If Instagram is any indication, we’ve officially entered International Buy a Bunch of New Bike Crap season. In recognition, I’ve migrated this old Tumblr post about how to buy a road bike with $5000—no #influencers required.
Initial publication date: 21 May 2014.
If you were going to spend £3000 on a road bike what ones would you recommend ?
Man, I would never spend that much on a road bike because someone on the Internet told me to. If you’re looking for answers to that question, I don’t think you should either.
Here’s what I would do with that amount of money, which I will convert to $5000 for my feeble USA brain (we don’t do the metric system over here either, it’s crazy). Forgive me if some of this is kinda basic/elementary. Feel free to skip any steps you’ve done already.
- Put $3000 into a three-year Certificate of Deposit. There are probably investments with a better return, but I don’t want to act like I’m giving financial advice. The point is to put the money somewhere where you can’t get at it.
- Spend ~$1300 on a bike. Go to a local shop if you want. Buy on the internet if you want. Rival/105/Ultegra-ish if you can find it.
- Ride that bike a lot. Centuries. Races. Supported tours. Commute. Dirt metrics. Gravel. Trails. Ride hard. Ride easy. Get a feel for for it. Find stuff you like. Find stuff you don’t.
- Keep the stock parts for as long as possible. Find out what breaks. Find out what doesn’t. Tinker with stuff. Remember parts that are a pain to adjust. Slam your stem. Max out your spacers. Experiment.
- Ride other people’s bikes. It helps if they’re about your size, but it’s not necessary. Start to notice things like geometry, stem length, toe overlap, etc. Ride a heavy bike. See if you feel like it matters.
- If you like racing, after a season, spend the remaining $700 on some carbon wheels. I think tubulars are better, but clinchers will do the trick. Race as much as possible to see if you get burned out and bitter about it.
- Ok, it’s three years later the and CD has matured, and you’re either not interested in cycling anymore, or like cycling but aren’t into racing, or maybe you like gravel or whatever—the point is you’ve got a clue what makes a bike awesome for you.
- In your few years of riding, you’ve probably heard of or come across some dudes/dudettes on custom built frames. Ask them about their bikes, how they got them, the process, etc.
- Do some googling. Find some custom bikes you like. There are lots of them. It’s totally OK to think something is awesome purely because it looks cool. A good builder will take care of the other stuff.
- Contact the most appealing builders, tell them you like their bikes/process/style/whatever. Tell them all the stuff you’ve learned about bikes, what you like, how you ride, what components you like/don’t, etc., and ask what sort of bike they think would be best to build for you. Take their opinions seriously. They build a lot of bikes.
- Using all this info, pick a builder to make you a bike. Totally cool to do this by instinct. Cash in the CD to help cover the cost. Have them get the best parts you think necessary. Wait (possibly quite a while) for your custom rig to be completed. Ride it a lot. Be psyched about it. Put pictures of it on the Internet.
There are also lots of awesome production bikes at that price, and if a pure-racing machine is what you want, almost any of them will probably fit the bill as well as any custom rig, if not better. I’ve always been partial to Look, for reasons I can’t completely quantify.
But from my POV, the best bike is the one that makes you want to ride the most.