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Smart to but first road bike online?(13 posts)

Smart to but first road bike online?Mike_C
Sep 16, 2001 5:58 PM
I am a mountainbiker looking for my first road bike. Supergo has some decent deals on kestrels(i dont want aluminum) If I take measurements and give them to a salesman will they be able to set me up. LBS are to expensive and arent very willing to spend the time to measure and set someone up knowing they arent going to spend 4k on a bike. Im in the 12-1400 range. Even if I testroad I wouldnt know what a good fit feels like until my first long ride(when my back/neck/legs are in pain). PLease help!
Some ideasnestorl
Sep 16, 2001 6:15 PM
I and many other have had great experiences with He would be willing to spend some time over the phone with you talking about a frame that would fit and he has tons of choices. Also for 1200-1400 you can get a race ready bike.

Buying your first rd bike online may be tricky since you are not really sure about which frame fits.

Oh and one thing: DO NOT go just by the seat tube size. Stand over clearance, and top tube size are even more important!. try coloradocyclist bike fit calculator. BUt then be careful about the standover size. According to them, I should be riding a 53 but I only fit on 53s that have small standover clearance (sloping tubes) otherwise they are too big.

Hope this helps some. cheers. Nestor
bought all of mine ( including my first) on lineterry_b
Sep 16, 2001 6:56 PM
It can be done,but you need to take some time and do some thorough research. While it may present an ethical dilemma, you should go to an LBS and sit on a bunch of sizes until you find something you're comfortable with. Research the dimmensions of that bike - if you don't want to ask a lot of questions from someone you're not going to buy from, find one that feels good and use the manufacturer web site. All of the necessary geometry figures are there, and once you understand the details of the one that fits, you can broaden your search to other brands with the same specs. Then, it should be relatively easy. Simple things like seat height and stem length can be changed, but it's absolutely vital that you get one that feels comfortable in reach. The Top Tube after all cannot be changed.

Re: GVH bikes - while many here swear by him (he is a great guy), I'd be very cautious about making it a first purchase unless you have some decent mechanical skills. I bought a bike from him last year that took me 18 months, much pain and a lot of extra cash to get in working order. I think he has good deals but I do question his ability to build anything that presents a technical challenge. If you ended up buying something that is very standard, you'd probably be fine.
GVH bikesdzrider
Sep 17, 2001 4:47 AM
My experience there was very satisfactory. The bike was assembled well and all I had to do was put on the saddle, bars and pedals. The original seatpost had no setback which didn't work for me and he sent out a replacement of comparable quality without delay or requiring me to first return the one I had. I found Gary to be patient, honest, and easy to deal with.
glad you had a good experienceterry_b
Sep 17, 2001 6:00 AM
As I said in my post, lots of people swear by him and clearly you had no problems. I however did not have such good luck - have you taken your bottom bracket out yet? Mine took a 24" crescent wrench with all my weight behind it. Seems there was a missing element, like grease or Ti prep.

No complaints whatsoever about Gary, his attitude or his prices. However, the frame I bought presented some technical challenges that were not met. Had this been a local purchase, it would have gone back in a heartbeat (echoing another post.) Instead I had to fix the mess myself. I'd guess he's a compentant builder but only on bikes that use standard everything. Oh, then there's the problem of the backwards wrapped bar tape.....
18 months to fix a stuck BB and backwards bar tape?DaveG
Sep 17, 2001 8:09 AM
I assume there is more to this story than just the BB and bar tape. What was the bike? What other technical challenges?
long answer, read only if you're interested.terry_b
Sep 17, 2001 10:19 AM
It's a Calfee Tetra Pro, and yes there is more to the story. Didn't really take 18 months to fix the thing, rather it took that long to finally figure out what the issue was and resolve it accordingly. And yes, I was not exactly working full time on it. At many points I was so pissed off that I let it sit. A big part of the problem was me - I should have boxed it up and sent it back but I instead kept making incremental adjustments until I finally put it in good working order.

So, here's the litany:

1) ordered it with Ultegra Triple, 11x25
2) received it with a way out of whack front wheel (as in unrideabe.) Trued wheel. Might be packing problems, might be UPS. Also had a fray in the rear derailleur cable that completely cut all the way through the plastic to the metal lining. Fray was due to in shipment rubbing on front brake adjustment knob.
3) first problem - 11x25 would not work with the frame. chain rubbed severely on a nut used to attach the drop out to the stays when in 53x11. Should not have left the shop that way, I found the problem on the workstand and confirmed it on the street. Removed 12x25 from my other bike and tested it - peachy. Gary agreed to swap for 12x25 which fixed the rubbing.
4) Huge flex in the BB when sprinting. chain rubbing against FD. discovered the crank bolt barely tightened. Torqued it to spec, inner chain ring now carving a nice path in the coating on the seat stay. Had to loosen it. Gary's response, "you should be okay under torqued." real life fact - no way. I now realize the bike cannot work with Triple.

So here's Stupid Consumer Action #1. I don't send the bike back (because I got a good deal, and I do like the frame)deciding instead to fix it myself.

5) Decide to go to Double assuming that the problem is with Triple. Buy the crank and BB. Try to get BB out of shell - no luck. Actually shear the slots off the cup ring trying to remove it. Decide to live with Triple BB amd Double Crank. Rode this way for many months and everything was mostly okay. No more flex and rubbing, but the gap between the crank and BB is a constant visual reminder of my failure - decide to fix it once and for all.
6) get out the 24 inch crescent wrench and a new splined BB tool. Go to the gym and develop a massive upper body. Jump up and down on the wrench until finally it gives way. Surprise - aluminum BB cup installed into Ti BB shell with no prep whatsoever. Install correct Double BB, inner ring once again carving path into seat stay coating.
7) Called Calfee - answer, "Oh yea, you cannot use splined BB with older style frame. In fact, Triple will most likely not work at all. You need spacers or to sand down the seat stay coating to give clearance for the Double." Begin wondering about GVH skill.
8) Install spacers, Double BB, Ti prep, crank and off I go. 15 miles from home - sure looks like a lot of gap on the drive side betweeen BB ring and shell. BB is walking itself out in the drive side. After much cursing and musing decide that since I don't generally carry a splined BB tool on 40 mile rides, better call my wife and get her to bail me out. Problem - wife is out in back field running Appaloosas around in circles. Necessity being the mother of invention, I discover I can hand tighten the BB back into the shell by rotating the crank and turning the BB. Ride 2 miles, stop and do it again. Ride 2 miles, stop and do it again, etc. etc. etc. Finally get home.
9) remove spaces, get out Dremel Tool, alternate between removing material and installing/removing crank. Finally reach the optimum, reassemble and everything has been wonderful since. It's now a great bike and I become a happy man.

So, to my point to the First Time Buyer - I pretty much know what I am doing mechanically and so was ultimately able to get the thing in good working order. A Newbie might not be able to do that and it might even take a while for he/she to realize the nature of the problem. I think buying online from a bigger dealer (of sorts) may give you a higher probabilty of success than with a small time operator like GVH. I've bought 4 road bikes and 3 MTBs online from bigger shops and never had anything like this. Again, he's a great guy but he clearly did not know what he was doing with this particular bike. And all the out-of-the-shipping-box problems were discovered on the stand, the only esoteric one was the BB and he should have known you can't ride a bike with a loose crank bolt. He could have just as easily called Calfee and discovered that the problem was solveable. While he's got a good inventory of bikes that may not present this kind of challenge, I'm guessing there are probably a few more time bombs out there in his garage. I would not want to be a Newbie and get one of those.
I vote no. No matter how good the measuring is, you'll needbill
Sep 16, 2001 7:00 PM
to fool around with, for example, stem length, saddle choices, etc., and a good shops will let you try things. And, if the least little thing is wrong with mail order, you've got to package whatever's not right and send it back, and you're SOL until it's fixed. For a second or third bike, where you already have a working ride, that would be a hassle, but it wouldn't put you out of commission completely.
I've found, too, that dealing with stuff from mail order that I might have wanted to send back or get fixed or whatever is just too much of a hassle, so I live with it, where I might have gone back to the store and made it right.
re: Smart to but first road bike online?Elefantino
Sep 16, 2001 7:38 PM
Would you buy a car online? Sure, but not without researching it. You'd go to a dealer, test drive, then buy where it's cheapest ... or at least where it's cheap and you'll still get good customer service. Cars have warranties; so do bikes. You sound like you've researched bikes (the Talons at Supergo look like a great deal, and they are really good people do deal with, at least in my experiences).
As for long rides, most of the LBS in town have let me ride the latest and greatest bikes for hours at a time. That's how and why I bought my Trek 5200, not just with a trip around the parking lot. Find a Kestrel dealer, take one for a long spin, and if you like it, buy it. I leave the ethics of from whom up to you.
The most expensive bike you can buy....nee Spoke Wrench
Sep 17, 2001 6:15 AM
is one that doesn't fit right. Since it's not much fun to ride you don't use it and it just takes up room in your garage or else you have to add its price onto the price of whatever bike you eventually get that fits you.

I can't imagine how anyone on-line could do as good a job of fitting an individual as a knowledgable LBS who has the hugh advantage of being able to talk to you and actually see you on the bike. I doubt mail order companies have some magic gene pool from which they hire their sales people. They are going to vary in ability just like us LBS people.

I also think you are majorly mistaken in your estimate of the amount of time an average LBS will be willing to spend fitting someone who buys a $1,200 bike from them. Personally, I'm much more willing to spend my time working with someone who actually BUYS a $1,200 bike than I am with someone who wants to take up my time TALKING about the $4,000 bike they are going to buy someday.
Go ahead. But. . .9WorCP
Sep 17, 2001 6:27 AM
you have the responsibility to do the proper research regarding fit and assembly. Warning: TAKE YOUR TIME! If your LBSs stink then definitely jump on the net. You'll save a pile of dough to boot. I went through Colorado Cyclist and recieved an excellent deal without headache. Make sure you go to a site w/ references (ask around). I would be wary of Supergo for an entire bike mailorder. They've had quality and customer service issues in the past. I recommend Colorado Cyclist or Excel. I've zero problems with these two companies and have ordered many products through both.
do you know what you want?cyclopathic
Sep 17, 2001 7:26 AM
you said you don't want Al.
Ti is mostly out of range maybe Mongoose.
Carbon is out (o'k you can get Kestrel).

Other then that you're looking for steel and there're many choices.

Reynolds 853, Temper Platinum or top of the line Columbus would be lighter, more expensive too. Pls if you need smaller bike frames get stiffer (this is true for any material). Reynolds 520 would be cheaper, also heavier but plusher in small. 520 bikes usually come with low end components, still ok for training or commute.

if you're riding MTB and roads are hilly where you live you would benefit from triple cranks.

Go to a few LBS around try diff bikes then look for best deal.

Also check geometry on your MTB (seat angle, top tube length) and try to find better match
in a perfect world ...bianchi boy
Sep 18, 2001 4:55 AM
I would recommend buying from a local bike shop, but it's not a perfect world. My experience has been that many LBS's do not really know how to fit people to a frame or don't take the time to do it right. They just tell you to test ride several frames that appear to be in the ballpark and make a choice. The only bike shop in my area that does professional fittings is located on the other side of a large metro area, a 45-minute drive for me under usual conditions. That shop is almost always so busy that it is very hard to get personal service and their prices are very inflated -- typically 10-20% above normal retail.

Where I live, it is very difficult to find a LBS that carries quality steel frame bikes other than LeMond's, which have the wrong geometry for me. To buy a decent steel frame locally, I would have had to special order the bike, which would have taken weeks and cost a lot more money. So, I decided to buy on-line (actually telephone) from Excelsports in Colorado. I haven't regretted my decision. ( I also seriously considered GVH Bikes but he closed for vacation right about the time I was ready to order my bike.) This wasn't my first road bike, but it was the first one I had bought in 16 years -- and a lot had changed during that period.

Some caveats about buying mail or phone order. 1. Get a proper frame fitting done by a bike shop that uses Serotta or some other professional system. You will have to pay for this but it's the best money you will spend on a new bike. 2. Make sure you are dealing with a reputable business that will allow you to exchange parts (such as stems, saddles) until you get your proper fit dialed in. This is very important because it is unlikely you will choose the correct stem and saddle on the first try. 3. Try to actually ride some bikes in the size(s) you are considering. Many fit "formulas" encourage riders to choose a smaller frame rather than larger. This may be good advice for a racer, but it can be a mistake for many people who are not comfortable riding with handlebars much lower than the saddle. If you prefer a more upright position, go for a larger frame.

Let's be honest, one of the main reasons for buying mail or phone order is to save money. You can save money because the prices are generally lower and they usually don't charge you sales tax, which can be considerable for a $2,000 bike. However, you won't save yourself any money if you have to spend a lot of money replacing parts that can't be exchanged for full credit, as well as labor costs. I would argue that the best reason to consider buying mail/phone or on-line is the greater selection. Face it, most local bike shops make most of their business selling mountain bikes. The selection of road bikes is generally pretty slim, made even worse by lack of availabity in proper sizes, let alone color combinations. By buying on-line, you can choose exactly what you want the model, size, color, components, etc. That was my biggest reason for buying on-line and I believe I made the right decision.