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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

First Road Bike

Old 01-09-19, 04:41 PM
  #1  
alfhasian
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First Road Bike

I'm relatively new to cycling (bought my Sirrus Sport in Sept 2018) and have been riding 2-3 times per week to increase my speed and range on my rides. Most of my rides are around 2-3 hours with the occasional 60 mile ride for the Strava trophy I originally planned on sticking with this bike until August when the 2019 models go on sale and graduate to a road bike, however on a recent trip to my LBS I saw the Roubaix Comp Di2 in my size marked down from $4200 to $3500. I was planning on eventually buying the Roubaix Comp in August, but this sale puts the Di2 model just barely outside what I was hoping to spend, but close enough to seriously consider it. Was looking for a couple of opinions:
  • Is there such thing as too much bike for a first bike? I'm a fan of buying the right bike the first time, rather than constantly buying better bikes as I get more into it. Someone at the local Trek dealership recommended not going with Di2 because it makes all other bikes feel inferior which would make upgrading difficult. Either that's a real thing or he was just trying to sway me away from Specialized.
  • Can anyone with a Roubaix share their thoughts? Being my first road bike, I feel I would be more open-minded to the FS that everyone complains about or its "ugly" looks (I think it actually looks nice). I'm hoping to test ride it side-by-side against a Tarmac this weekend.
Any other thoughts or considerations? I mainly just want some assurance that I'm not crazy jumping the gun on such an expensive bike as my first bike, but it's the price that sold me.

Thanks!
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Old 01-09-19, 06:05 PM
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I have an older Roubaix and like it a lot but with a budget of $3500 I would be doing a lot of bike shopping if I was in your shoes. There are many bikes available for that kind of money and you should ride as many of them as you can before making a decision. If you're going to use the bike shop for service, you want to stick with a shop that you trust and is convenient but otherwise take some time and look at options.

If you were really new to riding, I'd say that was too much to spend but it sounds like you've been doing a fair amount of miles and hopefully have a good idea of what you want out of a road bike.
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Old 01-10-19, 03:45 AM
  #3  
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Much as I liked the Tarmac I test rode over the summer, if I actually bought a proper crabon bike I'd go for the Roubaix. More practical for most real world road conditions here.

But the Tarmac was in a whole nuther class from the old school steel road bikes I've ridden, including my '89 Centurion Ironman. I'm 5'11", 155 lbs, with skinny legs, no powerhouse, but I can make the Ironman all noodly when I stand to stomp the pedals for climbs and sprints. Not the Tarmac frame. That baby don't move. Everything goes into forward motion. The bike felt like it was doing half the work on our roller coasters with lots of short, steep climbs. And it didn't seem uncomfortably rigid and harsh, although the tires probably helped.

But with my bum neck, shoulder, etc., and lots of rough pavement and chipseal, a Roubaix would probably suit me better over longer rides.

Anyway, it's your enjoyment and money. Go for it. I would if I could afford it.

As for looks, I dunno. I still prefer the sleek look of classic steel road bikes. All carbon bikes look, I dunno... muscular? Angular? But I don't really fondle bikes or obsess over them. Heck, I haven't washed my Ironman in months I maintain the important stuff but don't fuss over a smudge or bit of dust.

Usually I don't pay much attention to how a bike looks. I pay attention to how small the bike and rider get in front of me while I'm huffing and puffing to keep up.
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Old 01-10-19, 07:25 AM
  #4  
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Your first road bike will likely be the one you stick with for a few years, it's worth the investment if you ask me. First; however, I would consider not spending the entire budget on the bike. Frankly, $2500 is a solid sweetspot for the bike, this would leave you with $1000 left over for power meter, smart trainer, kit (you can easily end up spending $500 for a wardrobe of Ralpha or Castelli)—Helmet, Road Shoes, Garmin (or Wahoo) GPS device, a bike fit (easily $200 right there), etc.

IMO, shoot for a Carbon frame from a reputable manufacturer, make sure it has some nice wheels (deep section carbon IS FAST), DI2 or E-tap is AWESOME, but not a necessity, and disc brakes would be very nice.
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Old 01-10-19, 07:46 AM
  #5  
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Get the bike. You'll either get it later after getting a sub-Roubaix bike now, with the resulting money spent on that., or just regret not getting it now. Di2 is not a necessity, but once you try it, you'll decide that it really is....
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Old 01-10-19, 10:54 AM
  #6  
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Originally Posted by Ogsarg View Post
I have an older Roubaix and like it a lot but with a budget of $3500 I would be doing a lot of bike shopping if I was in your shoes. There are many bikes available for that kind of money and you should ride as many of them as you can before making a decision. If you're going to use the bike shop for service, you want to stick with a shop that you trust and is convenient but otherwise take some time and look at options.
There's one shop that is very close to me that sells only Specialized and Santa Cruz. The next closest is a Trek shop. There are small performance shops around here that sell Cannondale, Felt, Cervelo, etc. but I am not familiar with any of the bikes in those brands. The only other bike that I am as familiar as I am with the Roubaix is the Domane, and I plan to test ride SL5 Disc as well. Any other recommendations off the top of your head?

Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Much as I liked the Tarmac I test rode over the summer, if I actually bought a proper crabon bike I'd go for the Roubaix. More practical for most real world road conditions here.

But the Tarmac was in a whole nuther class from the old school steel road bikes I've ridden, including my '89 Centurion Ironman. I'm 5'11", 155 lbs, with skinny legs, no powerhouse, but I can make the Ironman all noodly when I stand to stomp the pedals for climbs and sprints. Not the Tarmac frame. That baby don't move. Everything goes into forward motion. The bike felt like it was doing half the work on our roller coasters with lots of short, steep climbs. And it didn't seem uncomfortably rigid and harsh, although the tires probably helped.
A lot of reviews I've read so far comparing the Roubaix and the Tarmac said the Tarmac felt much more nimble and the Roubaix was soft and squishy, but I noticed most of these are from pre-2017 back when the Roubaix had the Zertz insets in the fork and seat stays, so the frame itself was indeed "soft". Per what I've read so far and per your recommendation as well, I don't think I'll be buying a Tarmac, but I would be curious to ride the Tarmac and Roubaix side by side to see if I get the same impression. I would think by removing the Zertz inserts and putting all compliance above the frame that the new Roubaix would feel at least almost as zippy?

Originally Posted by firebird854 View Post
Your first road bike will likely be the one you stick with for a few years, it's worth the investment if you ask me. First; however, I would consider not spending the entire budget on the bike. Frankly, $2500 is a solid sweetspot for the bike, this would leave you with $1000 left over for power meter, smart trainer, kit (you can easily end up spending $500 for a wardrobe of Ralpha or Castelli)—Helmet, Road Shoes, Garmin (or Wahoo) GPS device, a bike fit (easily $200 right there), etc.

IMO, shoot for a Carbon frame from a reputable manufacturer, make sure it has some nice wheels (deep section carbon IS FAST), DI2 or E-tap is AWESOME, but not a necessity, and disc brakes would be very nice.
I think $2,500-$3,000 was my preferred price point initially. Like you say, I'll be riding this for a few years (hopefully) and I don't want to spend the next few years wishing I only spent a few hundred more to get something way better. At the original $4,200 price point I would probably immediately dismiss Di2 but at $3,500 I'm curious. Right now I think my only other considerations are a Roubaix Comp without Di2 which I can get for $3,000 or the Domane SL5 Disc for $2,700. Any other suggestions in that price point?

Originally Posted by LAJ View Post
Get the bike. You'll either get it later after getting a sub-Roubaix bike now, with the resulting money spent on that., or just regret not getting it now. Di2 is not a necessity, but once you try it, you'll decide that it really is....
If I buy the bike and get buyer's remorse, this is the answer I'll be going back to
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Old 01-10-19, 11:28 AM
  #7  
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My first road bike (in 30 years) was an $1800 used bike with less than 50 miles on it that cost $2700-ish new, so similar price point as you're looking. I rode that bike 20,000 miles in 5-ish years. Great bike, absolutely no regrets. I "upgraded" this year to a bike that retails for $8k, I paid more like $5k, and again, no regrets. I'm pretty sure I did not need the upgrade, but I'm enjoying the heck out of the new bike.

You've already shown that you ride, so you're not going to spend $3k and let it sit in the garage, so don't worry - do you test rides and enjoy whatever you decide.

Di2 is great, but needs to be charged occasionally. It's a mature system, so no worries.
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Old 01-10-19, 01:30 PM
  #8  
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Canyon! https://www.canyon.com/en-us/road/endurace/2019/endurace-cf-sl-disc-8-0

Fyi, I ride a specialized Tarmac Expert, it's pretty amazing, but it seems you're more for the endurance line of bikes. Canyon makes excellent products at outstanding prices.
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Old 01-10-19, 02:14 PM
  #9  
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You ride a fair amount now---enough to know what you like and how you like to ride. So this wouldn't be a typical "first bike." That being the case, you wouldn't be wasting money on something you later realized wasn't the "right bike," like some folks who buy racy frames but don't want to ride in race posture, or buy hybrids and wish they had bought racy road bikes.

Seems you don't really need advice---go to the various shops, ride the bikes, and if nothing seems better than the Roubaix, buy it. You might be riding it ten or twenty years from now, and when you break down cost-per-mile the extra few dollars up front are nothing spread out over time. But the pleasure is immediate and constant.
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Old 01-10-19, 02:44 PM
  #10  
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Test ride, test ride, test ride. And if you do buy a Specialized from a dealer, take advantage of the opportunity to sit on the Ass-O-Meter, to make sure you have the proper width saddle.
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Old 01-10-19, 04:22 PM
  #11  
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Test ride and buy what feels best to you. I'm looking at buying my first new bike in almost 20 years, and I've test ridden some bike I thought I'd love and didn't after actually riding it. Just tried a Pinarello Prince Disk I was sure I'd love and buy...didn't feel at all right to me. I've ridden some bikes that the Internet said I would find irresistible, and ended not caring for. Buying a bike is very personal: get what works for you.
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Old 01-12-19, 05:16 PM
  #12  
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I bought a Roubaix Elite last February and have put 5000 miles on it. It came with 105 and hydraulic brakes. Retail cost on it is 2800 bucks. More bike than I needed, but wanted a carbon bike. It is a really nice bike. I can flick those brifters a lot of time to make up the difference in cost you are looking at. It seems to me it is like having an automatic vs manual transmission in a car. Buy what you want and you won't regret it. Just my thoughts.
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Old 01-12-19, 06:30 PM
  #13  
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For me, Di2 shines on rolling terrain and on fast group rides. I shift a lot, looking for the best cadence. On fast rides and on rolling hills I shift even more often. I might shift for just a couple of pedal strokes, then shift again (and then again!) The Di2 is fast and just like a mouse click, I even use my ring finger at times. And I'll shift the chainring even for a small hill -- on a group ride this summer, we turned a corner and hit an unexpected short, steep climb -- the Di2 riders were all sitting and spinning up after some quick shifting, the others were grinding up in their flat road gearing.

I also have a gravel / all-day-ride bike that's usually ridden at an easier pace. I don't really miss having Di2 on that bike.

Larger tires!
When I was shopping for the "last road bike I'll ever need" (uh, 3 bikes ago...) in 2005, road bikes were using 23mm tires, and could fit 25mm for "comfort" riders. Now, 25mm are common, and 28mm are very nice if the roads are rough at all. I'm running 29mm equivalent -- my rims are wider than usual. At 170 pounds, I use 65 psi front and 80 psi rear. It's a smooth ride and still is fast. I think the larger, supple tires at appropriate pressures are way better at handing road vibrations than the frame does.

And newer bike can use wider gearing. I really like my 11-32 cassette on the hills.

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Old 01-22-19, 09:29 AM
  #14  
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Thanks everyone for the great advice! I ended up test riding the Specialized Roubaix, the Trek Domane, the Cannondale Synapse, and the Giant Defy. From my test rides, I felt the latter two bikes did a decent job of smoothing out bumps in the seat area, but after riding over some rough roads I felt my hands go numb relatively quickly. The Roubaix and Domane had a similar feel in terms of comfort, but the Roubaix seemed to be a bit more lively when sprinting. I also liked the way Specialized put all compliance above the frame and kept the frame and fork rigid. Perhaps that what made sprinting on it so much more fun? It was also really hard to go with any other bike after getting used to Di2 during the test ride.

If it isn't obvious by now, I ended up going with the Roubaix in the end. And now for the obligatory new bike photo:

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Old 01-22-19, 11:51 AM
  #15  
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Ugh .... i wrote this entire post before I noticed that the OP had made a purchase.

Well done, Sir. Ride in peace and with pleasure.
Originally Posted by alfhasian View Post
I think $2,500-$3,000 was my preferred price point initially. Like you say, I'll be riding this for a few years (hopefully) and I don't want to spend the next few years wishing I only spent a few hundred more to get something way better. At the original $4,200 price point I would probably immediately dismiss Di2 but at $3,500 I'm curious. Right now I think my only other considerations are a Roubaix Comp without Di2 which I can get for $3,000 or the Domane SL5 Disc for $2,700. Any other suggestions in that price point?
Having made a few biggish-ticket purchases (not commenting on your income---maybe $3500 is trash change to you, or maybe your annual income... just describing my own situation) I have learned to spend more up front. The tiny increase amortizes out to nothing over the years, and the benefit either gained or missed is enjoyed or painfully desired that whole time.

Saving or spending another 7-10 percent to get the good stuff is rarely wasted, unless "the good stuff" is purely cosmetic or serves a function you don't need (for instance, I wouldn't pay more for a bike with a built-in power meter, but I would for a bike with DI2.)

You understand this point, I see.

As for Roubaix/Tarmac ... never ridden either, but i doubt the Roubaix will ever feel as quick as the Tarmac. The tarmac is built to be very stiff, and very quick. The tube angles, the weight distribution, the frame design, are aimed at power transmission regardless of rider comfort (as far as I know.)

The Roubaix is exactly the opposite. it is designed to absorb some of the bumps, which means it also absorbs a tiny percentage of the rider's power (not that I with my output occasionally approaching triple-digit wattage, would ever know.) It is designed to be a tiny bit more relaxed ... which, for most riders is welcome after the first hour or two on the road. The fast guys are in so much pain from pushing hard, they don't even notice.

Test-ride. No one here can tell you how you will feel. if you cannot test ride .... read everything here (some well-informed but possibly not clearly communicated, some uninformed, some described inaccurately, some described accurately but using terms and viewpoints different from your own so that the experience is not translatable) and flip a coin.


As far as I know, the Giant Defy, Cannondale Synapse, the Domane, and the Roubaix are basically equivalent bikes. I doubt there is much noticeable difference between them for most riders in general riding situations. Can't say for sure. But those are the bikes in the "Endurance Geometry" category offered by the Big Four. I used to ride with a guy (recently, not a decade ago) who had a Felt Endurance model---one of the VR series?--- and he loved it. He had the option of the four I listed above and chose the Felt. Don't know why.

I am a Fuji fan because (somewhat like Giant) they often offer equivalent quality for a few bucks less. Their "Endurance" offering is the Gran Fondo line.

Whatever it is, get the most you can. Like someone said here somewhere, you don't need DI2 until you have it---then you will realize you always needed it.
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Old 01-22-19, 11:52 AM
  #16  
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And that is one sharp bike.
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Old 01-23-19, 02:05 AM
  #17  
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I’d seriously look at Craigslist for a used bike. You can get bikes with di2 for significantly less. Bikes only a year old for 1/2 of their retail. Definitely worth a look.
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Old 01-23-19, 05:38 AM
  #18  
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Very nice "starter" bike!
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Old 01-25-19, 11:34 AM
  #19  
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Nice bike. Enjoy your new ride!
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Old 02-11-19, 06:16 PM
  #20  
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So I have a stupid question... and I feel like a moron for asking, in case it’s just common knowledge and I’m clueless... heh. But... I bought the same bike... 2019 Roubaix Comp Di2 (but in the blue color... I loved how unique it looked), and I was so obsessed with getting a bike with disc brakes and Di2 shifting, that it completely slipped my mind to look for quick release wheels until a couple weeks later. So my question is... is it possible to convert the stock wheel setup to quick release? I know that with an “old school” fork where the wheel slides into the groove at the bottom, it’s not an issue... but I’m an absolute moron when it comes to this type of “grooveless” fork.
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Old 02-11-19, 07:11 PM
  #21  
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At some point in time YOU have to make the decision. Try any number of bikes you may be interested in buying. Fitting you and your ride style is most important. I do not know anybody that could afford the bike they bought, really liked the bike they bought, but regretted buying that bike. You can get as many different opinions as there are bikes available. In the end, if the bike truly fits you, it matches the kind of riding you want to do, and you can really afford it, and you like the way it looks, BUY IT!
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Old 02-11-19, 07:59 PM
  #22  
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I agree that $2500 is the sweet spot for a road bike. Carbon frame with 105 bits will yield a very nice ride. Do yourself a favor and look at the Cannondale Synapse. They have them in Carbon and Aluminum. Test ride the aluminum model, then go ride the carbon frame. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the ride of the metal frame.
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Old 02-11-19, 08:10 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by alfhasian View Post
Someone at the local Trek dealership recommended not going with Di2 because it makes all other bikes feel inferior
Although this is the undisputed truth, it is hardly a reason not to get it.
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Old 02-11-19, 08:25 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by TiHabanero View Post
I agree that $2500 is the sweet spot for a road bike. Carbon frame with 105 bits will yield a very nice ride. Do yourself a favor and look at the Cannondale Synapse. They have them in Carbon and Aluminum. Test ride the aluminum model, then go ride the carbon frame. I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the ride of the metal frame.
Here-here. I've been riding an aluminum Synapse with 105 happily for a decade.

My next upgrade will probably be to swap out the old shifters and RD to newer but still x10, mostly because my existing set are starting to show their age and mileage. But I will just keep on riding this frame as long as it keeps holding up. Then Ill get another Synapse, maybe carbon, maybe aluminum, probably 105 again.

Fortunately mine accommodates 28mm GP4000sII tires, just barely.
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Old 02-13-19, 09:03 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by mjkish View Post
So I have a stupid question... and I feel like a moron for asking, in case it’s just common knowledge and I’m clueless... heh. But... I bought the same bike... 2019 Roubaix Comp Di2 (but in the blue color... I loved how unique it looked), and I was so obsessed with getting a bike with disc brakes and Di2 shifting, that it completely slipped my mind to look for quick release wheels until a couple weeks later. So my question is... is it possible to convert the stock wheel setup to quick release? I know that with an “old school” fork where the wheel slides into the groove at the bottom, it’s not an issue... but I’m an absolute moron when it comes to this type of “grooveless” fork.
Not directly answering your question as I don't know if you would be able to convert the stock wheels to quick release, but in my opinion I honestly feel that would be inferior. I've changed out a front wheel flat on this bike and I didn't think that removing the wheel took any longer than a quick release system. The through axle loosens on the right side using a very common size hex tool (I carry a small bike tool with me and the proper size was on it). I love the "flush" look not having the quick release lever, and I get comfort in knowing that the axle will always be straight and would be pretty difficult to install crooked. Hope that helps!
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