I finally got to take my new bike out for a spin yesterday.
It's an early edition (meaning it came with the 2005 Shimano 105 components, including a triple crank, instead of a compact double) 2006 Jamis Eclipse. Here are my thoughts on it and how it compares to my 1992 Trek 1200:
STI vs down tube shifters:
I bought my last bike when STI was fairly new. I didn't want to spend the extra $ for it so I went with down tube shifters. All I can say is I wish I had switched earlier. It's so much easier to shift when you don't have to move your hands from the bars. Another plus is that the STI levers include an shifting adjustment knob. This meant I was able to tweak the shifting while I was riding rather than having to stop and hope I went the right way. I'm considering upgrading the Trek to STI, or just buying a second bike, for riding at the beach and the Eastern part of NC where the roads are way flatter.
Steel vs aluminum:
From the reading I've done, it's not clear that the choice of material is really what determines the ride. Many say it's really dependent on the tubing and the geometry. However, I will say that even after only taking it on a short ride, the new steel frame is way more comfortable than the older aluminum frame.
The Quest came with a Fizik Pave seat. Even though I could tell that the adjustment wasn't quite right, and I've only taken it on one fairly short ride so far, this seat seems comfortable.
This bike feels comfortable. I bought it to begin training for longer rides. Next year I'm hoping to do some centuries, including some on the mountains. Time will tell whether this bike will work well, but so far, I like it.
I haven't ridden the bike enough to fully evaluate this, but so far it's working pretty well. When I first went out yesterday, shifting from the smallest to the middle ring wasn't working quite right. It was reluctant to shift up to the middle ring. I was also getting some chain rub when in the biggest ring. A slight adjustment of the left shifting knob cleared up both problems.
Even on my short ride I was able to make my way through the entire range of gears. The smaller granny gear (30x23) was a pleasant change from the (42x28) that's on the Trek. The lower gearing meant I was able to keep a reasonable cadence up the steeper hills instead of having to stand or mash the pedals at an unreasonably low rpm. I'll probably buy a rear cassette with an even larger cog, perhaps an 11x28, for mountain rides. If I was 20 years younger, or 70 pounds lighter, I might not need the triple. But since I'm not, I'll do what I can to save my knees, and make riding more pleasant, rather than give in to pride and suffer with gearing that's too high.