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What Road Bike?

CanterburyTailwindCanterburyTailwind Posts: 162
edited March 2015 in Road buying advice
One of the most common questions on the Forum - and in Road Beginners in particular - is 'what bike should I get for £x?'

I've been looking through the Forum and have prepared a starting point list below. It's not totally comprehensive, but you get some idea of where to start for those new to the sport. Feel free to chip in! (dons hard hat)

General Advice
When looking around at bikes here's a list of some things to consider. I've given this elsewhere on the forum, but I think it bears repeating: I wish I'd had a similar list when I was looking!

- Frame: quality (of material and paint job) and riding position: do you want to be more relaxed (upright) or more 'sporty' (nose to the handlebars). For the material, aluminium is probably the most common now: it's light and relatively robust. Carbon is lighter, but pricey. Some people still swear by steel, and say there's not much difference in weight with aluminium, but gives a more 'forgiving' ride.
- Quality of the components, esp groupsets (have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupset for a 'hierarchy of quality' for Shimano and Campag). Also gearing: is the range suitable for the rides you have in mind? For your chainset (the chain rings at the front of the bike), do you want a double (with no small (low) gear), triple (with a granny gear for those tough hills)or compact (a compromise of both of these)?)
- Weight of the bike: easy to get hung up on, but worth bear it in mind.
- if commuting or winter training, does it have the braze ons (fittings) for mudguards and rack?
- Try them out! A bike can have the best spec in the world but still 'feel wrong' to you. Go and try as many as you can at local bike shops.

Recommendations

For people wanting advice about bikes to buy, there seem to be three main price points: around £300, around £500 and around £1000. There’s thousands of bikes out there, and hundreds of makers, and you can usually find someone on the Forum who would swear by their bike. If your favourite isn’t on the list below, make a case for it in the thread that follows! But I think these are the ones that get recommended most regularly.

£300
with a three hundred pound budget , you’re looking at the lowest end of the market, and it might be worth looking at a second hand bike which will give you more for your money. However, you could consider these, which get generally positive reviews on the Forum:

o Decathlon B Twin Sports (£230): Some Forum users have started on these - 'it's done all I'm wanting - 5 mile commute, 100 km club run & even did my first TT on it last night.’; others have upgraded the components, though I’m not sure it’s worth doing so on this frame.
o Giant SCR4 (£350): see the comments below

£500
At around £500 you start to get well specced bikes with good frames that they often share with their more expensive siblings. At this price point it tends to be either a Giant SCR or Specialized Allez that most people go for. Both are good, decent entry-level bikes that can be upgraded as you get into the sport.

o Giant SCR 3 (£450) or 2 (£545) – a good jumping off point for anyone getting into road biking. Relaxed geometry – so good for those who are nervous of drop handlebars, or want something that they can use on day long sportives. Can also take mudguard and racks. Giant are the biggest cycle manufacturer in the world, so they can get economies of scale, and a decently specced bike for the price.
Edit: the SCR range has been superceded this year by the Defy range. It's too early to know how they compare with both the old SCRs, and with competitors such as the Allez. If anyone has one of the new Defys (Defies?), post a review on the thread...
o Specialized Allez (£549 upwards): similar to the Giant, though perhaps slightly less well specced for the money, and perhaps a slightly more aggressive geometry.
o Boardman Road Comp (£600) – the new kid on the block, but has gained respectable reviews (C+’s budget bike of the year 2007). Often let down by the fact that it is only being sold through Halfords, and people have reported bad experiences with the set up and support of the shops.
o Ribble 7005 Winter Trainer/Audax (£499): used by many as a good, solid winter hack, as it’s (relatively) cheap, and can take mudguards. Also, with Ribble you can specify what spec you want, and have campag etc if that’s what you’re after.
o Trek 1 series (£470 upwards): Trek was Lance Armstrong’s bike manufacturer, and this has affected the way many see the brand: it’s a love/hate thing. For a while refused to go with the ‘compact frame’ development, but now making moves towards it with a ‘semi-compact’ geometry. Quite a few Forum users rate them, and BikeRadar gave the 1.5 4.5/5 stars, and thought it ‘fantastic value for money’

£1000
At this price, you should be looking at a carbon frame (light and strong), probably with a 10sp cassette on the back. The bikes most often recommended on the Forum are the Focus or Planet X.

o Focus Cayo (£999): has garnered very good reviews (C+ bike of the year 2007; best bike under £1k in Cycling Weekly: ‘It's very hard not to recommend the Cayo. It's a good ride, has a near perfect choice of components and thanks to the quality of the frame it's worthy of upgrade at a later date. Despite the specification, this is not actually an £1800 bike. Frankly we have never seen such a well appointed bike at such a low price.’). German-made (‘nuff said??), and sold solely through Wiggle – so the downside is that you can’t try it out in the shop first. But then, that’s true of both Planet X and Ribble as well… Road Cycling gave it 10/10 and said: ‘Remove the price tag and you'd be convinced you're looking at a bike with a price far nearer that of £2000. After a fair amount of riding the Cayo, we've struggled to find anything really wrong with. Don't let the price tag convince you this is a bike aimed at beginners, while it's perfect for those new to road riding, those with a few more miles under their bums should take a serious look at the Cayo.’
o Planet X SL Pro Carbon (£942): a lot of bike for the money, and highly rated by many on the forum.
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Posts

  • meagainmeagain Posts: 2,774
    Just a thought, partly inspired by the rain pouring down on this JULY morning!

    M'grds are surely not synonomous with winter bikes and thus automatically to think carbon (great majority of which do NOT take 'grds) at the top end of the price range is rather assuming that either a fair weather only rider or more than one bike?

    I shall ignore my usual hobby-horse of the apparent confusion between road and racing bikes!
    d.j.
    "Cancel my subscription to the resurrection."
  • HornettoHornetto Posts: 141
    Having just bought my first road bike, I thought I'd share a useful tip which helped me - look at previous years' models for similar specced bikes to the current bikes, often for a big discount.

    I got a 2007 Specialized Allez Sport for £499, £200 less than the 2008 Sport model with very similar spec, and not far off the price of the Specialized Allez 2008 'standard' model. Only real difference seems to be the paint job!

    Could be a cheaper way to get a higher spec bike.
    Never argue with an idiot - they drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience
  • daz51daz51 Posts: 159
    Talking of Road bikes in a fashion.

    If your after a cheap fixie Giant are selling off the 2008 Bowery for £270. Worth a look if it suits your needs.

    ALSO:- I imagine i am speaking from all of us, a Big Thankyou to Canterburytailwind for taking the time to compile the above list !!!!!!!!
  • huggyhuggy Posts: 242
    I think the Planetx should be 'bigged' up - it has very good spec (Dura Ace?), some would say better than the Focus overall.
  • Thanks Daz! Yes, Huggy, there should be more about it, but although I found alot of people recommending it and saying 'you get alot for your money', I couldn't find many other comments. Do you have one? What are your thoughts?
  • mrkwrmrkwr Posts: 11
    Hmm, I've been thinking for some months of buying my first new bike for 30 years and finding the choice overwhelming. I'm looking around the £1000+ mark, and gotta say that the OP's advice seems contradictory here - one the one hand, advising trying out the bikes you're interested in, and on the other hand, suggesting just two bikes which are online-only, hence impossible to try out.

    Getting test rides isn't easy in my experience, either - the shops never seem to have the right size or the right model available (and don't seem able or willing to get them in), so try to get you to test a too big/too small bike, and/or try to get you to try a more expensive model in the range. Here I am with the money burning a hole in my pocket and none of the local bike shops seem willing or able to arrange test rides of the exact model/size I want. Perhaps I'm being too fussy?
  • meagainmeagain Posts: 2,774
    "...test rides of the exact model/size I want. Perhaps I'm being too fussy?"

    I've haven't bought new for c.7 years (when I realised better to let someone else take the instant 33-40% depreciation hit!), so this is a bit theoretical! For major brands, lots of models come in different prices according to spec - so say if you fancied a Giant SCR might well find it easier to find a 400 quid version than a 1000 quid one. The size and fit will be the same - the components simply better or worse according to price. If you are after a mail-order only model, identify a major brand competitor with same or very close dimensions/geometry and then test one of those (as above!).

    While I am not one to sympatise with LBSs (basically I won't set foot in the places unless I'm in need of a laugh listening to the dim leading the even dimmer), can't really expect them to obtain a 1000 quid bike which they may or may not sell. Especially if an extreme size they are likely to be left with an unsold demo at season end!
    d.j.
    "Cancel my subscription to the resurrection."
  • mrkwrmrkwr Posts: 11
    While I am not one to sympatise with LBSs (basically I won't set foot in the places unless I'm in need of a laugh listening to the dim leading the even dimmer), can't really expect them to obtain a 1000 quid bike which they may or may not sell. Especially if an extreme size they are likely to be left with an unsold demo at season end!

    Translation, yes, I'm being too fussy/unrealistic!

    Here's a specific story. I shortlisted the Roubaix Elite @ £1099. The local Spec "Concept Store" only too happy to encourage me to test ride the Pro model (@ £2500!) even though I told them my budget was not flexible. The Pro was jolly nice (though the Dura Ace gears weren't adjusted properly and didn't change efficiently on the front) but when I got back and said I go for the Elite they told me they couldn't get the Elite in my size, Spec had sold all yonks ago, but what about a higher-specced model? Result: wasted half my afternoon, and seems pretty close to the (v. dubious) practice of "bait and switch" if you ask me.
  • meagainmeagain Posts: 2,774
    Sorry, but I don't understand....you know the bike and presumably the size? Now just buy on-line, surely? Or for 400 quid off there's two on ebay at moment (and two show in Completed Listings so can't be that rare).
    d.j.
    "Cancel my subscription to the resurrection."
  • Hi Mrkwr

    Sorry about my confusing guidance above! Yes, you're right, not all shops allow you to test ride their bikes, so you can get a very patchy idea of what you like and don't like. Another possibility would be to try friends or talk to people in a cycle club who could give you advice and (I hope!) let you have a bit of a ride.
    As to your experience of the Spesh Concept Store, I'm with Meagain on that one: you know you like the 'feel' of the Roubaix, so as the shop is being unhelpful on this, what about shopping around?
    Finally, to get back to the original point, most of the recommendations I listed were given after browsing the forum and getting a sense of what was recommended most often at certain price points. I've not had experience of the Cayo or Planet X, but so many people seem to rate them that they seemed to be the clear favourites at the £1k mark. Wiggle have a reasonable return policy if you're not happy, and I imagine Planet X do as well - though I'd need to check.
  • huggy wrote:
    I think the Planetx should be 'bigged' up - it has very good spec (Dura Ace?), some would say better than the Focus overall.

    I don't think you can actually get the Planetx with Dura Ace components under the 1000GBP mark, I would definitely be interested in getting it as it seems I cannot get a Cayo for my size.
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    di_andrei wrote:
    huggy wrote:
    I think the Planetx should be 'bigged' up - it has very good spec (Dura Ace?), some would say better than the Focus overall.

    I don't think you can actually get the Planetx with Dura Ace components under the 1000GBP mark, I would definitely be interested in getting it as it seems I cannot get a Cayo for my size.
    I think the £1000 P-X is Ultegra - still fine value, as well as the Cayo, Ribble do a similar carbon/ultegra bike for £999, I think it was a winner in a C+ test.
  • peanutpeanut Posts: 1,373
    excellent post Canterbury. well researched and useful assessments too.
    Shame that some noobs are still not reading it.

    I think they want someone else to make the decision lol :lol:
    Maybe we should just propose one bike in each category :roll:

    I guess its a lot of money to spend all at once on an unknown item. Its reassurance most want that they are not buying a turkey.................... gobble gobble :wink:
  • blorgblorg Posts: 1,169
    meagain wrote:
    Just a thought, partly inspired by the rain pouring down on this JULY morning!

    M'grds are surely not synonomous with winter bikes and thus automatically to think carbon (great majority of which do NOT take 'grds) at the top end of the price range is rather assuming that either a fair weather only rider or more than one bike?

    I shall ignore my usual hobby-horse of the apparent confusion between road and racing bikes!
    I have Race Blades (SKS) and they work really well on my Focus Cayo. They fit great, keep the water off me, and are easily removable. I know they may not fit so good on other bikes, I know other people who have found them fiddly on their bikes and indeed they don't fit well on my Van Nicholas Amazon (that has fittings for standard full length guards though, so I'll be getting SKS Chromoplastics for that.)
  • Hi Peanut

    Thanks for your comments. Yes, I think everyone needs reassurance that they're not buying a turkey! Also, people post messages asking about bikes which they've seen which aren't on the list. So the suggestions above aren't necessarily going to be the final word for everyone, but I hope it give people a good place to start. I like the idea of having just one suggestion for each price, but that would open a real can of worms, as choice of bike also involves a certain amount of personal preference...

    Cheers
  • peanutpeanut Posts: 1,373

    I like the idea of having just one suggestion for each price, but that would open a real can of worms, as choice of bike also involves a certain amount of personal preference...

    Cheers

    I was'nt being serious ,just toungue-in-cheek hence the smiley :wink:
    good article anyway well done
  • I was'nt being serious ,just toungue-in-cheek hence the smiley

    Ahh...I am sometimes a bit slow...I thought the rolling eyes were you seriously pondering the possibility... !
  • spend a grand and it will be good , no matter what make ect . only you can make yourself go faster ,
  • Enty1Enty1 Posts: 2
    Good info thanks, but as a matter of interest how do the two recommended bikes compare to the Bianci 1885 Hydracarbon-Veloce. Im just about to purchase my first bike !
  • Hi Enty

    Good luck with your decisions! Have a look at these two threads:
    http://www.bikeradar.com/beginners/foru ... ianci+1885
    http://www.bikeradar.com/beginners/foru ... ianci+1885

    It doesn't look like there's anything wrong with the 1885, and Bikeradar seemed to rate it highly ( http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/category/ ... 5-07-12417 ), but it's just that more people seem to say the Focus and P-X are better value. But that could just be because there are more Focus and P-Xs owners on the Forum...
  • I am one of those £1000ers - and have (and will be until I raise the cash!) been riding a Claude Butler Roubaix.

    I have been looking between the three bikes mentioned in this thread, the Cayo, the P-X, and the Ribble, but I have also been looking at the Revolution Shadow, made by the Edinburgh bike co-op.

    See http://www.edinburghbicycle.com/ebwPNLq ... 155c002912

    It has got full Ultegra SL components, and weighs in at 8kg. Also has a very good review on BikeRadar - http://www.bikeradar.com/mtb/gear/categ ... d-08-31982

    What I want to know is, given the Revo's comparable weight to the the Cayo, what would be the advantage of getting a carbon frame over an alu/scandium alloy?
    Has anyone got an experience of riding the Revo AND any of the other three bikes mentioned?
  • Just out of interest Tailwind, what bike do you use yourself and which LBS do you use?
    I like Activ in Folkestone but...

    Can we fix it?
    Yes we can!
  • Hi,

    Firstly, thanks for the advice - just what I was looking for, but that has left me with a couple more questions!

    Is there a particularly good time to buy a road bike? i.e Am I right in thinking that most bike shops will have a sale on around now? Is it a good time to pick up a 2008 bike and what sort of discount can you expect?

    Also, is this a good time to start riding? With the winter coming and there being a lot of rain about I'm worried, as a beginner, about not being able to get out. What sort of accessories for the bike, if any, should I be looking to pick up to make the most of the next six months?

    Thanks for your help,
    George
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    Yes, this is probably the best time of the year for getting an '08 bike, wait much longer and the remaining ones will be at the less popular sizes. You may be lucky and get 20% off, plus the 09 models are looking like they are priced higher than 08 ones were originally.

    Now is as good a time as any, lets face it, summer was a washout, if you wait for fine weather you may have a very long wait. Riding in rain is not so bad really, and when it gets really cold, proper kit (fleecy bib tights, windproof/waterproof gloves, jacket etc) makes it all do-able, in fact it is just as much fun IMHO.

    Accessories - bottles and bottle cages, helmet (if you believe in them), mits (for summer) gloves (for winter), clipless pedals and shoes (SPD's for beginners?), multitool, tyre levers, spare tube, puncture kit, pump for on the bike, track pump for at home, small seat pack to take spare tube etc, chain lube (Progold Prolink), padded shorts or tights (bib tights will be good for the winter), jerseys, jacket, lights (smart superflash 1/2 watt for the rear, Fenix L2D CE Q5 with Twofish Lockblock mount for front).

    Very good lock (Abus Granit X 54 Plus or Kryptonite New York 3000D) if you plan to leave the bike anywhere when you are out.

    (Recommendations are just what I use, others will differ).
  • Good recommendations Alfa, and agree with you on the weather. In fact, in some ways there's a perverse pleasure in riding through the storms (especially if the wind's blowing behind you!), and arriving soaking but feeling more alive than you've ever felt! At least that's how I felt on Friday, coming off the Downs, the raindrops like bullets, and the wind blowing me to stupid speeds...

    And Martin, thanks for the post - I've not tried Activ in Folkestone. I usually go to Downland in Canterbury, which I can't recommend enough: always friendly, knowledgable and willing to help - and you may even get a cup of tea or coffee as well. Unfortunately my tight budget meant I had to buy the bike elsewhere (although I was very tempted by a Racelight there...) - I got it mail order from Tredz, who had it set up well, and there were no problems with it arriving. They did me a deal on a Giant SCR2 - £440 at the time. But upgrades of this (Aksium wheels, new bottom bracket and various other tweaks) have been through Downland.
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    Agree, there is definitely a fantastic feel-good factor riding in all weathers, and the shower and meal afterwards are even more enjoyable.
  • Thanks for your advice!

    I think I'm going to have a test-ride on a Giant SCR 3.0. I've found the 2008 mode from De Ver Cycles for for £370 which seems like good value?

    I would like the higher spec SCR 2.0 for £436 that would leave me with very little for accessories. Is there a huge diference between the 3.0 and 2.0?

    I've rowed for the past three years at uni so should be used to some pretty horrendous weather, so not sure what I'v worried about! Fortunately that's left me with a got array of warm kit! Looking forward to getting out there and riding!
  • I think the biggest difference is the Sora shifters on the SCR3, as opposed to Tiagra on the SCR2. With the SCR2 you change up and down by tapping the brake lever (or a smaller lever inside the brake lever) sideways; with the SCR3 there's a small tab on the side of the hoods to change down. When I tried riding my friend's SCR3 I found this annoying, and difficult to reach when you were on the drops, but others don't seem to have a problem with it. That was really what made me decide on the 2.
  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    Sora is fine if you are tied to that budget, but the thumb lever is quite stiff to operate. If that's all you have used then maybe its fine, but having used shifters higher up the range I find it a bit clunky and unsatisfactory. I would always go Tiagra if funds allow (swapping to Tiagra later, after you have bought it will cost upwards of £90 just for the shifters then maybe add bar tape and labour if you don't do it yourself, so the price differential between the 2 bikes is easily worth it). Either bike is brilliant value for money at those prices, but Tiagra equipped bikes are generally around the £600+ mark, most at £500 are Sora, so whichever you get you are doing well.

    Maybe splash on the bike this month, accessorise next month! 8)
  • BBLBBL Posts: 21
    I think the biggest difference is the Sora shifters on the SCR3, as opposed to Tiagra on the SCR2. With the SCR2 you change up and down by tapping the brake lever (or a smaller lever inside the brake lever) sideways; with the SCR3 there's a small tab on the side of the hoods to change down. When I tried riding my friend's SCR3 I found this annoying, and difficult to reach when you were on the drops, but others don't seem to have a problem with it. That was really what made me decide on the 2.

    Thanks for the guide - very useful.

    It looks like the SCR is being replaced by Giant with the Defy for 2009 - has anyone got their hands on one of these yet? Would the Defy still make the recommended list and does it also take mudguards?
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