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Opinions wanted (1st time road bike purchase)

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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

Opinions wanted (1st time road bike purchase)

Old 06-15-11, 10:43 PM
  #1  
idc
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Opinions wanted (1st time road bike purchase)

Ok, so basically:
- I'm 32, and have been riding since I was <10 y.o. on roads, including a lot of urban environments, but have never owned a road bike or ridden >10 miles regularly. I used to mountain bike a bit but mostly just rode my mountain bike around town and hilly suburbs. I currently live in the suburbs of DC, in Virginia.
- I commute when I can on a 700x25 hybrid with flat bars and Crank Brothers SPD pedals. I do about 16mph on the way in (downhill) and 12mph on the way back (uphill) but it's <10mi and I've only really started cycling properly recently (e.g. not rising out of the saddle to climb all the time; keeping my cadence high/steady). The farthest I've ever gone in a day was about 35 miles, on a clunky mountain bike without clipless pedals.

Seriously considering getting a proper road bike now. I feel like I enjoy riding now more than I ever have and regularly go on rides around my house in my spare time. After reading the FAQ, I feel like I should probably have a 9/10 speed cassette (mine is 8) and better components, perhaps a carbon fork too (my bike is all aluminium). Also I really do feel like I want to go faster. I used to think... eh whatever I'm not in a rush, but going faster really gives me a rush now... I'm also considering some casual weekend events for longer mileages. Also, when riding around my suburb I've noticed most of the cyclists I run into are on proper racing bikes.

Based on some introductory research, I'm looking at this:
2010 GT GTR Series 1 (Ultegra) for $1399 without any Performance Bike discounts
https://www.performancebike.com/bikes..._20000_1605508

BIG image here:
https://www.performancebike.com/image...5-BLK-REAR.JPG

That amount of money isn't really a big issue, as I've previously spent about the same on a hardtail mountain bike with nice XT components etc, but I don't want to buy something that's too light/fast at the expense of durability. Also, I do want to get the best value out of my purchase and I feel like that price point should be okay to get a good bike for a road novice like me without regretting my purchase in the future.

I do have a few other questions too:
- Is it worth using road specific pedals? I've been using SPDs for maybe 10 years or so now and I'm fine with them in any situation. What are the pros/cons of road-specific pedals?
- Should I look around to buy from a LBS instead of from Performance Bike? I like the idea of their free lifetime adjustments but I previously bought a cheap GT mountain bike for commuting/carting around my kid and found some areas of their customer service to be lacking. Overall though I feel like the price on this bike seems hard to beat.
- I'm a little concerned with the 50/34 compact crank as I do use my smallest chainring when tackling some short but steep hills in my area. There's one that I'd swear is 50%+.

Any replies/suggestions much appreciated.
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Old 06-15-11, 10:47 PM
  #2  
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road pedals are nice, they are harder to clip in if you have been using double sided mountain SPDs... I still goof up and miss the clip every once and a while.

my LBS has lifetime adjustments, and it's not Performance bike.

I use a 50/34 compact with a 25/11 cassette and it's fine on nasty hills, just keep your cadence up and you will be fine.
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Old 06-16-11, 07:38 AM
  #3  
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I have the Series 2 version of that bike, only difference is Apex instead of Rival... nice bike... the GT road bikes offer a LOT of bang for the buck... like you I found PB's service a bit lacking... they sent the bike home with a maladjusted RD which I was quickly able to diagnose and repair myself with a few question around here... now it shifts/rides like a dream... I've never been a bicycle tech but am mechanically inclined (used to be a motorcycle wrench and plenty of work on car engines and etc.) so the Sheldon Brown website was invaluable... I've logged about 75-80 miles on my GT so far and have made some tweaks to the fit, installed forte carbon pro pedals and bought road specific shoes (i'd never used clipless before)... I couldn't be happier with my decision...

edit - fyi, the 2011 models use SRAM instead of Shimano (upgrade or not, you'd have to decide for yourself), I love the sram stuff...
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Old 06-16-11, 09:14 AM
  #4  
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The two advantages when it comes to RD pedals:
1) RD pedals are usually lighter than MTN pedals. You'll get used to clipping in, everyone does.
2) RD shoes usually have a stiffer sole plate that allows for better power transfer.

Head over to the Performance Bike Shop in Springfield...the one by the Metro station. That way you get the best of both worlds. I've purchased from that shop several times (never a bike, though) and have had a good experience with them each time.

Ride the compact crank until you have more miles in your legs. At that point you'll be better able to make the choice to stay with it or jump up to a traditional set up. A crankset change isn't cheap, but it's not the end of the world, price wise.
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Old 06-16-11, 09:44 AM
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That's a nice bike. I'd hit it.

Pedals...it's perfectly fine to stay with SPD pedals. They will do the job on your road bike and there are few road bike pedals that are SPD and lightweight. That way, you can use your existing mtn bike shoes with SPD clip ons.

However, if you are thinking of upgrading to road pedals, I have only one word for you: Speedplay.

Specifically, Speedplay Zero (get the Light Action for now) and dedicated road bicycle shoes. For riding in city streets and suburbs, nothing beats the speed and convenience of the dual sided, round Speedplay Zero's for the fastest, no look, clip-on action there is. The downside is, the shoes will make it awkward to walk on. YOu can still walk on the shoes with the SP clip-on mechanism but it just feels unnatural.
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Old 06-16-11, 07:48 PM
  #6  
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thanks for all the feedback!

Thanks for the info on the pedals (and the Speedplays). I think I'll stay with SPDs for now, as I like having my mountain shoes that are almost normal when it comes to walkability. Some people at work have no idea my bike shoes have cleats in them.

Originally Posted by DC_United_Fan View Post
Head over to the Performance Bike Shop in Springfield...the one by the Metro station. That way you get the best of both worlds. I've purchased from that shop several times (never a bike, though) and have had a good experience with them each time.

Ride the compact crank until you have more miles in your legs. At that point you'll be better able to make the choice to stay with it or jump up to a traditional set up. A crankset change isn't cheap, but it's not the end of the world, price wise.
Springfield's a bit of a trek for me as I'm closest to the Tysons Corner performance bike (which ironically is actually a nightmare to get to right now due to construction traffic patterns). I think I will just try the compact crank though, seems like it's getting quite standard now from what I see in the catalogues.

Originally Posted by bonz50 View Post
the GT road bikes offer a LOT of bang for the buck...

edit - fyi, the 2011 models use SRAM instead of Shimano (upgrade or not, you'd have to decide for yourself), I love the sram stuff...
That's the same impression of GT that I got from looking at this bike's specs. I understand GT isn't really one of the big names in road cycling manufacturers but I'm not sure I really care about that as long as it's a good bike.

I'm looking at the 2010 model with Shimano. It's last year's model so I think that's why it's heavily discounted.





Now for the biggest question of all... should I just go ahead and pull the trigger on this bike? Or should I stick it out with my current bike until I really get some decent miles under my belt?
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Old 06-16-11, 08:39 PM
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If you have the means and like it I would go for it now, if it's a last years model somebody will eventually snap it up. Worth considering is the quality of the shop, ie does it look like the mechanics will do you more good than harm ?
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Old 06-17-11, 07:44 AM
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Hard to say. I've only had one bike service there before, it was fine actually. Mostly it was the ordering/customer service that had me frustrated, and that's not really the mechanics.
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Old 06-19-11, 12:47 PM
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Ok so I finally went to the Performance store, and lo and behold they had one in stock in my estimated size (I estimated myself as a Small). Just as I spotted it though, I heard someone else asking to get it down, and they bought it. !!!!@#$%!!!! They had no more in stock, and none of the stores nearby have it in stock, so I have to have it shipped-to-store. What's worse, up until today they had $100 off it because it was in-store merch.

Now I feel less like buying it which I know is stupid, even though when I went I assumed it wouldn't even be in stock. So I went home and did 16 miles on my existing bike instead.

Annyway, I did get sized and do a test ride on a 2011 model (not the carbon frame) which has SRAM Rival instead of the Ultegra. This was the first time I'd shifted on a bike without handlebar-mounted or downtube shifters. It was a little confusing and felt a bit jakey. I liked that you just push the levers in lightly to shift down the cogs, but having to push quite a bit harder to shift the other way was a bit strange and didn't feel very smooth - same with the chainring shifting. Maybe it was adjusted wrong? I didn't ask the store clerk because they were quite busy/understaffed - took me awhile to even get the bike for a test ride with pedals. Is STI shifting smoother than that?


I also did some calculations on my existing bike which is a 52/42/30 with 12-25 (same wheelsize). I do use the easiest gear on one particular hill, but I think the 50/34 with 11-25 on the bike I'm considering is < 13% difference so I *should* be okay (36.7 vs 32.4 gear inches).
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Old 06-19-11, 01:09 PM
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Performance bike is really good at making people think they are getting an incredible deal, making you think the last one in stock just luckily happens to be your perfect size, and hacking your bike in their service department. They are also really good at putting half a group on a bike and then selling it to novice riders as that groupset. Example, it says its an ultegra bike, but those aren't ultegra brakes, they are crap brakes, and the wheelset is a cheap heavy one. To me, I'd rather have a 105 bike than an Ultegra bike, if the 105 bike had a really nice wheelset.
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Old 06-19-11, 03:56 PM
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Interesting. Would you recommend I go to a LBS instead? I still feel like this is a decent value bike, considering I've never owned a proper road bike before.

Other recommendations for a bike in this range <$1400 are welcome.
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Old 06-19-11, 04:02 PM
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go on competitive cyclist. They have a Litespeed Carbon Rival bike right now for like 1400. Amazing bike and great price. no tax.

https://www.competitivecyclist.com/fr...bike-9479.html

Last edited by Vicelord; 06-19-11 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 06-19-11, 04:17 PM
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For $1400 you can get a pretty nice bike. I got my CAAD10 for that much. Yeah, you should definitely visit your LBS and check out what they got, do some test rides and check in here after with a report.
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Old 06-19-11, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by idc View Post
Interesting. Would you recommend I go to a LBS instead? I still feel like this is a decent value bike, considering I've never owned a proper road bike before.

Other recommendations for a bike in this range <$1400 are welcome.
i wouldnt hurt to go try some more bikes out. whats really important is finding a bike that fits you and your riding style. you may find you are more comfortable on another bike.

there are plenty of good bikes in your price range. i wouldnt get so cought up in having every part from the same group as stated above. as long as the parts are quality it doesnt matter.

this Litespeed M1 w/Rival is a really good deal.
https://www.competitivecyclist.com/fr...bike-9479.html

it seems you dont really like Sram though.there is a good chance the bike you rode wasnt adjusted as well as it could be but i dont feel thats its any harder to shift with Shimano than Sram. in fact i prefer Srams precise and crisp shifting to Shimanos smoother mushy shifting. some feel the other way and that might include you so thats why its a good ideal you try many different bikes. the hoods are also shaped different between Shimano and Sram so you may even prefer on hood over the other.

this Wilier is also another great deal but a little more than your budget and it also has SRAM Rival.
https://www.competitivecyclist.com/fr...bike-8370.html

i would also look at CAADs. you should be able to get a CAAD 10.5 for your budget w/ Shimano 105 compnents.
https://www.cannondale.com/bikes/road...10-5-105-15725
maybe even a Synapse Alloy 5 also with Shimano 105. this will be a more relaxed comfortable bike than the CAAD.
https://www.cannondale.com/bikes/road...oy-5-105-16587
they also make the Synapse in carbon if you have more money to spend or find a good deal on an older model.

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Old 06-19-11, 08:16 PM
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Thanks for the replies! I might just go visit the LBSes and see. I thought the $1400 (minus $100 potentially, and plus ~$100 in store credit) was a good deal for aluminium frame with carbon seat stays/fork + Ultegra, but from what I've researched it seems 105 isn't that different to Ultegra anyway. I've always liked Cannondale but thought they were just too pricey.

I wasn't a huge fan of the SRAM Rival I tried in store, mostly because it seemed like you had to push really hard to get it to shift up (the other way was fine, just an easy tap). I was also test riding in a parking lot so I couldn't really go too fast. My current handlebar style shifters also of course need more force to go up than down but it feels easier with thumb leverage compared to fingers. Does that sound normal?

I'm not 100% sold on carbon - durability concerns mostly and [strike]I don't want to buy[/strike] I don't want to be tempted to buy new bikes too often. But then I feel like carbon frame manufacturing has come a long way since I first heard about carbon bikes (which was when I was in HS reading Bicycling magazine...)

Either way I think it'll be a big improvement on what I currently have:
56cm aluminium frame + flat handlebars (which I think is too big, since I'm only a bit over 5"9', but have a longer torso/shorter legs)
700 x 25c, Alex R500 rims
Shimano FD-443A (52/42/30)
RD Shimano 2200 GS (8 speed 12-25)
Shimano ST-R220 shifters/levers
cro-mo fork, BB, stem, seatpost
Tektro 510 brakes
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Old 06-19-11, 08:39 PM
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Why do you have durability concerns about carbon?
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Old 06-19-11, 08:50 PM
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Not so much durability I guess, as response to a point stress. If the slightest crack forms somewhere it could propagate etc.
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Old 06-19-11, 09:36 PM
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I wouldn't worry about CF frame cracking unless you crash the bike or over torque the seatpost clamp and other pinch areas. That Litespeed at CC is an awesome deal!
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Old 06-19-11, 09:58 PM
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Crashing is a possibly with any bike though so doesn't that count into durability?


The Litespeed does seem good value but I kind of hate the graphics on it... not really a good reason I know
But also having no way to test ride it and no bike shop support (other than shipping to CC) irks me a little.
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Old 06-19-11, 10:16 PM
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No that's a great reason to not buy a bike. If you hate the way it looks how much are you going to stare at it until you just have to ride it?

I love my bikes looks and sometimes just have to ride it cause it's pretty.
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Old 06-20-11, 06:26 AM
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The original bike I had in mind is now listed again at $1999 on performancebike instead of $1399. WTF, not biting on this one anymore.
The deals on the Litespeed and Wilier end today, so I guess I'll just take my time to do more in depth research on what to get.
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Old 06-20-11, 07:43 AM
  #22  
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For what it's worth I think you should check out as many LBS's in your area as you can, find the one that seems the coolest, has a good selection of bikes, offers bike fitting, and (assuming you like one of the brands they carry) buy from there. You may not have needed as much work/upgrades for your other bikes, but if you're going to take riding even more seriously now with your new road bike chances are you're going to be going back again and again for adjustments/fixes/upgrades/advice/etc. I bought my first road from one shop, realized how much their service sucked and then proceeded to go to another shop exclusively for repairs and my second bike purchase. I wish had spent a little more time "feeling out" shops first, I could have saved money on stupid repairs that never got done right the first time, but that's another story... The cool thing about finding a shop you like and buying a bike from them is that you build a relationship with them. You support them (financially speaking) and they in turn hook you up with free or discounted repairs and advice. Also, you'll be more likely to have a bike that fits your body properly. Don't get me wrong, I buy tons of stuff off the internet too, but there's no replacing having a good LBS to rely on. Just my 2 pennies...
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Old 06-21-11, 07:01 AM
  #23  
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Thanks ethman. The closest bike store to me is ironically, Performance Bike. And strangely the price went back down to $1399 today. I checked around (online) and none of the LBSs near me offer lifetime adjustments which PB do, just 1 year of adjustments. I ride past a few LBSes on my commute home so I might check in this afternoon and see what they can offer in person.

I feel like I'm going to end up going with the GT I first looked at, although I'm a little dubious about the carbon seat stay and I'm not huge on the graphics.

After days of research though, all I can be sure of is that I would like to spend more $ on a Lynskey Those titanium frames... yowza. That, and I don't want a carbon frame.

Last edited by idc; 06-21-11 at 07:15 AM.
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Old 06-21-11, 07:17 AM
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Originally Posted by idc View Post
i feel like i'm going to end up going with the gt i first looked at, although i'm a little dubious about the carbon seat stay and i'm not huge on the graphics.

After days of research though, all i can be sure of is that i would like to spend more $ on a lynskey :d those titanium frames... Yowza. That, and i don't want a carbon frame.
pics!!!!!
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Old 06-21-11, 07:27 AM
  #25  
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FWIW, modern aluminum bikes have thin walls that are just as susceptible to breaking in a crash as a carbon bike. Go look up some of the argument threads on this forum and you'll see that many people have crashed carbon many times without it breaking.

Many people have crashed carbon many times with it breaking and about the same for every other material. Chances with any bike is that if you lowside it, the bike will most likely be fine, if you have a direct impact on any bike, it will fail. Fearing a crash is no reason to buy a bike. That said, I race an aluminum bike not because I worry about my carbon bike holding up in a crash, but so that it will be cheaper to replace if I crash it and wouldn't expect it to survive. They make airplanes out of the stuff for crissakes, what do people need as proof? Then again some people still think the earth is flat, sigh.

Go check PB (that does qualify as an LBS btw, just a chain one), but do go to another shop just to try something else out for your own knowledge and piece of mind. Not saying you have to try carbon, but just try out some different bikes.
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