How a nerdy girl goes about buying a road bike

  1. Does a ton of research online
  2. Checks lots of forums and posts questions on reddit
  3. Tweets to random bike shops and bike blogers
  4. Avoids going to an actual bike shop at all costs by sending the following email:

    IMG_20120509_194214Hey guys,

    Do you have recommendations for a first time road bike? Right now I’m on a Norco Yorkville Hybrid which I use to commute short distances.

    Knowing I’m a commuter, my friends convinced me to sign up for the STP and in a fit of irrational bravery, I signed up. Now I’m reading more, timing myself and realizing my bike (and possibly it’s engine) will not be cutting it speed and weight wise. I want something that might make my ride even a little bit easier and more aerodynamic. ;-)

    Answers to questions you might have:
    I’m short, (5’1″) and overweight (I’ve lost 80lbs, but still have awhile to go). Despite this, I’m fit for my size. No back issues, etc.

    I’ve had previous hip and knee issues with my bike. I had it pro-fit and that made a big difference. It’s still a concern for me over long distances (not sure if you can help with anything other than a fit).

    From what I’ve read I think I want a more traditional road bike (vs. Ultra light). I ideally I’d like some carbon components and reliable drive train and other confusing things that I don’t fully understand and would have trouble fixing on my own.

    I need a bike that is cut out for long distances (ie Seattle to Portland and other cool, long rides).

    I’ve never clipped into a bike before.

    My budget is $700 or hopefully less (I know that’s tricky).

    Totally open to used bikes and/or old models.

    Also, I’d love to know what a touring bike is? Is that what I’m looking for?

    Can you help? Any recommendations? Things I should think about/consider? Are you just gonna tell me to come in? ;)

  5. Waits enthusiastically for a reply knowing that, of course, they will tell her just to come in.
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11 responses

  1. Shelli – in my experience, steel gives the smoothest ride, but is heavier and harder to maintain. I love my Trek 5200 OCLV carbon fiber. It’s super fast and aerodynamic. Bike geeks turn over their gear so quickly, you should be able to find a 3+ year old model that’s still in great condition for a great price. If you’re doing a lot of long distance and hills, then consider a 3 chainring gearing system up front and max number of sprockets on the back. This will give you the biggest range of low resistance spinning for those gruesome hills to the more powerful grind for long flat cruising. Here’s a good tutorial on gearing:

    Also, try to avoid component weight whenever possible, and travel as lightly as possible. Every little ounce becomes a big drag on long rides.

    If you have a reputable bike shop in your area, you can probably get a feel for what’s a good entry level bike for you and then can compare new vs used.

    Best of luck on your ride and have fun!

  2. Nerds are awesome.
    We make smart choices :)

    I love the supportive comments from your grandma! Haha. Mine doesn’t even own a computer. Totally jealous!

    But grandma–us nerdy girls can be smart and beautiful! They are not mutually exclusive!! :)

    • Hmmmmm- you guys are ganging up on me– LOL!! Oh- I would be totally lost and unhappy without a computer. They are so much better, faster and fun than just a phone, paper and pen. Makes 50 years ago seem like the dark ages!

  3. That type of bike for the STP ride and any ride over 50 miles long, not the most comfortable. I have 4 bikes and have not had a touring bike but have cycled several hundred km. on a hybrid…Just make sure it’s light and has some shocks to lessen any vibration. Or at least buy a bike that’s lighter, but with steel in the frame.

    As for being clipped in, I have toe clips. I have not gone clipless and am not going to worry about it no matter what people tell me. I’ve been cycling for the past 22 years.

    My partner also has toe clips but he’s cycled across North America 3 times, each trip different. And also across several European countries by himself.

    Just keep on cycling daily, do some hills to stay fit and lengthen your distance every week. You’ll get stronger.

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