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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

First post, but I've been a lurker ...

I'm pretty sure the direction I'm going to go, but wanted some input to help validate myself. lol ...

I'm looking for a road bike to ride with friends plus eventually do tri's on ... I'm currently a distance runner doing 10k and half marathons.
Tri's eventually maybe 3-4 times a year, so it's not a huge part of the decision-making process.

My budget really is up to the 1900-ish range (would LOVE to spend less!), but also have to accessorize myself.

Bikes I've seen/ridden so far (no order of preference) :

1. 13 Specilalized Tarmac sport 1899$ not sure of price flexibility
2. 13 Specialized Allez Race 1649$
3. 13 Specialized Allez Comp 1299$
4. 13 Felt F85 - No.
5. 13 Cannondale CAAD10 5 1549$ firm on price
6. 12 Cannondale SuperSix 5 1999$ firm on price
7. 13 Trek 1.5 - NO

It's basically between the Tarmac, SuperSix, Allez Race, or Allez Comp.

The Allez Comp has a mix of 105 and Tiagra components, but also clocks in 500$-ish dollars cheaper. My thought is if I'm going to buy the Allez Race, I might as well cough up the 250 and get carbon.

The Specialized LBS is 5 minutes from my house while C-Dale is 40 minutes away. This fact alone has almost made my mind up for me on a Specialized. Also, the Specialized LBS bent over backwards to earn my business, and has some nice clearance accessories for a good price.

The CAAD10 had a nicer frame for me than the lower Allez, but wasn't as nice a ride. The Supersix seemed much lighter than the Tarmac, but again nicer ride on Tarmac.

Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated as this is driving me a tad nuts.

I wrote this post in just a few minutes so excuse any grammatical/sentence structure errors.

Mods, if pricing talk is not allowed I apologize.
 

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Well, it sounds like you're really only choosing between the Allez and the Tarmac.

I'd expect the Allez Comp to give you good service. 105 is a nice component group, it doesn't give up much by having a Tiagra front derailleur. Check me, but I believe you can use anybody's bearings for maintenance, so while I'm not a huge fan of FSA, I don't think it matters that much in this case. If you prefer SRAM, their fans think Apex is fine. (I don't care for their shifters myself.)

I don't know that I believe the Allez Race is $350 better. You're being offered more off the MSRP for the Comp than the Race. Unless you meant the Allez Race Rival, which I still don't believe is $350 better. The biggest upgrades appear to be that the crank is CFRP (big whoop) and the name of the wheel incorporates a higher number (but they don't feel like telling me what's better about it, and I question that there is anything.)

The Tarmac seems a lot like the Allez Sport. But the frame is CFRP. If you think CFRP is $600 better than aluminum, buy it.

Something you might see if the shop will let you do is ride the Tarmac and Allez back-to-back on the same wheels. IME, tire construction and pressure make a much bigger difference in ride than frame material. So if you really want to compare CFRP and aluminum, I think you've got to do it on the same wheels. I bet that makes your decision a bit easier.
 

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My initial thoughts are 1) this is your first road bike and 2) you have no preference between a $1300 Allez and $1900 Tarmac. Feel free to correct me if I'm misleading myself, but if not, I suggest going with the lower priced bike and use the rest on accessories. This assumes the bike fits and gearing suites your needs, but since both bikes share the same geo, fit (at least) will be the same.

This being your first bike, assuming you stay with the sport, you're going to be forming opinions as you build saddle time and improve fitness. This will start you thinking about upgrades or that 'next bike' that everyone talks about, so minimize this investment to what fulfills your current needs till you form those preferences.

EDIT: Just as an aside, you may want to considered the Allez Elite. Runs Tiagra 10 speed which is (IMO) a solid groupset and saves you some money.
 

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In triathlons, the amount of time you save in the weight difference between the CF and AL bike is small for anything less than half IM or IM distance. A misstep in the transition is probably more of a difference. So if comfort and feel is the same, I say go with the cheaper. I love my Allez, and others have said wheel, tube, and tire choice will have a huge difference in comfort. You're not getting an Aero, true TT bike. So if this is something that really takes off you will probably be looking in that direction in which case it will be that much better to spend less now. What I am saying is, if they feel similar having CF just to have CF isn't worth it on the first bike.

As PJ352 mentioned, you may even consider the Elite. Many say that Tiagra and 105 are virtually indistuingishable at this point. That extra money savings can help a lot with the Tri toys you will probably be wanting. You will likely get some clip-on Aero bars, and then of course have the rest of the standard bike needs (pump, helmet, clothes, shoes, etc.). I also suggest a decent Multisport based watch. I love my Garmin 310xt, and of course the 910xt is the newest and greatest. You can swim with it, run with it, and bike with it. Since wheels/tires are a frequent early upgrade (and often pay big dividends in both weight and comfort) less initial cost means less heartburn over this good upgrade. All these things add up to money, so the point I am getting at is I don't see the point in spending more just to do it, especially since biking isn't your primary discipline.

One thing to consider when you buy from the LBS is make sure they are aware of your desire to do mainly triathlons. It will effect how they set your bike up. I suggest you get the clip ons at the same time so they can help set those up as well. With your strong area being running, that changes how you want to position yourself some. And of course the TT position for tries and using the aero bars puts you further forward on the bike. Depending on how you fit it, they may even switch the seat post around to get you set up in the optimal position to save your legs for the run.

I personally love SRAM, and have the Allez Apex. I love the ride, did a TT style ride this morning on it almost completely in the aero position. I prefer SRAM Doubletap shifters off the aero bars because there is only one lever. Since much of your time is spent away from the shift levers and you move your hand over to hit the shift, I prefer to not have to feel out which one I am hitting. I just do a short or long push depending on which direction I want to go. I own both Apex and Rival and personally do not necessarily see the need to spend more for Rival). But in buying Shimano I probably would just go with Tiagra unless I was going all out on a high-end, last bike I buy situation.

That's my long-winded thoughts, hope you made it through it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
In triathlons, the amount of time you save in the weight difference between the CF and AL bike is small for anything less than half IM or IM distance. A misstep in the transition is probably more of a difference. So if comfort and feel is the same, I say go with the cheaper. I love my Allez, and others have said wheel, tube, and tire choice will have a huge difference in comfort. You're not getting an Aero, true TT bike. So if this is something that really takes off you will probably be looking in that direction in which case it will be that much better to spend less now. What I am saying is, if they feel similar having CF just to have CF isn't worth it on the first bike.

As PJ352 mentioned, you may even consider the Elite. Many say that Tiagra and 105 are virtually indistuingishable at this point. That extra money savings can help a lot with the Tri toys you will probably be wanting. You will likely get some clip-on Aero bars, and then of course have the rest of the standard bike needs (pump, helmet, clothes, shoes, etc.). I also suggest a decent Multisport based watch. I love my Garmin 310xt, and of course the 910xt is the newest and greatest. You can swim with it, run with it, and bike with it. Since wheels/tires are a frequent early upgrade (and often pay big dividends in both weight and comfort) less initial cost means less heartburn over this good upgrade. All these things add up to money, so the point I am getting at is I don't see the point in spending more just to do it, especially since biking isn't your primary discipline.

One thing to consider when you buy from the LBS is make sure they are aware of your desire to do mainly triathlons. It will effect how they set your bike up. I suggest you get the clip ons at the same time so they can help set those up as well. With your strong area being running, that changes how you want to position yourself some. And of course the TT position for tries and using the aero bars puts you further forward on the bike. Depending on how you fit it, they may even switch the seat post around to get you set up in the optimal position to save your legs for the run.

I personally love SRAM, and have the Allez Apex. I love the ride, did a TT style ride this morning on it almost completely in the aero position. I prefer SRAM Doubletap shifters off the aero bars because there is only one lever. Since much of your time is spent away from the shift levers and you move your hand over to hit the shift, I prefer to not have to feel out which one I am hitting. I just do a short or long push depending on which direction I want to go. I own both Apex and Rival and personally do not necessarily see the need to spend more for Rival). But in buying Shimano I probably would just go with Tiagra unless I was going all out on a high-end, last bike I buy situation.

That's my long-winded thoughts, hope you made it through it.

Thanks for the thoughts!

To kind of sum up some of ya'lls posts ... The Allez Elite would be a great bike for me if I hadn't already ridden the higher end Allez and Tarmac. It's an evil climb up the quality ladder, and the LBS knows to start with the lowest priced bike and work up ... lol

Also, to add another note on the cannondale LBS... I did feel like they were upselling me on wheels and accessories (It's their job I suppose), and they had zero movement in the bike price. The more I thought about it I liked The Specialized LBS approach of here's what you need and let's keep it easy on your pocket book approach. Instead of the well you're a beginnner so you NEED 250$ carbon Clip-In shoes .. Uhmm no.

I do prefer the 105 group set to the Tiagra's I believe, and thought the Tarmac ride was much better ... but we'll see ...

At any rate, I'm going by the Specialized LBS today to do some more test rides and maybe walk out with a new bike.

Oh yeah ... as a side note I do have a Garmin 910
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Well ... I went to the LBS today and it's between two different bikes.


The Trek Domane 2.3 1749$ - This bike is comfortable! It's light and pretty quick. Absorbed the asphalt road well, but when you want to put the hammer down there's a small bit of hesitation. Just a nice bike with 105's all the way around.

Specialized Tarmac 1799$ - This bike is more of a race bike ... Responsive and agile but has a tad more road feeling. This bike is isn't uncomfortable, but the seat on it is balls. At least for me. I know I can get a different saddle, but how concerned should I be about it? I'm leaning towards this one, but mulling over if I should take comfort over performance right now.

Any thoughts? Any of these bikes would be good, but I'm just really caught on a decision. It's not far and away for either one.


I dismissed the Trek Madone 2.3 (liked the Domane better), and the Specialized Allez Race. Also, I know the Aluminum (Trek) and Spec (Carbon) facts are there as well ..
 

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Well ... I went to the LBS today and it's between two different bikes.


The Trek Domane 2.3 1749$ - This bike is comfortable! It's light and pretty quick. Absorbed the asphalt road well, but when you want to put the hammer down there's a small bit of hesitation. Just a nice bike with 105's all the way around.

Specialized Tarmac 1799$ - This bike is more of a race bike ... Responsive and agile but has a tad more road feeling. This bike is isn't uncomfortable, but the seat on it is balls. At least for me. I know I can get a different saddle, but how concerned should I be about it? I'm leaning towards this one, but mulling over if I should take comfort over performance right now.

Any thoughts? Any of these bikes would be good, but I'm just really caught on a decision. It's not far and away for either one.


I dismissed the Trek Madone 2.3 (liked the Domane better), and the Specialized Allez Race. Also, I know the Aluminum (Trek) and Spec (Carbon) facts are there as well ..
My thought is to keep your credit card in your pocket till you sort this out. Here's why I say this...

In your OP, I noticed that there were only race bikes on your list, no relaxed geo bikes. I didn't make mention of it, because your 'tone' was such that you seemed to *know* the type of bike you wanted. With the intro of the Trek Domane (a relaxed geo bike), that changes.

I suggest you start branching out and looking at some others.. Specialized Roubaix, Giant Defy (to name two) and go from there. It's not so much that the saddle issue on the Tarmac can't be addressed, it's more that the differences between relaxed and race in ride, handling, road feel (albeit, subtle) are cumulative, and to many, discernible.

After doing some more test rides (ideally, back to back, with equalized tire pressures), you may find yourself back to the Tarmac. But at least then it's likely you'll have a clearer reason (or reasons) why.

BTW, it really doesn't come down to a comfort versus performance issue. You may feel faster on a race bike because of the increased road feel/ more aero position, but in reality, I'd bet you aren't. If that were the case, pro riders wouldn't be winning races on relaxed geo bikes, but they are.
 

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Well ... I went to the LBS today and it's between two different bikes.


The Trek Domane 2.3 1749$ - This bike is comfortable! It's light and pretty quick. Absorbed the asphalt road well, but when you want to put the hammer down there's a small bit of hesitation. Just a nice bike with 105's all the way around.

Specialized Tarmac 1799$ - This bike is more of a race bike ... Responsive and agile but has a tad more road feeling. This bike is isn't uncomfortable, but the seat on it is balls. At least for me. I know I can get a different saddle, but how concerned should I be about it? I'm leaning towards this one, but mulling over if I should take comfort over performance right now.

Any thoughts? Any of these bikes would be good, but I'm just really caught on a decision. It's not far and away for either one.


I dismissed the Trek Madone 2.3 (liked the Domane better), and the Specialized Allez Race. Also, I know the Aluminum (Trek) and Spec (Carbon) facts are there as well ..
it's '105', not '105s'...
the Domane is as stiff and quick as any other bike made. anywhere. there is no hesitation when you 'put the hammer down'...trust me. it's still a race bike, just take a look at which bike this guy named Fabian rides...in EVERY race. not just the cobbled classics, every time he comes to the line, it's on a Domane. there is no other frame made that has this amount of bump absorption either.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
My thought is to keep your credit card in your pocket till you sort this out. Here's why I say this...

In your OP, I noticed that there were only race bikes on your list, no relaxed geo bikes. I didn't make mention of it, because your 'tone' was such that you seemed to *know* the type of bike you wanted. With the intro of the Trek Domane (a relaxed geo bike), that changes.

I suggest you start branching out and looking at some others.. Specialized Roubaix, Giant Defy (to name two) and go from there. It's not so much that the saddle issue on the Tarmac can't be addressed, it's more that the differences between relaxed and race in ride, handling, road feel (albeit, subtle) are cumulative, and to many, discernible.

After doing some more test rides (ideally, back to back, with equalized tire pressures), you may find yourself back to the Tarmac. But at least then it's likely you'll have a clearer reason (or reasons) why.

BTW, it really doesn't come down to a comfort versus performance issue. You may feel faster on a race bike because of the increased road feel/ more aero position, but in reality, I'd bet you aren't. If that were the case, pro riders wouldn't be winning races on relaxed geo bikes, but they are.
I think this is pretty sage advice ... I'm going to try and check out a few of the other relaxed geo bikes. I rode a buddies Defy 3 composite last night, and liked it a bit as well.

Also, you're absolutely correct about speed in relation to the two bikes. A better descriptor might be that the Tarmac felt more responsive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Not that anyone was holding their breath, but I ended up getting the Tarmac a few days ago.

I kept going back to the Tarmac after riding the Roubaix, a couple different Giant Defys, and the Trek Domane again.

Only gotten to ride it once due to other commitments, but so far so good ...


Hats off to Kelly at Bicycles Inc (Ft Worth) for a great sales experience/fitting as well.
 

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Not that anyone was holding their breath, but I ended up getting the Tarmac a few days ago.

I kept going back to the Tarmac after riding the Roubaix, a couple different Giant Defys, and the Trek Domane again.

Only gotten to ride it once due to other commitments, but so far so good ...

Hats off to Kelly at Bicycles Inc (Ft Worth) for a great sales experience/fitting as well.
I think you'd be surprised at the level of interest in some of these threads. At last count, yours got 635 views. :wink5:

That aside, congrats on the new bike!! But remember, if you don't post pics, it didn't happen.
 
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