There is a word for most bikes and that is COMPROMISE. Unless you are buying somewhere near the top end- You have to make a compromise somewhere. But where is it going to be? Frame?- Components?- Groupset? or someother?
I always feel that the heart of a bike is the frame. Get that right and you have a bike you can build on. Most manufacturers have a model that will use the same frame up the range-so a Giant Defy 4 will have the same frame as a Giant Defy 1. But as you go down the range to a 4- The components- Groupset and Wheels will be of a lower standard. I feel that 105 is the lowest groupset that is worth having- so why did I get on so well with my OCR3 that had Sora? I may have been missing a gear or two on the back and the changes may not have been as crisp and sharp as a higher grade but it worked- and worked well. Other components may have been a bit on the heavy side but I doubt that I gained 2lbs on the bike by buying cheap. Where I did make a change though was with regard to the OM wheels. They were OK. They were round and went along the road but when I did change the wheels- it transformed the bike into something about 5 leagues better. That basic bike was my first road bike but it was good enough to adapt me to road riding and it got me up Mont Ventoux in my first year of road riding.
So working on my premise that the frame is the part that matters- I am looking at my next bike and am prepared to go down a level from what I would say is the minimum I can call a "Good" Bike. One of the bikes I am looking at is a Giant TCX. The cyclocross bike and with the grade Of bikes I currently have- I should be looking at the TCX"0". I retire next year so finances are a bit tight at present so at $2470 it may be a bit above my price range for a bike that will still have to be adapted to the use I will be giving it. So looking at the TCX "2" at $1070. Affordable- Only 9 speed Sora but I could get by with that-and it is a couple of lbs Heavier. Let down is going to be those wheels again but they are easy enough to change and I would then have the OM wheels for Foul weather and winter use.
Only problem is- Would I be happy with a "Downgraded" bike? Think I could. The frame is the same-The wheels could be changed to something far better and as for losing a gear By going down to Sora? I only use one gear going uphills- and that is the lowest on the bike so no difference there.
So help--Am I making the right choice for my future riding.
And just in case you don't know me- I have a couple of good Road bikes and an MTB that although old still works but does need replacing (Hence the TCX). But If I want FUN- then out comes the offroad Tandem if I want to worry the ultra fit stoker that is fool enough to volunteer to help me up the hills.