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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Went to about 5 different LBS to test some bikes for the first time. My price range is about $1000-$1200 which found a couple bikes I'm considering. Are there any major things that would stick out between these 3 bikes that would make it better or worse? I would like to use it for fitness/fun and maybe races if I ever feel up to it. I think they all felt 'good' but I'm so new to this riding position that I don't know how much I should trust my own opinion. =P Which of the 3 has the best wheelset? Thanks for any help guiding me into the awesome world of road biking.

Felt F75 - SEXY (I could hang in this in my room in looks that good) felt the most racey
http://www.feltbicycles.com/USA/2011/Road/F-Series/F75.aspx

Felt Z85 (cheapest of the 3 by ~$100) Seemed like a good bang for the buck
http://www.feltbicycles.com/USA/2011/Road/Z-Series/Z85.aspx

Giant Defy 1 - smooth and comfortable no complaints
http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-US/bikes/model/defy/7307/44047/
 

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The F75 certainly has a racier geometry than the other bikes on paper. The crank is also a little better than the one on the Z85, but that's about as far as the differences go. The Giant has a slightly more relaxed geometry than either bike. Hubs might be a tiny bit better, but not enough to write home about. It's nice that Giant puts the Shimano 105 crank on their bike - I'm a big fan of Shimano's cranksets.

The same road bikes can be used for racing, high-mileage training rides, charity rides, short, easy rides, etc. etc. I think racing bikes are more fun, but I'm in my late twenties, relatively light, and usually get a fair amount of saddle time. One of the things you should consider is that a criterium race typically lasts up to an hour. A Century is likely to take around seven. What's okay, or even desirable, for an hour of hammering isn't always such a good thing six hours into a long ride. Much of that is bike setup, and fairly malleable, but don't ignore little things that bother you on a short ride when you're considering different bikes. Also consider that a racing bike, with shorter chainstays and tighter clearances, will be much more difficult to get a rack and fenders onto. Depending on how you end up using your bike, accessories of that sort can add versatility, lengthen the rides you can do, and lengthen your season. Or they can make your bike kind of dowdy. :p

I don't mean to sound too opposed to a racier bike; I'd probably choose it myself, unless I thought I'd have trouble maintaining a line when I got tired. I just think it's worth considering whether you'll be best-served by something marginally faster and quicker-handling, or by something that you can more easily set up for comfort on a longer ride.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Like you mention I would like a bike that 'does it all'. I know to be truly competitive you would probably need multiple bikes but I'm not that worried about it. I'm 22 and think I would be able to handle a racier geometry over some older guys but who knows. I've been a soccer player all my life and have mountain biked the past few years, so I think I would really enjoy road biking.

Is a racier bike fast enough so to speak to warrant the less comfortable position? Is there enough variation in setup that a racier angle should be fine because you can fine tune so to speak? I don't find either uncomfortable but I do think the Giant is more of what I am used to coming from mountain bikes. It's weird how mountain bikes and road bikes are similar in that they have 2 wheels and you pedal them but really are vastly different.
 

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Well, maybe the Cat. 1 and professional guys really need multiple bikes. The point I was trying to make was that there is an array of tasks a road bike might be used for, and the same bike can really do anything from criterium racing to double centuries. Different bikes just lend themselves more to tasks on different ends of that spectrum. I don't think that the difference between the Defy and the F75 would really be the difference between winning and losing a Cat. 4 criterium, but it can be the difference between enjoying the last hour of a long ride and wanting it to be over.

Of course, bikes that feel like they leap forward when you get up and start kicking are a lot of fun. :D

If what you want to do is train and race and do centuries with a couple other guys in spandex as fast as possible, go with the F75. You can sit upright on it and cruise with your girlfriend if it comes up. If you're mostly going to ride around on multi-use paths and go to work and cruise around with your girlfriend, do 8-hour centuries and credit card tours, and maybe make it to one or two Cat. 4 criteriums a year, the Giant would probably serve you better.

Either bike can do pretty much the same set of tasks, though. The Z85, by the specs, falls somewhere in the middle, but I haven't ridden the three bikes you're talking about and that's the only way to really tell. Can you spend more time on each? It can take longer to get a sense of a road bike than it does to figure out fit on a mountain bike.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I appreciate your explanations and insight it definitely helps. A buddy of mine is selling his mtn bike for a road bike so I'll be back at the shops shortly with him, and hopefully get a little more seat time in.

I just discovered bikesdirect.com which seems to have some pretty good deals. Albeit you can't try them first and your on your own to fit it properly once in your hands. But something like the bike below seems like a lot of bike for the money for cheaper than my other options listed above.

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/falkirk_carb9.htm
 

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This thread caught my attention because like the OP, I too am coming over from the MTB side of things.

I looked at Giant and Trek, but I think I'll end up with Felt. I'm back and forth between the F75 and Z85. From what I've seen the price difference is more like $350 between the two, with Z85 being less (that's MSRP of course).

I'm looking to get into road biking more for the fitness aspect than racing. I'm want to have the option that on those days I can't get to the trail, I can still hop on a bike and pedal away. But I do plan on longer rides, so comfort is important.

After riding both, I'm leaning more towards the Z due the geometry. The cockpit felt more comfortable than the F. However, don't misinterpret that to mean less agile, nimble or responsive. I didn't notice a decrease in those areas going from F to Z. Given that you can flop the stem and work with the spacers, a more aggressive racing position looks to be possible. The spec on the F75 is a bit better and the difference in the fork/headtube is notable, but all in all, I'm choosing the geometry and the $350 savings that I can use for more MTB bits :D

Here is a link to a thread in the Felt forum that discusses Z v. F. Dave from Felt provides some good insight in this post, but the whole thread is worth reading.

Hope this gives you some more information to help you with your selection. :thumbsup:
 

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ptadam22 said:
I just discovered bikesdirect.com which seems to have some pretty good deals. Albeit you can't try them first and your on your own to fit it properly once in your hands. But something like the bike below seems like a lot of bike for the money for cheaper than my other options listed above.

http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/windsor/falkirk_carb9.htm
I don't know how much the bikes you saw locally cost, but the spec on that bike is also cheaper than they were. There are usually also some hidden costs associated with buying bikes online, although probably less so for you, assuming you did your own maintenance on your MTB.

Mail order bikes can certainly be better deals in a strict "bike for dollar" sense, but you need to know how to read a geometry chart and a spec. list or it's a bit of a crapshoot.
 

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Some thoughts on what's been offered here...

Two factors are important in deciding on a first road bike; intended purpose(s) and fit. Once the use(s) have been defined, you can then get sized/ fitted and test ride the models of interest, narrowing the choices from there.

I know this has been hashed out already, but it would be good if you put a priority on either racing/ fast training or fitness/ century type rides. Not because bikes with relaxed or race geo can't do both, but because they do one or the other slightly better. Since you're apt to have this bike awhile, that might matter to you, long term.

Regarding the geo of the bikes, the F series is clearly the race bike of the group, with the Z series falling on the 'relaxed' side and the Giant leaning a little more towards relaxed. All else being equal, the Z series will have a saddle to bar drop about 3cm's higher than the F series bike. That's not to say adjustments can't be made from there, but it does demonstrate the slightly different character of the bikes. Consistent with that, wheelbase on the Z series and Giant are somewhat longer, smoothing the ride a little.

Regarding the BD bike you linked to, it's clearly inferior to the other bikes you're considering. Sure, it costs less (and the specs reflect that), but you could go to a bike shop, check out their cheaper models and still get sizing/ fitting assistance with your purchase (very important). Considering this is your first road bike and sizing requirements haven't yet been determined, I'd advise against buying online. And as you say, you can't test ride it first. All in all, a gamble.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
PJ, in terms of fitness I'm really just using the bike for cardio benefits, not to burn as many calories as I can or to get some fat off. So I really only bike for 2 hours at a time max, usually no more than an hour and a half. I'm not opposed to longer rides but I usually try and push myself pretty hard for as long as I can maintain. I was able to get a feel for 56 and 58 bikes and a couple shops were leaning toward the 58, which is where I felt the best as well. Unfortunately the f75 which is the favorite in my mind was the first rode bike I had tested, of the day and ever. So I don't particularly remember how it feels compared to the others except for, yup it's a rode bike.

Few more details
I love bikes
I'm 6'
healthy and fit (no back problems)
VO2max of 60 ml/min/kg
My ideal ride is anywhere from 30-90min
Purely Guestimating I would probably ride 60-80 miles a week
size 58 bikes felt good
Definitely have a competitive mentality
I love bikes
I love this forum
I love bikes

That should about sum it up. Will the f75 keep me happy for at least 2-3 years if I became really into road biking? I really appreciate everyone's help so far, getting a better grasp of things. I'm glad you guys informed me the bike online that I thought was just as decent is in fact not, I have no problem supporting the LBS.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·

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PJ352 said:
Some thoughts on what's been offered here...

Two factors are important in deciding on a first road bike; intended purpose(s) and fit. Once the use(s) have been defined, you can then get sized/ fitted and test ride the models of interest, narrowing the choices from there.

I know this has been hashed out already, but it would be good if you put a priority on either racing/ fast training or fitness/ century type rides. Not because bikes with relaxed or race geo can't do both, but because they do one or the other slightly better. Since you're apt to have this bike awhile, that might matter to you, long term.

Regarding the geo of the bikes, the F series is clearly the race bike of the group, with the Z series falling on the 'relaxed' side and the Giant leaning a little more towards relaxed. All else being equal, the Z series will have a saddle to bar drop about 3cm's higher than the F series bike. That's not to say adjustments can't be made from there, but it does demonstrate the slightly different character of the bikes. Consistent with that, wheelbase on the Z series and Giant are somewhat longer, smoothing the ride a little.

Regarding the BD bike you linked to, it's clearly inferior to the other bikes you're considering. Sure, it costs less (and the specs reflect that), but you could go to a bike shop, check out their cheaper models and still get sizing/ fitting assistance with your purchase (very important). Considering this is your first road bike and sizing requirements haven't yet been determined, I'd advise against buying online. And as you say, you can't test ride it first. All in all, a gamble.

Well
actually a Defy and a Gravity Avenue or Liberty can not fit differently; geo is the same
so some people find that to be a good way to save online

on the other hand; most buyers are just as likely to get sized well online as they are in a shop

not much 'gamble' buying online; that is why online sales are growing with all online sellers of bikes; many people just like to get more spec for their budget instead of personal service of a shop

online is not for everyone
neither is buying in a shop

each buyer should decide for themselves
 

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From everything you've offered thus far and considering your intended purposes, I think you'd do ok with either race or relaxed geo. FWIW, except for the duration/ distance of your (anticipated) rides, your description resembles my rides and I ride race geo. As has been mentioned, that's not to say the Z series or Defy won't suite your purposes, but you may prefer a slightly quicker handling bike.

Regarding the Performance bikes, the geo of both closely resemble the F series Felt. The specs are decent on both, but IMO you'd be better served working with your LBS's to get sizing/ fitting assistance. Performance shops track record is spotty.

Another thing. Don't get hung up on frame size numbers. There are no standards for measuring to determine frame size, so a Felt 58 may be another brands 56 - or M, so again it's best to work with a fitter to determine your requirements for the specific bike of interest.

Last thought. It's great to pick everyone's brains here and research specs on the web, but IME the best way to decide your preferences for fit/ feel, ride and handling is to go ride the bikes - as close to back to back as you can because (as you mentioned), memories fade. Judging from your enthusiasm, one of those bikes will surely speak to you.
 

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I also came from an MTB background. (and present!) I was in a similiar dilemma, with similiar options. I ended up getting a quick sizing at a shop (could go with either a 54 or 56) and scanned Craigslist for a week or two. Sure enough, a 2007 Trek 1500 with full 105 Gruppo went up right down the road for $500, size 56. I bought it and put 40-50 miles on it in 2 days right out of the car, haven't gotten it fitted yet.

My biggest reason for buying used is because I don't yet know if I will like road biking. I love MTB, but have never done road. I figured if I bought it cheap I could flip it and not lose money, or if I love it I could flip it and upgrade next year. Basically a win-win. I just didn't want to get a shitty bike and have it give me a bad experience right off the bat so I got a decent bike.
 

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I bought my first new road bike ten years ago. It's still my go-to ride for almost any training/racing/recreational road ride - basically any time I'm riding a road bike for the sake of riding bikes, and won't have to leave it locked up someplace all day. Get the right bike, and you could have it for a long time.

Ironically, I think it's a size too big for me. :p Compact drop bars and a 90mm stem have taken care of that, but if I ever replace the frame, I'll go a bit smaller, so I can run a little larger stem or lower handlebar position. Which is yet another example of how malleable a road bike actually is - it's better to start with something your correct size and for your intended purpose, but there is some flexibility.

I think one of the biggest value-added versus value aspects of the LBS vs. online/Performance/discount bike shop debate is to do with fitting and service. IMO, mountain bikers should know how to do all the service and maintenance tasks on a bike. However, fitting a first road bike is actually not that easy. If you expect to be on it for more than an hour at a time, it's also pretty important. You should ask the shops with the Felts and the Giant what kind of fitting service they provide, what you get for free with a new bike, and what it costs to do on a bike purchased elsewhere. Answers are going to vary a lot, and it's helpful if you have roadie friends to ask where they get fitting done, because not every shop does it or knows what it's doing.

Anyway, if you're looking at where to buy a bike from a strict cost perspective, it's worth considering the money or time you'll throw at fit buying from different places. I think for many people, it's worth paying $75 for the mini-fit or $150 for a more complete one rather than going through several rides worth of tinkering and buying a new stem or a couple of new stems getting it right. Numbers are ballpark figures, of course. You can pay hundreds of dollars if you want to. :p
 

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I own an F5 and test rode a Z85 one day. Both are really nice bikes, and the Z85 is a very very comfortable ride for long days in the saddle. The F75 though is an awesome race bike, very similar to the Cannondale CAAD bikes that a lot of criterium racers choose. It has the new straight fork, BB30, and a pretty bomb-proof wheelset. I think that if you wanted to future proof your bike decision and allow yourself to get into road cycling, have a competitive crit frame, and have something that will serve you well, the F75 is probably the best bet.

However, the Z85, is a great bike too, by removing the spacers and flipping the stem negative (or getting a -17 degree stem) you would be ready for a race.

I don't know much about the Giant, no one around here sells them anymore. They always seem like nice bikes, but obviously I'm partial to Felt seeing that I have both a 2011 F5 and B16 sitting in my house right now.
 
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