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I've been looking at getting a new road bike, and even though I'm familiar with all the major manufacturers' models and what's in my price range, what I'd really like is a consultation - take my measurements, understand the kind of riding I do (and may do in the future), and recommend the best bikes for me in my price range, regardless of the brands that a particular shop carries or what's in stock. Do shops do this? It may sound like a dumb question but even at my favorite shops it seems like they'll ask a few questions and recommend the right bike from the brands they carry. Which I don't fault them for, of course - I mean, they've got to sell bikes. But I'd just like someone to consult, rather than sell, and then of course I'd buy the right one for me, through them. Is this asking too much? Are there shops or people that do this?

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The problem is that sizing between manufacturers varies and it's a PITA to know the geometry or component amalgamation of brands the store doesn't carry. Further, if a shop doesn't have an account with a certain ("best fitting") brand then they cannot get the bike.

Think of it this way: Go to a Lexus dealer and ask them what oil filter, spark plug, etc. goes into a Prius. Yes, they could look it up but why would they--they're not going to sell you a Prius (unless, of course, you have the patience and $$ to get them to open an acct with Toyota.)

I think the best you could do is pay for a fitting/sizing and take those measurements with you to compare them (on your own) to the bike manufacturers out there.

If you go to Alberto's in Highland Park you can get a fitting (used to cost $50... prices have probably risen) and go from there. I'd figure out what kind've riding plan you have for the next 5 years and then mention that to Brendan George (he's the guy to talk to)--if you wanna race then let him know what kind've racing you wanna do (obviously a tri bike is way different than a crit bike or a track bike). The store has the ability to order custom bikes but they won't suggest it to you unless your body really needs it.

As I've mentioned before, I've lived in multiple states, worked in various bike shops and visited a sh!t ton of shops. Alberto's is the best I've seen.

PS: With bike companies doing compact frames in S,M,L sizing and using monocoque (trek madone, cannondale system-six, etc) building techniques frame variation is minimal (it costs a stooopid amount of $$ to make a new mold)--top tube length (and maybe Seat/head tube angle which will be between 73-74.5 degrees for a racing bike). You end up securing the fit with the stem length/rise and seat post height/setback.
Bingo- Tommie's got it. Sizing is not quite as straightforward as it used to be. Sloping top tubes, and various geometries will make it difficult to compare directly from brand to brand.

Also- "best" is really a point of view anyway. Do you mean best in terms of a really good frame that will outlast you, even if that means a lower parts group that may need more attention if you ride a lot? Or do you want a parts group that will last forever on a just decent frame? Or do you just mean the best in terms of price?

It's hard to say as well because part of the reason that so many brands do well is that different people will prefer different models. What looks good in the shop, and on paper might fail to impress you when you ride it. By the same token, a bike you're not interested in for looks or particularly great parts might be the one you prefer the ride of.

I'd just get a good idea of what size you need, and then go to a bunch of shops and test ride a bunch of stuff.

BTW- What is your price range, and what kind of riding are you going to be doing with this bike?
**Edited for stupidity sake (mine, not yours)

First, I think you should be flattered that on my ride today (first day back on bike since getting hit), in between the agony of having "Drops of Jupiter" stuck in my head and seriously considering stopping for a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, a large fry and a double thick choco-strawberry shake in Highwood I contemplated your post some more.

This was my first ride in 10 days and while I've worked out, rocked HIIT on the treadmills and stretched more than my mom stretched dollars while I was growin' up, my bike really didn't like me. Hmm, maybe I should say my fat ass and crotchety back didn't like my bike. This served as a reminder that although my bike is essentially made for me, it takes a lil while for me to get used to it---in the spring when I switch from fixed to road I have to raise my stem, 5mm and flip it over into a "+" rise (decidedly un-pro). It takes about 700 miles for me to get back to no spacers and "-" rise (this doesn't make me pro but it helps my ego).

The moral of the story is this: get fit/sized (do I need to mention that special store again?). try bikes. try women specific bikes and "regular" ones too. think of both the comfort and the way the bike rides: is it stiff, smooth, twitchey (*cough* system-six), buttery, etc? then pick the one that's the most comfortable and balances what you wanna do with the level you're at (over buy so you don't have to buy a new bike in a year when you get good). Then ride the bike and make adjustments as your body develops and gets used to the bike.

When you try bikes show up in riding gear. Bring YOUR pedals, YOUR shoes and if you can YOUR saddle (Before you take off your saddle, remember to measure the distance from the tip of your saddle to the center of the head tube so you can put it back in the same place). eliminate the most obvious variables and then pay attention to the bike. Make sure you can take the bike for a 30+ min spin. If the shop doesn't let you do this tell them to eff off and go to another store.***

***All this is assuming you're looking for a bike that costs more than $1.5k. If you're under that price range, the frame material, componentry and geometry isn't gonna be good enough for most "newbs" to notice a dif.

PS. FWIW I've got a friend who effin' loves her Specialized ruby.
A correct fitting isn't done to a particular bike, it's done to tell you how much room you need for proper leg stretch, how wide your bars should be for proper air intake, etc. A bike fit has nothing to do with a specific bike.

If you don't want to go all the way up to Alberto's, your best bet is Get a Grip. It will cost you money, but if you're done growing, you'll use that information over and over.

Do it and let us know how it goes!
[sigh] I've been hoping I'm not done yet, but I should probably just face the facts. :)

vxla said:
...if you're done growing, you'll use that information over and over.
To answer earlier questions, I ride mostly for distance (but not touring). I'm not really into racing, although sure, I may try it in the next few years. But for now I'd rather go on a long ride than sprint around a course. The big ride of my season is the AIDS Lifecycle ride from SF to LA, so my bike will have to get me through that.

As far as the other details, I'm looking at $1.5 - 2K, with Shimano 105 and up.

One thing I'm keeping in mind this time, vs. when I bought my current bike, is buying a frame that fits the riding I do now, the riding I may do in the future, and most importantly, is good enough for me to swap out parts later down the road. The frame I have now is ok, but not worth it for me to invest in.
Leah said:
[sigh] I've been hoping I'm not done yet, but I should probably just face the facts. :)

vxla said:
...if you're done growing, you'll use that information over and over.
Ah, you're in the "Never Give Up" club too? Hey, so am I! I hear they make devices to stretch people....
Hi All,
Just to toss in my two cents ...
There are a lot of bikes out there now that allow for quite a big range of adjustments in terms of height, reach, whatnot. Why not get a bike like that and that way, depending on your riding situation or physical condition, you can adjust it to your heart's desire(s).
Furthermore, regarding expensive bike fittings, I've spoken to various shops and I've heard different, sometimes conflicting, opinions about how to do things. Afterall, in the end, it's how you like to ride so adjustability is still more important in the end I think.
There are frames out there with dual seat positions, one for more road (73-74) and one for tri (77-79). There are adjustable stems for angle and length. Ride height you can also adjust with crank length, seat tube position. I think the one or two things that can't really be adjusted is the steering post height (don't think there are addons if it's too short), the fork/headtube angle, and a few minor things I think (though hopefully there are experts here that can teach me otherwise).

When Giant first released their compact geometry bikes in the late 90s they came with an ugly, heavy, steel adjustable stem. When I spoke to the Giant rep about their choice to include what I thought to be a stupid stem he replied, "It's so that people can figure out what they need and then buy a real stem." Similarly, when Look introduced their ergo stem they wanted a person to be able to dial in the stem for optimal efficiency and aero dynamics--the only difference is that the Look stem only kind've sucks and is lighter weight. The stems, however, were never designed to be moved from position to position depending on how you wanted to ride that day (tri, comfort, road etc). Further, if you adjust a stem too much you mess with the cable routing which can cause bad shifting, brakes grabbing too soon or (most importantly) an ugly bike.

Changing effective seat tube angle sounds quite dubious to me. If you change weight distribution, force, etc, the bike handles differently (and by differently I mean bad). Bike companies spend something like 35 cents on R+D. They take their bike design very seriously (complex cardboard models are made, put in front of fans and then ridden by Lemurs around the lunch room) as evidenced by the price tag on the new Serotta Meivici AE---go to their website and see for yourself. That type of investment must mean something (the buzzwords are something like "Laterally stiff yet vertically compliant." see BikeSnob NYC for full text)

Pseudo-changing geometry is kind've like this (excuse my non-politically correct-ocity... and if you don't like it, we can settle it by arm wrestling): Michael Jackson was born black and then he decided to become white. We kind've forgave him for ruining "Bad" (;) but his music was never as good as it was before (do not blame this on LaToya or Tito it was all Pepsi's doing). Then he started to do things like get dimples for a week, then facial hair, then he had it removed. Soon he was dangling his "children" over balconies. Now we just think he's a mess and wish he could go back to Thriller (instead we're stuck with this: The point is this: bikes are born in Asian factories as the Bike Gods intended. Who are we to mess with that holy design? If you want a tri or comfort or whatever, go to another adoption agency.

Crank length is pretty much dictated by your leg bones. Short bones = short cranks. I think (but could be wrong) that there are only two times when this is not obeyed: 1) you're a scenester on an overpriced Pista with a bandana tied around your neck rocking the latest used overpriced NJS stamped cranks** or 2) you're racing on the velodrome and fear your crank coming in contact with the banked track at 30+mph.

Saddle height is also something you don't really want to mess with. If the saddle is too high you can mess up your knees. If it's too low you're inefficient. Saddle fore/aft position is a lil more flexible but its also kindve dictated by your femur length (this is why you see bike fitters use a plum-line).

Warren, you're right, it totally is about how you like to ride BUT there are ergonomic rules that should be followed or else our bodies face disaster akin to the last 30 min. of Akira.

**I have nothing against pistas, bandanas or NJS stamps by themselves but when united--Voltron Style . . . oh god!



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