Buying a new bike

Woodrup racing bike

My 1960s Woodrup, Reynolds 531 steel 23″ frame but with modern equipment.

At the beginning of my retirement project to get trimmer and fitter (and improve on my current 27% probability of having a ‘heart event’ in the next 10 years) I motivated myself with the decision to buy a new road bike when I got under 15 stone. I anticipated that this should be sometime this Spring and that has turned out to be the case so I have started to look around. Both my current bikes are steel, my old racing bike a 1960’s Woodrup and a 20 year old Ridgeback hybrid. The first decision I have to make is what frame material to go for. After a bit of research I have decided to go for full carbon as I have been persuaded that my budget of about £2000 (I’m selling my Suzuki Bandit 1250) is enough to get a good quality and well specified carbon bike. I also understand that carbon frames are often more comfortable to ride than aluminium as they have more flex and iron out bumps and road buzz better. In fact the better aluminium frames often have carbon forks, rear triangles and seat pillars to make them more comfortable. The downside of carbon apparently is that they damage more easily in crashes and are less easily repaired, if at all. So I just need to make sure it is insured and I don’t crash.

Then there is the issue of size. It used to be quite simple. 2 inches clearance above the crossbar when standing over the bike. Legs straight with you heels on the peddles to get the saddle height. Elbow on the saddle tip and fingers just reaching the handlebars for reach. But mainly it was just a matter of being comfortable, your knees slightly bent at the bottom of the stroke and your hips not rocking when pedalling at speed. But frame geometry and sizes are different now. Using various on-line guides (e.g. Wiggle and Evans) I measured my height (6 ft) inside leg measurement (33) and APE Index (arm span minus height – 0). This gives me a frame size of 56 to 58 centimetres. The ebicycle’s calculator gives me a frame size of 56 centimetres. There are a number of bike fitting services on offer these days that I will look into and say more about in due course but one of the dealers I am considering purchasing from, All Terrain Cycles of Saltaire, have such a service and I may well make use of it. This may also help me make up my mind about another issue – peddles and shoes.

toe clip and strapI have always used toe clips and straps, going back to the 1960s and my club cycling and racing days. I’m used to them, the straps can be left loose for casual riding or commuting  if necessary and you can wear plimsolls or trainers with them to pop down the shops or use the bike on an ad hoc basis. However, with a new bike, I need to decide on whether to get the new clip-less pedals with the appropriate shoe cleats that fit them. I understand that clip-less is more efficient and comfortable and easier to disengage from than a tightly strapped clip. I am used to leaning down to snap the quick release on toe straps but I can see that there would be occasions when there might not be time for this before disaster strikes. Release from a clip-less pedal seems to be quicker and easier but not so easy as a loose strap perhaps. I will probably go for clip-less. This will mean buying a pair of shoes to fit but it looks like they are easy to set up and adjust. With the old toe clip system we used to ride tightly strapped in and before fitting the shoe plates that slot over the ridges on the pedals until the soles were marked. This gave the position to nail(!) the plates onto the shoes. This was more-or-less a once and for all process and quite difficult to make subsequent adjustments if necessary.

Giant Defy Advanced 2

So, at the moment I am thinking of getting a Giant Defy Advanced 2. These are on 14 week delivery as I write this, which is a pain. On the other hand by the end of May I should be down to round about 14 stone so the wait will encourage me to keep going. And in the meantime I can always take the Woodrup out when the weather improves.

5 thoughts on “Buying a new bike

  1. Have you thought about titanium?

    Might be a bit more expensive, but will last you the rest of your life.

    Marginally heavier than carbon, but hey, does it matter?

    Good ride.

  2. Hi Peter. I did look into titanium briefly. The range of what’s available seems quite small and they are more expensive. As you say, one would probably last the rest of my life. But even at my age of 67 that could be quite a long time (hopefully) and I’m not sure I like the idea of buying my last bike right now! I believe the formula for the number of bikes you need is n+1 where n is the number of bikes you currently have.

  3. Terry, we have lots of Defy Advanced 2s in stock now at Edinburgh Bicycle Cooperative (proud sponsors of the LCAG membership drive ) We got them in as soon as we had wind of the reviews they would be getting and how popular they were likely to be and I’m not sure anyone else can get them for a while. Give me a ring at the shop and I’ll make sure we have the two likely sizes that would suit available for you in the Leeds store to take for a spin. At 6′ it’s between the M/L and the L, roughly equivalent to other manufacturers 56 and 58. One or other is on the display already..

    I’ll probably try to persuade you to go with somethign classy in steel, though. £2,000 would get you another nice Woodrup bike, or a Bob Jackson. This is my own new road bike… Unfortunately in a size much too large for you to try.

  4. Thanks for the offer Graham. I will definitely take you up on it. Unfortunately I am at home with a very heavy cold at the moment so probably won’t be out for a couple of days. Is there any particular reason you would recommend steel over decent quality carbon frame? I have 3 steel bike already, accumulated over the years. The Woodrup (1960s) illustrated in this post, with Shimano 105 group set except an Ultegra chain set, a Ridgeback hybrid (1990s) and a Motebecane tandem (1980s). I fancy a carbon bike because they have become more affordable and higher spec for your money, are lighter, stiffer and apparently more comfortable. Since the 2 dealers I have approached so far can’t supply a Defy 2 until May or June (Woodrup who aren’t in any case ‘advanced’ Giant dealers but are applying for it and All Terrain at Saltaire) I have more or less decided to get a Defy Advanced 1 which is readily available. The main difference is in the Ultegra group set and a higher spec bar and/or extension, and £500 more. All Terrain have a Medium demonstrator they have offered me for a few days but I have been waiting for better weather and, now, this cold to pass. I’ll come along to the shop and have a chat with you about this. My research didn’t turn up that you were a Giant dealer.

  5. Pingback: My new bike | The Bicycle Diaries

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