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Advise on buying a new road bike, Specialized Roubaix

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Nelson Au, Jul 10, 2009.

  1. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Regarding triples, I had not not meant to imply I would convert a bike to triples. I actually did do that to my old bike, when from a double to a triple and replaced the entire drive and shifters anyway.

    I am looking for a whole new bike now. So I have to decide if a compact makes sense for me since the guy who was selling the BMC was telling me I should consider a compact over a triple.

    Michael, I've been off a bike and away from all the latest tech updates for so long, I didn't know you could feel the difference in the bottom bracket!
     
  2. Michael Harris

    Michael Harris Screenwriter

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    Quote:
    I didn't know you could feel the difference in the bottom bracket!

    I was very surprised too but I really noticed a difference. As for compact vs. triple, I understand the arguments for both. The compact gives you a simpler drive train with faster shifting between the big and small chain rings and, if paired properly with the rear, makes climbing easy. Actually, I wish my Madone had come with a compact but it was used and the price was a steal so I can "suffer".
     
  3. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Thanks Michael, your interest in compacts has furthered my interest to test drive one.
     
  4. ChrisHeflen

    ChrisHeflen Supporting Actor

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    I would definitely go with compact. It is getting more and more common as well. As Jay H said, you can change out the rear cassette to a 12x28 and be very close having a triple. If you were doing a lot of hills, then I would say a triple for that last bit of relief, but you will be fine with compact.

    Look for bike with a taller head tube. This is the tube that the forks go up into and the handlebars are on top of. A taller head tube should make you more upright and most likely be more comfortable.
    That is why I suggested the Look 566. Also Scott has re-designed their CR-1 Pro to be this way and more comfortable. If you are on a smaller budget then give a look to Fuji's CCR series. They are pretty comfortable and are a great value.

    BMC makes a great bike, but they have more of a race geometry it might not be the best choice for you.
    Check out this website for info on BMC bikes.
    http://www.competitivecyclist.com/road-bikes/frame-brand/bmc-110.html

    Also, everybody's 2010's are starting to trickle in and you should start to see close-outs on the '09's.
     
  5. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Hey Chris-

    Thanks for the insights and thoughts. I am seeing some 09 close-outs at a local shop's website, so I'll be checking those out!

    The owner of the BMC is an ex-racer. Not a pro, an amateur, so I am not surprised he likes that bike!

    Thanks for the frame geometry suggestions and the mention of Look and Scott. I had not considered Scott, I am more familiar with Look.

    There is a loop I used to do near where I used to work that I rode with my co-workers about 10 years ago. It's above Stanford University and there was quite a climb to get to the top. And I did it without a triple. Now that I'm so far out of shape, it should be interesting to see how the compact will feel if I try that loop again after I rebuild my 40-something year old body.
     
  6. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    It's been 4 months. Today I had some time to test ride some bikes. The shop I went to is a Specialized shop. Can't avoid them!

    I test rode a Tarmac Comp with the compact set-up and 105 components. Then I tried a Tarmac Expert compact with Ultegra. Of the two, I liked the Expert. But it felt a tad low. I had not been on a road bike in a long time, so I haven't a good sense.

    Then the shop suggested I try the Roubaix Comp compact with 105 components That was pretty good! Not sure the fit was quite right. So we tried a Roubaix Expert compact and he tweaked the seat height more. This bike has the Ultegra. He said he didn't want to upsell me to the higher end, but I wanted to try it while I was there. I liked this bike more then I wanted to! It felt like I could ride it all day. And I wasn't even properly fitted and wasn't wearing clipless shoes. Just sneakers. Of course it's the most expensive of the 4 I tried.

    I think I want to retry the lower priced Roubaix and Tarmac with the 105 bits and better fitted. The reason he thought I liked the Roubaix Expert frame is because the frame is much stiffer where needed and also had more give on the seat post.

    I didn't want to like the Roubaix because it was pricier and I didn't want to go the route of the plush bike. I'm not that old! But I know it's not meant as an old man;s bike. It did feel good. While I'm not a racer, I guess i didn't to give up that snap the tarmac has.

    Anyway, it was an interesting experience, a really nice warm day and the shop wasn't busy.
     
  7. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Supporting Actor

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    Speaking of the Roubaix, I just broke down and picked up an '09 from a local shop. It's just the bottom end Compact but it was in my budget. I replaced a 1977 Trek TX-900 that I raced in the 70's and 80's that has been doing just fine except that the local groups I have been riding with kind of forced me to upgrade to better shifting to keep up. I don't currently race but they all do.

    I did have to pick up an 11-23 cassette however. The 12-27 seemed like a mountain climbing gear.
     
  8. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Do you like the Roubaix Steve?

    I was surprised I'd like it more then the Tarmac. My old bikes were traditional race frame geometry. So I thought I'd be fine with the Tarmac. But I liked the Roubaix's more upright position more then I thought. I was advised that the Roubaix is not too shabby for racing, just not quite as snappy as the Tarmac. I also felt like the Roubaix was more stable.

    I looked at the 09's too. Can save more $$ that way!
     
  9. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Supporting Actor

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    I got an unbelievable deal from some great people. I never thought I'd be in carbon for what it cost.
    I thought I'd be on a hybrid Al/Carbon frame. The bike is just as stiff as my Trek, which was a criterium frame: 78 degree seat tube, 11" bottom bracket height, Columbus tubing, Campy Record. (Super Record only added Black anodizing on the derailleurs at the time; and alloy pedal cages which I bent immediately and had to go back to steel) It's very difficult to upgrade a classic bike to Index Shifting and I thought the money would be better applied to a new ride.

    I made some compromises due to finances. I'm overall satisfied with the bike. I've only got a couple of hundred miles on it (bad weather and only 2 weeks) and am still doing minor tweaking. (cleat angle, saddle tilt and height). I need to lose my Winter weight before I can really flog it. After 40+ years on the road, I was able to set up the bike pretty close to correct before I started out.

    THe 105's are found in so many bikes, that I have to assume that they are very serviceable. I did about 6k mileage last year during the second wettest on record. (and started riding with local competitors who are 20 to 30 years younger - I was a pretty good Cat3 - shoulda been forced up to Cat2 but snuck by)

    Performance Bike has an interesting bike. (R570?) It is an Al/Carbon hybrid with Ultegra shifters/derailleurs for $1500 or less on sale. I thought about mail-order but after looking at the complexity of modern shifting systems, I hesitate to DIY in the event of breakage. (and I worked through High School and College in a bike shop)

    The sizing is tricky on the new frames. I went from 24" and 25" (60cm and 63.5cm) down to a 58cm (equivalent) frame. I immediately flipped the stem to the down position, tilted it down, (built-in shim) and will probably remove the stem spacers and drop the bars another 20mm and start looking for a deep drop bar. The more upright position is fine for casual riding, and OK in a paceline where visibility is more important than aerodynamics. A 56cm might have been OK but the seat post would have had to go up further and I worry about the stress with my size. ("up" also translates into "back" when adjusting seat height) If you want/need an aero position, you have to use care in fitting (saddle, bars, levers) and develop the proper elbow/arm position.
     
  10. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    There are frame differences between the base Roubaix and the Roubaix expert? A lot of times, the added terms of expert and stuff means it simply has better components (i.e. Ultegra vrs 105). Sometimes it means it has say CF seatstays versus an all-AL frame, a lot of times its a combination of both. Some of it, I'm sure is mental and just marketing..

    Jay
     
  11. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Supporting Actor

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    The base model has a flat top tube while the others have a slightly curved one.
    (the Compact could be slightly less compliant on rough roads, but stiffer?)
    The geometry is very slightly different.
    The Expert has low spoke count wheels while the Compact has 32 spokes.
    I suspect any weight difference is due to the wheels.
    The Specialized website has the technical data online.
     
  12. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    The difference between the Expert and Comp on both the Roubaix and the Tarmac is the Comp has 105 and the Expert is Ultegra and the frames are lighter and stiffer on specific places on the higher end.

    The Roubaix Comp's carbon fiber frame is FACT 7r and the Expert is 9r. The Tarmac is 8r and 10r respectively. I tried to figure it out, it's Specialized's fancy terms for their composite construction and I think the stiffness and strength where needed. The down tube was really thick too! I was amazed that when I stopped, I looked at the fork, there was no flex. On my old steel bikes, there was a bit of flex.

    The Expert frame on the Roubaix has a really thick bottom bracket area so you do not loose any energy from frame flex. But the seat stays on the Expert are two separate tubes and thinner. That was part of why the frame felt more comfortable. While the Comp's seat stay is one large mass at the seat tube joint. I was told that was why the frame was less compliant on the rough roads.

    And the Expert frames are lighter too, so you're paying more money for less weight there.

    I'm not so sure I could tell that much difference between the 105 and Ultegra when I shifted. But there was one thing about the new 2010 Ultegras, the brake/shifter hoods are unique with a new design that is more ergonomic. I think from my short test rides that they did feel better and I can see my hands felt better resting on them.

    Another aspect of these new bikes I was really impressed by was the brakes. They really grabbed hard! I liked that! My older 2000 105 brakes didn't feel this good! Like from going from drum brakes on a car from the 1960's to modern disc brakes!

    I think I still need to go back and re-test ride both and the Tarmacs again. I had not been on a road bike in 2 years and by the time I was riding the most expensive bike of the 4 I test rode, I was feeling more comfortable on a bike, so I felt it might not have been a fair comparison from the Tarmac to the Roubaix.

    They have Canondale too, and I might try one as well.
     
  13. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Supporting Actor

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    Imagine how I felt, moving from 1980 Campy Record to modern brakes.
    I can apply more force from the hoods on the Roubaix than I could from the drops on the old bike.
     
  14. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Update: I bought a new bike.

    After a few test rides at a couple of bike shops, I went with the Tarmac Expert, 2010 model. I was surprised that I went that route.

    I had tested a Roubaix a few weeks back and I found it to be a very comfy ride, and I had ridden a couple of Tarmacs before it. This time, I liked the Tarmac more. And when I got it home, I compared it to my old Allez and I was surprised to see how aggressive my old steel frame was set-up compared to the Tarmac. I guess the LBS was right, these new bikes are more upright in position.

    I also got a new wireless cyclometer, didn't know they do that now! And a new helmet (my old one had a dent after my last crash) and Ultegra pedals to match my groupo. I think I got a decent deal, there is a rival bike shop that is doing a big April sale. This bike shop price matched them by giving me $300 off their price and gave me 20% off on the accessories.

    I haven't riden the bike yet! So I am about to do a ride now to break it in! One regret, I listened to the LBS and got the CO2 cartridges. I think I am preferring to get a pump or figure out a way to attach my old long Zefal pump onto the bike. But a new smaller pump would likely be better attached with the clamps. I feel better with the pump as a back-up. I didn't know Specialized made pumps too. I like that they have the small compartment that stores patches.

    On the bike, I was amazed on my test rides how explosive it is on acceleration. And braking it very good. Riding position seems okay. I was properly fitted. They measured the angle of my leg at the very bottom position with my shoes on with clipless pedals. They want me to ride it a while and come back to adjust things if I am not feeling good.

    Oh yeah, this bike is set-up with compact gearing. Funny to see how big the rear gears are and the size difference between the big and small gear in front! So I'll see how I like it. I'm sure I will. On the test rides, I noticed how the shifting felt kind of quick and clunky. but I was getting used to how the new shifters work. I do like these new 2010 Ultegra shifter hood design. Should be a little better for the hands to rest on.

    So I think I'm pretty happy, but I'll report back after my ride. I hope the CF will hold up to regular riding! I spent more then I originally planned. But I kinda felt that I didn't mind getting this level of bike. I won't feel the need or lust for upgrades later. And I tend to keep things a very long time.
     
  15. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    I'm back and I had a bit of a nervous and jumpy ride everytime some guy came towards me in the opposing lane on the path! And I was afraid every little pebble I could feel the tired roll over was going to cut a tire down!

    But overall, a really good 10 mile initial ride. After 2 years off, it felt like old times again! My butt tissue will be sore around the sit bones till I get used to it again.

    On my return leg of the ride, I got passed by a guy on a Tarmac too, a nice matte black one. I like that finish! I chased him for a bit at around 22 mph and decided to back off. Don't need to tempt fate! Though I did go through the path where I was hit by the other cyclist and totaled my last bike.
     
  16. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Supporting Actor

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    I bought a Topeak Mini DXG Master Blaster which comes with a bracket that mounts under the water bottle cage, using the bottle cage's bolts.http://www.topeak.com/products/Mini-Pumps/MiniDXG (Pump sits to the side of the water bottle cage)

    I decided that the Mini was way too hard to use. I took my Zephal HP (with thumblock) and sliced off about an inch and a half of the rubber grip, wrapped some black plastic electrical tape around the section that matched up with a retaining clip and snapped it into the Topeak bracket. I slid the extra piece of the grip rubber up the shaft and it wedges under the pump handle so it doesn't bounce around.
    The Zephal is actually lighter than the Mini.
    Painted it gloss black and it disappears against the side of my black Roubaix compact frame.
    Removed the curved plastic pieces from the pump head that normally rest against the frame.
    Added a rubber "O" ring on the handle so if it does bounce around the metal handle won't hit the frame.
    Added a couple of "Lizard-Skin" like dots so the bracket and the "O" ring can't rub the frame either.
    Added a velcro wrap around the head so it stays in the neat little cup molded into the mounting bracket.

    Really worked out well. Looks great. Doesn't wedge against the frame. Doesn't have to be velcro'd to the frame. No extra brackets or mounts on the frame. It's profile is inside the water bottle's so there is no leg interference.

    The Zephals came in different lengths. My short one ends just short of the head tube, my long ones would extend along side the head tube. The anodized pump surface can be difficult to paint without some prep work.
     
  17. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    Thanks Steve for describing your pump solution! If I could cut or modify my Zefal, I would. But I don't think I can cut any part of it. it's one of those older long tube designs.
     
  18. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Supporting Actor

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    Mine was an aluminum version with a thumb lock head.
    http://www.yellowjersey.org/hpx.html
    Down the page above the caption "Original 1970s Model HP" is the one I have.
    The only thing that I cut was the rubber grip at the head end because it was too large of a diameter to snap into the bracket. I separated it at the second ring. (see pic in link) Of course, I have three. One long, one short, one long but damaged so it's a parts unit. I can restore the cut one from the parts spare if desired.
     
  19. Nelson Au

    Nelson Au Executive Producer

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    That's like the one I have. Mine says zefal hp X 4. So you cut the end off. That shortens mine by 3/4 of an inch. My seat tube is still shorter. But I think you seated yours between the bottom bracket and head tube. I might be able to do that.
     
  20. Steve Berger

    Steve Berger Supporting Actor

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    I only modified the rubber grip not any of the metal tubing.
    I didn't change the length of the pump.
    I mount it in the bracket that came with the Mini pump so that it is parallel to the downtube.
    The key point is that I used the Mini pump mounting bracket and put my Zefal in it.
    The bracket that came with the Mini pump is just particularly well suited to holding the larger Zefal.
    All the talk of cutting, etc was just modifying my pump to fit the bracket better.
    Here (finally found one) is a picture (upside-down naturally) of the bracket.
    http://www.sjscycles.co.uk/src/froogleUS/currency/USD/product-Topeak-Topeak-Mounting-Bracket-for-Master-Blaster-Mini-DX-without-Gauge-19853.htm

    The rubber strap and cup for the pump head hold the longer Zefal solidly in place.
     

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