I read a funny post today on the Fat Cyclist Blog and it made me think of the times people have asked for my advice* on getting into the sport of cycling. The bike being the key item; it’s really the only piece that is a must the rest you can wing-it as you go.
If you’re not sure you will stay in the sport I would recommend buying a used entry level road bike and try it out for a year. The first several months it will be all about getting your body into cycling shape and buying a bike for $200-$300 that weighs 24lbs versus spending $1.5k-$3k that weighs 17lbs won’t make a bit of difference. Just don’t buy a bike so cheap that it makes you hate the sport (aka Wal-Mart bikes). Plus there is some satisfaction on riding a $200 bike and passing the guy on the $3k bike.
Bike fitting site – http://www.coloradocyclist.com/BikeFit/index.cfm,
Local Austin Places to shop for a new bike
http://www.performancebike.com/ (good quality cheaper prices than the rest of the local guys)
http://www.mellowjohnnys.com/ (Lance Armstrong shop)
Other chain places are REI and Sun & Ski Sports,
Some basic education of common bike products:
Bike Frames (entry to advanced)
$ – Steel – Heavy, but absorbs better than aluminum and handles crashes the best
$$ – Aluminum – Lighter than steel, but absorbs the least bumps and vibrations out of all materials
$$$ – Carbon – Lighter than aluminum, absorbs better than steel, doesn’t handle crashes very well (can crack)
$$$$ – Titanium – Lighter than aluminum (about equal to carbon), absorbs bumps almost as good as carbon, can handle crashes better than Carbon (same as aluminum)
Bike Components (shifters, derailleur’s, brakes, cranks – entry to advanced) *note this is just for the Shimano brands as they are the most widely used in the USA
¢ – (Road) Claris, Apex, Xenon, (MTB) Acera, Altus, X3 – don’t ever buy IMO
$ – (Road) Sora, Apex, Veloce, (MTB) Alivio, X4 – heaviest, lowest quality
$$ – (Road) Tiagra, Rival, Athena, (MTB) Deore, X5 – ..
$$$ – (Road) 105, Force, Chorus or Centura, (MTB) SLX or LX, X7 – …
$$$$ – (Road) Ultegra, Force, Record, (MTB) XT, X9 – ….
$$$$$ – (Road) Dura Ace, Red, Super Record, (MTB) XTR, XO, XX – lightest, highest quality
So for deals on used bike prices –
$300 or less – Entry Level – Steel or aluminum bike with Sora or Tiagra components
$500 or less – Mid Level – Steel or aluminum bike with carbon fork and 105 or Ultegra components
$1000 or less – High Level – Carbon bike and Ultegra or Dura Ace components
$2000 or less – Top Level – Titanium bike and Ultegra or Dura Ace components
General New Bike Prices –
$400 to $900 – Entry Level – Steel or aluminum bike with Sora or Tiagra components
$700 to $3000 – Mid Level – Steel or aluminum bike with carbon fork and 105 or Ultegra components
$1500 to $7000 – Top Level – Titanium or Carbon bike and Ultegra or Dura Ace components
$5000 to $20000 – Super Elite – Custom made bikes specific to the rider
Name Brands –
(there are some great off-brand, boutique, or no name bikes out there, but if you want the safe short list):
Road & MTB – Cannondale, Giant, Specialized, Trek, … so many more, see the long list.
Stay away from anything you can buy at a big box store (aka Walmart, Target, Sam’s, Costco, Academy, Dick’s Sports, Sports Authority, …)
*This post is my views, experience, and opinions and I am sure can be picked through by a bike snob in seconds; general 101 education here.