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  1. #1
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    Suggestions for my first “really nice bike”? $1800 budget

    UPDATED TO SAVE READING TIME (and elicit the best possible suggestions)

    I'm moving towards separate bikes for separate duties, rather than the do-it-all bike I initially imagined. I basically have a do-it-all bike (a lugged steel "sport tourer" with fenders, rack, and original downtube shifters). So this next bike doesn't need to carry the rack, panniers, or fenders.

    Suggestions for lightweight road bikes that bring joy to the hearts of horizontal-top-tubing loving retrogrouches - yet use modern materials? Compact frames with steeply sloping top tubes look less beautiful in my eyes.

    ===================================================

    Background: I’m looking to purchase my first “really nice bike” and looking for ideas. The only bikes I've owned as an adult are a low-end, $280 Trek 820 mountain bike (purchased new in 2001) and a 1980's sport-tourer that I picked up at a garage sale for $70 (purchased in 2006). What can I say, I'm cheap with myself! I'm finally looking for a really nice bike that I will be able to enjoy for years to come.

    I’m pretty busy, so a lot of my bike miles are commuting miles (12 miles round-trip). So I want my “good bike” to be the bike I ride everyday.

    I'm hoping you guys can point me to something light, fast, and beautiful within my price range. Some thoughts about what I want are below.

    1) Budget: $1800 (for complete bike)
    2) Bike Type: Dropbar bike. Preferably one that would actually look good with fenders and would feel faster and sportier than my current bike.
    3) I want it to be lightweight. I already have a ~27 lbs steel commuter bike.
    4) Since this is not a bike I "need", but a bike I want, I want it to be good-looking, too. I'm a bit old-school in my aesthetic taste for bikes, but I'm okay with moving to modern technologies (aluminum frames, carbon forks, brifters, etc).


    Initial bikes that I looked at:
    All City Mr. Pink -- $1800 w/ full Shimano 105 drivetain. These bikes are *beautiful*, but the frames are surprisingly heavy. This "race frame" supposedly uses high-end Columbus tubing, but the frame weighs 4.5 lbs and comes with a required 2.3 lb matching fork. Beautiful, but I want more of a weight and speed upgrade. http://allcitycycles.com/bikes/mr_pink

    Soma Smoothie -- $400 for frame only. It’s a nice looking frame, but not as beautifully painted or crafted as the Mr. Pink. And while the possibility of a carbon fork helps the weight a bit, we are still talking about a 4.6 lbs steel frame at the center of the build. Soma quotes 4.0 lbs on the frame, but all real-world reported weights are ~4.6 lbs.
    http://www.somafab.com/archives/product/smoothie

    "Endurance Road Bikes" -- I only discovered that these exist earlier this afternoon! Yes, I am out of touch with modern bikes. They look like full-blown race machines, but with room for wider tires and with hidden fender eyelets. Would it look absolutely ridiculous to put fenders on such a beast so I could ride it every day - and commute on it? Or would it be like pulling a plow with a race horse?

    Kona Zone: http://www.konaworld.com/zone.cfm

    Trek Domane 2.3: http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes..._2_3_compact/#

    Fuji Gran Fondo 2.5 http://www.fujibikes.com/bike/details/gran-fondo-25

    Am I missing any really nice bikes that would fit the bill and still be within the budget? Are there any bikes that would fit my old-school sensibilities, but without the 4.5 lb frames? Please don't suggest any $2000 custom frames. They are not in the budget.

    Thank you in advance for helping me get up to speed on the modern bike world!

    All-City Mr. Pink: BK1330.jpg
    Kona Zone: zone.jpg
    Trek Domane 2.3 imagefly.aspx?w=666&h=550&p=contentimages%u00252f00_HERO_TrekDomance_2Series.JPG
    Fuji Gran Fondo 2.5 2014_FUJI_Gran_Fondo_2.5_SIDE.jpg
    Last edited by TrackSmart; 11-21-13 at 05:43 PM.

  2. #2
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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  3. #3
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    I appreciate the response, but that is not a very hot looking bike. Don't get me wrong, it would be a great commuter or touring bike, but I want this bike to be fun and fast first, and secondarily to be usable on my relatively short (6 mile each way) commute. I've already got a functional (but not so sexy) commuter bike.

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    IMHO- look for a used entry level road bike, ride it for a few months, then do a bigger investment. By then you will have a better idea of what you need, how to get fitted properly and be more comfortable riding.
    Bike shops sometimes have a trade in, some shops have sort of a bike flea market day or weekend. Sellers bring their out grown bikes to be sold. Riders looking for a new bike can often find a good deal on a lightly used ride, sellers get cash toward their next riding passion.
    ride long & prosper

  5. #5
    Senior Member blakcloud's Avatar
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    Did you look at the Specialized Secteurs?

    Of the bikes you picked so far, I love the All City Mr. Pink. Yes a steel frame is heavier than any aluminum frame but the lines, the classic look of this bike stands out for me. Plus I love flat fork crowns, just so classic.

  6. #6
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    What size bike are you looking for?
    “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.” - Jiddu Krishnamurti

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    The Specialized Secteurs might fit the bill - and $1800 will get you close to top-of-the-line. You can also get the base Roubaix instead.
    http://treadrightly.blogspot.com/

  8. #8
    babylon by bike Standalone's Avatar
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    I am a Fuji fan. When my LBS was getting its start, they were dealing Fuji bikes. I have an '05 CF Team Issue that is the hotness. That Gran Fondo is a pretty sweet bike if you want to step away from the classic smoothie/Mr. Pink bikes.

    EDIT: but really, my advice is to take your $1800 to your LBS and get a nice bike there. The rewards you will reap in discounts on little things and free bits and pieces from the parts bin to keep you old sport tourer and other bikes running... priceless... or at least worth the extra money you will spend over buying online. See what they carry and take some test rides. Maybe get a $1400 bike and $400 worth of kit and lights to keep you riding through the winter.

    Something light + fenders is the ultimate training machine--- you'll be out there when others are not. That is what hotness is. Your own fitness-- not how hot the bike looks. Base miles all winter== awesomeness.
    Last edited by Standalone; 11-11-13 at 08:50 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by blakcloud View Post
    Did you look at the Specialized Secteurs?

    Of the bikes you picked so far, I love the All City Mr. Pink. Yes a steel frame is heavier than any aluminum frame but the lines, the classic look of this bike stands out for me. Plus I love flat fork crowns, just so classic.
    Yes, the Mr. Pink is a beauty. I stopped by my local bike shop and test road one - they had a red and white 2013 model in my size - and it was a mighty sharp-looking bike. The 105 drivetrain was very smooth and the bike had a pleasant (but possibly too familiar) ride. There are lot of thoughtful touches on the frame, such as internal cable routing, an already-rust-proofed ED finish (inside and out), and reinforced bottle brazes. But in terms of the actual quality of the steel, this isn't the "road racing" bike they advertise it to be. It is a fairly hefty beast that is much closer to my mid-range 1980's sport-tourer than it is to a lightweight steel racing bike. At the same price point, we are talking about a 23 lbs Mr. Pink versus an 18 lbs "endurance road bike" with room for 32c tires (or 25c with fenders). Both with the same Shimano 105-level components.

    I may come back to the Mr. Pink at the end of the day, but I don't want to short-change myself by not giving "modern" options an opportunity. As I said, I didn't even know that "endurance road bikes" existed before today! Who knows what else I am neglecting?

    So bring on the lust-worthy bikes!
    Last edited by TrackSmart; 11-11-13 at 09:18 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by treadtread View Post
    The Specialized Secteurs might fit the bill - and $1800 will get you close to top-of-the-line. You can also get the base Roubaix instead.
    Thanks! I just checked out the Secteurs online. I'm not sure what these disc-brake models buy me for on-road riding, other than an extra 3 pounds of bike weight compared to the "endurance road bikes". I am also irrationally fond of less sloping (or just plain horizontal) top tubes - and the Secteur is particularly sloping...

    The Roubiax (non-disc version) might be a good fit, but it is out of my price range for the components I would want. $1800 gets you 9-speed Sora (!) versus Shimano 105 on the other bikes. It seems oddly unbalanced to have a carbon bike with Sora components.
    Last edited by TrackSmart; 11-11-13 at 09:19 PM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Standalone View Post
    I am a Fuji fan. When my LBS was getting its start, they were dealing Fuji bikes. I have an '05 CF Team Issue that is the hotness. That Gran Fondo is a pretty sweet bike if you want to step away from the classic smoothie/Mr. Pink bikes.

    EDIT: but really, my advice is to take your $1800 to your LBS and get a nice bike there. The rewards you will reap in discounts on little things and free bits and pieces from the parts bin to keep you old sport tourer and other bikes running... priceless... or at least worth the extra money you will spend over buying online. See what they carry and take some test rides. Maybe get a $1400 bike and $400 worth of kit and lights to keep you riding through the winter.

    Something light + fenders is the ultimate training machine--- you'll be out there when others are not. That is what hotness is. Your own fitness-- not how hot the bike looks. Base miles all winter== awesomeness.
    All of these would be through a local bike shop, so that is not an issue. I will say that most bike shops have almost zero useful advice to give for folks like myself. The best they can do is tell me that I need a cyclocross bike, then proceed to show me bikes that have no fender mounts. Or to show me bikes that can barely take 25mm tires, but assure me that raceblade fenders are just as good as full fenders. They never even bothered to show me the "endurance road bikes", which actually have tire clearance. And I had to steer myself towards the other useful bikes in the shop (e.g. a Salsa Casserole that was on the shelves).

    QUESTION: You mentioned the Fuji Gran Fondo (which is definitely a hot bike). Do people really run fenders on these endurance road bikes - and what kinds would be in keeping with the bike? The manufacturers certainly advertise the ability and they include the mounts.
    Last edited by TrackSmart; 11-11-13 at 09:17 PM.

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    Stick with steel. Only this time get a stronger steel which makes for a much lighter bike. Get the Jamis Quest Elite.

    OTOH, you could always opt for the beautiful Giant Defy Composite 3.
    Last edited by WestPablo; 11-12-13 at 04:36 AM.

  13. #13
    http://www.538.nl acidfast7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrackSmart View Post
    I appreciate the response, but that is not a very hot looking bike. Don't get me wrong, it would be a great commuter or touring bike, but I want this bike to be fun and fast first, and secondarily to be usable on my relatively short (6 mile each way) commute. I've already got a functional (but not so sexy) commuter bike.
    No problem.

    At least to my eye, the bikes you posted look like a GM product (think Monte Carlo SS), while the one I posted looked like a nice Audi A6 Avant. But the again, no one has every accused you guys of having style

    However, you are correct, it is not my money.
    Last edited by acidfast7; 11-12-13 at 02:28 AM.
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  14. #14
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    I have been riding the Soma Smoothie ES for a few months. I went with the steel fork and built it up with a 105 group, mostly. I prefer bar-end shifters so I used different levers and dura-ace bar-ends. I also went with a Sugino compact crankset because I wanted a 48/32 combo.

    With a VO leather saddle I clocked in right at $1800. I can't say enough good things about this bike. It's really comfortable and snappy. It's light enough for me to climb in the mountains of north Georgia and I can ride in a pace line. I don't need anything more than that.

    For comparison, my other main bike is a Surly LHT. This is a very comfortable bike but this feels like riding a late 70s Cadillac, very smooth but big and not particularly agile. The Soma is much quicker and more maneuverable but also with a comfortable geometry.

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    Senior Member tarwheel's Avatar
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    If you are intending to use the bike for commuting as well as other riding, I would get a frame with mounts for fenders and racks as well as clearance for larger tires. Thus, the All-City Space Horse or Soma ES would seem better choices, IMHO. If not, why are you posting your question in the commuting forum?

    Some other bikes you might consider are the Salsa Vaya, Soma San Marco. The Gunnar Sport is another great option, although probably a little higher than your budget unless you bought used.

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    Quote Originally Posted by acidfast7 View Post
    No problem.

    At least to my eye, the bikes you posted look like a GM product (think Monte Carlo SS), while the one I posted looked like a nice Audi A6 Avant. But the again, no one has every accused you guys of having style

    However, you are correct, it is not my money.
    Ha ha. Point taken! As for the Mr Pink: It is being advertised as a classic sports car (an old-school Porche 911), while actually being more like a sports sedan in terms of performance (your Monte Carlo SS analogy). It would be a great "car" to drive everyday, with a comfortable ride, reasonable performance, and a large trunk for hauling stuff, but I'm honestly looking for something faster and slightly less practical. A sports car with a small trunk. That said, I'm trying to avoid the other extreme, a full race-car that has no trunk, no headlights, and no roof! I still need to get to work and occasionally pick up some groceries on the way home.

    Who knows, maybe I'll decide that the Mr. Pink is still sporty enough. But right now I'm still hoping for something a bit faster and lighter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jrbee7 View Post
    I have been riding the Soma Smoothie ES for a few months. I went with the steel fork and built it up with a 105 group, mostly. I prefer bar-end shifters so I used different levers and dura-ace bar-ends. I also went with a Sugino compact crankset because I wanted a 48/32 combo.

    With a VO leather saddle I clocked in right at $1800. I can't say enough good things about this bike. It's really comfortable and snappy. It's light enough for me to climb in the mountains of north Georgia and I can ride in a pace line. I don't need anything more than that.

    For comparison, my other main bike is a Surly LHT. This is a very comfortable bike but this feels like riding a late 70s Cadillac, very smooth but big and not particularly agile. The Soma is much quicker and more maneuverable but also with a comfortable geometry.
    Quote Originally Posted by WestPablo View Post
    Stick with steel. Only this time get a stronger steel which makes for a much lighter bike. Get the Jamis Quest Elite.

    OTOH, you could always opt for the beautiful Giant Defy Composite 3.
    Quote Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
    If you are intending to use the bike for commuting as well as other riding, I would get a frame with mounts for fenders and racks as well as clearance for larger tires. Thus, the All-City Space Horse or Soma ES would seem better choices, IMHO. If not, why are you posting your question in the commuting forum?

    Some other bikes you might consider are the Salsa Vaya, Soma San Marco. The Gunnar Sport is another great option, although probably a little higher than your budget unless you bought used.
    To jrbee7: They are nice frames (Soma Smoothie). And the first ones that really tempted me! That said, in terms of materials, they are not as lightweight as the framemakers try to market them to be. I'm not saying this is a problem. Heck, they are surely what I would buy (that or the Mr. Pink) if I didn't already have a steel "sport tourer" as my daily ride. And I may still go that route.

    That said, I want to know what other options exist. For instance: actually lightweight, modern, steel-framed bikes? Or aluminum-bikes with classic road geometry? Or something entirely modern in look and materials, but still useful for my daily commute?


    To WestPablo: Thanks for the recommendation. I didn't know the Jamis Quest Elite existed. Supposedly 19.5 lbs as a complete bike with Shimano 105 versus ~23 lbs for the Mr. Pink with 105 components. Is this actually a quality, lightweight steel frame? Or did they just use lighter parts on the rest of the bike? I'm certainly open to sticking with steel, but I am not married to any particular frame material for this bike.
    http://www.myjamis.com/SSP%20Applica...cat_grp=road_7

    To Tarwheel: I posted in the *commuting* forum because I am certain that the folks in the road forum would have told me to commute on a 23mm tired road bike, with no fenders, and carry a backpack! Or drive to work on Monday with supplies, and Tuesday-Friday carry only what fits in your jersey pockets. Those are potential options, but I'm hoping for something in between.
    Last edited by TrackSmart; 11-12-13 at 07:07 AM.

  18. #18
    babylon by bike Standalone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrackSmart View Post
    All of these would be through a local bike shop, so that is not an issue. I will say that most bike shops have almost zero useful advice to give for folks like myself. The best they can do is tell me that I need a cyclocross bike, then proceed to show me bikes that have no fender mounts. Or to show me bikes that can barely take 25mm tires, but assure me that raceblade fenders are just as good as full fenders. They never even bothered to show me the "endurance road bikes", which actually have tire clearance. And I had to steer myself towards the other useful bikes in the shop (e.g. a Salsa Casserole that was on the shelves).

    QUESTION: You mentioned the Fuji Gran Fondo (which is definitely a hot bike). Do people really run fenders on these endurance road bikes - and what kinds would be in keeping with the bike? The manufacturers certainly advertise the ability and they include the mounts.
    The pictured fuji has no eyelets for fenders. And to answer your question, people do whatever they want to with their bikes--- that's what makes the bicycle so fascinating.

    Sounds like you're not happy with the sales help you're getting at your LBS. You're a knowledgeable guy, and know yourself better than they know you and your needs. It's about communication-- your tastes are different from what most people have. There's the kids market, the hybrid market, and the "I want a fancy race bike" market. At least that's what I think most bike shops tend to see. Practical commuting riders are less common and shop staff has had less experience helping those customers.

    My bike shop is different and knows how to serve the fast-but-with-fenders types and many more.

    People will argue about this with me, but a bike shop is kind of like a coffee shop or a bar-- part of what makes it good (or) is the clientele. Educate the guy/gal at the shop. Hang out for a while. Take your old bike in for an overhaul and talk shop...
    The bicycle, the bicycle surely, should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets. Christopher Morley

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Standalone View Post
    The pictured fuji has no eyelets for fenders. And to answer your question, people do whatever they want to with their bikes--- that's what makes the bicycle so fascinating.

    Sounds like you're not happy with the sales help you're getting at your LBS. You're a knowledgeable guy, and know yourself better than they know you and your needs. It's about communication-- your tastes are different from what most people have. There's the kids market, the hybrid market, and the "I want a fancy race bike" market. At least that's what I think most bike shops tend to see. Practical commuting riders are less common and shop staff has had less experience helping those customers.

    My bike shop is different and knows how to serve the fast-but-with-fenders types and many more.

    People will argue about this with me, but a bike shop is kind of like a coffee shop or a bar-- part of what makes it good (or) is the clientele. Educate the guy/gal at the shop. Hang out for a while. Take your old bike in for an overhaul and talk shop...
    Good catch! You are correct that the Fuji has no fender eyelets. I had just pulled up "endurance road bikes" after seeing that the Kona and the Trek versions have fender eyelets and advertise that they have them. It is clear that not all of these bikes have them.

    Regarding bike shops: Quite right! I am aware that I am a niche market, hence my coming to this forum. I certainly did my best to communicate clearly in that first bike shop - and they tried to communicate clearly that "you should really want this instead of what you say you want". "This" being a regular road racing bike or a race-oriented cyclocross bike with no fender mounts. Valid options, but not what I was looking for. Fortunately, the second shop I visited (a bit further away), was excellent. They pointed me to the All City Mr. Pink, which I had not heard of before - and may eventually go back for. So yeah, not all bike shops are equal.

  20. #20
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    in your op you asked for a light bike but gravitated towards heavy ~5 lb steel frames. i can see why you had trouble at the lbs. these days a 2-2.5 lb frame is considered light.

    fender eyelets are not required for full coverage fenders. they can be mounted on the axle. full coverage fenders can also be split which often allows cx, cobblstone/gravel road, and "leisure" road bikes to run 32+ mm tires with a fender.

    PS: i actually switched to race blades on one of my commuters even though the bike has fender eyelets. it just felt silly to ride such a nice bike with heavy fenders.
    Road rash is a precious gift. Road rash is your friend. Bask in it, appreciate it, love it. Above all, learn from it. --Robert Hurst

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    Quote Originally Posted by TrackSmart View Post

    That said, I want to know what other options exist. For instance: actually lightweight, modern, steel-framed bikes? Or aluminum-bikes with classic road geometry? Or something entirely modern in look and materials, but still useful for my daily commute?


    To WestPablo: Thanks for the recommendation. I didn't know the Jamis Quest Elite existed. Supposedly 19.5 lbs as a complete bike with Shimano 105 versus ~23 lbs for the Mr. Pink with 105 components. Is this actually a quality, lightweight steel frame? Or did they just use lighter parts on the rest of the bike? I'm certainly open to sticking with steel, but I am not married to any particular frame material for this bike.
    Of course, the Cannondale 10 105 is most probably one of the most beautiful bikes ever made in Al. It would most certainly be my first pick in aluminum, with the given budget.
    Last edited by WestPablo; 11-12-13 at 09:38 AM.

  22. #22
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    Acidfast7 keeps forgetting the German Bikes dont sell in The US,

    we get them direct from the Asian Contract Manufacturers through West coast Container ports,

    rather than imported ReShipped in and out of Hamberg and Rotterdam.

  23. #23
    babylon by bike Standalone's Avatar
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    Sounds like you love the Mr. Pink. If that bike speaks to you, then go for it.

    Jamis has some similar stuff. Check out their line. My Satellite is great. And about 19 lbs, I think, even with the triple. (buying used = compromise.).

    Last edited by Standalone; 11-12-13 at 09:46 AM.
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  24. #24
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    I had Crud Roadracer Mk II fenders and 25c tires on my Cannondale CAAD8. So don't let the lack of fender mounting points be a no-go on any frame you find. My wife has the same fenders and 23c tires on her Trek Madone 4.7 as well. I just bought a used Lynskey Sportive that has fender and rear rack mounts- loving the ride of Ti after years on an aluminum frame, but the deal I got (which is under your budget) doesn't show up every day.
    DEMON

    Satanic Mechanic
    STAR 3 Spinning Instructor

    2011 Lynskey Sportive (Shimano Ultegra 10s)
    1988 Cannondale SM400 (Suntour XC-M 7s)

  25. #25
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    Thanks!

    Thank you guys for your thoughts. You have given me all kinds of excellent options that I had not come across before. Plus some further perspective on the fender issue. And you guys have rightfully pointed out the two-faced nature of what I want in a bike.

    As you guys know, I'm not buying this bike out of need. I want something well-fitted, smooth riding, aesthetically pleasing, and fast. A bike I can enjoy for a long time to come. It seems like there are [three] main options:

    1) Compromise on the weight issue and get a nice, but somewhat heavier bike like the Mr. Pink or build up a Soma Smoothie. I can put full fenders on it for commuting and it will look great doing its job.
    2) Buy something light, fast, and aesthetically pleasing (to me). And acknowledge that it is not going to have permanently-mounted fenders and certainly not a rack for holding a pannier. And enjoy it as it is.
    3) Spend a bit more and start with that higher-quality, lighter-weight steel (or used titanium) frame, and build up from there. I'm not talking about spending huge money on a custom frame, but it looks like that Gunnar Sport can be had for ~$950. Not cheap, considering it doesn't even come with a fork for that money. But possibly worth it.


    In the meantime, if you have other frame or bike suggestions, keep them coming! I've learned about many exciting new options already.
    Last edited by TrackSmart; 11-12-13 at 12:20 PM.

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