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First Beginner 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
View Poll Results: First Beginner Road Bike
Cannondale Synapse Carbon 5 105
46.77%
Specialized Tarmac SL4 Sport
27.42%
Trek Madone 4.3
25.81%
Voters: 62. You may not vote on this poll

First Beginner Road Bike

Old 06-15-14, 01:23 PM
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First Beginner Road Bike

Hello everyone! I'm an avid runner that wants to switch to cycling.

I have a budget of about 2k and have trimmed down my options to three. I would love to hear what you guys think of these choices and help me decide which way to go. I'm a small rider size 52 bike. One of the main factors for these choices is my LBS, one is a dealer of Trek, the other is a dealer of Cannondale & Specialized. Please keep in mind, I'm an absolute newbie when it comes to bikes. I've only started researching about a week ago. Can't wait to get on the road!

Cannondale Synapse Carbon 5 105 - MSRP $2,330

Specialized Tarmac SL4 Sport - MSRP $2,100

Trek Madone 4.3 - MSRP $2,099.99
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Old 06-15-14, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by CactoesGel
Hello everyone! I'm an avid runner that wants to switch to cycling.

I have a budget of about 2k and have trimmed down my options to three. I would love to hear what you guys think of these choices and help me decide which way to go. I'm a small rider size 52 bike. One of the main factors for these choices is my LBS, one is a dealer of Trek, the other is a dealer of Cannondale & Specialized. Please keep in mind, I'm an absolute newbie when it comes to bikes. I've only started researching about a week ago. Can't wait to get on the road!

Cannondale Synapse Carbon 5 105 - MSRP $2,330

Specialized Tarmac SL4 Sport - MSRP $2,100

Trek Madone 4.3 - MSRP $2,099.99
Which bike fits you best?
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Old 06-15-14, 01:34 PM
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I don't know. The one you like the looks of most really. They are all great bikes. I'd do the Trek since it's all 105 and I am a little anti-FSA (no particular reason). The Synapse is cool but it's a different kind of geometry and more upright, also has vibration dampening inserts. The Tarmac is very nice and would be my choice if equiped with Red.
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Old 06-16-14, 10:04 PM
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Thanks for the responses guys!

I've test-ridden the Synapse and the Tarmac so far. My guy at the LBS is pushing the Tarmac saying, all things considered, I'll be happier with it. It's very hard to feel the difference between the two. He says the only way I will feel the difference is if I take the Synapse downhill at high speed, as it's designed to absorb the bounce better. With the Tarmac, I'm sacrificing a little comfort.

He's giving me the Tarmac SL4 Elite 105 for $2,200 (MSRP is $2,600). It's a toss-up and I can't make up my mind GRRR!
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Old 06-16-14, 11:55 PM
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I don't think you can go wrong with any of those bikes; they are all fairly comparable. Pick the one that fits best. Try to take a longer test ride and find a hill. That might help you decide :-) The Synapse might be more forgiving, but when you test ride the bikes, make sure to check tire pressure. You will get a different ride experience at different tire pressures. And post a pic of the bike you end up getting!
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Old 06-28-14, 05:01 AM
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So.... What did you end up getting?
I ask because my wife (and kids) completely surprised me with a 4.3 for Father's Day. I am glad they "chose" the bike for me. Otherwise, like many others I would have researched/ test rode/ analyzed the decision to death... And then after the long road to a decision I would have probably spent months worrying "Did I make the right decision???" But that's just me... Ha! Anyways- I instantly fell in love with my Madone. The second I laid eyes on her I realized we would have a long, loving and meaningful relationship. (Oh yea, I guess my wife is ok I guess as well)

Last edited by vzwire; 06-28-14 at 05:11 AM.
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Old 06-28-14, 11:03 AM
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It's been a fun research. I got to ride each bike for about 2 miles. Being a beginner, it was difficult for me to feel ride differences. So, it came down to the little details that I thought mattered to me.

I decided on the Synapse Carbon 5. Now the problem is, it's out of stock locally. I've contacted a few dealers here in SoCal and this bike is gone. My LBS says the 2015 bikes should be coming in mid July. For 2015, it'll be the same bike with an upgraded drivetrain.

My reasons:
o internal cable routing
o split-seat-tube design > saves weight but maximizes strengh with a wider BB
o no seatpost clamp > recessed bolt-and-wedge system - looks sleek, some flex
o SAVE PLUS > the seat stays, chain stays, and the fork are all designed to absorb vibrations a little better

The Tarmac and the Madone are performance bikes, just like the Cannondale SuperSix EVO. I ultimately went with comfort and endurance. =)

Now I wait and it's killing me.
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Old 06-29-14, 02:41 PM
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None of these bikes is a beginner bike.

The fact that someone serves this up as a "pick a beginner bike" is either a troll/joke, or is fodder to feed the stereotype that roadies care more about the spending money than they do about the ride.

I won't vote.
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Old 06-29-14, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by BaseGuy
None of these bikes is a beginner bike.

The fact that someone serves this up as a "pick a beginner bike" is either a troll/joke, or is fodder to feed the stereotype that roadies care more about the spending money than they do about the ride.

I won't vote.
Well considering I see 99% of the people here tell beginners they NEED a bike with full 105 as their first bike, I would say these qualify as beginner bikes. I agree with you though, to me a beginner bike is a new bike under $1000 or a used bike
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Old 06-29-14, 03:05 PM
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Originally Posted by BaseGuy
None of these bikes is a beginner bike.

The fact that someone serves this up as a "pick a beginner bike" is either a troll/joke, or is fodder to feed the stereotype that roadies care more about the spending money than they do about the ride.

I won't vote.
Thank you... Someone had the "cajones" to say what needed to be said.

$2000+ for a *ahem* first road bike?!? ...Excuse me?!? That is a little more than double the cost of the mortgage on my house! A low end Fuji or low end Giant or Trek at around $600 bucks is a nice beginner road bike.
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Old 06-29-14, 03:07 PM
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FWIW: Any of these three can be set up to fit identically with proper selection of frames size, components, and adjustment.
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Old 06-29-14, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by ButchA
Thank you... Someone had the "cajones" to say what needed to be said.

$2000+ for a *ahem* first road bike?!? ...Excuse me?!? That is a little more than double the cost of the mortgage on my house! A low end Fuji or low end Giant or Trek at around $600 bucks is a nice beginner road bike.
You must live somewhere else besides California or bought a house many years ago. I pay about $1000 a month just on property taxes.
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Old 06-29-14, 04:31 PM
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Well, I will say this as someone who's been eyeballing road bikes a couple months now.

#1 .) Yes, many a first-time road bike buyer here would assume that 105 is the VERY bottom rung of the ladder.

#2 .) Only recently have I heard anybody suggest that Tiagra is not so bad. (But I still don't think anybody's giving Sora the thumbs up just yet)

#3 .) I would go so far as to say that a first-time buyer reading this forum daily could EASILY get caught up into thinking they SHOULD get Ultegra (and 6800 at that) just to keep themselves out of obsolescence and really consider going Di2 to cut to the chase of the future.

All that said......most reading here long enough should realize that a full 105 bike is a good starter as well as a good chaser, racer, puller, climber, cruiser, etc. It's just a solid group set

I would also suggest a Fuji Gran Fondo to the OP if the Synapse appeals.
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Old 06-29-14, 05:28 PM
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I suspect that many recommend 105 because they feel it falls in a nice place on the price/performance gradient; I tend to agree. Spending more nets you some improvement in function and decrease in weight, but the cost can be appreciable. It's all about the price/performance trade-off.

Like all of the Shimano's group sets, Tiagra has improved with each update, so that price/performance ratio has improved in recently. Of course, all of these ratios change again when 11-speed update to 105 hits the streets, so you had better pay attention!

;-)
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Old 06-29-14, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by BaseGuy
None of these bikes is a beginner bike.

The fact that someone serves this up as a "pick a beginner bike" is either a troll/joke, or is fodder to feed the stereotype that roadies care more about the spending money than they do about the ride.

I won't vote.
@BaseGuy, this is an honest post. I really am looking for a bike and have decided on one. I am not trolling. I am a noob, however, so my apologies to you for being a noob. Not looking for trouble here, buddy, nor stir any political rants. I didn't think this was the forum for that crap.


Originally Posted by loimpact
Well, I will say this as someone who's been eyeballing road bikes a couple months now.

#1 .) Yes, many a first-time road bike buyer here would assume that 105 is the VERY bottom rung of the ladder.

#2 .) Only recently have I heard anybody suggest that Tiagra is not so bad. (But I still don't think anybody's giving Sora the thumbs up just yet)

#3 .) I would go so far as to say that a first-time buyer reading this forum daily could EASILY get caught up into thinking they SHOULD get Ultegra (and 6800 at that) just to keep themselves out of obsolescence and really consider going Di2 to cut to the chase of the future.

All that said......most reading here long enough should realize that a full 105 bike is a good starter as well as a good chaser, racer, puller, climber, cruiser, etc. It's just a solid group set

I would also suggest a Fuji Gran Fondo to the OP if the Synapse appeals.
Hey man, thanks for the PM. I can't reply because I have less than 50 posts. Can you PM me again the info on the dealer? Thanks!

Thanks for voting and for the replies!!!


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Old 06-29-14, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by loimpact
Well, I will say this as someone who's been eyeballing road bikes a couple months now.

#1 .) Yes, many a first-time road bike buyer here would assume that 105 is the VERY bottom rung of the ladder.

#2 .) Only recently have I heard anybody suggest that Tiagra is not so bad. (But I still don't think anybody's giving Sora the thumbs up just yet)

#3 .) I would go so far as to say that a first-time buyer reading this forum daily could EASILY get caught up into thinking they SHOULD get Ultegra (and 6800 at that) just to keep themselves out of obsolescence and really consider going Di2 to cut to the chase of the future.

All that said......most reading here long enough should realize that a full 105 bike is a good starter as well as a good chaser, racer, puller, climber, cruiser, etc. It's just a solid group set

I would also suggest a Fuji Gran Fondo to the OP if the Synapse appeals.
I've seen plenty of people suggest Sora. New Sora doesn't have thumb shifter so I would probably take that over Tiagra to save some money. I have a friend who got a Allez with Sora with the thumb button and he out rides other slightly more experienced guys who bought full carbon/105 or better bikes for their first bike. He rides a lot more than the guys that bought expensive bikes.

But everyone is different. The argument to get 105 is that you won't want to upgrade as quick. But I know people that got aluminum bikes with 105 for their first bike and felt like they needed a carbon Ultegra bike less than a year later. Did they need a new bike? No but that's how bike culture is. Those guys will probably never NEED a carbon Ultegra bike at their level but they were made to feel like they did.

I also have learned that spending $2000 is nothing for some people. If I was one of those people, why wouldn't I buy a $2000 bike for my first bike? There are people that can easily afford a $10k bike. If they can afford a $10k bike I'm not going to tell them not to get it because they are new to riding.

But for me personally, for $1000 I would shop around Craigslist. I know in my area I could find a lightly used, recent model Ultegra bike for a $1000 that is like new.
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Old 06-29-14, 05:38 PM
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a beginner road bike should cost you a third of those other bikes lol.
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Old 06-29-14, 06:11 PM
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You need an aluminum bike, not carbon.

As a new rider, you're likely to go down - even if it's just getting stuck in the clips.

Carbon, while very strong, breaks. It doesn't bend. Any bike shop owner who would steer you towards a carbon bike as a 1st time rider is a jerk, dishonest and looking to hose you.
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Old 06-29-14, 06:16 PM
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Double posting because I feel like being constructive...

If you're sitting on two grand, buy yourself a Giant Defy 2 or similar bike. Use the extra cash to get yourself all the requisite cycling constuming... matching branded lycra, helmet, spare tires, tubes, etc... pay for a couple of mechanic classes and the like.
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Old 06-29-14, 06:30 PM
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This thread is getting #41ier .
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Old 06-29-14, 06:57 PM
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I love it when people tell a guy who has the money that he's a fool to spend it on something he wants.

Yeah, he could spend $700 on a bike with crappy Claris, wheels that weigh a ton and eat spokes, and Tektro brakes that make stopping an adventure. But he wants to get something nicer. So pile on the guy.
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Old 06-29-14, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by mprelaw
I love it when people tell a guy who has the money that he's a fool to spend it on something he wants.

Yeah, he could spend $700 on a bike with crappy Claris, wheels that weigh a ton and eat spokes, and Tektro brakes that make stopping an adventure. But he wants to get something nicer. So pile on the guy.
That's my point. The perfect beginner bike for me would be a used 10 year old 105/Ultegra bike off craigslist that cost $500. I'm not poor but I'm frugal and on a budget. If someone makes a lot more money to me and has disposable income why can't they spend $2000 on their first bike?

I was in Laguna Beach yesterday and I saw two people driving McLarens on the street. Should I go up to them and tell them they should buy a Corolla because I think it's ridiculous for them to spend $1.5 million on a car?

Maybe OP could afford a $5000 or $10k bike. In that case is getting a $2000 beginner bike still a big deal?
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Old 06-29-14, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by mprelaw
I love it when people tell a guy who has the money that he's a fool to spend it on something he wants.

Yeah, he could spend $700 on a bike with crappy Claris, wheels that weigh a ton and eat spokes, and Tektro brakes that make stopping an adventure. But he wants to get something nicer. So pile on the guy.
It's not about piling on the guy... I can't imagine anyone who is familiar with what's on the market thinking any of those bikes listed make a good starter bike. At any price, he shouldn't be on carbon. He says he's an absolute newbie... imagine what's going to happen when he gets to a stop, all clipped in & falls over. If he's lucky, he'll just have a scrape on his knee & elbow. If he's not, his $2000 bike has a hole in the frame & is RUINED.

My biggest gripe with bike shops is that they don't find bikes appropriate for the rider.

What this guy needs is a nice aluminum bike with FLAT pedals. A comfort cruiser would be my suggestion, too, not a semi-race bike with an aggressive geometry. None of those bikes, as far as I know, have a relaxed geometry. They'll all be "twitchy" compared to a beginner bike, and unforgiving of mistakes. They'll also be unstable compared to a beginner bike, meaning this guy is more likely to freakin' crash.

Of course, if I was an unethical bike shop owner like the ones this guy is probably going to, that'd be just fine with me. I've sold a bike for two grand, and now I have a customer who is well funded and likely to buy another.


Disregarding price, even if those bikes could be had for $500, they're the wrong bikes.
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Old 06-29-14, 07:54 PM
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Over the past several weeks, I have visited a few bike shops and have arrived at this conclusion: NONE have a bonafide salesperson!
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Old 06-29-14, 08:07 PM
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For the record I have two coworkers who bought Cannondale Supersix for their first road bikes. Both took multiple zero mph falls in the street while learning to use clipless pedals. It's been over a year and both bikes are fine. Carbon is not that fragile. How would their be so many mountain bikes made of carbon fiber? If it's so fragile that a zero mph fall is going to destroy the frame then I think a down hill run over rocks and tree stumps would make a carbon fiber frame implode...but it doesn't
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