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  1. #1
    Senior Member donheff's Avatar
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    Got some bike suggestions?

    My wife and I just returned from a trip to California where we rented a few road bikes to try on for size over a bit more than a quick ride from the LBS. We are thinking of retiring our Tricross Comps to our weekend house and buying road bikes for home. In any event we tried a lower model Jamis Ventura, Specialized Roubaix (no Ruby's in my wife's size so she rode a Roubaix), and Trek Madone 5.2s. Our conclusions in general were that the road bikes are nice but we would definitely go for larger than standard tires (28s if they would fit) for comfort on bumpy roads. Neither of us saw enough diference in the Roubaixs versus the Jamis to spend the extra money. But the Madones presented a different picture. We both liked them more than the others although not enough to warrant the $3K+ price.

    My wife was particularly taken with the fit of the Women's Specific Design 54cm model that she rode. It fit her perfectly which improved the ride dramatically. It looks like the WSD version differs primarily in the use of a higher headset (they call it H3 vs H2 in the men's Madone 5.2). Other than riding these things for hours on end I can't tell SH** about bike geometries from looking at the specifications. From what I have described about my wife's positive reaction to the Madone WSD 5.2 does anyone have thoughts on other bikes we should look at with similar geometries? Would the Madone 3 series replicate the feel, albeit with lesser quality components? How about steel or titanium bikes with similar geometries - any out there? Also, since we like wider tires would we be better served by looking at more cyclocross bikes? Anything in that category going to have a Madone H3 feel to it.

    I guess I am asking a lot but folks around here have a lot of knowledge so I may as well give it a shot.
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    Not too many steel frames out there, unless you're looking for a touring or fixie, or a custom build $$$$$. Maybe you should look at 'cross bikes, those fatter tires are pretty comfy. Lotsa good aluminum and steel cross bikes around. Be aware, those canti brakes take some getting used to. Although I have a Kona Jake the Snake ( wife has one too) I like those Redlines, used to make them with disc brakes. The Surley cross checks are nice too. Fairly priced as well.

  3. #3
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    Trek makes their Madone series road bikes in three different geometries: H1 is the race-oriented geometry with the greatest seat-to-handlebars drop; H2 is the "average" geometry for road bikes; H3 is the more upright geometry which is supposed to compete with other "comfort" oriented bikes like the Specialized Roubaix, Cannondale Synapse, etc.

    I've been following Trek's efforts in this area, and my impression is that with each succeeding year they are offering the H3 geometry on fewer and fewer models.

    Prior to offering the different geometries in the Madone series, Trek sold a model known as the Pilot which can be considered the predecessor to the H3 geometry bikes. Over the years there were a number of Pilot models which were designated with a number. The last Pilot model was 5.9. I know all this because last year when I was shopping for a bike with a more upright geometry I chanced upon a bike shop which had a brand new Trek Pilot 5.9 frame from the model year 2006 still in the box. I had them build it up for me and that is the bike I am currently riding. I like this bike very much and do not understand why Trek discontinued it. (The Trek Pilot series had a lot of fans who were very disappointed when Trek dropped it in 2007. Here is a very enthusiastic review of the bike from the same model year as I have, 2006: http://www.roadbikereview.com/cat/la...7_5668crx.aspx .)

    Maybe you can look for a used Trek Pilot bike to buy. I don't know how often they go up for sale but you can keep your eyes open for them.

  4. #4
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    One of my neighbours bought the Jamis Ventura and he loves it. I was impressed with the spec and I could not see much better on the market for the price. I haven't ridden it but he borrowed my TCR-C before getting the Jamis and he said that other than a few ancillaries like wheels and drive chain- there was no Difference on the two. The way he rides it I can believe him So I don't think you will going wrong with the Jamis. His bike came with 25's fitted and would probably take 28's if required.
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  5. #5
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    As far as I can see from a quick glance at the Trek specs the Madone 3 WSD has similar geometry to the Madone 5 WSD. The frames are made of a different grade carbon fibre, but I'd think the differences are small and not something any ordinary rider would notice. So most of the cost difference is, as usual, in the components. Frankly, I'd be surprised if your wife could tell the difference between the ride quality of the two models.

    At 6'3" I am hardly an expert on women-specific bikes. However, one of my riding buddies is a woman with a Trek 1.1 WSD. It's an entry-level bike with an aluminium frame, so less fancy and much cheaper than the Madone, but the WSD features are similar, and she really likes the riding position. Shorter reach makes her more comfortable and she especially comments on being able to manage the brake levers more easily - she has small hands.

    Don't know the clearances on any of these bikes but you'd get 28mm tyres onto most things short of an out-and-out racer. I wouldn't get them onto my Giant TCR, for example, but there's plenty of room on my SCR (the predecessor to the Defy, with geometry more like a Roubaix). It's something you can easily check.

    It is certainly worth having a look at cross bikes, but if you already have Tricross comps you know a fair bit about the differences between these and road bikes and what extra the latter has to offer. Only you can judge what that means to you. And if the priority is comfort and a relaxed riding positions rather than speed and sportiness, a light touring bike might be worth a look. Something like the Raleigh Clubman? Steel, a lot heavier than a CF Madone, but versatile and still fun to ride.

    But in the final analysis, what matters is how one feels on the bike. If the Trek WSD geometry feels perfect to your wife, then you are going to search a long time before you find anything that suits her as well. And having a bike that just feels "right" is well worth a small premium on the price, in my opinion.
    Last edited by chasm54; 04-26-12 at 04:23 AM.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  6. #6
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    I tried a 28 on my 4.5 Madone and it was just too close. Any amount of mud or dirt was going to rub. I'm building a Surly Cross Check and I have 85 mm of headset spacers coming with the Cane Creek Model 40 headset. My somewhat limited knowledge of frame geo hopes that I can get the position I'm looking for. Kinda a crap-shoot I know. Another bike that I looked at closely was a Salsa Casseroll. I went with the Surly because of the almost universal praise it gets in other forums.


    I think your wife may be already ruined. I'd suggest biting the bullet get the 5.2 and putting 25 mm Cont GP 4000S tires on it.

  7. #7
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    A steel bike that might work is the Soma Smoothie (and not the Smoothie ES): http://www.somafab.com/archives/product/smoothie

    The Smoothie will take a 700x28 tire.

    The Jamis Endura Comp Femme is a ladies model that will take 700x32 tires. The geo matches the Madone very closely.

    "Xenith Enduras use the same top-level manufacturing techniques and materials as our award-winning Xenith Competition series. But Enduras roll on slightly stretched wheelbases, with marginally less aggressive cornering geometry, for more stability and a little extra ride comfort. And the head tubes are slightly longer, for less drop to the handlebar and a more upright posture that trades away just a little bit of aerodynamic slickness (which is still there for you in the drops) for a big payoff in reduced neck and back strain for those long-mileage days.

    Superlight wheels—which any racer will tell you are the most critical speed component—and the combination of compact cranks (with a triple ring option available on the Comp) plus 11-28 or 30 tooth cogs gives you a big boost on climbs, with plenty of go-power to whoop it up on descents, where you’ll make the most of the Endura’s incredible handling manners and really appreciate the superb road feel of that full carbon hollow-crown fork".

    http://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebik...duracompf.html
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  8. #8
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    If she wants an upright riding position, have you looked at the Giant Avail? It's the woman specific model of the Defy and ranges in price from $700 to $1,370. Giant also has the Avail Composite and Advanced Series that include Ultregra Di2 group sets and are in the same price range as the Treks you looked at.
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  9. #9
    USMC Veteran qcpmsame's Avatar
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    The Cannondale women's Synapse in CF or aluminum are comfortable in their geometry and frame materials. The Aluminum framed Synapse has a pretty good price with several levels offered, the CF is a bit more. Best of luck.

    Bill
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  10. #10
    Senior Member bigbadwullf's Avatar
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    Specialized Dolce is a women's build. Aluminum. Moderately light. Fairly inexpensive. Bought one for $799 new recently. But with a carbon bike you might get a comfortable ride with 23c or 25c.

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  11. #11
    Senior Member donheff's Avatar
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    Lots of suggestions for us to followup on. I think we will spend some time trying these various models. One of our problems is that we haven't had an opportunity to try multiple bikes (before this last trip) so we couldn't judge what is best for us. Even after this trip we have only looked at a few bikes. But it sounds like my wife should try some of these women's builds to compare the feel with the Madone she liked. Or, possibly, go with the Madone 3 series.

    Let me ask something else. I tend to like everything I ride which makes it hard to figure out what is best . I do, however, ride with my hands on the bar tops more frequently than riding with my hands on the hoods. While on the bar tops I am more comfortable resting my finger tips on the bar rather than griping with my whole hand. Is this a sign that I would do better with one of these upright geometry frames as well? I believe all my rentals were standard builds.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member oldnslow2's Avatar
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    I've got a Madone 4.6 and it's basically a cheaper version of the 5 series but still has a CF frame and quality components.
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  13. #13
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by donheff View Post
    Lots of suggestions for us to followup on. I think we will spend some time trying these various models.
    Always a good idea. If you have reasonably easy access to shops stocking a variety if brands and models, try a lot.

    Let me ask something else. I tend to like everything I ride which makes it hard to figure out what is best . I do, however, ride with my hands on the bar tops more frequently than riding with my hands on the hoods. While on the bar tops I am more comfortable resting my finger tips on the bar rather than griping with my whole hand. Is this a sign that I would do better with one of these upright geometry frames as well? I believe all my rentals were standard builds.
    It's possible, you might be looking for something with a slightly shorter reach, but I wouldn't jump to any conclusions. What works for different people is sometimes mysterious.

    One thing I would say is that there is a tendency nowadays to fit people to bikes that would have been regarded as too small when we were young. The effect of this is to put the rider into a more aggressive position, because although the smaller bike has a shorter top tube, it also has a shorter head tube, so the drop from saddle to bars is greater than the same rider would need on the next size up. So, if your current ride is a 58cm, for example, try a 60cm just as an experiment. You might just find that you like it.

    The reason I make this observation at this moment is that I ride bikes in a variety of sizes. I have a FG/SS - effectively a track bike with brakes - in a 58, which is fine but has me in the most aggressive posture I can sustain. My road bike has compact geometry, but is the equivalent of about a 60cm frame. But I recently acquired a classic steel touring bike from the mid- eighties. It is 64cm but fits me like a glove. In fact it may be the most comfortable bike I have ever had. Which just goes to show that it is worth experimenting - all these bikes fit me, but in different ways and for different styles of riding.
    Last edited by chasm54; 04-26-12 at 09:59 AM.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    Before you buy check out several types of bikes. Dont overlook crank forward and recumbent, even trikes.

  15. #15
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    I would bet after you ride a while your hand position will eventually go to the hoods as you ride more and get comfortable with breathing and more-forward ride position. Allow yourself room to "grow".
    When I got my bike I was comfortable with riding on the hoods but not in the drops. Now I am comfortable at the times I choose to ride in the drops but am 90% on the hoods.

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  16. #16
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    I do not know how rough the roads are where you ride but we did live in NW DC for several years and rode on the road and Capital Crescent Trail with 23 mm tires. I use 28 mm and 25 mm tires on the tandem and prefer the 25 mm. They are lighter and offer about the same shock absorbency. I would not recommend buying an expensive bicycle and then put on heavy tires. They will kill the performance. If the roads are that bad, then consider the Cyclocross bike.

    Heavier bikes and stronger riders do better on rough roads. Light bikes with light wheels may feel unstable. Also, there is a sweet spot in wheel weight that optimizes both climbing and descending. Uber light wheels are not great for fast descents and IMO, 1400 to 1500 gms are about perfect unless you are focused on just climbing. Most OEM wheel sets are will be 1600 gms plus and if you put on heavy tires that will increase the weight another 200 to 300 gms which is too heavy, IMO. However, I have no idea where you plan on riding.

    The WSD design is set for shorter torso and longer legs which is typical for women.

    When I test ride bikes, I take a set of wheels to the shop and have them use my wheels and set up the bike to my specification. That way the ride is apples to apples. If you test ride different bikes with different fit, wheels and tire pressure, IMO, it will be hard to see which one is better.

    The other way to do it is by physics and fit. The most important dimension is the effective top tube length. Once that is close, the stem can be changed to get optimize the fit. Handlebar to seat drop is also important such that head tube height is also important although one can use rising and descending stems. That is more about aesthetics. A lighter bike with the rider in a more aero position is going to be faster. Better wheels are faster. Better components are lighter and IMO feel better. That all gets tempered by budget.

    Riding on the tops with your fingers touching the bars does not correlate with rough roads but it may mean you prefer a more upright position. That is okay but know in advance that riding in a upright position puts more weight on the sit bones and your ass will get sore if you ride more and it is a bad aero position.
    Last edited by Hermes; 04-26-12 at 12:03 PM.
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  17. #17
    I need speed AzTallRider's Avatar
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    I've owned a 64cm Madone 5.2 H2, and am now riding a 62cm 6.9 H2. The difference in feel between the various Trek CF layups is more pronounced than you'd expect, and my current frame is very different than the last one. Loving the 5.2 doesn't mean you will love a 3 series. The 5.2 is a great bang for the buck bike, and if it is what is floating your boat, but more money than you want to spend, consider a used one. It is a very popular model, so used bikes are likely available.
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  18. #18
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Trek has WSD in lesser cost aluminum framed bikes too..

    Terry a woman's bike specialist, gets Waterford/Gunnar to build her frames
    nice quality steel.

    custom Titanium builders will build to suit.

  19. #19
    Senior Member GFish's Avatar
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    http://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebik.../12_quest.html

    Jamis makes some nice steel bikes that's worth checking out.

    I think you and your wife need to test ride more bikes. Find a couple LBS that carry a wide selection from several different manufacturers and test ride as many as you can. Try carbon, aluminum and steel, see what "feels" right for you. I would also suggest avoiding busy weekends and plan on mid-week test rides so you'll have more one on one time with the sales staff.

  20. #20
    Senior Member John_V's Avatar
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    Don,

    Sounds as if you are following the same route I did when I got my first road bike. I rode with my hands on the bar close to the stem and at the curves of the bar. I had an issue with my gut getting in the way when I went on the hoods. As I lost the weight, I started riding more and more on the hoods. I did have to get a shorter stem as I kept sliding forward on the saddle. On my new bike, I've attached some AirStryke aero bars and find myself riding a lot on them and the drops.

    If you think that you may later start riding the hoods or in the drops, let me make a suggestion that you *** a compact dropbar vs a full dropbar. On a compact, riding in the drop isn't as low and aggressive as with a full dropbar. However, I would definitely try riding both style of dropbars to see which one you like the best.
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  21. #21
    Elite Rider Hermes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AzTallRider View Post
    I've owned a 64cm Madone 5.2 H2, and am now riding a 62cm 6.9 H2. The difference in feel between the various Trek CF layups is more pronounced than you'd expect, and my current frame is very different than the last one. Loving the 5.2 doesn't mean you will love a 3 series. The 5.2 is a great bang for the buck bike, and if it is what is floating your boat, but more money than you want to spend, consider a used one. It is a very popular model, so used bikes are likely available.
    +! I owned a 2006 Madone 5.2 and l liked it a lot. I sold it on Ebay in 2 years for $600 less than I paid for it and purchased my Cervelo R3.
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
    A steel bike that might work is the Soma Smoothie (and not the Smoothie ES): http://www.somafab.com/archives/product/smoothie

    The Smoothie will take a 700x28 tire.
    I've been considering Soma as well but haven't riden any. I think the Smoothie ES has more room for tire clearance. What didn't you like about the ES (curious)? It seems like a lightweight road-ish frame that you could build for light touring and randonneuring. Maybe have different sets of wheels.
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  23. #23
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Hermes has made a point that some of us have noticed. Some of the smaller quality manufacturers make bikes that are exceptional on ride quality. Not all the models are out and out racing geometry either so they are worth looking at.

    First road bike and I got a Giant OCR3--in a size that eventually was too small. It wasn't when I bought it but in a year my riding style had gone up one size and I DID get that full race geometry. The more I rode the OCR- the more I started to stretch out on the bike- longer stem came in and then it was a longer lower height stem that got flipped. Next bike had- and still has- the bars 4" below the saddle.

    Only way to check out the frame size is to try them out on a test.

    Material and C.F. is not the only material that works. Top quality Aluminium from some of those smaller manufacturers works just as well and in my case--I prefer it.
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  24. #24
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
    Trek has WSD in lesser cost aluminum framed bikes too..
    Yes, their Lexa series. Probably worth checking out the Lexa SLX. H3 geometry, carbon fork, aluminum frame, 105 group set. Your choice of a 50/39/30 triple or 50/34 compact. $1430 list. It does come with 700x23 tires. Ask to see if it can fit a 28.

    Their 2.1 is their men's equivalent bike. It is also H3 with carbon fork, 105 set. Available only as a triple. Same price.
    Last edited by Tom Bombadil; 04-26-12 at 04:38 PM.
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  25. #25
    Have bike, will travel Barrettscv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbg View Post
    I've been considering Soma as well but haven't riden any. I think the Smoothie ES has more room for tire clearance. What didn't you like about the ES (curious)? It seems like a lightweight road-ish frame that you could build for light touring and randonneuring. Maybe have different sets of wheels.
    The ES is a very good sports/touring frame. It would make a great century bike. The Smoothie is will feel more lively and should climb a little better.

    I picked the Smoothie over the ES since it's geometry was closer to the Trek model the OP mentioned.
    When I ride my bike I feel free and happy and strong. I'm liberated from the usual nonsense of day to day life. Solid, dependable, silent, my bike is my horse, my fighter jet, my island, my friend. Together we will conquer that hill and thereafter the world.

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