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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 08-28-11, 01:06 PM   #1
cheap_skate
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New bike - choosing between Cannondale, Specialized, Scott, Bianchi, Fuji, Nashbar

I am looking to buy my first road bike. So far I have tried:

Cannondale Synapse Alloy 7 Sora
Cannondale CAAD 8 6 Tiagra
Cannondale CAAD 10 5 105

I currently ride a Trek Hybrid and I'm looking for something to take me further and somewhat faster, although for now I do not plan on racing, participating in triathlons or doing competitive group rides. I am mostly a recreational rider, in good shape but not the best cycling legs, 140lbs, 5'9. I initially figured I could spend about $500 but I think $1000-$1500 is more appropriate given the impressive bikes you can get for $1000 these days. Having never tried a road bike of any sort before, I was blown away by the Cannondales I tested but did not want to buy on the spot without trying other brands, geometries, frames, groupsets, etc. On the other hand I also do not want to waste too much time trying everything out and confusing myself fine tuning little things that may not matter to me, for the first year or two at least.
I liked all 3 of the rides I tried, the Synapse felt more comfortable, while the CAADs felt aggressive and really fun to be on. I hated the Sora shifters as you could only shift properly from the hoods. The Tiagra was good but 105 was just so smooth.
Other bikes I'd like to consider:

Specialized: Allez Comp Apex + Allez Elite Compact
Scott: Speedster S40/S30/S20
Bianchi: Via Nirone 7 Tiagra + Via Nirone 7 105
Felt: Z85/F75/F85
Fuji: Newest and Roubaix bikes
Nashbar: AL-2

I have heard/read good things about Jamis bikes as well as bikesdirect.com.

I think bikesdirect is out of the question for someone like me and perhaps even Nashbar. Besides I think buying from an LBS will have advantages like lifetime free basic tune-ups and adjustments that are too hard to pass up for a beginner. Nashbar just looks like it could be great value though even if I have to pay for tune-ups, etc.

I am open to suggestions about what else to try and whether I should concentrate on certain frames (stiff, relaxed, steel or aluminium but not carbon due to price), cranksets, groupsets, etc. Depending on how much I enjoy road biking, I want to buy a good road bike and additionally replace by Trek hybrid with a 'beater' steel road bike.

Sorry for the long post and thank you for reading.

Last edited by cheap_skate; 08-28-11 at 02:56 PM. Reason: Added Felt
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Old 08-28-11, 01:44 PM   #2
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Like you, I'm currently riding a Trek hybrid (7.5 FX).

I plan to upgrade to a road bike, and at my budget plan to get a bike with Shimano 105 hardware.

So far I plan to test ride the Trek 2.1, Cannondale CAAD 10 105 & Synapse 105, Specialized (not sure of model(s) yet), Felt (model??), Giant (model??), maybe Fuji and maybe Jamis.

My plan is to test ride as many 105 equipped bikes as I can and take it from there in terms of feel, sizing, (paint color), etc.

Good luck in making your decision!
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Old 08-28-11, 05:36 PM   #3
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I've been going through the same thing (except I've been riding an old mountain bike instead of a hybrid). I also liked the Cannondale Synapse, which felt very smooth - when the road was smooth. I also liked the Giant Defy - these were my top two favorites, if I would have bought an aluminum bike. However, the rough ride over rough roads bothered me. The answer is probably that I need to HTFU and get used to it, but I kept looking anyway. I finally tried a Fuji CCR-3 at my local Performance Bike. To be honest, it was the first bike I rode that actually felt comfortable to me - much more than the aluminum framed bikes. My first thought when I got on the Fuji was as follows: "shoot, I wore my padded cycling shorts today - I should have worn regular shorts to keep the comparisons fair." And then I realized that I HAD worn my cycling shorts to the other test rides - the carbon frame made that much of a difference.
The CCR-3 is Tiagra, which was fine with me. I got it for $999. Performance has several different carbon Scattante and Fujis within your budget, some with 105 components. I'm not sure how you feel about carbon, or Performance, and I can't pretend to give any kind of an informed opinion about that. All I can say is that I'm glad I went there & I like my new bike.
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Old 08-28-11, 06:35 PM   #4
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Stop by your local Raleigh dealer and check out the lineup.

http://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/road/
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Old 08-28-11, 08:02 PM   #5
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Please update when you pick a bike. I'm in a similar situation. I haven't ridden a road bike in 30 years, and since my last road rides were steel Peugeot and Raleigh low end, I think any entry level Trek or Giant would blow me away.

I'll be shopping for a bike in about a month. From what I've read I'm going to look at Giant Defy first, then Trek 1.1 or 1.2, Jamis steel bikes and Raleigh. I'm interested in the ride difference between steel and aluminum frames, and I'd like to see what kind of difference the fork material makes and from these four I think I can see a racy frame, a less racy/more comfort frame, an aluminum fork, a CM fork, and a CF fork. Then I'll pick which one rides and fits best and then I might get into trying to decide if the components are that important money wise to me. At least that's the plan. It might change tomorrow. I want to concentrate on ride and fit. I plan on spending as little as possible but I think I'll be in the 1K range for just the bike. Hopefully I'm wrong and I'll fall in love with one I can get for 700 bucks.
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Old 08-28-11, 08:16 PM   #6
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DP Roberts - I don't live anywhere close to a Performance bike and think I'd like to buy local, at least for my first road bike. I have nothing against carbon, just thought it may be expensive in my price point.
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Old 08-28-11, 08:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by M_Wales View Post
Stop by your local Raleigh dealer and check out the lineup.

http://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/road/
Any particular bike(s) you recommend?
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Old 08-28-11, 08:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UADave View Post
Please update when you pick a bike. I'm in a similar situation. I haven't ridden a road bike in 30 years, and since my last road rides were steel Peugeot and Raleigh low end, I think any entry level Trek or Giant would blow me away.

I'll be shopping for a bike in about a month. From what I've read I'm going to look at Giant Defy first, then Trek 1.1 or 1.2, Jamis steel bikes and Raleigh. I'm interested in the ride difference between steel and aluminum frames, and I'd like to see what kind of difference the fork material makes and from these four I think I can see a racy frame, a less racy/more comfort frame, an aluminum fork, a CM fork, and a CF fork. Then I'll pick which one rides and fits best and then I might get into trying to decide if the components are that important money wise to me. At least that's the plan. It might change tomorrow. I want to concentrate on ride and fit. I plan on spending as little as possible but I think I'll be in the 1K range for just the bike. Hopefully I'm wrong and I'll fall in love with one I can get for 700 bucks.
Sure will do. I am also interested in the the difference in rides between steel and aluminium.
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Old 08-28-11, 08:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Any particular bike(s) you recommend?
Revenio 3.0 alloy w/carbon fork and 105
http://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/road/revenio-3-0-12/



Revenio Carbon 1.0 (full carbon) w/Tiagra
http://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/road...carbon-1-0-12/





I'm looking at the Militis 3 and Revenio Carbon 3.0 frames myself.
http://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/road/militis-3-12/

http://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/road...carbon-3-0-12/
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Old 08-28-11, 11:46 PM   #10
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If you have any stores that carry Ridley I would recommend the Icarus that comes with SRAM apex shifters, and derailleurs which in my opinion better bang for your bucks than shimano 105 which are great too. They come at around 1300 so that gives you room to budget shoes, pedals and whatever else you need
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Old 08-29-11, 12:33 PM   #11
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Am in NYC, don't think I can find those easily.
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If you have any stores that carry Ridley I would recommend the Icarus that comes with SRAM apex shifters, and derailleurs which in my opinion better bang for your bucks than shimano 105 which are great too. They come at around 1300 so that gives you room to budget shoes, pedals and whatever else you need

Last edited by cheap_skate; 08-29-11 at 12:41 PM.
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Old 08-29-11, 09:34 PM   #12
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Tried out more bikes so here is an update. So far I've tried (in order):

Cannondale Synapse Alloy 7 Sora ($800) : Solid comfortable ride, but I felt it go fast. Did not like the shifters.

Cannondale CAAD 8 6 Tiagra ($950) : Aggressive but fine ride. Shifters were a nice improvement over Sora.

Cannondale CAAD 10 5 105 ($1350) : Very rigid, aggressive ride and felt like a rocketship. Shifting very smooth.

Bianchi Via Nirone 105 ($1400) : I really liked this bike. Felt like it would comfortable for distance, yet good for going fast.

Scott Speedster S10 with Ultegra ($1600) : felt like a solid comfortable ride, and shifting was great but I could not tell the difference between this and 105

Speedster S40 or S50 (don't know for sure) with Sora shifters and other Shimano parts ($700) : felt good, and could not really tell the difference in frame from the S10 too much, however shifters were not as nice. A great value probably.

Giant Defy Advanced 0 ($5500): They didn't have a Defy 1 ($1300) or Defy 2 ($1100). I was told this would be the best bang for my buck in terms of components compared to all other brands. Maybe it was the size that I tried (M/L instead of M), but I did not like the feel of this bike regardless of the price tag.

Specialized Roubaix Comp Ultegra (about $3000) : I tried this as they did not have a Secteur available. I was told they would comparable the Secteur Comp Compact ($1800) or Secteur Elite Apex ($1450) but with Aluminium instead of Carbon frame. I was told the Allez might be too agressive and built more for racing than endurance. I was also told that I can go fast with the Sectuer if I wanted to, but with the Allez I'd pretty much be hurting after a few hours of aggressive riding. Honestly I have no idea what the fuss is about. It didn't ride that much better than other bikes I've tested so far. The Ultegra was nice but again I didn't feel different from 105.

I have tried a fair bit from my original list:

Cannondale Synapse/CAAD 8/ CAAD 10
Specialized: Allez Comp Apex + Allez Elite Compact
Scott: Speedster S40/S30/S20
Bianchi: Via Nirone Tiagra/105
Felt: Z85/F75/F85
Fuji: Newest and Roubaix bikes, CCR-3
Nashbar: AL-2
Jamis: Ventura race, Nova race
Raleigh: Revenio 3.0 alloy 105, Revenio Carbon 1.0 Tiagra
Ridley: Icarus SRAM Apex.
bikesdirect.com

I think I have ruled out Giant Defy, Specialized (more expensive perhaps due to brand name and not much different or better for me), Nashbar, bikesdirect.com. If I learnt anything about road bikes its that I need to ride the bike before buying it so not going to do the online thing.

I like the Bianchi (Via Nirone), Scott (S10 and S40) and Cannondale (Synapse/CAAD 8/ CAAD 10) of the bikes I've tried.

I have yet to try out Felt, Fuji, Jamis, Raleigh and Ridley.

At this point I don't want to add anything more to the list and I'm getting to the point where more testing is starting to confusing me. Even all the salespeople at the 3 LBS I've been to have told me that coming from a behemoth hybrid bike and at my price point pretty much all the bikes are going to be the same or very similar. I tend to agree as I've been blown away by most of them. They are all light aluminium frames mostly with carbon forks, and only thing differentiating them are the quality of the components (groupsets).

Should I bother with any of the other brands/models? Or are they going to be similar in some way to the ones I've tried?

Open to any suggestions, and thanks for reading.
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Old 08-29-11, 10:34 PM   #13
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Other brands such as Felt and Fuji will other road bikes similar to cannondale, having their own version of the synapse the more relaxed geometry and their own version of the CAAD race geometry.

So I think you can narrow it down to Cannondale or Bianchi
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Old 08-30-11, 12:25 PM   #14
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Thank you all for your help.

I think Scott is still in the running for me.

105 options:

Bianchi Via Nirone : $1400
Scott Speedster S20 : $1500
Cannondale Synapse : $1400
Cannondale CAAD 8 : $1300
Cannondale CAAD 10 : $1500


Tiagra options :

Bianchi Via Nirone : $1200
Scott Speedster S30 : $1050
Cannondale CAAD 8 : $1050
Cannondale Synpase $1050

I can probably get 10% off all the MSRPs listed above (maybe even 15%). The difference between Tiagra and 105 seems to be about $300 - nothing to sneeze at for your first road bike.

I might try some of these below and then pull the trigger in a couple of days, but I might skip Jamis, Raleigh and Ridley for the sake of sanity and time:

Felt Z85 ($1200) - looks like a good deal for 105 components
Felt F75 ($1500)
Felt F85 ($1100)
Fuji Newest 1.0 with 105/Tiagra ($1200)
Fuji Roubaix 2.0 with Tiagra ($1200)
Jamis Ventura Race w/ 105($1350)
Raleigh Revenio 3.0 with 105 ($1300)
Ridley Icarus SRAM Apex ($1400)
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Old 08-30-11, 12:34 PM   #15
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The Giant Defy Advanced and the Defy 1 or whatever are not remotely close to the same bike. Carbon versus aluminum. The entry Defy Advanced is around $1,500 with Tiagra.

Best bang for the buck is the CAAD10 if you like the ride. They make a bike over three grand on the same frame. The CAAD8 is ok, but for $200 more dollars get the 10. Totally different level of frame.
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Old 08-30-11, 12:41 PM   #16
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There are some great bike shops in NYC - do yourself a favor and get off of the interwebs and get in to a few shops to see which SHOP you want to deal with. Select bike accordingly - it'll be damn near impossible to go too far wrong with a good LBS behind you. Specifically, I would recommend that you visit NYC Velo on 2nd Ave - they carry Scott, Felt and a few others. I've never made a major purchase there, but I've always liked the vibe when talking to employees.
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Old 08-30-11, 12:47 PM   #17
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Thanks for your vote. I really thought the CAAD 10 was awesome and it blew me away, but I'm concerned it may be too aggressive for longer rides compared to say the Cannondale Synape/Binachi Via Nirone/Scott Speedster S20. Either way its a huge improvement over my current ride.


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The Giant Defy Advanced and the Defy 1 or whatever are not remotely close to the same bike. Carbon versus aluminum. The entry Defy Advanced is around $1,500 with Tiagra.

Best bang for the buck is the CAAD10 if you like the ride. They make a bike over three grand on the same frame. The CAAD8 is ok, but for $200 more dollars get the 10. Totally different level of frame.
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Old 08-30-11, 12:51 PM   #18
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Good point WhyFi - I'm spending too much time online. I've also spent 4-5 hours in bike shops. Will check out NYC Velo for Scott and Felt. Any other LBS you can recommend - specifically for Cannondale and Bianchi? I have been to 3 LBS so far, none of them all that great. They are either trying push you into a quick sale or they are snobby/apathetic.

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There are some great bike shops in NYC - do yourself a favor and get off of the interwebs and get in to a few shops to see which SHOP you want to deal with. Select bike accordingly - it'll be damn near impossible to go too far wrong with a good LBS behind you. Specifically, I would recommend that you visit NYC Velo on 2nd Ave - they carry Scott, Felt and a few others. I've never made a major purchase there, but I've always liked the vibe when talking to employees.
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Old 08-30-11, 01:01 PM   #19
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Quote:
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Good point WhyFi - I'm spending too much time online. I've also spent 4-5 hours in bike shops. Will check out NYC Velo for Scott and Felt. Any other LBS you can recommend - specifically for Cannondale and Bianchi? I have been to 3 LBS so far, none of them all that great. They are either trying push you into a quick sale or they are snobby/apathetic.
I see that NYC Velo is carrying Bianchi, too - I wasn't really looking for a bike last time I was there, so I guess that I didn't notice. As far as Cannondale, the folks at the Sid's in Chelsea on... 19th, I think? They've been really good.
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Old 08-30-11, 02:22 PM   #20
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Will try them too - I'm partial to the West side.
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Old 08-30-11, 05:40 PM   #21
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Cheap_Skate,

I am in the same boat, but do not rule out the Specialized Roubaix, epecially the closeouts, I saw one as a closeout, 2010 elite for $1499 and was ready to buy, but not my size.
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Old 08-30-11, 10:18 PM   #22
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Yes of course - if I saw it at that price, it would be a great deal.

Last edited by cheap_skate; 08-31-11 at 12:03 AM.
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Old 08-31-11, 12:30 AM   #23
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Checked out Felt Z85. Nice bike with 105 components.

Narrowed it down to:

CAAD 10 105 ($1350)
Via Nirone 105 ($1300)
Felt Z85 105 ($1100)
Synapse Tiagra ($1050)
Scott Speedster S30 Tiagra/105 ($950)


Will pick up one of these in the next couple of days.
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Old 09-01-11, 11:13 AM   #24
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Just to make this complicated, I can get some of the bikes cheaper!

I'm now choosing between:

CAAD 10 105 ($1300)
Felt Z85 105 ($1000)
Scott Speedster S30 Tiagra/105 ($800)
Scott Speedster S10 Ultegra ($1300)

Skipping Bianchi, as they don't seem to be included in any sales.

I know I know, I have to decide whether I want a more racing oriented bike like the CAAD, relaxed like the Felt or something in between like the Scotts.
I want the bike (or at least the frame) to satisfy me for at least 2-3 years maybe 5 years. Not a big fan of upgrading things like this.
Any opinions?

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Old 09-01-11, 11:39 AM   #25
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Choose it based on riding style. I have a Tarmac and Sworks E5 for road bikes because I ride very aggressively and feel like I'm noodling along with more relaxed geometry bikes. And also, I did used to race on a Bianchi that had more of a relaxed, traditional geometry (no sloping top tube), but much prefer a bike that will respond instantly when I counter steer into a turn. It's not about comfort (although the Tarmac is very comfortable), it's about how I ride.
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