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gazing from the shadows
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Discussion Starter #1
This is a thread to advise people on buying their first road bike on a budget... no matter what that budget is. Post some advice that would be useful for people when they are starting the process. Post criteria for deciding between two bikes. Post anything you think EVERY first time road bike buyer should know before plunking down her or his cash and taking the leap.
 

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You're Not the Boss of Me
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1. How much do I need to spend? There's no right answer here, just like there isn't a right answer to "how much does a house/car/jacket cost?" That being said, if you are on a budget, don't fear. The entry level stuff in the road bike world (usually Shimano Sora components on an aluminum frame) is durable and will give you many seasons of happy riding. If you really take to it, you'll find yourself lusting for more and better within 1-2 seasons, or if you are a very casual 1,000 miles per year rider or less, that entry level steed could last you a decade. Just take care of it.

2. How do I know if it fits? You'll get the same lecture over and over about the importance of fit, and people aren't lying. A too big or too small roadbike will truly take the joy out of riding. There are several good websites for bike sizing advice, including www.wrenchscience.com but for the true new rider, there's little to beat going to the local bike shop and spending a good amount of time with a knowledgeable salesperson.

3. Can I get a better deal by buying used? Well, of course. The used bike market is notoriously soft, and that means that a used 2005 bike, for example, can cost 1/3 to 1/2 less than it did new on the floor. That $700 you want to spend can get you much more bang for the buck. But if you don't know what you are doing, you may wind up with a bike that doesn't fit, or has been crashed, has outdated components, yadda yadda. Unless you either know what you are doing or have a local friend to help, there's really value in getting your first road bike at the LBS. You'll get fit assistance, accessories discounts, and probably some complimentary service and adjustments. You'll have a relationship with someone to answer your questions, etc.

4. Is Trek/Giant/Jamis/Motobecane, etc. any good? Look, don't PANIC over whether to buy the Trek 1000 or the Giant OCR3, or whatever. Bikes at a similar price point, especially in the budget range, are so similar that anyone who tries to tell you that one "sucks" and another is "so smooth" is blowing smoke. They might fit a little different with changes in geometry, just like jeans from different companies. In that respect, one may fit better than another. But to pretend there's a qualitative difference is pretty silly.

Those are my preliminary thoughts for now!
 

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It ain't the bike, it is the shop.

dr hoo said:
This is a thread to advise people on buying their first road bike on a budget... no matter what that budget is. Post some advice that would be useful for people when they are starting the process. Post criteria for deciding between two bikes. Post anything you think EVERY first time road bike buyer should know before plunking down her or his cash and taking the leap.
If you don't know what you are doing find a shop that you like (or a shop where you like the employees). There is so little difference from brand to brand at similar prices until you are well over $1000 that the bike hardly matters. What does matter is the help you will get deciding on which of the many bikes and sizes available is right for you plus the service that you will get for free after the purchase.

Don't p-off the guys in the shop and you will get amazing service in the first months of ownership while you figure out what end is up. After a few months a 6-pack for the boys in the shop every so often will go a long way towards cementing a good relationship and pay you back many times over in "good guy" discounts and freebies. Doughnuts or home made treats work well too.....

MB1
A shop rat for over 30 years now

BTW if at all possible visit shops on weekdays or when the weather is bad. No matter what you do, how cute you may be or how much you are going to spend you just aren't going to get good service on a busy spring or summer weekend.
 

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Misplaced priorities?
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Nothing too profound, but...

1. When setting your budget for a new bike, always set aside a few hundred bucks for accessories such as helmet, tubes, patch kit, seat bag, etc. 1 flat tire 9 miles from home was all it took for me to learn my lesson.

2. It's all about the fit! Make sure your LBS employees take the time to fit you properly or find a new shop. If you don't ask for help with the fit, some shops won't bother with it. You will not want to ride an ill-fitting bike. Fit is overlooked by many 1st time bike buyers (myself included, but I lucked into 1 that fits well). Most 1st timers are more interested in a specific brand or color of bike. I'm astonished by how many folks I've seen in recent weeks riding the local recreational trails on "trail ready bikes" (Hybrids equipped w/ a handlebar mirror) that the LBS is pushing with either their knees pointing almost straight out to each side (seat too low), or their hips swaying dramatically with each pedal stroke (seat too high). The LBS employees could easily make the proper adjustments, but the people buying the bikes don't know any better.

Happy Buying and even Happier Riding!
 

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scruffy nerf herder
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I agree. If you are driven to RBR to ask such questions, then Im going to assume some general lack of knowledge. Its nothing bad, but there is a reason you are here on the beginners forum. MB1s advice is spot on. From shop to shop from Giant to Trek to Fuji, etc... all of the bikes at a certain price point will be pretty equal. All of the $799 bikes will have Sora, or Tiagra... or whatever comes on those types of bikes. But all of them will be about the same. The geometry will be different, though. As this will likely be a significant investment for you (otherwise you wouldn't be taking so much time investigating it)... then the shop is a good answer. Not only can they help you with fit, they will also often offer free maintenance for 3,6,12 months... or more... for routine stuff. Thats important if you aren't that good of a wrench. As you ride your bike more, it will get sloppy as you get cable stretch and wear, and thus this becomes more and more important. Bikes arent a science... but Ive seen experienced racers really screw up their drivetrains in a real short amount of time.

So... listen to MB1, listen to Kerry, listen to Bikeben... and there are others. But get you a bike that you are proud of and want to ride. Don't settle, cause you will be sorry... and upgrades are often more expensive than buying in a packaged bike so sometimes buying a little up, saves you money.
 

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Go to a bike shop & figure out what size you need & leave. Go to ebay & drill down to sports, cycling, road bikes & parts, complete bikes & frames. Click in your size range & look for a major brand with Shimano 105 at about 2 years old. This may take some patients but you can find a virtually new bike for half price. Buy it & ride it for a while till you figure out the details of what you really want. Sell it on ebay & move up.
 

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Then don't ever expect or ask to get any service at that shop.

venus said:
Go to a bike shop & figure out what size you need & leave. Go to ebay & drill down to sports, cycling, road bikes & parts, complete bikes & frames. Click in your size range & look for a major brand with Shimano 105 at about 2 years old. This may take some patients but you can find a virtually new bike for half price. Buy it & ride it for a while till you figure out the details of what you really want. Sell it on ebay & move up.
You think the guys in the shop don't know what is going on?

That 2 year old bike is going to need some service and adjustment to actually fit correctly.

I hope there at least 2 shops in your town.
 

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MB1 said:
You think the guys in the shop don't know what is going on?

That 2 year old bike is going to need some service and adjustment to actually fit correctly.

I hope there at least 2 shops in your town.
Ok, you own a local bike shop. Dude, this is a SHAKEDOWN BIKE. Fitting a bike to a beginner can be done by seat for/aft & height. Not much else to it on your basic road bike. Getting a 105 road bike almost new on ebay for half price is the way to go. Fitting is all so much s*** that one figures out relitive to their unique issues on their own if they have half a brain.
You are a shop owner & will be ready when they want something all new. Keep your rep up & help the newbe w/ his ebay purchase bike. Developing a relationship is half the score. How else can local bike shops compete with internet sales?
 

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gazing from the shadows
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Discussion Starter #9
Actually, someone buying a first bike is VERY likely to need a GREAT relationship with a shop. When 500-600 will give you a solid ride, why not get in good with a shop? The free service and the help and advice will be more than worth it.

I bought our previous bikes at a garage sale, and a shop. Both were lightly used and cheap. They lasted us for 8 years. But then I don't need a shop, because I have been working on bikes for more years than that.

First bike, get it at a local bike shop. Without question. That is my advice to 99% of people.
 

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LOL, of course not and I never would.

venus said:
Ok, you own a local bike shop.
OTOH I have worked in all parts of the industry for more than 30 years (just 1 day a week now :) ).

Old joke; "Tony, do you know how to make a small fortune in the bike business?"

"Sure Mark, start with a large fortune.":eek:


Truth hurts.:cool:
 

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I had been mountain biking on and off for 7 years when I decided to give road biking a try. I was already looking at high end rigs but I knew I should try it out first so I set off looking for a used bike. I found an entry level Giant bike for $350. I loved it. After 2 years of riding I upgraded to a new bike and sold the Giant. I got $325 out of it and done nothing but clean the chain.
 

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MB1 said:
OTOH I have worked in all parts of the industry for more than 30 years (just 1 day a week now :) ).

Old joke; "Tony, do you know how to make a small fortune in the bike business?"

"Sure Mark, start with a large fortune.":eek:


Truth hurts.:cool:
Hey, I was thinking of working for next to nothin at a local shop on weekends during Dec to build bikes & maybe learn how to tune an old Campy Record in exchange. Rebuilding a bottom bracket may not be rocket science but I respect the "touch" & little details learned w/ time.
 

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gazing from the shadows
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Discussion Starter #13
Here's the advice I usually give people when they ask me. And being the kind of guy I am I normally start by asking questions.

"What kind of riding do you want to do"?

Let's assume the answer indicates a road bike. In other words, is a road bike of some flavor right for you? Think about it.

"How much do you want to spend"?

If you don't have gear, set aside at least $100 and better $200 for a helmet, shorts, and other accessories. For the bike itself, I say $500-600 US will get you a new road bike at a shop that will let you ride hard for 2 years. And remember, $730 dollars is a dollar a day for 2 years. Assuming you keep the chain clean and lubed and replace it once, you can put 10,000 miles on that bike, though that would trash it out unless you did more maintenance. For reference, if you ride 1000 miles your first year you will find yourself in a lot better shape.

Personally, I spent a grand on my latest bike, even though I could have spent more if I wanted to. I would have liked to have spent 3 grand sure, but really, it's just a bike. That other 2k will give me a lot of better returns elsewhere.

After price, I tell people to go to shops and test ride. Test the bike and interview (casually) the shop. A good shop is needed for newbies (unless you have a lot of years MTBing, in which case you are probably a good jackleg mechanic).

When riding, your position should have your torso at somewhere close to 45 degrees to the ground when on the hoods (top of brake levers). You will ride there a lot. And yes, you can use the brakes with your hands there.

Adjust the saddle. With the bike held upright by someone else, and you holding the bars and sitting in riding position, put one pedal down at "6 O'clock". Your heel should scrape it lightly when you swing your leg. When you put the ball of your foot on the pedal, your knee will bend to what will eventually be close to the perfect extension. It is not that yet. Lower the saddle a half inch (or a centimeter), and measure when you do to make sure you lower all the saddles on all the test rides the same amount.

If you really want to be sure, make sure the saddle is in the middle of the rails on each bike too.

If you do all that, you will not only be in close to a perfect riding position, but better able to judge the BIKE, and not the effect of your position on the bike. Pick the bike that feels best from the shop that you felt the most comfortable with in terms of service.

It's that simple :)

That is what I tell people when they ask me.
 

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Ebay

more and more brand new products are being sold on EBAY

and Ebay is even coming out with EbayExpress that is all new items with only buy it now prices

You can find Brand new Road bikes on Ebay for under $300 almost all the time
 

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gazing from the shadows
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Discussion Starter #15
collectorvelo said:
You can find Brand new Road bikes on Ebay for under $300 almost all the time
Yes, and they will work, but I would not suggest going that cheap unless you are really strapped for cash.

Besides, building a relationship with a shop is a very good thing for a new rider who does not know the first thing about wrenching on a bicycle.
 

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You're Not the Boss of Me
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dr hoo said:
Yes, and they will work, but I would not suggest going that cheap unless you are really strapped for cash.

Besides, building a relationship with a shop is a very good thing for a new rider who does not know the first thing about wrenching on a bicycle.

And by the time you pay for the shipping and the local bike build, you've spent an additional $100 on something that adds nothing to the quality of the bike. Reasonable minds can differ, but buying a no-name bike on eBay is not the approach I'd recommend to a new cyclist, even one with budget constraints.

I do think that eBay is a terrific resource, and have twice bought bikes on eBay, but just not that weird no-name new stuff that's spec'd with all kinds of components you've never heard of, etc.
 

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I did all of what was mentioned above. I shopped the LBS, Ebay, Craigslist etc...

I visited the LBS 3 seperate times and each time they fit me into a different bike. It always seemed to be the one they had the most of for like 400 more than I wanted to spend.

Yes I got some decent info about fit, but they always had me around $1200 which was past my budget for a 1st bike.

I decided to narrow the field to the best bike with the following features: Carbon Fork, 105 & Tiagra combo........That was it period!!!

I found a 2006 Specialized Allez Sport or something with the gear I wanted for $600
 

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what are you talking about?

venus said:
Ok, you own a local bike shop. Dude, this is a SHAKEDOWN BIKE. Fitting a bike to a beginner can be done by seat for/aft & height. Not much else to it on your basic road bike. Getting a 105 road bike almost new on ebay for half price is the way to go. Fitting is all so much s*** that one figures out relitive to their unique issues on their own if they have half a brain.
You are a shop owner & will be ready when they want something all new. Keep your rep up & help the newbe w/ his ebay purchase bike. Developing a relationship is half the score. How else can local bike shops compete with internet sales?

if you think the only adjustments to a road bike are contained in the seat post...you need a bike SHAKEDOWN (whateve that means). Adjustments come in the form of stem length, bar drop, stem angle, shifter placement, seat height, seat distance fore/aft, crank length, pedal rise, seat angle, and Im' sure there are some others I'm forgetting...

sure, you can do all that yourself..but it requires parts and a bit of knowledge about what is what...and where to put it.
 

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One of my favorite bikes was the cheapest to put together, it's a fixed gear. I have many geared bikes and yet my advice is to spend lots of money to help the economy and get the absolute best you can afford with your cash AND credit. Never buy a bike with compromises like cheap components. Aim for the fences!

You won't appreciate a middle of the road bike when you desire the top end. You've got to own a nice bike in order to learn to love a basic inexpensive fixed or singlespeed. I guess when you really know the difference you find you love cycling more than the bike. Then, you'll find you enjoy the feel more than the looks.
 

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dr hoo said:
This is a thread to advise people on buying their first road bike on a budget... no matter what that budget is. Post some advice that would be useful for people when they are starting the process. Post criteria for deciding between two bikes. Post anything you think EVERY first time road bike buyer should know before plunking down her or his cash and taking the leap.
Boy, I think a lot of the posts on here about the value of buying your first bike at an LBS are living in some ideal fantasy world that rarely exists in reality. Yes, there are helpful shop employees out there, but there are also a lot of unhelpful ones who mainly want to sell a newbie whatever they can convince him he needs. And even the helpful ones who aren't trying to do that rarely have any kind of serious training in bike fit.

Average LBS "fit" experience:

"Here, this one looks like it's about your size. Throw a leg over that and let's see if the clearance is right. Yep, looks good. This one fits."

I frequent several different LBSes, and even at the best one in the area, I often hear the floor guys give advice that makes me shudder. These guys are basically retail sales clerks with a little bit of knowledge of bicycles, just like the kid at Circuit City is a retail sales clerk with a little bit of knowledge of appliances.

Best thing a newbie can do is use a good online fit calculator, buy a $300 bike on eBay, ride it for a year or two until they figure out what they really want, build a relationship with an LBS by paying for service when they need it, and then once they've ridden for a while and their body has adjusted to riding, go spend the coin for a professional fit session and a better-quality bike.

If you really think you need an LBS experience, ask for the manager or assistant manager to help you. At least they're pretty likely to know what they're doing.
 
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