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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 07-10-11, 08:27 AM   #1
Silas XIV
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Any heavier riders ride the Cannondale Synapse?

Hey guys,

just wondering if any heavier riders out there (250+) have rode the Cannondale Synapse line? Specifically the Synapse 7 Sora? Was it comfortable and stable enough for you? Went to my LBS and looking at buying one for $899.99CND. Worth the price, or should I go for the CAAD8 7 SORA instead?
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Old 07-10-11, 09:06 AM   #2
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If you haven't been riding regularly, my guess is that just about any road bike is going to feel nervous at first. The Synapse and CAAD frames are pretty different in terms of geometry. These bottom-end Sora-equipped bikes are pretty much identical in everything other than frame geometry. The CAAD8 has a more aggressive, race-inspired geometry while the Synapse has a slightly more relaxed geometry. If you're looking for stability the Synapse is the way to go, though the wheelbase is a bit shorter than other relaxed-geometry bikes (ex: Specialized Secteur).

Edit: my recommendation would be to avoid Sora components. Shimano's Tiagra-level components work much better and are worth the extra money.
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Old 07-10-11, 09:31 AM   #3
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I'm guessing you'll find the Synapse to be a slightly more comfortable ride. I think there's more than just marketing goo in their rear triangle design when it comes to providing vertical compliance while maintaining torsional and lateral stiffness. I liked it enough to buy the alloy version with 105 components, but I no longer meet your weight criterion, so my impression may not hold water for you.

Last edited by CraigB; 07-11-11 at 04:35 AM.
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Old 07-10-11, 09:34 AM   #4
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If you haven't been riding regularly, my guess is that just about any road bike is going to feel nervous at first. The Synapse and CAAD frames are pretty different in terms of geometry. These bottom-end Sora-equipped bikes are pretty much identical in everything other than frame geometry. The CAAD8 has a more aggressive, race-inspired geometry while the Synapse has a slightly more relaxed geometry. If you're looking for stability the Synapse is the way to go, though the wheelbase is a bit shorter than other relaxed-geometry bikes (ex: Specialized Secteur).

Edit: my recommendation would be to avoid Sora components. Shimano's Tiagra-level components work much better and are worth the extra money.

Cheers for the reply Storkel! I've take a look at the Tiagra and it's a bit more expensive, but still within my budget. I'm 295, and assuming I'll need some handcrafted wheels to support my weight! Do you suggest a 32 or 36 spoke rim? I guess it really depends on who makes it, right? Think you could point me in the right track to some websites that sell custom wheels?

Cheers mate, really appreciate the help
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Old 07-10-11, 11:23 AM   #5
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Definately get at least Tiagra. I think 105 the sweet spot in shimano's line. Check out Trek's 2.1 before you buy.
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Old 07-10-11, 12:30 PM   #6
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Cheers for the reply Storkel! I've take a look at the Tiagra and it's a bit more expensive, but still within my budget. I'm 295, and assuming I'll need some handcrafted wheels to support my weight! Do you suggest a 32 or 36 spoke rim? I guess it really depends on who makes it, right? Think you could point me in the right track to some websites that sell custom wheels?

Cheers mate, really appreciate the help
300lb is within the range the manufacture recommends for the specialized relax road geometry bikes that are comparable to the synapse... Don't buy new wheels right away. You may be surprised that the stock wheels will work fine for you, particularly if you exercise some reasonable care. I've had no problems with the stock wheels on any of my bikes.
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Old 07-10-11, 02:57 PM   #7
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Cheers for the reply Storkel! I've take a look at the Tiagra and it's a bit more expensive, but still within my budget. I'm 295, and assuming I'll need some handcrafted wheels to support my weight! Do you suggest a 32 or 36 spoke rim?
The specs don't say what sort of wheels come stock with the Synapse, but the picture makes it look like they have quite a few spokes. I'd give the stock wheels a try before you rush off to spend more money on custom wheels that you may not need. Before taking delivery of the bike, suggest to the shop you're buying from that they give the wheels a thorough inspection including checking the tension on every spoke. Let them know that you'll be back to have the wheels repaired under warranty if there are any issues.

If you have problems, it will most likely be with the rear wheel. Often, rebuilding the wheel with better-quality spokes will cure the problem and be much less expensive that buying a new wheelset.
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Old 07-10-11, 04:51 PM   #8
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Actually the specs do say what the rims are, if not the hubs, nor the make and gauge of the spokes. The rims of the Alloy 6 Tiagra model (and the Alloy 7 Sora) are Maddux DRX 4000. Looks like spoke count is 32 front and rear. I assume this is correct, as I've verified the same info on the Alloy 5 105 I bought (Shimano RS10 rims and spokes, 16F/20R).
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Old 07-10-11, 06:44 PM   #9
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I started at 280 lbs on my Synapse carbon frame. I've been riding since February logging 1400 miles with no issues.
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Old 07-11-11, 08:36 AM   #10
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Right one guys! Cheers for the replies!!

Since Cannondale is no longer making bikes for North America, their supply is really low. So, instead, I went and looked at their Trek line, and test rode a 1.2, but would be getting the 1.5 with the Tiagra shifters! It's $1,199 at my LBS but I think if I wait a few months I can save a good $300 come September.

Anyways, I test rode it yesterday on a 58CM frame, and they think I will need a 60-62CM. Really loved the bike, it rode really smooth and held up really nicely for the 30 mins I rode on it!

Thanks guys, anyone hear anything bad about the 1.5? Cheers
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Old 07-11-11, 08:35 PM   #11
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FYI, there are lots of bikes in this category. If you like the Synapse and the Trek, you should also look at the Giant Defy, Specialized Secteur, Felt Z85, Fuji Newest and possibly others.
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Old 07-11-11, 09:47 PM   #12
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I like the Synapse, and rode one yesterday.

The big selling point is the higher headset and more upright geometry. It make a difference on longer rides. I am looking at relaxed or touring style bikes.

Just a comment about the Sora Shifters. I bought a Specialized Sequoia base model a couple of years ago and hated those shifters so bad I went to ebay bought a used set of Ultegra, switched them out and sold the soras on ebay. I hated the thumb toggle, unless you are comfortable with them, I would go to the next higher level.

I am getting the itch for another bike, now that I have crossed the 100 mi/wk threshold. The Synapse is at the top of the list. But I am thinking carbon...
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Old 07-12-11, 05:05 AM   #13
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FYI, there are lots of bikes in this category. If you like the Synapse and the Trek, you should also look at the Giant Defy, Specialized Secteur, Felt Z85, Fuji Newest and possibly others.
That Felt is a nice bike. I rode it on a Saturday at a shop near where I work, and was planning to go back and buy it on Sunday, but they were closed. So I went and test rode the Synapse at another shop that was open, and was sold.
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Old 07-12-11, 07:34 AM   #14
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FYI, there are lots of bikes in this category. If you like the Synapse and the Trek, you should also look at the Giant Defy, Specialized Secteur, Felt Z85, Fuji Newest and possibly others.
Yes I'm looking at the Specialized Secteur as well! Sadly, I can't seem to find any prices on their site, and none from my LBS's website either...looking for the $1,300 range, hoping I can get a Secteur with tiagra shifters for that price; but I can't tell!
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Old 07-12-11, 07:59 AM   #15
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I just rode with somebody who rides one. His name is"freedomrider"on the 50+ forum. He seems to like his a lot.

Marc
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Old 07-12-11, 09:03 AM   #16
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Yes I'm looking at the Specialized Secteur as well! Sadly, I can't seem to find any prices on their site, and none from my LBS's website either...looking for the $1,300 range, hoping I can get a Secteur with tiagra shifters for that price; but I can't tell!
Specialized has prices all over their site (edit: the USA site, anyway)! The Secteur models range from $940 to $1800. The Secteur Elite Compact is the only model that doesn't seem to show a price, though it appears to be between the $1050 Secteur Sport Triple and the $1450 Secteur Sport Apex.
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Old 07-12-11, 11:26 AM   #17
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Yeah, I was on the Canadian site! I noticed shortly after posting that the MSRP was listed on the American site only

Do you think the Trek 1.5 would be a better bang for my buck than the secteur? I noticed the only Secteur without Sora shifters in my price range is the apex for almost $1,500; a bit more than I'm willing to throw into my first bike. Even that bike has SRAM apex shifters; not sure what those are?
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Old 07-12-11, 11:37 AM   #18
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Do you think the Trek 1.5 would be a better bang for my buck than the secteur? I noticed the only Secteur without Sora shifters in my price range is the apex for almost $1,500; a bit more than I'm willing to throw into my first bike. Even that bike has SRAM apex shifters; not sure what those are?
The Secteur Elite Compact has Tiagra components and should be a bit cheaper than the Secteur Elite Apex. Don't know if the Tiagra-bike is available in Canada or not.

I'm not a huge fan of Trek bikes. I think they tend to be a bit too expensive for what you get and I'm not wild about some of their business practices.

Apex, FYI, is SRAM's entry-level component group. I haven't ridden it, but I would expect it to be similar to 105 or Tiagra in terms of quality and durability. I would definitely suggest test-riding SRAM before you buy it. I love the way that SRAM works and have SRAM Red components on my main road bike. They're not for everyone, though: SRAM shifts tend to be immediate and abrupt, as opposed to Shimano's more leisurely and smooth shifting.
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Old 07-12-11, 02:26 PM   #19
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The Secteur Elite Compact has Tiagra components and should be a bit cheaper than the Secteur Elite Apex. Don't know if the Tiagra-bike is available in Canada or not.

I'm not a huge fan of Trek bikes. I think they tend to be a bit too expensive for what you get and I'm not wild about some of their business practices.

Apex, FYI, is SRAM's entry-level component group. I haven't ridden it, but I would expect it to be similar to 105 or Tiagra in terms of quality and durability. I would definitely suggest test-riding SRAM before you buy it. I love the way that SRAM works and have SRAM Red components on my main road bike. They're not for everyone, though: SRAM shifts tend to be immediate and abrupt, as opposed to Shimano's more leisurely and smooth shifting.

Oh sweet, thanks for letting me know what SRAM was! I will call another LBS who deals in specialized bikes and will ask them if they've got the Secteur elite compact and for what price. What's the difference between the compact and the non-compact versions? Anything significant? For some reason I had the odd idea it meant it was a womans bike
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Old 07-12-11, 02:47 PM   #20
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Compact cranksets allow smaller sprockets to be used. My take on the reasoning is that with a 2 speed compact crankset running a smaller low gear allows you to run a smaller big gear on the rear cassette. A smaller big gear on the cassette allows smaller jumps in the rear gears. Smaller jumps allows finding the perfect gear. If you want a 3 speed crankset this is a moot point.
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Old 07-12-11, 02:50 PM   #21
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Cheers Jethro

Gonna call my LBS tomorrow and ask about the Secteur!
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Old 07-12-11, 02:57 PM   #22
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Oh sweet, thanks for letting me know what SRAM was! I will call another LBS who deals in specialized bikes and will ask them if they've got the Secteur elite compact and for what price. What's the difference between the compact and the non-compact versions? Anything significant? For some reason I had the odd idea it meant it was a womans bike
"Non-compact" isn't really the other choice. The precursor to compact cranks are the ones with the old-school, large chainrings (53/42 or 52/42). They're still available, but probably not unless you go for a full-tilt, higher-end racing bike. In the range of bikes you're looking at, your choices will be a compact crank (50/34 or something like it), or a triple. That's if the model you want is even available as a triple. Some are, some aren't.

And yes, the terminology can be confusing. "Compact" is also used to describe a certain type of frame geometry, though it isn't related to gender.
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Old 07-12-11, 04:01 PM   #23
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Oh sweet, thanks for letting me know what SRAM was! I will call another LBS who deals in specialized bikes and will ask them if they've got the Secteur elite compact and for what price. What's the difference between the compact and the non-compact versions? Anything significant? For some reason I had the odd idea it meant it was a womans bike
The "compact" label, at least in the Specialized product lines, refers to the type of crankset that the bike has. On modern road bikes, there are essentially three choices:

A "standard" crankset is typically found on racing bikes. The crank has two chainrings, typically one with 53 teeth and one with 39 teeth. Often you'll see this abbreviated 53/39. If you're a strong rider or ride mostly on flat terrain, you may want a standard crank.

A "compact" crankset also has two chainrings, but they use a smaller BCD or Bolt Circle Diameter. Because of the smaller diameter, a compact crank can have smaller chainrings. Typical chainring sizes are 50 and 34 teeth (a.k.a. 50/34). The smaller number of teeth makes the bike easier to pedal, which is a great benefit if you're out of shape, climb a lot of hills, or have bad knees.

A "triple" crankset has three chainrings, which can cover a wider range of gear ratios. Typical chainring sizes are 52 or 53 teeth, 39 teeth, and 30 teeth (a.k.a. 53/39/30). A triple crank will often cover a slightly wider set of gear ratios than a compact crank. A triple crank has quite a few duplicate gear ratios, so it often requires less front shifting. The disadvantage of a triple crank are greater weight and, perhaps, slightly more difficult setup and maintenance. A bike with a triple crank will have specific shifters and front derailleurs that will only work with a triple crank.

Of these three setups, I like to use a 50/34 compact crank with a wide-range (ex: 11-28) cassette. I feel like I get virtually the same gearing as a triple crank and slightly better shifting.

As others have mentioned, the term "compact" can also refer to a compact frame. A "compact" frame is one that has a sloping top tube. Because the sloping top tube lowers the standover height, a compact frame can generally fit a larger number of people for any given size frame.
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Old 07-12-11, 04:11 PM   #24
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Cheers guys, I really appreciate all the feedback and help I've been given!

So, basically the compact is better for those who climb hills, are overweight, or have bad knees? I'm just wondering if I go with the compact, if I will eventually have to upgrade as I get into better shape? I just don't want to dump $1,500 on a bike that I'll have to switch in a years time. I really don't have a problem with standard bikes (non-compact?), so I don't think it's necessary to get a compact, unless it is cheaper and you guys think it would be more beneficial.

Also, with a compact, won't I be spinning at a higher cadence (I believe this means RPM?) in higher gears on flatter ground than I would on a standard bike?
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Old 07-12-11, 05:29 PM   #25
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I think what you need to focus on is whether you want a triple or a compact crank. Like many have stated a full sized crank is more for a racing bike. The bikes you've mentioned are relaxed geo road bikes. Unless you're very fast the larger crank is wasteful. Let's say you're running 20 mph. That's too fast for most of us in the small chainring. With a 53 big chainring you'll be in a bigger sprocket in back and your chain will not be running as straight back as with a 50. A twisted chain (cross chained) will waste energy. So even with the same cadence it takes more effort to go 20 mph.
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