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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's a question for everyone.

What do you think would be a better set up: 1) a top-end frame with mid-grade group and wheels or 2) a mid-grade frame with top-end group and wheels? Example: I figure it would cost about the same money to build up these two bikes. 1) Specialized Tarmac S-works SL2 with new SRAM Force and Fulcrum 1's or 2) Specialized Tarmac Pro SL with SRAM Red and Fulcrum Zeros.

I'm pretty sure bike # 2 would weigh a little less, but I keep reading about the amazing feel / stiffness / ride of the top of the line frames. Considering that the performance difference between groups is pretty slight maybe I'm better spending my money on the frame.

Any thoughts?
 

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Carbon Fiber = Explode!
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How about riding both of them and finding out which you think is the better deal?

Some so called "lower end frames (or materials)" get a bad rag, but sometimes you'll surprise yourself.

Does it make a difference to you? A tarmac, or any kind is pretty high end anyways...
 

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Baltic Scum
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When building up a new bike, I have always started with what I thought to be the nicest frame.

Then I hang the nicest components on it.
 

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Super Moderator
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Years ago, the standard answer was "frame," but these days, I'm inclined to say "group/wheels." Today's framesets are so well-made, the separation between any two reasonably decent comparable frames is likely to be so minimal, particularly for the 98% of us that never race, that one would be hard-pressed to notice the difference on the road. But wheels, shifting, and such, with all the moving parts, are more likely to manifest differences that the rider would notice.

Of course, you could make the the case that components are so well-made these days as well, so there isn't a lot of performance separation between groupsets, and I think you'd be right. (It's one of my personal biases, that 105 is probably good enough for most of the riders on this board, anyway.) But, I still feel that when JRA, you'd be more likely to notice the performance of the moving parts.

The other argument traditionally made for "frame" is that one can update the components over time. But that suggests that the frame technology is relatively static, which isn't the case these days. People suffering upgrade-itis tend to see the need to upgrade everything, including the frame. I just don't see a lot of people switching new groups onto older framesets.

Given the two rides you're comparing, I'd be inclined to "cheap out," and spend the money on better rider interfaces (i.e., shoes and shorts).
 

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Hucken The Fard Up !
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I say the 3 components are best :)

But supossing you have a limited budget.

I'd say get a good group first

A good and expensive frame would be normally lighter and stiffer than one costing the half, but if you put a low level group and heavy wheels on it, the weight savings are lost and the overall performance will be low.

If you get a cheaper frame and a good group, then all moving parts would perform better, maybe at a similar weight.

Wheels are easy to upgrade when the moment comes you have more money to spend.

Then you have a bike with a mid-level frame, but good group ( DA or Record ) and good wheels, you can ride it until you save enough money to get a real good frame and swap over everything,

You then will have a new bike ( not just the same bike with an updated group )
 

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( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
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rook said:
components, IMO
seconded
here's why:
the wheels and group are where your power hits the road. chopping an ounce or two of weight from the rotating mass has an exponential effect for the rest of the bike...rims alone, on a car anyway, have a 10:1 power/weight ratio difference...for example, you chop 3 lbs out of the rims on a car, and it has the same effect of chopping 30 lbs out of the rest of the car. i'm not sure what the number is on a bike, but the concept is still there. lighter chains, cranks, wheels, tires, etc. are going to require less energy to get going, and less energy to maintain at speed.
 

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The quality difference between the Pro level and S Works level Specialized frames is not near as much as the $ difference. The only difference between the pro and the expert is the paint. The Tarmac and Roubaix Expert are one of the best bang for the $ among the big brand names.
http://www.testrider.com/fly.aspx?layout=player&video=93
 

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Beetpull DeLite
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I just upgraded my lower-end frame with full SRAM Force and some custom wheels, replacing the Tiagra and Ritchy porkers. Do what makes the most sense to you. I know my frame isn't all that special, but it fits me well and I saw no reason to upgrade. But the components it came with weren't all that great, so I didn't hesitate to ditch those.
 

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Have good, get give
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Depends on if you are new to the sport. If you are new to the sport then the frame should be the last thing you put money into. Getting a pro fit is nice and all, but after riding around for 1000 miles you might find out you are pretty far off.

Once you are certain of your frame geometry needs then splurge on a frame. For me personally I prefer things that spin and move to be of the highest quality and the dead weight to just come along for the ride. Though many swear by their $2500+++ frame.
 

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Burnum Upus Quadricepus
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culdeus said:
I prefer things that spin and move to be of the highest quality and the dead weight to just come along for the ride.
+1

My fast, frisky and fun ride bike is a nine-year-old, 27½ pound, Trek 1000, with wicked light wheels.

My commuter rig (an '06 Trek Portland) weighs exactly the same, but is a lighter frame and group, but heavier wheels.

I like 'em both, but the heavy-framed old 1000 is the faster, quicker bike, and it climbs like a billy goat.
 

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i've raced my $1200 giant for 4 years now. 2 years ago I put $3,000 wheels on it. my bike is not a limiting factor. I just bent the frame so I ordered a new bike. nothing too fancy, just a newer version of the old bike plus some extra carbon. if your bike shifts/brakes reliably, and the bike is generally light, then spend the money on wheels
 

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Balance

rollin nolan said:
What do you think would be a better set up: 1) a top-end frame with mid-grade group and wheels or 2) a mid-grade frame with top-end group and wheels? Any thoughts?
It's a matter of balance. If you look at bikes along the "price point line" you will typically see one frame with two or three levels of components, then another higher level of frame with two or three levels of components, and so on. Often, you will see the highest level components on one frame being the lower or mid-level components on the next level up frame. The market has pretty much deteremined that you should balance your components against the frame. Some people, however, would rather have higher level parts and so would give up frame features to get them at a given price point. That's your choice, but to me it's not a good value prospect.

IMO, people waste a lot of money on wheels. A well built wheel based on Chorus or DuraAce hubs and a Velocity Aerohead or MAVIC OpenPro rim is MORE than adequate for nearly all riders, whether they are racers or just fast riders. Boutique wheels are, IMO, one of the biggest rip-offs that bicyclists have inflicted on themselves.
 

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Two wheels=freedom!
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Unless you have an already previously well defined "Cockpit" that you can use to make an informed decision regarding frame size, I think your money will be best spent at a well respected bicycle fitter in your area. A good fitting by someone who knows what they are doing will go a long way towards helping you make the right choice.

Next, spend your money on a frame that suits your riding style AND FITS YOU!!!! You can usually make up a cm here and there with stems, spacers, seatposts, but not much more than that. But if you don't know what you are trying to dial in to, what's the point?

Next will be your component mix. The level of engineering from most of the mid level (think Ultegra/Chorus) components to the top level (think DA/Record) is marginal. The main difference, to me, at least, is finish and weight.

And I'll agree whole heartily with Kerry, bling wheels are a waste of money. I have been building my own wheels for years, mostly DA or Record hubs with a rim that caught my fancy. When I was hankering for a wheel build a couple of years ago, my LBS owner talked me into a set of Mavic Ksyrium SL3 SSC's. And all I can say is, meh. They are used as back ups to much more mundane wheelsets.
 

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Resident Curmudgeon
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Gruppo & wheels.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
More about the OP.

culdeus said:
Depends on if you are new to the sport. If you are new to the sport then the frame should be the last thing you put money into. Getting a pro fit is nice and all, but after riding around for 1000 miles you might find out you are pretty far off.

Once you are certain of your frame geometry needs then splurge on a frame. For me personally I prefer things that spin and move to be of the highest quality and the dead weight to just come along for the ride. Though many swear by their $2500+++ frame.

This is my third year of serious riding so I'm not new to the sport. My main focus is long climbing rides. I completed Climb to Kaiser last year and I'm signed up again in June. I'm not a racer, but I've had thoughts of racing in the future. I do race cyclocross.

I don't really need a new bike. I've got a Roubaix Expert with Rival which was my first road bike. What I need is a cyclocross bike. I raced cross last year on my old Trek 7.5fx hybrid with knobbies. It was fun, but the Trek is a less than ideal cross machine. I'm hooked on SRAM. There are a few Rival equipped cross bikes out there, but it's sounds like a better option to put the components and Ksyrium Elites from the Roubaix on my new cross frame (not sure which cross frame yet, but that's another thread) and buy a brand new road bike. I could get new components for the Roubaix frame, but I want a new bike. While I really like the Roubaix I want something a little racier, more responsive and knife edged.

I keep looking at the Red SL2 but man that's a high price tag. I can afford it, that's not the problem, but I'd almost not feel worthy of the thing. Whereas building that frame up with Force, etc. I might be able to convince myself that I figured out how to get a "value" out of an otherwise rediculously priced bike.
 
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