Italian Bikes vs. American Bikes
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  1. #1

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    Italian Bikes vs. American Bikes

    Hi, I am looking to buy my first road bike. I guess I have gotten hooked, and I want to give it a try. I am a teenager of relatively small build (5'3, 100 lbs.), but I am in pretty good shape and all. I am wondering first what size bike I would need? As for bikes, I am really not sure what to get. I have looked at Trek, Specialized, and Cannondale, but I am seeing that many riders prefer those Italian brands. Is it better to get an Italian model or one from the big American companies? Can anybody recommend good American and Italian models to try out? I am looking to spend no more than $700-800. And by the way, how do you get those Italian bikes anyways, if the makers are all in Italy? Please help! Thanks.

    -Chris

  2. #2

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    Piranello

    Heh, seeing that nobody has posted anything yet, I thought I would follow-up on something.

    I think I have realized that it is hard to get those local Italian maker bikes in the U.S. But, from reading, I have reasoned that there are some Italian makers which are prominent enough in the U.S. that you can get them in the U.S.? Like Piranello? Are there any other brands like this as well? Can somebody compare the Piranello Surprise to say the American entry-level bikes (ex: Trek 1000/1200, Specialized Allez, etc.). Also, can somebody tell me what size bike I probably need? (5'3, 100 lbs.). Yeah, and not to ask so many questions, but again, I am looking for the major differences and advantages/disadvantages to the Italian bikes vs. the American bikes. Thanks!

  3. #3

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    700-800 can only get you an old used Italian frame. So why dont just try out the American bikes first?

  4. #4

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    You are going to have to skip the italian bikes for now. First question is do you feel comfortable working on your own bikes. If you do, go to wrenchscience.com to figure out what size frame will fit you properly (probably about a a 52cm) and then check out the Scattantee bikes from supergo.com and Bikesdirect.com for bikes that fit your price range. If you do not feel confortable working on your own bike, start going to local bikes shops to find what you want. Note that Jamis, Fuji, Motobecane, KHS, Raleigh and other non popular brands will likely offer better components for the money.

    Also, it seems you are likely to grow a great deal in the next several years. You may want to consider purchasing a bike that is to large (55-56cm) and using a short stem and moving the seatpost forward. This will allow the bike to fit you until you are 5'9" or so by moving the seat back and going to a longer stem as you grow. Not an optimal fit, but no bike is going to fit you perfectly while you are growing, unless you replace your bikes every time your grow 1-2".

  5. #5
    NeoRetroGrouch
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrs2088
    Heh, seeing that nobody has posted anything yet, I thought I would follow-up on something.

    I think I have realized that it is hard to get those local Italian maker bikes in the U.S. But, from reading, I have reasoned that there are some Italian makers which are prominent enough in the U.S. that you can get them in the U.S.? Like Piranello? Are there any other brands like this as well? Can somebody compare the Piranello Surprise to say the American entry-level bikes (ex: Trek 1000/1200, Specialized Allez, etc.). Also, can somebody tell me what size bike I probably need? (5'3, 100 lbs.). Yeah, and not to ask so many questions, but again, I am looking for the major differences and advantages/disadvantages to the Italian bikes vs. the American bikes. Thanks!
    In that price range for your first bike, find somebody local to help you - LBS if nothing else. It doesn't matter whether it's a Trek, Colnago, Raleigh, Giant or Scattante. Get somebody to fit you on a desent bike.

    TF
    "Don't those guys know they're old?!!"
    Me, off the back, at my first 50+ road race.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by cdmc
    go to wrenchscience.com to figure out what size frame will fit you properly (probably about a a 52cm)
    I went to Wrenchscience and it suggests a 51cm (CT) or a 50cm (CC) for me. I'm 5' 8" with a 30" inseam. That size frame seems small to me.

  7. #7

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    Chris,
    for your height you may find that a compact geometry frame fits better. I tried an older steel Lemond, a new aluminum C-dale, and an alumnimum Specialized with compact geometry, and the Specialized was worlds better as far as fit. Now, don't let that stop you from trying standard frames, just make sure you try a few compacts as well. not sure if any of the Italian makers do compact, so that may influence your final decision.
    As for cost, you are pretty limited. I know the Specialized Allez is about that, but with Sora shifters and 8 speed casette. I went with the Allez Sport, and got the next step up in shifters (no thumb shifters) along with 105 RD. That would have been about $750 (I did a wheel upgrade while I was at it, due to 200# of girth, you shouldn't have that problem ;)

    Anyway, ride a few bikes, spend long enough on them to get a feel for how they fit, then go with your gut, or perhaps your back.

    Gordon

  8. #8

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    At the risk of being thumped on...

    ...aside from some political/grooviness considerations it doesn't matter where the bike is made, only how well it is made. There are beautifully crafted Italian bikes; they have the whole old-world-handcrafted mystique about them; they come at a price. Bikes in your price range will probably be made, at least in part, somewhere in the Orient, but with a bit of wisdom on your part they'll give you a lot of good miles until if and when you elect to move up to something better and pricier.
    If I were you I would:
    1) Not even consider buying from COSTCO, Walmart, dept. store or the like
    2) Deal with LBS and ride EVERYTHING in your price range; you'll know the one.
    3) Place close attention to component quality & search component threads in this forum for information
    4) At least look at the used bike market in your area.
    5) I would not buy any bigger of a bike than I could make fit well today, but I would buy the biggest frame that I could make fit.
    You don't say how much you reasonably expect to grow in a couple of years; but it's likely you'll need to replace your bike in that time. In a sense that's a luxury; you can buy a relatively inexpensive bike now knowing you will replace it fairly soon. By the time you've enjoyed it a couple of years you'll have a valuable and exact sense of what you'll expect in the next one.

    Mainly mostly ride a lot and have fun doing it. In your teens you can kick ass on almost anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chrs2088
    Hi, I am looking to buy my first road bike. I guess I have gotten hooked, and I want to give it a try. I am a teenager of relatively small build (5'3, 100 lbs.), but I am in pretty good shape and all. I am wondering first what size bike I would need? As for bikes, I am really not sure what to get. I have looked at Trek, Specialized, and Cannondale, but I am seeing that many riders prefer those Italian brands. Is it better to get an Italian model or one from the big American companies? Can anybody recommend good American and Italian models to try out? I am looking to spend no more than $700-800. And by the way, how do you get those Italian bikes anyways, if the makers are all in Italy? Please help! Thanks.

    -Chris

  9. #9

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    i am a little under 5'3" myself and i ride a 48cm sloping italian bike. my inseam is around 75 cm, but more important is your torso length. depending on the company, i could fit a bike from 47 cm to around 51 or 52 (also depends on how it is measured - from c-t (center to top) or c-c (center to center). I am in my 40's and have stopped growing, except for in breadth, but you may want to take your future growth into consideration.

  10. #10

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    Cool Less than you think.

    Quote Originally Posted by gogogomoveit
    700-800 can only get you an old used Italian frame. So why dont just try out the American bikes first?

    My buddy picked up a NOS Tommasini w/C Record Delta for $1000 on ebay. Good thing it was one size too small for me. There are really nice bikes on eBay selling in the one thousand dollar range.

    I built up a NOS Basso Loto Campagnolo Record 9 with parts purchased on eBay and else where for around $1600.

  11. #11

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    Cool Gvh

    Quote Originally Posted by Chrs2088
    Hi, I am looking to buy my first road bike. I guess I have gotten hooked, and I want to give it a try. I am a teenager of relatively small build (5'3, 100 lbs.), but I am in pretty good shape and all. I am wondering first what size bike I would need? As for bikes, I am really not sure what to get. I have looked at Trek, Specialized, and Cannondale, but I am seeing that many riders prefer those Italian brands. Is it better to get an Italian model or one from the big American companies? Can anybody recommend good American and Italian models to try out? I am looking to spend no more than $700-800. And by the way, how do you get those Italian bikes anyways, if the makers are all in Italy? Please help! Thanks.

    -Chris

    gvhbikes.com has a good stock of small size Italian bikes at very reasonable prices.

  12. #12
    Arrogant roadie.....
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    At that price range, other than the 'Dales, all the other bikes you mentioned are Taiwan-built.
    We are the 801
    We are the central shaft

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by CheesyD
    I went to Wrenchscience and it suggests a 51cm (CT) or a 50cm (CC) for me. I'm 5' 8" with a 30" inseam. That size frame seems small to me.
    your inseam is rather short. you will fit better on bikes that have sloping top tubes. yes, the recommended c-c frame size sounds about right. you will need something with a LONG top tube; what did Wrenchscience recommend?

  14. #14
    classiquesklassieker
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    Not necessarily... Bianchi has quite a few models at the entry-level price range. Check out bianchiusa.com.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrs2088
    I have looked at Trek, Specialized, and Cannondale, but I am seeing that many riders prefer those Italian brands. Is it better to get an Italian model or one from the big American companies? Can anybody recommend good American and Italian models to try out? I am looking to spend no more than $700-800. And by the way, how do you get those Italian bikes anyways, if the makers are all in Italy? Please help! Thanks.

    -Chris
    For your budget you'll find that even the Italian made frames will be made in Taiwan.

    I recommend the Specialized Allez Sport b/c its a great bang for the buck, has decent components and the compact geometry is totally happening. Plus it smokes my Italian Bianchi Brava.
    Namaste

  16. #16

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    Lemond Nevada City

    How bout these bikes? How are they? Are they compact, too?

  17. #17

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    Follow up again

    I guess I have narrowed down my list of bikes to try to:

    Specialized Allez
    Cannondale R500
    Trek 1000
    Pinarello Surprise
    Lemond Nevada City

    Any comments? Suggestions? Preferences? Thanks.

  18. #18

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    nothing wrong with the pinarello, great bike. not'n wrong with a used old italian bike either. i just got a 1981 pinarello treviso, steel, and use it to commute, downtube shifters, 6 spds, etc. very cheap to upkeep/maintain, and at 22 lbs for a 58cm bike it's at a decent weight. so if u wanna save money, used is good too.

    sd

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chrs2088
    I guess I have narrowed down my list of bikes to try to:

    Specialized Allez
    Cannondale R500
    Trek 1000
    Pinarello Surprise
    Lemond Nevada City

    Any comments? Suggestions? Preferences? Thanks.
    You might want to check out KHS has well. Just bought a flight 500 for my daughter for $600 that came with 9 speed tiagra that I'm pretty impressed with. Good luck.
    What a cruel thing is war: to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, and to devastate the fair face of this beautiful world

    Robert E. Lee

  20. #20
    classiquesklassieker
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    It looks to me that you're comparing bikes that cost anywhere from $600 to $1200. Is there a reason for such a price range? Most likely the higher-end ones are going to be better, just because of the higher-end components on the bike.

  21. #21
    Unrepentant Mountainbiker
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    Let us know which ones you have ridden

    Not so long ago I was looking at similarly priced bikes. I found the Trek to have an unforgiving ride. I could not find a Lemond in my size, and I was unimpressed with the components on the Cannondale. I eventually chose the Specialized Allez Sport. I just found it to have the best combination of ride quality and components.

    I also tried some Fuji's and a Bianchi. There were some other brands in there, but I can't recall them at the moment. The point is....I was able to decide which bike worked best for me by actually riding as many bikes as I could get my hands on.

    BTW, the Lemond geometry is NOT compact. Lemonds are known to have slightly longer top tubes than most other brands. You can tell if a bike uses compact geometry by looking at the top tube. If it is parallel to the ground, then the bike uses standard geometry. If the top tube slopes down from the head tube to the seat tube, then the frame uses compact geometry. For me, a 51cm Lemond fits great. I ride a 52cm frame from most other makers.

    You might want to look at compact geometry frames as you are still growing. The sloping top tube will give you more wiggle room to grow on.
    It's no fun unless it hurts!

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by freezin_is_the_reason

    BTW, the Lemond geometry is NOT compact. Lemonds are known to have slightly longer top tubes than most other brands. You can tell if a bike uses compact geometry by looking at the top tube. If it is parallel to the ground, then the bike uses standard geometry. If the top tube slopes down from the head tube to the seat tube, then the frame uses compact geometry. For me, a 51cm Lemond fits great. I ride a 52cm frame from most other makers.

    You might want to look at compact geometry frames as you are still growing. The sloping top tube will give you more wiggle room to grow on.
    i beg to differ. i believe that lemond went to a sloping (if not exactly compact) geometry this year - at least as far as i can tell from their website.

  23. #23
    Unrepentant Mountainbiker
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    That does seem to be slightly sloping

    But there is no mention of it being a compact geometry frame. The only mention is that it has "Lemond Geometry." I hadn't noticed the slight slope while looking at the bikes in person. Can somebody give some clarity as they do look at least semi-compact on the website.
    It's no fun unless it hurts!

  24. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by freezin_is_the_reason
    But there is no mention of it being a compact geometry frame. The only mention is that it has "Lemond Geometry." I hadn't noticed the slight slope while looking at the bikes in person. Can somebody give some clarity as they do look at least semi-compact on the website.
    if you go to the page for the bike (in this case the nevada city) and click on geometry, you'll get the specs. the upper left hand says "sloping top tube frames". then there is a line for top tube length and one for effective top tube length - indicative of a sloping geometry.

  25. #25
    when is it obsession?
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    try the Lemond Tourmalet... a couple hundred more than you're wanting to spend, but a fine ride...while you're at it, check out the Lemond Alpe D' Huez... my LBS is selling em for $1100 now that the 05's are on the way
    "Oz was wrong: a heart should be judged by how much one loves...not by how much one is loved by others..."

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