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Bike recommendation
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Hi - I'm posting for a friend who's considering getting her first bike. She did her first tri ever last weekend on an old hybrid with barely any biking experience. She now wants a new bike and asked me my opinion - my first thought is that she should get a road bike instead of a TT bike for many reasons...more versatile if she decides tris aren't her thing, easier to handle (she's got zero bike handling skills and has never clipped into cleats before), and probably cheaper entry point options with road bikes than tri bikes.

What are your thoughts? Any recommendations for entry level bikes?
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Re: Bike recommendation [SBRmd] [ In reply to ]
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I agree that she should start with a road bike. They are far more versatile than tri bikes. I had been riding for a couple years before my first tri, and I did a few years of triathlons on a road bike. It wasn't until my third HIM that I bought a tri bike. My bike splits were plenty fast because I was confident on the bike and good bike fitness from riding a lot.

As far as what to get, at a given price point they will be pretty much the same. She can get more value if she buys last year's model that the shop hasn't been able to sell. Make sure she doesn't let the sales guys push her into a women's specific bike unless it is what she really wants. I have noticed that they tend to have lower quality components at a given price point than the men's.
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Re: Bike recommendation [happyscientist] [ In reply to ]
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happyscientist wrote:
I agree that she should start with a road bike. They are far more versatile than tri bikes. I had been riding for a couple years before my first tri, and I did a few years of triathlons on a road bike. It wasn't until my third HIM that I bought a tri bike. My bike splits were plenty fast because I was confident on the bike and good bike fitness from riding a lot.

As far as what to get, at a given price point they will be pretty much the same. She can get more value if she buys last year's model that the shop hasn't been able to sell. Make sure she doesn't let the sales guys push her into a women's specific bike unless it is what she really wants. I have noticed that they tend to have lower quality components at a given price point than the men's.

I also agree that a road bike would be a better first purchase.

I don't mean to thread-jack here, but Happyscientist-do you think that would be the case for mountain bikes as well? I'm looking to purchase one this fall and am shopping around...mainly at women's specific, but if the parts aren't as good-I won't. I don't really know much about bike parts and quality...I'm trying to learn, but there's a lot of information out there!
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Re: Bike recommendation [SimplyAmy] [ In reply to ]
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It is really easy to get analysis paralysis, especially with mountain bikes. When I bought mine, I picked a budget and a few things that I absolutely wanted (2x10 or 2x11 drivetrain, full suspension). I am just short enough that it can be hard to find bikes that fit. I picked the shop first, because I won't deal with a shop that is condescending to women, then I asked someone there for his opinion. I had dealt with the guy and his boss before so I knew that I could trust them. That was the bike that I bought. It was a men's bike.

IIRC, there was not a single women's bike that had full suspension and double crankset in my budget. They all had triples, and I hate triples.

I did swap out the seat--my body does not like a men's saddle. I also had the handlebars cut down about an inch on each side because they were too wide for my reach. But those things are easy to take care of and much cheaper than upgrading a drivetrain or even brakes (yep, sometimes women's bikes have crappy brakes because it is assumed that we don't ride as hard).
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Re: Bike recommendation [happyscientist] [ In reply to ]
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Thank you so much! I'm glad I didn't rush into buying one :) Again, I'm so sorry to the original poster-I didn't mean to steal your thread.
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Re: Bike recommendation [happyscientist] [ In reply to ]
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there is one extra factor in mtb bikes, and that is the suspension. Many women do not have the upper body mass to activate the suspension at all; unlike drivetrain choices a better and more tune-able suspension fork can make a big difference. Even proper tire inflation can improve how a rigid front fork handles.

Of course, it depends on the complexity of the trails you will be riding as to what sort of suspension would be best (front only, or full suspension). If just doing casual cross country with the occasional log obstacle, basic front suspension with 80mm of travel should be fine. If you 're looking to be on more technical terrain with rock gardens and dropoffs, front and rear suspension becomes more important.

While generally I agree about the 'womens' geometry', in some cases the 'ladies' version may spec a suspension package chosen to assume a lighter rider.

Anne Barnes
FIST/SICI/FIST DOWN DEEP
Live Grit
anne@livegrit.com
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Re: Bike recommendation [ABarnes] [ In reply to ]
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But unless you weigh under 100 lbs, that isn't an issue. The shocks can be adjusted to various body weights. There are so many variables to a mountain bike that is it easy to get overwhelmed. However, there is still a tendency among bike manufactures to "shrink it and pink it" (and put crappy components on it) and call it women's. I have gotten kind of jaded after seeing too many bikes being pushed with inferior components, so if someone is going to suggest a WSD bike for me, they need to have a damn good reason why it is right FOR ME and not a marketer's version of a woman.
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Re: Bike recommendation [happyscientist] [ In reply to ]
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happyscientist wrote:
But unless you weigh under 100 lbs, that isn't an issue. The shocks can be adjusted to various body weights. There are so many variables to a mountain bike that is it easy to get overwhelmed. However, there is still a tendency among bike manufactures to "shrink it and pink it" (and put crappy components on it) and call it women's. I have gotten kind of jaded after seeing too many bikes being pushed with inferior components, so if someone is going to suggest a WSD bike for me, they need to have a damn good reason why it is right FOR ME and not a marketer's version of a woman.

Besides lower level components, for some reason women's specific mountain bikes also tend to be noticeably heavier than men's - even when the frame is smaller. I'm an unproportionate 5'5" (long legs, long reach, but a short torso) and I ride a small men's Specialized Epic. As with any bike: test ride ride, test ride, and test ride again. If you can't take the mountain bike to a trail or hit a demo day, do an urban assault outside the shop - things like ride up/down/over sidewalk and parking curbs and tight figure 8s (any front wheel/toe overlap?).

Try not to drown / rock the bike / hobby-jog
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