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Not which bike, but which LEVEL of bike?

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Not which bike, but which LEVEL of bike?

Old 11-22-16, 07:52 PM
  #1  
cj19
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Not which bike, but which LEVEL of bike?

Apologies up front for the length of this post.
I'm looking for wisdom on what level of bike would be best for my situation. I'm a 57 year old Clydesdale who has had 5 knee surgeries and rediscovered cycling upon retirement earlier this year. Using a Fuji Nevada (35 lb flat bar hybrid w/ 50cm tires) and limiting my riding to 3x per week, I was up to 40 - 60 miles per week by end of Fall. I'm really enjoying the riding and have set a goal of doing a century ride in 2017. I'll keep the Fuji for trail rides but I'm ready for a nice road bike and willing to spend up to $1,500. After a good bit of research and test rides I've realized there are a lot of great bikes out there, and pretty much 2 levels between $750 and $1500. For under $1000 there's Specialized Allez, Trek 1.2, Giant Contend, Jamis Quest Comp, etc, all of which come with carbon fork, lower end shimano components, and traditional pull breaks. Moving up to $1500 gets you Tiagra or 105 level components, disc brakes, better tires and other goodness. My question (finally) is what LEVEL is the smart move? Because of the knee issues I'll probably never ride more than 4 times per week, but I also don't want to get a new bike and grow past it in 1 year. You get the picture...thanks in advance for the good-hearted advice!
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Old 11-22-16, 08:12 PM
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You might want to consider buying from Performance Bike- or, if you are mechanically inclined and don't mind building it yourself, Bikes Direct. You'll get a lot more for your money.

For example, here's a Fuji on Performance Bike for $989 with a 105/ Ultegra mix.
Fuji Roubaix 1.1 Road Bike - 2016

If you are a member, you would get $200 in store credit for buying that bike. If not it costs $30, so you'd still net $170.

This is just an example, and I know it doesn't answer your question, but whatever level you decide to go with, a Fuji or similar will be a better value than a Trek/Specialized.
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Old 11-22-16, 08:14 PM
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Hey, cj19,

Here's my two cents... others will offer four or eight cents.

If your back (especially lower back) is in good shape, you're better off going with an aluminum frame/carbon fork and getting a 105-level group set than going with a carbon frame and lesser group set.

I have bought three road bikes in four years. My first was a Trek Lexa S (aluminum frame w/ carbon fork, Sora groupset). After 18 months, I wanted a better bike. I upgraded to a Lexa SLX, which gave me a 105 group set, better aluminum, and the iso-coupler (which is supposed to reduce vibration, but has limited efficacy with aluminum). So a few months ago, I upgraded (again!) to a Trek Silque S (Full carbon frame w/ iso-coupler, 105 groupset). I am now a very happy camper. If I didn't have a sensitive lower back, I'd have been happy as a clam with the Lexa SLX.

All of the above are women's bikes, but it's easy to find equivalent men's models (in pretty much every brand). I like endurance geometries; you might want to try both endurance and more racy.

My only other advice is that now can still be an excellent time to buy as shops will still have some 2016 models they're eager to get off the books before the new year.

Good hunting!
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Old 11-22-16, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by cj19 View Post
Apologies up front for the length of this post.
I'm looking for wisdom on what level of bike would be best for my situation. I'm a 57 year old Clydesdale who has had 5 knee surgeries and rediscovered cycling upon retirement earlier this year. Using a Fuji Nevada (35 lb flat bar hybrid w/ 50cm tires) and limiting my riding to 3x per week, I was up to 40 - 60 miles per week by end of Fall. I'm really enjoying the riding and have set a goal of doing a century ride in 2017. I'll keep the Fuji for trail rides but I'm ready for a nice road bike and willing to spend up to $1,500. After a good bit of research and test rides I've realized there are a lot of great bikes out there, and pretty much 2 levels between $750 and $1500. For under $1000 there's Specialized Allez, Trek 1.2, Giant Contend, Jamis Quest Comp, etc, all of which come with carbon fork, lower end shimano components, and traditional pull breaks. Moving up to $1500 gets you Tiagra or 105 level components, disc brakes, better tires and other goodness. My question (finally) is what LEVEL is the smart move? Because of the knee issues I'll probably never ride more than 4 times per week, but I also don't want to get a new bike and grow past it in 1 year. You get the picture...thanks in advance for the good-hearted advice!

With your knee issues, you might want to give some weighting to which ever bike has the lowest gearing for the hills.
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Old 11-22-16, 08:20 PM
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IMHO- I would keep riding your current bike for a few more months and hold off on a new bike. A common reason "newer" cyclists "outgrow" their new bike is not so much due to component level, but bike fit. You body will continue to adjust to riding - you fit and comfort will evolve also. If you really need a new bike, go to a bike store "swap", usually held in spring. People show up to sell their "outgrown" bikes, usually can get a nice deal. Ride it until the next swap, take proceeds from that sale and put it toward a new well fitting bike. If you are convinced new is the way to go now, consider a Surly Pacer ?
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Old 11-22-16, 09:44 PM
  #6  
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I am only a few weeks younger than you. I have fallen in love with cycling this past year.
Now, I don't have the knee issues you have. But from the age point of view, let's look at this as a hobby.
(I have had open heart surgery twice though)

So you spend a little more on the "next step up" now, hey you might find yourself cycling more often, and or a little longer distance each outing. A new, comfortable quality bike makes for a great ride.

Hope this helps.



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Old 11-23-16, 08:05 AM
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It all depends on you. Any of those bikes are technically good enough for what you want, but if you're going to spend a lot of time on the bike it only makes sense to find the one that you're most comfortable with. Reading between the lines you really want the 105 level components. If so you should get them - you don't really need a reason to justify it since they're considered a solid value anyway.
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Old 11-23-16, 08:07 AM
  #8  
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Originally Posted by cj19 View Post
Apologies up front for the length of this post.
I'm looking for wisdom on what level of bike would be best for my situation. I'm a 57 year old Clydesdale who has had 5 knee surgeries and rediscovered cycling upon retirement earlier this year. Using a Fuji Nevada (35 lb flat bar hybrid w/ 50cm tires) and limiting my riding to 3x per week, I was up to 40 - 60 miles per week by end of Fall. I'm really enjoying the riding and have set a goal of doing a century ride in 2017. I'll keep the Fuji for trail rides but I'm ready for a nice road bike and willing to spend up to $1,500. After a good bit of research and test rides I've realized there are a lot of great bikes out there, and pretty much 2 levels between $750 and $1500. For under $1000 there's Specialized Allez, Trek 1.2, Giant Contend, Jamis Quest Comp, etc, all of which come with carbon fork, lower end shimano components, and traditional pull breaks. Moving up to $1500 gets you Tiagra or 105 level components, disc brakes, better tires and other goodness. My question (finally) is what LEVEL is the smart move? Because of the knee issues I'll probably never ride more than 4 times per week, but I also don't want to get a new bike and grow past it in 1 year. You get the picture...thanks in advance for the good-hearted advice!
You won't likely grow past any of the $1,000 bikes you mentioned in a year of riding. If you do a lot of riding, components do wear out, but the good news is, they can be replaced. I see you are in central PA, so really what we are talking about is buying this new road bike for the Spring of 2017, though I realize people can and do train through the winter. But in all likelihood, you are talking about getting a new bike for the spring/summer/fall 2017 season.

That said, bike riding is not an intellectual, or even wholly rational activity. If you find a bike that really trips your trigger and gets you out riding, it might be worth paying a few extra bucks for the pride of ownership. But more expensive probably wont make you a better rider.
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Old 11-23-16, 08:17 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by ColonelSanders View Post
With your knee issues, you might want to give some weighting to which ever bike has the lowest gearing for the hills.

+1. Especially in central PA.
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Old 11-23-16, 08:22 AM
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The only components that are 'weight sensitive' (ie more likely to be adversely affected by a heavy rider) are the wheelset, and maybe the seatpost.
A derailleur or shifter doesn't care how much you weigh. And anything above the bottom level of cranks, frames, chains, etc. are, in my experience, more than adequate for a few seasons under even very large riders.
As for the wheelset and seatpost, select the bike that fits you (comfort-wise), then have the wheels and seatpost upgraded (32 or more spokes laced to Shimano hubs, and a Thompson SP respectively) before you take delivery.

As for the rest of the components, what happens if they wear out or fail? Replace them with more robust components when the time comes.

The most important feature of a new bike is the fit. Everything else can be fixed as time goes on.

So to more directly answer your question, I would suggest Tiagra level components as a minimum as I think they represent good value and reasonably long lasting parts. 105 parts will last longer, and Ultegra will last a little longer than that. When new there is very little difference between the performance of the groups.
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Old 11-23-16, 09:12 AM
  #11  
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Any of the bikes you mentioned are a 'good' pick. At your price range ($1000 +/-) there are a lot of nice bikes.
I'm in about the same place as you are, albeit a little younger, and looking for a 'nice' road bike to add to the stable.
I got involved with a group that does an annual week-long 600 mile Tour, so I need something fast and comfortable.

I'm doing lots of shopping and test-riding, too, since my budget is a little bit tighter than yours. As far as the frames go, any of the big brands have a similar level of quality, although the under-$1k bikes have a little more relaxed geometry; higher bars, shorter top tube, but still 'proper' road-bike.

The Tiagra / Sora components work just fine, but the more speeds in the rear, the better.
My pick from this bunch is the Giant Contend 1. It fits me well, and I like the way it handles. The demo bike was also in a matte dayglo red, that is kind of growing on me.

The 105 component group is a quantum leap from Tiagra, though. The controls feel much more substantial, and the shifts are noticeably smoother and more precise. Most of these bikes are disc brake, although there are often rim-brake versions of the same bike for a few hundred less. Nothing wrong with caliper brakes, though..
The Cannondale Synapse 105 Disc is my favorite of this group (I've had a few Cannondales so I'm biased)
Slightly lower and more stretched out than the Giant, (and faster) It's beyond my current budget, but I'd hold off on buying a less-expensive bike to save up for this one.
Demo bike was in their 'Raw' finish, which is clearcoat over bare, machined aluminum, and exposed-weave carbon. with deep-section rims, and disc brakes, it looks mega.
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Old 11-23-16, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Ironfish653 View Post
The 105 component group is a quantum leap from Tiagra, though.
This was true until about 1 year ago. The newest version of Tiagra was redesigned with hidden shift levers and looks and works much better than the old one. I've ridden bikes with both, and on the newer version, I was very impressed. I wouldn't decide that you need 105 untill you at least test-ride a bike with the new Tiagra. The differences now are not so great, mostly 10 speed vs 11 speed.

But 10-11 speed doesn't matter as much as getting a nice big cog on the back for climbing (28t, 30t, even 32t is nice sometimes).
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Old 11-23-16, 10:24 AM
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I am 63, 250+ and in reasonable shape. I started like you did, with a hybrid and moved on to the Novara Randonee drop bar bike.

I propose that you do something similar, i.e. get a touring bike. There are a number of good reasons supporting this choice:

a) You get a triple crankset in the front, with a low gear for the hills. The compact double is for youngsters with low weight and good knees. As a bonus, you will likely get a 34 or a 36T in the rear.

b) You get a bike rated for a higher weight. My Mavic 319 36H wheels are a common remedy for Clydes needing stronger wheels. I've had them for 2000 mi. and they are as true as the day I got the bike (have the LBS check/tension the spokes to at least 100/60 kg in the rear wheel.

c) You get a more upright position than the road racer. More comfort for longer rides.

d) More often than not, it is a steel bike (steel is real). Don't worry about the 8-10 extra pounds. If you are a Clyde, you can shed a lot more than that. It doesn't cost you anything either... CF is expensive!

The Novara Randonee is not available anymore, but check out the Bianchi Volpe (not the Volpe disk with the compact double), the Jamis Aurora, the Salsa Vaya, the Kona Sutra, the Trek 520 and the Fuji Touring. I am sure I forgot some, but this was my finalist ...list!...
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Old 11-23-16, 10:55 AM
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I think GerryinHouston hit it on the head. It sounds like you want to build up your distance, not go as fast as humanly possible, and you have some physical issues to contend with. See if you can do some test rides with various bikes and see what your body tells you.
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Old 11-23-16, 11:05 AM
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If you are not racing, forget a carbon frame bike. They are too delicate for everyday riding.

Then remember as you go up in cost, you soon reach a point that more money really doesnt bring much more bang for the buck. While a higher priced bike really may weigh less, does a few grams mean much when you may gain 10 pounds over the holidays. All is does is buy a name and maybe some snobbery.
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Old 11-23-16, 11:32 AM
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Originally Posted by rydabent View Post
If you are not racing, forget a carbon frame bike. They are too delicate for everyday riding.

Then remember as you go up in cost, you soon reach a point that more money really doesnt bring much more bang for the buck. While a higher priced bike really may weigh less, does a few grams mean much when you may gain 10 pounds over the holidays. All is does is buy a name and maybe some snobbery.
While I disagree with the 'too delicate' comment, I also don't think a carbon framed bike is a wise use of your money. Above a certain quality level, the frame is the least important aspect of the bicycle performance (the first being the skill and fitness of the rider and the second being bicycle fit) and the added cost of a carbon frame means you likely could have gotten better (longer lasting, generally) components for the same price. Aluminum is, IMO, the best material for a Clydesdale.
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Old 11-23-16, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by 12strings View Post
This was true until about 1 year ago. The newest version of Tiagra was redesigned with hidden shift levers and looks and works much better than the old one. I've ridden bikes with both, and on the newer version, I was very impressed. I wouldn't decide that you need 105 untill you at least test-ride a bike with the new Tiagra. The differences now are not so great, mostly 10 speed vs 11 speed.

But 10-11 speed doesn't matter as much as getting a nice big cog on the back for climbing (28t, 30t, even 32t is nice sometimes).
I think the old advise to go with 105 or above is a bit out of date. 9 speed Sora or even 8 speed Claris works very well and as good as or better than stuff the pros or elite level amateurs were using 15 or 20 years ago. (Not necessarily the same build quality or weight, but the function is better.) Better than anything Merckx, Hinault, Lemond, or Indurain ever got their hands on) so, if those guys raced up Alpe D'Huez or Tourmalet on 6 or 7 speed, you should be able to drag yourself up your local climb or finish a charity century on 8, 9, or 10 speeds.

newer versions of all Shimano groups are improved over older versions, and even lower level stuff is equivalent to the components enthusiasts had just a few years ago. Moreover, the less expensive bike will cost less to repair in the future. Don't believe me? Compare the cost of wear items like chains, and cassettes. Price out the difference between a 8 or 9 speed chain and cassette and an 11 speed chain and cassette. Same with derailleurs.
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Old 11-23-16, 03:00 PM
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What does it take to make you smile?

How thin can you slice the baloney? Shimano makes bicycle components in many different price ranges and, honestly, they all work. The more expensive ones weigh a tiny bit less, function a tiny bit more crisply, and look a little nicer. As you move up the price chain, performance improves linearly. The price, however, moves up exponentially. Their job is to extract the last dime from you that you are willing to spend. Even when I owned my own shop I couldn't bring myself to buy a Dura Ace equipped bike because the price simply exceeded my gag point. Today I'd probably be looking at Tiagra level components, maybe even lower.

I think that how you feel while riding the bike, fit and aesthetics, are by far the most important things. Way more important than component levels. A more precise shifter for example only benefits you when you are actually shifting. Fit affects your comfort, efficiency and performance every single minute that you are on the bike. Given the choice between slightly better components and more pleasing graphics, I'm going to pick graphics every time. Any performance gain in moving up one component level is microscopic. If your bike doesn't make you smile when you look at it, it wasn't a good deal no matter how what the components or what you paid for it.
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Old 11-23-16, 03:14 PM
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It figures, the rare time I say 105 makes the most sense, everyone disagrees. I have nothing against the lower tiers - I put Claris on my road bike and have no regrets with it. But let me just put it out there, 105 is still inside the price/performance "sweet spot" and it's on a whole lot of mid-range bikes. It's not extravagant, not that big a price bump on new bikes. If a guy wants good quality that he's not going to have a strong itch to upgrade, it's a reasonable choice and bikes with 105 are often better in one or two other areas as well.
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Old 11-23-16, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by GerryinHouston View Post
I am 63, 250+ and in reasonable shape. I started like you did, with a hybrid and moved on to the Novara Randonee drop bar bike.

I propose that you do something similar, i.e. get a touring bike. There are a number of good reasons supporting this choice:

a) You get a triple crankset in the front, with a low gear for the hills. The compact double is for youngsters with low weight and good knees. As a bonus, you will likely get a 34 or a 36T in the rear.

b) You get a bike rated for a higher weight. My Mavic 319 36H wheels are a common remedy for Clydes needing stronger wheels. I've had them for 2000 mi. and they are as true as the day I got the bike (have the LBS check/tension the spokes to at least 100/60 kg in the rear wheel.

c) You get a more upright position than the road racer. More comfort for longer rides.

d) More often than not, it is a steel bike (steel is real). Don't worry about the 8-10 extra pounds. If you are a Clyde, you can shed a lot more than that. It doesn't cost you anything either... CF is expensive!

The Novara Randonee is not available anymore, but check out the Bianchi Volpe (not the Volpe disk with the compact double), the Jamis Aurora, the Salsa Vaya, the Kona Sutra, the Trek 520 and the Fuji Touring. I am sure I forgot some, but this was my finalist ...list!...
I think this is great advice. I picked up a Jamis Aurora Elite a few years ago and it has become one of my favorite bikes. Just finished my first super randonneur series on it this year and plan to attempt it again next year on the same bike. This thread has some ideas that are worth considering.
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Old 11-24-16, 06:38 AM
  #21  
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Not a gloat but, got a Specialized Allez Jim Merz edition equipped with Shim 600 for $200 on Craig's List. Good buys are there always. BTW my other bike (purchased new) is a Trek 750 hybrid that I use to get in shape for the Specialized.


Just some thoughts.
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Old 11-24-16, 09:44 AM
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It ranges from the pragmatic to the prestige seeking over spender..
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Old 11-24-16, 10:01 AM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
It figures, the rare time I say 105 makes the most sense, everyone disagrees. I have nothing against the lower tiers - I put Claris on my road bike and have no regrets with it. But let me just put it out there, 105 is still inside the price/performance "sweet spot" and it's on a whole lot of mid-range bikes. It's not extravagant, not that big a price bump on new bikes. If a guy wants good quality that he's not going to have a strong itch to upgrade, it's a reasonable choice and bikes with 105 are often better in one or two other areas as well.
IMO 105 equipped bike is probably more than all but the most hardcore road cyclist will ever need. Now, I know there are always deals to be had on sale or from online bike sellers, but a quick perusal of the major bike websites suggests that if you had to be full retail, entry level road bikes start out at $650 to $750 (mostly Claris), $900 to $1,000 (Sora), $1,400 to $1,500 (Tiagra), and $1,900 to $2,100 (105).

Now, it isn't just component levels. The extra money also gets you full carbon, and maybe better wheels. That said, if you are just talking bang for the buck, the $900 to $1,000 price point is the sweet spot these days for price/performance. Not to say there aren't compromises, like, say wheels, but that is something that can be easily upgraded in a couple of years if and when the wheels start to fail.

And this is why the $1,000 price point is the sweet spot. if you are talking about retail prices, the person who buys the 105 equipped bike will be spending twice what the person buying the Sora equipped bike is paying. But are they getting twice the bike for the price, or maybe just 10 or maybe 20% more bike for twice the price? That is hard to say, but IMO, the $2,000 bike isn't twice as good as the $1,000 bike. So $2,000 is more like the upper limit of what a beginner road cyclist should pay for a new bike rather than the minimum he should pay. Both the $1,000 bike and the $2,000 bike will ride well, and barring a bad crash, will last for many years and tens of thousands of miles of recreational rides, club rides, or even multi day rides.

As I said earlier, sometimes the purchase of a bike isn't logical, and sometimes the more expensive bike just feels so much better. But than again, sometimes not. My message to OP is, don't sweat it. Test ride a few bikes in the $1,000 price range, a few in the $1,500 price range and even a few in the $2,000 price range and see what trips your trigger.
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Old 11-24-16, 10:06 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
It ranges from the pragmatic to the prestige seeking over spender..
Yes.
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Old 11-24-16, 08:52 PM
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Start with a good frame with a lower groupset and as you improve upgrade the components. Those mid range Shimano components are quite good. I have been watching eBay and picking up good takeoff 105 stuff and built this 1983 Centurion Pro Tour with 3x10 Shimano 105 5700 for $1300, including the bags and everything.
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