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Where do I start?(14 posts)

Where do I start?pretty_in_pink
Jul 31, 2001 11:25 AM
I'm looking to buy a new road bike, but I haven't actually ridden for a long time and I don't really know where to start--what's out there; what's good, what to avoid... I'll mostly be biking on the weekends, although eventually I'd like to ride the Seattle-to-Portland. I suppose that at this point I'm a beginner, but I'd like a bike that will suit me for a while. Any suggestions of how I should start looking for the right bike?
re: Where do I start?Len J
Jul 31, 2001 11:47 AM
Start at the beginning.

Couldn't resist. Sorry.

Seriously, I would look through the bike reviews on this site, just remember that most of the posts are positive. I look for consistant negative comments within generally positive reviews. This will give you a good feel for price ranges, Pluses & minuses and may reduce your list to a managable few.

I would find out what bikes are carried by you local bike shops (LBS) as I am assuming that you will be relying on them for maintenance (at least for the forseeable future). This may (but doesn't necessarily) reduce you to a few models.

Talk to local riders and find out where the best mechanics are (which LBS).

Do a search through this site for "What Bike to buy", or leaf through the historical posts for comments about models.

Do research on Bike Fit. See my response to a post today. Ultimatly fit is the most important thing on a bike.

In other words get as much information as possible. When you have done your research, test ride as many bikes as you feel comfortable with & then listen to you heart. Riding is about passion and if you don't have passion for your bike you won't ride it (IMHO).

Finally do a search under "Kristin" on this site and follow her adventure in selecting and buying a bike. It is very educational and people on this board gave her much good advice. Follow her journey and you will learn much.

Good luck.
Len
Kristin?!!! As dear as young Kristin is to all of our hearts,bill
Jul 31, 2001 11:57 AM
even the stoutest and halest among us would quake and turn and run at the prospect of facing her travails. We'd all be bowling. Sweetie, Kristin is NOT typical; although her spirit remains indomitable, and she has, indeed, drawn much good advice, little of which appears to have been to her benefit, your life is likely to be much less eventful.
Get thee to a good LBS (Local Bike Shop). Talk to the folks. Touch the bikes. Get a feel for what's available in your area. If you came to this with a particular desire, you may have to search far and wide, but if all you want to do is ride, there are scads of good bikes out there at all price points, and you're just going to have to check it out some before you could begin to decide.
How to find a good bike shop? Well, if you're willing to post your geographical area here, you're likely to get some suggestions. Also, if you should see the doofy dudes in Lycra out on the roadways, ask.
Where I went wrongBrian C.
Jul 31, 2001 12:42 PM
Fell in love with a bike that was 1 cm too big. I didn't want to wait for a properly fitting bike to be ordered and went ahead a bought it anyway. You can tweak the fit by adjusting the seat height and getting a shorter/longer handlebar neck; and you can grow accustomed to the larger size after a few weeks. But it's still not a perfect fit.
So, one of the first things I'd do is get yourself fitted (most good bike shops can do this) even if you have to pay a small fee. Write down on a piece of paper all the pertinent information and keep it with you while you shop.
And test drive, test drive, test drive.
1cm too big?DaveG
Jul 31, 2001 3:12 PM
Perhaps this bike is 1cm bigger than your IDEAL size, but I am struggling with the idea that 1cm is enough to render the bike hopelessly ill-fitting. Heck, most production bikes don't even size in less than 2cm deltas. Seems within the range of tweeking with stems and seat height.
It happens.......Rusty Coggs
Jul 31, 2001 5:15 PM
My 58cm Cdale was OK for fit,but somehow just didn't feel right no matter how I tweaked the adjustable parts. A 57cm Cdale made it all better. I lost no $$ on the change,so it was certainly worth it long term. The more one knows about how it is suppose to fit and feel, the more aware one is when it doesn't.
Shop for a bike shop first.Spoke Wrench
Jul 31, 2001 1:52 PM
Find a bike shop where you feel comfortable with the people. Buy a brand that they carry and you will NEVER go wrong.
Wise words from Mr. Wrench.bill
Jul 31, 2001 2:00 PM
Among my turgid prose, I meant to say something like this. The only trouble is finding said shop. Like auto mechanics, (and stockbrokers, and realtors, and, sadly, lawyers -- what's that you say? there are no likeable lawyers?) sometimes the most likeable guys are the most crooked. I'm not sure how someone starting out does this (finds someone to trust). Even though I trust the shop with which I deal most, I'm not sure that I'VE done it right.
Comments/advice Spokey?
Wise words from Mr. Wrench.Spoke Wrench
Jul 31, 2001 5:47 PM
If you live near St. Louis I'll fix you up. Otherwise you are on your own.
This siteElena
Jul 31, 2001 2:32 PM
Read as many messages on this board as you can. I rode my hybrid and followed this site for 5 months before I decided to get a road bike. I started out knowing absolutely nothing about bikes, and I learned so much about components, sizing, personal preferences, brands that are out there, saddles, etc etc etc that getting the new bike was a natural next step. It was worth the wait.

Talk to experienced cyclists

Read cycling magazines

Look at bikes when you're out and about

Check out websites of bike manufacturers

Ellen
I'm more or less in the same boatkenyee
Jul 31, 2001 2:42 PM
Haven't ridden since high school (20 yrs ago :-) and someone stole my crappy Huffy :-P

If you plan to ride with friends, check out what they have and see how/where they shopped. If they have road bikes, you'll have a hard time keeping up with them if you get a mountain bike.

A lot of the technology changed from when I last biked. You'll see bikes made of Steel, Aluminum, Carbon Fiber, Titanium (that's roughly the order of how much they cost as well, from low to high). The shifters are different. You also have more bike styles now: touring, hybrid (mix of road and cruiser...no serious cyclist seems to like these for some reason), road, cruiser, cyclocross (road bike and mountain bike hybrid depending on what wheels you put on), mountain bikes, full suspension mountain bikes.

I'd suggest you find a local bike shop that lets you do rentals for a half day to a day at a time; also find a trail to test on. That'll give you a better feel than puttering around a parking lot like most of them let you do. Enjoy the shopping. It's interesting to actually see how different bikes feel. Some are faster, some are stiff over bumps, some are really sensitive to steering, some feel really solid at high speed, etc.

If your butt hurts from riding for a few hours, get padded shorts. I have no idea why I need them now, but I sure don't remember my butt hurting when I was a kid (of course, I healed much faster then as well as never felt tired no matter what I did :-)

When you finally do decide to buy, you'll find that you'll probably base your decision on price, feel, and fit. Of these fit and feel are very important. If it doesn't fit you, you'll have all sorts of extra pains. If you choose a material that is really stiff, you'll dread riding on any road that has slight bumps.

As someone posted, it would help if you gave an idea of where you live (I'm assuming Seattle since you mentioned it), and how much you want to spend, and what kinds of road/trails you'll be riding mostly. Feel free to post your shopping notes. Everyone here is pretty helpful.
A couple of things..DINOSAUR
Jul 31, 2001 3:37 PM
The finding the right shop is your first step, as already stated. You really don't buy a bike, you buy an LBS (local bike shop).

They should ask what type of riding you intend on doing (rec riding, a few centuries, weekly ride time or miles, etc). The big question will be how much money are you willing to spend? Bikes can get kinda expensive. It is a double edged sword. You can get a low end bike that is a piece of junk and you will never experience the pleasure of cycling. Or you can plop out a good piece of change, then discover that cycling is not for you. Remember this sport takes a few seasons or more until you get all the kinks worked out. You have to be willing to put in the time and effort and put up with a lot of little aches and pains along the way, and perhaps a couple of spills. Or perhaps a couple of big aches and pains, and a big crash.

You can start by doing a lot of lurking. I'd skim through the posts here and on into the achieves in order to get your feet wet. You need to do a little research on your own and educate yourself on bicycle tubing and fitting. You can ask questions here, but I would not put too much faith in an internet cycling forum. The trouble is you can receive too much input and opinions based on personal preferences, and of course someone always throws in another option (I've been guilty of that myself) and by the time you are finished you are even more confused then when you started out. Most of us here can't even agree on which brand of tire to use, let alone a bicycle.

Here is a forum you can click onto that covers about everything basic
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/harris/index.html

Your question really has no correct answer, it's like asking what's a good car to buy? There are hundreds of bicycle manufacturers and it can get darn right confusing, as I recently discovered upon my quest for a new lugged steel bike.

I guess I really didn't answer you question, but you can start by finding the right bike shop. Like someone else has mentioned you might want to mention where you live and I'm sure someone will direct you to a good LBS. Ask questions and educate, compare prices and make sure that you are properly fitted.

Good luck with your quest!
Some thoughts...though you're probably afraid to hear from meKristin
Aug 1, 2001 8:53 AM
They make it sound as if my purchase was a monumental disaster. I don't see it that way. Theres been some kinks to work out, but I'm happy still with my bike. To be sure, purchasing a bike soley on the advice of internet pals and an LBS guys you don't know, is...er...tricky. And half of what made my experience on this board such a "travail" is my flair for the dramatic. So, no need to worry. If you follow some of my threads in February and March, you should detect one common truth about bikes, bike fit and bike shopping. Everyone has a different opinion--and everyone's opinion is right! Confusing, eh? I had bike shops try to fit me on 51cm frames while others on 56cm frames--all had very GOOD reason why. If you don't have any friends who ride or are unsure how much you'll enjoy cycling; you may want to buy an inexpensive bike to start with (perhaps even a hybrid). Take that bike and join a cycling club. You'll get to ride, while learning about road bikes and components and fit, etc... Save $2000, take some of your new riding buddies with you and shop for the bike of your dreams. If I had it to do again, this is what I would do. The reason I say hybrid, is that they aren't as hard to fit and are comfortable. The downside is they're slower.
It would help to know where you live...AlexR
Aug 1, 2001 10:56 AM
and someone from that area could suggest a bike shop or specific employee to help you. If you're lucky, somebody may volunteer to accompany you to the shop. It doesn't take much to convince most of us to visit the bike store

Barring that-

The first thing to tell the salesperson is your riding style (and your goals) quickly followed by your budget. Budget should include about two hundred dollars for the necessaries: helmet, pump, shoes, shorts, gloves, tubes, lube, basic tools (metric allen wrenches) and maybe a jersey. Hence, with a $1,000 budget, you get an $800 bike. Believe it or not, most folks who ride a couple times per week view the items I've mentioned as nothing less than must-haves.

Also, if you do not know the shop or the salesperson, you should have a reasonable idea of what size bike you should be on before you shop. This will prevent the salesperson from selling you whatever is on the floor. Unfortunately, these things do happen. My 5'5 girlfriend was sold a 19" MTB last year. To give you an idea, I'm 6'1 and I ride a 19" comfortably.

Don't be shy in asking us (or your salesperson) questions.

Regards,

Alex in Evanston, IL