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Old 07-31-12, 03:20 PM   #1
Spatchka
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Bike Geometry, buying on-line

Not sure where to ask this, but since most sections have people asking about "what bike should I get..."
and I read 50+ mostly, hence I posted it here.

Seems a lot of answers dealing with buying a bike on-line is that you can't know
what you're getting without a test ride.

If a company list the major Geometry of their bikes, what other part of the build would a test ride show?

If you know what the frame is made of, the fork, the wheels what else is needed?

Also, the list of components tells you if they are low, entry level or high end.

If two bikes have like geometry and components, ( one on-line, one from a LBS ),
is it just that people have a problem with not buying from a LBS or a name brand?

A LBS will adjust what is allowable on the bike, just as a person can do with an on-line bike. ( doing it yourself or taking it to a bike shop )

What am I missing? Again this is about the build geometry.
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Old 07-31-12, 03:46 PM   #2
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AIUI, there's two problems here. First is the fact that many buyers (particularly first-time buyers, who are more likely to fret over price) don't really know what size bike they need. That's a very good reason to deal with an LBS, who should work with you trying out different bikes and bike sizes to find what you want. If you order on-line, the onus is all on you.

Second, bikes that look identical on paper from the specs often don't feel identical. One of the best bits of advice is to buy what you like to ride, because then you're more likely to ride it. Again, if you buy after looking at a piece of paper or a web browser, the onus is all on you.

If you want to increase the odds of getting a bike that feels right, fits right, rides right, and that you're excited to ride; and at the same time get someone to share the blame if the above don't happen; then you might want to buy from your LBS.
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Old 07-31-12, 03:57 PM   #3
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I agree. Buying a bike online works well for an advanced cyclist who know what works for them. If it's your third or forth round at bike ownership, buying from a webpage has some potential.

Keep in mind that many bikes sold locally at a bike shop are very good values. I would shop locally and compare to what you find online. The savings found online soon disappear once assembly and adjustments are paid for. You might save a few $XXX, but end up with a bike you don't like.
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Old 07-31-12, 04:39 PM   #4
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Thanks for your replies.

Should have added that first time buyers should get fitted for size and ride many bikes to get the feel.

Guess I was thinking back to the last 15 years where the nearest LBS was 150 miles away ( one way ).
If you knew the wheelbase, chainstay length , fork offset, etc. that you like, can a test ride change that?

As of right now, the choices are limited here with the closing of a LBS in town.
It's either Trek or Jamis, or get in the car and drive.
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Old 07-31-12, 04:46 PM   #5
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...
As of right now, the choices are limited here with the closing of a LBS in town.
It's either Trek or Jamis, or get in the car and drive.
Nothing wrong with Trek or Jamis. They are good bikes. (Not sure about Jamis, but usually you cannot purchase a Trek online. A few other brands are like that also: Specialized, Cervelo, BMC, and some others...I think.)
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Old 07-31-12, 04:50 PM   #6
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I'd think that just knowing the geometry of the frame wouldn't tell if you it fit you. The fork's length and bends, wheels, stem length and angle, seat post set back or being straight, bar bend and crank arm length all have a bearing on the bike's fit. A lot of people buy a bike on-line and are fine with the choice. As Barrett said, these are most likely experienced riders that know what is going to work for them in a bike's fit.

As pdlamb said:"Second, bikes that look identical on paper from the specs often don't feel identical. One of the best bits of advice is to buy what you like to ride, because then you're more likely to ride it. Again, if you buy after looking at a piece of paper or a web browser, the onus is all on you." When you buy at an LBS you are on the exact bike you will be riding. An LBS can fit you in all aspects as well as having any components you need changed.

Hope you find a good bike that fits you properly.

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Old 07-31-12, 05:03 PM   #7
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I own a Trek that is great; it's 10 years old and still doing the job.

The 5 or 6 times I have been to the local Trek dealer, seems they have little time for those of us not wanting a road bike.

Still one other place to go, see what Jamis has for a commuter.
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Old 07-31-12, 05:09 PM   #8
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I'm as cheap as they come and buy a ton of stuff online but the help and service I get from my LBS is easily worth to me a multiple of the price difference.
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Old 07-31-12, 05:17 PM   #9
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If you were an experienced rider and were buying your 5th or 6th bike... you could make a reasonably confident decision on a mail-order bike. But too many inexperienced riders think they know what they want but don't, and they don't know what they don't want and don't know how to parse out the important information from the slick ads and get something they don't like and won't ride... that's why folks here aren't recommending it for you.

Maybe the Trek store you went to was just busy the day you went... I'd give them another chance, or maybe call first and ask when a good time would be to come in and ask lots of questions and try different bikes.
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Old 07-31-12, 05:27 PM   #10
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But too many inexperienced riders think they know what they want but don't, and they don't know what they don't want and don't know how to parse out the important information from the slick ads and get something they don't like and won't ride...
+1. I suspect too that many inexperienced buyers are buying simply on spec or marketing-hype descriptions. A good LBS can overcome some of that. Of course, the problem is in finding a good LBS, isn't it?
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Old 08-01-12, 05:54 AM   #11
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I was in a similar position.

A year ago May I decided to try to get back into cycling after 25 years and 70 pounds. I went to my LBS who tried to sell me a 56cm frame that they had in stock. It felt small. They wanted a non refundable $50 deposit to order a 58 of the same bike. I enventually bought a 58cm Neuvation online, saving over $600 for better components.

I loved that Neuvation and rode it for over 4,000 miles, but it began to feel that that frame was too small. I went to a fitter who determined that I have freakishly long arms and legs so the standard guidelines for sizing doesn't work for me. I recently received a Marinoni frame and transferred all the components from my Neuvation. The Marinoni fits like a glove. It is the first bike I've had that I feel is the right size for me.

There are lots of ways to skin the cat.

Good luck and keep us posted.

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Old 08-01-12, 06:14 AM   #12
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My online bike worked out perfectly for me. Only problem is I didn’t buy it on line. I had thought and thought about a touring bike and the ones in the LBS were out of my price range and I couldn’t force myself to pull the trigger on line for all the reasons mentioned above. I saw my Windsor Tourist on CL slightly used for half price and when I questioned the owner why he was selling he said I can’t get comfortable on this bike for some reason. It was pretty clear the frame was about 2 sizes too big for him and perfect for me. I only rode it to the end of the block and back and knew all I needed to know.

With that said I was still a little apprehensive how receptive my LBS was going to be about working on the bike when the time came. I did my own fitting and tune up to get going and the only issue I had was one I could have also had buying a lower end LBS bike and that is machine made wheels. As close as I can figure only about half the LBS take the time to do much more than a pinch test of spokes before selling a bike. The upper end bikes I think get a better look at wheels than the rest. So in my case after a year of riding I had my wheels rebuilt due to a few spokes going and not trusting the rest.

When you look at the specs and geometry on line the major things are spelled out in detail and you know exactly the components you will be getting. Some of the lesser items like spokes, hubs, rims, saddle, bars and even frame are less clear.

Then there is the intangible thing of how it feels to ride. Frame flex, firmness etc. just how all the components interact together.

In my case I got an almost new internet bike that I was able to look at, touch and ride for half price and I put the other half back in it within the first year. If I had bought it full price and had to pay for the tweaks I made I think I would be just about LBS prices. So the bottom line is there is not really any difference in the bikes IMO but the savings isn’t as great as one might think if you are dealing with a shop that really puts the time in setting up and adjusting the bike for you. And you have the benefit feeling what it feels like to ride it if your shop is large enough to stock some bikes.
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Old 08-01-12, 06:33 AM   #13
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Spatchka,
You mentioned that if the Trek or the Jamis dealers don't have a bicycle that fits and that you like you would have to drive a ways to another LBS. Is this still the 150 mile trip you mentioned? Granted that is a long way to drive, and if that LBS doesn't suit your needs it is time lost. I have a 50 mile round trip to my LBS, it is the closest for me. this is only 1/3 of your distance but a haul, none the less. The service and quality of the fitting they performed on my N+1 makes the drive worth it for me, for the bike purchase as well as accessories, spares and clothing, too.

No doubt you can find a good bike on-line, that fits you after some tweaking, with enough time and research into the one you want to pursue. I'd at least try to find a few of the same models of the on-line bike in your area at rides and arrange with the owners to ride the bike for a bit. JMHO.

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Old 08-01-12, 10:03 AM   #14
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Sorry I didn't make it clear about the distance; when I lived in Nebraska it was 150 miles to the LBS.

Also, I really didn't ask my question correctly. bobotech did a much better job over in the Bicycle Mechanics section.

My question was mainly about bike frames. Is a Rynolds chrome-moly 520 frame from Jamis equal to one from BikeDirect?
Both say they are 4130 ChroMoly (CRMO) Steel.

Right now I'm going to look at the Jamis Coda Comp ( want a steel frame - hybrid; this bike will be my new commuter)

Also looking at the Motobecane Cafe Noir.

Both have a carbon fork, with the Noir having Shimano 105, 9Spd 5600 long cage and the Comp with a Shimano Deore M591 SGS.

Have owned my share of bikes, mostly Road bikes from when I lived in the UK, and I am comfortable with most maintenance and adjustment issues.

I'll be heading to the Jamis dealer on my next day off.

Thanks again for all the help.
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Old 08-01-12, 03:52 PM   #15
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Sorry I didn't make it clear about the distance; when I lived in Nebraska it was 150 miles to the LBS.

Also, I really didn't ask my question correctly. bobotech did a much better job over in the Bicycle Mechanics section.

My question was mainly about bike frames. Is a Rynolds chrome-moly 520 frame from Jamis equal to one from BikeDirect?
Both say they are 4130 ChroMoly (CRMO) Steel.

Right now I'm going to look at the Jamis Coda Comp ( want a steel frame - hybrid; this bike will be my new commuter)

Also looking at the Motobecane Cafe Noir.

Both have a carbon fork, with the Noir having Shimano 105, 9Spd 5600 long cage and the Comp with a Shimano Deore M591 SGS.

Have owned my share of bikes, mostly Road bikes from when I lived in the UK, and I am comfortable with most maintenance and adjustment issues.

I'll be heading to the Jamis dealer on my next day off.

Thanks again for all the help.
4130 is an industrial standard widely used in the aerospace and cycling industry. 520 is a marketing designation used by Reynolds, a prestigious supplier of cycling tubes. 4130 = 520. It's not the best steel material used in bike building, but it's not a cheap material either.

However, tube material is only one feature that contributed to frame quality. Geometry can alter the ride quality and performance substantially. That's why a test ride is important.
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Old 08-01-12, 07:43 PM   #16
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The geometry of a bike will tell you a whole lot more than a ride around the block in front of your local LBS.
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Old 08-01-12, 08:19 PM   #17
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The geometry of a bike will tell you a whole lot more than a ride around the block in front of your local LBS.
If you ride enough bikes and take data on their dimensions , then you will start to have
a background as to what the numbers mean to you.

the numbers without the riding experience as a background is empty speculation.
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Old 08-01-12, 08:30 PM   #18
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The geometry of a bike will tell you a whole lot more than a ride around the block in front of your local LBS.
I for one won't buy a bike based on a single ride in front of the LBS. My LBS insists on you taking an extensive ride, actually several, as they adjust fit to your needs before you buy. No new rider is going to understand what the geometry would tell them. As said above, it takes a long time to get what geometry works for your riding. JMHO, YMMV and we'll agree to disagree. Ride safe.

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Old 08-01-12, 09:37 PM   #19
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Bikes with identical geo may ride entirely different. You also need to consider tubing diameter, butting , your weight , the details is what sets bikes apart , also consider what is Nirvana for me may be a xhit sandwich for you.
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Old 08-02-12, 12:53 AM   #20
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The heart of any bike is the frame. Groupset and components fitted to that frame do matter to an extent and the higher the groupset- then the better that will work--Hopefully. Even cheap groupsets work but they can be upgraded as parts fail but components tend to stay on the bike for it's life. Bike direct advertise an "Ultegra" fitted bike at 1/2 the price of an equivalent (Insert big name of choice here). But there are downgrades. Usual one is the crankset and possibly the cassette. Parts that rarely get noticed and is often a trick pulled by the big names aswell.

But the frame--the heart of the bike-- is an unknown quantity. I ride aluminium as my choice and I like it- but it is a quality frame that the manufacturers have put years into development. Few years ago and I was looking for a CF frame and I tried a lot of bikes. Some gave a dead feel to me and I did not like. Some were Flexible- some were rock solid but a few felt right and gave a good ride for me. Settled on a frameset and got it built up but changed a few parts from the test bike. It was not good and it took a couple of years to get it sorted. Still have that bike and it is my Distance/hills bike and it works.

Earlier this year I bought my N+1. A Pinarello FP Uno. Lot of money for a Tiagra equipped bike with an aluminium frame but I can see where the money has gone. Or rather feel it. 2012 Tiagra is as good as my 6 year of mix of 105/Ultegra that I have on the other bikes but that frame gives a bl**dy good ride. I could have got "so called" better bikes for less money elsewhere but I trusted my judgement.

So beware- You may get a good deal from from bike direct- or you may be buying a bike that looks good and has the right components fitted--but rides like a dog.
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Old 08-02-12, 04:30 AM   #21
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Guess what, many of today's frames from the largest bike Manufacturers are built in Asia. And not at a Trek, Jamis, Specialized, Cannondale, Bianchi, Soma or Surly, etc.... manufacturing plant. Even so, some frames are built and spec'd different by the bicycle Manufacturers. But of course, everyone already knows this.

And what about custom frames? How many people actually test ride a frame before deciding to buy custom? I'll bet most of these are ordered and sold (on-line) without anyone actually riding a similar frame.

So what's the big difference? ....it's about service and your own ability in determining what you need. Some people need help and others don't. A LBS is always a good option for people who can't or won't do the homework necessary to select a properly fitted bike.

My story.....May of 2011, I purchased a Schwinn on-line. It's a 520 steel frame with a selection of Shimano 105, FSA, and Tektro components and Mavic wheels. A bike with exactly the same components by a major bike Manufacturer (on a aluminum frame that rode terrible) was listed at the LBS for almost twice what I paid for the Schwinn. Needless to say, I've been extremely pleased and satisfied with my purchase.

In any case, it's nice to have options.....best of luck.
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Old 08-02-12, 11:22 AM   #22
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...Bikes Direct advertise an "Ultegra" fitted bike at 1/2 the price of an equivalent (Insert big name of choice here). But there are downgrades. Usual one is the crankset and possibly the cassette. Parts that rarely get noticed and is often a trick pulled by the big names as well...
I "hate" that about them, but at least they list the complete component package so that one can make an informed decision if it is a decent deal or not. And here I am having just purchased my second BD bike, (I'll pick her up from a LBS tomorrow after final assembly, adjustment, and checkout). This TT bike is advertised as Dura-Ace/Ultegra, but the only thing Dura-Ace on the bike are the bar end shifters, because the Ultegra line does not have bar-end shifters applicable to a time trial bike. The only thing Ultegra on the bike are the derailleurs and cassette. Most everything else is from Kestrel/Fuji/Breezer's in-house Oval Concepts line, (except for the TRP aero TT brakes). Still a screaming deal on a serious TT bike.
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Old 08-02-12, 11:57 AM   #23
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Even if the bike has the same frame material there can be differences in diameter and thickness (e.g., butted, double butted, etc.). Then there's the issue of what bottom bracket shell that's being used. That's not to say that you can't get a good bike online. But two bikes with the same specifications in terms of materials, size and general measurements may not ride alike.

I've purchased bikes online and been happy with a few of them and unhappy with others. I don't think I ever purchased a bike that I did a test ride with and was unhappy with it. For me, however, a minimum test ride is 15 to 20 miles.
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Old 08-02-12, 01:26 PM   #24
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I have either purchase my last bikes through an independant builder or online (from Speedgoat.com). I recommend doing this if you already know something about bikes and are familiar with your physical, geometric needs. It is also helpful if you know components etc.

Recently I bought the new Juliana (med frame) from Speedgoat. I was able to trade out the headset for Chris King and have them upgrade all the components to XT without extra charge to me. Most bike shops don't have the luxury since they don't sell as much product.

Thest best thong, no matter what you choose ot do, is continue to resaerch the products you are interested in. Read online forums or look for independant reviews and if possible, locate a local bike club and see if any members are willing to let you test ride a bike. That's what I did before purchasing my Lemond Zurich way back when. I was able to do a nice long ride and so my choice was made...
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Last edited by Pamestique; 08-02-12 at 01:33 PM.
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Old 08-05-12, 05:53 PM   #25
GeorgeBMac
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Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Bikes: 2012 Trek DS 8.5 all weather hybrid, 2008 LeMond Poprad cyclocross, 1992 Cannondale R500 roadbike
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I have been blessed and very very fortunate to have an LBS within walking distance that is staffed with knowledgeable, caring people. They seem mostly interested in making sure that their customer's experiences are good ones.

For myself, they supported me as a newbie rider and got me started right and also got the old Cannondale that had been given to me working like a charm. Then, when I was looking at a used hybrid on EBay they even provided some great advice on that as well and saved me from making a mistake (the bike was too big for me)...

For myself, I will throw these guys all of my busines.

Conversely, the guys at the Cannondale shop and another local Trek dealer simply sit behind the counter and look smug...

If you have a good LBS, take care of them. They can be worth their weight in gold.
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