Ok, so where to start. Im in my late thirties, 5'8" with shortish legs. Pretty fit from lots of running, 5, 10ks, half marathons etc. 3 marathons booked for later in the year, assuming im fit.
I have been thinking of getting a road bike for some time. Partly to mix up my exercise regime but a big factor now are the constant injuries running is giving me; i need an alternative to keep me fit when i cant run and I'm a hopeless swimmer. I did 11 miles of a 18 mile training run at the weekend and i had to walk the rest home. No fun. Its becoming depressing.
Ive often fancied getting a road bike and friends of mine have them so this would be good for socialising too.
So where do i start? I need a bike and all the tackle. What maintenance does a bike need, what type should i go for (the choice seems incredible), what about clothing. How do i go on in winter when the nights are dark. What about slippy, wet roads? Worse still what happens in winter with ice, fog etc? And what about punctures? What about clubs?
Im sure there are a gazillion other questions i dont yet know to ask...
1. Fit, fit, fit.
2. Get an aluminium bike fitted at a store. Aim for £800-£1000. Get your shoes fitted too. If you find you like road biking, you can keep it for your winter/wet bike and upgrade to carbon/titanium for the dry to satisfy the inevitable upgrade itch.
3. Get SPD pedals/shoes for the alu bike, and if you upgrade to carbon get road shoes for that.
Pick up a helmet and pair of padded shorts and make do with the rest of the gear. Decathlon also sell all the stuff you'll need. A small pump, puncture repair kit too.
By the time you are thinking about another bike you'll have a fair idea about what you like and don't like. Or you can mess around upgrading it here and there. Everyone else will be along shortly to recommend spending upwards of £750 on a bike + shoes + all the gear ;)
I'm amazed by how many people I know ride a bike to work, at least in summer, but can't fix a puncture. They end up walking home and taking the bike to a bike shop! The 'tools' and spare parts you need can cost well under a tenner and there are loads of good youtube vids showing what to do if you don't have a friend or relative who can show you. Learn that first, it might take you an hour of experimenting, but once you know you'll know for life.
Triban 3 from Decathlon is indeed a nice ride but it's cheap for a reason - the wheels are made from cheese and some of the other components aren't brilliant. That said, it rides nicely and will give you a good introduction to road cycling and a better idea of what you want when you upgrade.
For someone who is fit but unaccustomed to road cycling it's worth bearing in mind that you will be spending long periods of time in the saddle so bike fit is more important than anything else. For this reason the best advice is to buy from a good bike shop (not a supermarket like Evans, Leisure Lakes or Decathlon) where they will take time to fit you to the bike. Some really good shops charge £50 for a bike fit, which they deduct from the price when you buy the bike. My best advice would be to go for a Specialized, something like a Secteur, which are great bikes, and buy it from a Specialized Concept Store where they will measure you then fit the bike to you as well as making modifications to things like saddle, bar tape etc. They should also offer you a 12.5% discount or some kit like gloves etc.
This would be a great starter bike for a fit person:
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers: I don't agree with many of the other posters recommending a "starter bike", at best you will have to write off the cost of the "cheap" bike wen you want to change to a better bike to match the enjoyment, fitness goals of your running and to keep up with your mates. At worst you will end up with a badly fitting bike that aggravates your injuries and turns you off cycling. As has been said above, fit, fit, fit are the most important aspects. As a newbie you may not have a good appreciation of what a good fit is, and if (like me) your legs are disproportionate you may be even less likely to get a good fit.
I would ignore the tempting (on the face of it) good discounts on line and mass chains and seek out a good independent bike shop with a good fitting service. From that they may be able to find an off the shelf bile that fits you, or alternatively build one up from a frame. If you live in or near Yorkshire Race Scene in Barnsley are particularly good.
If you are keen budget around £2k rather than buy cheap buy twice
I bought one of the old, red Triban 3s from Decathlon 18 months ago having never ridden a road bike before and it's ace. The newer, white, Triban 3s don't have the carbon fork anymore, so they're not quite such ridiculously good value. Sadly somebody recently stole my knackered old commuting bike and my insurance company massively overvalued it, so I was forced to use the payout to buy a shiny new road frame, which I managed to build up in a day without any issues (and I'm usually a total DIY failure, so it can't be difficult).
Whatever you buy, budget something extra for proper shoes (and pedals if it doesn't come with them), bib shorts (yes, you look like a cock, but they really are much more pleasant to ride in than anything else), a few simple tools and other related gumf which can easily add up.
Maintenance - clean it, oil it, religiously particularly in the winter, if nothing else keep the chain clean. Buy bike specific chain oil.
Winter - buy lights. Cheap ones break or get rattled to death. Look at lights which both help you to see and to be seen. I like USB rechargeable - the Moon Shield Rear light flashes for hours and is bright. Electron terra mini is my front light which I like because it's helmet as well as handlebar mountable and again has a good long period of light at its lowest setting.
Slippy wet roads - bike handling, good tyres, and mud guards or you'll get a wet backside. You could always get a winter set. Fog - lights, reflective clothing.
Punctures - buy yourself a little saddle pack and carry in it stuff such as (this is what I pack) a multi tool including chain tool, two inner tubes, a couple of tyre levers (not everyone needs these but my thumbs aren't up to it), a small pack of emergency tyre patches. I also carry a chain link, an old toothpaste tube, a couple of antiseptic wipes and a small bandage. Add a pump to the frame and you can deal with any puncture emergency.
British Cycling website has a find a club feature, mine was only something like a tenner to join and has a variety of club runs every Saturday and every Sunday, different distances, different speeds, lots and lots of people, mostly in lycra. As an ex employee of British Cycling's I can't help myself but would suggest you take a look at membership and the insurance possibilities in case of accident!
You've already had a lot of advice on the type of bike so I'll leave it there!
was a keen mountain biker who started thinking about a road bike two years ago - bought a 2nd hand one for £80 to see if I liked it, rode that for a while and decided to upgrade, bought myself a (what is for me) decent bike and sold the old one for £80
you don't need to buy a new bike to start off with, just one that fits you roughly to see if road cycling is for you - if so then you can just open your wallet and see what happens
good luck, cycling def easier on the joints and more sociable than running
> If you are keen budget around £2k rather than buy cheap buy twice
In the nicest possible way, I think it's mad saying spend 2k on a bike for someone who doesn't even know how much they are going to like riding! Who knows, the OP may decides he wants to ride off-road more than on road, or start touring or something, or he might just hate it!
If you get a split in your tyre it saves trying to find a crisp packet or gel packet at the side of the road. Stops your inner tube bulging outwards. Mind you, last time I had a tyre issue I just got busy with the quick patches.
Put a pea sized lump of vaseline on your finger (ooo'er!) stick it out of sight under your saddle then when you or anyone in the group has an annoying squeaky cleat you can spread a tiny amount on the pedal and everyone's happy ;-)
this is a reply from another newb so make of it what you will! Have you looked at cycle2work scheme which helps with payment? If eligible you might find it persuades you that your budget is exactly £999.99 - it did me
I took up biking a few weeks ago having acquired some metalwork in my ankle in march which puts my normal diet of fell running off the menu for a few months. On advice from here (Enty et al) and having no ideas of my own I went for this:
I'm loving it, a fine and beautiful bit of engineering, and I can tell already that I'll be cycling long term.
The other kit costs quite a lot: basic stuff to carry, helmet, jersey(s), shoes, shorts.... best not to kid yourself and accept up to £500 in "stuff" potentially
One lesson I learned the hard way is whatever else you skimp on treat yourself to some high quality bib shorts - your undercarriage will thank you for it. I bought dHb first (and the other kit I've got of their's is fine) and wrecked my arse every ride after an hour or so - 2 hours and the arse was becoming the limiting factor. Have now got some obscenely expensive Assos ones and it's bottom heaven - wish I had gone for them first off but it's quite a leap of faith as a newbie!
Fantastic - exciting times. You'll get something very good for 1500 then a nice helmet and shoes and some nice clobber to go with it.
Don't scrimp on bib-shorts. Santini, Castelli or Assos.
Having said that i get loads of stuff from these guys here: http://www.ekoi.fr/en/
In reply to TheDrunkenBakers: I'd start by giving yourself a budget. Us able road bikes start around £400. You might need a fitting, but chances are an off the peg medium frame will be just fine (you might need to adjust the saddle and stem length, but its really no big deal).
Budget a further £250ish for helmet (£40), shorts (£25), jerseys (£25), shoes (£60), pedals (£45) and a lock (£30).
Check out http://road.cc - there are some good starting bike guides for all budgets from under £500 upward.
A starter bike will weigh around 10.5kg,be made of aluminium (maybe with carbon forks) and come with either an 8 or 9 speed cassette (gears) and you should look for a compact at the front. This will give you 16 gears in all. Bikes with more gears won't necessarily get you up hills any easier or down them any quicker, but the jump between the gears will be smoother.
Shimano is the dominant group set provider (cranks, gears, gear levers, brakes, etc) and comes in a beweldering range, beginning with Claris/Sora which are really good value.
The good news is that road bikes hold their value pretty well, so if you buy a bike from a major brand (like Specialised, Trek or Giant) you won't loose masses if you really enjoy the sport and get a better idea of what sort of bike you'd like in future.
Loads of conflicting info here, I'm sure you'll leave as confused as you started!
I think a 500-1000 budget for the bike itself sounds reasonable, lower if you aren't sure you'll like it, higher if you think you will. Have you tried pootling around the streets on a cheap mountain bike? If you like that then you'll likely enjoy road biking too... I think a lot of roadies have been riding for so long they cannae remember NOT riding.
If you have roadie friends (with EXPERIENCE) see if you can rope them into helping you fit a bike. That opens the second hand market which lowers bike cost.
An alu frame with carbon forks is a nice mid level bike in that price range which, despite what some might say, could be your only bike for the rest of your life if you want. Stiffer than carbon or steel which might be SLIGHTLY less comfy on rough roads.
I would recommend going with cleat pedals (called "clipless" for complicated reasons) to start with but not a necessity. mountain bike shoes are more practical for commutes, and only work with MTB pedals (SPDs) or Eggbeaters (Crank Bro's brand).
In winter - HEAPS OF LIGHTS. Don't get the Tesco ones unless you want to get new ones every couple weeks... Some people have winter tyres with more tread. I personally just don't ride if its icy and leave it at that. High vis clothes are a good idea even in daylight. Most vests come in an attractive fluoro yellow (I imagine a lot of running kit it similar)
Clubs are often pretentious and condescending to outsiders and friendly once you're "in". Its a hard one. I was a member of two awesome clubs and one awful one. Spend a bit of time learning about drafting and riding safely in a group.
I can't stand running and love cycling, I have a friend who can't stand cycling and loves running, I have a friend who loves both. Who knows!
Important things to start with:
Good quality shorts! They're like a cyclists running shoes, taking most of the load. I ride Pearl Izumi (harder to find in the UK I've found) and Castelli (slightly more expenny)
Firm saddle! New riders so often want the super padded offering. It doesn't move properly with your body and I always find it wedges in my ar$e. Get the padding on the shorts. And yes, you'll have to build up muscles in that region.
Saddle Position! Maybe the most important and most overlooked bit of bike fitting. Bad saddle position is uncomfortable and can cause more serious damage.
Puncture Repair! Its easy and cheap to do by yourself. And it means if you get more punctures on a ride than you have spare tubes you can still get home.
I've always been very wary of cheap carbon. More flex, less strength was always my justification. But I haven't bought a bike in a while so I don't know current prices. Also I reckon if you're on a smaller frame (based on OP's height, I make no assumptions about you!) there will be less stress as the tubes are all shorter so maybe flex and strength are less of an issue.
BTW cheap carbon in my mind was anything less than about 1500 new.
> I bought dHb first (and the other kit I've got of their's is fine) and wrecked my arse every ride after an hour or so - 2 hours and the arse was becoming the limiting factor.
I'm pretty certain that has to be to do with fit rather than actual quality? I've ridden up to 200 km rides in various pairs of shorts I have, none of which cost more that I think 25 quid (I do keep an eye out for things on sale, so lets say rrp for some of them could be 35-40 quid) and never have any problems. My favourite are some shimano ones I found a year ago on sale for I think €30. Fit great and look good just being plain black. I have some winter tights that dhb sent me for review http://lightfromthenorth.blogspot.fi/2012/12/dhb-vaeon-zero-padded-bib-tight-review.html and I've even worn them bikepacking, so for long days in the saddle, two days in a row, and they are great. So I've found the dhb "Tour chamois" they have is good 'un.
I suspect you may have a backside toughened by many years of cycling - or maybe mine's just soft as a baby's ;-)
The fit of both is good. Simple hand measurement of the thickness and cushioning effect of the 2 shorts shows them to be immensely different, like a factor of 2 at least on the protection - whether the individual will need or value that difference I guess is going to down to be personal taste.
I would allow myself the conceit of "not being soft" - skied down mountain with broken ankle recently, finished Lakeland 100 last year, etc - but my long rides were just being made a misery by sore arse so far beyond any other aches and pains or muscular and cardiorespiratory pushing hard I might inflict on myself (never mind the healing broken ankle and metalwork) it was just getting silly. New shorts and it's gone.
I don't think I'm alone in this reading reviews on Wiggle etc
In reply to TobyA: I think the gain from top-quality shorts is pretty person-specific - more than other clothing - as especially for road biking it's the main point of contact in the same position for long periods at a time.
I come from an mtb background and had been used to, and happy with, a variety of cheaper end bibs and shorts but still found a significant benefit when getting top-end bike shorts after I'd switched to more road biking - tho other friends still seem happy with dhb etc....
As a beginner if you're getting into longish miles from the outset and you're not conditioned to time in the saddle then some plush shorts may be really useful ...
> I suspect you may have a backside toughened by many years of cycling -
Far more likely it's just fat and naturally padded! I also ride a reasonable amount on three different bikes, all with different saddles, so I wonder if some how that helps, a bit like runners who like different shoes for different types of runs...
I'd love to try some posh shorts - don't get me wrong; but just can't justify the expense currently.
I think some higher end shorts might actually be slightly less padded because the assumption is that someone buying them has already developed the muscles in that area. May be wrong though. Just my experience. I got lucky in that my dad supported my cycling when I started so I got to start on decent second hand kit (Dad's smelly old shorts, yes it was kinda weird...) and then decent new kit once he knew for sure I was keen.
> I'm not sure what you mean by this. Care to elaborate? if you're saying a more expensive carbon bike is the same but with a fancier brand name, I'm afraid that just isn't true.
I'd like you to elaborate on this too.
De Rosa, Ribble, Condor, all the same but sprayed up different though and a million miles apart in price.
Now you're going to tell me me that my 600 quid Dolan isn't as "good" as my mates 2400 quid Pinarello Dogma - but mine is faster! And the pros I were training with in Mallorca in March couldn't tell the difference either. What do you know that they don't?
If Sky were sponsored by Dolan or Rose or Canyon instead of Pino do you think the riders would give a shit?
I enjoy cycling, doing it my way on my own. I tried a local club , as I already knew a couple of members. What a disaster ! I've never known people to be so hung up about their equipment ! Calling them gear-snobs doesn't do them justice ! I loved the cycling, but the social side was a complete disappointment. I couldn't give a sh*t about Peter, Paul or Henry shaving a few seconds off their best time thanks to their new ridiculously priced forks.
Yes, my £500 second-hand bike gave complete satisfaction and I kept up with most of them !
I don't think it makes much of a difference in ride quality, though top sprinters/track cyclists would almost certainly know the difference in flex. But I know some carbon frames will hold up better in a crash and even general wear and tear.
As far as the speed of the bike, most of it is pish. Its all about the speed of the rider. Once you were used to your mates Pinarello you would be faster than him on that too. Or maybe maintenance or components is the issue. In general it looks like shops are selling higher spec frames with lower spec components to keep prices down.
To your specific example of DeRosa,Ribble,Condor, those aren't brands I have much experience with apart from old steel De Rosa frames and I do think Condor and Ribble frames look very similar but I haven't examined them up close so I don't know. I didn't know the prices were far apart.
I can't really afford a carbon frame because I spend all my money on climbing gear but when I was thinking about buying one about 5 years ago that was the conclusion I came to. Maybe things have changed since then.
So maybe I should rephrase: if you're saying a more expensive carbon bike is the same but with a fancier brand name, that isn't always true.
Is your Dolan full carbon? That is crazy cheap RRP for a full carbon bike! Are you including components? I was in my 1500 number.
Do you know about the Chinarellos? I found some local cyclists blog recently and ended up reading all about them! http://chinarello.wordpress.com/ "Riding cheap chinese knock-offs since 2011" it's quite interesting.
I think I was just reading a Planet X email ad the other day about one of their cheaper carbon frame bikes and they said there that it was a different weave of carbon from their more expensive frames, IIRC.
Different weaves can be massively over hyped. The weave "might" affect damage tolerance, and ease of production, along with possibly the surface finish.
The quality of the carbon fibre used, the weight of the cloth used in the frame and any pre-treatment the cloth received before layup are all considerably more important, and things you're unlikely to be able to find any information about.
That's the problem with all composites a huge amount of variation can be had from differences in processing with identical materials.
FWIW Dolan stuff looks pretty good, but its hard to tell from just look, best bet is reviews online of frames, because even if one is awesome, exactly the same model and make, made in a different run could be awful if they don't have good quality control.
Yep, I just thought it was good that Planet X (I think it was them anyway) was stating that there are cheaper and more expensive ways of making a carbon fibre frame, and were happy to say that was the slightly cheaper version.
> Ive just been to James and a specialist shop in sheffield. Im both overwhelmed by the choice and bloody amazed the the price. Some of these doozies are the cost of a good second hand car!
My girlfriend has been doing the round of Sheffield bike shops including JE James, Planet X and others for her first proper road bike before placing an order up the road at Race Scene in Barnsley. Mainly due to the best advice and a very good fitting service (she is rather petite). I would recommend calling in and seeing if they can help you.