$3K Endurance Bike Shootout: Meet the combatants

Introduction to the seven bikes tested, including pricing and weights

$3k Endurance Bike Shootout 2014 Road Bike

Cannondale Synapse Carbon 3

Cannondale Synapse Carbon 3

Price: $3,200
Weight (size 58cm): 17 pounds, 2 ounces
Front wheel weight (with skewer, tire and tube):
1,240 grams
Rear wheel (with cassette, skewer, tire and tube): 1,680 grams

Key components:
Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed drivetrain except FSA SL-K 50-34 crankset. Mavic Aksion wheels paired with Mavic Aksion 25c tires. Bars and stem are Cannondale C2. Fizik Aliante saddle sits on top of Cannondale carbon seatpost. Internal cable routing.

Manufacturer’s pitch:
Crush meets plush. The perfect balance between raw power and all-day ridability, the Synapse combines light weight and dialed vertical compliance. S.E.R.G. (Synapse Endurance Race Geometry) means a slightly taller head tube, slightly longer wheelbase and slightly slacker head angle. S.E.R.G. strikes a balance between pure race positioning and upright comfort. Perfect for long days in the saddle and confident handling on all road surfaces. Save Plus micro-suspension system is a three part system, comprised of the carbon lay-up, the rear triangle and fork, and the seat post and seat tube, all designed to collaborate to reduce vibration, improve handling, and increase comfort. Scalloped seat tube and 25.4mm diameter seatpost are designed to flex together to provide more comfort when seated.

Initial impressions:
Normally we’re not big fans of broken drivetrains, but the Synapse Carbon 3 gets a carbon FSA SL-K crankset to go along with it’s Shimano Ultegra 6800 drivetrain. That helps slice some weight. The Synapse is the lightest of our 58cm test bikes and only a shade heavier than the Giant, which measures 55.5cm. We’re also pleased to see a set of brand name wheels, though we spotted a slight seam imperfection on the rims, which will likely cause some brake pulsing out on the road. The unique helixed shapes of the chainstays and seatstays, which are claimed to work in conjunction with the offset dropout fork to allow the wheels to track over imperfections in the road for better handling and control seated or standing, are certainly eye-catching — as is the entire bike. But will it deliver on its lofty promises?

Read the Full Review Here
More info: www.cannondale.com

Felt Z3

Felt Z3

Price: $3,000
Weight (size 58cm): 17 pounds, 8 ounces
Front wheel weight (with skewer, tire and tube): 1,240 grams
Rear wheel (with cassette, skewer, tire and tube): 1,800 grams

Key components: Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed drivetrain except FSA Energy Hollow Forged 50-34 crankset and FSA Energy brakes. Shimano RS 11 wheels paired with Vittoria Zaffiro Pro Slick 25c tires. Bars are Felt Variable Shape Super Light. Stem is Felt Variable Angle. Prologo Scratch Pro saddle sits on top of Felt Performance UHC seatpost. Internal cable routing.

Manufacturer’s pitch: Saving money doesn’t mean having to sacrifice performance, says Felt. The Z3 uses endurance road UHC Performance MMC carbon fiber to create a frame that’s responsive under power and yet designed to offer comfort for those long days in the saddle. Shimano’s Ultegra 11-speed components deliver pro-worthy shifting, while the bike rolls on reliable Shimano wheels. The Z Series is Felt’s most versatile road bike family. Whether tackling a Gran Fondo or the Tour de France, it delivers quick, agile performance and provides the compliance and fit necessary to make even the longest ride enjoyable. Frames use a slightly taller head tube for greater flexibility in stem and bar position, and they feature sloping top tubes for increased stand over clearance. A slightly longer wheelbase delivers more confident handling characteristics.

Initial impressions: Happy to see the Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed drivetrain, but take pause that it’s incomplete; FSA cranks and brakes are subbed in. Internal cable routing yields a clean look. Same goes for the white painted carbon frame with subtle color accents. Long wheelbase is evident without even breaking out the tape measure. Compact cranks allow for easier uphill spinning. The Prologo Scratch Pro saddle is an upper-tier inclusion.

Read the Full Review Here

More info: www.feltbicycles.com

Giant Defy Advanced 1

Giant Defy Advanced 1

Price: $3,200
Weight (size L/55.5cm): 17 pounds
Front wheel weight (with skewer, tire and tube):
1,120 grams
Rear wheel weight (with cassette, skewer, tire and tube): 1,710 grams

Key components:
Full Shimano Ultegra 6800 drivetrain, Giant P-SL1 WheelSystem with Swiss hub internals, Fi’zi:k Aliante Twin saddle, Giant Vector composite seatpost, Giant bars and stem, RideSense chainstay-integrated wireless data transmitter, internal cable routing.

Manufacturer’s pitch:
Ride a gran fondo one week and a hilly race the next, claims Giant. The Defy Advanced 1 is designed to meet the dual demands of hard, fast races and long, grueling rides. Its advanced-grade composite frame features endurance geometry that blends light weight, stiffness and road­-smoothing compliance. High-performance T-700 raw carbon fiber is used to produce custom composite material in Giant’s own composite factory. Lightweight, stiff and compliant, these frames feature monocoque construction. The OverDrive 2 steerer tube boosts front­end stiffness and precision. PowerCore bottom bracket turns your power into positive forward motion. Built-in RideSense ANT+ sensor for wireless data transmission keeps you informed of progress.

Initial impressions:
Full Shimano Ultegra 6800 drivetrain means top-tier shifting performance. Stealth matte black paint and internal cable routing yields modern look. One of lightest out-of-box weights in this test. Compact frame geometry gives this size Large test rig a small appearance compared to other bikes. Compact cranks mean steep uphills can be conquered without spinning squares.

Read the Full Review Here

More info: www.giant-bicycles.com

Jamis Xenith Endura Elite

Jamis Xenith Endura Elite

Price: $3,200
Weight (size 58cm): 18 pounds, 2 ounces
Front wheel weight (with skewer, tire and tube): 1,130 grams
Rear wheel weight (with cassette, skewer, tire and tube): 1,680 grams

Key components:
Shimano Ultegra drivetrain. TRP RG957 long reach brakeset. Shimano RS61 tubeless wheelset with Vittoria Rubino Pro folding tires. Hidden fender and carrier mounts. Ritchey Comp cockpit with Pro carbon seat post and Selle San Marco SPID saddle

Manufacturer’s pitch: Endura is favorite amongst century riders, distance cyclists and racers looking for an edge on rough roads. Borrowing heavily from company’s race-winning Xenith Competition geometry, the Endura strikes a balance between performance, comfort, compliance and capability. Every Endura model features all the performance and design attributes of Jamis racing bikes, but with slightly taller head tubes, longer wheelbases and relaxed frame angles. Additionally due to its long reach, TRP brakes this bike will accept up to 28c tires with fenders, or up to a 34c file treads without fenders.

Initial impressions: Shimano Ultegra drivetrain is always a welcome sight. This is only bike in test with tweener 52-36 crankset, which will appeal to riders looking for a little more top end speed on the flats, but will be harder to spin up steep climbs. Road tubeless set-up makes sense for riders who spend a lot of time off-pavement. Long reach TRP brakes will work with wider tires, which we wished were spec’d on this bike. But we always cringe a little when drivetrains systems are broken up. Props for including the Ritchey Logic bars with short reach and shallow drop, which typically translate into a more comfortable riding position. One of heaviest bikes in test.

Read the Full Review Here
More info: www.myjamis.com

Scott Solace 20

Scott Solace 20

Price: $3,400
Weight (size 58cm): 16 pounds, 8 ounces
Front wheel weight (with skewer, tire and tube): 1,090 grams
Rear wheel weight (with cassette, skewer, tire and tube): 1,540 grams

Key components:
Shimano Ultegra 6800 drivetrain, except that chainstay-mounted rear brake, which is Shimano 105. Syncros RP20 wheels wrapped with Schwalbe Durano tires. Internal cable routing.

Manufacturer’s pitch:
The Solace 20 is designed to provide balance, comfort and performance. HMF carbon fiber frame engineered with power zone and comfort zone, resulting in a stiff and responsive bike that will keep you comfortable all day long regardless of frame size. Geometry of the Solace takes into account the more upright position of the endurance rider. This position is easier on the back and neck and helps the rider endure long days in the saddle. Frames foil tube shaping maintains structural performance without compromising aerodynamic efficiency.

Initial impressions:
One of the best looking frames in test thanks largely to the chainstay-mounted rear brake, which results in an ultra-clean look. Seatstays, which have been relieved of brake mounting duties, are so thin you can actually squeeze them together. Shimano Ultegra 6800 drivetrain inspires confidence, but we’ll take a wait-and-see approach on braking performance. No matter what it will be harder to work on and could pick up road grime more readily than a traditionally-mounted rear brakes. Shimano Ultegra 11-32 cassette paired with 50-34 compact crankset will allow most riders to spin up even the steepest climbs.

Read the Full Review Here
More info: www.scott-sports.com

Specialized Roubaix

2014 Specialized Roubaix SL4

Price: $2,950
Weight (size 56cm): 18 pounds, 5 ounces
Front wheel weight (with skewer, tire and tube): 1,270 grams
Rear wheel (with cassette, skewer, tire and tube): 1,780 grams

Key components: Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed drivetrain except FSA Gossamer 50-34 crankset. Fulcrum Racing S-5 wheels paired with Specialized S-Works Turbo 26c tires. Axis 2.0 brakes. Specialized fact Carbon seatpost. Internal cable routing.

Manufacturer’s pitch: Smoother is faster. The more comfortable and less fatigued you are at the end of a four-hour ride, the stronger you’ll be. Like shocks on a race car, the Zertz vibration damping inserts on the Roubaix SL4 help absorb road impact and keep power planted firmly on the road. Couple that with a FACT carbon frame and it’s still plenty stiff to thrash around in a sprint. FACT carbon frame with endurance road geometry, Zertz and tapered headtube, paired with a full carbon monocoque fork for the perfect blend of stiffness, compliance and light weight.

Initial impressions: Not a fan of the broken groupset, but this is the most affordable bike in the test. The next model Roubaix is $3,800. It’s also the heaviest bike among this group (all sizes included). On-line spec list includes Specialized Espoir Elite 25c tires (MSRP $35, claimed weight for pair 540 grams), but our test rig showed up with Specialized S-Works Turbos (MSRP $65, claimed weight 440 grams). No denying the bike’s pedigree. The higher-end build is a multi-time Paris Roubaix winner, a fact that’s emblazoned on the top tube. We like the look of the Zertz dampers in the fork and seatstays, which are claimed to dissipate vibration before it reaches your hands and body. Love the look of the black/white frame.

Read the Full Review Here
More info: www.specialized.com

Trek Domane 4.7

Trek Domane 4.7

Price: $3,199
Weight (size 56cm): 18 pounds
Front wheel weight (with skewer, tire and tube): 1,130 grams
Rear wheel weight (with cassette, skewer, tire and tube): 1,720 grams

Key components:
Full Shimano Ultegra 6800 11-speed drivetrain. Bontrager Race TLR wheelset and tires. External cable routing and BB90 bottom bracket. Integrated chain catcher and carbon fork with ride-tuned sweep and shape.

Manufacturer’s pitch:
Still racy, but with a slightly higher head tube. You’re more balanced over the bike for stability, and your back stays more comfortable through the entire ride. Endurance-geometry 400 Series OCLV carbon frame features ISOSpeed decoupler, which is claimed to double vertical compliance, allowing you to ride stronger and longer. Race-stable geometry and integrated chain keeper give Domane superb handling and flawless gear shifting on any road, under any load. ISOSpeed fork with ride-tuned sweep and shape increases compliance for a smoother ride, and unique dropout placement optimizes wheelbase. Integrated DuoTrap computer sensor measures speed, distance, and cadence with no added aerodynamic drag, and works with all the major ANT+ wireless technology players, including Bontrager, Garmin, PowerTap and SRM.

Initial impressions:
Love the simple but refined look of the off-white painted carbon frame paired with the fully color-matched Bontrager cockpit, wheels and even tires. Full Shimano Ultegra 6800 drivetrain assures reliable shifting. ISOSpeed platform already highly-regarded for its ability to soak up road buzz without compromising power transfer. Only bike in test without internal cable routing. One of heavier bikes in test at 18 pounds. Compact cranks should make mountainous spinning doable.

Read the Full Review Here

More info: www.trekbikes.com

Check out the gallery below for a deeper look at the test fleet. Have you spent time on any of these bikes? Let us know your thoughts and impressions 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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