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Where do I start?

Why are some recommendations from you guys as to a good brand to get and some questions or things to look out for...

Thanks!

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What purpose is it for? How open-minded are you?
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how much are you willing to spend? Road or Mountain (or something else)?
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Road bike and definately less than $1k.
Would love to stay less than $700 if at all possible.
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Start with a starter bike. They're all basically the same for that price range...

Going into more depth...
Whether it's a Trek 1000 or 1200 or Specialized or any other reputable brand, all of the entry level road bikes are basically the same. One might be a couple ounces lighter or have a slightly different geometry, but in the 500-700 price range, most stuff is pretty standard. Try to get the best shifters in your price range, which will most likely be Tiagra. If you find a good deal, maybe 105. Check the local biking forum and you might be able to get a really good deal on a better bike with light wear. But if you do buy new, you may just want to go with whatever bike is at the shop with the best service and maintenance program. Many places will give you free tune-ups for 6 months or more, and unless you're planning on doing maintenance yourself, that's a pretty good bargain.
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Exactly when Mech said. All major manufacturers will have a bike in your price range. Most smaller/custom bike manufacturers won't though.
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Definitely get sized. Find a good, reputable bike shop in your area and ask if they will size you. You'll probably need to wear running or cycling shorts so the measurements can be a bit more accurate.

They should measure a number of things, including torso and arm length. Then they can recommend a frame size for you. Once you have that, you can go anywhere knowing your bike will fit you properly.

And like MED said, spend the money on components, not the frame/fork. I'd much rather have better components than the lighter bike.

And don't be afraid to investigate a used bike. Just be picky. Find something with low miles and well taken care of. I got lucky with mine -- less than 1000km and the previous owner was a bike mechanic. I saved close to $1500 on my bike compared to buying new.

One other thing -- if you're looking for a road bike, but want something a bit more "rugged" for commuting, look into a cyclocross frame. That's what mine is (it's actually a Ridley Crossbow). The geometries (tube lengths, seat tube angles, etc) are almost identical, but it's a bit stronger due to the nature of cyclocross. In terms of weight, my bike is only about 5lbs more than its road counterpart. But it's more generous when you have to take the odd pothole or bump.

Good luck, and let us know what you find!
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I'm putting my vote in for a Trek!

:dance2:
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I got my first road bike last fall. A Giant OCR 3. Great bike for the money about $600-$650. You should try one. I also tried the Trek 1000 I believe. I love my bike. :pinklove:
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A question about the Giant: I know they make mountain bikes and the frames only come in 3 sizes: small, medium, and large. Is it the same for road bikes? Or do they make the same 2cm increments as other manufacturers?
If so, that's something to consider when purchasing a Giant. But if you get sized for a bike, they'll make sure it fits you, regardless of whether the frame says "small" or "50cm."
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Giant makes road bikes in extra small, small, med. n large yes. I tried a small in the bike shop. They ordered me the extra small. To look at the bike I couldn't tell much but to be put on it was a huge diffenence. Amazing.
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Wow. It's funny. I didn't realize so much went in to getting a bike. It all makes sense really...

I have a mountain bike right now, but would also love to try a road bike. Cash flow is a little low witht he move and all but I will definitely keep this advice for when the time comes!

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