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Looking for the Right Road Bike - Narrowed Down to Three

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Looking for the Right Road Bike - Narrowed Down to Three

Old 03-20-17, 08:54 AM
  #1  
mphilleo
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Looking for the Right Road Bike - Narrowed Down to Three

Hi everyone, I hate to be "that guy" and for my first post to be something like this, but here I am. Admittedly, it's one of the primary reasons I joined. I've been looking up a lot of information on bikes and learned a lot over the weekend. Your forum comes up in a lot search results and the members appear knowledgeable. So, please, let me draw on that knowledge and help me help myself make a good choice.

First, I now there's mixed feelings bout Bikesdirect, but I'm more or less bound and determined to try them, because even after what I learned about components, I think they still have deals. I'm mechanically-inclined, having done basic work on my bikes before and I've done a lot of wrenching on cars FWIW (transmission work, engine repairs, head gaskets, fuel and brake systems, etc). So that isn't a big hurdle for me. My problem is a little different.

Long story short, I have a Trek 830. A great bike I picked up over 10 years ago while I was still in college. Pretty basic but an overall good platform. I've taken it MTB'ing and it was a little harrowing with the ChroMoly frame and being hard tail. I've since decided that I'm more into semi-groomed trails and pastures as far as that goes. But now I'm looking for a primary exercise and road bike. The tires on my 830 over the pavement sound like I have cards in the spokes.

So I'm looking for something more along the lines of a hybrid or adventure bike for mostly paved trails and some gravel use. I don't think I'd take it on anything more than that. My goal would be to keep the 830 and perhaps upgrade some components on it and use it for any truly dedicated trail use. It's just too fatiguing with any sort of distance on paved roads. I've done 13 miles on it and feels like I did twice that many going on paved trails.

Without too much further ado, here's my selections I narrowed it down. I was looking for something that'd fill my needs for a while, had decent to good components, and was a good value. The other thing is, I'm a nut about full ChroMoly frames, I'm iffy about aluminum unless it has a ChroMoly fork and I've heard enough negatives about carbon forks and the inability to inspect them (or instantaneous failure mode) to be comfortable with that. I'm still sort of new to evaluating what components are better than others, but I have a general idea of what's good. Any input would be appreciated, especially in regards to my needs. I'd like something versatile, but not something that's so similar to my 830 that I could just modify it or put on different tires and be satisfied (geometry notwithstanding).

Holy novel, Batman.

Here they are: I'd have posted links to them from the Bikes Direct site, but I'm not permitted yet.

Motobecane Cafe Noir

Fuji Sunfire 2.0

Motobecane Elite Adventure X5 LTD

Bonus points: my wife gave me a budget of up to $1,000 (which I'm reluctant to tap into), so if anyone has any better suggestions for the money, I'm all ears!
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Old 03-20-17, 09:19 AM
  #2  
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Only thing I'd like to pass on to you would be about your fear of Carbon. Get over it. The days/myth of Carbon Fiber "assploding" are history...
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Old 03-20-17, 09:27 AM
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Thanks, I'm always open to the experience or input from more experienced riders. To be honest, the selection process became a lot more limited and difficult when I had to find something that didn't have a carbon fork but also equipped with better quality components. : /
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Old 03-20-17, 10:50 AM
  #4  
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For your uses (mostly paved roads, some gravel) the Motobecane Cafe Noir is the easy choice. It can handle wide enough tires for gravel (esp. if there's room to go up to 30-32mm, but 28mm should be fine), and if you swap to a drop bar you'll have a good looking road bike. It will be much easier to ride on paved roads and packed dirt than the other two bikes you listed.

All of them seem to have adjustable stems. I had one of those on my hybrid, and it always creaked. Hated it, and ditched it for a regular stem. Take the bike apart when you get it (it will be partially assembled), and grease all bolts and tighten it all up properly. Wear out the tires as fast as you can, and replace with some good quality tires (Conti 4000S II are the no brainer tires for general road use, and can be found on sale if you watch carefully). This will be the best initial upgrade you can make. Find your fit, and ride the heck out of it.

Save the extra money for a while, and if you get really into cycling, you may want a fancier bike in the future, or you may decide you want to add a dedicated MTB to the stable. Don't sweat carbon forks, they've proven very reliable. I don't think CF frames are worth the money at the lower end (aluminum is a much better deal). However, good ol' CroMo makes a great riding bike, and the Cafe Noir is also a great looking bike.
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Old 03-20-17, 10:54 AM
  #5  
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Originally Posted by mphilleo View Post
Thanks, I'm always open to the experience or input from more experienced riders. To be honest, the selection process became a lot more limited and difficult when I had to find something that didn't have a carbon fork but also equipped with better quality components. : /
Oh carbon still assplodes. If you're in a crash, replace it. It costs a fortune to repair carbon frames.

There are plenty of ALU frames that cost less, ride and weigh similar to carbon now.

Make your own decision on the frames. IMO regardless of material, buy the one that you can ride comfortably without having to do stupidity that a lot on this forum frankly do. Buying elite race bikes and riding them like MTB bikes.

Get the bike that fits, not because of it's frame material, brand, or whatever. Seriously don't be the weirdo with a handlebar higher than a saddle on a race bike.
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Old 03-20-17, 12:01 PM
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How much will you spend?

If I had no bikes but had the knowledge that I have now from eight years of riding, I would buy titanium.

If we're talking about BikesDirect, it would probably be the titanium frame (Le Champion, I think) with Ultegra or Dura Ace 9100, depending on how much I wanted to spend. Light frame, durable, long-lasting, comes with good wheels, yada yada yada. Threaded bottom bracket to hopefully remove any creaking and external cable routing for easy maintenance.

My BB30 Orbea sounds like a damn bowl of rice krispies when I stand up. Snap, crackle, pop. And that's with a Praxis adapter.

Never again on pressfit BBs. Terrible.



Edit: Just reread your post. The titanium gravel bikes on BD sound like what you're looking for and they're well under $2000.
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Old 03-20-17, 12:03 PM
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Fuji
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Old 03-20-17, 01:04 PM
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Originally Posted by zymphad View Post
It costs a fortune to repair carbon frames.

Myth.


I had a frame broken in 4 places. Repaired for $300 including touch-up paint.


And aluminum is not very repairable, so that would have to be a complete replacement if broken. Cost?
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Old 03-20-17, 01:09 PM
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OP, I'm not seeing anything so different in your 3 choices vs your Trek 830 that makes it worth the purchase.


Putting narrower road tires on the Trek will get you to the same place at a much lower cost.
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Old 03-20-17, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by snidely View Post
Myth.


I had a frame broken in 4 places. Repaired for $300 including touch-up paint.

Calfee?
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Old 03-20-17, 01:34 PM
  #11  
snidely
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Originally Posted by reggieray View Post
Calfee?


Negative.
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Old 03-20-17, 01:39 PM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by snidely View Post
op, i'm not seeing anything so different in your 3 choices vs your trek 830 that makes it worth the purchase.


Putting narrower road tires on the trek will get you to the same place at a much lower cost.
+1
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Old 03-20-17, 02:03 PM
  #13  
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A carbon road bike killed my whole family, then set fire to my house. The fire spread to the neighbor's house, and then around the neighborhood, because it was winter and all the trees were dry. Untold millions in property damage and over a dozen killed---all by a carbon-fiber road bike.

Don't do it.

Adjustable stems are great ... so long as you know you will be replacing the stem as soon as you find the correct fit. Kalloy Uno costs maybe $30 and is as light and strong as anything out there.

ChroMo frames are not magic. Modern aluminum frames are as strong, weigh a lot less, and are not harsh. Shaping Al is so much easier than shaping steel, and most low-budget steel frames are just straight tubes ... to get the springy, comfortable double- and triple-butted tubes costs money. So your straight ChroMo frame might be a little more comfortable than an old Al frame ... and probably not noticeably different than a modern Al frame.

Also, while CF frames are murderous villains just waiting to cause mayhem, CF forks are the absolute best thing ever. having ridden AL, ChroMo, High-Ten, and CF, i can say for a fact that a CF fork is Not an unsafe component, and will possibly make the ride more pleasant.

On a budget, a CF fork with an Al steerer is a great compromise---you don't have to worry about crushing the steerer or cracking it with too many spacers, and you still get the vibration-damping from the legs.

Obviously you are familiar with Performance Bike, Nashbar, and BikesDirect. Have people tried to fill your head with fears about those places?

I'd write more but my CF bike is attacking me with a samurai sword.
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Old 03-20-17, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by snidely View Post
Negative.
Thanks little buddy.
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Old 03-20-17, 06:05 PM
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Give some thought as to why your current bike is fatiguing to ride any distance. Are you just tired? Do you have pain anywhere? Identifying these issues will help you in selecting the next bike.

Using myself as an example, I have a 1996 Trek 850 rigid mtb that I bought new. Even with road tires on it, I'm pretty well done at 30 miles, where I've done double-metrics on my road bike. The biggest difference for me is the drop handlebars on the road bike. the flat bars of the Trek just don't work for me for any long duration.
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Old 03-21-17, 08:56 AM
  #16  
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Wow, thanks for the great responses, everyone. I've had my head buried in materials to learn about bikes, so I can make an intelligent response (and also know what I'm looking for). To answer some of the questions in here, I'm not totally sure those bikes I selected are actually different enough to justify over my Trek 830. I've had some misgivings about going through BD, just because each bike sort of has its Achilles heel on components, so I could never really find a "slam dunk" value.

I talked to my trusted LBS guy (he's worked on my Trek before) and he suggested the Salsa Vaya. After reading about it, I'm inclined to agree, it's a good bike and probably good for the money, even if it's a shade over my budget at $1099. I'm still not sure if it's different enough than the Trek to justify, but I haven't sat in it yet. I'm also not sure about the Sunrace cassette it uses. The other possibility is the Specialized Sequoia, but that's far over my budget at $1350.

The third option goes back to what some of you suggested, of making my Trek more road friendly. Currently, I have 26x2.10 Kahunas and they're just plain overkill for most of what I'm doing. They've been great, durable tires, but just not the right application. I think the main issue with comfort on my Trek is the geometry, with it being a straight bar. I'm not sure what the head angle on it is, but I imagine it's greater than the 70-71° the Vaya and more "comfortable" road bikes have. But I do like the bike, how it feels and I'm comfortable with it having owned it for over a decade. My thought at this point is to consider putting on narrower rims or skinnier tires, possibly install drop down bars (but then my gripshifts won't work) and so on. My thought is I'd maybe be around $500-600 if I shop smart and fully convert the bike. I'm just not sure where to start if I did so, though.
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Old 03-21-17, 09:22 AM
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Save your $500-600 on the conversion and go with a new/used bike instead. One bike can't do what two bikes can--take on paved/gravel roads, go off road, single track, etc. The conversion is not worth the money.

Better yet, look for a used bike, especially if you say you are mechanically inclined. You will get great value for you money in the used market.
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Old 03-21-17, 09:32 AM
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What brands are available to you locally? The Salsa Vaya is a Cross bike as far as I know.. and there are plenty of manufacturers that make cross bikes that are similar to the Vaya. Also, as another has said, you can find tons of them used on eBay, etc. I've purchased a few bikes on eBay and got great deals and they're great bikes. I still have one of them. So, if you know what brands are available, we can all maybe suggest some other options. Personally, I'm not a fan of ordering a bike online unless I know what I'm getting. But I believe that a cross bike (Cyclocross) might be a good choice.. Although, I looked and that Vaya is not using a 'road' drivetrain.. so, it's probably closer to something like the Diamondback Haanjo Comp or Specialized Sirrus/Trek "FX" series.
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Old 03-21-17, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by motosonic View Post
What brands are available to you locally? The Salsa Vaya is a Cross bike as far as I know.. and there are plenty of manufacturers that make cross bikes that are similar to the Vaya. Also, as another has said, you can find tons of them used on eBay, etc. I've purchased a few bikes on eBay and got great deals and they're great bikes. I still have one of them. So, if you know what brands are available, we can all maybe suggest some other options. Personally, I'm not a fan of ordering a bike online unless I know what I'm getting. But I believe that a cross bike (Cyclocross) might be a good choice.. Although, I looked and that Vaya is not using a 'road' drivetrain.. so, it's probably closer to something like the Diamondback Haanjo Comp or Specialized Sirrus/Trek "FX" series.
The LBS guy I mentioned carries Raleigh (not crazy about their designs), Kona (open to some of their cheaper offerings but unfamiliar with the brand), Salsa and possibly one or two others. We have another major LBS in town here that sells Specialized primarily. Then there's one that apparently sells trades and holdovers but not an actual dealer. They have some Surlys but not in my size, so they're out. Regarding the Vaya, folks seem to have a low opinion of Sunrace components, so that's why I mentioned the Sunrace cassette earlier on.
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Old 03-21-17, 10:05 AM
  #20  
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Originally Posted by mphilleo View Post
Raleigh
With the corporate discount (do a web search) their offerings become very, very attractive.

Kona
They make well designed and practical bikes for a fair price. Great brand, IMO.

Regarding the Vaya, folks seem to have a low opinion of Sunrace components, so that's why I mentioned the Sunrace cassette earlier on.
To me, a cassette is not a valid deal killer on a bike. The sad fact is that at a $1K budget, you're not going to get 100% Shimano/SRAM.
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Old 03-21-17, 10:19 AM
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mphilleo
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Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
With the corporate discount (do a web search) their offerings become very, very attractive.

They make well designed and practical bikes for a fair price. Great brand, IMO.

To me, a cassette is not a valid deal killer on a bike. The sad fact is that at a $1K budget, you're not going to get 100% Shimano/SRAM.
Thanks for the input. Unfortunately, it looks like that Raleigh code is expired now. Too bad, as that would've really opened up my options in their lineup.
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Old 03-21-17, 10:54 AM
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There are active Raleigh Discounts, you just have to do a thorough search. I get one through my company
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Old 03-21-17, 11:01 AM
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why only flat bar bikes?

Nashbar 105 road bike, non carbon version, on sale today for 30% off. great bike, better components for the money than you can get anywhere.
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Old 03-21-17, 11:09 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by motosonic View Post
There are active Raleigh Discounts, you just have to do a thorough search. I get one through my company
Well now you got me looking. Found another code, but the site said it was invalid. It appears to have been UK-only. Back to Google for me.
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Old 03-21-17, 11:19 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by ypsetihw View Post
why only flat bar bikes?

Nashbar 105 road bike, non carbon version, on sale today for 30% off. great bike, better components for the money than you can get anywhere.
105 components, nice, looks great. I also saw they have a steel cyclocross bike, but at that point I'm within spitting distance of a Salsa Vaya, which would net me some LBS support.
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