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Daily Archives: August 10, 2018

Cycling on a Budget; How to Look like You Spent $15,000… on a Fraction of That.

Road cycling is an expensive sport. A new entry-level bike runs a Grand. A decent bike is three or four times that. A top-end bike is north of $12,000 and can be painted, if you’re lucky, by an Italian fella who won’t commit to a timeline. You’ll get your bike after he decides to get to it.

Once we’ve got our bike sorted, then we’ve got pedals, shoes, a helmet or two… Great. The pedals run north of a hundred bucks, the shoes are double that, easy, and a decent helmet can cost more than most people would expect to pay for a big box bike.

Then we have the joy of looking at clothes. Because you’ve heard of Rapha before, you check them out… only to find a pair of cycling gloves that costs more than that aforementioned big box bike. For a pair of gloves!?

In fact, that’s exactly what I thought when I saw the $175 price tag.

Then you’ve got the $250 bibs and the $175 jersey. Times four. You swear. Your spouse rolls the eyes.

Folks, if it were really that expensive, I couldn’t have afforded to get into cycling, let alone my wife, too.  Don’t sweat it…  I’m not from the government, and I really am here to help.

There’s an art to looking good, on a budget. You’ve got to balance what you need with what you can afford.

You don’t need the $3,300 set of Enve wheels. $600-$800 will do fine. The bike? Buy used, $750-$1,500 (just be sure to get the right size). Shoes? Specialized Torch 2.0, one of the best deals on the market for a carbon fiber shoe – $150. Find a decent helmet on Competitive Cyclist, Pro Bike Kit, or Nashbar $100-ish – or hit the local bike shop. They’ll have something that will work – the lid I’m wearing in the photo above was purchased at the local shop. Bibs and jerseys? Clearance rack at the shop, or one of the aforementioned sites. Better, try Coconut bibs and jerseys on Amazon or eBay – you can’t go wrong there, for the price.  I don’t know as I’d try a century in one of the Coconut kits, but the bibs would be good for a metric.

So that’s the easy stuff. The trick is putting that budget stuff together to make it look good.  Kit yourself out in the most expensive clothing and put you on a Pinarello, you’re going to look pretty good – in most instances you do get what you pay for.  On the other hand, there are workarounds to a $#!+ ton of money.

First, eat less and ride more. If you look good, what you wear will look good.

Second, match what you wear with your bike.  It may seem cheesy but it looks cool when everything matches up.

Third, don’t go baggy on the jerseys.  If you’re bigger and feeling self-conscious, do what it takes to get yourself out the door.  Once you’re at a weight where you can, start switching to the tighter fitting kit.  You can’t look cool with five pounds of stuff in your back pockets and the back of your jersey sagging halfway to your knees.  That’s no bueno.

Fourth, bibs.  Not shorts.  The bibs hold what little gut you’ve got left, in.

Fifth, baggy bibs are bad.  Always.  The proper size is preferable but one size too small is better than a size too big and a droopy ass.  They should be fairly tight, but not ridiculously so.  Beware of sausage legs.  Return a pair of bibs that give you sausage legs.

Sixth, and perhaps this should be first, keep the bike clean and well lubed.  Your bike will make a distinct sound if it’s not lubed regularly.  It will sound dry when it’s ridden.  Others will notice that you don’t take care of your bike and you will feel self-conscious when yours is the loudest bike in a group (this can’t be helped with all of the kind, false-hope words in the world.  You can try to ignore it but you won’t be able to).  Better to just take twenty minutes a week to clean and lube your bike.


Seventh, learn to ride in a straight line.  Playing “dodge the draft” is not going to win friends.  It will, however, influence people – but not in a good way.  Learn to ride well.

Eight, smile.  You’re out there to have fun.  Give fun your best effort.

Nine, and this is another important one, think about how you affect the cyclists you ride with.  Nothing makes one look bad like selfishness.

Ten, shop the clearance racks.  It won’t matter that it’s last year’s kit.  Purchasing clothing out of season is a great way to save a veritable $#!+ ton of money.  This includes internet sites – look for the clearance items.

To wrap this up, there are several things one can do to look good and competent on a bike that don’t have much cost whatsoever, just value.  There are ways around much of the expense in cycling – I only paid $750 for that Trek in the photos (though I’ve got extensive work and cost into getting it to look like it does in the photos).  One thing that will save a lot of cash is research.  Know what you want before you buy and you won’t waste any of your hard-earned cheese on something that ends up collecting dust.

Then there’s one final piece; if you want to look awesome, ride awesome.