Buying advice - holy newbie alert!

lucullus Posts: 20
edited January 2008 in Road beginners
Hi All,

I'm looking for a bit of buying advice. I cycle to and from work several times a week, and it's about 8 miles each way. When I'm motivated, I also exercise round Richmond Park. I've got space for 1 bike at home, and my existing one - now about seven years old - is starting to show its age a bit.

For the journey I do, my best average speed is just over 16mph. There can be traffic on the route, but I'd say this is a fair estimate of my current level of fitness, etc.

The problem I have, is that I'm surrounded by cycle shops with lots of very sexy kit inside, but I don't really know what I'm buying. I understand the basic mechanics, and the current bike has been minorly upgraded with things like clip-in pedals, brake-lever mounted gear change, etc. Beyond that, I'm really at a bit of a loss, frankly.

To add to this, I don't properly understand how I should size the bike for me - but that's certainly something I'd expect decent advice on from the bike shop!

I'd like to spend up to about £650 to get a bike which I can commute and exercise on, and which will last me for five years if I look after it. I'd actually also like to be able to pick something made in the UK, or which has some element of UK heritage!

Apologies for the length and the newbie-ness. All advice much appreciated!


  • alfablue
    alfablue Posts: 8,497
    So as a commuter I presume you want to mount mudguards, so you need mudguard mounts and tyre clearance. Do you also need rack mounts? Will you tour on it? Do you want drop bars? Do you want speed more than comfort?

    I think even "UK heritage" will be nearly impossible unless going the custom build route, which is way over your budget, other than a UK branded far eastern machine (Dawes, Boardman).

    Initial thoughts, maybe a Dawes Audax Supreme (Spa Cycles £695), which has a comfy steel frame and includes mudguards, and has rack fittings for light touring or maybe you want a pannier for commuting. I have an older (531c) model and it is extremely comfortable. Mine has been going strong for 10 years now, and looks almost new. I have upgraded the wheels, chainset and cassette as things wore out, and changed the stem for a better fit.

    Another thought, maybe a 'cross bike, like the Specialized Tricross Sport, £699.
  • "So as a commuter I presume you want to mount mudguards, so you need mudguard mounts and tyre clearance. Do you also need rack mounts? Will you tour on it? Do you want drop bars? Do you want speed more than comfort?"

    I was on the bus back from the doctor's, thinking 'There's a few bits I could probably have mentioned'!

    So at the moment I've just got one of the mountain-bike style rear mudguards, which I'm happy with. I won't tour on it, and I can carry what I need in my bag. Got drop bars at the moment, and I'm cool with them, although I wonder about some of the other bar combinations I've seen, too.

    The roads I'm on are not too bad, generally, but with the occasional pothole, so I'd rather focus on speed than comfort.

    Based on this and other discussions, I presume I'm a million miles away from being able to afford things like a carbon frame? I'm also planning to re-use my pedals - they're a couple of years old and seem to be absolutely fine at the moment...
  • alfablue
    alfablue Posts: 8,497
    Well £999 gets you a carbon framed Focus Cayo or Planet-X, both fabulous bikes by all accounts!
  • Yes, I saw that discussion elsewhere! Both sound very nice indeed!

    I was also quite tempted by some of the ridiculous looking mark-downs in the sales, but wifey has persuaded me to be practical and do some more research first ...
  • Rich Hcp
    Rich Hcp Posts: 1,355
    You can research forever

    Decide on budget and have a look around add £200 to original budget and you'll be there!

    On your budget you can get a nice bike, but you need to decide what you want.

    I was unsure about drops, glad I've got them, straights are for MTBs!

    Giving it Large
  • meagain
    meagain Posts: 2,331
    "straights are for MTBs!"

    And for older less flexible folk with knackered elbows!
    "Cancel my subscription to the resurrection."
  • acorn_user
    acorn_user Posts: 1,137
    Your top priority should be full length mudguards, which means you'll need the mounts at the front and back of the bike. Tell your bike shop this, and they'll sort you out :)

    A lot of more expensive racing and cross bikes do not have this facility, so think carefully. Even if it is not raining, you can get soaked in gunk just riding around.
  • Deuce
    Deuce Posts: 18
    If you are buying a bike to commute on I would get the ability to take full mudguard, it stops the standing water splashing up and I am convinced they act as anti-theft devices. Carrying bags on a rack can save you from sweating under the straps and just gives you more options.

    I use a steel mountain bike with mudguards and rack for my commute.

    If I was buyiong now I would look at cross-bikes, they can be fun to ride or kitted out as required, you can also have the inline brakes on the the top of the bars giving an upright option that is the advantage of straight bars in a city.

    Have a look at the Kona Jake
  • feel
    feel Posts: 800
    this must tick a lot of the boxes, British design, mudguards, starts at £799 in campag and shimano. It's a condor fratello.
    We are born with the dead:
    See, they return, and bring us with them.
  • acorn_user
    acorn_user Posts: 1,137
    Also, there are UK frame builders who will make a nice frame for around 300 pounds. You could build a bike with that and still bring it in on budget.