First bike tips

It's nearly time to buy my first bike, so looking for some tips.

A bit about myself so you know where I'm at: I'm 31, been running and swimming for the last couple of months with the intention of doing a few triathlons next year (prob a sprint in spring and oly in summer). I was already pretty fit coming into this training schedule, and have had previous running and mountain biking experience, albeit 10 years ago and not particularly serious (also, never been on a road bike). So basically, I'm new to triathlon but not coming in totally from scratch, picked up running and swimming fairly quickly again and expect the same on the bike.

My plan atm is to buy an entry level road bike, so probably looking at around £500-600, with an extra £200-ish on accessories (helmet, shoes & pedals, toolkit etc). So here are my questions:

- Will I actually notice any difference between the bikes I'm looking at in my price range, or is it basically irrelevant which one I choose at that price?

- If I could increase my bike budget to say £1k, what would I get for my extra £500 and would it be worth it?

- Unless you're at an elite level, is the quality of the bike actually important or is it really all about the rider?

Any other tips appreciated, thanks.


  • stutyrstutyr ✭✭✭

    A £1000 bike will be significanlty better than a £500 bike, and a £1500 bike will be noticeably better than a £1000 bike.  Above £1500 you are probably getting into the area of marginal improvements.

    Main difference will be the quality of wheels (important as they are the rolling mass) and the ride quality of the frame.  Durability also improves as the price increases - but this may not be too important depending on how much cycling you want to do.

    If you have a £500 budget, you may want to look at "last years" models (this could be the 2012 model if the new 2013 model has been released) in the sales.  Or alternatively look at eBay for second hand.  It may be worth a trip to a local shop to see how some bikes fit you, as each brand has their own formula for the "perfect" fit. Bike fit is more important on a road bike compared to a mountain bike as you tend to sit in the same position for longer (e.g. less chucking your weight around etc), and you may find the more upright position of a sportive bike is better for you than a race bike, or vice versa.

  • Fit, Fit, Fit. I would say it doesnt really matter how much you spend; what gears, wheels or kit is on it - if it doesn't fit you won't ride it. Look round local bike shops, can you participate in a cycletowork scheme?

    Last years model is probably going to be your best bet, there will be some cracking deals around, but make sure it fits

  • Thanks guys.

    So fit is more important than everything else by the looks of it. I'm guessing that at £500 I pretty much ignore all the spec and just got for what fits? If I go up to £1k then the spec becomes a bit more important but is still secondary to fit?

    My plan was to get it from a local bike shop so that I could benefit from the 'community' aspect and the personal touch, but I happen to know that my local shops don't really carry any old stock. Also I'm pretty short at 5'4 and availability of old stock and 2nd hand bikes generally seems to be minimal for smaller bikes from what I've seen). This means I might have to go a bit further afield to the bigger shops, which I guess isn't a big problem, but not what I initially wanted to do.

    I can't do the C2W scheme as I work for myself. I was going to do it through my gf but her scheme has set dates to apply and I've just missed this year.

  • Go talk to your LBS and see what they can do. I know mine for me going on a Scott speedster for about ??600. I'm sure they'll do what they can rather than lose out to a bigger company
  • Around the £500 mark I don't think you can beat the Ribble Audax/Winter trainer.


    Around the £1000 mark I'd again recommend a Ribble Carbon Sportive Bianco

    or the Planet X Pro Carbon


    Both bikes have had very good reviews.

    I plumped for the Ribble Sportive Bianco and my best mate went for the Planet X.

    I went in at £1300 as I wanted some uprated parts but we're both very happy with our choices.

    I'm not just recommending these 2 as it's what we bought.

    We actually spent a few months trying different bikes, reading reviews and researching before we parted with our hard earned cash.

    I also really liked the Giant Defy and Specialized Allez but the Ribble just edged it.



  • Some good tips. I'm going to research a bit and travel round and try a bunch of different bikes rather than just settle for the limited selection from my LBS.

    Has anybody got any input on my last question:

    - Unless you're at an elite level, is the quality of the bike actually important or is it really all about the rider?

  • it's about the rider in essence.  sure a lighter stiffer bike will help to gain speed but it's pretty marginal.  when a bunch of us did IM Switzerland back in 2005, the quickest biker (and quickest overall) on the day did it on a 2nd hand £500 bike.  a quick rider will always be quick no matter what they are riding.

  • I have to agree that on a budget you can't go wrong with a ribble winter trainer, they are selling on ebay second hand at around the £300 mark, if you can be patient you will get one in your size.

    if you wanted to spend your remaining budget you can always upgrade the wheels, getting last years stock in wheels should be easy for you, but wait until you have the bike and check to see if you have any parts that need replacing through use.

    Budget for pedals and shoes if you don't own them already, also consider some people prefer MBT pedals + shoes on a road bike, so worth some reading there.

    If you have money to spare after all this a good saddle that fits you will be important, also consider spending some money getting the bike fitted to you, this can cost a bit but if done right is worth every penny

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