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What bike to buy for $4000?(50 posts)

What bike to buy for $4000?Rich_021
Nov 13, 2002 5:32 PM
I am a mountain bike rider and want to get a road bike. I am a sport mountain bike rider who race occasionally. I want to get a road bike next month. What is best buy for $4000. I want a good bike that I can race. Even though I will be a beginner as far as road riding, I want a race ready bike that I would not have to upgrade. I was thinking of Look 386, Litespeed, or an Airborne Manhattan Project. I am leaning more to the Airborne due to price and customization. What do you all think? Thanks any suggestions will do.
Nov 13, 2002 5:42 PM
there arent many ways to go wrong with $4000.
re: What bike to buy for $4000?PMC
Nov 13, 2002 6:13 PM
Check in with

Gary has some great deals this time of year. You could go way under 4 grand and still end up with a dream bike.
re: What bike to buy for $4000?tremblay
Nov 13, 2002 6:35 PM
If you're going to spend $4000, get something special.

May I suggest staying away from Airborne? This might get flames, but I don't care. Airborne would be my last choice if I had $4000 to spend on a bike. For that amount of money, I would buy a CF Trek, a fancy Cannondale, or almost anything from Europe or Italy.

Just my opinion...
something special?DaveG
Nov 13, 2002 6:52 PM
I agree that $4000 should buy something special, but a Trek or 'Dale? Sure they are good bikes, but you would only be the millionth person on your block to have one of those. For $4K I'd be looking at a Richard Sachs or comparable, but that just an opinion.
very good point. nm.tremblay
Nov 13, 2002 9:15 PM
Could not agree with you more!!Ligon
Nov 14, 2002 7:47 AM
I ride a Dale, but if I would have had $4000 to spend I can assure you that I would have bought something a little more flashy and unique. Look at Merckx, Colnago, DeRosa, Pinerello, Calfee, Serotta ect. If you got that much money to drop on a bike you should buy something that not a lot of people have. With any of the bikes listed above you are going to get superior build quality, ride quality, and some of the most beautiful piant jobs available. Just my personal opinion. Don't get me wrong, I love my dale and personally think that is a very nice bike. However, if I had a larger budget to work with I am not sure that it is what I would have bought. Anyway, good luck with your purchase.

I still don't get it...outofthesaddle
Nov 14, 2002 9:42 AM
I don't understand the idea that Trek makes inferior bikes because they sell a bunch of them. Trek's 5900 and the Colnago C40 have similar materials, weigh about the same and can be had for about the same price. However, the frames have significantly different geometries. The choice between them comes down to body type and fit as opposed to what the other guy is riding. My two cents.
Richard Sachs? IF? What's the big deal about boutique builders?elviento
Nov 14, 2002 9:50 AM
I am pretty confident boutique builders don't have the technological know-how or R&D capacity of a major manufacturer.

The only benefit is exclusivity, i.e., the fact that not many people have them. That's it. Going for exclusivity is fine, just don't fool yourself into thinking they are actually superior than a cheap mass made frame (such as a CAAD4) with words like "soul", "art", etc.

Just imagine if Trek 5900 is made by someone stuck in a small factory taking special orders and building 200 frames a year with less chunky decals, then the price would be way up even without lance using it...
Richard Sachs? IF? What's the big deal about boutique builders?e-RICHIE
Nov 14, 2002 10:04 AM
"I am pretty confident boutique builders don't have the technological know-how or R&D capacity of a major manufacturer."


technology is a substitute for experience?

Don't mention Richard Sachs(God) and IF in the same sentence. NMSpunout
Nov 14, 2002 10:15 AM
Different point...outofthesaddle
Nov 14, 2002 10:24 AM
My point wasn't that Trek bikes were "better" because Trek is a big company with lots of R&D dollars, etc. It was simply that they aren't "worse" than other frames just because lots of people own them. The things that makes a bike "better" for a particular rider ought to be independent of what other people are doing.
Richard Sachs? IF? What's the big deal about boutique builders?e-RICHIE
Nov 14, 2002 10:46 AM

in essence, 'they' cannot do what 'we' do, and 'we' cannot do what 'they' do. but, in the production/manufacturing arena, the task of the R+D folks as well as the general theme 'of it all' is to make the most units at the lowest cost, irrespectiive of price point. furthermore, many of the choices are made to mask the compromises endemic to mass produced and even low volume manufacturing.

on the other hand, if you're trying to be judgemental of one-man shops or 'boutique' (your word choice) makers, i'd love to hear your point of view when a major manufacturer with an R+D department bigger than my county, (and a pro team bicycle supplier to boot), decides to co-opt smallness and exclusivity...
i refer you to the $12,000 C'dale, made in limited numbers by 'craftsmen', currently exposed in the december issue of The Robb Report magazine...

Well . . .djg
Nov 14, 2002 1:25 PM
Although there's a grain of truth to that, you need to keep in mind that there's some fairly sophisticated technology in terms of tubeset design and manufacture that boutique builders can buy off the shelf. That's true both of steel tubesets such as Sachs uses and more "exotic" materials. Keep in mind too that much of the design of the modern bicycle has been refined, in part through systematic research and in VERY large part through ad hoc trial and error. A boutique builder does not start at square one. And neither does Trek.

A smalll builder can take off-the-shelf technology (picking and choosing from among them--or even asking for a variation based on high-level performance or manufacture requirements rather than low-level formulation requirements) and build something that--at least on the builder's model--is tailor made for the measurements, weight, riding style and preferences, etc., of a given rider. That's not guaranteed to give you what you want. But it's at least a stab at offering you some different performance features than you get with a large manufacturer, and not just degraded ones.

As for fine finish details, craftsmanship, whatever--certainly some might appreciate this even if not everyone does (or does to the same extent or in the same fashion).

Beats me, I don't own a Sachs or any custom bike for that matter and I rather like what I'm riding. But I don't think boutique/custom is necessarily pointless, even though I don't know what it would mean to attribute a "soul" to a bicycle and I'm disinclined to view bikes, cool as they are, as art in any case.
superiority has many facetsDaveG
Nov 14, 2002 2:52 PM
I never suggested that a Sachs or other "boutique" builder is better from a pure performance perspective than a Trek, Dale, etc. However, I think there are many ways to judge bikes, including esthetics and yes, "soul". If I'm going to spend $4K I want craftmanship, beauty, and soul, even if they don't make the bike any faster. Others can have different views. Why spend $4K on a "cheap mass produced frame".
re: What bike to buy for $4000?bsdc
Nov 13, 2002 8:20 PM
Since when did Airborne fall below Trek and Cannondale on the snob-o-meter?
re: What bike to buy for $4000?tremblay
Nov 13, 2002 9:15 PM
Very good question. You've got me.

Like I said, it's and opinion. A bad one a that. My personal choice would be a Look, LeMond, Colnago, Pinarello, etc etc etc long before a Trek or Cannondale.
re: What bike to buy for $4000?bsdc
Nov 14, 2002 5:20 AM
There we go ... only European bikes and some custom American "Steel is Real" bikes can look down on Chinese welded titanium. We'll let LeMond sneak in here, too. He did win the Tour de France. If we don't keep order here, we'll have total anarchy ... People will be riding around on their Shimano equiped Univega's thinking they have any chance of being cool ... just because they shave their legs and refuse to use helmet mirrors.
Agree about Airborne.djg
Nov 14, 2002 6:49 AM
I've got nothing against Airborne--if you like it, and it fits, and it provides what you want at your price point, then what the heck. But the idea that it's customizable seems to me to be a mistake. The frame is not custom built to fit you. That may be fine, as you may not need a custom frame. At the same time, they offer relatively few frame sizes, so fit might really be an issue. And although their web site allows you to swap bits of spec in and out you should know that: (a) you can do this with almost any high end road bike; and (b) the swaps add up--in the end you can end up paying a lot for the parts you hang on their frames. At the price they charge for a well equipped Manhattan Project (substantially an unknown--they haven't been around that long and I doubt you'll find many owners to talk to) you can really look at all sorts of things in steel, AL, Ti, Carbon, or some mix. Custom or off the peg. Traditional or hi-tech. US or Italy (or France, etc). Whatever floats your boat.

Rather than just ask for great bike suggestions, you might try getting a good fitting done first, to see if there's a geometry that appears to suit you (or not) and maybe winnow the field a bit. Also, there are lots of excellent bikes that are different from each other. It's hard to come in blind and know what your ideal road bike offers. One solution is to buy something that fits that's inexpensive, ride it for a season and get some good sense of what you'd like to find different in a better bike. On the other hand, if you want to jump in--it's your coin--there are lots of good deals this time of year. You might have a long talk with a knowledgeable (not just anybody) LBS person--someone who's been around--about your strengths and weaknesses, preferences and dislikes, in MTBs. It's not likely to give an exact translation but it could also help narrow the field a little bit. And try to do some test rides if you can manage it--longer is better--to see how you feel about different sorts of things.
Agree about Airborne.pmf1
Nov 14, 2002 7:09 AM
I've looked at the Airborne website and IMO, their component offerings are rather limited. For the most part, a $4000 bike involves choosing a frame and exactly what you want on it. Airborne limits you to what they choose to sell.

Personally, Airborne has always struck me as more of an interesting marketing concept than an interesting product.
re: What bike to buy for $4000?B2
Nov 13, 2002 6:40 PM
If you're willing to spend $4K, how about a C40 with Record and Ksyriums. That's about what it will cost through Maestro.

Seriously, there's got to be a zillion options in that price range. You name it!

I was just about to suggest the same thing.Bonked
Nov 13, 2002 7:19 PM
The Maestro is great, just got my C40 yesterday (see my other post). He has great prices on bikes other than Colnagos as well and is definitely worth checking out if you are in the market for a top-end bike.
I second that!Kami
Nov 13, 2002 8:07 PM
C40 with Record.

But on the other hand, if you aren't a serious racer, then why are you spending 4k on a bike? You could get a very good bike for half that, and besides the fact that you'll have the nicest bike in your neighborhood, do you really need that much bike?

Anyway, I'm just thinking out loud... The C40 is the Ferrari of the bike world! However, make sure that the geometry fits you, or any bike will feel like crap. Especially road bikes.
re: What bike to buy for $4000?kai-ming
Nov 13, 2002 6:58 PM
I don't understand everybody say C40 or european bike. C40 has 1" steerer which is not up to date. Giant TCR composite is my choice plus Record if you wish to spend. (you can thank me later) -nmTig
Nov 13, 2002 7:45 PM
re: What bike to buy for $4000?ol
Nov 13, 2002 7:45 PM
Litespeed Vortex with dura-ace. Will outlive a colnago anyday.
Everybody is right!Dad Man Walking
Nov 13, 2002 8:37 PM
Think "best of breed." If you want carbon fiber, check out the Calfee (my personal choice). If you want steel, try a Sachs, Columbine, Eisentraut, or one of the other U.S. masters. If you want Ti, it's hard to beat the top-end Lightspeeds.

Then again, for that kind of dough you could buy two bikes (out of different materials) and get double the grins. How about a Calfee Luna road bike and a steel fixed gear on the side? If you are a fat, 40-ish ex-athlete (like me), then "bike as art" and "zen" matter. If you are thinking about racing, think "bike as equipment" and plan on replacing parts. You'll chew up tires and chains quicker, but every other part on the bike, frame included, could be considered a "consumable."

Jeeze...what a problem to have.
merckx sc, pinarello prince, strong custom...(nm)legs
Nov 13, 2002 10:35 PM
Waityeah right
Nov 13, 2002 11:43 PM
If you've got $4k and not sure what you want, hold on, don't spend it.

With 4k, you're almost in the range of "if you have to ask..."

Learn more about roadbikes, and what fits instead of making a big commitment (more than you need to, that's for sure).

IMO the best race bikes are cheapo aluminum frames that get tossed while my year round bike is steel.

Sport class corresponds to somewhere cat 4ish maybe (at least from what I see around here), and not many cat 4s roll $4k bikes.

Anyway, something to think about, although all of those bikes would be far, far down on my list.
Klein Q Pro Carbon!!!Ride-Fly
Nov 14, 2002 12:01 AM
$3500 retail. If you want to get a good deal, check out and check out there the Pinarello Prince, DeRosa Merak, or the blowouts on the Team Lampre Daiken Fondriest Carb Level or Top Level. They are all about $3200-$3600.
cart b4 the horseSteve_0
Nov 14, 2002 4:07 AM
I can understand someone laying down that amount of cash for the bike they know they want (Would never do it, mind you, but can understand it), but dont just throw cash away when you dont even know what you want.

As a beginner, you'll never know the difference between a 1200 dollar bike and a 4000 dollar bike. Save 3 grand. Invest in your kids education. Buy the wife a ring. Go to Europe for a month. If, in 5 years you 'need' the upgrade, you can always do it then. Odds are, even if you bought a 4000 dollar bike, you'll want a new one in 5 years anyway.
I'm no racer, but from what I understand you want 2 bikes.Scot_Gore
Nov 14, 2002 4:43 AM
If you want to get into racing, but havn't done it in the past, that means starting off in crash 5...I mean cat 5. Do you want your $4K bike skidding across the pavement because "that guy" decided there was plenty of room to go on the inside of the turn. Get a used inexpensive AL bike to race and a sub $4K bike in the material, geometry, and componentry that appeals to you.

my 2 cents

Nov 14, 2002 4:49 AM
Spend $2,500. Use the rest for charity or something. (nm)Spunout
Nov 14, 2002 4:54 AM
You need to drool morepmf1
Nov 14, 2002 5:05 AM
I have a couple bikes that are worth over $4000. I didn't get on this, or any other forum, and ask everyone "gee what bike should I buy for $4000+". I knew what I wanted it and bought it. All you'll get is a bunch of testimonials that "I have a X and its the best bike in the world, get one".

If you don't know, then you shouldn't be spending that kind of money on a bike. And that kind of money burning a hole in your pocket is a sure recipe for paying too much for whatever it is you decide to buy.

My advice would be to spend $2000 on a mid line bike with decent components (e.g., Ultegra or whatever is below Chorus). Better yet, find a used one for $1500 in your size. Get out and ride it. You may not even like road riding (doubtful). If you don't, you have $2000 to put toward mtn bike stuff. An extra $2000 on a road bike will not win you any races. A used Lemond Zurich will cross the line at the same time as a Derosa King under the same rider. After you have lusted and drooled over various high priced bikes, and have some you'll have some idea of what good deals are on them, then get the $4000 bike. Keep the first bike to use for commuting and rain riding.
"yeah right" and "pmf1" are absolutely correctAllez Rouge
Nov 14, 2002 5:24 AM
If you have $4000 to spend on a first road bike, but have to come to a board like this to ask what you should buy, you're not ready to spend $4000 on a road bike.

The first thing you need to do is educate yourself about what's out there -- and at your price level, there will be MANY options available to you that most first-time buyers cannot consider simply because they cannot afford them. The second thing you need to do is get out to some shops, lots of shops, and ride some bikes, lots of bikes. Third, you need to sit and think, long and hard, about what you are about to do, because you do NOT want to make a $4000 mistake.

In the short time I've been on this forum, I have learned that there are a lot of very experienced and highly knowledgable cyclists here. And it's perfectly fine to seek out opinions here, or anywhere else. Even so -- and I mean no offense to anyone here when I say this -- if you spend $4000 on a particular high-end bicycle because some person or persons here told you that's what you should buy, that would be the dumbest thing you could possibly do.
re: What bike to buy for $4000?chuckjg
Nov 14, 2002 6:08 AM
I've got a manhattan project and love it. The welds are on par with any merlin,litespeed etc. It's a good ride and with their warranty program you can't go wrong. The warranty is better than the other ti bike makers.

I also have a Trek 5900 but not enough miles on it yet to form a very educated opinion. So far it seems like the power transfer is instant and of course super-light. I weighed all the options and looked at Calfee, C-40's,Pinarello Prince etc. For my money, I want a company that stands behind it's product and offers a killer warranty. That being said, the C-40 was out b/c only a 2 year warranty and the same for the Prince and Team SC Merckx. After weeding out those, I was left looking at the Trek 5900 and the Calfee. Calfee is definitely a great bike but the wait time for delivery can be months.

I ended up buying the 5900 off of ebay (new frame) and a DA group from the classified here. By the time it was built I have about $2500 in it. The Airborne MP I paid $3200 with Ultegra and upgraded to DA later. I say ignore the euro elitist and those who won't ride a Trek because everyone has one. They sell so many bikes because they are good and they stand behind their products.

I will answer any ?'s you have about either products
For $4k if you're not getting custom you're wasting your money,altidude
Nov 14, 2002 6:41 AM
For $4k if you're not getting custom you're wasting your money,wacomme
Nov 14, 2002 7:37 AM
I second that. Name brand cars are the way to go. Custom cars are too expensive. I would love the look of a Ferrari, the road feel of a BMW and the excitement of a Porsche all rolled into one, but custom cars are just too dang expensive. However, custom bikes are affordable. Do yourself a favor and find a good, local, frame builder that can build a bike to your particular wants and needs.
why spend 4K on your first bike?_rt_
Nov 14, 2002 7:29 AM
that seems a bit excessive to me. would you have spent 4K on your first mtb?

there are some very nice bikes at the ~$1500 pricepoint. why not start there and find out more about what you're looking for in a bike and what your riding style is before going nuts & dropping a small fortune on the "perfect" ride? you may find that you prefer centuries & endurance rides over crits and circuit races. or maybe you'll prefer time trials. wouldn't you be bummed if you dropped $4K on a bike that was great for a type of riding you don't enjoy? unless you have unlimited disposable income, in which case, buy whatever suits your fancy.

i raced for 3 seasons on my first road bike (a $1500 Bianchi) and when i bought my current bike i had a good idea of what i was looking for: shorter toptube, better climbing, something to soak up the jitters on centuries & longer rides....i didn't know any of this when i bought the bianchi. (btw, my first love is mtb'ing and i also race sport)

good luck with your search.

rt - my $0.02 fwiw
why spend 4K on your first bike?peter1
Nov 14, 2002 3:55 PM
<<"why spend 4K on your first bike?"
that seems a bit excessive to me. would you have spent 4K on your first mtb? >>

You can actually SAVE money by spending a lot up front. As a longtime mountain biker who trained a lot on the road, I knew I would love road riding. I saved for a year or so, then bought a $3k bike. Figured it was better than dropping $1,000 on a low-end bike I'd want to replace in a year anyway. Or, for that matter, buying a good used bike that did'nt quite fit.

If I'd bought the mountain bike I wanted when I first got serious in 1994 (A Litespeed, when they were still exotic), I'd be riding it today. Instead, I saved money at the time on a mid-range bike but wound up "upgrading" to a more raceworthy bike a few years later.

Let me tell you, if I'd spent 4k on my first mtb, I'd have SAVED money since then...(of course, I didn't have that kind of money, but if I had it)
only if you know exactly what you want...._rt_
Nov 15, 2002 6:13 AM
which most people don't when buying their first bike. as such, for most people (obviously you are not most people) spending 4K on their first bike would not save them money. i know it would not have saved me money. in my first few years of riding i learned a lot about the type of rider i am and the type of rider i want to be.

also, the ~$1500 pricepoint should get you a lot more than a "low-end" bike. it should get you a decent mid-range bike with at least some Ultegra level componentry. for someone like the poster who asked the question, this would be more bike than he/she probably needs for now.

rt - just my $0.02
Don't yetmanicoti
Nov 14, 2002 8:28 AM
Learn about road bikes, what you want, how you will be riding, conditions, styles, etc., and then go out and spend around $2000. More if you see fit, less if you don't. Test ride, test ride, test ride. Price means nothing if the bike doesn't fit. I have a 2001 Klein Quantum Pro that I got on sale for $1850, and even though I race, it may be too much for me. The bike does not make the rider. Besides, you need money for shoes, jerseys, shorts, helmet, glasses, and all that other fun kit that you'll find that you really do need.
Look 386 etc.Look381i
Nov 14, 2002 8:51 AM
I think you'd find any of the upper level Look carbon offerings to be excellent. My only personal experience on Looks is the 381i, which I find to be the best combination of comfort, efficiency and liveliness of any bike I've ridden (I also have Neuron steel and Airplane aluminum and have had a ti bike in the past) but reviews on the 386 and 361 are also usually very complimentary. Of course, many pro teams have ridden Looks successfully for years, and Kelme went to the 86-style frames this past season, all of which is some indication of quality and durability.

Looks are available from Total Cycling, among others, at discount. You could have a 386 built up with Record and Eurus, Neutrons or Ksyriums and come in well under $4000.

Of course, a bike that fits well will be a better bike than one that doesn't, no matter what the materials (within reason) , so do your best to attend to that issue. That being said, my experience is that normally proportioned folks can find a well-fitting frame from just about any frame company, so long as the seatpost, saddle, stem, and bars are well chosen.
Buy two bikes (and stuff)Ouch
Nov 14, 2002 10:00 AM
One for $700 and the other for $2800. The $1000 will be your rain/commuting bike. The $2800 bike will be your fair weather race bike.

The extra $500 will be for road related stuff (shoes, pedals, spiffy euro-team jerseys and shorts, subscription to Cycle Sport magazine, blank VCR tapes to record all the spring classics and the Giro d'Italia off OLN etc...)
I think we've been trolled. This is ridiculous. (nm)Spunout
Nov 14, 2002 10:17 AM
I was thinking the same, but you hate to jump to that conclusion (nm)Scot_Gore
Nov 14, 2002 11:48 AM
Bah, I've jumped to larger conclusions before :-P (nm)Spunout
Nov 14, 2002 12:40 PM
re: What bike to buy for $4000?j-son
Nov 14, 2002 12:47 PM
Why would a beginner spend $4,000 on a first bike? Even if you are an experienced mountain biker, road riding is a different beast all together. I'd say buy a nice solid $1,200 bike from one of the major brands and ride it a few years. And then, if road riding is indeed your thing, drop major coin on a truly top end bike.

But if you simply must spend $4K, get a Richard Sachs. And if you have to ask why, you probably wouldn't understand anyway.

Best of luck. Hope you like riding the road.
Nov 14, 2002 4:35 PM
Record 10 group, a good headset, a nice pair of handbuilt wheels for training (think about saving for a set of race wheels later), and a few extra tires and tubes...good road tires wear fast and they always seem to become glass, staple magnets. Whatever is left after all that, buy the best frame that Pinarello makes...all of their frames are race worthy...and enjoy =)