The Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa

Type of Bike

I am looing at getting a new bike for this. ANyone have sugestion, guidelines to follow for a good bike fit. Looking at spen400-500$ im guessing. I will mostly be doing hard pack trails and concrete. Was looking at hybrid bike with disc breaks. what does anyone suggest.

14 Replies

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Michrider !!!, March 11, 2013 at 6:35 am

Talk to the people at your local bike shop. However, if your budget is below $500, I’d suggest you buy a slightly used bike!



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Tony, March 13, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Scott it sounds like you need a cyclocross bike. You might have to look for a used bike with your budget. For RAGBRAI all you would need is to put on some road tires.

Road bikes are the preferred bike for the ride. But you will see all types. I ride road bikes. But I do plan to bring my new obsession. I bought a Rideable Bicycle Replica 48″ Standard Boneshaker. It is custom fabricated by Greg Barron.



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Sandaltan, March 13, 2013 at 8:47 pm

Congratulations on the new bike Tony!!! Now, I suppose that new carpet you were saving for will have to wait for another year. Awwwww, bikes are more important anyway. Is there a “Tweed Ride” in the Quad Cities as there is in DSM??? That would be a great place to show it off.




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CyclingRoberto, March 13, 2013 at 10:37 pm

You can’t get a good bike for that cheap new. You might find something used, but most likely not with disc brakes. A hybrid is going to be less comfortable on a long ride like RAGBRAI. It might be better however for your other rides. Check craigslist for good deals on used bikes. But when you start talking about fit, and components like disc brakes, you better be ready to jack up your budget a notch or two.

See you on the road.



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Houdini, March 14, 2013 at 2:18 am

If that’s what you’re going to buy and you have a friend that can help you put it together:
Frankly I wouldn’t recommend disk brakes: at your price point quality v-brakes provide equal or better modulation and stopping power; even if you could get better performance you wouldn’t need it for recreational pavement/hard pack riding; disk brakes add complexity and weight that you don’t need.



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Ken, March 14, 2013 at 6:43 am

“disk brakes add complexity and weight that you don’t need.”

Partly true but I love my disc brakes and they make it much simpler to get my bike off of the car rack and the front wheel mounted. No fooling with the cables. As far as weight goes… my first place to look is my belt line.



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ts, March 14, 2013 at 3:38 pm

I second the suggestion of a cyclocross bike. I ride mine on everything from pavement to singletrack. It is the perfect bike for hardpacked trails. For RAGBRAI, I throw lighter wheels with road tires on it and I can keep up with all but the most hardened roadies. You won’t find a decent new one for $500. Most of the big manufacturers have basic models starting around $1100. Disc brakes will add two to three hundred.

I disagree with the notion that disc brakes are not useful. The cantilevers on most ‘cross bikes are not great. Their main function seems to be to squeal loudly enough to warn the person in front of you that they’re about to be rammed. You can live without them, though, if can’t find a bike with disc brakes in your price range. I don’t have discs either, but I haven’t managed to kill anyone yet. If you can’t manage around $1500 for a new bike, I’d suggest Craigslist, or check with your LBS on a source of used bikes.



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coloradoshortbus, March 14, 2013 at 8:39 pm

I’ve been doing Ragbrai for 28 years, and tried riding different type bikes. I would suggest a used aluminum or fiber frame (for comfort), racing geometry (for speed and quickness), 14-18 speed (for hills), a shock post and super fly style saddle (for no butt pain) and 19-23 mm high pressure tires (reduced rolling resistance). You will be able to find a used Cannondale or similar in your price range. My setup is a Cannondale racing frame, 14 speed, 150 psi tires, shockpost, clipless pedals and Super Fly saddle. My average speed is 12 mph (I’m 68).



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Geoffrey, March 31, 2013 at 8:45 pm

I’m riding a specialized tricross.



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Axiom 7, April 2, 2013 at 9:57 pm

I am taking my Cannondale Bad Boy Ultra hybrid. I have 32mm Gatorskins to help with the cavernous cracks in the Iowa roads. Seen too many 23mm tires sucked into those bottomless crevases. I had been riding my Campy Record equiped Seven but I think the odds of getting a Campy jockey wheel or any other part for Campy Record in Rhubarb Pie, Iowa would be non-existant. I have my Cannondale set up so it has the same dimensions as the road bike (reach, crank length, seat height etc…)and it has SPD platform pedals so I can wear shoes to walk through the towns in and dont have to pack a second pair of shoes. Walking in the towns is half the ride and walking in Sidi’s with SPD-SL cleats is just dangerous.



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Proteus Dan, April 3, 2013 at 7:07 am

I ride a 1976 Proteus with Campy parts and have scavenged parts to take along like jockey wheels and springs. Have gone to the dark side and use shimaNO spd pedals for sandal use, also.



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Wichita, April 29, 2013 at 9:20 pm

I rode a Schwinn Le Tour on the Bike Across Kansas 21 years ago and am planning on taking the same bike. I’ve been keeping up with my training log. Sure it would be nice to spend a thousand on a bike but I don’t think you need to.



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Dan in Iowa, April 30, 2013 at 7:34 am

The thing with road bike vs hybrid is a very personal thing. My wife and I did a 6 day ride through Nebraska last year (the same week as RAGBRAI) and she rode a $400 hybrid WITH panniers and liked it very well whereas I have a custom built Waterford road bike. It’s all about fit and what works best FOR YOU….not anyone else. I don’t care for the hybrid style but it’s perfect for others.

Go ride a bunch of bikes!! The good shops will let you test ride them for an afternoon even. Used bikes are a good option. In your price range, avoid the disc brakes on new bikes. They can be problematic unless you go the better systems and you’re not going to get that in your dollars.

You have good answers here, but it IS a very personal thing on what works for the individual. Some of that only time will tell you.



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Chris, May 2, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Dan in Iowa said it: it’s all about what fits and works for you. Period.

Having a bike that fits you perfectly matters far, far more than what the bike actually is. Spending an extra 120 bucks for a seat that fits just right will trump disc brakes any day, so I’d really concentrate more on getting the fit right than worrying about any single set of components.

Speaking of components, we’ve seen everything there. And them some. Toss a set of Tom Slick’s on a full-suspenstion DH bike, lock out the suspension, and go flying down the road. Will you keep up with the weight weenies on their 15lb carbon wunderbikes? No. Will you have just as much fun? Hell yes. And if you’re careful about bike fit, you’ll feel better at the end of the day, too.

Yes, component emergenices happen. If you have a super-rare part, like….like….on, hell, I don’t know, a gold-plated set of valve stems that you can’t ride without, bring a spare. But for the most part, you can make whatever you break work from the spares that the shops have. Wedging a half-worn Shimano jockey pulley with a few spaces from a hardware store into your SRAM Red dereilleur might break your heart and shift like crap, but it’ll keep you rolling. Which when all is said and done, is the only part that matters.

Anyway, go to a shop and figure out what kind of bike you need by riding a few different kinds. Then worry about if you’re going to get a used one or not. But, not to sound like a broken record, but nail the fit perfectly. That’s the thing that really, really matters.



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