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  1. #1
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    1st Road bike... Marin Portofino? $395???

    Hi everyone,
    I am currently looking to purchase my first road bike for training and use in a triathlon this summer. I currently have been riding my hardtail mtbike with slicks however It just doesnt cut it. However, I do like to be in a more upright position when riding so I looked into bikes with longer headtubes and found that the Natural Fit series from Marin fits that bill. My question is whether I should purchase a Marin Portofino. It's their bottom model and has the lowest Shimano drivetrain on it. However, I can currently buy one brand new (last years model) for only $395!

    I know that the biggest improvement I will most likely see will be improving the rider not the bike for the next few years... so should I jump at this low end road bike? Thanks for the feedback.

    Also are there any fit differences I should be aware of with these "natural fit" bikes? Unfortunately, if I purchase this bike it will be via the internet so I can't really feel it out till I put it together upon arrival.

  2. #2
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    Congratulations on deciding to go roadie. I disagree with your statement about improving on the bike rider for the next couple of years. I think that by the sound of it, you will outgrow this bike in about 3 weeks. Especially doing triathlons.
    I also disagree that the best bike for you is an internet order. The best bike for you should be decided by test riding bikes, and that's it.
    Remember, if you spend some money on a bike it's an investment. That is, if you hate it, it will retain most of its value and you can re-sell it.
    Do yourself a favor and visit a local bike shop and get properly fitted. Sure, you'll spend twice as much money, but you will get a proper fitting ride. This will allow you to ride like your supposed to, and will give you a better feel for what road bike riding should really be.
    Watch this quick video on The Trek $770.00 bike, you can get professionally fitted at your local bike shop and be assured a nice experience for only 375 more dollars.

    http://www.bicycling.com/article/1,6...6628-1,00.html
    Last edited by Hooben; 02-08-2008 at 07:34 PM.

  3. #3
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    Well I did go into the local bike shop today to purchase some slicks for my wife's mtn bike. While there, I did allow them to try to sell me on a bike or two. The scary thing was that they said that the Specialized Alleza (sp) and another more "natural fit" Specialized bike would be great fits for my needs. As well as a Giant OCR3. All were around $599; however, the last year model of the Alleza was a XL (61?) and the others were L (58).

    So unless the more "natural" fit style frames usually run large (natural L = race XL) I have some serious concerns that I am just the next "sale". So if I can save $200, my limited budget would be greatly thankful. The OCR3 seems to be at or below the level of the Portofino. The Specialized had the next level up drivetrain but again how much of a difference with the little extra weight mean on the Portofino.

    Anyways, I am 6'2" , 33.25" inseam (84cm)... and I need the more upright style frame due to back issues already at 32 yrs old (slipped two discs 3 yrs ago).

    .....
    Also I should add that I think you overestimate my current training level Currently we are focused on a half maraton... then the Tri (and if you saw me swim you would understand that FINISHING is my Tri goal... LOL).
    Last edited by pshank; 02-08-2008 at 08:16 PM.

  4. #4
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    Go strait to Ebay. Find a sweet bike a few years old for less than 1/2 price. It's easy if you know what you want.

  5. #5
    cmg
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    visit a couple of internet size calculators, compare it to what the shop told you. comback to RBR with concerns. is'nt that the way it generaly goes. Be aware you maybe the shops next sale. visit a different shop........ go shopping. the marin sounds like a deal. another shop may have another marin in another size.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by pshank
    Well I did go into the local bike shop today to purchase some slicks for my wife's mtn bike. While there, I did allow them to try to sell me on a bike or two. The scary thing was that they said that the Specialized Alleza (sp) and another more "natural fit" Specialized bike would be great fits for my needs. As well as a Giant OCR3. All were around $599; however, the last year model of the Alleza was a XL (61?) and the others were L (58).

    So unless the more "natural" fit style frames usually run large (natural L = race XL) I have some serious concerns that I am just the next "sale". So if I can save $200, my limited budget would be greatly thankful. The OCR3 seems to be at or below the level of the Portofino. The Specialized had the next level up drivetrain but again how much of a difference with the little extra weight mean on the Portofino.

    Anyways, I am 6'2" , 33.25" inseam (84cm)... and I need the more upright style frame due to back issues already at 32 yrs old (slipped two discs 3 yrs ago).

    .....
    Also I should add that I think you overestimate my current training level Currently we are focused on a half maraton... then the Tri (and if you saw me swim you would understand that FINISHING is my Tri goal... LOL).
    If you can stetch your budget, get the higherend drivetrain. You will be much happeir in the long run. The Spec Allez frame is a really nice bke. Any frame with a normal to taller HT can be set-up for a more "up-right" feel. Just get a positve rise stem.

    What's your max budget?

    I was in your boat years ago and bought a TREK 1000 to supplement my MTB riding. Well I quickly wanted to upgrade the Sora drivetrain in 2 month. A another month came wheels, then a frame and before you know it in 6 months I was on a new bike with a new drivetrain.....

    Get the BEST you can buy NOW!
    DIRT BOY

    "Pain is a big fat creature riding on your back. The farther you pedal, the heavier he feels. The harder you push, the tighter he squeezes your chest. The steeper the climb, the deeper he digs his jagged, sharp claws into your muscles." - Scott Martin


  7. #7
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    Ok, I saw the specs. This has a Sora drivetrain and it's 8 speed. If you REALLY like road riding in a few moths, you will want a slighty better group and maybe 10 speed real soon.

    If you can fine a NOS or slighty used bike with aeven a 105 p speed group you wil be happier in the long run.

    Even lok at BikesDirect.com for a good budget bike. BUT make sure you are absolutey know your size and willing to change out the stem if need be to get the best fit.
    DIRT BOY

    "Pain is a big fat creature riding on your back. The farther you pedal, the heavier he feels. The harder you push, the tighter he squeezes your chest. The steeper the climb, the deeper he digs his jagged, sharp claws into your muscles." - Scott Martin


  8. #8
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    Brand Suggestions?

    First off- thanks for the responses. Now I am wondering what everyone would suggest Make/Model for the best BARGAIN bike. It sounds like everyone is saying I will HAVE to swap out the Sora drive system if I opt for the $380 Marin (if anyone disagrees please tell me). That being said, what are the best priced bikes with the "minimum" quality components you all suggested (Tiagra/105). The Specialized Alleza had Tiagra components (sora brake levers/shifters) and was priced at $599 clearance but was only available in XL which may or may not be the right fit. I have zero brand loyalty so I am open to anything (Fuji, Trek, Specialized, Giant, Marin, ...) and want to pay as little as possible and get a good fitting bike that I will not outgrow within the next 2 years.

    My other instinct keeps telling me that the $380 Marin is probably the same quality as a $1200+ bike 10 years ago (which is when I quit riding freestyle and mtn bikes regularly). I do not care about "keeping up with the Jones' " I just want a good quality road bike to get back into riding and for use in triathlons (although I am competitive... I don't plan on finishing in the top 10 of any cycle/tri event... I am just a working, family man looking to get back into shape and the races are just a motivator to improve exercise compliance)

    Thanks

  9. #9
    Alx
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    You'd be surprised as to how much of the "Advice" given here is strictly to boast name brands and how much the rider can afford to show off. I started asking the same questions as you and got the same responses. It seems to me as if you're not buying into the higher end road bikes then the roadie community will shun you for riding a bike with beginner components and an uncommon name brand.

    I can tell you that after riding for about a year now and losing about 30lbs I still feel comfortable in the same bike with Sora components because quite simply the drivetrain is as reliable as anything else for what we're using the bike for in the first place. It shifts and does exactly as the higher end components do with the only difference of a bit more added weight but coming from Mt biking the road bike will feel like a feather anyways.

    If you take any advice, buy what you can afford and most importantly buy what fits you.

  10. #10
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    You should go to a local shop. As small local shop. Get one of the older mechanics to help you out, not the high school floor sweeper. Tell him what you are going to do with it. You should get measured up, or on a fit bike. Internet fit calculators seem to vary a fair amount when I plug in the values that I have measured off of me from our shops system.
    Then start looking at bikes. Many bikes would have to have the stem swapped out for a proper fit. Ask questions, lots of questions. Ask why, ask how and if they wont answer go someplace else.
    If in the end, you don't end up purchasing a bike, then thank the store, maybe bring them some good beer, but you should have learned something. Many experienced riders who know exactly what they want can buy product online, but for someone who doesn't know, spend the extra money for some good customer service. I promise you'll be happier for it.

    No offense to the poster above me but Sora sucks and I would never sell anybody a bike with sora on it. The only groups worse than Sora is Campy Mirage and Xenon. The low end groups don't work, they are hard to adjust, don't stay adjusted and are prone to failure.
    Chances are, I posted this drunk.

  11. #11
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    Buy the bike!

    Look, the Marin is only four hundred dollars and unless money is really tight for you then you should just buy it. Try it, if it doesn't fit your needs sell it. Maybe this is all the bike you need.I just looked and REI says the bike is 840 retail. If this is somewhat correct you are getting a great deal if it fits.

    Sora, not the best but not totally crap either. I rented a Giant bike when I was in Vancouver this summer with Sora and was very impressed with it, enough that I would recommend it.

    It is easy for everyone to say, spend more but you know sometimes you just don't have to. Try it, it is your first road bike. We are talking about the same price as a carbon saddle or a nice crank. And it sounds like biking is not your main sport, so why spend more money than you have to?

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by blakcloud
    Look, the Marin is only four hundred dollars and unless money is really tight for you then you should just buy it. Try it, if it doesn't fit your needs sell it. Maybe this is all the bike you need.I just looked and REI says the bike is 840 retail. If this is somewhat correct you are getting a great deal if it fits.

    Sora, not the best but not totally crap either. I rented a Giant bike when I was in Vancouver this summer with Sora and was very impressed with it, enough that I would recommend it.

    It is easy for everyone to say, spend more but you know sometimes you just don't have to. Try it, it is your first road bike. We are talking about the same price as a carbon saddle or a nice crank. And it sounds like biking is not your main sport, so why spend more money than you have to?
    yes, SORA is not that bad. But if he spends $400 and likes riding, he might have buyers remorse. I doubut we will get his money back on the Marin as well. I would spend the extra $200 NOW only if you can.

    OP. If this is your max budget, buy it if it fits and ride it until it's trash or you really hate it!

    it's fine for your first road bike and new see if you truly enjoy road riding.
    Last edited by DIRT BOY; 02-10-2008 at 09:51 AM.
    DIRT BOY

    "Pain is a big fat creature riding on your back. The farther you pedal, the heavier he feels. The harder you push, the tighter he squeezes your chest. The steeper the climb, the deeper he digs his jagged, sharp claws into your muscles." - Scott Martin


  13. #13
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    OK being i bough a bike last year for triathlons I though i might chime in on this subject...


    RIDE RIDE RIDE.. go to as many bike stores as you can and sit on as many bikes as you can.. even if they are out side of your buget(not way outside at least) get a feeling for what you like and dislike. I bought a Felt Z70(relaxed geomitery) and love it. ALthough my first love was a KONA bike but i didn't like the shop that sold them, Those bikes are SOLID.. plus they come from a mountain bike back ground..

    anywas put up where you live i'm sure people in that area would be more then happy to help out

  14. #14
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    If someone is suggesting Sora, could the person in question possilby have ridden a better group? I've ridden Sora as a new cyclist, and right a way I could tell it sucked. Very sluggish feeling controls, hard to keep in tune, and slow shifts.

    That said, if you aren't sure about road cycling, then $400 is plenty fine to "waste." You'll either decide you love cycling and buy a better bike, or that you do not like cycling and the Marin will sit in the garage forever.
    77th highest post count as of 9/4/2008

  15. #15
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    Sora is fine!

    Especially if you get it in a bike shop where it can be tested and tuned regularly. For instance, on all bikes of that price range, there is a good chance the factory built wheels will need truing in short order. Usually a shop will do it for free on a bike they sell.

    I checked out a quick google of that bike -- Sierra Trading Post, a popular internet discount retailer, is selling it for $460, so at <$400 you're doing great.

    Sora ain't that bad, whatever people might love to believe about their higher priced stuff. The main thing to know is that the shifter levers have a lot more plastic, and a slightly less intuitive control system. It's fine for, say, a triathlon, but would suffer in a high-speed criterium.

    "IMPROVING THE RIDER, NOT THE BIKE" is a pretty dang smart thing to say, I think.

    Oh, one more thing: Spend an extra $30 or so on a place like biketiresdirect.com, and buy some Koolstop brake pads and shoes. You will notice a spectacular difference in stopping performance over the factory equipment, it's cheap, and brakes are nice things to have working well...

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Argentius
    Especially if you get it in a bike shop where it can be tested and tuned regularly. For instance, on all bikes of that price range, there is a good chance the factory built wheels will need truing in short order. Usually a shop will do it for free on a bike they sell.

    I checked out a quick google of that bike -- Sierra Trading Post, a popular internet discount retailer, is selling it for $460, so at <$400 you're doing great.

    Sora ain't that bad, whatever people might love to believe about their higher priced stuff. The main thing to know is that the shifter levers have a lot more plastic, and a slightly less intuitive control system. It's fine for, say, a triathlon, but would suffer in a high-speed criterium.

    "IMPROVING THE RIDER, NOT THE BIKE" is a pretty dang smart thing to say, I think.

    Oh, one more thing: Spend an extra $30 or so on a place like biketiresdirect.com, and buy some Koolstop brake pads and shoes. You will notice a spectacular difference in stopping performance over the factory equipment, it's cheap, and brakes are nice things to have working well...
    You can trust this man too, as he has truly scraped the bottom of the barrel in testing what is acceptable for a bike.
    77th highest post count as of 9/4/2008

  17. #17
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    Indeed, I tested a neo-Schwinn Varsity for $199 from Walmart. That bike's "Shimano-equipped" drivetrain, with whacko stem-mounted shifters, was not adequate for any but the most basic "fitness rider."

    It's now sitting in storage, because I'm planning on doing another test with it before it eventually goes to charity -- that test includes putting some 7-speed Sora shifters on it!

  18. #18
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    Sora... 2 cents worth

    Sorta...oh, I mean Sora components.. not really too bad if you're not doing tons of miles. Of course, it wont be as crisp shifting and may not stay in tune as long as next tier-up components, but it's not a lot of effort to spend a minute or two turning the adjuster on the derailleur every once in a while. I have a feeling a wouldn't be that often. I've found the fewer the speeds(like eight),the more forgiving and easier the adjusting due to wider spacing at the cassette cogs. Like a lot of things, if you haven't spoiled yourself & elevated your standards on more expensive equiptment, it may be fine for quite a while. It's also fun once in awhile to pass Dura Ace & Record equipped bikes going up hills! I've ridden on some "near" bottom of the barrel Shimano stuff over the years, rain & all, giving it only bare minimum maintenance, and had it last amazingly long. To the OP, sometimes that "only a $200-300 more" is a ton of money, depending on where your present budget is, so I hear ya. Have fun on the road; I think that deal sounds good. Like Argie said, Kool-Stop brake pads on most any brakes make a noticable difference for cheap.
    Last edited by ridenow1; 02-11-2008 at 11:57 AM.

  19. #19
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    Upgrades?

    Well I did some online pricing research and found that many of the higher end shimano seriers (Dura-Ace & Ultegra) can be had a reasonable price if you find closeout deals on older models. Are all parts interchangeable? In other words, if I buy the Marin Portifino, will its frame accept all series of Shimano? Also will I have to replace everything at once if I upgrade the derailers since the Sora is only 8 speeds (I don't really care about the 8 speeds ... I just need to know if I buy a 9 or 10 speed Ultegra front and rear derailer down the road if it can be "backwards compatible" with the 8 speed rear cassette and the front crank or will I have to buy a new rear cassette/shifters/crankset as well).

    I am planning on going to the other two bikes shops tomorrow that are in my area to have the "fit" me and then I will compare their specific bike recommendations specs to the Portofino 58 and 61.

    I really would prefer to spend my money locally; however, unless I can find a clearanced bike around $400-$450 I really feel compelled to order the Portofino. Money is tight. I would prefer to have local shop support for free tunings and everything; unfortunately, I cannot set aside $650 right now to switch from my street setup MTB. Honestly, $400 is stretching things.

    Thanks again for everyones input!

  20. #20
    Alx
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    One thing you should check with the local shops is if the fitting session is free to begin with. You don't want to use up your budget just to get some measurements. I know my LBS will give you the fitting for free if you purchase from them or charge you $150 if you don't.

    Also don't stick to just one brand name, expand your search to fit what you need and you're very likely to find the bike you're looking for.

  21. #21
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    + for ebay. I got my cannondale r800 for $680 on ebay in perfect condition. it came with 105 an upgraded saddle and a sweet shimano flight deck computer.

    I am sure you could find something around $400 that is a lot better than what you are looking at, and i disagree...SORA is no good. Get some components that will last and work properly. I feel bad when I ride with my buddies who are struggling to go up a hill as their derailleurs are wigging out.

  22. #22
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    Now I'm all the more inspired to throw the 7-speed Sora on that WalMart bike and go see how many miles I can throw down on it...

    Perhaps next time I head down to Portland I can pick it up.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by pshank
    Well I did some online pricing research and found that many of the higher end shimano seriers (Dura-Ace & Ultegra) can be had a reasonable price if you find closeout deals on older models. Are all parts interchangeable? In other words, if I buy the Marin Portifino, will its frame accept all series of Shimano? Also will I have to replace everything at once if I upgrade the derailers since the Sora is only 8 speeds (I don't really care about the 8 speeds ... I just need to know if I buy a 9 or 10 speed Ultegra front and rear derailer down the road if it can be "backwards compatible" with the 8 speed rear cassette and the front crank or will I have to buy a new rear cassette/shifters/crankset as well).

    I am planning on going to the other two bikes shops tomorrow that are in my area to have the "fit" me and then I will compare their specific bike recommendations specs to the Portofino 58 and 61.

    I really would prefer to spend my money locally; however, unless I can find a clearanced bike around $400-$450 I really feel compelled to order the Portofino. Money is tight. I would prefer to have local shop support for free tunings and everything; unfortunately, I cannot set aside $650 right now to switch from my street setup MTB. Honestly, $400 is stretching things.

    Thanks again for everyones input!
    That bike could be upgraed but really not worth it for that frame. Look buy tou budget and what things sould like get the MARIN if it fits. You might need a few bucks to get a new stem or saddle if the others don't fit.

    Now if you like road riding, ride this MARIN until it craps out. In the mean time save some money. If you search, you will find a newer aluminum or stell frame with 10spd 105 near the $1000 mark or maybe less if slighty used.

    This would give you a frame that is a a nice quality ride and 105 will serve you very well. You really don't ever need higher than 105
    DIRT BOY

    "Pain is a big fat creature riding on your back. The farther you pedal, the heavier he feels. The harder you push, the tighter he squeezes your chest. The steeper the climb, the deeper he digs his jagged, sharp claws into your muscles." - Scott Martin


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