I hesitated to start a new topic about this. I thought, though, after reading the scattered posts through out this site (and on Weight Weenies, Road Bike Review, etc) that starting ANOTHER topic about it, but one here in our little world, would be beneficial.
I'm looking for a race bike. We all know that! Here is what I've discovered so far about specific characteristics and what makes those characteristics attractive for different applications.
Crits - I've been reading ad nauseum about "what makes a good crit bike". Some say there is "no such thing as a crit bike". Perhaps. However, some bikes can work better in that kind of racing than others do. I've learned that a low head tube, standard (classic) geometry, and a firm "cradle" (down tube, bottom bracket, chain stays) are the important parts of such a bike. Material? Aluminum is just fine, as is carbon. Aluminum is more durable on the surface, but carbon can be too - and carbon is actually affordably repairable (if the damage CAN be repaired), where aluminum is not. Weight is not that important, as long as the total is 17 pounds or less. Gearing - for beginners (like me), compact chain rings, 12-25 cassette seem to be perfectly fine (from what I read, it's not likely one will spin out with a 50/12 on most courses). Standard chain rings can be added later. Groups? Shimano 105 is fine, and the SRAM and Campy equivalents work very well, too. If the frame is good, get better components later. Wheels? Light is good, tires are more important, though. Wheels themselves seem to be a very personal preference. Tires seem to inspire less heated debates!
So far the bikes I've found that seem to have universal acceptance as great for crit racing are the Cannondale CAAD 10, the Felt F series (carbon and aluminum), the Fuji SST, and Specialized Allez series. That's what I've found SO FAR. These are "affordable" bikes (they can be had new for less than $1800), and they have frames that are worth keeping and adding better components to down the road. IMHO!
Road racing - because of the time spent in the saddle on road races, a more forgiving ride and a higher head tube seemingly get the nod. Material? Lighter is better, because often there is climbing involved. Still, I gather the kind of bike that is favored is one that offers efficient power transfer, a reasonably compliant ride, and a comfortable seating position. What is most important here? FIT. Get a bike that FITS. Specific bikes? Heavens, there are dozens that are affordable!
TT - I don't know about it, but I do know this. Aero and Power Transfer.
I put this together in my head as a primer/bell weather as I search for a bike. This is "beginning level" stuff. When I get to the point where I am at the front and missing out because of equipment, well I'll have learned enough by then about me and what I'm riding to take care of that issue.
Now please, this is my take on my research. What people ride and why is very personal thing, and passion can ensue when a discussion starts. I get that. That said, I'm always ready and willing to be shot full of holes - I'm a big girl!
Please add to this, folks.