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Specialized Allez steel vs Surly Pacer?

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Specialized Allez steel vs Surly Pacer?

Old 11-09-09, 03:48 PM
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NeilGunton
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Specialized Allez steel vs Surly Pacer?

Hi, I've been mostly into heavier touring bikes in recent years, but am going to be in the market for a lighter, more stripped down "fun and fast" bike for purely road riding. So no fenders, no racks, just minimal. I was intrigued recently by the Specialized Allez Double Steel, which is only $610 and has downtube shifters (which I don't mind, I grew up with those - but I may use Kelly Takeoffs to move them up to the handlebars). But then I saw the Surly Pacer, which looks like it might also be quite a nice ride - and with the ability to mount larger tires, though I'm not sure if that's such a big deal for this bike, since it really is only going to be used for good weather and good roads. This is not my "rough stuff" bike! I'm looking to regain some of that fun lightweight riding experience I had with my sports bike back in the 1980's, but with a new bike (I don't really want to mess around with second hand hunts, haggling and gear upgrades).

Are these bikes comparable in terms of ride quality? I'm not so fussed about the components, but rather the geometry and ride quality. I kind of like the basic, simple quality of the Allez, but the Surly Pacer seems like a pretty nice bike too. I can't easily get either bike to test ride around here, I'm just looking for any initial impressions people might have before I start making weekend trips down to Santa Rosa.

I guess my main criteria here are comfort and speed, I want to be able to ride this bike all day and still enjoy it. I don't like feeling beat up after a ride (which is one reason I wonder if being able to fit larger tires on the Pacer might make a difference - 28 or 32mm). It's been a while since I had a pure road bike, so I'm not too sure of what I should aim for here. I do like steel for some reason.

Thanks,

Neil

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Old 11-09-09, 08:07 PM
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Have you considered non steel bikes with more relaxed geometries such as the Specialized Roubaix?
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Old 11-09-09, 08:10 PM
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Color & what you perceive to be character may be the biggest difference. The geometry though not identical is close; the Allez has ever so slightly steeper ST angle in some sizes, etc. Really close geom. & theme, both fast but not extreme.

A little as two years ago, the Pacer as a frame only option was more meaningfull.
Fewer then, than now had steel. Spec., Fuji, Raleigh & others just started offering them. The Allez has the DT Shifts., my pref. if I was to get another bike that I only wante d to spend way less than a thou. for. The Pacer just started to be sold complete; Tiagra etc., very nice, twice the price as the Spec., almost. Nothing wrong with the 2200 etc. stuff on the Specialized, I've tried a bike with such, it worked fine. Brk.Lev.shifts. pack- on a couple few hundred to the price, along with the marginally better other parts on the Surly. I like the Allez all things considered. I don't see that I would ever not be able to off a red Specialized if......
availabily comes into play as well.
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Old 11-09-09, 11:33 PM
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Thanks for the advice. I have not really considered other bikes, no. There are just so many out there, I need to reduce my options somehow. In fact I wasn't really even looking for a road bike a few weeks ago, when I just happened upon the Allez Steel and it made me go "huh". That is cool, and it's only $610. I like simple, and I don't mind DT shifters. One question on my mind: On a road bike, am I likely to want bigger than 23mm? Because I have a feeling that's about what the Allez can handle, maybe 25mm tops, but there's probably not a lot of clearance there. Given that this is a fast road bike, will I regret not being able to put larger tires on there? No trails, nothing exotic, just road. I guess that's the biggest difference between the Allez and the Pacer, except for the price difference and the components, is the wheel clearance. The Pacer is maybe a little heavier, not sure but just a hunch. I'm just thinking you probably can't go far wrong with the Allez - the people who have had them seem to like them a lot, as far as I can tell. Obviously the Pacer would be a fine bike too. It's a tough call, I'm just looking for differentiating factors... the Pacer complete has brifters, not sure about those. Last time I test rode a brifter bike, I found myself accidentally shifting while braking. No doubt this is something you get used to.

Hmm.

Thanks again,

Neil
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Old 11-10-09, 08:50 AM
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I've never a bike that couldn't handle 28mm tires. I've used some fat, high side walled ones as well. Wear-out what comes with the bike or save'em. 25s are only a little bigger than 23s, so much depends on the brand. @ 200 or so for so many years I have found that 25s suit me better,one bike's 28s. Your wt. should be considered also.
I use 28s on a race bike turned "commuter". I don't go to work, just call it that. Don't be concerned about fitting tires, they'll pass through the cals., especially easy if you deflate them; why else would you remove the wheels anyway ? Due to a flat.

As I'd stated, not much extra is packed on to that Allez. I'm convinved that the only reason they've introduced it was to prevent some customers from walking out and going to the few competitors who sell chromoly bikes. So goes one individual, so goes other prospects along with him, ie. his entire family. I've 'walked' plenty.
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Old 11-10-09, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by NeilGunton View Post
Thanks for the advice. I have not really considered other bikes, no. There are just so many out there, I need to reduce my options somehow. In fact I wasn't really even looking for a road bike a few weeks ago, when I just happened upon the Allez Steel and it made me go "huh". That is cool, and it's only $610. I like simple, and I don't mind DT shifters. One question on my mind: On a road bike, am I likely to want bigger than 23mm? Because I have a feeling that's about what the Allez can handle, maybe 25mm tops, but there's probably not a lot of clearance there. Given that this is a fast road bike, will I regret not being able to put larger tires on there? No trails, nothing exotic, just road. I guess that's the biggest difference between the Allez and the Pacer, except for the price difference and the components, is the wheel clearance. The Pacer is maybe a little heavier, not sure but just a hunch. I'm just thinking you probably can't go far wrong with the Allez - the people who have had them seem to like them a lot, as far as I can tell. Obviously the Pacer would be a fine bike too. It's a tough call, I'm just looking for differentiating factors... the Pacer complete has brifters, not sure about those. Last time I test rode a brifter bike, I found myself accidentally shifting while braking. No doubt this is something you get used to.

Hmm.

Thanks again,

Neil
If you already have a tourer, you've got situations where you need a wider tire than 25mm covered. I weigh 200 lbs. and put 25mm tires on my aluminum Allez. They feel great. I haven't tried 23 so can't comment. I chose the 25's because I was used to 28's on my old tourer and 32's on my new LHT. Also, since I'm a bit of a heavyweight, I thought a little bit of added volume would cushion the ride and help prevent things like pinch flats and broken spokes. I'm not sure if others would agree with me, but I usually do things my way and learn by trying them out.

I think you could get a used bike for the $610 that might suit you better. I bought my Allez as a frame for $200, plus shipping, and probably spent more than $610 getting it all together. But I see completes for around that price all the time. It's a nice ride.

I put STI shifters on the Allez. I spent my youth with downtube shifters, then switched to bar-ends when I started touring (and of course, RapidFire shifters on my mountain bikes.) But after almost a year with the brifters, I have to say they're now my favorite configuration. Try them; I think you'll like them!
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Old 11-10-09, 09:43 AM
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Thanks again! Shifting tack a little - does anyone here want to argue in favor of the Surly Pacer? Does it really fall into the same category of light, fast, fun? Anybody love it or hate it? I know it's not really fair comparing a bike costing over $1000 to one costing $610, but the main consideration here is "fast, simple, light, steel". What other (new, currently available) bikes would you consider instead in this price range?
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Old 11-10-09, 09:48 AM
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I have a pacer. it really is a comfortable, stable bike. great compromise between responsiveness and stability. i put 700x32 vittorria randonneurs for light trail or dirt roads. very versitle road bike
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Old 11-10-09, 10:01 AM
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I've heard nothing but good things about the Surly line. I'd be happier with a tiagra equipped Pacer than I would be with that steel Allez with low end components. Have you tried some more modern, relaxed road bikes? Soon it will be a good time to find deals @ the LBS

EDIT: Oh I see you want steel especially. Surly.
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Old 11-10-09, 11:14 AM
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One person thought the Pacer was too flexy for stronger or heavier people:

http://www.roadbikereview.com/cat/fr...4_2493crx.aspx

I'm about 203 lbs currently (looking to lose 30 ideally). I like the look of the Surly.

Here's the thing: I am currently also choosing my next touring bike. Originally I thought it might be a 26" Surly Long Haul Trucker, in which case the lightweight 700C road bike makes sense as a complimentary ride with less overlap. But I may also be looking at the Co-Motion Americano, which is a 700C tourer. I'm wondering if the Pacer would be too much overlap with the Americano... hmm.

I can see multiple dedicated bicycle garages in my future.
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Old 11-10-09, 05:43 PM
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I currently have an Allez Elite (2010 model) and love it! Everything from the saddle to the 105's feels good! Excellent geometry, and I can ride long distances.
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Old 11-10-09, 05:48 PM
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Jamis Quest is better than both those bikes and looks much better too.
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Old 11-10-09, 06:59 PM
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Quest is indeed nice, but much more $. Between the Pacer and the Allez - personally, I would pick the Pacer because I prefer STI. However, if downtube is your thing, the Alez looks cooler. I'm a sucker for retro look. Another bike you can consider - the Jamis Satellite - $950 MSRP. So should be similar in price, if not quite a bit cheaper, then the Pacer.
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Old 11-10-09, 07:16 PM
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I've been looking at the Pacer too. At $410 for the frame and fork it's hard to go wrong..IMHO.
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Old 11-10-09, 07:54 PM
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I was just thinking today about a race that apparently happens hereabouts come May or so - about 100k, going on the Lost Coast road (I think - haven't been here very long). From what I can tell, a lot of the roads that I would like to cycle on around here are going to be pretty rough and not very well cared for, so perhaps the ability to mount slightly larger tires (even on a "fast" road bike) might be good. The Pacer lets you go 28mm with fenders or 32mm without. Maybe the Pacer is pulling ahead a little...

Thanks also for the tips on the other bikes - I'll go take a look.
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Old 11-10-09, 09:34 PM
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I rode a Pacer for 4 years. Mine was the smallest size, 42cm. I really liked the bike. Not light and fast like my Specialized Ruby, but very comfortable and stable. I never had a bad ride or buzzy hands from chip seal roads. I did a couple of century rides, and lots of climbs and descents. However, I recently moved on from the Pacer to a Gunnar Sport...

I still have my Pacer frame hanging in the basement, I'm not quite ready to let it go entirely.
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Old 11-10-09, 11:05 PM
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I have a pacer with campy ergos plus ultegra long/regular-reach brakes. The dual brake release in this combo makes it easy to remove wheels with big tires. I'm currently using 32's. I started with 25's, but the bike was too stiff. I'm much happier with 32's. Much better ride over imperfect pavement, and I'm not any slower according to my Garmin. Then I changed the steel fork, which I never liked, to carbon IRD Mosaic 57, and the bike is even more plush right now. I can put power down over very rough patches, where I had to lift off the saddle and coast on the 25's. The price to pay for all this comfort is in out-of-the-saddle high-power attacks, where the bike just does not feel as solid as it did with the 25's and the stiff fork. It's mostly due to front-end flex. But it feels so good after 100 miles...
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Old 11-10-09, 11:56 PM
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Ive got a pacer and a Surly LHT. Overall I am extremely happy with the entire Surly line. You may hear about concerns about the Pacer having a flexy bottom bracket for a heavier rider, but you will only see it if you are a really strong rider, and then only when you are standing up at a full sprint.
I really cannot speak for the Specialized but I have been really happy with my Pacer, even after years of being very accustomed to full out racing bikes (Kuota KOM, CAAD9, Madone).
Honestly, in my opinion, the Pacer is great for just about any type of riding except for crit racing and shorter road races. I would not hesitate to race mine in a long race where comfort starts to play a factor in speed.
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Old 11-11-09, 12:23 AM
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Originally Posted by benajah View Post
Honestly, in my opinion, the Pacer is great for just about any type of riding except for crit racing and shorter road races. I would not hesitate to race mine in a long race where comfort starts to play a factor in speed.
Just out of curiosity (I'm no racer) - what are the aspects of the Pacer that make it not good for criteriums or shorter road races? I'm guessing weight? Geometry? Stiffness? Just curious - it'll help me know what to look for if I'm looking at other bikes. Basically what I want here is a bike that I could take on a fast club ride if I wanted to, and not feel like I'm dragging a boat anchor, but at the same time I don't want to come home all the time feeling like someone's been beating my hands with a baseball bat. I know those are perhaps contradictory requirements... basically I want to be able to go fast and ride all day, so that the limiting factor is my body, rather than worrying about the bike. Sounds so far like I'm on the right track with either the Allez or the Pacer - with the Pacer possibly edging ahead because of its ability to take bigger tires. I wouldn't be averse to learning about brifters (I'd be going for the complete bike rather than building up a frame - seems cheaper).

Sadly there are no Surly dealers around here within 200 miles of Eureka, CA (i.e. shops that actually have the bikes to test ride) - looks like I might have to go up to Oregon to look at these. Maybe Eugene, since I could then also work in a trip to visit Co-Motion and see their operation. Anybody got any recommendations for decent Surly dealers in Eugene? Or Corvallis, I guess, but I don't really want to have to go any further north.

Thanks again!

Neil
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Old 11-11-09, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by NeilGunton View Post
Just out of curiosity (I'm no racer) - what are the aspects of the Pacer that make it not good for criteriums or shorter road races? I'm guessing weight? Geometry? Stiffness? Just curious - it'll help me know what to look for if I'm looking at other bikes.
Basically, for criteriums bikes generally have a shorter wheelbase, allowing them to take sharper corners at higher speeds. This comes at the expense of comfort though. for longer road riding and racing, say after 50 miles or so up to maybe 120 miles, comfort begins to play a factor in speed as you are not feeling as beat up and have more energy for longer. (Consider whether you would want to do a long road trip in a Formula 1 Race Car or a Lincoln Towncar, you know?)
Weight is mostly important just for acceleration and climbing, but a few pounds (the difference between a carbon and steel bike, say) doesn't mean much until you have lost all the weight on your body you can and your legs are in superb shape and you are looking to get an advantage in any place you still can.
A lot of brevet rider/racers, the ones who do super long distance like 400, 500 miles at a time, ride longer wheelbase steel bikes.
My normal race bike, a CAAD9 and a Kuota KOM, both are super fast rolling bikes, but both have me feeling all beat up after 50 or 60 miles. I can do 100 miles on my pacer and come home and still want to go cut the grass and stuff.
There are just tradeoffs any direction you go.
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Old 11-11-09, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by benajah View Post
Basically, for criteriums bikes generally have a shorter wheelbase, allowing them to take sharper corners at higher speeds. This comes at the expense of comfort though. for longer road riding and racing, say after 50 miles or so up to maybe 120 miles, comfort begins to play a factor in speed as you are not feeling as beat up and have more energy for longer. (Consider whether you would want to do a long road trip in a Formula 1 Race Car or a Lincoln Towncar, you know?)
Weight is mostly important just for acceleration and climbing, but a few pounds (the difference between a carbon and steel bike, say) doesn't mean much until you have lost all the weight on your body you can and your legs are in superb shape and you are looking to get an advantage in any place you still can.
A lot of brevet rider/racers, the ones who do super long distance like 400, 500 miles at a time, ride longer wheelbase steel bikes.
My normal race bike, a CAAD9 and a Kuota KOM, both are super fast rolling bikes, but both have me feeling all beat up after 50 or 60 miles. I can do 100 miles on my pacer and come home and still want to go cut the grass and stuff.
There are just tradeoffs any direction you go.
That's a great explanation, thanks. I think I'm feeling more comfortable with the Pacer - obviously I'm not wildly out of line in thinking about this bike for my "fast, fun, but also comfortable" steed.

Anybody got any recommendations (or warnings) regarding Surly dealers in Eugene, Oregon? So far I can see a few possibilities on the Surly dealer page:

Paul's Bicycle Way of Life
Lifecycle Bike Shop
Revolution Cycles

Any locals care to give me some idea of which to aim for? It's a bit of a drive up there from Eureka, so I'd like to aim for the right place, if there is one. If they are all pretty much the same, and fairly decent, then that's great too.

Thanks again,

Neil
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Old 11-12-09, 03:38 PM
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Ok, radical left turn on my hunt for the "fast & fun" bike here - I took a look at a Cannondale CAAD9 6 at my local bike shop, test rode it, and it seems very very nice. I think they may let me have it for something like $995, which seems like a pretty good deal (although California sales tax always hurts, argh). I think for my lightweight road bike I'm willing to forego steel. It's got Tiagra, which obviously isn't the best out there but I figure it'll do just fine for me, at least until I lose that 30 lbs of blubber around my waist. I figure if I really get into this then I can reward myself by upgrading the components, and it seems from my cursory reading around the forums that the CAAD 9 is a very well regarded frame to build on. People talk about the harsh ride, but it didn't seem unduly harsh to me - pretty much what I remember a road bike feeling like. It felt lively and wanted to "go fast", which is what I'm looking for here. I think I'm in lurve.

Thanks again for all the tips,

Neil
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