40+ New To Road Cycling

baffled_pete Posts: 13
edited September 2012 in Road beginners
A group of us are keen to commence road cycling primarily for fitness, myself being the least fit of the group. I have done some research and seem to be steered towards sportive bikes from mags, reviews, forums etc. I am prepared to pay extra to get the edge over my fitter mates, who will be on sub £1k bikes of differing ages. The question is do I jump in and get a Trek Madone 3.5 at £1.8k or should I go for the Giant Defy 1 at £1k? Is there a notable difference between the two?

Any feedback, tips or other suggestions greatly appreciated.



  • meursault
    meursault Posts: 1,433
    There is going to be spec differences, but at a low level fitness I don't think it will matter that much.

    The price usually goes up for spec relative to how much it weighs and/or strength of it.

    Remember what Greg Lemond said "It doesn't get any easier, just faster"
    Superstition sets the whole world in flames; philosophy quenches them.

  • Spend as much as you can afford. It won't really give you an edge- but you'll have no excuses ;)
  • Its not what you ride but how you ride it 8)
    On One 456
    Cannondale CAAD 10
    Ribble 7005 Audax
  • Mikey41
    Mikey41 Posts: 690
    When you are just starting out, the bike itself won't make much difference, certainly not enough to give you an edge. However, you buy the bike that you like the best and that fits you best. The Madone is good but there's absolutely nothing wrong with the Defy 1, or even the Defy 2 (which I'm test riding tommorrow!)

    Of course a cheaper bike also means you can spend more on some goodies :)

    Once you get riding, your fitness and strength will increase quite rapidly, you'll be surprised!
    Giant Defy 2 (2012)
    Giant Defy Advanced 2 (2013)
    Giant Revel 1 Ltd (2013)
  • g00se
    g00se Posts: 2,221
    shieldsman wrote:
    Spend as much as you can afford. It won't really give you an edge- but you'll have no excuses ;)


    To put it bluntly - if you were to ride Bradley Wiggins' bike, you wouldn't win the tour. If he had ridden a £1000 bike, he still might have won. ;)

    But with the nice bike, you'll enjoy it more, you'll keep it clean and maintained, and ride it...

    And just too add, I'm nowhere near as fast as some of the guys I ride with, and can't afford some of the expensive bikes they have - but when I can afford something flash, I'll be getting one.
  • g00se
    g00se Posts: 2,221
    Also, to argue the other way: With autumn upon us, a lot of riders will be putting the flash kit away and getting the winter bikes out. If you get a cheaper bike and ride it through the colder and wetter weather, then you'll be a lot fitter come spring and can treat yourself to some upgrades (new wheels or new best bike). That, or know road riding isn't for you and you would have saved some cash.
  • In time, you will find that bikes practically don't matter, just like weight and the majority of gadgets. Fortunately for you and for the rest of us, what really does matter is knowing:

    1. How to fit the bike to your size.
    Whatever price you pay for an expert bike-fitting will be negligible, compared to the amount of work and suffering you will be saving yourself from day one.

    2. How to pedal .
    Find someone who personally teaches you exactly how to leverage the strength of your upper thighs onto your pedals, then, enjoy your amazing advantage.

    So, don't give it a second thought and buy the cheaper bike for now.

    Cheers, SB
  • Whatever you do once you have caught the bug you'll be looking at upgrades. Thus, consider getting a bike that has easy / cost effective upgradeability - my first bike had a good groupset, but a poor frame - thus expensive and limited in upgrade options. I wish I had done some research before hand.
    If I did it again, I'd be looking for a better frame, as the groupset can often be upgraded bit by bit, and at relatively low cost.
    Some people are like slinkies - not much use for anything, but they bring a smile to your face when you push them down the stairs.

  • I would buy a second hand bike because as you get more into cycling I bet you want to upgrade or change to something that you might not even be considering at present, and as others have said, winter is on the way.

    Shop around next spring for a 2012 spec deal.
  • Above a certain level the bike will make sod all difference at this point - and TBH unless you sort out your fitness it never will. I'm guessing that if your saying that they are fitter than you then either your either being pessimistic or they are a lot fitter than you.

    So, if you really want an edge on your mates then train over the winter in all weathers so that your that much ahead of them come spring. To this you'll need kit - money spent on kit rather than some marginal\debatable gain on the bike will be much better spent if you really want to improve. I suppose you could go the route of the turbo trainer but I've never used one so can't advise on that. If you ride on the road then you'll need overshoes, gloves and a heap of other clothing to keep you warm plus lights, mudguards, spares and tools. These can easily add up to hundreds and hundreds of pounds.

    I also agree with making sure your bike fits.

    I would also go with the second hand bike route - you could potentally save money that can be better spent on either kit or a second bike come next spring. However second hand will raise issues with getting a bike that fits and you may not be prepared to wait until an appropriate bike comes up for sale.

    Anyway good luck on your choices :)
    Sometimes you're the hammer, sometimes you're the nail

    strava profile
  • So now you know - you'll have to change your name to 'Knowledgable Pete' - whatever the bike enjoy it. :D
    The dissenter is every human being at those moments of his life when he resigns
    momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself.
  • CiB
    CiB Posts: 6,098
    Buy the one you want. If you don't you'll always have a pang of regret and in 6 months time you'll buy it anyway, so your nice bike will have cost 6 months + £1000 riding something you didn't really want in the first place plus the cost of the one you were going to buy. Chuck yourself at the best bike you can have and enjoy it.
  • shieldsman wrote:
    Spend as much as you can afford. It won't really give you an edge- but you'll have no excuses ;)

    Pretty much this.

    Unfortunatelyan expensive bike won't make you massively faster than a cheap one (rather like replacing your Ford Fiesta with a Ferrari with the same engine as the Ford) but you may as well have what you can afford. There's a lot of other kit you need though; make sure you leave funds for that!
  • I got a bike on the ride to work scheme, it was also last years model, saved a small fortune and got a £1000 bike for just over £500. The trouble with cycling is its very similar to golf, As you improve you look to the equipment to get you further improvments, spending a great deal when actually its the Player/Rider who still needs to improve.
    I have lost 2 stone in 3 months of cycling, I dont think I could have purchased a bike that was that much lighter than the one I own, no matter how much I paid !!!!!. Upgrades, loose wieght.
    There are still folks who ride past me on MTBs with big chunky tires, they are just stronger and fitter than me. I just want to be as fit as I can be.
  • jonomc4
    jonomc4 Posts: 891
    What people seem to forget is you will get fitter! Buy a bike above your level and get fit enough to justify it. Better that than buying a bike and then having to rebuild it with new bits continually as you feel unsatisfied.
  • Sprool
    Sprool Posts: 1,022
    I would get a cheaper bike to start with. As you grow into the sport you will realise you may need to swap out some components to optimise it for your dimensions and style. You will have enough money to do this if you get a cheaper one. In a few months you will know better what you want, and be able to afford it.
  • ive just bought a boardman hybrid for winter training . was shocked to find that im not much slower on it than on my trek 4.5 . despite wider tyres and flat pedals . my advice get a boardman team for £700 .
  • Wow, great feedback and greatly appreciated. Will digest and come to a decision, won't be easy.
  • Mikey23
    Mikey23 Posts: 5,306
    I started with an entry level defy 4. Very satisfied with it and didn't want to pay heaps on what might be a nine day wonder. Now I'm upping my skill levels, I might get myself a shiny monster if I continue to make progress over the winter. Have a much clearer idea of what I need now so will not be wasting my pennies
  • meursault
    meursault Posts: 1,433
    ive just bought a boardman hybrid for winter training . was shocked to find that im not much slower on it than on my trek 4.5 . despite wider tyres and flat pedals . my advice get a boardman team for £700 .

    I have Boardman Team, bought of a bloke at work. Pretty pleased for £300. I needed to replace a few bits, chain, cassette and front rings due to wear, but still good value.

    Bike got superb reviews too. Will do me for a while, while saving for a new one, as the rules say, the correct number of bikes to own is n+1 :)
    Superstition sets the whole world in flames; philosophy quenches them.

  • I got an entry level bike as like you +40 (43), I did not want to pay loads and find I did not like it. But its only been a month and I'm hooked, my wife is shocked by the amount I spend on kit and stuff more than the bike is worth. Next year I'll upgrade the bike (good job she's not on this forum).
    Don't call me sir I work for a living
  • mattshrops
    mattshrops Posts: 1,134
    If you buy an entry level bike, fit it with mudguards for the winter. Come spring if you're hooked no need to upgrade components, put it back in the shed for next winter and squander some cash on something a bit flash.Result.
    Death or Glory- Just another Story
  • andyeb
    andyeb Posts: 407
    As someone who bought an entry level Sportive bike (Jamis Ventura Comp) this time last year, I'd strongly recommend buying above entry level (i.e. £600 mark). Although I do enjoy riding my bike and I've done 3500 miles on it in the first year, I do find the ride very harsh. There are a few things I can do to tweak it a bit, but ultimately it's a cheap aluminium frame running on cheapish wheels, both of which need major upgrades to really get to the bottom of the problem (no pun intended). I would probably be looking in the £1-1.2K range next time.

    On the bright side, I went on a ride with a bunch of guys on £5+K bikes and was able to stay with them, even on the big hills. So performance wise, it can't make *that* much difference.
  • Drumlin
    Drumlin Posts: 120
    mattshrops wrote:
    If you buy an entry level bike, fit it with mudguards for the winter. Come spring if you're hooked no need to upgrade components, put it back in the shed for next winter and squander some cash on something a bit flash.Result.

    Yep, that would be my approach too.
    Would welcome company for Sat rides west/south of Edinburgh, up to 3 hrs, 16mph ish. Please PM me if interested/able to help.
  • top_bhoy
    top_bhoy Posts: 1,424
    Without getting too nostalgic, my first bike (when I was younger) I bought 2nd hand for 50 quid and just cycled it. After a month or so, I stuck some panniers on it, bought a tent and decided to cycle around France on my way to my brothers wedding in Southern France. After that experience my fitness was markedly better and when I eventually got another bike, I appreciated the differences and had built up a little knowledge.

    My suggestion on starting out, buy a reasonably priced 2nd hand bike and just cycle for a while and enjoy it. After that, if you still enjoy it, buy a bike which will be more to your ability/fitness/cycling purpose and you can spend as much or as little as you wish; based on a degree of personal experience and not on what you are told.

    Reading some of the forum views, it seems to me that too many people starting out are all to ready to jump in for 1000+ quid bikes without really knowing what they want. I guess if money is no object then it doesn't really matter.
  • Two schools of thought

    1) Buy what makes you happy. If you can afford a £2000 bike as your first bike then that's what you're allowed to spend. No-one has a right to tell you how you should or shouldn't spend your money.

    2) Be pragmatic. Buy a cheaper first bike (£6-900, as at this stage the quality of bikes between about £600 and 2.5K is comparable enough to give no real advantage either way - fitness being the fundamental difference in how long it takes you to get from A-B, not whether you have Sora or Ultegra. Then spend £3-400 on some really good quality kit for both summer and winter - bib shorts, full length bottoms, base layer, long sleeve/short sleeve jersey, helmet, jacket, shoes, gloves, cap etc. Then spend £200 on new tyres, lights, a good track pump, water bottles and carriers, basic tools and saddlebag. You'll need all that stuff anyway so best to do it right at the beginning.

    Up to you. Either way is a thumbs up from me.
  • If you haven't ridden much before it is possible that you won't like it that much and also you may buy the wrong size of frame, or wrong style of bike for your preferred usage.

    If you buy a cheaper first bike then at least that minimises the risk of wasting money. If you decide that eventually you would lie something posher then you can always relegate your old bike to a winter bike.

    To those ends I woud recommend buying something that has enough clearance for mudguards (ideally proper ones like SKS chromoplastic) to be fitted.

    Giant sell their own, slightly crappy guards to fit the Defy, although it sounds like Crudracers might be better.

    As you can already tell from what I have written above, I'd buy the cheaper (still good) bike and (once you've established youlike cycling) spend the difference on a winter jacket, tights, guards, track pump, saddle pack, overshoes etc.