How Not to Choose a Road Bike

I have, over the past couple of months, tried and failed to buy myself a new road bike. I have spent hour upon hour looking, thinking, looking again, changing my mind and looking some more. This is how not to buy anything, let alone a new road bike.

When I bought my MTB it was quite straight forward, find the one I liked, pick a size and then turn to eBay and see what was about. Yes I bought the bike on eBay purely as I didn’t have much budget and in case I packed in riding. Plus I knew I would get more for my money buying second hand and that I would get the spec I wanted for the money. Apply the same rules to a road bike and we are in business. Or so I thought.

Once I had set a small, but in my opinion a reasonable budget (up to £300), a quick look on eBay would show two potential bikes that I would be after. The first was the Giant Defy 5 which has a decent spec at a reasonable price and the second was the Specialized Allez, higher spec and higher price but I thought I could get one at the price I could afford. Being a snob I had already dismissed anything from Halfords which meant the Carrera range was out, although there were plenty about.

The one thing that was always in the back of my mind was that one of the reasons for buying a road bike is to go faster, top speed wise. In order to do this the spec of the bike had to be higher than the MTB I already own, so any old cheap and nasty thing wasn’t going to cut it. I needed something decent and wasn’t going to compromise on that, or so I thought.

After long and fruitless searches, bids and counter bids on eBay I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t afford either the Defy or the Allez, even second hand. I really didn’t  want a Carrera from Halfords (or eBay) so what should I do? Buy a new one!

From not being able to afford a bike on eBay I spotted a website that had the Giant Defy 5 at a decent price but I could pay on 0% finance. Sorted.

So onto size, if I was buying new size mattered, buying on eBay I could get away with one of two sizes as I am kind of in-between a small and medium for Giant bikes, depending on which website you look at. The one I was buying from said small and a friend of my brothers said buy a smaller one as it would be lighter and you can always raise the seat.

But was I really a small or a medium? I decided to pop to my local bike shop to try one out. As soon as I spoke to someone they suggested a medium, I tried a small which seemed to be fine but they suggested I try the medium and ordered one from the warehouse as they didn’t have one in the shop.

In the meantime the site I wanted to buy the bike from, only having small or large in stock sold out of the small. A sign from above?

Never mind I thought, the site in question had a Giant Defy 3 for only another £100 in a medium, I just needed to try the medium out to see if was the right size for me.

So having gone from a budget of around £300 for a second hand bike, I was about to buy a brand new bike for £500 on credit. To top it off the new bike would need pedals and shoes, if you are buying peddles may as well have SPD’s. Total cost of around £560. I dithered some more.

Then I decided to look around to see what else I could get for a decent price (around £400) for a known brand with a decent spec. Resale value was important to me in case I didn’t like road bikes and wanted to sell it, hence wanting a known brand. And so I found one. A Felt F95 with the same gears as the Defy 3 but with a Felt frame, All for just under £400.

But did I need a small or a medium? Looking at the size charts I needed a 54cm and reading the reviews someone with the same inside leg and the same height as me had a 54cm and he was fine. How he knew this I have no idea as I doubt he had it fitted. No point in going to the shop now as the Giant frame and the Felt frame are different so I wouldn’t get the answer I was looking for from sitting on a Defy 4 (don’t ask) in a medium.

So the Felt 95 it was going to be, from Wiggle online, with free delivery and flat pedals so at least I could ride it. All I needed to do was shuffle some cash about, count some birthday money (yes I still get that at my age) and bang it on my credit card. Just my conscience to wrestle with as we had just come back from holiday, raked up a few credit card bills and were short of cash for the rest of the month. How could I justify spending £400 on a bike when I hadn’t even been out on my MTB for nearly a month with little motivation to go out any time soon?

Having wrestled with my conscience, considered buying a Carrera TDF from Halfords for a little over £250 and thought about leaving it until next year I decided to buy a Felt F95. I Just wanted to speak to my bother who I was seeing in a few days to get his opinion, not that it would matter, bit always good to get a second opinion anyway.

So there I was decision sort of made, still not 100% sure that I could justify the cost even though the wife had sanctioned it, about to buy a new road bike. Just to make my day complete the price had gone up, only by £20 but it has gone up, which really doesn’t help when you are worried about cost.

But still no road bike. Not until next year at the earliest.

I have, in my ultimate wisdom decided to buy some SPD pedals, shoes and some road tyres for my MTB and take it out on the road. After all the MTB I have is s decent spec, you can only ride one at a time and I don’t think the performance difference between the MTB and a road bike will be that different if I have semi slick tyres on the MTB.

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