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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I have narrowed down my search for a new road bike and need some input. I am upgrading from an '01 Trek 5200OCLV 120/Ultegra/Rolf Vector Comps/King headset. (otherwise stock)

I've test ridden several bikes: Pinarello Prince, F-413, Orbea Opal, Scott CR-1, Trek 5.9SL Madone, Specialized Roubaix Comp (No Roubaix Pro's available), Cannondale Synapse 1 Carbon.All bikes were Dura-ace spec'd or Campy Chorus with simlar quality wheels and other parts.

I immediately liked the ride of the Cannondale Synapse. On the Trek 5.9SL Madone, I immediately felt a quickness and lightness that no other bike presented. Was it just in my head? I don't think so. I swapped pedals right after riding the Orba Opal and the Trek is just like a rocket. I really didn't want to love the Synapse, but I can't get it's ride and comfort off my mind either. It is the best value/spec'd bike and cheaper than my other front Runner, New '05 Trek 5.9SL Madone.

I realize they are different steeds, the Trek being more a race bike/climber, and the Synapse more of a comfort/performance bike. Both are very smooth, both fit well, both have Dura-ace 10 spd (sweet), great wheels (Trek: Bontrager Race X Lite Special edition with laser engraved graphics), Synapse: (Kysrium SL's) both have nice carbon frames, carbon bars, carbon forks etc.

I am 49, do mostly group rides, distance rides, an occassional Century with most rides being 30-60 miles. I don't race, but I do push my own limits and love going fast downhills. I climb like a beginner (turtle). So a good climber that will make it as easy as possible is a plus. I am 190lbs and usually bottom out around 180lbs. Comfort is important to me. But I think both bikes are very comfy. The synapse is probably a bit more forgiving, but the lightness and responsiveness of the Trek Madone is calling me loudly.

Considerations:

The new Madone 5.0 SL feels very "very" quick and responsive. Much more so than the Synapse. It just feels like a rocket by comparison. The Synapse however offers a Compact crank that will help me climbing and it has FSA K wing bars which I love. I would pay extra to upgrade both on the Trek Madone. On longer rides, will I be more comfortable and happier on a Synapse? Or are they so close, I should go with the lighter, quicker Madone? I am highly seduced by the Trek 5.9SL Madone after riding it. I also think it will hold it's value better over the next 5 years.

I can get the 05 Trek Madone 5.9 SL with the Special edition Bontrager Race X Lite Wheels (laser etched) for $4500. The Synapse is $4400 with Ksyrium SL's, Compact Crank and FSA K wing bar that I would pay to upgrade on the Trek. But I still feel the Trek is quicker and may be the better value in the long run.

Help! Opinions are welcome. Are the Bontager laser Etched Race X-lites as good, same or better than Ksyrium SL's for a rider of my weight? They feel smoother and are quieter. They both look great. Thanks! Gary
 

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From what you've written it sounds like the Madone is speaking to you. If the price difference is negligible (it sounds like it is) then get the Trek and put on the extra components you want, you'll be much happier with the bike and be more likely to get out and ride.
 

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too much

both these bikes are way over priced for the spec you get
especially the Cannondale which has a frame made in China [same factory as used by Fuji and Specialized]

I would really look for a dealer that would cut me a deal on the bike; and also consider the Fuji which you can get for much less money
 

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I'm 54 and 2 years ago I was deciding between a Trek 5200 and a Specialized Roubaix carbon. I decided on the Trek because, like you, I felt it was a bit 'racier' or quicker.
Now I think I should have gotten the Specialized....as I ride more mileage I appreciate the value of comfort.

From what I hear, the Synapse is certainly no slouch. Think very carefully what you value most. The Synapse is not likely to disappoint you.

Although I understand about buying what speaks to you....use your head as well.
 

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Ive ridden both the bikes you speak of and must say, the Synapse is a very comfortable ride. However dont think just because the Synapse is comfy that its not quick. It is.
That being said i found both the bikes to feel very uninspiring. In car terms, theres not enough feedback of whats going on. My ride is a real shaker and would have it no other way, i love it. Forget about what everybody says and buy the bike you love. If its comfort thats your biggest concern, then buy the most comfortable. Whatever you believe it to be and despite where its made or what name it has on the down tube.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
peabody said:
wheels are higher end and lighter, unless they were the ssc sl mavic wheels.
i would do the madone, its a higher end bike and not made in china if that means
anything to you.

The Wheels on the Cannondale Synapse are the Mavic Ksyrium SSC SL Wheels. How do these compare with the Bontrager Special Edition Race X-Lites? I felt like the Bontrager were a bit faster and more compliant. The Mavic Ksyrium SSC SL's are stiffer, and the hub rachets more loudly which I am not fond of, but it is not bad and is not a deal breaker. I've read all the reviews on Roadbike about both wheels and it seems that both have many riders who love them and never had any trouble, and others have had wheel splits and spokes pull out. My Trek dealer says he's seen that on Ksyriums SSC SL's more often than anything. Says the Bontrager X Lites are a better ride and more reliable. I've heard the exact opposite from other sources. What do you guys think?

The weight difference between the X Lites and the Kysrium SL's is not that great to be of much relevance. Although I've read the cross winds affect the Mavic wheels a bit more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The Carlster said:
I realize this is not answering the Q per se - but if you dont' look at the 613 you'll be selling yourself short. I paid more for the 613 than I would have for a Madone 5.9 and am incredibally glad I did.
I'll Test Ride a 613 for sure. I've read too many rave reviews to not check it out as well. Did you compare the ride qualities of the 613 to the Madone SL by any chance? Ride both? Any idea how the 613 compare with the CAAD 8? I've heard the CAAD 8 is surprisingly comfy.
 

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I've ridden al of these and what I think your favorite would be is the 6/13. I have one and it's pretty sweet. It's very fast and very comfy. Though my race day preference is a Scott CR1 I really enjoy the cannondale. The 6/13 is definately more comfortablethan the scott. I would ride 'em and don't be biased at all. Which, I know is almost impossible, it will bring out the best choice for you.
 

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If you currently own a 5200 and like the fit reasonable well (and assuming the geometry has not changed much), you know that the Madone in the comparable size will fit. Did the sizing of the Synapse seem to be an issue at all, especially since the frame sizes are 3 CM apart? Something to consider…

I just purchased a 5.2 SL Madone as an upgrade from a 2100. I had to laugh when you called the Madone a rocket because that's how I described when compared to the 2100. I know that bikes aren't inherently fast but the Madone definitely has a fast feeling...

If you are worried about needing to be more upright for longer rides, you can always flip the stem up or change to a shorter stem before a longer ride. Stems are easy to change.

http://forums.roadbikereview.com/showthread.php?t=60654
 

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I did ride the madone - and a friend of mine has one in the right size (w/ the aero seat tube) so I've ridden his for more than a test ride. I liked the c-dale 613 more - faster, quicker, more responsive & stiffer but yet very comfortable. If you think about it - it makes sense to have the a$$ end of a bike as stiff as possible [power transmission] i.e. AL and then have the main frame (at least 2 tubes of it) CF for the comfort factor. I could have had a brand new madone for $2K and instead I paid $2.5K for the 613 and IMHO it was a good $500 'upgrade.' (note: I'm also not a huge trek fan as so many people have them and the resulting 'dork' factor is high for that brand :) )

The same friend has a c-dale Caad 8 (race bike so he's not out $5K if he crashes) and he likes it - it's super stiff and fast feeling & he said it's surprisingly comfy for an AL bike - he was having trouble distinguishing noticible differences between that and his madone. For the $$ it's a great frame. I have not ridden the Caad 8 though. If you want the latest & greatest, a CF bike or Al/CF bike is the schizzle, but if you want best bang for the buck, the caad 8 is likely worth a look IMHO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I will test ride a Cannondale Six13 soon. The shop that has the Synapse also has a Special Edition R6000 CAAD8 / Dura-Ace/Ksyrium bike for cheap. It is like $1000 less than the Synapse or Six13. That is enough money to make me want to check it out.

Even though I am seduced by the quick, fast response of the Trek 5.9SL Madone, ultimately, I am not a racer, but rather a group/distance/fitness ride who wants to be comfy over the long haul, but also be able to climb better and not be fighting the bike. I think I need to keep focus that I want to be comfortable with groups in longer rides. I like to push my own personal limits and go as fast as possible, but I am not competitive. So maybe the full-on 'race-bike' even though more responsive is not the best choice for me?

Does anybody have any opinions on the Bontrager Race X-Lite Wheels versus Mavic Ksyrium SSC SL's?

I've heard the Mavics have issues with spoke nipples pulling out of the rims and that the bigger bladed spokes are more challenging in crosswinds.
 

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trek5200cs said:
I will test ride a Cannondale Six13 soon. The shop that has the Synapse also has a Special Edition R6000 CAAD8 / Dura-Ace/Ksyrium bike for cheap. It is like $1000 less than the Synapse or Six13. That is enough money to make me want to check it out.

Even though I am seduced by the quick, fast response of the Trek 5.9SL Madone, ultimately, I am not a racer, but rather a group/distance/fitness ride who wants to be comfy over the long haul, but also be able to climb better and not be fighting the bike. I think I need to keep focus that I want to be comfortable with groups in longer rides. I like to push my own personal limits and go as fast as possible, but I am not competitive. So maybe the full-on 'race-bike' even though more responsive is not the best choice for me?

Does anybody have any opinions on the Bontrager Race X-Lite Wheels versus Mavic Ksyrium SSC SL's?

I've heard the Mavics have issues with spoke nipples pulling out of the rims and that the bigger bladed spokes are more challenging in crosswinds.
IMO, it's the Mavic's over the Bontragers. I've seen the Bonti's pull spokes out of the hubs, and have seen the Mavic's take amazing amounts of abuse.

My impressions of the Synapse vs the Trek would have me choosing the Synapse. The Trek felt a bit wooden to me, and the synapse was smooth but still lively. I didn't find the handling of the Trek to be that 'hot', nor the synapse to be that sleepy. Maybe there's a bit of difference in our respective weight distributions or such. Plus, that black-on-black finish had me drooling.

If you are a long-haul trucker, comfy is an important part of fast. Unless you're running crits, hotter handling ends up being tiring with lots of saddle time.

I should confess that my first love was a beer-can-tube C-dale, and Treks have always left me cold - simply on an emotional level. Now? I tested those, and chose Ti. Maybe I'm not the guy to listen to.
 

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a vote for Specialized Roubaix carbon

if you want long distance comfort and not planning on crit racing then I would consider Specialized Roubaix (Pro?).

I had a 2005 Roubaix Comp which is almost same as 2006 Pro (give or take a bit?) and it was really very comfortable. See the reviews of this web site for proof. Not best for crit racing or for twitchy fast mountain descents, perhaps, due to longer wheelbase and slower relaxed steering, but otherwise super comfortable and fast on any other open road. Sadly it was stolen from my house and I could not get another one unless I wanted to wait 2-3 months for new 2006 stock. So I now ride a 2005 Madone 5.9 (not SL) which is almost as comfortable (I was surprised) but with quicker handling/steering. Can't go wrong with either one, IMO.

Reviews of Six13 were great but it is not as comfortable/forgiving for distance riding as Madone or Roubaix (or Synapse?) due to its stiff aluminium rear end.

if you want comfort consider Look 555 as well. Bianchi 928 carbon might also be another good choice.

I am assuming you fit well on all of these, fit will determine the most comfort, IMO.
 

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At your age the Synapse does feel more comfortable. It's because it's more ergonomically correct for you.

If you want to comfort and the abilty to go fast, the Synapse type of fit is really what you want.

I don't have a production bike. I have a full-custom Calfee Tetra Pro. I'm sitting more upright, since I have a bad back and I like going fast. I also like piling on the miles. Having the correct ergonomic fit for your body, your strength, your flexibility, and your riding style means you would almost certainly be better-fit with a more-upright stance on any bike you get.

At the 45 miles point my riding buddy was getting tired. He commented after our ride of 55 miles that I always looked comfortable on my bike. I am, even when dog tired. Because the bike fits me like a glove and handles the way I like a bike to handle.

Learn about how the geometry of a bike affects handling and ride perception. Test riding is giving you the sense of how a bike feels. The geoomtry differences are the reason. Geomotry also includes wheel weight, wheel base, trail, and bottom bracket height. Other factors are the Q factor of the cranks, the stack height of the pedal/clipless system including the shoe, the width of the handlbars and the length of the cranks. Mix all these things together to make a bike that is a go-fast racing bike, a go-fast recreational bike or a twtichy rocket of a time trial bike or a rock stable touring geometry. It's not about the material, it's about the geometry.

I'm 53 and a pretty strong recreational rider.
 

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You may also want to ask your LBS about the proprietary bottom bracket and crank that is used on some Cannondales called the Cannondale SI. It's my understanding that this bottom bracket and crank are uniquely designed for each other which would mean that when the bottom bracket wears, you will need to buy a Cannondale bottom bracket as a replacement, if you want to keep the Cannondale crank. Not sure if that's true or not... Maybe someone out here knows for sure.

If that is the case, I would opt for a Cannondale with a non-proprietary drive train, as replacement parts are likely to be cheaper and more widely available. I think my LBS said that they can install a normal crank on a Cannondale with some adapter cups that fit in the bottom bracket.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I haven't every worn out a bottom bracket, although I suppose it's possible. Additionally, the oversized Cannondale BB is part of the reason the bike does not flex when standing and sprinting. It is very stiff and responsive. Not sure if they warranty the BB for life or not. The frame, yes. But not a big deal to me. The Synapse Carbon can be had with either Compact Carbon Crank (FSA-made for Cannondale) or Ultegra (or) Dura-Ace cranks (The models I was looking were the Synapse 1 or 2)
 
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