Too many choices...
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  1. #1

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    Too many choices...

    I've spent the last week trying out bikes and researching specifications, and the more I do this the more confused I get...

    I'm coming from a mountain bike, and many many years ago (toe clips & downtube shifters) I was a roadie, but none of my previous experience is helping me much... I like to do all my own work and I have a nice little shop set up in my living room... The wife just ignores this so I guess I am lucky... I think she is just happy to see me getting exercise...

    Anyways, I have three possible approaches to my first road bike:

    1) Get an entry level ($1K) bike and just ride it, and in the process learn a lot, and use this bike as a beater after I know what I need...

    Advantages: Definitely cheaper initially...
    Disadvantages: Not as fun and kind of wasteful, since I really don't have room for a pile of bikes... Also will cost more in the long run...

    2) Get a low-end high-performance bike, at around the $2.5K (retail) point...

    Advantages: I can afford this easily... The bikes are obviously very nice...
    Disadvantages: This is real close to the "real deal" so I might regret not jumping in all the way...

    3) Get a mid-grade high-performance bike, at around the $3.5K (retail) point...

    Advantages: Very little to compromise here, guaranteed Dura-Ace
    Disadvantages: The law of diminishing returns kicks in quick... I'd have to scrimp a bit to come up with the money...

    At the level I am at right now, after riding close to ten bikes, I can feel a difference but I can't say whether or not any of them is better... Most of my impressions are based off of build quality and looks, which isn't the right way to do this... Up until this week I had never even ridden a "modern" bike, so they all impress the hell out of me... I was fortunate that I got to put a few through an "extended" test of about 3 miles, including a climb and a lot of railroad tracks rather than just circle around the parking lot...

    If I could even figure out what each bike's "focus" is, I would be closer.. At least in the mountain bike world you have cross country, free-ride and all-mountain designations to help figure out where a bike fits...

    My projected usage is a general purpose bike, in that I want to be able to do a century, some serious climbing and some heavy duty training rides... Maybe even some local short races... I am currently 205 pounds down from 280 pounds since October... I anticipate being down to 165 pounds or so by the end of the year... The roads where I live are in very poor condition...

    What i know as fact:

    I know that it is not the bike that matters most...
    I know I will stick with this... I have been a bike freak my entire life... The fact I "lost" the last 16 years (Long story!) saddens me, but I cannot change history...
    I know that I have always regretted not doing something right in the first place...
    I know that I will not upgrade the bike at all... I've fallen in that trap before and it is a bottomless pit... Whatever I get has to be good from the get-go...
    I know I don't need an 11 cog...
    I know that the prices I listed are flexible, especially since I shop with a wad of cash and not plastic...

    My LBS is great and they are very willing to get me set up... I have asked these questions of them, but I would like to get a bit more input before taking the plunge... I am without bike right now so I need to do something within the next week or two or I will go crazy...

    The bikes I have evaluated so far are:

    1) Giant TCR (M) - Felt very heavy to me and the fit and finish were subpar... Didn't feel too small but had a lot of seat tube showing...

    2) Giant TCR2 (L) - Felt very light and lively but I didn't like the wheels at all, and I don't know why... It had a cheap feel to it that I cannot describe, but the frame was beautiful... The assembly work on this one was very poor so that may have contributed to the cheap feel...

    3) Cannondale R2000 (58) - Very nice looking bike and the wheels just jump out at you... I hate the saddle but I love all the other components... The bike reeks of quality, but I just had a Cannondale mountain bike and more than once their customer service department was less than responsive... I also worry about their long term financial stability...

    4) Trek 5200 (58) - I hate to say this, but I think the bike is kind of ugly, but it is growing on me... The fact is is full of Bontrager components rather than "name brand" stuff seems a bit weird, but the bike does have a track record of success... I particulary like how "finished" it is in that a lot of small details are well executed... I also think I like regular geometry better than the compact stuff... The "normal" looking headset is comforting to me considering I have been out for so long... (I wonder why only Trek has this look?)

    5) Trek 5000 (58) - Looks the same to me as a 5200... If I was on a very tight budget I would be more inclined to look at this one harder, but as it is it falls in between my cheap and mid category...

    6) Specialized Allez Pro (58) - It has Dura-Ace and it costs just a little more than some Ultegra bikes... It also has a low end Kyserium wheelset... It looks very nice... That said, it doesn't jump out at me, except for the fact is has Dura-Ace...

    7) Specialized Allez Comp (58) - This one is a looker since I like red, and it is a lot cheaper than the others I have looked at... I've been told you don't get the Kyserium Equippe wheels anymore, though... I think they have Cosmos now...

    8) Fuji Professional (56) - I didn't like this bike... It just felt weird... It is only $2K and it has a lot of Dura-Ace on it (105 brakes) but something didn't feel right and I wish I knew what it what...

    The bikes I am considering:

    $1k - Does it matter? I don't know...

    $2.5k - Trek 5200... Specialized Allez Pro... Cannondale R2000

    $3.5k - Trek 5500... Specialized E5 S-Works... Cannondale R3000...

    The wild card - Cannondale 613 Centaur - My LBS has a 613 Record and it is amazing... I figure a 613 Centaur would be around 3K... I especially like the fact it is a 10, has a FSA cockpit and the seat I like, and it has all name-brand components... I like the FSA cranks, too and it is definitely a looker... I'd have to wait until mid-July for delivery though...

    I have considered building up a bike but I don't think I am ready for that yet... I've also considered smaller brands but I feel better dealing with a larger company, especially one that is based in the US...

    One of my main concerns with going Ultegra is that after this year it will be obsolete... Yeah, I know, I don't need 10 speeds... My concern is getting parts and crap in 5 years... Look how all the 8 speed crap is getting scarce...

    I am 72" tall and my inseam is 33.75"... Using the .65/.67 formula that gives me (I think!) 55.7 c-c or 57.4 c-t... I don't want an extreme drop or a lot of spacers... I'd rather err on the side of having less seat tube and spacers than more... One of the people I talked to told me I have short legs and a long torso but I don't think I do... Everyone I've talked to has been steering me towards a 58 frame... I think a bike looks pretty silly if it has too much or not enough seat tube sticking out so I want to make sure mine is normal looking... I think any more than an inch of spacer looks pretty stupid too...

    Everyone so far has told me that the 5200 is a no-brainer and I guess the only reason I'm considering the others is because I like to be a little different and because I really like the Dura-Ace package...

    If you've made it this far, thanks for reading this! I'll hopefully be buying in the next week or so, once I figure out what to get... Any and all comments are appreciated!

    Mike (Xyzzy)

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Mike, I believe that you will get an excellent bike at the 2.5K range no matter what you pick. Components at this level are roughly all at the same level. What is comes down to is what feels good when you ride it. It might be harder for you because you do not have anything to base it on since you do not have a road back ground.

    I was looking for a new bike this year to replace my Alumium frame trek, and had decided to look at bikes in the 2.5k range to replace it. After looking around I narrowed it down to 3 bikes that I was looking at.

    Spec. Roubaix Comp
    Trek 5200
    Giant TCR1

    As you know all these bike are carbon and are roughly at the same price level. All three were excellent rides but I just liked the way the Giant accelerated and climbed. Not only that but the components on it were slightly better.(Wheel set, crank, stem, rear der)

    I now have over 1000 miles on this bike and have loved every minute of it. I love the carbon frame compared to the alumium because of a less harsh ride. Ultegra is a good level of components, it ain't DA, but it cost about half as much.

    Good luck on deciding, that is half the fun. If you can find a shop that has the Giant in your size and you like it you better scoop it up because there are not many more out there to be had.

  3. #3

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    Cool similar situation-

    I was in a similar quandry as to what to buY (actually - finally bought yesterday) but I
    also realized that the research and the investigation and reading posts and reviews is part of the fun. I think this echos jammer. I bounced back and forth with price range and
    decided to stretch the entry past the 1K point (a little) and got the Orbea Marmolada-
    OFCOURSE- I really like this company because I need to validate my experience but
    they are beautiful and really nicely equipped at all price points with either Campy -or-
    Shimano. Check at www.orbea-usa.com - made in Spain-
    Your 2.5K range sounds like a great level one that I thought about waiting for and surely
    would be a step up in all ways from entry level but my thought was that I could really sink my teeth into cycling (again) on a very nice bike for 2-3 years and decide what I want at the next level(s) based on the kind of riding I find myself doing on this one.
    Are you limited to the bikes you have on your list? There is so much out there in your
    range(s) - If you got to have the carbon- check out Look cycles. My lbs could have set
    me up with the lowest end Look with 105 all around for right at 2.2k a very sweet ride- however once you fold in pedals helmet and shoes the price can go well beyond ones
    percieved budget.
    You are right about the weakest link being the rider- There are people in my area riding
    the 6K bling bling bikes being passed by people on older, downshifter - 400 dollar cylcles
    like you mentioned- --- sometimes I forget that I am not trying to shave off a couple of seconds from my last best time- and that I am looking for the same things out of a bike
    that you mention.
    Now see i rambled - happy shopping and eventually riding-
    S

  4. #4
    steel road, fixie, & MTB
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    crmo steel vs. aluminum alloy with carbon stay

    i test rode some of the road bikes mentioned, upto the $2500 cost. bikes i tested were all full aluminum or al. with carbon stays (didn't noticed the difference). they were fine, all had ultegra groppo. weigthin around 20#s, lowest weight bike was 19.5# for 56" full carbon trek 5200, $2500, again, my arese didn't notice the difference in a full carbon.
    all the crmo steel bikes under $2000 weighed in over 20#, close to 21#.

    to me over-all fit, price, and weight of bike, and crash durability are the factors that matter as all the gruppos at this price range seems to be fine.

    i wonder how durable the aluminum bikes are?

    i'm leaning towards a light (under 20#) crmo steel bike with ultegra or centuar gruppo, for about $2000 or less. I haven't found it yet...
    Viner Pro Team Dedacciai EOM 16.5 light steel Campy 2x10.
    "The state that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting by fools." - Thucydides.

  5. #5
    Well-read hooligan
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    Don't forget steel!

    Quote Originally Posted by TrailNut
    i test rode some of the road bikes mentioned, upto the $2500 cost. bikes i tested were all full aluminum or al. with carbon stays (didn't noticed the difference). they were fine, all had ultegra groppo. weigthin around 20#s, lowest weight bike was 19.5# for 56" full carbon trek 5200, $2500, again, my arese didn't notice the difference in a full carbon.
    all the crmo steel bikes under $2000 weighed in over 20#, close to 21#.

    to me over-all fit, price, and weight of bike, and crash durability are the factors that matter as all the gruppos at this price range seems to be fine.

    i wonder how durable the aluminum bikes are?

    i'm leaning towards a light (under 20#) crmo steel bike with ultegra or centuar gruppo, for about $2000 or less. I haven't found it yet...
    I just bought last year's colnago master light with new 04 chorus, deda newton bar and stem, thompson seat post and fizik aliente saddle ... $2950 to my door by GVHBikes.com. I rode a number of top end ($5k +) carbon and aluminum bikes before I made my choice. Granted, I've been riding steel for so many years (tho my mtn bikes are aluminum) that I love the feel of the Colnago ... Check out the site. He's got a bunch of landsharks, colnagos, and others. Very quick turnaround, too.

  6. #6
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    To me it doesn't sound like you're all that budget-minded, as if you were you would've listed more $1000 dollar options, plus you wouldn't be so hooked on DuraAce already.

    Keep in mind, there is nothing wrong with ultegra, or even 105 IMO. You said you didn't want to get ultegra as it will be obsolete next year. True enough, but does this mean you necessarily have to get Dura Ace in its place? 105 works too, has recently been upgraded, and if I had a third bike, it would be all 105, with the exception of the BB (that's another story). Sometimes you can't beat value for money. Before 10 speed, how many people trained on ultegra or 105 cassettes?

    If said you'll be into doing serious hillclimbing, then you need a light bike, no two ways about it. But often, it is better (read: lighter+cheaper) to get a lighter seat & post + bar & stem than to go full Dura Ace.
    Nobody really needs dura-ace, but having said that I have a record bike, so that argument doesn't carry much merit.

    Just a bit of thought there. Don't buy a bike solely because it has DuraAce. The frame & wheels are technically more important.

    OTOH, the statements like these say it all:

    I know that I have always regretted not doing something right in the first place...
    &

    I know that I will not upgrade the bike at all... I've fallen in that trap before and it is a bottomless pit... Whatever I get has to be good from the get-go...
    This tells me you've already made up your mind about the cheaper options. Especially since you thought the TCR felt cheap etc. My advice, FWIW: Just get the bike you like best. If you like the cannondale, get it & swap the seat.

  7. #7

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    I think you need to look a little more. I personally believe, when you get on the right bike you will know it, it just feels right. A few suggestions since you are still looking:

    1) LeMond - Confortable road geometry and many Steel and Titanium Offerings.
    2) Titus- You can get a custom built TI frame with the tubes and geometry customized for your weight, height and riding style. Plust the bike has lifetime warrantee and can be purchased fully built for $3500.
    3) Klein- Absolutely beautiful paintjobs.

    All have lifetime warrantees.

  8. #8
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    1st, you are right, Treks are ugly. Don't be ashamed to say it, even Trek owners know this, they are just too busy dreaming of Lance to care.


    If you go for the $3k+ (you don't need to, but you already know this), you need to expand your search beyond the 'regulars'. Look at Pegoretti, Bianchi, Independent, etc. I agree with the others, don't rule-out Ti or steel. Take your time, don't be turned-off by mid-july, even August delivery.

    Finally, make sure it fits. I saw a chump on a Dogma the other day, it had 5 inches of headset spacers and 1 inch of seatpost showing. It nearly made me cry.

    Good luck.

  9. #9

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    Thanks for all the help! I ended up saving for another month and got into a TCR1...
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  10. #10
    I don't exist
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    NIce!

    ........
    Rocket Sturgeon
    -2B1 Ask 1-
    Fast Stinky Fish
    in KY jelly

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailNut
    i test rode some of the road bikes mentioned, upto the $2500 cost. bikes i tested were all full aluminum or al. with carbon stays (didn't noticed the difference). they were fine, all had ultegra groppo. weigthin around 20#s, lowest weight bike was 19.5# for 56" full carbon trek 5200, $2500, again, my arese didn't notice the difference in a full carbon.
    all the crmo steel bikes under $2000 weighed in over 20#, close to 21#.

    to me over-all fit, price, and weight of bike, and crash durability are the factors that matter as all the gruppos at this price range seems to be fine.

    i wonder how durable the aluminum bikes are?

    i'm leaning towards a light (under 20#) crmo steel bike with ultegra or centuar gruppo, for about $2000 or less. I haven't found it yet...
    Performance has some 2003 Jamis Eclipses for $1799. I think it is a great deal. My 61 is less than 20#, and I love it.

  12. #12
    classiquesklassieker
    Reputation: orange_julius's Avatar
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    Since you are new, don't insist on finding "the one" on your first purchase. Go with a sub-1k bike, ride it, ride with other biking buddies, beg them to loan you their bikes, and make a fully-informed purchase in a year or two, once you know exactly what your likes and dislikes are. This is exactly what I did, and I'm glad that I didn't spend an extra penny on my first bike (used low-end Trek alu).

    When shopping for different bikes, with so many options, your mileage might vary. So why not find out for yourself instead of making a gamble now?

  13. #13

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    Okay, time for a 500 mile report...

    So far I have replaced the stock 11-23 rear cassette for a 13-23... This gives me a 16 and 18 cog which I find more useful than the 11 and 12...

    I destickerfied the bike, which took several hours... The wheel stickers were tricky at first... I just hate stickers! My wife tells me this is a sign I have OCD... Whatever!

    I just today cut the carbon steerer tube... Talk about a stressful modification! If you cut the steerer wrong you just destroyed the fork! Now it is "slammed" all the way down and I put a small spacer on top to even the stem tension on the steerer face... Contrast this to the first picture which has a Fredly stack of spacers! Ugh! I hate spacers! (And I hate spoke protectors and reflectors too!)

    A computer and a HRM have been installed... The computer is wired, which isn't state of the art, but it is infinitely more reliable than a wireless solution...

    The stock (no name) tubes were replaced by Michelin AirComp ultra light tubes... I like how the valve stems on the Michelin tubes are not threaded... Nobody I know uses the lock ring anyways, and pumps fit better with no threading...

    I slapped some Elite Cuissi Gel cages on, but I'm planning on tossing on some Elite Pateo cages as soon as I can find them locally...

    Anyways, I'm down to 187.5#... The first 500 miles just blew on by and I'm looking forward to the next 500...
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  14. #14
    classiquesklassieker
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    Awesome! Sounds like you're thoroughly enjoying the bike and have made great progress towards your weight loss goals. Thanks for the report.

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