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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    Buying my first Bike...needing a little help

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    I've been doing my research for getting my first bike and came across this forum for women and was super excited! I'd really love some advice/help with buying my first road bike.
    I recently decided to get into cycling, I've ridden bikes off and on since I was a kid but living in a city (Austin) that so cycle friendly has really really sparked my interest to get a road bike. I'm young and pretty active with swimming, water sports and running but I still don't know where to start when it comes to making the actual purchase. All the options and things I am unfamiliar with are leaving me feeling slightly lost and confused. However, I will say all the research I have been doing to prepare for my big buy has really, really educated me on the whole world of cycling.

    I've been looking around from craigslist to cycle shop. I've talk to friends who are avid cyclist and have spoken with several guys who work in the cycling shops. I've googled my brains outs reading about various brands, types, components, and bicycle retailers in my area.
    Craigslist at first seemed like a good option, I was hopeful I could get a bike that someone let sit in their garage and was in prime condition, welp I was sooooo wrong. It was hard finding a bike not only my size (48cm) but one that someone had actually priced at a worthy value. I may be new to cycling (and maybe wrong about what I'm about to say) but I can't justify buying a bike thats 24 years old for $600, even if its a reputable brand name am I wrong? They said they'd recently put new tires, had it checked out, and a new seat...no special upgrades or anything. I know I can get a brand new bike for $500 with a so so warranty, even though the bike may not be the highest quality it would be suitable for a beginner. I've also realized that by buying a new bike I'm not funding the pockets of thieves, I'd hate to boast myself on getting a great deal on a bike with knowing that there is a possibility that it was once someone else's. Also I've heard from a lot of the shops a lot of the craigslist purchases people bring in tend to need loads of repairs.

    I've searched high and low have not made any commitments to anything or anyone. I've let cycling shops know I am looking else where but I am a serious buyer. They've shown me their products, answered questions, taught me a few things, and made a few suggestions. I have found that buying a bike is not like buying a car, there is no price negotiating, and if there is I've been shopping at the wrong places. I'm trying to find a bike that meets my needs, wants, and price. I am a beginner but I still want a bike that I can use for a while and my ability and performance will grow with the bike before I out grow it.

    I am looking for a road bike that I can ride distance on, it needs to be able to climb hills well, something with the potential to race, I'd like it to have a nice comfortable ride, good stability, I am looking to use it for exercise, riding around town (I'm still a student, but I'd unlikely ride to campus), and of course traditional regular riding with groups or friends on bike friendly routes. I want something fun, fast, and durable.
    Cycling is something I see myself improving, I want to challenge myself conquer some hills, do some charity rides, who knows maybe one day a triathlon, but for now its baby steps.
    All and all I dont want to sell myself short by buying a bike thats "good enough" for now and having to end up investing in a higher end bike down the road when all I had to do to begin with was invest a little more. I also don't want to purchase a bike thats way out of my league, for the most part those bikes are way out of price range as a new rider.

    I've been to a cycle shop, which I actually really really liked, great service, knowledgeable, and super friendly. I didnt feel like I was being played for my money or like I was dealing with a pretentious bike snob that belittled me and made me feel lousy for just now joining the sport...I've sadly encountered a lot of these. Funny thing is cyclist themselves are soooo friendly.
    One of the bikes brands they carried that they highly recommended for me was SCOTT. I believe the model the man suggested for me was the Scott Women's Contessa Speedster 15 Road Bike '10, they had it priced at about $1,500. Which is a little pricey especially considering I'll need the works to go with it (aka helmet, shoes, pedals, etc.). Well I recently talked to a friend of mine whose boyfriend owns a cycling shop and he said he could get me the same bike for about $900. I also looked at few others he was carrying the Scott Women's Contessa Speedster Road Bike '09 which would cost me $700 or the Scott Women's Contessa Speedster 25 Road Bike '10 which would cost me $560. Obviously I've been looking at the women's road bikes, from what Ive heard/read the frames are built much better to suit a women than the unisex build of other bikes. After being introduced to the SCOTT brand by a cycling shop that has been around for years and years and is very proud to carry it, it gave me a lot of confidence in the brand. Also, I'd know I'd be comfortable with this shop doing any repairs I may need. But...I am new to all this so I dont really want to be sold on something just cause of what someone else says.

    I am wondering of the three bikes I selected from my friends shop are the bikes worth the price I'm being offered and will they suit my needs? If so what would you suggest I do. Or do I need to keep my hunt going?

    I'm really excited and looking forward to getting into cycling and cant wait to triumph over some hills and long rides. I cant wait to be able to share my cycling experiences with others who love the sport and I'm really glad to be able to have the help of others whose experience and knowledge of Cycling will help get me going in the right direction!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Chicago suburbs
    Hi and welcome. This is JMO, but I would not limit myself to just one brand. While Scott is a fine bike, there are many other bike brands out there that produce a comparable bike(s) to the Scott bikes you are considering. I suggest you go and check out as many bikes (within your budget) as possible and test ride all of them, extensively. From my own experience, you'll be able to eliminate fairly quickly, the ones that just don't feel right to you.

    Good luck in your search...bike shopping is both fun and exhausting.
    2012 Seven Axiom SL - Specialized Ruby SL 155

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Tucson, AZ
    Have you test-ridden any of these bikes? I'm not familiar with the brand, but no bike is a good value if you ride it and hate it.

    There are many companies that produce women-specific frames. Trek, Giant, and Specialized come to mind immediately. There are others. Are you sure you even need a women's specific frame? (Long legs, short torso is what they're accomodating.)

    Of course, having a shop that you're happy with and can trust is a major part of buying a bike. Test-ride them first. Shimano 105 componentry is a good place to start. Of course, your budget and what you're willing to spend is very important as well. It's your choice, but if you ride the bike, like it, and can justify the extra money, buy the better bike.
    At least I don't leave slime trails.

    2009 Giant Avail 3 |Specialized Jett 143

    2013 Charge Filter Apex| Specialized Jett 143
    1996(?) Giant Iguana 630|Specialized Riva

    Saving for the next one...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Newport, RI
    I've never ridden a Scott, but Team Columbia-HTC rides them (Mark Cavendish). It's probably an excellent brand if it fits you.

    You can see by the craigslist ads that bikes are holding their value really well these days. In your favor, if you make a mistake and don't buy the "perfect" bike, at least you won't lose a lot. It's not like buying a car, where you're out thousands as soon as you're off the lot.

    Have fun with the shopping experience. It sounds like you have some great options from your friend's shop.
    '02 Eddy Merckx Fuga, Selle An Atomica
    '85 Eddy Merckx Professional, Selle An Atomica

    '10 Soma Double Cross DC, Selle An Atomica

    Slacker on wheels.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    That was definitely on my list of concerns, limiting my options, however it was the deal that caught my attention, but that should be what completely makes my decision...like you ride the ride should determine it. Thanks so much!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Beautiful NW or Left Coast
    Your friend who owns a bike shop, he's quoting HIS price. I've never haggled for a bike, and in the last 10 years, there's really not much haggling for a car either.
    Scott IS a good brand of bike, but gosh, you need to be trying bikes out, not just worrying about prices.. I think you should steer clear of the bike snob sellers and find someone who treats you decently; someone who has your best in mind, they will not sell you a bike that does not fit.

    A large percentage of women fit best on women's geometry bikes, and so do some men. It's because we have longer legs compared to our arms and torsos. Some of us have gone custom just because we couldn't get the fit we wanted.

    a lot of us "started" late too. Ignore those jerks!
    and i think you're on the right track when you don't want to buy a 20 year old bike. For one thing, in the last 4 years they've finally been making bikes with women's sizes in mind.

    good luck. Try out lots of bikes.
    I like Bikes - Mimi
    Watercolor Blog

    Davidson Custom Bike - Cavaletta
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    Old Raleigh Mixte - Mitzi

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    I've bought a lot of bikes off ebay/craigslist used without problems - I have never had to do a ton of repairs on them... But then, I know what fits me and in the beginning had friends that could help with fitting - and I do most of my own bike work or make R do it...

    so it is possible to get great deals used, but it usually helps to have a lot of knowledge for that to work.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Little Egypt
    First I want to say welcome to TE and to the wonderful world of cycling. You are indeed a lucky woman to live in such a bike friendly city. You are fortunate because you have a lot of options right at your fingertips.

    IMO there are many great bikes that are women specific and I would suggest that you shop around and ride a lot of bikes. You say that you need a 48 cm bike but a 48 cm in one brand may have a completely different geometry than another brand. That's the reason you need to test ride them and deal with a bike shop that treats you with respect and gives you a proper fitting. I would also suggest that you compare components instead of price and not get anything less than Shimano 105. I also would stay away from Craig's List if this is your first bike. Of course, this is JMO. Good luck!
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." George Bernard Shaw

    Luna Eclipse/Selle Italia Lady
    Surly Pacer/Terry Butterfly
    Quintana Roo Cd01/Koobi Stratus
    1981 Schwinn Le Tour Tourist
    Jamis Coda Femme

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Well, first of all I second the advice you just received: test ride as many bikes as you can, until you find the right fit.
    However, before you completely eliminate used bikes from your search, remember that buying a used bike you will get far more bike for the same money.

    If you plan to race at some point - a new bike in the 1-1.5k range is probably not the best you can buy. On the other hand, a used bike for around the same price could be a decent machine that takes you through your first 1-2 years of racing.

    The downside of the used market is that you need to know what you need, where to look for it, and how to assess its conditions to determine the price that it is really worth.

    So, test ride and find out what fits you: which kind of geometry, what size, what components you like better - and then go on from there. You may get lucky and find a good deal, once you know what to look for. Try to learn about bicycles while you do your shopping and test-riding: if you have friends that work in the field ask for advice and tips, everything will help you find the right bike.

    Good luck!
    E.'s website: www.earchphoto.com

    2005 Bianchi 928C L'Una RC
    2010 BMC SLX01 racemaster
    2008 BMC TT03 Time Machine
    Campy Record and SSM Aspide naked carbon on all bikes

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Weir, TX
    Quote Originally Posted by Catriona View Post
    I've bought a lot of bikes off ebay/craigslist used without problems - I have never had to do a ton of repairs on them... But then, I know what fits me and in the beginning had friends that could help with fitting - and I do most of my own bike work or make R do it...

    so it is possible to get great deals used, but it usually helps to have a lot of knowledge for that to work.
    I agree, I was going to post last night that CL can be perfectly fine - a lot of people list their bikes that way when they upgrade, and there's not usually anything wrong with those -, but you have to know what you are looking for (in terms of size, and components) and you have to be able to sort through the typical BS normally found on CL to spot the good deals. I just bought a '06 Trek 1000 off CL for my sister... it is in perfect shape, and we're both happy with what we paid for it, but I've seen a lot of bikes listed for WAY more than they should be (including an identical bike to the one I just bought, currently listed on my local CL for MORE than the original retail price.. by a LBS no less!). Bikepedia is your friend when figuring out model year a bike is, what it's original retail cost was, and what components are on a bike (if listings are not super detailed).

    I would definitely suggest trying a few brands - don't limit yourself to Scott simply because it's what you can get the best deal on before you actually test ride some others.. if you test ride a bunch and keep coming back to the Scott, then by all means, buy one, but don't limit yourself right off. I ultimately didn't end up with the road bike I thought I would buy - because after riding it, it was clear that it wasn't "the" bike for me, and I didn't want to commit to making it fit me when it felt more like I was settling for something that wasn't as good as it should be, especially for the money. When finally I rode the right one, I had an "aha" moment, and I knew that was my bike.. and it was a brand that hadn't really been on my radar, in a size that I didn't think would work, but it was magic

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Lake Superior in the summer; southern WI the rest of the year
    Welcome! This spring when I was looking for a road bike with fairly upright geometry and a short top tube, bike shops recommended the Scott Contessa, the Cannondale Synapse Feminine, and the Trek Pilot WSD 2.1. I tried them all and chose the Cannondale Synapese Feminine 5, which I love. Each of these models comes in different price ranges, depending on the quality of the derailleurs, brakes, etc. I tried 3 different price ranges in each model, and ended up spending about $400 more than I had budgeted (well, that's the problem with trying a step up from what you had expected to spend! The Scott Contessa in the $600-$700 range felt very sluggish; the one in the $900 range felt fine; the one in the $1300 range felt great. Same for the Cannondale Synapse)

    Bikes last a long time, so it's worth paying a bit more for a better bike. But seriously, try out a number of different bikes with the geometry that works for you. Good luck!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    Alright!! I just recently bought my first bike as well. It can be overwhelming but thank goodness the guy at the bike shop was awesome. That being said, you sound exactly how I did about a week and half ago (thats how new I am). Long story short, I ended up getting a Giant Avail Advanced. It's my first bike so I have nothing to compare it to. What I do know is that it's comfortable & light (carbon frame). I also didn't want to invest in a beginner bike then have to invest again a few months later. So I went ahead and got a good frame and I can upgrade components later.



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