Growing up my parents introduced me to cycling fairly early, I was handed down a red bicycle which had what I called Swedish styled brakes, where you had to pedal backwards so that the brakes would engage the rear wheel. Till today I can still recall the scrapes and burns from falling off the bike for those first few attempts on learning how to balance myself on two wheels. And when the moment finally came, when the bicycle was well balanced and travel just as I wanted it to go, the feeling was spectacular, a sense of freedom.
Now flash forward 25 years and I have just picked up my first road bike, I had never imagined that the world of cycling was a $6 billion dollar industry and that some bicycles would literally cost you and an arm or a leg. Cycling as a kid was much simpler, it would either be a bicycle with with gear or one without. The BMX was my kid bike and then later on moved on to a mountain bike (MTB) as I grew up to a teenager.
Now the bike, which became my first road bike is a full aluminium framed Fuji Sportif 2.1, it came with a mix of Shimano Tiagra and Sora groupsets and carbon integrated forks. Weighing in 10.4KG it was definitely not the lightest bicycle, it was actually considered be on the heavy for some. Anyway it didn’t bother me one bit, as I knew I had the fitness to pedal and frankly it is the lightest bicycle I have ever owned. Now the Sportif is categorised as an endurance bike, which means the entire design of the frame has been worked around comfort and also to ease those steep climbs. This is perfect for the hardcore weekend warrior which I would classify myself as.
Personally the first time I got the bike and started riding, it did feel a bit odd as I have been so adapted to sitting up straight like you would do on a conventional bicycle. But it didn’t take long to adjust to the more aggressive position you get while sitting on a road bike, just a few minutes later you realize that you are going so fast. It felt great, especially when I realized that I was going at speeds of 25 km/h or more. To a seasoned rider this is still considered slow but coming from those years riding a MTB it did feel fast.
Now about the bike, as for some reason here in Malaysia there seem to be a lack of larger sized bicycles. Not too sure why, as I generally do not consider myself as a tall person, heck I’m just average standing at a modest 177cm. The correct size for my height was to be somewhere between 54 to 56. The bike which I currently own is a 52 and there had to be some slight modification done in order to get it fit my height properly. It’s getting technical but I cannot stress enough on how important it is to get the bike to fit your body, as the most expensive bike in the world would probably harm your body more than anything if it does not fit you.
Now in order to compensate for the smaller frame on the bicycle, the seat post was raised quite high and also to make my arms more comfortable the handlebars needed to be pushed further front. Therefore the stem had to be longer, so the one that came with the bike was replaced. I have to say that I was glad I had my buddy Sean with me as it would have been a disaster if not for him. I had already read up on all the different cycling terminologies, sizing, and just cycling in general. However sadly some of the people in the store were more or less clueless when it comes to proper bike fitting.
All in all my road bike is fantastic, this entry level Fuji was definitely worth it and has so far clocked in a little over 650 km in just under 2 months. The next achievement on the list would be to complete a century ride which is 16o kilometres (100 miles). It would certainly be epic and will probably get a chance to complete that in the next month or so. I shall now wrap up this post and will be back with another post talking about my journey of becoming a cyclist and how no road bike is complete without clipless pedals.