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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 08-06-13, 07:23 AM   #1
LabRat2k3
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Quality parts

The thread about cheap bikes got me thinking. I am keeping my eyes open for a good deal on a used bike, but I want to make sure I get quality parts when I do. So where is the line between cheap and quality? Let's just say for the Shimano line is it 2300, Sora, Tiagra, or 105? I think higher than that gets in to the high end stuff. What should I set as my bottom limit? I want something that should last a few years if taken care of.

Edited to add:
I should have included my intended usage. This will be a road bike that will see a lot of hills. I don't ever see myself doing any kind of competition just riding by myself for 300 to 500 miles a month (I hope). I will probably never get below 200 pounds goal is around 200-205 if that is a factor.

Last edited by LabRat2k3; 08-06-13 at 10:42 AM. Reason: added intended use
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Old 08-06-13, 07:29 AM   #2
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In my opinion and as a general rule, look for second from top as they generally are very good quality, readily available, and the top tier is in the area of diminishing returns for the average rider.
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Old 08-06-13, 07:43 AM   #3
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With Shimano, I think it's the 105 5700 series that deliver the best value. These feature internal cable routing (under the bar tape) and shift great.
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Old 08-06-13, 07:45 AM   #4
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Honestly, even Sora is quality.
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Old 08-06-13, 07:55 AM   #5
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^^ til you have to shift while in the drops lol
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Old 08-06-13, 08:04 AM   #6
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I guess it depends on what you are hoping to do. For hybrids or mountain bikes, anything with Alivio level components or higher is generally acceptable, while Deore would really get me attention. I would consider Altus or Acera though I would offer less money, as I would expect to maybe have to upgrade or replace some components. I would pass on anything equipped with Tourney.

For road groups, even Sora should be more than acceptable for what you are hoping to get out of it.
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Old 08-06-13, 08:34 AM   #7
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The lowest I'd go would be Tiagra. In fact I have one bike with 9-speed Tiagra that I use on a rails-to-trails and it works fine. Very few shifts on a flat trail though.

My road bike has 105 10-speed and it works very well indeed. Back in the day I've had Ultegra and Dura Ace groupos. Today's 105 is as good as they were.

As a recreational/century rider now, I really can't see going much higher than 105 and the idea of electric shifting won't happen unless the price comes way down or I win the lottery.
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Old 08-06-13, 08:38 AM   #8
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...What should I set as my bottom limit? I want something that should last a few years if taken care of.
Honestly, if "taken care of", anything will work. And as stated, depends on what you want to do. I'm not familiar with off-road component groups, but for road groups, I'd get at least 105, (third from the top). 105 should last you decades, especially if you take care of it. (To me, Ultegra is the sweet spot in the Shimano lineup, (price vs. performance vs. durability)).
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Old 08-06-13, 08:43 AM   #9
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Keep in mind that what generation of which level component factors into it. Shimano is big into the trickle-down theory. It's my understanding that this year's Tiagra 10 speed is really 105 5600. That is far better than the old Tiagra, which is respectable in it's own right. FOR ME, I chose 105 5700. It's the best I could afford at the time and I've had no complaints. I went that route because there are a lot of people with more experience than me that said 105 is the sweet-spot for quality and price.
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Old 08-06-13, 08:45 AM   #10
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And as you see by Volosong's post, there are differing opinions. I would LOVE to have bought Ultegra, and that's what I'll buy as things wear out.

For me, the general rule is buy the best you can afford. It'll be lighter and shift smoother for a longer period of time (in theory).
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Old 08-06-13, 08:56 AM   #11
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I have 10 speed Campy Centaur, and 9 speed Veloce. My wife has Sora. Mine, especially the new Centaur feel nice and shift every time, hers shifts every time. I'm not saying I would seek out Sora, I am saying it's a quality product.
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Old 08-06-13, 09:34 AM   #12
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for me, Rival and 105 is a good starting point. Love the way those two feel, but the Sram wins on shifting.
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Old 08-06-13, 09:37 AM   #13
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I would go 10 speed Tiagra. Echo the thoughts about it being most analogous to 5600 series 105 stuff. The 10 speed stuff is in wide circulation right now, it's the middle of the market and you can find the best value there. 11 speed is still high-zoot. 9 speed is getting long in the tooth, although I've found you can use 10 speed chains on 9 speed drivetrains with good performance so that helps extend the life of my 9 speed bikes. I switched my Rivendell from 9 speed to 10 speed when the 10 speed Campy cassettes were the same or cheaper than the 9 speed ones, just to give an example. I already had 10 speed barcons, a 10 speed chain and a 10 speed rear derailler, so the switch was easy.
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Old 08-06-13, 10:51 AM   #14
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Thanks everyone this has been a great help. I think I will set Tiagra as my bottom limit, look more for 105, but will take Sora if it is a smoking deal because I can always upgrade if I have problems with it.

I guess next question should be, assuming all parts are stock, do the wheel sets, hubs, ect, seem to go up in quality as the shift gear does? If a bike has 105's will it more than likely have everything else on it better than a Sora equipped bike?
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Old 08-06-13, 11:16 AM   #15
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I actually think manufacturers often skimp on wheels because it is easier to sell/get people excited about groupsets.
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Old 08-06-13, 11:25 AM   #16
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I guess next question should be, assuming all parts are stock, do the wheel sets, hubs, etc., seem to go up in quality as the shift gear does? If a bike has 105's will it more than likely have everything else on it better than a Sora equipped bike?
Yes . . . and maybe, probably. For hill climbing, you want the lightest weight wheelset you can afford. You don't state your current weight. I ride with 16/20 spoke count wheelsets the past few years and I've been oscillating between 215 and 225 over that time frame. Wheelsets, (and seats), seem to be the only things on a bicycle that do not match a component group. You usually get a lesser quality wheelset with any component group. Have no idea why it is like this. (And seats? They should be like pedals and not even sell them with a bike. They are too personal, just like pedals.)

When I purchase a bike, I just assume that I'll replace the wheelset, (and seat), to something better, (and more comfortable - as regards the saddle).
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Old 08-06-13, 11:38 AM   #17
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My opinion, based on absolutely no research or data, is that rebel1916 nailed it. The groupsets are very recognizable. One quick look over and you can tell full 105, 105 mix, Ultegra, Sora, Rival, whatever. The wheels can be made to look fancy with stickers and colors, but there are so many wheels that nobody has ever heard of. Cosmetics sell. I have CHEAP FSA RD-160 wheels, though my scenario is kind of unique as I had my bike custom built with what I wanted and cheap stuff that I knew I would upgrade when the budget allows. I have cheap calipers, cranks and wheelset. All of which can be upgraded easily.

Sorry, what was the question? Oh, yah, wheels. It is my opinion, based on absolutely no research or data, that the big names tend to match the quality of the wheels to the level of the frame/group...or maybe skimp on the wheels by a step or two. My wife's Cannondale Quick came with Element Xero C3 wheels. Ever heard of them? Yah, didn't think so, but they look cool and I'm sure help sell bikes.
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Old 08-06-13, 11:39 AM   #18
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I'm 262 right now down from the 270's at the first of July. I hope to get into the 250's this month.
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Old 08-06-13, 11:40 AM   #19
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Thanks everyone this has been a great help. I think I will set Tiagra as my bottom limit, look more for 105, but will take Sora if it is a smoking deal because I can always upgrade if I have problems with it.
I think the new sora is 9spd, used to be 8 spd. If you upgrade, you will need cranks, rear D, chain and shifters. Stepping up to the next model will be cheaper then paying near retail for those parts. Get 10spd from the start to make thing easier as you wear through the parts over the yrs.
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Old 08-06-13, 11:44 AM   #20
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Ok, that is great info that will come in handy. Looks like I have a lot to learn, wheel sets, hubs, cassettes, brakes. I've got some work to do.
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Old 08-06-13, 11:51 AM   #21
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I'm sure everyone has their own "line" as to what is good quality. For me, it's the tiagra level of the shimano drive train components. I have tiagra on my touring bike that I use for commuting. I have no complaints. On my road bike (carbon fiber cannondale synapse) Everything is ultegra except the rear derailleur which is dura ace. Even the wheels are ultegra hubs and rims. It's very nice stuff. I can't say that I notice that it functions any better than the tiagra but I'm sure that it is lighter weight.

However, I have my eyes on several upgrades. I'd like to upgrade my tourning bike with a Schmidt son hub dynamo (I currently have a shimano) on the front and Phil Wood hub on the back paired to Mavic double walled rims. I'd love to throw on a Chris King headset and bottom bracket. I'd like to upgrade to Thomson seat post. I've added some quality components to the bike since I bought it. Brooks B17 saddle. Tubus Cargo rack. Busch & Muller dynamo headlight/tail light. Berthoud stainless steel/powder coated fenders with leather flaps. So, when you are buying a bicycle, you pay attention to the quality of the components on the drive train (rightfully so) but there are a lot of components/accessories that are added after the purchase that I would recommend that you pay a lot of attention too when you are buying those.

I haven't really added anything to my cannondale road bike since the purchase. It's pretty much stock and I've been riding it that way for 4+ years now. I imagine that I'll need some new rims soon. I think the ultegra hubs will still be in excellent condition, so I'll just have it paired to a new rim... a quality one, of course.
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Old 08-06-13, 12:08 PM   #22
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I'm sure everyone has their own "line" as to what is good quality. For me, it's the tiagra level of the shimano drive train components. I have tiagra on my touring bike that I use for commuting. I have no complaints. On my road bike (carbon fiber cannondale synapse) Everything is ultegra except the rear derailleur which is dura ace. Even the wheels are ultegra hubs and rims. It's very nice stuff. I can't say that I notice that it functions any better than the tiagra but I'm sure that it is lighter weight.

However, I have my eyes on several upgrades. I'd like to upgrade my tourning bike with a Schmidt son hub dynamo (I currently have a shimano) on the front and Phil Wood hub on the back paired to Mavic double walled rims. I'd love to throw on a Chris King headset and bottom bracket. I'd like to upgrade to Thomson seat post. I've added some quality components to the bike since I bought it. Brooks B17 saddle. Tubus Cargo rack. Busch & Muller dynamo headlight/tail light. Berthoud stainless steel/powder coated fenders with leather flaps. So, when you are buying a bicycle, you pay attention to the quality of the components on the drive train (rightfully so) but there are a lot of components/accessories that are added after the purchase that I would recommend that you pay a lot of attention too when you are buying those.

I haven't really added anything to my cannondale road bike since the purchase. It's pretty much stock and I've been riding it that way for 4+ years now. I imagine that I'll need some new rims soon. I think the ultegra hubs will still be in excellent condition, so I'll just have it paired to a new rim... a quality one, of course.
This is how I see it. I wouldn't hesitate to get a Tiagra-equipped bike, and I'm a bit of a component snob (sorry, just being real). I've ridden a very nice newer CX bike that was equipped with Tiagra and it rode great! Being a 10 speed, it would be no issue to slowly upgrade if I saw fit (although on a rough and tumble CX or commuter, I wouldn't really be itchin to do that).

My Road bikes are Campy Record and Chorus equipped, oh, and I have one with Ultegra/105 9-speed mix (older Klein). They all shift great--the Record bike is ridiculously light. My commuter has a Shimano Alfine 8 speed hub. If I could afford it, I'd be picking up a Tiagra-equipped CX bike. A 105 version would be a sheer luxury... N+1.
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Old 08-06-13, 12:20 PM   #23
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Ok, that is great info that will come in handy. Looks like I have a lot to learn, wheel sets, hubs, cassettes, brakes. I've got some work to do.
Looking at your other posts, I am thinking that you are overthinking the component level thing, and perhaps underthinking what you will need, which is, likely a triple or a compact double. Honestly, whether your next bike is an 8 speed, 9 speed, or 10 speed, Sora, Tiagra, or 105 isn't so important as the wheelset designed to handle your weight, and gearing so you can conquer hills. If you buy yourself a 19 lb carbon fiber, full Ultegra or SRAM Red, with racing wheels, and 10 speed road cassette with a road double, you might find yourself disappointed. At your weight, a 25 lb bike with Sora or Tiagra Triple (even, god forbid, a 9 speed), or compact double with a bailout gear on the cassette, and 32 spoke wheels might suit you better until you slim down to a racer's physique.
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Old 08-06-13, 12:41 PM   #24
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The thread about cheap bikes got me thinking. I am keeping my eyes open for a good deal on a used bike, but I want to make sure I get quality parts when I do. So where is the line between cheap and quality? Let's just say for the Shimano line is it 2300, Sora, Tiagra, or 105? I think higher than that gets in to the high end stuff. What should I set as my bottom limit? I want something that should last a few years if taken care of.

Edited to add:
I should have included my intended usage. This will be a road bike that will see a lot of hills. I don't ever see myself doing any kind of competition just riding by myself for 300 to 500 miles a month (I hope). I will probably never get below 200 pounds goal is around 200-205 if that is a factor.
A friend of mine has been running a touring bike with 2300 parts for some years, commuting to work just about every day on it. Personally I find the thumb shifters fiddly so wouldn't go for them myself but he finds that they are perfectly accessible from the hoods and accessible enough from the drops given he hardly ever uses the drops.

I've been running Tiagra shifters for two years now and put something like 6000 miles on them I guess, taking in everything from playing on the local hills for the sake of it to riding anything up to a 200km brevet (my furthest to date). In that time the only problem I've had is a single broken gear cable, which can happen whatever shifters you're using.

A lot depends on what sort of money you want to spend. People say 105 is the sweet spot, I've often thought of upgrading to 105 or Ultegra but don't know I'd get enough benefit to justify doing it to a four-year-old bike. I must admit I also like the indicators on my Tiagra hoods to show what gear I'm in, which you don't get with 105 and above.
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Old 08-06-13, 01:15 PM   #25
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^^ til you have to shift while in the drops lol
Actually, I think they changed that for the 2013 version. Not 100% sure, though.

With Ultegra going to 11 speed, I wonder whether 10 speed will trickle down to Sora soon?
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