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older and better, or newer and not?(4 posts)

older and better, or newer and not?stingray
May 1, 2001 12:54 AM
In the past, I have only owned mountain bikes, and I'm just getting into road biking. I can only afford a bike in the $400 to $600 range right now. I know enough about bikes to know that I will be disgusted at the quality (or lack thereof) of any new road bike in that price range, so I'm looking primarily at used road bikes.

Which brings me to my question: what would you recommend, an older bike with higher-end components, or a more recent bike with lower-level components? For example: a two-year-old bike with RSX, or a nine-year-old bike with Ultegra. I don't know too much about road bike components...has the technology "trickled down" so much that the recent RSX or Sora components are comparable to the Ultregra of years past, or will the older high-end components still beat out the newer lower-end stuff?

Any thoughts would be much appreciated. Thanks!
My impression is that newer kind of beats older all around,bill
May 1, 2001 7:35 AM
frames included, but especially components. The technology just keeps getting pushed, with alloys and tweaking of tubes and parts, and cogs galore. That is, at more or less the same price point for a NEW purchase, what you can buy today is worlds better than what you could have bought just a few years ago. And, yes, the technology trickles down eventually.
But that doesn't really answer your question.
I would say get the best frame you could buy. That may be a ten-year-old steel frame or a two-year-old alu frame or somesuch. A friend just sold a ten year (plus) steel Masi for, like, $550. I forget what the component group was, Shimano something or other, with little upgrades here or there, but that guy got a good bike.
I would make a realistic assessment of what you may be able to upgrade anytime in the foreseeable future. Then buy a bike that is a bargain for the frame and upgrade the rest. You should realize that your next decision probably will be to choose between upgrading the wheels or the component group. Great wheelset probably beats great component group.
Too many variables, but you'll find something cool. Whatever you do, don't focus on the incidental stuff like stem, seatpost, bars, or saddle, most of which you'll be changing out fairly quickly anyway, just to get the bike to fit (ignore the seatpost because it's irrelevant).
Another way to look at it.Spoke Wrench
May 1, 2001 10:01 AM
You don't spend a very high percentage of your riding time shifting your bike, so old style down tube levers, while not as nice as Ergos or STI's, won't affect your riding perception very much.

On the other hand, on a road bike you tend to plant yourself in the saddle and may hold that same position for pretty extended periods of time. Unless your riding position is pretty close to ideal, the bike is going to be uncomfortable and no fun at all to ride.

My advice would be to make sure the bike fits and not to worry excessively about the details like components. If you stay away from stuff that's obviously worn out, you'll be fine.
I'm with Spoke (again)Cory
May 1, 2001 10:11 AM
Most important thing by far is fit, as I'm realizing again since I quit trying to stuff myself onto a 62cm (biggest many companies make) and sprung for a 64cm Atlantis. Aluminum over steel isn't really an advantage (OK, I'm a steelhead, but it's still true). A few ounces of weight is insignificant in the overall bike/you weight totals. Even low-line Shimano stuff, 105 or even below, shifts fine these days, and you can upgrade a piece at a time if/when you need to.
I've had really good luck with used bikes for 15 years, and would've bought another if I hadn't unexpectedly come into enough money to get the Atlantis. I'd at least look around for awhile for a frame that, first, fits, and second, is decent quality. Nothing else except maybe wheels is as important as those two things (you can upgrade wheels, too, but it's expensive)>