What is the best bike for your buck?

I’ve been looking into buying a road/hybrid bike for RAGBRAI this year. I’m new to the bike scene and have about $550 to invest in a bike. been looking at treks at my local bike shop, along with models on-line specifically the Fuji Absolute 3.0(2011 or 2012). dose anyone know about this bike and is there a better bike for your buck?


61 Replies

“Bicycle Bill”, February 17, 2012 at 8:47 am

Michrider: In your price range, you should be able to find a good used, road bike. Check with your local bike shop, to see if they handle used bikes.Craiglist is a good source.I used them last fall and found a used Santana tandem, at a great price.Above all else, make sure the bike fits!

One thing to remember when buying a used bike, especially from Craigslist:  if the deal seems in the least bit shady or ‘too good to be true’, turn it down.  Don’t buy ripped-off bikes.



SSC1, February 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I posted to a similar question a week or so ago……I’ll post again now.

Last year when I rode Ragbrai, I had just purchased a used 2005 Bianchi Imola road bike locally that I test road and guessed was in my size. I paid $475 for the bike used – in really nearly new condition (off of Craigslist in my town) and paid $60 to have it tuned + $100 in new Gatorskin tires. I had a great time.

Flash forward to this past October when I decided to ride Ragbrai again. I decided to upgrade – but I didn’t want to pay big bucks. The bike I was considering was an all steel 2002 era LeMond type bike. I bought my bike tools, found a Lemond Zurich from 2002 on eBay for $600 shipped, and did the work myself (using park tools website to help me figure things out). I sold my Bianchi for $650, so I think I paid $300 total for the upgraded bike (including tools). I was so happy – I bought a 2002 Lemond Buenos Aires frame in mint condition and built it up with parts from eBay. Total cost was about $750 – and it has brand new Shimano Ultegra components with a beautiful Mavic Krysium wheelset (might have spelled that wrong).

Anyway – you can buy used and do well – but be sure of the size you are getting, and – once you have the bike – get sized on the bike (adjust seat, stem, handlebars, etc. settings). You can change stems and cranks to fit better on a frame – just have someone help you out. The fit is so important for a long ride like this. If you fit on it – you will enjoy the ride!

Good luck!


jsm, February 17, 2012 at 4:52 pm

The best advice I can give is to find a bike club, bike guru or good bike shop in your area. A good shop should not mind taking some time to educate you about road bikes, fit and maintenance. Even if you don’t buy your bike there you will likely return for service, parts and accessories. Test ride some bikes for fit. The fine tuning fit is best done by someone who knows what they are doing and has experience. It’s a hobby to most of us, but to some it’s a life. Spending $300.00 on a saddle alone won’t make some finch but it makes me faint.
It’s about finding the right component group on the right frame for the right price. Good luck.


Anonymous, February 17, 2012 at 6:33 pm

I found High end Raleighs (Pro, Int. Comp.) all over ebay that would be suitable ragbrai bikes,..longer wheelbase and rake.. Easily set up with racks, lights, fenders Frameset- Reynolds 531 double butted tubes and stays hand brazed

Back then the frame was filed and brazed lugs with cutouts.

600$ should be able to get you carbon steel with campy parts
I will ride a Panasonic..try finding one of those.


brendanpatrick, February 17, 2012 at 7:26 pm

Love my hybrid and that’s after 2 road bikes (although I do ride on skinny tires….). All depends on what’s comfortable for you, my back gets really sore after about Day 4 of riding.


mcpartla, February 18, 2012 at 3:54 pm

Hey, I like Treks, I really do … I have a Trek 2300 and a Trek 520 and several Treks before this … but we’re talking RAGBRAI here. Humongous RUMBLE STRIPS at every cross roads … zig zag stress cracks that will swollow your average Trek and Rider.
If you’re serious about a RAGBRAI bike, then I strongly recommend the Salsa Fargo with 29″ wheels, mountain bike tires, drop bars, steel frame, and disk brakes. But $550 will put you in the second hand market. This bike is a road bike, mountain bike, touring bike all-in-one. Put on smooth road tires and prepare to hear the sighs of admiration all the way across Iowa.


Anonymous, February 18, 2012 at 8:07 pm

I was surprised to read the specs. on the Salsa Fargo..it’s geared right..brakes are suitable for touring..You bought one?
It looks like a multi-purpose bike.


mcpartla, February 19, 2012 at 11:19 am

2012 will be my 4th on my Salsa Fargo … 5 previous RAGBRAIs I used my Trek 520 touring bike which worked well with wide touring tires but the wider tires on the Salsa make for a more comfortable ride and less danger from cracks in the road and the rumble strips. This machine really cruises too … a real touring machine. It’s easily become my favorite bike for all occasions. I get a lot of comments from other riders … most cyclists favor the lightest bike they can afford … but I find I can climb any mountain I’ve come across so far and I’m usually ahead of those same riders in the long haul.

I was in the market for a new mountain bike at the time but found the Salsa Fargo really replaces my mountain bike, touring bike and road bike most of the time. Occasionally if I expect to ride with some really fast cyclists I’ll take the Trek 2300 but I really prefer the Salsa.


Jordan, February 19, 2012 at 12:47 pm

The Salsa Fargo looks pretty intresting. What’s the thinnest tire you could put on it? I have a high end road bike and not sure I want to take it to Ragbrai but I hate to lose the advantage of the lighter bike on hills. Ugh, hills!


jwsknk, February 20, 2012 at 7:52 am

Guy, do you know your size yet? 56 cm Trek (2.1?) for $500 up for sale by a Skunk in Indianola, said he has put about 3,000 miles on it, just bought a new carbon bike.


ehlent, February 20, 2012 at 9:16 am

The Salsa Fargo looks pretty intresting. What’s the thinnest tire you could put on it? I have a high end road bike and not sure I want to take it to Ragbrai but I hate to lose the advantage of the lighter bike on hills. Ugh, hills!

Well, your in luck. This will be a flat year so no hills….


Topher, February 20, 2012 at 9:57 am

I’ll throw in another vote for the Salsa “Adventure Touring” bikes (Fargo and Vaya). I own both bikes and have rode the last two RAGBRAI on one or the other.

To me the biggest advantage is the ability to run a larger tire. I know the roadies scoff at my 40c tires but I love the cushy ride as well as the comforting knowledge that if things get goofy on the road I can bounce through the ditches. I’ve had two separate occasions where there were accidents right in front of me that I avoided by simply bombing off to the right. I also don’t worry about lose gravel, rumble strips, or cracks in the road ….. I just “Ride and Smile” ( Salsa’s moto)

Are they fast and light bikes …… Nope.

Are they fun to ride comfortable bikes capable of handling almost any conditions ….. You bet !


giantron, February 20, 2012 at 11:01 am

Hey, Performance Bike just put a Fuji road bike on sale for $599. That’s about as good as you’re going to get for a new road bike.


giantron, February 20, 2012 at 11:02 am

What’s up with this page??? It takes some posts but not othere….frustrating.

This reply was modified 8 years, 5 months ago by giantron.


bradlyman, February 20, 2012 at 12:29 pm

check out bikesdirect.com good bikes at discount prices and I have bought two thru them. I would look at steel frames in your price range.


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