Help choosing first bike

Questions about purchasing bicycles and parts

Help choosing first bike

Postby WarbyD » Wed Dec 05, 2012 5:04 pm

Hi there,

First of all - hi to everyone here on BNA! I have only recently stumbled on this forum as I have started researching requirements for the upcoming purchase of my first bike (well - since my teens anyway). I will say straight out I know absolutely NOTHING about bikes & cycling. I have read what I can on here and other sites over the past few days and so far have managed to thoroughly confuse myself :)

I have been trying to narrow down a short-list of bikes to start getting out and taking for test rides, with my intention being to purchase a bike some time early next year (most likely February or March). I am working to a total budget of roughly $2k, and that needs to get me everything that I need to get started. I would really appreciate if you guys (and girls) could provide some feedback on the bikes in my list so far, to help me either narrow it down further or add other bikes to it that I haven't yet considered.

I intend to use the bike to ride to/from work 2-3 times a week, which is around a 30km cycle each way. Mostly cycle paths but some roads, all in pretty good condition (usually). I am 185cm tall and at the moment (losing weight - part of the reason I'm getting a bike) give the scales a pounding at around 115kg.

The bikes on my list at the moment are:
Avanti Giro 1
Avanti Blade 2
Scott Metrix 30
Giant Cross City 2
Giant Seek 2 Disc
Apollo Volare
Malvern Star Oppy A2

Given my complete lack of knowledge and experience, these bikes were mostly selected based on price (I was looking at sub-$1000 to ensure wiggle room for any necessary upgrades/equipment/accessories/etc/etc within budget but as the bike is the most important part of this, I'm happy to put as much of the $2k as necessary towards the bike); appearance (gotta look cool right?); local availability (as my first bike I really need to go into a store and take it for a ride before deciding on it); and basic specs (it has wheels? Check!);

Any and all advice, guidance and assistance greatly appreciated :)
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by BNA » Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:46 pm

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Re: Help choosing first bike

Postby jasonc » Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:46 pm

you've done some research. good start.

consider than 60kms a day is a long way. i'd be going for something to make that as easy as possible. I've got a flat bar (done about 16000kms on it) and if I was going to buy a commuter now I'd look at a cyclocross (CX) with disk brakes. would cost over $1k though. nothing wrong with the flat bar but road bike geometry over longer distances is more comfortable for your hands than a flat bar.
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Re: Help choosing first bike

Postby WarbyD » Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:41 pm

thanks for the prompt eepky Jason, appreciate your advice.. do you think something like this would be suitable:
http://www.bikeexchange.com.au/bicycles ... /102176513
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Re: Help choosing first bike

Postby Byke » Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:43 pm

Good on you for getting back on a bike.

Have you done any riding since your teens? Got any friends of roughly your size whose bike you take for a decent ride if you haven't? Because it's going to be hard to know whether you like what you're test riding if you're just riding around the block for the first time in years.

Basically worry less about particular brands / models (if you haven't already realised many of the components are exactly the same on different brands) and work out which type of bike you like best (flat bar road / road / cyclocross). And make sure the bike shop sells you the right size bike - don't get tempted by the bike on special which is a bit too big or too small. Fit is much more important than the brand you buy.

Think about getting shoes and clip-in (called "clipless") pedals. That'll add $200 to your costs, but it will be money well spent. Helmet, some bike knicks, a D-Lock, some lights, and a bottle and bottle cage should get you on your way. If you've already got a smartphone then don't get a computer - use the free Strava service which is much more fun and interesting.

And all other things being equal make sure you get a wheel with decent numbers of spokes. Many wheels aren't going to be designed for a guy of your weight, so your primary objective should be to get a wheel that stands a decent chance of remaining 'true' (straight).
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Re: Help choosing first bike

Postby Philipthelam » Wed Dec 05, 2012 10:03 pm

Also I think you would want bikes with rack mounts so you can have panniers to hold your stuff. Not all bikes have them (e.g i think the avanti giro 1 you linked doesn't have rack mounts)
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Re: Help choosing first bike

Postby JustJames » Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:13 am

WarbyD wrote:thanks for the prompt eepky Jason, appreciate your advice.. do you think something like this would be suitable:
http://www.bikeexchange.com.au/bicycles ... /102176513


You can stop looking!

I recently built up a cyclo-cross type bike for my occasional commutes.

This type of bike is just awesome. Beefy enough to hop up and down kerbs, wide tyres make for a comfy ride and let you ride on anything but proper MTB stuff and road bike type geo and drop bars mean it can be fast enough when you want/need it to be.

As an added bonus, disc brakes will work way better than rim brakes if you ride in the wet.
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Re: Help choosing first bike

Postby jasonc » Thu Dec 06, 2012 7:18 am

JustJames wrote:
WarbyD wrote:thanks for the prompt eepky Jason, appreciate your advice.. do you think something like this would be suitable:
http://www.bikeexchange.com.au/bicycles ... /102176513


You can stop looking!

I recently built up a cyclo-cross type bike for my occasional commutes.

This type of bike is just awesome. Beefy enough to hop up and down kerbs, wide tyres make for a comfy ride and let you ride on anything but proper MTB stuff and road bike type geo and drop bars mean it can be fast enough when you want/need it to be.

As an added bonus, disc brakes will work way better than rim brakes if you ride in the wet.


+1 to all the above. except slightly skinner tyres (schwalbe marathon plus and you'll fly on your commute to work, puncture free
that bike looks pretty good value.
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Re: Help choosing first bike

Postby WarbyD » Thu Dec 06, 2012 1:16 pm

Thanks for the replies guys - very helpful!!

Panniers are definitely something I can see me getting use out of so will add rack mounting options to the list of "must haves." So that I'm in a better position when I go looking at bikes (ie so I dont walk in with a particular bike in mind, and then get completely lost if that particular bike isnt available or suitable) how is this for a bit of a checklist for things I want/need:

- drop bars
- high spoke-count wheels (what sort of count should I be looking for? About to hit google about it but will ask here also since I have this open anyway...)
- rack mounts
- 700 x 28 - 32 tyres (happy to purchase these separately though of course so not a limiting factor on the bike selection)
- bike store that is well stocked, has decent service and is happy to spend the time correctly fitting the bike to me (question - would this be something I should expect them to do just for a test ride or only after purchase?)
- "clipless" pedals (also something I'm happy to purchase separately if not included)
- disk brakes
- anything else I should be adding to this list to help me identify suitable bikes to look closer at?

As for accessories/other stuff, would this list be appropriate:
- knicks
- helmet
- d-lock
- floor pump
- travel pump (I like the idea of those CO2 ones and cost seems very reasonable - any drawbacks with them?)
- panniers
- saddle bag (and the usual puncture repair kit and required tools)
- front & rear lights
- water bottle & cage
- computer (regardless of the availability of phone apps, I would like at least a basic one that I can mount on the bars for reference while riding. Doesn't need GPS or anything fancy since I can use the phone when I want that sort of functionality - just something to see speed/distance/etc)

I am also researching this stuff myself, so please don't think I'm hoping to be spoon-fed everything I need - just trying to get as much info as possible :)

Oh and oneeeee more question while I'm here... Any good links or references regarding cycling etiquette, applicable rules/regulations etc? I figure if I'm going to join you guys out there, I should probably know in advance what will be expected of me & what to expect from others...
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Re: Help choosing first bike

Postby Chris249 » Thu Dec 06, 2012 11:29 pm

1- Try MTB type clipless pedals; their clip is recessed in the bottom of the shoe so you can walk around as usual, unlike road pedals.

2- Cyclocross bikes are fantastic.

3- It's a personal thing, but I'm happy without discs and have never had a problem stopping in wet weather.

4- For commuting I prefer at least 2 front and 2 rear lights, as it saves you from becoming a ninja if you have a problem with one light or battery.

5- D locks are tough but make it hard to lock wheels and panniers on.
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Re: Help choosing first bike

Postby WarbyD » Fri Dec 07, 2012 11:57 am

Thanks Chris, I had wondered what the difference might be between MTB clipless pedals and "regular" clipless pedals so thanks for that! I think I would prefer that style, as I must admit the prospect of walking at all (ie up stairs into office) with those cleats poking out the bottom of my feet was something I wasn't looking forward to..

Good tip too on the 2x lights, I will keep that in mind - ditto with the lock. I don't envision having to lock my bike up often (I only really plan on riding from home to the gym and from there to work - all of which I can bring the bike inside where I will be able to see it the whole time) but I will ensure that I add a quality cable lock to my shopping list also :)

-Dave
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Re: Help choosing first bike

Postby WarbyD » Wed Dec 19, 2012 9:10 pm

Another option... a guy I know has a 2008 Giant CRX-1 and a 2008 Giant CRX-2 he bought new in December 2008. The CRX-1 has had minimal use (it looks brand new) and the CRX-2 has had "more" (not sure exactly how much more and I havent seen it yet) ... If I were to swap the flat bar on the CRX-1 for an aftermarket set of drop bars (I'm assuming there isn't any reason this couldn't be done?) is there any reason that this wouldn't make a suitable first commuter / fitness bike?

We haven't agreed a price yet (he wasnt looking to sell - I just happened to ask if he would be interested and he said it had crossed his mind) but I know that he paid ~$1500 for the CRX-1 when it was new..

So - 3 questions I guess:

(1) Is there any reason I couldn't/shouldn't replace the stock flat bar with aftermarket drop bars?
(2) What else would need to be done to make this suitable for my purposes?
(3) What would be a reasonable (both for me and the seller - don't want either of us to be unhappy with the arrangement) price for this bike?

Thanks in advance :)
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Re: Help choosing first bike

Postby WarbyD » Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:23 pm

Ok.. answered the first question myself with a bit of google / BNA searching.. appears that it is certainly achievable, but whether it is worth the $$ & effort is another issue altogether.. Soooooo to throw another question into the mix - for my commute (which will actually be 8km from home to gym, at gym for nearly an hour and then 18km from gym to office --- was estimating previously but got bored at work today so checked it out on mapmyride) do you think I would regret the purchase of a flat bar bike?
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Re: Help choosing first bike

Postby nuttzo32 » Thu Dec 20, 2012 3:26 pm

WarbyD wrote:Ok.. answered the first question myself with a bit of google / BNA searching.. appears that it is certainly achievable, but whether it is worth the $$ & effort is another issue altogether.. Soooooo to throw another question into the mix - for my commute (which will actually be 8km from home to gym, at gym for nearly an hour and then 18km from gym to office --- was estimating previously but got bored at work today so checked it out on mapmyride) do you think I would regret the purchase of a flat bar bike?


When i was looking at buying my first road bike a couple of months ago someone suggested to me that i should get a flat bar instead of a drop bar road bike and my reply to them was that i felt i would regret getting the flat bar. After purchasing a drop bar road bike i love it and i know now that i would have definitely regretted the flat bar. Even if you are not doing a lot of cycling on the road i still think you should get a drop bar, i am about 103kg and 186cm and i found it much more comfortable riding on the drops/hoods on the roadie than when i was riding my mountain bike.
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Re: Help choosing first bike

Postby WarbyD » Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:51 pm

Thanks Nuttzo - I actually read that very post of yours earlier today ;)

If my friend will let the Giant go at the right price what I'm considering is replacing the stock flat bars with a set of bullhorns using bar end shifters & TT style brake levers - seems like it would make for a reasonably happy medium.. (and it appeals to my DIY nature haha.. I can't help but tinker with things!)
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Re: Help choosing first bike

Postby WarbyD » Fri Mar 01, 2013 4:43 pm

Thought I'd pop my head in here and update.. Picked up a bike :D Didn't end up getting anything on my list, a "late 90s" cannondale "2.8 aluminium" (haven't been able to figure out exactly what model it is yet) popped up on Gumtree for $180 and I just couldn't pass that up.. Full 105 groupset, has a few bumps and scratches but I would say it is in good condition for the age, front deraileur needs a bit of adjustment but otherwise everything seems smooth with the shifting, wheels are both very true... all in all, I'm happy with it so far :)

Need to pick up a few bits and pieces to get me out and riding (for instance - shoes haha. I have the thing sitting there in the garage teasing me, but I have no shoes to jump on and ride it!!).
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