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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 07-05-13, 04:44 PM   #1
iim7v7im7 
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Deciding Between These 4 Bikes: Cannondale, Giant, Specialized or Trek

Hi,

I am about to purchase a nicely appointed, new road bike designed for comfort in the <$3,000 (including pedals) from one of two-LBS. both dealers are conveniently located, nice to deal with and competent at fitting and repair. One is a Cannondale/Giant Dealer and the other is a Specialized/Trek dealer. I am tall, not a racer and I am looking for comfort along the road. All four of these seem comparable, albeit some subtle differences in posture and groupings.

Cannondale:
Synapse Carbon 5
Carbon Frame/Fork, Shimano 105
$2,330

Giant:
Defy Composite 1
Carbon Frame/Fork, Shimano Ultegra/105
$2,650

Specialized :
Roubaix Elite Compact
Carbon Frame/Fork, Shimano 105/Tiagra
$2,500

Trek:
Domane 4.5
Carbon Frame/Fork, Shimano Ultegra/105
$2,730

Its honestly difficult to discern differences on short test rides and all can be properly fit to me. Are there any distinctions that are less obvious between these that I should consider when choosing? Subjectively, I like the Giant, but that's based on a very short ride.

Input is appreciated.

:-)

Last edited by iim7v7im7; 07-05-13 at 05:33 PM. Reason: Domane
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Old 07-05-13, 04:50 PM   #2
rangerdavid
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2 of those are not like the other 2.

what kind of bike are you looking for? relaxed geo, or a bike with race geo??
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Old 07-05-13, 04:51 PM   #3
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All I can say is that I wouldn't pay $2500 for a bike with any Tiagra parts.
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Old 07-05-13, 04:59 PM   #4
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I'd buy an alloy frame model and use the extra money for other bits, but that's just me.
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Old 07-05-13, 05:05 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by rangerdavid View Post
2 of those are not like the other 2.

what kind of bike are you looking for? relaxed geo, or a bike with race geo??
The Madone is race geometry, but which of the others? Synapse, Defy, and Roubaix are all relaxed.
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Old 07-05-13, 05:27 PM   #6
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2 of those are not like the other 2.

what kind of bike are you looking for? relaxed geo, or a bike with race geo??
relaxed....meant Domane

Last edited by iim7v7im7; 07-05-13 at 05:33 PM.
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Old 07-05-13, 05:33 PM   #7
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I'd get the one you like best, which you said is the Giant. My WAG is that any of them, especially the three "relaxed" ones can be made super comfortable for you, and probably even the Trek, which apparently isn't as relaxed.

Which color do you like best?
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Old 07-05-13, 05:42 PM   #8
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Ride them all and see which YOU like best. Most of us here would have an opinion, but yours is the only one that really matters here.
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Old 07-05-13, 05:50 PM   #9
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This is like asking, should I buy a Ford, Chevy or Dodge. One option would be to look beyond the usuals and you may get more for your money.
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Old 07-05-13, 05:59 PM   #10
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All I can say is that I wouldn't pay $2500 for a bike with any Tiagra parts.
Here is the breakdown....

- The Synapse is 105 with a FSA Gossamer crank & Tektro 580 brakes
- The Defy is Ultegra with a 105 cassette & a KMC X10 chain
- The Roubaix is 105 with a Tiagra cassette and chain
- The Domane is Ultegra with 105 cassette, 105 brakes and R565 crank
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Old 07-05-13, 06:03 PM   #11
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If you want a road bike designed for comfort, get a bike that can take fatter tires (at least a 28c and preferably a 32c) and a bike that has a wide range of gearing with either a triple up front or a compact crank. Tires make a big difference in comfort. If you're not racing, why get a bike that can only take a 25c tire or smaller? Gearing at this point has become largely irrelevant as long as you get a bike with a compact crank.

The Trek Domane 4.5 has nice gearing with a compact crank (50-34) and 11-28 10 spd on the rear but it uses short reach brakes. You may be able to fit a 28c on it or you may not. See what the LBS tells you but the bike has short reach brakes and this (along with the frame) will limit how large a tire you can use. The same goes for the Cannondale SynapseCarbon which also uses short reach brakes (I assume the same is true for the other two bikes) as well.

So my recommendation is don't get any of these bikes if you want a road bike designed for comfort. Instead look at something like the Gunnar Sport with a carbon fork or, for less money, a Soma ES also with a carbon fork if you like: http://www.somafab.com/archives/product/es or http://gunnarbikes.com/site/bikes/sport/
These bikes have longer reach brakes which is a significantly better choice if you want a comfortable fast bike since it does not limit you as much in the tire size you choose to run. You can always run an uncomfortable 20c or 23c tire if you like on your bike but it's good to have the option of running a bit cushier tire.
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Old 07-05-13, 06:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iim7v7im7 View Post
Here is the breakdown....

- The Synapse is 105 with a FSA Gossamer crank & Tektro 580 brakes
- The Defy is Ultegra with a 105 cassette & a KMC X10 chain
- The Roubaix is 105 with a Tiagra cassette and chain
- The Domane is Ultegra with 105 cassette, 105 brakes and R565 crank
My order of preference would be:
1. Giant
2. CDale
3. Specialized
100. Trek
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Old 07-05-13, 06:06 PM   #13
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This is like asking, should I buy a Ford, Chevy or Dodge. One option would be to look beyond the usuals and you may get more for your money.
No, that's not what the OP is asking. It's more like he's asking if he should buy a Ford Fusion, Chevy Malibu, or Dodge/Chrysler 200/300. It is a valid a question.
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Old 07-05-13, 06:10 PM   #14
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My order of preference would be:
1. Giant
2. CDale
3. Specialized
100. Trek
+1

The Giant looks like it has the best spec for your dollar. that KMC chain is an excellent chain, and I doubt you would be able to tell the difference between a 105 and Ultegra cassette without a scale, and if you can, you can just get one when you wear out the 105 cassette.
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Old 07-05-13, 06:20 PM   #15
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+1

The Giant looks like it has the best spec for your dollar. that KMC chain is an excellent chain, and I doubt you would be able to tell the difference between a 105 and Ultegra cassette without a scale, and if you can, you can just get one when you wear out the 105 cassette.
Agreed. Also, $2650 is the MSRP, if you look around for a while, and especially if you wait till '14 models come out, you can probably knock a few hundred off the price.

Also, check the seatpost. Not sure about this model specifically, but some Giants have integrated seatposts. Which is not necessarily a bad thing but a bit of a hassle because they are not adjustable: you need to cut it to your exact length, you can't make it longer once it's cut too short, and it may be a problem if you try to resell it.

Last edited by hamster; 07-05-13 at 06:25 PM.
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Old 07-05-13, 06:25 PM   #16
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Also, check the seatpost. Not sure about this model specifically, but some Giants have with integrated seatposts. Which is not necessarily a bad thing but a bit of a hassle because they are not adjustable: you need to cut it to your exact length, you can't make it longer once it's cut too short, and it may be a problem if you try to resell it.
Only the Advanced SL Defy frames have integrated seatposts as far recent model years go.
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Old 07-05-13, 06:28 PM   #17
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The Trek and Specialized both have an inherent suspension/isolation element for the rear wheel. They should provide a smoother ride than the Canondale or Giant. Canondale claims to at least allow more rear wheel deflection and damping than their standard frame. The Giant should provide the least isolation for bumps. The Giant is also the best spec for the money.
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Old 07-05-13, 06:38 PM   #18
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Thanks...

Based on my limited experience, as I said, I liked the Defy best but its based on a 10 minute ride on a non perfectly adjusted bikes. I know that it can take up to 28 mm tires as well. In general, Giant seems to play their cost advantage on frame manufacture into higher grade groupings.

I was merely asking if there was something that I was missing to other owners or others with real experience with each that would draw contrasts that were less obvious.
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Old 07-05-13, 06:52 PM   #19
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Dayam...to me all 3 are really nice but ...make sure you get the most bang for the buck...
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Old 07-05-13, 06:55 PM   #20
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OP: Frankly I would suggest looking a bit wider. I would think that a good hybrid/commuter bike would fit your needs. Likewise for such limited needs (admittedly you have provided minimal specifics), I would be unlikely to want to spend more than about $1,200 to $1,400 total.

So FWIW

/K
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Old 07-05-13, 07:17 PM   #21
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All I can say is that I wouldn't pay $2500 for a bike with any Tiagra parts.
I knew the Tiagra bashers would show up on this thread sometime. Do you have any specific experience with the new 10 speed Tiagra to base your judgement on?
I have a bike with the 9 speed Tiagra that has been trouble free for 5000+ miles and a Roubaix with the 10 speed Tiagra that has about 1500 miles. No issues with either, the shifting is smooth and crisp and the brakes work well. The 10 speed tiagra is basically identical to the 5600 105 series.

To the original poster, on paper the Cannondale seems to be a better buy, but I am very happy with my Roubaix SL2. That bike was miles ahead of its competition when introduced in 2010 and still remains a very competent bike. If I were you, I would probably save some money and get the lower full Tiagra Roubaix (if they still make it). If not, the SRAM Apex WiFli Roubaix is also quite good if you can get used to the double tap.
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Old 07-05-13, 09:04 PM   #22
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The one with the best warranty between the Synapse and Defy.
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Old 07-05-13, 09:30 PM   #23
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Another bike may be worth considering is cervelo r3, similar to the ones you looking at.
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Old 07-05-13, 10:05 PM   #24
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Giant...and ask for a 15% discount

...they're all pretty much middle of the road...Giant is best value....make sure you can live with the color scheme...or maybe get the TCR.....
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Old 07-06-13, 04:14 AM   #25
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All the big brands are great bikes. I would just go for the one that looks coolest.
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