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.
Local Austin Places to shop for a new bike
http://www.performancebike.com/ (good quality cheaper prices then 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 then aluminum and handles crashes the best
$$ – Aluminum – Lighter then steel, but absorbs the least bumps and vibrations out of all materials
$$$ – Carbon – Lighter then aluminum, absorbs better then steel, doesn’t handle crashes very well (can crack)
$$$$ – Titanium – Lighter then aluminum (about equal to carbon), absorbs bumps almost as good as carbon, can handle crashes better then Carbon (same as aluminum)
Bike Components (shifters, derailleur’s, brakes, cranks – entry to advanced) *note this is just for the Shimano brands as they are the most widely used in the USA
$ – Sora – heaviest, lowest quality
$$ – Tiagra – ..
$$$ – 105 – …
$$$$ – Ultegra – ….
$$$$$ – Dura Ace – 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 – Top Level – Carbon bike and Ultegra or Dura Ace components
$1500 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
*This post is my views, experience, and opinions and I am sure can be picked threw by a bike snob in seconds; general 101 education here.