/ New road bike
I've got a decent mountain bike, which has been my main cycling interest, but have been spending an increasing amount of time on a Ridgeback Velocity commuter bike, on rides of 20 miles or so mostly along local country lanes. The Ridgeback is a decent bike, but gets uncomfortable on longer rides, particularly with vibration through the fork and lack of options for changing hand position, even with Ergon GP3 grips fitted. It's also a bit on the sluggish side.
So, I'm thinking of selling it and buying a bike with drop bars, and was wondering what to go for. I want something I can fit mudguards to, and a rear pannier for bike packing trips. Budget is under £500. Comfort and ease of use are key, rather than speed. I like to cover ground reasonably fast, but I'm not out to break records, either mine or anybody else's. I have been looking at Decathlon's Triban 520, and a bottom of the range Boardman road bike. Any thoughts on these, or other suggestions?
Bit of a tale but its worth it!
I bought a 2009 Specilized Allez in 2009 and it was without doubt an absolute work horse, I went everywhere on it I think it cost me about 550 new. I sold it I think late 2017 and it went for about 175 quid on eBay, truth be told I wasn't that bothered about the money I just wanted it to go to a good home because everything on it was right, new wheels, tyres, groupset etc...
When the guy turned up his opening line was "you might see this back on eBay in 6 months" my heart sunk a little because I wanted it to be used because it had been brilliant for me.
The point Im trying to make is have a bloody good look on eBay there are some absolute bargains on there, if you can find the right one you may end up with a 500quid bike for an absolute steal. Don't write it off because its 8 years old, mine was probably more solid than my carbon is today!
But if you're willing to nip just above the budget the Allez is a bloody brilliant bike and a work horse.
There's a great example of an Allez on the current GCN Show in the bodge/hack section on which the paint has been stripped and then metal brushed, producing a very pleasing mackerel effect on the alu tubing.
I have got a Triban 520, plus several +1 bikes. I bought it about four years ago as a Winter bike. It's a decent bike and I have done a few thousand km on it. Components tend to wear out a bit faster than my other bikes, but that may be down to riding in wet, muddy conditions. It's a decent bike, but when riding my Giant Defy 2, there is a noticeable increase in smoothness in riding and gears.
Triban 520 consistently comes out well in reviews of bikes in that price-range
Triban looks as if it will do the job for you.
Whatever you choose, make sure it has proper fittings and clearances for proper mudguards (not clip-ons) and a rear rack (2-point fixing on the seatstays, not a bracket onto the brake bridge). The Triban looks ok for these (note that you are limited to 28mm tyres if you fit guards but a good quality tyre will cover a variety of ground e.g. tracks, paths and the like).
I mention this as there don't seem to be lots of bikes that really meet these criteria, a lot compromise with things such as expecting you to use clips for the guards or by using the same fixing-point on the droputs for rack and guards which can be awkward. At one time you'd have had a wide choice of suitable bikes but the fashion for sportive bikes has maybe shrunk the market for Audax-type bikes. Even 'gravel bikes' (the other trend alonside sportive frames) don't quite hit the mark as a commuter/fast-road/all-rounder.
Get decent mudguards: SKS Chromoplastics are good. Good racks are made by Tubus (the standard, expensive but worth it) or Blackburn. It can take a while to properly fit and adjust mudguards and rack, if a shop does it for you then double-check that everything is done properly before you go out on your first spin. I'm not saying that it won't be done correctly but the mechanic may not be given quite as much time as they really need... Also, if a shop does the work, then get any of the bits and spare fittings that may come with the rack and guards.
Let us know what you go for.
The Allez looks like a decent option, but it seems like some versions have lugs on the frame to attach a rack, while others don't, and the same for mounting mudguards, which is a bit confusing.
I reckon mudguards are just about essential given the state of the roads here in Cumbria, especially at this time of year. I know bodges are possible, but they're always a compromise.
Think the Allez has changed spec a few times over the years, not sure if it was ever able to accept full guards and a rack. Definitely get mudguards, they make a massive difference in keeping both the bike and rider clean and dry.
Don’t be afraid to look at second hand. I picked up a drop bar touring bike on Gumtree for less than £300. Fully specc’d with racks and mudguards and decent gears. A bit of internet searching found the bike had originally been sold for approaching £1000. Its turned out to be the best bike I’ve had.
Old chap was selling because he was moving on to an electric bike.
You could get a lightly used Giant Defy 4 for that with change left over for the mudguards and rack. Nice entry level roadbike with carbon forks. Both my sister and I have them for long range commuting.
Triban rides nicely but the quality of the components, especially the wheels, isn't great. If you buy one, consider it a starter bike before the addiction takes hold and you trade up.
Without doubt the Allez is one of the most respected aluminium bikes around. It shares its geometry with the popular Roubaix and rides really nicely, comfortable too with the carbon fork. I would definitely go for the Allez over a Triban.
I'd definitely look at second hand at that price range.....lots of people spend good money on road bikes only to sell them a couple of years down the line....often with very little use. I just had a look on gumtree with the filter set at £400 -£600 and there were over 270 bikes within that range including a very nice Ribble with a full Ultegra groupset that looked mint!
Another vote for the Allez - I nearly bought one, but got very lucky on a 2nd hand carbon Trek.
Do look at eBay, especially now just after Christmas. I picked up an £800 Giant Avail for my wife a couple of years ago for about £150 - very little use, owner preferred mountain biking.
Having said that, beware of anyone selling anything that has obviously been well-used as a year-round commuter - road grime and salt through a couple of winters will have taken their toll on the moving parts. Commuting on my Trek has written off most of the drivetrain, a set of wheels and a couple of other bits broke.
Don't get too fussed about pannier mounts - you can get a seatpost clamp with rack mounts and use something like this: https://www.evanscycles.com/blackburn-ex-1-disc-compatible-rear-pannier-rack-EV172902
If you're into modern bike packing, you only need a seatpost bag, anyway ;-)
PS - might be worth going to a reputable bike shop and getting a bike fit, so you know what frame size you should be looking for...
Lots of good advice here. I went for a second hand Jamis Quest Elite steel framed touring bike with carbon fibre forks. It weighs less than 10kg and is billed as a do it all road bike, which is just what I'm after, Came in under budget, too.
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