|Quoting waterpolodan (Thread starter):|
assume I'm a beginner and don't worry about every component being the best thing for a race or whatever.
Just because you're a beginner doesn't mean you shouldn't value things like comfort, durability, and surefooted handling.
|Quoting waterpolodan (Thread starter):|
I'm not really sure what type of bike I'm looking for... I'm probably going for a road bike, as my main use would be riding to work (about 4 miles on smooth pavement) and riding around Miami on the weekends for exercise.
The first decision to make is whether you'd like a "hybrid" or a true road bike.
Hybrids come in many variations but essentially, a hybrid is a bike with a flat, mountain-bike style handlebar, and relatively upright riding position. They have tires that roll smoothly, and are larger than those on a road bike, yet narrower than those on a mountain bike.
The best hybrids (in my opinion) are the Trek "FX" bikes
. They start at $439. These bikes are designed for pavement riding. Compared to a true road bike, they are a bit heavier and have fewer hand positions. They are overall less efficient than road bikes, but they are still very impressive....when you stop pedaling to coast, they roll for quite a long distance. They are lighter than most hybrids, and they are very efficient. People use them for commuting, fitness riding, and even some longer-distance touring.
A true road bike will start out at around $700. For the premium over a hybrid, you'll have many hand positions that you can rotate through on longer rides. You'll have nice integrated brake/shift levers. You'll have more precise and comfortable sizing (more on that later). And you'll have a bike that goes further and faster for the same effort. Road bikes also generally have higher-level (lighter, more precise, more durable) components than hybrids.
After you decide what style of bike to get, focus primarily on fit and positioning. The bike should be fit specifically to you. A good shop will find your frame size and will then swap the handlebar and/or stem to further perfect the fit.
When you find your specific fit (which will vary greatly among brands...a 58cm in one brand does not necessarily equate to a 58cm in another brand), don't worry too much about components. If you're after an entry-level bike, just get the best bike you can afford from a good, proven manufacturer like Trek and leave some room in the budget for some necessary accessories (more on that later).
Higher-level components, wheels, etc will make your bike lighter, more precise, and more durable, but proper fit and positioning is about 8000 times more important. You can always upgrade parts in the future if you'd like, but you can't easily upgrade a poorly-fitting frame.
Remember, the single most important aspect of buying a bike is FIT. Fit is critical. Just one or two centimeters off in length can result in very uncomfortable, painful rides. Even for beginners.
The odds of finding a bike that fits you well on the used market is extremely slim...particularly with regard to road bikes. Road bikes are usually offered in many more size options than hybrids or mountain bikes, so it's especially important to be properly fitted by a professional.
So if you value comfort, and if you value stable, surefooted handling, buy a bike from a professional bike shop with people who are trained in bike fitting. Yes, it will hurt to spend an extra $100-200 over a comparable used bike, but in the year 2015, when you're out on a 30-mile ride, you'll have long forgotten about the money and you will have been happy and comfortable on your years of memorable rides.
Ignore any such "frame size calculators". They are 100% worthless. Go get fit by a shop with knowledgeable professionals.
Finally, remember to leave a bit of room in the budget for some necessary gear. If you buy nothing else, buy the following:
- Either a water bottle or a hydration pack. A hydration pack is cool because you can fill it with ice and also carry a spare tube/chain tool.
- All bike tires naturally lose air over time. A high-pressure road tire will lose close to 50% of its pressure in a week or so. You’ll need a “floor pump” to top your tires off at home. If you have an air compressor, that’s fine...just make sure it inflates to a high-enough pressure, and be sure to check your tire pressure about twice a week or so.
- If you want to be self-sufficient out on rides, buy a “flat pack”, consisting of a small mini-pump, spare tube, patch kit, tire levers, and multi tool.
- Gloves (hand protection is important...not just for comfort, but also for when you fall and put your hands out to cushion the impact)
- Padded shorts (baggy or loose)
- Good eye protection – Tifosi glasses are nice...about 90% of the performance of Oakley at 30% of the cost. Remember, you only have one set of eyes, and a tiny piece of gravel can become a destructive little bullet when flung up from a passing car.
Finally, I recommend a dedicated jersey. It took me YEARS to try one...I always thought t-shirts worked fine. But then I gave a jersey a shot and they are great. They really keep you cool and dry. And cycling-specific ones are cut to be comfy in a cycling position. Never again will I deal with a soggy cotton t-shirt that rides up in back and balloons out up front.
As you get used to your bike, consider getting clipless pedals and shoes. Clipless pedals are pedals that allow you snap in and pop out, similar to ski bindings. They are widely considered to be the single greatest upgrade you can make to your bike. Plan on spending around $90 for shoes and $70 for pedals.
And, in case you've forgotten.....
FIT, FIT, FIT! Fit is everything!