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  1. #1
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    Quest, Casseroll, Townsend?

    Hi folks,

    I've been on the hunt for a new bike for the past several months. I'm 30 something woman-- new to cycling and am interested in doing some scenic rides, getting around town a bit, and maybe light credit card touring down the road. Aesthetically, I'm drawn to traditional geometry, vintage-looking steel frames. But, of course, I'm also concerned about fit and budget. There are three bikes from LBS I'm considering:

    1. 2011 Jamis Quest (triple): $1300
    2. 2011 Salsa Casseroll: $1300
    3. 2011 Raleigh Port Townsend: $900 (Clubman also available for $1100)

    The Port Townsend was very comfy, but I wasn't a huge fan of the bar-end shifters and I worry about how heavy the bike is. The Quest was very nimble, and at $1300, seems like a great deal. Any thoughts on these options or other bikes to consider? I have wrist and shoulder pain from my life as an office drone, so fit and comfort are important.

    I've also looked considered picking up a bike on Craigslist-- $1300 seems like a lot to spend when I'm not sure how much I'll get into cycling. I'd appreciate any input you may have. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Fit is always an important consideration when contemplating drop bar bikes, and with your wrist and shoulder issues, it becomes that much more important to get fit right.

    That given, I'd suggest staying with your LBS's where you'll get sizing/ fit assistance. If one emphasizes fit over another, consider going with that shop.

    Conversely, if you go used though CL (or similar), you'll be on your own for sizing and fit, unless you opt to pay for a standard fitting at your LBS, then use the data from that fitting to shop for a used bike. The cost is usually in the $50-75 range, but is included with new bike sales, so something to consider.

    I don't think there's a bad choice on your list, but given your intended uses, I think the Quest offers the best compromise, with the Clubman second. With the latter, smaller sizes are limited, so depending on your fit requirements, that may or may not matter.

    Worth noting, the Quest Femme is a WSD (women's specific design) bike, designed for riders proportioned longer legs/ shorter torso. They aren't always the right choice for all women, but do serve a real need for some. The many variables in sizing and fit (I think) points up the importance of working with a knowledgeable fitter.

    RE: the other bikes, IMO if you leaned a little more towards longer rides/ touring, the Casseroll or Port Townsend would take the lead, but for your current needs, I don't think the compromises are worthwhile.

  3. #3
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    PJ's advice is spot-on. Fit is so important.

    Your wrist and shoulder may be addressed by gym work. That's what worked for my wife who had 15 years of "carpal tunnel" from writing that never got better no matter the treatment. She started working out and it went away.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by PJ352 View Post
    I don't think there's a bad choice on your list, but given your intended uses, I think the Quest offers the best compromise, with the Clubman second. With the latter, smaller sizes are limited, so depending on your fit requirements, that may or may not matter.

    RE: the other bikes, IMO if you leaned a little more towards longer rides/ touring, the Casseroll or Port Townsend would take the lead, but for your current needs, I don't think the compromises are worthwhile.
    I'm interested in hearing more about why you think the Quest is the best compromise. (I've tested the "men's" Quest, which was OK. I have a longer torso and shorter legs, which apparently is more similar to a male build.)

    I think at this point, I'm probably down to the Quest and the Casseroll. I live in a city with a lot of pot holes and general crummy riding for getting around. I like that both bikes can accomodate larger tires to help with a smoother ride.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaineLobstah View Post
    I'm interested in hearing more about why you think the Quest is the best compromise. (I've tested the "men's" Quest, which was OK. I have a longer torso and shorter legs, which apparently is more similar to a male build.)

    I think at this point, I'm probably down to the Quest and the Casseroll. I live in a city with a lot of pot holes and general crummy riding for getting around. I like that both bikes can accomodate larger tires to help with a smoother ride.
    Since you mentioned in your OP that you were drawn to traditional geometry, vintage-looking steel frames, I suspect I know why you're asking this.

    Before sizing and fit are addressed, the first step in bike shopping is to determine budget and intended uses. Since your intended uses are primarily doing some scenic rides, getting around town a bit, and maybe light credit card touring down the road, I offered the Quest because it has geometry that allows for slightly wider tires, eyelets on both frame and fork for fenders/ racks and a total weight of under 20 lbs. It'll be somewhat more agile (and I think interesting to ride) than more purpose built tourers with stretched geometry - while still accommodating your needs.

    While the Casseroll is certainly capable of meeting your needs as well, I question the need for that stout, tourer built frame with heavy (~2 lb.) Chromoly fork, 32c+ tires with the requisite stretched chainstays (thus wheelbase) to accommodate them. But you know your road conditions better than we do, and that may tip the scales in its favor. Also, don't get me wrong, I think Casseroll's' are great bikes, if you need what they offer, so as I mentioned in my previous post, there are no bad bikes listed.

    Re: fit and the standard Quest, while I think that ultimately sizing and fit needs to be addressed by the fitter (with your input after test rides), I'll offer that given your proportions, it's likely you won't need the shorter reach that many WSD bikes have. Some also have slightly taller head tubes, allowing the bars to be raised for less saddle to bar drop, but that can be accomplished on standard models with different stem set ups.

  6. #6
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    I am a big Jamis fan, if you can get a quest for $1300, go for it, it will last forever, Chromoloy steel if kept dry!
    1973 Mercier
    1977 Peugeot U08.
    2010 Jamis Coda
    2011 jamis Xenith Endura

  7. #7
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    I test rode both bikes again yesterday. As expected, the Quest was a responsive, "fun" ride, which is why I'm drawn to it. The practical side of me feels like the Casseroll is the way to go because it's a more comfortable, plush ride. (Important because of the streets here are truly awful.) Then again, I'm not sure how much I'll be using the bike in the neighborhood.

    The Quest at $1300 seems like a pretty nice deal, which is a great allure for me. I don't intend to do any competitive riding, but it seems the Quest is a reasonable all-around bike.

    Would putting larger tires on the Quest be a good compromise? If I'm thinking along these lines (cushy ride), should I just go with the Casseroll?

    Thanks folks-- everyone's input has been incredibly helpful!

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaineLobstah View Post
    I test rode both bikes again yesterday. As expected, the Quest was a responsive, "fun" ride, which is why I'm drawn to it. The practical side of me feels like the Casseroll is the way to go because it's a more comfortable, plush ride. (Important because of the streets here are truly awful.) Then again, I'm not sure how much I'll be using the bike in the neighborhood.

    The Quest at $1300 seems like a pretty nice deal, which is a great allure for me. I don't intend to do any competitive riding, but it seems the Quest is a reasonable all-around bike.

    Would putting larger tires on the Quest be a good compromise? If I'm thinking along these lines (cushy ride), should I just go with the Casseroll?

    Thanks folks-- everyone's input has been incredibly helpful!
    Don't hold me to this, but in scanning some other bike forums members have posted that the Quest frame can accommodate a 28c at the rear but the OE size (25c) is max at the front. Your LBS should be able to verify this, but if true, you can run those size tires (25c front/ 28c rear) without issues.

    Taking into consideration your road conditions, if you like the Quest enough to see this compromise as being worthwhile, keep in mind that experimenting with (and tailoring) f/r tire pressures to tire size, construction, road conditions and rider weight will go far in maximizing your level of comfort. While it's true that the wider tires on the Casseroll will always 'one up' the Quest in that category, you're back to accepting the other compromises that come with a tourer type geometry.

    In the end, this is going to be your money spent and your bike, so only you can decide which side of this issue you fall.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaineLobstah View Post
    I test rode both bikes again yesterday. As expected, the Quest was a responsive, "fun" ride, which is why I'm drawn to it. The practical side of me feels like the Casseroll is the way to go because it's a more comfortable, plush ride. (Important because of the streets here are truly awful.) Then again, I'm not sure how much I'll be using the bike in the neighborhood.
    Unless the streets in your area were bad enough that you didn't enjoy riding the Quest on them, go with it.

    Ride light, post over bumps, and be happy.

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    Hmm. I was told that the Quest should accomodate 28c tires front and back, but I'll be sure to double check.

    What are the compromises I'll deal with for the touring geometry? I'm assuming this means being more stretched out? Heavier frame? (Is being stretched out less comfortable in certain riding circumstances?)

  11. #11
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    Usually a longer wheel base, longer chain stays, maybe a different fork angle and rake (to be honest, I'm not sure on this one,) taller head tube, sometimes a little lower bottom bracket, often a shorter effective top tube by size, so actually less stretched out, but since this is at odds with the longer wheelbase it might not apply in this case. The Quest looks like its head tube is already a little taller...

    Touring frames tend to be a little heavier, other things being equal. They're both steel, but the Quest is built from a little fancier tube set. So, other things are not equal, and both things point toward the Quest as a lighter bike. Salsa publishes their bike weights, with the Casseroll frame coming in at a bit over 4 lb. There's not much room to go lighter in a production steel bike.

    Do you remember what sizes you rode? The geometries for both are published, so rather than generalities, you can just compare. FWIW, there's precious little difference in the geometry of the bikes in "my" size, so you might also be feeling setup differences. The stock 32mm tires on the Casseroll will have a very different feel than the stock 25mm tires on the Quest.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaineLobstah View Post
    Hmm. I was told that the Quest should accommodate 28c tires front and back, but I'll be sure to double check.
    That may be, but given the CF fork, I'm skeptical. IME, most CF road forks only accommodate up to 25c tires. Bottom line, be sure to get a clarification before committing to a purchase.
    Quote Originally Posted by MaineLobstah View Post
    What are the compromises I'll deal with for the touring geometry? I'm assuming this means being more stretched out? Heavier frame? (Is being stretched out less comfortable in certain riding circumstances?)
    You partially answered your own question... "the Quest was a responsive, "fun" ride, which is why I'm drawn to it. The practical side of me feels like the Casseroll is the way to go because it's a more comfortable, plush ride."

    Touring geometry generally consists of longer chainstays (accept larger tires), a more raked fork (smooths the ride) made of chromoly - supports loads (as in, touring gear) and accepts wider tires, but is relatively heavy. The sum of these is a longer wheelbase and slower handling, which is a plus when carrying loads. No one wants a twitchy tourer.

  13. #13
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    LOL, we ride the same size bike. I was looking at top tube numbers - I noticed that the nominal sizes are different too, which I guess was worth comment.

    In mountain bikes, things are crammed in enough that when manufacturers insist on putting me on a nominally bigger (or two sizes bigger!) size to get "my" reach, the head tube is often tall enough to give me a real problem making the bike fit, not something I've run into with road bikes.

    I picked up a track bike recently and was somewhat surprised to find that I can't feel a difference in handling with the wheel at the back of the dropouts vs. up near the front. I don't know if I'd know which bike was supposed to be racier and which was supposed to be tourier if I test-rode them back-to-back and one of them didn't have that weird little front rack and ginormous tires.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    FWIW, there's precious little difference in the geometry of the bikes in "my" size, so you might also be feeling setup differences. The stock 32mm tires on the Casseroll will have a very different feel than the stock 25mm tires on the Quest.
    If you compare size for size (say, a 51 to a 51) I think you're right. But to stay consistent with my sizing/ fit requirements, I'd go with a 51 Quest, but a 53 Casseroll. If you compare those geo numbers, you'll see that reach is almost the same, drop is close, but chainstay length and wheelbase are quite different.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    I picked up a track bike recently and was somewhat surprised to find that I can't feel a difference in handling with the wheel at the back of the dropouts vs. up near the front. I don't know if I'd know which bike was supposed to be racier and which was supposed to be tourier if I test-rode them back-to-back and one of them didn't have that weird little front rack and ginormous tires.
    I think the added chainstay length accommodates larger tires, smooths the ride and changes front center of the bike (thus the riders position relative to the rear wheel), but I don't think it changes handling. HTA, fork rake and the resultant trail do that.

    But... I do think the sum of the differences between the Casseroll and Quest do contribute to the perceived differences in ride - and as you say, 25c versus 32c tires play a role as well.

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