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  1. #1
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    Endurance vs. Race Bike

    Hi all,

    I recently tried and failed to get into triathlons, so I am trading out my tri frame and going back to a road bike. My previous road bike was a cheap aluminum bike and I am ready to upgrade to carbon (and move my SRAM Red groupset to it). I am having a very hard time deciding between "endurance" and "race" bikes.

    Part of the reason I am getting out of the tri-bike is that, in addition to hating running/swimming, I found the aggressive posture generally uncomfortable. I'd like to get into regular longer-distance cycling of 50-100+ miles per ride, which I did on my previous road bike, but I'd also like to be competitive in gran fondo racing.

    I've already ruled out super-aggressive race bikes like the Cervelo S series, but I've been toying with the Cervelo R. I then found some good deals on Cannondale Synapse and Trek Domane framesets, so I started researching endurance-category bikes. I know these frames are generally more upright, but can be used a bit more aggressively if necessary (Peter Sagan's synapse, for example).

    I'm sure either way I go, it will be faster than my old aluminum bike, but I can't seem to pull the trigger one way or the other. I really liked the responsiveness of my old bike, and I hated it on the tri-bike, but I absolutely loved how fast the tri-bike was. I am looking at used frames, so ideally I would find a specific frame I want and wait it out for a good deal.

    Any advice? In case you need it, I am 6', 190 lbs, but will likely be aiming for 175-180 for races.

    Thank you!

  2. #2
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    I should also mention that I am looking at the Trek Emonda at the suggestion of my LBS, who kept referring to it as a great endurance bike, but it seems to me that it's a bit more like the Cervelo R-series than anything in the endurance category.

  3. #3
    JSR
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    It sounds like this is more about discovering your inner cyclist than choosing a frame.

    The Emonda looks like it would typically weigh 2-3 lbs less than a similarly equipped Domane. It would definitely satisfy your need for speed.

    The Domane has a 20mm+ higher frame stack and a lot of trickery around the seat cluster and head tube to ease the stress of long rides.

    So which rider are you?

    BTW - this may not be important, but the Domane can fit fatter tires as well as fenders. The Emonda not so much.

  4. #4
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    You're right, and I kind of realized this halfway through my post. I've also been reconsidering a newer S3 based on some reviews that make it sound like it's not a huge drop-off in comfort from the R3. I am curious, though, what the comfort difference is between an endurance bike and, say, a bike like the R3 or a SuperSix or similar bike. That's a bit more of a specific question than my topic though.

  5. #5
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    Figure out what type of riding you do and speak to a good fitter local bike shop. Your riding posture , flexibility and style of riding will determine whether you will do better on aggressive race geometry, endurance or something in between.

  6. #6
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    The Emonda is available in both H1 ("race") and H2 ("endurance") geometry. Great bike, I love mine.

  7. #7
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    many of these so called endurance bikes have been raced by tour professionals at the very highest level.
    Don't get caught up in marketing. Get a bike that fits and handles the way you want. Don't worry about what it's called.

    I would definitely say error on the side of endurance if you can't decide. Just about anyone can get as aggressive as they want on typical endurance road bikes by just not using spacers and a downward stem. Getting more upright on an aggressive bike can also be done but that's more problematic than going the other way.

  8. #8
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    I'd also say to get a bike that'll take larger tires than you're planning on using. Just in case. 32mm minimum.
    Too old to ride plastic

  9. #9
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    I don't particularly care for road bikes with overly long chain stays and higher head tubes a hallmark of endurace bikes, but some bikes are more aggressive than others so I went colnago which worked for me

  10. #10
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    I would say try some bikes and find out what you like the feel of best. There are fine differences in geometry among bikes in both the endurance and race categories, so don't think that all endurance bikes will feel one way and all race bikes will feel another way.

    As others here have said, many endurance bikes will now fit up to 32c tires. Most race bikes will take no wider than 25c tires. Also keep in mind you can make an endurance bike more racy by flipping the stem down.
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  11. #11
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    If you don't mind disc brake, you should have a look at BMC roadmachine. Right in between Teammachine (race) and Granfundo (endurance). You can customize your riding position with two different headset cone option. Review of this bike are very good.

  12. #12
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    I'm no special dude to listen too...new to the world of road bikes. But I do have a very good and trusted friend as my LBS. When I was mulling on my road bike he explained that a 2017 Domane is kinda like this....no compliance of the isocoupler is an Emonda and compliance on full is an endurance bike.

    Just something I pondered.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    many of these so called endurance bikes have been raced by tour professionals at the very highest level.
    Don't get caught up in marketing. Get a bike that fits and handles the way you want. Don't worry about what it's called.

    I would definitely say error on the side of endurance if you can't decide. Just about anyone can get as aggressive as they want on typical endurance road bikes by just not using spacers and a downward stem. Getting more upright on an aggressive bike can also be done but that's more problematic than going the other way.
    And the flip side is many people, racers and not, can comfortably ride forever on a "race" frame. So like Jay Strongbow says, don't worry too much about the classifications. But try before you buy.

  14. #14
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    IMO, tire make/model, size, & inflation pressures will have more effect on "comfort" than whether it's "race" or "endurance" geometry.
    The comment above recommending "32mm minimum" seems extreme!
    Most people are fine w/ 25mm width on actual paved roads (not off road).

    However, if you're especially un-flexible, then the typically more upright posture of an "endurance" bike may be more appropriate. Hard to discern on the interwebs ...

  15. #15
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    I have a high end aggressive position road bike with a 5 inch saddle to bar drop. I also got an endurance/gravel style bike with 28 tires - Cervelo C series. Over the past year or do I found myself riding the Cervelo 90% of the time. My average speed isn't much different and the Cervelo with the wider tires is much more comfortable, especially when the road surface isn't completely smooth.

  16. #16
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    OP, you don't say how old you are... everyone is different but I'm 52 and sat on a Felt F Series for the first time in years recently (my regular ride is the "endurance" Felt Z). I swapped bikes with a guy for about 5 miles and I was really sore in my back b the end of it. Obviously the bike wasn't fitted to me but it was approximately the same size and reach as my Z. Three years ago I liked the F and almost bought one! If you're in your forties then plan ahead for reduced flexibility, I'd say.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by riccardo123 View Post
    OP, you don't say how old you are... everyone is different but I'm 52 and sat on a Felt F Series for the first time in years recently (my regular ride is the "endurance" Felt Z). I swapped bikes with a guy for about 5 miles and I was really sore in my back b the end of it. Obviously the bike wasn't fitted to me but it was approximately the same size and reach as my Z. Three years ago I liked the F and almost bought one! If you're in your forties then plan ahead for reduced flexibility, I'd say.
    I'd say that this is a good plan.
    Too old to ride plastic

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by stanseven View Post
    I have a high end aggressive position road bike with a 5 inch saddle to bar drop. I also got an endurance/gravel style bike with 28 tires - Cervelo C series. Over the past year or do I found myself riding the Cervelo 90% of the time. My average speed isn't much different and the Cervelo with the wider tires is much more comfortable, especially when the road surface isn't completely smooth.
    I had a similar experience putting 28's on my cross bike, which is less aggressive than my carbon wonder bike, and taking it to fast group rides.

    For the fast aggressive times I just ride in the drops more or bend my elbows more. But when I'm on the back of a pace line not working I'm getting more of a rest then I would have been in the forced more aggressive position.

    If I was into crits and only 100% riding all the time I'd probably stick with the ultra-aggressive bike position full time but for someone who's into longer races going less aggressive has been eye-opening. I have no doubt that being a bit more upright when I'm not working makes me faster in the long run. And because I can still get just as aggressive with more elbow bend there's no downside to it to having the ability to sit up more.

    I suppose it's just common sense. Get a bike that allows you to get in every position you'll want to use.

  19. #19
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    Hi everyone! Sorry for not responding, I honestly did not think this post would get much traction and completely forgot about it, hah. First, to answer one question: I am 33 years old, but don't have the best flexibility for my age (probably why I hated the tri-bike). However, my previous road bike was oversized, and I didn't seem to have a problem with the increased reach. I can ride a more aggressive bike, but I'd like to know that I can make some comfort adjustments if possible.

    My biggest problem, admittedly, is that I am trying to find a used frame, and hate test-riding LBS bikes only to turn around to buy something online. That said, I have had a chance to do less-than-extensive test rides around parking lots. The Domane feels a little... clunky and less-than-agile, but it was a base SL6 that wasn't fit to me at all, so I'm sure that was a big part of it. I do have a chance to test-ride a Cervelo S2 this weekend, but it will likely be fairly limited since it is a personal bike of LBS staff.

    I did do a Retul fit a few years back, and I will likely get a re-fit or use those numbers to find a proper frame size. I am contemplating going for a more aggressive bike like the S3 but adding a few things to increase the comfort, but since I am likely sizing down to a 56, I worry there may be only so much I can do.

    I think the purpose of this post, other than me rambling and trying to figure out what it is I actually want, was to get a sense of what bikes I should be trying to test ride, since I am in an area with a fairly limited selection.

  20. #20
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    I agree with the perspective that a race oriented endurance bike isn't much of a liability at all, if you aren't crit racing or time trialing. You can set them up to be plenty fast and their geometry tends to help more people than it hurts. I recommend checking out the new Specialized Roubaix, Trek Domane or Emonda (because Trek puts endurance geometry on most of their stock bikes unless you request race geometry), the Giant Defy, new Fuji Gran Fondo, Orbea Avant, Focus Paralane, Cannondale Synapse (an updated model should be released in the next couple of months), and Scott Solace. All are good and bring different, but similar things to the table. Read some reviews from 2015-2017 and then go test ride your favorites. I am sure you will find something you will be really happy with for the type of riding you have described.
    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by riccardo123 View Post
    OP, you don't say how old you are... everyone is different but I'm 52 and ... ... If you're in your forties then plan ahead for reduced flexibility, I'd say.
    Well, everyone is indeed different! I'm not yet to the point where I need a "walker" or cane! ;-)

    I'm 65 yrs old, ride an S-Works Tarmac -- generally considered an all-around "race" geometry -- and with the stem 'slammed' down all the way, it's a moderate 4.5 inch saddle-to-handlebar drop.

    I'm quite comfortable on up to 100 mile rides on normal paved roads (23mm GP4000S-II tires, 90 psi front, 105 psi rear).

    In recent years I've been more attentive to off-bike, core strength & stability cross-training, and that's made a big difference.

    I've seen other guys in their mid-50s and older, who don't cross-train and have weak core muscles, putting bunches of spacers under their stems and tilting their stems upward. Their more upright posture is detrimental if they want to ride longer and/or faster, even if they don't plan to race. Aero drag is the single biggest force to overcome on flat or gently rolling terrain.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rashadabd View Post
    I agree with the perspective that a race oriented endurance bike isn't much of a liability at all, if you aren't crit racing or time trialing. You can set them up to be plenty fast and their geometry tends to help more people than it hurts. I recommend checking out the new Specialized Roubaix, Trek Domane ... [snip].
    We're not pros and it's generally a bad idea to try & emulate super-elite pros who are 20-35 yrs old ... but I just wanted to note the Specialized Roubaixs (and probably the Treks, etc) used by some pros in competition are Not same geometry as amateur Roubaixs.

    Their custom geometries are both lower stack and longer reach than a standard Roubaix.

    UCI rules have enough "interpretation" that these custom geometry frames can still be used by the race teams, as long as the "basic" frame is available to the public.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by tom_h View Post
    We're not pros and it's generally a bad idea to try & emulate super-elite pros who are 20-35 yrs old ... but I just wanted to note the Specialized Roubaixs (and probably the Treks, etc) used by some pros in competition are Not same geometry as amateur Roubaixs.

    Their custom geometries are both lower stack and longer reach than a standard Roubaix.

    UCI rules have enough "interpretation" that these custom geometry frames can still be used by the race teams, as long as the "basic" frame is available to the public.
    Yeah, I am talking about the off the shelf version. A good fitter can set you up plenty fast on any endurance bike if it works for your body and flexibility. Some pro teams ride stock endurance bikes as well. An endurance bike with a slammed stem or less spacers often works better for many riders and they spend more times in the drops. Some of the fastest people I have ever ridden with were on endurance bikes that had been set up for riding fast. OP don't let labels scare you. This segment of bikes can be a great choice. It's not everyone's thing, but it sounds like it could work for you.
    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

  24. #24
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    I forgot the Canyon Endurace as well. It's a cross between between Endurance and race features, hence the name.

    https://www.canyon.com/en/road/endurace/

    They will be released in the US in August.
    Last edited by Rashadabd; 04-21-2017 at 01:46 PM.
    Every climb has its end, for verily with difficulty there is relief...

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by tom_h View Post
    Well, everyone is indeed different! I'm not yet to the point where I need a "walker" or cane! ;-)

    I'm 65 yrs old, ride an S-Works Tarmac -- generally considered an all-around "race" geometry -- and with the stem 'slammed' down all the way, it's a moderate 4.5 inch saddle-to-handlebar drop.

    I'm quite comfortable on up to 100 mile rides on normal paved roads (23mm GP4000S-II tires, 90 psi front, 105 psi rear).

    In recent years I've been more attentive to off-bike, core strength & stability cross-training, and that's made a big difference.

    I've seen other guys in their mid-50s and older, who don't cross-train and have weak core muscles, putting bunches of spacers under their stems and tilting their stems upward. Their more upright posture is detrimental if they want to ride longer and/or faster, even if they don't plan to race. Aero drag is the single biggest force to overcome on flat or gently rolling terrain.
    Good for you sir! I would not call myself especially fit or unfit, but even 30 years ago I was never the most flexible. My definition of a good bike fit is now "one that means my back doesn't hurt after a 2 hour ride"... I'm certainly not on planet walking cane though.

    100 miles on my Z is fine, on 25mm GP4000s with pretty much the same pressures as you. Whereas 5 miles on the F was enough to make my back hurt, temporarily. I hope the former will still be the case when I'm your age.

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