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Break Even Point

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Road Cycling It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle. -- Ernest Hemingway

Break Even Point

Old 08-18-19, 06:13 AM
  #1  
spinconn
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Break Even Point

With most sports it seems that gear has a practical break even point. Up to that point the more you spend the more you get. Beyond that point the law of diminishing returns kicks in and every improvement cost more and more for less and less value.

I am a returning cyclist after many years away and there is much that is very new to me. Here I am specifically asking about shorts/bibbs and jerseys for road cycling. I currently have one pair of shorts and one jersey that were about $50 each. They are each much better than what I wore years ago and worth the money. I want to get some better clothes up to the point where I am not spending a lot for a little improvement.

I am 70 and currently riding about 100 miles a week and hope to double that as quickly as I can but I certainly will never be a professional, or even an amateur racer. I am asking for opinions and advice on how much I need to spend to enjoy better clothes without going too far over the break even point.
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Old 08-18-19, 06:26 AM
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Sy Reene
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Depends really on how much you want to bargain hunt. You can find from time to time great stuff at over 50% off. For bibs, just for argument's sake, your starting point should be $70 when on sale.

eg.. to get you started:

SteepNCheap_SaleBibs
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Old 08-18-19, 06:31 AM
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If you're retired, hit all the thrift stores in your area for jerseys. I have 40-50 jerseys now, which I got for $5 each or less. Since the fit is slightly different on every jersey I have ever put on, I have one for every size and every occasion.
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Old 08-18-19, 07:17 AM
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The point of diminishing returns is different for every person - everyone has different needs, wants and budget constraints. Further, something like bib preference is highly personal.

Long story short, you'll just have to find your own answers. I'd recommend that you seek out/try different kinds of chamois and let that narrow your search. I prefer those on the thin, flexible end of the spectrum, but others like the thicker, more dense options. After you've got that down, find sizing/cut that comfortably puts the pad in the right place and keeps it there.
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Old 08-18-19, 08:35 AM
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More accurately an inflection point, not break even.

Issue is where your value (benifit/cost) lies is very personal. I have been burned by crappy shorts/bibs that chafe so for me, it’s worth it to find good prices on Assos. I am very thrifty so have had good results buying gently used or previous generation new old stock on EBay.

These differences become much more apparent to me on longer rides. For a short ride, almost anything will do. But for 5+ hour rides, I will only ride my Assos.

YMMV
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Old 08-18-19, 03:10 PM
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Thank you Gents, that is helpful advice.
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Old 08-18-19, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
I am very thrifty...
Understatement.

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Old 08-18-19, 03:43 PM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
Understatement.

Maybe. But I ride a Ti frame bike and wear Assos shorts/bibs, so I do appreciate the finer things in life!
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Old 08-18-19, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by datlas View Post
I have been burned by crappy shorts/bibs that chafe so for me, its worth it to find good prices on Assos. I am very thrifty so have had good results buying gently used or previous generation new old stock on EBay.
Kudos for your honesty! First poster on BF to admit buying used bibs
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Old 08-18-19, 10:04 PM
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I'm definitely a bargain hunter and borderline cheapskate. I'll buy decent used bikes mostly for the frames, then gradually build 'em up to what I want. I'll shop the used ads for components, and swap parts around until I find a combo I like.

In new parts -- tires, etc. -- I'll put several items in my Amazon wish list and cart, then move them to the "save for later" part of the cart. That way I get email and app notifications when prices drop. Sometimes prices will drop within a day or two. Other times I'll wait weeks or months until the price drops, but that's okay for items I don't really need immediately. I finally bought a Light & Motion Rando 500 light when it decreased to $50 a week or so ago. Same with Continental Grand Prix Classic skinwall tires when they dropped in price to around $30 for a one-day sale (prices go up and down regularly for some Conti tires on Amazon).

In shorts the most comfortable I've found are Przewalski, only $15-$35 for bibs and shorts at Amazon. The shorts are good but nothing special. It's the pad that makes the difference. Their original 3D pad is by far the most comfortable I've worn for 50+ mile rides. But I can vouch only for the orange Pro Tech pad with dimples. It's a unique pad, smooth surface, wicks perspiration better than anything else I've tried. But some Przewalski shorts and bibs use other pads and it appears from customer reviews and photos that the vendor is pretty random about which you'll get. Some folks like the yellow/green and thinner red pads, some don't.

Black Bibs are also good values for around $40. But the Przewalski is more comfortable to me. I wore the Przewalski for a 70 mile ride Thursday and the Black Bibs for 60 miles Saturday. Same bike, same everything else. The Thursday ride was more pleasant. After about 50 miles with the Black Bibs my sit bones were beginning to ache a bit and felt a little sore later. Never had that problem with the orange pad in the Przewalski shorts.

I also noticed the basic fabric of the Przewalski seems to handle wicking perspiration better. The Black Bibs fabric was lightly frosted with salts after a ride. The Przewalski wasn't salty looking, although it wicked sweat effectively. Just a minor difference, but one I hadn't noticed before.

I just ordered another pair of Przewalski shorts for only $15. For that money I'll keep them even if it doesn't include the pad I prefer. Mostly I wanted to try a pair in small. I've lost about 15 lbs since I got the first set and while they still fit I could use a little more compression in the thighs since I have pencil-skinny legs. And I noticed the Aero Tech Pro shorts in medium I got when I weighed 165 lbs are a bit saggy around the butt now.
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Old 08-19-19, 04:24 AM
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On the shorts/jersey performance vs. cost aspect: there are a number of different aspects of performance, but from a "how fast I go" perspective, how much you spend on what you wear isn't going to increase your speed by any meaningful amount.

I've never liked to wear cycling jerseys, I usually wear non-cotton shirts from a variety of inexpensive sources: $7 Haynes T shirts from Walmart, give aways from group rides, etc. Theoretically the looser fit is costing me a few watts, but realistically at the speeds I do much less than the extra pounds I'm carrying as "relaxed muscle" around my waist...

Clothing also has a "how comfortable I feel" performance aspect - on the shirt/jersey side, no difference there for me. I started out just buying inexpensive padded underwear and wearing them under normal shorts. When I tried some cheap padded biking shorts, I definitely felt better on longer rides. When I saw a closeout sale on some expensive padded shorts, I tried them - not much change in comfort, but they definitely lasted longer - essentially a better value. So, I tend to agree with the previous poster who said usually above $69 seems to weed out the crappy ones. So, there is also that durability factor.

Then there is the "how well can drivers see me" - not really an issue on shorts, or on the cost of jerseys vs. shirts, but I have bought into the "make the moving parts more visible" and paid a bit extra for a few pairs of hi-viz yellow socks and gloves.

I am completely missing the fashion gene, so "how I look" is not a performance aspect for me but that is another factor. On a group ride I'm usually one of the few not fully "kitted" out but hasn't seem who I can or can't keep up with!

Usually, over the winter you can find some closeout sales and buy a few expensive things real cheap and see if you can tell any difference. Beyond the shorts, that approach has caused me to spend more on bar tape, seats and cycling shoes than I used to - I'm 62 and found it does not make sense for me to skimp on comfort for the parts that will be directly between me and the bike!
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Old 08-19-19, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
If you're retired, hit all the thrift stores in your area for jerseys. I have 40-50 jerseys now, which I got for $5 each or less. Since the fit is slightly different on every jersey I have ever put on, I have one for every size and every occasion.
Very true. I collect and wear jerseys. I have found many nice ones at thrift shops. Also have found cycling shorts but they are less common. Many deals also on the auction sites. Look better and be cooler. Good luck hunting!
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Old 08-19-19, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by WhyFi View Post
The point of diminishing returns is different for every person - everyone has different needs, wants and budget constraints. Further, something like bib preference is highly personal.

Long story short, you'll just have to find your own answers. I'd recommend that you seek out/try different kinds of chamois and let that narrow your search. I prefer those on the thin, flexible end of the spectrum, but others like the thicker, more dense options. After you've got that down, find sizing/cut that comfortably puts the pad in the right place and keeps it there.
This. How much to spend on equipment is a fair question to ask. How much to spend on clothing, shoes and socks is highly personal and depends on way too many variables.

For example, I have diabetes; foot comfort, especially on long rides, is of paramount importance to me. So I spend a lot of money (or at least what may seem like a lot to some) on shoes and socks.
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Old 08-19-19, 06:39 AM
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The value of good bibs increases as rides get longer.

Any decent pair will do on a two hour ride but really nice bibs are a godsend when you are in the saddle for eight hours.

In the middle of nowhere, hours left to pedal and chafing starts - suddenly nice bibs don't seem like such a bad value.

Assos, Castelli, 7Mesh and Rapha are all good brands. If I had to pick one for really rough conditions like gravel it would be 7Mesh. Overall for road, it would be Rapha Classic.


-Tim-
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Old 08-19-19, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
First poster on BF to admit buying used bibs
That still doesn't make it right.
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