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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This will be my first road bike, and I would like it to be a durable and capable race bike if possible for my price range and have a frame that I will want to keep as I upgrade other components. So here is the list of bikes and their prices:

2006 Allez Elite Double - $1,050
2006 Cannondale R700 - $1,100
2006 Cannondale R800 - $1,350
2005 Allez Comp Triple - $1,440

I realize that the last two are 1 and 2 steps above the others, but they represent a $ to value ratio that isn't very clear to me in terms of durability/longevity and performance. Keep in mind that this is a beginner bike, and even though I would like it to be durable. If all these bikes are really starter (or "gateway") bikes, then I would like to get the cheapest bike that I can grow with.
 

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here comes trouble
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Have you ridden the Specialized or C'dale frames yet? Why did you narrow it down to those brands/models? Also, you've listed some bikes with double and some with triple - are you going to be riding lots of hills or can you get by with a double?

Go ride the frames - I'm pretty sure the two Allez frames are very similar, and I know for sure that the C'dale r700 and r800 are both CAAD8 frames. So go to the shop and ride the bikes - out of the parking lot, down the street. Really spend some time on each frame.

Decide whether you like the Specialized or the C'dale best based on the test ride. If you don't have a clear preference, then get the one that best fits your budget, or the color you like best, or whatever. Just pick a reason and buy it. All of those bikes are solid.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I've ridden the Allez Elite double and liked it, but I was just about convinced by an LBS sales person that the R700 had certain qualities namely the frame and wheelset that put it a bit above the Allez. I really like Cdale bikes and Specialized bikes in general. The Trek 1500 doesn't do much for me, mostly because I don't like the color (shallow I know). I can't find a store anywhere that has the R700 or the R800 in my area for a test ride, so my favorite LBS will have to special order it. I am leary of doing that before at least a test ride on the bike. I will beleive that they are all solid bikes, but I would like to know if anyone can tell me why they think either of the Cdales might be worth ordering for an otherwise blind date. The store is reputable and the sales person seemed sincere in that he didn't try to upsell me or pressure sell me and was seemed more concerned with getting me the best value for me rather than unloading current inventory. I would appreciate any input on the different merits of these bikes though.

The '05 Allez Comp is $100 bucks over the R800 and available only in a triple at a different and not-so-local bike store. But is just slightly out of my price range (namely $100). But it could be a real value at that price. Don't really know enough to be sure.
 

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here comes trouble
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Personally, if it's $100 more than you want to spend, don't buy it.

In terms of drive train, the R800 is 10speed 105 where the rest are 9speed 105 (or Ultegra on the Comp). So the difference between the Allez Comp and the Allez Elite would not be enough reason for me, personally, to justify spending out of my comfort zone. I doubt you will notice the difference, honestly, between an Ultegra 9speed and 105 9speed. You probably will, however, notice the difference in shifting between bikes with double and triple chainrings. The shifting on a double is smoother because the chain is shorter and the range of gears is smaller.

Are there any shops in the not-too-far range that you could call to see if they stock a Cannondale R-00 in your size? I understand being hesitant to order a frame you've never ridden. I live in a cycling black hole in NW Florida and, like yourself, was very interested in the Cdale CAAD8 frame, but the local shop didn't have any that fit. I ended up driving to a shop in the Atlanta area to ride the bikes I was interested in. I loved the CAAD8 frame - ended up ordering an R1000 fem.

Bottom line is, don't spend out of your comfort range. And don't forget to budget for helmet, shoes, pedals, tubes and any other accessories you might want like a cycling computer, gloves, shorts, etc.
 

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Not liking the color is, IMO, not being shallow. If you buy a great bike, but think it's ugly looking, you'll never like it no matter what.
 

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Others may think differently, but I would never buy a bike without having a chance to ride one. I don't know how far you have to travel to a city with a bike store with a decent selection, but it would be worth the trip. I'm not suggesting you buy out of town, but that you at least have a chance to check the fit.

Good luck.

Scott
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well I do live in a fairly big town, but the newer cannondales seem to be low in stock and high in demand. There is an REI that has the R700 after all, I will ride it tomorrow to see if I like the fit. But as far as 9spd vs 10 spd, is there a performance difference, or is it just a new standard to make people upgrade (ala Microsoft)?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I really liked the feel of the R700. The ride was very sweet, nimble, and fast. I think it was a little quicker on the acceleration than the Elite but I rode the Specialized last week on a different (more bumpy surface), so it's hard to be sure. One thing I think I noticed was flex in the cranks on the Allez. The R700 I couldn stand up and hammer away and thing just took off.

One thing that I'm wondering about is the wheelset, I weigh about 170lbs. Can anyone tell me which wheelset would be more durable. The bladed Shimano WH 550 or the round spoked Alex ALX 298?
 

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some things

at 170lbs, you don't need to worry about wheel build strength - you are not that heavy.
if your LBS has one, look at the Giant TCR 2. It's what I ride, a great bike.

as for color: fit and function comes first. color is the frosting on the cake. that said, I just bought a c-dale rush 800 mtn bike, and I really wanted mat black, which was not an option. I had to get bright red, which i really, really do not like. I will admit that the color is preventing this bike from being "perfect" for me, but I bought the right size at the right price, with the right components.
 

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Windrider (Stubborn)
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If it's your first bike.........

get the cheapest bike that you "seem" to like the ride of.

First of all, if it's your first bike, a test ride is almost useless since you have no idea what a good bike feels like. In addition, wheels, tires and inflaction affect the ride more than almost any other variable, differences bike to bike can distort the test ride.

Secondly, there is one thing that is certain. If you buy the bike and really get into more than just casual "sunday" riding (NTTAWWT), you will be buying a new bike relativly soon. Your fit will change dramatically as you get more fit and "dial in" your position.

I know it's not as sexy, but if it's my money, I'd go on line to a couple of fit calculators shop around and see what LBS's recoomend in terms of size and then find a used bike that came close to fitting. I'd monkey with the stem a little and then ride the hell out of it for a year or so. Only then would I begin shopping for a new bike.

But that is me.

Len
 

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Find a bike that fits but be sure to pick a bike from the LBS with the best service. A friend and I compared notes, we bought the same bikes but from different shops. The service I get and the part replacement is superior to what he is getting. Now he realizes he dealt with the wrong shop and is going to switch for future purchases and service.
Here are exmaples so far:
Bike Fitting
My shop - Free 2 hours on trainer w/owner making adjustments and readjust in 90 days
His shop minor seat adjustment and nothing else.

Warranty & service
My shop - free regular FD & RD adjustments, free wheel rebuild, free upgrade and replacement w/ carbon fiber seat post, free tire mounting, free instruction on chain cleaning, free handlebar tape and cable replacement at 1 year, free loaner bike and wheels. etc. etc
His shop - nothing
 

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When you're first starting out, color is probably a bit more important. as it should be, cause if it's ugly, you won't want to ride it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Lots of great advice here, thanks!

I've logged alot of hours on my mountain bike, so I can certainly tell some differences between the Cannondale set up and the Allez. The Allez feels less stable and less efficient to me when I'm accelerating, but quicker and more nimble in the turns . The Rx00's all feel like I can accelerate faster and more stably (since all of my energy is going foward and not into maintaining a straight line), but it is a tad wider in the turns and not as nimble in traffic. I test rode both on a busy downtown street and I felt like the Allez was more responsive (almost a little too responsive!) in the steering.

It almost seems to me that the Allez could teach me alot about balance and help me develope a steady pedal stroke, while allowing me to better dodge sudden obstacles in traffic. While the Cdale could ease my entrance into road cycling with a more stable platform. I imagine group rides would be easier on the Cdale since I would be able to make a straighter line than on the Allez.

Disclaimer: These differences might stem from the designs of the frames or maybe just my fit on them.


But what would you more experienced riders recommend? Stability or twitchyness? -for a newbie roadie who has no clue which is more valuable and really enjoys the look and fit of both bikes alot.
 
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