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Old 10-26-06, 09:10 PM   #1
BayBruin
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Specialized TriCross Comp versus Trek Portland (2007s)

I have kind of narrowed my choice down to these two bikes. I don't ride off road and don't plan to. I want a sturdy commuter bike (I'm a big guy...290) that is tough with some speed. I test rode the 2007TriCross Comp a couple days ago and aside from some moderate left outer knee pain (new shoes, cleats, pedals....no wonder) it rode very nice. The paint job is just weird. They gave it an intentional 'distressed' look....like the paint had literally been scratched off or rubbed off in various places. When I first saw it I was like, 'What did they do to this new bike? They really banged this thing up." When I was checking it out and rubbing the spots the mechanics in the shop said, "Yeah...that freaked us out too until we called Specialized and they said it was designed that way." To my mind that's just some dudes (the designers) with either too much time on their hands or trying to be too cool. I told the guys at the shop today that if I was a causal customer and I saw that bike I would probably just pass on that bike thinking it was way too high priced for a beat up model. They said that the reactions by the customers were split between "I hate it...what a stupid idea," to "this design rocks!" To each their own. I also am not a big fan of a bike that looks like it has been majorly scratched/damaged, but I can get over that based on the bikes performance and components.

I am going to test ride the Trek Portland and besides seeing it on a website, a label of "commuter bike," disc brakes, and nice components I don't know anything else about it. What I found interesting about this bike is that most bikes I have seen (in my price range) have mostly Shimano 105 components but with a rear derailer that is Shimano Ultegra. But on the Portland....it has 105 everything except for the FRONT derailer which is Ultegra. Pretty strange. Not sure what that's about.

Sooooo.....does anyone on here have a 2007 version of either that they have been riding recently or last years model? I'd like the hear about each. To my mind I have narrowed the search down to these two and want some information from owners to see what they think. Thanks.
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Old 10-26-06, 10:20 PM   #2
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I have an '06 Portland and I like it very much. Although they market it as a "commuter" I'd describe it more as a road bike for the rain. It is perfect for my commute (suburban over rolling hills), but not the bombproof urban commuter that many require.
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Old 10-26-06, 10:33 PM   #3
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I'd be nervous to recommend either one as spec'ed, for a daily rider who's 290 pounds. If you can find a Kona Jake or a Kona Sutra, check them out... they have frames, forks and seatposts made of a durable material called "metal" REI's new Randonee or Cannondale's T2000 are a couple more models where I wouldn't worry about you getting an unexpected Carbon-Seatpost Enema or an Unbonded Fork-Tip Surprise, not to mention the Low-Spoke-Count Taco Of Doom.

Anyhow, we have an '06 TriCross Comp in the shop, and an '07 may arrive tomorrow morning, so if you have questions about those, LMK before I head to work tomorrow. We also have an '06 Jake and an '06 Sutra (fair warning, the Sutra is not a flyweight). In general, if you want a long-lived bike, then at your weight I'd stay clear of carbon stuff and try for "normal" 32-spoke wheels, Shimano hubs, and "normal" press-in non-integrated headsets. Just my 2¢ worth

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Old 10-26-06, 10:49 PM   #4
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Sorry. I missed the 290lbs part. The low-spoke-count wheels -- though they've stayed true for me for 5 months of daily riding -- that come stock on the Portland should make you a little nervous.
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Old 10-26-06, 10:51 PM   #5
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Yeah, and especially with disk brakes, which transmit the braking force through the spokes.
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Old 10-27-06, 01:58 AM   #6
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Not getting tweaked here but you make it sound like at 290 I should either ride a tank or nothing at all. My current bike, which is aluminum has taken my large frame (larger than it is now) over thousands of miles. My front wheel is old, weathered, poor quality with nary a broken spoke over the last 1,000 miles and it has stayed true. I ride carefully and get up out of the saddle on every decent sized bump or rise. There is also some serious oxidation on the spokes...that can't be good....

When I spoke to a product guy at the Specialized home office he said the frames, forks, etc. had no weight maximum. Same was said by a very knowledgeable guy at one of our better bike shops in the area. Both of those guys did caution me on the seat post....that is rated at 250 and both told me to get a different seat post until I drop more weight which I plan to do. I want to see how the stock wheel sets hold up. If I start busting spokes I will quickly get a more durable wheel set built (Mavic or Rhinolyte).

I have heard elsewhere, and you can see in this article, that CF is stronger and more stiff than steel.

<<http://news.com.com/Here+comes+the+everyday+carbon-fiber+car/2100-1008_3-6114289.html?tag=nefd.top>>
Trying to reconcile this information with your concerns for my large frame on a CF frame or fork...and also trying to reconcile this with the seatpost issue.

My ride is mostly smooth. I don't jump curbs....don't off road it....don't stay seated when hitting bumps or potholes. I would think that these guys, especially the LBS guys who have lots of different bikes, and know I weigh a lot, wouldn't be concerned about it. Also, the guy at Specialized, and also their company's product specs (other than the seat post) don't caution against my kind of weight on their frames or other components. I would imagine that if I had some major equipment failure (other than the seatpost) and I got injured they would clearly be liable. Most companies are smart enough about that to put warnings etc. on their products if their are weight limits. Also, one of the guys in the shop I go to is a big guy.....I'd say he's pushing 260-270 and he has no qualms about recommending this bike to a guy my size and he rides all the time.

I understand your concern and really appreciate it, however, I need some more proof before I defer my choice on a bike based on that same concern without evidence to prove the danger. If you have some...please share. Thanks.
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Old 10-27-06, 09:07 AM   #7
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Anything over 200lbs is large by most bike designers standards. They design for racers who are usually well under 200lbs. Given that a 30lb bike is a tank by bike standards but still only 12% of the total combined bike and rider weight for my 220lbs. Thats why I chose durability over light weight. I want my commuter to work everyday without me babying it.
I have an old touring bike that is 30lbs including rack and fenders and a "track" bike that is 22lbs. Neither are light but nor are they a tank. Both are durable and reliable.
I think 32spoke deep section rims are the way to go for a heavy commuter. A low spoke count wheel may hold up but I don't trust them for my daily pounding.
CF is stronger than steel at the same weight or lighter at the same weight, guess which designers chose. In addition CF does not take punishment as well. When CF breaks it tends to shatter. Steel will bend or crack in a slower failure mode with more warning.
Maybe I'm overly cautious or I'm alot rougher on equipment than you, but I would go for a good quality steel frame with 32 spoke deep section Al rims over a CF frame and low spoke count wheels for a commuter. Now for a recreational bike I might make a different choice.
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Old 10-27-06, 09:18 AM   #8
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My current bike, which is aluminum has taken my large frame (larger than it is now) over thousands of miles. My front wheel is old, weathered, poor quality with nary a broken spoke over the last 1,000 miles and it has stayed true.
Your current bike is a mountain bike from the Bombproof Era, as I call it. It's no surprise that it's holding up. Oxidization of spokes doesn't really matter, other than making it difficult to turn the spoke nipples when truing.

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I have heard elsewhere, and you can see in this article, that CF is stronger and more stiff than steel.
Then why does Specialized's owner's manual recommend that you throw away the Specialized carbon posts after 3 years of use (as well as other carbon components like their handlebars)? Having seen a couple of unbonded fork tips this year on carbon forks that weren't being reefed on by a disk brake in addition to their regular job, I'd try to steer you towards something else. Unlike everyone else you've asked, I have nothing to gain or lose by this. Keep it in mind. I see that you're dead-set on getting one of the snazzy ones, instead of some musty old touring bike that'll last 15 years, so I'll just wish you good luck

Incidentally, without racks or accessories, wearing 700x28 Continental folding tires, my 1995 Cannondale loaded-touring bike (with steel fork) hits the scale at about 22 pounds even. And that's a 25-inch size. Metal bikes aren't necessarily tanks just because they're metal. the Cannondale in full roadgoing trim, with Panaracer touring tires.

Last edited by mechBgon; 10-27-06 at 09:49 AM.
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Old 10-27-06, 10:04 AM   #9
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I was looking at the Trek 520 also which is a tank...I mean touring bike....but then I read some reviews that said it has a tendency to rust. I talked to a guy in a bike shop where they sell TRek...and he said if you are commuting year around...especially in the rain the 520 is probably not a good bike for that.

So you are also saying the Portland isn't sturdy enough for my build because of the carbon forks and the disc brakes?

This is getting a little depressing.
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Old 10-27-06, 10:11 AM   #10
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Ok...what about this one:

<<http://www2.trekbikes.com/bikes/bike.php?bikeid=1494000&f=8>>

This is Treks lower end cross bike that is all aluminum. Obviously the wheels you won't approve of because of the reduced spoke count but there's no carbon on this bad boy. Also, the guy at my lBS was saying that the geometry on the Trek Cyclocross is not great for a commuter because these are designed more for off road than the TriCross Comp. He said it has a shorter frame or something and is more 'technical' than the TriCross. Let me know your thoughts.
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Old 10-27-06, 10:19 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by mechBgon
they have frames, forks and seatposts made of a durable material called "metal"

You know the Portland is metal right?

The fork is CF, and I'd recommend different wheels (I've been abusing a set of 32 hole Open Pro's laced to a disc hub and can recommend them... I do ride off road, and hard on them) but I think that this bike would work fine. I'd especially recommend discs for someone of the OP's weight.
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Old 10-27-06, 11:10 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by BayBruin
I was looking at the Trek 520 also which is a tank...I mean touring bike....but then I read some reviews that said it has a tendency to rust. I talked to a guy in a bike shop where they sell TRek...and he said if you are commuting year around...especially in the rain the 520 is probably not a good bike for that.

So you are also saying the Portland isn't sturdy enough for my build because of the carbon forks and the disc brakes?

This is getting a little depressing.
Are you going to be commuting a lot in the rain? I thought it didn't rain in California.


I have a Giant OCR Touring, which I guess is what most folks would pick as ideal for you. It's got a strong (heavy) aluminum frame, steel fork, and 32-spoke touring rims. And the disc brakes, of course.

My take on discs is that they are a real plus in the rain. In wet conditions, they work consistently and don't groove your rims. And the bike stays nice and clean. But rim brakes are adequate in the wet, unless you're bombing down big hills in the rain (like me). And rim brakes are lighter. When I leave the wet Northwest, I'm going to sell my OCR-T and get something lighter with rim brakes.

If you're going to ride in the rain a lot, get the Portland. If you have wheel troubles, get a new set (I'm sure you can sell the Portland wheels for good $$$ on ebay). Sounds like you like the Portland.

I get some interest and compliments on my OCR-T...

Last edited by Phantoj; 10-27-06 at 11:18 AM.
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Old 10-27-06, 01:09 PM   #13
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The '07 TriCross Comp came in. It's about the same weight "undressed" as my Cannondale "tank," at 22.x pounds (update: 22.0 pounds without pedals), with the pre-scuffed paint job, carbon fork and stays, carbon seatpost, Roval wheelset and integrated headset.

What does the Trek 520 weigh these days, out of curiosity? Did you have the guys weigh it? I have a fair amount of confidence that it would still be on the road 10+ years from now, begging for more, and if you don't want it rusting, keep the frame waxed and touch up chips in the paint.

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Old 10-27-06, 01:50 PM   #14
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With a little bit of care (FrameSaver and grease on fittings) a good steel frame should last a long time even with rain and snow.
A Trek 520 is a little under 30lbs but handles like a "tank" not so much because of its weight but because it has long chain stays and a slack head tube angle with large trail. In other words geometry.
If you want quicker handling get a bike designed to handle quicker. Touring bikes like the 520 and LHT are designed to be stable.
As for the two bikes you are looking at:
I don't like the complication of the suspension on the Specialized and I don't care for the low spoke count wheels on the Portland. I'd probably go with the Portland and either replace the wheels when/if they break or just Ebay the wheels and build a set I really trusted.
My first choice is usually for steel so would perfer a custom steel bike or a Surly over either.
I'm a big believer in keeping this simple on a commuter which is why I tend to be a little retro in my choices.
Craig
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Old 11-11-06, 08:56 PM   #15
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perhaps you should consider a custom built surly LHT or crosscheck. then you can get the exact wheels that are best for you, and probably save some money compared to the portland.

D
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Old 11-11-06, 11:41 PM   #16
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i would have no issues putting you on a Tricross.

though, as some others have mentioned, i'd rather put you on a CrossCheck.
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Old 11-12-06, 07:10 AM   #17
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After riding this week (and despite what I wrote in my post above) I've got to come to the defense of the stock wheels on the Portland. One of the main streets on my commute has been scarified and is bumpy as hell. It also seems that I hit every pothole in Boston over the last week and on a group ride yesterday. The wheels have stayed completely true. I have about 2000-2500 miles on the bike.
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Old 11-12-06, 08:50 AM   #18
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if you want a bike that will 'last', don't buy carbon fiber.

I'd go for a trad steel Trek 520 at your weight, but hey. why the portland and not the 520? the 520 and the tricross are more comprable bikes than the portland and the tricross.

Regarding carbon fiber in bikes, the Consumer Product Safety Comission will be doing a major review of their bicycle standards in 2007, partly due to the proliferation of carbon fiber in the bike industry; expect to see heavier carbon fiber componentry in the coming years and more weight limits.
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