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Tait
09-10-2008, 01:18 AM
So I've been riding mountain bikes all these years, mostly because I could only afford one bike and I wasn't going to give up my mountain biking. I just swapped out for smooth tires when riding on-trail/road. It's occurring to me how much faster I could go (i.e. I could have a longer range) on a road bike for errands and the like, plus I'm a speed-addicted adrenaline junky, so I'm thinking about buying a road bike.

Having never ridden road bikes much, what should I be looking for in a new bike? Disk brakes, which I'd never do without (anymore) on a mountain bike, seem pretty rare on roadies I see in the store windows. Some have tires with lots of spokes, or not so many. I don't have a clue what to look for component-wise, in the frame, or really even what's the big difference between an entry-level $800-1k bike and the apparently screamin' $4k bikes.

I'm a pretty competent rider; I put in about 60 miles last weekend (and half of that was lugging my heavy bike lock and light batteries). I want something that can move along at a pretty good clip and I can afford to get something more special-purpose, since it's a second vehicle. Anyone have advice? I'd appreciate it.

I'm sure this question has been asked before, but I'm not sure what search terms to try, so pointers to old threads are welcome, too.

djasonpenney
09-10-2008, 08:00 AM
Are you going to be bike commuting or riding for exercise and recreation? Are you planning on day trips or unsupported touring? Are you planning on racing? Last but not least, how thick is your wallet? :D

For bike commuting, I recommend adopting an orphan from a garage sale and giving it a nice home, like I did (http://lambchop-rides.blogspot.com/2008/03/35-pounds.html). A commuting bike shouldn't have STEAL ME written all over it, be relatively easy to repair and maintain, and have braize-ons for racks and mudguards.

In spite of the "steal me" factor, if I were buying a new one, I'd seriously consider the Trek Portland. It also has disk brakes, which is a real plus in the rain.

If you're more into the recreational cycling side, you can consider the Lance-wannabee bikes out there. These bikes are truly sweet (I own a Lemond Victoire, and I'm still in love with it after many years), but you probably don't want to use it to tow a Burley to and from Fred Meyer.

In terms of the composition of these higher end bikes: I tell people that Shimano 105 is just fine for most people, Ultegra is a decent upgrade if you want to spend the money, and Dura Ace is for people who have money to burn. Campognolo is also quite good.

Frame material: aluminum IMNSHO gives a rather tooth-rattling stiff ride, you either hate or love carbon fiber, and steel seems "old school" but has a lot of great qualities, especially on longer rides. Good steel is not that heavy and provides just a slight modicum of compliance which means your body receives less pounding on a long ride. Stiff bikes are faster, but unless you're a racer you don't care about that.

My friend Marc gave me some advice many years ago that I think is still worthwhile today. For the amount of money most people spend on a bike, wheels are probably more important than the frame! Think about it: the wheels are what roll, dude. Even here there is some debate. Some people suggest you shouldn't use fancy-dancy Unobtanium wheels for every day riding. I'm not so far over into that camp; the Rolf designs (on which the current generation of Bontrager wheels are based) are truly remarkable in terms of strength, lightness, and stiffness.

Oh well, gotta eat breakfast. Tell us a little more about the kind of riding you do, and I'm sure you'll get a lot more advice! :cool:

flying_dutchman
09-10-2008, 08:20 AM
Get a friend and take out two demos at a time. Go out, then switch bikes and ride back to the shop, then pick up another pair of demos and do it again. Repeat until you find the bike you like

brewcaster
09-10-2008, 09:19 AM
I too am about in the same spot. But here are my concerns with going road bike, I would love to hear anyone who rides a roadie to give me their feelings on them:

1. Brakes - not the actually brakes but the brake levers. On my straight bar, I am always able to quickly brake when I need to. I fear that drop bars have too many places where the brakes are distant.

2. Shifters - same thing, I love my rapid fire trigger shifters. I can get off from a start quickly because I always am shifted down before the stop, and can shift up as I stand pedal. I like shifting a whole lot.

3. Tires - I think in my mind that the smaller road tires are more prone to flats. Am I way wrong?

4. Bars - drop bars make riding look uncomfortable to me (I have never been on one). I also am concerned that it lowers your field of vision and also lower your visible height to drivers.

I hope this is helpful in this discussion...

djasonpenney
09-10-2008, 09:40 AM
I too am about in the same spot. But here are my concerns with going road bike, I would love to hear anyone who rides a roadie to give me their feelings on them:

1. Brakes - not the actually brakes but the brake levers. On my straight bar, I am always able to quickly brake when I need to. I fear that drop bars have too many places where the brakes are distant.

Hand positions on curved bars include the tops (near the stem), the hoods (top of the levers), the drops (the curved part at the front), and the bottoms (the flats at the bottom). The brake levers are easily accessible every except the bttoms. The bottoms are for extra leverage climbing up a hill; if you're powering up a 6% grade brakes are not an issue.

2. Shifters - same thing, I love my rapid fire trigger shifters. I can get off from a start quickly because I always am shifted down before the stop, and can shift up as I stand pedal. I like shifting a whole lot.

We all like to shift. With the modern integrated shifters, shifters are accessible in exactly the same hand positions that the brakes are.

One huge benefit of moving away from the flat handlebars is the greater number of hand positions. Why is this an issue? Can you say Repetitive Stress Syndrome? There, I knew you could. Multiple hand positions gives your wrists, fingers, and forearms a break by allowing you to shift positions and angles in ways that you don't get with flat bars. Mountain bikers don't care so much about this because they're doing shorter ohmygodimgonnadie kinds of rides, but roadies absolutely revel in putting the miles away, so eight, twelve, or even more hours in the saddle make these concerns more pertinent.

3. Tires - I think in my mind that the smaller road tires are more prone to flats. Am I way wrong?

Yes, you are way wrong. :D

4. Bars - drop bars make riding look uncomfortable to me (I have never been on one). I also am concerned that it lowers your field of vision and also lower your visible height to drivers.

Well...this may be the most defensible of all the concerns you've raised. If you are older and/or not very limber, you may need to raise your stem considerably. As you strengthen and limber up, you may find that you drop the stem gradually.

Bending over will also help ensure that your weight is correctly distributed on the saddle, thereby avoiding pinching the perineal vein, which is the source of all that slander about bicycling contributing to erectile dysfunction.

Since I spend most of my time on the tops (see above), I've never had an issue with visibility. It is true that on long rides you will start to feel the weight of your head in your trapezius, but the reduction in wind resistance is IMNSHO more than worth it.

As far as visibility to drivers? Only 3% of all bicycle-motorist collisions involve the motorist overrunning the cyclist from the rear, and many of those occurred at night with a drunken bicyclist riding with no lights. As far as left crosses are considered, if the motorist is going to turn left in front of you, your profile isn't going to make a noticeable difference. This should not be a significant consideration. :mad:

foote
09-10-2008, 09:46 AM
If you haven't been on a road bike at all before, get out there and try one out.

I think most of your questions assume that your hands will be a long ways away from your levers. I haven't found this to be the case. Before i got a road bike, i assumed that I'd usually ride with my hands on the top flat section of bar. I found that it's much more comfortable with my hands on the hoods (the tops of the brake levers). From here, i can reach the brake and shift comfortably, but i have fairly large hands.
Getting down in the drops is important if you want to go really fast down a hill, or if you're battling tough headwind, but i rarely use mine other than that.

If you're really concerned about reaching your brakes all the time, you can look for a bike with cyclocross-style interrupter brake levers. Like these: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/images/interrupter-levers.jpg
Or, you can always install these on any bike you end up buying. They're pretty cheap.

I was nervous about road bike flats also. I think this came from my parents' generation, when tires just weren't as strong. My dad has told me that when he was my age, he hardly ever made any long rides without getting some kind of flat, and that a pump and patch kit were absolute necessities.
With modern tires, i think you've got a lot less to worry about. Mine have some kind of flat protection layer, and I've never punctured them. I can go through glass and rocks without paying much attention, and I'm rolling on 130 psi.
These are the tires i use: http://www.universalcycles.com/shopping/product_details.php?id=20345&category=3387

lynnef
09-10-2008, 10:40 AM
hands and brakes - I've got itty-bitty little hands, and have no issues braking. I mostly ride on the hoods, but do try to spend time on the tops and the top curve. Sitting up and riding no-hands is a nice break too (I'm one of those let's go ride another century this weekend types).

Shifting - one bike has brifters (integrated brake lever/shifter setup). Its all right there. Another bike has bar end shifters - again, no problem. Bike #3 has downtube shifters ("shifters of death"). After 30 years away from that, I'm still re-acquainting myself. My biggest problem is remembering where to reach to shift when I've switched bikes.

Tires - it more depends on how the tire is built. If you get a race-ready tire, it might flat more easily (the Schwalbe Stelvio is amazing in this context). If you get Armadillos, Gatorskins or Marathons, they have flat resistant construction.

Drop handlebars and visibility - see above. I really don't ride in the drops much at all. I can still see where I'm going.

My go-to bike, though is lugged steel, bar-end shifters, handlebar higher than the seat (about 1.5" difference), 30mm tires, 75 PSI (comfortable!), fenders, racks... I can ride it all day (and night).

Wheels - those low spoke count wheels are definitely light and fast. But you break one spoke, and the wheel does a remarkable imitation of a Pringles chip. Higher spoke-count wheels (32, 36) don't do that - if a spoke breaks, you re-true the wheel and ride off. Low spoke-count wheels can trap squirrels much better, ruining both your days. If you are out in the middle of nowhere and a spoke goes, well, there you are. Hope there is cell phone coverage, or someone comes along :)

Dire wheel warnings aside, one bike has low spoke-count wheels, and I have not to this day in my entire life (and I have been riding for 40+ years) ever broken a spoke. Your mileage may vary :)

brewcaster
09-10-2008, 11:18 AM
This is all great info for someone like me.

I think various grips is what interests me most. Lately I have become pretty inventive on where/how I grip the bar. Its been actually rare that I have the standard grip on the straight bar, its just not comfortable while cruising at high speeds.

I will definitely start looking into a road bike in the future. Are there any acceptable models/brands under $700? in your opinions of course.

I mainly need it for a 6 mile each way commute from NoPo to downtown.

I could see an occasional joy ride down the road on weekends, but at this point, I am a happy commuter that likes to go fast and get a good workout.

foote
09-10-2008, 12:13 PM
A friend of mine recently got a Schwinn LeTour for around $700. It's surprisingly nice.

It's all aluminum, even the fork, which i think is all you'll find in that price range.
It has integrated shifters, with a thumb lever, and interrupter brake levers.

It's got a more commuter-like feel to it than my road bike does, with a more upright riding position.

brewcaster
09-10-2008, 12:29 PM
Oh more questions:

Can you put fenders on these road bikes?

Rear rack?

bonny790
09-10-2008, 02:43 PM
It's closer to $1K, but Surly puts out some nicely equipped rides, Long Haul Trucker with a triple chainring, or a Cross Check with a double chainring. There are naturally other differences, but there you go. If you're in N Portland, drop by Revolver, catty-corner from New Seasons. The CC would probably make a more natural commuter choice whereas the LHT is a touring bike, but commutes very well. They all fit fat tires with fenders and racks etc. Surly's are simple, basic, no flash and glamor, but solid and versatile. (Keep It Simple Stupid)

K'Tesh
09-10-2008, 02:59 PM
Oh more questions:

Can you put fenders on these road bikes?

Rear rack?


Yes, my mom has fenders for her road bike, it uses straps (or zipties) to hold it onto the bike, so there's no tools involved in it's mounting... costs about $50 at Performance when not on sale.

http://www.performancebike.com/product_images/250/40-2180-NCL-FRONT.jpg (http://www.performancebike.com/shop/profile.cfm?SKU=19613&subcategory_ID=6700)


and Yes, there are racks that are made that do not attach permanently to the bike... I've got something like that for about $40 at Performance. Mom doesn't use her bike for shopping, I do, so I have a rack that can hold a pannier.

http://www.performancebike.com/product_images/250/20-1982-BLK-ANGLE.jpg (http://www.performancebike.com/shop/profile.cfm?SKU=19330&subcategory_ID=2325)

But Perfomance runs sales all the time... so the prices may be a lot lower...

Rubberside Down!
K'Tesh

djasonpenney
09-10-2008, 03:54 PM
The sissy pantie-waisted lycra-clad spandex sillies have road bikes that don't have braize-ons. You can indeed put fenders on (most of) those road bikes. A rear rack is problematic; the amount of weight you could actually put on it would be somewhat limited.

Other bikes are intended to be ridden outside and are set up so you can actually stay dry by mounting real full-length fenders to the frame and fork.

--jason "yes, my Lemond's pantie-waist factor is pretty high" p.

Oh more questions:

Can you put fenders on these road bikes?

Rear rack?

Tait
09-10-2008, 09:49 PM
Are you going to be bike commuting or riding for exercise and recreation? Are you planning on day trips or unsupported touring? Are you planning on racing? Last but not least, how thick is your wallet?

Lots of replies... great. And thanks to all!

I wouldn't be using this for regular commuting (unless the other bike was in the shop, I expect)... mostly recreation. Trailer-pulling would certainly be done by the other bike. I haven't done unsupported touring, so while I might get into multi-day trips some day, but not now. Racing is not my thing. So I guess I am sorta looking toward the Lance-wannabe style of bike. I hadn't given cost a whole lot of thought, really... whatever seems like it's a good fit and a reasonable value. I'm not gonna spend $8k, but I could be convinced to spend ... $3k??

I understand the wheel thing... it was pretty important when I got my mountain bike because those rims have to take a lot of abuse. Is Rolf design a brand name? Is anything they make good, or would I be looking to specific models? Are wheel sizes pretty uniform? Some wheels have really thick (in the radial direction) rims... does that make them stronger?

Who makes good frames? Djasonpenney mentioned LeMond. Other names I've seen are Bianchi, Giant, Guru, Felt, Specialized, Colnago... opinions about any of them? I'm not sure what to make of the Trek Portland from their website... how is a "urban" bike different from a "road" bike?

Of course I'll try out a bunch of what's at the shop, but I want to try to be somewhat informed before-hand.

wsbob
09-10-2008, 10:47 PM
I can't really add very much here. Jason did an excellent job on the basics. The road bike is going to be much quicker than the mountain bike because of the difference in frame angles and general geometry between the two. The road bike will probably feel like a rocket compared to your mountain bike. I don't mean to contradict Jason, but I think frame stiffness means more than speed...it also means greater efficiency. You're going to get more more forward movement for energy expended.

Being able to ride with hands on the drops or flats is really important, because in addition to allowing maximum aerodynamics, it also tightens center of gravity and shifts weight distribution for optimal control and stability in situations where G forces rise such as on curves, especially downhill ones.

If the bike is your size, and you've got it fit to you pretty well, being on the drops isn't going to be uncomfortable unless your back is ancient, not well, or trashed. Being fit properly means your all your back is going to have to do is be straight and supported by your shoulders, arms, hands, your legs, hips and sitter.

Only issue I have with being on the drops is my neck can get fatigued, but that's when you take a break and get up on the hoods or the top.

I'll agree that good wheels are important, but unless you want to treat yourself, from a functional standpoint, you don't need anything fancy, just some that are built up well.

foote
09-11-2008, 10:16 AM
For three grand, you can get a pretty serious road bike.

I ride a Masi. A 2006 speciale (http://bp3.blogger.com/_1SmlJr0BbWc/R7Zgn2hctPI/AAAAAAAABAg/J8HHcbea60w/s1600-h/spec_sm.jpg), from back when they were real road bikes. Now they just come in SS or fixed varieties.
Masi makes some great bikes, and they don't break the bank. For $2500, you can get the purple people eater Gran Criterium (http://www.masibikes.com/cycles/gran_criterium.php) - sweet.

It should really come down to how the bike fits you though. I settled on the Masi because it was the most comfortable bike for me. I have a pretty long torso (I call it super-torso), and the Masi has a really long top tube, so it fits pretty well. You might find it really uncomfortable, but really like a specialized or something.

I got my bike at Veloce on Hawthorne (and 28th?). I highly recommend them.

fredlf
09-16-2008, 09:51 AM
Gotta agree with those who say that fit is the key thing in a road bike. In your price range there are zillions of options, so you should be able to find something that fits your personal dimensions.

Beyond that, IMHO, the frame is the most important consideration. Everything else can be changed out/upgraded later. Personally, I don't like the feel of aluminum and I can't afford carbon (especially replacing it every few years...), so I ride a steel road frame (a Bontrager Road Lite). With an Ultegra group and a Mavic Cosmos wheelset it's under 20 lbs, and that's more than good enough for me.

If you know the frame dimensions that work for you, don't overlook ebay. There are lots of great bikes there, especially if you're looking for older steel. People get "upgrade" fever and let their old bikes go for pennies on the dollar. Silly people.

poser
09-16-2008, 09:58 AM
if you're going to drop that kind of coin on a bike, get a good bike-fit first. I'd recommend Michael Sylvester at Bicycle Fitting Services (http://bicyclefittingservices.com/). He's arguably the best in town. He fit me this last year before I dropped some serious coin on a new racing bike, and the fit has definitely made all the difference.

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