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Pros/cons of a true road bike

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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

Pros/cons of a true road bike

Old 01-03-11, 02:45 PM
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Andy_K 
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Pros/cons of a true road bike

Greetings everyone. I'm not a regular visitor to this forum, and I hope you'll be tolerant of a long-winded variation on what I'm guessing is a somewhat common theme. I'm contemplating a new bike purchase in the next few months, and I'm trying to figure out what type of bike I should get.

By mileage count, most of my riding is spent commuting. I'm most passionate about (though woefully slow at) cyclocross racing. In the summer, I very much enjoy doing supported centuries and the various long weekend rides that go into preparing for a century. I'm thinking about doing some road racing and/or time trials, but strictly for fun and with the full expectation of finishing at the bottom of the Cat 5 group regardless of what bike I have.

I'm trying to decide whether my new bike should be a plush road bike (like the Giant Defy Advanced or Specialized Roubaix), a performance road bike (like the Giant TCR Advanced or Specialized Tarmac) or a cyclocross bike (like the Giant TCX or Specialized Crux).

I've got a 2008 Kona Jake, which I've used for road riding in the past but have recently reconfigured to be more specifically suited to cyclocross. I've also got a 2009 Surly Cross Check which I've built up with Ultegra components and a triple crankset which would most likely be my "road bike" in the coming year if I didn't get something else.

I've never owned a true road bike, and I'm not clear as to what that would do for me versus a CX bike with the same wheels and tires.

The road bikes I'm considering are all carbon (though I'm open to lightweight aluminum). Obviously, they'd be a couple of pounds lighter, but I'm skeptical as to how much difference that makes in and of itself. I like to do my own wrenching, and I'm a bit concerned about the added potential for breaking something expensive that the carbon frames present. I'm also concerned that my current bike rack (Saris Bones) won't play nicely with a carbon frame.

The CX bikes I'm considering both come with low spoke count wheels. In fact, the Giant TCX comes with the exact same wheels as the Giant Defy Advanced. So, I'm thinking that those wheels (either on the bike they come with or on my Cross Check) would give me most of the aerodynamic advantage that I'd get from at least the plush bikes.

I'm not sure what to expect in the way of ride comfort of carbon versus steel, and I'm not sure my LBS would be very keen on my taking a 50 mile test ride. Frankly, I never noticed anything terribly wrong with my Kona Jake's aluminum frame and steel fork on long rides, so maybe I'm just not very sensitive to that sort of thing.

As for plush versus performance, I guess I'm wondering whether a performance bike with a judiciously chosen stem wouldn't give me most of the comfort of a plush bike while still keeping open the option of swapping stems for more aerodynamics when I want to race.

I'm rambling. Anyway, since I'm posting this on the road forum, I guess what I'm asking is why shouldn't I get a nice CX bike and put on a pair of slicks for road riding? Sell me on road bikes.
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Old 01-03-11, 03:00 PM
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I use both my RB (23 or 25mm tires) and CX (32mm tires) bikes for commuting. Between the two, I love the RB: handling, response, acceleration, it's just an all round more fun ride. Would my CX with skinnier tires be the same? I dont think so, because I do not like it's brakes as much, I would still have the toe overlap, and the geometry still wouldn't be like that of an RB. To many people, CX is good enough, but it's not as uncompromising as an RB. Take from the what you will.

The RB gives me a riding experience the CX cannot match. I don't even think it comes close, that toe-overlap really bugs me. I use the CX in bad weather and also to carry more stuff in the panniers (which the RB cannot hope to match).
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Old 01-03-11, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
Greetings everyone. I'm not a regular visitor to this forum

...what I'm asking is why shouldn't I get a nice CX bike and put on a pair of slicks for road riding? Sell me on road bikes.
Andy you've posted 3000 times...you're a regular here

Either CX or road will work just fine for you, and by road I mean either flatbar or drops. We don't need to sell you on anything, besides get what makes you happy within your budget.
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Old 01-03-11, 03:33 PM
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One major disadvantage of getting a road bike is you might become a roadie and start wasting lots of time in the 41
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Old 01-03-11, 03:39 PM
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I've got a Roubaix and a TriCross, and just helped a friend build a Crux Carbon. The Crux Carbon is about 1 lb. heavier than my Roubaix (56cm Crux vs. 61 cm Roubaix), both with Specialized S-Works cranks and Ultegra 6700.

Main differences: brakes and crankset. Road bike brakes are better. I use Avid Shorty Ultimates to get close to the feel, but the Ultegra brakes are slightly easier to modulate. Either one will stop the bike though. The Crux carbon has a 46/38 crankset, vs. 50/34 on the Roubaix. You can set up a cyclocross bike with road gears (I've done that to my TriCross) but then it's not as suitable for pure cyclocross.

One little nit on the Crux - only one water bottle cage.

Other than those, I don't think you'll find much difference betwen the plush road bike and the carbon cross bike.
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Old 01-03-11, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by rufvelo View Post
Andy you've posted 3000 times...you're a regular here

Either CX or road will work just fine for you, and by road I mean either flatbar or drops. We don't need to sell you on anything, besides get what makes you happy within your budget.
I think he meant the subforum- Road Cycling.

Roading overall is more fun imo.
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Old 01-03-11, 03:57 PM
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Andy - as a fellow pacific nw'erner, I can sympathize on many counts.
The advantages of a RB over a CX bike are almost all going to get to the "feel" of it.

My road bikes are great. They are snappy, the feel like sports cars whether I am running across town to drop off cookies at a friend's house, or out to go climb a mountain.
Cross bikes... they are also great, ride well, go fast when you push on the pedals (assuming you've de-mudded it , and can tend to be a bit more upright, so, probably a touch more comfortable.

If you want to commute or do long rides- the larger space for wide tyres/fenders/flaps/possible disc brakes (depending on your frame choice)... these all make a whole lot of sense for you, given where you live and the stuff you'll ride in.

If you want to race, the geometry of a CX bike - how it handles and how it will brake (compared to road bikes) will both be significant. I train with Tom Peterson's brother, and he rides away from the rest of the team, on an old cross bike, and for 30 miles at a stretch. That bike isn't holding him back as far as aero-ness or muscles go.
The issue is this: if you can't match the curves/turns/braking power in a pack of roadbikes, that is dangerous to everyone around you, and not good. If you do want to race, there may be a place to race a cx bike in Cat 5, but not much, and not for more than a couple races... I'd go with "don't endanger the group by having significantly different equipment." Hard turns will be more difficult to pull off, you won't be able to brake as well, or quickly, or in as modulated a manner as the rest of the pack - and that does become a problem.

TTs - go for it! there's nothing wrong with that, even some wet early/late races could be reasonable on a cross bike, but I'd caution against getting the cross bike and assuming it will be fine for road racing.
Around here (and down there too I think?) there are kermesse type races which have some pavement, some dirt, some bricks, etc - and plenty of guys will race those on road bikes or cross bikes... that is sort of expected, and since people are expecting it, not as much an issue.

either way - have fun, and be safe!
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Old 01-03-11, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Singh View Post
I think he meant the subforum- Road Cycling.
Yeah, that's what I meant.


Originally Posted by Singh View Post
Roading overall is more fun imo.
But, how much difference does the bike make in that fun?
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Old 01-03-11, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by svtmike View Post
Other than those, I don't think you'll find much difference betwen the plush road bike and the carbon cross bike.
I didn't mention it, but I'm a very leary of using a carbon cross bike. I crash too much. Otherwise, thanks for the feedback.
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Old 01-03-11, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
But, how much difference does the bike make in that fun?
Depends on how you ride. For many people, the difference is zero. Speaking for myself, I'd be unhappy if I always had to use a CX bike when I use a road bike now. I am not a dyed in the wool roadie -- among other things, I own two 'bents.
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Old 01-03-11, 04:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Hida Yanra View Post
The issue is this: if you can't match the curves/turns/braking power in a pack of roadbikes, that is dangerous to everyone around you, and not good. If you do want to race, there may be a place to race a cx bike in Cat 5, but not much, and not for more than a couple races... I'd go with "don't endanger the group by having significantly different equipment." Hard turns will be more difficult to pull off, you won't be able to brake as well, or quickly, or in as modulated a manner as the rest of the pack - and that does become a problem.
Hmmm, I hadn't really thought of that, but I definitely see your point. Thanks.
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Old 01-03-11, 04:16 PM
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If you felt really clever you could pay attention to the amount of new w/o tags stuff that pours onto the market from people who think they can jump right into doing triathlons. It is not uncommon to see a complete liquidation worth thousands going for not much over half price. If you use it till next CX season and decide TT or road races are not your deal you probably would not lose much if sold smartly. If nothing else you will have shown yourself capable of exhibiting a more refined sense of style than is believable on a Surly.
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Old 01-03-11, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by miyata man View Post
If nothing else you will have shown yourself capable of exhibiting a more refined sense of style than is believable on a Surly.
As it happens, the Surly fits my actual level of style pretty well.
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Old 01-03-11, 05:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
Yeah, that's what I meant.
But, how much difference does the bike make in that fun?
It's all in the company you keep - you'll hopefully meet a good group and ride with them, get faster, spend lots of money, etc, etc.
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Old 01-03-11, 06:40 PM
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I started off on a CX bike for all my cycling needs - a Specialized Tricross 58cm Triple. I have a Cervelo S1 now for road riding. To me, the difference is night and day, and I consider myself an avid recreational cyclist (no racing, mostly solo riding).

For one, the responsiveness of the S1 is the biggest difference. It accelerates almost out from under me when I'm out of the saddle, and much more nimble, especially in descents. The braking is a significant difference as well - my Tricross has cantis.

I'm a tech/gear head as well, so having a cool looking bike was important to me as well, and the S1 is just plain sexy compared to the pickup truck look of my tricross.
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Old 01-04-11, 09:29 AM
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OK, so what about plush versus performance?

It seems like if I'm going to go for a road bike, I'd want to maximize the differences from my CX bikes, but I'm exactly the kind of rider plush bikes are marketed toward. I like my handlebars high and my gears low. But as I said before I'd like to have the option of lowering the bars when the situation calls for it, and you can't really shorten a head tube. As for gearing, I'm slowly getting to be a better climber, and I suppose making the jump to a 39T small ring would force that issue.

So, can anyone speak to the trade-offs? How is the performance/sportiness of a plush bike like the Defy Advanced? How comfortable is a performance bike like the TCR Advanced?
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