Q. As mainly a mountain biker but latterly enjoying the thrill of the road riding I am looking to buy a new road bike. It will be needed for the daily commute of about eight miles each way. Plus it will normally get up to a five-hour outing once a week in the summer - I live in the Lake District so it's often over the passes (so a good climber would be nice, too), and I would like to have a go at the odd time-trial on it as well.
The bike needs to be compliant as the roads are poor up here and also I'm not looking to break the bank; around £500-£700. I'm more than happy to get a frame and a decent set of wheels and build up the rest slowly.
A. There isn't a great deal of choice of 'distance bikes' at the upper end of your price limit and you will get more for your hard-earned cash by buying complete rather than buying all the parts separately.
The Specialized Tricross is hard to beat. It is a jack of all trades, and it will certainly provide the level of comfort that you are looking for over those Lake District roads. All-up weight is a respectable 23.2lb, it uses an aluminium frame weighing just 1749g and Shimano Sora gears. While the wheels and 32mm tyres are great for commuting, the greater proportion of the overall weight is in the wheels (3780g) so the bike could be upgraded at a later date for long distance day-long rides on smooth roads.
While the Tricross could be time-trialled on occasion, the Giant OCR3 is a better bet as the head tube is shorter so that you can get a low, aerodynamic position for your time-trialling endeavours. At £429 it is a bargain and benefits from a triple chainset to tackle those gradients too.
The Specialized Allez costs £499 and sports a mix of Shimano and Tiagra equipment with a frame that is of a quality and weight more usually found on bikes costing nearer £800-£1000. Contact Giant on 0115 977 5900 www.giant-bicycles.com and SBC for Specialized on 0208 391 3500, www.specialized.com.