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Cheap Aero Bike

Old 08-22-21, 09:40 AM
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Pfj
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Cheap Aero Bike

Any recommendations for a cheap aero bike? 1k to 1500ish. Would like Shimano 105 or similar. Or alternatively a good all round race bike for the same price. Thanks
Edit: Thanks for the responses. To specify, it will be used for road races and the odd crit and TT.

Last edited by Pfj; 08-23-21 at 03:06 AM.
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Old 08-22-21, 12:02 PM
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RChung
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Five or six year old aero bike, plus a good new aero helmet, plus a good quality used power meter (not single-sided) that you'll use to tune your aero and rolling drag. That will be a better use of 1500 than a new bike without knowing how to optimize your position and drag.
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Old 08-22-21, 12:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Pfj View Post
Any recommendations for a cheap aero bike? 1k to 1500ish. Would like Shimano 105 or similar. Or alternatively a good all round race bike for the same price. Thanks
Road, TT, or triathlon? Recreational use or mixed in with race use? Road or criterium? These will help people point you the right way. People buy race bikes for varied reasons, so know use helps. Recreational use, sure, keep with the 105. If actually racing, I'd say make the move to Ultegra.

The used and new bike markets are still tight. But that's the way I'd go. In that price range you're looking at pretty much only lower grade "open mold" framesets and a used group set to put something together in that price point.

If I had those euros, I'd probably try to find a used alloy Allez or something with 11spd Ultegra on it then spend the rest on a power meter if it doesn't come with one.

A good (not cheap quality) open mold carbon aero frame for road or TT these days is still almost be $1000. A full used group set in just 105 will set you back the ret of what you're budgeted. This is why I'm steering you used on that budget.

Not to mention some modern width wheels with GP5000's and latex tubes will cost you a little jingle and make a difference if you don't already own some.

For road race bikes my priorities on speed for things you actually buy has personally been:
-aero road helmet
-"onesie" style suit like a Castelli San Remo
-GP5000 or similar and latex tubes
-aero handlebars
-aero wheels
-lastly........aero frameset
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Old 08-22-21, 12:19 PM
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Maelochs
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I agree with RChung---and not just because he is an engineer and a math genius who has spent a lifetime studying this stuff.

Your position on the bike is probably the biggest thing you can change, and the least expensive---all it takes is lots of suffering. A helmet is another relatively cheap option. However, if you get a really long-tailed TT helmet, every time you drop your head out of fatigue, that "aero" tail becomes an air-brake.

There are a couple different sites I have seen cited here which have lists of what "aero" gear you can get for how much cash and how much benefit you get in reduced drag .... none of it as far as I recall matters as much as staying tucked real low with your arms in and your elbows bent and tucked directly behind your hands with your forearms parallel to the earth so that you present the smallest frontal area.

All of this is possibly entirely wrong.
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Old 08-22-21, 04:24 PM
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Vintage Schwinn
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I do not disagree with what the previous posters have said.
I offer this bit of advice. Go to as many triathlons as possible within 100 kilometers of your town, if only as a spectator if you're not willing to just give it a go on whatever you currently ride. Sprint triathlons are fine, as you need not focus on half IronMan 70.3 competitions. Yes, sprint triathlons (~22 miles or so on the bike) will have first time novices and first timers riding ordinary bikes and first timers riding race bikes who can't keep up with the 40 year old on the 50 year old Raleigh Grand Prix 10 speed. You get normal people like that that are first timers or doing it to have a blast, but you also always have a dedicated core group of super-serious tri folks that do it to record times in a sanctioned event, and they just love competing so much and if that week's scheduled event does not conflict with some bigger event, the serious tri folks do show up in numbers, especially when such an ordinary Sprint tri is just the week prior to a major triathlon event as it works as competitive training for the following week.

If you're just a spectator and you want to pick the brains of the participants. Do not bother the participants with questions before the event starts. You will not be allowed into the Transition Area where the participants bikes are staged. THE BEST TIME TO TALK WITH PARTICIPANTS AND THEIR EQUIPMENT IS AFTER THEY COMPLETE THE TRIATHLON , WHILE THEY ARE LOADING THEIR VEHICLES....or anytime after the event, But Not During The Awards Presentation Ceremony because though they would love to talk with you about what equipment and such, they do treasure and respect the awards presentation, so that time is not right, as that is sacred time to give the respect and congrats to fellow competitors. You will find that for the most part that serious tri-competitors are probably the nicest, easily approachable, gregarious, good-will ambassadors for their sport, who will gladly speak freely to you about what, how and why they choose particular equipment. They also tend to be the most optimistic and encouraging people that you will find anywhere. That is based on my more than two decades experience with such events all over the United States.
Sure, some folks might not want to talk more than 30 seconds for whatever reason, but I guarantee that you'll get someone who wants to tell you everything and will continue talking and showing you their bike(s) for nearly a half hour. I do suggest that if you go to an event as a spectator, that you capture some video with your phone or a high quality HD camcorder. Offer to give the video to the participant(s) that you speak with, and also place it on youtube for others to see, as well as any site links/forums that discuss said event.
This is just a suggestion that I think will give you more insight and credible information than you might ordinarily find. Be cognizant that these folks are being kind and are certainly doing you a favor by telling you everything, but you'll find that they do love their sport and they really love to talk about it, especially after completing a successful and satisfactory triathlon, while drinking a cold beverage and being with friends, family, fellow competitors, officials, and event spectators. Be kind and considerate and do not monopolize all of their time.
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Old 08-22-21, 04:44 PM
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Ditto, aero kit -- jersey, at a minimum -- and helmet offer most bang for the buck in getting aero. Next to getting and holding an aero position, which is free but uncomfortable. So plan on burning some energy strengthening your core, and tweaking your bike fit, to hold an aero position on any bike.

The best buys in aero bikes are usually used triathlon bikes. Most tri-folks are primarily runners, who later add a bike just to participate in triathlons. I was skeptical of these stereotypes until I saw it for myself. (I'm primarily a cyclist, secondarily a runner.) Tri-folk who are primarily runners tend to be in one of two categories:
  • Ride their bikes into the ground, rarely maintaining them. My 1993 Trek 5900 OCLV was converted to a tri-bike. It was in remarkably good shape when I bought it from a BF member and friend a couple of years ago (he wasn't the original owner and wasn't responsible for the bike's condition). But the headset needed to be replaced within a year. When I disassembled it I found crusty tan residue inside the entire steerer tube, headset, etc. That's almost certainly due to years of the tri-guy leaning across the headset on the aero bars, sweating down the headset, and drooling water with electrolytes (very salty) via a drinking tube mounted on the handlebar/stem. A year or so ago, a friend gave me an old tri-bike with a cracked frame around the seat tube, but mostly very good components worth cannibalizing for another bike. The tri-bike's rear hub was in the same condition -- crusty brown residue, shot cartridge bearings, etc. That's probably from urine. Yeah, some long distance cyclists will just let it flow during a ride without stopping. I didn't check the bottom bracket but it's probably in the same shape.
  • Or, if they're prosperous dentists or lawyers (yeah, I know, stereotyping again), they'll buy a new tri-bike every couple of seasons, believing it will make them significantly faster. The latter can make for good buys in used but not abused bikes.
Tri-bikes can be ridden reasonable distances with just the bullhorn bars, if you're not comfortable with aero bars. And you can fit them with conventional drop bars. While not ideal, they're okay for rides of an hour or so. Not bad for chasing PRs. (At my age KOMs are out of range. If a 63 y/o dude in middling shape snags a KOM, you can bet that segment has only been ridden by moms on Townie cruisers and kids on Big Wheels. No 60something cyclist will ever hold a KOM if any actual cyclists ride that same route. Even with aero help, I lost all my Strava Top Tens a year or so ago as those routes were ridden by younger, stronger riders. Our local women's pros all beat my best times.)

Don't count on finding similarly great buys in recently used aero road bikes. Roadies tend to expect more reasonable market value for their bikes, which are usually in better shape.
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Old 08-23-21, 02:14 AM
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RChung
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
I agree with RChung---and not just because he is an engineer
Not an engineer, definitely not a genius, but it's true I've spent some time thinking about this stuff. For the OP, the more important thing is that I have a limited budget to spend on cycling so I'm familiar with trying to minimize drag while trying to maximize bang for buck. Figuring out how to measure various sources of drag and then seeing how much it costs to reduce each one sort of fell out of needing to pay college tuition for one kid and planning to pay college tuition for another.
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Old 08-23-21, 06:30 AM
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There are used TT and aero bikes on Craigslist in the U.S. All the time, and likely close to the posted budget. Not sure about across the pond, though.

Heck, I'm listing a 2009/2010 Cervelo R1 with full SRAM Force for $1800 now for a neighbor. Immaculate condition, and stiff, aero, and more bike than the OP could likely use.
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Old 08-23-21, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Pfj View Post
Any recommendations for a cheap aero bike? 1k to 1500ish. Would like Shimano 105 or similar. Or alternatively a good all round race bike for the same price. Thanks
Edit: Thanks for the responses. To specify, it will be used for road races and the odd crit and TT.
The easiest to find new or used is the Trek Madone. The latest models are all disk brake which I don't like but they have T47 bottom brackets which I do like. They are far superior to the previous BB90 junk.
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