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  1. #1
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    Would a "comfort" road bike be a mistake?

    I am looking for a road bike, planning (hoping) to get into riding for fitness and perhaps the occasional commute - I have had a Trek hybrid for years which has gone mostly unridden since the kids got too big to be pulled on the trail-a-bike.
    I have never liked the cramped upright position and flat bars on that bike.

    Today was a beautiful day, so I took the day off and rode the following bikes:

    Lemond Big Sky SL - great deal on discontinued model - $750 for full 105 drivetrain. I liked it, tons better than what I have now. One concern is they only have a 57cm frame - probably OK, as most of the other bikes I fit were 58cm. This one is a comfort bike - a bit too upright - would adjust the stem for a bit longer reach. They used to make a 61cm, but not available, and maybe not necessary?

    Bianchi Volpe - drove an hour to find one in stock to ride. 58cm, fit very well. First impression - solid, practical, versatile. But not exciting - maybe I'd get 90% of what this bike offers by swapping the bars, shifters, and brake levers on my hybrid - I know that's probably not the case, but...

    Cannondale R500 - loved the feel of this bike - at least for the 10 minutes I was on it. The riding position offered a lot more power, or maybe it was the lighter, stiffer frame... or the 23C tires... at 240 lbs, I'm thinking a 28c or wider would be a better option for me, and if I can't ride it on crushed gravel trails, forget it. If I could have more than one bike, I'd take this one just for the fun of it.

    Felt F90 - pretty similar to the C'dale, not quite as nice.

    Specialized Sequoia Elite 57cm - ho-hum, maybe just need to get the fit right, but I'm not sure I such an upright position. Then again, maybe I'd love it 30 minutes into a ride.

    Trek 1000 60cm. too big - too far to reach the hoods. This shop couldn't find the time to set up more than one bike for a test ride (I guess Tuesday afternoons are pretty busy for them - but I digress)

    So, the point of this post - I plan to go back to ride the Lemond again, as it's the best bargain of the bunch. I want to see how it feels after riding the others. Does anyone have experience with this bike or similar ones (Pilot) that would lead them to believe I'd be making a mistake? I just want to start riding...

  2. #2
    Senior Curmudgeon
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    From what I know about the makers you mention, you wouldn't go wrong with any of them. They all make quality products at competitive prices. I would stress, however, that fit isn't just an important thing, it's THE important thing. Before you buy, I'd pay the shop to fit the bike to you and ask for about an hour's test ride to verify that the bike is for-sure what you want. The only exception would be if the bike has a no-questions return policy within a week or two after the buy. Also, buying from a shop you plan to patronize on a longer term basis may be a factor to consider too. HAPPY SHOPPING!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Raketmensch's Avatar
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    No road bike is a mistake as long as (a) it fits, and (b) you can afford it. And I'm not so sure about (b). Seriously, those are good bikes. And for what it's worth, I've heard great things about the Pilot, too , though I haven't ridden one myself. Anyway, if you find one that fits you and that you like, get it and ride it! You won't be sorry.

  4. #4
    Berry Pie..the Holy Grail GrannyGear's Avatar
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    +1. It can't be overly stressed that a 5 minute parking lot cruise is almost useless. That cushy seeming saddle may be crotch pressure painful after 10 miles, that nice upright position may be uncomfortable after 30 minutes, and so on. Also, seemingly minor adjustments in saddle height, reach, etc can make substantial differences in ride experience.

    So......hopefully find a shop that is willing to work with you, spend some time dialing in that trial ride. That's an LBS to return to and have a relationship with for sure. Good Luck...bike buying doesn't have to be soul searching and anal....maybe just thoughtful and openminded. Keep us posted please. We get vicarious kicks out of everybody elses bike purchase!!
    ..... "I renewed my youth, to outward appearance, by mounting a bicycle for the first time." Mark Twain, Speeches
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  5. #5
    Streetfire HopedaleHills's Avatar
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    Hi richjac,

    I ride an 05 Trek 1200c, which is the comfort version of the 1200 and I believe the predecessor of the 06 Pilot 1.2. It's has an adjustable stem so you can be a little upright or not. I like the bike very much. I just started riding this year and have done some just under 30 mile rides and this bike still feels good at the end. I also tried the Spec Sequoia and found it ho hum. I know people who ride Pilots and love them. In fact we are looking at a Pilot 1.2 WSD for my wife. I don't think you can go wrong with a comfort road bike or any other road bike as long as it fits properly. My LBS took alot of time to fit me, tweaking the seat, replacing the stem, etc. It now fits me like a glove. Which is the important part.

  6. #6
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    +1 to everything above.

    One thing I like about the 50+ forum is that there's actually a lot of good advice and support. When I read some of the other sections, with their endless scoring of OCP (Obsessive Compulsive Posing) points, I really feel like I'm from another planet. But I never was all that much for bling.
    Last edited by Blackberry; 04-19-06 at 06:46 AM.
    Dead last finish is better than did not finish and infinitely better than did not start.

  7. #7
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    For your trail riding, you should get at least 32 width tires, and 35 would be better.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  8. #8
    Berry Pie..the Holy Grail GrannyGear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackberry
    +1 to everything above.
    But I never was all that much for bling.
    The sensible brown shoe crowd...that's us. Or, in bike-talk, a Schwinn Varsity is good enough for anybody, by gosh.

    More seriously, I couldn't agree more with you, Blackberry.
    ..... "I renewed my youth, to outward appearance, by mounting a bicycle for the first time." Mark Twain, Speeches
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  9. #9
    OnTheRoad or AtTheBeach stonecrd's Avatar
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    I ride a Pilot 2.1 and I am very happy with it. I decided on this bike for two reasons; first I had broken both my arms (radial head fractures) 3 years ago in a bike accident and get uncomfortable with too much of my weight on my elbows, second I was just getting back into biking and I didn't want to spend a fortune and got a good deal on the Pilot ($1000). I have put about 3,600mi on it since I purchased last Aug and my longest rides have been 3.5hrs/65mi. No problems with my arms, back or neck and I keep up quite well with my riding partner who is riding a new Litespeed.

  10. #10
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    Most "comfort" bikes are designed for people who don't ride. The Lemond Big Sky is probably almost an exception. It is actually a pretty good bike though the looks of it will pale rapidly if you get serious about riding.

    But I usually suggest that you buy a bicycle for people who ride.

  11. #11
    Geezer Member Grampy™'s Avatar
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    I do a lot of riding on limestone trails and a 25 tire is adequate, 28 better. If it's really rough and rutted I'll put on a set of knobbies (32's). As said above, make certain it fits, and don't worry about a stem that's to high or upright..... any shop you buy the bike from would swap it out for you. (If they won't, you are in the wrong shop, run!)
    Carpe who?

  12. #12
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raketmensch
    No road bike is a mistake as long as (a) it fits, and (b) you can afford it.
    I'm of the opposite persuasion; providing comfort and fun is bike job number one. For me, the road bike geometry, especially drop handlebars and lack of integral fenders will always be a mistake.

  13. #13
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclintom
    Most "comfort" bikes are designed for people who don't ride...But I usually suggest that you buy a bicycle for people who ride.
    Ya think so?

  14. #14
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Chacun a son gout, above all else. For me, the bicycle of choice is a traditional road machine with a somewhat relaxed geometry, by today's weekend warrior tight, upright standards. Since I was locked in the basement the day they gave out physical coordination, I favor 35mm knobby tires (27x1-3/8") on dirt, gravel, or even potholed roads. My Bianchi, with its 23mm tires and quick steering, is a blast to ride in perfect weather on perfect roads, but it is extremely twitchy, definitely not the steed for a relaxing ride. In contrast, I can cruise comfortably all day on the Capo or even the Peugeot UO-8.

    I strongly prefer dropped handlebars because of the variety of hand positions they provide. I still get fingertip tingles from riding my mountain bike, although I greatly reduced the problem by adding short straight extensions to the ends of the bars, to give me a natural "handshake" forearm orientation.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
    Capo [dschaw'-poe]: 1959 Modell Campagnolo, S/N 40324; 1960 Sieger, S/N 42624
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  15. #15
    Berry Pie..the Holy Grail GrannyGear's Avatar
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    Perhaps there is no once and final bike. A "comfort bike" might be considered a good bet for beginning or returning cylists for its position, handling, and (sometimes) price point. If your mileage increases, or you should want to hang with more aggressive riders (and that isn't necessarily a next step), or want to a "quicker" handling bike, or a lighter bike, or whatever, then you riding needs may change and you go out shopping again maybe. Several riders here have more than one bike for that reason. Buy mostly for the the present with maybe an eye to where you want to go in the future.
    ..... "I renewed my youth, to outward appearance, by mounting a bicycle for the first time." Mark Twain, Speeches
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  16. #16
    In Memory of One Cool Cat Blackberry's Avatar
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    Good point, GG. There are all kinds of bikes for all kinds of riders.

    I do love my road bike, but I work with someone who commutes a few miles on a beach cruiser. She may ride fewer miles and more slowly than I do, but she rides every day, which is more than I can say.

    We may be living in the golden age of bicycles. There are so many choices at so many price points.
    I'd love to have a bike like this, just for the sheer artistry of its classic lines.
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    Dead last finish is better than did not finish and infinitely better than did not start.

  17. #17
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackberry
    Good point, GG. There are all kinds of bikes for all kinds of riders.

    I do love my road bike, but I work with someone who commutes a few miles on a beach cruiser. She may ride fewer miles and more slowly than I do, but she rides every day, which is more than I can say.

    We may be living in the golden age of bicycles. There are so many choices at so many price points.
    I'd love to have a bike like this, just for the sheer artistry of its classic lines.
    Still available where there really are all kiinds of bikes for all kinds of riders from the pictured 5 speed Gazelle, the OmaFiet (Grandma Bike). Even Queen Juliana was "serious" enough to take her child on one.

    The red Calvin I bought for my daughter in Germany has the classic comfort geometry too but without the skirt guard. Her previous 20inch bike did have the laced up multi color skirt guard though.
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  18. #18
    a77impala a77impala's Avatar
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    I bought a Trek Pilot 1.2 a month or so ago and like it quite well. Only problem I had with it was getting used to the STI in place of barends. It has 700x28 tires that ride quite well, I even like the seat.
    Treks, 85-420, 87-560, 90-930,92-970, 95-930, 96-1220, LeMonds, 2000 Zurich, 05-Etape, 06-Versailles

  19. #19
    Senior Member
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    Great advice, all.... I'll take a more extended ride and make sure the fit is right before being tempted by a low price. That being said, I'm off to ride a Giant OCR1 with a tempting price of $899

  20. #20
    Pinstriper SemperFi's Avatar
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    I've been considering a Pilot 1.0 myself and went for a test ride a few weeks ago. Initially I found the bike to be a bit awkward especially the Sora shifters but I'm sure that's because I havn't been on a road bike for about fifteen years. Boy, how the componentry has changed. I do plan on trying the Pilot again as well as the Specialized Sequoia...hopefully this weekend, weather permitting.

  21. #21
    Senior Member NOS88's Avatar
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    Unless I missed it, the one thing that hasn't been said that I would encourage you to consider.... It's not a bargin at any price if six months down the road you hate it or are wishing you had the other. I'd echo the need to get proper fit first and that the reliability/quality of all those you mentioned is very high. I'd also support the notion that a longer test ride is in order for the serious contenders. Just my $0.2.
    A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. - S. Wright

  22. #22
    train safe buelito's Avatar
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    I wouldn't worry too much about the difference in frame sizes. The difference between a 57 and a 58 is minimal, and probably can be adjusted with the seat post. If reach is an issue, a slightly longer stem (or shorter) is easily obtained and can assure a fix. Of my 3 road bikes, one is a 56, one is a 54 (compact frame--long seatpost--I LOVE this bike) and the other is a 57 fixie. They all fit. They all ride slightly differently, but I am comfortable on all. I have ridden all of them in 100+ mile rides and not felt major discomfort. Issue is the saddle, whcih I have also changed out.

    Like has been said, the most important thing is FIT, and it seems that if the bikes are in the right 'neighborhood' of size, the fit can be achieved on any of them. Get the one that feels the best!

    train safe-

  23. #23
    Senior Member doghouse's Avatar
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    If memory serves me correctly, in the Lemond geometry, they measure the seat tube differently and their 57 is the equivalent top tube to the 58 bikes of other brands.

    I have personal experience of changing the straight bars on a Trek 5700fx hybrid to drop road bars and changing to Sora shifters for the 8 speed rear. It rides great with wide tires (700x35) and works fine for roads, "light" off roads and rails to trails rides, but lacks the speed and ride of a true road bike.

    I purchased a 2005 Specialized Allez 4 weeks ago for $499 and truly love it. It has the more relaxed, upright geometry like the Pilot and 7500fx to reduce neck stress. The lighter weight and shorter wheel base make it much more responsive. The 700x23 tires are road only, though.

    Hope this helps some.

  24. #24
    Fossil Lurch's Avatar
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    It's fun to contemplate, inspect and purchase a new bike. However, at 240 pounds and "hoping" to get into riding for fitness, you should consider riding the old bike until you reach some reasonable goal. your goal could be establishing a progressive loss of weight or a steadily increasing number of miles or hours of riding per week. You will also really get to know the old bike again which will help you decide what you want from your next bike.

  25. #25
    Senior Member
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    That's pretty much the same advice I got from my 14 year old daughter - and it is an option I've considered - but I would still change the bars and stem to get a more comfortable riding position. And I would enjoy the process of tinkering with that bike. But I have wanted a nice road bike for as long as I can remember - I have always settled for less, having owned, repaired, and refurbished a '63 Schwinn Typhoon (my first bike which I rebuilt as a beater in college) and a '71 Olmo 10 speed (Italian parts were hard as hell to find back then) - now the Trek hybrid.

    So this purchase is as much about fun and love of bikes than practicality. I figure that if a bike is fun to ride, it will get ridden. If it gathers dust in my garage, there may be a nice bike for sale next year on eBay.

    So it's down to the OCR1 and the Big Sky SL. Unless, of course, I wait and ride some more cyclocross bikes... Kona Jake, Surly Cross Check... I'd own them all if I could.

    Or I could just buy a new pair of running shoes...

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