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Road bike shopping

Sorry I dropped off the face of the earth there. It's rare that I go almost 2 weeks without a new post. But it's Spring Break anyway. My family came for a visit and half of you are probably in Aruba anyway (hi Bob!).

I've also been dedicating a big chunk of my time to choosing a new bike. Which is like trying to bake cookies while shaving and reciting poetry. By and large, my entry level price point makes many decisions easy. Even so, there are many brands and styles to choose from and I'm trying to get the most for my money...maybe even lucky enough to have some left over to buy a race registration and a wetsuit from my budget?

I pretty much decided early on that I'm not going to buy a triathlon bike. They're more expensive and I do just enough group riding that it would be frowned on by the bicycle gods. Much easier to do a fun recreational ride on a road bike and slap some aerobars on as-needed. Or, honestly, maybe even not at all. It's not unheard of to do a 112 mile Ironman ride without though I'd definitely be in the minority.

So I've been running from store to store--fortunately I have a great one up the street now--where each time I walk in I have to explain to the staff what I'm doing, what I'm looking for, what stage in the buying process I'm at currently. The nearest store that had the Felt I wanted to look at was a good hour away--but worth it because I noticed features of the bike in person that had never been mentioned in reviews. I've been doing extensive research (typical me) so that I'm trying to remember what bike has what gearing, talk to the salesperson, and get an impression of the bike all at once. Do I want a more relaxed geometry? Do I want a more racing geometry? I may do triathlons for how many more years before I face a future of...what kind of riding? My instinct is that I'll always prefer something a little quicker in a road bike simply because if I wanted true comfort with a little less zip I'd be on my current sport hybrid. (Which is going to become my combo new "winter" bike and for pulling the trailer.)

With that in mind, I've pretty much narrowed it down to 3 bikes. We already have 2 Scott bicycles in our basement sitting side by side, so I'd planned to branch out. But I didn't like the Felts I thought I'd love. At that store, I did see a Raleigh that intrigued me...but not enough to make me seriously consider it at this point. So it's down to Specialized, Trek...and a possible third Scott in the family. And it's a damn nice bike for the price. The Specialized I'm not crazy about the gearing and components you get at the same price point. So I'm not even sure it's worth my time to drive to look at it. Really--in my heart of hearts--it's between the Trek and Scott. Conveniently, they're both at my local bike store down the street. Shop local, afterall!

That makes the next step a full test ride in my cycle clothing, a fit, choosing the right setup and components, etc.. Oh, right, I didn't even mention yet also needing to pick out pedals, shoes, a bike computer, (a new headlight because I dropped mine,) and figuring out what kind of hydration setup I want to use.

That's what I've been up to.

Lastly, this was just meant as a general post about shopping for an entry level road bike. I didn't get into the gritty details but am happy to talk shop with any cyclists or triathletes who want to e-mail or comment. I was just trying to keep in mind that most of my readers are...not you. Ha! I'm very interested in thoughts on best clip on aerobars, what cassette range you like, and a discourse on carbon forks. Feel free!