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caad9, caad10, synapse - tough choice

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caad9, caad10, synapse - tough choice

Old 10-23-10, 10:35 PM
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caad9, caad10, synapse - tough choice

New here. Seen lots of good advice and thought maybe someone can help me. I'm over 40 and aside from a cyclocross bike I had for a while to commute on I've never owned a road bike. I've been riding my full suspension mtb on paved roads for a while mainly to just get back in shape. I don't expect to do much off road anymore and the mtb just isn't that fun up and down paved roads - at least not just putting miles on. Been doing 60 or so a week for a couple months and really need to bump it up a bit now. So I've decided a road bike is what I need.

I plan to ride mostly an hour or so at a time and maybe a couple on weekends up and down some fairly hilly roads. If I get into shape I'd like to ride some longer distance passes like Breckenridge to Vail or up the canyon to Estes Park, CO or maybe over Trail Ridge rd (if you know any of those).

I've looked at a Trek 2.1, a Madone 3.1, a gary fisher (forgot model but was carbon) a Secteur and today road a Synapse and then tooled around briefly on the caad9. I need to keep the price below $1500 and preferably closer to $1200. The Synapse was my favorite so far. The Madone was nice but a bit pricey and the 2.1 will loosen fillings. For aluminum, the Synapse was really nice. However, when I hoped on the caad9, well, it was just plain fun. I'm concerned about the geometry though. I'm not as young as I used to be and I have a blown disc. It doesn't bother me much (usually), but on the caad9 for several hours? Who knows. Still, most rides will be an hour to maybe two and fun will help me get out - unless it ends up being uncomfortable. Also, there are not too many 9s left so by the time I'm ready to buy it may be caad10 or the synapse.

Anyway, long story short, has anyone around my age ridden the caad9/10 and can you comment on comfort issues? Is the Synapse really the way to go or is the caad "not that bad" for someone like me? I'm not concerned about components right now. The 105 is fine and I can always upgrade wheels later. Right now, I just need a bike that isn't too expensive, is fun to ride so I get out, and won't beat me up. Any words of wisdom? Thanks.
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Old 10-23-10, 10:48 PM
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I'm knocking on the door of the big 4-0, and ride a Roubaix and recently picked up a CAAD10. I've been back riding for the last 3yrs. Although I don't have your back issue, I will throw out a few observations that seem relevant:

Your comfort on the bike will be dramatically affected by fit (saddle to bar drop, reach etc.) and wheels/tires. You could set up a Synapse aggressively, or make a CAAD a little more relaxed.

Give yourself time to adjust to riding a road bike, it'll likely take a little bit of riding before you're completely at home with the different riding position.

Get the bike that you like riding the most, don't worry about the theoretical differences - oh and 40 is still plenty young in the cycling world.
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Old 10-23-10, 11:07 PM
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Thanks for the quick reply. I've been thinking of giving a Roubaix a try as well. Problem is price and not sure I want the lowest end carbon vs fairly high end al. That's why I checked the secteur which is nice and maybe worth a second look. I thought about making the caad more relaxed but 10mm less on the stem isn't likely to do much and too much change there and you change the feel. The 2.5 cm shorter head tube (58 cm bike) is the bigger difference.

I'm going to give the caad a more serious ride soon. I was getting dark and close to closing so I only spun around a parking lot trying not to get hit. Still, it didn't take more than a few seconds to see the difference and the caad was just plain fun. I'll see what happens when I'm on it for 45 mins or so.

Any thoughts on the 10 vs 9 and not made in the USA anymore stuff?

Thanks again for feedback.
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Old 10-23-10, 11:21 PM
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I'm not trying to make a pitch for the Roubaix, but I have enjoyed getting my position more aggressive on it, putting on lighter, stiffer wheels and racing it a couple of times. I haven't got too many miles on the 10 yet, but it does seem to reward harder riding. I really like what Cannondale has done with the tube shapes on the 10, the welds seem a little bigger, but it doesn't make much difference to me to be honest.
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Old 10-23-10, 11:33 PM
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I'd get a synapse if i were you. From what i've read the caad10 is a very stiff racers bike. Once i get to be older i will take comfort over maximal performance any day.
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Old 10-23-10, 11:43 PM
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No worries. Didn't see it as a pitch for the Roubaix. It's just something I've considered so your comment struck a cord and have heard a lot of people say they are fast, fun and comfortable. However, unless I discover something else, I think I'm leaning toward the caad or synapse. Just need to get a good sense of how my body will ride on the caad and if I'm going to regret it after longer rides. If the weather is nice I'll check it out again tomorrow and ride it longer.

As for price, the caad10-5 lists for $1500. Seems most shops will work with you on price, but what should I look for? Is 10% off reasonable or can you get better or am I lucky if they drop it $50? Thanks.
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Old 10-23-10, 11:46 PM
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Originally Posted by zstjohn View Post
I'd get a synapse if i were you. From what i've read the caad10 is a very stiff racers bike. Once i get to be older i will take comfort over maximal performance any day.
That is what I've read too. But the 9 at least just had a degree of "fun" that I didn't get on the synapse. However, pain isn't fun so that's why I'm asking. Thanks for the feedback. I didn't dislike the synapse at all, just maybe liked the caad better - at least on a short demo.
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Old 10-24-10, 12:43 AM
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Originally Posted by bikerjp View Post
No worries. Didn't see it as a pitch for the Roubaix. It's just something I've considered so your comment struck a cord and have heard a lot of people say they are fast, fun and comfortable. However, unless I discover something else, I think I'm leaning toward the caad or synapse. Just need to get a good sense of how my body will ride on the caad and if I'm going to regret it after longer rides. If the weather is nice I'll check it out again tomorrow and ride it longer.

As for price, the caad10-5 lists for $1500. Seems most shops will work with you on price, but what should I look for? Is 10% off reasonable or can you get better or am I lucky if they drop it $50? Thanks.
the new models of bikes just came out and.caad10 is one of the newest. id expect them to stay pretty firm since they just came out
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Old 10-24-10, 07:49 AM
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I'm, uh, 49 3/4 years old, in decent shape, probably not the most flexible guy in the world. I picked up a CAAD 9-5 at the end of June, an was having so much fun with it, I elected to use it in RAGBRAI. 490 miles over seven days, and I had no comfort issues with the bike at all, except I got real cold one day riding 60 miles in pouring rain. It was great. As a disclaimer, my bike is set up the way it came off the shop floor - not very aggressive. Stem is, oh my God, still pointing the wrong direction, and there are some spacers under it. Not a good set up for BF photography, but pretty good for a week of touring.
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Old 10-24-10, 08:27 AM
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I think an extended ride on any CAAD for you is the best advice I could give you
to get a true impression of it's characteristics and your riding limits on the bike.

My personal opinion, if I were you, I'd go for a Synapse for the kind of riding you described.

I'm 41 and began road cycling (after mountain biking) about 3 years ago.
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Old 10-24-10, 08:43 AM
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I'm 43 and have a bad lower back from a football injury 20 years ago. I stopped biking for 20 years since college and bought a CAAD9-5 on April 1st. Since then I've got 4200+ miles on the bike. I had a professional fit and the position is aggressive now. I waited two months to get the fit and am so glad I did because my riding position changed a lot since the first few rides.

Longest ride was 77 miles but most are between 30-50 miles. Average of around 20mph. I went from around 220 or so down to 185. All of this in 6 months.

I have no issues with the fit or comfort of the CAAD9. I picked up the bike for $1200 and it was a steal. If you can do the same I highly recommend it.

Bottom line is you're stronger than you think.
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Old 10-24-10, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by jgt_madone_newb View Post
I'm, uh, 49 3/4 years old, in decent shape, probably not the most flexible guy in the world. I picked up a CAAD 9-5 at the end of June, an was having so much fun with it, I elected to use it in RAGBRAI. 490 miles over seven days, and I had no comfort issues with the bike at all, except I got real cold one day riding 60 miles in pouring rain. It was great. As a disclaimer, my bike is set up the way it came off the shop floor - not very aggressive. Stem is, oh my God, still pointing the wrong direction, and there are some spacers under it. Not a good set up for BF photography, but pretty good for a week of touring.
Thanks for the feedback everyone. I will likely ride the bike stock for a while and then maybe upgrade wheels. I can't imagine my back would appreciate a flipped stem. Planning to ride one today and see what I think after a bit more time in the saddle. Thanks again.
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Old 10-24-10, 09:27 AM
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Originally Posted by bikerjp View Post
As for price, the caad10-5 lists for $1500. Seems most shops will work with you on price, but what should I look for? Is 10% off reasonable or can you get better or am I lucky if they drop it $50? Thanks.
I got a couple of hundred off list for my 10-4. I bought it from my regular LBS where I bought my Roubaix and countless other bits and pieces over the last couple of years. I don't think there are any hard/fast rules though - other than to shop around?

Edit: here's a good example of a local chain discounting the 10-5 https://mikesbikes.com/product/11-can...ct-73858-1.htm
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Old 10-24-10, 09:30 AM
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Originally Posted by 2ndGen View Post
I think an extended ride on any CAAD for you is the best advice I could give you
to get a true impression of it's characteristics and your riding limits on the bike.

My personal opinion, if I were you, I'd go for a Synapse for the kind of riding you described.

I'm 41 and began road cycling (after mountain biking) about 3 years ago.
That is sort of what I was thinking. Better to get a bike designed to be more relaxed than aggressive. But if a caad is comfortable or could be adjusted to be then it's a harder decision. I can get a 2010 caad 9 for $1250 but not the color I would have preferred. The lbs offered me a 2011 Synapse for $1300 (both 105).
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Old 10-24-10, 10:05 AM
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The CAAD9 is perfectly stiff but I'm 27 and flexible. The CAAD10 felt even stiffer to me on a few mile test ride and I would not want to do a long ride on it without a good saddle and a good pair of bibs. I've done centuries on my CAAD9 and felt great at the end - I'm not so sure a CAAD10 would be so nice.

The Synapse is a good bike and I've seen it set up fairly aggressively (similar to a CAAD9 with all the spacers) if you would want it that way. I bought the CAAD9 because I ride a 58cm (a size smaller than I "should") so I have a 4" drop to my bars and there's no way I could get that out of a Synapse of a similar size. In a 60cm frame, the CAAD9 had no drop to the bars with all the spacers and the seat at the correct height for me.

One thing to note is that if you have long legs in proportion to your height, the aggressive stance will be more exaggerated.
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Old 10-24-10, 10:08 AM
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YEah you should definitely test ride all of them, and keep in mind that you can change up the fit quite a bit to be more or less forgiving.
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Old 10-24-10, 10:39 AM
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Easy choice... before you do anything, try a Bianchi Infinito.
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Old 10-24-10, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Monkey Face View Post
Easy choice... before you do anything, try a Bianchi Infinito.
Yeah! Why not suggest a bike that's almost 2x as much as the OP's spending limit!

While you're at it, let's tell all the drivers test riding Camry's to go try an S class Mercedes!
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Old 10-24-10, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Monkey Face View Post
Easy choice... before you do anything, try a Bianchi Infinito.
Looked that one up. Nice bike. Sounds like it could be a good choice but is also over a grand more than I'd like to spend (or, sadly, can afford to). Also, I haven't seen a shop in town that carries Bianchi.

"The geometry is unique, with a taller head tube for a relaxed riding position and a longer wheel base for improved stability." That is similar language to the Synapse and Secteur and 2.1 and in theory what I probably need. However, it's good to hear that a bike can be adjusted somewhat to make it more comfortable so the caad might not be out of my limits.
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Old 10-24-10, 11:14 AM
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Originally Posted by antiguru View Post
YEah you should definitely test ride all of them, and keep in mind that you can change up the fit quite a bit to be more or less forgiving.
I'm 6'3" with fairly long legs and have been test riding 58 cm bikes. One shop took the time to fully fit the bikes before I road them (the 2.1, madone and GF). The caad shop didn't do that but I didn't ask either. Is there any theory or wisdom to riding a smaller bike to get a more relaxed fit? For example a 56 instead of a 58 or would that put the seat too high in relation to the bike? What about going to a 60 for a lower seat height but that would also stretch out the top.
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Old 10-24-10, 11:19 AM
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You should fix the bars and seat with stems, spacers and seat posts on the right sized frame for you. Chances are that you'll modify your fit over the first year or two anyway, far better to do that with components rather than the frame.
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Old 10-24-10, 11:22 AM
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Ive had both. I started off with the synapse when I first started but then quickly outgrew it. Its a great bike none the less; its a matter of how far you want to take cycling. If you want to become more of an agressive speed demon eventually then just go straight for the caad. If youre looking to just ride casually and never want to go super fast or accelerate quickly then go with the synapse. The differences are there but I dont think the geometries are extreme opposites of the spectrum that prevent you from riding one or the other. And if you get the caad you can spend the same amount of money but get better components which is nice. Anyways I'm 24 so our conditions might be a little different but I like the caad a lot more.
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Old 10-24-10, 02:59 PM
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I am 50. Don't you know that the new 40 is 30? So don't be talking about slowing down just yet. I am not.

Do yourself a favor and test ride a Synapse Carbon 5 (105). I know it is a few more dollars but you have already commited to spending a large amount. You might as well commit a few more dollars and treat yourself. I have a CAAD8 and a Synapse Carbon 3. That CAAD sees very little ride time. The Synapse is that much of a pleasure to ride. The CAAD is stiff and responsive. If I were more into racing she would see more ride time. The CAAD makes an excellent backup bike for me and I take her out when I want a fast short to medium fun ride. That is not to say I wouldn't race the Synapse. She is setup aggressively, handles corners very well and soaks up road vibrations better than any bike I have been on. I have had compliments on how well she flies through a tight chicane.

They are both great bikes but the Synapse sounds more in line with your needs. I would look for a discounted '10 Synapse Carbon. Deals are out there to be found.

Good luck with your search.

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Old 10-24-10, 03:29 PM
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Any thoughts on trying out a Giant Defy? You can get a Defy Advanced 4 for around $1500, albeit with Tiagra parts. I believe the frame however, is exactly the same as the higher model bikes.

Or Felt Z series? Z6, MRSP $1599, gets you into carbon with 105. I know there are a zillion CAAD fans on this forum, but I seriously don't think you should limit yourself if you haven't tried the other bikes.

Based on your description of where you want to ride - I'm assuming you live in CO, and there are a million bike shops.
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Old 10-24-10, 04:52 PM
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Okay, thanks for all the advice. I took both out today. I rode the caad first for about 55 mins which is in line with my normal "getting in shape" rides. Not sure it matters, but I spent about 40% of the time on the hoods, 40% just back of the hoods on the curve (which I find a comfortable position) and the rest on the flats mostly when climbing seated. In other words, I didn't feel uncomfortable on the hoods. Out of curiosity, where do most people ride their bars? Anyway, it was fun and fast around corners and seemed to climb well - at least as well as my body could make it go. I averaged 15.9 mph over the whole ride including waiting at lights and a detour to find some water. Was kind of windy too. I got slightly sore in the back area (more the muscles on the side than lower back) but nothing I haven't had to deal with before and really I felt fine at the end of the ride. I then took the synapse out for about 35 mins and rode almost the same course (but cut out a section). When I first jumped on it, it felt a bit better but really after about 10 mins I forgot what the caad felt like and just enjoyed riding. Of course, I really enjoyed riding the caad too. At my level of inexperience I just don't know how to really tell one from the other after riding for a bit. I think based on theory I should get the synapse as I'm likely to find it more comfortable, but I'm starting to develop a bias toward the caad. I think for about 95% of my rides it would be fine as I doubt I'll top more than 60-90 mins most days and I think I could have gone 2 or so on weekends rides without any real issues. When I get a chance to try some longer rides and if I find it's not as comfortable I can explore a different stem or something.

Long story short, I'm leaning toward the caad but part of me is afraid I'll regret it. The synapse is the "safe" bet, but I had more fun on the caad and in the end that's what it's all about. Plus, blowing by some other roadie without really trying was fun. I'd kind of like to try a caad10 also, but they are not in stock around here yet.

Thanks again for all the feedback. I'd be happy to hear any addition thoughts anyone has.

@lpolliard - I did ride a few carbon bikes so far but they were pushing $2000 and I think I lack the background and experience to really know how to pick a good bike so my theory is to get something cheaper and ride it a lot. Once I know what I like then I might look at getting something carbon and spending a bit more (assuming I can find the money and not end up divorced).

@unagidon - yes, I live in CO and there are 3 decent lbs in town but each is like a car dealer and carries one main brand plus few others - on is trek, one is specialized and one is cannondale. I have never seen many of the other brands around like GT, Giant, Felt, Bianchi, etc. Doesn't mean I can't shop in another town but it's nice to buy local as they all provide good after sale service.

EDIT: actually, there are a couple others I forgot about as I've never been in them and they may carry other brands. Guess I should be sure to shop around a bit more.

Last edited by bikerjp; 10-24-10 at 04:58 PM.
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