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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

Sexton, February 2, 2018 at 9:05 pm

As has been said;
Tune up the engine.
Wheels and tires make a big difference, I went everywhere in 2017, including the gravel loop, on slick 25’s with 115 lbs of air in them. (in retrospect, that was stupid, but I did it)
Clip in pedals and good fitting shoes.
Something I haven’t seen mentioned, gears make a difference. Consider a different cassette and chain ring combination.

WD40 is not a lubricant. Its not much of a cleaner either. It is designed and intended to displace moisture (water) period.


Csprint, February 3, 2018 at 2:12 pm

[quote quote=1281340]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.

Hi Michael M. , I’m sitting down at lunch at work in the bicycle shop and I read your post, and thought, “Ooohhh, not such good advice”, I would definitely overhaul those hubs, especially if you’re planning on taking it on a long ride like Ragbrai. After 40 years there is probably no grease left in them. Pedals can seize without grease in the bearings as well. The fact that it’s French brings me up short, however, mainly because it’s difficult to find correct parts for them due to French threaded-and-sized parts. It can be done, however! In ’73 many of the bikes ridden in Ragbrai were probably French!

Good Luck!


bugs11, February 5, 2018 at 1:22 pm

I hear you about the scarcity of parts. The bike shop replaced the top headset bearings with some bearings they had on hand, the tech said they fit perfectly. The bike will be in Ragbrai shape when the time comes. Just have to decide on how much I want to invest in the old French girl. Do I want clip in pedals? New derailleur? Re-tape the handle bars? etc…


Csprint, February 5, 2018 at 6:47 pm

[quote quote=1281346]As has been said;
Wheels and tires make a big difference, I went everywhere in 2017, including the gravel loop, on slick 25’s with 115 lbs of air in them. (in retrospect, that was stupid, but I did it)

Ha! Love it, I did the same thing in ’16 with tubeless and I dinged my rear rim and then had to rebuild it with a new one (ouch!).



Luv 2 Ski, February 6, 2018 at 11:00 am

On your budget I would buy a good used road bike. It would depend on where you live, but in the more populated and affluent areas of the country there are many cyclists that buy a bike and do not like it, or it doesn’t fit right, and they sell it at a discounted price. If you can find a good one that fits you may find a bike that cost $1,500-$2,000 new in your price range.

I also say road bike for RAGBRAI. I have many different bikes and I personally feel a road bike on RAGBRAI is the best tool for the job.


Dueywife, February 7, 2018 at 10:22 am

I have 2 bikes both of which I love for different reasons. Dirty Girl a Gary Fisher Advance mountain bike that I use for my daily rides and training and Lola a Trek Lexa SL road bike 95% used for road riding (a little paved trail riding here and there when she looks lonely). Both serve their purposes exceptionally well. I rode my first century/road ride on my mountain bike (with hybrid tires instead of nobbies). The next year I rented a road bike for the weekend and it made a world of difference. I will say my road bike is much better for a multi-day trek for many reasons; riding position, seat, weight, etc. After training all season on a mountain bike, the road bike is a breeze to ride. Check with your local bike shop and see if they have a road bike you can rent for the week of RAGBRAI or to test on a local ride. There are also several bike manufacturers out on RAGBRAI that will let you test ride a bike for a day and you can compare.


cmparsley, February 7, 2018 at 1:21 pm


Any bike shop worth the time will allow you to take out different bikes for test rides. The entry level road bikes in your price range are all very decent, regardless of the manufacturer. Many even use similar, if not the same, components.

Keep in mind that the bike as it sits on the showroom floor is meant to fit the “average rider.” Got lower back issues? Stems can be changed out for something steeper, shorter, or longer and flatter. Handlebars come in different widths, shapes and whatnot as well. Saddles come in different sizes and shapes too.

Besides improving one’s overall fitness, one of the best things a person can do is get a professional fit done on their bike. I’m not talking about the free adjustments they make to saddle height when you buy a bike. What I’m talking about is something that takes a few hours. They measure your overall flexibility. They take exacting measurements. They have you ride your bike in a trainer to see just how your body moves when you “settle in.” I had a fit done a few years ago and we ended up moving my saddle down just a little more than 1.5mm and rotated my shifters back just a hair. Holy cow, what a difference. I was a little faster, but more importantly, I was much more efficient. I could ride twice as far as I could before the adjustments before tiring.

My first 2 RAGBRAI’s were on a Raleigh Mtn bike with clipless pedals and narrower slick tires. The very next year I got the entry level Trek road bike. The 1.1. That thing was like a rocketship compared to the old bike.

Get out there and test ride some bikes.

P.S. Don’t forget to leave a little extra for a new helmet. It is a scientific fact that you are faster when your helmet matches your bike.


JimCoonRapidsMN, February 8, 2018 at 11:10 am

I also have the Gran Jubilee that I still ride and love. The Huret Jubilee (hence the name) derailleurs still shift smooth and quietly. It was a great investment in 1973.


bugs11, February 9, 2018 at 10:38 am

I found an 1978 Motobecane owners manual online. A Super Mirage cost $230 in 1978. $230 in the year 1978 is equivalent to $870.15 in 2018.


Jason Stoller, February 11, 2018 at 12:49 am

Keep the bike you have and ride it. Just make new friends that ride the same speed you do and ride with them.



John Richardson, February 11, 2018 at 10:27 am

To me RAGBRAI is about the experiences, it’s a celebration of cycling. On the 2003 RAGBRAI I rode my 1974 Schwinn Le Tour mostly for nostalgia reasons and I even carried my gear on it. Sure I had a lighter faster bike I could have rode but what’s the fun in that. That old Schwinn had taken me across Alaska, around the island of Maui and even to the summit of Haleakaia where you get to experience going from sea level to 10,000′ elevation in 37 miles and also a ride to Mexico in the heat of August. All of these rides were done in self contained fashion. I still have that bike and still ride it occasionally. On RAGBRAI you see it all people riding fat bikes, unicycles, single speeds, etc. If you’ve let your fitness slide no bike is going to compensate for that. Use RAGBRAI as an incentive to get in shape and enjoy the ride.


Csprint, February 15, 2018 at 8:45 pm

[quote quote=1281763]I found an 1978 Motobecane owners manual online. A Super Mirage cost $230 in 1978. $230 in the year 1978 is equivalent to $870.15 in 2018.[/quote]

That’s enlightening! For $880 (plus tax) you can get a new road bike that has
tubeless wheels and tires, Shimano STI 9 speed (double front 18 speed) shifting,
and a fairly light aluminum frame!



bugs11, February 19, 2018 at 3:12 pm

I’ve been researching overhauling vintage French bikes. The work doesn’t look all that complicated if you have the right tools. Investing in tools I’ll probably only use once is the real sticking point for me. I’ll have to see about finding someplace to borrow or rent tools from. Definitely need to service the bottom bracket first and replace the pedals. Good thing I like tinkering and wrenching on stuff.


AmyWallingford, February 19, 2018 at 7:08 pm

I rode my first RAGBRAI on a hybrid, too. It is an unbelievable difference on a road bike! I would suggest looking for local bike swaps, used bike stores, trade-in programs, etc. You should be able to find a really nice used bike in your price range. We picked up a $1500 bike for $500 last year for my mother-in-law who joined us for her first RAGBRAI. The original owner had an injury and could no longer ride. We found a similar deal this year for my niece at a used bike shop. We also landed a really good deal on a new bike for my son on a discontinued model that had a scratch on the frame. If you have any local cycling groups, they are a great resource. Good luck & happy riding!


culinarychief, February 25, 2018 at 5:14 pm

With all of the modern bikes on the ride you will always see hundreds of bikes that look as though they cant go a mile let alone 400+. I rode a JC Penny 24″ road bike on my first trip across Iowa in 1974. By 1978 I was on a used Motobecane mirage and rode that until I moved up to a Raleigh Record in 1982.
By 2014 I decided to move up to a new bike and it made all the difference in the world (to my bank account) but I have had just as much fun on the cheap old bikes as I have on a new one. If you take care of it, your old bike can last a lifetime.


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