Advice for a complete beginner

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  • Hi all

    I’d very much appreciate some advice on buying more-or-less my first ever “proper” bike. You all seem both knowledgeable and friendly - thanks in advance for putting up with a newbie...

    I’m keen to get into road cycling and heading out on club runs (not interested in racing). And I’ve got two small kids who love their bikes, and I want to get out with them - so I want something that I’ll be able to stick bigger tyres on to cope with mud, and with gravel tracks.

    I’ve been thinking about a Genesis CdA 10 - though it’s right at the top of my budget. (I’m guessing things are pretty competitive and everything at that price point is equally good). Anyone got any experience with this or know a good alternative?

    My main question is - should I start off with something much cheaper to build up my fitness (and confidence - been 5 years since I’ve spent any time cycling London’s roads), and then spring to the Genesis (or whatever) when I’m in better shape? Or is that a false economy?

    Secondly, if anyone’s got any tips on building up fitness, I’m all ears. Obviously, just do progressively longer and faster rides, but if you have any good routes in north London for beginners, I’d love to hear them.

    Thanks - and hope to see you on a club ride, eventually...

  • Road bikes are my thing but I would get the best you can afford.

    Buy cheap, buy twice. A false economy as you say; you can spend that money on kit, wheels, bike holidays.

  • What are you riding now?

    I'd buy your first road bike on the assumption you'll be switching to something else within a year. You can get some amazing bargains secondhand.

  • Thanks both - @GrahamP I've got nothing at the minute; my previous bike was a Specialized Globe Roll 1. I sold it a few years back (so agree you can get amazing bargains secondhand...)

  • Definitely get something at the top end of your budget. That way you'll end up with a better frame. Everything else can be changed if need be.

    I don't think you necessarily need a crossbike, unless you're planning on riding down bridal paths. Something like a Specialized Allez or any Sportive focussed bike should do you right and most of them will take relatively big tyres these days.

    Get down the bike shops and try everything in your price range... there's nothing more important than actually sitting on the thing and trying it out. :)

  • Agree with the above. Better to get a better frame with a compromise on group set and other components. They will be easier to upgrade later when you get the bug.

  • Hello Clive.

    The key thing in my opinion is to ensure that the bike fits. A 'good' bike can easily become a torture device of it is the wrong size or not adjusted properly.

    Related to this, I would recommend investing some coin in excellent bibshorts and a saddle that's right for you. These things will make the biggest difference to your ride experience.

    A good bike shop will be able to address the above issues for you. I wouldn't recommend buying your first roadbike online. Too much uncertainty.

    Subject to this. The 'frame over components' theme above is a good one.

  • My standard advice is to work out your budget and then spend a little bit more. that way you will feel bad about not riding it


  • hugely agree on the fit/bibs/saddle thing

  • No I disagree Graham, why would you do that? I have the same bike I got in 2014 and it is going to stick with me. I have upgraded my wheels but the frame is the same. There is no reason to spend twice - as Kos says.

  • I agree with the consensus above. My CAAD8 is still going strong as my winter/cobbles bike. Wheels have been upgraded and groupset will be this summer but shows the value of getting a half-decent frame to start with. And maybe a good idea to go aluminium rather than carbon to get under the 1k price point?

  • I think Graham's suggestion worth bearing in mind - and strategy probably depends upon what one is looking for.

    I reckon it's tricky since getting something (anything) in which you don't have confidence will probably make for less fulfilling riding, but, I gather, it's easy to spend more than is justified - on items that can still be unsuitable or break or be stolen.

    Moving from my folder to road bike, I had a good idea about what I wanted - similar to the kind of thing that @CliveR describes. This set a budget and, somewhat in-line with what others have suggested, I ended spending a bit more and being quite happy with my bike.

    However, this was never a bike for life, and though I wouldn't want to switch bikes, My riding has evolved*, and I wouldn't mind another, slightly different, steed.

    *club rides are a great way to build fitness etc (and I should take care on Sat mornings to avoid being mistaken for an escapee).

  • Hi Clive,

    On bikes, if I were in your shoes I'd go for a good second hand bike as a first bike; and then I'd sell it (for close to what you bought it for - so a small overall cost) and upgrade if you want to in the future. If you do buy second hand, be aware there are lots of stolen bikes on the second hand market so try to get assurances that it's not nicked.

    In terms of what type of bike - I bought a cyclocross bike about 15 years ago and its great for road cycling and also some track-based cycling. I've ridden it on B-rides in the club. So you might want to nose around these types of bikes. If you haven't already, head to a large Evans store and get a tour of the different options.

    On building up fitness I would thoroughly recommend 'Heart Rate Training' by Benson and Connolly. I wished I'd read it years ago.­ing-Roy/dp/0736086552

    Best of luck.

  • Thanks everyone. Much appreciated. I'll get out there and start auditioning bikes...

  • Hey @CliveR, can only echo what's been said above. Interestingly I was in exactly your shoes only half a year ago, and the club gave me lots of amazing advice. Maybe you want to have a read through the discussion back in June:­269357/?offset=25#comment12355745

    Fast forward to now, I'm very happy with my purchase. I got a Cannondale Synapse with Shimano 105 components, not knowing what would really happen. I got completely hooked with cycling (and am still beyond obsessed). The bike has grown with me well, and I've learn to to (badly) upgrade components and do basic maintainence, my fitness has upgraded as I've learnt how to train (mostly from advice in this very club), and it's been a bike that's versatile enough for all manner of riding - long rides, short intense sessions at Regent's Park, and this year I started racing on it.

    In short, I recommend stretching your budget as far as you can - both with the bike and clothing. You might be surprised as to just what will happen, and as they say: buy cheap, buy twice.

  • I really don't understand the idea of buying something substandard knowing that you are going to replace it. You are then left with something that you will have to sell for a loss or keep it, lose all the money spent on it and have the hassle of storing it. In addition, life is too short to ride substandard bikes. Yes I am a total bike snob.

    A decent aluminium frame with a carbon fork, 11 speed Shimano 105 or SRAM Rival (or maybe Tiagra/Apex depending on budget) is what most people would be more than happy with, won't cost the earth and is easily upgraded. It will almost certainly come with a standard wheelset that can easily be replaced in time.

    A full carbon frame might be an expense too far at this stage but if you have the money why not?

    Definitely test some bikes out - it what you think that counts. I would get an 11 speed groupset though - the 11 speed groupsets are vastly superior to their 10 speed predecessors.

  • It is not possible to spend more than is justified on bikes. No matter what the amount, it is justified.

    If budget is an issue then you can always cut down on on non-essentials such as rent, food, children's birthday presents and the like to fund the bike.

  • I think my point is that if you've not done a lot riding it can be hard knowing what kind of riding you want to do or what you really want, and it's best not to blow all your money on something that's not quite right.

    One of things I learnt is that I needed to spend a lot more to get a bike I was happy with. I think the Clive needs to budget a bit more if he's planning this bike as a long term investment, as he's currently falling into the pricepoint void between cheap entry-level bikes (<£500) and properly nice bikes (>£1000).

  • If you're serious about spending some long hours on the road eventually, please, please, please get a bike fit before you invest in a bike...wish someone had told me this before I bought a bike. I had a full bike fit in Giant (London Wall) 2 summers ago, and it was the best upgrade I ever got. Can't remember the name of the guy I got the bike fit from, but I'm pretty sure he still works I could find out. In interest of competitive fairness, "there are many other good bike fit locations through the city" :)

  • the pricepoint void between cheap entry-level bikes (<£500) and properly nice bikes (>£1000).

    the solution is Rose... :-)

  • Hi Clive, I'd buy that bike. It looks perfectly suited to your needs/ budget, looks good and you'll probably be able to swing your leg over one. In fact Mosquito bikes on Essex Road sell Genesis and will be able to make sure the bike fits without going through a full-blown bike fit, which is probably surplus to requirements as your body/ needs will change depending on the cycling you do in the future.

  • I agree with +GrahamP - what you want is likely to evolve as you cycle more. I restarted cycling in 2007 and have bought 6 bikes over that period. I now have 3 bikes (1 written off in a crash, 1 had to be replaced by Halfords after poor set up/service, 1 I sold on e-bay for about 40% of its RRP). I'm very happy with all 3 of them but, given what I now know, I could have 2. There are so many subtle variants that it is hard to know what you want until you try and of course what you want changes in time.

    I also agree with the price point void and I think there's also one from £1000 as so many bikes are priced at £1000 to meet the requirements of most cycle to work schemes so there's not much available for a bit above £1000.

  • Getting a more affordable/lower end road bike is fine. We all need to work to our budgets. Later, when you have a clear idea of the kind of higher end bike you want and could fund, your old bike can become your winter trainer to protect your new investment from the worst weather.

  • True, although depending on the brand, the difference between the cheaper models more expensive ones is usually just the components. The frame, quite often, is identical.

    From the looks of it these days, as long as your budget starts from around 400/450, you can get the same frame-set on a brand's 'budget' model as their more premium ones.

    I think Clive's starting budget is gonna get him a pretty decent bit of kit that's plenty upgradeable for the foreseeable future.

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Advice for a complete beginner

Posted by Avatar for CliveR @CliveR