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Newbie Bike Purchase Info.(9 posts)

Newbie Bike Purchase Info.Jennifer
Sep 28, 2001 10:14 AM
I am a competitive runner who has been biking 6 hours/week for last 3 months due to injury. I am using my hybrid and am biking 16-18 mph average on country roads primarily. I would like to buy a road bike for Spring 2002 so I can start riding with organized groups in my area. I do not want to race, I want the bike primarily for training/fitness/charity rides. I am tall, 5'9" and 122 lbs., and don't want to spend over $2000. I am looking for manufacturer/model suggestions. Also, I like how the handle bars allow me to sit up on my hybrid. Are there any road bikes that allow you to do this? Or, can you have your bars customized? Thanks for your help.
Check the reviewsMick
Sep 28, 2001 10:34 AM
Check out the reviews for bikes in your price range. There are a lot of excellent choices.

Personally I wouldn't recommend hybrid handlebars on a road bike. You should be able to move around quite a bit - including sitting up - with standard drop bars.
.and don't believe half of them!! (nm)Rusty McNasty
Sep 28, 2001 10:36 AM
re: Newbie Bike Purchase Info.dzrider
Sep 28, 2001 10:53 AM
You should have little trouble finding a bike you like in your price range in fact you could probably have one made for you. My personal preferences in that price range are Fuji and Lemond, but that is much less important than what feels good to you. Go to a few of the better shops in your area and try as many bikes as you can. Since it sounds like you like to ride, testing bikes could be fun.

Swapping handle bars or getting a shorter or more upright stem should be no problem but try learning to learn to use drop bars and lean forward a little bit more before you make the swaps. Varied hand placements preserve your wrists on long rides, aerodynamics are better, taking a little weight off your seat helps avoid one of the most common complaints of new riders. Many people have found it's worth the learning curve.
re: Newbie Bike Purchase Info.PiP
Sep 28, 2001 11:00 AM
Go to your local bike shop, or a reputable one in your area. Have them fit you with a Serotta Size Cycle or Fit Kit. Then they can tell you what bike will be the appropriate dimensions for your body. This will help prevent further injury.

Next spend some time riding all the bikes that fit you. Borrow them from friends, do test rides out of the shop. Find one that "feels" right. It should be a balance of the important bike characteristics, cornering, accelerating, climbing, long distance comfort, sex appeal, etc. When you find the bike or bkes for you, make your price comparisions (you can get some really really good bikes for $1400 and less!)

Remember to save some of that budget for accessories. They are just as important to comfort and enjoyment as the bike. A good pair of shorts, some water bottles, a cycling computer/HRM, helmet, pedals, shoes/cleats are all very important. A number of other accessories can make riding even better, but those should be chosen according to personal need.

Collect as much information as possible about all the bike (I found this site's reviews rather useful) And remember have fun.
re: Newbie Bike Purchase Info.Me Dot Org
Sep 28, 2001 11:08 AM
It sounds like you are in pretty good shape right now. You don't say what kind of injury you've had or whether it effects your comfort on a bicycle. So anything I say is dependent upon YOUR riding needs. For example, you say "I like how the handle bars allow me to sit up on my hybrid." Is this related to your injury? If not, consider the benefits of drop bars, which actually give you a lot of posture options (hold the top of the bars, the shifters, or all the way down in the drops) which can be very beneficial over a long ride. In addition, there is no safer position for going fast than being down in the drops.

The good news is that there are a lot of bikes for under $2k that are well suited to your needs. Bianchi makes a flat-bar road bike called the Strada (MSRP $699).

If you a serious about doing a lot of riding, you might want a bike a little higher up in the food chain. A front carbon fork can really smooth out the ride. Talk to your LBS (Local Bike Shop) about your needs. IMPORTANT: Take SEVERAL bikes out for test rides of at least 15 minutes. Go up hills. Try sprinting. Which bikes feel GOOD to your body? LISTEN to your body. Many women have shorter torsos and longer legs than men of the same height, consequently they like bikes with shorter top tubes. You might look at some of the frames made specifically for women. Make sure you do some riding before you decide. If you buy on line, check the geometry of the bike you are thinking of buying and try to ride a bike of similar geometry at a local bike shop.

A few places to think about:

Okay, this is my bike, so I gotta plug the frame builder. Carl will build you a custom steel frame starting a $1,000. He builds both mountain and road bikes, so he would be familiar with both flat bars and road bike geometry.

Gary Hobbs builds lots of bikes from lots of different manufacturers for very reasonable prices. A lot of very reasonably priced steel here.

Schwinn has gone bankrupt, and their existing inventory is being sold at incredible markdowns. This bike normally sells for $2180 can currently be had for $1399. You'd have to pay for a flat-bar conversion, but something to think about.

Finally, the most important thing is how the frame fits your body. A great deal on a bike with great components won't do you any good unless the frame fits you.

Good luck...
re: Newbie Bike Purchase Info.Rich Clark
Sep 28, 2001 3:34 PM
Some people stick with flat bars and a more upright position and do well, but it's fairly rare in riders who put in a lot of miles, and it's usually the result of necessity (back problems, etc.) rather than choice.

That's because drop bars have two immense advantages: the variety of hand positions they provide (very important to prevent numbness, pain, stiffness in wrists and hands on long rides); and the more aerodynamic posture that the drops make available, invaluable in headwinds and pacelines.

It may take some getting used to if you've never ridden with drop bars, but these are among the reasons you see them not just on racing bikes but also on touring bikes, which are built for distance, not for speed.

One could argue that a road bike with flat or riser bars *is* a hybrid.

There are are few, call 'em "high-end hybrids," that are closer to road bikes than most. The Specialized Cirrus models come to mind. Also the Trek (7500FX, I think it is).

But with your build, I'd strongly urge you to find a good local "roadie" bike shop -- a chop that specializes in road bikes, and that can do a thorough fitting. It's quite possible that a woman of your stature will need an unusually-proportioned frame, especially if you really want to stick with an upright posture on it. Once you've been measured, it can be determined whether anyone makes a stock frame to fit you or whether a custom frame would work better.

(And yes, all this emphasis on *fit* is warranted. Once you start spending hours at a time on the bike, any mistake in the fit will translate into discomfort, pain, or eventually, possibly, injury.)

There's a lot of variation in frame geometry from one manufacturer to the next; having a sense of what you're looking for will help a lot. You may find a stock frame to match your measurements, but you have to have the measurements first.

The bike can be built with drop bars or flat bars, and the appropriate brake/shift levers for each (they will be different, of course, and not interchangeable). You can work with the shop to decide on gearing, component groups and brands, pedals, bars, stem, seatpost, wheels, hubs, tires...

Yes, a custom built bike like this can be purchased for under $2000, and if you find a good shop, having them build the bike will establish a relationship that will serve you well into the future.

To get a sense of the kinds of choices you'll be making, take a look at or, both of which use similar "configurators." (Airborne offers flat bars and the appropriate levers and other parts for their Carpe Diem frame.)

Good luck. If you hit some shops and feel like you're getting railroaded, this is a good place to come back to for a reality check.

Stems and fittingTig
Sep 29, 2001 6:14 AM
All of the above advice is fantastic! One thing that can help make a bike fit your needs is the handlebar stem. Many of the modern "threadless" or "Aheadset" stems have an advantage over the older quill type (looks like a one-piece "L"). The advantage is it can be used in two different positions by flipping it over. The positions will either put the handlebar down low or bring it up high, depending on the angle it is built (called "rise") with compaired to the fork stem's axis. Changing it out with different lengths and rises to test your fit is something a good bike shop will do once they put you on the right sized frame. There are many options here that can dial you in to a position you like. Don't let a shop tell you that you have to be in a lower position than you want. A shop that does that wouldn't have your needs in mind.

Seat height and position is critical. So is foot/cleat position. A good shop will spend a long time fitting your bike to your needs.
Thanks for incredibly detailed responses :)!Jennifer
Sep 29, 2001 6:30 AM