So the first thing that needed to happen for me to start training on a bike, was to get a bike.

Not easy when you haven’t the slightest of clues about bikes, or where to even start. Luckily, I’ve a few people to talk to about this. Knowing my budget was the most important part of buying my first bike. To be honest, not knowing if this is something I would continue with, I decided to not go mad. I just wanted something in around the €300 mark. Something to get me on the road, and if I like it, I know I’ll end up selling it and getting something new.

Carrera TDF – €320

One of my friends then spotted the Carrera TDF on special offer in Halfords (down to €320) so that was my next port of call. In I went, and the guy I was dealing with suggested to go for the 54cm frame. Now let’s be honest here, I’m just 1.63m tall with an inside leg of 67cm, I knew I wasn’t getting on a 54cm frame but I said to myself “you know nothing about bikes, listen to the guy”. I shouldn’t have. Even the 51 was too big in the TDF. We then had a look at the Carrera Virtuoso, and started with the 51cm frame. It felt a lot more comfortable. But unfortunately the guy I was dealing with just couldn’t sell me the bike, he just seemed to lack the knowledge or interest in bikes.

Carrera Virtuoso – €389

After that experience off I went to the shops. Two different bicycle shops, after listening to my needs both suggested the Giant Defy 5. Priced from €590 – €625. It just was a step too far for what I wanted to spend, although the resale value is something that made me think long and hard about it. At the end of the day Giant are a well recognised brand and that helps when you want to sell it on.

Giant Defy 5 –  €590 to €625

There were a few more options. Keep an eye for a cheap second hand bike, bite the bullet and go for the Defy 5, or hope that someone in Halfords would actually be able to talk to me about bikes. Armed with the information I’d picked up in the other bicycle shop’s I felt a bit more confident as what questions should I be asking and how I should feel on the bike, so I decided to try a different Halfords.

Day 2: A different Halfords, a different person, a different result!

Confidence grew early, this guy looked at me and said “you could struggle with a 51cm frame”. Success. “Have you thought about a ladies bike?”. I hadn’t but it makes sense. The Small Defy 5 that the two bicycle shops has suggested the day previous is a 46.5cm frame. The answer to the question though was “I hadn’t, but I was on a 51cm Virtuoso yesterday and it didn’t feel that uncomfortable, could we start there?”. So we did. The guy went off, got his little allen key’s and dropped the saddle right down. I sat up. “Peddle backwards” were the orders, so I did. “Now stop at the bottom with your right foot”, and again I obeyed. He looked at my leg position, “yes, there’s still some bend on your knee, that’s good” And that was that. I was taking this bike, but I couldn’t jump to that. We proceeded to talk about the TDF, he didn’t have one in stock, but got to talking about the differences.

The only major difference between the two (TDF And Virtuoso) were the gear shifters. The TDF has the gear down as a thumb operated down shift, which I felt uncomfortable with. The Virtuoso uses the slightly more advanced (to me it’s amazing) method of a second lever inside the brake pedal for going down, and flick the brake pedal to go up (same on both bikes).

TDF Gear Shifter
Virtuoso Gear Shifter

The TDF is a 14 speed and Virtuoso is 16. And that’s about all the difference the guy knew. So, I went for it, and bout the Virtuoso. Got it for €351 { €389 .99- €38.99 (10% Halfords summer sale!) }. Next job, learn to cycle.