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I have been looking through the classifieds on here and in Craigslist at road bikes for sale. I am looking to get a road bike added to my collection. I really don't know what I am looking for. I guess first and foremost I need a bike to fit me, correct?

What would you guys recommend for a 5'4", 110lb, beginner female rider?

I ride my mtn bike all the time, but I think it's time to get a road bike. Thanks for any and all help guys.
 

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Fit is extremely important. I finally got my road bike to fit after I got my recumbent. The fit on the road bike left me with a slightly injured knee that took a while to heal. In my younger and less wiser days, I likely would have tried to push through it and been dealing with recovering from surgery.

Personal advise. Much of craiglist stuff really isn't as good of a deal as one might think. As a beginner, unless you have someone to help you inspect the condition of the bike, and help you with fit, Id advise you to go another route.

Beginners are almost always better off at the local bike shop for several reasons. One is any good bike shop should let you test ride the bikes. Unlike Walmart, they are more than happy to let you test ride them. They should have a maintenance dept that should check things like tire pressure and saddle height for you before you go. Tell them where you want to ride, and how much you want to spend and see what they say.

Now you will pay a bit more for the bike up front, but especially for the beginner its almost always money saved later. First thing is most good bike shops have free adjustments for a while and sometimes for life. It doesn't take long for adjustments alone to make up any savings. You also are paying for a knowledge base. When you have questions or problems, if you bought the bike there you are likely to get better service and avoid buying things that really are not best for your needs. Most people that work in bike shops do so because they like to ride themselves. Chances are pretty good they have been there and done that.

As your knowledge increases, a craigslist bike may make more sense, but for now without help it would be a bit of hit or miss as to whether you wound up with the right bike for you.

One more thing. Stay away from department store bikes. If you really want to ride, they are more frustration than enjoyment. They are usually put together by a kid making minimum wage and the assembly alone could be a problem. Even if it is put together properly, more often than not the quality is far below a bike from a bike shop that isn't that much more than the department store bike on sale. Even if there is a big difference in price, the knowledge base is well worth the difference.
 

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I don't consider myself an expert by any stretch of the imagination but I'll share some experience sprinkled with a bit of opinion.

Department store bikes are garbage. EVERY time we have a group ride with someone on one, there's usually a problem, if not on the ride, shortly after. Dried/gummed up/grinding bottom brackets, loose headsets, cross threaded pedals, improperly adjusted brakes, rusty hardware, misaligned derailleurs, out of true wheels/loose spokes, dry chains and not fit to the person at all.

As soon as the person goes and buys a well-built bicycle they are so much happier. When they get the bike fit performed, it's like a revelation for them.

In all honesty, you can get a left-over year model or a base model bike from a LBS (local bike shop) close to what you'd pay for a department store bike.

The insight you gain from the LBS will be invaluable. The profit margins on new bike sales are razor thin, most of the profit is made up in accessories and repairs. The LBS usually depends on word of mouth to get customers into their store, they usually won't misdirect a customer because the damage it can do to their business would be vast. Granted, not every LBS employee is respectful of new cyclists or recreational riders. There's one LBS by me that hires enthusiasts for mountain biking, road cycling is considered "lame" by them. Again, I won't go their because they have a prejudicial view of what the "ideal" customer should be. The shop we frequented before moving catered to all cyclists, had 3 different types of fitting performed, and gave unlimited adjustments for the first year. the LBS we frequent now carries a much smaller product line, but offers the same level of service. A good LBS will answer any question you have at any time, because of this, please give them your busines rather than one of the internet giants.

As stated previously, Craigslist/ebay can be a treasure trove of stuff if you know what you're looking for. I steer clear of them, been ripped off one too many times. Unfortunately, the wisdom only comes with experience and education.
 

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First, you need to think what pricepoint you are willing to spend. For the most part, bikes are very similar at a given pricepoint between most manufacturers.

Visit a few shops and test ride a few bikes. You're test riding the shops as much as you are the bike.

Trek, Specialized, Giant, Felt, Scott, Jamis, Cannondale all make good road bikes, but it all starts at the price point.
 

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Lots of companies are making women specific designs these days. I say at least start in a LBS and see what fits you best. Then go from there. The standard sizing of either S, M, L or measurements of the down-tube in centimeters only take you so far. They leave out key differences between brands that can be very important to a good fit, especially effective top tube length and stand-over height of a sloping top-tube versus a non-sloping.

Glad to hear we have another future-roadie in the making.
 
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