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Beginning road rider(15 posts)

Beginning road riderviking24
Apr 19, 2001 11:49 AM
I have been a casual mountain biker for the last 12 years, but most of my rides have been on roads, so I've decided to get a road bike.
I am 50 yrs old, 6'3", 225 lbs, and in good shape.
I would probably go on one or two ten to twenty mile rides a week and a 50 mile trip once evry six weeks. Maybe some touring down the road.

I'm trying to figure out what bike to get. I've visited web sites, talked to shops and am now getting a massive headache.

The local bike shops are pushing these:

Schwinn Super Sport

-do I go for the lower priced bike, around $700, basic Schwinn or Raleigh, or do I go for a more expensive bike,$1300, Raleigh 700,which seems to have great reviews, or a Cannondale w/the CAAD 4 frame?
-will I tire of the cheap bike real quickly?
-what's the difference between Sora and Tiagra?
-the Cannondale dealer said because of my size, I need the CAAD4 frame and a different back wheel. Is that really necessary, it would cost about $1600?
-do those flashy Raleigh wheels hold up?
-at my size what kind of frame is best?

any help would be appreciated. I am now at the mercy of sales people.
re: Beginning road riderBecky
Apr 19, 2001 12:14 PM
I certainly can't answer all of your questions, but I can throw out some info for consideration.
Firstly, I love my CAAD4 frame(!), but it's more important that you love the frame and how it feels under you. Don't let some salesguy dictate something that crucial! I spent the extra money when I bought my C-dale (2 months ago) to get a bike with Tiagra shifters, not Sora. I found through test-riding that I can't shift from the drops with Soras and that they're just not quite as comfy for my hands.
As far as your size concerns, I can't speak from personal experience (at 5'5", 125#). However, my boyfriend (who is about your size) has been riding a CAAD3 frame with the stock wheels (32 hole Mavic CXP-11s) with no problems. He's ridden this thing over bumps and through potholes that would knock your fillings loose and the wheels are still true :)
I guess the best advice that I can give is this: test-ride anything that you can- all different materials and components- and you will find the bike that just feels "right". Best of luck to you!
Watch that inexpensive aluminumBrian C.
Apr 19, 2001 12:33 PM
I've had an entry level Cannondale hybrid for a couple of years. A fine bicycle except that on long rides, your body takes a beating from the road vibrations. (My latest bike is made of cromoly (sp?) steel and you can really feel the difference - it's a much smoother ride.) However, they say that this vibration problem is dampened with higher-end aluminum bikes, especially with quality wheels and tires.
A magazine out of Britain - procycling - reviewed the CAAD 4s and 5s in January and March, respectively, I believe.
CorrectionBrian C.
Apr 20, 2001 8:30 AM
Sorry for this ...
Procycling magazine did not review the CAAD 4s and 5s in January and March, respectively.
In March, it had a review of the CAAD 6, the model Saeco rides. (Gotta win a lottery, that's all there is to it.)
The January edition had a review of the R3000si CAAD 5 and the test driver, David Millar, gave it high marks. He appears to be a straight shooter because in the February edition, he panned the Omega Titanium.
welcome to the clubpmf
Apr 19, 2001 12:44 PM
I always wonder about all those people I see riding around on the paved bike trail near my house on mtn bikes. What are they thinking? You'll love the speed of a road bike. I bet you'll end up doing lots more miles than you think. If you're into bikes, which you seem to be since you've been riding a mtn bike for 12 years, then you might as well get a decent one. If you get the $700 bike, you'll probably get disappointed with it pretty fast. You get what you pay for. Its not a 1:1 relationship -- a $4000 bike is not twice as "good" as a $2000 bike, but its definitely better. Going from $700 to $1400 will get you huge improvements. Its probably the steepest part of the curve.

Given your size, you can comfortably ride an aluminium bike such as a Cannondale. I'd be careful with some steel ones. Some like the low end Schwinns and Raleighs might be too flexy for you. Aluminium is also very light weight. ti and carbon are probably out of your price range.

Sora and Tiagra components are pretty low end. I'd go for Shimano 105 at the lowest and preferably Ultegra which is the best deal out there for components I think.

Consider mail order. I recently helped a friend out getting a bike from Colorado Cyclist. He got the Fuji Team for $1400. This bike is a real bargain. Nothing on it is junk. Its all Ultegra, comes with pedals, nice wheels/good tires and a carbon fork. A similar bike at your LBS (Cannondale) will run $2000 at least. This guy is 6'4'' and weighs 250. He's real happy with it. I was amazed how light it was. It worked perfectly out of the box. You might also want to call up Gary Hobbs at GVH. I've never dealt with him, but I hear good things. Don't be afraid of mail order. Frankly, I think lots of LBS are rip-offs. I know its good to support them and I do. But I'm not going to spend 30% more for a bike from them. Some of the crap I hear them tell customers makes me cringe. One of their claimed advantages is "free lifetime tune-ups". This is a worthless option. You'll end up getting charged for anything they do. I think they usually benefit more than you do from it.

I know $1400 probably seems like a boatload of money. But you'll get a hell of a lot better bike by spending that versus $800. Go to your LBS and find out what a Cannondale with full Ultegra, a carbon fork and pedals would go for. Ride it. Find out what size you like. Then call up Colorado Cyclist or GVH or any of the many other mail order houses. Personally, I think the Fuji Team is a bargian you ought to consider. Good luck.
About mail ordering....Newbie
Apr 19, 2001 1:53 PM
..I am a big fan of mail order myself. Local bike shops for the most part can not compete with mailorder places on price, they don't deal in large enough volume.

I have purchased two mountain bikes off the web. My main concern when it came to getting a road bike, was having it set up properly so that it fit me. Well, I found a very good deal on a used road bike online, so I bought it. I took it to the LBS, bought pedals, shoes and some other stuff, and they adjusted everything and fit me with no problems. I'll continue to use mail oreder as well as the LBS. I know I can save a few dollars by getting everything online, but i don't mind paying extra for alot of things at the LBS knowing they will be glad to help me however they can. Especially since I have about 0 wrenching skills.
Cannondale caveat.boy nigel
Apr 19, 2001 7:57 PM
Cannondale makes a fine bike, and they've just gotten better and better over the years. A warning, however. I was sizing one up last summer, and they're about two centimeters larger (approx.) than their sizes SAY they are. I was looking for a 48-49cm. I tried one (forget which), but it was really like a 50-51cm. Check with the dealer. THEN, if you like, speak with Colorado Cyclist (or whomever), giving them your inseam, etc.

Just something to watch for with C-dales. Best of luck, and have a great time on the new bike.

Apr 20, 2001 6:14 AM
My cannondales are 57 and 58cm acording to the sticker on the frames, and they measure exactly that,center to top of toptube exactly as stated in the Cdale litterature.
Duuuuugh??boy nigel
Apr 20, 2001 7:26 AM
Then the dealers have their info wrong. The center-to-top may've made a difference of a cm or so, as well. As well, a 48cm or 49cm (whichever I tried) gave me zero clearance, unlike other bikes of the "same size."

Be careful not to go simply by "frame size," that's what I'm trying to say to the new buyer.

And hey, JohnnyP: Ever hear of checking spelling before you post? Or is that an example of your best spelling/grammar? Never mind, don't answer that.
It's close enough .....JohnnyP
Apr 20, 2001 10:06 AM
....for a dum a$$ bubba like me. Factual info that is clear enough to get the point across is better than........ Well, you probably get the drift. Funny how self anointed 'intellectuals' always come back with an attack on spelling or grammar or the assumed lack of intelligence of the other poster.Ah kaint spel en ah don ker!An me IQ alwys ben lo enugh too not bee a issue. Regards........
Apr 20, 2001 8:49 AM
Well I must be one of the lucky ones. I live in Edmonton Alberta and have bought almost everything from my LBS. Their prices after exchange and shipping are usually within 5 % of what I pay there and I can get them to install it for free (they have never charged be anything for installation, they even setup my pedals and shoes for free and it would have cost me the same to mail order it and cost me more to set them up).

I have been in there 4 times for minor tuneups and not once did they charge me. They usually drop everything and get right to it. It is unbelievable. I did have my first minor crash the other day, put my wheel out of true I went in and they fixed it for me on the spot .. guess what no labor charges. So yes I will always support them. They won't even take money when offered just so long as I keep going back.

So thank you LBS.

You needn't be at the mercy of your LBS...DG
Apr 21, 2001 12:08 PM
As pmf has outlined there are some attractive deals out there from mail orders.

I have bought my cannondale from and I am very happy with Gary's service. He sells his Cadd4 frames for $1395 and they are Campy daytona equipped (equivalent to Ultegra) with velocity aerohead rims and non-CODA components. You don't pay for taxes either. Trial your LBS' cannondale--if you are happy with the fit and handling, go ahead and order mail order.
LBS' and other thoughtsDCP
Apr 19, 2001 4:43 PM
While I agree that many LBS' are not very good and they all want to sell you what they offer, I had a very difficult time with the idea that I could go to LBS to size and test ride and then buy a bike mail order. Just doesn't seem right to me, but everyone has to make their own choices.

Otherwise I agree with the other comments. I was similar, having ridden MTB's for a number of years, much of which was on roads. Then I bought a road bike and now am riding much more than I used to and more than I would have predicted. I think there is a big step up in the 105 group from the lower Shimano groups and less functional benefit from the higher groups (but I want a better group anyway, although I can't really rationalize it). Nonetheless, the lower groups are quite functional and I wouldn't break the bank to get there. If you have the budget for the $1,300 price range, I think its worth it to get the better bike.
re: Beginning road riderGregJ
Apr 19, 2001 6:16 PM
Keep in mind that the bikes you mentioned have different geometries, in particular the Schwinn Super Sport. It is designed with a shorter top tube and the geometry and sizing are such that the drop to the handlebars is slight. The idea is to give a more upright seating position at the expense of an aero position. Given the low mileage that you are planning to ride I would say this is not necessarily a bad thing. The Shimano Tiagra group is a notch higher on the totem pole than Sora, and probably worth the extra bucks if you are not on too tight a budget. At your height you need to make sure that the bike will fit you properly, this is true for everyone but I think it is more diffucult to accomplish with someone who is really tall. Just glancing at the Schwinn web site I would say that the XL size is what you need in this bike. The bike has a short top tube, be careful that you can get comfy while on the hoods and in the drops. You should be able to be in the drops with your elbows bent and forearms almost parallel to the ground without feeling like you will fall over the handlbars. Definately do a test ride. I am interested in the opinion of some of the other posters about the advantages or drawbacks of this type of geometry. Good luck and have fun!
re: Beginning road riderMel Erickson
Apr 20, 2001 7:19 AM
Definitely go for a 105 or Ultegra group. You will not regret it. Typically bikes that use the Sora/Tiagra groups also have lower end wheels, stems, bars, seats, posts, etc. to match the level of the group. At your size and weight a higher quality component group is in order. They will function better over time and be more durable. They will hold up better under the stress you will put on the whole system. You will also likely get a better frame to go with the better group. As most will tell you, make sure it fits. Find a good shop that is willing to spend time with you to get you a good fit rather than push what they have in stock. I think this is important for someone new to road riding (buying from a local shop that is, everyone should have a good fit!). I've bought alot from mail order and the internet but also from local shops. You can learn alot from a good LBS.

Frame material is not as critical as frame construction in determining ride qualities. The original aluminum frames were noodles! Today's alu frames tend to do a good job balancing stiffness with comfort because manufacturers have learned alot over the years. Besides, there are several other components that affect ride quality. Fork, tires, seat and to a certain extent wheels all have a significant affect on ride.

Having said all that I think the Raliegh R700 and the Fuji Team are both terrific values. You can probably get the R700 for about the same price locally as you can get the Team mail order. I don't have any experience with the Shimano wheels on the R700, that would be a good question for the LBS. If the local shop selling Raliegh is a good one (see above) why not give them your business? I am in the market for a cross bike for my wife. I visited the local Raleigh/Trek dealer and walked around the store for 20 minutes. No one so much as said hi! I won't go back.