Advice on road bike for beginner female

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Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby BerraLiz » Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:26 pm

Hi there,

I'm seeking advice on my first road bike.

I currently ride a clunky old hybrid - and I'm riding it 36km a day (to work and back), but only 2 or 3 times per week. I'd like to upgrade to a roadbike to make the ride easier and hopefully a bit faster.

I've had a bit of a look around and test ridden a Malvern Star Oppy C4W, a Giant Avail Comp 3 (and the Avail 1) and a Scott Contessa Speedster - which were all a lot nicer to ride than my current bike!

I'm a bit concerned that I'm being sold things that I might not necessarily need in a bike. For example - do I really need a carbon frame? Or Shimano 105 components?

Any advice appreciated!
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by BNA » Sun Aug 18, 2013 6:55 am

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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby foo on patrol » Sun Aug 18, 2013 6:55 am

Depends on how much riding you are going to do. The nicer the bike, the more likely you are to want to ride it even more. :wink:

What is your plan for riding other than to work? The Carbon frames soak up the road surface harshness better than metal frames and 105 gear works a little bit smoother and is better quality than Sora and Tiagra entries. Buy the best you can afford and use it more than you intended. :)

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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby BerraLiz » Sun Aug 18, 2013 9:53 am

Thanks Foo!
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby marinmomma » Mon Aug 19, 2013 1:51 pm

Agree with Foo, re liking the bike will mean that you are more likely to ride it.

Also will add in the better the bike (frame) and components are the more enjoyable your riding should be.

Do you need a women's specific frame? If you are a medium to tall lady then a regular bike will fit you fine...often WS bikes have less bang for your money...not true for all but for many!

Bike fit is the most important thing, you should be fitted to the bike, test ride it...and not just a little roll around the car park...shop around and do your research.

Its a good time to buy as the shops are starting to run out the 2013 bikes for the new models.

105 is a excellent entry point which will perform well and hold off the inevitable up-graditis for a while to come.

Good luck with the search and have fun too!
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby briztoon » Mon Aug 19, 2013 5:30 pm

I don't know which State your in, but looking through BikeExchange is a good place to start. You can compare prices and look for the best deal on the bike you like, often most stores will price match, and you can compare all bikes in your price range, test ride them and decide on which one you like best.

http://www.bikeexchange.com.au/adverts/ ... n_ids%5D=3

Along with the bikes you mentioned, have a look at the Specialized Ruby and Amira.
http://www.bikeexchange.com.au/bikes/li ... omens%5D=1


I agree with the comment about the more you like your bike, the more you'll ride it. And as a commuter, it's nice to ride a good bike to work as well. My commuter is carbon with 105 on it.
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby BerraLiz » Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:21 pm

Thank you everyone!

I'm 159cm tall and I have short legs - so I think the women's specific frame is probably better for me.

I have noticed that a few of the shops are trying to get rid of their 2013 model bikes.

I'm in Canberra so there are plenty of bike shops too. It's just that at the moment I don't think I can afford carbon frame AND Shimano 105 components. The bikes that are more within my price range have been alloy frame (carbon forks) with 105 components OR carbon frame with tiagra components. See my dilemma?

Thanks again!
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby Eleri » Mon Aug 19, 2013 9:40 pm

Personally, I would go for better running gear, all other things being equal with respect to fit.

With short legs and a longer torso, you will probably fit many standard bikes. Many women, me included, are the other way round. It's the top tube length that tends to be shorter on women's specific bikes.
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby moosterbounce » Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:31 pm

Eleri wrote:Personally, I would go for better running gear, all other things being equal with respect to fit.

With short legs and a longer torso, you will probably fit many standard bikes. Many women, me included, are the other way round. It's the top tube length that tends to be shorter on women's specific bikes.


Funny...I'd go for better frame as the components will be replaced as they wear but the frame shouldn't. Saying that though, I've not managed to keep a group set for long enough to wear more than the chain, though having 3 current bikes and swapping 2 last year I may be a little different :oops:

Anyhoo, I also vote for trying a "bloke's" bike. I've been riding them for the last 9 years and it hasn't hurt me!! Yes, shops are trying to get rid of 2013 stock and "men's" fit bikes are more common than WSD so you may get a better bargain if you fit these. Certainly don't discount the option.

Good luck on your search. Keep us posted :)
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby Nobody » Mon Aug 19, 2013 10:37 pm

BerraLiz wrote:I'm a bit concerned that I'm being sold things that I might not necessarily need in a bike. For example - do I really need a carbon frame? Or Shimano 105 components?

Any advice appreciated!
As nice and helpful as Foo usually is, I disagree with him this time. Sorry Foo. :)

You don't need a more fragile carbon frame. You don't usually need 105. Simple.

Whether you want these things is an entirely different question. Only test riding such bikes will allow you to compare and know for sure. If this is important to you, then make sure you know what pressures the tyres have in them before you head off as this will be a large determining factor to comfort. As for carbon soaking up bumps, this may be true to a degree, but it's the tyres primary role to do this. The saddle and bar tape will do most of the rest. The frame and fork are secondary to these three.

As for 105, it may be of benefit. If you have short legs then you may need shorter cranks, like 165mm. You can only get these in Shimano with 105 or above, or XT and above for MTB. All my cranks are 165mm, that's how I know. Other than that, Tiagra is usually last year's 105 with a different colour scheme at a lower price. I have a few Tiagra bits which work fine.

As said above, fit is going to be the most important factor in a road bike. As you can't usually rely on the bike shop to get your fit right, it might be worth your while doing the calculators below to get a better idea of your bike fit.
http://www.competitivecyclist.com/za/CC ... ATOR_INTRO

http://www.machinehead-software.co.uk/b ... lator.html
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby trailgumby » Tue Aug 20, 2013 1:08 am

@nobody: Dude, you're seriously impressing me with some quality advice and comment. What happened to the annoying steel-is-real v-braked retro grouch? I (almost) miss that guy :lol:

@liz I concur with the girls that if you are short legged for a female then a mens frame should be on your list to check out. Just make sure they fit a women's road saddle as the male equivalent will be too narrow and will force you to support your weight on your sensitive girl bits instead of your sit bones.
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby Nobody » Tue Aug 20, 2013 10:00 am

trailgumby wrote:@nobody: Dude, you're seriously impressing me with some quality advice and comment.
Thanks TG. :)
trailgumby wrote:What happened to the annoying steel-is-real v-braked retro grouch? I (almost) miss that guy :lol:
That guy is rarely far away, if you read the relevant threads. :lol:
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby Lizzy » Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:12 pm

Eleri wrote:With short legs and a longer torso, you will probably fit many standard bikes. Many women, me included, are the other way round. It's the top tube length that tends to be shorter on women's specific bikes.


Me three, I'm 6 months into my first road bike, I tested probably 7-8 standard/bloke bikes, then immediately bought the first women-specific I sat on - I was having to reach way further forward than I was comfortable with on the standard frames, once I got high enough up off the ground. Good luck!
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby BerraLiz » Wed Aug 21, 2013 7:33 pm

Hi everyone - thanks again!

I'll look into mens frames as well.

I really appreciate all of the honest advice.
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby Chesterini » Thu Aug 22, 2013 9:55 pm

I just bought my first road bike for commuting, i decided on the Scott Contessa Speedster after trying out numerous guy bikes including the Giant and the Avanti. As soon as I sat on it I knew it was mine, it just felt far more comfortable and stable than some of the twitchy guys ones especially because the bars weren't so wide. I really love mine and get quite a few comments on what a speedy wee bike it is when I fly past those commuters on their hybrids. When they catch me at the lights that is! So Scott = Highly recommended
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby maninlycra » Thu Aug 22, 2013 11:13 pm

A properly tuned SORA will be just fine, I have a Di2 and a SORA, sometimes the SORA shifts better, go figure!
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby redheeler » Wed Sep 11, 2013 2:42 pm

I'm a 165cm female and I currently ride a Merida - Ride Lite Juliet 91. XS frame which I purchased it in Nov last year. It cost me $1100. But whatever you buy from whichever bike shop, make sure the people running it fit and adjust the bike for you. This takes about 1/2 hour but it means that you'll be riding in comfort from day 1.
Good luck with your quest and happy riding. I ride mine basically for exercise but clock up over 50kms on each ride.
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby Duck! » Sat Sep 14, 2013 1:22 pm

Nobody wrote:You don't need a more fragile carbon frame. You don't usually need 105. Simple.

Quit the "more fragile" bunkum. Yes, it's more likely to break rather than bend (which metal will do) in a major impact (which would render a metal frame equally stuffed), but in normal use carbon is NOT fragile. No one "needs" any particular level groupset, but generally speaking, the higher the level in the range, the nicer it feels. (That said, the current Tiagra shifters are actually better than the 105. Some folk do not like the older-style "clothesline" gear cables exiting the sides of the shifters, but the fact is they work a lot more smoothly than the hidden cables).

As for 105, it may be of benefit. If you have short legs then you may need shorter cranks, like 165mm. You can only get these in Shimano with 105 or above....

That's not correct either. 165mm cranks are available right down to Claris (the sub-Sora group previously known only by its number code, 2200/2300).
I had a thought, but it got run over as it crossed my mind.
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby Nobody » Sat Sep 14, 2013 2:52 pm

Duck! wrote:Quit the "more fragile" bunkum. Yes, it's more likely to break rather than bend (which metal will do) in a major impact (which would render a metal frame equally stuffed), but in normal use carbon is NOT fragile.
Sounds like you're taking some kind of personal offense over a comment about a frame material on an online forum. Had a bad day today?

Duck! wrote:That's not correct either. 165mm cranks are available right down to Claris (the sub-Sora group previously known only by its number code, 2200/2300).
Can you list 5 online places that sell 165mm cranks in less than Tiagra? Shimano may make them, but finding someone who sells them is a bit harder.
Last edited by Nobody on Sat Sep 14, 2013 3:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby warthog1 » Sat Sep 14, 2013 3:06 pm

Nobody wrote:
Duck! wrote:Quit the "more fragile" bunkum. Yes, it's more likely to break rather than bend (which metal will do) in a major impact (which would render a metal frame equally stuffed), but in normal use carbon is NOT fragile.
Sounds like you're taking some kind of personal offense over a comment about a frame material on an online forum. Had a bad day today?


I'm a carbon riding show pony :) . I love the way it rides and the rigidity around the bb at such light weight.
I'd have to agree with Nobody though, that it is more fragile than steel, in that you can't, or shouldn't, knock it around and generally treat it like poo as you can a heavier steel frame. Horses for courses though.

The mighty steel Ribble is still cruising Nobody :) bit grubby at the moment though. Bloody Victorian weather :evil:
Last edited by warthog1 on Sat Sep 14, 2013 3:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby Duck! » Sat Sep 14, 2013 3:08 pm

Nobody wrote:Sounds like you're taking some kind of personal offense over a comment about a frame material on an online forum. Had a bad day today?

I'm having a perfectly fine day, thanks for asking. :) I'm just a little bit tired of people trotting out the tired old misconception that carbon will fall apart if you so much as look at it the wrong way, which is how some people carry on. Don't take it too much to heart, I'd have said the same thing if anyone else made the comment.

Nobody wrote:
Duck! wrote:That's not correct either. 165mm cranks are available right down to Claris (the sub-Sora group previously known only by its number code, 2200/2300).
Can you list 5 online places that sell 165mm cranks in less than Tiagra? Shimano may make them, but finding someone who sells them is a bit harder. All my bikes have 165mm cranks.
No I can't name any, but I can suggest that your LBS would quite easily be able to source one, should you so desire. My speculation would be that the online channels don't offer short cranks in lower spec levels because a) demand for 165mm is generally fairly low, and b) at that level of the market, most buyers are not going to be as well-researched as more experienced cyclists (who in turn aren't likely to be shopping at that product level), therefore would be more likely to seek professional, local advice on their needs.
I had a thought, but it got run over as it crossed my mind.
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby Nobody » Sat Sep 14, 2013 3:35 pm

Duck! wrote:I'm just a little bit tired of people trotting out the tired old misconception that carbon will fall apart if you so much as look at it the wrong way, which is how some people carry on.
I'm talking about real world durability, like taking grazes on rocks from crashes.

Also they are more fragile when it comes to clamping forces. You know if someone over-torques a carbon part is more likely to fail. You may say that this is abuse, but not everyone has a torque wrench and may need to adjust or tighten something on a ride. I don't have any carbon on my bikes and don't use a torque wrench on them. That may make me a fool, but I haven't had any over-torquing failures either.

The context of the comment on this thread was to a beginner. Maybe I wasn't overly clear, but I'm not going to write a thesis every time either.

If it makes you feel any better, I'm not a fan of anything built fragile, no matter what it's made of. But the reality is, you usually find the built_with_a_weight_limit stuff is usually carbon as it's the lightest material for it's strength and so it gets used where weight is critical.

I can't count how many of these "discussions" I've had on here, so I'm not going to continue to post here. I think the OP is long gone anyway.

Duck! wrote:No I can't name any, but I can suggest that your LBS would quite easily be able to source one, should you so desire.
You know the price would generally be significantly higher and the wait significantly longer than buying online. So buying 105 or XT online becomes the best option. In the end, whether Shimano makes them or not therefore becomes immaterial in Australia.
Last edited by Nobody on Sat Sep 14, 2013 3:51 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby trailgumby » Sat Sep 14, 2013 3:41 pm

Some interesting comments here on the durability of certain materials when used for bicycle frames, from the author of Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance, and Zinn and the Art of Mountain Bike maintenance. Carbon rates last in terms of durability because it can be brittle.

http://zinncycles.com/Zinn/index.php/archives/1312

That said, the last bike I bought was carbon.

Returning to the original thread subject, carbon is nice to ride but you don't *need* it. Most of the ride quality can be obtained by running your tyres at the appropriate pressure (ie, you don't have to run it at the max limit embossed on the sidewall, like some seem to think), and by using a good quality carbon seatpost, fork and bars.

Cannondale's CAAD frames are still very well regarded as a premium bike, for example, and continue to sell well.
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby thejester » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:56 am

Go and see the cool short fat bald guy who works at the Giant dealer in Fyshwick on Sundays.
the guys on this forum keep him honest :lol:

there is a cool tall skinny bald guy too, he knows more about mtbs. :D

there are two other bald guys who are also very helpful, but they generally don't work Sundays and the rest have hair. :shock: or wear hats :wink:
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby geoffs » Sat Oct 12, 2013 7:11 pm

There's reallky no such thing as womens specific frames. All they do is put some pink bits on it and narrower handlebars. If you have a look at the specs you will see that the women's sizes just go a bit smaller.
As you are somewhat vertically challenged :-) it might be an idea to have a look at bikes with 650c wheels. By using smaller wheels, toe / wheel overlap isn't such a problem and the steering geometry is generally better. There are some big compromises made to the handling to reduce overlap on a small bike with 700c wheels
Make sure you take a few for test rides
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Re: Advice on road bike for beginner female

Postby Parker » Sat Oct 12, 2013 7:27 pm

geoffs wrote:There's reallky no such thing as womens specific frames. All they do is put some pink bits on it and narrower handlebars. If you have a look at the specs you will see that the women's sizes just go a bit smaller.

That's not true, go have a look at the specialized website for more info.
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