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Bike Help for a Newbie(6 posts)

Bike Help for a NewbieNewTriMom
Jul 24, 2001 11:32 AM
Can anyone offer advice about buying a used Softride? I'm looking at a Softride Powercurve Qualifier 98, never crashed, Ultegra, profile aerobars, 52cm (I'm 5'8" and think it should fit). The chain and rings are original and the bike has 4000 miles and it is selling for $700. There is another similiar for $1000 with Shimano 600, Spinergy wheels, and new cables and lower miles. Which should I get? Or neither?! Thanks!
re: Bike Help for a NewbieMarlon
Jul 25, 2001 5:20 AM
Softrides are tricky bikes - you either love them or hate them. I have a friend who has one (can't remember the model), and he loves it, or did rather after he smoothed out his pedal stroke and stopped bouncing around on the beam. Some people just can't get used to it. Me, after trying my friends bike, I can see why he likes it, but I prefer something a little stiffer that I can feel the road with. Ride them both and see what you think. Make sure you fit the bike - can you get low and aero without throwing your back or getting stiff? I don't know your body type and size, so I can't give you any fitting advice, but see if you can find a 54cm and see if that fits better (I'm around your size as well and ride a 54). Can you swap out or adjust the stem length (very critical question, especially if it has a threadless fork)?

Mileage looks okay at first glance, but there's a little cause for concern, especially if it has the original chain and chainrings since, at 4000 miles, that means the chain/casette/chainrings might be worn out. Check the chainrings and casette cogs - are the teeth extremely sharp, worn down to points instead of normal rectangular or trapezoidal teeth?

Shimano 600 is the older version of Ultegra, and is slightly heavier, if that's a concern. Do the bikes have STI (combined brake/shifter levers)? How many cogs do they have in the rear - 8 or 9? More is better. What sort of profile aerobars are they - do they have the flip-up armrests? New cabling only costs around $15-20 so that shouldn't really be a big bonus, unless you want to avoid the problem of installing the stuff yourself.

Look at headset performance - is it loose? Is it indexed? Turn the handlebars from side to side and see if there's any hesitation or lack of smoothness; this means the headset is indexed and it needs to be replaced.

Has the owner placed electrical tape on the bike to protect against housing rub? Look under the tape and see what's there.

There's almost a thousand things to look for on a used bike. I compiled a quick list that members of my Tri club submitted on my club's website.

If you have any more questions, give me an email at

Good luck!
re: Bike Help for a NewbieSneedle
Aug 28, 2001 4:51 PM

I currently own a 99 Powerwing. It's been a great second road/tri bike. Here're some thoughts. Check the beam. They actually come in three different stiffnesses. You can research the three on Softride's website, and then look at the sticker under the beam for the details. Also, check the seat binder. I recently found a crack in the outer flange on mine, which has "grounded" me pending getting a new one. So far, Joel at Softride has been really helpful, although if the assembly requires complete replacement, it'll cost about $60. 52 cm should fit you. I'm 6'2" and I ride a 56 with the beam adjusted almost all the way up. The key to tri bikes is to generally buy one size smaller than the standard road rig. For more info, look at Dan Empfield's website or John Cobb's site at Different people have different opinions on this, but I think the Spinergy wheels are a waste on the frame. They're heavy and the hubs tend to wear quickly. I had them on my old Cannondale, and they were great at softening the harshness of that beast, but that just isn't necessary on a Softride. Also, the value in the newer Ultegra will be readily apparent. It's lighter, works better and enjoys easy parts support. The older 600 stuff is becoming harder to get bits and pieces for. Finally, bikes are probably one of the few things that depreciate as quickly as cars and computers. If the Powercurve is in good shape (get it fully checked by your LBS), then $700 is fine.

Above all else, make sure you're comfortable and set up well. Then have fun...lots of it. It's a great sport...welcome.
re: Bike Help for a NewbieNew Tri Mom
Sep 1, 2001 6:02 AM
Thanks for your help!
I bought the 98 Powercurve without the Spinergy for $650 and competed in my first race two weeks ago. I came in third in my age group and absolutely love my bike and the sport. I'm hooked!
re: Bike Help for a Newbiesneedle
Sep 24, 2001 9:28 AM

I'm glad it worked out for you. Be sure to have the pivot pin for the beam checked every now and then by an LBS with Softride experience. The company recommends every 5K miles I's the "weak link" of the system only in as much as it receives a lot of the stress. You'll appreciate the piece of mind if you get it checked.

I'm also glad you liked the sport. It's addictive, really, and it only leads to the healthiest of obsessive/compulsive hobbies.

Um... anything with Tri geometry?Marlon
Jul 26, 2001 7:01 AM
Nice bikes, light and speedy, but it's not a road race, unless you're talking about draft-legal competition.

I'd go with a Cervelo for a traditional tri. Draft-legal... tough choice. Perhaps a Bianchi, just for the campy parts?