Headache choosing my first road bike.. new or used? Shimano 105? Aluminium or Carbon? Which brand? RM3k, RM4k or RM6k budget?

So difficult to choose my first road bike to buy...... used? new? Shimano 105? Aluminium? Carbon? Budget? Which brand? Headache.... Panadol please! lol!

Everything started from my "accidental click" registering myself into the Half Ironman Triathlon event at Bukit Merah in this coming September. (What have I done to myself?)

Since then I have become very gan cheong and panic as I don't even have a road bike to begin with.

I have started the search for my new road bike since early April. But it has been 1.5 month now and I'm still without my road bike!! lol!

Choosing my first road bike is such an excruciating overwhelming process. It's really a headache!! I could probably take panadol every day!! 

There are so many choices and factors to make my final decision. As someone who knows nil about cycling and all the technical stuff, I am truly point blank on how to start and what to choose!! Panadol, please! Pusing aku!! Pening-nya!!! Headache!!

1. How much should I spend? 

I am not willing to spend more than RM 3k on a bicycle. Reason: I don't even have time to ride. Besides, I need to buy a road bike because I plan to participate in one triathlon event a year. Last year I borrowed a colleague's road bike for my Port Dickson International Triathlon (Sprint Distance).

But this year, I'm a bit shy to borrow again. :) Besides, I need to train for riding 90 km this year vs last year's 20 km which I didn't really train at all.

I also find cycling is an expensive sport with so so many accessories to buy. Helmet, jersey, cycling shorts, racks, stand, etc.... the list never ends!! And everything costs money!!

Unless I'm really into it, I don't want to spend so much money investing in bicycle and its accessories.

Since I'm a newbie and I just wanna ride for fun ( only 1 triathlon event a year), I have decided to allocate only RM 3k as my budget!

2. What material is best for frame? Carbon? Aluminium?

I was told that Carbon bike is best but it is in the range of min RM5k and above. It could even go up to the price of a car!!! My jaws drop when I hear that there are people willing to spend RM15k, RM20k, RM30k on a bicycle!!! Crazy!! :) But I guess that's what passion is.... 

Well - not for me. I'm a simple person on a budget. haha!

Therefore, with my limited budget, I was advised by my cousin triathlete Chan Jun Shen that I can only go for Aluminium bike. I have also learned new term: ALU= Aluminium. lol!

But of course, I also have cycling colleagues who try to POISON me to buy Carbon bike. (you know who you are!! :))

However, I have decided to listen to my cousin triathlete's great advice. He even told me that he did his first full Ironman years ago with a mere used Aluminium 9-speed road bike!! 

I still remember what he said, "Budget bike, but podium performance." :) So this shall serve as my guiding light to buy my first road bike.

3. What Groupset? Shimano 105? What is that?

Again, great advice by my triathlete cousin Jun Shen to go for Shimano 105 Groupset. 

I said - errrr - what? Groupset? What the hack is that? Shimano 105? Apa tu? A brand? 

Only later I did some research on internet that I have found out more about what Shimano 105 and groupset means. 

According to Cycling Weekly in UK, "Groupset" refers to mechanical parts that make up a bike that include gear / brake levers, front and rear brakes, front and rear derailleurs, bottom bracket, crankset, chain and cassette. 

After the frame, a bike is often defined by its groupset.

After further reading from the glory of internet, I then found out that Shimano 105 is a popular choice ahead of Shimano Claris in terms of quality, weight and longevity. But of course, the better one would be Shimano Altegra! But the price is also very high as it usually comes with the Carbon bike.

So I have decided - Shimano 105 groupset it's! (I wanna take less panadols!! :))

4. Used or New Bike?

Well, who wants to buy a used road bike if given a chance to have a new one? :)

For me, of course I want to have a totally brand new road bike that I can call my own. 

My first road bike wor!!! Definitely I want new one!

But with my limited budget of RM3k, and the requirement of Shimano 105 groupset? It looks like I can only settle for a used Aluminium 10-speed road bike.

A used road bike? I need to settle for a used road bike? Sob sob..... 

But again, what my cousin and a few other friends say are true, "No need to spend so much on a new bike for now. You will most likely to UPGRADE your bike later

Huh? More money to spend in future? Cycling needs to spend so much money? Can't it be like running? Just a pair of running shoes and off I go? What have I got myself into? :)

Ok ok... I will settle for used bike since I don't want to pay so much. I still don't know if I will truly fall in love with cycling or not. So if I spend less than RM3k and I decide I don't like cycling later, I will not lose out so much money.

Ok - used bike it's! But....... I will still look out for new ones for comparison... haha!

Then my cousin and another another running / triathlon friend Alan Lau introduced me to a few bicycle websites that allow buy and sell of everything and anything under the sun about bicycles!! They even provided a few links to used bicycles for sale that are within my budget!! 

I'm so grateful for all their advice helping me to narrow down my choice!

5. What Brand? Is it important?

There are sooooooooooooooo many brands!! From the chart above, you can also see each brand is made to compare to a car brand. 

And the "lowest brands" are GIANT, MOSSO, etc which are equivalent to KIA or Hyundai cars from South Korea.

BUT... even the lowest brand - GIANT - the cheapest brand new bike with Shimano 105 Groupset would cost min RM 5k already!!! 

Sigh!! So expensive!!

I guess I have no choice but to go for "PARIAH" not famous brand with my limited budget!

The consolation is that some friends have told me that brand is not as important as the Shimano 105 groupset. Additionally, I am only a leisure rider who will run, cycle, swim etc mainly on weekends only, and not so much of a competitive athlete. So it's ok to buy a brand not listed on the above chart.

What a comfort!! :) May be next time when I ride my bike, I shall tape up the brand so that I won't feel ashamed!! lol!

Anyway - brand or no brand - it's not important to me as long as it's functional, practical and value for money.

6. What Bike Size? 

I was advised to go for bike frame size 50 cm for my height and weight. But different manufacturers might have different geometry for the bike. So I still need to do bike fitting!!

This part I'm not worried so much. First, I need to find the bike I want to buy first before the bike fitting part... :)

The Bike Search Continues

Armed with the 6 criteria above, I have been looking for my first ever road bike for the last 1 month, consulting various people, listening to different advice, with one of them (Fook Leong.. hehehe!) trying to POISON me every second, every minute to buy a NEW CARBON bike!!

But sorry mate!! I won't take your bait and I won't be poisoned for now!!! In future? I don't know - you can keep trying to poision me!! haha!

Anyway, I got stuck when I didn't feel too comfortable with buying a used bike. So I have increased my budget from RM3k to RM4.5k so that I can try to look for a "better" bike, including new road bikes that fall within this price range. 

My 3 shortlisted road bikes to buy:

1. New Merida Ride 300 11-speed road bike (made in Taiwan) with Shimano 105 / FSA groupset (around RM 4,300)

I love the color. I love the brand Merida as promoted and heavily used in the Taiwan cycling movie To The Fore. I even wrote an article on the movie.

The only setback is the price and it doesn't come with complete Shimano 105 groupset.

2. Used Bridgestone 10-speed road bike (made in Japan) with full Shimano 105 groupset (around RM2.6k)

This is a 2015 model which a friend's friend wants to sell. I have tested riding on it and it feels very comfortable. The only thing is that the brand Bridgestone is not known for making bicycles - so I was told. But it does come with full Shimano 105 groupset. 

Actually, I am very comfortable with it and I almost wanted to buy this.... until another friend introduced me to the next one...

3. New HASA R3 11-speed road bike (made in Taiwan) with full Shimano 105 groupset (around RM3,880)

I went to test on it last Saturday. It feels good. Color and design not as nice as Merida Ride 400, but it's about RM500 cheaper. And it comes with full Shimano 105 groupset.

I was on it and I didn't feel like come down from the bicycle at the bike shop. lol!!

Decision! Decision! Decision!

Oh no! Decision time!!! And I don't want to regret after my purchase!!!

How how how? 

Headache lah!! Pusing aku! Pening kepala-nya!! Aduh!

Where is my panadol?

Any advice?

Written by a confused soul on 2016.05.18



  1. I vote for Merida cause its well known brand and brand new and esier for you to sell off.

    1. Thanks so much for your recommendation. Yeah I love Merida too.. also lifetime warranty. Limited stock though and most expensive of the three. Will think it through seriously. Thanks bro.

  2. Eventhough I dont know well about bicycle but I vote Merida, because it's nice, eye catching color n brand new one haahaa.

    So, you dont need to look for your panadaol, save it for emergency only haahaa.

    Happy hunting n follow your heart.

  3. Eventhough I dont know well about bicycle but I vote Merida, because it's nice, eye catching color n brand new one haahaa.

    So, you dont need to look for your panadaol, save it for emergency only haahaa.

    Happy hunting n follow your heart.