frame, groupset, wheels....which order?

ham_2010 Posts: 20
edited October 2010 in Road buying advice

I am currently looking to purchase a new road bike. With a budget of 1000-1500, I'm aware that having the magic three (carbon frame, good groupset and nice wheels) is very difficult. So my question is, which order should I rank them while searching for a new bike, which is most important...

Frame, Groupset or Wheels?

For example, a spec. roubaix elite sl2 comes in at 1600 with top carbon frame, mostly 105 groupset and pretty standard shimano wheels.

The new Cube agree SL comes in at 1499 with Alu frame, but ultegra groupset and easton ea50 aero wheels, with a total weight of just over 8kg.

Which is best?! Is it "better" to save money on the groupset vs. the frame etc?


  • carrock
    carrock Posts: 1,103
    roubaix best bet

    Frame won't wear out, you can upgrade the groupset and wheels as they wear out, and end up with a better bike
  • Frame, you'll replace all the parts but a frame upgrade tends to occur a lot later.
  • Frame, wheels/tyres, groupset.
    Carlsberg don't make cycle clothing, but if they did it would probably still not be as good as Assos
  • Personally my spending focus would be (in order):

    1) Frame - this will be the last thing to be changed, just make sure that it fits well, otherwise you will have to change it before it 'expires'

    2) Groupset - they will wear out eventually, but you can also 'plan' to move to newer technology at a later date.

    3) Wheels - to a degree these are "disposable" as you run the risk of damaging them on potholes etc, and the rims will wear anyway. There is also nothing 'wrong' with having more than one set of wheels, with the 'worse' ones for winter, training or turbo use - and the 'better' ones (bought later when additional budget becomes available) used for races, special events or 'just' summer.

    This is what I did with my latest bike, which is a Ti frame (so to me, a long term investment). My bike runs full Ultegra, with a plan to move to Din when the prices are more reasonable. I use Shimano RS80 wheels, which are perfectly fine - but could be upgraded without exceeding the level of the frame.

    Most of the guys I ride with who have the same brand of frame run either full DA or Record/Super Record, along with top level wheels - and the frame is certainly "in keeping" with this level of running gear.

    IMO with your budget, a good frame (carbon, steel, Ti or alu - as you prefer...) with 105 (or SRAM/Campag equivalent) and relatively "budget" wheels would give you the most "upgradability" and the least "wasted" cash.

  • andyrr
    andyrr Posts: 1,819
    With carbon frames available at sub £500 levels these days the focus on the frame as the main item may be less relevant. Certainly the frame would tend to last longest out of the bike as a whole and other bits be replaced when worn-out or when you want to upgrade an element of the performance but if you spent say £300 on a carbon frame/forks then spending the same again on wheels is not over the top and the groupset could easily come to well over that.
    A big brand carbon frame would certainly take a bigger proportion of the budget but I am personally tempted by the directly-sourced Chinese frames that are available for £300 - £400 or so and whilst I don't need to but all of the remaining parts (I've got wheels, bars, stem etc already that I would use) the level of the kit I'd be puttign on it would make the frame a lesser part of the overall bike value.

    Just my opinion.
  • 1. Frame

    2. Wheels

    3. Groupset
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  • dmch2
    dmch2 Posts: 731
    I'd have thought wheels are dead easy to change so they should be below the groupset. You'll then get a bigger benefit when you upgrade as well as having a handy spare set of wheels
    2010 Trek 1.5 Road - swissstop green, conti GP4000S
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  • vorsprung
    vorsprung Posts: 1,953
    I've been looking at lower end carbon bikes. You are right they have low end factory wheels and the groupset is usually 105

    This doesn't matter too much to me. I tend to wear out the groupset quickly and I don't want bling race wheels.

    So I've recently got a Roubaix Comp with 105 and Mavic Aksiums.

    I will be building up a rear wheel with a Hope Pro 3/ Open Pro and keeping the Aksiums as spares
    As I destroy the groupset I will replace it with Ultegra

    I tried the Eddy Merckx EMX1 (nice bike) as well. That is 105+ Shimano RS20
  • Chirg
    Chirg Posts: 141
    My answer would depend on if this is this your first/only bike and the type of riding are you planning to do. Also will you be riding this bike through all weathers or will it only be used in fair weather?
  • spasypaddy
    spasypaddy Posts: 5,180
    ive had my planet x for almost 3 years now, in that time my wheels have been upgraded and slowly but surely the groupset has been upgraded so im now running a Dura ace and ultegra mix.

    i now feel like ive out grown my frame and want something stiffer so come next spring when my bike is 3 years old i shall be upgrading the frame.

    get a solid frame with a decent groupset and basic wheels to start with. then start riding. start thinking of upgrades when you cant push the bike any faster and further anymore.
  • jibberjim
    jibberjim Posts: 2,810
    DubaiNeil wrote:
    1) Frame - this will be the last thing to be changed, just make sure that it fits well, otherwise you will have to change it before it 'expires'

    However a bike that fits today, may not fit in a year - particularly if your aims change - you may switch to racing, and want something fast for 2 hours, or switch to long distance touring so what something comfortable for 10 hours. Or your weight, flexibility, strength etc. may change so you simply would be more comfortable in a different position.
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  • edhornby
    edhornby Posts: 1,780
    slowdown and Chip are right about wheels being more important than a groupset

    I build a bike myself recently (I wouldn't suggest you do this btw, it's not the best vfm method) because I was fairly specific about spec and a load of stuff came on sale. I went for relatively flash wheels and at first I thought I had spent too much on something I wouldn't appreciate but having done a few rides I'm glad I didn't skimp

    that cube looks good, just because it's alu rather than carbon doesn't detract in my book, top range alu frames can often be better than budget carbon
    "I get paid to make other people suffer on my wheel, how good is that"
    --Jens Voight
  • Thanks for so many replies!

    I suppose a little background may help answer some questions

    This will be my second road bike - the first being a 2003 carrera vanquish with 9sp 105. As this bike is a very poor fit I've ridden it less and less over the years. However, I have ridden ~5000km this year so far commuting to and from work on a specialized sirrus comp, which fits well and I thus love riding. This runs on a 9sp tiagra groupset and a nice set of easton vista sl's.

    This bike therefore won't be used every day, it's so that I can get back in to some racier cycling with the local club again whilst I'm training for my first triathlon and participate in some longer group rides a couple of times every week.

    Basically I'm wondering how best to distribute the budget I have - would it matter more if I went for a budget carbon/alu frame vs. top carbon frame, or went for shimano tiagra vs. 105 etc. Could I use the current 9sp 105 and "build" a bike with that, using the money from the budget for a frame and wheels?
  • Barteos
    Barteos Posts: 657
    1. FRAME
    durable and COMFORTABLE frame that FITS you well and doesn't need replacing because e.g. it's got a deep scratch (carbon :roll:) or because you had a minor crash and you can't stop thinking whether the frame is OK. I wouldn't dismiss steel just because is slightly heavier or not cool enough for some people.

    2. WHEELS
    durable wheels that don't need touching for many years and aren't just consumable items.

    least important IMO. Anything with comfortable hoods and good ergonomics will do, unless we are anal about milisecond differences in shifting. Tiagra, 105, 9sp, 10sp. whatever.

    Genesis bikes are worth having look if are after a bike designed for... riding. ... librium-20 ... /aether-30