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  1. #1
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    Shopping for new bike

    I'm 51, female, 5'7" w/ 31 or 32" inseam. I currently ride a Marin Lucas Valley, aluminum with flat bars. I'm looking at getting a more traditional road bike but with relaxed geometry and carbon frame, such as a Specialized Roubaix or Trek Pilot. The Marin's gearing is 54/42/30 and the Roubaix is 50/39/30 for a triple (which I'm pretty certain I want). I want comfort since I tend to do longer rides (charity rides and such). I thought the flat bars would give me that but I feel that the Marin has a pretty jarring ride, although I haven't tried the carbons yet, so can't really compare. Anyway, my question is: what sorts of differences can I expect with regard to the gearing, the ride, position, etc. Has anyone else gone from flat bar comfort bike to drop bar comfort bike? I'm wondering if this is the right move for me, or should I look at carbon frame flat bar bikes, or something else? I'm also going to look at women specific bikes, although I think I might be taller than those bikes anticipate. Any tips, suggestions, comments would be appreciated. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Ride Daddy Ride Jet Travis's Avatar
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    Sounds like you've got a great shopping adventure ahead of you. My advice: Test ride as many as you can. Oh, yeah, and to avoid major dweebishness, avoid a white bike at all costs.
    "Light it up, Popo." --Levi Leipheimer

  3. #3
    Senior Member Allegheny Jet's Avatar
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    Weather or not a road bike is best for you depends on several things that your post does not answer. Some things to consider are: How far/long do you ride now? How do you plan to ride the new bike? Or any other reasons regarding why you want to change bikes. I have a Roubaix Expert and it is comfortable for me, however, I switched from a alumminum Cannondale road bike. I don't think you will feel more comfortable on a carbon fiber road bike over what you ride now. The more aggressive postion of a road bike will outweigh the "comfort" of the more upright position your current bike has. But, if you want to ride faster and more aggressive then a road bike is the way to go. Sometime you have to give up comfort and do a little hurting to get a little more out of riding. As for fit, a good LBS can steer you to the correct bike. I have a 32" inseam and ride a 56cm bike. That size works for my size legs and possibly your's, but that does not take into account the "reach" to the bars where my 6' frame will be longer than you.

  4. #4
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jet Travis View Post
    Sounds like you've got a great shopping adventure ahead of you. My advice: Test ride as many as you can. Oh, yeah, and to avoid major dweebishness, avoid a white bike at all costs.
    Says it all- especially the White bit.

    Yen has just recently undertaken this transition and I hope she will join in and give you the benefit of her experience. Another one recently to go C.F. was Saikaitai (SKT to those of us that can't spell) Both have been delighted with their new steeds so it is a step they will recommend.

    Only thing is- at your Stature- Look at the Women specific bikes. Taller girls find they do not suit them- but those of us that are vertically challenged- Do find the shorter top tube benificial.

    And on the C.F.-I went C.F. last December and over the stock Aluminium frames- they do give a far better ride.

    Link to Giant womens bikes below.

    http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-US/bikes/women/
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    Reasons for wanting to switch: I feel like I'm really tense on the bike that I have and I'm starting to think it's because of the aluminum frame, because I feel every little bump. I feel uneasy going fast. My position on the bike isn't all that great either--my legs are fine but my arms, shoulder and back are uncomfortable. Also, with the flat bars, there are limited hand positions. I was thinking that the combination of carbon, plus the relaxed geometry of the "comfort road bike" would be good. I would like to go faster, and I'm thinking the carbon will be a smoother ride. The way I ride is: starting in the spring I train for a week-long ride every that I do every August that averages 80 miles a day for 7 days. I also do a couple charity rides earlier in the summer that are 50-100 miles. So, I want to be comfortable and make good time.

  6. #6
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    Why is white bad? Not that I would ever, ever, every buy one...

  7. #7
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    White will show dirt and any minor scratches. White trim is ok. White handlebar tape will look bad after 1 or 2 rides.

  8. #8
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    Last spring I went from a hybrid to a racing-style road bike. Fast and frisky, it still makes me all giddy when I ride it. But it's built for speed, not comfort, and after 40 or 50 miles or so, I just plain want off the thing. Now I keep it for short, fast rides.

    Last autumn I got a road bike with a more relaxed front end, along the lines of the Pilot or Roubaix. I love it to death. It's my primary ride, which should say something given that I'm car-free. It's the bike I turn to for both trips to the grocery store, and for centuries. It's just as fast as the racing-style bike, but it's a nice ride too.
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  9. #9
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mo-bile View Post
    Why is white bad? Not that I would ever, ever, every buy one...
    No, it's an ongoing joke around here. DG takes a lot of ribbing about his and riding it after Labor Day.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  10. #10
    Climbing Above It All BikeWNC's Avatar
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    Hey! I demo'd a Cervelo R3 in white last month and that bike rocked! I would ride that white bike any day.

    The women's specific version of the Roubaix is the Ruby. It's a really nice bike if it fits you.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Wildwood's Avatar
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    If you are riding a comfort bike with larger tires and think the ride is jarring, you may not like a traditional road bike with skinny tires at about 100 psi. Tire size and inflation pressure is by far the single greatest contributor to smoothness of ride, frame material is waaay down the list. Ask your LBS about a cyclocross bike which can take larger tires; some cyclocross also have a second set of brake levers on the tops which many new roadies find appealing.

  12. #12
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Does your Marin Lucas Valley have carbon fiber fork & seat stays? I rode a 2006 model which did and I thought the ride was pretty decent. I know some of the older models (2004) had a 100% aluminum frame which was much harsher.

    I think you are looking at the right bikes, although if you are going to look at the Specialized Roubaix, then I think you should also look at the Trek Madones too. The WSD Madones are tweaked a bit more for female proportions than are the Roubaixs.

    A more modestly priced comfort geometry woman's road bike is the Marin Treviso. Aluminum frame but with carbon stays and fork. It is said to have a smooth ride. Sells for around $1100.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

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  13. #13
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildwood View Post
    If you are riding a comfort bike with larger tires and think the ride is jarring, you may not like a traditional road bike with skinny tires at about 100 psi.
    The Marin Lucas Valley is a somewhat aggressive flat-bar road bike, not a comfort bike. Akin to the Trek FX fitness hybrids. In most years they shipped with 28mm tires that ran around 100 psi.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

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  14. #14
    Senior Member PirateJim's Avatar
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    I recently bought a Trek Pilot 5.0. I REALLY like it. But the Specialized is a great bike too and can be ordered up with better components than the Trek. Overall geometry seems about the same. My Pilot is mostly Shimano 105, which is sort of "middle of the road" but as a discounted left over '07 model I'm happy with my investment.
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  15. #15
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    "I feel like I'm really tense on the bike that I have and I'm starting to think it's because of the aluminum frame, because I feel every little bump."

    Seems likely to me. I find most of the aluminum and al-carbon rigs a bit much after 50 miles. I expect that some very expensive bikes are better, but the standard X Fusion and 6061 frames don't please me.

    "I feel uneasy going fast. My position on the bike isn't all that great either--my legs are fine but my arms, shoulder and back are uncomfortable."

    Yup. Bouncy stiff plus flat bar position doesn't encourage comfort and stability!


    "I was thinking that the combination of carbon, plus the relaxed geometry of the "comfort road bike" would be good. I would like to go faster, and I'm thinking the carbon will be a smoother ride."


    I think you're on exactly the right track. My wife has one of those silly Specialized carbon bikes with the Zertz inserts. I like my Italian go-fast bike, but hers is soooooo smooth and sleek feeling. Kind of wish I had one. I think the Zertz is doing it.

    Regardless. I see two paths, one more mellow comfort, one more dynamic comfort. I suspect your riding pattern indicates the more dynamic.

    More mellow: more or less traditional touring fit. Bars level with saddle, larger framer, shorter stem, longer chainstays, often steel, can't think of a carbon but might be out there. 72 x 72. Stable, can be driven fast, but has to be driven.

    More dynamic: 73/74 x 71.5/72.5 shorter stays, relatively tall head tube. Generally sold with too short a stem in the mid sizes, might be right in the smaller sizes. Set with some drop to the bars, saddle back for guys, women seem to like the saddle a little further forward. Easy to buy one too big. Smooth, carves turns rather than drops into them, gives excitement, usually very stable on descents when set up well. Need to have some weight on the front end, avoids understeer.

    Fit: I'd normally think 51 x 53 tt w/ 105 mm stem would be a place to start for road geometry. 6 cm drop for a racy fit, so probably a bit less than that. Ruby 54 doesn't look bad, I'd watch the TT length, really would like that Ruby 53 that doesn't exist!

    Giant OCR woman's small looks great!

    And so on. Make sure the forward bend of the bar is about over the front axle, not several cm behind. Relaxed geometry and a light front end with relatively short chainstays isn't a secure rig under hard handling.

  16. #16
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jet Travis View Post
    Sounds like you've got a great shopping adventure ahead of you. My advice: Test ride as many as you can. Oh, yeah, and to avoid major dweebishness, avoid a white bike at all costs.

  17. #17
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    Too bad there are so few steel bikes being made these days. A good steel road bike would fit the bill nicely. But one of the plastic wonder bikes should be OK.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  18. #18
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    Last spring I went from a hybrid to a racing-style road bike. ... But it's built for speed, not comfort...
    Mine is built for speed and comfort.

    ...And it's not white!

  19. #19
    Senior Member ?? Beverly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil View Post
    I think you are looking at the right bikes, although if you are going to look at the Specialized Roubaix, then I think you should also look at the Trek Madones too. The WSD Madones are tweaked a bit more for female proportions than are the Roubaixs.
    I've been very satisfied with my WSD Madone. I believe they make them up to 56cm for the taller women. The Madone's aren't the "relaxed geometry" but I've been more comfortable on it than the Trek 1800C. I was too stretched out on the Trek 1800C (similar to Pilots) as it didn't have the WSD features.

    I like the smaller handlebars, shifters, etc that Trek does on their WSD models. The shorter top tube makes for a comfortable reach to the shifters and brakes. I'm never giving mine up
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mo-bile View Post
    I'm 51, female, 5'7" w/ 31 or 32" inseam. I currently ride a Marin Lucas Valley, aluminum with flat bars. I'm looking at getting a more traditional road bike but with relaxed geometry and carbon frame, such as a Specialized Roubaix or Trek Pilot. The Marin's gearing is 54/42/30 and the Roubaix is 50/39/30 for a triple (which I'm pretty certain I want). I want comfort since I tend to do longer rides (charity rides and such). I thought the flat bars would give me that but I feel that the Marin has a pretty jarring ride, although I haven't tried the carbons yet, so can't really compare. Anyway, my question is: what sorts of differences can I expect with regard to the gearing, the ride, position, etc. Has anyone else gone from flat bar comfort bike to drop bar comfort bike? I'm wondering if this is the right move for me, or should I look at carbon frame flat bar bikes, or something else? I'm also going to look at women specific bikes, although I think I might be taller than those bikes anticipate. Any tips, suggestions, comments would be appreciated. Thanks!
    I am a 56 yo male and 1" taller than you. I had a 55cm Rivendell Bleriot built up at my LBS. Bought the frame, lugged steel, on ebay. IMHO, nothing beats the comfort of a steel frame. The 650B wheels are the bomb. They are great on everything except mountain bike territory. (no comments please about tire availibility and a blowout in Africa etc.) This bike rides like a Big Buick and the handling is quite decent. Very stable but it does not feel like a truck. I can ride it all day and not think of it as a torture device. The Nitto Noodle bars and quill stem are excellent. Kogswell and Rawland also have 650B frames. This type of bike may be just what you are looking for. I know I will be riding it for a long time.
    Last edited by FloridaBoy; 06-04-08 at 09:27 AM.

  21. #21
    Senior Member ollo_ollo's Avatar
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    Just remember the bike shop can swap the crank chain rings to fewer teeth on whatever bike you pick. Most of us are not Racers & would prefer something like my touring bike's 26-38-48 crankset.
    visit my homebuilding blog: www.monoplanar.blogspot.com

  22. #22
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeWNC View Post
    Hey! I demo'd a Cervelo R3 in white last month and that bike rocked! I would ride that white bike any day.
    One of these days people will learn to take advantage of the experience that can be offered on this forum. If you had taken the trouble to test the red version- you would have found the bike was 1 1/2 ozs lighter- had two less teeth on the rear cassette to worry about and that it would have been supplied with an extra water bottle cage. Haven't tested the Black one yet but apparantly that is better. And as for the Special "Gold" one- now that is a bike to be proud of.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ollo_ollo View Post
    Just remember the bike shop can swap the crank chain rings to fewer teeth on whatever bike you pick. Most of us are not Racers & would prefer something like my touring bike's 26-38-48 crankset.
    We would? I have a 30/44/56. And it's not white. I had a 50T top gear once. The first time I got it in a tailwind, I fanned high gear while all my buddies dropped me.

  24. #24
    Senior Member TomRides's Avatar
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    I'm not a 50+..but I have some input..

    Quote Originally Posted by Mo-bile View Post
    I'm 51, female, 5'7" w/ 31 or 32" inseam. I currently ride a Marin Lucas Valley, aluminum with flat bars. I'm looking at getting a more traditional road bike but with relaxed geometry and carbon frame, such as a Specialized Roubaix or Trek Pilot. The Marin's gearing is 54/42/30 and the Roubaix is 50/39/30 for a triple (which I'm pretty certain I want). I want comfort since I tend to do longer rides (charity rides and such). I thought the flat bars would give me that but I feel that the Marin has a pretty jarring ride, although I haven't tried the carbons yet, so can't really compare. Anyway, my question is: what sorts of differences can I expect with regard to the gearing, the ride, position, etc. Has anyone else gone from flat bar comfort bike to drop bar comfort bike? I'm wondering if this is the right move for me, or should I look at carbon frame flat bar bikes, or something else? I'm also going to look at women specific bikes, although I think I might be taller than those bikes anticipate. Any tips, suggestions, comments would be appreciated. Thanks!
    Hi Mo-bile,

    I went from an aluminum flat bar road bike..carbon fork, road geometry to a Specialized full carbon Roubaix comp. I WILL tell you that I really notice the effects of the carbon and Specializeds' zertz inserts on damping road vibrations. If you're gearing up to do longer rides, and want to get faster and stronger, I'd get on a Roubaix and give one a test ride. Ask your LBS if they'd be willing to let you take the bike on an extended test ride on your regular route so you can get a true comparison on roads that you are used to..if they're willing to do this, have them give you a basic fitting before taking the bike out. I'm a little taller than you, but with a similar inseam and I ride a 54" which you may be able to get away with. You may also want to ride on a Ruby if they have one.

    Also if more cycling, and getting stronger is truly a goal, I'd consider trying a compact double as opposed to a triple. I went from a triple and really don't miss the 3rd ring except on really long or steep hillls...plus the double will shift much better than the triple. Check this out and ask questions before setting your mind.

    As for comfort, you'll feel the road MUCH less in my opinion compared to your Marin, and the Roubaix/ Ruby is set up for a more upright position that can be changed as your cycling progresses. Some say that the zertz inserts are all marketing, but after riding my Roubaix for close to 2000 miles over the year that I've owned it, I'm always amazed at how it smoothes out the road! A long test ride is key and working with a shop that is willing to listen to your comfort input after the test ride and make adjustments in handlebar width, stem length and rise, etc. if you're serious about the purchase. I know you've heard it over and over, but a proper fit with a good tech at the show WILL make a ton of difference..after all if you're about to spend over $1200-$1500 on a bike, you deserve nothing less. Good shorts, gloves, seat, and bar tape are also important comfort elements especially on longer rides. On ANY ride over 40+ miles (I'm 46 so close to your age) we're going to feel SOME discomfort, but you'll learn to switch hand positions often, stretch while on the bike, and stay loose and all of that will help!

    Feel free to PM me if you have other questions. Also FYI, a woman in our club who is 60, and about your height and inseam rides a standard Roubaix..I believe also a 54 and the bike seems to fit her pretty well.

    Have fun shopping..but I highly endorse the Specialized line..I'm a convert and couldn't be happier with my Roubaix. As mentioned, drop a line if you have more questions...

    Tom..from Boston'ish.

  25. #25
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    Mo-bile,
    "...I feel like I'm really tense on the bike that I have..."

    Cheeeez. This sounds like a real nightmare especially for the long distances you are doing. There are three areas to investigate. One is the geometry of the bike...For more a more relaxed ride than a road racer, this is one of the strengths of the Roubaix (and the Pilot). You might consider also the Gunnar Sport. I have both the Roubaix and the Gunnar and they are both terrific. The Gunnar Sport is at least as comfortable, has a little longer wheelbase, is lower to the road, is made of steel and steers more precisely (yet is very stable), but it is more expensive.

    Second are the wheels and tires. These can have an enormous influence on ride quality... Different brands and models of the same nominal size tires ride quite differently. Try experimenting with different tires and tire pressures. When/if you buy a new bike pay attention to the makeup of the wheels. For example, radially-spoked wheels feel more responsive and can be more aerodynamic but have a rougher ride compare to traditional 3 x laced spoke wheels (in my experience and I use both).

    Thirdly, saddles can make a huge difference in the amount of vibration that is transmitted to your body. I have several different saddles on my various bikes. I have a Brooks Team Professional which is a racey road saddle which is quite hard. Comfortable for under 100 miles but you do feel every bump. I also have a An-Atomica Titanico which is a double suspended hammock design. If it fits you, this is the one to have...Very little high-frequency vibes get through that baby.

    Finally, for these long distances I would encourage you to go to a bike with drop bars. Sure, you will spend >90% of your riding up on the hoods. But when the head winds hit, or on the scarey downhill with the blustery sidewinds, the lowered profile and center of gravity will make you more stable and add to you confidence in the bike.

    Hope this helps.

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