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Racing vs. Endurance Road Bikes

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Racing vs. Endurance Road Bikes

Old 08-23-15, 07:51 AM
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Racing vs. Endurance Road Bikes

So I'm getting serious about buying a road bike. I know I want something aluminum (or maybe steel) with 105 components that won't break the bank (under $2000). This gives me almost too many choices. I'm 5'9" and around 250 pounds. I currently ride a Trek Allant so switching to a road bike will be a big change. Anyways, I've generally been looking at the so-called endurance bikes (Cannondale Synapse 105, Giant Defy 1, etc.) because I'm thinking the more relaxed riding position will be an asset to me. Browsing these forums, though, I'm starting to wonder if I should also look at the racing side of things. What are your thoughts? Are the racing bikes too uncomfortable for someone with a decidedly non-racerly frame? Or would something like the Cannondale CAAD 10 work?
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Old 08-23-15, 08:12 AM
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Impossible to say what will suit you. Given your height and weight I'd guess, but it would only be an educated guess, that the taller head tube and therefore slightly more upright riding position on the Roubaix-style bikes would be an easier adjustment for you. The easy way to make sure is to go to, say, a Giant dealer and get on a TCR, then compare how that feels to sitting on a Defy.

Once you've sorted that out, all you have to do is buy one that fits.
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Old 08-23-15, 08:23 AM
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Agreed. I'd say go ride everything you can and see which one "speaks" to you. In 2011, I took a day and went to enough shops to ride a Felt Z-something, Synapse, Roubaix, Defy, Orbea something, and a Tarmac. By the end of the day, I had narrowed it down to either a Defy Advanced or a Tarmac. Yes, they're very different bikes. The Defy was extremely comfortable. The Tarmac was fun. In the end, I mail-ordered a Lynskey, but If I were to get bit by (and have the budget for) an N+1, I'd buy the Tarmac in a heartbeat.

I also found it interesting that I really liked the Defy Advanced 3, but not so much the 4. The main difference was the wheels.

Oh, at the time, I was 6'2" and about 245.
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Old 08-23-15, 08:28 AM
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Thanks. I definitely plan on doing lots of test riding.
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Old 08-23-15, 09:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Moriarty View Post
What are your thoughts? Are the racing bikes too uncomfortable for someone with a decidedly non-racerly frame?
Race bikes are great if you're racing. The aggressive geometry forces you into a more aerodynamic riding position and the quick (some might say "nervous") handling works well when descending twisty roads at high speeds or jockeying for position with other riders. If you're not planning to race, you'll probably be significantly happier with the less-aggressive geometry and more predictable handling of an endurance-geometry bike. I know I am...
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Old 08-23-15, 10:09 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by sstorkel View Post
Race bikes are great if you're racing. The aggressive geometry forces you into a more aerodynamic riding position and the quick (some might say "nervous") handling works well when descending twisty roads at high speeds or jockeying for position with other riders. If you're not planning to race, you'll probably be significantly happier with the less-aggressive geometry and more predictable handling of an endurance-geometry bike. I know I am...
I read all about the "quick nervous twitchy" handling, but my new Cannondale EVO (2014 new in the shop when I bought it) does not seem remotely like that in any way compared to my Sportif. Granted I am not doing any 50+ mph descents around here. Some folks have said the Sportif is "so relaxed it borders on being touring geometry"

Bill
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Old 08-23-15, 10:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Willbird View Post
Granted I am not doing any 50+ mph descents around here.
I think if I wind up doing 50+mph on a bike, it would mean I've done something very wrong, very painful and likely very reminiscent of an old Looney Tunes cartoon. :-)
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Old 08-23-15, 11:09 AM
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buy the bike you want to ride. You can always change a stem to get a different angle to make the bike fit you the way you want it to so you ride more upright or more aero. If you think in the long haul you will want to ride a racer buy a racer and make it fit you. As you ride you will get to where you will be more flexible and will make minor adjustments an change stem angles/add or remove spacers to the stem.

I am riding an Orbea Orca in a 60 cm frame which is more of a race geometry and I love it, but then I love getting to the top of a hill and blasting down the other side at over 30 mph.
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Old 08-23-15, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by dagray View Post
buy the bike you want to ride. You can always change a stem to get a different angle to make the bike fit you the way you want it to so you ride more upright or more aero. If you think in the long haul you will want to ride a racer buy a racer and make it fit you. As you ride you will get to where you will be more flexible and will make minor adjustments an change stem angles/add or remove spacers to the stem.

I am riding an Orbea Orca in a 60 cm frame which is more of a race geometry and I love it, but then I love getting to the top of a hill and blasting down the other side at over 30 mph.
David hit the nail on the head.

Get the bike that you see yourself riding. That may, (un)fortunately change over time, but you can certainly fit it to you. The bike I ride, geometry-wise, is somewhere in between what you'd find in a race bike and a sportive bike, erring on the side of racer, but I love it, and it works for me. I don't race, either. The slightly more aero position also helps keep the morale up in a stiff headwind
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Old 08-23-15, 07:18 PM
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Along with many test rides, the other thing you might want to take into consideration is the warranty. Years ago after test riding many bikes I picked up a SRAM equipped CAAD9. It was my first real road bike. I put tens of thousands of miles on that bike. Along the way the shifters stopped working and the good folks at SRAM covered replacements under warranty. Then after four years of daily year round commuting, weekend rec riding, and occasional road racing, the frame died of metal fatigue. New frame covered by C'Dale under life-time warranty. Was a great bike that served me faithfully nearly every day for many years and miles (about 40k worth), made even better by folks who stand behind their products. Definitely got my moneys worth out of that bike. I think I paid about $1,800 for her.

My current ride is a CAAD10. Just did a 12-hour endurance ride last month and my ride performed flawlessly ... including several high speed winding descents down from high mountain passes.

Good luck on your decision. Lots of great choices out there.
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Old 08-23-15, 07:33 PM
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The only thing I will note is they all ride differently. For example, I rode the Roubaix, Synapse, and Domane. Yes, they're all carbon and you're looking at AL but my point is more that I although all 3 were "endurance" bikes they all handled very differently. I personally found the Domane to be twitchy, the Synapse to be less twitchy, and the Roubaix to be the most stable. I went with the Roubaix - it felt "right" to me.

The point being: Make a list of 3 or 4 bikes that interest you and that you can afford. Go ride them. Pick the one that feels best. It's the same thing with a car, really. When it's the right one you'll know.
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Old 08-23-15, 07:37 PM
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Race geometry can be set up for a more comfortable fit for endurance rides, but it's harder to set up aggressively on an endurance geometry bike. One of the biggest advantages of an endurance geometry is the ability to use wider tires. The Synapse can take 28s, maybe even some 30s, where the CAAD 9/10/12 will only take up to a 25. I am riding a CAAD9-4 for Century training and have moments of wishing I'd bought a Synapse instead, but I'm also planning on racing some Criteriums next year and for that the CAAD9 is definitely the better bike. I think the only solution is N+1 but I can't convince the wife yet LOL. If I do, I'm probably going to build up a Gunnar Sport using Rival 10-speed so that cassettes and most other parts will interchange between the two bikes without issue.
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Old 08-23-15, 07:54 PM
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Bassjones is right on-- if you ever want to run a tire wider than a 25, you'll want to look at endurance geometry. All but one person I ride with could never fit anything bigger than a 25 on their bikes, and on some, the clearance for even that is really tight. I knew from the outset I wanted to run significantly bigger tires-- 28s at the minimum, and 35 for fire trails/gravel, so the first and last choice for me was a cross frame. I've noticed no real handicap when riding with others, or in groups, or by myself. The only way I can tell I'm on a cross frame is descending, because the geometry of the bike combined with my... physique, I just can't maintain the downhill speeds the hardcore roadies can. But I can run a 50mm tire if I so desired, so I've got that going for me, which is nice.
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Old 08-23-15, 08:08 PM
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You've all made some great points and cleared a few things up for me. I wish I could go the n+1 route but I like staying married. :-) Anyways, I'm going to make sure to try both styles and see what feels right.
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Old 08-24-15, 12:22 AM
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how flexible are you? How is your current bike setup? How much seat to bar drop are you running? Are you comfy in the drops for a long time?
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Old 08-24-15, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Moriarty View Post
So I'm getting serious about buying a road bike. I know I want something aluminum (or maybe steel) with 105 components that won't break the bank (under $2000). This gives me almost too many choices. I'm 5'9" and around 250 pounds. I currently ride a Trek Allant so switching to a road bike will be a big change. Anyways, I've generally been looking at the so-called endurance bikes (Cannondale Synapse 105, Giant Defy 1, etc.) because I'm thinking the more relaxed riding position will be an asset to me. Browsing these forums, though, I'm starting to wonder if I should also look at the racing side of things. What are your thoughts? Are the racing bikes too uncomfortable for someone with a decidedly non-racerly frame? Or would something like the Cannondale CAAD 10 work?
All we can say is go to the LBS's that have these bikes with AL frames and road test both the Endurance and Race geometries of the various brands.

In addition to Cannondale and Giant, try Fuji (Sportif/Roubaix), Trek, Specialized, Jamis, Raleigh, Orbea, Felt, and whatever other AL bikes you can find.

Hopefully, at least, one bike will speak to you, and you will be able to see yourself riding that bike every day. Now's a pretty good time to buy a 2014/2015 if you can find one that fits, as the dealers want to get rid of those bikes, so they can get a new 2016. But be careful that you don't get a bike that doesn't fit, because the dealer is giving you a really good price. If it doesn't fit well, it's not a bargain. And by road testing lots of bikes, you should be able to tell which bikes you feel most comfortable on.

Buy a bike for today, but be thinking about where you want to be on the bike in a year, as a bike that fits well without very many adjustments today, will be more ajustable to your future needs. If you get a bike, now, that they have to put on a new stem, or change the angle on the stem of something other than just adjusting the seat height, that will limit the changes that can be made in the future, when you get into even better bike shape.

And regarding what BassJones said, I have a Fuji Sportif (w/ Tiagra) with disc brakes. Because it has disc brakes, it can take a wider tire. It came with 700cx28mm tires, but it can easily handle 35mm tires. Also, because it has disc brakes, it has 28/32 spokes on front/rear. And as you will find on this forum, wheels/spokes are the weak points on bikes for Clydes.

GH
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Old 08-24-15, 10:03 AM
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I think most people are going to be more comfortable on an endurance style racing frame. What I'm envisioning here is slightly slackened head and seat tube angles, slightly longer chain stays (i.e. >41cm instead of 40mm) and a longer head tube. That's going to be plenty aggressive for most people and especially most clydes. It's unfortunate that most bikes are built with racing geometries like we're all going to be working on becoming TdF domestiques or something. It's great that there are now starting to be more choices with racing frames, endurance frames, gravel grinders etc... Considerably more choice than a few years ago, but it can make for a bewildering set of choices when you go to buy a bike.

Greg Lemond said it best - you should get the bike that allows you to be as aerodynamic as you are comfortable.

I had been riding an older bike - a 2007 Lemond Versailles built by Trek. Had 40cm chain stays, 67mm bb drop, very upright seat and head tube angles, a high bottom bracket. That was a bike that took a lot of steering input to manage and was essentially a criterium bike but not dissimilar to most "racing" frames now. I recently built a full custom stainless steel frame that is awesome that has what would have been considered the geometry for a stage racing frame (very similar to endurance style frames now) from when that was the style of racing frame. Slightly relaxed angles on seat and head tube. 41.5cm chain stays, 75mm bb drop, longer wheelbase etc... I'm slightly more upright. Result is increased average speed, better comfort, less fatigue after a long day of riding. Very predictable and quick handling, great on high speed descents.

J.
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Old 08-24-15, 10:41 AM
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Don't rule out Carbon, you can get a decent Carbon bike in your price range and with the lifetime warranties on the frames why not at least look at them. Personally the Giant Defy advanced is what I went with tried a racing bike and it killed me, believe me it make feel great for 10 miles but you have to think about how will it feel in 20, 30 or even at 100 miles.
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Old 08-24-15, 10:42 AM
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I like my Cannondale Synapse -- its a carbon framed model and is comfortable, --- but i would have no problem racing it

A lot of the "comfort" , "endurance" or "sportif" frames actually get used in racing quite a bit in the spring classics by some

After a test ride or two, you will hopefully have a feel on what is going to be right for you, whether it is a racing model or a "sportif" model

- Funny, when i first started riding years ago, we didnt worry much about the nomenclature, it was just " run what ya brung" - buying bikes now is more complicated
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Old 08-24-15, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Moriarty View Post
So I'm getting serious about buying a road bike. I know I want something aluminum (or maybe steel) with 105 components that won't break the bank (under $2000). This gives me almost too many choices. I'm 5'9" and around 250 pounds. I currently ride a Trek Allant so switching to a road bike will be a big change. Anyways, I've generally been looking at the so-called endurance bikes (Cannondale Synapse 105, Giant Defy 1, etc.) because I'm thinking the more relaxed riding position will be an asset to me. Browsing these forums, though, I'm starting to wonder if I should also look at the racing side of things. What are your thoughts?
Having ridden the same 1996 Litespeed racing frame at weights from 135 to over 215:

Racing geometry is fine, but you need to accommodate your position, want a triple crank for your power to weight ratio, and want wider tires for your weight. That generally gets you an endurance road bike or maybe a recreational cross bike with road tires.

Regardless of flexibility, fat causes two problems with low positions:

1. Your belly gets in the way of your legs so past some point lower is not physically possible.

2. The fat hanging off your front side puts more strain on your core muscles and weight on your hands and wrists which leads to discomfort.

With fat you're probably not racing-fit which is an issue. Higher power outputs make lower positions more comfortable because reaction forces from pedaling push your torso up more.

When most bikes were sized for a fistful of seatpost showing racing bikes worked fine - you just raised the stem, although that's less of an option with compact frames making all tubes shorter and carbon steerers having spacer limits. You want an endurance frame for the taller head tube.

Fat is bad for your power to weight ratio - I increased mine 50% just getting rid of my middle aged spread. A compact crank with a 34 ring only gives you a 15% lower gear to compensate versus the standard 39 which isn't enough. A road triple with a 26 inner ring completely compensates for that. The compact also compromises front shift frequency and how close the gears are although having 11 cogs in back mitigates that some. Racing bikes don't come with triples, and a custom build is out of your price range.

Extra weight also requires either more pressure which is less comfortable or wider tires. Many racing frames won't clear anything bigger than a 25 or even a 23. At 250 pounds you want 28mm tires which suggests an endurance or cyclocross frame.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 08-24-15 at 04:10 PM.
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Old 08-24-15, 01:53 PM
  #21  
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Would you be interested in a flat bar road bike? I just bought one from Performance, after riding every conceivable model locally. I initially thought I would want drop bars, but coming from a hybrid, I found myself staying on the tops for most rides (borrowed a bike a few weeks), and was even thinking about adding secondary brake levers. Then I found this new model, and it was sweet! I love riding it. It's got 105s, hydraulic disc brakes (which leaves room for wider tires (comes with 25s). And at $1000 with $200 in points back, I felt it was a great bike for me. It's the Fuji Absolute 1.0 (2015).
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Old 08-24-15, 04:00 PM
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If it's your first road bike, definitely look at the endurance road frames. With the taller (generally) head tubes, there is a better allowance for a comfortable riding position to start with. Endurance frames will also accommodate wider tyres that will make for a more supple ride. Most road race frames won't allow these factors to be accommodated. Their head tubes are shorter and there's not a lot of room to run wider tyres than 23mm on a lot of frames. Felt F series and Cervelo R3 won't take 25mm Conti tyres for example. If you want to get more aggressive, then the endurance frame can accommodate that to a point. If you want to start racing even, then an endurance frame certainly won't hold you back in the lower grades.
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Old 08-24-15, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
I like my Cannondale Synapse -- its a carbon framed model and is comfortable, --- but i would have no problem racing it

A lot of the "comfort" , "endurance" or "sportif" frames actually get used in racing quite a bit in the spring classics by some

After a test ride or two, you will hopefully have a feel on what is going to be right for you, whether it is a racing model or a "sportif" model

- Funny, when i first started riding years ago, we didnt worry much about the nomenclature, it was just " run what ya brung" - buying bikes now is more complicated
I also ride a Cannondale Synapse 5 105 carbon and i love it
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Old 08-24-15, 10:48 PM
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I'd make one more suggestion if this is your first road bike. Road bikes feel very different than hybrids or MTB. The first road bike models you ride will feel twitchy and nervous. You might not feel comfortable on them at all. By the time you've tried 3 or 4, you start to settle in to the road bike groove and the bike feels right because you have more experience. For that reason, I would circle back and ride the first models again before making your final decision.

My focus group of me, myself and I landed on the Giant Defy 1 as the ride to get.
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Old 08-25-15, 08:49 AM
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LBS allowed us to rent a bike before Mary bought hers, with rent applied to purchase if purchased there.

Did a 60 mile day, and by then she was in love...
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