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Greenhorn rider
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi fellow enthusiast,

I just got back into cycling after 20 years when my 5 year old wanted a bike for his birthday

I bought a Trek 7.3fx mainly to ride with him and to shed some kilos in early Aug 10. I have done about 100kms and lost 1 inch off the waistline in 4 weeks. An achievement that I struggled with my gym. It certainly got the cycling bug biting me hard.

I was in my lbs last week tuning the fx and tried out the Trek 1.5 road bike. I was taken back on how easy it was to climb hills on road bikes compared to my flat bar hybrid. That kept me thinking of buying one (after 4 weeks on the Trek fx. I must be going mad here). Was offered a 2010 Trek 2.3 at a very tempting price.

Starting looking around over last weekend and found a 2010 Specialized Allez Comp for A$1500. I walked into the shop and was recommended a 2010 Tarmac Elite instead for $400 more (The retail price in Australia is ~ $3500). He suggested that it's CF frame is way better than aluminium and its best to buy the best frame available. I was somehow convinced and put down a non-refundable deposit. I'm now thinking if it has been a rational decision. I know it is difficult to make rational when you buy the toys that you like.

I was reading the Specialized website and it says that the Roubaix Elite is a fair more friendlier bike to ride than the Tarmac Elite but will cost me a further A$300. Totalling to $800 over my initial budget. The shop owner said that my recreational riding will not have a significant impact and he will set up the bike to my size and riding style (with his new computer system). Personally, I like the colours on the Tarmac Elite.

Question - Moving into mid life crisis and wanting a new toy, should I add the extra cash and get the Roubaix or stick to the Tarmac Elite or go back to the Allez Comp? I will be mainly doing 1-2hrs riding on weekends and will continue the weekday fitness regime and office commute with the Trek fx.
 

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I have a 2010 Roubaix Expert, and I've ridden steel and aluminum before in the more classical "racing" geometry. Riding a Roubaix is a revelation for those that don't really feel like being in a racing position. I'm 6'1" and back up to 265, and it doesn't sway or distort in any discernible manner and is very, VERY comfortable.

I imagine the Tarmac is along the same lines for those that love being in a more classical racing position with faster handling characteristics. I think the Tarmac is great, and I can fit on one as well. I might consider one once I drop all the weight and can comfortably stay in that position for 3-6 hours at a shot. But for now, I have my Roubaix and I love it. It's something to think about. And yes, carbon fiber is drastically different from other materials, and depending on manufacturer and design can yield a completely different feeling and feedback sensation.
 

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I didn't read anywhere that you test rode the Tarmac before you threw down a deposit. If you didn't test ride, that's quite unprofessional of your LBS to take a non-refundable deposit.

What you need to do is ride all of these bikes before you throw ANY money on the table.
 

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Greenhorn rider
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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
There wasn't any 52cm size in the shop for all 3. I tried the Allez 54cm. A bit big and it felt alright.

That was his reason to recommend for me to get the Tarmac saying it will be very rare opportunity to get a Tarmac for $400 extra.

It is difficult to test ride run out models.
 

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Cycling induced anoesis
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13,006 Posts
A lot of this depends on a riders perceptions and cycling experiences. I've been riding since the mid '80's on a Bianchi with 'plastic' bar tape, a leather saddle and classic Italian race geometry. When I compare that bike to my Tarmac, the Tarmac rides like a Lexus. Others with differing backgrounds have posted that the Tarmac was too harsh/ twitchy, so they opted for the Roubaix (which I like), but find a little too plain vanilla for my tastes.

As simon stated, the best way to whittle your preferences is to ride all the bikes back to back, but (as I'm well aware) that's not always possible fo a variety of reasons.

I know I'm not helping ease your concerns, but in a way, you're asking others what you would think, given the chance to ride all three bikes. That aside, I'd opt for a Tarmac if it were $400 more than an Allez. Not because the Allez isn't a nice bike, but the Tarmac is more than $400 better. :)
 

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I would second the contention that it is questionable for the lbs to take a nonrefundable deposit on a bike you have not ridden. I think it would be ok if you could use that deposit for another bike if the Tarmac doesn't work out. Otherwise, would they expect you to pay to keep a bike that you can't comfortably ride?

My understanding of the tarmac (and I'm no expert) is that it is built primarily for speed over comfort. For those used to the racing position that is fine, but may not fit your style, and despite the tweaking you may not be comfortable on it. The fact that the guy offered to fit the bike to your style and is offering such a discount suggests he may just be trying to move the bike, rather than find what works for you. If this bike isn't the right bike for you, then it's not a great deal at any price.

It all gets back to riding the bikes. The frame type and trim level are important, but only after finding the bike that fits you best. I think the Allez and tarmac have similar geometry, so if they both work for you, then getting the CF for a minimal increase in price IS a great deal, especially if it comes with better components on the tarmac (not sure). If the Roubaix fits better, and you don't want the price jump, you could drop down to the triple or compact models or go with the Secteur, which I think is the alloy bike with Roubaix-like geometry.

Sounds like you could afford any of these bikes without breaking the bank, so if you love the one you get you'll feel it was money well spent. Good luck!
 

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Greenhorn rider
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
PJ & Red Lantern,

Thanks. Testing all 3 models before deciding would be ideal but I lacked that option. My shallow road bike experience may not have given me the ability to detect the differences. My last road bike was some 20yrs back - steel frame and very cheap components.

I did like the set up of the Trek 1.5. I believe this model's set up is considered fairly racy, similar to the Tarmacs. I mentioned that to him and he said it would be very similar and it will not create a significant impact to my riding patterns ( mainly 2-4 hours weekend road trips at most. I have young kids and I still love my golf. Time is a finite resource for me). The other available options were Avanti and the more expensive 2011 Scott models.
The deposit may not be refundable but it can be used to purchase other items.

Although he is working to clear his floor stocks but this particular Tarmac size had to be ordered in from the outgoing Specialized dealer. He did offered Roubaix at a higher price (15% more) and had to be ordered in too. That would have increased by initial budget by 50%.

Will find out more when I actually do my fitting in a few weeks time
 

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Greenhorn rider
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I stuck to the Tarmac. Although I lack the opportunity to try the Roubaix, I compared the Avanti Quantum (Tarmac's racy geometry) and Avanti Cadent (more upright and softer like the Roubaix).
I found the Cadent to have a more upright and comfortable seating position and very similar to my flat bar road bike. The Cadent was very much more racier and aggressive which I prefer.
The bike is still at the shop. Biggest challenge is to bring it home and show the missus. That should change in a few weeks time .
 
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