Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

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Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby Devie » Sun Sep 11, 2011 2:54 pm

Hey guys. Been looking into getting a bike recently, and I've decided to settle on a flat bar road bike for now. I will be using this bike mainly for fitness to start, and once I get that up I want to start riding to work (about 20km away, very hilly).

I went around to about 5 different bike shops yesterday, only to get even more confused by it all.
My budget is about $1,500 for the bike, though I am willing to spend more if its worth it.

After the day out, I came out with a few bikes in my mind. First up is the Trek 7.9. This is the bike I really want, though its way to expensive, and has been EOL as far as I can tell. The price sits about $3,000

The next is the Trek 7.7. This I like, though I want the carbon frame. This bike was ticketed $1999.

I am somewhat interested in the Specialized Sirrus Limited. The thing I like with this bike over the Trek's is that it looks so damn cool, full carbon, and ticket is $1999. I do not like that is not using the 105, that I have heard is a must. Those 3 are all bikes I had a decent look at.

Then there is also this Azzurri Roma Elite, with 105, on special for $1299 on cyclingexpress, which is very tempting over the Trek 7.7. I like the white on black look better... I couldn't find a local stockist of the Azzurri to actually have a look at it though.

SO from that, I have no idea which to choose, but I know there is a very large selection of bikes out there. I want to know if there are any other nice contenders for my hard earned, or any experience with the above, or just any information at all would be amazing!
Thanks guys.
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by BNA » Sun Sep 11, 2011 8:17 pm

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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby Nobody » Sun Sep 11, 2011 8:17 pm

For your application you don't need carbon or 105. Tiagra or even Sora works OK and should last well enough. Carbon is not the best material for a commuter as it is not good at taking knocks and doesn't always come with rack mounts. Although carbon may have more bling it may not be lighter and/or stiffer than a good alloy frame so don't use carbon as a definite class indicator. Many commuters prefer steel as it's known for it's durability and it has a safe failure mode.

Since you are faced with a steep commute, probably in all weather, it may be worth looking at a rigid steel 29er. It would be durable, have a wide gearing range for hills and disc brakes for all weather braking. It also should have rack and mudguard mounts as well as being able to take thin or wide road tyres, or MTB tyres. In other words it is probably the most versatile solution.
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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby Devie » Sun Sep 11, 2011 8:29 pm

Thanks for the reply :)

I should probably add to what I intend to use it for. Basically there is a bike track that runs from my home to where my work is, its a smooth track, no dirt. I wont be using it as a primary mode of transportation, because I actually have a work car for my job, and go between clients all day. So my plan was, maybe 2-3 times a week, to leave my car at work, and ride home/to work then drive back home etc. I wont be using it in all weather, and I definitely plan to use it on weekends for a treck. I am hopeful to one day step up to a real road bike, and do a decent run of 100km etc.
I definitely see what you're saying about the carbon, it does just really have a bling, or wank, factor to it, really. Though I think I just want it...

So I have come down to three bikes really, and I have NO idea which one to go to!
So two I have already mentioned, the Trek 7.7, the Specialized, and now I've just found the Apollo Volta which looks intriguing.
http://www.apollobikes.com/bikes12/commuter/volta looks to be about $2,000 aswell.
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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby antipodean » Sun Sep 11, 2011 8:35 pm

My advice is DO NOT BUY A FLATBAR .
Why?
Because within 6 months (tops) you will be kicking yourself for not buying a proper road bike (drop bar).
This forum is littered with flatbar buyers looking for advice on "what road bike should I buy".
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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby Devie » Sun Sep 11, 2011 8:44 pm

I tried a few drop bars when running around stores, the riding position will kill my back (I have to see a chiro at least twice a month) so that's why I went toward the flat bar. If I do kick myself later on, I'll just sell up and buy that, but right now I can't see myself having one.
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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby Tim » Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:06 pm

....
antipodean wrote:Because within 6 months (tops) you will be kicking yourself for not buying a proper road bike (drop bar).
...

Too true. Exactly my experience.
But at least I've got a nice cruisey bike to ride down to the shops
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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby Devie » Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:27 pm

Hrm now a lot of doubt is being thrown into my head... Hrmmmmm
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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby Nobody » Sun Sep 11, 2011 9:43 pm

Not only are drop bars generally faster, but they are also more comfortable due to the many hand positions. Also you can have the top of the drop bars level with the saddle (touring bike style) so you can have the choice of a quite relaxed position combined with a more aerodynamic one (in the drops) for shorter bursts or down hill.

There is however some disadvantages with drop bars:

The main one is this style of bike has a shorter frame (for the same fit) and this puts your weight further forward on the bike. This will make the weight distribution worse for emergency braking, so the flat bar will generally brake better. It is not a huge difference, but worth mentioning. Also braking from the hoods can compromise braking power as it requires more strength to do.

Drops are harder to steer at slow speeds than a flat bar, so making negotiating tight turns and spaces more difficult.

The brake/shift (brifters,STI/Ergo) levers are significantly more expensive than flat bar shifters and brake levers.
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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby Devie » Mon Sep 12, 2011 6:05 pm

Alright I've had a lot of thought about this, spoken to a few people plus you guys strongly recommending not getting a flat bar, so pretty much decided to go for a drop bar.

I went into JTCycles today and spoke to a dude there, he strongly suggest a drop over the flat for what I am planning on doing, showed me the riding position on it and I pretty much decided it could just work.

The bike he showed is the 2011 Specialized Tarmac Comp 105, with $499 worth of "freebies" (helmet, shoes, among other stuff) plus pedals, plus sizing, for $2750. Sounds like a pretty decent deal for me, and I was planning on getting shoes/helmet anyway and throwing in the pedals, so its sorta $250 more for a much nicer bike.


Sounds like a goer? Sure I'm spending $1,000+ over my first budget, but that was my budget before I started looking. Are Specialized still a highly rated brand? I remember their Fatboy days that's about it :p
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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby zero » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:05 pm

Its actually low for the model, but high for a 105 bike in general. ie the only one I saw on bike exchange was $2999.

Oddly enough the only thing I own made by spec is their MTB shoes which I can't recommend highly enough - especially on the durability front for wet commuting (I'm a year round commuter). I find it hard to justify $499 worth of value in a shoe/helmet/pedals deal, as those are bits which are notoriously padded in the Australian market, but on my experience I wouldn't be scared of the shoes if they are spec branded, rather than shimano items. I would have a look at all the bits first is all. Also bear in mind road cleats are usually the clumsiest / most daunting to start with / least walkable.

The market (see bike exchange) for say MS oppy C5s is highly competitive, and you could get a good carbon 105 drop bar bike for $2k. Not saying don't do it - its a nice bike - because I know you started out with the higher budget and aren't twisting your own arm, but just bear in mind you are buying a premium brand and you could get ultegra bikes in good brands on runout deals for that cash.

Your journey distance (20 kms) wouldn't bug me on a flat bar, but I would generally want the drops for more speed if it was all paved/smooth no doubt about that.
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Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby RonK » Mon Sep 12, 2011 7:16 pm

The Specialized Tarmac Comp is an excellent choice. Since you mention back problems, make sure you are properly fitted, and that they don't cut the steerer too short. There should be enough spacers to allow reasonable height adjustment. Make sure you discuss this with the shop. If you are not satisfied with the fitting, don't buy.
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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby Devie » Mon Sep 12, 2011 8:38 pm

Right - I have decided that the Specialized is the top for me at the moment, due to it having a better riding position for me. Though thanks to zero, I will be going back to one of the shops, telling them what deal I have with the Specialized, and see if they can do anything like that for me. If they have something that cant compare in position, I will just suck it up and buy the more expensive Specialized. (Plus I really like the look of it)

Thank you all!
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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby DavidS » Mon Sep 12, 2011 11:41 pm

I ride to work every day on a flat bar. Don't be pushed into a decision based on other people's recommendations, decide which is best for you. Try both and see what you prefer. A worse fate is buying a bike and not using it because it doesn't fit the purpose for which you bought it. If you ride both and prefer a drop bar go for it, just make sure it is your decision.

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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby jasimon » Tue Sep 13, 2011 6:31 am

I'll give my experience which may aid your decisions.

I got a flat bar road bike with no firm plans in mind for it about three years ago. I ended up commuting (8km each way) and doing weekend group rides (50-80km) with a bunch of roadies. My bike was fine for all of the above. It is a CRX2, so is all aluminium (not even carbon forks and stays) and a Tiagara/Sora mix.

Do I wish I had a roadie? When the wind is blowing in my face, yes! Otherwise, not so desperately.

Does the variety of hand positions on a drop bar matter? Yes. I had initial problems with pins and needles in my hands from only having the one hand position on the flat-bar on longer rides. I solved them, but it was an issue.

The 'freebies' are worth about half their retail price. You will quickly discover that you can buy all the add-ons for about half price from the UK. The only piece of equipment to get locally is a bike helmet (one for the fit, and the other for the little Australian Standards sticker - a discussion in itself).

I think it will be hard for you to judge anything until you have been riding for a while. A lot of people say something like "If I knew then what I know now" - but the truth is you can't. Know it will happen and prepare for it. Even if you get yourself some carbon bling drop bar now, you will likely know yourself as a rider better in six months and want to change something.
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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby apsilon » Tue Sep 13, 2011 8:38 am

IMO try a flat bar as well, you may find you like the riding position more. I know I do and have ridden nothing but flat bars all my life (riding over 30 years with gaps here and there). The flat bar will be about 5km/h slower which unless you're racing isn't a big deal.

It isn't for everyone but I recently imported my first bike. $1400 delivered for a flat bar with full Ultegra road set with compact cranks and Mavic rims with XT hubs. Can't be beat price wise locally and I couldn't be happier with the bike.
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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby jasimon » Tue Sep 13, 2011 9:28 am

apsilon wrote:The flat bar will be about 5km/h slower which unless you're racing isn't a big deal.

Maybe.

The aerodynamics are poor on a flat-bar as you can't scooch down in the same way. But if you suck wheel you can hang with the roadies no problems. As I said, I did weekend rides with the roadies and had no problems keeping up (when the fitness was there).
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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby Ellipsis » Tue Sep 13, 2011 11:58 am

Hi Devie,

If I can add my 2c. You may get the bike bug in 6 or so months and wish you had brought a drop bar. Then again you might not and would have been quite happy with a fast flat bar. Especially for commuting. After all in six months time what’s to stop you buying a proper road bike and having two – One for commuting and one for weekend rides. By that time you might have a better idea of exactly what you are after if you are after anything else at all.

For the purpose of commuting and “getting started” I’d recommend getting something that is going to be cross functional. I know, if I wanted to pop down to the shops I wouldn’t consider doing it on my roadie.

I might add – I’m also in the process of getting a commuter and travelling 20km to and from work (also hilly) I had a look at the Roma Elite – Only size available is the medium on Cycling Express – Some of their listed stockiest don’t stock the Azzurri range anymore… My price point is lower than yours but I was also looking at: Seek 1, Cross City 1, Scott Sub 20 and the Orbea H20(2012 version is a funky brown colour) All of these have the Deore or 105 group sets and priced around 1-1.3k.

Cheers,

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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby GraemeL » Tue Sep 13, 2011 12:12 pm

Devie wrote:Alright I've had a lot of thought about this, spoken to a few people plus you guys strongly recommending not getting a flat bar, so pretty much decided to go for a drop bar.

I went into JTCycles today and spoke to a dude there, he strongly suggest a drop over the flat for what I am planning on doing, showed me the riding position on it and I pretty much decided it could just work.

The bike he showed is the 2011 Specialized Tarmac Comp 105, with $499 worth of "freebies" (helmet, shoes, among other stuff) plus pedals, plus sizing, for $2750. Sounds like a pretty decent deal for me, and I was planning on getting shoes/helmet anyway and throwing in the pedals, so its sorta $250 more for a much nicer bike.


Sounds like a goer? Sure I'm spending $1,000+ over my first budget, but that was my budget before I started looking. Are Specialized still a highly rated brand? I remember their Fatboy days that's about it :p


Or you could do what we have done. I wanted a flat bar but was talked into getting a drop bar, it's a Merida Race Lite 904 and the wifes is the Juliet 94.
After riding the bikes for 4 months we find we are not comfortable, I have had back issues for years and found my neck and shoulders were also giving me greif and wife was unsteady on the bike. We like the bikes but not the drop bars.
We went back to the LBS and he suggested instead of selling these and buying new bikes, swap over the bars. So we had the wifes done first, they removed the drops and levers etc and replaced them with a height adjustable flat bar and new levers.
The cost was $250. She loves it and I think it turned out extremely well. I will get mine done when we can afford it.

So if after a while you find that drops are not for you, then you have the option of doing the same.

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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby Nobody » Tue Sep 13, 2011 2:54 pm

GraemeL wrote:Or you could do what we have done. I wanted a flat bar but was talked into getting a drop bar, it's a Merida Race Lite 904 and the wifes is the Juliet 94.
After riding the bikes for 4 months we find we are not comfortable, I have had back issues for years and found my neck and shoulders were also giving me greif and wife was unsteady on the bike. We like the bikes but not the drop bars.
We went back to the LBS and he suggested instead of selling these and buying new bikes, swap over the bars. So we had the wifes done first, they removed the drops and levers etc and replaced them with a height adjustable flat bar and new levers.
The cost was $250. She loves it and I think it turned out extremely well. I will get mine done when we can afford it.

So if after a while you find that drops are not for you, then you have the option of doing the same.

Graeme
You might be able to do the swap to flat bars successfully, but keep in mind that flat bar and drop bar bikes have different length frames for the same sized person. So if a drop bar bike fits you well (not in your case) the same frame should be too short in top tube length for a flat bar (ideal fit).
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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby GraemeL » Tue Sep 13, 2011 4:51 pm

Nobody wrote:[You might be able to do the swap to flat bars successfully, but keep in mind that flat bar and drop bar bikes have different length frames for the same sized person. So if a drop bar bike fits you well (not in your case) the same frame should be too short in top tube length for a flat bar (ideal fit).


You may very well be right, we had a bike fit done when we bought them and again after the mod.

For the wife it worked out quite well. I was worried for that very reason, but with the adjustable bar it makes it easy to get it right. Mind you I haven't had mine done yet.
I was just offering an option for the OP, if he got drops and they didn't work out, then this is a cheap option.

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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby The Walrus » Sun May 12, 2013 11:21 pm

DavidS wrote:I ride to work every day on a flat bar. Don't be pushed into a decision based on other people's recommendations, decide which is best for you. Try both and see what you prefer. A worse fate is buying a bike and not using it because it doesn't fit the purpose for which you bought it. If you ride both and prefer a drop bar go for it, just make sure it is your decision.

DS


Totally right. I got a drop bar and I don't like it, wished I'd gone for a flat bar instead of getting talked into a drop bar!
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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby thejester » Thu May 16, 2013 1:54 pm

get the carbon flat bar :twisted:
Its primary purpose is as a commuter.
Purpose designed for agility.
Just as quick up hills as any equivalent drop bar.
Put some better wheels on with the money saved and go quicker still.
My CRX all alloy flatbar put many carbon fibre drop bars to shame. It is all about the engine and riding smart.
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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby Mozzar » Thu May 16, 2013 2:43 pm

For all those people who say get a drop bar rather then a flat bar you should be ashamed, as a flat bar is far better for commuting on bike paths and can be set up for a more comfortable riding position. You can also get a flat bar with disc brakes for cheaper and you can get some that you can also put a wider tyre on for the odd rail trail.
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Re: Flat Bar Road Bike newbie help

Postby ray » Thu May 16, 2013 9:48 pm

Mozzar wrote:For all those people who say get a drop bar rather then a flat bar you should be ashamed, as a flat bar is far better for commuting on bike paths and can be set up for a more comfortable riding position. You can also get a flat bar with disc brakes for cheaper and you can get some that you can also put a wider tyre on for the odd rail trail.


Probably a bit harsh Mozzar! Though I do support the flat bar argument. There are some very good arguments for flat bar and drop bar. I think it also depends on how experienced/confident Devie is with bikes. I started off with a flat bar and really glad I did. I was a newbie at the time with no experience with riding bikes, other than learning how to ride at friends place when very young. I would not have had the confidence and skills to ride a drop bar. Was considering a mountain bike or hybrid at the time but glad I went with the flat bar as it was better suited to my reason to get a bike - to do the RTCC. In fact I stacked it quite a number of times early on. After a year I ended up getting my 1st drop bar road bike. Best move ever for me as I'm more comfortable and really enjoy being in a more aero position. Though I do recall holding onto the hoods for dear life and too scared to reach for the water bottle on my first few rides.

The flat bar than became my commuter (using 25mm tyres at the front and 28mm for the rear) for over a year. For commuting I added a rack and pannier and finally some fenders at the beginning of the year. 3 weeks ago I replaced it with a cheap frame, spare 105 groupset I never got around to selling and built up a drop bar commuter with rack and fenders. What prompted me to swap was the fact I didn't like to be so upright and then on weekends swap to a completely different position. I'm quite flexible and wanted to have the same/similar position on all my bikes plus my new commuter can also serve as a heavier training bike during the week. I may not be noticeable quicker on the new commuter but I'm enjoying my commutes more. I'm also more experienced and confident on the roads now. Was considering getting a CX bike with disc brakes but that would have blown my budget.

So as others have suggested go for a cheaper flat bar (I spend around $1000) if that suits where you are at the moment. Highly recommended for commuting the ability to add a rack and fenders. Put aside the money to get a drop bar road bike later on. It is so true about the N+1 rule. I now have 5 bikes.

edit: I regularly did 120km+ rides on the flat-bar so that shouldn't hold you back for the weekends.
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