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  1. #1
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    "Performance road" bike category, consider it?

    I see a lot of threads about new road bikes in both the C & A forum and the road bike forum. It seems that many people that want to buy road bikes seem to focus their choices on race bikes. I'll admit that I looked at them seriously also when considering a purchase of a road bike. However, I was not aware of the category that many call "performance road" bikes. I feel fortunate that the LBS guided me to that category. I ended up purchasing a bike in this category, I have been happy with it, and don't have any complaints.

    I went into an LBS last week and saw a top of the line Specialized Roubaix on display and commented to the sales person what a nice bike it was. He indicated that if he didn't race, that he would be riding the Specialized Roubaix or the Cannondale Synapse (the LBS carries both of these brands in addition to others.) I asked him why? He indicated that the frames in the performance road category are a lot more comfortable to ride than regular race frames that have a more aggressive geometry. He did indicate that the performance road category of frames are raced in professional peletons where long distances are covered over sometimes rough terrain (cobble stones.) He said the handling on the performance road category of frame is not quite as responsive as the aggressive race frames... a very important criteria for someone that races.

    I don't race. I never will. "Handling" and responsiveness are not important to me. I can't imagine that I'll be doing any aggressive cornering or need to steer around a competitor in an all out sprint. However, I do appreciate a comfortable lightweight frame (mine is carbon) that climbs well and transfers power well to the rear wheel.

    Maybe this category of road bikes is catching on. I see more manufacturers with a bike in this particular category. I'm just wondering if you ride one... or if you seriously considered a performance road bike when making your decision to buy a road bike? Is this the type of bike that we should steer buyers toward if they want a road bike... especially if they do not have a desire to race? And don't get me wrong, I believe that this type of bicycle would hold it's own in almost any amateur peleton.

  2. #2
    Senior Member bassjones's Avatar
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    I seriously considered both a Synapse and a CAAD 9 and ended up with the CAAD 9. I am planning on doing some triathlons as I lose weight and as I continue to lose weight am hoping to be fairly competitive in the Clydesdale class, which at 6'5" I will probably always be a part of, even in terrific shape. Also, as I was saving money by buying a leftover 2010 model, part of my decision was guided by the fact that the LBS only had a Synapse 5 or a CAAD 9-4 to choose from in my size and after riding both I found I greatly preferred the shifting on the SRAM group over the Shimano 105 group.

  3. #3
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    There is also the Sport category; which is just the new name for what we used to call a road bike.
    I have a Gunnar Sport which is made by Schwinn, and can trace it's roots back to the Schwinn Varsity
    (and even earlier).

    The advantages are many. For one thing these bikes typically have mounts for racks.
    I have commuted, lite touring, grocery shopping. They have a slightly longer wheelbase,
    slightly more relaxed geometry and midsize tires. It all adds up to an improved ride, especially for Clydes.

    http://salsacycles.com/bikes/casseroll/
    http://gunnarbikes.com/site/bikes/sport/
    http://www.surlybikes.com/bikes/pacer_complete/

    There are others, the easiest way to spot one is the ability
    to take a 28c tire; and have 57mm brakes (or cantis).

    This isn't a Sport, but it has an amazingly sweet ride.
    http://www.habcycles.com/road.html
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  4. #4
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    This type of bike is what I'm considering for my next road bike. Short list candidates for me include the Cannondale Synapse series, Giant's Defy, Jamis's Ventura, Felt's Z series and Specialized's Secteur (I can't afford the Roubaix). Between lessening flexibility in my body as I get older, and a nasty cervical disc protrusion that I will do anything to keep from flaring up again, these bikes are definitely in my sights. In my view, they're the best place to start if you want some degree of performance-type handling, without the twitchy hyper-responsiveness and sometimes harsh ride of a full-tilt racing bike.

    BTW, you'll also see this category called "endurance" bikes, and even on occasion "plush" or "comfort" bikes, though the last two can sometimes be used for completely different, cruiser types as well.
    Last edited by CraigB; 01-31-11 at 01:54 PM.
    Craig in Indy

  5. #5
    Senior Member chasmm's Avatar
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    When I got back into cycling a year ago (after about 20 years away), I got a hybrid thinking it would be a good re-introduction. It was, but I very quickly began to miss the advantage of riding drop-bars. I pulled one of the bikes out of the garage (an '88 Specialized Sequoia) and got it "road-ready". I quickly got reacquainted with the fun of a road bike, and wanted something newer.

    I looked around quite a bit and happened upon an online review for the Specialized Roubaix. I liked what I read and did some more digging...and discovered that a large number of the Roubaix reviews said something along the lines of "I've been away from cycling for a number of years and have put on weight. I'm over 50 now and wanted to ride again." In other words, they could have been written by me.

    As it happens, about that time I received an e-mail from Delta talking about their expanded Skymiles redemption program. I looked, and there it was...a 2010 Specialized Roubaix available for a nice chunk of miles. Luckily the shop that Delta/AmEx uses for their programs was within driving distance, so I went to check out the bike. After just 5 minutes on it, I was in love. 2500+ miles (and 2 centuries) later, I'm still in love with it. Right now the limiting factor in my cycling isn't the Roubaix, but the rider.

    Maybe if I lose the weight I'll reach the point where I feel like my Roubaix "could" be better but I doubt it. It rides well, it rides fast (eh, at least as fast as I can ride it), and it's responsive. I guess if my intent was to race (and I did back in the early-mid 80's) I'd look at a different geometry. However I'm pretty confident that if I decided to do a race (or triathlon) the Roubaix wouldn't be the reason for my finishing place.

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  6. #6
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    Weren't these called comfort bikes just a couple of years ago? Performance road bike does sound better...

    My bike fits the description - taller head tube and shorter top tube than the "off the rack" Lynskeys, creating a slightly more compact and upright riding position that suits me. The frame came from their custom program, but was hanging on a shop wall for several years as a display frame. I was able to buy it cheap when the shop wanted a more current frame to display. For long rides, a different set of compromises is definitely beneficial.

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  7. #7
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    I have a Cannondale Synapse and love it. IMHO most people (especially clydes) that want a road bike should be on this type. Unless you are young, thin, and fast you will do better on the bikes with the more relaxed geometry. Bikes like the Synapse, Spec Roubaix, and Cervelo RS are all examples.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    I don't race. I never will. "Handling" and responsiveness are not important to me.
    This may all be true, but the two thoughts aren't as connected as you think. I don't race much, but handling and responsiveness are of the utmost importance. Flying down a hill and navigating hairpin turns is one of the greatest joys in life, up there with good sex.

    I ride a 2010 Cervelo RS, which you'd probably compare to the Roubaix or Syapse. It's a comfortable racing bike, and, with yours, has done well in the Paris-Roubaix. My other bike feels drunk by comparison, thanks to its sluggish steering.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  9. #9
    Double Naught Spy TrekDen's Avatar
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    Yep, bought a Scott CR1 last year. Carbon frame, very relaxed geometry, and shock absorbing technology built into it. All that tech really smooths out the chip seal roads here in PA. May not turn as quick as their Addict model, but it's plenty good for my club rides. The steering is still super responsive when compared to my old aluminum steed.

  10. #10
    Senior Member poperszky's Avatar
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    Considered it, bought it. Giant Defy 1
    Terry

  11. #11
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrekDen View Post
    Yep, bought a Scott CR1 last year.
    I forgot to mention the CR1 Comp is also on my short list.
    Craig in Indy

  12. #12
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    Of the new Treks/Gary Fisher bikes, which ones fit in the Performance (Cannondale 10 & Synapse and Roubaix) category you speak of? I pick these two because they are the ones my lbs sales. Sorry if this is hijacking but it is along the some topic. Sounds like just the type of bike I should be considering for my attempt at the 103 mile Assault on Mount Mitchell yes?

  13. #13
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony N. View Post
    Of the new Treks/Gary Fisher bikes, which ones fit in the Performance (Cannondale 10 & Synapse and Roubaix) category you speak of? I pick these two because they are the ones my lbs sales. Sorry if this is hijacking but it is along the some topic. Sounds like just the type of bike I should be considering for my attempt at the 103 mile Assault on Mount Mitchell yes?
    I'm not sure if Trek has a specific line of these frames like they used to (the Pilot series). I think with the current model year you just have to look for a bike with their H2 or H3 geometry designation. I think, but wouldn't swear to it, that H1 is the most aggressive and H3 is the least. H2s seem to be available across a couple of model lines. I believe the 2.3 falls into that category, and I think even the least expensive carbon model, the Madone 3.1, does as well.
    Last edited by CraigB; 01-31-11 at 02:10 PM.
    Craig in Indy

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    This may all be true, but the two thoughts aren't as connected as you think. I don't race much, but handling and responsiveness are of the utmost importance. Flying down a hill and navigating hairpin turns is one of the greatest joys in life, up there with good sex.

    I ride a 2010 Cervelo RS, which you'd probably compare to the Roubaix or Syapse. It's a comfortable racing bike, and, with yours, has done well in the Paris-Roubaix. My other bike feels drunk by comparison, thanks to its sluggish steering.
    The performance road bikes do handle well and they are responsive. It's just that these two characteristics are not their specialty. My synapse descends very well and I actually prefer that it is not as "twitchy" (responsive) as some road frames that I have tried. Make no mistake... these are race bikes, but they are designed for a long, long day in the saddle in more comfort than the typical aggressive road frame.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by late View Post
    There is also the Sport category; which is just the new name for what we used to call a road bike.
    I have a Gunnar Sport which is made by Schwinn, and can trace it's roots back to the Schwinn Varsity
    (and even earlier).

    The advantages are many. For one thing these bikes typically have mounts for racks.
    I have commuted, lite touring, grocery shopping. They have a slightly longer wheelbase,
    slightly more relaxed geometry and midsize tires. It all adds up to an improved ride, especially for Clydes.

    http://salsacycles.com/bikes/casseroll/
    http://gunnarbikes.com/site/bikes/sport/
    http://www.surlybikes.com/bikes/pacer_complete/

    There are others, the easiest way to spot one is the ability
    to take a 28c tire; and have 57mm brakes (or cantis).

    This isn't a Sport, but it has an amazingly sweet ride.
    http://www.habcycles.com/road.html
    While I agree that those are all very nice bikes, and very comfortable bikes, I don't believe they belong in the "performance road" category - thus they have their own category - "sport." The only disadvantage that I see with these bikes is weight. I believe they are all steel frames. Very comfortable rides but they don't transfer power quite as well to the rear wheel as the performance road bikes. The sport bikes do have some distinct advantages - room for wider tires, fenders, racks. I have considered a salsa casseroll for a rain bike just because of it's ability to take fenders. I see that many randonneurs ride these bikes in their events.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    While I agree that those are all very nice bikes, and very comfortable bikes, I don't believe they belong in the "performance road" category - thus they have their own category - "sport." The only disadvantage that I see with these bikes is weight. I believe they are all steel frames. Very comfortable rides but they don't transfer power quite as well to the rear wheel as the performance road bikes. The sport bikes do have some distinct advantages - room for wider tires, fenders, racks. I have considered a salsa casseroll for a rain bike just because of it's ability to take fenders. I see that many randonneurs ride these bikes in their events.
    I think you have been reading to much bicycle marketing material... Generally you have high end racing bicycles made of unobtainium, with 5 digit price tags, you have sport road bikes which are typically at the low end of the spectrum, the only reason for the replacing the title comfort road, is that it's confusing with comfort bike, which is a low end hybrid. Performance road are essentially aluminum versions of sport frames, with Tiagra/105 instead of Sora/Tiagra components. None of this is new, I have a sport road bike that was built in 1975, and bikes that would solidly fall into the Performance road category were around then too.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wogsterca View Post
    I think you have been reading to much bicycle marketing material... Generally you have high end racing bicycles made of unobtainium, with 5 digit price tags, you have sport road bikes which are typically at the low end of the spectrum, the only reason for the replacing the title comfort road, is that it's confusing with comfort bike, which is a low end hybrid. Performance road are essentially aluminum versions of sport frames, with Tiagra/105 instead of Sora/Tiagra components. None of this is new, I have a sport road bike that was built in 1975, and bikes that would solidly fall into the Performance road category were around then too.
    OK... since you have 5000+ posts, I'll defer to you. However, all the steel framed bikes that were mentioned in the post above have a distinctly different geometry than my cannondale synapse. All the steel framed bikes mentioned above also come with a standard fork that will take much wider tires than my cannondale synapse. All the steel framed bikes mentioned above will also take a rear fender. My bike is not unobtainium (it's carbon and not an "aluminum sport frame" and it didn't cost 5 figures. I have yet to spot a steel bike in a professional peleton. However, I have spotted a cannondale synapse and a specialized roubaix in a professional peleton. The top of the line Cannondale Synapse is made from hi-mod carbon and is decked out in full dura-ace or SRAM red components.

    Yes, all the bikes, the steel ones, your sport 1975, and a wal-mart bike are beyond my cycling abilities. However, I researched the "marketing materials" before making my purchase, and I feel like I made the right decision for me. I was just hoping to provide some input for someone that might be going through the same process. I was unaware that the technology hadn't changed since at least 1975. Please excuse my ignorance.
    Last edited by InTheRain; 01-31-11 at 06:23 PM.

  18. #18
    Senior Member 1855Cru's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony N. View Post
    Of the new Treks/Gary Fisher bikes, which ones fit in the Performance (Cannondale 10 & Synapse and Roubaix) category you speak of? I pick these two because they are the ones my lbs sales. Sorry if this is hijacking but it is along the some topic. Sounds like just the type of bike I should be considering for my attempt at the 103 mile Assault on Mount Mitchell yes?
    I have a Trek 2.1 with H3 geometry which gives a more upright 'comfort' riding position. It is an Aluminium bike with carbon forks and seat post. 105 Component group. It rides very nicely and I will be using it to run the Blood, Sweat and Gears century this June in the NC moutains
    http://www.ablokeandabike.blogspot.com

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  19. #19
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    OK... since you have 5000+ posts, I'll defer to you. However, all the steel framed bikes that were mentioned in the post above have a distinctly different geometry than my cannondale synapse. All the steel framed bikes mentioned above also come with a standard fork that will take much wider tires than my cannondale synapse. All the steel framed bikes mentioned above will also take a rear fender. My bike is not unobtainium (it's carbon and not an "aluminum sport frame" and it didn't cost 5 figures. I have yet to spot a steel bike in a professional peleton. However, I have spotted a cannondale synapse and a specialized roubaix in a professional peleton. The top of the line Cannondale Synapse is made from hi-mod carbon and is decked out in full dura-ace or SRAM red components.

    Yes, all the bikes, the steel ones, your sport 1975, and a wal-mart bike are beyond my cycling abilities. However, I researched the "marketing materials" before making my purchase, and I feel like I made the right decision for me. I was just hoping to provide some input for someone that might be going through the same process. I was unaware that the technology hadn't changed since at least 1975. Please excuse my ignorance.
    I think you missed my main point, perhaps I wasn't clear. Let me try and clarify things for you then. We have really 2 categories of road oriented bicycle, the sport road bicycle and the racing road bicycle. The basics of road bicycle design were in place prior to 1960. In the 1960's people discovered that the racing bicycle design at that time, made a pretty good general road bicycle, as racing bikes got lighter, stiffer, faster, the sport road bicycle stayed pretty much the same, some things were added that were unique to it, like Turkey wings, rack and fender mounts were added back, as they had been around for over half a century at that point. Some design improvements were added, cotterless cranks, alloy rims, more gears.

    Now to clarify my point, we have at one end the sport road bicycle, some are steel, many are not, technically you can make a sport road bicycle out of carbon fibre, the name has changed, the design hasn't, we have racing bicycles, which are made out of exotic materials, using highly advanced technology and materials. They added super narrow tires, because they thought that a narrower tire, meant less rolling resistance, although science has recently proven that is incorrect. These end points are well defined. Performance road is the grey area between the end points, a category that was born out of marketing, when they didn't want bikes referred to as bottom scraping racing bikes. So they needed a name for these in between bikes, performance road is the latest name.

    Do you really think that your off-the-rack Cannondale Synapse is identical to one used by a pro-racing team? Guess again, bicycle companies get into racing for the same reason car companies do, to sell more product, putting the same name and colour scheme on a highly evolved, highly custom racing bike, sells more product, so why not.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by InTheRain View Post
    OK... since you have 5000+ posts, I'll defer to you. However, all the steel framed bikes that were mentioned in the post above have a distinctly different geometry than my cannondale synapse. All the steel framed bikes mentioned above also come with a standard fork that will take much wider tires than my cannondale synapse. All the steel framed bikes mentioned above will also take a rear fender. My bike is not unobtainium (it's carbon and not an "aluminum sport frame" and it didn't cost 5 figures. I have yet to spot a steel bike in a professional peleton. However, I have spotted a cannondale synapse and a specialized roubaix in a professional peleton. The top of the line Cannondale Synapse is made from hi-mod carbon and is decked out in full dura-ace or SRAM red components.


    Yes, all the bikes, the steel ones, your sport 1975, and a wal-mart bike are beyond my cycling abilities. However, I researched the "marketing materials" before making my purchase, and I feel like I made the right decision for me. I was just hoping to provide some input for someone that might be going through the same process. I was unaware that the technology hadn't changed since at least 1975. Please excuse my ignorance.
    I didn't talk about steel, so let me add that, steel has a bad reputation, at one time low end bikes were made of steel, so were high end ones, steel technology wasn't improving fast enough, the best steel in 1970 was Reynolds 531, which had been around since 1935, so they tried other materials, aluminum, but it was hard to work with, TIG welding fixed the problem, but was expensive at the time,
    not a problem for racing, but they couldn't make production frames out of it, yet. They tried gluing, the glued and screwed frame was a result of that quest. Titanium was tried, but was very expensive, hard ti work with and hard to get, as most was used for the military, it was the middle of the cold war, after all. Carbon fibre was tried, it worked quite well, but was expensive, they forgot about steel, but steel had advanced. Reynolds now has 953, a stainless steel, that can be made beer can thin, but still be strong enough to make frames out of, they are almost as light as CF, rust resistant, just as expensive and as hard to work with as Ti, your unlikely to see much of it used in production frames. You may see some used in racing, it may not be identified as such.

    There has long been a huge difference though between wal-mart bikes and quality steel bikes. Wal-mart bikes tend to be carbon steel, made of straight gauge seamed pipe instead of butted seamless tubing, the frames alone can weigh twice what a good quality steel bike frame does. Heck my modern mountain bike which is all aluminum weighs more then my mostly steel road bike, and the road bike is going to weigh about 3lbs less when I get the new wheels on it.

  21. #21
    2nd Amendment Cyclist RichardGlover's Avatar
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    My next bike is likely to be built on the Salsa Casseroll Frame. I like riding long distances, plan to join the local rando group, and that frame seems the perfect match.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wogsterca View Post
    I think you missed my main point, perhaps I wasn't clear. Let me try and clarify things for you then...

    Now to clarify my point...,

    Do you really think that your off-the-rack Cannondale Synapse is identical to one used by a pro-racing team? Guess again...
    I'm absolutely positive that my Synapse is not identical to the one used by a pro racing team. I will defer to your expertise and, therefore, not express any opinions on what may, or may not be, a good bicycle. As you say, I have fallen victim to too much "marketing material." However, I'll just continue to ride my bicycle (I think it still qualifies to be called that... it has two wheels) and keep my opinions to myself. Have a good day.

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