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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone!

I'm 47 yrs. old , 6'3" and weigh in at 190 lbs. I'm fairly fit having just completed my first Marathon last fall. I love fast cars as I do fast bikes. I've cycled the past 2 yrs. while overcoming an achilles tendon problem and grown to love it. I currently own a Specialized Allez Elite triple with 105 components and would now like to upgrade components or bikes. I live in a hilly area and never use the third ring. With all that said should I uprade my existing bike with new wheel set and components or am I just throwing money out the window?

As far as bikes go it's hard not to like the reviews the Cannondale six13's are getting. I think price wise I'd probably like to spend in and around the $4000. range which puts the Pro 1 or 2 on the short list. The other bike I've had mentioned to me is the Trek Madone though I don't know to much about this bike? Do any of you experts have any advice and or recomendations that might help me?

Thanks

DT
 

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Custom Frame

If you have that size budget I'd seriously look at a custom fit frame. Steel, Ti, carbon or some mix. It will fit you like a glove, more comfortable, more miles, more use, more smiles. Serotta would be a great choice. Find a local dealer and see what they can do for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Hogleg62

Appreciate your comments. Being located North of the border in a smaller community let's just say selections somewhat limited. I'm lon legged and definately at the max of my existing frame a 58" and after doing some measurements I probably should be on a 60 - 62 frame. If I don't have to spend my budget all the better!

DT
 

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I'd think twice about getting a custom. People tend to have very different thoughts about going custom. Some will automatically direct you to custom as your budget elevates, regardless of whether stock sizes fit you. Others will try to stick to stock sizes and adjust the fit with seatpost, saddle, bar, stem. I am one of the latter.

Stock geometries are usually results of many trials and errors and generations of wisedom of bike fit, handling and weight distribution have gone into them. On the other hand, custom frames are often experiments. Any half decent bike builder can get you the angles and lengths you desire, but few of them can make sure the handling and road feel is ideal in the end result.

Cases of unhappy buyers of custom frames are not rare. Some say that the customer can hold the bike shop to his subjective satisfaction (corner like it's on rails, climb like an antelope, and what have you), but in reality, I don't think bike shops will operate without some tangible criteria based on angles and lengths and diameters.

Personally, I would NEVER go custom unless I have tried at least 3-4 stock frames and decided that they won't work for me.

The other thing is: when you are stuck w/ a custom frame you can't use, you will have a harder time selling it compared to stock frames. Besides, for $4K you can only get Serotta's lowest end titanium frame with mid range parts.

In your case, if you find shorter toptubes more suitable, you could look into the Specialized Roubaix series (for a given toptube, they have a taller front end).
 

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Really depends on how much you like your current ride. I'd say go custom if you a) have $$ to burn, b) can't find what you want in a stock bike, or c) have something very specific in mind.
For me, I'd probably upgrade to DA or Record, nice wheels etc... Then later, upgrade the frame to something special. Whether that's a custom or a stock bike is up to you.
BTW- a lot of "custom" builders like Se7en, IF, Strong, and Steelman have regular, non custom frames as well. You can get a stock geometry bike cheaper (usually) with all of the custom "bling".
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Downshift

It's not like the money's burning a hole in my pocket and since I've never ridden a bike outfitted better than what I've got I don't know what I'm missing. Sooooooo let's just say YOU had between $1000. and $2000. to play with! Which would you purchase DA or Record and which wheel set etc. ? Kind of think of yourself as Santa!

DT
 

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Summer of 58 said:
Downshift

It's not like the money's burning a hole in my pocket and since I've never ridden a bike outfitted better than what I've got I don't know what I'm missing. Sooooooo let's just say YOU had between $1000. and $2000. to play with! Which would you purchase DA or Record and which wheel set etc. ? Kind of think of yourself as Santa!

DT
Well, I am completely bias at the moment. I just bought a Campy group to go on the new Dean. So I would go Campy. Reasons: cool factor, better resale value, and I always wanted a Campy bike. That said, I don't think there's anything wrong with DA. Probikekit has the Record group for $1400. I think you could probably get the DA for a similar price.

That would leave 600 for wheels. In that case I'd go with a set of Neuvation R-28's or Mike Garcia custom built wheels. Should set you back around $400. I don't have any experience with either of these wheels, but the look to be an excellent value. You could also cruise eBay for deals. I just watched a set of carbon clinchers close for $300. They looked brand new to me. I have the Easton (Velomax) Orion 2's. They would set you back a few more dollars ($600-800). You can also cruise RBR classifieds for wheels. I've had good luck there. I try to take advantage of the guys that upgrade frequently. :D

I just spent $408 to switch my bike over from 105 to Campy Centaur. Granted I already had wheels, but you can do it cheap if you are patient. For $2k on eBay, you can buy alot. I'm guessing the same if you shop around online. So for that amount of money, I'd get a Campy Chorus or Record group and have a custom built set of wheels. 10 speed everything and a good set of tires. Tires can make a huge difference too, but that's a whole other thread.

Have fun.
 

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Custom only if you really need to...

I have four bikes, three stock and one custom (steel). The custom is my saturday/race bike and It's a sweet ride but by the time I got it set up so I was happy I'm riding it pretty close to the stock geometries for my size anyway (6'2 but pretty "normal" morphology). By a quirk of Australian import duties locally made framesets often cost far less than fancy brand imports in the same tubeset ($6k for a Scapin, $2k for my Paconi in the same columbus tubeset and you couldn't tell them apart in the dark) - don't know how that goes where you are. Unless you've a very weird body or want a special tubeset I'd look for a stock offering first. Would I go custom again? Dunno - maybe, depends on the deal - that said I do like having a unique bike, and no-one can tell how old it is...
 

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One thing about making posts on this board, you get a wide range of information. You take your pick of what works for you. You can get a very sweet stock bike with $4K. You can also get a sweet custom for that price in steel or steel/carbon mix. I would not go aluminum in custom, personally. I happen to have such a body shape that I am in that 20% of the population where custom fit is my best option. The corralary is that 80% of us fit just fine on a stock frame. So the choice of custom really should follow whether you need it in this price range.

In my opinion the price premium for Dura Ace is not justified by performance, weight or looks. I went with Ultegra which works as good, is a bit heavier and is just as reliable. I put my money into the better frame. This is the way I went about dropping serious money on a bike.

Good luck to you. Make your decision, pull the trigger, and come back and tell us what you did.:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Latest Update

Well today I decided to go and DO what I've only read about and drooled over for the past few weeks, that being purchasing a NEW road warrior! It was finally time to go and test ride some of these bad boys with superlight carbon frames and race prepared groupos.

I loaded up my 2004 Specialized Allez Elite triple that had faithfully served me over the past 2 yrs. looking for greener pastures. Even though not hi-tek by today's standard the Allez came equipped with aluminum frame, carbon fibre forks and full 105 groupos. Excitement took over and I travelled the 75 mile journey by truck in record time to finally get on these highly touted chariots.

Seeing these bikes in person gave me a totally new perspective of just how beautiful these bikes really are! Ironically I came across 2 young boys aged about 12 yrs. old admiring the different assortment of bikes. It proved to me no matter what age we are were all still just kids at heart.

The test list included the following road bikes. Cannondale's 2005 six13 pro with full dura ace at approx. $4200 CAD, Cannondale's 2006 Synapse Carbon 2 with ultegra and dura ace mix at approx. $3900. CAD, 2005 Trek's Madone 5.2 with full dura ace at approx. $4600. and finally Trek's full carbon Madone 5.9 with full dura ace at approx. $5600.. Considering myself an average cyclist who likes speed as much as anyone else I'll try and give you my unbias views of the test rides. By no means is this an attempt at a professional review. That said this was my first time using any groupos other than the Shimano 105.

My first test ride was on the bike that I already had in my mind as the bike I wanted the Cannondale Pro. I read many a review and comment that this was probably the best make bike on the market in my price range. My first conclusion was that I loved the Dura ace components but felt the bike was quite twitchy in the steering almost to twitchy but then again I was only comparing it against my Allez. Next came the Trek Madone 5.2. I was really interested in feeling how much smoother the Madone was compared to that of the Cannondale Pro. Simply put..... no comparison at all! The Madone was so much smoother it felt like a suspension bike. Bike # 3 the highly touted Trek Madone 5.9 with full carbon frame and also the most expensive of the bunch. Great bike but not a whole lot different than the 5.2 Madone. Finally last but not least the Canondale Synapse. As it turned out this happened to be my favourite ride of the group. Granted it had the Ultegra mix instead of the full Dura ace and YES you will notice a difference between the two groupos. It just felt like the best bang for the dollar with great styling, handling and comfort!

At the end of it all I promised myself that I was going to take my Allez out for one last ride to justify the $3900. - $5600. outlay. So what was my final pick?.......................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... I stayed with the Specialized Allez. Did I want to upgrade? Yes. Did I need to upgrade? No. Why didn't I upgrade? Because after my final ride on the Allez it felt, looked, handled and almost shifted as good as the others. Definately not worth the $3900. - $5600. price of admission......to me anyway!

Good luck on your next biking journey!
 

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Investing your time before your money is always wise. You have a good bike frame that sounds like it meets your needs, and 105 is decent stuff.
As you found out, beyond a certain point the return on your $$ gets increasingly small.

Since I'm in a similar spot with my current road ride (upgrade vs new), your observations are interesting. I also love the Synapse. I've been test riding 105/Ultegra/DA bikes, too. I find the new 10spd 105 is great stuff, but it's not quite as refined as the others. I was surprised to find bigger differences between Ultegra bikes at the same bike shop than I feel between Ultegra and DA. As a non-racer, I see no benefit to DA's slight weight advantage.

BTW- Don't give up on a nicer wheelset- or better tires. Wheels & tires can make a big difference in ride comfort and handling. Upgrading to new wheels & tires was a HUGE benefit to my Cannondale CAAD5 (AL frame w/carbon fork). That single upgrade was probably 70%+ of what I sought between my ride and the newer models- and I can keep them for any new bike/frame I may get in the future.

Thanks for your reviews!
 

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Summer, you and Old Teen have a good perspective on whether to upgrade or buy new. I'm what you might call a, "bicycling enthusiast." I not only enjoy riding as a recreational rider, but I like the artistry and beauty of custom bicycle made by custom makers. As far as price to performance ratio and bang for the buck, I think the laws of diminishing returns kicks in around the price point where you can find the same frame hung with either Dura Ace or Ultegra.

One point I wish to make is that in all the bike shops I've been in, no production bike I've seen was shod with anything but Shimano. I have no brand preferance, per se, for if I were to have a custom bike made again I would go with Campy just as easily as with Shimano.

Getting back to ride impressions. There is science and there is art in making bikes. That twitchiness you felt; that's what you find in racing-oriented bikes. They are twitchy at slower speeds, but smooth out at higher speeds. They are great bikes to coast down long hills at terminal velocity that rivals slower cars. It takes getting used to it and in my first custom carbon bike I had that ride characteristic. It's caused by short trail (I'm not going to belabor this post by talking about trail, it's easy to learn about in a lot of places). The problem I have with short torso compared to my leg length is the price I paid for normal front geometry (not too twitchy, but fast) with shorter top tube is that I had toe overlap with the front wheel. Not an issue while riding, but only in very slow speed maneuvers. I have a haripin turn off the trail up a steep gravel access road over a levy where toe overlap made me have to be aware of my crank position as I negotiated the turn. I failed a couple of times and fell over, ignominiously.

My next custom carbon bike I did not want toe overlap. In fact, I also wanted rack and fenders to make it a full commuter bike. To get sufficient clearance in that case the head tube angle had to be more slack than any production bike short of full touring bikes that you don't see made much in the US any more. Fork choice in that case was important to maintain small enough trail. While a lot of trail makes for a stable ride noticed at slow speed, when you get up to speed on a bike with such a geometry with a lot of trail, it steers like a truck. It's a feeling of having to use some force to turn the bike at speed, where a normal trail would only require a natural lean into a curve.

What you found with riding different brands of bike is the different philosophies of the manufacturer. Although there is science in the design, there are practical peformacne issues to take into account. Full racing frames are twitchy. Most low-range mainstream bikes are stable because of trail being in the mid to long range. Most recreational riders are uncomfortable with a twitchy ride feel at slow speed. The Synapse is a bike made for recreational realities that take into account that most recreational riders do not want to have a racing bike; they want a go-fast recreational bike. Much of bike philosophy is to make bikes that will sell, and bikes that win races sell. You go to any mainstream bike web site and the main thing they show is the racers that use their bikes.

The more you learn, the more pragmatic you become (at least it was in my case).
 

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Wheels...

Now that you got past the big decision whether to upgrade whole bike or parts, wheels can and will lead you down the same path. I went with a new ride last year, a titanium Airborne frame, DA/FSA component mix, and Garcia wheels. So far so good with the wheels, I like them. Also Performance branded Forte Titan wheels, I have read that they are re-branded Neuvation wheels, saw a price <$300. I can't justify myself spending over $400 on wheels, won't go the boutique route any more.
 

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Lone Gunman said:
Now that you got past the big decision whether to upgrade whole bike or parts, wheels can and will lead you down the same path. I went with a new ride last year, a titanium Airborne frame, DA/FSA component mix, and Garcia wheels. So far so good with the wheels, I like them. Also Performance branded Forte Titan wheels, I have read that they are re-branded Neuvation wheels, saw a price <$300. I can't justify myself spending over $400 on wheels, won't go the boutique route any more.
I went with traditional wheels- Mavic Open Pro's with new (6600) Ultegra hubs (32 spoke). Reasonably light, solid, and reliable.
 
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