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Advice for New Road Riders(15 posts)

Advice for New Road RidersThe Board
Sep 17, 2001 10:37 AM
Help me choose a new bikeNew Roadie
Sep 17, 2001 10:40 AM
I'm a new rider. What are the basic points I should consider when I go to the bike shop to pick out a new road bike?
Help me choose a new bikeMikeC
Sep 17, 2001 12:01 PM
Any experienced rider will tell you that the most important factor is how the bike fits you. It's not like choosing a cruiser or a mountain bike, where there may be just three size choices. With road bikes, you can often choose between one- or two-centimeter increments for a specific model, and you may be surprised how much of a difference one centimeter makes!
Different road bikes also have different frame geometries, and your body type and riding style may dictate, for example, a certain seat tube angle or top tube length. The bottom line is that you should find a shop that knows how to FIT you to a bike, not just SELL you a bike.
Other issues include the frame material and the components that make up the bike's drive train. Be sure that you gain an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of each option before you commit to living with something that might not be a good match. Think about whether you have any plans to race, whether you'll be doing ten-mile jaunts or 200-mile epics. How long do you want the bike to last you? Will you be riding in all kinds of weather? How important is comfort to you? Do you have any physical limitations (bad back, etc.)?
Ask yourself these questions, then ask the people at more than one bike shop (it's important to go to more than one shop!) which bikes fit your needs. Once you have a handful of alternatives, do a search on this messageboard, and see what other people have said about specific bikes.
Good luck!
Frame MaterialsNew Roadie
Sep 17, 2001 10:42 AM
What are the real differences between steel, aluminum, titanium, and carbon fiber when it comes to bike frames?
ShiftersNew Roadie
Sep 17, 2001 10:44 AM
What is STI and ErgoPower, are they any good, and how do I use them?
PedalsNew Roadie
Sep 17, 2001 10:46 AM
I've heard about "clipless" pedals. They actually seem to have clips! How do they work, and do I want to use them? What choices do I have, and what are the strengths of each?
Sep 17, 2001 11:37 AM
After over a year of riding with toe-clip pedals, I just recently made the switch to clipless and was amazed that they actually make such a difference in my pedal stroke and cadence. The only way I was ever able to get a good upstroke on toe-clip pedals is to tighten the straps so much that they would numb my feet after a while. So I highly recommend finding a bike with clipless or switching them at the lbs when you buy the bike.
From reading this forum, I spent about an hour riding around my parking lot clipping in and out until I was half-ass comfortable doing it without looking. Not that I get it every time, but I will eventually. Go for it
Those seats look like torture devices!New Roadie
Sep 17, 2001 10:49 AM
I'm a new rider, but I'm afraid I'll never stick with it if I have to spend my life on one of those awful-looking saddles I see on all the road bikes in my local shop. What do I need to know about seats?
Those seats look like torture devices!like2bike
Sep 17, 2001 11:22 AM
Those seats may look like torture devices, but if you find one that "fits", you'll love it much more than the cushy "comfort" seats. The comfort seat will squish up and press on your soft parts and, in the long run, be very uncomfortable. If your ischial tuberosity ("sit bones") rest on the saddle and you don't have a lot of pressure on your midline, hang in there!
Those seats look like torture devices!9WorCP
Sep 17, 2001 12:59 PM
Those seats look like that for a reason. They end up narrow and relativlely hard because experience has taught generations of riders that fat and soft seats torture your butt after an hour or so. In the short term you will find these saddles uncomfortable but w/ persistence you will come to understand the wisdom in the design. Trust the experts not your layman common sense.
Triple or Double chainringFootball Knees
Sep 17, 2001 12:48 PM
I quit running because my tired, abused knees don't like it. I've been riding a ten year old Cannondale road bike for the past year, and I'm now ready for a new bike.
The bike shop guy tells me that a triple chainring will save my knees. One of the guys in my office tells me that I'm strong enough for the terrain around here, and only losers use triples. I don't care about the image thing (I'm 6'2" and 195lb). Are there any other downsides to triples?
Yeah weight.9WorCP
Sep 17, 2001 1:06 PM
And the derision of stuck-up cyclists the world over. :)F 'em. By the way, if you ride frequently and your area isn't all that hilly or steep your legs will probably strengthen sufficiently that you find yourself never using the granny ring. You can also put a large tooth cog on the back instead of a small ring in the front and get near the same results. Just a thought.
I have this same question....HamSammy
Sep 17, 2001 2:56 PM
I've had my new road bike for about a month and a half. When I bought it I had been riding the mountain bike and NEVER used the granny ring on that, so I figured why bother getting a triple on my road bike ? For one thing there's the weight (not that I can tell the difference), number two is the image (the lbs told me real road bikers would respect me more...HA ! have they seen my gut ?), and most importantly to me...the chain gets to some pretty crazy angles on a triple and rubs the derailleur thingy whenever you're in a high gear on the small ring - or low gear on the big ring...that noise - and the thought that the chain is going to snap - drive me nuts. So I figured, why bother getting three rings on my new road bike ?

Well...what I stupidly failed to realize is the two front rings on a road bike are MUCH bigger than all three on my mountain bike. In fact, the largest ring on the mountain bike is smaller than the smallest on my new raod bike. End result : climbing hills ain't no joke ! My lowest gear is not a granny gear by any stretch of the imagination, and long steep uphills make me want to puke all over myself....

Now I've actually been having thoughts of going in and switching to a triple, but I don't know if I could face that humiliation...However, this is the first time I've heard you could add or change a ring in the back...

Could someone who knows give me some more details on this ? I've been road riding for a month and a half, but I'm a lazy, lazy man...and I don't need any excuses not to ride.

I hate hills.
Forget humiliation...DavidS
Sep 17, 2001 10:07 PM
If you really need a "granny" third ring, and it keeps you riding, then get one, no questions asked. As for changing the gear ratio (gear inches-a value derived from the proportion of values of larger ring vs smaller cog), it is easier said than done by yourself unless you are used to taking a gear wrench to your bike. However, most bike shops can arrange a gear ratio more to your liking and local terrain easily. Just tell them you want a cassette setup with larger rear cogs. But beware: you still want a good range of different gears for different situations.

But above all else, make sure the final outcome keeps you riding...and a little gear-challenge is good now and again, even on hills!

Hope it helps-Keep riding!
-David S
I have this same question....Me Dot Org
Sep 18, 2001 7:46 AM
I'm 50 years old, have a blown out knee, and love bicycling. I'll always get a triple.

It's not for everyone. If you don't have bad knees, live in an area without hills, or are serious about getting into "racing shape", a triple is not for you. People will tell you that a triple weighs more and they are more finicky to adjust. This is true, but the amount of weight is no significant. Keeping a triple aligned and working properly is no big deal.

But when you bonk, or when you are facing a monster hill, it's always nice to have that third ring.

A couple of weekends ago at the San Francisco Grand Prix, riders had a change to do a lap of the short course, which included a 16% grade on Taylor Street. I saw one woman fall over (she looked to be in descent shape) and several people just get off their bikes and walk. A good place for a triple...