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Old 02-24-07, 05:23 PM   #1
sour01
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Opinions on this bike

For the last year and a half I have been riding my 1984 Univega that I brought out of retirement to get back into shape. It has (and is) serving me well as I have ridden over 4000 miles and rode my first century on it in Oct 06. I am just ready to move beyond downtube friction shifters and experience more modern performance. I have been looking at bikes and waiting for a couple of grand to fall into my lap. Seeing that the latter is not going to happen any time soon I wondered if any of you had any thoughts or opinions on a bike that I think will meet my needs and desires without breaking the bank.

It is a Cannondale CAAD9 Optimo 2. Aluminum frame with Shimano Ultrega components. It is advertised for $1800. I thought that looked like a pretty good deal and it got a favorable write-up in the recent Bicycling magazine Buyers Guide. The one caution was that it was not the most comfortable ride. I'm 53 and currently ride between 50 and 100 miles a week. On the majority of my rides I average 15 - 18 mph. One of my problems is that I am 6'4" and my LBS has no 63cm bikes of any brand for me to try out.

Any thoughts?

Thanks

Last edited by sour01; 02-24-07 at 05:55 PM.
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Old 02-24-07, 05:58 PM   #2
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There are so many individual factors and so much hype when it comes to defining a comfortable ride. Some claim aluminum frames rattle your fillings. Others say, it all depends on the build quality and, perhaps most important, the thickness of the tires you use.

FWIW, there are a number of bikes out there that try to blend performance with comfort. Specialized Roubaix, Bianchi C2C and Trek Pilot come to mind. They come in a range of prices that are competitive with the Cannondale.
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Old 02-24-07, 06:40 PM   #3
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I have had really good success with aluminum frames. My Specialized Allez Elite, and Sequoia have given me thousands of great riding. They are stiff and responsive, and by juggling tires and seats, I can make them as comfortable as I need.

The Ultegra components are really nice. Smooth shifting and reliable, it is worth the premium, if you can do it.

Enjoy the great rides you will have on your new bike!
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Old 02-24-07, 07:02 PM   #4
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Make sure it has sufficient clearance to accommodate 700Cx28mm tires. If you find the ride a bit too harsh, you can compensate with slightly wider, lower-pressure tires.
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Old 02-24-07, 08:23 PM   #5
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Yes, brake reach is critical. You need to go to fatter tires if the aluminum frame is too stiff, and short reach breaks won't allow that.

Last edited by Big Paulie; 02-24-07 at 08:44 PM.
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Old 02-24-07, 11:17 PM   #6
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I wouldn't place too much faith in anything Bicycling Magazine says--they VERY rarely write an unfavorable review of anything built by an advertiser. That doesn't mean the bike's bad, just that it's not a guarantee that it's good.
Having said that, though, I think the CAAD 9 might be a decent choice for you. You'll like the compact crank (I have one, too), and the geometry is about right for a century bike, at least for me.
My one concern for a guy your age (and mine) is whether there's room for larger tires. I got too old for those 120psi, 23mm skinnies a long time ago, and if you have room for something like a 700x32 at 90 psi, you'll be a lot more comfortable and not noticeably slower.
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Old 02-24-07, 11:52 PM   #7
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You'll LOVE that bike, it's fun and fast! And at that price, a deal! Do a test ride, and be sure and climb some hills, this bike will make you smile!
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Old 02-25-07, 12:50 AM   #8
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I have been riding 700c28s Continental Contact tires on my road bikes all of which have short reach brakes and small clearance tube sets. These are my winter tires with a little tread to help on the sanded roads. Normally I ride 700c23 Continental 3000 (now 4000) with high tpi. No problems.
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Old 02-25-07, 01:32 AM   #9
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All my bikes are aluminium and do not find the ride harsh. Thats probably because I am used to offroad trails that will rattle your fillings, however the road bike is only harsh on badly made roads or potholes. Easy enough to lift out of the saddle when they appear so test ride and see.
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Old 02-25-07, 06:38 AM   #10
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Just my opinions here on things to consider. Please don't let it dissuade you but hopefully just something to factor in. The only way to know for sure is to do a test ride and if you're lucky enough to do one-make sure you get in a LONG ride. You just can't tell a lot until you get 40-60+ miles in to know about comfort.

I did some quick searching on the web and Cannondale's site and it looks like $1800 is about the going rate for this bike. I saw it for $1799 at other places. It certainly is a very nice bike and the Ultegra components are really great.

Having ridden Aluminum frames before, it's just my opinion but to get the ride comfort I think you would want for longer rides, you might want to look for aluminum frames that have carbon seat stays as well as carbon forks. Cannondale says that this frame is stiff.......For them to even point that out to me that says it will be a harsher ride. I have several bikes and I can tell you that the stiffer bike translates a lot more road vibration than the others. Granted you can help offset that some with different wheels and tires but why should you even have to do that????

If you interested in performance this bike is probably in the mix to consider. If you're looking for more comfort I'd probably be continuing my search.

BTW, I ride a really large frame as well. I ride a 62 and am 6 ft 1 in. I really like having the larger bike under me for some reason. I also like the bars not being 6 inches below the saddle height on the larger bike!! Just make sure you get a big enough bike!!
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Old 02-25-07, 10:35 AM   #11
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It has a carbon fork and a "carbon-wrapped" seat post, not quite sure what that means.

The description my LBS has on it includes the descriptor "wicked stiff". This is a bike built for speed. It may be comfortable for a speed road bike, but I doubt it is comfortable as compared to a typical road bike.

"The CAAD9 Optimo 2 sports Cannondale's most advanced aluminum frame. Considering Cannondale's 23-year track record with aluminum, this means a lot: the Optimo 2 is wicked stiff for blazing acceleration and efficiency, light for easy climbing and comfortable so you can ride longer. The carbon Slice Ultra fork handles corners and uneven pavement with ease. Plus, this race-ready rig shifts and brakes effortlessly thanks to Shimano 10-speed Ultegra components and glides gracefully thanks to smooth-rolling Shimano Ultegra wheels."

It would be interesting to compare it to their R1000, which also has an Optimo frame but the description emphasizes comfort more. About the same price.
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Old 02-25-07, 11:21 AM   #12
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Another approach may be to look at carbon frame bikes with a 105 component group. Both Trek and Specialized have bikes of that type at the price point of the Cannondale. My wife and I recently got back into biking and went through the process of selecting bikes. Our first priority was comfort, and performance second. Both of us rode a number of different bikes, both carbon and aluminum, and both ended up on carbon. Like you, I was tempted by the better component group, but found there wasn't enough difference to sacrafice the comfort.

The thing that convinced us to go with carbon, was test riding over rough pavement. Since we knew we would not be able to go for long test rides, we intentionally looked for rough pavement and test rode the aluminum and carbon bikes one after another.

Good luck and have fun!
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Old 02-25-07, 11:35 AM   #13
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Cannondale builds great, USA made aluminum bikes. If you are going to buy an aluminum bike, don't even consider anything but a Cannondale. I'm a lot older than you, and I rode Cannondales exclusively till last year when I got my custom Co-Motion. You cannot get a better bike for the price.
I modified one of my Cannondales, a CAAD 3 frame, for touring and put 700/28 Conti Top Touring tires on it. These are big tires. They fit fine, but there wasn't room left inside the fork for the computer wire, so it had to be re-routed. The big tires do make a lot of difference in the ride.
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Old 02-25-07, 10:13 PM   #14
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I am unclear on the size of the bank for this bike? $1800? There are a TON of bikes in that price range. My personal recommendation is find a Jamis dealer that has some 2002 thru 2004 Eclipse models in stock. The 03 & 04 are 853 steel with a carbon rear and in my umble opinion a lot of good components for the $. Good luck.
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Old 02-26-07, 10:17 AM   #15
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If you are just looking to get away from dt shifting, why not just upgrade you current ride? The performance difference betwen what you have and what you wish to buy isn't all that great. This of course asssumes that you are not intending on racing. If, however, you are looking to scratch an itch-c-dale does make a nice bike! I've been riding one since 1990.(upgraded of course-but still with dt shifting) Do not rush the process-enjoy it!
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Old 02-26-07, 10:46 AM   #16
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Felt Z65

Review from aebike.com "Felt's Z65 provides race heritage in a comfortable, back-friendly package. This speedy mount boasts a super-light aluminum frame with carbon seatstays and fork built with a great design that gives you a more upright position and the ability to ride in complete comfort. Plus, the Z65's superb componentry includes Alex wheels for durability, an FSA compact carbon crank for smooth spinning and Shimano Ultegra parts that make braking and shifting so easy, you'll barely realize you've done it."

It's aluminum, it's carbon; it's fast, it's comfortable. Compact crank, Ultegra+ components. And it's $1799.
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Old 02-26-07, 11:12 AM   #17
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If comfort is a concern, it might be worth taking a look at a few different models. The Cannondale Synapse 1 appears to be designed for fast road riding with more emphasis on comfort than the Optimo. I've heard that Cannondale's road frames are much more comfortable now than the bone-rattling rocket ship I bought in '91. Although it's far from an ideal test, you may be able to get some idea of how different models feel by riding the largest sizes available, even if they are a size smaller than what you would buy. Whatever you decide, enjoy your new bike.
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Old 02-26-07, 11:46 AM   #18
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It may be that the OP's original bike is fine in terms of comfort. What we are reacting to is the claim that the frame is stiff. But that may be more marketing hype than real. If their objective is to offer a reasonably-priced fast road bike and to sell it to young road racers, then they might slap a "wicked stiff" claim on it when it is really not much different than their other bikes.

One of those things that you just have to check out on your own.
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Old 02-26-07, 01:07 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil
It may be that the OP's original bike is fine in terms of comfort. What we are reacting to is the claim that the frame is stiff. But that may be more marketing hype than real. If their objective is to offer a reasonably-priced fast road bike and to sell it to young road racers, then they might slap a "wicked stiff" claim on it when it is really not much different than their other bikes.

One of those things that you just have to check out on your own.
True, but when bike manufacturers build different lines of bikes, designed for different purposes, using different materials and different geometries, I don't have a hard time believing they will turn out to have different ride characteristics. But I wouldn't suggest making a decision based on the assumption that the racing machine rides stiffer, I would suggest trying them out and making a seat-of-the-pants judgement.
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Old 02-26-07, 01:39 PM   #20
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I wholeheartedly agree that there are differences. And I would trust Cannondale in pointing out the differences between their frames. Just saying that sometimes marketing hype overplays those differences. It can be interesting to compare the marketing language to what an experienced salesperson might tell you about a bike.
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Old 02-26-07, 03:04 PM   #21
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I don't ride cannondales currently, but I did ride them for years. The first one I had was the Black Lightning which was for a long time the stiffest bike that Bicycling Magazine ever measured. The ride was a bit harsh but the handling was superb. Also, I felt the stiffness was a big asset for me because I am large and strong. Big, strong riders do well on stiff bikes. I was able to ride this bike on century plus distances without any trouble.

The new aluminum cannondales have much more compliant rides but I don't think they handle quite as well.

Also, according to what I have read, the difference between the various frame materials is making less and less of a difference because the engineers are learning how to compensate for the characteristics of each material.

If you can, test ride a variety of bikes and get what pleases you.
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Old 02-26-07, 07:32 PM   #22
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If fit is what you want, you might consider talking to a local frame builder about a custom bike.

You might also consider a folding bike like Bike Friday, Dahon Mu, xooter swift, or maybe Birdy.

It is also possible that blowing the wad on upgrades to the Univega frame, which you claim is working for you, might be the best bang for the buck.
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