Too Many Choices!
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  1. #1
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    Too Many Choices!

    Hoping for some vectoring here...

    I love my old steel bikes, but am starting to get the bug for a new road bike. The choices are so many and there is a lot of confusion over what would be best for me.

    I do not foresee racing in the future but love spirited group rides, so thinking a budget of around three grand or less (lots of bikes around the $2k price point.) The problem is that for each model of bike, there are dozens of submodels and I am having trouble understanding the differences of each. Additionally, some of the frames are more aggressive than others. I do not want a deep drop/aggressive fit. Not flexible enough for that stuff anymore and comfort over a long ride is most important.

    Wondering whether carbon or aluminum is best, as well. Seems like aluminum may not be as harsh these days as it was back when I last rode aluminum frames in the early '90s... Sounds like cheap carbon frames don't save much weight over aluminum, either, so may not be a justifiable expense if I can if I can find an aluminum frame with better parts at a similar price point to a carbon bike.

    Some of my frustration given all the models of bikes is illustrated by the numerous models of:

    Trek Madone
    Trek Emonda SL 5
    Trek Emonda ALR 5
    Trek SLR D
    Trek RSL
    Trek etc, etc, etc, (What do all the designations and numbers mean...Jesus they have to have 100 different designations for their bikes and I have no idea what the differences are)
    Specialized Tarmac, Allez, Roubaix and all the hundreds of submodels

    Last time I bought a new bike, there were 3 or so models from each manufacturer and not 100 different varieties of each. Just having trouble deciphering the differences without having to spend days online looking at each side by side....

    Have been considering a CAAD12, as I've heard great things about it but again not sure whether it is too aggressive a fit or whether it would be comfortable for longer rides.

    Interested in useful guidance I can consider as I start looking deeper into different bikes...
    Last edited by mml373; 02-22-2020 at 08:20 AM.

  2. #2
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    If you like steel and you're not going to be racing, there's https://crustbikes.com/products/lightning-bolt-5/. They also make the same frame with disc brakes.

    Don't know if something like this suits you, but it's gotten good reviews by those who enjoy low trail and a front load.
    Too old to ride plastic

  3. #3
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    I don't think he'll be loading the front panniers for the 'spirited group ride'.

    Go to a Trek store, you seem to be interested in them and talk them. I went Canyon.
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  4. #4
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    No, I'm actually wide open. Trek is just the most ubiquitous brand where i live.

    Making time to learn about others, such as Cervelo, Orbea, BMC, Cannondale, Specialized, etc. I've been out of the cycling world for a very long time and everything has changed...choices aren't as easy as they once were!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by duriel View Post
    I don't think he'll be loading the front panniers for the 'spirited group ride'.

    Go to a Trek store, you seem to be interested in them and talk them. I went Canyon.
    He's also planning a cross country trip, and for that carrying a load could be beneficial. Also a front load doesn't necessarily mean panniers as a smaller load could be carried in a "burrito bag" or some sort of handlebar bag with a smaller impact than panniers.
    Too old to ride plastic

  6. #6
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    U must have a very good crystal ball, is it CF?
    Don't get a cervelo.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by duriel View Post
    U must have a very good crystal ball, is it CF?
    Don't get a cervelo.
    If this is aimed at me, a crystal ball isn't needed seeing that https://forums.roadbikereview.com/co...ml#post5386815 was also posted by mml373.

    I'm just offering another choice besides "get whatever racing bicycle fits best".
    Too old to ride plastic

  8. #8
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    I'm a big Trek fan, but I think their pricing has going out-of-control for a new bike. Since you're having issues deciding which model, perhaps look for a used bike and let that save you a ton of money and also limit your choices?

    Ignore Trek's model numbers and think about what you want... then find the bike they offer that has what you want. I.e., do you want...


    • Disc brakes or rim brakes? I much prefer disc.
    • Carbon frame or aluminum frame? I much prefer carbon.
    • Comfort or race fit? Sounds like you'd prefer comfort over a race fit.
    • Shimano or SRAM? I've always owned Shimano but have nothing against SRAM...both are nice
      • Your budget will dictate which group set you can get within these to brands. For Shimano, the 105 group set is an incredible deal and probably all most riders could ever need.


    Since you mentioned you're getting older (like me) and not looking for a harsh ride with race bike geometry, the Trek Domane is likely what you're looking for. The Madone is a race bike and the Emonda is a light-weight hill climber bike (primarily) where as the Domane is built for "middle-aged man" who is tired of pulverizing his body on a rock-hard bike In addition to the front and rear "suspension" (ISO de-couplers), the Domane also has plenty of tire clearance so it can also double as a gravel / trail bike, so you get a lot of versatility. (I know this as I just bought my second Domane which is a 2020 SL 7 Disc.)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by PoorInRichfield View Post
    I'm a big Trek fan, but I think their pricing has going out-of-control for a new bike. Since you're having issues deciding which model, perhaps look for a used bike and let that save you a ton of money and also limit your choices?

    Ignore Trek's model numbers and think about what you want... then find the bike they offer that has what you want. I.e., do you want...


    • Disc brakes or rim brakes? I much prefer disc.
    • Carbon frame or aluminum frame? I much prefer carbon.
    • Comfort or race fit? Sounds like you'd prefer comfort over a race fit.
    • Shimano or SRAM? I've always owned Shimano but have nothing against SRAM...both are nice
      • Your budget will dictate which group set you can get within these to brands. For Shimano, the 105 group set is an incredible deal and probably all most riders could ever need.


    Since you mentioned you're getting older (like me) and not looking for a harsh ride with race bike geometry, the Trek Domane is likely what you're looking for. The Madone is a race bike and the Emonda is a light-weight hill climber bike (primarily) where as the Domane is built for "middle-aged man" who is tired of pulverizing his body on a rock-hard bike In addition to the front and rear "suspension" (ISO de-couplers), the Domane also has plenty of tire clearance so it can also double as a gravel / trail bike, so you get a lot of versatility. (I know this as I just bought my second Domane which is a 2020 SL 7 Disc.)

    Greatly appreciated.

  10. #10
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    Another take on it:

    Pretty much all makers are categorizing their road bikes into 2 or 3 categories:
    -Race geometry
    ----Race geometry sub-category: aero
    ----Race geometry sub category: light / climbing
    -Endurance geometry
    -Gravel

    Within those categories, there are usually carbon and aluminum offerings. Usually the aluminum is considered lower end, but honestly plenty of great alloy bikes out there including those from the big names.

    While there is definitely design / engineering that goes into making the bikes different in each category, at the end of the day you can still go fast and go uphill on any road bike. In the pros, brutal spring classics have been won on aero frames, climbing stages have been won on aero frames, flat stages have been won on light / all-around frames, pros race on the "endurance" frames...

    Finally, when it comes to disc vs rim, US consumers have pretty much lost the battle for choice at this point. Disc is standard and hydraulic is 99% of the game. That said, I like my TRP mechanical disc brakes on my gravel bike. My other road bikes are all older with rim brakes and I have no plan to replace any unless something catastrophic happens to one of them or I win a superbike in a raffle.

    Following up on PoorInRichfield's comment, I rented a Domane for a week a couple years ago and found it impressive. Solid, comfortable, definitely didn't slow me down and I did plenty of climbing with it.
    Last edited by jetdog9; 02-24-2020 at 11:55 AM.

  11. #11
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    Not that it's terribly helpful, but the Trek acronyms you mentioned are:

    RSL = Race Shop Limited
    SL = Super Light
    SLR = Super Light Race
    ALR = Aluminum Race

    RSL, SL, and SLR are fairly common terms used by many brands (I have a Moots Routt RSL). In fact, some similar terms are even used in the car and motorcycle industry.

    I'm guessing D= Disc (assuming the bike is still available with rim brakes).

    As far as deciding on a bike, beyond just understanding the various models and brands and all of the confusion there, there are also other factors to consider.

    How important is server and maintenance to you? Do you like to wrench your own bikes? Do you know your fit (what size bike, seat height, reach, etc..)? Will you need adjustments made as you ride more? Will you need advice on accessories and upgrades? Also, consider warranty and crash replacement policies.

    If you are going to spend a chunk of money on a bike, and you aren't inclined to do your own service and maintenance, then you will want to buy from a shop that provides good service at a reasonable price. Most big brands have pretty good warranties and some will have crash replacement policies.

    Canyon as someone mentioned above makes great bikes with great components. The value is about as good as it gets, but, they are not going to do your scheduled maintenance and tune-ups, or fix your flat tires or broken cables. You'll need to do that yourself, or at a local shop. There are other online sites like bikesdirect.com and others that might be even cheaper than canyon, but you will definitely be on your own with them.

    Since you don't even really know what frame material you want, and probably don't know what geometry etc... I would strongly suggest finding a local shop and a sales person who can help you understand the choices, and make sense of them, and then take bikes out for a ride. Hopefully you have this available to you. It will make a huge difference.

  12. #12
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    I used to love my Treks when I used to ride Trek. Went to Felt and enjoyed my Felts even more. I have now switched to Cannondale and it blows both of them out of the water IMO. The CAAD12 is worth every penny. However, I race and it can deliver the goods for any racer. I would recommend the Synapse if you go Cdale. It's the endurance version of CAAD and Super Six Evo. There are others as well. Just keep searching and riding. You'll find the best choice for you. It might turn out to be none of the bikes mentioned. Good luck.
    Last edited by terbennett; 02-25-2020 at 07:01 AM.

  13. #13
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    Your best action is to test ride as many brands and models as possible to narrow down what you like and dislike. Carbon is going to outperform aluminum when it comes to comfort. It may not be that apparent on a short test ride but sometime you would notice after months of riding.
    I have a Cannondale Evo and my wife has a Synapse. They are both great bikes, but would not recommend buying one without extensive test riding of other brands.

  14. #14
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    Greatly appreciate the replies...very helpful in deciphering some of the acronyms and planning a way ahead.

    And here I thought SLR stood for Shimano Linear Response... ;-)

  15. #15
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    $3000 is a bit of a tough spot for pricing I think. That puts you at the top of Aluminum frame bikes so they will have very nice groupsets, and at the lower end of Carbon frames with lesser groupsets. Generally speaking, you get better groupsets with Cannondale that most manufacturers, although they typically skimp on the crank (but many do).

    Personally, I would look at the bike geometry that matches how you are comfortable on the bike first (endurance vs aggressive), and then decide on how important weight is to you. Obviously if you are going to do lots of climbing it's more important. Color isn't something most think is important but personally I do, if you get a bike that you like the looks of you are more likely to keep it longer.

    If you want to get the most value from a bike, after sorting out all of the above, find a used bike that meets your needs. You can save a buttload of money going that route and get a great bike if you do your shopping with knowledge and are have patience. There's a couple good facebook market place forums to look at for buying used bikes and equipment, plus craigs list etc.
    Gravel Rocks

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  16. #16
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    OP, one thing to consider with price if you plan to buy new... if you look out for sales or clearance items, the deals on new bikes can be excellent. Often times a bike's price is cut nearly in half because it is prior model year, but the only actual difference between current model is paint color.

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