Question: I’ve always ridden mountain bikes, but some friends switched to road riding and love it. They want me to buy a bike and start racing with them. My goals are a 50-mile event in May, a century in June and a 200-mile race in September.
What would be a good entry-level bike for these races and for training? I’ve spent so much money on mountain biking that my wife won’t let me spend much more! — Josh S.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Great to hear that you’re interested in a road bike. Riding the road is a great complement to singletrack fitness. And as your friends have found, it’s lots of fun in its own right.
It’s difficult to suggest a bike for someone I don’t know and have never seen. That’s why our policy at RBR is to politely decline to answer. Body size, riding experience, goals, finances and other factors make it too risky.
However, here are several guidelines that can help you find the right bike.
- Patronize your LBS. The folks at your local bike shop know what works well in your terrain. For instance, the gearing and tire width you will need for area climbs and road surfaces. Good shops know how to fit you properly (see below). Most important, they’ll be there when the bike needs adjustments or repairs.
- Have a fit. The frame must allow you to have an efficient, comfortableand powerful position. Savvy shops may have a USA Cycling-certified coach or other bike-fit expert on staff. Or they may have a commercial fitting system (there are many).
- Determine your goals. You need a bike suited for how you’ll ride it. If you’re interested in racing and fast centuries, you’ll want a light frame, light wheels and tires, and a maybe a compact crankset vs. a standard 53×39.
- Don’t overspend. You’ll need to figure out how to talk your significant other into this investment. But an entry-level racer shouldn’t break the bank. In fact, it’s smart not to spend a lot because you’ll probably crash your first bike a time or two. A good shop should have just the ticket in your price range.
If all else fails, promise your wife you’ll sell some of that mountain bike equipment!