In search of a new bike for endurance riding
I got into biking last season and I absolutely love it.
I am not in it for competitive cycling, but just as an excellent way of staying in shape.
My current (and only) bike that has served me well for the past year is a KHS Flite 800 (700x23s tires). I had gotten that bike used and although I love riding it, it does not hold up well to long rides, especially on the roads around my parts.
Sooo..I am in the market for a road bike that is more suited to longer rides. I am looking for something in the sub $2K range.
I zoned in on the Kestrel RT1000 in my initial search. Seemed to get good reviews all around as an endurance road bike.
Bikesdirect has one right now with Shimano 105 components that fits within my price range. I figured that fitting that bike with 700x25 tires (something like a Continental Gatorskin) would get me exactly what I needed, especially given the roads I tend to ride on. I don't mind the decrease in speed performance at all. Of course, it would be a huge plus if it is a good climber as there are some fairly steep but short climbs that I encounter on my route.
Thought I'd get your valued opinions before I pulled the trigger.
Oh...I am 6ft tall and weigh about 200 lbs.
Last edited by psychoanalyst; 06-07-14 at 10:10 AM.
Why do you think that there will be a decrease in speed performance with 25c tires? You should google this question because this won't slow you down.
That said, you have the right idea. An endurance bike can mean many things but tire size is an important variable when it comes to riding on different road surfaces and comfort.
If I were looking for an endurance bike, I'd find a bike that can take a 700 x 28c and has suitably wide ranging gearing. You can always run a smaller tire (say a 25c) but I'd want the frame to be able to handle a 28c as well.
Take a look at BikeDirect cross bikes. You can run a fat tire or a skinny tire. Like this for example:
Save Up to 60% Off Titanium Cyclocross Bicycles | Road Bikes - Motobecane Fantom Cross Team Titanium | Cross Bikes
I run Gatorskin 700x25 on my Sequoia Elite. Compared to my MTB, it feels like a Ferrari. Unless you're a pretty advanced cyclist who is used to riding high end machinery, I don't think you'll find a x25 tire to be anything perceptibly different from your x23 given the same bike. That's a pretty small difference, 23-25. Heck, a x28 might be in order if you have iffy roads, and I don't think you'd be giving up a ridiculous amount of efficiency. But anyway, I've had really good luck with the Gatorskins. They actually make a tougher version ( I believe ) I'm inclined to try next time called a Gator Hardshell. The Grand Prix 4 Season might be worth a look, too. I think they all come in the 23-25 ish sizes.
The only published tests of tire performance that I'm aware of (Bike Quarterly) show that bigger tires are faster. 26mm and above.
If you are happy with your current bike except for the 23mm tires, I don't think getting another similar bike that can fit 25mm tires will make a big difference. A bike that can fit 700X32mm tires would handle rough roads much better. There are many options. Try a few test rides at a local shop?
Bike selection and features probably depends on how far you plan on riding it. If you hope to ride fairly long distances, say 300 km, per day I would recommend that finding a bike that fits you especially well if an important consideration. I initially started riding my Giant TCR longer events and found that the bikes frame was a tad too long and the handle bars were too low for my body. On shorter rides, 80-100 km there were no real problems but over 100 km my upper back and neck began to hurt. I eventually bit the bullet and bought a bike that fit me better and had higher handle bars, almost level with my seat and can now ride 200 km + and feel as fresh as a daisy. My Giant had 23 mm tires and the new one has 28 mm. I cannot tell any difference between the speed however the 28 mm are much more comfortable.
If your KHS fits you well and you can put larger 28 mm tires on it I would consider re gearing it so you had the reliability that you desire and appropriate gears to climb those hills. You could even put a mountain gears and derailleurs of the back for extra climbing ability. There is probabily a lot of life left in your current frame.
Hope this helps
The bad news is that you'll probably need to go thru at least half a dozen bikes before you figure out the size and type of frame best suited to you, so I wouldn't spend too much on your second bike. But then I also question the need to just get a new bike when there are lots of other variables you can change. My philosophy is to just "ride what you've got." Will your existing bike take 25mm tires? (Oh, and wider tires are only faster on rough roads. On a smooth road, there's little difference. For an off-road 100 miles, you probably want wide tires.) But then I'd probably do the ride on my steel fixie with 23mm tires just to say I did it with that equipment.
If you find you're really, really hooked on doing longer distance randonneur or ultramarathon rides, and knowing what you've found out about your riding style and bike fit/position, you may then consider a specialist bike. I kind of like the Volagi, which is engineered to have a softer ride than your typical racing bike. Haven't tried one, but know guys who own them and seem to be pretty happy. One nice thing is that it comes with disc brakes front and rear, something that's still not allowed in pro road racing. Disc brakes make no difference in dry weather, but on a raining, steep descent, they're probably worth the extra weight!
My 2011 Trek 2.1 road bike came with 700 x 23 tires and they provided a horribly harsh ride at any air pressure and pinch flatted within the first 40 miles even though they were pumped up to 125 PSI, their max pressure.
After that I mounted a set of 700 x 28’s and they made a huge difference in ride comfort though I’d have liked to have gone at least one size larger to 700 x 32’s. However, the 700 x 28’s are the largest that fit my road bike. Even so, the 700 x 28’s made it enjoyable to ride my new road bike whereas the harsh riding 700 x 23’s caused me to put my new road bike aside for several months of good weather, as I hated riding it with those lousy low volume 700 x 23 tires. I’d never purchase any bike that wouldn’t allow 700 x 28’s to be used. Any tire smaller than that simply doesn’t work for me.
There are road bikes out there that can take a 700 x 28-32 c but you have to do a bit of looking.
Thanks a ton folks! I am going to look into fitting my current bike with 700x25/28 tires...
that def. saves me $$$.
Been working on this very issue for a few months now. Never really liked drop bars but I gave them a chance. Under 200km fine. Over? Torture. Equally I found I disliked the feel of a roadbike frame for distance so I just went back to my old mtb tourer and modded her to work. Bit slower perhaps but ten times more comfortable. I think in terms of long rides comfort beats speed any day. I'd look into tires first then fine tune things like saddles, bars etc before I changed bikes.
The KHS Flite 800 is a pretty good bike already. Like you have already decided I would experiment with tires. I ride Hutchinson Sector 700x28c tubeless and Challenge 700x27c Parigi Roubaix, they also have a Challenge 700x30c Eroica. The Challenge tires have changed names. Lots of people like the Continental tires. When your happy with tires the next logical upgrade would be wheels.
I spoke to soon. I am going to need a new bike after all.
I got into a bad accident yesterday when riding my KHS. An SUV rammed into and without a second thought fled the scene. Now I am with a bike that I will have to sell to the scrap yard and lots and lots of bruises!
So its back to the drawing board for me. At least I now know that I want 700x25 and up tire sizes.
What do you guys think about the Kestrel RT1000 or the Specialized Allez Compact Sport as endurance bikes?
As paddybogman mentioned, the KHS800 was an awesome bike and it breaks my heart to see my bike split into two by a road raging maniac, but it was not a bike I was comfortable with on long rides. But can't blame the bike for that...I don't think it was built for long rides.
What a horrible experience! Glad that it was the bike that took the worst of it. Treat yourself to lots of fresh fruit etc. - good nutrition helps healing, and just treating yourself well doesn't hurt either! A nice new bike works, too! Hope you find the right one!
Unlucky, hope your injuries heal quickly.
Perhaps consider a titanium bike if they are not out of your budget. They are beautiful and gentle to ride and nice and light. Not as light as carbon but crazy strong. I think that the slight increase in weight and price is justifiable by how long the bike will last for, especially if you plan on riding a lot. There are lots of good titanium companies out there and you shouldn't have much trouble finding one on your area. I am quite a fan of Van Nicholas.
Hope you are feeling better
Sorry about the accident; that's crummy but good to hear that you are otherwise OK.
If you want a bike that can take a fattish tire (700 x 25c and up), then you should focus on a bike that has long reach brakes, disc brakes, or canti mounts. Short reach brakes, which is what almost all road bikes come with, are used on bikes that aren't designed for somewhat fatter tires.
The Salsa Colossal Ti or 2 would be a fine choice for long distance riding. So would a Soma Smoothie ES or a Gunnar Sport.
If you want the capability of really fat tires, then a cross bike is probably a better choice or a rando type bike like the VO Pass Hunter.