New bike or not?

A few years ago I bought a Trek 7.1 Hybrid. It fit my low budget at the time, but I’ve grown to love that bike and ended up doing my first RAGBRAI on it in 2015. Seemed to do just fine for me, but I was usually lagging behind my friends. I’ve also had people tell me that my bike seems pretty heavy.

So I’m looking at doing this year’s RAGBRAI and I’m debating buying a road bike to make the ride a little easier on me. My question is: Since I already love my 7.1 and find it comfortable, should I just invest in some skinnier tires and call it good? Or will I improve my ride dramatically by switching to a road bike? Money is always an issue, so if I did buy a new bike it would be in the lower price range ($700 area)

Thanks for any input.

32 Replies

Cory Rood, February 2, 2018 at 6:11 am

My wife has a 7.2 and I can attest, it is heavy. skinny tires would help no doubt and is a relatively cheap option. Obviously you are capable of riding it on RAGBRAI so it’s capable. No doubt riding would be easier on a road bike. There is no wrong answer, if you don’t mind a slower pace then by all means keep using the 7.1, if you want a road specific bike and are just looking for justification, there would be nothing wrong with that either. I would venture a guess that you will find the riding posture on your 7.1 to be more comfortable than most road bikes. the extra comfort may very well make up for the extra effort it takes to drag those few pounds across the state.

#1281293

mclousing, February 2, 2018 at 7:36 am

The new bike rule is Divorce – 1, meaning 1 less bike than your SO would divorce you for :).

#1281295

Barin Beard, February 2, 2018 at 7:40 am

I would just ride it.

#1281296

mootsman, February 2, 2018 at 7:49 am

$700 might buy you a reasonable used road bike. But the position difference on a road bike takes time in the saddle as your neck, shoulder and arm muscles will need to adapt to the new position. It might be a painful transition.

I’d consider upgrading your current ride if you like it. Maybe different tires rather then wheels with a higher pressure rating and slick tread. Also if you don’t have them, clip in pedals with cycling shoes with hard soles and cleats. Both could increase your speed some but the engine’s conditioning will always make the biggest difference. Probably going with Shimano SPD pedals that use recessed cleats for walking ease. You could go through $700 on the upgrades. Don’t go cheap on the shoes. And don’t let anyone sell you some that a even a little too big as that makes uncliping more difficult.

This reply was modified 2 years, 1 month ago by mootsman.

#1281298

Muscatine Mike, February 2, 2018 at 8:13 am

Thanks for your input. The comfortable riding position (and the cheap price) was exactly why i bought the bike in the first place. I have handlebar extensions so i can reposition my hands throughout the ride so that helps too. I’m starting to lean towards changing out the tires instead of investing in a new bike just for RAGBRAI.

#1281300

genefruit, February 2, 2018 at 8:42 am

Plenty of literature to support that simply the width of the tire doesn’t equate more speed. Suppleness of the tire plays a greater roll (pun intended). For RAGBRAI a quality 25-28mm is plenty sufficient. There are several good brands but I lean toward Continental and Schwalbe in those sizes.
If you plan to do the gravel route, perhaps more but plenty ride it on those sizes or even narrower. Clipless pedals are another point of contention. I typically ride clipless unless I’m on RAGBRAI then I ride flats with sandals for ease of walking and getting out of a jam. I”ve seen more people than I care to remember forget their clipped in and fall over, sometimes resulting in the end of their ride. Getting more saddle time exceeds any upgrade. “Don’t buy upgrades, ride upgrades” – Eddy Merckx

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Nico ZZZ, February 2, 2018 at 9:07 am

I just went from a Scott Metrix hybrid which I rode for my first three RAGBRAIS, to a Trek SL 6 road bike. Man o man, what a difference. With the same effort I am riding three mph faster. It is also red, so of course it goes even faster! I loved my Metrix, she took me across Iowa three times, but I can’t wait to ride RAGBRAI with my new Trek. It only took me about five 10 mile rides to get used to the road bike positioning. There is about a 5 pound difference between the two bikes…and when I lose the last stubborn ten pound tire around my belly I will ride even easier! No doubt a bike change can make a difference, but your own conditioning can also make a big difference. I was in great shape in 2016 and I enjoyed all those hills of the south. Last year, ten pounds out of shape, I didn’t enjoy the hills, so I am determined to get back to 2016 fitness AND ride my shiny new red bike across the Land of the Corn and Pig!
So minimum, I would change the tires and work out to lose weight (if needed), and strengthen your core (if needed). Although a shiny new bike really does rev up your engine for another RAGBRAI! = )
Bike math: n+1= Number of bikes you need, with n being your current bike inventory. However, one must take the s-1 equation into account, with s being the number of bikes you own that would cause your significant other to leave you. A delicate balance….
Ride On!

#1281305

Dizzy, February 2, 2018 at 9:11 am

Muscatine Mike,
You’re getting some great responses here. 10,000+ advisors and consultants is just a great service that the Register offers.
Looking at your inquiry: “I’ve grown to love that bike”, “Seemed to do just fine for me…”, “…find it comfortable…”. You then counter those thoughts with, “…lagging behind my friends.”, “…will I improve my ride…”. It sounds as though you like your bike but feel like you should go faster.

One of my first lessons in long-distance group rides was “ride your own ride” meaning, go your own speed, stop when you want, find friends along the way. If you leave the same time each morning, you’ll ride alongside the same people each day and find new companions. When you get with your group at night, you’ll have different stories to share w/them and visa versa.
Tires for on road: I’m w/genefruit; 25-28 Continental Gators or GP 4000s.
Pedals: I’m w/Moots; clipping in will make you feel more efficient and SPDs, Speedplay Frogs (my favorite), etc. make it easy to walk around while off the bike.
So shine up that 7.1 and we’ll all see you in July to say “Howdy”!

#1281306

bugs11, February 2, 2018 at 9:51 am

Speaking of bikes… my only bike is a 1977 Motobecane Super Mirage. I had it “tuned-up” by a reputable bike shop last summer. They replaced the upper headset bearings as the original bearing cage had disintegrated and they said the rear derailleur springs were weak, other than those two things the bike was/is in good shape. Any reason a 40 year old French made bike wouldn’t make it across Iowa?

#1281310

Muscatine Mike, February 2, 2018 at 11:27 am

Wow! This is what I love about this forum. Such great feedback!

It’s really hitting me that if I am looking for a lighter ride, I can (and need to) lose more weight than I’ll ever be able to make up for in a lighter bike.

Think I might put the effort into working on the engine.

#1281315

Cory Rood, February 2, 2018 at 2:27 pm

Speaking of bikes… my only bike is a 1977 Motobecane Super Mirage. I had it “tuned-up” by a reputable bike shop last summer. They replaced the upper headset bearings as the original bearing cage had disintegrated and they said the rear derailleur springs were weak, other than those two things the bike was/is in good shape. Any reason a 40 year old French made bike wouldn’t make it across Iowa?

While I can’t say for certain, If the bike is ridden regularly, yes it will be fine. If at this point it hasn’t been riden in the last 5+ years I would anticipate alot of mechanical issues to work thourgh. a ‘tune up’ can only find so much and can not anticipate parts that function but with renewed use will fail.

#1281332

Cory Rood, February 2, 2018 at 2:34 pm

Wow! This is what I love about this forum. Such great feedback!

It’s really hitting me that if I am looking for a lighter ride, I can (and need to) lose more weight than I’ll ever be able to make up for in a lighter bike.

Think I might put the effort into working on the engine.

Definantly a good option, sometimes it’s easy to forget our weight counts too. it’s hard(impossible) to shave 10 lbs off of a bike, while not so much on our bodies.

#1281333

bugs11, February 2, 2018 at 5:07 pm

The Super Mirage needs new pedals, the bearing in one pedal is very “gritty” even after WD40-ing the heck out of it. And it could use a new seat, still has the original hard plastic seat sans covering which disintegrated years ago. I’d like to grease the axle bearings but the bike shop advised against it as the wheels spin freely. I’ll definitely put many miles on it to prepare for the ride and replace anything as needed.

#1281340

kiowahog, February 2, 2018 at 6:06 pm

Michael M, I have an even older Motobecane, a ‘74 Gran Jubilee, which I rode on my first RAGBRAI in 1998. It hadn’t been ridden for about 15 years, so I took it in for a tune-up and off we went. It did just fine, however, I decided to ‘go modern’ after that ride and started buying new bikes with all the current goodies. I still have that ol’ Motobecane, it’s hanging up in the garage. Probably will always have it for sentimental reasons.

#1281341

Proteus Dan, February 2, 2018 at 9:00 pm

I rode a Campy equipped 1976 Proteus on my first RAGBRAI in 1978. Still riding it today and on this years. Steel is real.

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