Does anyone out there know where to get a relatively inexpensive road bike? Whether new or used it doesn't matter to me, but obviously if it's used I want it to be in good working order.
Also, I've been reading a lot lately about frame composition and was wondering if anyone had tips as to what type of bike to get? Aluminum, carbon fiber etc.
Just an FYI, I don't plan on entering races with it or anything, just riding fast and/or far for the heck of it.
to start off, stick with something like aluminum rather than dishing out the money for carbon fiber. you can find good deals on bikes on sites like craigslist or freecycle if you want to find something used. they can come in a variety of conditions, from never used to requires a tetanus shot.
but, if you want to go with something new, find a local bike shop (not a sporting goods shop, a bike shop). explain your goals to them and ask for an inexpensive recommendation to get started. there are a lot of lesser known brands that make terrific bikes without charging the same amount as the bigger companies. also, by going to a bike shop you can get properly sized, which is important if you plan on riding a lot.
I guess you live in the US so as far as where to get it etc I can't help too much? But as PrimalRob was saying just go for the alu bike, as long as your not planning on doing anything big, and since it is your first bike the weight and stiffness won't really matter. I would however spend a little on a decent gearing system, such as Shimano 105 (I wouldn't go lower than fx tiagra if you actually wan't to use it quite a lot). Since it is your first bike I would definitely go to a local store and find one, both to get the right size and setup as primalrob wrote, but also because it is great to have a local contact to help with maintenance. Also since your just going to use it for normal rides and a few grams won't matter that much I would ska the dealer to put in the plastic lines in the tires that will prevent flat tires. I have done 4 seasons without a flat tire using those, which just make the entire experience that much better. Hope that helped a little.
My cyclist friend says the components are more important than the frame itself. He mentioned Shimano 105 as decent components.
I am actually going to the closest bike shop in the area today. I'm going with the intention of just talking in depth about this to someone there, as well as getting properly fitted. Who knows, I may end up with a bike today but I'd rather not make a quick decision.
RE: Aluminum over Carbon fiber: do these materials have about the same longevity? I ask because I may consider the more expensive one (carbon fiber) if it'll last me longer and I wouldn't have to replace the bike as soon. Also, thanks for the advice about the components of the bike, I've been reading the word Shimano for a while now and will definitely look into it.
I was once told to buy more bike than you think you might need because if you get hooked on biking, you'll want to upgrade sooner rather than later. If you are riding hills, you might want to think about a triple, or at least a compact double. Yes, components are more important than frame composition, but one of my bikes has inexpensive Shimano Sora components and it's ticking along just fine. It's got nearly 8,000 miles on it and I have had no component issues. I had replaced the aluminum fork with a carbon one, and then had to replace that carbon fork with another one when it failed. My bikes are all aluminum and I ride miles and miles and miles on them. The most important thing to consider is fit because if it is uncomfortable, you won't enjoy the ride at all. Good luck! And now it's time for me to go hop on my bike and get in a ride...
I honestly don't think there is any reason for a novice or recreational rider to ride carbon. The problem with carbon is that if the frame fails it can fail in really dangerous ways (like crumpling when you hit a bump). Once a carbon frame has even a tiny little hairline crack the whole frame is junk. I'm a big proponent of steel frames. A good high quality steel frame is just as light as aluminum and will generally last longer. Make sure that whoever sizes you doesn't just look at your leg length. When I bought my first bike the guy sold me a bike that was substantially small for me because he didn't pay attention to how long my torso is.
Here is my been-there-done-that advice. If you are totally new to cycling and really have no idea if you'll like it and stick with it... Buy used and buy relatively cheap. I don't know what your budget is but lets just say its 750 or so. Find one for half that. Ride for the season and see if you like it. Then, next season, shop around for a mid-quality bike (maybe aluminum with carbon fork, etc and maybe 105 or Ultegra components) on craigslist that retails for 2k or so and try to pay half that. Thus your total cost for a good bike by season 2 is about 1500 or so - this is the top end what most decent low end road bikes would cost anyway. If you are pretty sure you'll like it skip to step 2 and just get a used mid/high end bike.
Cycling seems to be a sport a lot of well-off people decide to try and they start high-end and then turn around and sell the bike after a year or 2. There is usually a good market for mid/high end used bikes. And in my opinion, a good bike with good components is TOTALLY worth the money. If you ride it.
I made the mistake of buying new my first time out and wanted to keep it under 1k. So by the time I got pedals, shoes and a bike I was looking at 7-800$ bikes (this was 2002, btw). I ride a 47 cm bike and it weighed 23 lbs. It shifted like crap. I had no idea why people liked to ride. It seemed torturous to me. But I got into tris and stuck with it. 3 years down the road I found a great deal on ebay for a new road bike. Aluminum with carbon fork and seat stays. Full Ultegra with Dura Ace rear derailleur. Retailed for 2500. I got it for 1100. That was the best 1100 I ever spent. But I wouldn't have known about sizing and components etc if I hadn't put the time in on my crappy bike first. So, as I see it, my mistake was spending too much on a crappy bike. If I had to do it again, I'd go cheap at first. Make sure I was going to commit and then spend enough money to get myself a decent bike.
I guess that was 4 cents worth :)
So went to the bike shop the other day, but did not walk out with a bike at the time. The staff was very helpful and measured me for a road bike by actually having me stand over one.
Found out I was 54 cm so that's what I'm looking for anywhere that I can now. I would have bought one at the shop but the cheapest bike they had was about 850 or so; hopefully I'll find one online that is relatively cheap. My plan is to replace parts as I go but start off with a basic aluminum frame and as I get more into the cycling world improve on everything until I end up with a completely new bike.
Yeah I agree with lorichka6, if your budget is less that 850 I would definitely look into a used one, especially since a 54 is a somewhat common size. Otherwise look into old models you can often find a really nice 2010/2011 bike much cheaper than the newer model. I really wish I lived in the US, you get so much more bike for you money there, just spend a fortune on a new triathlon bike, and could have probably gotten it for a third of the price in the US;-)