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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Monroe, MI
    Posts
    116

    Complete Road Bike Newbie...

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    Okay Ladies...

    I know literally nothing about road bikes. But I want one. Okay? ha ha! So, here goes:

    The shifters are integrated with the brakes? How does this work? How do you shift? How do you brake? This is a complete mystery to me...

    Can someone transitioning from a MTB tip up the drop handlebars a little bit to "ease into" the more horizontal riding position of a road bike?

    My MTB has three "big rings" and 7 cogs...is the gear set-up the same on a road bike?

    I'm risking looking stupid here, but hey, I have only ridden this big, honkin' HEAVY-*** mountain bike. I won't get any smarter if I don't ask, right? ((grin))!!

    Thanks, in advance for your help!

    ~Julie

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    4,632
    Shifting/braking: There are two levers: one is the brake lever, and there's a second lever behind that. You push the brake lever one way and it moves you into a bigger (I think) cog/chain ring. Push the second lever and it moves you into a smaller cog/chain ring. To brake, you just pull back on the brake levers like you'd expect. And I guess as long as you don't brake while shifting, it's all good (BF's advice to me.) It took me a little while to figure all this out. Mine have a thumb trigger, but it's the same principle.

    Gears: I have a triple and 8 cogs. I think they go up to 10 cogs, and the big rings can come as a triple or a double. I like my triple, but whatever. The number of teeth on the cogs are probably going to be different--the road bike's largest cog will probably have fewer teeth, since the mountain bike is probably geared for climbing.

    If I'm wrong about the above, which is quite likely, someone can come along and correct me.
    (And no, you don't sound stupid. I had to ask my boyfriend repeatedly about how it all worked when I was trying to buy my bike.)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Netherlands
    Posts
    92
    You definitely don't sound stupid. We've all had to start somewhere.

    Owlie seems to have explained things pretty well. There's also another type of integrated break lever where you click the break to the side to shift to a smaller cog or bigger chain ring (I think that's how it goes anyway) and then there's another little sort of 'button' on the hood which shifts to the bigger cogs or smaller chain ring. I think this type is usually found on the more entry level road bikes (like my Felt F95).

    And as Owlie said the gearing on a road bike is quite different from a mountain bike because the Mtb is made for different terrain and some pretty steep climbs (hence the triple crank).

    Good luck with finding a bike. Keep us posted!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Monroe, MI
    Posts
    116
    Thanks Owlie! That explains some things!! I see from photos of the bike I want that the brake levers appear to also move from side to side, so this must be the "one way" and the "other way" you are talking about.

    Of course, I know my bike shop will fill me all in. I just thought I'd like to NOT be a complete no-mind when I get there!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Appling, GA
    Posts
    275
    I am not an expert at all, but I recently purchased a road bike.
    My last road bike shifted on the down-tube and I have spent the last 18 years strictly on a mountain bike.

    My husband is an avid cyclist so I was able to try out his bike first. I recommend getting measured because the brakes were difficult to use on the male bike due to the extended reach. Adjustments can be made.

    My husband has a triple ring on his bike but he chose a compact for me. The gearing makes climbing easier and it is not as complicated as a triple. He can go into all the engineering speak but all I know is that a compact is easier than a standard and less complicated than a triple. The feminine bikes I was looking at usually offered a triple or a compact.

    I chose a Connondale Synapse because it has a more comfortable geometry. The handlebars are not as low compared to the seat as in a more elite bike. The forks have more rake and make steering less twitchy.
    I measured in the fit range for the 52 & 54 frame sizes. Bike shop guy and my husband chose the 54 because it would keep the handlebars at a more comfortable height compared to the seat than the 52.

    My husband chose the carbon frame version, for a smoother ride, over an upgrade in components. I actually am very happy with the lower components because the 105s have this nifty little cheater window that gives me an idea of what gear I am in. The purists may scoff at me but I like it.

    I am 49 and have adapted quite well. The added weight on my shoulders and arms is probably the most difficult hurdle for me. From the forum I have learned that core strength will help overcome this issue. It is improving each ride. Core strength is the cure all for just about any fitness issue!

    I suggest you get a good bike fit and choose a frame designed for comfort over sheer performance.

    I am not a bike expert, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last weekend. No kidding.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,043
    I think you'll find that a road bike is a lot more intuitive than it might otherwise seem. It's easy to get the hang of it. As for transitioning from the more upright position of a MTB and the more horizontal position of a road bike, assuming the road bike you choose otherwise fits you, I think you'll also find it to be pretty comfortable. It may take some time for your neck muscles to adjust, but if you gradually increase your mileage, you should be fine. I, personally, would start with the bars level so that there's no "kink" in your wrist. You ideally want your hands and wrists to be in a fairly neutral position, almost like you're shaking hands with someone. By tipping them up, you may actually make yourself more, not less, uncomfortable in the end. That said, you may have to fiddle with the tilt of the bars to find the most comfortable position for your hands and wrists.

    Good luck and have fun!
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Chicago suburbs
    Posts
    1,222
    Quote Originally Posted by Juliegoddess View Post
    Thanks Owlie! That explains some things!! I see from photos of the bike I want that the brake levers appear to also move from side to side, so this must be the "one way" and the "other way" you are talking about.

    Of course, I know my bike shop will fill me all in. I just thought I'd like to NOT be a complete no-mind when I get there!
    Yup, this pretty much sums it up. The brake levers and integrated shifters are actually referred to as "brifters". You have the brake lever, which is likely a silver-colored lever...and then on the inside of that, the black-colored shifter lever. To shift into a higher (harder) gear on the rear cog, you would move the black shifter lever on the RIGHTSIDE of handlebar towards the INSIDE (to the left). To move into a lower (easier) gear on the rear, you would move the silver-colored lever (which basically moves BOTH the brake and shifter concurrently) to the INSIDE (to the left).

    For the front rings, the same logic applies. To move to a smaller (easier) ring up front, you would move the black shifter lever on the LEFTSIDE of handlebar, towards the INSIDE (to the right). And to move into a bigger ring (harder), you would move the silver lever towards the INSIDE (to the right).

    Hope that makes sense! And if I messed that explanation up, please feel free to correct me.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,501
    Different makes and models of brifters work differently. Whenever you test ride a bike, make sure you understand how the brifters on that particular bike work!

    Tipping your handlebars up is dangerous because it puts your brakes out of reach. If you don't have any physical problems, a well-fitting bike should be comfortable in riding position. Once you find a frame that fits you, you can fine-tune the distance to your brake hoods by changing to a stem with a different length, rise or both; by changing to a set of handlebars with different reach; or by moving your brakes higher or lower on the handlebar bend (but not outside of the bend).

    Complete bikes usually don't give you much option to raise the handlebars on the steerer tube. Sometimes you might be able to put a slightly taller spacer under the stem and get a few millimeters.

    Have fun with your search!
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,897
    I've got nothing to add, except -- after riding a mountain bike for several years and then getting a road bike, I felt a bit unstable on the road bike at first. It's a fat tire vs. skinny tire thing. But don't worry, that feeling goes away. Just ride and you'll get used to it quickly.

    Good luck!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    MD
    Posts
    1,626
    Quote Originally Posted by Juliegoddess View Post
    Of course, I know my bike shop will fill me all in. I just thought I'd like to NOT be a complete no-mind when I get there!
    Mine did not and boy did I have a devil of a time on my test ride. Road bikes had changed a good bit since my last one. Don't ever worry about sounding stupid. Odds are very good, at some point in time, I sounded worse.
    You too can help me fight cancer, and get a lovely cookbook for your very own! My team's cookbook is for sale Click here to order. Proceeds go to our team's fundraising for the Philly Livestrong Challenge!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    4,632
    Thanks for clarifying what I said, nscrbug. My bike has Sora shifters, so they have the "thumb lever." I figured out how brifters work by examining my BF's bike, so while I can explain it to myself, I can't necessarily explain it to others!
    Last edited by Owlie; 11-10-2009 at 08:07 PM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Monroe, MI
    Posts
    116
    Thank you everyone! Yes, I see how they work now! I think now it's going to be a matter of trying them out...and practicing. I am hoping I will be able to get shifters with "cheater number windows" so I can see what gear I'm in!

    You ladies are awesome...thanks so much for letting a newbie post a "baby" question without feeling foolish!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Boise, Idaho
    Posts
    1,104
    Quote Originally Posted by Juliegoddess View Post
    Thank you everyone! Yes, I see how they work now! I think now it's going to be a matter of trying them out...and practicing. I am hoping I will be able to get shifters with "cheater number windows" so I can see what gear I'm in!
    see which gear you're in: this made me laugh!

    I don't have a way to see which gear I'm in, and I can make DH SOOOOOOOOOO upset when I get excited about a hill climb that I'm pretty sure I wasn't in granny gear for, so I stop, get off my bike, and he's convinced I'm having a mechanical -- I'm just looking to see which gear I'm in!

    Karen in Boise

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Monroe, MI
    Posts
    116
    Quote Originally Posted by Kano View Post
    see which gear you're in: this made me laugh!

    I don't have a way to see which gear I'm in, and I can make DH SOOOOOOOOOO upset when I get excited about a hill climb that I'm pretty sure I wasn't in granny gear for, so I stop, get off my bike, and he's convinced I'm having a mechanical -- I'm just looking to see which gear I'm in!

    Karen in Boise
    Hehe!! how funny!! I can just see you...'WAIT honey...I just gotta SEEE!!!!"

    HA HA HA!!! I'd be doing the same darned thing!!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    71
    I'm thinking about getting a road bike after years on a hybrid, so I went to the bike shop and the nice young man looked at me and brought out a beautiful yellow bike, checked the size, and off I went. I rode a bit and thought I'd check out the shifting, and found out I didn't have a clue! So I went back, and the nice young man was standing in the parking lot, waiting. His first words were, "I forgot to tell you about the shifters."

    So you'll be ahead of me and my saleperson, because you know enough to ask.

    I didn't buy the bike, but I might. I'm going to try as many as I can first, and it's going to be my prize for getting to goal weight at Weight Watchers.

 

 

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