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Ti me up
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My neighbor is looking to get started in road biking. He wants a decent-quality 105-equipped road bike. He's done a lot of research on specs. I've helped him out a bit. He's talked to several local shops. He's thinking that the best bang for the buck is the Motobecane Vent Noir at bikesdirect.com or Cycle Spectrum for $795. Next best deal I've seen at local shops around here is $1095 for a Felt.

I believe the company that owns both bikesdirect.com and Cycle Spectrum also owns the Motobecane and Mercier brands. Their prices are pretty hard to beat, and if you get a bike from CS, they'll do free service for life - not just adjustments, but also tune-ups, repair, etc. (you buy the parts, they do labor).

Seems like a decent place to start, but I have no experience with them and there aren't many reviews in the forum. Anyone have any experience with the Vent Noir? Alternately, he's heard a lot of good about steel frames (understandable, living next door to me), and the Mercier Corvus is the same price. I rode a Motobecane Le Champion with Ultegra for 2-3 miles on a test ride once. It seemed fine, but the fit was poor, so it wasn't much of a test.

Any thoughts on these from personal experience or from the spec?

Vent Noir: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/motobecane/motobecane_vent_noir04.htm

Corvus: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/mercier/mercier_corvus.htm
 

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Not to bash, but

I was looking at the Vent Noir (and Mercier until I got to look at one close up, and I was not thrilled-it just looked cheap to me). I could tell that the Vent Noir would require some adjustment and possibly a stem change. (there is a Cycle Spectrum locally). The salesman was not the most helpful, but I won't go further there. I might go to the LBS instead.

I went to another LBS, did a basic fit session and wound up purchasing a Lemond Tourmalet (2003 on clearance) instead. The price of the fit session went toward the bike. Got 853 steel frame instead of aluminum, but gave up some components as the Lemond is a mixture of 105/Tiagra. I paid less for it than the Vent Noir. They changed the stem and handlebars to something I liked better/felt more comfortable with-for free. Also included 30-day adjustment and I believe one free tune up.

Plug - whoever is reading this, if you're in Dallas, check out Richardson Bike Mart. They're knowledgable and have been very good to me.
 

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I recall seeing an upset post from the guy who stripped his Motobecane Al to find out that frame is 4.5lbs 1.5lbs over advertised. Early Merciers had very similar geometry to steel Fujis Roubaix and supposely came out the same factory in Taiwan. I own taiwanese Reynolds 520 frame, and it is very comfortable. For all around riding, commuting, occational century/brevet and possibly touring you can't go wrong with steel. Weightwise 520 frame will be about the same, 4.5lbs. With respect to other components I am sure they put in cheapo TH BB and cheapo bars, etc, you'll replace them as they wear out. Reynolds forks are nice.

Check shops you might find good deal. My LBS has 2-3 year old 520 Bianchi (once again Taiwan made) for 500$, there might be some good steel bikes laying around.
 

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Mercier and Fuji

I have been told by both a Mercier Dealer and a Fuji Dealer that the Reynolds frames used on these bikes are made by the exact same factory. And that the entire bikes are built in the same place.

I guess that should not surprise anyone.
 

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Mercier Serpens

I bought a Mercier Serpens and I am totally happy with it. I got a great price in relation to the spec - Reynolds 853 frame, reynolds ouzo fork, full Ultegra with Ritchey Pro wheels, plus Ritchey bar, ste, and post

The finish and workmanship is fantastic as is the ride
I do not care if it is manufactureed in the same factory as a Fuji - I still love it
 

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Dura Ace Motobecane

I have a 2004 Dura Ace Motobecane LeChampion Team - it is a fine bike with a surprisingly nice clean frame. The bike weighes 17lbs, which seems light to me. The frame welds are as nice as any I have seen on Aluminum (although, nothing beats lugged steel for a clean look). I have no idea who made it; it is from Taiwan and I have heard the same factory makes it that makes Specialized, Felt, and Cervelo - but I really dont know. Although it does seem lots of nice road bikes now come from Taiwan.
Anyway, I can highly reccommend the Motobecane - but Also let me say - NEW DURA ACE IS FANTASTIC - looks and function is great.
 
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