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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hello everyone, first post! I'm totally new to road bikes and am considering getting a road bike at the recommendation of my boyfriend, who recently purchased a Specialized Tarmac Elite (his first road bike although his previous bike was a track bike). I've actually ridden REALLY crappy bikes a LOT... mostly I rode around Shanghai every day on a super cheap (second cheapest bike I could find), rickety, ill-fitting bicycle with tires that I basically had to put air in every day... which is what the majority of students around there ride. I've also ridden around on rental/borrowed mountain bikes in Japan before.

I've never ridden a really fitted expensive bike and actually was always happy with the crappy ones I've ridden. Since I have EXTREMELY low standards and have never ridden a road bike before, I am pretty nervous about dropping a lot of money off the bat on an expensive road bike because I just have the feeling that I might ruin it and/or kill myself as a first time rider. I tried a Dolce out out at the store and although my boyfriend said I looked fine on it, it felt super weird to me. I am only a little over 5'1 so I fit the 44cm frame, and those skinny 700c tires feel absolutely humongous. I have to slow down a LOT and give myself a lot of clearance to do make turns. Also I am scared at the thought of riding it around on the street with cars. In Shanghai there are huge mobs of bikes everywhere and there is pretty much a bike lane wherever you'd go, and when I rode in Japan it was mostly in the countryside. The tires also scare me because I've only ever ridden smaller wider tires on crappy roads and don't know how these road bike tires would deal with that and with dirt and rain, etc. (presumably not that well).

Anyway I am just wondering if these are pretty normal concerns for first time riders, how long it might have taken you to get over them, any advice you might have, or if any of you ever went back and chucked the road bike idea to get a hybrid or something instead (probably not since these are road bike forums... heh). Also I guess I am planning to get around by bike pretty exclusively (in the Bay Area) so it seemed to make sense to get a nice bike to start with but I am definitely not ever planning on racing or any kind of competition... so is this possibly too nice of a bike for a first time ride that I will be using as a commuter (seems like a waste on me as I can't tell the difference)? The bike is an 08 closeout Specialized Ruby Elite triple for under $1400 after tax. It seems like a pretty good deal but I have no idea how often these kinds of deals come up, if bikes get cheaper over time and how quickly bike technologies would tempt me to upgrade (mostly for safety or comfort), etc...
 

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superann said:
Anyway I am just wondering if these are pretty normal concerns for first time riders, how long it might have taken you to get over them, any advice you might have, or if any of you ever went back and chucked the road bike idea to get a hybrid or something instead (probably not since these are road bike forums... heh). Also I guess I am planning to get around by bike pretty exclusively (in the Bay Area) so it seemed to make sense to get a nice bike to start with but I am definitely not ever planning on racing or any kind of competition... so is this possibly too nice of a bike for a first time ride that I will be using as a commuter (seems like a waste on me as I can't tell the difference)? The bike is an 08 closeout Specialized Ruby Elite triple for under $1400 after tax. It seems like a pretty good deal but I have no idea how often these kinds of deals come up, if bikes get cheaper over time and how quickly bike technologies would tempt me to upgrade (mostly for safety or comfort), etc...
First off welcome to the forum. Yes, these are all valid concerns just starting out. It will take time to get use to the cornering, braking, and shifting of the bike but like with anything, the more you do it the better off you are. Getting the bike properly fitted at the bike shop is a very strong recommendation. Also, talk to them about your ideas for a bike, don't let your boyfriend tell them what you want. As far as technology changes, with bikes there is a trickle down effect with the technology. This years top of line components will have features that show up in next years 2nd tier and the next year in the 3rd tier. Plenty of us ride around on 20 yr old technology and love it. As far as riding in the city, well you have to be the judge of that. You need to be on the defensive and even offensive sometimes with cars. Do what is comfortable to you. I would suggest you might want to post in the women's forum and introduce yourself there, plenty of good folks on the forum.
Again, welcome and have fun.
 

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I don't have nearly enough experience to make a good recommendation as to which bike you should buy, but I can speak to your concern regarding vehicle traffic. As a new rider (I bought my bike a few weeks ago), I was extremely concerned about riding on the road. What I have experienced is that I have become more comfortable as time goes by. I spent my first few days purely on paved trails, which allowed me to get a good feel for how the bike behaves, how to clip in and out of the pedals with confidence, how the bike shifts, etc. Once I was over those issues, I could then focus specifically on riding safely on the road. I've started off small, mostly by riding during off-peak traffic times, on routes which are as bike-friendly as possible (wider roads without a lot of merging or scary intersections). Also, being as high-vis as possible has given me a certain level of comfort. I personally bought a bright yellow riding jacket. While this wouldn't be my first choice from an aesthetic standpoint, staying alive definitely takes priority.

I don't know if any of my rambling addresses specific concerns you have, but here's hoping! :)
 

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While I think your concerns are perfectly normal, I'm not sure that your first road bike should be a drop bar bike. From what you've said about your background, intended uses (commuting), and given your trepidation about riding on 'those skinny, humongous tires', it might be better to focus on some flat bar street/ hybrid type bikes. They're perfectly road worthy, without the more aggressive position and usually run anywhere from 28 - 38c tires. Considering what you're used to, I'd suggest something with a 35 - 38c tire.

As another poster suggested, check out the woman's forum. And keeping with that mindset, check out some WSD bikes. Depending on how you're proportioned, you may find them much more comfortable. Conversely, you may not require such geometry, but worth a look, nonetheless.

Here's a suggestion, and it comes in XS and S:
http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?spid=39977&eid=121
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the advice everyone. The Ruby I am considering is a women's specific bike:

http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?arc=2008&spid=33100&gold_ses=

It feels all right to me and although I've never used handlebars like that before I'm actually not that bothered by them. Probably the big thing I am nervous about is the wheels being big and skinny, which affects my ability to turn like I'm used to. So the lack of the control that I'm used to coupled with the thought of riding it around on the road with cars in a place I've never ridden before is pretty daunting to say the least...

I don't even know what the difference between all these bike types really is. Not even sure what constitutes a hybrid bike. Could I put a back rack/basket for groceries on a road bike?

I've been reading a bunch of forums and I guess there's nothing I can do about diameter but I'm wondering if it's possible to put a fatter tire with treads on this particular bike? Wouldn't that help for rougher roads or rain?
 

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Cycling induced anoesis
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superann said:
Thanks for the advice everyone. The Ruby I am considering is a women's specific bike:

http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?arc=2008&spid=33100&gold_ses=

It feels all right to me and although I've never used handlebars like that before I'm actually not that bothered by them. Probably the big thing I am nervous about is the wheels being big and skinny, which affects my ability to turn like I'm used to. So the lack of the control that I'm used to coupled with the thought of riding it around on the road with cars in a place I've never ridden before is pretty daunting to say the least...

I don't even know what the difference between all these bike types really is. Not even sure what constitutes a hybrid bike. Could I put a back rack/basket for groceries on a road bike?

I've been reading a bunch of forums and I guess there's nothing I can do about diameter but I'm wondering if it's possible to put a fatter tire with treads on this particular bike? Wouldn't that help for rougher roads or rain?
I think you're trying to make the Ruby something it isn't. A commuter bike. That's not to say you can't buy it and commute, but IMO there are other choices that are better suited for commuting.

If tire size is of primary concern, make sure there's clearance on the Ruby for larger ones (and yes, they would help on rougher roads/ rain). I'd guess there isn't - again, because that's not what that bike is geared for. If you notice, Specialized places it in the same category as the Allez and Tarmac, both considered 'competitive road' bikes. And the geo and components are consistent with that theme.

Speaking of geo, if you're not accustomed to it, a race oriented frame is not going to instill confidence in traffic and may feel somewhat twitchy, whereas a hybrid or commuter would have ( among other things) a longer wheelbase/ slacker HT angles for a more stable, controlled ride. And the frames usually have eyelets for racks, where the Ruby does not.

Bottom line, though. Go ride the Ruby on roads that (as closely as possible) simulate the road you'll be traversing in the Bay Area. If you don't feel confident on the test ride, it won't be any different on your commutes. JMO.
 

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I have mostly ridden mtn bikes and used to have some of the same concerns regarding handling with the skinnier tires but have since gotten used to them. You might be able to fit a 700x28 tire on the Ruby, but I'm thinking the clearance will be a little tight. With the Vita, which is a hybrid, it comes with a 700x28 tire so you might be able to go as fat as a 700x35 tire. But what you gain with the fatter tires on rougher roads, you're probably losing on the frame materials. The Ruby is carbon with zertz inserts, while the Vita is aluminum. The carbon with zertz inserts allow for a smoother ride and most aluminum bikes tend to be a rougher ride. You can attach a rack to any bike, with the carbon, you just need to make sure you don't overtighten the clamps.

I would recommend the Ruby as it seems to be good deal and as you gain more skills road riding it will better suit you. Also see if you can get the LBS to exchange the stock 700x23 tires for some 700x25 tires.
 

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The Ruby would be appropriate if you plan on long commutes (10-20 miles or more) and on riding for fun too. Like if you plan to do long weekend rides with your boyfriend. Since he just got a new road bike that is probably what he's thinking. If you are going to live in SF and commute around town only, then a cheap mountain bike would be more appropriate. Of course there's nothing wrong with having both. :)

It takes some practice but you can ride a regular road bike on rough pavement or even off road if you are careful. The riding in traffic part will be the same no matter what kind of bike you are on. You'll get used to it pretty fast.

The bay area has a big cycling culture and there are plenty of people who commute long distances on very nice bikes.
 
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