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Bike Buying Advice
CREATED: 08/20/09 by steph_430 REPLIES: 16
steph_430    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 33
Bike Buying Advice
POSTED: 8/20/09 11:31 AM

sorry if I'm recycling old topics from previous threads - I'm finally upgrading my super heavy, super slow hybrid bike! And psyched about it! Going shopping this weekend with an aim to buy. A knowledgeable friend is going with me, but I'd appreciate any pointers anyone can share about generally what to look for, good sites where I can do some online research, etc.

Looking to buy entry level/basic road bike, not a tri bike this time around.

Thanks in advance!

dsgrunning's ravatar dsgrunning    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1481
RE: Bike Buying Advice
POSTED: 8/20/09 12:04 PM

There are some bike shops in the area that gives you refund/store credit if you join their store/bike club. Some will be free to join (Hudson Trail Outfitter), some will cost money (Performance $25/year). If you decide to buy a bike at one of those places, it'll be worth your time and money to join the club. Performance gives you something like 10% credit so if your bike costs more than $250 then you've already broke even. The advantage to this is that you can use the money to buy other stuff like clothes, nutrition, or bike related stuff.

Always throw the DCTri name around. Many bike shops will give you the DCTri discount. Ride lots of bikes ... even the ones that you can't afford. This will allow you to know what the difference is between one versus the other. This might make you feel better by allowing you to say to yourself "$2,000 extra just for that?"

Don't buy it the first day. Narrow it down to a few bikes then go home and read some reviews on the bikes online. Sometimes a bike looks good and feels good at the store but when you read the reviews, folks might tell you that certain things about it are known to break down 6 months later.

Brand name matters little. Fit, comfort, and components are what matters most. If you have your eyes on two different bikes and they both cost the same, ask them which has the better components. Wear you bike short to the store. You'll be training in your bike shorts not jeans. It's probably best to see what the fit and comfort level is like in as real a testing environment as possible. If you have clipless shoes, bring it along and ask them to put clipless on the bike so that you can give it a spin.

If you buy it at a local bike shop, it always pay to ask them to throw some freebees (gloves, locks, bike computer, etc) on top. The worst that will happen is that you both will smile and laugh it off. The best might be a free helmet, bike computer, or a couple of free tune-ups down the line.

What's your budget ?

Good luck

trithis73's ravatar trithis73    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 525
RE: Bike Buying Advice
POSTED: 8/20/09 1:26 PM

I think there should be an ASK TUAN section on this website. I have not once heard something come out of his mouth bad, except maybe when we are ramping it up over 20mph on the long rides. Other than that, Tuan you are a good person to talk to, true Royalty, and look forward to seeing you down in Florida at Ironman. We will have to get a pre-race dinner thing going.

vatriathlete    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 685
RE: Bike Buying Advice
POSTED: 8/20/09 1:29 PM

your budget will narrow things down a lot, basically the stores you buy at and also the brands of bikes.

contrary to what tuan says, brand names do matter to an extent. usually the bigger brands have more styles of bikes and the bike shops that are dedicated to those brands tend to be able to get more bikes in stock faster, brand x may or may not be the same, yes you pay a premium for a brand name but you also pay for the dealer network that smaller brand x does not have.

fit matters overall as the big thing. the frame material and such do not. also other "performance" things that you hear thrown around, ie, stiffness/vertical compliance, etc. its all well and good but unless you have ridden for years you won't be able to really tell the subtle differences between some bikes with different components and materials.

again your budget decides everything, if you only have 500-700 dollars to spend that is yoru bugdget and it will dictate what you look at.

good luck and have fun.

remember don't stress so much about hte first real bike you get, most people if they get serious into cycling or tirathlons do not have only 1 bike after a few years, if you get serious in the sport you will probably buy a second bike within 5 years easily by then you'll truly know what you want.

trithis73's ravatar trithis73    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 525
RE: Bike Buying Advice
POSTED: 8/20/09 1:45 PM

Nicely put Justin. He is right also. I have 3 bikes now and will be getting a 4th this winter. This one will be my road, and I know exactly what I am looking for as far as feel, stiffness(not that it matters to much since I weight 125lbs) and performance.

suzkinsky's ravatar suzkinsky    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 121
RE: Bike Buying Advice
POSTED: 8/20/09 2:04 PM

All good advice here! Judging by your user name, I'm guessing you're female and if, like me, you're on the small end of "average height" then you're going to find yourself looking for tiny bikes. The problem with this is that many bike stores don't carry a wide selection of smaller frames so it's hard to ride several different bikes in one shopping trip. It might be worth calling ahead to see if bike stores even have anything that would fit you. If not, the bigger chains like Performance can ship some in from other store locations. That might take a few days though so save yourself the gas money and check in advance. (Do not fall for the bike shop guy's insistence that riding a bigger size will be "essentially the same" as the correct size - it is not. Stay firm!)

It's pretty important to get the frame size correct because it's pretty much the one thing about the bike that you will absolutely be stuck with - and it makes a big difference. My first bike was 52cm and I used to be terribly uncomfortable on long rides but figured it came with the territory. My next bike was 49cm and boy did those three centimeters make a HUGE difference in comfort. I haven't had that nagging pain in my right shoulder since. Lots of manufacturers offer women-specific frames - definitely, definitely try those out first over unisex (read: male) frames.

vatriathlete    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 685
RE: Bike Buying Advice
POSTED: 8/20/09 2:22 PM


no-e-plz's ravatar no-e-plz    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 43
RE: Bike Buying Advice
POSTED: 8/20/09 6:41 PM

I'll throw in my two cents here as well and remember, you can also search the old version of the Forum under "Interact" to see what's been said in the past.

One of this season's NTP participants, David Kincade, did a bang up job of doing his homework on material, components, manufacturer, and such and was able to get an amazing deal at Contes in Clarendon. Now is a good time to be shopping as many shops are clearing out 2009 models to make room for 2010 models. Test ride as many different types and styles as you can manage and you will be able to feel the difference between a steel frame, an aluminum frame, a composite (mix of carbon and steel or aluminum) or full carbon.

Specialized, Trek and Giant have a very broad range of styles and cycles to choose from, while Cannondale may have a more limited range.

I know from experience that its easy to get swept up in the style, chic brand name, what are all the other cool kids riding these days, etc. but really find something that fits your body, style, and most of all, your budget.

I did some shopping for TT bikes this year and was really impressed by the 2009 Felt B12 that got great reviews and is significantly cheaper than some more high end/high profile option. I ultimately went with another model/brand because of outside factors but I would certainly recommend looking at the "thinking man's" options as much as the more high profile ones.

trithis73's ravatar trithis73    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 525
RE: Bike Buying Advice
POSTED: 8/21/09 2:45 PM

Easy way to know the size range you are suppose to be in.

Measure in inches from the sole of your foot, while you are barefoot, all the way to the fold of your hamstring and crotch.

Take that measurement and multiply that by 2.54.
Then take that sum and multiply it by .65 for low end spectrum, and .7 for highest end spectrum.

For me that gave the range of 46.228cm- 49.784cm. Basically I am a midget. It's hard to find frames in thoses sizes. So I went with a compact frame for my roadbike.

Hope this helps as far as wht size to be looking for, that way no one can sell you something that is way to big for you. I have seen that done to many times.

vatriathlete    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 685
RE: Bike Buying Advice
POSTED: 8/21/09 3:01 PM

what the heck is that from?

frame sizing is an entirely different thread. the most important number on a bike is top tube length, not the actual "size" number of the bike per se.

we can get into an entire thread on how bike companies size bikes differently and how a "54 cm" frame by one company does not equate at all to a "54 cm" frame from another company.

trithis73's ravatar trithis73    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 525
RE: Bike Buying Advice
POSTED: 8/21/09 3:41 PM


I am trying to help her make sure she stays within her range of how big the bike should be, without totally confusing her. These measurements will get he as close to her size bike that she can ride, and if it's woman specific, that helps with the top tube issue. Who ever told you top tube length is the most important lied to you. If you put someone like me on a 53-55cm bike I won't be able to pedal efficiently. I am sure as usual you are all knowing about bikes, just like you are all knowing about volunteering, orjust like you are all knowing about eveything. If you are 100% correct about the top tube being the 1st thing you need to consider when buying a bike. I actually pulled articles on choosing a right fit road bike, to learn how to properly choose mine, and research what is gonna benifit me. If you want to prove otherwise, without useless conjectures. Show me and prove me wrong, otherwise just please. If you don't have anything constructive to say. SHUT UP!

FYI- The formula above was written like this
Inseam in inches, convert to centimeters, then multiply by .65. I made it simpler so she didn't have to figure the conversion. IT'S CALLED HELPING!

steph_430    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 33
RE: Bike Buying Advice
POSTED: 8/21/09 3:48 PM

Thanks so much for all the great advice, everyone. I had actually found a size chart online so I was able to approximate the frame sizes I should test out based on my inseam.

I've also been researching materials, etc., but it always helps to hear what riders actually have to say rather than just reading everything online.

any bike will be an improvement over what I have now, but I want to make sure that I don't blow my money either. My budget is on a lower end, but I still don't want to blow it.


dsgrunning's ravatar dsgrunning    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1481
RE: Bike Buying Advice
POSTED: 8/21/09 3:58 PM

Step ... this is a good time to buy like someone has said previously. I'm not sure where you live but definitely check out Performance Bikes. They have lots of sale going on at the moment for road bikes.

The other place that I would recommend is the Hudson Trail Outfitter Outlet in Gaithersburg. That's their only outlet store in the area and the exact same bike there may cost less than the same bike at all of their other location. I got mine for about $500 cheaper than I would have gotten at any other stores. Plus, once you've purchased a bike from them, you get free tune-ups for life at any of their stores no matter which store you bought it at. Plus, if you join their discount club (free), you get enough money back in the form of store credit to purchase some nice stuff.

steph_430    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 33
RE: Bike Buying Advice
POSTED: 8/21/09 4:04 PM

Thanks, Tuan. I live in Alexandria and Performance is on my list. I bought all my basic gear there (gloves, shorts, shoes, pedals, etc) - and they were really helpful. I am planning on starting out at Spokes b/c I have a gift card (which might pay for half of a tire on the bike, but hey! it's something. might cover sales tax at least). Thanks so much for the recommendations.


wombat's ravatar wombat    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 269
RE: Bike Buying Advice
POSTED: 8/21/09 4:31 PM

I was at the Spokes on Quaker Lane a couple weeks ago. They have 3-4 road bikes in the $750-$1000 range (Specialized Allez, etc.) If your budget increases to $1400, Spokes has an additional 8-10 bikes to chose from (Trek, Specialized). However, I do not know what sizes any of the bikes were.

Happy shopping!

vatriathlete    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 685
RE: Bike Buying Advice
POSTED: 8/21/09 5:13 PM


glad we cleared up the misunderstanding.


trithis73's ravatar trithis73    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 525
RE: Bike Buying Advice
POSTED: 8/21/09 5:30 PM

I owe you all an apology for those who had to read me on my tirade. I currently feel like a hypocrite. I talk about you openly challenging people and yet I turn and do just the same. I hate letting my emotions get to me. Again I am sorry to all who had to read this.

My number

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