First Road Bike Questions
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  1. #1
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    Arrow First Road Bike Questions

    Hi Guys! First post newbie looking to chat a bit about my pending first road bike.

    For years now, I've been tearing up the asphalt on my mountain bikes, primarily Treks. The latest in a Trek 6000 that I've upgraded for enhanced road performance. It's actually a really nice ride with the Michelin Wild Run'R 26x1.1's. Over the course of a 70 mile ride, I can manage a 18pmh average. But although I can really get cranking along, and have passed quite a few road runners while out an about, I do feel it is about time I pick myself up an actual "road" bike. If for nothing else than the ergonomics and better gearing. As well as in hope of not having my crazy legs spinning maniacally going down hill at 35 (it's just not letting me get any more out of it).

    While I would absolutely love to pick a nice top of the line ride in the $10,000 realm, my current finances will not allow for it. So I'm eying the Trek 1.5. Either that or the Cannondale CAAD8 6. But I'm actually rather partial to Treks.

    Anyways, as with every stock bike, I'll be considering some immediate upgrades.

    Wheels and Tires
    Every bike I have owned has had horrible wheels. So I'd like to hear some of your opinions on what would be some reasonably priced choices (keeping with the all black scheme of the 1.5). Mavic Aksiums perhaps?

    Tires ... I want some really solid, high end tires. Great performance, durability, and good puncture resistance.

    Drive Train
    While the 1.5 is equipped with Tiagra components for the most part (shifters and derailleurs), I figure I can run them until they need replacing. Yeah?

    But in time I would like to go for some better components.

    I would probably be looking into a new cassette (obviously as it wears), a rear derailleur, and possibly a better shifter/brake lever for that side (not so worried about the shift for the front derailleur). I like SRAM. Just a personal preference. What are some good choices?

    Having dealt with strictly mountain bikes, I'm a bit confused about the components of the road bikes. The shifter/brake levers are foreign to me. As is the gearing and compatibility with pending upgrades.

    The Trek is a 9-speed (not sure if that is better or worse, performance wise, than a 10-speed). Stock has it running a SRAM PG-950 11-26 cassette. It's got three rings up front (50/39/30). I would prefer two, since I've never in my life dropped down from the large ring. So how would upgrades in this area work? What 9-speed options are available? Or might I later decide to want a 10-speed gearing? In that case I'd need a different derailleur for compatibility with a new cassette, right?

    So many question. So much confusion.

    I'd appreciate all your input on this.

  2. #2
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    So you're wondering if Trek makes good road bikes?

    You may or may not find the Tiagra components satisfactory in the long run. They tend to be more towards the lower end in terms of durability and can be fiddly with their frequent need of readjustment.

    My advice to you is to expand your options beyond the Trek 1.5 and look around at the various offerings and deals in your area and online.

    And since you're asking for our opinions on what to consider, I'd look for deals on bikes with Shimano 105 5700 level components. Though, most any 105 or lower level bike you'll find will probably disappoint with the stock wheels they slap on them, so just budget another $350 for a nice set of wheels from bicycle wheel warehouse, and you'll be all set.

  3. #3
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    Why buy a relatively low-end bike and immediately start upgrading it? Seems silly. You're either going to quickly "over-equip" it, or "upgrade" with stuff that isn't really an upgrade. ($250 wheels that are just as heavy and no better as the stock wheels aren't an upgrade.)

    Would you consider used from CL or Ebay?

    Or wait until you've got a few more dollars in your piggy bank and get a slightly better bike, something with Shimano 105 or SRAM Rival; then you can get a compact double crankset and 10speed cassette.

    For what you're looking at I'd throw another $200 on top of the CAAD8-6 and get a CAAD 8-5 which comes with 105 stuff. Then wait until you've got at least $350-$400 to throw at wheels and get something lighter/better than the Aksiums. ( I got a pair of Shimano RS-80's on ebay for $380)
    "It ain't a teacup that the Queen gave you - it's a bike. Ride it!"

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJP Diver
    Why buy a relatively low-end bike and immediately start upgrading it? Seems silly. You're either going to quickly "over-equip" it, or "upgrade" with stuff that isn't really an upgrade. ($250 wheels that are just as heavy and no better as the stock wheels aren't an upgrade.)

    Would you consider used from CL or Ebay?

    Or wait until you've got a few more dollars in your piggy bank and get a slightly better bike, something with Shimano 105 or SRAM Rival; then you can get a compact double crankset and 10speed cassette.

    For what you're looking at I'd throw another $200 on top of the CAAD8-6 and get a CAAD 8-5 which comes with 105 stuff. Then wait until you've got at least $350-$400 to throw at wheels and get something lighter/better than the Aksiums. ( I got a pair of Shimano RS-80's on ebay for $380)
    I know ... You're right. Perhaps I should look into something along the line of the CAAD10 5 and be done with it until it's time to change out the cassette and chain from eventual wear.

    Yeah ... I'll probably go this route.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wood Devil
    I know ... You're right. Perhaps I should look into something along the line of the CAAD10 5 and be done with it until it's time to change out the cassette and chain from eventual wear.

    Yeah ... I'll probably go this route.
    Now you're talking!

    The CAAD10 is a great frame that you'd be hard-pressed to "over equip" unless you go completely nuts.
    "It ain't a teacup that the Queen gave you - it's a bike. Ride it!"

  6. #6
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    I agree with RJP. Upgrading a bike can be hideously expensive. It's always a much better deal to buy the upgraded bike in the 1st place. I try to buy stuff from my local store & my latest bike is no exception. I get to see it & test ride it & see if it's a proper fit for me before shelling out any $$.

    My latest bike came with Mavic Ksyriums wheels. I didn't want them so I traded them for custom wheels, & got to specify exactly what rims, hubs, spokes, etc. that I wanted. It only cost me a few bucks more & I'm delighted with the results. Depending on who you're dealing with & what you're getting you might consider trying to work a deal on the wheels. BTW, I didn't like the seat either. I had my own at home so I gave him the seat as part of the deal.
    Before you criticize someone walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them you'll be a mile away & you'll have their shoes.

  7. #7
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    Wheels and Tires
    Every bike I have owned has had horrible wheels. So I'd like to hear some of your opinions on what would be some reasonably priced choices (keeping with the all black scheme of the 1.5). Mavic Aksiums perhaps?
    Your favorite common 32 hole rims laced to Shimano 105 hubs cross-3 with DT 2.0/1.8mm Competition spokes and brass nipples. Read The Bicycle Wheel and do it yourself if you have patience or find a competent wheel builder.

    When you crash one or wear out the braking surface on a common rim you get another one with this year's model name and decals, de-tension the wheel, tape the new rim to the old, move spokes one at a time, and tension+true like you were building from scratch.

    I'm now undecided on specifics - I ran Mavic Reflex clinchers and then Open Pros for 15 years but they may have switched to a stiffer, more brittle alloy prone to cracking. I'm trying Kinlin rims but don't like how much more tension variation it takes to build a true wheel and the tolerances on diameter are bad (if I build a wheel with a 580mm ERD and alloy nipple I need custom threaded spokes if I'm going to re-use them when putting on a small one at 576mm). The DT RR465 is an allegedly good socketed box section rim and people seem happy with Velocity rims for more aerodynamic shapes.

    With 32 spokes you can bend the rim enough to remove tension from one, perhaps open a brake release, and finish your ride. That becomes less likely as you loose spokes.

    Double butted spokes build into more durable wheels. DT spokes have shorter elbows which are better supported by the flanges and a smooth transition from thick to thin sections which looks good. Brass nipples tolerate more variation in rim diameter than alloy.

    With loose bearing hubs you grease them every few thousand miles and they keep working as they wear because you make them tighter as necessary when you service them. Cartridge bearings get loose and then need replacement. If things ever get too worn you just replace the balls and maybe cones without any special tools. The 105s have decent seals for road hubs and don't cost too much.

    Drive Train
    While the 1.5 is equipped with Tiagra components for the most part (shifters and derailleurs), I figure I can run them until they need replacing. Yeah?
    Sure.

    Stock has it running a SRAM PG-950 11-26 cassette. It's got three rings up front (50/39/30). I would prefer two, since I've never in my life dropped down from the large ring.
    I'd keep the triple but put on a tighter cassette (11-19 if I wanted an 11 starting cog).

    1. You don't want to be riding on the big ring all the time. Most of it (the 14 through the 26 cogs) corresponds to similar gears on the other rings. Where that provides a better chain-line you want to use it to avoid spurious down-shifts (especially as the rings wear), noise, and accelerated wear which degrades shifting.

    For instance 50x26 at the far end of the cassette is close to 39x21, and 30x15 with either of the later being a better choice.

    2. There limits to how slow you can pedal for a given periods of time without unacceptable fatigue which limits how hard you can work later in the ride or week. _Training and Racing with a Power Meter_ has an anecdote in the beginning about a racer who gets dropped anytime he spends more than five minutes with a cadence under 70 but power he could otherwise maintain for an hour. I can rack up a lot more threshold time the next day row if I'm spinning 90-100 RPM instead of 80-90.

    3. There are also limits to how fast you can pedal.

    Combine #2 and #3 with what just feels better and lots of riders prefer much more closely spaced cogs than 11-12-13-15-17-19-21-23-26.

    I like one tooth jumps up to the 19 cog. If you did that with 9 cogs and an 11 tooth first position cog your biggest cog would be a 19, and with 39x19 being harder than the 50x26 you've been using for everything you may still want the granny ring. I think 50x13 is enough for everything (after living in Boulder, CO for 15 years with rides west into the Rocky Mountains and east on the plains I never wanted for more except when commuting east-bound with a 40 MPH tail wind from a Chinnook) which allows a 13-14-15-16-17-18-19-21-23. While 50-34x23 is enough to make it up anything in the Colorado Rockies with good weight and fitness, there's a lot more chain noise and double shifting in the wrong terrain/wind/fatigue or rest day situations than with a triple since 50x21 and 34x14 is the only overlapping gear apart from the fully-cross-chained combinations and you're using one of those instead of the 16 or 17 in the middle of the cassette with a triple. A broken leg or middle-aged spread may mean you don't have good weight and fitness...

    4. You might want to go on rides with real climbs. Cat 1/2/Pro racers were running 39x28 as a low gear on the Mike Horgan Memorial Hill Climb in Boulder. You get the same low gear with 30x23 without compromising on gear spacing or changing cassettes depending on whether your ride will be hilly or flat.

    In that case I'd need a different derailleur for compatibility with a new cassette, right?
    No, but you'd need new shifters. With the huge markups (even ordering from the UK) on Shimano/SRAM you'd probably be better off buying a new bike. Or you could convert to Campagnolo shifters (Excel Sports, Boulder still has closeout 10 speed Veloce Ultrashift levers for $120; add a Shiftmate to pair it to Shimano derailleurs/cassettes).

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt
    Your favorite common 32 hole rims laced to Shimano 105 hubs cross-3 with DT 2.0/1.8mm Competition spokes and brass nipples. Read The Bicycle Wheel and do it yourself if you have patience or find a competent wheel builder.

    When you crash one or wear out the braking surface on a common rim you get another one with this year's model name and decals, de-tension the wheel, tape the new rim to the old, move spokes one at a time, and tension+true like you were building from scratch.

    I'm now undecided on specifics - I ran Mavic Reflex clinchers and then Open Pros for 15 years but they may have switched to a stiffer, more brittle alloy prone to cracking. I'm trying Kinlin rims but don't like how much more tension variation it takes to build a true wheel and the tolerances on diameter are bad (if I build a wheel with a 580mm ERD and alloy nipple I need custom threaded spokes if I'm going to re-use them when putting on a small one at 576mm). The DT RR465 is an allegedly good socketed box section rim and people seem happy with Velocity rims for more aerodynamic shapes.

    With 32 spokes you can bend the rim enough to remove tension from one, perhaps open a brake release, and finish your ride. That becomes less likely as you loose spokes.

    Double butted spokes build into more durable wheels. DT spokes have shorter elbows which are better supported by the flanges and a smooth transition from thick to thin sections which looks good. Brass nipples tolerate more variation in rim diameter than alloy.

    With loose bearing hubs you grease them every few thousand miles and they keep working as they wear because you make them tighter as necessary when you service them. Cartridge bearings get loose and then need replacement. If things ever get too worn you just replace the balls and maybe cones without any special tools. The 105s have decent seals for road hubs and don't cost too much.



    Sure.



    I'd keep the triple but put on a tighter cassette (11-19 if I wanted an 11 starting cog).

    1. You don't want to be riding on the big ring all the time. Most of it (the 14 through the 26 cogs) corresponds to similar gears on the other rings. Where that provides a better chain-line you want to use it to avoid spurious down-shifts (especially as the rings wear), noise, and accelerated wear which degrades shifting.

    For instance 50x26 at the far end of the cassette is close to 39x21, and 30x15 with either of the later being a better choice.

    2. There limits to how slow you can pedal for a given periods of time without unacceptable fatigue which limits how hard you can work later in the ride or week. _Training and Racing with a Power Meter_ has an anecdote in the beginning about a racer who gets dropped anytime he spends more than five minutes with a cadence under 70 but power he could otherwise maintain for an hour. I can rack up a lot more threshold time the next day row if I'm spinning 90-100 RPM instead of 80-90.

    3. There are also limits to how fast you can pedal.

    Combine #2 and #3 with what just feels better and lots of riders prefer much more closely spaced cogs than 11-12-13-15-17-19-21-23-26.

    I like one tooth jumps up to the 19 cog. If you did that with 9 cogs and an 11 tooth first position cog your biggest cog would be a 19, and with 39x19 being harder than the 50x26 you've been using for everything you may still want the granny ring. I think 50x13 is enough for everything (after living in Boulder, CO for 15 years with rides west into the Rocky Mountains and east on the plains I never wanted for more except when commuting east-bound with a 40 MPH tail wind from a Chinnook) which allows a 13-14-15-16-17-18-19-21-23. While 50-34x23 is enough to make it up anything in the Colorado Rockies with good weight and fitness, there's a lot more chain noise and double shifting in the wrong terrain/wind/fatigue or rest day situations than with a triple since 50x21 and 34x14 is the only overlapping gear apart from the fully-cross-chained combinations and you're using one of those instead of the 16 or 17 in the middle of the cassette with a triple. A broken leg or middle-aged spread may mean you don't have good weight and fitness...

    4. You might want to go on rides with real climbs. Cat 1/2/Pro racers were running 39x28 as a low gear on the Mike Horgan Memorial Hill Climb in Boulder. You get the same low gear with 30x23 without compromising on gear spacing or changing cassettes depending on whether your ride will be hilly or flat.



    No, but you'd need new shifters. With the huge markups (even ordering from the UK) on Shimano/SRAM you'd probably be better off buying a new bike. Or you could convert to Campagnolo shifters (Excel Sports, Boulder still has closeout 10 speed Veloce Ultrashift levers for $120; add a Shiftmate to pair it to Shimano derailleurs/cassettes).
    Very good info. Thanks, Drew.

  9. #9
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    Alright ... so I've narrowed down my choices.

    I haven't been over to the bike shop yet, so unless they have some deals on left over models, I'm thinking either the CAAD8 5 105, or the Synapse Alloy 5 105. Both are right about at my maximum budget (a burden eased, hopefully, if someone eventually calls to buy my amped up Trek 6000).

    What are your thoughts on each?

  10. #10
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    Fit, Fit, Fit. Both great bikes but the one you're more comfortable on you'll ride faster with and go farther.

  11. #11
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    Just talked with the bike shop ...

    I'll be stopping by tomorrow afternoon. I was told they have a couple 2010 CAAD9 5's left over for $1200. Good looking ride.

  12. #12
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    Well, I went with the 2010 CAAD9 5. While I'd have preferred the an all black paint scheme of my other choices, this one seemed to feel best. The fit seemed better, and the ride tighter, smoother.

    I wasn't a fan of the white bar tape, so they're wrapping in black for me. The seat, too, is white, but it was rather comfy. So figuring that my ass will be covering it, it's no big deal in the aesthetic department. I am rather finicky, like that, though.

    I'll be picking her up tomorrow morning.

    I'll probably be picking up a 105 brakeset for it -- ditch the Tektro stuff. Then probably some good tires ... Schwalbe Ultremo ZX Clinchers perhaps?

  13. #13
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    Congrats - you'll love it.

    Give the Tektro a try before you dismiss them. I have no experience with them, but I'd be willing to bet a nickel that they're fine...

    :-)

    I have the 105's and they are fine, but nothing phenomenal.
    "It ain't a teacup that the Queen gave you - it's a bike. Ride it!"

  14. #14
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    I have Tektro brakes and when I squeeze the brake levers the cable gets pulled that pressed the calipers together, pushing the pad onto the rim of the wheel , effectively stopping the bike

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJP Diver
    Congrats - you'll love it.

    Give the Tektro a try before you dismiss them. I have no experience with them, but I'd be willing to bet a nickel that they're fine...

    :-)

    I have the 105's and they are fine, but nothing phenomenal.
    I most likely will. At least for a while.

    My problem is that I'm a brand dork; I like to have all my components by the same company, SRAM or Shimano. Not knocking the Tektro brakes (yet), but for me it like tossing Bontrager wheels and tires on a Specialized bike. Probably not making much sense.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zeekster64
    I have Tektro brakes and when I squeeze the brake levers the cable gets pulled that pressed the calipers together, pushing the pad onto the rim of the wheel , effectively stopping the bike
    You ought get that looked at...

    "It ain't a teacup that the Queen gave you - it's a bike. Ride it!"

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJP Diver
    You ought get that looked at...

    I plan to schedule and appointment ...

  18. #18
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    Nothing wrong functionally with the Tektro calipers. Though you may want to change the brake pads to something better though.
    The downside to the Tektros as I experienced on one of my bikes was that within 1 season, they started showing rust all over the springs and bolts, and by the end of the second season, it looked like those previously shiny bits were anodizes in brown crud.

    These days I only go for the higher end Shimano calipers...

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