The Tri Newbie Chronicles: Buying Your First Road Bike

Hi everyone!  It’s been two weeks since my last edition of the Tri Newbie Chronicles, but I have to be honest – last week I was planning on posting about the run portion of the tri, but after finding out that my injury had returned I was just not mentally able to do it.  I’m still trying to get over the fact that running is not going to be happening during this tri training, and that’s okay.  I will walk those final 4 miles and then run the last 30 seconds!

Tri Newbie Chronicles

Anyways, today’s Tri Newbie Chronicles is all about the bike!  If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I bought a brand new road bike last week.  I have a really crappy mountain bike that I bought at Fred Meyer for $79 last spring, and I’ve only used it like twice.  Why?  Because it’s incredibly heavy and slow, and is poorly made.  It’s not easy or comfortable to use, so I never want to use it.  And I was totally dreading using it in the Gold Nugget Tri, especially because I know there will be hills and my mountain bike was going to be crazy slow.  So I decided that I’d probably need to get a road bike for the race, and since I’m injured and can’t register for the 5 billion races that I normally do each year, I figured I could use that money to buy a better quality bike!  I had the following considerations when choosing my bike:

  • Must be lightweight and faster than my mountain bike.
  • Must be under $500.  Let’s face it, I’m going to end up beating this thing up as I learn how to properly care for a bike (and how to not fall), so I don’t want to spend a ton.
  • Must be cute and something I will be proud to ride around town!
  • Must have good reviews and include good, long lasting parts.
  • Unisex road bike design – I don’t need a women’s specific bike with my body type.

When looking at bikes in Anchorage that fit this description, I was pretty much left with Craigslist bikes.  I couldn’t afford anything in a bike shop, and I didn’t want to buy something from a big box store again because those bikes are so poorly made.  The problem with Craigslist is that you don’t know how well someone has taken care of their bike, and you have to pay cash which I can’t really do now that we’re purchasing a house.  So I got creative, and looked at getting one shipped free from Amazon using Amazon Prime.  And I was immediately overwhelmed by all of my choices!  There are a billion bikes on that website that fit my criteria, and the reviews are all over the place.  So I did a simple google search for “Best cheap road bikes” and came up with tons of lists of bikes to check out.  This site in particular was really helpful for me, because I realized that I can afford a good road bike!  I ended up going with bike #3 on that list because it was also featured on almost every other list out there, and I loved that it had the Shimano shifters and other higher level parts.  I did extensively read the reviews, and while I know it’s not my “forever bike”, it’s going to be perfect to get me started with triathlons.  Plus I can ride it all summer long!


I bought the Vilano Shadow Road Bike in white for $350 with free shipping.  When it comes to shipping costs to get things to Alaska, that was a killer deal!  When my bike got here I immediately dropped it off at a local bike shop to get it professionally assembled.  It cost $80 but there was no way I could have confidently assembled a bike on my own at this point in my life.  It also gave me peace of mind that everything was in perfect working condition and I could ride without worrying about it falling apart.  They helped fit the seat to my height too!  I can’t recommend this step enough if you do choose to buy online.  I also plan on going to a clinic at a local bike shop where I can learn how to maintain my bike and change a flat.  Many bike shops should have these classes for free (REI does too!) so make sure to check that out once you’ve made your purchase!

Overall, I highly recommend buying your first road bike online.  If you can afford to buy something from a bike shop, that would probably be ideal.  But for my first little bike this is all that I needed, and I was still able to get assembly and support from my local bike shop to give me extra confidence that I’d picked out a good bike.  I’m so excited to finally have a bike that is speedy, comfortable, and makes me feel like a triathlete!

Have you ever bought a bike online?  How did you pick one out?  And the most important question:  what should I name my new bike?  🙂

16 thoughts on “The Tri Newbie Chronicles: Buying Your First Road Bike

  1. Sorry to hear about your injury. Getting a new bike is so exciting though! I am not much of a bike rider, in fact I’m a hazard to myself on a bike. Good luck with all your training!

    1. Haha I’m sure with some practice you could do it! I was so scared but was surprised by how well I did (except for the crazy Shimano shifters) – I guess I was able to remember what I learned back when I was a kid!

  2. I have a great bike that has been sitting in the bike room for YEARS. I need to take it to a bike shop for a tune up so I can enjoy the MILES of bike paths in my area.
    that’s such a great deal on a bike with shipping! I imagine shipping to Alaska and shipping to Canada is somewhat similar.

    1. Yeah any time I can take advantage of free Prime shipping I’m all over it. It take a bit longer to get here but it’s worth it when it’s free!

  3. Hey Kristen,
    Thanks for the information, I will keep it in mind if I ever decide I want to buy a bike.

    What your Physiotherapist say on Monday? I can appreciate if it is still to hard to talk about, no worries, answer not necessary.

    All the best with the next week’s training and I look forward to your next post!

    Have a wonderful day!

    1. Thanks for asking! I figured I’d do a recap of the appointment on Monday, but basically he said it’s my SI joint that’s causing the lower back and glute irritation. He gave me new exercises and said that we’re just starting over again and we’ll see if it helps. He was so nice about it and seems pretty optimistic that it will work again, so I hope he’s right!

      1. OK awesome, and thank you for sharing. All the best with the exercises this week!!!!

  4. I got my first road bike on Craigslist! A dad had bought it for his daughter, but she didn’t have room to take it with her to college so it was practically new. I got it for $400 and I am still riding it about six years later. 🙂

    1. That is awesome! I feel like I hear so many stories like that one – people gifting expensive bikes to people and then they don’t get used. That’s such a good deal!

  5. Yes, I found buying a bike very difficult. I did look on Amazon too, but I was afraid of not getting the right height. I also wasn’t sure that the local bike shops around here would be willing to put them together if I didn’t buy it from them! $350 is a good price for sure!

    1. I definitely checked out the company’s size chart before I bought my bike because I had the same worries. The bikes are sized to reach a range of heights with each size, and I got lucky by falling into the middle of one of the ranges so I figured it would work out! It was definitely a gamble buying online but I am loving my bike so far!

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