Need help buying a road bike for events – 20-50 miles & triathlons

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  • Need help buying a road bike for events – 20-50 miles & triathlons
  • k1mmy88

    Hi Guys,

    I’ve never had a road bike before, so I am in drastic need of some advice as I am a little clueless when it comes to components.

    Requirement = Triathlons and road races ranging from 20-52 miles. Approx. 5 events a year.

    Budget = Origionally £600-£700 (Although I’ve fallen in love with a £800 bike! So might stretch it).

    Constraints = A little bit of a bad back which makes a long reach forwards rather uncomfortable.

    Height = 5″6

    I’ve visited 3 local bike shops and was told the following…

    *Always try to find a mens bike that fits well because the components will be better quality for a lower price compared to a female specific bike.

    *Shimano Tiagra STI, 10 speed is what I want because it is better than others (Can’t remember his reasoning behind this other than it being lighter).

    *On a ladies Scott I require a frame size of 54.

    *On a Mens Claude Butler I require a frame size of 50.

    So from the above advice I have picked out the following 8 bikes…

    Specialized Secteur Elite Road Bike | Red / White | 2012

    Now £810.00

    Trek 1.5 10-Speed Compact Road Bike | White/Gloss Black | 2012

    Now £720.00

    SCOTT CONTESSA SPEEDSTER 25 (Found it comfortable to ride)


    Claud Butler Vicenza


    Scott Speedster S30 Triple – 2011


    Specialized Secteur Triple Road Bike | White / Red | 2012


    Specialized Dolce Triple Women’s Road Bike | Black / Blue / White | 2012

    Now £585.00

    Trek Lexa SL T 2012


    So any advice regarding any of these bikes or any others would be greatfully recieved and please let me know if you require any more info!




    Ok, womens bikes are a bit of a swamp of info. Some people think they’re just a marketing tool, others that they meet particular needs.

    Unfortunately you are going to have to sit on a lot of bikes to see whats comfy and fits, that said, for rides upto 50odd miles you can forgo comfort for speed a little.

    Unfortunately your budget will buy a lot and not very much, its that dangerous area where you start to get nicer frames with cheaper components or nicer shiney components on a cheaper frame. With this in mind second hand is always a good option.

    As for the tiagra 10 speed stuff, I’ve never used it personaly, but I wouldn’t bend your budget too much for ten speed unless you are planning to upgrade gradually, 9 or even 8 speed is perfectly adequate.

    Just to throw it in the mix, how about this (If it was my size I’d snap it up!) kona

    Premier Icon theotherjonv

    Typically women have lovely long legs for their height. Hence a man’s bike that fits your pedalling reach may well be oversized in the TT for you, which won’t be ideal for your back.

    Wow 54″ female bike sounds crazy!! Are you buying it out right? or getting it on bike to work? I think the only thing to say is try some as we can’t recommend or suggest any as all measure differently. As already mentioned you will often pay more for a bike deemed women’s but ify ou try it and the geometry fits then it’s worth it.
    I’m 5ft 4 1/2″ and have a Kona Lisa frame 46cm but try them all out, let the bike shop allow you to ride it around the block and get somewhere that will do professionaly bike fitting.
    What area of the country are you in? what shops did you go to? Are you goign on your own?

    The reason I asked is I once went to Evans with a friend who was going to buy an MTB and they clearly were just trying to sell her a bike, she’s my height and they had her on an 18″ bike claiming it fitted! They didn’t like it when I stepped in and disagreed and started explaining why etc. TAke someone with you that knows what they are doing!!

    Good luck!

    Premier Icon mboy

    Ok, womens bikes are a bit of a swamp of info. Some people think they’re just a marketing tool, others that they meet particular needs.

    Different brands go for differing levels of customisation on their women’s specific bikes compared to the mens equivalent, but from what I can tell female specific road bikes are usually closer to their male equivalents than with mountain bikes. Women’s road bikes usually have a slightly shorter TT length (only by 5mm or so it would seem), and a slightly wider/shorter saddle fitted, whereas on mountain bikes it often goes a lot further with more extreme frame geometry, narrower bars, thinner grips, softer suspension, different tyres etc.

    Personally, I’d buy a bike that fits, and not worry whether or not it’s female specific. That said, if you do find a girlie road bike that fits well, you’ll save yourself a few quid on having to replace the saddle at least.

    Onto the rest of the specs… First question, how much road riding have you done before? Second question, how much are you likely to do? Thirdly, how fast do you want to actually go?

    I’d view 10spd as a “nice to have” rather than a necessity. To be honest, I’m still amazed just how well my 9spd Tiagra works. Its miles better than the Deore level MTB equivalent in smoothness and function. And the difference between only having 9 gears and 10 gears is less noticable on a road bike than on a mountain bike oddly enough. If a 9spd bike came with too small a cassette, you can always still buy a lower ratio cassette to help get up the climbs anyway for £25 or so.

    I’d also consider a triple rather than a double chainset. Compacts are a halfway house, that IMO (and I’ve got one) are neither one thing nor the other. I often find I’m riding along thinking the 34T chainring is too small, and the 50T too big, so I’d like to be sat riding along in a gear inbetween. The triple, with its 30/39/50 ratios, offers just that, and still has the outer ring for top speed, but also a slightly lower ring for helping get up the climbs too, and all for less than 1/2lb weight penalty. If of course you’ve got thighs like Chris Hoy’s, and think nothing of averaging 25mph on the flat, then ignore everything I’ve said, and get a 39/53 double setup instead.

    With a bad back to consider, and I’m assuming the money you’re planning on spending on the bike and the questions you’re asking you’re not planning on winning any events, I’d not look at something full on head down arse up. Something with slightly more relaxed geometry, or “sportive geometry” as it’s often known, will suit better. Top Tubes are usually a tiny bit shorter, head tubes longer for a slightly more upright stance, and they often come with shallow drop bars.

    I ride a Giant Defy 2 myself, which fits most of the above criteria and is a great bike for the money. They also do a women’s version called the Avail. Would happily recommend either to anyone looking for a first road bike. There’s also a few bargains around too right now. Giant sizes work slightly differently to normal as they’re “compact”, so if you need a 50cm frame normally, you’d need Giant’s 46.5cm (S) frame, or if you’d normally ride a 54cm as I would, you need their 50cm (M) frame.

    Something like this would suit the bill perfectly I reckon, or the female specific version of the same bike… Whichever fitted better, and you preferred the look/feel of.


    I’d definitely start with getting your measurements worked out (no not those sort of measurements you pervs :roll:)

    Leg and torso length are the two key ones to work to and in many respects torso length is the more important. – Too long a frame is never going to be comfortable though a taller seatpost and longer handlebar stem can help off set a slightly smaller frame.

    If you are going to do triathlons you’ll want a set of aero bars which get you into more of a streamlined tuck position. This also brings you forward on the bike which highlights the importance of getting the right sized frame.

    Try as many bikes as you can and as Mungechick says, definitely take a cycling friend with you.

    Other than the more girly colours, a women specific frame isn’t necessarily the right choice but a women’s saddle will be. – Factor in to replace this, even on a women’s bike.

    Good luck with the search

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