Nothing like waiting 30 years between buying bikes. Finally brad got me back so I’ve been trying bikes for theee days solid. Great interval training!
Thoughts are to read the reviews. There are many good ones so I’ll stack rank the important things
- Budgets. Well this is the hard one but there are definitely shelf points. Getting to $2k is probably the best Value for the money. But heck bike lust can move you way higher than that!
- Bike shop. Read the reviews as they are great but going to your local bike shop (Elements is great!) is the way to try the bikes and work with someone who is knowledgeable.
- Fit. Bikes have moved in measurement from reach and stack height to vertical so now the new measurements are center to top and then effective top tube length, so you can measure how “long” and “low” you want to go. A cheaper better fitting bike is way better than a more expensive one that doesn’t fit. Two quick things are to look down when you mount a bike and see the handlebars block the front axle and then pedal backwards with your heels and see if your leg stretches out fully.
- Framesets. This is actually hard to change. You want light, stuff yet compliant. The mid range frames tend to be the Best deals. You lose 150 grams in weight for 2x the price.
- Wow electronic shifting is pretty awesome. The new etap sounds cool but the latest shim about 9100 makes lots of sense. Right side is down. Left is up and it automatically picks the right chain ring. No more cross chaining. And u can get a new battery and firmware so works on older setups.
- Discs. These are coming to road bikes. Great for rain and also is ur running carbon rims and don’t want them to fail. Main issue is thru axle. You really want one as alignment is hard and there’s a safety issue. Or get bolt on skewer.
- After the bike itself the wheelset makes the most difference so get the nicest one you can. U can save a pound and rotational weight is 5x more valuable than static.
- Computers. This actually makes a difference but they are expensive. The main thing is to get something which is Bluetooth compatible so you can use your phone in a pinch. Of course it does mean your phone battery is going to drain so a dedicated bike computer is not a bad thing.
- Power meters. At least you should get a heart rate monitor and a cadence meter and speed of course. But if you can afford it they are great. You can spend a lot but the simpler ones like the crank arm or even the pedals are a great way to do this.
- Trainer. Biking is hard to do by yourself so getting an online coach is cheap and easy way to get better.
- Indoor. With the new trainers, stick a big screen in front and it is nearly as good as being out there.
Thoughts on bikes, it’s great to spend a day or even a week trying bikes, a great bike shop will let you take them out for a test ride, so bring your riding clothes and you want a course that will let you test going on out on flats, riding up a hill and then a descent preferably on a bike trail with little traffic. (It’s a great way to interval train). It’s nice to have your own phone so you can measure your speeds and also a heart rate monitor to measure how much effort you are putting in (I didn’t do this but wish I had!).
I’m going to resist ranking bikes for the moment since it is so much a matter of preference, but here are some riding notes from an out of shape cyclist sorted from higher comfort to more race oriented, these are the 2016 models and it isn’t a bad time to shop at the model change over. So here’s a list of the dream bikes I tried, wow it was an incredible few days:
- BMC Roadmachine 01. This was one amazing cruiser. For a cool $11K it should be, man once you get up to speed, it really rocks. Nice aero wheels and the Dura Ace Di2 grippo was awesome as was the wheel set. It’s got the two things that I really wanted electronic shifting and disk brakes. Really a nice ride and super compliant yet stiff at 930 gram frame weight. Basically a beautiful endurance bike that can go anywhere
- Collage C60. This is a lugged beauty. I’ve always lusted for one.
- Parlee Altum Disk. I actually loved this bike quite a bit, more responsive than the Roadmachine, but smoother than the F8. It was also incredibly light and felt like it charged up the hills. At $6K list, a relative bargain here as a small American manufacturer doing small batches in Taiwan.
- BMC Timemachine 01. This is a great race oriented bike. It is not disk ready though, but I sure loved riding it.
- BMC Timemachine 02. This is a good way to go for value. Adds 150 grams in weight, but is half the price of the 01. You can put that towards an incredible Enve 34 wheel set for instance and get to a terrific place.
- Pinarello Dogma F8 Disc. This is the disc version of the F8, so a few pounds heavier, but with Ultegra Di2, it’s pretty awesome. It does have a quick release hub though (the 2017 goes to a 12mm transaxle), so you might want to get a set of bolt-on skewers to make sure it doesn’t release and stay true as disks are pretty picky.
- Pinarello Dogma F8. This is the bike that has won a bunch of Tour de France’s. And as one buddy said, if I were to buy one, I would have to train in the dark until I could actually ride it. It is super light and super responsive. The new Dogma F10 supersedes it this year. With a Fulcrum Race Zero wheel set, it looks fast just sitting still.
So some specific recommendations for accessories:
- Quadlock. I think I got this from Wirecutter (and CyclingAbout) and did get for Calvin, it is a really reliable lock for the car. Also I see the Element Cycles has them on their racks.
- Ultegra SPD-SL. The leader these days is the Ultegra carbon’s. At 128 grams, it’s hard to beat
- Shimano S-Phyre (and super light at 230 grams and only in bike shops for $400 with custom heat fitting) but shoes have a huge range of options. There are a huge number of options but the main things are getting something with Boa dials so it is easily adjustable and carbon fiber soles to maximize energy transfer. Fit of course is always the first and most important thing.
- Shimano Yellow Cleats. ($105 at Amazon)Well then there are the cleats, most folks should get some with a little float so you don’t damage your knees. The yellow Shimano ($24 at Amazon) is a 6 degree float and you’ll also want a cover for it too. ($14).
- Wahoo Element Bolt. (There are lots of Computer). Well while you could use your phone, the reality is the battery won’t last as long as a dedicated bike computer. I’ve had lots of these over time, but right now the Wahoo Elemnts seems like a decent choice. It’s aero, support ANT+ and Bluetooth so you can use it with your existing monitors and cadence and RPM. As an aside I find DCRainmaker to be just awesome at doing in-depth reviews of gear like this. It’s pretty clear it is between the Garmin Edge 520 and the Wahoo Elemnts (he doesn’t like the large size of the Wahoo, and I do have one of these Garmins running around in my garage somewhere!). One of the great things is that it is configured from your phone, so you don’t spend hours clicking on a tiny machine without touch. And of course Garmin remains ANT+ only whereas Wahoo supports Bluetooth and of course connects to it’s trainers. And although they lack an open apps platform like Connect IQ, their Strava integration is really good
- Strava. This seems to be the default social network for cyclists.
- ENVE 3.4. These come across over and over as the nicest wheel set even at an astronomical $2K (right now there are a bunch of 20% closeouts) and ultra light 1,532 g or try the Fulcrum Quattro Pro as a good value carbon set for disks. However the stock Shimano WH-RX31 ($450) are pretty darn good). These are 2Kg. For comparison the new Shimano 9100 C40 is $1970 and weighs in at 1557 grams