Thinking of getting into road bikes

by _tom_   July 20, 2010  

Hi guys, first post here, hopefully I'm not doing one of those annoying typical threads! Anyway currently I ride mtb a fair bit but I'm getting a bit sick of having to drive 50+ miles to get a decent xc ride in as we have no good local stuff apart from chicksands about 30 miles away. Have plenty of nice country lanes/roads though so I've been thinking about getting a bike more suitable for that and just keeping the mtb for the more fun stuff like chicky etc. I'd also like to commute some days in the week whilst the weather is nice.

Problem is I have a very low budget at around £300, so I'll probably have to go second hand and SS to start with. If possible I'd like something with track dropouts but also a rear mech hanger in case I want to upgrade to gears. Don't want fixie as we have some big hills I'd rather freewheel down! Needs half decent brakes. Not sure whether I want drop bars, probably not as I don't like feeling all stretched out and streamlined!

Finally, I'm not sure what frame size/tt length to get. I'm from a bmx and then mtb background so as I said before, I don't like feeling too stretched out on the bike. Current mtb is a 22" ish top tube with 90mm stem which feels good.

Hopefully somebody can suggest something for me to try from that post?

Local halfords has a TDF "limited edition" Carerra for about £299 at the minute. Are Carerra road bikes any good or just as frowned upon/unpopular as they are in the mtb world?

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OK, first up welcome to the forum.

I'll start a bit back to front if that is ok. The 'Limited Edition' bit on the Carrera is a bit of a red herring as they bring it out this time of year each year (for the TdF funnily enough) and give it a slightly different paint job hence the ltd bit.

Now for the positive part on the Carrera. I have read some very positive feedback on various cycling forums for this bike as a good starter road bike. Plus that with a bit of in-store barter you can grab one for £270. A positive on a tight budget.

I know that most will say to go second hand, which should get you a far better bike but it can be a pain in the neck finding the right model. A friend of mine who I ride mtb's with wants to get a road bike and join my tarmac trips and is really tearing his hair out looking right now.

The other thing is you mention flat bars and ss too, then the TdF which is neither of those! So I'll try and cover those bits too.

The worry of feeling stretched I understand. I have just bought my first road bike after being a bmx rider in the early 80's then mtb's from mid 80's onwards. I still have the legacy of a bad accident that mean back and stomach movement is not great and the road bike position worried me. At the same time my body could not take offroad on a regualr basis anymore either. I went for a proper bike fit session (the shop I used would charge £35 but then you get that off the frame/bike you buy, etc) It was worth it for me as it means I am not in a painful position (although I only use the full drop section for short bursts).

As for ss, are you sure you want that on your first road bike? I have both a geared HT and rigid SS (retro one) for offroad and went for gears on the road as it seemed to make more sense for keeping the pace up plus I didn't want to look like all the 'fashion followers' on their fixies they can't ride properly!

If you really want a SS road bike then it will more than likely be second hand. Perhaps a Kona Paddy Wagon? Not sure they will come within your budget though.

All the best and enjoy the road!

posted by Super Domestique [1626 posts]
20th July 2010 - 9:31

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I'm not going to bother advising on specific brands, but having moved from a road bike to a hybrid for commuting, I'd add:

- Single speed sounds interesting, but isn't going to give you a decent road experience. My understanding is that it's a very different proposition to a geared road bike, as a cycling experience.
- based on observation at various sites and cycle shops, you'll get an entirely reasonable ride and setup for £300.
- Drop bars? can it be a road bike without drop bars? Surely not, really. Besides, the geometry of a road bike is just different to what you're used to on the MTB, and if you don't make some such adaptation, I can't imagine you'll get the most out of the bike.
- Brakes will always be a problem, because the point of the road bike is to have nice narrow tyres. Any old brake set is likely to be able to lock up both wheels for you, so you just need to recognise that you'll never be bale to stop quite like the MTB can.

Best of luck with it!

timlennon's picture

posted by timlennon [229 posts]
20th July 2010 - 12:01

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Cheers guys, lots to think about.

I mentioned SS to begin with purely because it seems like it'd be cheaper, but if you reckon I can get a reasonable build for £300 then I'll go geared as it is better to keep a comfortable cadence.

I'm just a bit lost as to what I should be looking for as I don't even really have a clue what MTB let alone road stuff is considered the "best", haha. My main priorities are:

-comfortable ride (may take some getting used to though I understand), possibly steel frame (?) as the roads I'll ride on aren't the smoothest.

-smooth changing gears that don't skip.

-smooth running wheels and BB on good bearings.

-lightish, but I'm used to a heavy mtb so I think anything <25lbs is going to be fine.

Is that realistic for £300 (maybe going s/h)?

I might go and see what halfords can do on the TDF, give it a test ride etc. My mtb forks are going in for a service at the weekend so I'll see what road stuff that shop has as well.

posted by _tom_ [10 posts]
20th July 2010 - 18:32

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Just as an update. Today my father purchased a Carrera TdF. He saw one instore and really liked it and wanted to join with me on my road rides.

A bit of barter time and we got it for £254.99 (15% discount). Keep that in mind if you are getting one.

posted by Super Domestique [1626 posts]
23rd July 2010 - 21:06


OK thanks, let us know how it holds up! Only thing making me think twice about getting it is that it only comes in horrible yellow Thinking

posted by _tom_ [10 posts]
24th July 2010 - 2:26

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Well initial impression after a ride last night are good. Brakes and gears fine. The wheels looked a bit flash to him with the yellow 'TdF' graphics so he took them off. He likes the small pedals and toe clip combo as its waht he is used to.

The jury is out on the saddle and he may go for a slightly shorter stem in the future.

The yellow isn't that bad 'in real life' tbh.

posted by Super Domestique [1626 posts]
24th July 2010 - 11:48

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Had a look at the TDF at Halfords and it looks a bit too "loud" for my liking! Might have a go on it some time though.

Does anyone know what the Scott Sportster P6 is like? -

I really have no idea when it comes to road components. Rutland Cycles isn't too far from me so I might go and have a go if they have any in stock.

Just realised it's 27lbs though, quite heavy for a road bike!

posted by _tom_ [10 posts]
1st August 2010 - 21:57

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27lb is heavy for a road bike (as a comparison my Allez is about 21.5 and the TdF is just under 25). My rigid singlespeed mtb is less than 27!

The P6 is full on hybrid though not a road bike. Even has gearing used on some entry level mtb's.

My dad is enjoying his TdF and looks set to replace the stem with a 90mm offering and maybe some carbon forks in the future (that will lose some yellow paintwork too).

posted by Super Domestique [1626 posts]
2nd August 2010 - 13:41


Just to update, I've finally got myself a new bike! Found a bargain on a slightly used Specialized Langster on ebay. Love it - so light and fast! Can't say I've missed having gears yet, I haven't spun out and can still get up all the climbs I usually do.

Think the stem is a bit long though (arms are straight rather than slightly bent when using the hoods) and I need some spd shoes as I'm currently having to use old bmx pedals! Also having trouble finding the right bar angle, my palms are hurting after a couple of miles so far.

posted by _tom_ [10 posts]
26th August 2010 - 23:40

1 Like