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Where do I go from here?

akc42akc42 Posts: 43
edited September 2013 in Road buying advice
Inspired by the olympics and Bradley WIggins achievements, after trying out some cycling on a holiday last September I went and purchased myself a cycle. Wise advice was to by a hybrid, since I didn't know then what I would want it for. I went for the Specialized Crosstrail - and some other advice from a cycling fan I met on that holiday was to buy "Armadillo" tyres - which I did and was fitted to the bike.

I also had just started the 5-2 diet (limit to 800 calories a day for 2 days in 7). I weighed 102Kg. I was (a year ago) 61 years old.

I didn't do much after that, as winter set it, but this May I started going out again. Round me - wherever I go there are hills to negotiate - and in particular a climb back up to my house. For the first month, I couldn't make it up the hill without stopping 2 or 3 times to get my breath back and to take in fluid, but with the goal to do it in one go I eventually made it. My weight started coming down - I can't remember exactly, but I think in June I was about 94Kg.

I also discovered - first MapMyRide, and then Strava - and their iPhone Apps and started recording rides. And I started having the incentive to improve my times up particular hils. But it was a bit hit an miss - the GPS on my iPhone 3 was not all that good. However, at the beginning of August I discovered my Nexus 7 Android tablet fitted in my Jersey back pocket, and its GPS is almost perfect. Better yet, I discovered RideWithGps and an App called Cue Sheet, which would read out directions to me from a pre planned route.

When the Freecycle Ride London event came on 4th August - I took the opportunity to ride up to London, round the route and back again - a total distance of just under 40 miles. This was the furthest I had ever ridden in on go - and it was extremely hard work coming back (I hadn't taken any feed along the way and I think I must have bonked). Nevertheless I did climb the hill to my home in one go.

This experience encouraged me to start doing longer rides at the weekend with the Cue Sheet reading directions to some earphones pushed in my ears and held in place by the cycle helmet straps. I so far have managed two 50 mile rides (one up Leith Hill and Box Hill). I have been doing a standard "training ride" of 13 miles on alternate days during the week - which has 3 hard climbs in it. Purchase of clipless peddles and cleats just over a week ago have improved all my times (and made my legs ache as I have found new muscles).

As of this morning my weight is 84Kg - down 4kg from the same time last week.

I promised myself when I was still over 90Kg that when I reach 80Kg (it won't be next week - family commitments are preventing the long ride this weekend - and it is these long rides that seem to burn the fat) I can spent up to £2000K improving my cycle (by buying a new one). [£2K is an artificial limit if there is real quality - I am considering Chas Roberts as a possibility]

And that is where I am stuck what to do next.

What are the good and the bad of my current cycle.

GOOD

1) Tyres have taken some very tough wear - several routes around here seem to consist of gravel tracks, uphill (for example there is a cycle route across Epsom Downs over the race course). I have never had a puncture.
2) The gearing is 48/36/26 on the front chain ring and 11-32 cassette on the read. One of my favourite climbs peaks at 15% and is averaging 10%. I am struggling in bottom gear (ie 26:32) to turn the pedals whilst seated - although that is steadily improving.
3) Brakes - I happen to have discs - although I am not sure they are essential - they grip better than the tyre does to the road - but I do have long descents where I am NOT trying to go as fast as possible, but rather to control the speed. At least one regular route has a steep (12%) drop to a T junction where I must stop and wait for traffic.

BAD

1) The triple chainset is very hard to adjust so there is no rubbing somewhere.
2) The Shimano Front and Rear Derailleur fine adjustments are only at the shifter end - otherwise it is undo the cable. This has caused me a lot of diffuculty - and I would really like to up the spec as well as have adjustment nearer the actual business end.
3) At about the 40 mile mark on long rides I am getting a sharp pain at the back of my neck. I think it might be to do with the limitations of the flat bar - it is too wide and I am tensing leaning forward between my arms.
4) Flat bars are NOT cool - I really want drops. On my long rides at the weekend I am the only person not with drops.
5) Its weight is 14.7Kg

My objective with a new cycle is NOT to go for "go faster" bling. I am after highest priority first
a) An ability to extend my rides to 100 miles in a day -
b) Retain the ability to use cycle paths with these gravel/stones
c) Better quality gears (I am thinking compact 50/34 - with at least 28 - but ideally 30 or 32 lowest gear on Cassette)
d) Lighter (but not super light) to help my climbing
e) Something that will last.
f) Something that looks good - ideally distinctive and not mass market

Some things I am considering (although haven't tried any for real yet)

Trek Domane 4.3 - But don't like the look - concerned about the tyres - like the ride (at least from the marketing blurb) - like the DuoTap ready feature.
Ribble Sportive 365 - Not sure how to size - worried about wheel/tyre quality from available options - seem more racing bling than sturdy. Worried about reports on customer service
Dolan Dual Carbon (worried about wheel quality)
Dolan Titanium (expensive - still worries about wheel quality)
Chas Roberts (this is going to be VERY expensive - is it worth it?)
Take existing bike and convert to drops (major work - perhaps I should just sell it).

I would welcome suggestions/thoughts

Posts

  • mfinmfin Posts: 6,724
    First thought is keep this bike for rough journeys and bad weather/winter, and buy a new bike and hence own two. Timing can be everything on buying, as discounts are around now for the budget you have as new 2014 bikes are coming out and there are some good prices on 2013 models.

    I'd make sure what you do is go for a bike fit for a road bike, it's different to riding a hybrid, so you want to get the fit right.

    Well done by the way!!
  • chris_basschris_bass Posts: 4,913
    firstly, really well done on your progress and sticking with it :) lots of people have tried and given up so nice one!

    if i was you i'd get to a few local bike stores (LBS - sorry didnt want to assume everyone knew what LBS stood for!) and actually try a few, sizes and geometries vary massively between brands and models of bikes. If it is your first road bike it will feel very different initially. You might want to consider a more relaxed geometry if you are more into distances than speed, if you ask in store they should be able to recommend some.

    +1 on keeping the other bike for rough routes and when the ice and the snow arrive!
    www.conjunctivitis.com - a site for sore eyes
  • owenlarsowenlars Posts: 719
    Brilliant, I was similar to you about 6 years ago. There are some really good audax/sportive bikes out there and at £2k you can get a really good one. I am assuming that you are not after a high spec carbon racing bike but want something light, strong and capable of being used sensibly in good and bad weather.

    I assume you live somewhere around Dorking/Leatherhead from your post so talk to Cycles Dauphin at Box Hill, Pearson in Sutton, Roberts in Croydon who can make one for you or via Internet St Johns Cycles in Bridgewater (Audax Mk3). In London go and look at the Surly range at Brixton Cycle Cooperative (the Pacer is a brilliant steel bike) or even Condor Bikes in Clerkenwell who sell the excellent Fratello.

    These guys will all give good advice and get you a good workable bike with drops that will let you run tyres up to 28mm and fit mudguards if you wish. Have fun looking and make sure it fits.
  • alan_shermanalan_sherman Posts: 1,153
    What type of riding do you want to do with the new bike? Are you after speed on the road, or still something that will do gravel paths? Are you thinking of trying to ride some light tours, or wanting to get up hills faster?

    I suspect an audax type bike will suit you as per the suggestion above.

    Just coz I want one but won't be buying one soon - how about one of these (but with a compact or triple crank):
    http://www.fatbirds.co.uk/26082/product ... -bike.aspx
  • It really depends how wedded to the idea you are of doing gravel tracks. Don't get me wrong, road bikes, especially those with 25c can do gravel, just not as quickly or as comfortably as a bike with even wider tyres.

    The Trek Domane 4.3 is a very good bike and will do what you are looking for, including gravel running, as long as the gravel is reasonably well graded.

    However if you still look for the rough stuff then perhaps a CycloCross bike is what you need, almost like a road bike with drops etc but you can fit hefty sized tyres on it so you can cope with rough terrain.
  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    It sounds to me like you’d better off on a “cyclocross” or “gravel bike” since you’ll be able to fit mudguards, wide tyres and disc brakes (providing you get the right one).

    Disc brakes aren’t essential, but if you’ve got used to their wet weather performance than they’re probably worth considering – especially if you are riding off road or through the winter. It’s easy to wear a set of rims out using rim brakes.

    Ive always liked the look of the Genesis Croix De Fer: http://www.genesisbikes.co.uk/bikes/fra ... oix-de-fer

    Never ridden one although I do own and have ridden other Genesis bikes and they seem to get it spot on every time. Go for a custom rather than stock build though. Cheap aswell, which leave you loads of money for a decent groupset/wheels/finishing kit.
  • akc42akc42 Posts: 43
    It really depends how wedded to the idea you are of doing gravel tracks. Don't get me wrong, road bikes, especially those with 25c can do gravel, just not as quickly or as comfortably as a bike with even wider tyres.

    The Trek Domane 4.3 is a very good bike and will do what you are looking for, including gravel running, as long as the gravel is reasonably well graded.

    However if you still look for the rough stuff then perhaps a CycloCross bike is what you need, almost like a road bike with drops etc but you can fit hefty sized tyres on it so you can cope with rough terrain.

    I am pretty wedded. Not that I search out these deliberately, but so far every ride I have been on has had at least a small section of it like that. The other thing is - my wife resolutely refuses to go out on the road, but is interested (so she says) in going off-road (and not streneously - she talks about cycle paths around parks etc). I want a bike that can join her if she does take the plunge.

    I went to the LBS to look at the Domane - and I can see its not really what I want. CycloCross bike is what they suggested. I have a brief look at the Specialized Aluminium version and yes that does seem to be the right direction - although I didn't much like the colour of the particular model that they showed me. I think with my budget I can afford a carbon frame too. so I think I will investigate some of them some more.
  • akc42akc42 Posts: 43
    styxd wrote:
    Ive always liked the look of the Genesis Croix De Fer: http://www.genesisbikes.co.uk/bikes/fra ... oix-de-fer

    I do like the look of that :D
  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    Looks pretty good setup as a road bike aswell! viewtopic.php?f=40044&t=12897852&p=18065181&hilit=genesis#p18065181
  • slowbikeslowbike Posts: 8,495
    Wow. 10-15% gradients - and u like them?! R u nuts!? ;)
    I struggled up a 13%er today on 34/28 - and I would've thought I'm a bit fitter - certainy younger and did it on a carbon road bike. censored . I'm just going to have to work harder!!

    If you want drops and off- road stuff then a cx is a good option - I have the specialised tricross comp for the wet/winter commute - its excellent - not much heavier than the carbon road bike and I've got a 2nd wheel set with the 32mm cx tyres on it for when I go off road - otherwise it's a good wheel set with 23mms on it.
    It's quite a relaxed position and comfortable for long rides - not quite as fast as the road bike, but I have some PBs on it from some climbs that I've also tried on the road bike - so it's no slouch either!
  • akc42akc42 Posts: 43
    slowbike wrote:
    Wow. 10-15% gradients - and u like them?! R u nuts!? ;)
    Aren't we all?
    I struggled up a 13%er today on 34/28 - and I would've thought I'm a bit fitter - certainy younger and did it on a carbon road bike. ars*. I'm just going to have to work harder!!

    To be fair, the 13-15% parts I was refering to were are only about 20 metres long.
    If you want drops and off- road stuff then a cx is a good option - I have the specialised tricross comp for the wet/winter commute - its excellent - not much heavier than the carbon road bike and I've got a 2nd wheel set with the 32mm cx tyres on it for when I go off road - otherwise it's a good wheel set with 23mms on it.
    It's quite a relaxed position and comfortable for long rides - not quite as fast as the road bike, but I have some PBs on it from some climbs that I've also tried on the road bike - so it's no slouch either!

    I've been looking at some of these - but the downside is that on many of them the big chainrings are 46/36 - even less helpful up the really steep bits than a 50/34
  • Tom ButcherTom Butcher Posts: 7,137
    What about something like the BMC Granfondo 02 - comes with the right gearing, wider tyres and I think standard caliper brakes which I'd coose over cantis found on most cross bikes. Or you can get it with discs instead if you prefer.

    it's a hard life if you don't weaken.
  • akc42akc42 Posts: 43
    Further discussions with my son in law today, and his firm recommendation is n+1. Keep existing bike for rough stuff, and get a pure road bike - although not necessarily and out and out racing machine. (he has 3 - mountain, racing and fixed gear for communiting)

    I think this puts the Trekdomane 4.3 back in the frame - Along with Specialized Roubaix.

    I am intrieged by the look of Titanium and this http://www.dolan-bikes.com/road/road-bi ... -bike.html certainly looks to be within budget. Anyone any views on that?
  • northpolenorthpole Posts: 1,499
    I can't comment on the titanium models available - there are quite a few companies offering them (eg Enigma, van Nicholas, Condor, Planet X, etc) and I would advise a bit of research before taking the plunge (which is probably why you started this thread in the first place!).

    When you say you want to be able to take on long rides, as well as gravel paths, my first thoughts were as an earlier poster (and your in law) suggested - keep your existing bike for the gravel paths (particularly if mostly for outings with your other half) and get a sportive style road bike for the main rides. It depends on how often you will be on gravel paths - it is horrible/ perilous to try this on a road bike. The cyclocross models may be appropriate if you really want that option on every ride. Personally I do not mix the two.

    I think you are spot on with regard to gearing - definitely get a compact - you seem to be coping ok with the Surrey Hills, so no need for a triple - just bear in mind that a certain hill will feel very different to most of us after 50 and 75 and 100 miles!! Cassettes to match can be 28 for Shimano and 29 for Campagnolo. Either should be fine.

    You would really benefit from a bike fit - I think Planet X are offering a discounted bike fit if you buy a bike and they have a stonking offer on at the moment - £1,000 for a Shimano Ultegra equipped carbon frame bike. For value for money, Planet X, Ribble and Canyon are extremely hard to beat. You just need to be confident about the correct frame size and geometry before committing.

    The mainstream manufacturers offer decent bikes at significantly higher cost and generally lower specification group sets. The sportive style geometries are offered by all of them, this being the major growth area in recent years. I have a Specialised Roubaix which is specifically designed to provide more comfort over longer journeys, with a slightly more upright seating position than, for example, their Tarmac frame. This is the time of year to pick up a bargain as next year's models are being launched - discount should be available on most of the mainstream models.

    Mudguards are available for road bikes - I do recommend them once we get past summer time - not only do they keep you drier, they also prevent quite a bit of grit getting into the drive components.

    If you get a road bike without discs, one other thing to note is that if you are out in wet weather, always clean off the rims and pads when you get home - the grit which can build up can be very aggressive in increasing the wear rate of the rims - particularly in and around the Surrey Hills.

    Armadillo tyres are available for road bikes, they are very robust in avoiding p*nctures however, I'd again recommend a bit of research before opting for them due to their rather wooden qualities!

    Good luck switching across to a road bike.
  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    akc42 wrote:

    I am intrieged by the look of Titanium and this http://www.dolan-bikes.com/road/road-bi ... -bike.html certainly looks to be within budget. Anyone any views on that?


    Looks shite - budget ti frame with bottom of the range components. For your budget, I wouldnt consider Ti.
  • I am surprised nobody has suggested this yet,

    Giant Defy Advanced 1 (around 2.3K) Advance 2 (around 1.9K), same frame diff components.

    Refer to the review on this site, linked below, as far as comfort, spec and bang for buck you can't go far wrong

    http://www.bikeradar.com/road/gear/cate ... 2-13-47086
  • Congratulations on such great progress. I would put in a vote for custom build. If your £2k budget is flexible then you are not that far off having something made to measure - you mention Chas Roberts, so have already had a look at this option. An earlier post mentions some other possibilities not too far from you.

    I'd go that route because you've got a really clear set of priorities for the bike you want, including individuality, and a good frame builder will be able to respond well and give you a bike that fits perfectly. As pure speed and lightness aren't on that list, an out-and-out carbon race bike isn't perhaps the most appropriate thing. Audax is closest to your requirements, but the range of those available off-the-peg isn't as wide as it is for race or sportive bikes and although a cyclo-cross bike has several advantages (tyre clearance and possbily disc-brake compatibility, mainly) it's still a cyclo-cross bike built for an activity you have no intention of undertaking.

    I find as I get older (and I'm still a fair bit younger than you) that fit is increasingly critical to avoid aches and pains in knees, wrists, back, neck and just about everywhere else. For long rides that gets more and more important and if you are looking at 100+ then that's certainly long. I'd value minimising those things highly and a perfect fit will help a lot. You could spend massive amounts of cash, of course, on a custom build in Reynolds 953 or Columbus Xcr stainless steel tubing that is incredibly light for steel (close to titanium weight and amazingly thin - I've held a piece of Xcr downtube and the steel is about 0.3mm thick in the middle section of the butted tubes) with Dura-Ace or Record and top-flight wheels, fancy paintwork etc., but needn't. £2500 could do the trick in terms of Reynolds 853, 105 or Centaur, some reasonable wheels (again - you could go for handbuilt to reflect your needs for something that will handle some gravel paths) and fairly basic finishing kit. You can upgrade componentry later, of course, but upgrading a frame that doesn't really fit or isn't really right for your riding is a different matter.

    I wish I could afford to follow my own advice, that's all.

    PS Keep the current bike for bad weather.
  • fsmanfsman Posts: 112
    as someone else suggested. Keep your current bike for plodding around with the wife / family on a casual ride. Then treat yourself to a good carbon road bike. Personally I love my ribble gran fondo with campagnolo group set and wheels. Great value for money. And I use my hybrid bike for going out with the family.
    Giant and trek make good bikes with great reviews, also planet X too.
  • A good plan. As you won't need the outright speed of a road bike if you're going out with the family, in fact I know when riding with a friend of mine on a full sus MTB that keeping your speed down can be an issue!
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