Getting into cycling
In Why cycling is the new golf we looked at the motivations for getting into road cycling. If you are wanting to look at little further into the sport this article describes some of the basic items that you should look at investing in. And investing is perhaps the best way of looking at it.
While some of the prices can make you eyes water most of the items I looked at can last several years if looked after well and as a sport there are few ongoing costs, aside from the coffee of course.
David from Clarence St Cyclery was kind enough give me some pearls of wisdom and general guidance in what you’d need in starting out, prices should be taken as indicative but were accurate as of 30/07/2017.
Selecting the bike
The general consensus was to choose something that will perform ok but not hurt too much if you choose not to pursue cycling as a dedicated hobby. That being said you can get a perfectly decent, entry level, all alloy TREK 1 Series for around $700.
However for only a little more money, $1,499 could pick up an entry level TREK Emonda ALR 4, with more advanced gears, carbon forks and seat posts. The carbon elements dampen vibration and make for a more comfortable ride. This bike would also have greater longevity for serious use.
The fit out
The next step is to configure your new bike to suit your individual posture and core strength. This fit out is very important and tunes your bike to your body and your expected usage.
It also explains the activity in races such as Tour de France, where technicians lean out of support cars to fiddle with the various bikes. These fixes may be as simple as a few extra mm difference on seat height which in turn supports a higher, or lower, leg rate, or cadence, for changing conditions.
Shoes and clip-in pedals
After the bike is sorted you need to look into cycling shoes and clip-in pedals. A good entry level pair such as the Shimano R088’s have a recommended retail price of $144. Clip-in pedals are not included on the basic bike package that I looked at and you can look to paying up to $80 for a pair of Shimano R540's
It's worth noting that if you know your size or fit, buying accessories and parts online can be really worthwhile. However for a first time buyer, a local shop can provide a great deal of support and advice, particularly around the fitting and tuning.
With helmets, the lighter and more ventilated, the more you pay. A basic entry level helmet from Bontrager will set you back around $80.00. But you can easily spend two or three hundred dollars if the fancy takes you. A note of caution about buying helmets from overseas, if they are not compliant with Australian standards they may be cheaper but if you have an accident you may have a world of trouble with insurance.
Bike shorts should provide good padding, be tapered and contoured to your body. David was of the opinion that bike shorts are the most important piece of kit. He also suggested that they should be washed after every use and drying should be avoided as this can fray seams.
A suggested entry level brand was Pearl Izumi and you would look to spend around $110. However he did stress that you don't have to go the spray on look as baggy shorts are available for around the same price. Although he was at pains to say, that while not flattering, the streamline look does serve its purpose, particularly at speed.
When I asked about cycle specific underpants I did get a laugh and was mildly surprised to be informed that that's what bike pants were for. This certainly explained the frequent washing instructions.
When looking at a basic Perl Izumi jersey, with a pocket at the back and a zip at the front and a sweat wicking material you are looking at spending around $100. But you can pay up to $300 and they often include reflective seams and panels and various brands and logos. Also recommended was a lightweight Vaude Air cycling vest for $70 and an all weather Jacket from Sky Fly for $240.
At the tail end of this shopping list are cycling socks at $30 a pair, arm and leg warmers at $70 to $80 a pair and Capo gloves, winter and summer, from $59 a pair. These gloves, like some seats, have gel inserts to protect the hands from vibration and friction.
Bits and pieces
Some practical items were also recommended such as a Lezyne bike pump for $34. Also trip computers, like the Garmin Edge 25 at $229 are very popular accessories, although the Bontrager Trip 100 does an adequate job at $79.
For commuting, David was quite firm about the need for a front and rear light kit. A basic system will set you back around $90 although more powerful rechargeable units can be up to $300. At this point we both agreed that a water bottle and mount might be thrown in for free, but you’d have to ask.
Another recommendation is a pair of cycling glasses such as BBB&'s Winner Photochromic for $113. Also common are Rudy Project from around $140.
I have heard that the bits and pieces can cost from 30% to 40% of the cost of your bike. But if you forgo having two pairs of gloves, arm and leg warmers and economise on the trip computer you are still looking at a full kit-out starting around $1,750 which is effectively the full cost of a decent entry level bike.
However I'd note that this does not include sundry items like cycle magazines, tyre repair kits, bike insurance, car racks and more than one pair of socks, although I do like the idea of saving on underpants. On the plus side many of these items are one off purchases and a good pair of cycle shorts or shoes should last you three to four years.
Also surprisingly there was no real difference in price for women's bikes. While certain elements can be, or are, differently configured such as seats and handles on the whole the experience of fitting out a bike and purchasing gear seems similar.
So what's next?
Once you are kitted out and ready to hit the streets it is just a matter of finding the right group or club. Hop on the internet and see what is in your area. Many organised rides are very early morning starts and follow a two times mid week and a Saturday, Sunday pattern. Most large companies will also have enthusiasts and it is just a matter of asking around. Also many more people are commuting by bicycle and many organisations have a whole sub culture of bike racks and shower facilities that will be largely unnoticed by their non cycling brethren.
Cycling appears to be very much a lifestyle choice. Like golf it has its passionate supporters, its brands, its hallowed events. And increasingly cycling is gaining momentum as a recognised social activity, one that has its fair share of networking. However it has low ongoing costs, is open to all ages, is very good for fitness and is a genuinely fun activity that can make you a lot of very good friends.