View Full Version : Road bike suggestions

12-20-2010, 07:36 AM
Hi all,

Long time bike commuter (with trusty urban assault vehicle) is seeking to venture into the world of road bikes. The wife is planning on training for and completing a century this spring or summer, and I am included in those plans, so I have some time to shop. I do not want to spend silly money, ideally $1k or less ( less is good). Suggestions? Where can I scrimp, where should I spend more, etc?

Thanks in advance,


12-20-2010, 09:08 AM
I've got a friend that is VERY happy with is Trek 1-series road bike. He got it at Revolution Cycles. They did a good job of setting him up and fitting him on the bike. The 1.2 is a little below your budget. The 1.5 is a hair over. Sales might get the 1.5 into your price range. The frame is reasonably light and responsive. I rode 3 centuries with him last year along with a bunch of really long rides. He couldn't be happier.

I know other manufacturers will have similar bike specifications to the Treks. The 1-series is just the one that I've ridden.

My best recommendation is to find a shop that you like and test ride as many as you can. That will help you find the fit and features that you like and meet your budget.

Best wishes,


12-20-2010, 09:08 AM

Personally, I prefer good used components over new, not-so-good components, so I would look to buy as much as possible used. If you have loads of time, you could probably piecemeal a decent bike on that budget through ebay, craigslist, and this forum. I'll bet there are plenty of folks on here who compulsively upgrade their bikes and also hoard all their used but still very serviceable components.

I would definitely not scrimp on the saddle or the pedals. Given that most bikes now have carbon forks (or at least fork legs) and that carbon seat posts are a dime a dozen, you could go with an aluminum frame (that'll probably reduce price in addition to reducing any worries about the condition of the frame) and still have a smooth ride.

Narrow down the frame you like best with some test-rides and go from there.

Good luck.


Tim Kelley
12-20-2010, 10:06 AM
+1 for the Trek 1 series from Revolution. I started with a 1.2 and did a couple centuries and triathlons on it. One thing I noticed was that the gears did tend to get out of tune a lot faster than if it had had nicer components. Revolution Cycles was great about a quick tune up if something got out of whack.

Other similar bikes to look at would be an aluminium frame Specialized Allex or a Felt F95.

Also, if you know what frame size you are, checking Craigslist might be a good option to get nicer components on a used bike for a similiar price.

12-21-2010, 12:26 PM
Thanks for the input. I see that pedals and the saddle are places to spend $$. How about the drivetrain? How much does one gain by getting something *above* Sora or Apex, for instance?

Tim Kelley
12-21-2010, 01:00 PM
In my limited experience, I've found that ultegra is much more durable than sora and tends to hold the tuning longer. I think it's also been noted on this forum elsewhere that the 105 series has an excellent pricepoint in terms of performance and durability.

Also, Sora bikes usually come on bike with triples on them (3 front chainrings) which is great to help with beginners needing that extra granny gear, but not necessarily great for keep everything shifting smoothly as there is a greater chance for the gears to get out of whack.

12-21-2010, 01:03 PM
Seriously, if you are going with Shimano don't go below 105. Honestly, I wouldn't go below Ultegra and after a season with Ultegra STI's and derailleurs that I had installed new, I switched them out for my old, high-mileage Dura Ace. The cassette remains Ultegra, however. Why? Because I find that level of STI and derailleur shift smoother and more reliably---not because I'm being a weight weenie. Not saying I'm not a weight weenie...nothing wrong with that... The cassette is a replacement cost issue---performance was fine.
My wife has Apex and likes them just fine. Most of the reviews I've read speak highly of them.
Based on her experience buying a new bike, I would probably opt for SRAM over Shimano in a new bike---nice product at a better price.

12-21-2010, 01:22 PM
I agree with Tim that 105 is where you really want to be. Also in my experience, a compact double crankset will cover every possible grade and hill in the area while being easier to keep in adjustment than a triple.

My experiences with low-mid range road bikes is that in that price range, given equal components, they are all pretty much even in terms of quality. My brother has a Trek 1.2 and loves it, I have a Specialized Allez and also love it. I've had it for 4 years and have put thousands of miles on it first as a weekend toy then the last couple of years as an (almost) daily commuter. I make no adjustments to it to commute or for fun, just swap out the wheelsets for the weekend and head off into the country.

If you're comfortable working on your bike yourself and know how everything works, by far the best thing to do is hop on Craigslist and wait for the right bike. Your budget applied to a used bike can land a featherweight carbon ride with Ultegra or even Dura-Ace if you look hard enough.

If you're new to biking, what sets bikes apart in this range more than any other factor is the sales, service, and support you get from the local bike shop where you make your purchase. The right shop is more important than which stickers are on the frames (that were likely built in the same factory as each other).

12-22-2010, 12:13 PM
... what sets bikes apart in this range more than any other factor is the sales, service, and support you get from the local bike shop where you make your purchase. The right shop is more important than which stickers are on the frames (that were likely built in the same factory as each other).

Ok, interesting point. How much badge engineering exists in the bike marketplace? As common on bikes as with cars?

Does anyone know what the "families" (brands made by a common manufacturer) are in the bike world?

12-22-2010, 03:47 PM
I did a century just fine with Sora components on a Giant OCR3. Never had a single problem while training or during the ride. Good components are important, but if it's about a century and some casual riding, don't think you have to bust your budget for the best.

Also, I disagree about the double - a triple is nice for someone doing their first century, and really not a problem to have. Unless this is the Seagull Century or a similar ultra-flat area, why not have a granny gear? You won't notice it if you don't use it, but you'll miss it if you want it.

Mark Blacknell
12-24-2010, 08:52 PM
Ok, interesting point. How much badge engineering exists in the bike marketplace? As common on bikes as with cars?

Far more common than you would believe. I toured a Giant factory in Taiwan in October, and saw Treks rolling off the same assembly line. For comparison, this is like going to a Ford factor and seeing Chevys being made.

The lesson to take, as Dave correctly notes, is that it's the shop that really makes a difference. I'm very comfortable recommending the Revolution folks, and you might find it worth your while to stop by Papillion (on Columbia Pike, near Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse). Papillion is decidedly lower-market than Rev, but Bailey (the owner, who works there daily) is about as good as it gets when it comes to customer service. No high-end bikes there - just good solid transportation and entry-level road stuff.

And on the triple/double thing - do whatever you like. I rode a triple for years, and was very happy with it. Only in the most extreme of situations (death march up a very steep hill at the end of a long hot century) did I feel like it ever gave me an advantage over my double-riding compatriots (yeah, Dirt, I'm talking about Skymass). I recently switched to a double (for equipment-failure reasons not worth exploring), and I can't say I regret it. If I ever find myself kitting up for a day in the Alps, I'll probably go with a compact double. Aside from that, perfectly happy with what I've got.

Joe Chapline
12-24-2010, 09:20 PM
I wanted to say something about this, too. Bike manufacturers make no secret of using important components that are made by other manufacturers, Shimano being a well-known example. I think Giant was a big frame manufacturer for some time before anyone owned a bike with the Giant name on it. I was wondering if they still produced frames for other manufacturers, so Mark's post is interesting to me. It's a little different than cars -- there's much more sharing of the same components across all brands, not just "families" like GMC and Chevy. A big part of the bike business seems to be about putting together a package of components that can be sold for a profit at a given price point, and having your offering be the most attractive to some segment of buyers at that price point.

Joe Chapline
12-25-2010, 09:43 PM
Moving this thread to "Bikes and Equipment."

12-26-2010, 11:03 AM
It really doesn't matter what make or model or even what components you have. All component groups today are much better than the stuff that came on bikes of comparable cost 20 years ago.

What matters most is fit. If it doesn't fit you'll hate the bike especially during the last 25 miles of a century. And make sure your saddle is compatible with your rear end. I'd spend $100 more on a good saddle before I'd spent it on the next higher component group.