Beginner Bike - Torn between Local Shop and Online

Kenzii

New Member
Location
Hertfordshire
Hi All,
So, long story short, my medical reasons, I've been suspended for driving for the next 12 months. this has pushed me to look towards other lines of transport and certainly wont hurt to get fit during so.

Bike wise, I'm a complete novice and need something for my commute, most probably 3 times a week 15 miles round trip. I will also probably go out at weekends. I live in South East England, I do not expect to be able to hop on a bike and immediately get there as the journey contains some hills but its something to aim towards. I originally wanted a hybrid for some canal paths. But after riding a Road Bike and a Hybrid I preferred the road bike, the canal paths was because I'm nervous about being on the roads but its something I will get use to.. I tried a medium and large frame and the large seems to fit better.

I've been looking at a whole selection of bikes, ranging from Genesis (not sure model but quite low spec) with Claris groupset from my local bike shop through some of the Dolan/Planet X Carbon bikes With 105 groupsets that are available online and I am really stuck.

To a certain degree I am pretty vein and want something that looks good as much as it performs. My budget can be up to £1200-1500, but everyone I speak to says for what will be a winter bike as much as my beginners bike, this is too much and I should look around the £800-£1000 mark.

I suppose where I am at the moment is I am torn between going to my Local Bike Shop, who can set everything up for me and be a go to for any issues. The Genesis bike they were advising on was a dull purple and wasn't really what I had in mind. It was also the lower end groupset which puts me off somewhat.

Or should I go online and get more bang for my buck with Dolan or Planet X bike that seems to me more 'high end' for this price bracket (Carbon Frame with 105 groupset). But am i going to ruin this during the winter? Will i have problems putting it together?

I've done a lot of reading over the past days on best bikes under £1000. I like the look of the CONTEND SL 2 DISC but worry that I am just buying cause of the way it looks. (plus I cannot find any where that delivers it!). I also liked the look of Genesis Equilibrium Disc 10 - but keep flitting from pillar to post.

What I'm looking for as a must form what I've read:
Disc Brakes mechanical or hydraulic
Must be able to fit mudguards
I would prefer 28mm tyres (assume they help with comfort and wet riding)
Shimano Tiagra minimum?

Could anyone advise based on the above what would suit? I would appreciate any help.
 
OP
K

Kenzii

New Member
Location
Hertfordshire
Should note this was what I was basing a lot of my research on: https://legwork.guide/best-road-bikes-under-1000/
 

vickster

Legendary Member
Go local and test ride the bikes you like the look of. You can’t do that if buying at a distance unless you’re prepared to travel which is much harder if you can’t drive

I have an older Genesis Eq (non disc) Done over 6k Miles and it’s my favourite bike (of the 5 I own)

Pure road bikes esp carbon may not take proper mudguards, nor fatter tyres

Where in the SE are you? Freeborn in Horsham for example often have prior year Genesis models with a healthy discount

Obviously check with your dr that you are safe to cycle
 
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OP
K

Kenzii

New Member
Location
Hertfordshire
Great thanks for the reply. Was heading down to the shop tomorrow so will hand pick the ones I want to try. According to Genesis website reseller my local shop do have the eq disc 10 in stock so fingers crossed.

I think I mentioned about getting a bike and no comments were made by the doctor. So I think I should be ok.

Thanks and I’ll let you know how I get on!
 
Bike shop every time - you can poke, prod, ask questions etc to your heart's content. Don't discount places like Decathlon (their bikes have good rap from the peeps on here) and Halfords (the Boardman range is good bang for buck).

Also, don't forget that you will need to budget for lights, clothing, locks, helmet, luggage, tools & spares etc.

If you are looking for one do-it-all bike, then a hybrid is probably your best bet. Particularly if you are unfit. And more so if it's your only mode of transport. The gearing will be lower than a road bike, which will certainly help on the hills. Plus you'll definitely be able to fit rack, panniers, mudguards etc which are pretty well much essentials for commuting, shopping, utility rides.

Since you are a beginner, I wouldn't recommend spending silly money. Especially if you are commuting and then have to leave a bike locked up for the day. There are some very good bikes to be had at a third to a half of your budget.

The other option is to split your budget and get a hybrid hack for the commute and a roadie for fun.
 
OP
K

Kenzii

New Member
Location
Hertfordshire
Bike shop every time - you can poke, prod, ask questions etc to your heart's content. Don't discount places like Decathlon (their bikes have good rap from the peeps on here) and Halfords (the Boardman range is good bang for buck).

Also, don't forget that you will need to budget for lights, clothing, locks, helmet, luggage, tools & spares etc.

If you are looking for one do-it-all bike, then a hybrid is probably your best bet. Particularly if you are unfit. And more so if it's your only mode of transport. The gearing will be lower than a road bike, which will certainly help on the hills. Plus you'll definitely be able to fit rack, panniers, mudguards etc which are pretty well much essentials for commuting, shopping, utility rides.

Since you are a beginner, I wouldn't recommend spending silly money. Especially if you are commuting and then have to leave a bike locked up for the day. There are some very good bikes to be had at a third to a half of your budget.

The other option is to split your budget and get a hybrid hack for the commute and a roadie for fun.
Interesting to mention hybrid as when I visited the bike shop for the first time l was adamant I would want a hybrid, but everyone I speak to seems to advise on a road bike. That’s people I know who cycle and also the people who work in the bike shop.
 

si_c

Veteran
Location
Wirral
I'd second that option from Decathlon that @vickster mentioned - superb value.

Also don't knock some of the lower end groupsets they tend to sacrifice mostly just the number of gears and be a touch heavier. I've run Sora on my commuter for the last 2 1/2 years, in that time it's done approaching 20k miles and still works reliably and cleanly. Set up correctly and maintained I struggled to tell the difference between an Ultegra equipped bike I rode earlier this year. Also the gearing on the lower end stuff tends to be more appropriate.
 
Interesting to mention hybrid as when I visited the bike shop for the first time l was adamant I would want a hybrid, but everyone I speak to seems to advise on a road bike. That’s people I know who cycle and also the people who work in the bike shop.
I have both - and love both. But sometimes it's about having the right tool for the job.

Until the beginning of this year, I only had a road bike (I went with heart rather than head when buying if I was completely honest) and it's been pressed into service as a commuter, tourer, utility bike etc. Yes, it's coped admirably with what I've been throwing at it and I don't regret buying it one iota, but I found that while it's brilliant for leisure rides and commuting (if I don't need to carry much stuff with me), it's less than ideal for utility rides (shopping) and touring as I have to use a backpack and the gearing isn't ideal for hills. (OK, that's rectifiable, but still...) It's also limited by only taking 23mm tyres and it can't take a rack - no eyes and the frame is too small for a seatpost one.

The hybrid's been a revelation since I got it to be fair. It's set up for luggage so I can tour, get a week's groceries in etc. It's also a more relaxed ride than the road bike and the gearing makes hills much less hard work despite the bike being heavier. (No suspension fork on mine btw, it's not needed.)

You could perhaps look at a touring bike maybe - still drop bar like a full-blown road bike, but a more relaxed ride, capable of taking wider tyres, mudguards, rack and the whole shebang. It's neither a roadie or a hybrid, but gives you the benefit of both. There are others on here who can advise if you want to go down that route.

At the end of the day, it's your money and your choice. All I'm saying is don't rule out any option until you've had a good think about it. If the bike is going to be your only mode of personal transport for a year, then you do need to make sure that you get the right bike for you. Get the wrong bike, and you'll end up wanting to throw it in the hedge...

FWIW, my road bike runs claris and my hybrid runs altus - they do the job well enough. I'm somewhat undertall, so I can't suggest any specific bikes as I ride junior-sized frames. But to put things in perspective, new, both my bikes are just under £400, and they're very capable machines that turn heads wherever I go. You don't need to spend oodles to get something really nice.
 

slowmotion

Quite dreadful
Location
lost somewhere
If it's your first bike, I would buy it from a shop. They will give advice about size, setting it up etc. Also, they will probably give it a six week service to check for cable stretches etc. You don't get any of that online. The bike might cost a bit more but the customer service knowledge is well worth it for a newcomer.
 

SkipdiverJohn

Über Member
Location
London
Bike wise, I'm a complete novice and need something for my commute, most probably 3 times a week 15 miles round trip. I will also probably go out at weekends. I live in South East England, I do not expect to be able to hop on a bike and immediately get there as the journey contains some hills but its something to aim towards. I originally wanted a hybrid for some canal paths. But after riding a Road Bike and a Hybrid I preferred the road bike, the canal paths was because I'm nervous about being on the roads but its something I will get use to.

I've been looking at a whole selection of bikes, ranging from Genesis (not sure model but quite low spec) with Claris groupset from my local bike shop through some of the Dolan/Planet X Carbon bikes With 105 groupsets that are available online and I am really stuck.

To a certain degree I am pretty vein and want something that looks good as much as it performs. My budget can be up to £1200-1500, but everyone I speak to says for what will be a winter bike as much as my beginners bike, this is too much and I should look around the £800-£1000 mark.

Or should I go online and get more bang for my buck with Dolan or Planet X bike that seems to me more 'high end' for this price bracket (Carbon Frame with 105 groupset). But am i going to ruin this during the winter? Will i have problems putting it together?

What I'm looking for as a must form what I've read:
Disc Brakes mechanical or hydraulic
Must be able to fit mudguards
I would prefer 28mm tyres (assume they help with comfort and wet riding)
Shimano Tiagra minimum?

Could anyone advise based on the above what would suit? I would appreciate any help.
You're overthinking this way too much. By your own admission, you are a novice cyclist, yet you are going into the minutiae of things like 105 groupsets and carbon frames! Your list of "requirements" in terms of spec is pointless because you have nothing to compare them with. I've been riding bikes for many years and none of mine have 105 or disc brakes, and none are carbon framed either. Strictly steel only, and rim braked. No-one "needs" discs any more than anyone "needs" Tiagra as a minimum. It's all marketing spin. What you do REALLY need as a commuter above all else, is a bike that will still be where you parked it in the morning, when you come back to it at the end of the day to go home on! So lose the vanity attitude and forget about anything expensive/pretty/bling and instead go for something that looks dull/boring/scruffy/worthless, so it is not remotely attractive to bike thieves. That way you stand the best chance of being able to ride home rather than have to walk because your bike has gone missing......

Once you've mitigated theft risk, the next things are durability and practicality. Some (super-fit) people will tell you to commute on a stripped down fixie/single speed because it offers a "pure" cycling experience and minimal maintenance. Ignore them. Someone like you needs a good range of low gears. I'd suggest you get a bike equipped with a 28/38/48T triple front chainring. That means an old rigid MTB, Hybrid, or Tourer in practice, not a weekend warrior's road bike. You also need the ability to run decent stout comfortable tyres AND have mudguards on at the same time. A lot of bikes can only fit sensible tyres if run guard-less, and if guards are fitted the size that will fit drops down by several mm. It's bonkers to even consider any bike without decent tyre clearance for utility riding all year round. You also need proper, puncture resistant tyres like Schwalbe Marathons if you don't want to be late for work because of flats. Tyres with a high level of puncture resistance tend to be taller than lightweight roadie tyres, and so limit mudguard/frame clearance more still. Much of the UK's roads and canal paths have one thing in common, the surface is in poor condition and can be rough. Forget narrow high pressure tyres, go for 32 or 35mm as a minimum..

A lot of modern road bikes do not have provision for racks and guards, because they are designed with appearance in mind, not practicality. Years ago, clubmen's sports bikes did have these features, because they were often ridden all-year round, or to get to work on in the week, as well as weekends. Cyclists were practical then. Many modern roadies are way too vain to even have mudguards mounts let alone actual mudguards on their bikes! Leave them to pose in their Lycra, and get yourself a practical flat bar hybrid or drop-bar touring type machine. Secondhand is way better value than buying new, sometimes you can pick up really nice bikes for literally a tenth or less than their original cost - which can be very low mileage, having spent years in someone's garage not even getting ridden and worn out.
 

HobbesOnTour

Über Member
Location
The Netherlands
Hi All,
So, long story short, my medical reasons, I've been suspended for driving for the next 12 months. this has pushed me to look towards other lines of transport and certainly wont hurt to get fit during so.
....
I'm sensing a lot of confusion from your post.
You start off with asking if to buy online or in LBS?
(IMO, definitely the LBS on the assumption that it has a good rep and you have made some kind of a connection there. Especially since you are in your own words, a novice.)

Then you finish by asking for suggestions for a bike

In the middle there are opinions from others you have sought advice from - and now you're asking for more opinions from more people! ^_^

I can't advise on what bike, but @SkipdiverJohn has good advice - if sometimes presented a little vehemently.
There is a big picture at play that extends beyond the frame and components. There can be a tendency to focus on the components and specs and not think fully about how exactly they will be used.
If I may add - an important factor in a utility bike is reliability. As someone who utilises the lower spectrum of the component scale I have the advantage that consumables are cheap to replace and I'm far more willing to have a go myself rather than using a LBS and paying for the privilege.
In your circumstances, I'd also be considering a dynohub for lighting. Cheap and reliable.

Since the bike will be a necessity for commuting is there a chance that you can borrow a bike and have a go at doing that commute as you would? Carry whatever you think you will need. Then try to imagine a cold, windy November morning. What's bike storage like at work? Changing/Shower facilities? What kind of bike is making sense now?

By the way, as impressed as I am with your optimism about getting used to riding on busy roads, I'd imagine that you're at the most risk of having an incident (that may well put you off cycling for good!) in the early days of your new biking life.
There are regular threads from more experienced cyclists who need inspiration to get back out on the road after one too many incidents.
FWIW I always prefer the quieter routes. My hour's commute to work has become one of the more enjoyable parts of my day.

Good luck!
 

Drago

Flouncing Nobber
And don't be too focused on "bang for buck". A higher paper spec is a fair indicator, but it's no guarantee of a better riding bike.

For example, of my 2 'racing' bikes the triple butted alloy framed one is a more comfortable and livelier feeling ride than the carbon framed one, and all the shiny groupeset bling in the world won't change that. Therefore, I would recommend that you test ride prospective purchases.
 

alicat

Legendary Member
Location
Staffs
Don't buy online when you're a novice. A bike needs maintenance so you need a maintenance 'friend' to get you going. Try your local bike shop and Decathlon or Halfords' Cycle Republic and see what you are most comfortable with.

Get a hybrid as your first bike. You can go more blingy/arse in the air when you're sure that cycling is for you.
 
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