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Wretched advice, wretched excess: What's the bottom line?(27 posts)

Wretched advice, wretched excess: What's the bottom line?scottfree
Jul 1, 2002 9:12 AM
Just back from a long MTB weekend and feeling bruised, battered and MTB ornery, so here goes:

In a post below, I see where some poor sap, sounds like a kid, wants his first real road bike, mentions he's on a limited budget, and is agonizing over whether to get a C-Dale with Taigra or one with 105 -- which he says will stretch his budget. (Don't think he's bought all the accessories yet, so he has no IDEA how stretched things will get ...)

He gets the rather comical advice to just go ahead and get Ultegra, and this flabbergasting sentence: "I firmly believe in setting a budget, then adding $500-1000. You'll be glad that you did."

But let's just set that aside for a minute. Airy advice to people of limited means to spend more than they can afford on a bike they may or may not use is commonplace on this board, and it's a cross more sensible posters have learned to bear.

But it does raise an interesting question:

What is the LEAST MONEY an average, sensible human interested in (a) getting in shape, and (b) finding out if he/she likes road riding enough to pursue it further, could spend on a NEW bike that will (a) get him or her in shape and (b) be a fair introduction to road riding?

I'm betting it's a lot less than people think.
It's often due to a race-centric culture.loop
Jul 1, 2002 9:26 AM
Granted this board appeals mostly to more experienced folks with ample time and money "invested" in this sport, but we often digress into discussions/advice that are off track. The constant stem flaming on the photo gallery is proof, wherein anyone having the audacity to show more than 1.5 mm of stack under their stem is obviously not serious enough.

I agree with your philosophy. The kid asked the question honestly, and he deserves a good answer. Here's my suggestion. He should start by pricing his accesories, specifically his helmet and whatever extras he feels he needs. After all, fancy Coolmax clothes are not necessary to get in shape, nor are bike-specific shoes or clipless pedals. Once that's done, then he can take stock of his bike fund and find the appropriate ride. I agree with buying the most bang for the buck, but the bottom line is that an amatuer can acheive a lot of enjoyment and health benefits from a low end bike.

"Fun" should be the goal, after all, particularly for a newby.
Hmmmm. I spent $200 USD.Ahimsa
Jul 1, 2002 9:33 AM
For a used DA and Ultegra mix on a Cannondale that just needed a little TLC. I think that the problem lies in the belief that buying new is the way to go for entry level cyclists. I think it is the WORST way to go.

However, to answer your question:

Bottom line USD $?


They are out there. In varying degrees of "better frame, lesser components" vs. "better components, lesser frame", and ALL are fine bikes.

We should perhaps recognize that the only bad bike is a bike that is not ridden. Save your criticism for those department store hunks of garbage and leave the Fujis and Raleighs of the world to assume their rightful place as rock solid, relatively light weight, durable performers.

There is nothing wrong with Sora. Hell, today's sora group is as good as what many of you paid top dollar for back in "the day". Tiagra and 105 even more so.

No newbie needs hotshot boutique wheels to go riding over curbs with. Nor do they need a fancy Flite seat to get the sh!t beaten out of it when they go down or the bike falls over in the garage.

There needs to be more understanding of the actual comparative quality of today's entry level bike. Go ride a Fuji with Tiagra. Not too bad really. Better than my first bike.

We all have to start somewhere. I'd rather see you out riding and trashing and learning than scrimping and saving and then ultimately Ebay-ing a high dollar ride.

Get a grip folks. That kid on his Fuji just might drop your DA equipped arse and leave you wondering if you need to upgrade to carbon fibre legs.


A. (Testy today....sorry.)
Jul 1, 2002 9:43 AM
I believe in setting a budget, too, then adding $4,000 to $5,000. You'll be glad you did (until the Amex bill arrives). :-)

I'd say around $1,000 gets you a decent bike these days without making you want to upgrade after the first ride.

budget adn 1st bikePhatMatt
Jul 1, 2002 9:56 AM
Well my 1st road bike (last year) was a trek 1000k bought used for a couple of hundred dollars. IT worked quite well was not the best fit but, all in all it started the bug. When I priced starting to upgrade it was cheaper to buy new, and that is what I did. I was able to get a full Ultegra AL bike through Gary Hobbs (I love the bike) on the winter clearence w/ carbon fork and campy Daytona pedals for 1350 (inc shipping). I love the new bike. It fits a little better than the trek.

IMHO you do not need the fancy names to get a good bike for a decient price. But starting out I would go used or cheap for the first year. Clothes, helmets, shoes computers (most of them any way) will transfer to another bike.
Jul 1, 2002 9:58 AM
I believe we should talk about what is the lowest price bike you can start out with and not be discouraged with the handicap the bike places on your riding. That means you throw out the 35 lb department store junk. I would say a new bike shouldn't be more than 800 to start with. Used is the way to go but the problem is you really don't know what you're looking for unless you get a good response from your post.

After you get hooked, well no price seems too high
Howa 'boutspdplayr
Jul 1, 2002 10:12 AM
Have we even begun the discussion of brain savers, lycra, shoes, pedals, gu, bars, drinks, rain jackets, tights, socks, HR monitors, computers, interfaces, coaching......
At least another 10-20K.
It is hard to advise a newbie with hindsite...MXL02
Jul 1, 2002 10:13 AM
most of us have gone through the experience of buying our first road bike, and developing some adeptness at this sport, plus we are mavens by virtue of the fact we frequent this site, so any advice we give needs to be read with that understanding and disclaimer. I, at least, usually give new bike advice from the perspective that the user will fall in love with the sport like I did, and will not want to be stuck with a bad bike.

In a similar sense, with your last statement in mind (be a fair introduction to road riding) since cycling IS an equipment intensive sport, a new cyclist is never sure whether they are having a bad experience because of the equipment or because they simply don't like cycling.
So maybe what we need to do is develop a universal minimum for cycling.

In MHO, the minimum should be a 105 gruppo, a decent steel or aluminum frame (very much determined by user experience and preference)...a cheap steel frame will ride nice and suffice for casual riders, even tho it may carry a few extra pounds, whereas an aluminum frame is the economic way to get a lightweight bike for the budding speed demon. Couple that with some CXP 21 wheels and ATB Pedals. I believe all this can be had for $800- $1000. There are several companies that make these types of bikes.
To try to answer the question....Walter
Jul 1, 2002 10:26 AM
Since you specified new: Both Iron Horse and the Asian company called Motobecane list roadbikes for under $500.
OK, you can stop laughing now and let's take a serious look.

You get a 23-24lb bike that is brand new which for an inexperienced buyer is important. Not all that long ago a 23-24lb bike was considered a quality ride, while topline racers weighed about 21lbs. This bike will index shift, probably has a triple for help with the hills and has a steel frame which at the lower end most would agree is a comfort advantage. These bikes will NOT hold back a true newbie. A pro rider on one of these still kicks 90% or more of our butts.

If you're new and undecided and on a budget I see these bikes as a very viable alternative. Bike prices are high and to spend $1000 on a piece of equipment you know little about is an idea many have a hard time swallowing. On top of that you're also telling your newbie that their $1K isn't really buying a whole lot of bike anyways.

So my answer is that you can do it for $500. Buy it from a shop, make sure it fits buy a couple of pair of good shorts for another C note and go out and discover a new sport.

No I'm not spamming, my #1 ride is a Colnago and my #2 a Basso but I'm not a newbie either.
$0.00JS Haiku Shop
Jul 1, 2002 10:27 AM
cycling was not enjoyable on my first (adult) road bike. too small, setup incorrectly for my build, and sorely in need of an overhaul--just the basic stuff--i was not with a good opinion of road riding. the guy i rode with (when i wasn't riding alone) was an ironman-type, but did the cycling training only grudgingly. my goals were to ride the MTB longer and stronger, thus the road bike.

when i made it past the fear of changing things on the bike (the fear based upon doing something costly or irreversible), and learned--the very hard way--that i should be carrying a spare, patch kit, and pump, and a phone, things became gradually more enjoyable. now i feel it's my responsibility to help where i can with newbies on club rides (to a certain extent). not that i'm going to sit at the back and wait for problems, or go out of my way to do the "social" rides, but...if someone had been there to help me along four years ago, well, i'd me so much farther along now.

as far as a bike purchase, the $300 i spent on that first one from the classifieds on the old incarnation of this board was just fine. though the rear wheel was garbage, it needed new tires, and a good once-over with new cables and brake pads, etc., you really don't need an expensive bike to get a good introduction to riding. in fact, i was recently GIVEN a nice (though pretty ancient) road bike that rivals the first one i had, back in the day.

so, $0.00, and some time from somebody with a head on their shoulders, sans attitude.
oh, and by the way, same thing goes for racing...JS Haiku Shop
Jul 1, 2002 10:34 AM
i'm learning about racing now, but don't feel that i need a better bike or expensive coaching or exotic nutrition or whatnot to get better. same applies here: learning from those in the know, including live & in person, and on the boards (and let me tell ya, lonefrontranger is a virtual encyclopedia, and invaluable), is going a long way. i'm still getting my arse handed to me on the fast rides, and successfully attacked "off the back" in this weekend's race, but i'm learning. money not required, but mentoring can sure save one time--years--from the right people.

what's unfortunate with racing is the infrequency in town and the need to travel to get much more exposure. this seems to be changing.

even more unfortunate is the elitist attitude of even "developmental" lower category racers. how can slower cat 4s justify being such dickheads? (pardon my french.) why isn't the overall environment more geared toward growing the racing community?
Cat 4 syndromelonefrontranger
Jul 1, 2002 12:08 PM
I think I've mentioned this before. For whatever reason, roadie elitist attitudes are FAR worse the further down the cats. you go. Culminated by twentysomething Cat 4/5 types who've done a few months of group rides and exactly three races, which of course means they now know everything there is to know about bike racing and can't be bothered with that squirrelly fred new guy in the pack.

A close second in arrogance and inapproachability would be your local Cat II type who's suffering from "big fish in a little pond" syndrome. You know the type - he is the unquestioned King of the Bike Nazi Ride and Legend of the Weeknight World Championship Training Crit. Yet somehow he never manages to make it to the regional races where the big dogs from out of town come to play. Hmmm.

The best mentors I've had were Cat I / Pro types who've raced over in Europe. These are guys who've suffered in the trenches and know how much there truly is to learn. They also genuinely love to ride their bikes and don't view the sport as a mere extension of their ego. They're just happy dudes enjoying their job; as Kirk Albers (Jelly Belly pro) once told me "hey they're willing to PAY me to act like a kid and ride my bicycle all day, how cool is THAT?!"

Anyone who's done the legwork necessary to make it to that level has also discovered at some point that riding 3 hard group rides, 2 interval sessions and 2 races a week makes you seriously mediocre in a hurry, so they're not afraid to do REAL slow recovery rides while mentoring someone new to the sport.
Jul 1, 2002 10:44 AM
The last messages were solid good advice.

Low Price Comfort Lightweight

Pick two

I am a firm believer in buying used if you can find it. Steel bike bargains abound out there from riders who get more serious and want to drop the weight of their rigs.

I gave two newbies advice on buying their first bike and they both bought iron horse victory bikes. One got a closeout from nashbar for 800 and the other paid a 1000. this was a couple of years ago. One continued to ride, the other parked it but could sell it for 600 easy on the used market. The other guy is setting his sites for a 4000 mile year and is completely thrilled with his purchase. His bike was good enough to keep him content (21lbs steel ride ultegra package, with cheaper wheelset)

btw i have a trek 5200 and a classic steel bike and bought them both used. Saved enough to buy winter gear, trainer, camelbak, lights, two pairs of bibs, multitool, inflator, etc., etc.
re: Advice is often based on erroneous assumptions.dzrider
Jul 1, 2002 10:30 AM
Most people want to ride their bikes much less than I ride mine and I ride less than many people here. Most of the advice given here seems to be based on the assumption that every new rider is going to love cycling the way that we do. Ain't gonna happen.

You see lots of Sora and Tiagra rolling down the roads on charity rides. The stuff does work. If somebody asks about value I think it make sense to recommend 105, Ultegra, Centaur or Veloce. If somebody asks about bikes in a certain price range, I think it makes sense to recommend something that leaves money for helmet and shorts which are worth far more than any other $100 upgrade. People figure out for themselves how much cycling is worth to them and spend accordingly.
I agree!freecarve
Jul 1, 2002 10:34 AM
Paid around $300 for first(and only) road bike. Is it anything special? No, definately not. But it does have the essentials - two wheels, brakes, drop bars, gears and shifters that work. What more does a person need? I'm sorry, but I laugh when I read on here about a good "entry" level bike can be had for $1000. A good bike(entry level or not) can be had for alot less. Granted I don't put a huge amount of miles on it a week (about 150) but odds are a person new to the sport isn't either.
My friend Jimpmf1
Jul 1, 2002 10:43 AM
I've been working a temporary job this year and met a fellow in another govt agency (OMB) who is interested in riding. Colleagues tell me he lost around 80-100 lbs after picking up cycling a few years ago. He started on a cheap hybrid bike and later moved to a road bike ... the bike is a $600 Fuji with a huge bar extension. Its not a fancy bike. I have wheels that cost more than his entire bike.

The guy is a maniac. He rode 7000 miles last year. On December 30-th, he calls me up saying he's 92 miles from hitting 7000 for the year --- would I want to go on a century with him tomorrow? I went. Froze my butt off (it was 18 degrees F when we started off), but made it 101 miles. He's aiming for 10,000 miles this year. And this is a 45 year old guy with a kid and full time plus job.

Fancy equipment is sure nice (I know, I've got lots of it), but not essential. This kid should just get what he can afford and see if he likes road riding. I remember my first "real" road bike. It didn't have anything close to Ultegra on it.
I bet $550 could buy new alum or steel frame w/ STIQuack
Jul 1, 2002 10:47 AM
Back in 1990 when I was young and financially strapped, I purchased a Schwinn Aluminum w/ Exage parts for $299. After upgrading the wheels in 1996, I rode the bike for another 4 years until last year. After probably 6000 miles, the original components are still going strong for my father, who I donated the bike to.

One upside to riding lower quality gear when you're young is that when you hit your physical prime in your mid-twenties and can afford the good stuff, you will have all the experience and physical capabilities to appreciate the durability and refinement the higher $$ items offer. Plus, the fragile young ego can always blame the equipment for being slower.
After the fact determinationelviento
Jul 1, 2002 11:08 AM
When you start a sport, you don't know how much you will like it, and how much you should invest in it. The person who recommended $1000 over budget obviously decided he liked cycling enough to spend more.

But this after the fact advice may not work for a newbie, because you are underestimating/ignoring the possibility that he may decide to quit cycling. Then he would be stuck with a big loss. If he is a poor college kid, it's even worse.

My first real bike cost $150, a used time trial bike with 650 front wheel, 6 speed cassette, steel frame, Exage brakes and levers. It was a lot of fun to ride and got plenty of use. You'd be very surprised how well some real low end stuff works.

By the way, who wants a pair of size 9 Rollerblades, used a handful of times, $395 retail, now $95 (seriously)?
Don't buy, borrow!!!hikerryank
Jul 1, 2002 11:18 AM
With the number of people who have multiple bikes, it shouldn't be hard to become friends with someone who will loan a bike out. How many people here have rain bikes, beater bikes, or bikes that now are just wall decorations? Right now, my Fuji is being used by a friend waiting for his new ride to arrive and as soon as I get it back, I'm loaning it out to another friend who wants to see if he will like road riding. The only time I'd recommend spending more than 500 on a entry bike is if you are already into another form of biking (or if you just have a wad of cash and want to spend it). Though I had a great year on my Fuji, I wished I'd just gone out and bought a great bike from the start to match my mountain bike. But oh well, now I've got a bike I can loan out to get friends hooked and then set up for night rides and use on the roller come winter.
Just what I was thinking. nmMB1
Jul 1, 2002 1:57 PM
U can't buy a decent bike for less than $1500. Scientific fact.Sintesi
Jul 1, 2002 12:05 PM
And if you were really honest you'd have to admit that "good" bikes actually start at $3000. Me? I wouldn't pay a dime less than $5995 (per year).
With all due respect, Sintesi...Silverback
Jul 1, 2002 2:32 PM
You're on a different planet than most of the rest of the world, even if you don't realize it. $1500 is more than a lot of people can spend on their CARS. To say you can't get a "decent" bike for that means either that you're oblivious or showing off.
I'll grant you that my bike cost more than that, and if I ever replace it, I'll spend at least twice that much. But even $1000 is an unimaginable amount of money for a bike, to a lot of people, and it would give you a bike with 90-plus percent of the function of a $3000 one. Sheesh.
considering the sourcelonefrontranger
Jul 1, 2002 2:45 PM
I believe Mr. Sintesi has his tongue planted firmly in his cheek and his flame-retardant underwear on. I read a playful sort of sarcasm into that response, nothing more.
shakin my noggin...Carbon fiber fanatik
Jul 1, 2002 6:27 PM
I just sat here and read all the replies. I'm still in amazement of the attitude out there. Have we as cyclist forgotten the most important thing? RIDE...!!! period. Sure, you have junk out there.. anything from a deparment store is crap. Go to the LBS, spend what you can afford and RIDE..! The essense is time in the saddle, not name brand on a component. Just ask the guy on the litespeed vortex whose legs i fried on a hill last weekend with my "supergo zonal framed scattante" He will never remember the bike.. but his $4000.00 bike will remember me. It's not about the bike or the name..its about getting out there and riding. I cannot afford a "derosa king w/record" but does that keep me from hitting 30 plus on the flats? nope..
Do i get dropped from a paceline because I dont have krysium's? nope.... Do i want a derosa king? heck yeah... but it wont keep me from riding if i dont have one..
forget about the "freds" and the "posers" just go ride...
best reply I've read all week...great attitude C.f.f. (nm)MVN
Jul 1, 2002 7:58 PM
C.F.F. is a man. n/tspankdoggie
Jul 1, 2002 8:05 PM
buyer's remorse 101filtersweep
Jul 1, 2002 8:14 PM
I was the exact one who posted :

"I firmly believe in setting a budget, then adding $500-1000. You'll be glad that you did."

I fully stand by it. If you look at total cost of ownership, of amortizing the cost of the bike over it's lifetime of usefulness, I firmly believe in buying something a bit better than you normally would. Buying a cheap bike that is only satisfying to ride for a year suddenly becomes an expensive bike. Also, sometimes stretching the budget a bit motivates someone to extract its full value by using it more often.

I'm not suggesting that someone should feel miserable on a sub-105 bike- but rather to get it right the first time.

Bang for the buck really kicks in between $1500 and $2000. This is REAL bang for the buck- not just shedding a few ounces in weight. My first road bike after mtn biking was a sub-105 bike that cost maybe $700. I hated everything about the bike, but loved road biking. I REGRETTED buying it. My LBS honored their satisfaction guarantee and I traded it and an extra $1000 in for a bike that is night and day better. I doubt an extra $1000 over a $4000 would be so dramatic, but at the lower end, can you really truly deny what I am saying?

ADD this to the mix: this "poor sap, sounds like a kid, wants his first road bike, mentions he's on a limited budget" doesn't even really know the difference between a Tiagra and 105 bike. Everything pretty much will "look the same" on these bikes. It is not like I suggested he buy full Dura Ace? If this kid will be serious about riding, why not WAIT until he has a bit more money so he can buy something that provides a bit more long term satisfaction? If the Tiagra bike only lasts one season before bike lust takes over, or he spends a king's ransom on upgrading a Tiagra bike, has he saved any money? It is no secret that you are money behind upgrading a cheaper bike than starting where you wanted to be in the first place. There are several bikes with Ultegra priced at the 105 range (like this years Trek 2200... oh no! Trek!). It really isn't that outrageous.

I work in music production, and own a ton of studio gear... stuff that is quite expensive. Gear envy is a constant battle. It is difficult to find that sweet spot for bang for the buck. If I cut too many corners, the quality disappears. There is a ton of "pseudo-science" behind all sorts of marketing claims. Conversely, if I were to buy a $5,000 mono compressor, the rest of the signal chain would be too weak for me to reap its benefits. One thing I DO know, if I am buying something that I will use "all the time," I want to spend a bit more money and do it right the first time!

"What is the LEAST MONEY an average, sensible human interested in (a) getting in shape, and (b) finding out if he/she likes road riding enough to pursue it further, could spend on a NEW bike that will (a) get him or her in shape and (b) be a fair introduction to road riding? "

Go to a pawn shop and buy an old horse with downtube shifters for under $100... it is that simple.

The original poster seemed (in my opinion) on the verge- ON THE VERGE (as in "not quite there")- of hitting the sweet spot- the debate between Tiagra and 105... there is a big difference between that and a pawnshop bike. If that hard earned money is going "that far"- why not push it just over the top? I'd feel worse for someone on limited means having ANY REMORSE that they didn't quite find what they were looking for.