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How much faster will a £1000 bike be than a £300 bike?? Is it worth it for a Novice?

I have finally saved enough to purchase a “decent” bike - £1000, but I’m now having doubts as to whether to spend it or just to purchase a cheap entry level bike, my doubts do come largely from the wife...... who doesn’t think I will really get the benefits of the extra monies spent...

Here are my circumstances and reasons:-

I’m a novice riding a 20yr old Raleigh with 12gears (on the down tube)..

I have entered a couple of Oly tri’s and am thinking of a middle distance race in September.

I want to upgrade to a bike with a triple chain set so I can tackle all terrain..

I weight in excess of 110kg therefore bike weight is not important (unless I’m wrong??) simply because I weight so much. The fitter and leaner I get the fast I should get anyway..

What are the advantages a carbon framed bike with decent groupset and wheels give me over an entry level bike? Specifically to the performance of a novice

Having ridden such a old/backwards bike so far, any new bike will seem more efficient..

My thoughts might be buy a cheap entry level bike this year and if I enjoy Tri’s and actually complete the middle distance race at the end of the season, then next year invest more(£1k+) in a even better bike...

I should also confess up that I’m not always the most diligent with maintenance, this would have to change of course..

Bike envy?? Even the hybrids look good...



  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    There are many & varied threads on here that address your very question, however simply put £1,000 will buy you a bike you will not want or need to replace or upgrade for a little while, whereas £300 will have you spending another £1000 within 12 months or so, you may not get full 'performance' out of it now, but as your fitness improves, so will it..so to speak. So I would go with £1000 now & look after it!
  • treefrogtreefrog Posts: 1,242
    It will make a huge difference. £300 bikes are good but are not built for proper racing (kit is of a lower standard & heavier, geometry is more relaxed and the frame is probably heavier). Regardless of what others say decent bikes start at the £1000 mark, and they make a huge difference. The difference between £1000 bikes and more expensive are less dicernable but are there none the less.

    One way of saving money is to consider a top end alloy frame (Cannondale CAAD 9, Storck Vision light, Principia or best of all Cervelo S1 - formerly called Soloist Team) as these may be better than an entry level carbon frame. The Cervelo soloist team/S1 is a great bike it is very well built and can be given racey road geometry or triathlon/TT geometry. Benny has one -check the threads out
  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    Britspin is right. Get your wallet out. You'll find a couple of threads going over this.

    From a personal point of view, I've been riding a £300 bike (OK, it was £400, but I got a hefty discount) for about 5 years. I made a few basic mods - Planet-X carbon forks for £100, decent tires for £50, aero-bars for about £50 - but it was still a fairly basic and heavy alloy frame with a mix of Shimano 9 speed components on it.

    This year I spent exactly £1000 on a carbon framed Dolan equipped with Ultegra everything.

    From my point of view, as a fairly average age-grouper and nothing special on a bike (1:10 for 40km) I can only say it was money well spent. It is a lot quicker, mainly because of stiffness and the reliability of the gear changes. I can hammer up hills that have me out of my seat on the old bike, and on a downhill I am changing cogs every second until we hit about 55kph. Also, the brakes actually work.

    I went out for a 50km easy ride (OK, got a bit carried away) and came home 10 minutes quicker than going bonkers on my old bike.

    At the low price ranges, every £100 gets you a lot more performance. Personally, I reckon this continues up to around £1000-1500 before you start to get into diminishing returns. A £3000 bike will be better still, but you need to be very good and very consistent to make it worthwhile.

    Having said all that.... it's only a hobby. Only spend what you can afford, but if it means the kids can't eat for the next week then what the hell [:D]

    To address your points.... don't feel you have to get a carbon frame. Only get one if it fits and if it works for you. Cheaper carbon frames can be heavier than a similarly priced (and strong) alloy frame. Spending decent money on a groupset will pay big rewards in reliability and in not missing gears. Better wheels are always, well, better. And red bikes are fastest, of course.

    So, from a similar viewpoint to yours, I reckon £1000 is a great sum to spend on a novice bike. You will gain a measurable edge, feel really spoiled, and have a bike that can be upgraded as you improve. From your overall game plan, I reckon £300 spent now would be completely wasted unless you do what I did and ride it into the floor before replacing it.
  • AndreAndre Posts: 103
    I'm afraid I've made a habit out of always taking the opposite point of view with almost every argument (I like to think I'm playing Devil's Advocate, but in truth I'm probably just being needlessly annoying). Anyway, Britspin's advice is sound and follows many other's: always buy the best bike you can't afford!

    But, and the fact of the matter is, whether or not you spend £300 or £1000 now, you'll inevitably spend the same or more again within the next 12 months. The major difference here is that with the £1000 bike, you'll probably have a frame which'll last you a few years and you'll upgrade the components around it and the £300 bike, you'll simply replace with a completely different one - and that's not necessarily a bad thing, because within 12 months you'll have a turbo trainer and you'll be using the £300 as your winter/training ride, and the new bike as your racing stead.

    You're wife is only being prudent, and whilst there are other times when you should listen to her, this is a decision not to be made with your partner. You're the only one who can make this decision and whether or not you realise it, you've already made it: my advice, though, is wait another month or two and to buy both!
  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    We must have been typing at the same time, treefrog...

    ... and thinking the same things, too. [8D]
  • bennybenny Posts: 1,314
    I rode a Ridley triton (which was about 800£ back then). Now bought a Cervelo soloïst (as treefrog noted), and you'll probably know what I'll say next!

    The difference IS there and it's HUGE. My bike position is much better and all the stuff Britspin and Treefrog wrote is spot on.

    One thing not mentioned before, but very important: the running off the bike!!!

    Due to the geometry of the bike, one feels almost no difference between running of that bike and running fresh. I improved my run leg with 2 minutes on sprint distance (only a week after the previous race), all thanks to the bike.

    Free minutes come alongside the better bikes[8|]

    Test ride one, you'll feel it!
  • Thanks guys,

    Doubts still exist, however I might just be just suffering pre-purchase guilt.

    would you guys give me your opinions of this bike I'm thinking of:

    Fuji CCR2

    specs: http://www.winstanleysbikes.co.uk/product/16374/Fuji_CCR2_2008

    as I know little, adviced welcome on frame - upgradabililty etc...

    I did visit my local bikeshop but they only sell the low end Giant models...

    thanks for all your help so far guys... We'll make a triathlete out of me yet..

  • bennybenny Posts: 1,314
    just trying to tip the scales of your doubt; read the first post in this thread:


    The part about regret and 350£ is you within a few months, that I promise you.

    (Just my thought, not a religion, but chances are big.....).
  • treefrogtreefrog Posts: 1,242
    What is the geometry of the frame? What are your measurements? You could blow a stack on a P4 and if its the wrong size you'd have wasted most of your money. BENNY'S POINT ABOUT THE TRANSITION IS SO RIGHT

    The fact about bikes is that the vast majority of low to middle range frames are built in one of three factories in China and are bought by large cooperations and then sprayed and badged to the spec of the brand owner.

    Fuiji supplied frames for an American pro team who raced on the European circuit they went bust a few years ago - name escapes me ... morped from the old Montgomery Saturn team. Anyway I knew a guy who rode for them and guess what he raced a rebadged Cannondale.

    I don't know anything about Fuiji carbon bikes - geometry, weight, stiffness, grade of carbon, but given the decent spec of componentry and the price I dare say its a generic carbon frame. I honestly think you should stick to your budget of a grand but do more shopping around.

    Carbon frames are great but as we have written - a better alloy frame is way better than a mediocre carbon frame.

    At the risk of sounding like a salesman give www.slanecycles.co.uk a call nd see what they can do you a Cervelo Soloist Team based bike for - I always go for the best frame I can afford, then go for good wheels and "skimp" on componentry as most kit is of a high standard and is cheaply and easily upgraded.

    To be honest word of mouth from fussy athletes (cyclists, time trallists, Triathletes) is the best source of endorsement/criticism.

    Bottom line the Fuiji is a good deal, it is a well equipped bike, and the frame will not be bad ... but I feel the kit (105) is usually on 1500 bikes so is this masking the frame? I would spend your grand on a topend alloy bike, but that is only an opinion

  • I don't entirely agree with the other posts - I think there are some circumstances where a £300 bike would be a more sensible purchase. Simply put, if injury or a lack of enthusiasm/staying power leads means that you don't continue doing triathlons then £300 is a much cheaper mistake than £1000. A £300 bike will be perfectly adequate for your first season. However, you do have to accept that, if you decide to keep doing triathlon, then you will want to buy a second, better bike in your second season. You should therefore only buy a £300 bike if you are happy with the following two alternatives:

    a. Injury, lack of interest/time means that you only do one triathlon and then move on to other sports

    b. You get hooked. You have space at home for two bikes. You buy a £1000+ bike for races and for summer training and use the £300 bike for winter training rides.

    I, and most of the other posters on this site, suspect that you will soon get hooked by triathlon and will very soon want a better bike - however little relative difference it will make to your time/position, if you pursue triathlon you will definitely want to be the fastest that you can be, and hence will never feel satisfied while you're riding a bike that is (genuinely) slower than the £1000 bikes that are passing you (I still suffer from severe bike envy, and my bike is red!). The one thing that I don't have (and don't have room for) but wish I did have, is a cheaper, more basic second bike that I could take out on roads and weather conditions that I hate risking my racing bike in.

    Hope this helps.... The other vaguely relevant factor is, of course, what you can afford. Given current credit availability I would suggest that you pass on the advice to buy the best bike you can't afford.....

  • I bought a pretty cheap entry level bike when I started. £300 I think, maybe more. Total false economy am just going to have to end up buying a more expensive bike at a later date and try and off-load this one.

    That said, there is a bit of a middle ground between the 'only slightly quicker than walking' bikes and some of the flashier Millenium Falcon's out there. Buy a bike like children's clothes, to grow into but not so big they're ridiculous. You want a bike you feel you're going to do well on, but really I would guess (and having never ridden any of the bikes that cost the same as cars this is a real guess) that if you're still developing your cycling skills a real top range bike might not actually benefit you incredibly more than something in the mid-range. In fact might be harder, more intense angles, crippling sense of guilt, etc. If you're already leaving a line of flames behind your aero-wheels as you burn it up the side of the nearest mountain to Bracknell then go spend your money, our economy needs you.


  • bennybenny Posts: 1,314
    What Tiring writes is partualy true.

    Only thing for Scott to ask for him self is: Can I buy a 300£ or so bike now and a 1000£ bike within a few months(cause he'll want that, but maybe miss Scott won't agree). Or do you buy a 300 one now and a 700 one within a few months (Miss Scott??).

    Seems like in both possibilities you'll miss out([:D]) on the 1000£ (better, no doubt about that) bike!

    (Not that this will help, I'm probably making this more difficult).[:)]
  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    Like I said, I also had a £300 bike. It worked for me becasue I was (a) skint and (b) determined not to buy a rocket-ship until I knew why I needed one. When I got to the stage of thinking my gears were all wrong, I wasn't using my small chain-ring, I could feel the frame bending on a climb etc then I upgraded.

    Then I wished I'd done it sooner. Having said all that, I'm happy that my £300 bike doesn't owe me a penny, I have ridden it to near-death.

    I guess that there are two ways to do it.... make the commitment to the sport and spend a bit of money (taking the risk that you'll quit and waste all that cash) OR serve your apprenticeship on a cheap bike, and put up with the increased maintenance costs and possible frustration while you learn.

    In simple terms, a £1k bike is still going to be noticeably better (faster bike and run) than a £300 bike, even to a novice. Making that cash/prioritisation call probably can't be done on the forum.... it's a personal thing.
  • Hi scott.

    Eternal dilemma! Spend loads now or later. Agree with all the posts - especially Bopomofo's bit about value for money increasing up to £1000-1500 then law of diminishing returns kicking in the higher you go. A £1000 bike is twice as good on the whole as a £500 bike. A £2000 bike is not twice as good as a £1000 bike.

    If you're going from an old Raleigh to a more modern bike I'd say aim for a moderately priced or even second hand newish bike to avoid splashing out big and to get a flavour for new bikes cos its all changed so much. If you buy carefully second hand then you can sell it for pretty much what you paid for it when you want to upgrade to the next bike too.

    You'll then get a sense of fit and geometry and comfort and gear controls and gearing etc (you mention going for a triple - how about looking at a compact - your old raleigh is probable agressively geared as most old bikes are) Thats going to be my contribution to this post peeps. Whatever you buy make sure it fits in all these ways.

    We see so many people who've splashed out their hard-earned on their dream bike and can't get on with it at all. Most of those guys have taken a huge leap from a basic bike to one costing thousands. I'd say view bike buying as a progressive thing - move forward in small chunks - get to know what suits you incrementally over several years and perhaps try different types with different geometries and different types of bars and gears etc. That avoids those expensive risks!

    On the weight issue - why not make the bike the incentive - the more you lose the better bike you'll treat yourself with. that way the more you lose off you the lighter the bike you get as well.

    good luck

  • treefrogtreefrog Posts: 1,242
    Any decisions yet?
  • Here’s an update:

    I have contacted another local bike shop (SBR in Windsor) and I have been taking advice from them as well, they seem a lot better than my local shop in Bracknell who only have entry level Giants....

    If I choose the £1k option I will probably go for an alloy frame rather than carbon, I want 105 group set or above and I don’t necessarily need a triple ring. I specified a triple due to my experience with my current bike, but I now know (as aero bob also pointed out) my old racer has an aggressive ratio, and compacts are much better ratios these days....

    I have a shortlist of:

    [color=#800080]http://gb.cannondale.com/bikes/09/ce/model-9RA92T.html[/color] (Caad 9)

    [color=#0000ff]http://gb.cannondale.com/bikes/09/ce/model-9RAS1T.html[/color] (Synapse)

    [color=#800080]http://www.trekbikes.com/uk/en/bikes/road/1_series/17e/[/color] (Trek 1.7)

    I will probably go and have a look at these bikes this week.

    I have found my cheap bike, a B’Twin Sport 2 (as my backup plan) – it got a good review in 220 a few months ago and is now end life so it’s even cheaper.


    I ideally would like to spent £800 and then get a turbo trainer (for my Raleigh) and accessories for the bike (Seat post pannier rack, cadence sensor...)

    I will only be allowed 1 bike this year and I have no idea what state my finances will be next year.....

    this has been a really good learning curve, so thanks guys for all your hep and comments so far...

    Any comments on my the above bikes are appreciated


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