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Need more help!!!(3 posts)

Need more help!!!RandyMH
Jun 22, 2001 5:03 PM
Ok today I decided to go out and ride some bikes, in hope it would help me to make a decision on which bike to buy. I was pretty much sold on the Giant OCR 3, which is there entry-level bike. When I got to the store they were out of the OCR so I went out on a TCR. The first problem that was brought to my attention was that even though looking at me you would think I needed a 60-62 my torso is short and that size bike makes me stretch too far. The guy at the shop set it up well enough for me to get a decent ride. The ride was good and the Giant was very responsive. When I got back to the store the salesman had set up a 56cm Cannondale R400 for me to try. Even this bike made me stretch out a little but was a lot better. As soon as I got out on the road I could definitely tell the difference in the ride. This bike seemed a lot smoother. I was sold on the hype of Cannondale making a better feeling frame. As far as comfort, I am new so all of them seem to be uncomfortable. The only problem with the Cannondale was that the frame was small so my legs came up a little high and he had to jack the seat way up. But overall it felt good. So we decided I would probably need a 60cm. He also offered to match the price of another store that was sell the same bike for $749.00, which seems to be a great deal for this bike. Unfortunately he did not have a 60 at his store but there was one at a store that I would pass on the way home. So I went by there to make sure that it would fit. The 60cm fit great in the legs but was still long on top so we tried a 58cm, still long by a ½ inch or so. But he said he could replace the neck with a shorter one and it didn't seem to make me bend over too much.
I left that store and went to the local Trek dealer to see if I could tell a difference in the two. Well the sales person there was about 17 years old and didn't seem to be very knowledgeable. I did test ride the 1200, it seemed smooth but he would only let me ride it in the parking lot, which had a smooth surface. I still had about a 1" gap from the bars to the hub on this bike. Now I'm totally confused about which bike to get. I am pretty sold on the Cannondale but would like the opinion of those of you that have been in this situation before.
My problem is that by never riding before I don't know what the right feeling is. I would like to buy a frame that is reputable and will allow me to upgrade it if I choose too. I've looked at the reviews here on the Giant and GT and people seem to love theirs, but are these bikes that are great for the long run? Are the Cannondales all they are cracked up to be? I would hate to make an $800.00 mistake.
re: Need more help!!!Akirasho
Jun 22, 2001 6:07 PM
... a hard call...

Ride qualities can be subjective, and as such, don't necessarily mean anything to anyone else, however, I've always been and continue to be a Cannondale fan (I also ride a Ti frame and have a Rivendell coming).

If the 'Dale is a recent model R400, then it at least has a CAAD3 frame which is what I currently ride (along with a couple of older R2.8's). While the higher CAAD4-6 are said to smooth some of the "harshness" of the aluminium frame, CAAD3's are a great frame worthy of future upgrades.

I can't speak for the other frames you mentioned directly, however, in the past, the CAAD3 frame was Cannondale's flagship... it's nice that it's trickled down over the years. At that price point, you're getting a fine frame with several years of real world R&D built in. If it comes with a CF fork... all the better.

And, of course, make sure it fits! You've already stated how much a difference you've felt... whatever you decide on, let fit be paramount over a brand name or price.

Be the bike.
re: Need more help!!!Rich Clark
Jun 23, 2001 11:08 AM
It's not unusual to feel too stretched out at first if road bikes are new to you. As you become trained to the riding position, you'll become more comfortable. But there's a limit. The advice to find a bike shop that can fit you professionally is good -- maybe some place that uses FitKit -- but even that's as much an art as a science. There's no substitute for an experienced fitter. Once you have been fit, you can transfer your measurements to any bike you try or buy.

Get the saddle/pedal relationship dialed in first, because this isn't something you will want to change in order to solve reash issues. Get the saddle up to the right height (knee slightly bent with pedal at 6). Get the saddle fore-and-aft position set so that your kneecap is above the forward pedal spindle (actually the point just below the pointy place on your kneecap; use a weight on a string) when the cranks are level. Level the saddle. If you can do all that without getting near the seatpost's minimum-insertion line, and with the saddle not extremely forward or backward, the frame is probably the right vertical size.

*Now* you can determine whether the bike is also the right horizontal size. It's important to know how long the current stem is, so that you have an idea whether it's in the middle of available sizes. Worry less about the business of "bars obscure the axle" and more about whether your arms are bent at the elbows when you're seated comfortably on the bike.

Obviously, bar height comes into play here, too. If you had to jack the saddle 'way high, the bars on a bike with a threadless stem are probably going to be too low, and not raisable without adding an extender to the steerer, or cutting a new fork taller. That affects reach, as well. If it's a threaded headset, a taller stem could easily be fitted and that would be a standard bike shop service.

So if you try that 58cm C'dale again, do the careful saddle-position adjustment described above, and then make sure the minimum insertion line on the seat post is still at least an inch below the top of the seat tube. That will give you slack if you change to a thinner saddle, to shorter cranks, to thicker-soled shoes, etc. If you can't achieve this, the frame is too small.

Now you can check the bar position and work with the dealer on changing stems to get a good fit. AVOID EXTREMES. If you need the longest or shortest or tallest, you are probably buying a frame that's too compact or too extended for you.

Good fit is critical. It's better to be patient and wait than to buy a bike that doesn't fit. A badly-fitting bike is as useless as a badly-fitting pair of shoes.