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Old 09-15-11, 05:46 PM   #1
richjac
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Trek Madone 3.1 vs Ti or ??

So, I've beed riding my AL frame Giant OCR1 for 6 years now, and I'm starting to think about upgrading. I've been thinking that it would take $2500+ to make significant gains - something like this, for instance:

http://www.lynskeyperformance.com/st...-complete.html

Then I walked into my LBS the other day to pick up some stuff and I see they have a bunch of Madone 3.1s on sale for just under $1600 - I am very tempted to pick one up, and give carbon a try. I want to feel less beat up at the end of a 70 - 100 mile ride.

Is it worth moving up to a Madone 4-series or other brand equivalent to get things like a tapered head tube? I also saw a Scott CR-1 for $1600 last weekend, so it's clear that carbon frames with 105 level components can be had for this price, perhaps only at the end of the season.

I probably need to wait and test ride a bunch of bikes next Spring, but not many local shops carry Ti or even steel framed road bikes, so it's hard to compare. Are these deals too good to pass up?
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Old 09-15-11, 06:00 PM   #2
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I own steel, carbon, aluminum and titanium. I ride the titanium more than anything else. It really is, IMHO, more a matter of fit than material. My main ride was custom built. In terms of the deals that exist right now, it's only a deal if it's what you really want. You may know more about what you want after extensive tests rides. In any event, half the fun is in looking and trying to make a decision!
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Old 09-16-11, 12:51 AM   #3
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I have noted a similar occurence over here with C.F. bikes with 105 groupset going for around the 1,000 mark.($1600) But a closer look at the spec and I have noticed a few things.

2007 and and I had a Frame built up- A TCR-C- with a mix of 105/ultegra and decent wheels for around 1700( $2,500) and Thank to the LBS it had the right bits and was around the retail of a complete bike. These 1,000 bikes do have a full 105 groupset but the quality of the components is way low and the wheels are not exactly what I would like to ride. I know I am fussy about wheels but it is the quality and weight of those components that is woryring to me.

I know C.F. is coming down in price but it seems that to get to the Critical price point- quality has to be saved somewhere again.

Now I don't know if it is the same over there but another point came up yesterday. My LBS is a Giant agent. Walked into the shop and there were very few Giant Bikes on show. Two defy 2's and a couple of lower range MTB's. The new 2012 bikes have not been shipped yet and the Defy's were this years models--With no discount. There are no Giant bikes available over here at all yet.

Mind you-there were a couple of Pinarrelo's out back being built up for customers and they are not Pinarrelo dealers. They can get them and They could let me have the basic ally FP1 with Tiagra for around the 1100 mark. Or the C.F. FP2 with 105 for around 2,000
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Old 09-16-11, 05:53 AM   #4
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I own steel, carbon, aluminum and titanium. I ride the titanium more than anything else. It really is, IMHO, more a matter of fit than material. My main ride was custom built. In terms of the deals that exist right now, it's only a deal if it's what you really want. You may know more about what you want after extensive tests rides. In any event, half the fun is in looking and trying to make a decision!
I think ^^ this is the main point, if the bike fits, you can get a significant upgrade for a reasonable amount of money, if it doesn't fit, then it does not matter. You should take one out for a test ride, see what you think.

Now here is another issue, lots of riders complain about how AL frames will beat them up, then you look at the bike, and it has 23mm tires at a pressure so high there is barely any difference whether the rider is on or off the bike. A cheaper option, may be to see of your OCR1 will take a wider tire, then run those tires at a little lower pressure. The reason for air in tires is to give an air suspension ride, not to make the wheels lighter.
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Old 09-16-11, 06:05 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by richjac View Post
I want to feel less beat up at the end of a 70 - 100 mile ride.

Is it worth moving up to a Madone 4-series or other brand equivalent to get things like a tapered head tube?
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I own steel, carbon, aluminum and titanium. I ride the titanium more than anything else. It really is, IMHO, more a matter of fit than material.
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I know C.F. is coming down in price but it seems that to get to the Critical price point- quality has to be saved somewhere again.
I own aluminum, steel and titanium. Where I've found differences in ride it's been due to quality of manufacture. My low-end aluminum bike rides per the reputation of aluminum. My high-end aluminum bike rides better than my steel one, but not quite as well as my titanium one.

My point being, it's not the material, it's the engineering and execution.

As NOS88 said, Fit and rider position are important too, and probably trumps material. I wouldn't know from personal experience since I haven't owned an ill-fitting bike.

The trend these days is towards "stiffer". According to marketing, stiffer is better. The tapered head tubes on the new Madones are to make it stiffer. The Lynsky says it's stiffer due to the oversize downtube. IME, stiffer comes at a cost in ride quality.

IME, cheaper also comes at a cost in ride quality. That can be in the frame or it can be in the wheels, as stapfam points out. The point's been made recently on another forum that under $2K, every brand cuts corners on wheels.

My gut tells me that the newer, cheaper carbon bikes are going to lose the "magical carbon ride" due to being made cheaper, being made stiffer, and being outfitted with cheesy wheels.

I know it's difficult to compare the rides of bikes you can't test ride. For me there was also the affordability problem. I watched and waited for a good second-hand steel bike to come along. I pounced on it when it did. I rode it and bought it even though I wasn't entirely convinced from the test ride. Swapping the tires made a big difference.

My Ti frame I couldn't ride until after I built it up. But I got a good deal on it, I knew from measurements it would fit, and if it didn't work out, I could sell it easily without losing much if any money. I've been delighted with each purchase.

Buying new, I'd be less apt to buy without a test ride, especially in this age of stiffer is better.

Right now, all you can ride is the bargain Madone. Ride it. If you find it's the right bike buy it. If not, you've got all winter to wait for something else to come along.
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Old 09-16-11, 06:08 AM   #6
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I've have steel, had Ti and recently finished my first Carbon Fiber road-bike build. As the others have said, it's all about the fit. The Lynskey-made Ti bike I owned had a comfortable ride but I found the frame a little flexy in the fork & head-tube. I'm a 210 lbs six-footer, a normal sized person might have liked the ti bike more than I did. I now have a CF bike with an asymmetrical head-tube and the bike is clearly stiffer, but in a good way. I'm still evaluating the ride quality, but with 700x25 tires at 95 & 105 psi on Velocity A23 rims on 32 hole Shimano hubs, I know a 200k ride on average pavement will be no problem on a stiff carbon-fiber bike.

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Old 09-16-11, 06:05 PM   #7
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Not all carbon bikes are equal. I believe Trek uses four different carbons on their bikes, with OCLV Red being the best and OCLV Black next.

I'm on my fourth carbon bike and love it (Madone 6.9). I also ride an aluminum CC bike as my town bike and unpaved path/trails bike. The carbon is much more comfortable after 20+ miles.
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Old 09-16-11, 06:35 PM   #8
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Yes, now is the time for tempting deals at your local LBS. I was in mine today and I saw a Madone 5.2 for $2600. It would have been more tempting had I not been with my teenage daughter, who said, "you don't need that, your bike is perfectly good. If you are going to spend that kind of money, you can lease a horse for me, as I've been begging you to...."
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Old 09-16-11, 09:22 PM   #9
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I have the new 2012 Madone 3.1 and I love it.

http://www.gwfweb.com/bicycles/trek31.html

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Old 09-16-11, 09:34 PM   #10
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Well I'm slightly larger than you - always thought this was normal sized, but maybe not for cyclists

Seriously, I don't have huge issues with the Al frame OCR1, just curious to see what others are like. I'm riding 700X28 tires at 95 psi, but they are pretty stiff tires - Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase. I'm thinking a cushier tire would smooth out the ride, but it sure is nice never to have to change a flat.
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Old 09-16-11, 09:35 PM   #11
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Yes, they do - but how different is the ride quality - as opposed to the weight?
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Old 09-16-11, 09:43 PM   #12
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Do you mean that the quality of the 105 groupset is low, or the other components? I know they tend to go cheap on the brakes until you get into the higher end of the range - except for SRAM groups which seem to always have SRAM brakes. As for wheels, even at twice the price you don't see very high end wheels, so why not buy the $1600 bike and spend another $600 on some OK wheels?
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Old 09-16-11, 09:44 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by richjac View Post
So, I've beed riding my AL frame Giant OCR1 for 6 years now, and I'm starting to think about upgrading. I've been thinking that it would take $2500+ to make significant gains - something like this, for instance:

http://www.lynskeyperformance.com/st...-complete.html

Then I walked into my LBS the other day to pick up some stuff and I see they have a bunch of Madone 3.1s on sale for just under $1600 - I am very tempted to pick one up, and give carbon a try. I want to feel less beat up at the end of a 70 - 100 mile ride.

Is it worth moving up to a Madone 4-series or other brand equivalent to get things like a tapered head tube? I also saw a Scott CR-1 for $1600 last weekend, so it's clear that carbon frames with 105 level components can be had for this price, perhaps only at the end of the season.

I probably need to wait and test ride a bunch of bikes next Spring, but not many local shops carry Ti or even steel framed road bikes, so it's hard to compare. Are these deals too good to pass up?
Give Ti a try, you may find you like it a lot.

Also, you may consider holding out for Ultegra. You may be happier in the long run.

Good luck!
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Old 09-16-11, 10:52 PM   #14
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I bought a Trek Madone 5.2 with the Ultegra group and I am one Very happy roadie!! It exceeds all my expectations and is the first bike I will be growing into instead of out of.

All I've changed so far is a shorter stem. I felt too laid all the way out with the stock stem.

The wheels are still the stock Bontrager Race. I've no real complaints myself. They do make the coolest resonance sound at speed. So for now I'm happy and won't be changing much.

I recommend trying to get the Ultegra Group. You won't regret it. This group shifts like a dream!! The only weak part so far has been ME. I'm still getting the feel of the sweet spots. It's stunning how well this group works!
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Old 09-17-11, 12:35 AM   #15
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Well I'm slightly larger than you - always thought this was normal sized, but maybe not for cyclists

Seriously, I don't have huge issues with the Al frame OCR1, just curious to see what others are like. I'm riding 700X28 tires at 95 psi, but they are pretty stiff tires - Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase. I'm thinking a cushier tire would smooth out the ride, but it sure is nice never to have to change a flat.
I had the newer OCR3 bought in 2006. First of all and a change of wheels and tyres made a big improvement in ride quality. Hand built Wheels and Mich Pro 2 tyres and average speed on a 30 mile ride went up by 2 mph. Then a year later and I went to a top grade ally frame and that was where I found the difference. May have been better fit- but the Better groupset definitely was better but I could do more miles- at a higher speed and with more comfort. Not long afterwards and I got a TCR-C- one of these resilient C.F. frames. Took a long time to settle it down and it was harsh. Finished up being very stiff wheels so on went the Handbuilt wheels and Fine.

Bontrager tyres- They may be puncture resistant but so are many others that give better grip and at a comparable price. And nothing wrong with 105 groupset- but Ultegra for more money is lighter and does work a bit smoother. However wheels- and They affect ride quality more than people give credit for. Cheap OM wheels are cheap because they are not as good as other wheels. They can Flex on cornering- have cheaper bearings- Be made of inferior material and the quickest way to improve a stock bike is to change the wheels to something better. But you have to choose those wheels for the use and the rider. And more omportantly- suit the wallet aswell.
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Old 09-17-11, 05:29 AM   #16
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I had the newer OCR3 bought in 2006. First of all and a change of wheels and tyres made a big improvement in ride quality. Hand built Wheels and Mich Pro 2 tyres and average speed on a 30 mile ride went up by 2 mph. Then a year later and I went to a top grade ally frame and that was where I found the difference. May have been better fit- but the Better groupset definitely was better but I could do more miles- at a higher speed and with more comfort. Not long afterwards and I got a TCR-C- one of these resilient C.F. frames. Took a long time to settle it down and it was harsh. Finished up being very stiff wheels so on went the Handbuilt wheels and Fine.

Bontrager tyres- They may be puncture resistant but so are many others that give better grip and at a comparable price. And nothing wrong with 105 groupset- but Ultegra for more money is lighter and does work a bit smoother. However wheels- and They affect ride quality more than people give credit for. Cheap OM wheels are cheap because they are not as good as other wheels. They can Flex on cornering- have cheaper bearings- Be made of inferior material and the quickest way to improve a stock bike is to change the wheels to something better. But you have to choose those wheels for the use and the rider. And more omportantly- suit the wallet aswell.
It's funny, you can take two riders, put them on the same wheels, and one says they are the best thing ever, and the other says they are complete s***, simply because the first guy used a dealer who took the wheels out of the box and put them on a truing stand, pulled up the tension and trued them properly and the second guy went to a dealer who took the wheels out of the box, and slapped them on, put air in the tire and considered them done. One thing I want to do this winter is buy or build a truing stand, and start redoing my wheels. Here is a fact, for a company like Shimano, it's cheaper to buy a single large lot of high quality bearings, then it is to have several small lots of differing qualities for different levels of components.
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Old 09-17-11, 07:54 AM   #17
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As with most things in life, the benefits of this bike or that are largely a result of personal preference. With a quality bicycle, you can't go wrong if you ride the thing and like it. I have aluminum, steel, and carbon/aluminum and can only tell the difference in ride based on fit. I can't tell the difference between wheel sets, Ultegra and 105, and many other features. when we're talking $1600 or better for a bike, I'm pretty sure it's a good bike, though you might not like it when you ride it. I think it's best to go with what captures your imagination.
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Old 09-17-11, 08:43 AM   #18
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It's funny, you can take two riders, put them on the same wheels, and one says they are the best thing ever, and the other says they are complete s***, simply because the first guy used a dealer who took the wheels out of the box and put them on a truing stand, pulled up the tension and trued them properly and the second guy went to a dealer who took the wheels out of the box, and slapped them on, put air in the tire and considered them done.
Bike taken out of shop- run for 100 miles and the wheels were sent back for detenion and retrueing, 6 Months later and the Hand Built wheels came in. I did a ride and there was a long stretch of coasting and on the OM wheels a curve became a corner and I could see the wheels flexing laterraly- they did not have the speed that I expected and in fact the bike was slower than my MTB with knobblies fitted. Fitted the hand builts and speed was back on the same hill- the corner was back to being a curve and average speed for a 30 miler was up by 2 mph.

The second bike was a custom build and the wheels were something special--The mechanic at the shop bought a set of Ultegra wheels for himself. He stripped and rebuilt them and they were fantastic--But all his bikes ran 9 speed. These Ultegra wheels were for 10 speed only. The set up and components fitted to that second bike make for one comfortable bike and it is a Lightweight Aluminium Race geometry frame.

When I got the TCR-C- I fitted Aksiums. A good stiff wheel that is not the lightest around but most definitely they are not heavy. That bike took a lot of sorting out and I honestly thought I had made a mistake in getting it. It bounced all over the road and speed in excess of 35mph was dangerous. I tried allsorts to get that bike to handle and it was not just me- other riders said the same when they borrowed it for rides. Tried different tyres- adjusted pressures and the only saving grace was that this bike went up hills. Sent the Aksiums back to the mechanic for him to work his magic on them and the Sunday ride was done on the Handbuilt wheels. Cured the problem. Then tried various combinations of wheels and came to the conclusion that the TCR is a stiff frame. That and my lightweight of 150lbs and a set of very stiff wheels does not give me a bike I can ride. Perhaps if I put on 50lbs I might to be able to use the stiff wheels on the TCR but I do not think that is a route I want to take.

Now I am not going to say that all OM wheels are Cr*p--Full stop. But I will say that they can be bettered. Problem is- which way do you go to better those wheels. Do you get a pair of lightweight wheels that are ultra stiff with no flex in them- or a set of handbuilt training wheels that are indestructable and will will last for ever- that give a more compliant ride. As I have found out- You have to gauge those wheels to you- to the bike - to your local road quality and to your pocket to give you the ride you want. In fact my original hand builts are so good that I have bought a pair of OM wheels to use as training/winter/foul weather wheels. They have been tweaked by the mechanic and they are a pair of Giant IOU 353 wheels. Not the greatest around but they cost me less than $100- including the tweaking. But a long ride or lots of climbing and on go those original handbuilts. They work.
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Old 09-17-11, 03:01 PM   #19
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Bike taken out of shop- run for 100 miles and the wheels were sent back for detenion and retrueing, 6 Months later and the Hand Built wheels came in. I did a ride and there was a long stretch of coasting and on the OM wheels a curve became a corner and I could see the wheels flexing laterraly- they did not have the speed that I expected and in fact the bike was slower than my MTB with knobblies fitted. Fitted the hand builts and speed was back on the same hill- the corner was back to being a curve and average speed for a 30 miler was up by 2 mph.

The second bike was a custom build and the wheels were something special--The mechanic at the shop bought a set of Ultegra wheels for himself. He stripped and rebuilt them and they were fantastic--But all his bikes ran 9 speed. These Ultegra wheels were for 10 speed only. The set up and components fitted to that second bike make for one comfortable bike and it is a Lightweight Aluminium Race geometry frame.

When I got the TCR-C- I fitted Aksiums. A good stiff wheel that is not the lightest around but most definitely they are not heavy. That bike took a lot of sorting out and I honestly thought I had made a mistake in getting it. It bounced all over the road and speed in excess of 35mph was dangerous. I tried allsorts to get that bike to handle and it was not just me- other riders said the same when they borrowed it for rides. Tried different tyres- adjusted pressures and the only saving grace was that this bike went up hills. Sent the Aksiums back to the mechanic for him to work his magic on them and the Sunday ride was done on the Handbuilt wheels. Cured the problem. Then tried various combinations of wheels and came to the conclusion that the TCR is a stiff frame. That and my lightweight of 150lbs and a set of very stiff wheels does not give me a bike I can ride. Perhaps if I put on 50lbs I might to be able to use the stiff wheels on the TCR but I do not think that is a route I want to take.

Now I am not going to say that all OM wheels are Cr*p--Full stop. But I will say that they can be bettered. Problem is- which way do you go to better those wheels. Do you get a pair of lightweight wheels that are ultra stiff with no flex in them- or a set of handbuilt training wheels that are indestructable and will will last for ever- that give a more compliant ride. As I have found out- You have to gauge those wheels to you- to the bike - to your local road quality and to your pocket to give you the ride you want. In fact my original hand builts are so good that I have bought a pair of OM wheels to use as training/winter/foul weather wheels. They have been tweaked by the mechanic and they are a pair of Giant IOU 353 wheels. Not the greatest around but they cost me less than $100- including the tweaking. But a long ride or lots of climbing and on go those original handbuilts. They work.
There are a lot of factors, you can take the OM wheel, drop the tension to 0, then properly true it and tension it and get the same as a hand made wheel, although it will probably be cheaper, because the guy in the shop doesn't need to feed the spokes through one by one, and you can take advantage of the OM's volume buying.
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