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Need pre-purchase testing advice(12 posts)

Need pre-purchase testing adviceCaseysdad
Jan 13, 2003 11:09 AM
I'm a long-time mountain biker preparing to step back into road riding after an extended absence. I'm taking a "do it once and do it right" approach to purchasing my road steed, so I'm anticipating making a significant investment. However, I also want to make an informed decision, so I'm planning on riding the widest possible range of frames, components, frame materials, geometries, etc. before I make a final decision. Still, with all the options that are available to me, I could use some help in narrowing down what might otherwise be an impossibly long list of test rides. I realize that this type of open-ended "what bike should I buy" question is nearly impossible to answer, so let me provide some basic info:

- I'm 6' 2" and weigh 200 - 210 lbs. (Hopefully less once I begin hitting the road with more frequency.)

- I anticipate that my riding style will be oriented more toward touring/distance riding than toward racing. (Perhaps 30-50 mile rides several times a week, with the occasional century thrown in.)

- I live in an area with moderately hilly terrain, so I'l be doing a fair amount of climbing - but nothing too extreme - on a regular basis.

- I'm definitely not a "sprinter" and I don't do a lot of out-of-the-seat climbing, though I do tend to gravitate toward occasionally "grinding" in the bigger gears, as opposed to Lance-style spinning. (Trying to change my ways, but old habits die hard...)

Given my anticipated riding style and preferences, my initial inclination is toward a titanium frame. Specifically, I'm looking seriously at a Merlin Extralight (or perhaps a Magia, should I opt to go with a compact geometry.) I realize that at this price point it's unlikely that I'll get a "bad" frame, per se, as long as the geometry and overall fit are well suited for me. However, all things being equal, I'm leaning toward titanium based on its reported durability and ride characteristics. That being said, I'll also be checking out steel, aluminum and carbon, as well as other ti frames. (Realistically, I think that I'll probably end up with either ti or steel, but I don't want to rule anything out until I've given it a chance.)

Given the basic information that I've provided here, can anyone suggest specific bikes that might be comparable to the Merlin (at least in terms of suitability for the type of riding that I'll be doing) that I might want to test ride?

Sorry for opening this particular can of worms, but thanks anyway for your input!
re: Need pre-purchase testing adviceMike-Wisc
Jan 13, 2003 11:26 AM
I don't think you "need" a Ti bike based on your stated uses of the bike. Apart from that probably the best way to test a bunch of bikes is to start hanging around group rides and ask a bunch of questions and see if anyone will let you borrow their bike for a few miles. Attend the recreational club rides if there are any in your area or region.

Now, if you want to go high-end I'd suggest a Bruce Gordon bike. Fully in the touring realm, but should do everything you want, including being in the high-end scheme of the world.
re: Need pre-purchase testing adviceNo_sprint
Jan 13, 2003 11:31 AM
Firstly, I wouldn't consider 30-50 milers with an occasional century *distance* or *touring* type riding. I do the same type of rides and consider myself a serious short distance rider. I've had many alu and steel rides. I've ridden Ti and Carbon. You've got your pick if you're looking at spending Merlin type dollars. It's really all about what you like at this point. I'd recommend sticking with something somewhat custom if you're spending those type big bucks unless you're sure of your size.
re: Need pre-purchase testing adviceKeeponTrekkin
Jan 13, 2003 11:54 AM
The builders don't tell you but for all its attributes, titanium with a brushed finish is a challenge to keep clean; it shows everything and is hard to clean without leaving smears, etc. Sealed finishes are lots easier to live with. BTW, same thing applies to stainless steel kitchen appliances; they get a water or grease spot and you have to clean the whole thing with special cleaner and surgically clean rags, etc., but that's another rant....
Delorean syndrome (nm)Mike-Wisc
Jan 13, 2003 12:02 PM
Jan 13, 2003 2:28 PM
Not true. Ti frames clean as easily as painted ones. Same procedure, same results.
Do you mean polished Ti?Kerry
Jan 13, 2003 5:01 PM
I find that brushed Ti wipes clean with a damp cloth, or at most a little bathroom cleaner and water. You may have problems with polished Ti, but the easy clean nature of brushed Ti is one of its significant benefits, IMO.
Lemon Pledge on brushed Ti = no smudges (and fresh scent). nmthe other Tim
Jan 13, 2003 5:31 PM
re: Need pre-purchase testing advicejaybird
Jan 13, 2003 12:01 PM
I went through the same ting last year. I am 6'3" 215ish. The bikes I considered were the Litespeed Tuscany, Look KG381i and the Merckx MXLeader. I rode all of them and there was not a bad ride in the bunch. The Look and the LS had a little smoother ride because of the carbon fork ( I think). The Merckx had the stiffest bottom bracket which I noticed when out of the saddle. But it I had a really tough time making up my mind but in the end I got the Look because I got the best deal on it but I know I would have been hapy with any of them.
re: Need pre-purchase testing adviceRob Sal
Jan 14, 2003 1:19 AM
If you want a Ti bike for durability etc good for you and if you can afford a Merlin then go for it, but at 210lbs I reckon the Extralight and the even lighter Magia would be too light for your weight and grinding style. I would go for a Cyrene or Litespeed Tuscany. Just because they are cheaper, doesn't mean its not as 'good'. The more expensive Merlins/Litespeeds have just had more work put in to getting the weight down in order to be the best tool for lightweight mountain climbing specialists.
re: Need pre-purchase testing adviceOverhill
Jan 14, 2003 9:15 AM
I did a fairly extensive search last fall, open to all frame materials. My riding is similar to yours, and I do some training rides with the local race group [I just try to hold on]. I was surprised that some bike shops would let me take a good test ride on these expensive bikes. I tried them over similar courses, and especially tested on hills and rougher pavement. I really liked the feel of the ti bikes--my favorite, and most available, were Merckx, Lemond, and Litespeed Tuscany. They are all very good, but I liked the Merckx best. Try as many as you can. Good luck.
re: Need pre-purchase testing advicePsalm 147-10_11
Jan 14, 2003 10:58 AM
I'm similar in size to you. 6'3" and weigh about 200 pounds too. I ride a Ti Merckx and am very happy with it. Before I bought it, I test rode Litespeed, Serotta and Merlin. The Merckx geometry was perfect for me as I have long femurs and a shortish upper body.

I really don't think you can go wrong with any of the bikes you've listed as long as they fit well. Consider having a fit kit done and then see if you can find a bike with the recommended geometry.