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Roubaix SL4 vs Domane 5.2 - who's ridden both?

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Roubaix SL4 vs Domane 5.2 - who's ridden both?

Old 12-26-12, 01:50 AM
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JakiChan
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Roubaix SL4 vs Domane 5.2 - who's ridden both?

Well, I have. My thoughts are below - I'm wondering what other folks think.

Background: I bought a Specialized hybrid at the end of May. I had a goal in mind (still do) of doing the AIDS LifeCycle in 2013, but I didn't want to drop serious cash until I knew that there was a good chance I could do it. I figured I'd get a hybrid, get used to riding again. If all else failed I could do the 5 mile ride to work and back once in a while. If, by mid-November (when our ESPP transaction came around) things were looking good then I would buy a road bike in the $3 - 4k range.

By the end of October (almost 5 months to the day) I did my first century. So...uh...that was a good sign.

Sickness and rain kept me from shopping as soon as I wanted to, but I got around to it last week. I have heard great things about the Roubaix - it kind of sets the standard for "endurance" bikes. And the Domane is supposed to also be new hotness. It's a very competitive segment so I figured one of these two bikes would work for me. I didn't ride them over the same course but I did ride them on the same day (along with the Synapse). I've done all my riding on a hybrid so obviously not only was this my first time riding a "real" road bike but also my first time on a carbon frame. Here's what I observed:

I road the Domane first. It was very smooth. Smoother than the Roubaix over bumps, although the Roubaix I rode didn't have the new magic seatpost. However, I found it VERY twitchy. So twitchy that the front wheel moved around a lot even when changing hand positions. I didn't have much confidence - I feel comfortable at all getting up out of the saddle. Also the Domane was a triple and I figured out I didn't like that so much either. (Although I had been considering a triple as an option, so it was good to ride one and find out I didn't like it.)

The Roubaix was MUCH more stable. It just felt "comfortable" to me - I felt confident and "fast". The shop suggested that it was because the geometry is pretty similar to my hybrid. Not quite as smooth (but perhaps the COBL GOBL-R will help with that - worth a try) but it felt much more stable underneath me. I was able to get up out of the saddle just fine both on the flats and uphill, for example.

I ended up going with the Roubaix. I'm hoping that it will get as smooth or smoother than the Domane once the new seatpost is here. The numbers I've been shown give the Roubaix (when equipped with the COBL GOBL-R) more vertical deflection than the Domane but that's a benchmark sort of number and I never trust those. (I'll see what my butt says.) Sadly, I'm leaving on vacation tomorrow and so I won't really be able to ride until I get back. (In fact I'm getting my BG fit the day after I get back and my first training ride of the season is the day after that.)

My big question: Any ideas why the Domane was so twitchy for me? In between the two I did ride the Synapse - in fact at the same shop as the Domane. It wasn't twitchy either. Is the Domane inherently more "responsive", or was it maybe not set up right? I have to admit it nearly scared me out of continuing to shop for road bikes. I don't feel like I made the "wrong" decision or anything - I've got a great bike that I was able to buy at a shop that has really worked well with me and that I'm very happy with. However, when doing all my on-line research I read all of these great reviews of the Domane and so that made me wonder if I was doing something wrong?

Here I am with my new baby:


My new bike by Meatwad650, on Flickr
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Old 12-26-12, 05:42 AM
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You have a great bike and I wouldnt look back. To me half the reason we test ride a bike is for those little differences and preferences we have and that is truly what makes a certain bike stand out to each individual. If not, everyone would buy the exact same bike. I have a SL3 Sworks Roubaix and it is a GREAT bike. Performance wise it is up there with most race bikes...comfort wise it is far better than most bikes...several say the S-Works 11r carbon is lighter but not as comfortable as the non-Sworks 10r model Roubaix's...i don't see that either. If there is one thing about the Roubaix it doesnt have as sharp of steering (alot of people view as twitchy) that several of the pure race bikes have. It is not as precise in the turns as the Tarmac, BMC, or some other bikes and you have to work it a little more into fast, tight turns...but it is a very sturdy bike that you do feel very confident and stable on when riding. That is why we test ride them to determine which of those specific characteristics of each bike we truly like as 80% of the bikes can be made to fit practically anyone with adjustments to certain parts and areas. You are going to love your Roubaix and I wouldn't look back...Boonan showed what the bike can do...though i believe his was definitely modified from the production version...and if healthy Cancellera will show us what the Domane can do...but both bikes, even in production dress, can do more than most of us can do :-). Enjoy your bike and you know you made the right decision if you ride the heck out of it,
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Old 12-26-12, 07:26 AM
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What Bosock said. First OP, with your limited experience, you have no idea how good the Roubaix SL4 is...yours looks to be the Pro by your picture...love the paint job. Specialized has accomplished something I didn't know could be achieved. They made the SL3 Roubaix even better. I own the SL3 Roubaix Pro and the best bike I ever rode and I have many thousand miles on it. A couple of things. One man's twitchy is another man's perfect. Some will ride the Roubaix and say...nah...I want a quicker handling bike and will prefer the Tarmac. Me? I prefer the Roubaix handling because the bike tracks so perfectly, descends so rock solid and it dead neutral when surrounded by bikes during a hammerfest. I admit, my best riding buddy who rides a Giant TCR sometimes loses a bit of control. A TCR is a twitchy bike by comparison. Another misconception is...a faster handling bike will sometimes feel like a faster bike. A SL3 or SL4 Roubaix is as fast as any bike out there provided the riding position is adjusted properly.

I would not look back on your purchase. I prefer the SL4 Roubaix to Domane because I like the aesthetic better and don't want the seat joint of the Domane. I also prefer the geometry and handling of the Roubaix. Lastly, I don't believe you will feel much difference with the thud buster Spesh seat post. I believe Spesh failed on the design because it is single bolt and in my experience that aren't as solid as their 2 bolt designs. The Roubaix has all the compliance I want. It is a super stiff bike however and better riders will prefer a bike that is very stiff but won't loosen fillings...Roubaix nails this balance in my experience.
Have fun. Now its up to you to live up the incredible Roubaix as being a worthy rider. Few who ride the bike I believe are as good as the bike as hard as I try. :)

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Old 12-26-12, 10:20 AM
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I found a similar experience buying a road bike 5yrs ago. Funnily enough I ended up with a Roubaix then, I rode a CAAD 9 at the time and found it twitchy. Over time I've come to embrace some twitchy-ness as a sign of a responsive bike - I now own a CAAD 10 too, but the Roubaix still gets miles put on it. It's a great bike. One other factor that might have made a big difference was whether the bikes were setup the same way - distance to the bars from the saddle, saddle to bar drop, etc. Of course some of that comes with differing geometries, but I wonder if the Domane was set up with a more aggressive riding position than the Roubaix?

Regarding ride - I don't know about current model year bikes, but one of the first things I'd consider is getting rid of the stock tires and putting on some decent rubber like Michelin Pro4 or Conti GP4000's - in combination with the right inflation pressures (not too high for your weight), I'll wager that will also improve ride quality.
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Old 12-26-12, 10:25 AM
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I've ridden both and love the sl4 over the domane. The domane is not a slouch by anymeans, two things bothered me about it. 1. When you spin a fast cadence (and carry some extra lbs) you can feel the rocking of the seat mast. 2. The rear end of the bike is very smooth but the front end feels like a madone, not uncomfortable but you feel it. The roubaix feels like a tarmac now except with a more comfortable upright position and smoother ride. I got a sl2 roubaix and it feels like a beach cruiser compared to the sl4, the stiffness on the sl4 is remarkable, I actually think its stiffer than my 6 series madone.
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Old 12-26-12, 11:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Campag4life View Post
What Bosock said. First OP, with your limited experience, you have no idea how good the Roubaix SL4 is...yours looks to be the Pro by your picture...love the paint job.
It's an expert. I didn't feel like spending the Pro money...and I did love this paint job. Of the options Specialized offered (there are 3 for this bike) this was my favorite...and my shop just happened to have one in my size for me to ride. Imagine that...

I'm not second guessing my purchase - I'm happy with this bike. I'm just wondering what the whole twitchy thing was about - like I couldn't move down to the drops without feeling unbalanced. The bike was set up to match the configuration of my hybrid as closely as they could, but I was thinking maybe I'm just moving too much on the bike and need to work on being smoother and more balanced.
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Old 12-27-12, 09:14 PM
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Congrats on the bike, and I think you've pretty much nailed the importance of riding before buying. Enjoy that bike!
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Old 12-27-12, 09:50 PM
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I've test rode a Domane before and quite honestly the 4 in a 54 is a different ride compared to the 5 in 56. I felt the twitch on the lower series and stability on the higher one. Could never figure out the reason for the difference in ride quality, but one Trek employee thinks that the 56 was a better fit for me. If I really want a much better clearance on the inseam, then I'm better off with the 54, but I have to get a longer stem. At least that's "his" theory. I can clear a 56, but it's just RIGHT THERE! Another difference in ride quality is the compliance. That seat mast makes A LOT OF DIFFERENCE!

I've never test rode an SL4, but the SL3 was one smooth ride. Though it was just too tall of a head tube for me. It felt like I was riding my mtb. In comparison with the Domane? Damn close, but the Domane 5 Series takes it. Then again, I bet the COBL GOBL-R will make a heck of a lot of difference.

I'm in the process of making a decision myself. Go with my ideal bike or with the cheaper, newer technology. If the 54 in the 4 Series Domane with the longer stem will solve the twitch, then the only change I will make is the seat post... purchase the COBL GOBL-R to compensate for the seat mast from the 5 Series. Or just go with the 2012 Madone 5.2 at a discounted price and deal with the lesser compliance to gain a full Ultegra, internal routing and slightly lighter ride. Then I'll just try to gain more smoothness with 25c tires.
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Old 12-28-12, 07:20 AM
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Originally Posted by gundom66 View Post
I've test rode a Domane before and quite honestly the 4 in a 54 is a different ride compared to the 5 in 56. I felt the twitch on the lower series and stability on the higher one. Could never figure out the reason for the difference in ride quality, but one Trek employee thinks that the 56 was a better fit for me. If I really want a much better clearance on the inseam, then I'm better off with the 54, but I have to get a longer stem. At least that's "his" theory. I can clear a 56, but it's just RIGHT THERE! Another difference in ride quality is the compliance. That seat mast makes A LOT OF DIFFERENCE!

I've never test rode an SL4, but the SL3 was one smooth ride. Though it was just too tall of a head tube for me. It felt like I was riding my mtb. In comparison with the Domane? Damn close, but the Domane 5 Series takes it. Then again, I bet the COBL GOBL-R will make a heck of a lot of difference.

I'm in the process of making a decision myself. Go with my ideal bike or with the cheaper, newer technology. If the 54 in the 4 Series Domane with the longer stem will solve the twitch, then the only change I will make is the seat post... purchase the COBL GOBL-R to compensate for the seat mast from the 5 Series. Or just go with the 2012 Madone 5.2 at a discounted price and deal with the lesser compliance to gain a full Ultegra, internal routing and slightly lighter ride. Then I'll just try to gain more smoothness with 25c tires.
People write that about the Roubaix but its BS for most recreational riders and even top racers. The Roubaix can be set up aggressive if you size down. The vast majority of those that don't race professionally don't need a slammed position. If you need more aggressive than that, there is the Tarmac which gets you the twitchy handling of the Domane. I have Cat 1 and 2 friends that race a Roubaix.
One runs big drop and one doesn't.
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Old 12-28-12, 08:06 AM
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Damn thats a big roubaix!

Congrats OP great buy!
Another Roubaix owner here. Its a supperb ride. I myself would like to ride the sl4 for comparison sake, as i ride an sl3 and LOVE IT!!
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Old 12-28-12, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by echotraveler View Post
Damn thats a big roubaix!

Congrats OP great buy!
Another Roubaix owner here. Its a supperb ride. I myself would like to ride the sl4 for comparison sake, as i ride an sl3 and LOVE IT!!
Yeah...its a 61. The Cat 1 guy who owns it is about the same size as Boonen. I can hang with him unless he wants to crush me and then I can't. Since I generally don't like to get punished that bad, I tell him my preference is to ride with him on recovery rides.

To me a Roubaix makes the most sense for average rider and even amateur racer versus a more slammed race bike. It depends largely on how you are built. If you are short legged, a race bike with shorter head tube makes a lot of sense. By contrast if you have longer legs like Andy or me, Roubaix's fit the best.

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Old 12-29-12, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by gundom66 View Post
I've test rode a Domane before and quite honestly the 4 in a 54 is a different ride compared to the 5 in 56. I felt the twitch on the lower series and stability on the higher one.
My test ride was on a Domane 5.2. That bike felt VERY twitchy to me. Oddly enough, I wasn't aware of an Ultegra Domane 4 - not sure what the price jump is for (other than a better frame). I was just shopping at a certain price point.

My only "doubts" (and they are not preventing me from loving my new bike - I know it's awesome) are in my testing criteria. In situations like this I always put myself under considerable pressure to make the "best" choice. And I feel I was biased towards the Roubaix for two reason:

1) The Specialized bike shop I've been working with (and where I bought my hybrid) is nothing short of awesome and I really wanted to continue working with them. They respect my weight loss accomplishment and when I went from no bike to a century in 5 months they were VERY supportive and made me feel awesome, even though I look at skinnier guys on cooler bikes and feel like a loser. They have learned to not doubt my determination once I've set a goal.

2) Sorry, but the Roubaix paint job is way cooler. It shouldn't matter - but it does.

So given those biases I was wondering if I would simply find something to hate about the Domane no matter what. But it really made me feel unconfident and while I thought I could adjust in time I was wondering if I really needed to?


Originally Posted by gundom66 View Post
If the 54 in the 4 Series Domane with the longer stem will solve the twitch, then the only change I will make is the seat post... purchase the COBL GOBL-R to compensate for the seat mast from the 5 Series.
Not sure why you would do that - all the Domane frames have the decoupler. Maybe you meant to say Madone?
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Old 12-29-12, 03:26 PM
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Originally Posted by JakiChan View Post
My test ride was on a Domane 5.2. That bike felt VERY twitchy to me. Oddly enough, I wasn't aware of an Ultegra Domane 4 - not sure what the price jump is for (other than a better frame). I was just shopping at a certain price point.
The 5.2 is full Ultegra, including the crank and brakes, except for the 105 cassette.

The 4.5 only has Ultegra shifters and derailleurs. It has a 565 crank, and 105 brakes (as well as the cassette).
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Old 12-30-12, 04:09 PM
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Jakichan - regarding your second comment above... because the 4 series doesn't have a seat mast. So the seat post tube is your regular one where the seat post is inserted as opposed to a mast or a cap. It makes the area around the decoupler area stiffer. The 5 Series is much softer because it only has one tube which is the seat post tube. Nothing inside since the seat post tube is about 6 to 7 inches longer from the decoupler.

Anyway, I test rode the 2012 Madone 5.2 in a 54 and compared to the 56 4.5 Domane yesterday. Would you believe that the Madone is more compliant than the Domane? Weird but true... at least from my stand point. And even though the "wiggle" on the 54 Domane I tried then is gone, there is still a slight wobble compared to the Madone. The Madone with it's racier geometry, you would think that it will be twitchier. I don't remember the Madone being that way at all since the very first time I test rode a 56 2 years ago. And it wasn't present on the 54. I let go of the bars, and it's stable. I point it where it wants to go, and it goes where you point it with stability. The Domane? I don't know why the 5 Series is slightly stable than the 4 Series, but it's still uncomparable to the Madone. I still feel the Madone tops it overall. Some members in the past did say that the Madone is a soft ride. I didn't quite understand what they meant then, but now I know. Now I hear that the 2013 Madone is a totally different beast compared to the 2012, but I'm happy with my decision. I'm getting my 2012 Madone 5.2 in a couple of hours! 2 years in the making.

Now my friend is still trying to sell me the Roubaix. I've tried the Roubaix, and nothing against the Roubaix. VERY SMOOTH RIDE, and it goes when you want it to go. Yes the head tube is a little too tall for my liking and yes it can be fixed by flipping the stem, but the aesthetics on the Madone is more my preference. We each have our own preference, and this is just mine.


So from a fellow rider to you, congrats on your new steed and many miles ahead. I'll be looking into doing the same and getting back half of what I lost 20 years ago. Very nice ride indeed! The Roubaix was my 2nd choice and the Bianchi Infinito was my 3rd. I went back and forth on all 3 for the past 2 years and the Specialized did cross my mind twice as my 1st, but in the end, I still had to go with something I've been eyeing slightly longer than the Roubaix. I wasn't completely sold on the Domane, and if the Madone didn't keep me from smiling, I would've gone Roubaix as well. Either way, I know I can't go wrong. And you didn't go wrong on this one. Enjoy!

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Old 12-30-12, 04:28 PM
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The January issue of RBA has a head-to-head with the Domaine 6.9 and the S-Works Roubaix SL4.
They noted the same "twitchy"/harsh front end characteristics in the Domaine.
Despite the fact that the Roubaix seemed to dominate every subjective category, in the end they gave the nod to the Domaine for the simple reason that the rear absorption was seamless (virtually invisible), whereas they were very aware of the Roubaix's absorption (mainly the seatpost).

If it were my money, given the choice, I think I'd opt for the Roubaix. That said, if the options were opened a bit more, I think the Wilier Gran Turismo (or the new BH bike of the same name) would be part of my consideration.

The SL4 looks like an awesome bike, and I think you'll really enjoy it.
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Old 12-30-12, 05:29 PM
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Congrats. Very nice bike! I have an SL3 Roubaix and love it.

I also bleed purple.

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Old 12-30-12, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
The January issue of RBA has a head-to-head with the Domaine 6.9 and the S-Works Roubaix SL4.
They noted the same "twitchy"/harsh front end characteristics in the Domaine.
Despite the fact that the Roubaix seemed to dominate every subjective category, in the end they gave the nod to the Domaine for the simple reason that the rear absorption was seamless (virtually invisible), whereas they were very aware of the Roubaix's absorption (mainly the seatpost).
I'm gonna have to find that article. Their website seems to be way lagged. Do you know if they stock that mag at B&N? I'd love to read more on their take of things. I know I should just go with my gut but I always like a little external validation.

Maybe I'll skip the magic seat post. But I loved the smooth feel of the Domane. I just hated feeling like I was gonna crash just moving my hands around the bars. I was thinking the COBL GOBL-R would give me more smoothness in the ride.
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Old 12-31-12, 12:05 AM
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Originally Posted by gundom66 View Post
Jakichan - regarding your second comment above... because the 4 series doesn't have a seat mast. So the seat post tube is your regular one where the seat post is inserted as opposed to a mast or a cap. It makes the area around the decoupler area stiffer. The 5 Series is much softer because it only has one tube which is the seat post tube. Nothing inside since the seat post tube is about 6 to 7 inches longer from the decoupler.
Ah I see it now. That's why in the pictures the collar is so much higher on the 5 series vs the 4 series?
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Old 12-31-12, 12:09 AM
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Originally Posted by canyoneagle View Post
The January issue of RBA has a head-to-head with the Domaine 6.9 and the S-Works Roubaix
I found it on iTunes. They don't seem to spell it out clearly for a n00b like me to get. Reading this review wouldn't have led me to expect what I felt on my ride. I will say I will see how the seat post works - they liked it but not how obvious it was. But it did eat up bumps.
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Old 12-31-12, 12:13 AM
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Another reason the domane won was price. Last gen dura ace vs 2013 red, of course there is a price difference.

Last edited by Adrianinkc; 12-31-12 at 12:47 PM.
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Old 12-31-12, 01:48 AM
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As far as smoothness, I do have to admit that the 5 Series Domane does top the 2012 5 Series Madone. How much more? Not by a wide margin.
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Old 12-31-12, 11:23 AM
  #22  
TDGee
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Nice bike! I am actually doing battle in my head over the same two bikes. I'm leaning towards the Roubaix, but want to give the Domane and also the Giant Defy Advanced a better look.
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Old 12-31-12, 12:29 PM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by TDGee View Post
Nice bike! I am actually doing battle in my head over the same two bikes. I'm leaning towards the Roubaix, but want to give the Domane and also the Giant Defy Advanced a better look.
This one is also worth considering, IMO.

It'd be a tough choice if I were in the market right now. I'd definitely want to get some saddle time on each to see what I liked best.
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Old 12-31-12, 03:58 PM
  #24  
JakiChan
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BTW, since I am such a total n00b, I was wondering if I should put a chain catcher on. My bike shop thinks it's not needed but I'm kinda nervous about what happens if the chain drops on my new baby.
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Old 12-31-12, 04:05 PM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by JakiChan View Post
BTW, since I am such a total n00b, I was wondering if I should put a chain catcher on. My bike shop thinks it's not needed but I'm kinda nervous about what happens if the chain drops on my new baby.
I personally run chain catchers on my bikes. They are cheap and light. Never have to worry about dropping your chain!
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