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"how will an expensive bike make be a better and faster rider?"

Jul 17, 2009
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Years of cycling and encouraging friends and neighbors to get into it, I get hit with this question quite a bit.

I point them toward a Rival or 105 equipped bike at a minimum but they come back with a CostCo bike or one from the LBS formerly known as SuperGo equipped with an array of components I can't identify sometimes

inevitably it ends up in my garage for a tune, true and even air..

---------------------

I got this specific question Sunday Evening when fitting my wife to her new roadie in the driveway..

Quote from our neighbor who bought a bike at CostCo for these mini Tris she is doing now here in socal...

"How exactly is a more expensive bike better and how will it make me faster.?"

She rides with my wife now and again and gets hammered, I point to that but she says "I know she is faster but how is the bike better"?

SO I ask you the same because I have trouble putting it into layman's terms..

respectfully it is quite a gap in industry language for me anyway...and apparently the LBS here locally can't answer it either
 
Aug 11, 2009
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A really cheap bike is less fun to ride for the following reasons:

-shifting tends to quickly go to pot (riding with bad shifting/skipping gears is very annoying, making riding less fun and inevitably less frequent)

-frequent mechanical service is required on cheap bikes if they actually get regular use (at best, this is a nuisance for the owner; more realistically, people who buy super-cheap bikes usually rely on shops, so they rack up unanticipated service costs and quickly lose the incentive to even have the repairs done, leading to less riding)

-insufficient breaking power is not just not fun, but it's also scary--especially in wet weather

-cheap bikes tend to make a lot more annoying and disconcerting noises which make riding less fun

-really cheap bottom bracket/crankset combos are a nightmare: they click, they shift around, they don't transfer power very well, and even moderately fit riders can immediately appreciate the improvement in stepping up to 105 (I do not think this is anywhere near as true above the 105 level where improvements are real but much more incremental)

-frame geometry and handling characteristics on the cheapest bikes are almost never modeled after true performance bikes and are not designed with long training rides in mind, either

-stock build-ups on cheap bikes have such lousy saddles, wheels, and headsets that pretty soon an avid rider will find himself riding more replacement parts than original parts

-mentality matters: investing a bit more makes a lot of riders "feel" more like real cyclists and it motivates them to get out and ride more to justify the investment in the bike

I'm not advocating for always going the deluxe, Super Record route, but I do tell all of my newbie friends to insist on 105 or better along with a solid set of wheels. Otherwise, these guys are guaranteed to just break stuff and get ****ed off with their lousy purchase.

note: I've down-graded from a Chorus/Record mix to a 105 triple this summer because I've been forced to borrow an old shop bike while they try to replace my rear hanger on my normal frame. The gruppo works fine and I'm training as much as ever. I'd rather not race the stuff, but it's certainly a solid start for any new rider. From what I've seen, though, the difference between 105-level stuff and all of the lower component lines is night and day.
 
May 14, 2009
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I have the same question.

I've only been racing for the last year. I ride 2/3 times a week, 1h30 each time, and every now and then I enter an amateur BTT race.

My bike costed only 60€, and it sucks in more ways than one. I know I would be a little faster if I had a better bike, but does it justify investing in one? How much should I spend? What are the key components I should be looking for in a new bike?

Please put it in layman's terms. Thanks for the help.
 
Jul 29, 2010
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Jux1893 said:
I have the same question.

I've only been racing for the last year. I ride 2/3 times a week, 1h30 each time, and every now and then I enter an amateur BTT race.

My bike costed only 60€, and it sucks in more ways than one. I know I would be a little faster if I had a better bike, but does it justify investing in one? How much should I spend? What are the key components I should be looking for in a new bike?

Jux, you are in a great situation if you are now starting to ride w/ other riders/racers. Start asking around if people have an older/used bike in your frame size. Most cyclists have used bikes/parts which they no longer ride since they bought the latest carbon fiber toy.

Think of a quality bike as an extension of your body. You want it to be agile, responsive, and reliable. A reliable bike just "goes" when you give it muscle or lean into a turn. It doesn't flex, creak, skip, hop, or wobble like most cheap bikes. The shifters, derailleurs, brakes, and cranks don't give you any problems, and so you can ride and not waste time worrying/wondering about them.

A good roadbike does not have to be "expensive". An older steel or aluminum-frame racing bike w/ reliable components (Shimano 105 or old Shimano 600) won't let you down. And if you can find one, the owner will probably let it go for very cheap.

Find a good bike maintenance book and learn how to adjust the brakes and derailleurs yourself. Tighten loose spokes, clean/lube your chain, etc. It's fun, and you won't have to be at the mercy of a bike shop anymore.

A used bike will weigh more than a carbon toy, but it won't snap in half if you crash in training or racing, and can be revitalized w/ a nice set of lightweight wheels in the future. Unless your local races are up the Alpe D'Huez, you will be fine.

A great side benefit of a used bike: you don't cry everytime it gets a new scratch in the paint job :) Good luck and have fun w/ it!
 
Sep 30, 2009
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Boeing said:
"How exactly is a more expensive bike better and how will it make me faster.?"

She rides with my wife now and again and gets hammered, I point to that but she says "I know she is faster but how is the bike better"?

SO I ask you the same because I have trouble putting it into layman's terms..

respectfully it is quite a gap in industry language for me anyway...and apparently the LBS here locally can't answer it either

When people ask me this question, I ask them two questions. 1) Would you rather buy a completely brand new car that's worth $20G at full price, or a brand new car that's valued at $2G for full price? 2) What do you think the difference between those two cars would be?

Most people respond with "well if I can afford the $20,000 dollar car, then I'll get that one because it will be better made and safer".

At this point they usually realized they just answered their own question directed at you. From this point on they'll start to ask about specifics, but at least they listen to what you have to say instead of hearing that little voice in their head going "Duh, a $200 Wal-Mart bike is still a bike"
 
Jul 14, 2009
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If the bars and stem are the right size and your saddle hits on your bones correctly..the single biggest difference in the price points is the wheels. Great wheels are the single biggest difference between crap and cool. There are lots of great starter bikes that are available for around 500 dollars US. If the person is just riding there is no need to drop 500 but if you intend to evolve in racing 500 can get you through the first couple of levels. Position is important on any bike at any price.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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The key thing is to help them identify the correct price point. There are definitely valid reasons to spend more than the off the shelf junk - and there are very valid reasons to not have to go and get a new pinarello or Colnago, etc.

Growing up, people always said that the price point for a proper race bike was a good quality frame with Ultegra on it (or therefore the equivalent cost with campag on it). The arguement being that 105 wasn't efficient enough and was generally an indication that other components such as wheels were not up to the job.

These days, its a lot muddier, but I think that you are correct that a 105 equivalent bike is about right for the average rider and that Ultegra is still the level to be looking at for racing.

(Please note that in the above I say Ultegra level/I] I am NOT arguing that Shimano is the component group you must have. In fact, I run Sram these days myself)
 
Mar 11, 2009
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NashbarShorts said:
Find a good bike maintenance book and learn how to adjust the brakes and derailleurs yourself. Tighten loose spokes, clean/lube your chain, etc. It's fun, and you won't have to be at the mercy of a bike shop anymore.

Are there any you would recommend, for a non-mechanically-inclined total novice?


fatandfast said:
There are lots of great starter bikes that are available for around 500 dollars US. If the person is just riding there is no need to drop 500 but if you intend to evolve in racing 500 can get you through the first couple of levels. Position is important on any bike at any price.

And the same question here, what would be some good brands to look at for a beginner, on the lower budget end? Probably looking at a total budget of around 1000-1200 USD, including basic gear. I'm hoping to get a bike in the spring and want to go in armed with a little knowledge. Riding for fitness, as much as my heart would love to try racing down the road, I know I don't have it in me.
 
Jul 29, 2010
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elizabeth said:
Are there any you would recommend, for a non-mechanically-inclined total novice?

The book I used when I got into things was by Bicycling magazine, called "Bicycling's Complete Book of Bicycle Maintenance", I believe. Great book and tons of step-by-step photos. Don't know if that book is still around, but there is one I've seen advertised, "Zinn and the Art of Roadbike Maintenance". Looks similar to the first book mentioned.

Actually, these books might be available in your public library. No need even to buy.

(Bike maintenance actually is very easy if you take a few minutes to read. For example adjusting derailleurs is EXTREMELY common-sense once you understand how they work. I remember as a teen, myself and best friend got into racing. "Schwinn" was our bike. His would constantly drop the chain uring crucial moments in a race. He whined about Schwinn ("a piece of cr*p!") and bought an expensive bike as soon as he could. I could only chuckle, as the answer to his Schwinn's woes was simply 1-2 turns of a screwdriver.)

As for bike choice....$1000-1200 is ok at entry-level, but you could get a great bike if you want used. Really you should check out your used options on eBay. Most bike are not "used" hard. Simply ridden. A used bike may have a few paint scratches, but that's about it.

Also, find a bike shop in your area that has a large selection. Ask them if they have any prior year models in your frame size. Chances they will, and will be happy to bargain and send you off w/ a "new" bike that is a fair bit cheaper than current yr. models.

Brands? Not really a "brands" person, but Cannondale/Trek aluminum is pretty safe bet and should be plenty in circulation.
 
I used to belive the marketing hype and think it was all about the bike..but after working in the biggest bike shop in the southern hemisphere for a few years, I got to learn some truth. After racing in Europe, I got to learn more and having riden with thousands of different riders on all sorts of bike over the last decade, Im still learning...

My conclusions are as follows.

* If your gonna win, you will win on sora or dura ace. Its doesnt matter.

* Durability and feel can differ a bit between the groupsets but Ive seen both top end and bottom end shifters,,cranks etc sent back for warranty.

* A couple of kilos on your bike doesnt make that much difference. If it did, you wouldnt see crew that could drop 10kg, winning bike races easily. If it did, all TDF bikes would be exactly 6.8kg but very rarely they are. Look at the mountain stage records..pantani riding shamals has most of the records. Sure he would be a bit faster on a lighter bike, but not that much faster. Your gonna win, your gonna win..

*Bike fit is way more important. Doesnt matter how light, cheap, famous, bling etc..if it doesnt fit like it should..your losing massive watts.

*We are better off droping body fat/fluid retention and eating/sleeping/training/thinking proper than spending time on weightweenies.com :)

* Anyone thesedays living in the western world can spend 1000$ US on a brand new/second hand bike, and that bike could win any big bike race if it were being riden by a 'pro'. So why then are people dropping big bucks on bikes they dont really need? Thats a good question! :)

*2010 Tiagra is lighter, cheaper, stiffer cranks etc than old dura ace and people often forget this.

*You can sell anything to any chump if its won a race. Get a rusty malvern star/huffy and get some person to win on it and it goes from trash to retro style..

Why do I ride dura ace then? I just like the feel of the hoods. Honest. :)
 
Mar 18, 2009
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Just to add my 2 pennies worth: go to your LBS, because, as many of the posters here said, fit is hugely important. If you're riding a $5000 bike and it's the wrong size, it'll feel like cr@p. If you're on a $1000 bike and it's been professionally fitted to your own body shape, it'll react like an extension of your body.

Also: wait a month or so to buy a bike. Starting in September/October the 2011 bikes will start coming in and the stores will be having huge sales to clear out room in their inventory. If you wait a little bit, you'll find huge bargains.
 
If you answer honestly the following questions, you'll have an Idea what kind of bike meets your needs:

*Identify what kind of rider you are
*what do you want out of the bicycle you seek to buy
*how many Km/Miles you ride per season/year round?
*Do you ride for fitness, competition, or simply pleasure?
*how often you compete & what kind of races you do?
*What is the budget available for your bike?
*BIKE FITTING IS A MUST
 
durianrider said:
*You can sell anything to any chump if its won a race. Get a rusty malvern star/huffy and get some person to win on it and it goes from trash to retro style..

a few years back at the Kona24hr there were two teams (4man) that purchased a Huffy each. The idea was to see how long they'd last before breaking. They built it on the morning of the race, and then each team rode only that bike for the full 24hrs. Neither bike broke or expired...


but back to the original question... For a layperson, tell them that they can buy a crappy little Datsun 120Y or a nice porsche/merc/ferrari. Both will get you from A to B and back, but which would you rather have to drive?
 
Mar 13, 2009
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I've adopted the belief that if Rik van Steenbergen can win the 1948 Paris-Roubaix averaging over 43 km/hr (fastest time ever on the main PR course), then there is absolutely no need to upgrade provided that the bike is durable and a correct fit.

Every time I think of purchasing upgrades, I slap myself, remember Rik I, and tell myself to harden up.
 
Jul 14, 2009
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nvpacchi said:
I've adopted the belief that if Rik van Steenbergen can win the 1948 Paris-Roubaix averaging over 43 km/hr (fastest time ever on the main PR course), then there is absolutely no need to upgrade provided that the bike is durable and a correct fit.

Every time I think of purchasing upgrades, I slap myself, remember Rik I, and tell myself to harden up.
this is gospel and I will listen when my legs are smokin thinking there has got to be an easier way
 
Jul 27, 2009
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Boeing said:
Years of cycling and encouraging friends and neighbors to get into it, I get hit with this question quite a bit.

I point them toward a Rival or 105 equipped bike at a minimum but they come back with a CostCo bike or one from the LBS formerly known as SuperGo equipped with an array of components I can't identify sometimes

inevitably it ends up in my garage for a tune, true and even air..

---------------------

I got this specific question Sunday Evening when fitting my wife to her new roadie in the driveway..

Quote from our neighbor who bought a bike at CostCo for these mini Tris she is doing now here in socal...

"How exactly is a more expensive bike better and how will it make me faster.?"

She rides with my wife now and again and gets hammered, I point to that but she says "I know she is faster but how is the bike better"?

SO I ask you the same because I have trouble putting it into layman's terms..

respectfully it is quite a gap in industry language for me anyway...and apparently the LBS here locally can't answer it either

The bike won't make her signficantly faster, but a better bike will be a more comfortable, more predictable, and more reliable, particularly under race conditions where you're pushing equipment to its limits.
 
Jul 16, 2009
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NashbarShorts said:
Jux, you are in a great situation if you are now starting to ride w/ other riders/racers. Start asking around if people have an older/used bike in your frame size. Most cyclists have used bikes/parts which they no longer ride since they bought the latest carbon fiber toy.

Think of a quality bike as an extension of your body. You want it to be agile, responsive, and reliable. A reliable bike just "goes" when you give it muscle or lean into a turn. It doesn't flex, creak, skip, hop, or wobble like most cheap bikes. The shifters, derailleurs, brakes, and cranks don't give you any problems, and so you can ride and not waste time worrying/wondering about them.

A good roadbike does not have to be "expensive". An older steel or aluminum-frame racing bike w/ reliable components (Shimano 105 or old Shimano 600) won't let you down. And if you can find one, the owner will probably let it go for very cheap.

Find a good bike maintenance book and learn how to adjust the brakes and derailleurs yourself. Tighten loose spokes, clean/lube your chain, etc. It's fun, and you won't have to be at the mercy of a bike shop anymore.

A used bike will weigh more than a carbon toy, but it won't snap in half if you crash in training or racing, and can be revitalized w/ a nice set of lightweight wheels in the future. Unless your local races are up the Alpe D'Huez, you will be fine.

A great side benefit of a used bike: you don't cry everytime it gets a new scratch in the paint job :) Good luck and have fun w/ it!



I agree ...........

I have a "US POSTAL" edition TREk ...... now now, please everyone dont go off all "CLINIC" on me accusing me of all sorts of drug related doping scandals just cause of my bike choice. ;)

Where was I ?? Oh yeh .. My Trek is aluminium and all Ive done to drag it kicking and screeming into the present is upgrade the wheels to Mavic Aksium Race and the Bars to a great set of 3T ergosum's. Bottom bracket and groupset are already 105 and added Durace 12-27 rear.

Jobs done and suits me!!!

Now .. back to the clinic for some more action !!! :cool:
 
Archibald said:
a few years back at the Kona24hr there were two teams (4man) that purchased a Huffy each. The idea was to see how long they'd last before breaking. They built it on the morning of the race, and then each team rode only that bike for the full 24hrs. Neither bike broke or expired...

I bought Huffys for my kids' first bikes. They rusted within minutes.
 
Aug 16, 2009
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elizabeth said:
Are there any you would recommend, for a non-mechanically-inclined total novice?




And the same question here, what would be some good brands to look at for a beginner, on the lower budget end? Probably looking at a total budget of around 1000-1200 USD, including basic gear. I'm hoping to get a bike in the spring and want to go in armed with a little knowledge. Riding for fitness, as much as my heart would love to try racing down the road, I know I don't have it in me.

Park Tools Blue Book is nice. Cannondale or Specialized Aluminium.


Now, back to the original question, why a decent bike:
1) An LBS can fit you to where the bike will not hurt you to ride it.
2) Quality of components - any bike will ride fine out of the shop, but in 100 miles things will have to be tuned. The *****mart special will be impossible to keep adjusted and any fun to ride.