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Help. Need bike buying advice quick.(36 posts)

Help. Need bike buying advice quick.K1dude
Jun 30, 2001 2:18 PM
My wife and I are primarily mountain bikers. But my wife has an invitation to bike in a Death Ride (110 miles through 5 mountain passes in one day) in two weeks. Evidently it's so popular, all 2,000 spots were taken long ago. But my wife knew a group where a couple people dropped out and she can take one of the spots.

Now my dilemma. Since neither of us road bike, I'm not familiar at all with the bicycles available and we need to buy her one ASAP. Just looking at the reviews (cursory glance), I've narrowed it down to a few models. Since I don't have much time, I was hoping for some assistance in choosing. I'm not versed at all on road componentry. Could you look at the list and tell me if there's a clear winner or loser(s)? Or are there other bikes I should consider? Or if I'm even on the right track? We're looking to spend $1500 to $2200. She's 5'8", 123 lbs. She wants a bike she can ride comfortably for a long distance that climbs well. Sort of an all around performer. She currently uses her mountain bike for fitness training on the road, so she'd like a road bike to use for that as well.

The bikes I've narrowed it down to are as follows:

1. Airborne Zepplin
2. Cannondale R2000 Triple
3. Klein Quantum Race
4. Lemond Buenos Aires
5. Lemond Zurich
6. Raleigh R700
7. Schwinn Peloton Pro
8. Trek 2300
9. Trek 5200

Any help would be greatly appreciated for this panicked clueless shopper.

Oops. Forgot the Cannondale R1000 triple. (nm)K1dude
Jun 30, 2001 2:26 PM
No message.
They all sound pretty good to me.boy nigel
Jun 30, 2001 2:50 PM
Now for the fun part: gearing! If she's doing 110 miles and five mountain passes in one day, she'll either be wanting a double-chainring (typical, traditional road) setup with a large range of gears in the back (maybe a 12-27 cassette) or a triple-chainring setup. Deciding this is important, since it's not particularly easy to change back and forth between these setups; it's not just a matter of removing one of the chainrings when you don't want the lower gears--you may already know this. It generally requires changing out derailleurs, bottom brackets, sometimes shifters, and of course cranksets. Hassle.

Is she an experienced rider? I'd hope that she is if she's taking on such an endeavor. If not, she may find herself in way over her head. I'm not trying to dissuade or intimidate you/her, but I'm really being serious. If she's not used to doing the distance, she may pull/strain something or may not eat or drink enough--either way, these can be very dire situations, and pretty scary. Running out of fuel with two mountains left will put someone in a very dangerous situation. I'm not questioning her strength, but her endurance and her on-the-bike habits and skills (including eating and drinking).

I just looked up the ride. You're talking about the Cali Death Ride in mid July, correct? They're supposed to have pretty darned good support on the route, so she may be safe from exhausting herself without food or drink.

Besides the gearing considerations, there's a consideration of her being used to the bike and to the road bike positioning for such a ride. She'll likely be using different muscle groups, and will even possibly be sitting on different areas than what she's accustomed to with MTB riding. I hope she'll be okay. :)

All of your choices sound fine to me. I, personally, would sway towards either ti, carbon, or aluminum (I think the LeMond frames are steel, but I could be wrong here). If nothing else, these materials generally make for a lighter bike. I ride aluminum (a Giant TCR), and I love it, even on long, long rides.

Have her test-ride the ones she likes best. Make sure that she FITS the bikes well, so that her arms are neither cramped or fully extended when on the brake hoods. Make sure she gets proper leg extension (more extension than on an MTB, generally), and that her back and shoulders are comfortable. If possible, have her take a fifteen-mile test ride on the bikes she's looking to get. This will give her a better idea of how comfortable she feels on them and how they handle. If she's used to pushing an MTB around, make sure she does a lot of spinning in the small ring. She may feel FREE on a road bike and be tempted to push bigger gears to get a similar feeling to her MTB; she won't be getting an accurate read; in fact, she may just tire prematurely, especially her legs and lower back, from pushing higher gears than she's used to.

Whatever she picks, she should try to ride as often as possible before the D.R. in order for her and her body to get used to the new positioning and gearing, so she's acclimated for the Ride.

I really hope this all helps, and that she finds a great bike that she's comfortable on (MOST IMPORTANT--more important than a nicer color scheme) and has a great D.R.

You're correct.K1dude
Jun 30, 2001 3:26 PM
It is the ride in CA and they do have good support and rides for people who drop out.

We figured she'd probably be better off with a triple. But since, we're newbies, we didn't know for sure. She rode a titanium Litespeed Blade for 25 miles yesterday and didn't care for the 2 chainring setup. She didn't think it went low enough for big hills. Then again, she's used to the low gearing of a 27 speed mountain bike.

As far as her conditioning, she's fine. She's jumped on a borrowed road bike a couple times in the past to do a century in Napa. She had no problems at all. She's used to climbing long technical hills at high altitude on her mountain bike. Hopefully she'll be OK.

Thanks for the input. I'll check on the Lemond material and weight.
About the Lemonds...BQ
Jun 30, 2001 6:54 PM
They are both steel. I have a Zurich -- a sweet machine, IMHO, but it weighs in close to 20 lbs with seat & pedals. You can check them out further at

For what it's worth, I'm very happy with my Zurich, though your mileage may vary, etc.
re: Help. Need bike buying advice quick.ALLEN
Jun 30, 2001 2:58 PM
Go for the Trek 5200. I would forget about the Airborne, Raleigh, and Schwinn.

Just my 2 cents...Good luck!
Jun 30, 2001 3:41 PM
After reading your comments I went back and glanced at the 2000 reviews of the 5200. I noticed the first few reviews had prices in the $1500 to $1800 range and earlier reviews had prices in the $2500 to $2800 range. I guess the latest reviews must have gotten the 2000 model on clearance. If the 2001 price is $2,500+, it'll be out of my price range. I'll have to check. Hopefully I can still find a 2000 on clearance somewhere.

Is there a reason you don't recommend the Airborne, Raleigh, and Schwinn? I was just wondering before I cross them off my list.
5200 pricingTaylor_A
Jul 2, 2001 11:38 AM
My LBS sells the 5200 for $2,100. I have seen the same bike at other shops in the area for as high as $2,650. My advice would be to shop around because some shops have a really high markup.
re: Help. Need bike buying advice quick.Ripley
Jun 30, 2001 3:29 PM
Hi K1dude,

I'm female and almost identical in size to your wife. My first road bike was a Trek 2300, and I rode the bike for awhile, but generally found it too uncomfortable - resulting from a combination of road vibration and Trek's geometry.

I ride a steel Serotta CSI now and am quite happy. I'd recommend anything but aluminum, simply based on her weight. The most important thing to consider (and I'm sure you've already heard this) is fit. She should definitely go out and ride some bikes before making a quick decision.

Hope this helps.
I eliminated the Trek 2300 today.K1dude
Jun 30, 2001 7:40 PM
We looked at one and it IS stiff and harsh. The Cannondales have a newly designed bent seatstay that reduces the harshness of an aluminum bike significantly. Supposedly Trek will be coming out with their version of the seatstay for 2002.

So basically, we're down to the Cannondales and the Lemond's (steel). My wife tested the Cannondales and Trek's but the Lemond shop closed before we could test them. She preferred both Cannondales to the Trek 5200.
steel and tripleAlan B
Jun 30, 2001 3:38 PM
Steel will be comfortable longer (how long is her longest mtb ride -- in hours?). If she's used to MTB gearing, and facing tons of hills a triple is a MUST -- maybe even a triple with a 27 in back to come closer to what she's used to in gearing. Good luck!
Jun 30, 2001 3:57 PM
spend a while working on the whole fit issue. The Lemond and Airborne have pretty long top tubes, the Klein has a steep seat tube angle. Women often have hard times getting a good fit on bikes cause they're basically designed for men. How does she fit on her mtb? Unfortunately, you seem to need it quick, so custom probably isn't an option--sad because $2000 will buy a lot of bike, and it would be a lot to spend on something that didn't fit right. I'd definitely talk to this guy, too:
get her the Lemond Zurich w/12-27 cluster if she's confident orjohnrg
Jun 30, 2001 5:07 PM
the triple if worried. The 853 steel is the most comfortable and compliant short of a particular titanium. Not every titanium but you have to try a few. Zurich is proven and women love them. Just read the reviews here. Not many dislike the bike. Make sure you go to a shop and have it fit. Compared to the Trek, like a 2300, you will go smaller due to top tube length on the Lemond. Also I would run 25cm tires. They used to comes on the earlier Zurichs and smooth the ride considerably as well. Good for MTB riders who are used to a little suspension and compliance. The bike weighs 20.5lbs with double chainring ultegra. The new ones may be lighter.
get her the Lemond Zurich w/12-27 cluster if she's confident orJay H
Jul 1, 2001 4:54 PM
I have a '98 Zurich that came with Open Pros and 35c Conti GP 3000's and has the triple with the 12-27 cassette. I love the thing, it's great for long rides, goes uphill like a banshee and the ride is real smooth for my small 49cm frame. Now the Lemonds come with Rolf wheels but I've recently replaced the Open Pros with a set of Speeddream Aerolights with the 12-27 cassette which will be my climbing wheels and a set of Zipp 404's which I'm putting an 11-23 on.

I haven't found a hill yet that the 12-27 can't handle which is good cause I don't know of any Shimano road clusters higher... Today, I made good use of it riding up and around High Point, NJ.

re: Help. Need bike buying advice quick.MikeeR
Jun 30, 2001 6:47 PM
I'm in a slightly similar position in that I'm a MTB'er looking to buy a road bike for training and finding that I need to go on a steep learning curve with respect to sizing, groupsets etc. From the research I've done over the last month or two, I've come around to liking the sound of how a steel frame rides. I like the idea of a little compliance and comfort. The two Lemond models you mention are steel, the Buenos Aires has Reynolds 853 front triangle with 525 for the stays, the Zurich having full 853 and more exotic tube profiles (this is from memory forgive me if I'm a bit off). The BA comes with 105 and the Zurich with Ultegra. As mentioned by others, they have slightly longer top tubes for their size, you can read about this on the Lemond website. I just like the sound of how these bikes ride from what I've heard and from reading the reviews. To me they would seem to suit perfectly for long rides as opposed to a stiffer, slightly lighter, aluminium bike.
re: aluminumBQ
Jun 30, 2001 7:02 PM
Lemond makes some aluminum bikes, too. The Maillot Jaune, for example. I rode one of them and found it to be not my cup of tea. To me, it felt rougher than the steel. This is perhaps fairly subjective, so trying it yourself is important. As usual, your mileage may vary.
Steel Is RealEasy.Rider
Jun 30, 2001 7:33 PM
Considering the mileage your wife will be putting on the bike, I strongly suggest a steel ride. I'm an ex-MTBer myself, who bought a steel Serotta (Colorado III) in April. I've put almost 800 miles on it, including the Washington DC AIDSRide last week, & I have nothing but praise for the steel ride.

My size forced me to go with the custom build of a Serotta, but your wife should be able to fit nicely on a stock Lemond.

Good luck. peace.
Steel Is RealK1dude
Jun 30, 2001 8:10 PM
I'll check out the Serotta's tomorrow. How much did yours cost and what did it weigh?
Steel Is RealEasy.Rider
Jul 2, 2001 7:20 AM
My Serotta costs $2,700, but that is including a $350 customizing fee - 68cm seat tube, 61cm top tube. Generally, the Serotta Colorado III frame is $1,000. I put on a mix of Ultegra & Dura Ace components, which also pushed the price up. You may be able to buy one for under $2,000. peace.
Steel Is RealEasy.Rider
Jun 30, 2001 7:40 PM
Considering the mileage your wife will be putting on the bike, I strongly suggest a steel ride. I'm an ex-MTBer myself, who bought a steel Serotta (Colorado III) in April. I've put almost 800 miles on it, including the Washington DC AIDSRide last week, & I have nothing but praise for the steel ride.

My size forced me to go with the custom build of a Serotta, but your wife should be able to fit nicely on a stock Lemond.

Good luck. peace.
re: Help. Need bike buying advice quick.wink
Jun 30, 2001 8:32 PM
forget the road bike and go with a Specialized Sirrus Comp. It is like a super hybred. I was in same position a few months back trying to transition from mountain to road for a 88 mile event. Went with this Sirrus and loved it. She will love it to.
re: Help. Need bike buying advice quick.K1dude
Jun 30, 2001 8:59 PM
I considered them early on, but too many people told me that hybrid's don't do anything well. I was told it doesn't have the speed of a road bike or the durability of a mountain bike. So I was afraid to investigate further. Perhaps I should look into it more.
Thanks everyone!K1dude
Jun 30, 2001 8:54 PM
I can't believe the number of helpful responses I've gotten from everyone. After today I think I've narrowed my list to the following:

1. Cannondale R2000 Triple
2. Cannondale R1000 Triple
3. Lemond Zurich
4. Serotta CSI

My wife tested the Cannondales and loved them. Tomorrow we'll try the Lemond and Serotta.

Of course, I'd love to continue to hear everyone's opinions. So keep them coming.

Thanks a bunch!
Thanks everyone!Jim Burton
Jun 30, 2001 9:02 PM
I would strongly urge your wife to reconsider the Cannondales. They are generally harsh and stiff. The Lemond and Serotta will be nicer for the long haul. Just riding around the block will in no way give her a feel for the bike after 110 miles and while Cannondales feel nice and sturdy initially, they will buzz her butt to death. Stick with steel!
I think they've improved them.K1dude
Jun 30, 2001 9:43 PM
From what I understand, past Cannondales were VERY harsh and stiff. But, supposedly their new bent seatstays with smaller diameter tubing improve the ride tremendously. I imagine they provide flex to lessen impact over rough pavement while not affecting lateral stiffness or increasing biopacing. I'm just guessing though. Whatever the case is, my wife loved how soft they rode. She liked it better than the carbon Trek 5200 and the titanium Litespeed. She said it wasn't as harsh and stiff as the Litespeed and it was equivalent to the carbon Trek. Evidently they ride so well, Trek will be imitating the technology for next year's aluminum road bikes.

We WILL check out steel bikes tomorrow though. You never know, soft aluminum may still be much more harsh than steel. We'll find out.
I think they've improved them.Crash
Jun 30, 2001 10:08 PM
K1dude, I just recently purchased a 2001 R2000si and I agree with your wife's evaluation. This is alot for me to say because my last road bike (around 13 years ago before I turned to mountain biking) was also a Cannondale that rode like a cement truck. I hated riding it on anything but glass like smooth pavement. I was surprised (shocked) as to how far the comfort level has come over the last number of years. I liked the 5200 as well, but really preferred the Cannondales overall combination of comfort and effciency. Also, Cannondale releases their new model year bikes (in this case 2002) very early, they are already on the website and in some dealers. This means you should be able to get a great deal on a 2001. I have seen the R1000 (not the si) for 1350, and the R2000si for 2199. All of the bikes you are looking at are great bikes, but if your wife decides to go with the cannondale I think she will be very pleased. Just make sure it fits ! Good Luck !
Lemonds are wonderful but I bought a Cannondale :)Mabero
Jul 2, 2001 7:40 AM
There's a lot of info here already so I don't want to repeat what has been said.

I totally agree with your wife about the Cannondale being smoother than the Trek 5200 as those were the two bikes I choose between. I can go on and on about the difference in those.

I did test ride the Lemond Zurich but quickly eliminated it do to weight. The Zurich rides beautiful and climbs great with (for me) no lateral flex. But I could definately feel slower on the descents and the flats due to the slowness of steel. Also don't discount the wheels being that the Zurich comes with Rolf Vector Comps which are not a great ride and are nothing compared to the Mavic Krysiums and the Campy Protons found on the Cannondale R2000si, R1000si, respectively.

I really loved the ride of the Canny and it fely wonderful. Plus it is super light! In addition I could really feel the foot to pedal transfer as it felt that every push I put into the bike I got just as much out of it with no lateral flex (Cannies have a bigger diameter in the bottom than the Lemond). So IMHO the bike climbed slightly better than the Lemond but blew it away on the other terrain.

Also you might want to consider one BIG thing.
Is any of these bikes available? If a LBS has to order from the manufacturer it could take they are just beginning to build frames again. My Cannondale will take up to 4 weeks to get in my possession! But I am looking for 63cm frame (not a common one).

Either way both bikes are beautiful!
When have you last ridden a cannondale?vram
Jun 30, 2001 10:38 PM
I have put in more than 3000 miles on my CAAd4--done real hilly races, done crits, many centuries and I must say that the Cannondale is a sweet bike. Very smooth ride, sprints like a rocket, always eager to climb, stiff and very light. Please don't mouth something about a product you've no recent experience off or based on someone's else's unenlightened opinions.

I have a waterford and have done a couple of centuries with it and many training rides. This is a great bike--but not as light as the cannondale (makes a big difference on climbs), isn't as deft in the handling dept as my cannodale either. The only difference I perceive between my Cad4 and Waterford in ride quality is when I go over brick/cobbled roads a la paris-roubaix--the waterford does a better job of absorbing road shock than the Cad4. But on any average road, you will be hard-pressed to make out any difference.

To the guy wanting to buy a Cannodale--you've made a great choice and a Cad4+ frame will provide a great ride. Cippo just won 4 stages of the Giro on a Cannondale. This is a race proven bike ridden by the saeco Div 1 team for some time now. Cannondale also provides a life-time warranty on their frames. One can't say the same thing about some of the other suggestions you've been profered.

Goodluck and happy riding!
Today, actuallyJim Burton
Jul 1, 2001 12:48 AM
I own a Cannondale at present. When shopping for a new bike, I felt that the new Cannondales are still too harsh compared with the steel bikes mentioned. I am picking up my Serotta on Monday, but considered the Zurich, also. I wouldn't talk about a product I am not familiar with.

Furthermore, since Trek now makes Lemond bikes, I would imagine that they also have the same warrantee that the Trek bikes do.

This debate could rage on forever. My opinion is steel is sweeter.
What Cannondale frame do you ride? (NM)vram
Jul 1, 2001 9:47 AM
re: Help. Need bike buying advice quick.cycleguy
Jun 30, 2001 10:13 PM
Just a thought. If you have never bought a road bike before what is the rush. You can always do the ride at another time, the coarse will always be there and it's a ride you can do alone. You return to your start at least three times I believe? What if you buy the bikes and you hate road riding, you have for some reason chosen not to before? Just a thought. Oh, and if you do, buy the TREK 5200
re: Help. Need bike buying advice quick.Jim Burton
Jul 1, 2001 8:39 AM
This is good advice. Rushing into a very expensive road bike is not a great idea. How about this...borrow one? I don't know if you have an REI in your area, but they offer rentals, also. In addition, rushing into this Death Valley ride is...well...suicide! Nothing can prepare you for this type of climbing but months of climbing. However, I don't know your wife's fitness level and she may be more than healthy enough to do it.
re: Help. Need bike buying advice quick.Rev. Litespeed
Jun 30, 2001 10:26 PM
Buy the Airborn valkery or zep she is to lite to make the frame flex
the bike will weight in the 18lb range which because she is light she will like on long climb and ti even cheep ti last longer no mantaince
(rust so on) and rides as good as steel with out the pounds
Valkery 105 triple less then 19lb 1500$$ ultegra lighter not a whole lot more I ride a litespeed I like it it alot ti is nice just be careful about the fit
Good luck
I second the Airborne, the best choice on your list.LWL
Jul 1, 2001 10:40 PM
I have 3 female friends that have Zeps and they love them. It will have the best ride of all the bikes on your list. You can custom order all the parts, women specific saddle, riser stem, and get the triple. Some of these people don't know what the Death Ride is. You better be very strong to ride 16,000 feet of climbing over 129 miles. Airborne will set her up. After I bought mine I have had 6 friends buy them.
re: Help. Need bike buying advice quick.badabill
Jul 1, 2001 1:04 PM
My 2 cents for what its worth... This is one tough ride. I have done it twice. Its 130 miles and 16,000 feet of climbing. It can also be surprisingly hot.I hope your wife understands what she is getting into. Having said that A triple for a newbie is a must. All my rides are steel now so I am a little biased. The lemonds are fine bikes. I believe you can get the Zurich with a triple.
How about Bianchi or Marin?AFred
Jul 1, 2001 3:08 PM
IMHO you and your wife are both nuts, but if you're determined to do this suicide ride, go with steel frame/carbon fork and a triple up front. I went through a similar shopping exercise with my wife to get her ready for a century here on the east coast (with a lot more prep). She's 5'4" and has been riding an aluminum Trek w/ Shimano 105.

We narrowed down our search to LeMond, Marin and Bianchi. I convinced her to make the switch to Campy, so that eliminated LeMond (she was too streched out on the Buenos Airies and Zurich 49 cm anyway) and focused on Marin and Bianchi. The Bianchi turned out to be a bit of a better deal. She chose the Veloce with a Campy triple. A little judicious swapping (chorus hubs, Mavic Open Pros, Terry Butterfly saddle) and we're on our way for $1300.

Both Marin and Bianchi have excellent steel frames. Bianchis are more common and available so you may do better on no-cost/minmal cost upgrades. Good luck, you'll need it.