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Old 08-03-05, 09:55 AM   #1
GrannyGear
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Picking A Bike These Days........QUANDARY!

Next spring I'll be buying a new bike. Always ridden traditional steel frames. Don't know anything else. So many choices now. Steel, aluminum, carbon, ti, and various combinations. Budget limitations eliminate ti unless used. Question: tooling up and down in front of the LBS isn't like 60 miles over hills and across chipseal......so what do you seasoned and mature, discriminating guys (who may not have patience with twitchiness, road buzz, mere stylishness and trendiness) RIDE and value? Is there really a substantial riding difference between an all steel Lemond Sarthe and its steel/carbon brother Zurich? Would a fully carbon Trek model leave me much less "battered" by long rides as one shop worker assured me? Isn't geometry more important than material? Is a Spec. Paris/Roubaix really "buttery" on long rides compared to an 80's steel frame or that Lemond Sarthe? Is a sentimental attachment to old Italian frames for sale on eBay outmoded by technology?

So, what is your opinion?......I trust 50Plussers to be less swayed by hype or biased attachment to what they've invested in.

(I know, I know-- this issue has to do with personal perception and has been done to death....but probably because its pertinent!)


Thanks!
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Old 08-03-05, 11:16 AM   #2
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Tires make more difference than frame material, IMO. I've used my Atlantis and Rambouillet (both lugged steel) and my aluminum Cannondale with everything from 700x41s to 700x25s, and a tire change transforms them. With skinny rubber, they're nimble, reasonably fast but really uncomfortable. With 32s or 35s, they're almost as fast, much more stable and a lot nicer to ride over long distances. The 41s were too squishy and heavy for me, but if I rode on bad pavement a lot, I'd keep them on one bike, anyway.
The problem is that most modern bikes won't fit tires bigger than about 700x25, 28 at most. The 700x23 size that's universal these days is a poor choice for riders heavier than about 175 pounds (as the 53-tooth chainring is for the majority of recreational cyclists), but racing sells, so that's what comes from the factory. If I were you, I'd look around for something that would fit AT LEAST a 700x32. There's no penalty for having a little extra room under the brake arches and between the fork blades, and it gives you much more versatility.
I don't know your price range, but you can read more about this and see some suitable bikes in the $2000-up range at www.rivbike.com.
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Old 08-03-05, 11:42 AM   #3
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You might want to shop around...places like Colorado Cyclist have some killer deals going on right now-in their latest catalog, you could get a litespeed classic ti for less than 2100, and an 05 tuscany (I have a tuscany and it is simply awesome) for less than 2600.
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Old 08-03-05, 12:56 PM   #4
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I just spent the last several months going through the same process. Ended up buying an all steel bike built with 16.5 dedacaccai (sp). Went with steel because everything I read used steel as a basis for comparison. My logic was if that's the standard against which other materials are measured, then I would focus on steel. My test rides on aluminium supported that decision. Cost eliminated carbon and titanium.
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Old 08-03-05, 01:27 PM   #5
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[QUOTE=Velo Dog]Tires make more difference than frame material, IMO. If I were you, I'd look around for something that would fit AT LEAST a 700x32. There's no penalty for having a little extra room under the brake arches and between the fork blades, and it gives you much more versatility. /QUOTE]

Granny,
I'm with Velo Dog on this one, tires make a HUGE difference. Over the years I've gone from 20s to 23s to 25s. I even run a 27/28 on one set of wheels but it really doesn't give adequate clearance under the brakes, except on smooth, dry roads. 28s should be adequate for any road riding situation, 32s are good if you ride fireroads or lite trails. Second consideration would be chainstay length, go upwards of 41cm for smoother ride - loaded touring bikes run 45cm.

These forums will give you an infinite number of differing opinions about frame materials.
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Old 08-03-05, 02:28 PM   #6
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Great question and great quandary. Key information is missing to make responses appropriate to you.

1. Why are you getting a new bike? What are your highest dissatisfiers now?
2. What is your rough budget range?
3. Why buy in spring when prices are the highest rather than in the midst of winter when stores tend to be more willing to make a deal?

I'm in a somewhat similar situation. I bought a bike last Oct and for what I knew then, it was a great bike. It's designed to be an everready bunny bike. My problem is I didn't know then how much I would want to be able to regularly cruise at 20+. Hah, downhills now and a few short level patches, but average is still very low. I rented a TI bike on vacation and it was a wonderful ride. Owner was going to sell to buy a fiber bike. My budget can't afford even used TI or fiber bikes now. Steel is nice, but a bit heavier and I really don't understand the full implications of the dependability..speed tradeoffs. My bike is heavy, well compared to road bikes. Still lighter than mountain bikes. I don't have 5 g's to drop on a madone. Only other alternative is to consider the recumbent bikes. The short ones can go fast, but may not go any faster because of the engine.

My plan is to just work on upgrading the engine and learning more about bike maintenance and engineering so I can get the "perfect bike" next time. In a few years we'll know what the story is on fiber frames.

Maybe the answer is to go back to the drawing board, forget current and future bike model hype and create a table/matrix of ideal bike characteristics with a user weighted evaluation system.

I don't know what such a table would look like, but it would be an interesting exercise.
A few things that would be on the table would be: [from sevencycles.com]

Stable - responsive
Stable == holds a steady line, not racing bike, long rides easier
Responsive == quick cornering, not for touring as tends towards squirly
Auto examples: Cadillac Fleetwood vs Dodge viper

Cushioning - road feel
Cushioning == maximum comfort, less road feel
Road feel == more snap and acceleration, harsher ride
On 10 point scale, their ratings:
steel = 4.8
fiber = 5.3
titanium = 6
aluminum = 7
Auto examples: full size luxury car vs sports car

Frame Flexibility
Lightweight == better climbing
Stiff == better sprinting and acceleration
0n 10 point scale, their ratings:
titanium =4
steel =5
oversized TI = 6
carbon fiber =7
oversized al = 8
Auto examples: Mazda Miata vs Chrysler 300M [hemi]

DriveTrain Purpose
Full terrain range == good low granny gear and good high end gear
Smooth gear shifts == no need to change pedaling speed much as terrain changes
Auto examples: == Semi Tractor Trailer Rig vs 6 speed automatic family vehicle

I don't know what the other categories might be. Some things I'ld want to consider in an ideal bike check list are:
1. final out the door price
2. final total weight
3. what tire widths will the rims take?
4. component dependability
5. ease of transporting
6. ease of adjusting fit to my body
7. ease of attaching racks
8. availability of super braking system
9. ease of shifting
10. ease of maintenance
11. and then color, servicing etc.

My guess is everyone who looks at this without the hype has always backed away as THIS IS TOO MUCH, and just go with the latest marketing hype or what their friends hot button is.

Does anyone on the forum, know of a consumer focused guide to help us all so the next bike purchase is of the right bike for ME?
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Old 08-03-05, 03:07 PM   #7
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Check out Pantour hubs to get rid of road buzz.

~TR
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Old 08-03-05, 03:52 PM   #8
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I know I ride a mountain bike but the sentiments are still the same. The Frame is the heart of the bike and no matter what the material, this must be designed properly for its use, be the right size, and fit you. The material is then secondary- Aluminium can be harsh to ride, Carbon can have a durability problem. (Not just age but knocks can very easily damage carbon). Steel can be heavy and nonresponsive, and I have never heard a thing a bad word about Ti. except for the cost. Ti is probably the best. Aluminium is very responsive, carbon will build into a very lightweight bike with strength and " Bling" and Steel can give you the strongest frame that is comfortable to ride and can be light. Sorry no answer on this.

What affects all the frames though is the quality of the components and in particular the wheels. A Specialist built pair of wheels are worth their weight in Gold, and at the price of some of them, that is what you will think they are made of. Then there is the groupset and the quality of the other components that are fitted to the bike. Once again, no answer to this as every one is an individual so what is superb for one rider will not be suitable for others.

I think you have taken the right choice in asking others what they think will be a good bike, but you will get 50 answers from 50 people. You have to decide what you want from the bike, the price you want to pay, then get the catalogues to make comparisions and decisions and THEN test ride your choice before you buy.

Good luck.
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Old 08-03-05, 07:39 PM   #9
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I have a beautiful steel, lugged '70's vintage Motobecane - hanging in my garage. I ride a 2003 Trek 2300 with Al frame, carbon fork and 23c tires. I weigh 175 and less. The Trek is just electric as compared to the Motobecane. I want my energy going directly to the road. The Ultegra shifters are just plain amazing, as compared to the old friction shifters. If anything, I would like a little shorter chainstay to improve stiffness for climbing. Top speed on a downhill has been about 46 mph (rock solid), and I've ridden as much as 7K ft climbing on a 60 mile ride. I paid about $1600 last fall for the Trek. If you want "butter", get one of the new frames with elastomeric inserts at critical frame connections and a more upright seating position. You've really got to ride different bikes to develop your own critera for what suits you. If you've not used roadbikereview.com, that is a good place for reviews of pretty much every bike made.
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Old 08-04-05, 01:54 PM   #10
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For general riding I recommend a Trek 520. It's a steel touring bike. The relaxed geometry, matched with 28 or 32cm tires, makes for a comfortable ride. Even though it's a touring bike it comes with standard road bike(not race bike) gearing. Fanastic for all around riding and if you ever decide to take off and not come back you're all set.

If you want something more toward the race end of the spectrum I recco the Zurick. I can't compare it to Lemond all steel bikes as I've not ridden them. The Zurick is light and comfortable with it's spine design.

The fact that Lemond made it's reputation with all steel bikes would give me comfort in buying one
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Old 08-04-05, 05:45 PM   #11
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I second Tom's recommendation for the 520 - I use mine for general street riding a lot, along with my Trek 7500fx hybrid, which BTW is a great all around bike and actually lighter than my 520. In the past few years I have twice purchased a racing style bike to gain performance (both were a popular Italian brand, starting with a "B') and they turned out to be too twitchy on fast downhills for me - very aggressive geometry. I love to go fast and felt I was going to get spit off eventually. We have a lot of hills around here and both my Treks, while more work going up, are very stable going down, espec the 520 - it is ultrastable at 45-50 mph, and very comfortable.
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Old 08-04-05, 06:59 PM   #12
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Thanks to all for the replies so far....as usual, there's a lot of collective good sense here. I have a sport touring frame that, like the 520, descends as if "on rails" so to speak.....but otherwise just wants to go straight (which, after 50 miles or so ain't bad). Still, I kind of like "twitchy" otherwise.

Lots of people here like there Lemonds....their laid back geometry (little bit longer wheelbase, slacker seate tube, etc.) make for a nice compromise with stability and a little bit of "quickness"?

Having found a perfect woman, I continue my search for the perfect bike that does it all.
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Old 08-04-05, 07:10 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
Does anyone on the forum, know of a consumer focused guide to help us all so the next bike purchase is of the right bike for ME?
Have you tried Road Bike Review?
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Old 08-04-05, 10:03 PM   #14
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I purchased a Kestrel 200 sci (carbon monocoque) which i bought over a year ago. It was my first new tech frame after riding an old tech steel frame. My steel steed was a '70 Hetchins swallow (reynolds 531), which was great looking as well as great riding.
The reason for my purchase was that i had had an accident and getting parts for the old bike was almost impossible.

i am very happy with the new tech, try it you wont regret it
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Old 08-04-05, 10:28 PM   #15
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At a bike shop recently, I saw this middle-aged woman pay for repairs on this relatively new, but really ugly, chromalloy bike. The bike must have weighed 30 pounds, if not more. The woman wasn't poor, but she had one of these cheap super-soft seats on the bike, the kind of seat that looks soft but kills you if you ride it. Even the color of the bike was awful, a kind of seaweed green with touches of white and silver. The tires on this deformed bike were fatter than usual. I could barely look at the bike. I could barely keep from screaming at the lack of artistry, workmanship, design and engineering this woman was carting around. Whatever you do, please, don't get that bike.
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Old 08-05-05, 12:00 AM   #16
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While I know very little about the Trek Pilot series, and have never ridden one,
I am under the impression they will take a fatter tire than many other bikes. If
you agree with the wider tire/softer ride theory, (and it sounds logical), they might
be worth a look. Good luck.


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Old 08-05-05, 08:56 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moonshot
Have you tried Road Bike Review?
And how does that help? It has oodles of reviews on bikes, kind of like Edmunds on cars, but it's missing a purchaser guide. Say frames, where's a guide that gives:

Frame type: alum, steel, chrom moly, carbon fiber, Ti.

Advantages are........

Disadvantages are .....

Best suited for riders looking for ......

Not well suited for riders looking for....


Etc, for Brake types, wheel types, standard vs compact sizing, drive train components


Even sheldon doesn't have much useful. Frame flex page just says Al is stiffer than others, but what does this mean? In autos you can use Gforce on corners to know how well vehicle will stick to road and extrapolate from that likelihood of rolling. Stiff, Flex, it's all yamiedust and oppietrails. http://sheldonbrown.com/rinard_frametest.html

After you learn the basics, then roadreview will help, but where is the bike consumer guide?
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Old 08-05-05, 09:41 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrannyGear
Still, I kind of like "twitchy" otherwise.

Lots of people here like there Lemonds....their laid back geometry (little bit longer wheelbase, slacker seate tube, etc.) make for a nice compromise with stability and a little bit of "quickness"?
Lemond Zurich. No compomises here. High quality, fast, and just twitchy enough to keep it interesting. Long distance comfort right out of the box.
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Old 08-05-05, 01:25 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiYoSilver

After you learn the basics, then roadreview will help, but where is the bike consumer guide?

This is where the experiences of others on this forum can help grannygear. Still have to realise that one person raving about a bike may have someone else condemming it, but a good bike will get a good report from any competent rider. I know nothing about road bikes, but if you want to know about the quality of my Bianchi hardtail, or the 10 year old Kona Explosif, then I will be able to pass on information.
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Old 08-05-05, 11:28 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrannyGear
Next spring I'll be buying a new bike. Always ridden traditional steel frames. Don't know anything else. So many choices now. ...snip...
So, what is your opinion?......I trust 50Plussers to be less swayed by hype or biased attachment to what they've invested in.

(I know, I know-- this issue has to do with personal perception and has been done to death....but probably because its pertinent!)
Thanks!
so 'what if' - 'what if' this was gonna be my ONLY bike? 'what if' I wanted the most versatility... 'what if' I wanted durability, performance and comfort. 'What if" I don;t have a USCF license anymore, don't do triaths and the fast club rides I might join in rarely go much over 26 mph on the flats.

Well, then looking around in a much larger 'box', I'd have to commit roadie heresey.
One bike - it'd have to be a fully suspended MTB, with at least 2, prefer 3 wheelsets. After ergos and comfort are determined, then itz all about the wheels. One full-on off-road wheelset, rubber and cassette - one full-on high performance road wheelset with Hi-pro slicks and road gearing cassette - and one roundtown.commutin/everyday trainin wheelset, hybrid tires and allround cassette. Suspension must be versatile enough to work well and be adjustable for off-road and on. One pair of lighweight high performance mountain bike shoes for fast road rides and the occassional club ride jam. A frame and general good components that will bring the bike weight down to the mid-weight performance road bikes range. Disc Brakes (we'll be doin discs on-road eventually, anyway).
One set of Eggbeaters (I use them on the road, and they are tops) so a huge assortment of footwear that is SPD compatible, like my current Pearl Izumi MTB shoes that are every bit as performance as was my old Duegis or Sidis, onnly way more comfortable - AND I can WALK in them!
One mini seatbag, for just the minimum. One seatpost rack and bag, and small handlbar bag for the fun club road rides. One full-on rack system and touring bag set for the 'epic' adventure week. One full set LED lighting system.
forget the 'bling', tune the motor some more...

One bike to Rule them all
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Old 08-06-05, 12:43 AM   #21
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I commute Thirty Miles a day.

I had been doing this on a Trek 7700FX until recently. It's a nice enough bike, but the gearing, and upright position, limited me to about a Fifteen MPH average, what with my current overall condition and strength (soon to be 51).

I decided a dedicated road bike was more what I needed, so off I went to take a few test rides.

I tested a couple of Lemonds, namely the Sarthe (Steel) and Buenos Aires (very trick Carbon/Steel) and while I liked them quite a bit, the full Carbon Trek Pilot was so much smoother, less jarring, and more comfortable over the road for me that, after getting fitted on Three different sized frames, I purchased a Pilot 5.2.

This thing just soaks up vibration, and bumps, while still remaining surprisingly stiff, fast, and responsive.

I would suggest that you take a test ride on one of these, if you think you want to spend that kind of money.

For me, it has been well worth it.

For what I do - day in, day out transportation over fairly crappy streets and roads - it's been the perfect ride.

Just some background:

Despite a brief flirtation with Hybrids, I've ridden Steel road bikes most of my life in an urban environment - I have a fondness for old Peugeots and Brit Bikes.

The Carbon/Aramid frame in the 5.2 has been something of a revelation, as far as ride comfort is concerned, for me.

FWIW

Going back to lurking now....

Last edited by jwbnyc; 08-07-05 at 04:34 PM.
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Old 08-19-05, 03:51 PM   #22
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At 57 I no longer ride for 'speed'. This is best left to youth who can actually sustain it. I'm riding for the workout and to enjoy the scenery. Comfort is the main requirement. Long wheel base recumbents are the way to go. Don't buy anything until you have test ridden one. Sun EZ sport, rans stratus or easy racers Tour Easy are all worth looking at. bk
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