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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, nice to meet with you. I am been riding MTB for 5 year on trail and street, and never have a road bike before. Now, I am thinking to commute to work about 18-19 miles each way, and on the market for a road bike.
I can go with the major brand like Specialized, Trek, and Cannondale. They all have wonderful reviews and publicized a lot. On the other side, on bikedirect they have brand like Windsor, Motobecane, Mercier. With the same price you can get much better components.
Example:
For aluminum frame and carbon fork, ignoring the geometry and bikefit.
On LBS, and online:
Specialized Allez Compact use mostly Shimano 2300 ($770) and Cannondale CAAD8 Sore ($850). For Allez and CAAD8 to use Ultegra, the price is in the neighborhood of $2000.
On bikedirect:
Windsor Knight, and Motobecane Sprinter using Ultegra mix ($899) and Mercier using Ultegra mix ($1099).
If I would like to spend a $1000, is it better to invest in better components, or the frame?
For components is obvious 105 better the Tiagra, and Ultegra better then 105. On frame, I am not so clear, if one is better than the other. Many of them are made by the same company. I know some more experience riders may prefer one frame then the other, but for me I would not be able to tell the different. Please give your input on this one. Thanks
 

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I don't see this so much a frame versus components convo as I do a LBS versus online convo.

First off, since we ride bikes, you can't put aside geo/ bike fit. It's the most important aspect of the bike buying process. And if you get sizing wrong and ride in discomfort, component level isn't going to make the ride any more pleasant.

What you're 'paying more' for at your LBS are the value added services like; a general discussion about what type of bike may best suite your intended uses/ goals, sizing/ fit assistance, the ability to test ride, final assembly/ tuning, warranty assistance and post purchase services like tweaks to fit, minor adjustments/ tuning, and discounts on accessories purchases.

Also, consider your wrenching skills. Being a MTB'er you may know your way around your bike, but if not, buying online you'll still need to tap the LBS as a resource - narrowing the online cost savings.

Re: the frame quality themselves, IMO and generally speaking, the Specialized Allez and C'dale frames will be of higher quality than the BD offerings. I don't know about the C'dale, but the Allez has a higher level of finish (smooth welds) that some others don't offer.

That's not to say some BD offerings are in some way 'bad', but I'd bet after seeing all of the brands/ models you mentioned, if they were all the same price, you'd walk away with a name brand bike.
 

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My take on this is that you need to do the reading up on BD and have an understanding that at least in the cheaper end of the market, bikes etc are made by the same factories in the same places with different branding stickers on them. BD seems to just have bikes that are really not branded per se, so you are not paying through the nose for the branding that goes with this territory, if you are prepared to do a bit more legwork you will get way more bike for your money online in off brand bikes. The snobbery value is never to be underestimated though. this is a real driver of the bike market. We have had several BD bikes and there is a lot of bike for your dollar. But I am frugal by nature and it doesn't matter to me if my bike says moto or kestrel because I get that part is really irrelevant. It is a bike like apple vs pc. I just ride.
 

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Hi all, nice to meet with you. I am been riding MTB for 5 year on trail and street, and never have a road bike before. Now, I am thinking to commute to work about 18-19 miles each way, and on the market for a road bike.
I can go with the major brand like Specialized, Trek, and Cannondale. They all have wonderful reviews and publicized a lot. On the other side, on bikedirect they have brand like Windsor, Motobecane, Mercier. With the same price you can get much better components.
Example:
For aluminum frame and carbon fork, ignoring the geometry and bikefit.
On LBS, and online:
Specialized Allez Compact use mostly Shimano 2300 ($770) and Cannondale CAAD8 Sore ($850). For Allez and CAAD8 to use Ultegra, the price is in the neighborhood of $2000.
On bikedirect:
Windsor Knight, and Motobecane Sprinter using Ultegra mix ($899) and Mercier using Ultegra mix ($1099).
If I would like to spend a $1000, is it better to invest in better components, or the frame?
For components is obvious 105 better the Tiagra, and Ultegra better then 105. On frame, I am not so clear, if one is better than the other. Many of them are made by the same company. I know some more experience riders may prefer one frame then the other, but for me I would not be able to tell the different. Please give your input on this one. Thanks

Like PJ has already stated, you'll get extra much needed services and perks, by going with your local bike shop.

Also, bikesdirect has bargain prices for really decent bikes. Most of the bicycle frames that are featured on the Bikesdirect website, are manufactured by a very reputable company based in Taiwan called, Kinesis. Kinesis makes bicycle frames for many iconic bicycle brands such as Diamondback, Raleigh, Felt, Schwinn, GT, Jamis, Mercier, Motobecane, K2, Trek, Kross, Kona, Dawes, and Windsor.

In my opinion, Kinesis makes bicycle frames of an excellent quality. These days, no matter what type of frame material used to make your bicycle, you will be satisfied with both its engineering and construction, if Kinesis has anything to do with it.

That said, I have noticed the smooth and refined welds on the aluminum bicycle frames now being produced by most major bicycle companies these days. It would appear, that the art of bicycle welding now seems to be well infused into bicycle technology. Welds are getting so smooth now, sometimes at first glance, you can't tell if a bicycle frame is made of CF or aluminum!

Kinesis Industry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 

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Since posters are mentioning branding/ decaling and factories producing a number of the frames in question, I think it's worth noting that there can be (and are) differences in the quality of the finished products within the same factories.

It's established fact that QC levels can vary within these facilities, and the level of expertise of the 'technicians' (welders) can vary by brand (BD is a brand), model and assembly line. So, just because something's built by Kinesis, doesn't mean everything that comes out of the factory is of equal quality. With varying manufacturing tolerances, welds can be sloppy, frame alignment off, or any number of minor defects can be accepted by QC.

Also, there's advances in technology to be considered. BD tends to market yesterday's technology, which (over time), reduces amortization costs. This savings is passed on to the consumer, many of whom are more concerned with the bottom line (price) than state of the art.

All things considered, not necessarily a bad thing for that type of buyer, but it does point up that there are compromises made beyond the loss of LBS's value added services.
 

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Since posters are mentioning branding/ decaling and factories producing a number of the frames in question, I think it's worth noting that there can be (and are) differences in the quality of the finished products within the same factories.

It's established fact that QC levels can vary within these facilities, and the level of expertise of the 'technicians' (welders) can vary by brand (BD is a brand), model and assembly line. So, just because something's built by Kinesis, doesn't mean everything that comes out of the factory is of equal quality. With varying manufacturing tolerances, welds can be sloppy, frame alignment off, or any number of minor defects can be accepted by QC.

Also, there's advances in technology to be considered. BD tends to market yesterday's technology, which (over time), reduces amortization costs. This savings is passed on to the consumer, many of whom are more concerned with the bottom line (price) than state of the art.

All things considered, not necessarily a bad thing for that type of buyer, but it does point up that there are compromises made beyond the loss of LBS's value added services.
True. Given the attributes of human nature, quality control is most important. That said, human nature is a constant, along with our continuous tendency to err. Therefore, no bicycle brand is immune to this constant. Subsequently, a most fastidious QC department is imperative in order to consistently manufacture quality bicycle frames throughout the years.
 

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True. Given the attributes of human nature, quality control is most important. That said, human nature is a constant, along with our continuous tendency to err. Therefore, no bicycle brand is immune to this constant. Subsequently, a most fastidious QC department is imperative in order to consistently manufacture quality bicycle frames throughout the years.
Also, true. But my (QC) point was that there are acceptable variations in manufacturing tolerances that are broader than what may be accepted on another line, within the same factory.

Most would agree that most every product is built to a price point, and when prices are cut to the bone and profits slim (as they are with some of BD's offerings), compromises have to be made. The above example being one.

On the flip side, the compromise buying a name brand from an LBS is you will pay more, but (IMO) will get more in the way of quality and services.
 

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The original question has not been directly answered. In my opinion, the frame is what makes the bike ride the way it rides. These days, most shifters and derailleurs shift more-or-less flawlessly when properly adjusted. The feel and smoothness may differ, and if you are racing the ability to shift under power may differ, but for the most part you push the lever and get the next gear. Likewise, some brakes are easier to modulate, but most will lock the wheel, given good pads. It is the frame that determines if the bike feels stable on a fast twisty descent, or if it responds quickly, feels dead or lively, and so on. I am not fast, don't race, and would rather have a nicer frame with lower grade components (which, as a matter of fact, is what I have!).
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I am not totally eliminating LBS. In fact I am going to buy a service pack from Performance, and they will check to make sure everything is perfect. I know some bike maintenance and repair, but not an expert.

MY thought is along the line of Zeet. This is what I got from my research about BD: Motobencane, Windsor, and Mercier are their house brands among other brands. They are all made by Kinesis just like Zeet said. Same reviews from articles and people in bike forums regarding their bikes under the three labels I mention above, were positives.
I specifically select BD because their business model is little different from most online stores. They very narrowly focus on limited number of brands that do not put a lot of marketing budgets. Looks like they carry most the Kinesis own brands. Occasionally they have some popular models like Fuji, and Kestrel that are one or two years old.

I am in the automotive aftermarket manufacturing industry. Almost all the times, all products have to pass the standard safety and quality. Costumers paying more for less weight or better material, design(including better paint and flashier look), and marketing. Helmet is one good example.

I don't know if bike frames are the same, but I pretty sure some part of it you are paying for design and marketing, for the popular brands.
 

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The original question has not been directly answered. In my opinion, the frame is what makes the bike ride the way it rides.

It is the frame that determines if the bike feels stable on a fast twisty descent, or if it responds quickly, feels dead or lively, and so on. I am not fast, don't race, and would rather have a nicer frame with lower grade components (which, as a matter of fact, is what I have!).
I agree on all counts and I would add that the framesets geo is what dictates fit, which in turn can affect handling.

The frameset is the heart of the bike, with all else bolting to it, making those parts swappable. Initially, I'd put more money into the IT than I would components.
 

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I specifically select BD because their business model is little different from most online stores. They very narrowly focus on limited number of brands that do not put a lot of marketing budgets. Looks like they carry most the Kinesis own brands. Occasionally they have some popular models like Fuji, and Kestrel that are one or two years old.
A couple of points worth noting here.... Kinesis has no 'brands' of its own. Rather, they're 'brands' that BD has purchased the rights to and contracted Kinesis (among others) to manufacture. They're now defunct brands of yesteryear - Moto being just one example.

I am in the automotive aftermarket manufacturing industry. Almost all the times, all products have to pass the standard safety and quality. Costumers paying more for less weight or better material, design(including better paint and flashier look), and marketing. Helmet is one good example.
That may hold true in your industry, but (helmets excepted) the bicycle industry is largely unregulated, so there are varying degrees of quality and quality control.

I don't know if bike frames are the same, but I pretty sure some part of it you are paying for design and marketing, for the popular brands.
There's no question that (to an extent) a consumer pays more for a name brand. But that doesn't mean that you get nothing for it. As you mention, BD sells some name brands, but they're a couple (or more) years old.

This means they buy (older technology) for less and pass some of the savings on to the consumer. Might mean you get less than smooth welds or straight gauge tubing over double or triple butting - or heavier/ lower modulus CF. You may not care, but if/ when the day comes to sell, the buyer may, making that BD bikes resale value lower than another name brand.
 

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I agree with the above sentiments. The frame is the soul of the riding experience. After all, one could bolt the best group to 2 frames and have two entirely different experiences.

I don't subscribe to the idea that only name brand bikes can offer a good ride, or that one should pay a premium just to ride a fancy, well regarded bike. But I also think that paying to get the bike that you want is wise, and taking shortcuts on price in search of value that is solely based on specs (weight, tubing, group, etc) is shortsighted. There are $250 used steel frames that might be more enjoyable to some compared to something newer and pricier. There's so much about the bike riding experience that can't be quantified because it is so subjective.
 

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Her is my very personal opinion which many may not agree on. At the very bottom end, I would say that components are of greater importance to me than frame. That is of course not saying that geo, fit, and direct impacts to the ability to ride are included in this, as that is the first importance. If the frame does not do what you want it to, all is for nothing. But after that, you will see vast improvements in the quality of components and wheels as you step up. I don't think the majority of people can tell a huge difference between a bottom end aluminum frame that is a Motobecane and Specialized. But you can tell a huge difference between current 2300 and Sora (shifting type, 8 vs. 9 speed), Sora vs. Tiagra (9 vs. 10 speed), and old vs. new Sora. That said, after you get past Tiagra, IMO the differences are much more minute and I would go into other areas of importance (frame material/quality, wheels, etc.). IMO, for the average rider there is not enough difference in any of the SRAM line to warrant spending more on this upgrade vs. other areas.

Few things to keep in mind about BD bikes. As one mentioned, frequently they will utilize older generations of components, even on a "2013" bike. You need to be very clear that if you are getting Sora, and want the dual paddles of current Sora (which I would not personally buy less than), you check to be sure the model you are getting has what you want. Do not go by pictures (either way) as BD frequently say they reserve the right to change things from the pictures. I would verify it in the webpage or specifically ask the question.

I also think the focus of the OP's question is a bit too specific. The variances in quality go much further than just paying for a better frame or getting a higher level of drivetrain/shifters. Tyipcally, when you go up the lines (both BD and name brand) you get a whole host of other upgrades as well. Wheels are a big part of this, and should not be ignored. This is especially true with the BD bikes. They tend to focus on the components, and then the wheels, but leave the rest a bit lacking until you get to the upper level models. Most people don't make their decision on a bike based upon the grip tape, seat post, stem, saddle, etc. So this is a big area BD saves money. I have a Motobecane bike with Rival, and I love the bike. But the items I listed above are far lacking vs. what came stock on my Specialized Allez. BD bikes can be a great value, but you get what you pay for at times. What you miss out on with BD bikes is the services of a local shop and some refinement on the less focused parts.
 

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Her is my very personal opinion which many may not agree on. At the very bottom end, I would say that components are of greater importance to me than frame. That is of course not saying that geo, fit, and direct impacts to the ability to ride are included in this, as that is the first importance. If the frame does not do what you want it to, all is for nothing. But after that, you will see vast improvements in the quality of components and wheels as you step up. I don't think the majority of people can tell a huge difference between a bottom end aluminum frame that is a Motobecane and Specialized. But you can tell a huge difference between current 2300 and Sora (shifting type, 8 vs. 9 speed), Sora vs. Tiagra (9 vs. 10 speed), and old vs. new Sora. That said, after you get past Tiagra, IMO the differences are much more minute and I would go into other areas of importance (frame material/quality, wheels, etc.). IMO, for the average rider there is not enough difference in any of the SRAM line to warrant spending more on this upgrade vs. other areas.

Few things to keep in mind about BD bikes. As one mentioned, frequently they will utilize older generations of components, even on a "2013" bike. You need to be very clear that if you are getting Sora, and want the dual paddles of current Sora (which I would not personally buy less than), you check to be sure the model you are getting has what you want. Do not go by pictures (either way) as BD frequently say they reserve the right to change things from the pictures. I would verify it in the webpage or specifically ask the question.

I also think the focus of the OP's question is a bit too specific. The variances in quality go much further than just paying for a better frame or getting a higher level of drivetrain/shifters. Tyipcally, when you go up the lines (both BD and name brand) you get a whole host of other upgrades as well. Wheels are a big part of this, and should not be ignored. This is especially true with the BD bikes. They tend to focus on the components, and then the wheels, but leave the rest a bit lacking until you get to the upper level models. Most people don't make their decision on a bike based upon the grip tape, seat post, stem, saddle, etc. So this is a big area BD saves money. I have a Motobecane bike with Rival, and I love the bike. But the items I listed above are far lacking vs. what came stock on my Specialized Allez. BD bikes can be a great value, but you get what you pay for at times. What you miss out on with BD bikes is the services of a local shop and some refinement on the less focused parts.
Just always remember this one caveat when it comes to bicycle ride and service evaluation:

"The bicycle frame is the heart of the bicycle"

If you place a Dura Ace gruppo upon a frame that's too stiff and jarring, a Dura Ace gruppo will NOT improve upon your cycling experience.
 
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