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after the first year at my college in maine, I realized that I should do some stuff to enjoy maine environment. so... i decided to get a road bike over the summer.

although i'm technically a beginner, i'm a college athlete (6ft 195lbs) and my body is "smart" that i'm good at learning new sports. i did some research, and i was told that i should get the best bike (roughly most expensive).

anyway, my budget is $1300 for the bike only ($1500 for everything including tax+accessories). but please do not hesitate to recommend me entry level bikes that are ~$700. i prefer spending less if it's okay.

after several days of off-line research or test rides, i liked Lemond Alpe D'huez, Scott speedster S20, and jamis ventura race.

alpe d'huez - very comfort. i saw a lot of dealers with good deals on it. some dealers do 90-days financial support, which sounds very attractive.

speedster S20 - according to a dealer, scott has a great frame set. i could just get tiagra components with the same frame for less money, if i happen to adjust my budget. but i'm worried that it does not have carbon seat stay (does that make a big difference?)

ventura race - lowest price for the same components. i could get ventura elite with full ultegra set if i spend little more money. or, i could get 07 elite for $897, which is a great deal.

again, please feel free to recommend me other bikes!:thumbsup:
 

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I am in a similar situation although with a slightly larger budget and more specific demands. The '08 Cannondale CAAD9 would just meet your budget and it is probably the best aluminum frame around. No you do not need carbon seatstays, in fact I see them as a waste of money. I just test rode the Scott frame, its ok, but I don't think its the best frame for the money. I always stay away from Trek/Lemond because I find their bikes to be of mediocre quality and they tend to be equipped exclusively with house parts which annoys me. I would take a look at the cannondale if you can.
 

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in terms of components, I wouldn't get anything below the 105 group level. The extra money would probably be made worth while with the improvement in the shifters alone. Frame wise, i tested an aluminum scott frame last summer and it seemed like a great frame. As long as it fits well, the frame won't be the limiting factor of the bike.
 
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