What Road Bike?

What bike and bike bits should you buy?
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CanterburyTailwind
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What Road Bike?

Postby CanterburyTailwind » Wed Jul 16, 2008 15:23 pm

One of the most common questions on the Forum - and in Road Beginners in particular - is 'what bike should I get for £x?'

I've been looking through the Forum and have prepared a starting point list below. It's not totally comprehensive, but you get some idea of where to start for those new to the sport. Feel free to chip in! (dons hard hat)

General Advice
When looking around at bikes here's a list of some things to consider. I've given this elsewhere on the forum, but I think it bears repeating: I wish I'd had a similar list when I was looking!

- Frame: quality (of material and paint job) and riding position: do you want to be more relaxed (upright) or more 'sporty' (nose to the handlebars). For the material, aluminium is probably the most common now: it's light and relatively robust. Carbon is lighter, but pricey. Some people still swear by steel, and say there's not much difference in weight with aluminium, but gives a more 'forgiving' ride.
- Quality of the components, esp groupsets (have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupset for a 'hierarchy of quality' for Shimano and Campag). Also gearing: is the range suitable for the rides you have in mind? For your chainset (the chain rings at the front of the bike), do you want a double (with no small (low) gear), triple (with a granny gear for those tough hills)or compact (a compromise of both of these)?)
- Weight of the bike: easy to get hung up on, but worth bear it in mind.
- if commuting or winter training, does it have the braze ons (fittings) for mudguards and rack?
- Try them out! A bike can have the best spec in the world but still 'feel wrong' to you. Go and try as many as you can at local bike shops.

Recommendations

For people wanting advice about bikes to buy, there seem to be three main price points: around £300, around £500 and around £1000. There’s thousands of bikes out there, and hundreds of makers, and you can usually find someone on the Forum who would swear by their bike. If your favourite isn’t on the list below, make a case for it in the thread that follows! But I think these are the ones that get recommended most regularly.

£300
with a three hundred pound budget , you’re looking at the lowest end of the market, and it might be worth looking at a second hand bike which will give you more for your money. However, you could consider these, which get generally positive reviews on the Forum:

o Decathlon B Twin Sports (£230): Some Forum users have started on these - 'it's done all I'm wanting - 5 mile commute, 100 km club run & even did my first TT on it last night.’; others have upgraded the components, though I’m not sure it’s worth doing so on this frame.
o Giant SCR4 (£350): see the comments below

£500
At around £500 you start to get well specced bikes with good frames that they often share with their more expensive siblings. At this price point it tends to be either a Giant SCR or Specialized Allez that most people go for. Both are good, decent entry-level bikes that can be upgraded as you get into the sport.

o Giant SCR 3 (£450) or 2 (£545) – a good jumping off point for anyone getting into road biking. Relaxed geometry – so good for those who are nervous of drop handlebars, or want something that they can use on day long sportives. Can also take mudguard and racks. Giant are the biggest cycle manufacturer in the world, so they can get economies of scale, and a decently specced bike for the price.
Edit: the SCR range has been superceded this year by the Defy range. It's too early to know how they compare with both the old SCRs, and with competitors such as the Allez. If anyone has one of the new Defys (Defies?), post a review on the thread...
o Specialized Allez (£549 upwards): similar to the Giant, though perhaps slightly less well specced for the money, and perhaps a slightly more aggressive geometry.
o Boardman Road Comp (£600) – the new kid on the block, but has gained respectable reviews (C+’s budget bike of the year 2007). Often let down by the fact that it is only being sold through Halfords, and people have reported bad experiences with the set up and support of the shops.
o Ribble 7005 Winter Trainer/Audax (£499): used by many as a good, solid winter hack, as it’s (relatively) cheap, and can take mudguards. Also, with Ribble you can specify what spec you want, and have campag etc if that’s what you’re after.
o Trek 1 series (£470 upwards): Trek was Lance Armstrong’s bike manufacturer, and this has affected the way many see the brand: it’s a love/hate thing. For a while refused to go with the ‘compact frame’ development, but now making moves towards it with a ‘semi-compact’ geometry. Quite a few Forum users rate them, and BikeRadar gave the 1.5 4.5/5 stars, and thought it ‘fantastic value for money’

£1000
At this price, you should be looking at a carbon frame (light and strong), probably with a 10sp cassette on the back. The bikes most often recommended on the Forum are the Focus or Planet X.

o Focus Cayo (£999): has garnered very good reviews (C+ bike of the year 2007; best bike under £1k in Cycling Weekly: ‘It's very hard not to recommend the Cayo. It's a good ride, has a near perfect choice of components and thanks to the quality of the frame it's worthy of upgrade at a later date. Despite the specification, this is not actually an £1800 bike. Frankly we have never seen such a well appointed bike at such a low price.’). German-made (‘nuff said??), and sold solely through Wiggle – so the downside is that you can’t try it out in the shop first. But then, that’s true of both Planet X and Ribble as well… Road Cycling gave it 10/10 and said: ‘Remove the price tag and you'd be convinced you're looking at a bike with a price far nearer that of £2000. After a fair amount of riding the Cayo, we've struggled to find anything really wrong with. Don't let the price tag convince you this is a bike aimed at beginners, while it's perfect for those new to road riding, those with a few more miles under their bums should take a serious look at the Cayo.’
o Planet X SL Pro Carbon (£942): a lot of bike for the money, and highly rated by many on the forum.
Last edited by CanterburyTailwind on Thu Oct 02, 2008 21:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.

meagain
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Postby meagain » Thu Jul 17, 2008 08:03 am

Just a thought, partly inspired by the rain pouring down on this JULY morning!

M'grds are surely not synonomous with winter bikes and thus automatically to think carbon (great majority of which do NOT take 'grds) at the top end of the price range is rather assuming that either a fair weather only rider or more than one bike?

I shall ignore my usual hobby-horse of the apparent confusion between road and racing bikes!
d.j.
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Hornetto
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Postby Hornetto » Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:46 am

Having just bought my first road bike, I thought I'd share a useful tip which helped me - look at previous years' models for similar specced bikes to the current bikes, often for a big discount.

I got a 2007 Specialized Allez Sport for £499, £200 less than the 2008 Sport model with very similar spec, and not far off the price of the Specialized Allez 2008 'standard' model. Only real difference seems to be the paint job!

Could be a cheaper way to get a higher spec bike.

daz51
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Postby daz51 » Tue Jul 22, 2008 07:31 am

Talking of Road bikes in a fashion.

If your after a cheap fixie Giant are selling off the 2008 Bowery for £270. Worth a look if it suits your needs.

ALSO:- I imagine i am speaking from all of us, a Big Thankyou to Canterburytailwind for taking the time to compile the above list !!!!!!!!

huggy
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Postby huggy » Tue Jul 22, 2008 20:14 pm

I think the Planetx should be 'bigged' up - it has very good spec (Dura Ace?), some would say better than the Focus overall.

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CanterburyTailwind
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Postby CanterburyTailwind » Wed Jul 23, 2008 13:48 pm

Thanks Daz! Yes, Huggy, there should be more about it, but although I found alot of people recommending it and saying 'you get alot for your money', I couldn't find many other comments. Do you have one? What are your thoughts?

mrkwr
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Postby mrkwr » Thu Jul 24, 2008 19:54 pm

Hmm, I've been thinking for some months of buying my first new bike for 30 years and finding the choice overwhelming. I'm looking around the £1000+ mark, and gotta say that the OP's advice seems contradictory here - one the one hand, advising trying out the bikes you're interested in, and on the other hand, suggesting just two bikes which are online-only, hence impossible to try out.

Getting test rides isn't easy in my experience, either - the shops never seem to have the right size or the right model available (and don't seem able or willing to get them in), so try to get you to test a too big/too small bike, and/or try to get you to try a more expensive model in the range. Here I am with the money burning a hole in my pocket and none of the local bike shops seem willing or able to arrange test rides of the exact model/size I want. Perhaps I'm being too fussy?

meagain
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Postby meagain » Thu Jul 24, 2008 20:12 pm

"...test rides of the exact model/size I want. Perhaps I'm being too fussy?"

I've haven't bought new for c.7 years (when I realised better to let someone else take the instant 33-40% depreciation hit!), so this is a bit theoretical! For major brands, lots of models come in different prices according to spec - so say if you fancied a Giant SCR might well find it easier to find a 400 quid version than a 1000 quid one. The size and fit will be the same - the components simply better or worse according to price. If you are after a mail-order only model, identify a major brand competitor with same or very close dimensions/geometry and then test one of those (as above!).

While I am not one to sympatise with LBSs (basically I won't set foot in the places unless I'm in need of a laugh listening to the dim leading the even dimmer), can't really expect them to obtain a 1000 quid bike which they may or may not sell. Especially if an extreme size they are likely to be left with an unsold demo at season end!
d.j.

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mrkwr
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Postby mrkwr » Thu Jul 24, 2008 20:35 pm

While I am not one to sympatise with LBSs (basically I won't set foot in the places unless I'm in need of a laugh listening to the dim leading the even dimmer), can't really expect them to obtain a 1000 quid bike which they may or may not sell. Especially if an extreme size they are likely to be left with an unsold demo at season end!



Translation, yes, I'm being too fussy/unrealistic!

Here's a specific story. I shortlisted the Roubaix Elite @ £1099. The local Spec "Concept Store" only too happy to encourage me to test ride the Pro model (@ £2500!) even though I told them my budget was not flexible. The Pro was jolly nice (though the Dura Ace gears weren't adjusted properly and didn't change efficiently on the front) but when I got back and said I go for the Elite they told me they couldn't get the Elite in my size, Spec had sold all yonks ago, but what about a higher-specced model? Result: wasted half my afternoon, and seems pretty close to the (v. dubious) practice of "bait and switch" if you ask me.

meagain
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Postby meagain » Thu Jul 24, 2008 20:44 pm

Sorry, but I don't understand....you know the bike and presumably the size? Now just buy on-line, surely? Or for 400 quid off there's two on ebay at moment (and two show in Completed Listings so can't be that rare).
d.j.

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CanterburyTailwind
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Postby CanterburyTailwind » Fri Jul 25, 2008 15:47 pm

Hi Mrkwr

Sorry about my confusing guidance above! Yes, you're right, not all shops allow you to test ride their bikes, so you can get a very patchy idea of what you like and don't like. Another possibility would be to try friends or talk to people in a cycle club who could give you advice and (I hope!) let you have a bit of a ride.
As to your experience of the Spesh Concept Store, I'm with Meagain on that one: you know you like the 'feel' of the Roubaix, so as the shop is being unhelpful on this, what about shopping around?
Finally, to get back to the original point, most of the recommendations I listed were given after browsing the forum and getting a sense of what was recommended most often at certain price points. I've not had experience of the Cayo or Planet X, but so many people seem to rate them that they seemed to be the clear favourites at the £1k mark. Wiggle have a reasonable return policy if you're not happy, and I imagine Planet X do as well - though I'd need to check.

di_andrei
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Postby di_andrei » Sat Aug 02, 2008 04:19 am

huggy wrote:I think the Planetx should be 'bigged' up - it has very good spec (Dura Ace?), some would say better than the Focus overall.


I don't think you can actually get the Planetx with Dura Ace components under the 1000GBP mark, I would definitely be interested in getting it as it seems I cannot get a Cayo for my size.

alfablue
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Postby alfablue » Sat Aug 02, 2008 11:12 am

di_andrei wrote:
huggy wrote:I think the Planetx should be 'bigged' up - it has very good spec (Dura Ace?), some would say better than the Focus overall.


I don't think you can actually get the Planetx with Dura Ace components under the 1000GBP mark, I would definitely be interested in getting it as it seems I cannot get a Cayo for my size.

I think the £1000 P-X is Ultegra - still fine value, as well as the Cayo, Ribble do a similar carbon/ultegra bike for £999, I think it was a winner in a C+ test.

peanut
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Postby peanut » Tue Aug 05, 2008 13:13 pm

excellent post Canterbury. well researched and useful assessments too.
Shame that some noobs are still not reading it.

I think they want someone else to make the decision lol :lol:
Maybe we should just propose one bike in each category :roll:

I guess its a lot of money to spend all at once on an unknown item. Its reassurance most want that they are not buying a turkey.................... gobble gobble :wink:

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blorg
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Postby blorg » Tue Aug 05, 2008 13:37 pm

meagain wrote:Just a thought, partly inspired by the rain pouring down on this JULY morning!

M'grds are surely not synonomous with winter bikes and thus automatically to think carbon (great majority of which do NOT take 'grds) at the top end of the price range is rather assuming that either a fair weather only rider or more than one bike?

I shall ignore my usual hobby-horse of the apparent confusion between road and racing bikes!
I have Race Blades (SKS) and they work really well on my Focus Cayo. They fit great, keep the water off me, and are easily removable. I know they may not fit so good on other bikes, I know other people who have found them fiddly on their bikes and indeed they don't fit well on my Van Nicholas Amazon (that has fittings for standard full length guards though, so I'll be getting SKS Chromoplastics for that.)

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CanterburyTailwind
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Postby CanterburyTailwind » Wed Aug 06, 2008 09:54 am

Hi Peanut

Thanks for your comments. Yes, I think everyone needs reassurance that they're not buying a turkey! Also, people post messages asking about bikes which they've seen which aren't on the list. So the suggestions above aren't necessarily going to be the final word for everyone, but I hope it give people a good place to start. I like the idea of having just one suggestion for each price, but that would open a real can of worms, as choice of bike also involves a certain amount of personal preference...

Cheers

peanut
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Postby peanut » Wed Aug 06, 2008 12:23 pm

CanterburyTailwind wrote:
I like the idea of having just one suggestion for each price, but that would open a real can of worms, as choice of bike also involves a certain amount of personal preference...

Cheers


I was'nt being serious ,just toungue-in-cheek hence the smiley :wink:
good article anyway well done

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CanterburyTailwind
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Postby CanterburyTailwind » Wed Aug 06, 2008 14:06 pm

I was'nt being serious ,just toungue-in-cheek hence the smiley


Ahh...I am sometimes a bit slow...I thought the rolling eyes were you seriously pondering the possibility... !

stronginthesun
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Postby stronginthesun » Tue Aug 19, 2008 07:43 am

spend a grand and it will be good , no matter what make ect . only you can make yourself go faster ,

Enty1
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< £1000 bikes

Postby Enty1 » Tue Aug 26, 2008 12:18 pm

Good info thanks, but as a matter of interest how do the two recommended bikes compare to the Bianci 1885 Hydracarbon-Veloce. Im just about to purchase my first bike !


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