First road bike – racy or comfortable , and which one (bike to work content)

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  • First road bike – racy or comfortable , and which one (bike to work content)
  • markwsf

    Thanks for the advice all – the “buy the bike that fits” message keeps recurring, and is one I agree with, it’s a good reminder not to just choose the shiniest / best deal bike…

    It’s a ~12 miles commute, and I’ll be using the road bike to commute on nice days summer days only – when it’s bad weather / dark I’ll either be commuting down a canal towpath on a mountain bike, or using the car.

    The other bit of background to this is now I’ve just moved from close to Brighton to Northamptonshire, and have 5 month old twins, so I’ve gone from a ~7 mile off-road commute across the south downs pretty much every day to once a week on roads / towpath due to lack of time compared to days of old.

    The upshot of the above is that I’m looking for a bike that’s “fun” rather than a steady plodder. Regular long rides / days out aren’t going to happen for a while, just maybe a couple of times a year for something like the Dragon ride. I’d also like to do some triathlon so it would need to be OK for training and racing that.

    I’ll try a Synapse out one day this week when it’s not raining and then finally make a choice. I’m still tempted by a Planet X but my sensible head says to stick with a main brand for this one.

    (Oh, and 2014 bikes are coming out soon, but waiting another month or two means the bike may arrive just in time to miss summer, just to throw another factor into the mix…)


    A lot of it depends on your age – it’s a sad fact of life that as you enter your forties and fifties you’ll value a comfortable position more and more.


    Globalti – agreed! I think that’s part of why my heart seems set on a super-racy setup to “prove” how young, fit and flexible I would like to be – I’m 36 so not quite ready for an armchair on wheels just yet, but also fear ending up with a bike I’ll dread riding!


    Mark, sounds to me like you are lusting after a racier bike. (I think I was 35 when I got mine and it did scratch the itch 😉 )

    I know you have to go into Halfords, but the Boardmans are also worth a look. To my mind at least, half way between Planet-X and Specialised on the VFM vs Style front.

    My mate has the 9.8SL and it is a lovely bike! (Though way outside a C2W budget unfortunately 🙂 )

    The Boardman Carbon Team might be stretching the budget, but for <£1200, full carbon frame, 105 groupset and Mavic Askium’s seems a decent proposition. (Click here)


    Just ignore the “sportive” and “race” tags. Get a bike that’s the right size for you and make sure you sit on it and set it up properly.

    As long as you don’t have any serious issues with your body, any bike can be comfy, aslong as it’s the right size and you spend a bit of time setting it up.

    I’d get the one with the best spec, whatever that is.

    ^ this sums up the rather meaningless geometry labels well… I can get a ridiculous low ‘pro’ position on the vast majority of ‘relaxed’ geometry bikes due to comparatively long legs for my height, others in my club ride proper race geometry bikes with bars almost as high as saddle without the need for more than 20mm of spacers.

    Premier Icon ac282

    So true.

    I’ve got short legs and relatively long arms so my road bikes are both set up with out spacers but my saddle to bar drop is pretty small.

    Which all brings us full circle to fit being the biggest issue. Get your bike fitted.


    don’t assume upright is more comfy

    +1 just head my head tube cut down to get my bars low enough 😯

    The slammed look with a 15cm drop from the saddle is a relatively recent thing.

    that’s absolutely true but it doesn’t make it a good, or bad, thing.


    I’ve been told several times by “experts” that my Synapse is too small without them having ever seen me on it. I can get down to what passes for aero positions with me but I’m comfortable on it and can grind up hills for an hour at a time. You only have to look at the pro peloton to see that there’s a variety of ways for a rider to be comfortable on a bike.

    Premier Icon ransos

    Just ignore the “sportive” and “race” tags.

    This. I don’t find my (supposedly racy and aggressive) Wilier any less comfortable over a long distance than my (supposedly stable and relaxed) Thorn. I can see the point of an upright position if you have a bad back or an enormous gut, but for everyone else, why?


    Fit is everything. If your bars are too far away or too low, you won’t use the drops. And you are buying drop bars for aero efficiently. For me, 8cm drop with a modest reach is perfect. I arrived at this having ridden long and low and realizing that I just wasn’t using the drops. It means that I ride on the hoods a bit less, but can tuck and ride the drops almost indefinitely.

    Giant Defy was second in Paris-Roubaix. That’s what “comfort” does for you 😉


    Trying to get a bike to do too much has never really worked out for me. Now I like them to be as focused as possible, so if I want a racer buy a racer, if you want to commuter buy a commuter etc.

    Regards head tubes and the sportive thing, I bet 80% of the range in bar height achievable on a sportive design is achievable on a tradional head tube bike.

    Most probably have close to 100mm between the bar slammed and stem angled down and at its highest setting with the stem angled up.

    I think you should get a bike that is a great colour, a design that appeals to the eye and is focused on its main purpose.

    That way you will want to ride it.


    for commuting you’ll want mudguards even if it never sees rain. surprising how much grit can get into mechs and headsets.

    also be sure to avoid ‘integrated’ headsets like the plague.

    check carefully for toe-overlap (not everyone minds this but you should be aware of it)

    ‘great colour’ lol…horses for courses I s’pose.

    I’d prefer disc brakes and rack mounts too but that’s just me. as a road bike noob, shallow drops will probably allow you to use them more too.

    happy shopping!

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