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Q: Recommendation for a Road Bike ( Answered,   4 Comments )
Subject: Recommendation for a Road Bike
Category: Sports and Recreation > Training
Asked by: kimt-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 17 Jun 2002 12:24 PDT
Expires: 24 Jun 2002 12:24 PDT
Question ID: 28017
I am interested in taking up road bicycling.  I do not have a bike and
want a recommendation for a good bike to purchase.  Couple of things
to consider:

1) I am a beginner, although I am in fairly good shape.  I want a bike
I can grow into.
2) I plan to compete in races
3) I am a woman, 5'9.
4) I have a bad knee and don't want the biking to exacerbate it.  I
had reconstrucitve surgery (ACL) about 10 years ago.
5) Ideally, I wouldn't spend more than $800 -- would like to spend a
LOT less -- but am flexible if it's going to make a big difference in
the quality of the bike.
Subject: Re: Recommendation for a Road Bike
Answered By: mcfly-ga on 17 Jun 2002 14:13 PDT
Hi kimt,

As an enthusiastic cyclist I hope I can find a range of suitable bikes
which would give you a good start in an interest which is great fun
AND good for you!

Cycling can put extra strain on the knees and unfortunately there are
no bicycles which have been designed specifically to reduce pressure
to the knees.  However, by selecting a bicycle with a wide range of
gears, you can choose a lower gear than is absolutely necessary.  This
means that although you will have to pedal faster for a given speed,
the force on your knees will be reduced.  The use of an elastic
support bandage whilst cycling may also help to prevent exacerbation
of your knee injury.

In general, gone are the days when medium sized men and women required
differently shaped bicycle frames, and most bikes manufactured now are
aimed at a unisex market.  The only component which I would recommend
changing dependent upon an individual's sex is the saddle.  However
this would probably be an addition to be made after purchase of a
complete bike.

Bicycle manufacturers tend to release updated models every year, and
then reduce the price of the previous year's bikes.  Therefore, large
financial savings can be made with little difference in performance by
specifically looking at 2001 models; a fact which I have used in my

For a each year's models, the specification level of the components
attached to the bicycle frame will vary little for a fixed price band
- it tends to be the quality of the frame itself which separates a
good buy from a bad one.   The best way to select a bicycle is by
using the experience of others and referring to bicycle reviews.

Useful resources can be found at:

Road Bike Review

Bike Reviews

A forum posting at gives a
guide to buying 'your first road bike'.

Bearing in mind the suggestion in this posting, it would be a wise
idea to find a local bicycle retailer where you can try various
differently sized frames for comfort.  Ultimately however, purchasing
a bicycle online will probably give you much better value for money,
and having decided upon a good frame size I would suggest that you
should then look at the following bicycles.

Looking specifically at the price range of <$800, these bicycles get
very good reviews:

Schwinn Bicycle Company 2000 Super Sport : MSRP: $ 719.95,Bike/Schwinn,Bicycle,Company,2000,Super,Sport/PRD_23610_1610crx.aspx

Bianchi USA Inc. 2001 Brava : MSRP: $ 669.00,Bike/Bianchi,USA,Inc.,2001,Brava/PRD_54952_1610crx.aspx

Fuji America 2000 Finest : MSRP: $ 649.99,Bike/Fuji,America,2000,Finest/PRD_22934_1610crx.aspx

KHS Inc. 2000 Flite 300 : MSRP: $ 599.00,Bike/KHS,Inc.,2000,Flite,300/PRD_23073_1610crx.aspx

Diamondback 1999 Interval : MSRP: $ 479.99,Bike/Diamondback,1999,Interval/PRD_18444_1610crx.aspx

Having read what satisfied customers have to say about these bicycles,
I would not hesistate in recommending any of the above to you.  The
choice of bike is very much down to the individual in the end, so your
final choice should be made on which you personally like the most.

Search terms used:

road bike reviews

road bicycle review

I hope that this answer is useful to you in making your decision of
which road bicycle to buy.  If you would like any further
clarification of my answer, please do not hesitate to ask.

Happy cycling!


Clarification of Answer by mcfly-ga on 17 Jun 2002 14:21 PDT
With reference to my comment that the saddle is an important component
to change dependent upon one's gender, here is an article and a number
of reviews which may be useful when selecting a woman's saddle.

Finding the Right Road Bike Saddles for Women


Request for Answer Clarification by kimt-ga on 17 Jun 2002 14:24 PDT
I guess I still don't know what I would be buying on.  
--What are the key things to think about when buying a bike? (frame,
components, etc)
--What are the tradeoffs in components/prices and what do I need as a
beginner and beyond?

Clarification of Answer by mcfly-ga on 18 Jun 2002 14:08 PDT
Hi Kimt,

Hopefully I can add to my answer satisfactorily with this

I would definitely recommend that as a beginner you should purchase
the bicycle as a complete package and concentrate on getting a high
quality frame which you are comfortable riding.

In the price range you describe, the frame will generally be
manufactured from either steel or aluminium tubing.  Aluminium gives a
lighter frame and hence faster acceleration, but also results in a
harsher less comfortable ride.  If you decide to buy a bicycle for
much less than $600 then a steel frame would probably be a better
choice because cheaper aluminium frames tend to be almost as heavy as
their steel counterparts at the same price.

In the $600 to $800 price bracket however aluminium frames start to
have performance benefits.  For this case I would suggest that you
should try lifting the bike and try to judge the difference in weight
against the reduction in riding comfort.  It's a matter of personal
preference but I would tend to opt for the aluminium frame in the
higher price category for the following reasons.  You will definitely
notice the weight difference, a harsh ride is not necessarily
noticeable on smooth roads, and finally, when racing, an aluminium
frame will make you look like less of a 'newbie' which would reduce
any negative feelings from the elitists mentioned by raptor-ga.

The componentry on your bicycle is of lesser immediate importance than
the frame because parts will gradually wear out and a natural
improvement will result as you replace them.  As a rule you should
make sure that a majority of the components are made by the top two
manufacturers, Shimano and Campagnolo.  However, a few 'in house'
parts produced by the bicycle manufacturer are to be expected with
less expensive bikes; do not let this discourage you from buying a
bike you are comfortable riding.  Componentry prices increase with
reduced weight and increased performance so it may be worth while
investing in  more expensive parts later, but for starting cycling I
would suggest that entry level parts from Shimano and Campagnolo do
the job well enough.

Whether to choose a two or three ring crank (the cogs on the same axle
as the pedals) is a choice which would normally be resolved by your
intended use of the bike.  For racing, a two ring crank is generally
preferred.  This results in reduced weight but also a smaller range of
gear ratios.  Bearing in mind your knee injury, it might be wiser to
choose a bicycle with a three ring crank which will allow you to use a
lower gear than normal even for steep climbs.

In conclusion, it very important to find a bike which you personally
are comfortable riding.  The only way to do this is by visiting a
retailer in your area and trying out a range of bicycles.  Any
reputable dealer will be pleased to let you try bikes and will be able
to provide a frame size which suits you best.  Beyond this, try to get
the lightest frame within your price range which does not give an
excessively harsh ride, and check that the componentry is
predominantly Shimano or Campagnolo.

As stated in my initial answer, reading the reviews of others is a
very good way to select a bicycle which works well as a package.  I
would maintain that referring to websites such as Road Bike Review ( ) is one of the most effective ways to
find unbiased opinions of your potential purchases.

I hope that this covers the extra information you required,

Subject: Re: Recommendation for a Road Bike
From: raptor-ga on 18 Jun 2002 05:58 PDT
I would like to add a few comments to his answer.  

I think that as far as your knee is concerned one of the main things
that you need to have on your bike is a clip-less pedal that has at
least 7% of float which will put less strain on your knee as your foot
can move around so that torque is not transferred to your knee.  I
also think that you should buy a frame that is fitted to your body
size.  Any bike shop that you go to should measure your inseam to make
sure the bike is fitted to your size.  This is important so that you
can adjust your seat properly. The position of the seat is critical to
having a smooth pedaling motion that transfers the maximum amount of
force to the pedal without stressing any of the joints of the leg. 
Lastly, it is important that when you are pedaling that a high cadence
(90 RPM +) is very desired and places the least amount of stress on
your legs and body.   I think that if you take these actions you will
find that cycling actually benefits your knee joint rather than
damages it.

As far as buying a bike, I would go for the best frame that you can
afford. Even the lesser components are pretty good and they usually
can be upgraded as you desire or can afford. However, at that price
range you are at the very lower edge of what would be considered a
quality bike so you may wish to think about spending a bit more if you
intend to be heavily involved in cycling.

As far as frame construction,  Steel tends to be preferred by many of
the top pros as its ride is very compliant although as a material it
is heavier than some of the other materials used for bike frames. 
Aluminum is used in many frames for its lightness although it is very
stiff and especially in the lower priced bikes a bit harsh riding. 
Carbon is very light and can be constructed to give a very nice feel,
however, in some makes the frame is known to crack at the joints and
probably should not be considered a frame that will last you a
lifetime. Titanium is probably not available at the price you list but
I include it anyway. It is very strong and light and has a harsher
feel than steel and carbon but is very durable and because it often is
not painted very easy to care for.

Pedals – there is a wide variety out there. Look has very good pedals
in a wide variety of prices and float (degrees that the foot can
rotate on the pedal).  Time has excellent pedals but they tend to be
more expensive and you might need adapters for their clips on some of
the shoes that you might buy.

Components – As a beginner, if you are in a hilly region you may want
to consider a triple cogged crank, as it will give you a wide range of
gearings so that you can maintain a smooth easy cadence even on the
hills.  The 90 + cadence does not apply on the hills but even on the
hills a cadence of 70 or so is desired.

The one last feature that you should evaluate is the width of the
handlebars and the length of the stem. Again the bike shop should
measure you to make sure that they are sized to your body type.

A lot of shops will just try to sell you a bike without considering
how it fits you.  Make sure the bike shop takes time to make sure the
bike fits you.  A well fitted bike will make you more efficient in
your riding and as a result your cycling will be even more fun as you
increase your fitness.

Lastly, remember that a well fitted bike may feel a bit awkward at
first if you have never ridden a bike that was fit to you.  So take
your time adapting to the new feel and I am sure that as you grow
accustomed to it you will find that riding for and hour or several
hours will seem effortless.

In my opinion since your main concern is your knees, pay close
attention to getting a bike that fits you the best and get pedals that
provide sufficient float to reduce strain to your knee. Within that
price range most of the bikes construction and components will be
similar so I would focus on best fit first.
Subject: Re: Recommendation for a Road Bike
From: raptor-ga on 18 Jun 2002 06:25 PDT
Didn't notice your thoughts about racing.  Do not get a bike with a
triple cog. A cluster with 9 cogs should give you all the range you
need for even the steeper of hills and will give you a set up that can
be used for racing. It will also make it easier to get better wheel
sets if you desire in the future.

Lastly, in my experience road racers tend to be an elitist group that
are slow to welcome newcomers especially if they perceive them to be a
real newbie.   Part of their thinking is ridiculous but part is based
upon the fact that someone that is inexperienced and unskilled is just
plain dangerous when ridding in a pack.  So at least get components
that are racing components verses the triple, which is more suited to

I also read one of the suggested articles which was pretty good but I
would add that you should try to ride the bike you are interested in
to see if the ride is acceptable to you.  I agree with that author in
saying that the lightest frame (aluminum) you can get is a key factor
but if the ride is too harsh you will not ride it as often and as long
as is necessary to get into any kind of racing shape.  Some aluminum
frames are not as harsh as others but I road a few Cannondale bikes
and found their ride to be unbearable.  I also was on several long
tours 100+ miles where the guy I was with road a Cannondale and found
him to complain about how rough some areas where when I was completely
comfortable.  There are some benefits to a stiff frame, namely more
energy goes to the wheel especially during very aggressive pedaling
like during a sprint finish but I would guess in your case this would
not be so important a factor.
Subject: Re: Recommendation for a Road Bike
From: o0d3lta0o-ga on 30 Oct 2004 16:46 PDT
i am a road cyclist and currently own a trek 5200 and a specialized
allez.  two completely opposite price ranges.
i started cycling at a young age and continue to ride

i did read the previous comments and answers and will try to say what
they left out.
the most important thing about cycling is weight. weight is
everything, you want it to be as light as you can. im as picky down to
i dont fill my water bottle up too much when its not a hard ride.  The
lightest material famous among road bikes is carbon fiber. it is
material like fiberglass, light and very strong. aluminum is second,
and most common because it is cheap and light.

The most common type of frame you will be looking at is a full
aluminum body, carbon fiber front fork, and possibly carbon fiber seat

Next is the pedals, you need pedals called clip-less pedals. they are
speicaly designed for special shoes that have cleats on the bottums
that clip into the pedal.  for bad knees, im not saying to get them
however it may seem like you want Speedplay which give you unlimited
float. I personally prefer the Shimano Dura-ace. The replica for those
but cheaper are Shimano Ultegra, which you may also be interested in.

as for components, the names Shimano Tiaga, Shimano 105, and Shimano
Ultegra will be common. As for an entry level bike, most will be Tiaga
and some 105. You do not need to worry about components, all types of
components are extremely good. When i ride my trek 5200, i dont notice
too much difference in conponents compared to the specialized. (the
specialized is a $700 bike, the other trek is a $2,200 bike)

for your price rance, i do not recommend a trek. The Trek brand is
famous for road bikes, due to lance armstrongs tour de france.
However, Trek specializes in high end and mid range bikes. the price
you are asking for is somewhat entry level. (yes road bikes are very
expensive). The cheapest bike you can by for a trek is Trek 1000 for
$630. its kinda heavy and...lower end. the next step up is $1,099 for
a Trek 1500. i recommend the brand specialized, they good entry level
bikes, but if you want a high end bike, go trek. For specialized they
have a womens style model of bike called Dolce. The model for $800 is
Dolce 05 Dolce.  Another great bike which i recommend more is, 05
Allez Triple for $700.

I love talking about cycling and if you have any other comments or
questions id be glad to help.

05 Allez Triple ($700)
Dolce 05 Dolce ($800)
Trek 1500 WSD
Trek 1000 wsd
Subject: Re: Recommendation for a Road Bike
From: hiker2001-ga on 18 Jan 2005 12:55 PST
Some of the contributors have touched on the accessories that you will
need to consider when purchasing a road bike, in particular one that
will be likely used in some kind of road bike racing capacity.
Eventually you will need to consider a car bike rack system as well. I
won't go into the need to buy a bike that is lightweight because this
has already been covered previously. But a lightweight bike will
perhaps come most in handy when loading and unloading it from the roof
of your car too many times to count. Do not bother with the cheaper
trunk bike mount systems, as they are not designed for constant use,
as it appears you will be using it when travelling to races, group
bike rides etc. A fork mount car roof bike rack system will work the
best because it is both durable and easy to use. Thule Racks and
Yakima Racks make superb systems. And also look into the Rocky Mounts
bike rack attachments. They work as well or better than any carrier on
the market - at a fraction of the cost.

sites to reference:

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