About Me

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I'm a 45 year old mother of 3 boys. I live in a beautiful old house that needs a lot of TLC with my youngest son and 2 dogs. I am working hard at keeping myself healthy and fit by working out and doing a spot of running. I'm a creative person and am passionate about keeping traditional skills alive. I cook, knit, bake, garden, preserve, read, write and am now learning to spin and quilt. Oh and I sometimes swear.....

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A bike is a bike, right?

Apparently not!  Until recently all I was worrying about was keeping my general level of fitness up to scratch with a bit of running here and there when my back felt ok.  When I decided to do a triathlon I knew the first thing I would have to do is get my swimming fitness back to a decent level.  And way at the end of the list of things to 'get round to' was the bike factor.

So now I've got the swimming sorted it's time to look at bikes.  How hard can it be to buy a bike???  

Pretty difficult actually.  I must admit that I had a bit of a panic moment this morning reading my trusty Joe Friel book when he talks about the pros and cons of each type of bike.  Each type?? There's only so much you can do with 2 wheels, a frame, a saddle and handlebars, isn't there?

I am reliably informed that I need a compact road bike, whatever that is.  So I go online and have a look at some websites.  Eeeeek!  I could buy a small car for that amount of money.  And I still can't tell the difference between each type! 

Can you tell the difference between these 4 different types?


Anonymous said...

Hi Ali. What you need to do is have a think what you're going to do with the bike. Are you going to stick to the roads or go off road? If you're sticking to the roads, what is your priority speed or comfort? If it's speed, you need a light weight, skinny wheeled, road bike with a short wheel base and aerodynamic riding position.
On the other hand if you want a bit more of a leisurly ride you might want a tourer/hybrid type bike. This will give you a more upright riding position, longer wheelbase (less twitchy and more shock absorbing), mudguards and luggage racks. A bit slower than the road bike but more versatile as they will cope with off road too.
If you want a bike that will go on all surfaces then it's the mountain bike. The downside is they are slow. I hunt mountainbikers down on my road bike and on our tandem, it's great sport although Marguerite groans when she sees them in the distance when we're out on the tandem. She knows whats coming :-)
As for price well bellow £300 you're not going to get much. Heavy, clunky, prone to failure. £300 - £600 you're starting to get something that's reliable but you won't like riding it very much. Once you get into the £600-1200 mark your getting a proper bike that you'll want to ride often, and the higher you can go in that range the better.
£1200 - £1800 you start to see high end components on beautiful machines. £1800 upwards you're looking at weight saving alone really. A bike of three grand won't be that much better engineered than one of half the price but it will be a bit lighter. That's what you pay for at this end.
Word of warning, cycling can be very adictive and expensive. I have a "you can never have too many bikes" approach. Buy the best you can afford in your bike and you'll love it. Buy cheap and you'll hate it.
Ali, I can talk bikes all day, let me know if I can help. Rock and Road in Bridge of Allan are pretty good.

Bob W

Target said...

Ali, I'll sort ur bike out - u feel the need - the need for speed!!!

Anonymous said...

Good time to buy now - lots of fantastic deals online which will help you 'trade-up' a little without feeling the strain. And definately get a road bike first otherwise you'll feel outdone on the startline at the tri! Amandax

allybea said...

Bob, Lol, Lol, Lol!!! Knew you had a tandem but didn't realise it was an obsession! £1200 for a bike? You wouldn't??

Clark, dunno about speed. Bit different on a real bike from the spin bike!

Amanda, a friend warned me about lining up at the start without a decent bike. She reckons it cost her a bit of time, although my aim is just to finish. With a big smile on my face :-)

This is all getting rather serious!!

phil said...

Alison, I think you have been given some good advice above.
However its not just the bike you need. Its shoes, helmet spare inner tubes...
I think Rock and road are expensive. Richards in Perth might be a better bet

Anonymous said...

Told you it's expensive and Phils point above underlines that. Infact believe it or not decent bikes don't come with peddles. You buy peddles as extras to match the shoe type you use.
The tandem actually cost £1600 five years ago then another £300 on peddles, luggage, kit. Oh and because we do alot of heavy touring about £200 per year in worn out bits.
My solo is a full carbon Trek 5000. It should have cost me £1500 but got it for £1000 as it was discontinued.
Marguerite has a Trek Alpha similar to this
That cost over a grand too.
Obsesive? Mois ;-)

Bob W

Andy Cole said...

Hi Ali, I always follow your blog, keep it going. On bikes there's another point of view. I did some triathlons a few years back (not the iron man, can't swim well enough, just the Olympic distance). First time I just bought some narrow tyres for my mountain bike (which I bought a few years earlier second hand for about £150). Next time I borrowed a road bike from a friend, after doing my training on the mountain bike. After that I invested about £300 at the local bike shop, just told them what I wanted to do and what I could afford. All of these got me round triathlons ok. Triathlons are a bit like city marathons or ultra races, most competitors are not wanting to knock the last five minutes off their time, they just want to complete the trip and have a good day out. Good luck with the training! Andy

allybea said...

Phil, I'm starting from scratch re cycling so need everything!!! Luckily my lovely mum is so enthusiastic about this challenge she's offered to help me out. Actually need to write something about the support of my family as I've written so much about my friends.

Bob, seriously? You don't get pedals?? And you spent that much on a bike!!! FFS!

Andy, thanks for reading my witterings. My aim is to finish. If I finish well then that's a bonus :-)

Anne Marie said...

On a decent bike you usually have your own pedals. That is if you want cycling shoes with cleats. If you don't (and lots don't, me included) you can have pedals and toe clips and straps. You DO need either one or the other though to get any sort of decent ride. DON'T have cleats if you're not happy about it, you can always graduate to them later.

It really does depend on what you want to do afterwards, 'road' types will always tell you you need a road bike - could you not borrow a road bike for the event and a little training before the event if your general riding would be more likened to a hybrid?

Whatever bike you decide, you do need to pay a decent amount but you don't need to over spec unless you're going to take it so seriously.

Just remember - it's not the bike (although it helps to have a certain quality/style) it's the RIDER.

I'm on CL site and have cycled since I was a child. Done cycle touring, going off road (in those days it was on your normal bike in winter) and raced in time trials and road races. I had a hand made bike but not made for me, handed down. It would be laughed at nowadays as this was in the 70s but it was a top liner in its day. I'm thinking of getting it back on the road again, as a change from my lightweight mountain bike.

I wish you luck with what you are doing, I was going to do a triathlon once but got a veruca (how do you spell that?) and couldn't do the running training.

Anne Marie