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Best road or tour bike for the $$

Started biking last year, did my first RAGBRAI this year, as well as Bike Van Buren. Want to upgrade from my Raleigh hybrid, money IS an object.

What do I need to look for in a bike for 120 miles a week in good weather? 5’10 bare foot, 170 lbs.
Carbon or Alum.?
Best stock wheels? Stock seat?

9 Replies

Michrider !!!, August 21, 2011 at 4:42 pm

buggystuff said: Started biking last year, did my first RAGBRAI this year, as well as Bike Van Buren. Want to upgrade from my Raleigh hybrid, money IS an object.

What do I need to look for in a bike for 120 miles a week in good weather? 5’10 bare foot, 170 lbs.Carbon or Alum.?Best stock wheels? Stock seat?

There is no “Cookie cutter” formula that can predict the best bike for “YOU”!  Take your time and ask lots of questions!


Tony, August 21, 2011 at 5:05 pm

You are going to get a whole lot of different answers here. But I’ll give you my two cents. I’m going to use the words “entry level road bike” By no means relate that term to quality. Many do unfortunately. Trek and Orbea both have outstanding entry level bikes. Treks 1.1 and Orbea Aqua T23. Both have very similar components. 1.1 list for 729. The Aqua for 799. I would suggest the Aqua is a bit better frame. Orbea is well know for its hand crafted in house frames. Trek 1.1 frames are mass produced in Asia. As are most entry and mid level bikes.  But don’t get hung up on that. Pay attention to components and wheel sets. In the 1.1 and Aqua bikes. They are read to roll out of the box after adding pedals. For you body weight wheels should not be a big problem. Both the 1.1 and Aqua use high spoke count wheels. These provides strength and durability. They stay true longer and can handle rougher roads that are found on tour rides. Mavic Aksium are a high quality entry level road race wheel set. But for your needs I would spend a little more money and get a custom laced Velocity Deep V set. Pro Wheel Builders out of Las Vegas does quality workmanship for very reasonable price. Many riders make the mistake of choosing race components for tour rides. There is a snob factor for this. But choosing the right equipment for the ride. Will make for a more enjoyable ride. Carbon frames cost much more than aluminum frames in general. With cost restrictions you are looking at used carbon or new aluminum frames. Buying used carbon can be questionable unless you know the real history of the bike. There is a difference in feel between frame types. This is a personal preference as are saddles. Price on saddles does not have a bearing on comfort. Check out Selle, Fizik, and Brook. My Cheap Nashbar Glide (designed by Fisik) Is just as comfortable as my high dollar ISCA Tatano. You will have to demo them to find what works. My bottom line choice for a new entry level bike is the Orbea Aqua T23.

Aqua T23

Trek 1.1


buggystuff, August 21, 2011 at 5:45 pm

Thanks for replying!
I’m looking at a Vilano Forza 4.0 online. Opinions?
We don’t have much selection of shops around here, so can’t do as much “hands on”


Tony, August 21, 2011 at 6:13 pm

I would never recommend buying a bike online. Bikes must be fitted to the rider for comfort. You also stated about 120 miles a week. You will need a quality bike to maintain that mileage. You will need a bike shop to provide the maintenance to ride that type of mileage. Or get trained and buy the tools to do the maintenance yourself. The proper tools are not cheap either I might add. I have just as much money rapped up in tools as I do one of my bikes. Spend a bit more money and get a quality bike from a quality shop. You will be glade you did in the long run. Look for Trek, Orbea, Giant, Specialized, Cannondale, and Scott to name a few. All make quality entry level bikes. Online shopping will not get you any future service for that bike. It breaks, and it will, your stuck. Buy from a dealer, you will have service to go along with it. 


holymoly, August 21, 2011 at 9:29 pm

I have bought a couple bikes online, website link below. No matter what bike you have, it is a mechanical thing, they all eventually need service and any bike shop will fix any bike, they need the work.

At 5′ 10″ and normal weight, you are “average”. That means either a 23″ frame of anywhere from 57-59cm frame will work, heck even a 56cm if you get a Surly LHT (Long Haul Trucker). 

By the way, if you are generally doing touring, like Ragbri, then a touring bike is what you want, like a Trek 520.

Just looked up the bike you mentioned, it is aluminum frame with a cr-mo steel fork.  It is similar to a bike I bought off the website I mentioned below.  I bought a “cross bike”….can ride it anywhere, bigger tires, lower gearing, and ride it all year. It has 700×32 tires on it but can go to 700×23 or up to 700×38 with fenders.

I would NOT buy carbon anything, it is overpriced and the material is suspect to failure without notice. My friend had his carbon fork snap on a ride, he was lucky, he only had bruises and cuts that didn’t need stitches. But he did have to walk the bike home 9 miles! 
I am a  big fan of steel, have 3 bikes made of the wonder material of the future. Steel is real and you don’t have to worry about a nick in the armor like carbon.  Check out your local Craig’s List (CL), many deals are to be found.

Good luck on your search, buying a bike is always exciting!


holymoly, August 21, 2011 at 9:30 pm

Oh yeah, forgot to include the link……..



sestrain, August 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Picked up my first road bike Thursday, a Cannondale CAAD 8 6 Tiagra for $700.  I think it’s equivilent to a Trek 1.2.  Check out the end of the year sales.


buggystuff, August 23, 2011 at 4:15 pm

There’s some good deals from roadbikeoutlet.com
Free shipping, they sell on ebay and amazon also, will make a better deal direct since they don’t have to pay exorbitant fees
I haven’t heard anything bad about Vilano


RonB, August 24, 2011 at 7:45 am

holymoly said: ……At 5′ 10″ and normal weight, you are “average”. That means either a 23″ frame of anywhere from 57-59cm frame will work…….

Not dissing on-line buying, I did it once and got a good fit (with lots of research before buying and probably a little luck); however, statements like above will get a buyer in trouble.  5’10” and normal weight may be average in the general population, but there are a lot of combinations that can make up that 5’10″…leg length, inseam length, torso length, etc., not to mention arm length, and all these have to be taken into consideration in sizing.  Personally, at 5’9″ and normal weight, a 57-59cm would be way too large for me [and anyone else I know that’s 5’10” or under….runway models excluded ;-)], I ride a 53 or 54cm.  Better to try on a few different brands for size before jumping in with a wag!  That will at least get you in the ballpark for sizes, and maybe in the trying on phase, you’ll find something local that you like.


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