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Old 05-25-11, 12:01 PM   #1
CraigB
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Road bike opinions, please.

Now that I've found some reasonably priced health insurance, and once more have disposable income because of it, I'm going to be in the market for the "reward" bike I promised myself a year ago for when I broke 200 pounds. I don't have as much to spend as I'd like (who among us does?), so I've reigned in my budget to aluminum models with primarily 105 components. I'm OK with that, as I've been riding an aluminum road bike for 21 years now and I have no complaints other than it's now too large for me, and I'm friggin' tired of downtube shifters. And today's 105 has surely got to be at least the equal of the 21 year old Shimano 600 group I've been using, the ancestor of today's Ultegra.

So I'm looking for input on any or all of the following models. All are readily available here in my market. One model is all 105, but the others substitute Tektro or other brakes to maintain their price point. In addition to these, I'd be happy to entertain other suggestions as well.

The price leader, in terms of features and components seems to be the Raleigh Revenio 3.0. It's the one that has 105 brakes, and still manages to be a hundred or more less than the others in price.

In no particular order, the others are:

Bianchi Via Nirone 7 105

Trek 2.1

Jamis Ventura Race

Felt Z85

Scott Speedster S20

Cannondale Synapse Alloy 5 105

And the Giant Defy 1

Anyone have any first-hand experience with any of these bikes?
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Old 05-25-11, 12:33 PM   #2
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My wife just got the synapse 5 and it is sweet.I think the Cannondale Caad with 105s is worth a look.I have a synapse also with a mix of 105 and tiagra and like it alot, it would depend on if you want a little more relaxed riding position,in that case i would go with the synaspe,also the 5 has bb30 which helps with power transfer, which mine does not have.I have read in a review of the System 5 cannodale with 105s they really could not tell the difference between ultegra and the 105, for what that is worth having never used ultegra myself.Ride as many as you can and you will know which one feels right.
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Old 05-25-11, 12:56 PM   #3
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Were I in your situation, I'd solicit opinions, consider them carefully, ride all the bikes I could and buy the one I liked best. Everybody's different, as is every bike. Oh, and ignore all the marketing bs about the latest greatest features, most of which are solely to make the bike cheaper to build: threadless stems, press-in bottom brackets (BB30, f'rinstance), etc, etc, blah blah blah. Get the bike that works best for YOU.

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ps - I'd also say, "If ya can't test ride it, don't buy it." True, it might be better than anything you've ridden, but it might be worse too. (If you can ride another bike with the same frame and lesser components, that's a different story. It's the frame that makes the bike after all.)
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Old 05-25-11, 01:10 PM   #4
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I weight in at 210 lbs.
Put 30,000 miles on a Felt F-85. (105 9 Spd) I went with 700 X 28 tires with 36 spoke wheels.
Rode it 2047 miles in 22 rides last Oct.
It seems to have a Perfect fit for me.

Also ride 2008 Cannondale T-1, 10 Spd Ultegra. 7,000 miles.
I still prefer the 105 9 Spd.

Get a bike that fits.



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Old 05-25-11, 01:20 PM   #5
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The new bike won't be happening in time for the TdC at the Speedway. But that's OK. I'd rather go into it with equipment I know and trust than something brand new and unfamiliar, even if it's reputable stuff. I'd want some time with it first. So look for a slightly stouter-than-average guy on a slightly too-large yellow Trek with downtube shifters and a threadbare Kirtland Tourpak seat bag tucked up under the saddle like the old-school "tire socks." I think I'll be wearing my new Crankenstein jersey.

I understand the need to test ride and I should be able to do that within reason - all of these brands are represented locally, even if some of the models might not be. And like many other good-sized markets, some of them are available at 2 or more dealers in the area. I also understand how subjective the "feel" of a given bike is, and how unreliable sense memory can be when the bikes aren't all there in one spot to compare side by side. So I thought I'd solicit some opinions as a starting point in the process.
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Old 05-25-11, 01:27 PM   #6
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I bought a 2010 Trek 2.1 last June and after 5000 miles or so, I'm very happy with it - all 105 except for Tiagra brakes. I rode equivalent Giant, Cannondale, and Specialized before I bought the Trek. To me, the Trek just felt more exciting to ride

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Old 05-25-11, 01:36 PM   #7
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I may be wearing this one.
I plan to arrive at 5:30 AM.

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Old 05-25-11, 02:03 PM   #8
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Can't find the page on the Synapse alloy but looked at the specs on the rest and they all run similar. Few downgrades on some manufacturers on Cranksets and a few detail changes but they all have the same problem as far as I am concerned. That is the wheels. I DO NOT LIKE INHOUSE WHEELS. It is the main point where to get to a price- the quality will be cut. It drives me nuts that they come up with a good bike with good components and a sensible price and then downgrade the bike with the one thing that will be noticed whilst riding the bike. That is other than fit and comfort of course. The one exception is the Bianchi and I do not know these wheels. They have a funny spoke pattern so I would like to find reports on those before committing to quality

Easy way out of this and that is to get the shop to change the wheels before purchase- making an allowance for the unused OM wheels of course.

Although I am a giant man- I don't think that any of these bikes will differ greatly. The choice is going to be down to the test ride, The shop and staff and the size of the wallet.

But remember- A Bianchi in celest colour is worth 5mph on your top speed. I still have a Bianchi but you will not want to know about that as it is an 11 year old MTB that has been abused for all its life--And it is celest in colour.
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Old 05-25-11, 02:06 PM   #9
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But remember- A Bianchi in celest colour is worth 5mph on your top speed.
I can't argue with that at all. Of all these bikes it has the greatest emotional/aesthetic/nostalgia appeal for this old guy. Even my wife thinks Celeste Bianchis are cool.

I agree about the wheels, too, but since they all appear to have less-than-great OEM wheels, they're kind of on a level playing field in that regard. And while the spoke pattern on the Bianchi's wheels is a little different, the really interesting thing about them that you can't see easily in the photos is that on each wheel, one group of 4 spokes is red, while the others are all black.
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Old 05-25-11, 02:21 PM   #10
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I can't argue with that at all. Of all these bikes it has the greatest emotional/aesthetic/nostalgia appeal for this old guy. Even my wife thinks Celeste Bianchis are cool.
I am Bianchi Biased too and for the same reasons. There used to be something about a Bianchi on the road so that when you saw one- the drooling started. So much so for me that I got my Bianchi MTB and it has not disapointed. Unfortunately- They started to appear in other colours so they were not as distinctive on the road. I say distinctive but the only view I ever got was the rear wheel of them as they overtook me.

Like all the other manufacturers- the bikes are not bad. But if Nostalgia and aesthetics come into it- Then it would be the Bianchi for me. Something about the name- the sense of pride it gives you to ride and the drooling from other riders that puts it above the others.
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Old 05-25-11, 05:04 PM   #11
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Same dealer or all different dealers?

My advice is to shop for a bike shop first. When you find the one with prople that you feel good talking with - that's it. Buy a brand that they sell and you'll never go wrong because there's greater differences among bike shops than there is among bike brands.

There's service, there's clothing and accessory purchases, and there's always the potential for a warranty issue. Who do you want to be dealing with for this stuff?
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Old 05-25-11, 05:22 PM   #12
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Can't find the page on the Synapse alloy but looked at the specs on the rest and they all run similar. Few downgrades on some manufacturers on Cranksets and a few detail changes but they all have the same problem as far as I am concerned. That is the wheels. I DO NOT LIKE INHOUSE WHEELS. It is the main point where to get to a price- the quality will be cut. It drives me nuts that they come up with a good bike with good components and a sensible price and then downgrade the bike with the one thing that will be noticed whilst riding the bike. That is other than fit and comfort of course. The one exception is the Bianchi and I do not know these wheels. They have a funny spoke pattern so I would like to find reports on those before committing to quality

Easy way out of this and that is to get the shop to change the wheels before purchase- making an allowance for the unused OM wheels of course.

Although I am a giant man- I don't think that any of these bikes will differ greatly. The choice is going to be down to the test ride, The shop and staff and the size of the wallet.

But remember- A Bianchi in celest colour is worth 5mph on your top speed. I still have a Bianchi but you will not want to know about that as it is an 11 year old MTB that has been abused for all its life--And it is celest in colour.
A lot of manufacturers are putting downgraded wheels on their bikes. I think that a lot of them are thinking that most people will upgrade them anyway so why bother ?

Cervelo for example seems to be putting Fulcrum 7's on bikes like the 2011 R5 which retails for $6900CDN so go figure. The local LBS's here in Toronto take them off and sell them with something more appropriate.

As for which bike ? I think the Caad is worth a good look. It all depends on your budget, fit, etc..
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Old 05-25-11, 06:05 PM   #13
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I have a Giant OCR C2 carbon (the Defy's Daddy, I think) and a Jamis Aurora Elite steel
The bikes could not be more different and I love them both.
I also strongly considered a Scott but never actually rode one. I have no doubt it's a wonderful bike as would be the Felt.
Try them all, and more, if you can (ok, *I* didn't but...).
Bike fit is highly personal.

Congrats, too, on breaking the 200lb barrier, a number I've danced with -above and below- for far too long.
Still, starting at 225 and now sitting at 195-201 or so, I'm happy enough. Especially as a lot of the weight is now muscle and not fat.
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Old 05-25-11, 06:42 PM   #14
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As far as dealers go, there aren't any that carry all of them, but several that have more than one. One shop that has a very good vibe sells the Raleigh, Bianchi and Trek. Another that I like and bought my mountain bike from sells Trek. Another shop that I like the feel of sells Jamis, Scott and Cannondale. They also have the most comprehensive no-extra-cost fitting services in town. The local mega-bike-mart sells Trek, Giant and Cannondale, but they're really impersonal because of their size and volume (they claim to be the largest volume Giant dealer in the US). Giants are also carried by two other, smaller shops in town, but I've never been to those stores. And there are at least two out-of-the-way shops that I've spoken with that sell Felt, and at least one more each that sell Bianchi and Raleigh.

The long and short of the shop situation is that it won't make a huge difference, unless I decide I really want a Giant. Then I'll have to have a closer look at the mega-mart, or try one of those other two small dealers.

Since CAADs have been mentioned a couple of times, I should say that I've looked at them, but I think a more relaxed "endurance" geometry is going to be necessary, which is why I listed the bikes I did. As far as I can tell, the Synapse is the only one in C'dale's line that fits that description. I can't handle a big drop from saddle-to-bars any more, so aggressive (standard race) geometry is pretty much out of the question. So a slightly taller head tube is one of the top priorities on my list.
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Old 05-25-11, 06:51 PM   #15
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If you're looking for something more relaxed, then something like a Specialized Secteur, Giant Defy or a Scott Speedster would do the job.
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Old 05-25-11, 06:54 PM   #16
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Unfortunately, the Secteurs are too expensive for me. And the Defy and Speedster are on my list already.

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Old 05-25-11, 07:08 PM   #17
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Bianchi fan here, here's mine:

This has 105, I've had it 3 months and have just at 2000 miles on it. It now wears Conti Gator Hardshell tires and I got rid of those awful reflectors. I rode the equivalent in Carbondale, Trex, Giant & Specialized before selecting this and haven't looked back. Everyone loves the color. You can see the spoke pattern here, that's gotta be worth 1-1/2 mph.

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Old 05-25-11, 07:25 PM   #18
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Craig, does it need to be new? Can it be "gently used," opening the door for more recent Ultegra (probably not 6700), and maybe something other than AL? Just tossing ideas out. This month's RBA magazine also has an article about bikes in the ~$2K-2.5K price range being the "sweet spot" of cycling enthusiasts.
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Old 05-25-11, 07:45 PM   #19
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TomD77 - I thought someone around here had one of those Bianchis. Glad to see it and glad to hear you've been pleased with the bike.

t4mv - I've been watching the local Craig's List for over a year, and while a few capable bikes have shown up in that time, they've all been the wrong geometry and almost all have been the wrong size. The rest are consistently department store, old entry level, mountain or BMX bikes. I'm continuing to look, but I don't hold out much hope. As far as being able to afford more than AL if bought that way, there are all those bugaboos about buying used carbon. I'm not saying they're valid - just that everyone and their cousin say it's risky.

And I'd love to be able to spend in that "sweet spot" for a new bike, which is probably even less than the territory my old Trek would be in once adjusted for inflation, but it's just not going to happen. That's easily twice what I'll have to spend.

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Old 05-26-11, 09:59 AM   #20
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Although I am a giant man-
Should we call you Hagrid?

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But remember- A Bianchi in celest colour is worth 5mph on your top speed. I still have a Bianchi but you will not want to know about that as it is an 11 year old MTB that has been abused for all its life--And it is celest in colour.
I agree, but he should probably stay away from a red bike, no matter which brand, as that will be way too fast for him, since he doesn't want a race bike.
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Old 05-26-11, 01:05 PM   #21
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I agree, but he should probably stay away from a red bike, no matter which brand, as that will be way too fast for him, since he doesn't want a race bike.
I guess then it's a good thing so many manufacturers are using such uninspired (and uninspiring) color schemes these days. I mean, really - did they use up all the bright colors in their paint boxes in the '80s and '90s? Trek in particular is using especially dull colors this year. Their colors are almost enough to knock them out of the running for me. Not to be too superficial about it.
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Old 05-26-11, 03:18 PM   #22
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Uninspired doesn't begin to describe it. Like.. plain carbon fibre ? Or Black on white ? or was it White on black ?

The guy at my local LBS said that when the 2011 Specialized catalogues came out they were wondering what they meant by White/black. It looked pretty bad in print.
When the bikes came in, they looked a lot better than they expected.

It reminds me of the very limited palette that they offer for cars. Black, white, sand, dirt, grey, dark grey...

But yeah, a very limited palette and just in basic solid colors. What ever happened to candy coated metallics , metalflake ?

My bike ? White/Black with the black 105 groupset. Shades of Henry Ford.

"Any customer can have a car painted any colour he wants so long as it is black."
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Old 05-26-11, 05:20 PM   #23
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Black is beautiful, baby.


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Old 05-26-11, 05:38 PM   #24
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Yeah.. I really like the steath look. All black looks really sharp.
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Old 05-26-11, 05:55 PM   #25
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105 (or Sram equivilent) is just fine - I have 3 custom built bikes with 105/Sram equivilent components. The only difference I know of betweel 105, ultegra and dura ace is weight - a very little bit of weight that the average rider could never notice. Aluminum frames are light and inexpensive, but offer a harsh ride. You are over 50 years old and almost 200 lbs. Seems to me you will never notice a 1-2 lb difference in frame weight but you will notice how comfortable you are on long rides. I recommend you look for how you like the "feel" of a frame, not at how much it weighs. In line with that recommendation, consider chrome-moly steel - a time tested, durable, repairable, relatively inexpensive and very comfortable frame material. Surly for example, makes excellent, reasonably priced steel frames and if I remeber correctly, Schwinn and Raliegh are also bringing back some of their classic steel road bike lines.
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