Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 82
  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: skhan007's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    209

    A rookie's observation: I cannot tell the difference between high-end roadbikes...

    Besides components on these high end bikes (SRAM Red, Shimano Ultegra, Dura Ace, Campy Record, etc.), what I see are some very nice frames. They all appear aerodynamic, look almost the same except for logos, color schemes and some decorative angles. Other than that, it's like comparing Lexus, BMW, Infinity, and Audi. I suppose it's just personal preference for looks or brand loyalty. I cannot tell really any significant difference between high-end Cannondale, Look, Scott, Pinarello, Colnago, Bianchi, and Trek. Am I off on my observation?

  2. #2
    Carbon Fiber = Explode!
    Reputation: CleavesF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    4,246
    You're not. But it just basically comes down to whether you want your "girlfriend" to be from what "country" and what "switches" turns her on.

    I remember a thread dealing with a guy comparing a very high end Look and Colnago. I told him the only thing that matters is whether you want your girlfriend to be French or Italian. Let's just say he didn't like that answer.

    Trying to look for "tangibles" amongst very high end bikes is as stupid as saying you'll be able to tell the difference between the Ferrari and Lambo. Only very very few people on the planet would know the difference in the fact that they're race car drivers, or car reviewers, or the Brits on Top Gear.

    Unless you already own a huge fleet of high end bikes, it's hard to know the difference between them unless you own them both which most of us will never.
    '09 Voodoo Wazoo
    '08 Pedal Force RS2
    '06 Raleigh Cadent 5.0
    '01 Trek 4300 MTB
    '93 Norco Nitro MTB Touring
    '88 Schwinn Prelude Fixie
    1 hour of running = 1 hour of wasted time when you could have been riding. - Alaska Mike

  3. #3
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    721
    Are you attempting to discern differences only by how they look? If so, that's tough. It would take a very experienced rider to judge how a frame will ride and handle based on subtle differences in geometry (but it is possible).

    If you're attempting to discern differences by actually riding them, it will be easier...but the differences still might be too subtle for a rookie to determine. You will need the guidance of someone with more experience to educate you.

    So, I'd say you're not off on your observation.

    What exactly is your goal with this question?
    Last edited by tvad; 07-28-2013 at 08:10 AM.

  4. #4
    banned
    Reputation: Sisophous's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    702
    I can't tell much of a difference either. I have a $2,000 Trek Madone and there are bikes costing thousands more. The very high end bikes tend to have the ridiculously expensive wheel sets, many cost more than my bike just for the wheels. The top of the line bikes are also lighter, you pay for the lighter bikes.

    Your observation is right, but to the local bike shop salesman, they will tell you there is a world of difference in their most expensive bikes.

  5. #5
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: skhan007's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    209
    Quote Originally Posted by tvad View Post

    What exactly is your goal with this question?
    Just trying to educate myself, really. When I see a series of beautiful bikes and they're all $4K +, I'm really just trying to understand any noteworthy differences that will help to elucidate discernible characteristics, such as materials, angles/geometry, etc. If it were cars and I did a side by side spec comparison, I could see that the BMW 335 is roughly equivalent to the Audi A4, then I would know it's likely coming down to preference. If I'm noting that the A4 is more "racing" in terms of build compared to the Lexus SC, then that would be a noteworthy difference.

  6. #6
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: spade2you's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    11,110
    The best way to tell differences is after a few hundred miles.

  7. #7
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    721
    I think looking at specs is at best an introductory method of comparison. Longer chain stays are going to generally provide a more stable, less twitchy ride. Same goes for a slacker head tube angle.

    To use your Audi/BMW example, I know without question that the two cars drive differently, but I only know this because I've owned several BMW cars, and I've test driven a couple of Audis. Same goes for telling the difference between the German cars and Japanese cars. They drive differently. No doubt in my mind. However, I wouldn't pick up on this by reading specs.

    "spade2you" provided the best answer above. Time on the bikes is what it takes.

    If you're shopping for a new bike, I'd suggest targeting something lower on the food chain, since subtle differences in ride quality and handling may be unnoticed by you at the present time.

  8. #8
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    111
    This thread got me wondering. I've seen stories about wine experts being unable to tell the difference between wines, or failing to realize they were being given the same wine repeatedly, in blind taste tests. Has anyone tested experienced cyclists in blind tests (well, not actually blind , but not showing the make of the bike) to see if they could tell the difference between similarly priced bikes? I realize this could be hard to do because some frames have a distinctive look.

  9. #9
    Burnum Upus Quadricepus
    Reputation: brucew's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    1,728
    It really shouldn't be a shock that similarly equipped bikes are similarly priced, or the other way around, that similarly priced bikes are similarly equipped. With the exception of the frame (and sometimes the fork), everything comes from the same component manufacturers anyway.

    Any differences won't be found on paper. They'll be found on the road.

  10. #10
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    888
    You wont be able to tell any difference between the until you ride them and then the differences will be minor.

  11. #11
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Posts
    2,834
    I think it's pretty easy to feel differences in handling. likewise it's pretty easy to feel similarities which is often the case.

  12. #12
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    117
    The difference in comparing cars to comparing bikes is that with cars you know what power the engines can put out. With bikes, it's up to the rider!

  13. #13
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Posts
    224
    I agree with the others who note that the differences are relatively minor. Yes there are in fact differences, but lets face the fact, most of it is marketing spin by the companies to make their bikes seem as sexy as possible to enhance their image and to sell bikes. The differences are relatively minor, eg., I just moved from a $3k bike to a $12K bike, is the latter bike 4x better? hell no, maybe 25% better, if I'm lucky.

  14. #14
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Posts
    200
    I seem to remember George Hincapie being reported as saying that he could not tell what bike he was on if he didn't look at the graphics (or something to that effect). It seems to me that, if there were really substantive differences in the capabilities of upper level bikes, you would see changes in performance when teams change sponsors.
    There are certainly differences between high level bikes in terms of the aggressiveness of the geometry, just look at what gets ridden in Paris-Roubaix vs criteriums, or flat vs mountain stages.
    For myself at least, and I suspect for most of us, my performance is limited by myself, not my bike. That is not to say that the difference is not noticeable, but it is more feel than absolute performance, the exception being that weight makes a difference climbing. Even in that case, I am skeptical about people who claim to notice a big difference in climbing with a change in 3-5 pounds unless they are going all out and timing themselves. This is supported by bike tests where they say that a bike climbs like a lighter bike (unless it has e-assist, I can't understand how that could be).

  15. #15
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    93
    Quote Originally Posted by skhan007 View Post
    Just trying to educate myself, really. When I see a series of beautiful bikes and they're all $4K +, I'm really just trying to understand any noteworthy differences that will help to elucidate discernible characteristics, such as materials, angles/geometry, etc.
    I think such an exercise may prove fruitless.

    The various bike vendors do a pretty good job of categorizing their bikes for us--aggressive, race, relaxed, endurance, etc. You could look up the geo specs and compare head tube lengths or seat tube angles and find that, within each category, the numbers are pretty close.

    Material information is also marginally useful given the number of other components used on a bike. For example, how smooth a bike rides is determined primarily by tire width and air pressure. Saddle design, seatpost diameter, wheel stiffness and frame design also contribute to ride comfort, so knowing the frame's carbon fiber grade is probably not as useful as the vendors might lead us to believe.

    If you're in the market, the best way to educate yourself is to go out and test ride some bikes.

  16. #16
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    1,361
    IMO, the majority of CF monocoque bicycle frames are made in a very similar manner from whatever I've seen thanks, to various bicycle company videos. Here are a couple from Scott and Felt concerning the CF monocoque bicycle production process. www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ46J3NQIVg
    A chromoly steel bicycle will last just as long as titanium, if kept dry.

  17. #17
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Posts
    1,361
    Quote Originally Posted by Zeet View Post
    IMO, the majority of CF monocoque bicycle frames are made in a very similar manner from whatever I've seen thanks, to various bicycle company videos. Here are a couple from Scott and Felt concerning the CF monocoque bicycle production process. www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ46J3NQIVg
    Nobody is reinventing the wheel here...The whole CF bicycle industry evolves in sync. IMO, the main difference is in advertising and marketing.

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSpx-nPhE-Q
    Last edited by Zeet; 07-29-2013 at 07:28 AM.
    A chromoly steel bicycle will last just as long as titanium, if kept dry.

  18. #18
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: RJP Diver's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    2,507
    Quote Originally Posted by DaveW88 View Post
    The difference in comparing cars to comparing bikes is that with cars you know what power the engines can put out. With bikes, it's up to the rider!
    Makes it easier for bikes then, right? (Since all bikes a buyer looks at have the same engine.)
    "It ain't a teacup that the Queen gave you - it's a bike. Ride it!"

  19. #19
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    697
    I just think it's diminishing returns.

    With anything (cars, electronics, homes, bikes, etc), more refinement costs more and more $$ each time you step up a rung.

    The difference between $500-1000 bikes is quite a bit...the difference between a $1250 bike and a $2500 bike is also pretty large. Between $2500 and $5000 or $5000 and $10,000? Not nearly as much.

    Are they smoke and mirrors? Absolutely not...they are nicer frames/kits for sure. I for one do not believe there is zero difference between a high level frame and an entry level one. The higher end frames/kit simple are nicer. The thing is however, is that difference worth the thousands of dollars it costs to get the more expensive item?

    Well...that's up to the buyer I guess.

    A bike is a funny thing. Unlike most cars, or a watch, a TV or home...there's a point with bikes where you can out-buy your physical skill and you will not get the benefits of the item. I for one would not benefit from a $15,000 bike. Sure, the difference may be slightly noticeable but in the end, I'm just not that good of a rider. I'm sure I couldn't make a F1 race car do what it's designed to do either...I'm not that skilled of a driver.

    Like all high end items, high end bikes give us normal Joes something to drool over, something to fantasize about, something to wish for. Truth is though...most of us wouldn't tell that much of a difference if we rode it...a few of us may actually dislike the ride they provide...

  20. #20
    old school drop out
    Reputation: laffeaux's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Posts
    1,543
    If you put many miles on a bike you'll notice lots of difference - some major and some minor. How each bike rides will vary, and which attribute you like or dislike will vary.

    I own several bikes. I notice differences in how well they climb out of the saddle, how quickly they initiate turns, how well they track in a pace line, how much impact I feel when I fit bumps, how stable they are on downhills and in crosswinds, etc. Bikes look the same but they ride differently.

    One of my favorite riding bikes is frighteningly scary on a fast downhill with a cross wind. I'll not take it out on a climbing ride when it's windy. However, if tracks better in a pace line than an other bike that I've owned - it works great or poorly depending on the ride.

  21. #21
    User is infamous around
    Reputation: junior1210's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    687
    Quote Originally Posted by Typetwelve View Post
    ..................... I for one would not benefit from a $15,000 bike. Sure, the difference may be slightly noticeable but in the end, I'm just not that good of a rider.
    Not true! You would be faster, stronger, and more virile. Your teeth would be whiter, your breath fresher, your hair would be fuller with more body and shine. Men would envy you, and women will chant your name with lust and desire.

    Seriously, I've kinda wondered on the question myself, especially where CF frames are concerned. Some of the builders claim using one matrix vs another for stronger, lighter, stiffer bikes. I don't doubt that, but I am slightly curious where the line for diminishing returns is (particularly for those like me who don't, won't, haven't, and ain't gonna race). Still what ever else, those halo-level cycles are pretty to look at.

  22. #22
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation: DaveWC's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    565
    It's probably even harder to tell the difference between these high end bikes when you don't ride any of them. Similarly I can't tell the difference between 2200 and Dura Ace when they're all boxed up and behind the counter.

  23. #23
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    721
    Quote Originally Posted by laffeaux View Post
    If you put many miles on a bike you'll notice lots of difference - some major and some minor. How each bike rides will vary, and which attribute you like or dislike will vary.
    I agree 100%.

    I also believe differences can be evident on just an hour ride if you're able to hit different terrain. A spin around the block won't do it.

    Here's a tip if you're comparing frames: use the same wheels and saddle for your test rides. This eliminates variables and puts more focus on the frame itself.

  24. #24
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    93
    Quote Originally Posted by MikeWMass View Post
    I seem to remember George Hincapie being reported as saying that he could not tell what bike he was on if he didn't look at the graphics (or something to that effect)
    If George Hincapie is riding a Trek, it is custom built to his spec. If he rides a Specialized, it is custom built to his spec. I think in the pro world where your bike is custom fit to you this is quite possibly the case.

    In the real world where we go buy a Specialized or Trek and our options are a couple models of each brand, and a single number size there will be more noticeable differences. A Trek and a Specialized with a 58cm frame will have entirely different dimensions everywhere else, and even to us common folk that will make a difference in how they ride.


    As an aside, I am a car guy and I can't fathom how anybody could say "it's like comparing Lexus, BMW, Infinity, and Audi" and mean they are all the same.

  25. #25
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Posts
    2,243
    Originally posted by skhan007: I cannot tell really any significant difference between high-end Cannondale, Look, Scott, Pinarello, Colnago, Bianchi, and Trek. Am I off on my observation?
    Significant difference means something completely different to each of us and therefore you need to qualify what you are asking imo. If you mean a significant difference in speed I would agree. If you mean a significant difference in feel I'd disagree. If you mean a difference in handling I'd disagree again...etc...

Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. BD flatbar roadbikes
    By preslove in forum Motobecane - Mercier
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 10-04-2012, 11:26 PM
  2. MTB Clipless for Roadbikes?
    By 2ndGen in forum General Cycling Discussion
    Replies: 54
    Last Post: 03-08-2009, 02:08 PM
  3. Do high end Road Bikes make much difference??
    By Originalyappa in forum Bikes, Frames and Forks
    Replies: 47
    Last Post: 08-31-2007, 12:09 PM
  4. High-priced tires vs. mid-level ones. Big difference? Weigh in.
    By GiantNigel in forum Wheels and Tires
    Replies: 18
    Last Post: 10-09-2005, 12:57 AM
  5. Felt v. High-end European bikes: What Difference?
    By Thegratefuldad in forum Bikes, Frames and Forks
    Replies: 13
    Last Post: 05-26-2005, 05:42 AM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Sea Otter Classic

Hot Deals

Contest


Latest RoadBike Articles


Latest Videos

RoadbikeReview on Facebook