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Road bike buying advice for newbie

Hi all, new to the forum and road biking (as the title suggests) and looking for some advice.

I am getting into road biking and am on the prowl for my first bike, and I am completely stumped after a month or two of research. I’ve been to plenty of shops and picked up some really good information but I’m no closer to a decision as the choice and range of price Is so vast.

A little about me - have ridden bikes since I was a boy but as an adult only ever a mountain bike (never had a road bike) and the MB I currently use is 15 years old (it is fine but I feel I need to branch out now). Ultimately I am getting into more cycling due to a change in my exercise focus due to an injury (fine now but need to balance it away from just football and running and go lower impact) and I also very much enjoy cycling. 6ft 2 with quite long legs and arms (if that helps at all for sizing estimates).

Budget - up to £1k. I know this is a tiny budget but it is what it is and being my first road bike I feel I want to make baby steps up rather than go all out, if that makes sense.

What have I considered so far?

Decathlon triban series - https://www.decathlon.co.uk/browse/c0-sports/c1-road-cycling/c3-road-cycling-bikes/product-gender-men-s/_/N-2xa369Z8wdlsbZcp3kqy RC500 or RC520

Specialised allez - https://www.primera-sports.com/product/specialized-2021-allez/

Merida scultura- https://www.primera-sports.com/product/merida-scultura-200-disc/

Cube attain - https://www.hargrovescycles.co.uk/bikes/road-bikes/2022-cube-attain-pro-disc-road-race-bike-in-blue__44768

GT GTR sport - https://www.onyerbike.co.uk/bikes/gt-sport-gtr-2020

What I want?
- alloy frame (affordable and my next step can be carbon in a few years when and if I can afford)
- bike as light as possible
- Best overall spec for the price (bearing in mind my knowledge is zero)
- Nice looking colour!

Initially I was drawn to the decathlon options as they seem to be better value for the same type of kit (no big brand name I assume is why). That said, the colour of the triban series is woeful. I won’t lie, I want performance but I also want something that looks cool (the Merida!).

What I need?
- advice, and lots of it!

Thanks in advance and I look forward to discussing it. Ask me anything you think is relevant as I am a 100% novice to road biking so if you think it’s simple and I will have thought of it, trust me I won’t have!!
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Posts

  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 57,378 Lives Here
    Hi there.

    I have not ridden all the bikes there, but the Specialized Allez is a tried and tested entry bike which will do all the things you want a road bike to do.

    I'm not familiar with this iteration but I rode a '05 allez across the Pyrenees, including all the bike mountains and it served me fine.

    I have found a tendency when novices buy bikes is to buy them a size too big. Pay attention to sizing, and if in doubt, by on the smaller side rather than on the bigger size. It is easier to add length to your seat post and your stem than to remove length.

    FWIW I would avoid Decathlon stuff - it's fine but it's very low end.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,312
    Do you know any cyclists can check a bike out for you ?

    I'd be looking lightly used second hand at a 58cm Allez, Cannondale CAAD, Bowman Palace etc.

    I'd want 11 speed mechanical and I'd be fine with rim brakes on the basis there isn't much to go wrong. Probably Shimano 105 or Ultegra.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • dawesie01dawesie01 Posts: 42
    edited 22 September

    Do you know any cyclists can check a bike out for you ?

    I'd be looking lightly used second hand at a 58cm Allez, Cannondale CAAD, Bowman Palace etc.

    I'd want 11 speed mechanical and I'd be fine with rim brakes on the basis there isn't much to go wrong. Probably Shimano 105 or Ultegra.


    Unfortunately do not know anyone really into their road bikes, most of my friends do bike but just casually on MB’s and hybrids.

    Not looking for second hand as ideally I’ll purchase through the bike scheme to save on tax etc.

    Why only 11 speed, out of interest?

    Disc v rim brakes - what should I consider here?
  • Hi there.

    I have not ridden all the bikes there, but the Specialized Allez is a tried and tested entry bike which will do all the things you want a road bike to do.

    I'm not familiar with this iteration but I rode a '05 allez across the Pyrenees, including all the bike mountains and it served me fine.

    I have found a tendency when novices buy bikes is to buy them a size too big. Pay attention to sizing, and if in doubt, by on the smaller side rather than on the bigger size. It is easier to add length to your seat post and your stem than to remove length.

    FWIW I would avoid Decathlon stuff - it's fine but it's very low end.

    Useful info, thanks. What sort of price range was that bike that you rode in the Pyrenees? Trying to gauge what sort of cost I need to be looking at.

    I’ll ensure I pay attention to sizing and get fitted properly (another reason not to buy 2nd hand)
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,312
    dawesie01 said:

    Do you know any cyclists can check a bike out for you ?

    I'd be looking lightly used second hand at a 58cm Allez, Cannondale CAAD, Bowman Palace etc.

    I'd want 11 speed mechanical and I'd be fine with rim brakes on the basis there isn't much to go wrong. Probably Shimano 105 or Ultegra.


    Unfortunately do not know anyone really into their road bikes, most of my friends do bike but just casually on MB’s and hybrids.

    Not looking for second hand as ideally I’ll purchase through the bike scheme to save on tax etc.

    Why only 11 speed, out of interest?

    Disc v rim brakes - what should I consider here?
    Ok understandable.

    The 11 speed was just because for the groupsets I mentioned they've been 11 speed for a long time so anything less would be old - nothing wrong in itself about fewer gears.

    If buying new I'd want hydro discs or get rim brakes - I would not want cable operated discs. I don't really know what there is with rim brakes - if anything - these days. So I accept I may be advising you to look for something that doesn't exist.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • dawesie01 said:

    Do you know any cyclists can check a bike out for you ?

    I'd be looking lightly used second hand at a 58cm Allez, Cannondale CAAD, Bowman Palace etc.

    I'd want 11 speed mechanical and I'd be fine with rim brakes on the basis there isn't much to go wrong. Probably Shimano 105 or Ultegra.


    Unfortunately do not know anyone really into their road bikes, most of my friends do bike but just casually on MB’s and hybrids.

    Not looking for second hand as ideally I’ll purchase through the bike scheme to save on tax etc.

    Why only 11 speed, out of interest?

    Disc v rim brakes - what should I consider here?
    Ok understandable.

    The 11 speed was just because for the groupsets I mentioned they've been 11 speed for a long time so anything less would be old - nothing wrong in itself about fewer gears.

    If buying new I'd want hydro discs or get rim brakes - I would not want cable operated discs. I don't really know what there is with rim brakes - if anything - these days. So I accept I may be advising you to look for something that doesn't exist.
    No worries, thanks.

    Why not cable disc brakes? I’d prefer hydraulic but seems to cost an awful lot more. Quite a lot of cheaper bikes have rim brakes. What is the main pros and cons of rim v disc and vice versa?
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,312
    I'd like Shimano 105 but I've got a bike with 10spd Tiagra and it's been great - shifting isn't that slick but it's very quiet (more so than Ultegra on my race bike) and does the job. So for 1k I'd go for something like a Cannondale CAAD Optima 2 or this Ribble https://www.ribblecycles.co.uk/ribble-r872/

    A basic rim braked road bike that is going to feel lively and if you were to go out with a group wouldn't put you at much of a disadvantage against lads on their 6k dream machines.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • rick_chaseyrick_chasey Posts: 57,378 Lives Here
    dawesie01 said:

    Hi there.

    I have not ridden all the bikes there, but the Specialized Allez is a tried and tested entry bike which will do all the things you want a road bike to do.

    I'm not familiar with this iteration but I rode a '05 allez across the Pyrenees, including all the bike mountains and it served me fine.

    I have found a tendency when novices buy bikes is to buy them a size too big. Pay attention to sizing, and if in doubt, by on the smaller side rather than on the bigger size. It is easier to add length to your seat post and your stem than to remove length.

    FWIW I would avoid Decathlon stuff - it's fine but it's very low end.

    Useful info, thanks. What sort of price range was that bike that you rode in the Pyrenees? Trying to gauge what sort of cost I need to be looking at.

    I’ll ensure I pay attention to sizing and get fitted properly (another reason not to buy 2nd hand)
    It was 15 years ago so I doubt the prices are relevant ;-)

    Agreed with the above about disc brakes. They tend to be more expensive systems and at the lower range they cut costs.

    Rim brakes work and are easy to maintain etc. You're not massively missing out as the difference between them and disc brakes at that price are minimal, but I don't think it matters that much.
  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 9,727
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • First.AspectFirst.Aspect Posts: 7,447
    Once you've decided on rim vs. disc, the absolute most important consideration is which one you most like the look of. Aesthetics matter.
  • Once you've decided on rim vs. disc, the absolute most important consideration is which one you most like the look of. Aesthetics matter.

    Haha absolutely. I love the Merida green and anything in a vibrant red. I feel that this is highly important however I do need to consider how it rides!!
  • Also, what is the deal with pedals? Is it the norm to buy two sets, one that cycling shoes clip onto and another normal set for use with trainers etc?
  • First.AspectFirst.Aspect Posts: 7,447
    dawesie01 said:

    Also, what is the deal with pedals? Is it the norm to buy two sets, one that cycling shoes clip onto and another normal set for use with trainers etc?

    Nope it's normal to totter around in cycling shoes whenever you use the bike. Nothing better than pottering around Sainsbury's in dayglow Sidis. Just change direction slowly and it's fine.

    There are platforms that clip over some pedal bodies, but you would lose style marks.
  • Pedals: if you're happy to use the off-road style 2-bolt SPDs, then you can buy shoes that you can also walk in (probably labelled "gravel shoes" these days). And if you think you will want to use normal shoes from time to time, you can get double-sided pedals that are flat one side and have SPD clips the other. If you miss the correct side when you've got clips, it's still easy to pedal for a while until you've got time to flip it over with your toe.
  • elbowlohelbowloh Posts: 7,078
    Or get those pedals with spd on one side and flat on the other. I have those on my commuter bike.
    Felt F1 2014
    Felt Z6 2012
    Red Arthur Caygill steel frame
    Tall....
    www.seewildlife.co.uk
  • Your first issue is finding a bike in stock. There is a global shortage of bikes and finding 2022 models in shops over the next 5-6 months will be tricky.

    For the £1k budget most bikes will be pretty similar spec and generally weigh in the same ball park. The most important thing is to get the fit correct, after that I would just buy the one you like the look of. It's a first bike and if you get into cycling you are likely to trade up in the near future anyway.

    As has been mentioned, you will get more bang for your buck going second hand but I appreciate a new cyclist may find the safer option of a new bike and warranty back up from a retailer the more appealing option.
  • Your first issue is finding a bike in stock. There is a global shortage of bikes and finding 2022 models in shops over the next 5-6 months will be tricky.

    For the £1k budget most bikes will be pretty similar spec and generally weigh in the same ball park. The most important thing is to get the fit correct, after that I would just buy the one you like the look of. It's a first bike and if you get into cycling you are likely to trade up in the near future anyway.

    As has been mentioned, you will get more bang for your buck going second hand but I appreciate a new cyclist may find the safer option of a new bike and warranty back up from a retailer the more appealing option.

    Yeah the shortage concerns me. I don’t need a 2022 model, however.

    So taking all 1k bikes to be the same or similar, what are the one two elements that would differentiate in this price range?
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,312
    I'd just get road pedals - assuming you are ok using clipless that is - I find dual sided flat/MTB really annoying to use with trainers and it's a road bike so just get used to wearing road shoes unless you plan on using it for transport and locking it up (in which case it'll get nicked sooner or later).
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,312
    dawesie01 said:

    Your first issue is finding a bike in stock. There is a global shortage of bikes and finding 2022 models in shops over the next 5-6 months will be tricky.

    For the £1k budget most bikes will be pretty similar spec and generally weigh in the same ball park. The most important thing is to get the fit correct, after that I would just buy the one you like the look of. It's a first bike and if you get into cycling you are likely to trade up in the near future anyway.

    As has been mentioned, you will get more bang for your buck going second hand but I appreciate a new cyclist may find the safer option of a new bike and warranty back up from a retailer the more appealing option.

    Yeah the shortage concerns me. I don’t need a 2022 model, however.

    So taking all 1k bikes to be the same or similar, what are the one two elements that would differentiate in this price range?
    The disc Vs rim brake question.

    Road race geometry or endurance/ gravel geometry.

    (That's off the top of my head )
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • elbowlohelbowloh Posts: 7,078

    I'd just get road pedals - assuming you are ok using clipless that is - I find dual sided flat/MTB really annoying to use with trainers and it's a road bike so just get used to wearing road shoes unless you plan on using it for transport and locking it up (in which case it'll get nicked sooner or later).

    Controversial, but I've only used SPD on all my road bikes. The cleats last longer and are easier to walk in. Whether commuting or doing a proper ride, always have to do quite a bit of walking (cafe stops etc).
    Felt F1 2014
    Felt Z6 2012
    Red Arthur Caygill steel frame
    Tall....
    www.seewildlife.co.uk
  • dawesie01 said:

    Your first issue is finding a bike in stock. There is a global shortage of bikes and finding 2022 models in shops over the next 5-6 months will be tricky.

    For the £1k budget most bikes will be pretty similar spec and generally weigh in the same ball park. The most important thing is to get the fit correct, after that I would just buy the one you like the look of. It's a first bike and if you get into cycling you are likely to trade up in the near future anyway.

    As has been mentioned, you will get more bang for your buck going second hand but I appreciate a new cyclist may find the safer option of a new bike and warranty back up from a retailer the more appealing option.

    Yeah the shortage concerns me. I don’t need a 2022 model, however.

    So taking all 1k bikes to be the same or similar, what are the one two elements that would differentiate in this price range?
    The disc Vs rim brake question.

    Road race geometry or endurance/ gravel geometry.

    (That's off the top of my head )
    Ok so discs for racing and rim for general endurance?
  • elbowlohelbowloh Posts: 7,078
    dawesie01 said:

    dawesie01 said:

    Your first issue is finding a bike in stock. There is a global shortage of bikes and finding 2022 models in shops over the next 5-6 months will be tricky.

    For the £1k budget most bikes will be pretty similar spec and generally weigh in the same ball park. The most important thing is to get the fit correct, after that I would just buy the one you like the look of. It's a first bike and if you get into cycling you are likely to trade up in the near future anyway.

    As has been mentioned, you will get more bang for your buck going second hand but I appreciate a new cyclist may find the safer option of a new bike and warranty back up from a retailer the more appealing option.

    Yeah the shortage concerns me. I don’t need a 2022 model, however.

    So taking all 1k bikes to be the same or similar, what are the one two elements that would differentiate in this price range?
    The disc Vs rim brake question.

    Road race geometry or endurance/ gravel geometry.

    (That's off the top of my head )
    Ok so discs for racing and rim for general endurance?
    No. Both types of brakes can be used in either application. A good sense of discs may be better in wet conditions than rim brakes, but in the dry you wouldn't notice much of a difference. Decent rim brakes are perfectly good. So it's a question of budget.
    Felt F1 2014
    Felt Z6 2012
    Red Arthur Caygill steel frame
    Tall....
    www.seewildlife.co.uk
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 16,817
    dawesie01 said:

    dawesie01 said:

    Your first issue is finding a bike in stock. There is a global shortage of bikes and finding 2022 models in shops over the next 5-6 months will be tricky.

    For the £1k budget most bikes will be pretty similar spec and generally weigh in the same ball park. The most important thing is to get the fit correct, after that I would just buy the one you like the look of. It's a first bike and if you get into cycling you are likely to trade up in the near future anyway.

    As has been mentioned, you will get more bang for your buck going second hand but I appreciate a new cyclist may find the safer option of a new bike and warranty back up from a retailer the more appealing option.

    Yeah the shortage concerns me. I don’t need a 2022 model, however.

    So taking all 1k bikes to be the same or similar, what are the one two elements that would differentiate in this price range?
    The disc Vs rim brake question.

    Road race geometry or endurance/ gravel geometry.

    (That's off the top of my head )
    Ok so discs for racing and rim for general endurance?
    At your price point you won't be getting the best of hydraulic disc brakes so a bike with rim brakes will probably be the equal of the poor cable disc brakes for braking, and superior somewhere else. If you can find one.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • pblakeney said:

    dawesie01 said:

    dawesie01 said:

    Your first issue is finding a bike in stock. There is a global shortage of bikes and finding 2022 models in shops over the next 5-6 months will be tricky.

    For the £1k budget most bikes will be pretty similar spec and generally weigh in the same ball park. The most important thing is to get the fit correct, after that I would just buy the one you like the look of. It's a first bike and if you get into cycling you are likely to trade up in the near future anyway.

    As has been mentioned, you will get more bang for your buck going second hand but I appreciate a new cyclist may find the safer option of a new bike and warranty back up from a retailer the more appealing option.

    Yeah the shortage concerns me. I don’t need a 2022 model, however.

    So taking all 1k bikes to be the same or similar, what are the one two elements that would differentiate in this price range?
    The disc Vs rim brake question.

    Road race geometry or endurance/ gravel geometry.

    (That's off the top of my head )
    Ok so discs for racing and rim for general endurance?
    At your price point you won't be getting the best of hydraulic disc brakes so a bike with rim brakes will probably be the equal of the poor cable disc brakes for braking, and superior somewhere else. If you can find one.
    Fair enough, makes sense about hydraulics. But how bad will they be? Coming from a 15 year old MTB, will I not notice an improvement in braking and the bike all round?

    What is the issue with cable discs?

    Sorry for all the questions but it’s a big purchase and I am a genuine novice in this arena!
  • pblakeneypblakeney Posts: 16,817
    edited 23 September
    Other opinions are available but in my opinion rim brakes are all that is required.
    I'd get disc brakes if frequently stop/starting in bad weather but don't so won't.
    If you are city riding then discs make more sense, especially regarding rim wear.
    The above may be fact, or fiction, I may be serious, I may be jesting.
    I am not sure. You have no chance.
    Veronese68 wrote:
    PB is the most sensible person on here.
  • wongataawongataa Posts: 945
    Cable discs don't have the modulation advantages of hydro discs and and are not self adjusting for pad wear meaning they require more adjustment to keep in good working order. They also often have only one moving brake pad which isn't as good as having both moving as you do with rim brakes and hydro discs. By all accounts they tend not to have as good braking performance as hydro discs.

    So more fiddly adjustment than rim brakes and not really the advantages of hydro discs. Much easier to to just go with rim brakes if the choice is between rim or mech disc.
  • Thanks for those replies re brakes. So the consensus seems to be rim or hydro disc. Given that hydro disc seems to add a massive premium, looks like it is rim brakes I need to look at.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,312
    dawesie01 said:

    dawesie01 said:

    Your first issue is finding a bike in stock. There is a global shortage of bikes and finding 2022 models in shops over the next 5-6 months will be tricky.

    For the £1k budget most bikes will be pretty similar spec and generally weigh in the same ball park. The most important thing is to get the fit correct, after that I would just buy the one you like the look of. It's a first bike and if you get into cycling you are likely to trade up in the near future anyway.

    As has been mentioned, you will get more bang for your buck going second hand but I appreciate a new cyclist may find the safer option of a new bike and warranty back up from a retailer the more appealing option.

    Yeah the shortage concerns me. I don’t need a 2022 model, however.

    So taking all 1k bikes to be the same or similar, what are the one two elements that would differentiate in this price range?
    The disc Vs rim brake question.

    Road race geometry or endurance/ gravel geometry.

    (That's off the top of my head )
    Ok so discs for racing and rim for general endurance?
    No.
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
  • wongataa said:

    Cable discs don't have the modulation advantages of hydro discs and and are not self adjusting for pad wear meaning they require more adjustment to keep in good working order. They also often have only one moving brake pad which isn't as good as having both moving as you do with rim brakes and hydro discs. By all accounts they tend not to have as good braking performance as hydro discs.

    So more fiddly adjustment than rim brakes and not really the advantages of hydro discs. Much easier to to just go with rim brakes if the choice is between rim or mech disc.

    What about part hydraulic part cable?

    This is a minefield.
  • DeVlaeminckDeVlaeminck Posts: 7,312
    edited 23 September
    Just get rim brakes. The semi hydro are ok - I've got a set on a Genesis CdF - but no better than decent rim brakes but if I had a choice I'd go with rim brakes.

    Ultimately they'll both stop the bike - don't over think it. If you want a road bike for riding on tarmac at a given price point there aren't going to be huge differences.

    I've recommended rim brakes for light weight and simplicity - I'd recommend a reasonably race focused geometry because that's the point of a road bike isn't it?
    [Castle Donington Ladies FC - going up in '22]
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