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Maybe some of you veterans can help me.....

I am looking for a new road bike to replace my old clunker....

Here is what I am finding at LBSs.

What I want is a comfortable geometry road bike. I would say of the shops i have visited 1/3 of the sales people have NO clue what I want!!

Here is what I've seen:

Specialized Roubaix and Sequoia
Trek Pilot 2.1
Giant OCR 123
Cannondale Synapse Sport

Now here is the frustration: The majority of the shops either do not have the bike at all (they can order it)... OR do not have my size because I am the most popular size,

I can't imagine ordering a bike without riding it first... NO?

So here is the dilemma... do I travel 45 minutes to an hour from my home to find a larger shop that have the bikes in stock?? (and NO I will not travel the hour take up the time of the larger shop and return and buy it from the smaller shop.. NOT FAIR)

I am looking for the bike that FITS me the best. What do I look for in a LBS??

Thanks BB
 

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You should find a shop that has it in stock. Drive the hour, its alot cheaper than wasting over a grand on a bike that doest fit you. The Giant is pretty good from what ive seen and the Specialized Roubaix is an excellent choice. Also consider that even though those bikes are made to be comfy it doesnt mean that others are painful to ride. I have an aluminum Scott speedster and im qute comfy on it. You will probably find that the specialized is one of the better choices and always remember that stems come in many lengths and degrees. Usually a little bit higher of a position will make you feel good on the bike and a stem can do that. As far as trek ive found that although theres nothing wrong with them you can usually find a better bike for the money with a different company. Alot of bike shops have people that may be new and dont know all that much. Get as many opinions as you can on here and look at the manuf. sites as well to gain some knowledge. Also what have you been riding?
 

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haole from the mainland
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Test rides are overrated, IMO. At least short ones are. What is a quick spin around the block going to really tell you?

What I would look for in a LBS would be knowledgeable staff. Don't waste your time on the folks that don't have a clue. Talk to the good sales staff or the shop owner.

Another thing I would look for would be a shop that understands fitting and will do things like swap out stems/bars/seatpost (assuming comparable quality/price) once the bike arrives to get the fit right.

Count me among those that bought a bike without ever riding it. I ordered a Merlin ride & sight unseen. Not a cheap purchase. I trusted the shop owner regarding what frame size to order, although I pretty much knew what size I should get having been riding a bike that was too big. And the shop owner specified to Merlin what size stem/bars/etc. to come with the bike; once the bike arrived he said I could swap stuff out to get a better fit. Also credited me full price for the Cane Creek headset that came with the bike to go towards the purchase of a King. That's customer service.

Also, for the first couple months after I had the bike I was in the shop every couple of weeks to get my cables adjusted as they stretched out (common on a new bike). Easy to do when I pass the shop on my way home from my ride.

The bikes you listed (not sure about the Giants) are all designed for more upright road riding. Felt's Z-series bikes (the Z35 is full carbon for not much more than the Pilot 2.1) are also designed that way. At the wallet-busting end of the spectrum is the Cervelo RS.


bikeblab said:
Maybe some of you veterans can help me.....

I am looking for a new road bike to replace my old clunker....

Here is what I am finding at LBSs.

What I want is a comfortable geometry road bike. I would say of the shops i have visited 1/3 of the sales people have NO clue what I want!!

Here is what I've seen:

Specialized Roubaix and Sequoia
Trek Pilot 2.1
Giant OCR 123
Cannondale Synapse Sport

Now here is the frustration: The majority of the shops either do not have the bike at all (they can order it)... OR do not have my size because I am the most popular size,

I can't imagine ordering a bike without riding it first... NO?

So here is the dilemma... do I travel 45 minutes to an hour from my home to find a larger shop that have the bikes in stock?? (and NO I will not travel the hour take up the time of the larger shop and return and buy it from the smaller shop.. NOT FAIR)

I am looking for the bike that FITS me the best. What do I look for in a LBS??

Thanks BB
 

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I picked the well known brands because I am a advertisement sucker. Then I went to LBS to test ride them. I tried Trek and Specialized. I tried several different models from each brand. I also tried Lamond. None of them seemed to fit like a glove even though they were all correct size for me. The geometry is different for all bikes. Finally, the Specialized Tarmac Elite was like PERFECT! But it was $1750 and that was over my budget. That was last fall. This spring I went back and test drove more bikes. And ended up with a Specialized Allez Elite for $1025. The Tiagra shifters look more like 105 shifters for 2008 models and it sealed the deal for me. If the old style Tiagra was on the Allez, I would have bought the Tarmac............ I love the Tarmac.........
 

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ask them to get a test ride

Just because the LBS doesn't have your size in stock doesn't mean they can't get one for you to test ride. Their distributors have demos that they can send just for a test ride without any commitment from you to buy it. All they have to do is pick up the phone. If you tell the LBS that you want to ride those bikes in your size before picking one out, they can accomodate. If they don't, they are being lazy and not doing their job.
 

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figure out your fit....

A bike taken off the showroom floor and test ridden will probably not have the right stem length or height, the wrong saddle fore/aft position and only a close saddle height, if it's quickly adjusted before the ride. A test ride like this tells you NOTHING about the fit. It will give you a small inkling of how it rides and handles, but only if the tire pressure is correct and you have a test route with some challenging terrain.

You should never need to ride a bike to know if it fits, as long as you have a previous bike that does fit. That bike will provide you with the essential information - the frame reach, stem length and the handlebar height.

I build up my own bikes, so I buy bare frames and haven't test ridden a bike since 1992.

Frame reach is combination of the TT length and the seat tube angle. If you only compare the TT lengths, you may come to the wrong conclusion. For example, my current bike has a 53cm TT and 74.5 degree STA. If I see another frame that I want to buy, but it has a 54cm TT, that may means it's too long, but not if the STA is different. If the STA was only 73.5 degrees, the two frames would actually fit almost identically, once the saddle was in the same position relative to the BB.

The other critical item to consider it the head tube length, with the headset and spacers. I need a total length of 145mm, with an 84 degree stem, to get the handlebar height I want. If the frame under consideration has a head tube that requires too many spacers, it's too small. If the head tube is longer than 145mm with the headset and no spacers, it might be useable, but only if the stem angle is changed.
 

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I can't imagine driving an hour to buy a bike. Ideally, you want to establish a relationship with a "local" LBS, because that's how you get a lot of long-term value. Good relationship = quicker service, cheaper parts, etc. If your LBS is an hour drive away, you'll waste a lot of time and money driving back and forth for free tune-ups, etc.

You say one-third of the salespeople are not helpful. What about the other two-thirds? What about talking to a manager? bikemoore is right. A shop should be able to get you a demo bike to try. But more important, you need a bike shop that knows bike fit. Look for a shop that also sells custom, made-to-order bikes like Serotta or Seven or Independent Fabrication. They should have someone there trained in bike fit. Good luck.
 

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team_sheepshead said:
Look for a shop that also sells custom, made-to-order bikes like Serotta or Seven or Independent Fabrication. They should have someone there trained in bike fit. Good luck.
To emphasize what TS said. Anyone who sells Serrota or Seven will have a fit bike that can be configured in the same geometry as the bike they don't have in stock. You can determine allot from riding the fit bike for a couple of minutes.
 

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Test rides

Test rides are only good if you can get one out of the shop for at least a ten miler. A spin around the parking lot won't tell you much. I did not test ride my old Colnago Master X-Light, I was fitted for it. With a guarantee if I did not like it I could return it and get my money back. It now rests in my garage with over 33,000 miles. Geometry tells you a lot but with carbon bikes you have to ride them as they ride different. If you have to travel one hour to test ride the bike you are interested in, I'd do it. At least it would give you an idea of the sizing. Big downfall I guess is bringing that bike into your LBS to have it serviced. I'd also broaden your search. I purchased a Trek Madone SL5.9 last year. I was not shopping for one and would not dream that I would consider a Trek. Price also was a deciding factor as it was marked down from $5,000 to $3,700.

I was also in sort of a unique situation as I have been doing business with my LBS for over 18 years. They knew me and let me take the bike out of the shop for a good test ride. Don't know if they would do that for anyone. So ask if you can do that.

Take you time, don't jump into anything. Since you seem sort of unsure about fitting, you might see if you can find a shop that will fit you. You might be charged, but some shops will chop the fitting fee off the price of the bike. There are some online bike fitting charts. Colorado Cyclist and Wrenchscience (all I can think of now). Who fits you is important, but it will give you an idea.
 

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haole from the mainland
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There is a lot of adjustability, although there are limits. For example, I ride a 49cm, the smallest size in the frame I bought. I use an 80mm stem, but would be reluctant to go much shorter (80-120mm are considered standard stem lengths) because the steering could become a bit twitchy.

But the saddle height, saddle setback, saddle tilt, handlebar height, stem length, type of handlebar, etc. are all able to be changed with ease on a modern road bike to give you the best fit. If you test ride a bike, how it 'feels' will be product of the frame geometry plus all these other factors. If any of them are off, the bike's not going to feel right. But how will you know what's off?

Also bear in mind that 'fit' is a moving target. Especially if you're moving from a flat-bar road bike. Your fit when you first get the bike is probably going to be different than after 6 months or even 1 month of riding, when your body had adjusted to the position. If you bought from a local shop, you can easily pop in and have fit adjustments made.

Find the smart folks at your local shops and pick their brains about fit before you drive to the shop an hour away. Since this is going to be your first road bike, buying local is more likely to be the best investment.
 

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bikeblab said:
Now I am confused.....

Are you saying that all bikes (in the same category) are the same and the FIT can be adjusted by an excellent bike fitter???
No. I'm saying find a store with a Fit Bike. It's a piece of shop equipment that any LBS that does custom ordering will have. You've likely seen them on floors.


Using the geometry specs for the Pilot, the Sirrus, etc the shop should be able to configure the Fit Bike to the same reach, slack, etc that you would experience on those bikes whose size they don't have in stock.

It goes without saying that you probably don't want try this with a 17 year old part timer who's there to save up enough money to buy a car.
 

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C-40 said:
Frame reach is combination of the TT length and the seat tube angle. If you only compare the TT lengths, you may come to the wrong conclusion. For example, my current bike has a 53cm TT and 74.5 degree STA. If I see another frame that I want to buy, but it has a 54cm TT, that may means it's too long, but not if the STA is different. If the STA was only 73.5 degrees, the two frames would actually fit almost identically, once the saddle was in the same position relative to the BB.
Great post - something I have always wondered about - is there a general guideline to the STA compared to TT length? For example - is 1 degree of angle =1cm of length?

Thanks,

Zach
 

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Power Napper
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Why I didn't buy local, though I deal local now.

team_sheepshead said:
I can't imagine driving an hour to buy a bike.

Depends on where you live. Not everyone lives in an urban area with a bike shop nearly on every corner. Where I live in northern New Mexico the closest bike shop is now 30 minutes away. Over the past ten years 2 shops that were more convenient (one at which I bought 2 mtn bikes) closed. At the time I was buying a road bike the three shops in Santa Fe were fairly small and didn't have what I was looking for. I am a small female and shops don't typically build up bikes in my size. I wasn't all that impressed with shops in Albuquerque either. (nearly a two hours drive away)

I wanted input from friends with more experience bike shopping that I had, so I actually flew to the SF Bay Area over a weekend (frequent flyer miles rock!) My friend had already called around to see who had what in my size. After visiting 5 shops and doing a short test ride on 8-10 different bikes I narrowed my choice down to 3 bikes and arranged to take them out for a longer test the next day. When I chose the bike I wanted I bought it and flew home. The shop was going to swap out a couple parts for me and then ship it. I got it 3 weeks later and I am now on my 8th season with it. I do most of the simple maintenance myself. I have had it in to 2 local shops for stuff I couldn't or didn't have time or tools to do. Just because you buy a bike somewhere else doesn't preclude establishing a relationship locally. The main guy who works on my bikes now is great, but he doesn't sell much, he's primarily a mechanic, tho the best one around IMO. I am now looking to buy a new bike and will try to go through him.

So my bit of advice would be go where you are going to get what you need and enjoy riding. Don't let the "free-tune ups" decide for you. A lot of that stuff you can do yourself.
 

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As some people have said you cant tell much from a short test ride. But what you can tell is if you dont like the bike. When buying my last mountain bike I tested about 10 and 7 of those were ruled out within about 10 minutes.
 
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