After 6 years as a mountain biker, I have decided to take my competitive career down a slightly different path and dedicate my training and racing to the open road. To do this, I would need a road bike!

I could keep up reasonably well with the average roadie using my mountain bike, but I am losing alot of energy and power when compared to what road bikes can achieve in their natural habitat. Plus no one’s actually won the Tour de France with a mountain bike. Slightly off topic here, but someone has actually won a road race with his mountain bike! (link at the bottom) And so began the search for a road bike.

My budget was quite low and as such I was only looking at entry level second hand road bikes. Distance was another issue and I was unable to travel more than 10 km to collect the bicycle. Luckily here in Pretoria, despite the significant filters to my search, I had a reasonable amount of choices. After around a month of searching, walking for an hour and a bit to see a bike and dealing with someone who was quite unreasonable with price, I finally agreed on a really good deal for a Silverback Cleveland road bike.

Unfortunately, before we could meet so I could scrutinize the bike to make sure all was in order, the owner said that the rear shifter was not working, so instead of fixing it, he would give me the bicycle for free and fixing the shifter would become my issue. I agreed very happily and I was confident that replacing the shifter would not exceed the cost of the bike. Even if that was the case, the bicycle came with a Bontrager trip computer and 2 carbon fibre bottle cages in addition to the other components that are all still in good nick which could be sold to offset the cost, or be added to another cheap road bike.

Below are the specs of the bike as I got it:

  • Shifters: Shimano Tiagra 4600 10 spd rear, 2spd front
  • Brakes: Tektro dual pivot
  • Wheels: Aclass ALX 220
  • Cassette: Shimano 105 5700 11-25 10 spd
  • Crankset: FSA
  • Tyres: Continental Gatorskins (almost at the end of their life)
  • Derailleurs: Shimano Ultegra rear, Shimano Tiagra front
  • Handlebars: Silverback ergo bars that I’d like to replace sometime down the road
This was just after getting the bicycle. Needless to say, I was smiling ear to ear all day.

The bike is reasonably well specced and definitely worth what it was originally selling for. The bike is the same colour as my old Silverback mountain bike and my new mountain bike of the same brand is a metallic blue of the same hue. Weight wise, it feels a similar weight to the carbon road bike I reviewed a couple weeks ago. That is to say it weights below the 9kg mark. Overall I am chuffed with the bike and confident it will last me many years to come.

After having a look at the rear shifter, I see the issue. The shifter clicks as if it works but it does not catch on the cable, so the derailleur does not move. Sometimes its an easy fix as the grease inside the mechanism could have dried out and caused the pawls to not engage properly. After adding some mineral oil lubricant to free up the inner workings overnight, I see that it is still acting the same. Unfortunately that was about all I could do as the shifter mechanism itself seems to not be user servicable.

So with a massive sigh, I admit defeat and post a wanted ad on the local bicycle classifieds. As a consolation, I still have all the money I had originally budgeted to buy a bike so I could hardly complain.

While I was waiting to see what pops up online, I took the bike out for a spin, as it is rideable, it’s just stuck in the smallest cog at the back. Even in its crippled state, I could tell that the bike was much of an improvement on the road when compared to my mountain bike and overall just a joy to ride. The rear freehub is virtually silent, which is an odd sensation as it doesn’t ‘click’ when freewheeling. I am liking it though.

Within a few days, I get notified that someone has a similar shifter for sale so I haggle a bit with the guy and tomorrow I will have a new shifter ready to fit on my bike!

There are a few odds and ends that will need sorting out at the same time as fitting the shifter such as wrapping new bar tape and fitting new tyres. I’ve also noticed that the brakes are a bit hard to actuate, but nothing a rebuild of each caliper cant fix!

Here’s the absolute brute who won a road race against roadies with his mountain bike:

All this and more to come in part 2 of The Journey to Road Biking! Thanks for reading.