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Need advice on first road bike(14 posts)

Need advice on first road bikeJulz
Mar 1, 2003 2:21 PM
I am a solid, competent mountain biker and am looking at road bikes for the first time, so I could use any advice/input on the following... I will be riding for fitness, some group/charity rides, and (maybe?) short tours. I want comfort, easy, accurate handling (no twitchy stuff), light weight, and reliable components.

Looking at:
Specialized Allez Elite,
Giant TCR 2,
Giant OCR 1,
C'dale R600,
C'dale R800,

To me, the Giants and the Specializeds seem to be very good values for the price - specifically, 105 components (I have heard bad things about Tiagra) - and I like the idea of the compact frames, particularly since I am 5'4". The C'dales are just darn pretty, and have curved seatstays and pretty wheelsets - but I don't know about their components. It is still dead winter here, so have not had a test ride yet. There are not many reviews available yet on these 2003s. Also, are there any others in this range that I should check out? These are the brands that the most reputable shop in my area stocks. Thanks for any input!
Mar 1, 2003 2:35 PM
IMHO, it often comes down to budget. It looks as if you are prepared to spend a few bucks. My friend just bought a Team Fuji with full Ultegra for $1100. The bike feels like it is in the 17lb range and comes with great components.

Here's the url

I would stay away from Tiagra. 105 is good - not much different than Ultegra. In mtb terms:

105 = Deore
Ultegra = XT
Dura Ace = XTR

My preference is Ultegra. The bikes you listed are fine as well. Now's the time to make a deal with your local shop. However, I honestly believe that Fuji cannot be beat...
Mar 1, 2003 3:48 PM
Jose - Thanks for explaining component equivalents! I have all XT on my mt. bike, plus a few upgrades.

After speaking with a few folks, I think I can get a really decent bike for about $1200, give or take (less is always a great option!). So that's what I'm targeting. I don't think anyone nearby deals in Fuji, but I will check the site! Ultegra would be nice for that price...
specialized allez elite for sale!rrjc5488
Mar 1, 2003 5:46 PM
Hi, i have a specialized allez elite (sz 48) that has been in my basement for about 3 months that I've been meaning to sell, it is all 105, except for the ultegra rear derailer and brake calipers... its got 240 miles on it TOPS, the comp says 235. It has three small scratches: one on the downtube, and two on the top tube. e-mail me at if you have questions, or if you're interested. Thanks and good luck!
if you do hook up a saleFrith
Mar 2, 2003 6:14 AM
You should do it through the rbr classifieds as a token gesture. Won't cost you much and keeps this site alive. Selling your bike on the forum brings up a moral issue you may or may not decide to consider.
Mar 1, 2003 6:22 PM
I have a GT Zaskar with full XT, SID SL's, avid mech's, and a few other goodies. Your tastes sound a lot like mine. Thus, I would recommend Ultegra.

However, if you check out the specs the weight savings (105 vs Ult)is not very dramatic. Forgetting aesthetic qualities 105 is probably the most bang for your buck. It's your call. IMHO, looks count (a bit) and I really prefer Ultegra.

I would give consideration to the Fuji. Cannondale is a great bike, no doubt. The Fuji has great components. You would have to pay for shipping and buy pedals. The ONLY problem with the bike is a second rate saddle.

If you are buying pedals I would go with Speedplay - great freedom for your knees. I know a few people who have Time Alium's on their road and mtb - save yourself the cost of shoes.

Also, keep in mind the word on the street is that Shimano is about to go to 10 speed (watch Lance this July). This should make for great deals on 9 speed groups.

Additionally, I heard (cannot confirm) that Cannondale is going bankrupt. Not to worry they won't be going anywhere. I heard their jump in to the motorcycle market really hurt them. Maybe you will find a good deal on Cannondales?

Best of Luck - keep us informed...
Mar 1, 2003 7:17 PM
A quick point since you brought up Shimano going 10 speed and Shimano's history with upgrades...
Shimano does things this way across the board with both road and mountain groups...

Shimano is indeed prototyping a 10 speed drivetrain for the pros in Europe this year. If all goes well, it will hit the market as Dura-Ace in 2004. It will hit in the Ultegra and maybe 105 lines in 2005, but not sooner. It will be only Dura-Ace the first year... then the trickle down will happen. When Shimano went 9 speed in road groups, it was Dura-Ace one year, Ultegra the next, 105 after that.

Same as XTR. The changes hit this year... XT will change next year... LX will change in 2005.

So if you are looking at a 105 bike, don't worry, it won't change at all until 2005 if Shimano follows their well set trend. In fact, it they change D-A to 10 speed, you can guarantee 105 won't change at all for 2 years at least.

Mar 1, 2003 3:56 PM
Isn't the comparison:

Dura ace = XTR
Ultegra = XT
105 = LX
Tiagra = Deore
Sora = Acera
some advice, take it or leave it...russw19
Mar 1, 2003 5:57 PM
Julz, the thing with the Cannondales is that they are US built. I have no idea about the Specialized or the Giants, so I am not saying they are or aren't, I just don't know, but that's a lot of where your money goes on a Cannondale... US workmanship. Truth is, the Taiwan bikes are nice, and the labor there is cheaper, so the bikes are cheaper. And they are nice....

As for what you are describing as your intended riding, I would recommend you go for a steel frame. A nice Reynolds 853 frame. If you are doing rec rides and possible touring, you may like the softer feel a bit more. Also, from my experience a lot of guys and gals coming from the MTB scene to the road scene for the first time like slightly softer frames than the other way around. You are already used to suspension and big tires... stiff bikes may give you a beating you are not expecting over a long ride. Once the weather breaks in your area, borrow a friends road bike and ride it for a 2 hour ride and see what you think... it's a different world and sometimes is a shock to some. Either that, or ask the shop if you can test ride the bike for a 20 mile ride. If they are a good shop and really care about their customers buying the right bike, they won't have a problem with that. They may just make you leave a license or credit card. Take the bike out for an hour at least. A 10 minute test ride really won't tell you anything more than how comfortable the bike will be for the first 10 minutes you own it.
As for components, go 105 or higher. You already ride, so I am sure you know that in the bike industry, you get what you pay for. A full 105 bike should still be in your budget, so go fo it. It's nice stuff. I wouldn't race on it, but anything other than that, it's fine. Also, at the price you are looking, look for a conventional wheelset. Don't buy a bike with Rolf wheels on it. Save your money. If you are looking for long term reliability, steer clear of fad wheels and paired spoke designs. They are not that strong, not that aero, and not that light... but they will cost you money. Get a bike with a basic 105 hub and maybe a Mavic CPX33 rim. You can't go wrong there. And when you break your first spoke becuase you tend to still ride like a MTB'r, you won't care because you can fix it. Rolf's and Bontrager wheels, and all the other paired spoke designs, have a nasty tendency to fail as the first spoke goes. They are high tension wheels and once the tension is released (when you break a spoke) the wheels have a high rate of failure. That translates to big money. Buy a set of those wheels later as your second set, but don't get a bike with those as your only's too risky. (that advice comes to you from 14 years of working in shops as well as being a pro team mechanic in Europe for 2 years, so I know what I am talking about)
As for compact frames... it's a fashion fad. At that level at least. You won't see any of the hyped benifits of compact frames at that price. The only reason you will see a compact frame is it allows the manufacturer to make 5 frame sizes instead of 9 saving them money on tooling costs. There is no other advantage at that price point, no matter how much slick talk a salesman gives you in the shop, or the ads in the magazines say. We are not talking about a Litespeed Ghiasallo here, we're talking $1200 bikes. So that said, don't make that a limiting factor for buying a bike. Ride it and go comfort and fit above all else. If the compact Giant fits you and is comfy, cool, if not, get something else. If you are looking at the 2003 Cannondale line, see if the shop will swap those Gipiemme wheels out for a nice handbuilt 105 hub Mavic Rim wheel. Those Gipiemme wheels suck. I have seen them on other bikes and they are nothing more than flashy looking. They are heavy, ride like bricks, and a pain to true. You can't go wrong with a nice set of hand built wheels if your wheelbuilder is good. Other than that, the R800 is mostly shimano 105, w
some advice, take it or leave it...Julz
Mar 2, 2003 12:16 PM
Thanks so much for all the specifics and the education. I have a lot to consider now. Of course, early March in NH is a good time to be reviewing catalogs, etc. (it's snowing right now...)!

Re: "US made", it's usually me telling folks "cheap is never cheap - someone, somewhere is paying for it with lousy wages, bad working conditions or a trashed environment" - so thanks for the reminder! I appreciate the comment on steel vs. aluminum. A plusher ride might be a good thing, considering my background - I did not think it would be that noticeable. Unfortunately, I think C'dales are only aluminum (shop was out of catalogs, so I have to go on-line to check all specs). But if the C'dale fits/feels the best, I will definitely check into different wheels - I don't need any fickle spokes or heavy wheels on my bike, that's for sure. I'll be sure to check the Reynolds frame, too.

In short, I'll be doing a lot of test rides as soon as the snow is off the roads...

Thanks again for your time!
some advice, take it or leave it...russw19
Mar 2, 2003 4:46 PM
Hey Julz, Cannondale only makes Aluminum frames. They dabbled a bit with Carbon in the 90's and even made the Raven, but it's strictly Aluminum now.
A good builder of moderate priced Reynolds 853 frames is LeMond. I think my last message actually got cut off, but I went into a little detail about LeMond and Trek (same company, as well as Klein, Fisher, Bontrager, and a few more... all Trek owned)
I personally love stiff bikes. I used to have a Cannondale Cad 3 frame (still in my closet actually) and I now have a Pinarello Paris (aluminum) and a Colnago Ovalmaster (Ti)and my mountain bike is a Rocky Mountain Vertex TO hardtail. And I ride at 60 psi in the tires on it, so I like the feeling of stiffness in my bikes. But all that is just my personal preferences and opinions. Test ride them all and see what you like.
You mentioned you may like to do long distance rides and tours, so you may want to look for a slightly less stiff bike. Also you mentioned comfort in you first post as well as stable handling and untwichy steering. You may want to look at a LeMond. They are built with a slightly longer than average top tube. It is designed to stretch you out on the bike which is better for longer rides. Keep in mind that LeMonds are built to the geometry Greg LeMond rode when he was racing, and it (like all bikes) is not for everyone. But if you get a chance, ride one, you may like it.
One other thing. If you are looking at a 105 or even an Ultegra bike, there is absolutely nothing different this year than last year in the components! So if you see a good deal on a 2002, don't worry, it's about the same bike as the 2003. The companies may have changed little things like what stem or bars or seat they put on, but for the most part, not much else is different. And as cool as they look, everyone and their grandma is coming out with the next great wheel design. Don't buy into the hype. A few designs are really good, but most are not. It's like suspension with mountain bikes.. if one design really was that damn good, then everyone would pay the license fee and just use the design that was best. If you are new to road riding and only will have one wheelset, keep it a standard handbuilt wheelset. For now, steer clear of the fad wheels. They really don't start getting real nice and light until you sink over $600 in them. And by that point, I could have built you 2 pairs of Dura-Ace Open Pro wheelsets.

If you need more advice, or I can answer anymore questions... just ask.

As for compact frames...Joe Connell
Mar 3, 2003 8:37 AM
I like them because I have relatively short legs. I really don't care about the gimmicky aspects. Maybe it saves a little weight, maybe it's a little stiffer, but I can get the top tube length I want. I just bought a Specialized Allez Elite. In my size, they have two cm incraments in sizes, compairable with any standard frame range. So I got what I wanted for me. Sure it's a gimmick for some people, but it works for me. The compact frame can help out some people. I'm living proof :)

re: consider warrantycyclopathic
Mar 2, 2003 2:38 AM
C'dale gives lifetime warranty on their frames, Giant only 5 year.
re: Don't forget fitronniedee
Mar 2, 2003 5:56 PM
Proper fit is probably the single most-important factor you need to consider. Road riding is much different than trail riding on a mountain bike. On the trails you may be throwing the bike around more and getting more movement in you upperbody, while on the roadbike you will be confined in your cockpit in one basic position for hours at a time. Just thought you may want to keep that in mind as it is very easy to get caught up in worrying about the right components, bike color, frame material, or bargain price. No matter how cool the bike, if it doesn't fit, you won't enjoy it.

One more thing, my mountain bike is XTR, but I ride a Klein on the road equipped with 105 and have had no problems. Supposedly, the biggest difference between 105, Ultegra and DA is weight and durability. I definitely recommend 105 if you're on a budget. You won't have any problems.