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Bianchi Volpe Upgrades... what's the price?!?

Old 12-23-05, 10:04 PM
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Bianchi Volpe Upgrades... what's the price?!?

So I'm desperately trying to decide between a Kona Jake the Snake and a Bianchi Volpe for my first major bike purchase. The price differential between the two is substantial but the Kona has better components. (105s) However since I plan on doing mostly light touring and general in-town errands, I think the Volpe is the right bike - because I can't get past the idea that steel is a more forgiving ride for touring.

However, if I wanted to take the 800 dollar Volpe and upgrade it to 105 components, how much am I talking about for the final bike price? Would that put it in line with the Kona JTS in terms of price? Or beyond?

Thanks to anyone who can give me some thoughts!!
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Old 12-23-05, 10:25 PM
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Why bother? What direct benefit will 105 give you over Tiagra? Why not just use the stock components and upgrade when they need to be replaced due to wear and tear?
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Old 12-23-05, 10:44 PM
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Originally Posted by chipcom
Why bother? What direct benefit will 105 give you over Tiagra? Why not just use the stock components and upgrade when they need to be replaced due to wear and tear?
+1 to what chipcom said - Use the stock stuff till it breaks. You may find it perfectly acceptable.

If I were buying a tourer, I'd eschew the JTS model because of its high bottom bracket. Jakes are meant to bounce over stuff while cyclocrossing. The geometry (at least in theory - I've never ridden one) should make for less sure handling - particularly on loaded descents.

If you want a Kona tourer - the Sutra is the model to look at. I've heard at least one poster on BikeForums say, though, that the Sutra rack tabs broke on him when he loaded it down.

Only other tourer you should really look at is the Surly Long Haul Trucker (LHT). Although maybe beyond what you want to pay, it is (currently) regarded as the best production touring bike in existance.

Cheers & happy shopping!
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Old 12-24-05, 12:40 AM
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Interesting. Okay so you've sold me on wearing out the Tiagra before upgrading but now you've wet my appetite for the Surly LHT. But from checking their website it sparks my other wonder:

They only sell the LHT frame and leave it to me to spec up with parts. I was wondering is this option cheaper when all is said and done or more expensive when all is said and done than buying a bike that's all inclusive, like the Volpe? Is it like building your own PC where you can save some bucks or redivert them into other areas? Or are bike manufacturers keeping their total package bikes lower in cost through bulk buying?

To put together a comparable bike (to the Volpe) using the LHT frame, how much are we talking about cost wise?

Your input is always very welcome, and thanks for helping a new guy out! :-)
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Old 12-24-05, 07:22 AM
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My favorite LBS quotes around 1100 for a LHT built using an LX quality gruppo and handbuilt wheels......I don't think the Volpe and the LHT are in the same league, the Volpe is a light tourer as far as I'm concerned, the LHT is much stouter. Haven't gone side by side on the geometry, but, in my opinion, the Volpe is a lesser bike/frame.

As for the Bianchi, ask the Bianchi dealer if they would at least swap the brifters for barcons....I asked a shop if they could, and the floor guys said 'maybe'. I walked out, and have never bought a bike from that shop. swapping parts when a bike is new should be SOP if a buyer desires, not 'maybe', and the cost shouldn't be much more than the difference in price between components.
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Old 12-24-05, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by burbankbiker
...They only sell the LHT frame and leave it to me to spec up with parts. I was wondering is this option cheaper when all is said and done or more expensive when all is said and done than buying a bike that's all inclusive, like the Volpe?...
Overall, you're spending fewer dollars buying a complete bike (like the Volpe) because manufacturers get a price break on parts and can pass on some of the savings to you in the price of the bike. If you're buying pieces-parts, you have to pay more (unless you buy used on e-Bay or already have used parts in your parts box).

It's like buying a Toyota off the showroom floor or trying to put one together by buying the individual parts from the parts department! Not quite such an extreme difference, but the principle is the same.

On the other hand, you get to spend extra $$ where YOU think they're important if you "roll your own." I, for example, can tell no difference between Campy Record cranks and Shimano Deore (I've owned and ridden both). Cranks are cranks to me, so I used a cheap set of Deores out of my spares box on my tourer. I can, however, tell the difference in how rear derailleurs shift. I chose a XTR for my touring bike because I like the adjustability and close tolerances. Your money, your choice.

Happy shopping, and don't get hung up on the details - either way you'll have a nicer bike than ever before, and you'll REALLY enjoy touring on it!
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Old 12-24-05, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by burbankbiker
To put together a comparable bike (to the Volpe) using the LHT frame, how much are we talking about cost wise?
Most bike shops can order an already built LHT through QBP. My shop quoted $1500 for a triple 105.

Have you actually found some place that has a Volpe? There have been posts on this forum that they are sold out nationwide and my shop confirmed the same.
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Old 12-24-05, 11:59 AM
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FWIW, I love my Volpe. Had no problems with the Tiagra, once you get them adjusted in (took me about 15 minutes to fine tune everything) they shift nicely. I told a friend that if I could only keep 1 of my bikes I'd grab the volpe without a thought. Probably the best 'all-around' bike that I've had.

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Old 12-24-05, 12:53 PM
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Lots to think over. But jkmartin is right, I've also heard the Volpe is in short supply but some things I've heard don't make sense... like the 2006's won't be available until November 2006 (when the 2007s should be out). So I haven't called around to actually track down a Volpe but if it is as unavailable as people report, I guess the choice is easy... Surly LHT it is. I've done a ton of reading up on it and it does look like a great touring bike.
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Old 12-24-05, 01:47 PM
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One more question for those in the know: I'm 5'8". The Surly takes 26" wheels for frames below 54cm and 700c for 56cm and above. Without any accurate measuring, do you think I'd be riding at least the 56cm frame? Thanks, in advance, for blind speculation with incomplete data! ;-)
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Old 12-24-05, 01:54 PM
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at 5'8" you might want the 54cm frame, or a short stem on the 56....the LBS owner who sold me my LHT said they are 'big' framed bikes..... I'm 5'10" and always ride 57-58s, and bought a 56cm LHT. And I got to test drive one befoe I ordered my frame!

LHTs are such a rightous bike, I've seen at least three bike shops in Seattle with built up LHT's that customers could test ride, maybe you can find a like minded shop in your area.
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Old 12-24-05, 02:11 PM
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I remember the LHT as having a long top tube. You would prob want the 54cm. Surly makes another bike I like, it's the Pacer. This is a steel bike with classic geometry. It is suitable lor light touring, commuting and general riding. But it isn't as beefy as the LHT.
About components, don't worry about them, except for the wheels. Tiagra is good stuff, just be sure you get good wheels.
Lots of mediocre wheels out there.
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Old 12-24-05, 03:54 PM
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Oh man, I hope that thing about the Volpe shortage ain't true. I plan to get one right after New Year's. Tiagra is a pretty decent gruppo. And I plan to switch out the included brifters for friction barcon shifters, so with that set-up, there should pretty much be NO difference between the Tiagras and 105s (except for a few grams). If the Volpes aren't gonna come in, I'll have to try to scrounge up some change for a Surly Crosscheck or LHT so I have a bike for the season. I figured a decent Surly buildup to be at least $1,500 including frame (unless you scrounge on ebay).
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Old 12-24-05, 05:25 PM
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Okay, well the shortage of Volpe AND Surly is true as far as Southern California is concerned. I called every dealer in the Surly website listings and come up dry.

However my LBS, Bicycle John's in Burbank, has mentioned a new contender in the race: Independent Fabrication. Anyone heard of them, can vouch for them, and even make a frame recommendation by them?
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Old 12-24-05, 06:12 PM
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Originally Posted by burbankbiker
...a new contender in the race: Independent Fabrication. Anyone heard of them, can vouch for them, and even make a frame recommendation by them?
WHOOOO YES! Everybody has heard of Independent Fabrication (IF). IF makes superb frames, but they cost $$$$! They can custom make you any frame you want in just about any material (or combination of materials). Just bring the cash...
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Old 12-28-05, 08:34 AM
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My LBS checked w/ Bianchi and said that the '06s would be available in early spring 2006. This is in the NYC/Long Island area.
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