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CAAD9, Synapse, trek 2.1, or Allez

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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

CAAD9, Synapse, trek 2.1, or Allez

Old 05-24-09, 10:09 PM
  #1  
JAG07
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CAAD9, Synapse, trek 2.1, or Allez

I know that's a great deal of models but I have friends that have each brand and won't stop talking about them. I have tested each but it is hard to get a feel for them around my LBS since there are no hills and tons of traffic. So, I guess I'm looking for personal feelings about each bike or manufacturer and also knowledge on their warranties. I hear Trek's warranty is awesome. The others seem to have similar warranties but how do the companies treat them?
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Old 05-24-09, 11:39 PM
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I would really like to recommend the Trek 2.1 to you, but that leaves me biased since i own one and never really rode the others, but heres what i should say.

First, i can help you further if you can tell me which caad9 and synapse you are speaking of.

As for now here are some reasons that the trek 2.1 may be superior to the caad9, synapse (non-carbon series) and the allez.

1. Carbon seat stays, which the other 3 do not have.
2. (Considering the other 3 models are at its entry level equipped version) Better variety of components (Tiagra, 105, FSA Gossamer) If your speaking of the caad9 5, synapse 5, or allez sport, the groupset of the trek 2.1 is inferior to the shimano 105 equipped on those bikes.
3. IMHO, the Trek 2.1 has better looking wheels then all 3 models.
4. The wheels are much better looking, as compared to the wheels of the other 3, which, in my opinion, have too many spokes.

Heres my experience with the 2.1:
About 650 miles, no flats, and tires are looking and feeling strong.Very comfortable position due in part to the sloping top tube. Some say the seat is uncomfortable, but i actually like it. The Trek 2.1 weighs in at about 18.7 pounds with the platform pedals which are included. Very easy to climb with and good gearing range. It also has a beautiful color, fading blue and pearl white which distinguishes itself from the other 3 bikes.

Some cons i must point out to make it fair,
The front derailleur is rough when it comes to shifting down.
The price is a bit high, considering it does not have the groupset which is expected to have in its price range.

Otherwise, the bike is a really good buy, i love it, and i would buy it over a caad9 7, caad9 6, synapse 7, and the compact, double, and triple chainring allez.

-If you want to sacrifice a 105 front derailleur and 105 shifters, i would say go for the Trek 2.1.
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Old 05-25-09, 08:48 AM
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I was looking at the Synapse 5 or 7, CAAD9 5 or 6. The better components would be nice thing to have, saves on upgrading later. Do the carbon seat stays makes for a more comfortable ride? Thanks for the suggestion by the way. Are the wheels on the Trek just prettier or are they stiffer, stronger, lighter?

Also, I believe the CAAD9 is a more agressive geometry while the synapse and allez are a little more relaxed. Does anyone suggest one over the other for longer rides? I'm new so I can't tell from test rides if the CAAD9 will be more uncomfortable than the Synapse or Trek 2.1 on long rides. I'm going to be more of a weekend rider with shorter rides during the week, some summer time events, and a few rides to work.
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Old 05-25-09, 11:35 AM
  #4  
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Well as most people will say, it's best to get out there and ride them which it seems you have. If that hasn't told you anything you might want to try and take them for a little longer ride if possible.

I rode the 2.1, the CAAD9 5 and the Spec Allez. I settled on the CAAD9-5. The 105 group was the best in the class for the same price. The CAAD frame is pretty unmatched in terms of stiffness and aggressiveness (as any search of a bike forum will tell you). C'dale has figured out Aluminum. It can be made race-worthy or taken for Sunday rides.

I guess that's my vote for the C'dale.
If you're looking for something a little more relaxed as you said, then I'd probably go Synapse. While the CAAD9 is a great bike it's probably not best suited for loooong Sunday rides.

From my experience the Treks in the same price range seemed to be poorer equipped than the C'dales or the Specialized for that matter.

Good luck. And enjoy the bike!
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Old 05-25-09, 11:58 AM
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I test rode the CAAD9 6, which is the same frame as the caad9 5 obviously. The 54CM frame of the caad9 is more larger than the 54cm from that of my trek 2.1. The geometry of the trek is really relaxed. For example, when putting my hands on the brake hoods of the caad9, i'm stretched out a bit further, but in a more aggressive position.

And the carbon seatstays do contribute to a smoother ride, considering i live in a place with bumpy roads (San Francisco). I have done 60 mile trips from my house to the Golden Gate Bridge, and it really does make a difference because there are so many cracks on the road, i think because of the earthquakes. But in the event of a long ride, i never get tired of my position on my bike. Like said, it is a very relaxed geometry, as compared to the cannondales, you'll get a traditional geometry which would be best for racing. The allez looks pretty relaxed as well.

And the wheels are nice-looking but they already went out of true within the first 100 miles, but the lbs i took it to said that was normal for a new bike. It hasn't been out of true for another 550 miles. (i have 650 total). And i haven't got a single flat either.

So now that you've mentioned you're looking at either caad9's or synapse's, i would recommened to go to the highest equipped models, the synapse 5 and caad9 5, mainly because they are equipped with 105, and it's not much of a significant price difference from its lower-end models. I would never recommened a sora-equipped bike, unless you're on an extremely tight budget, or perhaps you don't really care about the componentry.

1 last thing, when shopping for my first bike, 2 retailers told me that Cannondale's CAAD9 frame is the best aluminum frame so far, and i would agree on that because the cannondale feels really strong and its really light to.

So that's what i can tell you, i don't know about the specialized, my friend told me specialized makes good bikes. But really, it's up to your personal taste in bikes and the feeling that the bike would satisfy you for a while.

Last edited by 7bmwm3gtr; 05-25-09 at 12:03 PM.
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Old 05-25-09, 12:08 PM
  #6  
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CAAD9-5

Keep in mind there's a 99% chance you will need to change the saddle, so budget accordingly.
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Old 05-25-09, 01:35 PM
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Thanks for the help. Now has anyone had experience with Trek, Cannondale, or Specialized and their warranties?
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Old 05-26-09, 11:27 PM
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No, but i'm sure you can find the terms+conditions on the website of the company. Most likely the frame should be lifetime covered.

I know Trek the frame is lifetime covered, bontrager parts and fork is 5 years, 1 year everything else like components and paint.
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Old 05-26-09, 11:59 PM
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Originally Posted by 7bmwm3gtr View Post
1. Carbon seat stays, which the other 3 do not have.
Wrong

Originally Posted by 7bmwm3gtr View Post
2. If your speaking of the caad9 5, synapse 5, or allez sport, the groupset of the trek 2.1 is inferior to the shimano 105 equipped on those bikes.
I fail to see how this is a pro for the trek

Originally Posted by 7bmwm3gtr View Post
3. IMHO, the Trek 2.1 has better looking wheels then all 3 models.
4. The wheels are much better looking, as compared to the wheels of the other 3, which, in my opinion, have too many spokes.
Did you need 2 different numbers for the same comment?
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Old 05-27-09, 12:07 AM
  #10  
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I hate spokes.
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Old 05-27-09, 12:11 AM
  #11  
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My humble apologies cwathne.

I thought the CAAD9 was a full aluminum frame. PLease do correct me if i'm incorrect.
Same as the Allez sport and lower models.

Next:
2. (Considering the other 3 models are at its entry level equipped version)
--->Can you read in the parenthesis?

If your speaking of the caad9 5, synapse 5, or allez sport, the groupset of the trek 2.1 is inferior to the shimano 105 equipped on those bikes.
---> Notice the " if " cuz the trek 2.1 is superior to any model below the caad9 5, synapse 5, and allez sport. Although the caad9 6 and trek 2.1 are debatable.

Next:
3. I noticed that too, too lazy to edit the post. Thank you though i'm pretty sure everybody will criticize that sooner or later.

Next time, just read carefully to prevent confusion. Thanks.

Last edited by 7bmwm3gtr; 05-27-09 at 12:12 AM. Reason: Additional Information
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Old 05-27-09, 12:40 AM
  #12  
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If the CAAD9 fits you it would be my first choice by far. I don't have experience with the Specialized, but I have ridden the Trek 2100 which is the "old version" of the 2.1. The biggest difference I can see between the 2100 and 2.1 is that Trek kept the price about the same, then downgraded the parts to Tiagra from 105, and made the frame in Asia (Taiwan I believe) vs. the US.

I don't think there's anything wrong with any of those bikes, but if you're looking for the best frame, the CAAD9 is the one to get. Pretty looking wheels with fewer spokes do not mean they are good wheels. Trek is good at marketing and uses the low/twin-spoke Bontrager wheels as a selling point. If you do a search through the many wheel threads here, you'll find that most people recommend a higher spoke wheel for better performance and durability.

So the main thing you get with the CAAD9 is a race grade frame, this really was raced only a few years ago and was near the top of Cannondale's lineup. If you're buying aluminum, Cannondale is probably one of the better manufacturers out there. It's also rumored that this may be the last year that the CAAD9 is made in the US.

The only criticism on the CAAD9 is the saddle, it's awful, but on almost any new bike you should count on buying a new saddle. As far as ride, there are many factors including wheels and tires. A nice set of 700x25 tires will smooth out any ride, but then again you're not buying a road bike for it's plush ride or upright position. You're buying it to go fast

Do a search on this forum and see how many others recommend, ride, and own one of the Cannondale CAAD series bikes. At this year's prices they are bargains. The geometry feels large because Cannondale measures their size from the center of the bottom bracked to the top of the top tube, Trek and Specialized measure up to the top of the seat tube. IMO, you should be more concerned about top-tube length rather then the listed "size" anyway. So long as you have some standover room, it shouldn't be a problem as long as the top-tube length is correct.

Again, don't take my word for it, do a search here on the Forums and see what others have to say about the CAAD. There's nothing wrong with the other bikes, but as with any bike company these days, most of their lower end offerings are made in one of a handful of Asian factories (yes the same factory may produce frames for different companies using slightly different materials/geometry, or the frames might be identical except for the stickers and the paint), then they throw on a bunch of off-the-shelf components. I believe that most of the Bontrager stuff is just made by someone else anyway (pretty sure the Bontrager cranks are SRAM/Truvativ).

I'm not a Trek hater, in fact I think their higher end bikes are really decent (the stuff made in the US). Their lower end bikes appear to have more marketing than substance, nice paint, cool-looking wheels etc. At this year's price points though I don't think they're offering much value. In previous years I would have said the opposite, the 1500 used to be 105 and could be had for under $1k, now they're selling Tiagra for that much

IMO Performance Bike has a somewhat decent Tiagra equipped Schwinn for $699 minus promotions (Usually at least 10% + 10% in Team Performance points, sometimes you can score 20% + another 10% in Team performance points). Is it a great bike? Probably not, but it's equipped very similarly to the Trek for a fraction of the price. If you're simply comparing components, there are better deals out there than the Trek. If you're buying for the frame, then the CAAD9 wins hands down.

Last edited by intence; 05-27-09 at 12:44 AM.
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Old 05-27-09, 12:51 AM
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Caad9
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Old 05-27-09, 12:54 AM
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Also, make sure you ride all three for a good enough period of time to decide if you like them. Remember that final fitting tweaks will still be done, and that tires can always be changed. If your local shop doesn't have your size in a particular bike, find one that does.

I also believe it was Cannondale's belief until very recently that Carbon stays were a total waste of time and Aluminum was better. The Six13 (Carbon tubes, but Aluminum back end and front end) and SystemSix (All carbon Except for the back end including Stays which was aluminum) both had alu. stays even though other parts were carbon. Cannondale changed their lineup this year with the Asian made Six and Six Carbon (Six13 and the SystemSix both no discontinued were US made), so my guess is that the factories from which they sourced the frames probably were equipped to do a carbon back-end instead of retooling for aluminum. Cannondale changes their story, but really I would guess it's because they could get the frames made cheaper by a third party in Asia vs. making them at their own in their factory in the US.

I would still say ride all the bikes, and don't worry what the seat-stays are made of

Last edited by intence; 05-27-09 at 12:59 AM.
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Old 05-27-09, 09:46 AM
  #15  
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Having just purchased a new road bike, I think you need to look at which bike fits you best for what type of riding you will be doing. The CAAD9 is the racers dream, but if it does not fit or work for your type of riding - it will not be a good choice. You also need to factor the LBS/price into your purchase. Sure Performance offers really good prices on bikes, parts, clothes, but how good is the local store at servicing the bike? LBS after sale service/warranty is important. Now factor in price with that LBS.

In my shopping for bike, I looked and road all of the bikes in my price range. As much as I liked the thought of a CAAD9, it did not fit me as well and was not a good fit for the type of riding I would be doing. The best fit for me was a Trek 2.1 . My neighborhood LBS has always taken care for me and I happened to be buying durning sale period. I have been very happy with my post purchase experience with them. Unless you are going to do all servicing yourself, your LBS selection can be almost as important as the bike you chose.

Good luck on selecting your new bike.
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Old 05-27-09, 10:07 AM
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The main difference I can see between the geometry on the Trek vs. the Cannondale is the slightly taller head tube. Depending on if the steerer was cut and tha number of spacers, you might be able to get the geometries to be quite similar.
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Old 05-27-09, 12:20 PM
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The Synapse rides like a Cadilac (Or for you young 'uns, a Lexus) and is more stable. The Caad allows bigger hits into your wrist and/or butt, and steers with an incredible precise feel that the Synapse does not match.
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Old 05-27-09, 01:00 PM
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I can only speak for the Trek 2.1 and it's a really good bike. I had the 2009 model before I got my Tarmac. Big jump between the two, but that Trek was a darn good bike. I rode several charity rides with it 40+ miles and never an issue.

And I still say it's one of the best looking bikes available.
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Old 05-27-09, 01:06 PM
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1. Carbon seat stays, which the other 3 do not have.

The Specialized Allez Elite has carbon seat stays.
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Old 05-27-09, 01:10 PM
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I am partial to Treks and Cannondales and have had good experiences with both. If you can swing the 2.3do that as the components are better and worth the $ in my humble opinion.

Are you a JAG?
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Old 05-28-09, 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by mamu View Post
The Specialized Allez Elite has carbon seat stays.
He never mentioned he was looking at a Specialized Allez Elite and i assumed he was referring to the Allez or Allez sport.
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Old 05-29-09, 05:32 AM
  #22  
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I have a 2.1...I also have the 5 year red shield warranty (I'm fairly certain none of the other companies offer that). I haven't ridden either of the other bikes, but I fully recommend the Trek!
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Old 05-29-09, 06:14 AM
  #23  
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Biased answer: caad9.

I've had afew of them and I just got another one because the price/performance ratio is hard to match.
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Old 05-29-09, 06:21 AM
  #24  
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If your Trek dealer carries the Gary Fisher road bikes too then look at the AR Super Compact. It has the same components as the 2.1 and is $200 cheaper.
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Old 05-29-09, 06:45 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by Buddhalite View Post
If your Trek dealer carries the Gary Fisher road bikes too then look at the AR Super Compact. It has the same components as the 2.1 and is $200 cheaper.
My LBS has both the AR super compact and the 2.1 for the same price ($1199.99), so it kind of depends where you are I guess.
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