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Rediculously new newbie needs help(7 posts)

Rediculously new newbie needs helpComputerman
Dec 13, 2002 8:11 PM
I am just getting back in to bikeing after over 20 years of being off a bike. I have big plans and big goals. I want to be able to do long distance rides on good roads and sub-standard roads. I live in the DEAP DARK country of Mississippi. I live on a gravel road and there are a lot of hills. I would like to eventually get in to duathalons and triathalons but that will be a ways away. I was told at one bicycle store that I should get a road bike. I was told at another store that I should get a hybrid bike. And I was told at yet another store that I should get a Cyclo-cross bike. I tend to believe that a cyclo-cross would be best since I plan on doing most of my rideing on asphault but I'm not sure. All these different types, styles and brands are very confusing to me. I would very much appreciate any help and guidence on what I should do. Since I'm just getting in to it, I don't want to go overboard on the price but I do want to get a bike that will last and do a good job for me.

Thank you in advance for any help you can give me.
A long answerTWD
Dec 15, 2002 12:35 AM
It sounds like from the riding you describe you could go with either a road bike with heavier duty tires or a cross bike.

Many road bikes can fit up to 700x28c tires which give you a little bit more volume to soak up the rough roads and lower your air pressure slightly for a smoother ride. Ask the local bike shop to see if any of the models in your price range can fit fatter tires.

Some of the larger commuter type tires like the Specialized Armadillos have somewhat puncture proof casings which can handle the gravel a little better as well as the remnants of all the broken beer bottles on the road. A standard set of 700x23c road tires can get chewed up pretty quickly if you ride a lot of sharp gravel.

Also, if you're really concerned about the hills, you can get a road bike with triple chainrings up front.

All that said, I think you would probably be happy with a cross bike too, especially if you want to take it off-road to explore.

The biggest differences are that a cross bike will have cantilever brakes and more frame clearance for muddy conditions. Also cross frames generally have more relaxed geometry for stability off-road and a higher bottom bracket to clear obstacles. And of course, cross bikes generally come with fatter knobby tires, although these can be swapped out by the bike shop easily enough. Most cross bikes tend to be set up for more standover height and a slightly more upright position.

A cross bike can definitely run bigger tires which give you the most flexibility.

The upright position won't help you with aerodynamics on the road during a triatholon, but if you've been off the bike for 20 years, your lower back might thank you until you are able to re-acclimate yourself to spending longer periods of time on the bike.

Overall, a cross bike will perform almost as well on the road as a road bike if you are running similar tires. I've taken mine on fast group rides and some longer 100+ mile rides and didn't notice that I was any slower than on my road bike.

I would stay away from the "hybrid" type bikes. Most of the bikes (not all) that I've seen called hybrids tend to be heavier, lower end, non-performance models with really upright seating positions. They tend to be geared towards the family/recreation style rider, which is fine, but that doesn't sound like what you want.

Hopefully that isn't too much info. The best advice I can give is to think real hard about what you want the bike to do.

If that gravel road you live on is only 1/4 mile long and is pretty smooth hardpack gravel, go with a road bike. If it's 5 miles long, has deep gravel, and is riddled with washboards and deep potholes, go with a cross bike.
And anotherTWD
Dec 15, 2002 12:47 AM
Oh, and I forgot to mention a couple of other things related to cross bikes.

Many of the more race oreinted cross rigs lack mounts for racks, fenders, and even bottle cages. The rack/fender mounts may not matter to most people, but I don't like the idea of doing long rides with only 1 bottle.

Also, since your just getting back into riding, make sure you take the time to test ride the different bikes. If you can test ride a cross bike, by all means do so. I don't know how popular cyclocross is in your neck of the woods, but even here in Oregon (where we have what is claimed as the most well attended cross series in the nation)I've never seen more that 2 or 3 cross bikes at any local shop.

Also, find a good shop that will really spend the time to work with you to get the proper fit on the bike. The best bike in the world still sucks if it doesn't fit you right.

Most of all, good luck, have fun, and welcome back to the sport! And let us know what you get.
And anotherComputerman
Jan 2, 2003 12:54 PM
I will keep that in mind. The closest "good" bike shop is 60 miles away and in all the shops I've been to I've only seen 1 Cyclocross and it was used.
Can you give me any advice on brands, styles, makes and models?
A long answerComputerman
Jan 2, 2003 12:49 PM
Thanks for the advice and help. I'm leaning more and more toward the Cyclocross with adjustable handlebars so I can slowly get used to the typical road bike position. Now I just have to decide on what brand and style (plus convince my wife that I NEED it).

Thanks again.
Ronnie Welch
Computerman@smcc.edu
re: Rediculously new newbie needs helpMJ
Dec 16, 2002 12:27 AM
how much money are you looking to spend?

can you do any of your own maintenance?

is there a bike store (LBS) near you?

have you looked at the cross bike reviews on this site?

cross bike is exactly what it sounds like you need - hybrids are rarely the way forward - road bikes aren't comfortable on bad roads - cross bikes can keep pace with road bikes and the right tyres

if you get to the above questions answered - I'm sure you will get some more help in your hunt
re: Rediculously new newbie needs helpComputerman
Jan 2, 2003 1:04 PM
I would like to keep it around $1,000 or less (if possible).

I've never done much work on a bike but I know my way around tools. Maybe I could find a bike maintenance for dummies book. LOL

The closest "good" bike shops are about 60 miles away. (I assume you don't mean Wal-Mart) LOL!!!

No, I haven't looked at the bike reviews section yet.

I've ridden a hybrid bike off and on for the past 5 years but I hate the bike I use. Since I want to get back in to it seriously, I want to move up to either a cyclocross or a road bike (but I'm definitely leaning toward the cyclocross).

Do you have any suggestions on brand, style, make or model?

Thanks,
Ronnie Welch
Computerman@smcc.edu