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  1. #1
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    105 vs Tiagra and other advice for a newbie!

    Alright, so after a month of so of lurking... I've finally decided to join. I've been in the market to buy my first bike in 10+ years, and after a few hours at an LBS, I've decided that a road bike will suit me best. I found it to be (surprisingly) more comfortable and fun than the flat-bar hybrids. The first road bike I tried was a '13 Fuji Sportif 1.3 c ($699) which has the Sora front derailleur and Tiagra in the read. I loved it! It was a joy to ride, and ended up spending the better part of an hour trying it out. My only complaints were that I was unfamiliar with the shifters, thus making for some very rough gear changes. When I got back to the shop, the salesman put me in a 2013 Fuji Roubaix 1.3 c ($999) which has a full 105 setup. The test was to see if I liked the more aggressive frame, and to also have me feel what the smoother 105's feel like. Well, by this time I was a bit tired so I didn't spend much time out there. I was also adapted to the shifters and my changes were significantly smoother. Being new to the sport, I really didn't notice much difference with the frame. They were both comfortable, the ride was smooth, and with some extra padding I could definitely see myself getting some serious mileage with either bike .

    Before my question, a bit about my intentions... My primary focus is fitness and enjoyment, so I don't need anything serious. I won't be doing any racing but I would like to advance to the point where I am able to keep up with the pack on longer group rides. I don't see any centuries in my near future, but 30-40 miles would be nice. With that said, I know that I don't need anything above a 105. It seems that the general consensus is that Tiagra is plenty for a beginner, with room to grow. However, if the Roubaix is in my budget (albeit, the max), is there any reason I should turn down the 105s? I want something that will last and that I can "grow in to" but I also don't want to over-do it with my first bike.

    Lastly, assuming Tiagras are more than sufficient for my intended purpose... The interwebs seem to grovel in the glory of the Giant Defy 2 ($1075) as "the best beginners bike." Now, I realize this opinion is very subjective... but just for the sake of argument, does anyone have any experience or pointers for these Fuji bikes versus Giant's offering? Is Giant known for making better frames? Just curious!

    Thanks in advance to all of your input!

  2. #2
    Senior Member link0's Avatar
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    The main difference between 105 and Tiagra is that the 105s have hidden cable routing on the shifters, which look nicer. The 105s are not any smoother than Tiagra, but it's maybe 1 lb lighter overall and slightly more durable. Spend as much as your budget will allow. Both are good choices.

    Giant vs Fuji is really awash. Giant has a strong brand name and will have slightly better resale value, but the bikes will be pretty identical to each other in quality.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Jiggle's Avatar
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    Look at the shifters; they matter more. Manufacturers will put lower grade shifters but a higher grade rear derailleur because the rd is more visible.

    Tiagra is a good group. Every group above it is just luxury. They all work the same.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jiggle View Post
    Look at the shifters; they matter more. Manufacturers will put lower grade shifters but a higher grade rear derailleur because the rd is more visible.

    Tiagra is a good group. Every group above it is just luxury. They all work the same.
    Interesting... I believe I've narrowed it down between the Roubaix 1.3 C or the Sportif 1.1 C. Each has the 105 STI or Tiagra STI shifters, respectively. Im thinking I'll head back tomorrow and test the Roubaix first...

    The other shop wants me to test out a Cannondale Synapse but I don't see the point trying something above my price range. I'm tempted to not even try out the Giant, but it seems unwise to only try bikes from one brand...

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by funesto View Post
    Interesting... I believe I've narrowed it down between the Roubaix 1.3 C or the Sportif 1.1 C. Each has the 105 STI or Tiagra STI shifters, respectively. Im thinking I'll head back tomorrow and test the Roubaix first...

    The other shop wants me to test out a Cannondale Synapse but I don't see the point trying something above my price range. I'm tempted to not even try out the Giant, but it seems unwise to only try bikes from one brand...
    As a beginner with a $1,000 budget, I'd go with the Sportif 1.1. The frame design is more beginner-friendly, but you can still get low on it by swapping out the stem (the part that connects the handlebars to the fork) later on if you want to. The Tiagra drivetrain is fine. The only two downsides to that bike versus the Roubaix 1.3 are the brakes and the cassette, and they're easily fixable if you want to. The brakes are generic, but can be improved by swapping out the brake pads. The cassette (rear sprockets) is a 12-32, which would be fine if you live in the Rockies, but is too wide a range for a flatter area. If you live in a flat area, I'd get them to swap it out with a 12-25. The difference is the jump between gears - the wider range has a bigger difference between gears, which means a bigger difference in pedaling speed when you shift.

    You'll need stuff in addition to just the bike, too. Pedals, spare tubes and a means to inflate them and a seat bag to carry them in, cycling-specific clothing, water bottles and cages are a short list. This stuff adds up quickly. One thing to not get is a cushy saddle. It'll add pressure where you don't want it.
    Regards,
    Chuck

    Demain, on roule!

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    - fit is more important than anything. The Roubaix has traditional race geometry, it's set up to make it possible to get really low & aero, whereas the Sportif leaves you more upright. Decide what you really want, what feels best, and compare vs. any other brand you want to try. Now, it's still possible to get more upright on the Roubaix by leaving more steerer tube uncut, using lots of spacers, and maybe using a rising stem, but some people think that's less aesthetically pleasing than just having taller head tube like on the Sportif.

    - as for 105 vs. Tiagra, it's pretty marginal IMO. If it's vs. Sora (comparing shifters & cassette) you get an extra cog (10 vs. 9), slightly more significant but not really a deal breaker, it just means some jumps between a few of the cogs may be slightly larger than one might prefer. Do try to get the bike shop to swap in a cassette with appropriate gearing for your area if necessary; if you are in a place with lots of steep climbs you might appreciate having a 32 bailout cog on the rear instead of a 28 especially if you aren't in the best of shape. On the other hand if your area is flat as a pancake then a 32 cog is a waste and you'd want a smaller cassette with tighter jumps between cogs.

    Don't forget to budget for needed accessories like flat repair tools/pump, saddle bag, water bottles/cages, clothing, lights if you ride in the dark, lock if you need one. And shoes/clip-in pedals which certainly aren't mandatory but most like. $200-300 covers a decent chunk of that, I'd much rather have Tiagra (or Sora) and all these things than 105 and not have them. But if you can afford 105 & have separate budget for the add-ons, then whatever.
    Last edited by stephtu; 03-16-14 at 04:37 AM.

  7. #7
    Senior Member datlas's Avatar
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    ^^ Agree with above. Fit and comfort are more important than 105 vs Tiagra.

    Test rides should be most helpful. Don't get hung up on how "crisp" the shifting is, that can be tweaked to be slighly better or worse depending on simple adjustments.
    Quote Originally Posted by RUOkie View Post
    never underestimate the idiocy of BF.

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    Senior Member Cookiemonsta's Avatar
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    I would just look for bikes keeping in mind that both 105 and Tiagra are really fine, especially for a "beginner bike". Chances are that you will be hard pressed to tell the difference in actual use. Therefore, I would focus on the other characteristics of the bike. If one bike has a frame geometry that seems to suit you much better, then I think it would be silly to take another bike instead just because one is Tiagra and the other is 105.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Gran Fondo's Avatar
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    I am very familiar with Fuji bikes, and really am a fan of their products and how well they back them. My limited experience with Giant has me avoiding the brand, but mainly in the world of carbon fiber. I've just seen too many Giant carbon frames fail and they don't help the customer. Just saying. On the other hand, Fuji replaced a carbon frame for me just to be safe becasue the paint was falling off in suspect places.

    Anyway, the Sportif is the better choice for long distance rides than the Roubaix. They are the aluminum versions of the Gran Fondo and Altamira respectively. The Sportif can be setup to be a little racier and the Roubaix can be setup to be a little more comfortable, just but doing simple things like flipping the stem and moving the seat fore/aft. Either way, make sure you get the right size (the LBS should at least be able to figure that out).

    The main diff b/w Tiagra and 105 is, as another poster said, with the shifter. The Tiagra shifters are great for beginners since they have the gear indicators, but you quickly learn you do not need them. The hidden cable routing of the 105's alone make them worth the added cost. The group set component that differs the least is the front derailleur. In fact, there is little difference between the Tiagra FD and the top-line Dura-Ace FD, except the DA FD uses titanium hardware.

    IMHO, for a brand newbie to road bikes, get the Sportif w/ 105 and ride it for at least a year and puts thousands of miles on it. During that time, make subtle adjustments to make it more aggressive, like lower the stem 5mm every few hundred miles, until you can ride comfortably with it all the way down and flipped down. Then next year, trade it in (sell it) for the Roubaix with Ultegra. You may even want to go carbon fiber by then
    Last edited by Gran Fondo; 03-16-14 at 07:47 AM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by link0 View Post
    The main difference between 105 and Tiagra is that the 105s have hidden cable routing on the shifters, which look nicer. The 105s are not any smoother than Tiagra, but it's maybe 1 lb lighter overall and slightly more durable. Spend as much as your budget will allow. Both are good choices.
    Good summary comparison!
    You're just trying to start an argument to show how smart you are.

  11. #11
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    I think the 105 shifters are a little more comfortable than tiagra.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by funesto View Post
    Interesting... I believe I've narrowed it down between the Roubaix 1.3 C or the Sportif 1.1 C. Each has the 105 STI or Tiagra STI shifters, respectively. Im thinking I'll head back tomorrow and test the Roubaix first...

    The other shop wants me to test out a Cannondale Synapse but I don't see the point trying something above my price range. I'm tempted to not even try out the Giant, but it seems unwise to only try bikes from one brand...
    I've had both tiagra and 105 on my bikes and I'll say that besides the look and feel of the shifters, they both shift pretty much identical.

    Tiagra has its moments of crispness shifting through certain gears, but 105 is just a tad better. My 105 has only about 150-200 on it so far, so I still have some breaking in to smooth everything out.

    Overall, I do like the 105 more in the mechanical and aesthetics senses and I like the tiagra more in a comfort sense.

    I also had a synapse (w/tiagra) and if the shop is willing to drop the price down to your range hop on it and take it for a spin. I loved mine and could literally ride it until I was sick of riding.

  13. #13
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    I put a ton of miles on a Tiagra-shifter bike last year; it's entirely adequate and I'm not meaning that as a "damning with faint praise" thing either.

    Cable routing is cleaner with 105. I did ride a 105 bike the other day and shifting was pretty similar in all ways to my Tiagra bike.

    If you really want to shift in style, the new 11-sp Ultegra is sweeeet. Way out of the OP's price range though.
    Every time that wheel turn 'round,
    Bound to cover just a little more ground!

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    Quote Originally Posted by revchuck View Post
    The cassette (rear sprockets) is a 12-32, which would be fine if you live in the Rockies, but is too wide a range for a flatter area. If you live in a flat area, I'd get them to swap it out with a 12-25. The difference is the jump between gears - the wider range has a bigger difference between gears, which means a bigger difference in pedaling speed when you shift.
    Wow, I never thought about this til you mentioned it but I do remember the lower gears requiring an obnoxious amount of senseless spinning. I spent most of my time in the mid-range, even from a stop. I live in DC, where we have a few rolling hills but I think I will definitely have to look in to this cassette issue.

    To everyone else, thank you so much for your help! Sadly, the weather here has decided to smite me and it'll be in the 30s and 40s til next weekend . Time to ponder, I guess... but I'll definitely be back to discuss other options and also let you know what I've decided on

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