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Old 01-30-12, 01:23 PM   #1
Digital Gee
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How good - or bad - are entry level road bikes these days?

As I've stated on another thread, I'm coming back to cycling after a year or two absence. A while back I sold my Specialized Roubaix, which was a wonderful bike. As I recall, it had 105 components, some carbon-fiber inserts, and was WHITE.

Anyway, I need a new bike, and my first test drive was the Surly Long Haul Trucker, which I enjoyed on the very brief, sandle-becladded test ride. As I'm considering my options, I'm concerned that this bike, while terrific for what it's meant to be - a tourer, may in fact disappoint me in the long run, since, for the most part, I'll be simply a recreational road rider.

I'd buy another similar bike like the Roubaix, but the Ugly Reality of budget has a say in this decision. I've begun scouring the bike sites looking at Trek, Giant, Specialized, etc. at their entry level road bikes.

The LHT retails for about $1,250 and that's within my budget. My question is - if I opt for a low-end road bike, given my experience and memories of the Roubaix, will I be disappointed with the components - or, has everything gotten just a bit better since I left the scene?

I'm thinking I could start with a Trek 1.2, for example, and upgrade components down stream, so to speak. OTOH, I don't want to buy a bike and start regretting my decision right away, and The Budget doesn't show signs of an inheritance in my immediate future.

I've also visited Craigslist, but that's such a catch-as-catch can, and frankly, I don't want to ride someone else's bike - unless it's one they bought and never used and is "like new" (and of course, getting the proper size on Craigslist is never easy).

So, your thoughts?
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Old 01-30-12, 01:32 PM   #2
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Hello stranger!!

Here's a different idea. Why not contact the person who purchased your Specialized Roubaix and see if they're getting ready to upgrade. Maybe there's a chance you can buy your old bike back! Just a thought.
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Old 01-30-12, 01:34 PM   #3
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The Surly LHT is a good touring bike, but not good for general riding. The thing is HEAVY and the long wheel base makes the ride sluggish.

Look at the Cannondale Synapse with 105, ride it and you'll love it. They make an alloy version at the lowest price and all carbon fiber at a good price. Ride both if you can, I like the carbon best, it's worth the money in ride comfort.
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Old 01-30-12, 01:40 PM   #4
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I have a Specialized Allez. I think it's a great value for what you get. Does all I want or can do. Sora/ Tiagra components.

I don't call a bike that comes with 105 or a carbon bike "entry level" but that is just me.
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Old 01-30-12, 01:44 PM   #5
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Great idea, but I have no way of finding him again. Oh well!

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Hello stranger!!

Here's a different idea. Why not contact the person who purchased your Specialized Roubaix and see if they're getting ready to upgrade. Maybe there's a chance you can buy your old bike back! Just a thought.
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Old 01-30-12, 01:57 PM   #6
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Just one example:

http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/....1/9014/48853/

Review of above:

http://www.bikeradar.com/gear/catego...efy-1-12-45849
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Old 01-30-12, 02:11 PM   #7
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If you can read and understand the spec sheet(and I think you can), and can put a bike together, and adjust it to make it work right(that's up to you to decide), OR have a shop that will work on a bike they didn't sell; then maybe a bike from Bikesdirect.com is for you. You get a better deal for you money(IMHO), but it's won't be a bikeshop name brand, and you have to assemble it yourself. And you can't test ride one.
Is there any shops that sell used bikes in your area?
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Old 01-30-12, 02:25 PM   #8
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Basic bikes are no longer basic. Take it you are looking at a Road bike and Providing you go for a good make and model- You won't go far wrong---Subject to a test ride to confirm of course.

Used to be 105 as the entry level for a decent spec of groupset but I started 6 years ago on 8 speed Sora. It works and still works and has even been upgraded to 9 speed. So you can come down a bit on your old Roubaix to get a respectable ride. Frame and that is where the test ride comes in so I expect you to be haunting the bike shops to find out what is available in the lower end of the ranges and what style of frame will suit you.

And that Giant Defy that Badger has shown a link to--Check it out and not only the top version. Same frame used across the range- only the components are different. Choose your price range and TEST. The same goes for most manufacturers- so choose any make and you should get the same result.
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Old 01-30-12, 02:28 PM   #9
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Get a recumbent. Your vertebral column will thank you for it
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Old 01-30-12, 02:29 PM   #10
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That's a sweet looking bike and I have put it on my test-ride list. Thanks!

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Old 01-30-12, 02:30 PM   #11
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Good suggestion, but I'm NOT a wrench, and never will be. Otherwise, I'd go this route!

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If you can read and understand the spec sheet(and I think you can), and can put a bike together, and adjust it to make it work right(that's up to you to decide), OR have a shop that will work on a bike they didn't sell; then maybe a bike from Bikesdirect.com is for you. You get a better deal for you money(IMHO), but it's won't be a bikeshop name brand, and you have to assemble it yourself. And you can't test ride one.
Is there any shops that sell used bikes in your area?
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Old 01-30-12, 02:39 PM   #12
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My most heavily used bike is my old c-dale st400 which is a sports tourer. Is it heavy? By todays standards, I suppose so as it weighs around 25lbs. I also have a titanium bike that is more of a "road" bike and about 6lbs lighter. Truth be told, I prefer the c-dales longer wheelbase and slacker angles and much more comfortable ride. I've never done any touring and don't really plan on it and am hardly a "fast" rider, if I was to buy a new bike I would look for something with the same type of geometry as my c-dale.

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Old 01-30-12, 03:01 PM   #13
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You interested in rolling the dice with Bikesdirect.com? Many good prices on there.

If the Mercier Serpens ever comes back in stock that's a full Ultegra bike at the same price point as your LHT.
http://bikesdirect.com/products/merc..._serpensIX.htm

or if you want an all white bike, there's the gravity with dura ace for $1200
http://bikesdirect.com/products/gravity/team_wht.htm

not that I necessarily advocate getting something from bd or know anything about these bikes, just pointing out the options if you don't feel the need to give something a test ride.
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Old 01-30-12, 03:30 PM   #14
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This is about as close as you can get to what you had before. Very nice bike, too.

http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bc/...01&scname=Road
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Old 01-30-12, 03:38 PM   #15
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The Giant Defy 1 is the bike I'm getting in Mid-March or beginning of April, dependent on how good my hand feels. I road both the Defy linked above, though the 2011 model, and the 2011 Specialized Sectaur. For me, I placed the Defy as better for me than the Sectaur, but the Sectaur is an extremely close 2nd. In some reviews/blogs I've read, the Sectaur is the choice for those who can't afford the Robaix. Test both and some other bikes.

The 2012 Giant Defy 1 comes in white. But, test bikes before you pull the wallet out.
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Old 01-30-12, 05:05 PM   #16
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FWIW, the Defy 2 has been named Best Entry Level Bike for three years in a row by Bicycling Magazine. I don't know if they consider the 105 groupo of the Defy 1 more then entry vs the Tiagra groupo of the Defy 2. If you like a relaxed fit, the Defy is a great starter bike. It's given me 3,500 miles of great riding in the last 14 months. However, I would go for the Defy 1 because of the better components.
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Old 01-30-12, 05:21 PM   #17
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I meant to mention, I tried the Specialized Allez and it has a more aggressive geometry(more race-like) than the Defy or the Sectaur. Test ride the bikes...you really need to do this to see how the bike "fits" you.
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Old 01-30-12, 05:26 PM   #18
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I looked at the Cannondale CAAD 8 with Sora, their entry model this morning. I was amazed how nice the bicycles at that level are now. The wheels are probably the "weak" point but that is how things seem now to us. Several years ago this would have been a first tier bicycle. I'd suggest the Synapse, as suggested above, in either aluminum or carbon fiber, at the 105 or Rival level if you want to try a Cannondale. Your Roubaix was one of the nicest riding bicycles on the market.

The Specialized Allez, Giant's and Trek's entry level bicycles are all super. Your budget will get you somewhat above entry level.

Best of luck in choosing.

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Old 01-30-12, 05:33 PM   #19
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Words like "sluggish", "twitchy", "heavy", etc. are all relative and mean different things to different riders' tastes, and purposes. FiftyPlus has always been about good sense and resisting some of the group-think we find over in the Road Forum. A heavier bike but with a low-geared triple may yet take you outa town and get you up some steep climbs much harder on a compact--earning you that personal accomplishment feeling. That longer-wheelbase may take longer to set up for a turn, but then may feel more stable on descents and no-hands showing off. And if you get truly hard-core-in-the-rain, then you go to fenders, not to mention the versatility of wider tires. Maybe not the bike on which to seriously ride intervals or race your friends. But, will you be doing that?

Anyway, Deege, don't dismiss anything yet-- ride as many as you can.....at our age, we can relax the machismo and get what we honestly believe is best for our goals and style of riding. And, if the economy picks up, there's always N+1 to correct any errors in judgement and add to the fleet.

LOL......this is how it always starts: the soul searching, the conundrums, the hesitation, then the impulsive spending-more-than-we'd-planned. Gary, have you considered a nice pair of walking shoes?!

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Old 01-30-12, 06:01 PM   #20
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GOOD NEWS: Most 2012 bikes are either white, partly white or have white on them. It's hard to find a bike without white.

BAD NEWS: Prices have gone crazy.

I just assisted a gal pal in finding a new bike. She did not want a used bike and against my best advice started looking at new. She knows nothing about bikes and it was hard to convince her the most important thing was 1) fit 2) components and 3) frame material. She was focused in on color (anything BUT white). Long story short (since I posted this ordeal already) is I found out Trek is selling a better bike for the money than Specialized. I think Specialize, although the bikes are nice looking, have really overpriced the bikes compared to other manufacturers.

My friend did settle on a 2011 Madone 3.1 Carbon frame; compact double with mostly 105 for around $1450 (that includes a $109 Trek Red Shield warranty). I guess that was a deal. It was compared to everything else we saw out there. I did see some good deals at Jensen USA and others suggested Bikesdirect.com.

Welcome back if only for awhile...
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Old 01-30-12, 06:50 PM   #21
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My new commuter arrived last week. It has Tiagra shirfters and FD and a 105 RD. The components don't feel any different than the Ultegra on my road bike. I went cyclocross so I'd have room for big tires and fenders if I want them (even with 35s there is plenty of room for fenders). My last commuter was Sora and, while it worked fine, I prefer the shifting on Tiagra and above much better (don't like the thumb button on Sora). And, my new bike is white...
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Old 01-30-12, 06:57 PM   #22
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Well, I visited a couple of LBS today. Didn't get to ride anything, but checked out a couple of bikes.

At the Trek store, all the 2011s are gone (in my size). The 2012 bike that sort of fits my budget is the 2.1, which does come with 105s, and it's a triple. I'm thinking I want to go with a compact double this time around. The 2.1 is just under $1,400.

At another store, I got pretty impressed with a 2011 Specialized Secteur Elite Apex (who names these things?) which lists at $1,450 but is marked down to $1,250. They DO have a 56 in a box, so they're putting it together for me to ride on Friday.

This bike reminds me (based on looks and geometry) very much of my Roubiax. In fact, the dealer says it IS a Roubaix on an aluminum frame, with carbon fork. All the Roubaix these days are full carbon bikes, which is how they got out of my price range. It doesn't have Zertz inserts, except in the fork.

Stock bike has SRAM rather than 105s. It's a compact double.

It's even largely WHITE!

I want to give it a good ride and compare it to a Giant Defy 1 and 2, which I've yet to see. The Specialized store sells both, but my favorite LBS also carries Giant (and that's where I looked at the Surly). I'd also consider Cannondale and Felt, but they're much harder to find out here. Maybe even Janis, but same story.
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Old 01-30-12, 07:23 PM   #23
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Good luck with your new bike, it's always fun to pick out a new one.
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Old 01-30-12, 08:49 PM   #24
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Old 01-30-12, 10:48 PM   #25
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Hi, stranger. I am glad you are now considering a bike again. When I get back to SD, maybe we can ride together.

Folks come and go (mostly go) on the 50+ forum - there is a whole new crew (mostly) around here with some stalwarts (like me) who just sort of hang around. As I recall, you had a relationship with a bike store on Adams Avenue?? ANy luck with these folks?

Well, good hunting for a new bike. I was so disappointed when you sold Ruby?? but a new bikie is a new oppoortunity.

Good luck.
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