$3K Endurance Bike Shootout: Meet the combatants

Introduction to the seven bikes tested, including pricing and weights

$3k Endurance Bike Shootout 2014 Road Bike

$3,000 Endurance Bike Shootout

Rough road riding is a key component of the RoadBikeReview $3,000 Endurance Bike Shootout.

This article is part of RoadBikeReview’s $3,000 Endurance Bike Shootout. Check back soon to see the rest of the reviews on our Shootout Round-Up Page.

Endurance. It’s what we so often strive for each time we pedal a bike. The endurance to ride farther, pedal faster, climb quicker, and when done, recover so we can do it all over the next day.

In the bike industry, endurance has engendered its own definition. Endurance bikes are built to be both comfortable — and efficient and powerful. Or put another way, they are the bikes that best suit most of us most of the time. We want to head out for a long, pain free day in the saddle, but still feel efficient, smooth and fast. These aren’t purebred race bikes, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be raced. These are road bikes, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be taken off road. These are bikes that can do a little bit of everything — and do it well.

This test will examine, compare and contrast seven endurance bikes, each produced by one of sport’s major two-wheeled manufactures: Cannondale, Felt, Giant, Jamis, Scott, Specialized and Trek. And each of these bikes will have a price tag around $3,000. We choose this dollar amount because it is both a reasonable — but not overly extravagant — amount of money to pay for a road bike, and at this price point you still get access to near top-end technology. Frames are made of carbon fiber. Drivetrains are speckled with Shimano Ultegra components. Cable routing is typically internal. Weight is well under 20 pounds.

During our month-long test session, each bike will be driven through a rigorous test regimen that includes long rides and short rides, steep climbs and fast flats, smooth pavement and rough dirt roads. We’ll weigh them. We’ll evaluate component spec. And we’ll talk to the manufacturers to find out why they did what they did when bringing these bikes to market.

$3,000 Endurance Bike Shootout

Flats, climbing and of course descending prowess will be critical the testing regimen.

The RoadBikeReview test team is an eclectic mix of passionate cyclists. Among our crew is an accomplished Ironman triathlete, a WorldTour-level mechanic, several Cat. 1 racers, and a handful of weekend warriors and average Joe’s who simply love riding bikes. Each tester will spend extended time aboard the fleet of test bikes, then deliver copious feedback about what they liked and what they loathed.

Our test tracks are the myriad cycling-friendly roads that ring the cycling Mecca that is Boulder, Colorado. We’ll bang around the rough dirt roads of the famed Boulder Roubaix course north of town. We’ll spin up the steep canyon climbs west or the city. And we’ll traverse the rolling bucolic country lanes that connect the two. When done testing, we’ll publish in-depth reviews of each bike, outlining the good and bad, and then rank the bikes against one another to help you make an informed buying decision. In the meantime, here’s how the bikes stack up by weight and price.

Bike Comparison Table

Head over to page 2 of this post for a brief first look sketch of our seven test bikes, including key components and our first impressions.

Have you spent time on any of these bikes? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

About the author: Jason Sumner

An avid cyclist, Jason Sumner has been writing about two-wheeled pursuits of all kinds since 1999. He’s covered the Tour de France, the Olympic Games, and dozens of other international cycling events. He also likes to throw himself into the fray, penning first-person accounts of cycling adventures all over the globe. Sumner, who joined the RoadBikeReview.com / Mtbr.com staff in 2013, has also done extensive gear testing and is the author of the cycling guide book "75 Classic Rides: Colorado." When not writing or riding, the native Coloradoan can be found enjoying time with his wife Lisa and daughter Cora.

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  • erosroadie says:

    Nice comparison, but you left out the Bianchi Infinito, a smooth-riding, good climbing and quick accelerating steed. While my Campy-equipped model is more than the $$$ area you were operating in, there is a version available with 105 for less than the threshold in your tests.

  • Brian says:

    Please, please, please include the maximum tire size that will fit in each of the bikes since being able to run a high quality largish tire is a big part of ride comfort on all day rides. Plus the improved traction and rim protection they provide on broken pavement cannot be overstated. IMHO, being able to run 28 or 32 mm tires will do way more than any fancy frame technology…..

  • RUSS-D says:

    I would have liked to see the Giant TCR Advanced Ultegra in this shootout over the Defy. But I am curious to see how the Giant stacks up, the Defy and TCR are similar(with the TCR being a bit more of a race geometry.

  • Darwin says:

    The TCR is not at all an endurance bike so does not fit in this category.
    I had a Defy Advanced 2 but could not make the frame sing work for me. it was a great bike in every other way though.
    I need up with a SL 4 Roubaix Expert which was $3800. But I dumped the low end Fulcrum wheels and repacked the Spesh bottom bracket with a Praxis and the FSA crank with Ultegra.

  • richard says:

    It’s now July 26th. Shouldn’t we have received another installment ( # 3, etc) of this review??

    • Jason Sumner says:

      Thanks for checking back. Tour de France kept us busy in July, but we’re compiling test results now and will be posting reviews in the next two weeks.

  • richard says:

    Great news. Thanks for the quick response. But please keep in mind that we’re fast coming to the end of the 2014 season, and I know for certain that at least a couple of the bikes you’re testing either won’t be available as you’ve tested them in the 2015 model, or are very hard to find even now and the manufacturer has stopped 2014 production. So… not to put pressure on you, but… the sooner we get these reviews, the better. As far as I can tell, no one ( web-site or magazine) has/is doing what you’re doing and thus it could be invaluable.

  • AR says:

    Many of these bikes are no longer in stock — would be great to see this article updated within the next 2 days, if at all possible.

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