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Looking to get first road bike: Full Carbon 105/Apex?

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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

Looking to get first road bike: Full Carbon 105/Apex?

Old 09-15-11, 09:58 PM
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IP Freely
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Looking to get first road bike: Full Carbon 105/Apex?

Hi guys, long time lurker first time poster.

I've been commuting since early spring on a Trek 7.5fx. I bought it for commuting and really never envisioned using it for anything else. Lately, I've been using it on weekends for some longer rides, and have even done some group rides with enthusiast friends.

I'm not in fantastic cycling shape, but am 5'10" 140lbs and generally fit. Needless to say, when riding with people who actually know what they're doing I got dropped like nobody's business. I went out and got Shimano SPD shoes and pedals which definitely helped, but I'm now starting to realize that I need an actual road bike if I'm going to start getting serious about this hobby (my golf game has been in shambles for some time now).

So after some looking, I've decided that something full carbon and with a 105/Apex group is probably the sweet spot for price and performance.

Several questions:

(1) Am I buying too much bike? I plan on keeping the FX for commuting so really would only be on the road bike a couple of times a month. I am a junior attorney at a big NYC firm and regularly work 80+ hour weeks, so the idea of having more than a few days off per month to get the bike in the truck and go for a long ride is not realistic.

(2) I haven't ridden any road bikes yet, but here's the tentative list of machines I'm considering. Obviously the decision will come down to fit and feel more than anything else, but please let me know if I'm not comparing apples to apples:


Trek Madone 4.5 $2,200
Cannondale Synapse 5 $2,150
Felt F6 $1,900
Specialized Roubaix Apex Compact $2,200
Look 566 Shimano 105 $????
Kestrel RT 1000 105 $????

There are also some offerings on bikesdirect for sub-$1500, but I think I'd rather spend the extra few hundred bucks to have the support of my LBS in case something goes wrong.

(3) I've read on the board that the lower level carbon bikes like those I've listed above aren't much better than the good aluminum bikes offered by the same manufacturers. When on a group ride last week I picked up my buddy's Trek 2.1, and it felt heavier than my FX even with a rear rack on it. I know this is probably not the case, but I was expecting a huge, noticeable difference and there wasn't any. Aside from getting myself into a more aerodynamic position, if I'm spending several thousand bucks I want a bike that is noticeably better than mine.

(4) How much speed am I really going to pick up by just upgrading bikes? My normal loop is the great swamp ride in NJ (both loops 1 and 2), and generally average a little under 15mph on each of those rides. For those not familiar, the loops are 18 and 24 miles, both with a couple 500 foot climbs and generally not much flat riding. They are generally not crazy difficult rides, but averaging sub-15mph is embarrassing even on my 700x32 hardcase tires. Am I going to spend 2 grand and only pick up .2 or .3 mph on the average, or will the difference be more noticeable?

Sorry for the rant guys. This board has been a wealth of information (both the road and commuting forums).
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Old 09-15-11, 10:06 PM
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As many others are going to recommend, if you have the opportunity to ride those bikes you will likely come out with a good idea of which one you like. I just picked up a Felt F5 over a Trek 1.5 and the differences aren't subtle.
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Old 09-15-11, 10:16 PM
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My Felt isn't carbon but it is a fantastic bike. My vote is for the Felt even though I'm quite biased.
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Old 09-15-11, 10:24 PM
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If I were you I would look for the maximum possible value & performance for my money. None of those bikes will offer that.

$2962 sram force/rival mix with full carbon 58mm clinchers @ under 16lbs.

That thing will blow you away. You don't have to buy that specific bike either, there are other options like Rossetti on ebay or chinese carbon frames(~$500 for a pretty nice frameset) and you build it up.

The point is: if you're spending $2k, get some 50mm+ carbon clinchers and a sub16lb bike while you're at it. The bikes you mentioned are really heavy and come with entry-level groups and garbage wheels. They're good but you can do better SPECIALLY if you're in the US and have access to "direct" brands(neuvation, etc).
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Old 09-15-11, 10:43 PM
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Buy as much bike as you can afford ... it gets expensive to upgrade later
Have you looked online? You will find the best values with free shipping and no tax:

Ultegra 6700, 20 Speed Carbon Fiber Kestrel Evoke2.0 $1,999
Shimano Ultegra 6700 Components, Profile Bar+Stem, Mavic Wheels

https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...ra_road_xi.htm
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Old 09-16-11, 04:33 AM
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I ride a flat bar road bike (which is largely what your 7.5fx is) and constantly ask myself if a carbon drop bar road bike would be faster. And I really don't think it would be.

For you, at a 15 mph avg speed, aerodynamics is not killing you, so picking up a more aero position gives you little, and primarily in your downhills and possibly cruising speed if you are breaking into the 20"s. 5'10" and 140 lbs is, from what I've read, the ideal cycling weight, so you aren't too fat for the sport. Your current bike is probably about 20 lbs, so the bikes you are looking at are not going to be shocking improvements (they will probably be 18 lbs ish without pedals).

Your biggest speed improvement will come from riding more. Use a cadence sensor and HRM to make sure you are really pushing yourself. With limited time to ride, don't waste it shopping.

If you like your current bike, keep riding it. Get Ergon grips with bar ends, and you can play with some more aero positions.

If you don't like your current bike, then you are looking at a nice list of replacements.
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Old 09-16-11, 07:43 AM
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Thanks guys. Again, I'm not looking for a specific bike recommendation as I understand the final choice will come down to fit and feel, I'm just wondering if that particular class of bikes is above my skill level. Any other comments are welcome.
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Old 09-16-11, 08:41 AM
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Originally Posted by IP Freely View Post
Thanks guys. Again, I'm not looking for a specific bike recommendation as I understand the final choice will come down to fit and feel, I'm just wondering if that particular class of bikes is above my skill level. Any other comments are welcome.
This is only determined by personal bias. It exist only in one's mind against another's choice.
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Old 09-16-11, 08:50 AM
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I did almost this same thing over the past 2.5 years, except my hybrid is better in the dirt than a 7.5FX and I use it as a 29er MTB now.

A road bike will be faster and easier to ride for most riders due to many factors-- bike weight, drivetrain, body position, more hand positions and so on. Average speed doesn't tell the whole story, but for the same effort you should expect to go maybe 1-2 mph faster on the road bike IF you have a good riding position. Assuming you can afford a road bike and won't be overextending yourself, I would forget about the 'keep riding the hybrid' idea. If a road bike would/might put you in economic harm, by all means, just keep riding what you have.

Now--
Here's my take on WHAT road bike. I bought a carbon bike because I got a very good deal on it. I borrowed a bike from my dad and rode it for a few months so I knew a few things.. 1) how much better it was than my hybrid on the road 2) that a size 56 wasn't for me 3) that quality aluminum frames are not bad at all. 4) at my level of experience, I can feel component differences when riding a LOT easier than frame differences.

I would buy 105 or Apex at the minimum. Ride them both and see which you prefer.

If you planned on test riding the Cannondale Synapse 5, while at that store test out a CAAD10-4. I have ridden both and I have a strong opinion about which one is a better bike. Ride a Specialized Allez Apex Comp.
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Old 09-16-11, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by RollCNY View Post
I ride a flat bar road bike (which is largely what your 7.5fx is) and constantly ask myself if a carbon drop bar road bike would be faster. And I really don't think it would be.

For you, at a 15 mph avg speed, aerodynamics is not killing you, so picking up a more aero position gives you little, and primarily in your downhills and possibly cruising speed if you are breaking into the 20"s. 5'10" and 140 lbs is, from what I've read, the ideal cycling weight, so you aren't too fat for the sport. Your current bike is probably about 20 lbs, so the bikes you are looking at are not going to be shocking improvements (they will probably be 18 lbs ish without pedals).

Your biggest speed improvement will come from riding more. Use a cadence sensor and HRM to make sure you are really pushing yourself. With limited time to ride, don't waste it shopping.

If you like your current bike, keep riding it. Get Ergon grips with bar ends, and you can play with some more aero positions.

If you don't like your current bike, then you are looking at a nice list of replacements.
+1

Other than the retail therapy portion of buying a new bike, you're not going to get much gain for the $$$ spent. I've got a few friends that bought the 7.5 or 7.6 Treks and several have put drops and 23s on them. They're not being held back by the bike. I suspect you're not either.
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Old 09-16-11, 11:52 AM
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Can't believe everyone ignored my post. You will absolutely see a significant performance gain if you go with a bike like that.

You can't compare a flatbar bike to a full carbon road bike with deep aero carbon wheels.
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Old 09-16-11, 12:15 PM
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Interesting divergence of opinions. Would anyone like to trade in their road bikes for a 7.5 fx with a rear rack, hardcase tires, and mountain bike components and see if they go just as fast?
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Old 09-16-11, 12:24 PM
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The 2012 Raleighs look very nice....

2012 Raleigh Militis 1 w/105 ($2300)
https://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/road/militis-1-12/


2012 Raleigh Revenio 3.0 w/Ultegra 6700 ($2700)
https://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/road...carbon-3-0-12/


2012 Raleigh Revenio 2.0 w/105 ($2200)
https://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/road...carbon-2-0-12/
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Old 09-16-11, 12:33 PM
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Even a new 2300 equipped bike will be a huge upgrade over your FX in my opinion. Is racing in your future? If not, get the Synapse. I've got the Carbon 5 and it is an excellent bike. I would ride the Felt F5 and then the Synapse to see the difference. The Felt F5 is a more agressive racing bike as far as it's geometry.
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Old 09-16-11, 12:56 PM
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Originally Posted by IP Freely View Post
Interesting divergence of opinions. Would anyone like to trade in their road bikes for a 7.5 fx with a rear rack, hardcase tires, and mountain bike components and see if they go just as fast?
You never know, but strip all the gear off the FX, put on drops and 23s or 25s and I'll bet you won't find much difference between that and a carbon bike. Maybe 1 MPH? So you'll arrive at the end of your 18 miler approximately 5 minutes sooner!!!! If that's worth $2000+ then have at it! If you want a new road bike, then buy one...no one here is going to try to talk you out of spending money on a bicycle! We want to see the pics!!!!!

I know the guys I ride with don't seem to have any issue with speed regardless of the bike. One of them occasionally rides a frankenbike he assembled from parts obtained from people's trash...it weighs 30 pounds and he still can drop anyone he wants to whenever he wants to.
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Old 09-16-11, 01:19 PM
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I started riding(commuting) in early 2010 with a Specialized Sirrus I bought a couple years before that, a few weeks later I bought a new road bike.
Something similar to what you are looking at. I went for the Bikes Direct Motobecane Immortal Ice, full Ultegra group set with Mavic Ksyrium Equipe wheels(I would reccomend an upgrade here). I noticed a huge performance gain and if I were to ride my Specialized now I would probably hate it.

I now commute on my full CF bike and have 2800 mile on it with no issues. I do some of my own maintenance but for the bigger stuff I take it in.

I am no expert on bikes but when I first got on my new bike it almost came out from under me as I took my first couple of cranks on it.
It will help you to not get dropped as often but it will happen if you are not in bike condition. If you can commute, I would recommend doing it as much as possible.

Personally I saw a 2MPH average gain in my speed. But I have slowly been becoming faster the longer I ride.
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Old 09-16-11, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by IP Freely View Post
Interesting divergence of opinions. Would anyone like to trade in their road bikes for a 7.5 fx with a rear rack, hardcase tires, and mountain bike components and see if they go just as fast?
I'll tell you a story, and you can believe it or not believe it:

Last year, I started riding again after 20 years off. Bought a Specialized Sirrus Sport, probably less road ish than your 7.5fx. Upgraded every piece on it to get it to what I thought I wanted: compact road crank, SRAM drivetrain, and eventually Easton EA50 wheels. Met up with a bunch of road guys through a friend, and started doing group rides: 50 miles, 2600 ft of elevation gained and lost. I was the only flat bar bike. My average speed was low 18's, and I could typically hang with the group through 2/3rds of the ride. I would pull at times, but not for long, and head winds destroyed me.

On every hill climb, I could feel the bike flex. It felt like I had a flat tire, and I would hear parts rubbing that shouldn't rub. I figured it was the stock wheels, so I bought the Easton wheels I mentioned above. Made no difference.

So I bought an $80 aluminum frame with short chain stays and a nice short head tube. Moved all of my other pieces over. The bike was much stiffer on hills, and no longer felt flat. So the old frame was holding me back, and my climbing speed increased. I am set up more aero, as I went from a seat that was level with the bars to a 4 inch drop from the seat to bars.

My average speed on the 50 miles, with 2600 ft of elevation gain, went up to the mid 18's, and has broken 19 several times. I hang with the group the whole ride, and am able to pull equal shares, unless the paceline is cooking in the high 20's. At one point, one guy pulled us at an average 29.6 mph for 7 miles over rolling terrain, and my flat bar, mtb component bike held onto the end for dear life, while other road bikes didn't.

Oh, and I also have ridden 3 times the miles this year that I did last year. The bike helped, so did the effort.

People like to throw around this "a road bike makes you 2 mph faster". If I thought my average would go from 19 to 21, I'd buy two.
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Old 09-16-11, 01:31 PM
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AFAIK, the frameset of that 7.5, and the other Alpha Aluminum frames in the 1.x series are the same. You would likely spend a pretty good deal of money converting that bike over for the aero bars, and particularly the brifters you will need...beyond that, the rest of it is like the Trek road bike so far as I know. I think if you went with some Sora or Microshift brifters you could keep the conversion under around $3 bills and ride the heck out of it.
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Old 09-16-11, 01:35 PM
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I wouldn't think twice about that Kestrel.
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Old 09-16-11, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by kabex View Post
Can't believe everyone ignored my post. You will absolutely see a significant performance gain if you go with a bike like that.

You can't compare a flatbar bike to a full carbon road bike with deep aero carbon wheels.
I can't speak for everyone, but I ignored your post as the OP said he wanted to shop locally. Perhaps my mistake was reading what was asked.
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Old 09-16-11, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by RollCNY View Post
I can't speak for everyone, but I ignored your post as the OP said he wanted to shop locally. Perhaps my mistake was reading what was asked.
Well a brand like November will stand behind its products. Also, he's shopping within the US.

Take my place then buying a Specialized makes a lot more sense, because you can't get anything else even if you try.
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Old 09-16-11, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by RollCNY View Post
I can't speak for everyone, but I ignored your post as the OP said he wanted to shop locally. Perhaps my mistake was reading what was asked.
+1

and....https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...1#post13235856 WTF?
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Old 09-16-11, 04:40 PM
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Old 09-16-11, 05:22 PM
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I know you said no to BD, but I just bought a full carbon frame with 105/ultegra for $1300 shipped no taxes:

https://www.bikesdirect.com/products/...rtalpro_xi.htm

Like it so far. I am the "hands on" type so I don't mind learning as I go, in contrast to a LBS doing everything for me. I am a newbie, so maybe I upgrade down the road but I am happy so far...
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Old 09-16-11, 05:28 PM
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neuvation.
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