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Recommend a road bike for a mt. biker?(14 posts)

Recommend a road bike for a mt. biker?ferris
Oct 8, 2002 8:39 AM
I'll be in the market for my first road bike in the next month or so. I have 3 mt. bikes. Can anyone start me off in the right direction?

Here is what (I think) I'm looking for:
-mostly used for training on the road and on a trainer (i'm an expert level mt. racer)
-under $2500
-under 17 lbs
-eventually used for racing
Potential Can 'O Worms hereChiFlyer
Oct 8, 2002 9:00 AM
I am a mountain biker as well, and was recently looking for a road bike. I think with the budget you have, you have quite a selection to choose from. As with mountain bikes, road bikes come in all sorts of flavors, and it's just like picking a mountain bike, you have to get out and ride a few of them to figure out what is going to work for you. (After all, why do you have 3 mountain bikes? Cause choices are a good thing!). I ended up buying a higher end 2003 Giant road bike, mainly because I have one of their mountain bikes (NRS AIR) and have had excellent luck with dealer support and just plain like the ride. I haven't been disappointed.

One thing to be aware of is that there are compact frame road bikes, and non-compact. Like anything else having to do with design, there is a debate over what is "best". My pat answer is what fits you and what you like riding is whats best. (I bought a compact frame setup)

I think in your price range, you can pretty much pick and choose, although I don't know if you can break below 17 pounds for that money, but you could get close, and I am certain there are others here with far more road bike knowledge than I have that know specific models that meet that spec.

I will say I am glad I bought a road bike, as it had been a long time since I had ridden one, and while there are obviously similarities between mountain and road biking, there are also unique differences that I haven't appreciated enough until now. I wouldn't give up either.

Good Luck!
Lot to ask from one bike. . .js5280
Oct 8, 2002 9:34 AM
Comfortable, durable, light, $2500; pick any three. Under 17lbs is hitting extremely light. You're probably going to have to sacrifice frame stiffness/durability to bring the weight down which means it might not be ideal for racing especially if you over say 175 pounds. Also, a light bike isn't necessary for training. You'll get more benefit from a heavier one. A Trek 5500 or 5900 might fit the bill but probably not fit the budget unless you can get a close out. I think Giant makes great bikes at a great value, might want to check them out. Not sure how I'd feel racing a CF frame in a crit though. Comments anyone? I'd consider going used if you're versed in proper road bike fit. You'll get more bang for your buck and might be able to hit all 4 criteria. Personally I think you could get a new bike around a pound or two heavier which would serve you well, be race ready, comfortable, and fit your budget. Go used and you'll be able to do some upgrades and accessories for that budget.
Giant TCR 1 or 2 nmMXL02
Oct 8, 2002 9:47 AM
Check this.JS
Oct 8, 2002 9:52 AM
Firstly, your not gonna get under 17lbs with pedals for under $2500 simply because to do that your gonna have to have a very light set of wheels(ZIPP's etc) and that blows your budget. This Titus with Dura-Ace should come in the mid 17's which is more than anyone really needs. I ride the large with Dura-Ace and with my ZIPP racing wheels weighs 16.8lbs. My wheels retail for $1200.
more back ground info...ferris
Oct 8, 2002 10:00 AM
Thanks for getting the ball rolling.

I'm not sure if it matters but I'm 165#, 6'-2".
I don't know enough about road bikes to have an opinion on the compact frame issue.
Looking for a new bike that is upgradeable with quality wheels.
more back ground info...fbg111
Oct 8, 2002 10:52 AM
I just bought my first road bike about four months ago and have been trying to learn as much as I can about them. I've especially been collecting useful info on the compact vs. traditional frame design debate, and I'll share that with you since you're new. The claimed benefits of the compact design are:

1. use less material to build the frame, therefore lighter.
2. smaller rear triangle increases stiffness, which decreases frame flex, which decreases power lost to flex during each pedal stroke.
3. lower center of gravity b/c top tube and seat stays lower than on traditional frame.
4. lower standover height.
5. only need several standard frame sizes to fit most riders, rather than many different sizes as with traditional frames.
6. fewer frame sizes means cheaper manufacturing costs which are passed on to consumers (so far).
7. Compact allows shorter wheelbase.

Three of those have been effectively countered and negated:

1 & 3: Cannondale claims that even though compact frames reduce the amount of material used to make the frame, you have to make up for the lower seat tube and rear triangle with a longer seatpost. The longer seatpost negates any weight savings gained by the frame's less material. Therefore, it also negates the claimed lower center of gravity. Here's the article on that:

5: Traditional frames come in many sizes, usually in the range of 40's cm to 60's cm. For example, the Merlin Cielo comes in the following sizes: 49, 51, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 61cm. Compact frames on the other hand come in a few standard sizes. Giant bikes are Small, Medium, Large. The Merlin XL Compact comes in Small, Medium, Medium/Large, Large, Extra Large. You can see which design offers more fit options for different peoples' bodies. Compact is supposed to fit all bikers, with fine tuning adjustments to the seatpost length and stem length, however many bikers disagree with that. Enough people on this board alone prefer traditional frames, especially Italian traditional frames, b/c they claim they fit better.

Fit basically boils down to two aspects - height and length. Fitting height on a compact is probably easier than on a traditional, b/c all you have to do to get a good fit is first select the bike size in your body's general size neighborhood, then fine tune that with the correct seatpost length for your legs. Conversely, with a traditional you have to measure your inseam and then buy a frame that matches that inseam. That's why traditional frames must be made in many more sizes than compact frames.

However, the problem with Compacts is with length. Some people find that in order to fit a compact frame, they need a different stem length than is standard for that frame size. Shortenting the stem length also changes the bike's steering characteristics, sometimes for the worse. That's an issue I've seen pop up a few times on biking forums. Anyway, if the compact frame fits you, good. If not, try a different brand, or try a traditional.

That leaves #2,4,6,7. Higher stiffnes:weigh ratio of the frame (not including the seatpost), and lower standover height. Canondale claims they are good enough with aluminum tubing design to get the same stiffness in their traditional frames, and I believe them. But that doesn't negate the fact that the compact design has that distinct characteristic.

The standover height is an obvious, if small, advantage. Several mountain bikers have mentioned in the forum that they like this characteristic of compacts b/c it's similar to a mountain bike frame, and there is no need to fear hurting your groin on a dismount (although I doubt that happens much to experienced roadies anyway).

I haven't compared the costs of similar bikes with the same gruppos and components, so I can't vouch for the claim that an equivalent compact is cheaper than its counterpart tr
darn, got cut off. cont'd...fbg111
Oct 8, 2002 11:07 AM
I can't vouch for the claim that an equivalent compact is cheaper than its counterpart traditional due to fewer frame sizes being manufactured. However, based on my knowledge of economies of scale, its makes sense. Here's a review of the Trek 5200 vs. Giant TCR 1 that refers to this as well:

Finally, compacts tend to have slightly shorter wheelbases (afaik). That, combined with their rigid frame, makes a good sprint bike. However, compacts also tend to have lower bottom brackets, which means there is more chance of scraping your pedal on the ground when pedalling around corners. Traditional frames should therefore be able to corner better.

Essentially, you can ignore the compact vs. traditional debate. Both types are fine, and compacts may have a few small advantages, but nothing so overriding that you should rule out all non-compact frames. Priority #1 in buying a bike is finding the one that fits you best, be it a compact or a traditional frame.

Here are a few other compact vs. traditional discussions I've bookmarked:

Compact improves aerodynamics on downhills?

General discussion on compact benefits:
(scroll down to legs' post for good info on the benefits of compact from someone who has ridden a lot of both types)

Tom Kellogg (Merlin & Spectrum chief designer) on compact geometry:
re: Recommend a road bike for a mt. biker?fbg111
Oct 8, 2002 10:00 AM
Giant TCR Composite 1 meets your stated requirements perfectly.

$2499 at my lbs, weighs in at about 16lbs, same frame as the ONCE team rode in Tour de France (ONCE won the team classification & time trial on it), full Shimano Ultegra gruppo (next step down from top-of-the-line Dura-Ace gruppo), and a very nice ride. I recently stopped in to have my bike tuned. While I waited I test rode the Composite 1, and the ride was so soft compared to my aluminum Giant TCR2. The carbon is stiff, light, and absorbs road vibration very well, and the compact frame design improves the stiffness of the rear triangle, which helps reduce frame flex when standing and pedalling (esp. when climbing hills). Also, as a mountain biker you may appreciate the compact design since it's similar to a mountain bike frame. Top tube slopes down, giving you more standover room. You won't go wrong with this bike, although I'm sure there are other similar good ones (Trek composite's especially). Good luck, and enjoy whatever you end up with.
PS - RBR TCR Composite user reviews:fbg111
Oct 8, 2002 11:01 AM
A few peeps on this forum bought the TCR Composite recently. There are 3 versions - Composite 1, Composite 0, and Composite Team. All have the same frame, difference is components and gruppos. 1 has Shimano Ultegra gruppo, 0 has Shimano Dura-Ace, and Team has Campagnolo Record 10. Here's some reviews on the various models:

JohnG "TCR Composite review" 10/3/02 7:53am
Thanks for the info on the TCR C-1....ferris
Oct 8, 2002 11:44 AM
GREAT info, very much appreciated. That bike is the 1st one on my test ride list. Sounds like a 4/4.

I have a Giant (Cadex CFM-2) that was recently brought back to life as a 1x8 cruiser. 12 year old carbon frame and it's still kicking.
No problem...fbg111
Oct 8, 2002 12:40 PM
Wish someone had all this info compiled when I was shopping around! I actually bought a Giant OCR1 first, and after a month of riding I realized the TCR2 was more what I needed. It's a better racer and lighter, but I didn't discover that until after I bought the OCR1. My lbs has great customer service, and part of their purchase contract includes a 30 day "test ride". If you don't like the bike, return it for a full refund. That allowed me to exchange the OCR1 for the TCR2 and only have to pay the retail cost difference. Very cool. I therefore highly recommend buying from a good lbs with similar policies (at least if you're not confident in your ability to judge which bike is best for you based only on short test rides around the block).
Race ready machine for alot less...853
Oct 8, 2002 12:56 PM
Check out the spec's on this bike no need to up-grade anything. Full columbus tubing, compact geometry, Mavik kysirium elites you don't need anything else. Built up in a medium 17lbs.
My LBS is selling these for about $1600-1700 I can't remember correctly.
Less expensive b/c aluminum frame...fbg111
Oct 8, 2002 2:18 PM
There are plenty of bikes like that from lots of different manufactures. Aluminum frame with carbon seat stays. Definitely cheaper than a full carbon bike, but is the ride as nice?