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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My name is Matt and I want to learn about road bikes. I have a reasonable basic understanding of bike componentry and mechanics. I don't currently own a bicycle but have extensive mountain biking experience. I would like to purchase a road bike for commuting and leisure purposes.

My commuting would be on city streets and on the bricked walkways of a college campus. My leisure riding be on paved paths at parks. I'm a large man; 6'4", 210 lbs. I don't need anything too particularly fancy or performance-oriented. Weight is not a huge issue to me, something of a reasonable weight for the average commuter will do just fine, and I will not be doing any racing of any sort.

Some of the questions that I have are these: What factors should be considered when deciding between platform, clip, or clipless pedals? What component levels (Sora, Tiagra, etc.) are sufficient for satisfactory performance, as far as derailers and shifters are concerned? Brakes? What other things should I take into consideration?

I have searched a few of the threads on here looking for some answers and have decided that it would probably be much easier and much more effective for me if I were to be able to simply speak to someone with some experience and a willingness to help inform someone interested in pursuing the sport. If you are this person and would like to help me, I can speak with you through this medium or through e-mail or over instant messenger. Just let me know.

By the way, a bike that I looked at recently was the Ibex Classic 3300. It looked reasonably priced and suitable to my needs, but this is a conclusion I came to based on very little knowledge and no experience whatsoever.

Thank you.

Matthew
 

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Don't consider anything with Sora or Tiagra.
Get 105 or Veloce at a minimum. I have too often seen people buy lower end bikes and find that they are riding three times more than they thought they would. All of a sudden, that Tiagra bike is not quite cutting it anymore.
Do not get platform pedals. Clipless only, thank you very much.
Look into the Giant OCR 1 or 2. The Trek 1200 or 1500. Or if you want something cooler and euro, the Bianchi Via Nirone or the Wilier Evasion Veloce.
 

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Another view

Two key questions: how many miles do you anticipate riding in a year, and how much do you want to spend. If your target price is less than $500, you may want to consider buying a used bike, where the value proposition is very good compared to buying new. If you are riding 50 miles per week, with time off for bad weather, you could be very well served by lower end components. I commuted to work (3-5 miles each way) for 30 years on platform pedals, and never felt that I should either add toe clips or switch to clipless. It is not as efficient, but it is very convenient compared to trying to flip into toe clips or wearing bike shoes. If you don't spend too much on this first bike, and then you find that you really get into the sport, then get a higher level bike and keep the old one strictly for your commuter duties.

More detailed information will result in more detailed response and recommendations.
 

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Tiagra and Sora work fine. Racers may not like them, but for general riding around and commuting there is no problem with them.

I use platform pedals on my around town bike and SPD's for my out of town long rides. The platform pedals allow me to wear regular shoes and be able to walk when I get to where I am going.

The Ibek seems to be a good inexpensive entry-level bike.
 

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I agree with Mike. There's nothing wrong with Tiagra especially, it will serve you well until it wears out and then you can upgrade. Sora can be a little less reliable. I own an Ibex 3300 Classic as a second/out-of-town bike. Ibex is a nice way to go IF you're sure what size you need and are able to do some work on the bike (putting it together when it arrives, checking assembly stuff, etc.) That said, I would wait until the 06 models come out and spend the extra $200 or so for the Classic 4400 instead. The downtube shifters and Sora stuff on the 3300 is (to me at least) tolerable, but wouldn't be my first choice.

There are lots of bikes at the $800 price point than can be found around from last model year for $600 or so. They usually will have Tiagra and maybe a 105 r.d. It may be worth visiting your LBS to see what they still have in stock.
 

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Single speed?

I agree that it's important to try to figure out how much you will be riding. Also, is your area flat, or is it particularly hilly? The reason I ask is that, for short commutes and leisure riding, in a reasonably flat area, the best budget bike may be a single-speed/fixed gear like the Bianchi San Jose (a cyclocross bike), Bianchi Pista, Specialized Langster, or Fuji Track, which all come in around $500. New road bikes well under $1000 (with Sora, Tiagra, etc.) tend to skimp on drivetrain components and have crappy shifting as a result. The simplicity of a single speed drivetrain -- no derailleurs, no shifters, no shift cables -- results in a cheap and very reliable bike at that price point. (This is why many commuters, and particularly bike messengers, prefer these bikes.)

Of course, if your area is hilly, then you probably want multiple gears. If you think you need them, and you're on a budget, I agree that the used market is your best bet. Good luck!

Cheers,
Ari
 

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Sora & Tiagra

mtbbmet said:
Don't consider anything with Sora or Tiagra...
Obviously, Matt is not looking to spend anything like what you're suggesting... and that's OK. Not everyone needs a high-end bike to enjoy riding. If only the best or latest-and-greatest were worth having, we'd all be riding $4,000 or $5,000 bikes... or not riding at all. And that means that most of us, myself included, would not be riding. And that would be a shame!

The weakest part of the Sora group is the STI shifter set. They have thumb levers up by the hoods that are nearly impossible to reach with your hands on the drops. We use downtube shifters on that IBEX Classic 3300 that Matt is looking at. This eliminates that weak spot in the Sora drivetrain, keeps the price down ($399 right now) and fits the "retro" styling of that model.

Otherwise, Shimano's level of technology and engineering has reached such a point that the bike you buy for $500 these days (especially from IBEX !!!) is as good or better than what you'd have gotten for $1500 or more 10 or 15 years ago.

Tiagra is not bad, though it has been a bit overlooked. I think we'll see that change with the introduction of the 10-speed Shimano 105 group this year. With that, the price of buying a 105 equipped bike just went up! So, I would expect the appeal of Tiagra for beginners and budget minded recreational riders to gain a lot of strength in the market.

Would you prefer a higher-end bike? Sure... who wouldn't? Is it worth riding Sora or Tiagra if that's what fits your budget? Absolutely!

Best regards,
Jack A.
Owner
IBEX Bicycles
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Here are some specifics of my situation:

1) I intend on riding probably 50 miles a week on paved roads commuting during the summer, obviously less during the winter, not a ton of hills (so two front chain rings would probably be fine).
2) I would like to have a bike that is comfortable for short rides, as well, in town and on city streets (so I suppose this would be a geometry consideration).
3) I would also like to be able to ride on paved park trails.
4) Aesthetics aren't hugely important, but comfort is a factor. I think for this reason steel might be a good option for me, but I'm not sure. I'm not sure what the disadvantages are.
5) I'm not very concerned with super performance, but I have some neck troubles and I am tall (6'4"), so geometry is another concern. But I'm not quite sure what to look for.
6) My budget is about $1000, but preferably closer to $750.

I was looking at bikes on bikesdirect.com. I am attracted to a steel bike they're selling right now, the Mercier Corvus (http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mercier/mercier_corvus.htm). Don't know anything about steel but have heard at the cost of a bit of weight they are more comfortable. And this one appears to have fairly reasonable geometry, and good components, for a good price. Is steel more durable?

My friend also recommended that I consider a cross bike. But I'm not sure, what are the disadvantages of riding a cross bike? Just weight? Or comfort as well? Are these bikes usually tougher than normal road bikes (which would be nice because I am pretty tough on bikes)? How important are slick tires for road riding as opposed to the slightly knobby tires? I was checking out the Motobecane Fantom Cross, also on bikesdirect (http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/fantom_cross_preorder.htm).

And finally I was looking at just a nice aluminum road bike (or what, at least, seems nice to me). The Mercier Draco: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mercier/10day_draco_al06995.htm. This bike clearly seems to be the best deal, but I'm not sure if it would exactly meet my needs.

And what are the advantages/disadvantages of tri bikes? Such as the Mercier Aerott (http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mercier/aerott.htm)? This bike seems the most aesthetically pleasing to me.

Any feedback is appreciated. Thank you very much.
 

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5) I'm not very concerned with super performance, but I have some neck troubles and I am tall (6'4"), so geometry is another concern. But I'm not quite sure what to look for.
Given your height and comfort concerns, it's more important than anything that you get a bike that fits you and feels comfortable. I would therefore strongly recommend against buying online ... you need to find an LBS that lets you ride lots of bikes (real test rides, not just a spin in the parking lot) and takes a real effort to fit the bike to you, e.g. possible component swaps like a longer/shorter stem. Let them know about your comfort concerns, and how you plan to ride the bike -- otherwise, you might find yourself set up with a high-performance, low-comfort racing position, which sounds like the exact opposite of what you're looking for. Ultimately, even a stiff aluminum bike that fits will be infinitely more comfortable than a buttery-smooth steel bike that's the wrong dimensions for you.

For comfort-oriented bikes in your price range, I'd recommend checking out the Giant OCR series. The Giant OCR2 retails for $850, has a mix of Tiagra and 105, and will be good enough even if you decide to get a bit more serious about the sport. Of course, if Giant's size XL doesn't fit you, it's back to the drawing board. Good luck!

Cheers,
Ari
 

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I'm new too, but I've discovered that comfort bikes are called "plush."

Plush bikes for the following companies are under this model name.

Trek = Pilot
Specialized = Sequoia

Plush bikes do have drops, but have a more upright siting position, with two sets of brakes.
 

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Okay..

Buy a flat bar road bike or some sort of hybrid for this. You do not need a "road bike" specifically for commuting, and if you are tall and have neck trouble, you would fare better on your commute with a nice upright stem, and you would not be using drops. Maybe moustache bars would work for you.

Secondly, do not spend more than that $750. If that is your preference, then stick to it. Not everyone gets "hooked" and starts riding a road bike everyday, and for every one person that gets bitten by the bug, there are ten selling never ridden bikes on eBay. Stay on budget no matter what.

You have stated that you are concerned with aesthetics or high performance. You also mentioned that comfort is a factor and that you ride mountain bikes. You sound to me like exactly the type of rider that the comfort angled flat bar bikes were meant for. You'd also be using a lot of parts for a bike like that with which you already have some experience (ie: rapidfire shifters).

And as for pedals, just get some cheap mountain pedals for it. The last thing you need is $100 shoes that you can't walk in for a commute and park bike.

Tiagra is fine, and so is Sora. As stated above, the only weak spot in those groups is the Sora shifter.

I'll try to find some brand names for you to look at and post them here.

But in the meantime, take your time with this. There is a lot of information out there to try to absorb in short time, and a lot of it is hype and BS. You would be better served with an inexpensive but durable and comfortable bike, and then if you get the roadie fever... you can buy a more suitable rig. Hell, most roadies have six or eight bikes anyway. ;)

Used is a good option if you know what to look for. In the case of an amatuer, it could spell trouble. And you need the support of a local bike shop, so buy from one of them as opposed to online. Yes you could save money online, but there are a million little reasons why having personal hands-on support near your home is worth the extra cash.

If ya have anymore questions, let us know.



A.
 

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Well all I can say is at 6'5" 200lbs my steel bike has been wonderful. Fortunately for me I decided that with my mentality I wouldn't remain a recreational rider and could see myself street racing from time to time. SO I said the hell with it and bough a Landshark that was built for me. Figured I would have bought 3 $750 bikes before I found one I liked so what the hell I made a big investment right off the bat. Never looked back. And it's nice to have a ride that is worth the upgrades I'm throwing at it these days.

Good luck and enjoy whatever you decide to buy. I may offer that if you really do have neck problems find something that will let you be more upright.
 

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After reading what all the others have said, I have to agree that a comfort road bike with either drop or a flat bar would be good choices.

Specialized Sequoia - great bike for they money and very versatile. I owned this bike with the Sora level components and road it on 60 mile rides without a single problem VERY comfortable, light, and with lots of adjustables - so you can make the fit fairly custom.

Trek Pilot - the 1 series is available with either flat bars or drops. I now ride a Pilot 2.1 which I completely LOVE. It's racier than the Sequoia, but still built for comfort.

Specialized Sirrus - This is really a road bike, despite their marketing it as a "hybrid." The frame is geometrically a road frame, however they pair with a flat bar, mountain bike shifters, and slicks to give you little road resistance. The downside of flat bars is that you have limited flexibility in riding postion should you decide to do some longer distance recreational rides. Drops give you more options to change up your position.

Specialized Roubaix - A bit more expensive. This is a road bike all the way, but built to absorb all those bricks paths. Comfy smooth ride - I loved test riding this bike.

Sora is fine for what you're going to do with it. As for SPD, don't bother. I like them for my long distance riding which is most of what I do. However for riding around campus - they'll be a pain. You could have an extra set around. Easy enough to swap out.
 
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