Out of cycling for 25 years - advice needed

BRIDKID Posts: 51
edited September 2009 in Road buying advice
Quite a few questions here from a lapsed ex racer/tourer now into his 50's.
I sold my bikes donkeys years ago and went over to fell walking, now I have a hankering to get back into cycling, a mixture of country lanes/green roads/bridleways/rail trails. I am trying to get one bike to cope with both on and off road.

I rented a mountain bike and had a ride on the Whitby rail trail and to be honest it was hard work, granted the bike would only have cost £300 or so to buy, but the straight bars gave me aches (no options to move hand position), it was pants on any road and hauling up any hill was a nightmare. So I reckon I'd like a road bike.

Of course everything has changed since my last bike, bought in 1984 - funny shaped tubes, no toe clips, wheels with next to no spokes, and 531 frames have nearly disappeared.

Having trawled these forums, websites and bike mags I have come up with a choice of bike - a BMC CX02 cross bike. It has pannier and mudguard eyes and a decent spec. I am ok with a decent budget so a bike over £1000 is within my range.

So to the questions ;
1. What do you reckon to my choice of bike - would a light tourer/audax be more suitable? I see the Van Nicholas Amazon seems to go down well as the 'do everything' bike. Ok so its a titanium frame so may last longer, but its £500 more than the BMC.
2. The BMC front wheel only has 16 spokes - is this ok for off road? I was thinking of getting another pair of sturdier wheels for off road
days and using the supplied wheels, with lighter tyres for faster day rides.
3. Which full mudguards would fit the wider off road tyres?
4. What advantage, other than less overlap, do clipless pedals have over the old clip and strap method?
Would the Shimano A520's be a decent choice of pedal for general use?
5. Now to shoes. I want a pair than are suitable for some light walking over rough ground. Assuming I go SPD and bot clips and straps,
the Northwave Expedition GTX look ok, can anyone comment?

Any advice gratefull received.


  • As a recent returnee with only a 14 year lapse, I can offer a bit of advice.

    1. I kept my bikes, so apart from replacing tyres & chains they are ready to roll again.
    2. if you are looking at a cross bike, or mixed mode cycling, then I'd plump for dual sided SPD mtb pedals and touring shoes. (2 bolt design; not the 3 bolt SPD-SL type).
    3. I'd agree that 'cross bike is the best compromise for you if "one bike for everything" is your style. Make sure it has the following:
    - triple chainset (for any offroad riding or loaded touring)
    - decent stoppers.
    - rack & guard mounts are pretty useful
    - 2 pairs of wheels. One nice set for road use, with 23-25mm tyres. One set for trails with 32mm ish tyres. Perhaps something like a pair of Aksiums (or similar).

    Given you are not looking for "hard core" offroad riding, then I'd think you'd be find with a 'cross bike. Better than a tourer in my opinion, if you are going to be offroading.
    Commute: Langster -Singlecross - Brompton S2-LX

    Road: 95 Trek 5500 -Look 695 Aerolight eTap - Boardman TTe eTap

    Offroad: Pace RC200 - Dawes Kickback 2 tandem - Tricross - Boardman CXR9.8 - Ridley x-fire
  • Hi :)
    I'll see how many of your questions I can help with...

    1 - A cyclocross bike is a good option although a tourer would also do the trick. It's worth trying a few to see what you prefer as they'll have different geometry. Titanium frames are supposed to last forever but, as you've seen, they are a lot more expensive. The extra £500 is probably all in the frame.
    2 - It depends how much abuse you're giving the wheels and how well they're built. I wouldn't use my 16 spoke wheels off road, but the BMC wheel may be designed for it. I would probably be tempted to get a pair of sturdy wheels built and keep the lighter wheels for road use.
    3 - Mudguard choice is determined by how much clearance the frame has. SKS guards are about the best full length mudguards and come in different widths. Fit the widest ones you can.
    4 - Clipless pedals are safer as your feet will pull out rather than remaining strapped to the bike if you crash. They're also easier to get in and out of, particularly in an emergency. The A520 is a decent pedal for general use although I would probably go with a double sided pedal, like M520 or M540.
    5 - Lots of companies do good shoes with recessed cleats that you can walk in. As with most shoes, you'll really need to try some on to find out what is comfortable for you.
  • Monty Dog
    Monty Dog Posts: 20,614
    I agree in terms of a cross bike fulfilling your needs, particularly if you don't get on with a flat bar position. I wouldn't discount them if you're a nervous downhiller - many come with disc brakes which offer greater modualtion and control for a small weight penalty - more important if your planning on carrying a heavier load. A triple chainset would be better for loaded touring / steep offroad. Fitting bar-ends to a flat bar can offer and range of hand positions - but once commited, changing your mind can be expensive as fitting drop bars is pretty difficult / expensive. I'd test ride a couple to make sure you're happy with your choice. If you could afford it, keep the 16-spokers for on-road use and get another pair of wheels and tyres for off-road use. Fitting of mudguards depends on frame clearances and your choice of tyres. Again, double-sided SPD pedals would be your best bet and likewise, try some shoes on first where possible - Northwave are a good make, but make sure they fit properly.
    Make mine an Italian, with Campagnolo on the side..
  • Thanks for the replies chaps - much appreciated. I think you have all confirmed my thoughts. I may stick with a double chainring as the BMC has 50:34 rings with a 12:27 rear - a bit of training and that should get me up most hills and still have a high enough gear for the odd 'blast'. If I do get the urge for a light tour then a triple will an addition.

    Another question has cropped up - the wheels supplied on the BMC bike are Shimano RS10's which having researched would be great as my road wheels.

    What similar decent quality/priced wheels and tyres would do for off road?
    Somethingy maybe 32/36 spoked with rims to take a wide tyre. around the £150 mark or so.

    On the subject of tyres, I was looking at the Schwalbe Marathon Plus's as they review as 'iindesctructable' - nothing worse than a puncture out on the NY Moors in the biting wind ;-( - but on second thoughts they don't look to have enough grip for off road and looks a bit heavy, ore for commuting which I wonlt be doing. I'd like something grippy, with a central strip to help on the odd road stretch.