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  1. #1
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    Looking at road bikes, would like some advice.

    Well, circumstances have fortuitously conspired to put me in the market for a road bike. Basically, my girlfriend was getting tired of her Roam 3, but her mother loves it, and as it turns out, my Escape fits my GF well enough that she much prefers it to her current bike.

    This works out rather nicely for me, since one test ride on a road bike made it obvious to me that I find the riding position much more comfortable, and that I find the pedaling position much more efficient.

    So far I've test ridden a Giant Defy 1 and a Giant Composite 1. I was initially expected that I'd feel a significant difference between the alu frame and the carbon frame, but to be perfectly honest, I didn't feel any difference at all in terms of ride quality (including cobblestones at some speed) or frame stiffness (i.e. power transfer).

    Is there something I'm missing on that count? I expected the carbon frame to ride much smoother and have much better power transfer, but honestly, if anything, I felt more "right" on the Defy 1. My favorite LBS doesn't have a Defy Advanced 1 in stock, which is a shame since I've heard the frame is a significant upgrade from the Comp 1.

    In a couple of days, when I will finally have some time, I plan on test riding a Trek Domane 2.x series and 4.x series, as well an alu and carbon Synapse.

    Basically, I really just want to double check that I'm not missing something blindingly obvious in terms of carbon vs. alu frames, since my initial test rides had me liking the Defy 1 a lot more.

  2. #2
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    The important note is that it's about how the frame is built, not necessarily the material it is made from. Carbon is not inherently more comfortable than aluminium, it just depends on how it's put together. Aluminium is known for it's rigidity and harsh ride, but can be designed so that it's not so harsh. My old road bike was a harsh riding alu frame, but my carbon track frame is a whole lot harsher riding when you get off the velodrome.

  3. #3
    Senior Member MRT2's Avatar
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    Don't forget to test ride a steel frame road bike.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
    Don't forget to test ride a steel frame road bike.
    I don't think I'm going to bother this time, as I test rode a Jamis Coda before buying the Giant Escape previously, and I really didn't like the way the steel bike rode at all, it felt like a wet noodle to me. Just personal preference I guess.

    I seemingly just might be a sucker for alu frames with carbon forks/seatposts. We will see once I have time to go test the relevant Domane and Synapse models.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pedalocity View Post
    Is there something I'm missing on that count? I expected the carbon frame to ride much smoother and have much better power transfer, but honestly, if anything, I felt more "right" on the Defy 1.
    Remember: the frame is only one of the many parts that affect how a bike feels. Things like wheels, tire pressure, fork, crank and handlebars also play a substantial part. As an example, I own an aluminum-framed touring bike which is every bit as comfortable as my high-end Cervelo RS road bike. How is this possible? The touring frame is riding on high-volume (700x35mm) touring tires inflated to a relatively low pressure (65psi vs. 100+psi). By the same token, the ride on my Cervelo RS is now somewhat less comfortable than it once was. Why? I switched from light-weight (read:flexy) 16- and 20-spoke wheels to stiffer 24- and 28-spoke wheels.

  6. #6
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    I have been through similar tests, as my initial bike when I re-entered the hobby was a Giant Rapid 2 (very similar to a Defy frame, slightly longer dimensions, with ALUXX SL frame, Advanced Carbon fork, and Carbon seatpost). I quickly caught the bug, and decided to move to a traditional road bike, and chose a Defy Composite 2. I kept the Rapid, and have ridden the bikes multiple times on the same surfaces, and find the Defy Comp to be smoother, especially on rough pavement, and much more responsive. Both have the same level of bar and stem (Connect Aluminum), same fork, but the Defy Comp has a different carbon seatpost than the Rapid. The Rapid has 25mm slick tires, while the Aluminum Defy 1 you tested, I believe, has 23 mm tires like my Defy Comp. I keep them both inflated to 110 - 115 psi. Wheel sets are comparable. Another key difference is my Defy Comp has a SRAM component group, while the Rapid has Tiagra/flat bar components and an FSA crank.

    Maybe you do have a higher comfort level with Aluminum? I love the Rapid, and the flat-bar stance, but I've come to prefer the overall feel of the Defy Comp. Hope this helps!! Either way, both bikes you are considering are Excellent. I'm sold on Giant's bikes!

  7. #7
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    Thanks for the input so far.

    When I have time to go test all the bikes I mentioned above, and then come back to the Defy 1 and Comp 1 I think I need to try and find some rough pavement to really test them out. Over a cobblestone area at a decent speed the Defy 1 and Comp 1 felt very similar, but maybe some harsher test conditions will help me feel the differences better.

    I think, for me, the strangest part about riding those bikes back to back was that I felt more naturally "right" on the aluminum frame Defy. I can't really explain why that was, but once I cross off the other bikes I need to test and return to those two I'm going to make sure they get set up exactly the same in terms of saddle height, fore/aft adjustment, saddle angle, and bar angle to make sure it was not fit differences that caused them to feel different.

  8. #8
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    Giant certainly makes a fine bike. I rode carbon Synapse's. The lower end Synapse was harsh and stiff (like many Cannondale's). The 5000$ top of the line Synapse was smooth as silk. Byt to be fair the top model was all carbon. Bars,stem,seat rails, stem, even the cranks were carbon. Loved the top end hated the standard.

    I would with out a doubt suggest you look at Specialized Rubaix and Secteur. I've ridden both. They are very comfortable. In fact I bought a Rubaix Elite Apex last month. But I assure you they are fantastic riding machines. Right now there are some serious deals going on on the Secteur. See if you can score a leftover. They are going fast. I was quoted 1100$ for a Secteur Comp I think it was. Full 105 at that price. Aluminum rode nearly as nice as the carbon. I would have bought the Secteur but I got a smokin deal on the Rubaix. I aslo felt the Rubaix was a bit livelier. It just felt a little better to me. It was also lighter.

    I won't say no to Giant. No doubt they make a great bike. The Deffy is one I would have looked at had not I stumbled on to this deal. I only humbly suggest at least giving Spesh a shot. It don't hurt to test ride one. You may like it more than Giant. Won't know till you try.

    Mark Shuman

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    Quote Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
    Remember: the frame is only one of the many parts that affect how a bike feels. Things like wheels, tire pressure, fork, crank and handlebars also play a substantial part. As an example, I own an aluminum-framed touring bike which is every bit as comfortable as my high-end Cervelo RS road bike. How is this possible? The touring frame is riding on high-volume (700x35mm) touring tires inflated to a relatively low pressure (65psi vs. 100+psi). By the same token, the ride on my Cervelo RS is now somewhat less comfortable than it once was. Why? I switched from light-weight (read:flexy) 16- and 20-spoke wheels to stiffer 24- and 28-spoke wheels.
    A truly great idea if you can do it, is to ride each bike with the same wheelset on. This will throw away the different feel of the different wheelsets that come with each bike and give you a true indication of how each frame feels. Of course the contact points will change characteristics somewhat, but not so much as what wheels will.

  10. #10
    Ancient Clydesdale 2 wheeler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by phread59 View Post
    Giant certainly makes a fine bike. I rode carbon Synapse's. The lower end Synapse was harsh and stiff (like many Cannondale's). The 5000$ top of the line Synapse was smooth as silk. Byt to be fair the top model was all carbon. Bars,stem,seat rails, stem, even the cranks were carbon. Loved the top end hated the standard.

    I would with out a doubt suggest you look at Specialized Rubaix and Secteur. I've ridden both. They are very comfortable. In fact I bought a Rubaix Elite Apex last month. But I assure you they are fantastic riding machines. Right now there are some serious deals going on on the Secteur. See if you can score a leftover. They are going fast. I was quoted 1100$ for a Secteur Comp I think it was. Full 105 at that price. Aluminum rode nearly as nice as the carbon. I would have bought the Secteur but I got a smokin deal on the Rubaix. I aslo felt the Rubaix was a bit livelier. It just felt a little better to me. It was also lighter.

    I won't say no to Giant. No doubt they make a great bike. The Deffy is one I would have looked at had not I stumbled on to this deal. I only humbly suggest at least giving Spesh a shot. It don't hurt to test ride one. You may like it more than Giant. Won't know till you try.

    Mark Shuman
    Young man, go to the black board and write 100 times:

    Roubaix
    Roubaix
    Roubaix
    Roubaix
    Roubaix
    Roubaix
    Roubaix



  11. #11
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    A quick update for all of you:

    I ended up test riding a Domane 2, Domane 4 and a carbon Roubiax and decided I liked the geometry on the Defy's better, so I went back to my preferred LBS and got them to get up both the 2013 Defy 1 and the 2012 Defy Composite 1 they had exactly the same and rode them back to back to back to back for a while to really get a feel for the differences. I still wasn't 100% sure until I went up a hill close to the shop on both bikes. The instant I tackled that same hill on the Comp 1, I knew which bike I was getting.

    I'm now the proud owner of a Defy Composite 1. Unfortunately, it took so much time test-riding bikes and getting the Defy Comp 1 set up the way I wanted that I didn't have any time left to actually ride it today, so I'm really looking forward to tomorrow morning when I can take it out on my local route.

    I'll report back with pics after my ride in the morning. I'm going to have to be doing a lot of kms for the rest of this month to catch up on the kilometers I've missed due to being so damn busy the last few days.

    Thanks for all your input!

  12. #12
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    Congrats - that is a sweet ride! I'm curious to know how you like the feel of the Giant wheelset that is on the 1, as my 2 didn't come with the newer PSL-1 wheelsystem.

    I had a feeling you would see the difference once you gave the carbon bike a workout!

  13. #13
    Just Plain Slow PhotoJoe's Avatar
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    Congrats. I really liked the way the Defy Comp rode when I was test riding bikes. Almost bought one.

    Ride report and pix, please!
    If at first you don't succeed, Skydiving is not the sport for you!

  14. #14
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    Okay, here's my ride report:

    Took the bike out this morning for its inaugural ride. The first dramatic difference I noticed from the first time I got on a road bike was the massively more efficient pedaling position. This translated into my legs getting tired much more slowly, and allowing me to get a better cardio workout, from averaging 143-144 bpm on my Escape to 152-53 on my Defy today.

    The next huge difference is the effort required to get up hills. From having been barely able to get up the positive grades in this neighborhood in my 50t x 28 gear on my escape, here I spent most of my time in 50t x 21 on the positive grades, and managed to stay in the 50t chainring on a very short 8% grade hill on one part. Basically, the effort required to get up that 8% grade in 50t x 28 on this bike felt similar to that required to get up it in 39t x 28 on my Escape.

    Thirdly, drops. They are very nice to have in the frequent headwinds and crosswinds on my local route. I spent much more time in the drops than I expected to for a first ride.

    Fourthly, comfort. This was the first long (for me) bike ride I've been on so far with zero shoulder pain, zero wrist pain. I did experience a touch of soreness in the heels of my hands, but much less than I was getting on my Escape using my inside bar ends. Overall theDefy is dramatically more comfortable than my Escape was, and I'm sure my hands will get better as my core muscles strengthen.

    The ride quality was a better than my Escape, despite going from 28s to 23s.

    My average speed went from ~21.5 km/h to ~23.5 km/h, which I guess tells you something about the difference a road bike makes!

    I ended up having to do today's ride in two parts, as after the first 23 km I got a flat (right by my house so I didn't bother to use my spare tube), shortly after which it began to rain. One pair of Gatorskins and dry roads later, I went out and did another 12.1 km for a total of 35.1 km (first time doing 35km in a day, first time doing 20+ miles in a day).

    To summarize: I f*&^*&%&* love this bike. Today was the best ride I've ever had.

    I can't really speak to the wheels, since frankly I wouldn't know any better to tell you how they compare to anything else.

    Also, PIC:


  15. #15
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    Glad you found something you liked. Congratulations on a real nice bike. Now get out there and ride it!

    Mark Shuman

  16. #16
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    Nice looking bike.

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