Buying A Bike
If you’re a beginner to cycling then it’s really tough to know what equipment to buy. To just get started you need a minimum of a bike, a helmet, water cage and bottle. In reality you should have a few other things like cycling mitts or gloves, cycling shorts and a waterproof jacket.
Much of the decision regarding equipment comes down to how much you want to spend. If you can afford it, you can buy the best of everything up front. However, many people want to start with the basics, wait until they commit to doing Paris2Nice and then buy the rest of the equipment. Unfortunately, the most expensive piece of equipment is the actual bike and you need to buy that first.
It’s worthwhile speaking with previous Paris2Nice cyclists and asking advice, then visit one or two bike stores, tell them that you will be training in Ireland over the summer and then cycling Paris to Nice (700km in 6 days). Bike shops are very used to unfit, middle-aged non-cyclists buying bikes!
You need a road racing bike not a mountain bike or hybrid to take part in Paris2Nice. Drop handlebars rather than flat handlebars are highly recommended. If you’re on a tight budget, you can spend between €1,000 and €2,000 for an entry-level bike. Mid-range bikes are between €1,500 and €3,000 and top-level bikes from €3,000 to whatever you want! You should spend whatever you’re comfortable with; fitness matters a lot more than bike price. Don't forget to see if you can use the Bike-to-Work scheme to reduce costs.
Frame: The frame material depends on how much you want to spend. It's vital to get the right frame size. Visit a good bike store, try out different sizes and get advice from a good staff member.
Gears: It’s important to have the right gears for your level of fitness and your weight. This really matters going up hills. The usual choice is a “compact chain-set with 28 or 32 cog cassette.” This just means you have two chain-rings (rather than three) and have 28 or 32 cogs on the rear wheel.
Pedals: This is usually the hardest question to answer. Using cycling shoes and cleats (which “lock you in”) is much better in the long run but takes a while to get used to. Many people just went for special shoes and cleats day-one, while others stayed with regular pedals with “toe-clips” even for the cycle from Paris2Nice . For beginners we recommend you buy your bike with regular pedals and then switch to cleats after a few weeks – your bike shop can change your pedals for you.
Helmet: You must have a road cycling helmet. Best to visit a store and choose one that suits you (especially if you wear glasses).
Clothing: Special cycling shorts are almost mandatory because they contain a chamois cushion that makes it comfortable to sit on a racing bike saddle for a long time.