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Recreational Cyclocross and Gravelbiking This has to be the most physically intense sport ever invented. It's high speed bicycle racing on a short off road course or riding the off pavement rides on gravel like :The Dirty Kanza". We also have a dedicated Racing forum for the Cyclocross Hard Core Racers.

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Old 10-12-05, 02:58 AM   #1
Ergolad
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I'm debating between the Bianchi Volpe & Kona's Jake The Snake. This is my first real bike purchase and I am looking to get into the sport. The bike is mostly going to be for commuting and general road fitness. I like the idea of the versatility that you get in a CX bike, as apposed to at standard road bike. It's likely I'll get it pretty dirty. I road a 2006 JTS and loved the feel of it. I compared it to a road bike w/ a similar component set, and just preferred the JTS's overall feel. I can't stand that orange paint job, so I've found an online dealer who has a blue 05 in my size. On the other hand I visited a shop in Burbank called Bicycle John that was recommended by someone here in the forum. They gave me such awesome customer service and really seemed to know their stuff. There was NO hard sell, no sell at all actually, they just schooled me hard on things to consider. They don't carry Konas, but can get most everything else. They felt that the Volpe was the way forward for me. They sited Bianchi quality, the steel frame, the ability to grow with the bike, and the entry level price as major pluses for someone like me just finding his feet in cycling. Looking at the bike, I'd throw a pair of upright break levers on it bringing the price up to about $900. The 05 JTS I found runs $1100 w/out shipping. I'm having a hard time with the choice. I don't really know squat about the quality of the components and much about the difference between aluminum and steel. I don't feel right asking the guys at Johns to do a comparison with the KONA, as they don't carry it. (Actually, they should. I mean, if they have faith in their suggestion, they should be happy to.) Any thoughts you guys might have to help me with the decision would be appreciated??
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Old 10-12-05, 07:30 AM   #2
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In the end, the better bike is the one you like riding better. As a newbie, you won't be very sensitive to the overall feel of the bike as, say, a long-time junkie who can feel the slightest difference in feel and measurement. Both bikes are good bikes. I personally would reccomend the Bianchi, since the Volpe model has been around since the mid 80s and is the result of fine tuning over the years. It's more road-focused than the Jake, which is important because as a commuter and roadie, you're gonna be more on asphalt than on dirt (the dirt, however, is prime territory for the Jake).

At your range, steel and aluminum are not much of a difference. The frame and the wheels are the most important parts. Everything else like derailleurs and brakes can, and most likelly, always get upgraded as your riding improves. I think you'll find a smooth riding, versitale, durable, and fun bike in the Volpe.
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Old 10-12-05, 10:45 AM   #3
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Thanks for the clear, well thought out response. I know this topic has been covered in previous posts but I appreciate the additional feedback.
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Old 10-13-05, 04:18 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by jpearl
In the end, the better bike is the one you like riding better. As a newbie, you won't be very sensitive to the overall feel of the bike as, say, a long-time junkie who can feel the slightest difference in feel and measurement. Both bikes are good bikes. I personally would reccomend the Bianchi, since the Volpe model has been around since the mid 80s and is the result of fine tuning over the years. It's more road-focused than the Jake, which is important because as a commuter and roadie, you're gonna be more on asphalt than on dirt (the dirt, however, is prime territory for the Jake).

At your range, steel and aluminum are not much of a difference. The frame and the wheels are the most important parts. Everything else like derailleurs and brakes can, and most likelly, always get upgraded as your riding improves. I think you'll find a smooth riding, versitale, durable, and fun bike in the Volpe.
while i agree that the volpe may in fact be the better choice for you, i respectfully disagree with some things in the above post. first of all, even as a novice, you *will* be able to tell the difference between alum. and steel. the ride charachteristics are like night and day, both on road and off road. steel is much more forgiving and will therefore offer a "damper" ride. as a result, you may find it more comfortable for long rides. alum, on the other hand is stiff, light, and offers a much harsher ride. so, whether or not you actually know the differences (in your brain), your body will certainly be able to tell.

also, the volpe is set up as a triple (which can of course be changed), which makes absolutely no sense unless you plan on using it for loaded touring and/or steep off roading. you wont need it for commuting or road training (unless you live in a very hilly area, and even then its really not necessary), and if you ever plan to race cx, a triple is a BAD idea.

with the steel and the tiagra spec, the bianchi is likely much heavier than the jts. when and if you start racing, this weight difference will become very apparent. but of course, you will break stuff and you can always upgrade parts to make the bike lighter.

anyway, just some things to think about...
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Old 10-13-05, 04:28 PM   #5
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Nice! This is exactly the type of feedback that I'm looking for. I would never expect anyone to have the magic answer to my dilemma, but by asking the questions and broadening my perspective through the insight of more experienced riders, I can make a more educated decision. I appreciate and value it.

Thanks!
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Old 10-14-05, 01:59 PM   #6
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[QUOTE=islenska]also, the volpe is set up as a triple (which can of course be changed), which makes absolutely no sense unless you plan on using it for loaded touring and/or steep off roading. you wont need it for commuting or road training (unless you live in a very hilly area, and even then its really not necessary), and if you ever plan to race cx, a triple is a BAD idea.
QUOTE]

While I agree with most of Islenska's comments, I disagree with his disdain for the triple. For a novice rider like yourself, or an experienced but slow rider like myself, it's the only way to maintain a healthy cadence on steep grades. I do a lot of riding in the San Bernardino mountains, and while I don't use the "granny" often, I sure am glad it's there. Why blow out your knees, stress your BB, grunt and heave out of the saddle if you don't have to? It's only, what, 200 grams for the chainring and five bolts? You can just take it off when riding with macho people. Plus, you have many *****in' fire roads near Silver Lake, and you'll be glad you have the low gear option for dirt adventures.

For what it's worth, I faced the same decision you are making and went with the 2006 Volpe. It is a gorgeous, well-made bike, with good components for the money. I've been riding aluminum frames for years and forgot how sweet and mellow steel can be. The only change I made was to ditch the plastic leopard-fur-spangled saddle (I'm not kidding) in favor of a Brooks Pro. The suspension seatpost has eased the break-in period considerably.

Enjoy whichever one you choose!
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Old 10-14-05, 02:14 PM   #7
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I have the 2006 JTS
I absolutely HATED the color, but i got a deal i couldnt refuse.

It grew on me, now i love the color. For a commuter, you couldmt pick a better color. Im happy with my purchase, and like showing off my bike, why hide it with a mellow color like all other bikes.

Florescent Day Glow Orange bikes just scream 'look at me !' and people do, its great

My hybrid is a triple, my jts is a double. I swapped the cassette to an 11-32 since im old and live on the side of a mtn. Cost was like 40 bucks for the cassette. Pretty cheap change and i go up the hills of Vancouver almost as easy as my triple.
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Old 10-14-05, 04:17 PM   #8
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You guys are great.

I went in and talked to the JTS guy @ H&S in Burbank, he was totally cool. Comparing the bikes he didn't push at all and just pointed out that the JTS was a considerable step up in components. Then I went over to John's and spoke to my guy there about the Bianchi. He wasn't too thrilled to be asked to compare the two, particularly because they don't carry Kona. Even so, his feeling was that they are two completely different classes of bikes, that it would be more fair to compare the Axis to the JTS. I thanked him for being willing to play devil's advocate with me, that I just wanted to feel comfortable about the purchase. He offered to throw in the upright break levers that I intended to add, so as to keep the Bianchi's price more attractive. I expect him to call today about availability.

In the meantime I did some research to see if there were any 05 JTS's out their. H&S said they couldn't get them. I did find one in my size from an out of state dealer. Shipping & no tax it comes out to almost exactly what the 06 would cost me retail here in CA. I dig the color and know the fit is good. Comparing the components for the two years, they seem pretty close. Any differences worth noting?

"06"
Frame tubing Easton Ultralite Race
Fork Kona Project Two TB
Rear Shock Aheadset STS -2K + spacer
Headset TruVativ Elita Cyclocross
Crankarms 39/48T
Chainring TruVativ X-Type
B/B Shimano PD-M505 w/ reflector
Pedals Shimano CN-HG53
Chain Shimano Deore CS-HG50 12-25 9 speed
Freewheel Shimano 105
F/D Shimano 105
R/D Shimano 105
Shifters Easton EA30
Handlebar Easton EA30
Stem Black Cork
Grips Avid Shorty 4
Brake Shimano 105
Brake Lever Shimano Deore Disc
Front hub Shimano 105
Rear hub Stainless 14g
Spokes Nokian Ravagozzi Cross 700x35c
Tires Mavic Open Sport
Rims WTB Rocket V Street Smart
Saddle Easton EA30
Seatpost Kona Clamp
Seat clamp Orange & Black
Color Tektro RX 2.0 add-on brake lever

"05"
Frame tubing Easton Ultralite Race
Fork Kona Project Two TB
Headset Aheadset STS
Crankarms TruVativ Elita Cyclocross
Chainrings 39/48
B/B TruVativ ISIS SLLT
Pedals Shimano PD-M505 clipless
Chain Shimano CN-HG53
Freewheel Shimano Deore 12-25 9 speed
F/D Shimano 105
R/D Shimano 105
Shifters Shimano 105
Handlebar Easton OS Road Bar
Stem Easton OS
Grips CU Black
Brakes Avid Shorty 4
Brake Levers Shimano 105 w/Tektro RX-2
Front hub Shimano Deore
Rear hub Shimano 105
Spokes Stainless 15G front, 14G rear
Tires Nokian Ravagozzi Cross 700x35c
Rims Mavic MA 3
Saddle WTB Rocket V
Seatpost Easton
Seat clamp Kona Clamp
Color Bright Blue/Black
Extras Tektro RX 2.0 add-on brake lever

My gut tells me I'm getting more for my money with the JTS, but that I'll probably be happier with the Bianchi (though I hate to admit it it's mostly superficial). I can get the JTS in the 05 out of state, but then I lose the bonus of having purchased locally, building a relationship, tune-ups, etc.. I like the history that Bianchi brings to their bikes, and feel it's lean towards road might serve me well. But if I ever step things up and maybe get involved in CX or want to do more offroad, I feel I'll have more room for growth with the JTS and less out of pocket in the long run. Of course I've purchased many an item in the past with what I "might" be able to do with it in mind and never taken advantage of it.

So now that I've established my rep here on BikeForums.net as totally OCD, I'll thank you all and just make a frigg'n decision!

Thanks again, I'll keep an eye out for continued feedback and let you all know how it goes.
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Old 10-17-05, 09:23 AM   #9
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Like you I went in to the bike shop with an idea of what I wanted. I read these posts and more and just knew that I wanted the Redline Conquest Disc. Mostly because I think the discs are super cool. I came out with the Bianchi Axis. I liked the way it rides...it was a little more than I had hoped to spend.

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Old 10-17-05, 05:37 PM   #10
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Oh joy. John's tells me they can't get an Volpe in until the end of Nov.. They can however get an Axis.

Now it's Axis or JTS. Hmmmm.

Every day deciding is one less day riding.
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Old 10-18-05, 09:33 AM   #11
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Oh joy. John's tells me they can't get an Volpe in until the end of Nov.. They can however get an Axis.

Now it's Axis or JTS. Hmmmm.

Every day deciding is one less day riding.
If it helps I just got an 06 AXIS and couldn't be happier with the frame n fork, I will upgrade the rest as $$$ allows. (I still have to save cash for Warn 8000 winch for my Tacoma pictured.)
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Old 10-18-05, 10:07 AM   #12
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As for comparing the 05 and 06 JTS, the main difference is that the newer one has a disc ready front hub and an external bearing BB/crank setup.

If you're deciding between the Axis and the JTS, and pricing/setup is similar (haven't looked to see how the pricing and components stack up), ride both of them and see which one you feel more comfortable on...that is the true test.
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Old 10-18-05, 11:27 AM   #13
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i'm a very happy axis owner, i don't think you could go wrong either way. I see lots of kona's at the cross races and they are very nice. look at the redline(conquest pro) too. i see even more of those than bianchi's or kona's.
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Old 10-18-05, 01:06 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Ergolad
So now that I've established my rep here on BikeForums.net as totally OCD, I'll thank you all and just make a frigg'n decision!
From OCD it's only a short hop over to OCP.

If you're going the internet route, you might consider some of the Flyte Ti frames. A bit more money, but Ti is generally a smoother ride than Al and more corrosion resistant than steel.
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Old 10-18-05, 06:07 PM   #15
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i wish the volpe came in celeste, i'd pick one up today. i just can't like that fugly green and red letter color combo
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Old 10-18-05, 11:40 PM   #16
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From OCD it's only a short hop over to OCP.
Thanks for that.

"Gnothi seauton"
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Old 10-19-05, 04:17 PM   #17
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Test road an Axis today. Very nice. Like the feel. Would want to ad upright breaks and I think upgrade to 105's. Didn't like the way the stock shifting handled. Had 'em tune it a bit, but still wasn't too into it. It would cost me a couple hundred more or so than the JTS. Glad I was able to ride it. Still debating... Call me crazy, but even with my limited experience I felt like I could feel the diference with the carbon fork. It felt a little softer to me. Of course, over time I could always go carbon with the JTS. It's a good looking bike.

Still debating...
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Old 10-22-05, 09:32 PM   #18
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OK kids. The verdict is in....

I'm the proud owner of a frigg'n traffic cone orange Kona Jake The Snake.

As anybody who's cared to follow this thread knows, I agonized over this decision. All said and done, after about a month of shopping, I tried out a Redline Conquest Disk-R, a Bianchi Axis, and a JTS. After riding the Axis I went back and took a spin on the Kona again. The Axis had left a good taste in my mouth, but I wanted to refresh my feelings about the Kona since it had been about a week since I'd ridden it. I have to say, for those that suggest you really get out and test the bikes you're interested in, and not just go by stats, there really is something to that. You might think that obvious, but with CX bikes being somewhat rare out here in the LA area, it's easier said than done. I was really lucky to find these bikes, let alone in my size! When I got back on the Kona and just felt the ride, I forgot all about the color. It just was so obvious to me that this was the right fit. The whole bike just had a better feel to me.

Picking a bike can certainly be a very subjective process. Thanks jpearl for reinforcing the need to search the bikes out and test them. islenska, thanks for inspiring me to really feel them out. Everybody, thanks all for the feedback, and the little bits of humor so I didn't take myself too seriously. Screw ya'll if you think I'm being sappy, but I do appreciate having had other riders insight with this purchase. The whole thing was pretty intimidating. I've NEVER bought my own bike, and certainly not in this class/price range. It was a big purchase for me and I feel that I made a well thought out decision.

All in all I got a great deal from H&S Cycles in Burbank. My two salesman were Izzy and Mike. Izzy was totally patient with me during the process, held the bike for me for like a week and in the end gave me a nice discount. Mike sorted me out with all the accessories (20% off) and couldn't have been more helpful. At no point in the process did I feel I was being sold on anything I didn't need.

I. Martin Imports in LA where I tested the Axis treated me real well too. And Bike Attack in Santa Monica, where I tried out the Redline, were cool too. The guys at Bicycle John's who got me on the Volpe track are pretty darn knowledgable as well. Still curious what that steel frame would have felt like...
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Old 10-22-05, 11:52 PM   #19
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Awesome, congrats on the purchase. Hope you really enjoy the bike!
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Old 12-22-05, 12:47 PM   #20
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LOL! This is funny. I've been searching all over the internet and debating which bike I should go for... the bianchi volpe or the jake the snake. Eventually, after reading up and learning my stuff since this would be my first big bike purchase, I figured I'd head down to my local bike shop in BURBANK (H+S) to check out a JTS. Then I found this thread and it's like it was custom written for me! HA!

Just wanted to thank all who contributed and helped make my decision easier. Just a question, though... if I upgraded the JTS to a carbon fork, what are we talking about cost wise?
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Old 12-22-05, 01:47 PM   #21
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Did you ever get a chance to ride the Volpe? I'm curious compared to the JTS what you thought of the steel -v- aluminum. I've been very pleased with my JTS. I got a cool pair of Winwood Deckster Platform Pedal Inserts for my clips. I wanted something that would allow me to just jump on my bike and go for a quick run without having to change shoes. On paper one would think that an AXIS would have been the way to go for me, but it was actually getting on the bike that proved to me that the JTS fit me best. I asked H&S the same question regarding the fork. I don't remember exactly what Izzy said, but if memory serves me he said that I needn't bother with fiber... something about it not being as durable, more suited for road then off. Which is the reason I was going with a CX bike over a regular road bike. Of course, you can always upgrade at a later date. I've been really happy with the stock components on my Kona. From what I could tell it was the best value in all my research. Good luck!
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Old 12-22-05, 02:15 PM   #22
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I haven't gotten to ride the Volpe. It seems they're in short supply all around the country right now. I too am very interested in the steel/aluminum question. I feel like steel makes more sense but I'm so drawn to the JTS. I even like the color, which it seems many don't this year.

Basically anything is a step up for me because I'm still riding around on my Mongoose mountain bike and lugging extra weighted forks and suspension all around for no good reason.

Can I ask what your ultimate price was from H+S, since it's the same shop I'd be buying from? Or ballpark price, if I'm being too nosey!

Thanks, again, for the thread. You sound as obsessed as I currently am with this decision! ;-)
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Old 12-22-05, 02:33 PM   #23
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PM-ed ya. Dude, assuming the fit is right AND you like the color, I'd say this decision was a no-brainer. I'm far (light years) from any authority on CX, but I feel I did a good job of applying the suggestions made by more experienced folks here on the forum. You'd be surprised, (at least I was) how many CX bikes I was able to try out here in So Cal. Do yourself a favor, check with the dealers I listed and get out and test ride different models, if you haven't already. That was the biggest factor for me and left me very comfortable with my purchase, OCD and all.
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Old 02-15-06, 06:31 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarery
I have the 2006 JTS
I absolutely HATED the color, but i got a deal i couldnt refuse.
Hi,

What was the deal you couldn't refuse? I'm looking at buying a new bike soon and I'd like to know what type of deal is realistic to negotiate.

Cheers,

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Old 02-15-06, 08:25 PM   #25
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I forgot about this thread. Thought I'd post the update of which way I went on this decision. In choosing between the bianchi or the kona i chose... drum roll... the surly crosscheck!!! I wanted steel and the bianchi wasn't available. I wanted the 105 groupset from the kona so I got a build of the Surly CrossCheck frame with the 105 groupset. I couldn't be happier with it. Here's a pic of my bike I just took this weekend after my first half-century!

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