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Help wanted in choosing beginner bike please

markmaxmarkmax Posts: 25
edited April 2009 in Road buying advice
Hi there - first posting, second bike.... currently own a Giant Boulder for family treks but would like to take up road biking for fitness and a view to racing so this would be a very early beginner's bike that I am looking for but with the following in mind:-

Being a woman, would like to go for some comfort if possible;
Prefer the drop handle bars;
Have heard that I should go for carbon forks for easier riding;
Have a limited budget of £250 to £500 but would prefer to spend no more than £400 so I can buy any additional gear needed

I bought a Giant Boulder because of the good reviews (in that they generally manufacture good bikes) and I have heard of their OCRs - which are quite old now - am I right? I thought they now have TCRs and DEFYs, the latter being more of a comfortable road bike.

Can anyone give any thoughts on the DEFY range?
Can anyone also give their opinion on what other entry level road bike I could look to buy?

By the way, if it helps, I'm 5'5", small frame, weighing 8 stones. Does any of this matter?!

Thank you for your opinions. I've tried looking myself (nearly bought the Raleigh Airlite 100 - but held back after doing some research, which only led me to think there is so much out there, I'm bound to make the wrong decision without a little advice - which then in turn, led me here so thanks for anyone's advice).


  • guillianoguilliano Posts: 5,495
    Giant also do a womens version of the Defy, called the Avail. They have a shorter top tube and stem so are more suited to a "typical" woman's build. Unfortunately they start at £575 so a little above your budget, but most stores will do interest free credit for an amount of over £250 so you could spread part of the cost, or see if your employers will do the cycle to work scheme..... huge savings to be had there
  • markmaxmarkmax Posts: 25
    Thanks for that information. I was just looking at the Avail. It seems to have replaced the OCR W. I suppose they are that new that they won't be on the second hand market yet either.

    I am assuming the Avail is more comfortable than the Defy, purely because it's frame is more suited to a woman's physique?

    With the recession going on, there is bound to be a bargain to be had. I suppose I could always fork out the £500 and forget the gear for a while, with it Summer coming up.
  • guillianoguilliano Posts: 5,495
    I'd try both. Some women have a longer body than others and therefore suit a man's bike better. Also have a look for a second hand SCR W (the Defy/Avail replaced these). The OCR was more racy, the old equivalent of the TCR. Also worth looking (if you don't mind 2nd hand) for things like a Trek 1.5/7 or Spesh Allez
  • AnonymousAnonymous Posts: 79,667
    The best thing to do is take a couple of days trying the bikes out at your LBS...

    You may actually find a bike you never considered to be the best for you.
  • markmaxmarkmax Posts: 25
    I'm kind of stuck on Giant bikes because they have very good reviews, I own one already and also, I'm a sucker if I go into a shop. I get so excited that I end up buying whatever they want to sell me in the end because I must go out with a bike there and then! :oops: Also, I'm a 29 inch leg so, I may be better off trying both types of Giant bikes.

    I was just looking at the back catalogues and noticed the SCRs for 2008. I think the OCRs are too racey for me.

    I used to do cross country running for Somerset but it's so bad on the knees and I've enjoyed cycling on a leisurely basis with a Raleigh Pioneer Classic ( :oops: I'm so enjoying my Giant Boulder after that, I can tell you!!), cycling 30 to 50 miles a day but miss the competitive edge that I got with the running.

    So although I want a road bike, I still want one for comfort but that will also see me through races - would love to get into that but I appreciate I am just a beginner so the advice is all useful.

    If there are any other specific bikes to try out, whatever make, that you think would suit, I am all ears.

    Also, whilst I like computers, anyone recommend a good magazine I could sit down and read, bearing in mind what I wish to achieve in cycling? Some seem too professional to be of any use to me.
  • guillianoguilliano Posts: 5,495
    Bicycle buyer, cycling weekly, cycling plus..... all good sources of info. As Napoleon suggests, the LBS is a good place to go, but also worth contacting a local club. Have a look at the reviews of road bikes on this site too..... they have reviewed the Giant Defy 4 (£475) so they certainly aren't only interested in elite bikes
  • markmaxmarkmax Posts: 25
    Guilliano - have looked at the reviews. None for the 2009 Giant bikes I am interested in at the moment, but the Defy 4, I looked under "bikes and gear" and then this bike, but it says there are no reviews for this one. Am I looking int he right place? It's under the tab "bikes and gear". Tried other webistes for reviews but all they say is "be the first to write a review...."

    I don't think my LBS would stock women's Giant bikes. I would probably get to look at the Defys and so forth but these would not be gender specific. I can always ring and try to find out if they stock them first, before going there and being swayed by the offer of a nice bike begging me to ride it.....

    Thanks for the guidance on the magazines.
  • markmaxmarkmax Posts: 25
    Guilliano - so you got yourself a Defy now then? What's it like? Looks a lot nicer than the first bike you started out on :lol:
  • guillianoguilliano Posts: 5,495
    Yeah.... I decided to come over to the dark side after a few years on a MTB. I have to say I love the defy bikes. I had a SCR briefly, but it didn't get used as much as it deserved. Decided to go for a Defy Advanced this time and I love it. The geometry suits me perfectly (long legs, shortish body) and it just sits there begging me to ride it..... and when I do it begs to be ridden harder and faster. I've ridden an alloy Defy and they are superb feeling bikes which I can't recommend highly enough..... plus they use the same frame all the way through the range so it's worth upgrading as parts wear out. See if you can test ride a Defy 4...... if you have a decent LBS they might swap the stem to a shorter one to suit if needed
  • markos1963markos1963 Posts: 3,724
    This months Cycling+ has a group test of lower cost road bikes which gives a good comparison of sub £400 bikes. For women they recommend the Revolution(Edinburgh Bike Co Op) Cadenza. It looks good value for the money.
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