First road bike and first ride advice please!

by GritstoneRider   July 30, 2014  

Hello, I've been a long time lurker, but actually got around to buying my first road bike today so decided to set up an account. I'm a fairly experienced MTB rider and was sponsored as a youth rider, but I'm not niave enough to think that this experience means much on the road!

The bike I've opted for after trying various BTWin, numerous Carrera, a Boardman Sport and a Specialized Allez is a Felt F95 SORA 2014. The F95 was the lightest of all of them and just had a better fit for me, plus they seem to be reasonably well rated. I was chuffed to get one for £369 from Merlin as I was more than ready to shell out £600 for one.

The pedals I'll be running are MTB SPDs, this means I can use my existing Shimano shoes while I get used to riding on the road.

The bike is arriving tomorrow, whereupon I'll stick it in the stand, get everything working and then hook it up to the turbo for a few days practice.

My first ride will probably be from Manchester up over Holme Moss and back and that brings me to my question for you guys. What kit should I be taking and what general advice would you give a hairy legged lycraphobe MTBer on his first road ride?

I've bought a Topeak saddle pack, inner tubes, two bottle cages and bottles and a nice small Lezyne pump, what else do I need?


18 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

You sound pretty organised to be honest!

On a new road bike, you will need to get your fit dialled in. So read up on the basics of fitting and try to get your saddle height, fore/aft, bar height and stem length to a comfortable position before your epic ride. And take a multitool or Allen key for adjustments on the go.

posted by chokofingrz [396 posts]
31st July 2014 - 1:21


Don't forget the tyre levers. For a first long ride, I'd say food is essential too. I find carrying a couple of cereal bars and an energy gel works well for me. I don't always need the latter, but it's useful to have if you start flagging.

posted by bamilton wackad... [68 posts]
31st July 2014 - 7:12


I don't want to put you off or anything, but that's quite a long ride (probably circa 4 hours) to be in a new riding position, on a different saddle etc. Assuming you've already got the general bike fitness from MTBing, have you considered just taking a couple of weeks to build up? Even one slightly shorter/less hilly ride initially would help.

Obvious things that often need sorting as your distances/climbs increase are:

Fit - poor positioning can easily lead to or exacerbate injuries or aches/pains
Neck strength (since you're essentially looking up for prolonged periods, and neckache is common)
Backache from the stretched position
Sore bum from the change in saddle (and as I'm sure you know, the stock saddle is often unsuitable, so you end up changing it - even your usual saddle may be uncomfortable due to leaning further forward)
Handling - I'd want to be fairly familiar with the bike's handling characteristics before I went bombing down Holme Moss
Any number of little details - do the brakes react how you expect? Is the bar tape comfortable? What's your preferred tyre pressure? How are those tyres in the wet/on steep climbs/cornering/generally?

To put it another way, I was talking to someone about bike insurance, and mentioned that if my bike was nicked, replacing it is only half the inconvenience, the real trick is then setting up the replacement in the same way as my current bike.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3709 posts]
31st July 2014 - 9:04

1 Like

get a couple of appropriate "power links" for the chain ... and ...

Double then double double check that you've picked everything up Smile

Last time I went out I completely forgot the multi tool ... Did I feel a prat
or what !!

still on the 3rd switch-back of Bwlch !

posted by therevokid [920 posts]
31st July 2014 - 9:16


'I'm a fairly experienced MTB rider and was sponsored as a youth rider'

You'll probably go like shit off a shovel. It's just riding a bike and it sounds like you are pretty good at it already.

The main thing you will probably notice is the higher gearing on the road bike.

I'd suggest doing a circular route - up Woodhead, left towards Dunford Bridge, around Winscar reservoir edge, Hade Edge, and then out to Holme and over Holme Moss.

It is more interesting to do a loop than a straight out and back, and goes up the best side of Holme Moss.


posted by Chris James [299 posts]
31st July 2014 - 9:27


Oh yeah, and road bike brakes don't work very well compared to MTB discs! Brake early.

Holme Moss on the Derbyshire descent is a nice one to do as you don't have to brake much (you can see the road well ahead) although be aware, it is very fast.

posted by Chris James [299 posts]
31st July 2014 - 9:31


As someone who went through a similar transition from MTB to Road this year, I suspect the biggest issue you'll have is with your back.

The aero position on a road bike is different to a nice upright MTB and takes some getting used too.

I'd ease yourself in semi-gently, and possibly do some core training in the gym if you are keen. It took me a good couple of months before I found riding a road bike comfortable, I certainly didn't go out and do 70 miles on my first ride.

I'd second the comment about brakes, the brakes on my road bike are awful compared to my MTB - doubly so in the wet.

posted by sergius [258 posts]
31st July 2014 - 9:43


Brakes will be the main difference if you are comming from a MTB. Just experiment with your braking distance and remind that riding in the drops will give you more leverage in your braking. I haven't use this bike, but generally the factory installed brakes are not that good at this price braket. If you don't feel condifent with your brakes, consider buying new pads (something like or even new brake blocks as a last resource. But just experiment to see what suits you better.

posted by juanerasmoe [13 posts]
31st July 2014 - 11:35


Thanks for the comments so far.

Hopefully a few days on the turbo will help me get the fit sorted, I have a Topeak multitool and tyre levers that I'll stick in the saddle bag.

I'll take a couple of 9Bars with me for food.

I would say that I have 'general fitness' at the moment and have a several top 10s on Strava, I regularly ride around 60km per planned session on the MTB, so figured I'd be ok with that kind of distance on a road bike. I also climb, hike and play football. However, obviously there are lots of other factors to consider, which is why forums like this are so useful as I wouldn't have even considered the extra stress on my back and neck. Not to mention getting used to an entirely different way of riding!

I think that I'll follow the advice to keep things simple and head up the Manchester/Holmfirth rd but assess how I feel as I pass Dovestones. All in that'll be around 30 miles there and back in an area that I know very well.

Brakes are one of my biggest fears at the moment, I guess the only way to find out is to take it slowly at first. I'll test them in the stand and on the turbo, but it'll be a different story once I'm on the road. I almost enjoy maintenance as much as I enjoy riding, so swapping the brakes (SORA I think) for something more substantial wouldn't be a problem.

I've ordered a RFLKTR and the accompanying Speed/Cadence sensor as well and the bike just got delivered. I'll upload a picture when it's all together.

posted by GritstoneRider [4 posts]
31st July 2014 - 15:09

1 Like

Congrats on your new bike and your enthusiasm.

In terms of bike knowledge and fitness, you are probably in a better position than 95% of new riders. You have already received some great advice and the only thing I would second is getting the bike fit right.

A position that may feel "natural" to you, as you are an experienced MTB rider, may not be the most optimal. I have also found that a setup that may seem good during 20min on the turbo, may cause pain after 2 hours on the road, so it is worth concentrating on the little things during the first few rides and then think about milles, KOMs etc.

Safe riding and don't forget to have fun.

posted by [13 posts]
31st July 2014 - 15:56


I don't know about your turbo, but mine says DO NOT APPLY BRAKES! I think it damages the drive system somehow. Besides, stopping a spinning wheel on a resisted drum is easy - stopping 80kg of man and bike on a descent when the weight shifts forward is dramatically different.

Swisstop or Koolstop pads are good on the road, and can make a big difference to stopping power.

I'm just getting back to the bike after an injury (sustained looking after babies would you believe!) and I'm doing core strengthening, stretches (hamstrings, hip flexors, quads, calves) and neck strengthening (look straight up and hold, down and hold etc). A key one is to stand straight, bend at the waist and hold your torso horizontal, stretch your arms out ahead of you (also horizontal) and look up and along your arms. Hold for 30 secs, then bend your knees and elbows to ease yourself out of it.

Have fun!

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3709 posts]
31st July 2014 - 16:05


Well I spent an hour building the bike up, although half of that was spent removing all of the packaging.

Fairly standard fare for a boxed bike really, no big issues. The drive chain still needs more adjustment, shifting is smooth but its a bit noisy. I'll spend some time over the weekend tweaking the derailleur limits and such, also the chain links are super sticky, to the point where they sometimes come off of the cassette at an angle, I suspect that this is due to the sticky crap they put on the chain in the factory. A couple of squirts of GT85 improved things, but it'll need a full degrease before proper lubing with some Mucoff ceramic.

10kg on the money with pedals, SORA + FSA Groupset and I think it looks pretty good to boot. I've attached some photos from when I was putting it together. It's a lot of bike for £369 (ok it's normally £600, but whatever!)

One discovery I've made is that I need a decent floor pump! Getting anywhere close to 90PSI with a hand pump (or at least the ones I have) is impossible!

I do have a further question for you though, the brakes will rotate around the mounting bolt if I apply hard pressure to either side despite being firmly attached. Is this normal?

Oh and I agree with not braking too harshly on a turbo trainer, my old training bike has several flat spots on the rear due to this. No damage yet to the trainer though.

Photo 31-07-2014 15 26 34.jpg Photo 31-07-2014 16 58 34.jpg

posted by GritstoneRider [4 posts]
31st July 2014 - 20:11


r.e. adjusting the brakes rotating, yep mine do that. Some higher end bikes use dual pivot points now I think.

I actually find it kind of handy to get everything centered nicely, something you don't really have to worry about with MTB disk brakes!

posted by sergius [258 posts]
31st July 2014 - 21:21


Kit: pump, tubes, patches, levers, magic chain links, chain tool, multi tool, tyre boot, cable ties.

Food and drink: water or electrolytes and energy food that you like to eat.

If you feel sore stop and stretch, I agree with the suggestion to climb Holme Moss out of Holmfirth and then descend towards Woodhead. The descent is fantastic and I'm sure that your MTB experience will mean that you won't need to touch the brakes and you'll fly to the bottom.

If you are looking for a cafe stop, I recommend the Old House Tea Rooms on the Woodhead Road on the way back to Glossop from Holme Moss.

Have a great trip!

Ah! Condor

posted by Bedfordshire Clanger [345 posts]
31st July 2014 - 22:21

1 Like

Just wing it! You'll have a blast, you're going for a bike ride around some roads you seem to know well, not planning a round the world trip. Take a multi tool, tubes, plenty of fluids, cash and a mobile and you'll be fine.

As for the ride, by far my steepest learning curve was discovering when to brake. The pad against the rim felt awesome, the feedback felt great. What I didn't account for was how little friction there is between the road surface and a skinny tyre. My learning curve involved a quick thinking choice of either hitting an iron gate, a tree, a dry stone wall or my mate who I was following who'd just crashed. Naturally I chose to go over the bars and land on my mate.

posted by Leeroy_Silk [106 posts]
31st July 2014 - 23:44


That's a nice bike for the money. If you're KOMing and doing 60km MTB rides, you'll do 70k on a road bike with no problems. If you're young enough, your back won't even whimper.

posted by DrJDog [255 posts]
1st August 2014 - 15:52


DrJDog wrote:
If you're KOMing and doing 60km MTB rides, you'll do 70k on a road bike with no problems. If you're young enough, your back won't even whimper.

I think that this is what I was originally hoping for, but I spent about 45 minutes on the turbo doing some intervals with it today and I think I'll have to work up to that kind of distance! My top tens on Strava are in trail centres, short technical climbs seem to be my strength, flat sections not so much.

On the plus side, the speed is immense compared to my MTB. I realise that's kind of a noob statement, but I wasn't expecting as much of a jump. I reckon that once I've got my core built up a bit and I can stay on the drops for longer that I can get some decent speed up. Once I have the sensors set up I'll be able to get a better picture of where I am at.

Also, just to address one of my previous comments, the brakes are not SORA, they are a generic Tektro-like assembly, so I'll replace these soon. Do I need to consider cable pull ratios? I have SORA levers, so if I got Ultegra brakes then would these work ok?

posted by GritstoneRider [4 posts]
1st August 2014 - 21:26

1 Like

I reckon mtb is somewhere around 1.5x as hard as road so 100km should be doable. Brakes will be a big difference and comfort too although you have loads more positions available on a road bike to get comfy. Mtb has more extremes of effort ; climbing is harder and requires more thought but as compensation the flats and downhills require less effort. On a road bike you're more likely to pedal harder downhill and on the flat.
You'll soon be looking at lycra - and you don't HAVE to shave!

posted by Daveyraveygravey [302 posts]
1st August 2014 - 21:40