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Thread: first road bike

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    80

    first road bike

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    im looking for my first road bike. ive been riding a kids mountain bike(way to small for me, weighs a ton..) im 5'1-2-ish. im deciding between giant ocr3, the trek 1000 and the specialized dolce. so far im leaning toward the trek.

    im also considering bikes from REI, the novara carema, k2 tradewind and the c'dale synapse. i test rode the synapse and LOVED it, its like heaven on wheels(but way out of my price range). however, im not sure if id wanna buy a bike from REI, being a big chain store and all. anyone have experience with REI bikes or any of the other bikes mentioned? thanks in advance...


    oh yeah, this bike will be my primary mode of transportation. i am near seattle wa.
    Last edited by abvnx; 07-06-2007 at 01:51 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Sierra Foothills, CA
    Posts
    801
    I bought a Trek 1000 WSD in February and I'm very happy with it. I think you get a lot of bang for your buck with Trek. I've put 1,000 miles on it so far and I really have no complaints.

    Although the 1000 is an "entry level" road bike, I'm not at all disappointed with its performance. I wasn't expecting all the bells and whistles, and the components aren't spectacular or anything, but it gets me where I want to go and (knock on wood) everything is working like it's supposed to. I did have an issue with my front brakes, but it was covered under the Trek warranty and my LBS put on a whole new set for free. I also switched to Kool Stop brake pads because evidently the stocks pads don't get along too well with the stock wheels. Other than that, it's all good!

    I looked at the Novara line from REI as well, but it kind of seems like no one knows much about Novara. I was tempted, but my closest REI is almost an hour's drive and the Trek had a similar component group at a comparable price. I've really learned to appreciate my LBS...I'm so happy that I chose to buy locally. I'm sure you might get great service from REI, but since it's a chain store, I was a little leary.

    Whichever bike you choose, I hope you love it!
    Last edited by RolliePollie; 07-06-2007 at 04:18 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Utah
    Posts
    548
    I love my Specialized Dolce. What made it great was (in part) that my LBS really took the time to dial in the right fit. While I have bought other bikes from REI (for myself as well as my family), the fitting service made my LBS stand out head-and-shoulders over REI.

    But I think the most important thing is that you fall in love with the bike when you test-ride it. If that happens to be an REI bike, by all means go for it!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    where the wind comes sweeping down the plain
    Posts
    5,269
    My first road bike was a Giant OCR. I loved it (well, I still have it, but it sits unridden this season because I'm testing out a new tri bike). It provided me with 4000 miles of fun and good times.
    I agree with Bike Dutchess- buy what feels right. Test ride as many as possible (but not so many that it's too confusing ) and buy the one that feels like a second skin. I don't think you can go wrong with Trek, Cannondale, Giant, Specialized or any of the other big name bikes. Even the entry level bikes provide good quality and durability. Don't know about the REI bikes, or what the quality is.

    Good luck- and be sure to report back what you've decided on (with pictures, to boot!).
    Check out my running blog: www.turtlepacing.blogspot.com

    Cervelo P2C (tri bike)
    Bianchi Eros (commuter/touring road bike)

    1983 Motobecane mixte (commuter/errand bike)
    Cannondale F5 mountain bike

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    80
    i test rode the dolce when i was having some back issues so it felt really uncomfortable. then last week i was at rei and decided to give the road bikes another try for the heck of it. i rode a few and really enjoyed it. i especially loved the synapse, but that will have to go in my someday category . the giant felt nice the reach for the break levers was a bit much for me(it wasnt a wsd) , the trek even better. id really like to take the 1000 and dolce out on the hills and go for at least a few miles. my palms tend to get sore, is this from my positioning or what?

    another question, is it better to buy the bike with the components you want(the next level up with better components) or to buy the bike as is and upgrade components as needed? do you end up spending so much on upgrades that you may as well have just gotten the next bike up?

    thanks for all your help, everyone!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    2,507
    I'm a member at REI and it really isn't a chain, it's a co-op. That being said, it will only be as good as the mechanics they have a particular store.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    326
    My sister has a Novara MTB, we bought it because she needed a good bike on a very limited budget and with a 20% off coupon we got a great deal, about half the cost of my very similarly equipped bike. The bike itself was a great value but the service at REI was less than stellar. We got all of her accessories at our favorite LBS, figured we'd give them that business since the prices there were comparable and we love our LBS. The mechanic got his hands on it to install lock mounts/lights/etc. and ended up tuning up the bike ("Hey, I just have to fix this thing..." he kept saying) he adjusted the brakes, both derailleurs, fixed the crooked handlebars...all this the day after the REI guy spent an hour and a half tuning it up before we brought it home. I told him that I'd go ahead and pay for a full tune up but the guy wouldn't hear of it...even though he knew we'd *just* bought the bike and not from them. Then the fit guy came by and asked if she wanted him to take a quick look.

    My sister & I are training for a ride together and decided that our increasing distances warranted road bikes. We looked all around, I wanted to get the best bike for me, so again I included REI and various bike shops around town. The Novara bikes seemed like a pretty good deal but I got a much better value at my favorite LBS on last year's model. My strategy was this: I set a budget, looked around to determine the various bikes that fit that budget then went out to see and ride them. I've read that the best deal you'll get on components is with the purchase of a new bike since the manufacturers buy in bulk, so I decided that it was better to buy a bike that I thought would meet my needs for a long time rather than upgrading over time.

    Test riding at REI basically consisted of riding around the parking lot. The salesperson wasn't terribly knowledgeable and there was a hiking with poles class going on that had hordes of senior citizens hiking around the store. Clank, clank, clank went the hiking sticks. Ooops, sorry. Excuse me. And meanwhile the REI guy is trying to get bikes off the ceiling. It just wasn't happening, the bikes didn't feel great, but I'd never ridden a road bike so there was a lot I didn't know, like how to shift the thing.

    The next day we moved on to our favorite LBS. They let us test ride bikes on a group ride they had, gave us a complete lesson on how to ride a road bike, shifting, body positioning, etc. The leader was great about helping us and answering questions. After 20 miles I knew it wasn't the bike for me, but I also knew what qualities I was looking for. We test rode bikes for the entire day (my Garmin says it was 68 miles of test riding) and when I got on my bike I knew it was the right bike. I ended up getting a *much* nicer bike than I thought I could get and only went a little bit over my budget.

    In short, I think REI's bikes are great, but their bike shop service is likely to be hit or miss, definitely a miss here. The outstanding service at my LBS made buying a bike from them a joy. I was willing to pay a little more to buy a bike from my LBS but I ended up getting the best deal there too.

    Sore hands, part of that is getting used to the new position, sort of like getting used to being in the saddle when you haven't ridden in a long time. Part of it may be that you are gripping too tightly, though, or putting too much weight on your hands. Switching your hand position around helps. As I've developed new muscles and gotten more comfortable on the bike I've been a lot less sore. Also, once you buy a bike you can fine-tune the fit. I shortened my stem a little yesterday and that helped a lot.

    Anne

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Orlando, FL
    Posts
    222

    synapse

    hi.

    i am a newbie - bought a cannondale synapse 4 alloy $1049 - love it... been out riding most days since i got 2 weeks ago - even managed 20 miles this week - if you knew how unfit i was, you would be amazed at this :-) i can so recommend this bike - i dont know if the synapse you were looking at was maybe carbon or something, but there is the alloy version, which i got due to price constraints and i have not been sore ANYWHERE on it - pretty incredible - i am short 5'3" and got the 47cm frame and the geometry is just perfect for me... i am so pleased with the cannondale synapse feminine 4 alloy - hope this is within your priceband-- same geometry as the synapse carbons as i understand...

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    423
    If you're thinking about looking at bikes from REI, I'd suggest coming into the city and checking out the flagship store downtown. You'll probably have better luck there (with regards to knowledgeable staff) than at some of the other smaller stores in the area. I've never shopped for a bike there, but I have spent a good bit of time browsing around their bike department. (It's a great place to see a lot of different gear when you're doing comparison shopping...especially clothes.)

    Besides, if you haven't been to that store yet, it's kind of worth it just to witness the sheer size of the place. A lot of my friends who come to Seattle just for a visit request a trip there as a tourist stop, which works for me since it's pretty close to my place. (I pass it every morning on my commute to work.)

    Also, there's a Play It Again Sports right around the corner from it on Stewart. They usually have a good number of bikes (new and used) hanging around as well--lots of Marin bikes, if their window displays of late are any indication.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    317
    I got my bike at REI. It's a K2, not a Novara. Several friends have Novara bikes and seem pretty pleased. I didn't like how heavy the commuter, hybrid and mountain style Novaras were. In my price range, the road bikes weren't much better.

    The Madison REI has one saleswoman who is quite good, but most of the rest just don't know about bikes. She wanted me to have my seat up higher (she was right, but my balance wasn't ready for it), and helped us get decent add-ons for commuting and utility use. She didn't try to convince us to do things like buy bike racks, panniers or other add-ons that we weren't sure we needed. And when REI was out of helmets in colors that suited me, and didn't have helmets big enough for my partner, she didn't try to shoehorn us into a helmet add on either.

    So, REI can be a good place to buy, but walk away if the salesperson isn't concerned about bike fit.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    5
    Hi!! I feel you on the new bike shopping. I have tried over a dozen bike stores including REI - I tried a Carema with full 105 and being 5'0 -5'1 I couldn't even fit the 41cm. It was too big - their frames must run extra big. Nice components though. AARGH.

    I've tried as many road bikes as I can fit on - Specialized, Trek, Bianchi, Giant, Felt, Le Mond...I still have yet to come across a small Canondale

    Kind of curious what size all the shops have been fitting you to since we're about the same height. Some shop tells me i'm fine with a 47 (although there is no standover clearance) and then some shops say I have to get a 43 or 44cm bike - but most of those come with 650c wheels. Some stores are totally against a 650c wheels...Some tell me I'm better off. May be I'll start a seperate thread about that.

    Good luck!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Traveling Nomad
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    6,636
    Quote Originally Posted by piaadoll View Post
    Some stores are totally against a 650c wheels...Some tell me I'm better off. May be I'll start a seperate thread about that.
    Do a forum search first - this has come up many times. I have a 650c bike and love it. It's most important to ride what fits, and not what some shop says is cool or not. At your height (I'm 5'2.5") I think 650s are going to be a must for you. Even with them, you may have a little toe overlap as I do, but likely less than with 700s, and depending on your torso and arm length, you might not have any toe overlap of the front tire.

    There is nothing wrong with 650c wheels except for the fact that you can't buy them in tons of pretty colors like 700c, and carrying your own tube is a MUST as very few folks on a group ride will have that size, if you get a flat. They are fast to accelerate and lighter in weight than 700c's as well. I don't want to start a big debate here, but do a forum search -- you'll see that there are a lot of us here that love our 650c bikes!

    And welcome to TE!

    Emily
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    San Jose, CA
    Posts
    5
    Quote Originally Posted by emily_in_nc View Post
    Do a forum search first - this has come up many times. I have a 650c bike and love it. It's most important to ride what fits, and not what some shop says is cool or not. At your height (I'm 5'2.5") I think 650s are going to be a must for you. Even with them, you may have a little toe overlap as I do, but likely less than with 700s, and depending on your torso and arm length, you might not have any toe overlap of the front tire.

    There is nothing wrong with 650c wheels except for the fact that you can't buy them in tons of pretty colors like 700c, and carrying your own tube is a MUST as very few folks on a group ride will have that size, if you get a flat. They are fast to accelerate and lighter in weight than 700c's as well. I don't want to start a big debate here, but do a forum search -- you'll see that there are a lot of us here that love our 650c bikes!

    And welcome to TE!

    Emily
    Thanks! I did do a search before i posted..but nothing came up when I put 650c wheels in the search. I must be doing something wrong. Even tried 650 by itself. Anyways, Thanks for the input! I foresee myself riding a bike with 650c wheels in the future. Thanks for the warm welcome!


    Ok, sorry to thread jack, carry on ladies...

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Posts
    95
    Wow, I'm surprised some of you have had such negative experiences with REI. I don't consider them a big chain store in the pejorative sense at all, given that they're a co-op, and they're super community-minded, always arranging clean-up expeditions in our area canyons and beaches and offering free beginners' classes for various outdoor sporting skills.

    I agree that you should track down a salesperson who's interested in fit and seems engaged with your needs as a customer, and I can't imagine that they would forbid you from taking a test ride beyond the parking lot.

    Novaras, btw, are made in the same factory that makes Giants, so no worries about them being shoddy bikes.

    The thing I love most about REI is that you can take back anything anytime for any reason and get a replacement or refund. You don't even need a receipt if you're a member, because they keep computer records of your purchases. When my Minoura trainer bonked earlier this year—after a year and a half of use—I brought it in to see if it could be fixed. Instead they issued its full $200 purchase price toward a spanky new CycleOps trainer. I've patronized three different REI stores in my area, and each one has stood firmly behind their satisfaction guarantees when I've needed to exchange or return something. So if you buy a bike and decide it's not right, even 6 months later, you're not stranded with it.

    I'm not a stockholder in REI, just a satisfied member.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    foothills of the Ozarks aka Tornado Alley
    Posts
    4,197
    I don't live near a REI store, so I've had to research bikes online.

    My first bike was a Terry Symmetry and although the stand-over heighth was right, the top tube was a little short for my long torso. Although I would raise the seat and try other adjustments, I never could get it to fit right.

    My second bike is a Specialized Sequoia. What helped me was talking with the guys at the bike shop to really work with me on fine tuning the saddle heighth, stem, and pedals. It really does make a difference to work with someone who is knowledgeable about bike fit and who can communicate with you what your needs are. If you can find a bike outfitter that you feel comfortable with, that should help you in your bike search. There are many good bikes out there that won't cost you $$$$. And by working with a reputable dealer they should stand behind their product should anything need repair or adjustment.
    Last edited by sundial; 07-10-2007 at 08:31 AM.

 

 

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