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Old 10-20-09, 12:38 AM
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I've bought both the Schwinn Varsity CF (with brake/shifters) and the plain aluminum Varisty (with shifters on the bars) we looked at the Denali, but it really is just too low end. The shifters are bizzare actually - they are grip shifters but on the road style bars... not even sure how they got them on there unless they cut and re-welded the bars.

The CF varisty i began upgrading...bought it in March and by August I had upgraded: Fork, shifters, wheels, Cassette, pedals, derailleurs, seat, seatpost, stem, bottom bracket, crank, and frame- went with the Nashbar Aluc... Literally everything but the handlebars and brakes; and niether of those were particularly good.

I took all the parts, bought the missing ones and threw them back on the old Varsity CF frame for one of my sons.

The aluminum Varsity we bought a $99 Perfomance Bike frame and swapped all the components.

We also got lucky and found a great deal on a 1989 Trek 1200 with all Shimano 105 components.

My lesson learned? The Varsity CF was really ok as-is as a starter bike. The wheels are much more durable than the Denali or aluminum varsity (aluminum Varsity is similar to Prelude) but at $344 it was getting close to a 'real' bike shop bike. And sure its "carbon fiber" but they just wrap carbon fiber around the aluminum frame, so it's not light, and it's not structural, it's purely for cosmetics and is HEAVIER than just the plain Aluminum varsity frame.

After upgrading I was able to tell a difference in performance, but really not 2-3 times as good as the original.

My youngest rides the bike that was the aluminum Varsity (we got the other frame for a better fit) and he doesn't complain

The best deal was the Trek, and I highly recommend a good quality used bike. We got it cheaper than the aluminum Varsity, and it will resell at the same price we bought it easily.

The best advice i have if you get the new cheap bikes is to replace your rim tape on the lower end bikes like Varsity, Prelude, and Denali. The original rim 'tape' is a rubber strip, and it gets pushed down into the spoke holes, and causes flats. Read the online reviews and you'll see many people complaining about this without realizing what the real cause of the problem is.
We had to replace the rim tape on the aluminum Varsity. Since this it's been a decent ride.

If you jump onto the Road Bike Forum and search for "Denali" you'll find a guy who bought one a couple months back and put some miles on it. His rear wheel spokes blew out this week - not that this will happen to you, but I just don't think the Denali is as 'well built' as the Varsity.

I mean, if the Denali is around $100, break down all the components and figure out how much each one is worth? Thats like maybe $10 for each wheel, $2-3 for each tire, $15 for the frame, $5 for the forks, $20 for the shifters and derailluers, etc...
clarkgriswold is offline