Upgrading to a Road Bike

After my lackluster tri, it was clear that I needed a new bike. 

Giant Dash 3 Hybrid

My old hybrid was great while I was learning about biking, but I’m going to be riding 56 miles after swimming 1.2 and before running 13.1. I need as efficient a bike as I can get. But I’m still going to be realistic: there was no way I was going to drop thousands of dollars on a bike when who knows how into biking I’ll get? 

My budget for a new bike was under a thousand, but I was hoping to spend less than 900. I just got a nice expense check, and I’m selling my old bike, so the expense was almost too easy to justify. I’ve been in and out of my neighborhood bike shop, Zen Bikes, since I started tri training, picking up odds and ends. They’re so helpful without being pushy, so I knew if I was going to get a new bike, it would be from them.

I went on a ride Sunday morning on my old bike. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible. I figured I’d just wander into Zen to see what was up. I’d peeked at a Giant Avail last week, and thought that I might be interested in that since my old bike was a Giant. I walked in and told them I was ready to upgrade from a hybrid to a road bike. They first made me straddle some weird piece of wood to get my inseam measurement so they could figure out what size frame I was. I have longer legs and a shorter torso, so I was measured for a medium-frame bike.

They first recommended a Felt bike. I’d remember seeing pictures of Victoria’s and thought I was about to get screwed, but it ended up being $800. I asked if I could also see the Giant Avail I’d seen the week before.

But you can’t buy a bike on sight alone, so they sent me out to test them. I took out the Felt first. 

Key Differences (from hybrid):

  • Higher seat: my seat was so much higher that my feet were barely brushing the ground on tippy-toes. To mount the bike, I just swung my legs over, and, ow. The higher seat and my lady bits had a bit of a collision. This did also mean, though, that the longer leg extension helped me use more of my leg to get power.
  • Lower handlebars: Well, this was terrifying. Leaning over the curly handlebars puts you in a more aerodynamic position. The only thing I’d really liked on the Giant was the top bar lever brakes, because I felt they gave me more control, especially since the first mile or two of my ride will always be through city streets to get to the West Side Highway or Central Park. Luckily, these brakes were something they were just able to add on at the end.
  • Balance: I’d heard people saying they’d tried to unclip and had leaned over to the wrong side and fell off, and didn’t understand how. I get it now. You sort of have to lean to your right to unclip your left, but then real quick jump down to your left. I foresee falling happening real, real soon. 
Felt Z100 Zen Bikes

I went home, convinced I wasn’t going to be bamboozled and buy right on the spot. I spent approximately an hour at home and decided I loved the bike and went back for it later in the afternoon. I ended up going for the Felt Z100. New Yorkers: this has nothing to do with my favorite radio station growing up. I also pushed really hard for a bike that didn’t have pink on it since, let’s be real, I’m already that girl. But this model only came in pink. 

I’m still selling the hybrid, so let me know if you’re interested! Email me at theodora at preppyrunner.com.

TELL ME ALL YOUR ROAD BIKE SECRETS. 

22 comments on “Upgrading to a Road Bike

  1. Jennifer Olszowy

    As you get comfortable with your new bike you may want a few more items. Most bikes come with uncomfortable seats and you want to learn to love your seat. To find the right one you might need to try a few out. Your tri shop/bike shop should have a program wear you “rent” a seat. Also experiment with different types of shorts. I prefer a tri short vs. a biking short. Lastly, you might want to add clip on triathlon bars because you can ride much faster if you ride in aero. This is another learned skill but you are going to ride for 56 miles and this can shave off some time on your ride. Good luck!! Triathloning is so MUCH fun.

    Reply
  2. Victoria

    SO EXCITING. Felt makes really good entry level bikes, so you made a good choice. So many manufacturers put all their work into the highest end road/time trial bikes and their entry level gear is rubbish (*cough* CERVELO *cough*). Once you get used to the geometry after a few rides, you are going to be zipping around for miles like it’s nothing.

    Re: the “lady parts,” see if you adjust after a few rides, if not, you may want a new saddle. Felt’s stock saddles leave a lot to be desired.

    Reply
  3. Cate

    Yay! I am a little obsessed with looking at road bikes these days! When I was fitted for my bike, it was an adjustment to not have my feet fully planted on the ground while in the saddle. You’ll get used to it, as well as clipping in/out.

    Lastly, two words: chamois butter. I prefer it over glide for cycling and it’s saved my lady biz on more than one occasion. TMI? 🙂

    Reply
  4. Katie

    Yay!! I haven’t had too many lady bit issues yet, but I will say to make sure you get a full fitting. The fit should take at least half an hour.

    Reply
  5. amrapCindy

    Welcome to the world of road bikes!! I went straight to a road bike after not riding for, oh, 15 years, so I totally understand how unnerving they can be! I still spend most of my time riding on the hoods, so I can easily brake and it’s not quite as aggressive of a riding position as on the drops.

    I’m going to second what everyone else is saying about upgrading saddle. I actually have a men’s bike and took it out for the first time on a 22 mile ride in running shorts. Horrible, horrible mistake. I swear by biking shorts, but the women’s seat also made a world of difference. It’s another $100(+) bucks, but I think it’s worth it to get a seat that fits your body.

    Reply
  6. Jessica @ RunYourMuttOff

    Congrats on the new bike! I got my first road bike early this year but it’s been on my trainer mostly while I recovery from my running injury. I love riding though and hope to put it many miles outside too.

    Reply
  7. meghan @ little girl in the big world

    So exciting! You’re going to love it! I had a Giant Avail before I moved to a tri bike, and while I loved it a lot, I still would say that Felt knows their business and was probably a better option. As you clip in and out more you get better at it and more used to it. I took a few spills on my road bike when I got clips, but then once I got the hang of it I felt more confident and better able to clip and unclip. Also, after a few falls it made me understand that falling isn’t really the worst thing in the world when you’re just talking about clipping and unclipping. Don’t be scared of it happening (even though I couldn’t have convinced myself of that). You’re going to do great! Next thing you know you’re going to be investing in aero bars to get more aero! You’re going to love your bike more and more as your rides get longer, but make sure you have good cycling shorts! They make such a difference!!

    Reply
  8. Jeff

    Hey Theodora,

    I definitely relate to the terrifying lower road bike handlebars haha! I wondered how anybody rode the things when I made my hybrid to road switch back in 2013…

    Do you still ride your road bike or did you switch back to hybrid after your triathlon?

    Jeff.

    Reply
  9. Dennis L. Ward

    I’m having a Schwinn hybrid bike since 2015. It’s little older and this summer I’m planning to upgrade it. First of all I will buy a new saddle and a pair of splash guard. It’s required little bit servicing.
    I hope I can use this nice bike through this year.

    Reply

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