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Help decide: TREK 5200 or Colnago Master XL(18 posts)

Help decide: TREK 5200 or Colnago Master XLhrs
May 28, 2002 5:51 AM
Well, I made a mistake this weekend and took some bikes out for test rides.

I've just gotten into cycling, bought a late 80's Bianchi last fall, and have been enjoying it. I'm not even sure I should be buying a new bike right now, or improve my riding some more first.

Anyway, I went to the LBS Saturday and took three bikes out for test rides (about 4 miles each including hills, flats, and broken pavement). They were sized and adjusted for me before I hit the road. It would have been very easy if I had only ridden one bike. The first was a Bianchi XLBoron. It was great, smoother, lighter, better at climbing and descending, faster, more stable, etc. than my current bike...what a great bike, I was sold. Then I hopped on a Colnago Tecnos (they didn't have any Master XL's built up and said that it's basically the same bike). Wow! It made the Boron feel like a clunker. It definitely wasn't as smooth over rough pavement (and that's a major consideration), but there was no frame flex when mashing, power transmission was incredible. Then I hopped on the TREK. It felt good, powerful (but not as quick as the Colnago), climbed well, and oh so smooooottthhh. Not dead, I could still feel plenty going on with the road, but it soaked up the road irregularities very nicely.

So, it's between the TREK 5200 and Colnago Master XL, both would be built up with Campy Chorus and work out to be about the same price (the Colnago would be with a steel fork as it's a 2001, the Tecnos I road had a carbon fork on it). I was leaning heavily towards the Colnago, but I went for a ride later Saturday that covered a lot of rough pavement and was reminded that most of my rides involve at least a few miles on broken pavement.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

re: Help decide: TREK 5200 or Colnago Master XLJohnG
May 28, 2002 6:08 AM
Hmmmm..... these two bikes are reallllly quite different. DUH! Steel vs carbon..... doesn't get much different than that.

First off, if you weigh < 170# (or so) then the MXL will likely be a bit harsh for you. I had one and had to ditch it because it just rode way to rough for my 150# ass. I would NOT repeat NOT get the steel fork for any road Nago. The steel fork will roughen up the ride considerably. Bottom line here, DON'T order an MXL until you get a ride on one. Also, if you live where there's lots fo rain or salted roads I would also pass on the steel Nago.

IMHO, the carbon TREK will be a smoother (AND more muted) ride than any steel bike. If that appeals to you then..... ???

Good advice, and ....sprockets2
May 28, 2002 6:20 AM
the LBS guy who said the other Colnago was just like the Master was full of it. Different bike, different feel.
re: Help decide: TREK 5200 or Colnago Master XLslow-ron
May 28, 2002 6:28 AM
A well prepared steel frame will have no problems with road salt or rain.

Also disagree with your call on the steel fork for heavier riders. I find the strait bladed steel fork that Colnago makes to be very comfy vs carbon. I, however, weigh 50 lbs more than you. All depends on how much the poster weighs and what type of riding he's going to do.
Oops, I should have included that, I weigh 185 lbshrs
May 28, 2002 6:57 AM
I do individual training rides for general fitness, some group rides (big range...from me on up to some guys who regularly place in races), and might do a couple of sprint triathalons this year.

I live in eastern Massachusetts, so the road conditions can be quite mixed.

Thanks for the info on the steel fork, I figure if I go with the MXL I can always upgrade later.
Oops, I should have included that, I weigh 185 lbsPhatMatt
May 28, 2002 1:10 PM
Just my 2 cents here and I do not own either but on my previous ride I had a steel fork and my new ride I have a Carbon fork. I much perfer the carbon. Also see wat the cost of the upgrade is at the time of purchase. It is usually cheaper to swap parts now thatn to upgrade later.

Steel vs. carbon forks...woodes
May 28, 2002 7:15 AM
For my two road bikes I have a carbon fork (steel steerer) and a steel fork. Personally, I find the steel fork to be more comfortable than the carbon fork. The only penalty is that the steel fork weighs 1/2 pound more than the carbon fork. Over the past few years, there has been a real trend in favor of aluminum, ti, scandium, etc...and people forget how comfortable a steel frame/fork can be. I've ridden carbon bikes extensively, and currently own a steel frame and a Litespeed. In my opinion, nothing is more sure-footed, stable and smoother than a high quality steel bike.
Different bikes, tough call.djg
May 28, 2002 6:15 AM
The bikes you are considering are both good, and really quite different. The Trek is a bit lighter than the MXL, and certainly has properties that smooth out a bit of the road buzz. The MXL is likely a bit livelier of a ride (I'm speculating here: I have actually owned a 5200, which I replaced with a Colnago CT1, but I haven't been on any Colnago steel since back in the day). Frankly, if the pavement around you is really rough, you might do better by adjusting tire choice and tire pressure than by adjusting frame choice.

It's really a question of what you like. A couple of considerations come to mind:

First, sizing on the bikes is rather different. Colnago offers frames in 1 cm increments and Trek in 2 cm increments. Also, the nominal sizing works differently. I replaced a "56 cm" Trek with a "56 cm" Colnago. The Trek actually measured 54 cm from the c of the bb to the top of the top tube, while the Colnago measures just over 55 cm to the top of the top tube (Trek measures to the top of the seat tube collar, Colnago to the bottom of the seat tube collar). The Trek had about a 56 cm top tube, the Colnago about a 55. Frame angles too, were a bit different. All sorts of adjustments can be made, but I prefer my present set-up. I have no idea what you'll prefer, but it's worth thinking about the fit a bit.

Second: why the MXL over the Tecnos? If you're a larger rider, that's probably a good choice. Excellent, solid steel bike--should be pretty responsive and should last for ages. If you're smaller, or just light, you might prefer the lighter built tecnos. And why a steel fork? Nothing against the Precisa forks, but unless you are getting a great deal on a particular older frame/fork combination, you ought to be able to get a CF fork (at least CF legs) with any Colnago frame. Some folks swear by steel forks. I generally prefer CF forks. You prefer what you prefer, but at this level of expenditure you should be able to get what you want.

Really, if you are getting fit well to the bikes it is hard to argue with either choice. Go back and ride them again--longer if possible--and listen to what your gut (heart?) tells you.
another CT1 convert hereJohnG
May 28, 2002 6:30 AM
I've had my CT1 since early Feb and that frame is VERY sweet. Stiff, lively, and smooth. I was thinking of ordering a C40 but recently decided "what for?".

Good point about the weight differences. I should have mentioned that the 5200 would be a pound or two lighter than a steel framed Colnago. Not really significant unless you are competing or doing ulta long rides in the mountains.

ride on
Yeah, basically I'm curiousdjg
May 28, 2002 8:16 AM
enough about the C40 to have asked for a free one in the Bicycling Magazine web contest, but I honestly cannot think of anything I want out of a bike that I don't already have.
disagree with LBSslow-ron
May 28, 2002 6:20 AM
I don't think you should compare a Tecnos with a carbon fork to an MXL with a steel fork and assume that the ride is going to be the same. It could be close but there are many differences between the two. The MXL is made from a different tubing material, the profiles are different on the main triangle and I think the chain stays have different tube profiles. Add in a carbon to steel fork comparison.

That being said, if you're a big rider looking for a good all around bike I'd go with the MXL. Never ridden a TREK 5200 but the MXL I had with a Chorus group was excellent.
re: Help decide: TREK 5200 or Colnago Master XLgtx
May 28, 2002 6:41 AM
no real rush, you might try some other bikes. Obviously both are very high quality, so I'd say just get the one that will make you excited to ride. Most of the "ride quality" comes from geometry, fit and tire brand/width/inflation--were you riding the same tires on both bikes at the same psi? And how did the two bikes fit? You'll have a better chance of getting a good fit on the Colnago because they come in 1cm incriments, but then you might fit very well on the Trek, too. But I say take your time.
Technos is not the same as the MXLColnagoFE
May 28, 2002 7:20 AM
MXL is going to be a bit stiffer so if you think the Technos is stiff then the MXL may be too much for you--mind you at my 195 lbs it's just what I need, but maybe not if you like a really compliant bike. The Trek and Colnago will also have pretty different geometries. Did the LBS do a fit on you?
Geometries were definitely quite differenthrs
May 28, 2002 8:35 AM
The TREK actually felt a bit like the Bianchi, only better in every way (better climbing, better acceleration, more stable descending, better turning, smoother ride, etc.). While the Tecnos felt like another animal entirely. It begged to be ridden fast. It's hard to put into words, but while the TREK would do whatever I asked of it, the Colnago seemed as if it already know, also the fit seemed a bit better.

The LBS did fit me for both bikes, but just a rough fit...mostly seat height. Any of these bikes would be a huge improvement and clearly I really can't go wrong. Just wanted to get some more thoughts and make sure I'm pointed in the right direction. Thanks.
re: Help decide: TREK 5200 or Colnago Master XLkey
May 28, 2002 8:20 AM
For what its worth! I have a 2000 MXL-flash carbon fork, and a trek 5900. I love them both but each has advantages. The ride of both is great but on really long rides and if you have back issues the Trek carbon will probably be a little more forgiving. If you live for the downhill the Colnago is a deamon.

Honestly ride both and go with the one the feels best. Get the MXL with a carbon fork if thats your direction, the steel is just dated. BTW- I weigh 200lb, so dont let that be an issue.

You can't go wrong with either one.
I noticed that...hrs
May 28, 2002 8:40 AM
The TREK was good on descents, but the Colnago was on another level. I think I felt a lot of small vibrations with the Colnago, but most larger irregularities were muted quite well.
I noticed that...key
May 28, 2002 12:39 PM
absolutely true! The trek is lighter and might be better for climbling. But I would hate to pick between the two, I guess I'm am lucky I don't have to.

Tough choice.
re: Help decide: TREK 5200 or Colnago Master XLpa rider
May 29, 2002 4:04 AM
i'm late on this topic, but their is one other option. Since you like how the Colnoga rode then see if the Master XL rides the same. If your looking for something to smooth out the feel of road harsh you can go with a carbon seatpost.

I got one for my 2001 c-dale caad4 bike and notice a big change in the ride feel. I still have that stiff frame to make the bike feel lively, so get the bike that feels like you want to ride it. Sounds like it's the master XL for you.

Just saying that you can get a different seatpost (ti or carbon) that can help with road vibration. Steel doesn't ride as harsh as an aluminum bikes.