100 miles bike competition bike ride Cycling Cycling fitness Guest Post Michael Portland Century road bike

How to Buy a Road Bike

How to Buy a Road Bike

Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and Glamour.com.

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  1. Sasha

    Very useful and very timely. My husband and I are considering bikes in the very near future but we want something that we can take off road too. It all gets very confusing so I appreciate this post very much! I’m very much looking forward to having a bike this spring and summer.

    1. Lisa Eirene

      I’m glad you are finding it helpful! It sounds like a hybrid is the best of both worlds. I used to use Michael’s old hybrid before I got my road bike and I liked it a lot.

  2. Lisa

    As a three person family with eight bikes…I would add that looking at “last season” bikes is a great way to save a little money with no loss of quality. Or – a way to increase quality for the same amount of money. We have probably saved over $1000 this way.

    1. Michael

      You are correct Lisa! In my 3rd part of this series, I mention that January and February are the best months to buy a bike in as stores try to make room for 2011 inventory. They may even be willing to strike a deal with you in order to sell the bike.

    2. Lisa Eirene

      I always buy “last season” stuff. I don’t care if I have whatever the latest trend is, I’d rather get a deal!

  3. Kelly

    My husband and I just got Specialized Crosstrails for Christmas. LOVE riding now after I got accustomed to the seat. Ouch.

    I’d love to see a picture of the correct way to rest hands on the bars. I rode trails for 18 miles at a state park (my longest ride so far) and my fingers were totally numb by the end.

    1. Lisa Eirene

      Kelly–you know Michael complained about numb hands during our Reach the Beach ride last year. He was doing the 80 miles. I did 55 and my hands don’t go numb but my wrist KILLS me if I don’t wear my tendinitis brace. I will have Michael talk about bike posture.

    2. Michael

      Simple solutions!

      1. Don’t use the “Death Grip”. Hold the grips lightly in your hands.
      2. Try not to bend your wrists.
      3. Try varying your grip positions.
      4. If all else fails, try raising your handle bars.

  4. Skinny Emmie

    I would love to eventually get a bike. Things holding me back now are weight that the bikes can hold and cost.

  5. Tweets that mention How to Buy a Road Bike » 110 Pounds and Counting -- Topsy.com

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  6. Jim

    Make sure to buy and support your local bike shop!

  7. Sheri

    My husband bought us a Cannondale Tandem last year so we could exercise together on a equal plain.

    I did rather well considering lack of strength, but I got to tell you I was beat after 40 minutes on the thing. We’d go up hills and I was spent. I felt so bad because he had to take the majority of the power.

    Now I am riding his Cannondale on our Trainer in the house. I like it, but still find I tire fairly quickly unless I keep it at a easy resistant.

    I also have terrible pain on the hands, do you have any recommendations what I could use to help? I have gloves, but they do no good.

    1. Lisa Eirene

      We saw a couple on a tandem bike doing Reach the Beach last year! It looked cool but they were also slower so I bet they were having to work really hard because of the added weight from 2 people. And don’t feel bad about tiring out on a trainer. Trainers are HARD. Much harder than riding outside.

  8. Christi

    I am loving these blogs on how to purchase a bike. I really want to run. I don’t know how to describe it, I have always loved the thought of running and really want to do it. Unfortunatly at the moment my weight is too much for me to run. Physically I could probably do it, but I fear I will injure myself.
    I think cycling is something I could start with. I appreciate the information that you and Michael are sharing. I now feel empowered enough to go into a bike shop and have an intelligent conversation about buying one. Thanks guys!

    1. Lisa Eirene

      Christi that is so great! I’m happy you are finding value in the bike posts and I hope you buy a bike NOW when they are cheaper!

  9. Alan (Pounds Off Playoff)

    Lisa and Michael, thanks for crafting such informative posts on biking. I learned a lot. My ride is a Trek hybrid from a LBS. I chose it because it’s solid and was significantly less expensive than the range you quote. It’s not fancy at all, but I have a lot of weight to lose, so I’m happy with a bike that I can ride without concern. I live in the PNW, too, so I took the rack off the car in December and won’t put it back on until March. The rest of the year I ride trails once or twice a week. When I’m lighter, I’ll read this again and buy a light bike!

    1. Lisa Eirene

      Hey Alan- I’m really glad you liked Michael’s post about bikes. I think it will be a great way to lose weight. You live in Seattle right? I understand bad weather. Get a trainer! Ride inside! Hybrids are great bikes.

  10. Eva

    (apologies for the length of this comment!) I bought my first road bike last summer while preparing for my first ever century ride: the Portland Century! After being a committed bike commuter for several years, I was exercising a little bit but still significantly overweight and unhappy with my health. I have had joint problems in my wrist, ankle, and knee (including knee surgery in college), and the extra weight really doesn’t help.

    Anyhow, I took the plunge by signing up for the Portland Century and started training on my commuter hybrid, which is a relatively heavy bike but one I’ve had since middle school and I adore it (it’s a Bianchi Avenue). I even did hill training (long and short reps of climbing) on it! I always intended to buy a road bike but was hesitant because of the cash outlay.

    Finally, it was very clear that I had simply reached the edge of my endurance on the hybrid. I needed a bike that didn’t exhaust me to ride after 50 miles (turns out I’m still pretty tired after 50 miles!!). So I bought a swanky new road bike on a loan from my dad, and I have been thrilled with the purchase! It takes a LOT of getting used to. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. If you are used to riding in an upright or relatively-upright position, the more aggressive posture of a road bike is uncomfortable and you’ll have aches and pains in weird places for a while. I still do, and I completed a century in August! But there is no comparison in terms of the weight of the bike and the efficiency over long distances. It’s a machine built for sport riding, and the posture engages your core in a way that upright positions don’t.

    Flush with my victory — I think I was literally the last person to actually cycle across the finish line in the PC, but cycle across it I did! — and with the incredible feeling of power in my body, I recently signed up to do the AIDS LifeCycle in June….. 545 miles over 7 days, SF to LA. Go big or go home, right?

    I’m still overweight, though I’ve lost ~17 pounds since I signed up for the Century (and gained a LOT of muscle). Now that I need to build even more endurance, I’ve put my road bike on an indoor trainer for the winter and do my thrice-weekly commute on my trusty hybrid steed. I try to do 45-120min low-resistance spins on my trainer three times a week so that I’m in some kind of bike saddle every day. It still kills me, even now. I think I switch hand positions every 1-3 minutes. Really!

    My advice to anyone hesitating is JUST DO IT. Cycling for sport isn’t for everyone, but cycling to enjoy the fresh air and the park and the rather remarkable phenomenon of self-propulsion can be for everyone. If you aren’t sure about what to get, get a good hybrid. It’s cheaper and sturdier. You can even replace the flat handbars with swept-back ones. You’ll know when you’re ready for a road bike.

    Give it a go. You might be surprised.

    1. Lisa Eirene

      Hi Eva! Thanks for commenting. I would love to hear more about your experience with the Portland Century.

      I love your review of the two bikes you had. It does make a difference having a proper bike (and lighter weight bike) for long distances. I didn’t know just how much of a difference until I got a road bike. And you are also right about the weird aches and pains. I had been riding on Michael’s old hybrid bike because all I had was a mountain bike. I sat upright on the hybrid. Then when I got my road bike I was surprised at how different it was. It was hard. It was like learning how to ride a bike all over again. I also had weird pains. My neck and shoulders would be hurt for days after a long ride because I was hunched over and I had low back pain. I eventually got over it with more practice on the bike.

  11. DanL

    A few years ago I bought a bike, I wanted a road one and my wife wanted a hybrid. We ended up with two cyclocross (Specialized Tricross sport). Here are the benefits:
    – Really strong seat stays to carry a kid in a seat (or luggage)
    – mtb 11-32 cassette to help climb some hills carrying a (double) child trailer
    – Allows for wide 32c tires (maybe larger) to take it off-road (off the pavement)
    – Comfortable riding position compared to a hybrid
    – Slightly higher than a road frame for ground clearance
    – Suicide brakes are a plus when following a 2yo with training wheels at speeds bellow 10km/h
    – Very strong, I’m 6’1″ 240 pounds, add 35 pounds when I’m with my 4yo 😀

    Of course it’s not just good things:
    – It’s heavy (22 pounds) compared to a road bike. I thought it was negligible since I’m fat but it does make a big difference.
    – It’s heavy
    – not as smooth as a road bike (cheap tiagra / Deore LX but I guess that could be true for any kind of bike)
    – Did I mention that it was heavy ?
    – I guess it looks kinda silly with 23c and that wide fork with v-brakes but who cares 🙂

    Even with all the good things when my kids are older I will get a true road bike. As if we didn’t already have enough bikes already, my garage is starting to look like a bike shop.

  12. Rommel

    This is a great post. I’m interested on reading the first part of this post. It is really subject for saving for future reference as it have lot of information about road bikes and it will teach you a lot. Thanks for sharing this post as it can help lot of newbies in road bikes. Hybrid Bike Reviews

  13. Madhusree Basu

    Lisa and Michael thanks for this post. I was going through the previous post as well on the How to Buy a Bike. Both these post are fabulous with so much detailed and pictures for reference. Its like”Complete Reference” for buying a bike.

  14. Melanie Green

    Wish I had read this before purchasing my first bike. Not that it’s bad, it’s just that I had really considered the type of bike saddle. Had to buy a replacement a few months after using the bike. I am planning to buy one for my son who is turning 14 soon and will definitely consider your advice. Don’t want to make the same mistake again!

  15. Rabbi Hosssain Khan

    Hi Lisa,

    WoW!!! really admirable. It sounds like something freaky cool. Thanks a lot for sharing your great thoughts through your amazing post. Being grateful as you posted such a useful and informative post. I would like to save it for later. Thanks a lot for sharing your great thoughts.

    Best Wishes,
    Rabbi Hossain Khan

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