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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all,

Well, I've finally decided to get serious about replacing my first bike, a 2004 Felt F65, which I've never been incredibly happy with. My main dislikes about the Felt are the lousy fit and the jarring ride quality (other than that, Mrs, Lincoln ...). Fortuitously, Helen's Cycles was passing out "10% off and no sales tax" coupons at the Tour of California, meaning that I have a unique chance to get almost 20% off a new bike.

First off: I have no illusions that a new bike will make me faster -- I just want something that fits well, is comfortable, and that I'll enjoy racking up the miles and racing on. BTW, I started cycling about a year and a half ago, and I just started racing (collegiate) this season, although I'm not exactly racking up the results (yet). I currently ride about 150-200 miles a week, and I'm hoping to increase that over time.

In this corner: a carbon wonderbike. Of all the ones I've test-ridden, I really liked the Cervelo R2.5. The fit was great, and the ride was so comfy that it felt like the road was freshly paved. (I'm also eager to ride the Look 555, which I haven't found yet in my size.) I'm a bit concerned about the quality-control complaints people have about the Cervelo -- but honestly, one of my main concerns is the "poser factor" of showing up at my Cat 5 / Collegiate C races on a "pro bike." I know that it's a bit shallow, but frankly, I'd like something a little less conspicuous -- I wouldn't want to be too embarrassed to ride and race my expensive new bike. :-D

In the other corner: the much-lauded Independent Fabrications Crown Jewel. I love the idea of a custom-built bike; they're absolutely gorgeous, and people have nothing but good things to say about them. However, I'm a bit hesitant about ordering a bike sight-unseen, before I've had a chance to ride it. I haven't ridden a steel road bike before (just on the track), but from what I hear, it shares the comfy, "vibration soaking" feature I like in some carbon bikes I've ridden. I'm also a bit concerned about steel's propensity for rusting -- although I live in sunny Southern California and rarely ride in the rain (pretty much only if there's a number on my back, otherwise I'm inside on the trainer). Should I be concerned about rust? Should I consider Ti as well?

Thanks in advance for any comments/advice! :)

Cheers,
Ari
 

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Just one more switchback
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Go for the carbon

I had a steel IF and while it was a great ride and the most beautiful bike I have owned (the welds are so smooth), it was a bit flexy. I only weigh 127 and it was a stock size frame adn tubing and I could feel it flex. I bought a Trek Madone 5.9 and can not believe the difference in the stiffness. And, it still has a great ride. Don't worry about the poser factor, if you can afford it, buy it. It will make you want to get faster just so you don't look like a poser.
 

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Steel for me..

I am riding a carbon fiber bike now. I like the ride but I am tired of messing with internal cable routing. I am a bit of a fanatic about having fresh cables on my bike. Carbon rides great, looks great and is very stiff and light. If my bike had external cable routing, I would be keeping it for sure. Either way, you will likely be happy.

But....my OPINION is that the IF is the way to go. It is the kind of bike you keep for a lifetime.

Mike
 

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ari said:
Hey all,

Well, I've finally decided to get serious about replacing my first bike, a 2004 Felt F65, which I've never been incredibly happy with. My main dislikes about the Felt are the lousy fit and the jarring ride quality (other than that, Mrs, Lincoln ...). Fortuitously, Helen's Cycles was passing out "10% off and no sales tax" coupons at the Tour of California, meaning that I have a unique chance to get almost 20% off a new bike.

First off: I have no illusions that a new bike will make me faster -- I just want something that fits well, is comfortable, and that I'll enjoy racking up the miles and racing on. BTW, I started cycling about a year and a half ago, and I just started racing (collegiate) this season, although I'm not exactly racking up the results (yet). I currently ride about 150-200 miles a week, and I'm hoping to increase that over time.

In this corner: a carbon wonderbike. Of all the ones I've test-ridden, I really liked the Cervelo R2.5. The fit was great, and the ride was so comfy that it felt like the road was freshly paved. (I'm also eager to ride the Look 555, which I haven't found yet in my size.) I'm a bit concerned about the quality-control complaints people have about the Cervelo -- but honestly, one of my main concerns is the "poser factor" of showing up at my Cat 5 / Collegiate C races on a "pro bike." I know that it's a bit shallow, but frankly, I'd like something a little less conspicuous -- I wouldn't want to be too embarrassed to ride and race my expensive new bike. :-D

In the other corner: the much-lauded Independent Fabrications Crown Jewel. I love the idea of a custom-built bike; they're absolutely gorgeous, and people have nothing but good things to say about them. However, I'm a bit hesitant about ordering a bike sight-unseen, before I've had a chance to ride it. I haven't ridden a steel road bike before (just on the track), but from what I hear, it shares the comfy, "vibration soaking" feature I like in some carbon bikes I've ridden. I'm also a bit concerned about steel's propensity for rusting -- although I live in sunny Southern California and rarely ride in the rain (pretty much only if there's a number on my back, otherwise I'm inside on the trainer). Should I be concerned about rust? Should I consider Ti as well?

Thanks in advance for any comments/advice! :)

Cheers,
Ari
cat 5 / collegiate C means you want to race on a cheap bike. trust me. I'm not saying don't get the Cervelo or the IF, I'm saying don't race it!

anyway, steel frames should be treated using a product called Framesaver, by JP Wiegel, available from many bike stores. you spray it down the tubes and it prevents rust. Boeshield will also work. you almost never need to worry about a steel bike rusting unless you very severely neglect it. and you especially don't need to worry in Southern frickin' California.

my advice, get what you want. but a lot of people your age aren't drawn to steel - too old school - and I'd consider going for the steel just to have something different. I just graduated and am going to grad school in fall, and I already have two steel bikes, and am getting another.
 

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Neither

First off, you'll probably be happy either way. I'd personally go for the IF, but the right choice for you might be "none of the above".

The key thing you mentioned in your post is that you're racing collegiate/cat5. This means that, at some point, YOU WILL CRASH. While the IF is potentially repairable, you'll still be upset if you mangle a bike you love. You may be better off getting a carbon or aluminum bike that isn't as expensive, but really gets the job done in terms of performance (Giant, Cdale, Trek, Kuota, Orbea). Test ride a bunch, you should be able to find one that fits well and is more comfortable than the Felt. I know it's not the sexiest option, and you'll probably be lusting after another bike the whole time. Then again, even those of use with high-end bikes always lust after something else (e.g. the moots SL we haven't bought yet, the stronglight crankset, etc...)

In a few years, you'll be done college, have more money, and have a better idea of exactly what you want in a bike. That's the right time to treat yourself to a custom steel or titanium ride that you'll love. And if you're lucky, you'll still have the bike you bought this time that you can ride in bad weather or to bang elbows in your local mid-week crit series.

Good luck with your decision.
 

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iedereen op de fiets
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127 and you could feel it flex?!?!??? I have been riding my IF for 4 years. It does not flex for me and I am 213.
 

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Cross Bike Collector.....
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Imho

Have a buddy who rode the R2.5 for a 30 mile test drive and wasn't impressed. That's the only refferance I have. I own a IF planet X and it's awesome, dont' be afriad to go custom. The guys at IF do this every day, fit is gauranteed. And if you tell them it's for racing they will choose the right butted tubes and a stiff BB to get the job done. I wouldnt' hesitate to buy from IF again, in fact I'm going to.
 

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don't worry about rust. you can treat the tubes, and the IF has sealed tubes anyway.

get a fitting at the shop and see if you can get an off the rack stock bike that fits better. or maybe they can just set up the Felt better by adjusting stem/bar/cleats, etc.

if an IF or cervelo doesnt fit, it wont work properly.

and c'mon... dont ride cat5 with a cervelo. you do that when you are old, bald and fat.

look what brands the shop has. figure out what will work fit-wise. then check your finances and go from there.

repaint it if you want the cool guy bike.
 

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Show you have some class and buy the IF. Then buy a cheapo Taiwan AL/105 bike for racing--or use your Felt for that with five or ten PSI less in the tires than what you feel is jarring.
 

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Since you don't have much experience riding a range of bikes, the best thing, in my opinion, is to go to a bike shop, explain their what your are tellling us and ride a bunch of different bikes that are set up to fit you properly. You said you didn't like the Felt, mainly because it didn't fit you properly. That's not a fault of the Felt, it's the fault of not getting fitted properly with the correct size frame, proper seat height and setback, proper stem length and rise with the particular bar on that bike. Fit is key for any bike you want to race on. It determines comfort and maximum power transfer efficiency.

As far as brand, this is a very competitive market. There are dozens of mainstream brands and dozens of small makers that could put you on a bike that suits you. Due to your inxperience you could also be taken for a ride. So get to the bike shop, make sure you make it clear proper fit is paramount on whatever racing steed you choose and try a bunch of different bikes out.

Variables include the kind of wheels, the kind of tire, the tire pressure, how strong you feel that particular day, whether you had a good night's sleep, the phases of the moon, whatever. Some bikes feel faster for reasons, either wheels or the trail they have. Oh, and trail making such a big difference on the feel of a bike, how many people do you know look at a bike and say, hey, you don't have much trail on your bike, how good are your bike skills?
 

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Forget the "poser" factor - I wouldn't race any nice bike in a Cat5/4 crash fest, that's just nuts. Get a cheap POS Al frame for a hundred or two used and it won't feel like the end of the world no matter what happens to it. Then you can save your money for a great custom carbon, Ti or whatever super bike later and really rub the anti poser crowd's collective noses in the envious abject failure of their lives every time you ride. ;-)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
800lbgorilla said:
The key thing you mentioned in your post is that you're racing collegiate/cat5. This means that, at some point, YOU WILL CRASH.
You do make a great point ... I know I'm going to crash at some point, although I think the probability of it being a call-an-ambulance-and-huck-the-frame-in-the-dumpster crash is relatively low (knock on wood!). For me, the risk is worth it to have a nice bike, especially with crash replacement deals in the worst case scenario. (Although I did cringe when I saw a guy riding a crit last month on a Colnago President Leonardo da Vinci -- yikes.)

800lbgorilla said:
In a few years, you'll be done college, have more money, and have a better idea of exactly what you want in a bike.
I'm actually in grad school, not college, so I'm on a full fellowship and have a few years of savings from real-world work under my belt. (I don't know how those kids on tuition keep up their habit!) $3000+ for a bike certainly isn't pocket change, but thankfully, it won't break the bank by any means.

Thanks!
Ari
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Insight Driver said:
That's not a fault of the Felt, it's the fault of not getting fitted properly with the correct size frame, proper seat height and setback, proper stem length and rise with the particular bar on that bike. Fit is key for any bike you want to race on. It determines comfort and maximum power transfer efficiency.
I completely agree ... the shop I bought the Felt at took me for a ride. The Felt geometry was a bad fit for me, but since they didn't have any other brands in my price range, they convinced me that it would work. I actually have been professionally fit elsewhere, and it made a world of difference: my bike fit went from "pretty awful" to "mostly tolerable," but I've never been able to get it "great." Since I've messed with it so much, ridden a lot of other bikes, and done a lot of research, I actually have a very good idea of what I'm looking for in terms of geometry.

Insight Driver said:
Oh, and trail making such a big difference on the feel of a bike, how many people do you know look at a bike and say, hey, you don't have much trail on your bike, how good are your bike skills?
Funny you should mention that -- my Felt has a relatively low trail (74 HTA, 43 offset), which felt "fast" to me at first, but now just feels unstable. :)

Thanks!
Ari
 

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For me it would be a no braiiner, get the IF for riding and a Scattante with 105 and decent wheels for crashing in crits.
 

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Don't race a nice bike in a 4/5 race! I made the mistake of "hanging around" with the 4's when I should have been racing in the 3's (I kept winning and, locally, you can take home $200 or more for winning a 4/5 race). I eventually paid the price by getting crashed out by some bozo on a rusted 20-year old bike-he was sprinting and his rusty chain broke, took me and 6 other guys down. Just trashed my rear wheel, but he also broke his teammate's arm.

So,
1) don't race your nice bike with the 4/5's: it is likely not to last too long, and
2) upgrade as soon as possible. Racing with the 3's is much safer (although crashes still happen).
 

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Go with the IF, you won't be sorry....

ari said:
Hey all,

Well, I've finally decided to get serious about replacing my first bike, a 2004 Felt F65, which I've never been incredibly happy with. My main dislikes about the Felt are the lousy fit and the jarring ride quality (other than that, Mrs, Lincoln ...). Fortuitously, Helen's Cycles was passing out "10% off and no sales tax" coupons at the Tour of California, meaning that I have a unique chance to get almost 20% off a new bike.

First off: I have no illusions that a new bike will make me faster -- I just want something that fits well, is comfortable, and that I'll enjoy racking up the miles and racing on. BTW, I started cycling about a year and a half ago, and I just started racing (collegiate) this season, although I'm not exactly racking up the results (yet). I currently ride about 150-200 miles a week, and I'm hoping to increase that over time.

In this corner: a carbon wonderbike. Of all the ones I've test-ridden, I really liked the Cervelo R2.5. The fit was great, and the ride was so comfy that it felt like the road was freshly paved. (I'm also eager to ride the Look 555, which I haven't found yet in my size.) I'm a bit concerned about the quality-control complaints people have about the Cervelo -- but honestly, one of my main concerns is the "poser factor" of showing up at my Cat 5 / Collegiate C races on a "pro bike." I know that it's a bit shallow, but frankly, I'd like something a little less conspicuous -- I wouldn't want to be too embarrassed to ride and race my expensive new bike. :-D

In the other corner: the much-lauded Independent Fabrications Crown Jewel. I love the idea of a custom-built bike; they're absolutely gorgeous, and people have nothing but good things to say about them. However, I'm a bit hesitant about ordering a bike sight-unseen, before I've had a chance to ride it. I haven't ridden a steel road bike before (just on the track), but from what I hear, it shares the comfy, "vibration soaking" feature I like in some carbon bikes I've ridden. I'm also a bit concerned about steel's propensity for rusting -- although I live in sunny Southern California and rarely ride in the rain (pretty much only if there's a number on my back, otherwise I'm inside on the trainer). Should I be concerned about rust? Should I consider Ti as well?

Thanks in advance for any comments/advice! :)

Cheers,
Ari
This will be my second season on my Steel Crown Jewel SE and I love the bike! I have raced many years, finishing out my career as a CAT3 years ago. I've ridden my fair share of frames, steel and aluminum - no carbons though. Everything I've ridden was off the shelf, nothing custom.
When I went through the fitting process with Matt at IF, I was able to tell them exactly how I wanted the bike to ride. With my body measurements plugged into their system, they gave me a sign-off sheet before the build was started. You get to see what they're going to do before they even lift a torch.
I don't need to tell you about the build quality of the frame, I'm sure the majority of people replying to this post will take care of that for me. The ride is out of this world! They were able to take all the info I supplied and present it back to me in the form of a beautiful frame. I wanted to have a nore stable ride vs quick and twitchy, BINGO - done! Descend like a rock, but with confidence, BANG - done! Have a steel bike without paying a weight penalty, you guessed it - done!
I know you said that you don't like buying a bike site unseen. Think of it this way, you're buying "your" bike, a bike designed for you. This bike will fit you better than any off the shelf bike ever could.

Just go with the IF, you WILL NOT be sorry you did....:D
 

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bikertim said:
This will be my second season on my Steel Crown Jewel SE and I love the bike! I have raced many years, finishing out my career as a CAT3 years ago. I've ridden my fair share of frames, steel and aluminum - no carbons though. Everything I've ridden was off the shelf, nothing custom.
When I went through the fitting process with Matt at IF, I was able to tell them exactly how I wanted the bike to ride. With my body measurements plugged into their system, they gave me a sign-off sheet before the build was started. You get to see what they're going to do before they even lift a torch.
I don't need to tell you about the build quality of the frame, I'm sure the majority of people replying to this post will take care of that for me. The ride is out of this world! They were able to take all the info I supplied and present it back to me in the form of a beautiful frame. I wanted to have a nore stable ride vs quick and twitchy, BINGO - done! Descend like a rock, but with confidence, BANG - done! Have a steel bike without paying a weight penalty, you guessed it - done!
I know you said that you don't like buying a bike site unseen. Think of it this way, you're buying "your" bike, a bike designed for you. This bike will fit you better than any off the shelf bike ever could.

Just go with the IF, you WILL NOT be sorry you did....:D

What he said. What can be said for a bike built custom from many builders. IF is a great shop. Having seen the work, up close, of many builders at the handmade bike show two weekends ago I am more aware of the cottage industry of custom builders that are in the US today. Gives us bike junkies a lot of choices.
 

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Kant phuckin sphell
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I would not race my IF. Would not hesitate to race the other bike you mentioned was it a Cervelo? Race the bike you do not care about as much. Like others said get a pos to race.
 
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