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Old 03-27-07, 09:30 AM   #1
SaiKaiTai
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I am slowly but surely considering a road bike

Maybe sometime in the next year.
Easily findable locally are Trek, Cannondale, Specialized, Giant and others.
I want unabashed personal opinions. Tell me what to buy.
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Old 03-27-07, 09:33 AM   #2
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An awful lot of reviews seem to think that its hard to beat a Trek 1000 as an entry level bike.
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Old 03-27-07, 09:42 AM   #3
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My personal opinion is that the key is your LBS.....and what he supports/sells....

If you are lucky enough to have a really good LBS, then your brand decision is a given....

If your LBS is less than adequate, or in some areas, nonexistent...then focus on brands and options, etc.
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Old 03-27-07, 09:44 AM   #4
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Buy soon, you won't regret it! As for brands, they all offer great bikes. I personally ride a Giant, but that won out because not only is it smokin' hot, but it was at a deep discount.

Everyone says test ride the different bikes and there's a lot of truth there. However just riding around the parking lot for 15 minutes isn't going to give you a long term sense. If there's a store that let's you take a bike out for an hour or so, you'll get a better feel. However because it is a new riding style, your adjustment to the road will likely take several months, so something that feels uncomfortable now may feel perfect later.

Over the past several years the bike companies you mention all offer pretty similar bikes in both a more aggressive geometry and something more relaxed. The relaxed geometry doesn't mean it is just for comfort but these bikes have you sitting slightly more upright. In the Giant line, there is the TCR (which I ride) and the OCR (more relaxed, which my wife likes). I've had my butt kicked by people on the OCR, it isn't slowing them down.

Also, money comes into play. I'd look for a bike that offers a smoother ride - carbon (and steel) is your friend there (though not as friendly on the wallet). I'd say you'd want at least carbon seat stays & a fork, there are many bikes like that for under $1,000. For $1,300 (just guessing) and higher, you can get a full carbon bike. That's my preference, though every budget is different.

Perhaps the best approach, especially if you are unsure if you'll take to the road, is to get something low cost that you can trade up to later. For example Giant makes the OCR in carbon and aluminum - they both have the same geometry & components. The aluminum costs well under $1,000, I'd guess if you got it & liked it, you could re-sell it in a year for not much less than you bought it for. Or better yet, see if the bike shop has a 'trade up' policy. Also, fall/early winter is a good time to buy bikes, new year models are coming and the shops try to move the old stuff. Or if a shop has last year’s model on the floor, it may be discounted as well.

Now I'm not trying to push Giant, we love our bikes but I use them as an example because that's what we're familiar with. I'm sure the other brands offer a similar experience.
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Old 03-27-07, 09:47 AM   #5
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No, by all means, push... I want to know what you like, what you have and why.
I should say that in my riding hey day, 20 years ago, I rode a road bike so I am no stranger to them.
I am looking to spend up to about $1K
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Old 03-27-07, 09:56 AM   #6
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If you are an experience cyclist in general, I would advise not going too low-end even if it's your first road bike. You might find it as addictive as I have, and then want to "trade up" after only a year or so, which is not too economical. Most brands have several models in the same series, where the lowest-end model might sell for $800-900, and the next one up goes for $1100-1200. I would recommend going one-up if you can afford it, because a lot of the little details are important. It's not necessary to go all-carbon for 2 or 3 large, but the one higher level of components used are worth it.

Last year, when I was shopping for my first road bike (well, first in 30 years!), I liked the Specialized Sequoia and bought the basic model for about $800 instead of the Elite for $1100. Well, I liked it so much that I found myself wanting many of the features of the higher-priced model. I just upgraded the cheapo Sora shifters for ST-R500s for about $150 net, changed the seat, and am thinking about a new set of wheels (probably next year). I like buying new parts and upgrading something on my bike every year in any case, but if I had it to do over again I'd get the Elite.
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Old 03-27-07, 11:15 AM   #7
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Try everything you can find in or slightly above your price range. There is really very little difference in quality between major brands at a given price, but there are subtle differences that may mean a lot to you. The best way to know which works best for you is to try them all. A few dollars plus or minus is no reason to choose one model over another or one dealer over another.The best deal is the best bike from the best shop.
At $1K or more, I'd be looking for 105 components.
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Old 03-27-07, 11:24 AM   #8
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If you will take 105 then Nashbar is selling an Iron Horse for 699 with carbon seat stays and 105 controls. But.............at these price points something has to suffer, often wheels/tires/headsets.
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Old 03-27-07, 11:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaiKaiTai
No, by all means, push... I want to know what you like, what you have and why.
I should say that in my riding hey day, 20 years ago, I rode a road bike so I am no stranger to them.
I am looking to spend up to about $1K
You have been mountain biking too long to look at the more Aggressive Road bikes. Look to a comfort bike and whatever you do finally get- Make certain you get the right size and it feels comfy on a test ride.

MY "New Road Bike" fits me and after a change of stem- is also comfortable. Couple of things and that is wheels. As I have just found out, Non branded wheels- OEM wheels- Cheap wheels, are what you get in "Our" price range so be prepared to upgrade on these fairly quickly. It Turned my road riding from something I do- into something I enjoy.
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Old 03-27-07, 11:38 AM   #10
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Thanks for all the replies! Sounds like I have to go out and test ride a bunch o' bikes.
Gee, life is rough sometimes. Given what I've been dealing with lately, I'm think I can handle the challenge

Stem... oh yeah, that reminds me that I need to swap out the stem on my Kaitai. Got a 60mm, 10 degree on it now and I'm going to give a 60mm, 25 degree stem a try. My elbows are just a little too straight when I ride. Can't see where raising the bar up a bit can hurt.
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Old 03-27-07, 11:50 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SaiKaiTai
Thanks for all the replies! Sounds like I have to go out and test ride a bunch o' bikes.
Gee, life is rough sometimes. Given what I've been dealing with lately, I'm think I can handle the challenge

Stem... oh yeah, that reminds me that I need to swap out the stem on my Kaitai. Got a 60mm, 10 degree on it now and I'm going to give a 60mm, 25 degree stem a try. My elbows are just a little too straight when I ride. Can't see where raising the bar up a bit can hurt.
Definitely can't hurt.

I'll attach them again but on the road bike- 2 pics. One of when I got the bike and rode like that for 6 months-except for the pedals and the other is now. The bars raised to be level with the Saddle made the bike a lot more comfortable so get the stem right before you leave the shop-And the wheels

The wheels again.
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File Type: jpg newwheels.jpg (37.0 KB, 38 views)
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Old 03-27-07, 12:03 PM   #12
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Some more stuff.

As you probably know, bikes are not like cars. Auto manufacturers make their own engines, brakes, and so on. Bike manufacturers make only the frame. Everything else - wheels, handlebars, deraillers, brakes, fork etc are hung onto the bike.

So what effect does the frame have? Well, I believe the largest part is in the geometry. A frame with steep angles will respond a bit faster, corner faster, be a bit harder to control, and have a rougher ride. A frame with a relaxed goemetry will repond slowly, corner a bit reluctantly but be easy to control and have a nicer ride. Also as you go higher in price on frames, they will be more engineered for lightness and a bit more dampening in the ride.

Even modest priced bikes will last a long time and give good service. There is also a law of deminishing returns. As you spend more money on a bike, you will find that at the start, more money has a noticeable effect on the quality. But when you reach something like a Shimano 105 equipped bike, more money does not add much more. Sure you can spend two, three or even four times as much but the improvement is not profound unless you are looking for bicycle art. Some people put down the dollars for bicycles that are works of art and that is fine.
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Old 03-27-07, 12:31 PM   #13
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Above a certain level of quality, money buys weight, or more accurately the lack of weight.
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Old 03-27-07, 02:04 PM   #14
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Ken I purchased a new road bike last Oct. after a long absence from cycling. Considering my intended use of 100+ miles per week, an occasional charity/century ride, and need to be comfortable, settled on test riding models of each of the 4 manufacturers you mentioned. I rode the Giant OCR, Cannondale Synapse, Trek Pilot, and Specialized Roubaix. All were advertised as having a more relaxed geometry, and each had comparable 105 component groups.

I ended up on the Specialized, choosing the full carbon Roubaix Elite. While Iím sure I would have been happy on any of the 4 brands, the geometry of the Roubaix just worked best for me. I put up the extra bucks for the carbon because research indicated that the benefits become more apparent when saddle time exceeds 2 hours. So far, I donít regret my decision. When I get off of the bike itís because of exhaustion, not pain!

Pricing for the Elite was $1700 (list $1900). The aluminum Roubaix was $1300 (list $1500). If memory serves the Cannondale was the most expensive and the Giant was the best value.

Have fun in your search!
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Old 03-27-07, 02:05 PM   #15
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I strongly recommend considering a good used bike.
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Old 03-27-07, 03:25 PM   #16
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When I was considering getting my first "re-entry" road bike last year (the previous roadie being a 70s vintage Raleigh I hadn't ridden in ages), I read and thought and read some more. Finally, some wise person on the Road forum said, in effect, that at a given price point they're all of similar quality so you might as well go with whatever feels best. But then the kicker: he also said if you've never ridden a road bike before, or haven't ridden one in awhile, even a longish test ride is unlikely to uncover the "ideal" bike. It takes weeks or months riding your "first" bike to discover the pluses and minuses of that bike, your preferences and dislikes, and to determine what your "ideal" bike would be.

So what I did is: decided that in general I wanted a compact geometry bike with a somewhat upright riding position (think Trek Pilot, Giant OCR) and just got the first one that I found at a price I liked (I bought used). Wound up with a year old Giant OCR2. Very nice, and I'm happy with it.

However, I have decided after a year that ideally I'd like a shorter top tube. Partly because my Schwinn fixie conversion has a shorter top tube and I find it more comfortable. And really it's not a big thing. The Giant isn't uncomfortable...just more "aggressive". I've done a metric on it and plan on a century this year. Doesn't make me like the Giant any less. But next time I know what to look for.

Bottom line: without a fair amount of experience you won't know how to choose the "perfect" bike your first time out, so be happy to come pretty close. Narrow it down to a few, then decide based on things like color, LBS support, price, position of the stars & planets...whatever.

Meanwhile, maybe I'll get a shorter stem for the Giant...
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Old 03-27-07, 05:04 PM   #17
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SaiKaiTai,

Can you rent? A lbs here rents bikes for the weekend for $35, and then deducts all rental fees from the price of a new bike. Spending a weekend with a bike is much more informative than just riding around the parking lot.

One poster mentioned the Trek 1000, which is a good bike, but may not be age appropriate. I started with a Trek 1200, (since discontinued), and found it to be too aggressive for me, but I'm an old, beat up codger. The handlebar position was too low for me and I had the components moved to a Soma frame, which is much more comfortable for me.

Now I want a Trek Pilot, or a similar bike. Good luck.
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Old 03-27-07, 06:35 PM   #18
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I bought my first road bike in years in December. It is all aluminum with carbon fork and seat post. It also has all 105 components. I already wish I had a least got the carbon seat stays. I had ridden a freinds Cannondale for a couple of months and it had the next grade down components and I can definately tell the difference. When I have put 2000 miles on it, I will start looking at others.
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Old 03-27-07, 07:53 PM   #19
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Hmmmm, good road bikes? Rans, Bachetta, Fujin, Lightfoot, Easy Racers. The stems are all high enough and the seats are easy to adjust.
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Old 03-27-07, 08:09 PM   #20
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Buy the one that fits best. That market is so competitive that nobody can break away with vastly better components or metallurgy--the bikes are substantially identical, and anybody who puts on a way better rear derailleur, say, is going to have to cut back somewhere else, in the bottom bracket (which most people never look at) or the headset or something. Minor weight differences and stuff like that are nowhere near as important as fit.
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Old 03-27-07, 08:20 PM   #21
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Man, I am learning so much from your posts that I cannot thank you enough
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Old 03-27-07, 09:00 PM   #22
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Here is my story:
The first road bike was bought on "friends" recommending a LBS. I go there with trusting eyes and got screwed. They sold me an expensive bike from stock. Six months later they went out of business. That bike did not fit me properly and was obsolete technology.
My next road bike was based on much dialog on this BF and a more cautious approach. (less trusting)
I selected a brand and model, found a LBS who loaned it to me for two weeks and bought it. I am quite happy with that choice.
I will never buy another bike without extensive road test.
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Old 03-27-07, 11:22 PM   #23
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Man, I am learning so much from your posts that I cannot thank you enough
But you could send pie.
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Old 03-27-07, 11:48 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bcoppola

So what I did is: decided that in general I wanted a compact geometry bike with a somewhat upright riding position (think Trek Pilot, Giant OCR) and just got the first one that I found at a price I liked (I bought used). Wound up with a year old Giant OCR2. Very nice, and I'm happy with it.

However, I have decided after a year that ideally I'd like a shorter top tube.
I rode an OCR2 and thought it was quite nice, for a drop bar road bike. Had a chance to buy an '06 just a couple of weeks ago for $700 new. If I had decided that I wanted to go with this type of bike, I may have bought it.

I have tested 5 compact geometry road bikes in sub $1000 range and the one that I've found with a shorter top tube than the Giant has been a Trek Pilot. The Schwinn Super Sport DBX might have been a bit shorter than the Giant. Now I don't know if the published measurements are all that different between the OCR2 and Pilot, but I sat up a bit more on the Trek and the salesman told me to expect that. The longest top tube, at least in the way that it felt to me, was a LeMond Etape.

The Pilot's riding position was so upright that the road bike salesperson badmouthed it, which is usually a sign that I will find it more comfortable. And I did!

But now I've given up on drop bar bikes and am thinking about a flat bar road bike that I can further corrupt into something like a North Road bar road bike.
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Old 03-28-07, 08:28 AM   #25
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Take a look at the Jamis Road bikes. Lot of bang for the buck. Good luck.
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