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Test Rode a Palmares Today and...(17 posts)

Test Rode a Palmares Today and...PsyDoc
Jun 15, 2001 2:56 PM
...was impressed with how stiff this bike is. The bike was a 2000 model (57cm) and the bike shop mechanic had owned it right at a year. The top tube was a bit long for me, and was accentuated by the 130mm stem the guy had on it. We both had the same inseam, but this guy was freakishly long in the torso. This bike was by far the stiffest bike I have ridden, yet still gave a pretty comfortable ride. I do not know how comfortable it would be on a 50+ mile ride, because I only rode it on a neighborhood loop around the shop (couple of miles max). There was a nice hill that allowed me to stand up out of the saddle and the Palmares just kicked butt! Although the Palmares was not as compliant as my Merlin, the Merlin is not as stiff as the Palmares...kind of a tradeoff. I have to say that I loved the way this bike accelerated...stomp on the pedals and it takes off with no BB flex whatsoever and I am no lightweight at 170lbs. The "problem" is that Litespeed makes the Palmares in a 56cm with pretty much the exact same geometry as the Merlin...hmmmm. The mechanic had heard rumors that much of the Litespeed line was going to sloped top tubes...can anyone confirm or refute this rumor? Oh well...just thought folks might like to hear about the Palmares.
New MerlinCima Coppi
Jun 15, 2001 3:17 PM

Did you get the headset issue resolved with your new Merlin? Curious to know why you're trying out Litespeeds with your new ride.

I have heard Litespeed is engineering a sloping toptube frame. It's the latest fad, what would anyone expect? Hope the new Merlin is good to you. Happy riding!!

I thought he sent it back (nm)ColnagoFE
Jun 15, 2001 3:39 PM
Yep..., but...PsyDoc
Jun 16, 2001 1:24 PM
part of it was Merlin's fault as the frame dimensions posted on Merlin's website and their catalog are incorrect. I thought Merlin had screwed up when they built the frame. Actualy, I am postponing reordering from Excel until I decide whether I want to go with the integrated headset or opt for a custom and get a "traditional" 1 1/8" headtube. A few folks here made be a bit cautious when they indicated that Cane Creek headsets/bearings are prone to failure and do not last very long. Merlin charges $400 to go "custom" even if it only involves welding in a non-integrated headset. I was checking out the Litespeeds, because I figure I could get a good deal on one at the end of the year if I decided I did not want the integrated headset and did not want to spend an extra $400.
See my "Yep" post below...(nm)PsyDoc
Jun 16, 2001 1:25 PM
At the risk of starting a war......Len J
Jun 15, 2001 3:33 PM
Your comment about the tradeoff between stiffness and compliance is more true for metal than it is for carbon (In my experience). Because the orientation of the carbon strands is what determines strength & stiffness, the designer of a carbon frame has the luxury of making a very stiff frame that is also incredibly comliant in the vertical by the way the carbon is layed up/wound directionally. I took 5+ mile test rides on both bikes that you refer to The Palmares & the Merlin & I can tell you without doubt that my Trek 5500 OCLV 120 is as stiff as the Palmares and as vertically compliant as the Merlin. No tradeoff was necessary. I am not trying to sell you on a Trek just sharing information about the benefits of carbon vis A vis stifness & compliance. As in all things in Bikeland, Personal preference rules.

I would suggest that if you get the chance test ride a 5500 up a hill. I think you'll be surprised. I know I was, (I was shopping for Ti at the time & took the Trek out just because it was there). I actually didn't want a Trek (Honestly it didn't fit the snoot factor, (I am ashamed)). Surprised the hell out of me, 1000+ miles later & I'm more tickled now than the day I took it home.

BTW I'm 165 Pounds.

My .02 FWIW

What did happen with your Merlin?
though you gotta admitColnagoFE
Jun 15, 2001 3:41 PM
that you hear of Trek OCLV failures all the time on these forums and a TI bike failing is a rare event. I know it has a lifetime warranty, but I'd never buy one based on the comments I've heard. Now a Calfee or a C-40 is another story...
though you gotta admitjoelb
Jun 15, 2001 5:49 PM
I have a Trek 5500 and totally agree it is both stiff and comfortable and it is much lighter than Ti. I owned a 5200 before that for 8 years which broke and Trek replaced the frame for free no questions asked. I put new Dura Ace components on it and had a $3000 brand new bike for $1000 cost to me. I have also known people that have broken Litespeed frames and they had to PAY to get them fixed or replaced. Trek has also made improvements to reduce the chance of a frame failing. I would not worry at all about this.
Urban myth or Old news or not?Len J
Jun 15, 2001 6:22 PM
I did an awful lot of research trying to determine if these failures were as frequent as it appears when you listen to peoples stories. I was worried about investing in a Potentially unsafe bike. By no means a scientific study but here's what I came away with after talking to several shop owners, Many riders, both Trek carbon & others and many bike co reps:

Trek's had an unusual # of carbon failures in the early years of thier lugged frame. Each generation has had fewer and fewer failures as a % of total bikes.

There are many more Trek Carbons sold in the U.S. than all other carbon brands combined. In fact I have heard (but not verified) that there are 3 to 5 times as many Trek carbon sold as all other Carbon combined. Even if you assume conservativly that it is 3 times the next largest seller then Trek could have 2.5 times the number of failures and still have a lower % of failures than any other Mfg.

In other words I think that there are more stories of failures because there are many more of thier bikes out there. Look at the next century you ride in and count the number of Calfee's, Aegis, Look & Cologna Carbons riding. Assume that that is a fair representation of the U.S. It's the law of large numbers. Lets assume the following:
Bikes Failures %
Trek 100 8 8%
Cologno 10 1 10%
Calfee 10 1 10%

Assuming these were the facts (Hypothetically) Which is the better Bike? The one with 8 times the Failures (and therefor stories) or the one with the lower failure rate? Now Multiply the # of Bikes sold/year times the number of years the bike has been sold and the gap gets bigger.

Trek is a large profitible business. (some say too large) Having worked in the Finance Groups of some large Companies who have had strong lifetime warranties, I can tell you that a company with poor quality can not continue honoring a lifetime warranty on one of thier top selling products, they just can't afford it. The fact that Trek seems to honor thier warranty with an almost "No questions asked" policy tells me that they are not experiencing large problems. How many stories have you heard where Trek denied a Carbon Frame warranty claim. I couldn't find any.

I feel like I'm preaching Trek. This is not my intention. I can tell you that I was very skeptical as a result of the same stories that you have probably heard. I tried to do my homework. As I said in a previous post, I really was surprised by my test ride. But at the end of the day, I couldn't find a good reason not to buy the Bike.

Just my experience. Trying to share it to help along the discussion.
At the risk of starting a war......look271
Jun 16, 2001 1:25 PM
Think that the OCLV is great, try a Look kg 281. You will be amazed. Just a suggestion!

I rode a 5200 up a steep hill...PsyDoc
Jun 16, 2001 1:28 PM
...and that bike flexed more than my Merlin or the Palmares. That was just my perception of that particular 5200. The shop said it was a 2001 model, but it could have been a 2000; a shop I went to in Florida this past weekend told me that the Serotta I was looking at was a 56cm when a "54" was clearly stamped on the BB...mistakes happen.
Some sloping,TJeanloz
Jun 15, 2001 4:29 PM
Expect a new, superlight, sloping Vortex for 2002. The rest of the Litespeed line should remain standard. Why don't they all go compact? The Merlin Agilis sales numbers were very disapointing.
But, Merlin still decided...PsyDoc
Jun 16, 2001 1:17 PM come out with the Merlin XL compact. I think it made its "debut" on Merlin's website about two weeks or so ago. Here's a pic..., but a more complete pic is at Merlin's website ( )
re: Test Rode a Palmares Today and...climberted
Jun 15, 2001 9:41 PM
Lightspeed has some sloping topetubes next year. Claimed the "lightest Lightspeed ever" the Ghisallo (your guess on pronunciation is as good as mine) was supposedly built up with "non-exotic" parts and came in at a healthy weight of 15.5lbs in a 56cm. Now the pic I saw of the "non-exotic" parts and bike was fairly true. I think they mean non exotic buy full DA and Tubies on 303's and their stems and seatpost (BOO). This is I know. Oh BTW on the back of the VeloNews "Offical Tour Guide" for thye TDF 2001 is a pic of this frame.
Palmares in 1cm increments?Hank
Jun 16, 2001 11:30 AM
good for Litespeed! Now, when are they gonna do this for the rest of their line?

Have you looked at Serotta? They also have slightly shorter top tubes in their stock sizes, and only about a 4 week wait for full custom.
I have looked, but...PsyDoc
Jun 16, 2001 1:38 PM
...have not been all that impressed. I held a Serotta Legend and a Classique Ti in my hands this past weekend in Florida. Both bikes seemed well-made, but, for whatever reason, the Serotta line just does not appeal to me. A couple of weekends ago, a shop in Florida had Serotta's test fleet available to be ridden over the weekend...I wish I had known about that as I would like to test ride one just for fun.

Serotta posts the following on its website:

1" vs. 1-1/8"?

A 1-1/8" tube is stiffer and potentially stronger than a 1" tube, which is why 1-1/8" steertubes are frequently used in mountain bikes. In road bikes, a 1-1/8" steertube is not necessary. Occasionally, a builder will try to save weight by using a larger, thinner column with a bigger (1-1/8") tube. Fatigue life and resistance to trauma are serious issues in this area of the bike, so a thinner wall may not be a good idea. The steering column bears the brunt of incredible stress from the fork. A broken steering column can do more than ruin your afternoon.

Composite Steering Columns?

We do not recommend the use of forks with carbon composite steering tubes where the carbon composite is on the surface and can potentially be damaged. Installation, adjustment or removal of headset parts on these forks can cause damage leading to catastrophic failure. Please note: Serotta composite forks have been designed with the carbon composite on the inside where it is safe from potential damage.

I find it hard to believe that a 1 1/8" headtube is a "bad thing," especially when you consider that mountain bike headtubes probably get much more stressed in the headtube than a roadbike.
I have looked, but...Hank
Jun 16, 2001 2:16 PM
Well, it's oddly written, but all they're saying is that 1 1/8 is not necessary for road bikes (they go on to say that SOME builders use the 1 1/8 thing as an opportunity to shed ounces, which they think is a bad idea on this part of the bike). I'm pretty conservative about this kind of stuff, myself - I don't like carbon steerers, either, personally. If I were buying a ti frame, I'd get someone like Steelman to build me a threaded steel fork for it (and Serotta offers in-house steel forks, too). Anyway, I thought the Serotta line looked pretty good, myself. I doubt you'll go wrong with any of the bikes you're looking at, though. I like Ibis and Moots, but I think their road bikes have slightly weird geometry (great if they happen to fit), and it would probably be a huge hassle to get custom from either of those places. If I was buying today, I'd probably go for a stock Serotta Classique ti, the Litespeed-built Merckx, or maybe the Seven Alaris.