resale is pretty poor as well. So the factors you have to determine to answer your question are your financial means, your tolerance for financial risk, an honest assessment of your dedication to fitness, your level of trust in your bike shop's fitting services and your best guess as to how much you'll like road cycling. A $3k mistake is a lot bigger than a $1.5k mistake.
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