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Bike buying conundrum

snorkeysnorkey Posts: 8
edited February 2013 in Road beginners
I have a steel frame racer that I use for commuting 4 times a week (14 mile round trip) and for long weekend rides with my friends - about 50 - 60 miles. Been riding for about 7 months on a racer, prior to that rode a single speed for about a year.

I have entered a couple of Sportives in April and May and am looking to do these monthly this year. In terms of fitness I would classify myself as a beginner. I can ride for a long time but not hugely fast. I am committed to improving this so have started to plan my rides better, train in the evenings and do some high intensity training. In other words I am really into cycling and really want to improve as a cyclist.

As tends to happen I have started to check out a bike upgrade. Steel is cool, and feels like a classy choice but I test rode a carbon Giant and fell in love.

I have £2500 I could spend on a bike so I started doing some research and found a 2012 Giant TCR Advanced SL 3 Ultegra for £2200 (reduced from £3500!). It is the only one I have found in my size and compared to other bikes in that price range I reckon it is a serious bargain.

Here is my problem: I cant decide if I am I being silly to get such a high specced bike when I still at beginner status with cycling? Will this piece of kit help me take my riding to the next level or should I suck it up and push through on my steel for another six months before taking the plunge on a better bike?

Bearing in mind that this bike I have my eye on will be gone soon... Your input would be greatly appreciated. Not bothered about having all the gear no idea, just wondering if I will actually see much improvement in my cycling.

Posts

  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    If you have the money, then why not. It wont really make you any faster, but it'll no doubt feel faster! Sounds like a good deal to me.

    But if you're happy riding your current bike, then why upgrade? Spend the money on a cycling holiday or something.
  • Getting faster is the priority for me. If buying this bike wont make my rides more comfortable and faster then I will probably pass on it and just focus on getting fitter on the steel frame. Its a cool old Cinelli so its also a nice bike, I was just thinking that a modern bike would give me a little more of an edge.
  • If you have earmarked this money for a bike upgrade, then why not? You are obviously committed to becoming a better/faster cyclist & having a machine that will make you want to get on it & go further & faster can only be a good thing? If you 'feel' like you are improving, there's nothing like a new bike to push you on a level, whether it's psychological or not - the more you ride, the better you will get.
    BTW, lovely choice of bike!
    Boardman 8.9 SLR - Summer
    Holdsworth La Quelda - Commuter
    Moda Intro - Winter
    Planet X Stealth - TT
  • andyk19andyk19 Posts: 170
    The only thing which pops to mind is that the TCR advanced is a pure thoroughbred racebike. This means it'll be low at the front with a long reach (the effective distance between the saddle and handlebar) as well as prioritising stiffness and power transfer over comfort. It's a bloody nice bike which will feel very quick but if you're only interested in sportives it may not be as comfortable as may be preferred for that kind of riding.

    This all depends though on how flexible you are, what else you may want to do with the bike etc and if you're not worried by this then it sounds a really good deal. If you would be more inclined towards something more orientated to sportives, and with a nod to long distance, then the Giant Defy Advanced, Specialized Roubaix, Cannondale Synapse or Trek Domane are good contenders as they are still quick road bikes but have slight concessions to being more comfortable over long periods in the saddle and rougher roads; they will have frames designed to flex a little more to absorb vibration and bumps as well as placing the rider in a more upright position.

    I mention this only as I previously owned a very racy bike, as it was a good deal, but regretted it and eventually sold it, as it was too uncomfortable to do anything other than race. Over a sportive you may notice a more suitable frame more than say having ultegra as opposed to 105. As I say above though this doesn't mean it's not a very capable bike that'll be a joy to ride but it's sometimes best not to get carried away by a deal and forget what you actually want the bike for. If you like it though, go for it!
  • styxdstyxd Posts: 3,234
    Comfort is generally down to how well a bike fits, perhaps spend some money on a bike fit?

    Steel bikes are generally less "harsh" than stiff carbon frames.

    Also, consider things like shoes, shorts, gloves etc. All these make a difference to comfort and your "riding experience"

    Also, got any pictures of your bike?
  • @andyk19 your advice on the Defy is something i have picked up on a few forums when considering TCR vs Defy. A bit of me thinks that the Defy might have a better geometry for me but then I think maybe its a bit too laid back, and if the whole goal of getting the better bike is to push for speed and improved hill climbing, maybe the TCR is better? I dont know the answer.

    Also there are no deals on Defy Sl's anywhere online. Which is also playing a part in the decision.
  • sancho_uksancho_uk Posts: 141
    Snorky i did a similar thing to you not to long ago and actually increased my budget to get the bike i want..

    I know exactly what you are going through.. I want, do i need will it etc etc.. Then you think you have made up your mind only to sleep on it and wake up with more questions.. The doubt then arises if i have to ask myself this many questions is it the right choice? Its a nightmare!

    The best piece of advice I got and could give to you it..

    A - Do you like the bike? (I mean really like)... If you love the bike it will inspire you to get out more and train harder because you will want to feel like you are not letting your new pride and joy down!

    B - Have you sat on it? Is it comfy? - If the answer is yes its a no brainer get it and deal with the guilt by using it loads and training hard again.. It doesnt matter how well specced the bike is and how much it costs if it doesnt "fit" you comfort and riding style wise you are throwing money away...

    For me these are the 2 key points, because you can argue and debate about spec all day long.. Do i need Carbon etc etc..

    I pondered for a long time like yourself and even had buyers guilt until the box arrived with my new toy in it.. The second I unboxed it, i knew i had made the right choice and havent regretted it since..

    If you have the money and the it fits point A and B get it and worry about the rest later :D
    Focus Cayo 2.0 Ultegra 2012
  • Sancho_uk its nice to know I am not the only one going through this decision making process. I am usually pretty decisive but for some reason its proving to be really hard to make a call.

    I think I am going to test ride the TCR SL 3 for a couple of days and see what sort of gains I am getting if any. And I am probably going to try out a Defy in the same price range. The decision to go with Giant is decided, I think they are an awesome brand around the £2500 price range and from what I have seen the after sales support is great too.

    I plan to make a decision in the next two weeks so will come back and post pictures when the new purchase is made. Thanks for the advice everyone.
  • t4tomot4tomo Posts: 2,643
    sancho_uk wrote:
    Snorky i did a similar thing to you not to long ago and actually increased my budget to get the bike i want..

    I know exactly what you are going through.. I want, do i need will it etc etc.. Then you think you have made up your mind only to sleep on it and wake up with more questions.. The doubt then arises if i have to ask myself this many questions is it the right choice? Its a nightmare!

    The best piece of advice I got and could give to you it..

    A - Do you like the bike? (I mean really like)... If you love the bike it will inspire you to get out more and train harder because you will want to feel like you are not letting your new pride and joy down!

    B - Have you sat on it? Is it comfy? - If the answer is yes its a no brainer get it and deal with the guilt by using it loads and training hard again.. It doesnt matter how well specced the bike is and how much it costs if it doesnt "fit" you comfort and riding style wise you are throwing money away...

    For me these are the 2 key points, because you can argue and debate about spec all day long.. Do i need Carbon etc etc..

    I pondered for a long time like yourself and even had buyers guilt until the box arrived with my new toy in it.. The second I unboxed it, i knew i had made the right choice and havent regretted it since..

    If you have the money and the it fits point A and B get it and worry about the rest later :D

    C have you cleared it with her indoors. Trust me its very hard to hide a new bike.
    Bianchi Infinito CV
    Bianchi Via Nirone 7 Ultegra
    Brompton S Type
    Carrera Vengeance Ultimate Ltd
    Gary Fisher Aquila '98
    Front half of a Viking Saratoga Tandem
  • If you can afford it, then do it.

    You only live once and if you are going to use it then its not money wasted.

    You could be dead tomorrow so why worry? go for it and enjoy it.

    good luck
    :D
  • IMO

    £2500 is a massive amount of money to spend on bike unless your wish to race in the future. What improvement do you think you will see over a £1500 bike at the skill level you are at now?

    Maybe buy a bike for £1500 use some of the other £1000 towards coaching. Coaching / Personal Trainer would improve your speed etc much more than a bike.

    Its something that is seen in golf quite often, A golfer will believe a new set of clubs will take him a new level and there is always the honeymoon period but soon afterwards he realises he has not really improved that much at all because dispite the new shiny clubs he is still the same golfer with the same flaws

    The same goes for the bike, yes you might get a a couple of mph out of the new bike, but with coaching and PT this could easily become 5-6mph
  • Really nice bike but personally I don't think you need to spend that sort of money to get a bike that will deliver what you are looking for.

    If I was in your shoes I'd probably be looking at something like a Giant Defy 1 or Cannondale CAAD10 with Shimano 105, all the bike you will need for the next 5 years.
    2013 Canyon Ultimate AL 7.0
    2003 Specialized Allez Sport
  • rolf_frolf_f Posts: 16,015
    I remember going into Evans in Brighton and seeing the Bianchis at about 1k and thinking "oooh, nice" and "oooh, expensive". Not many months later I was at Epic Cycles wanting to buy one. Unfortunately, most bikes don't fit me (need short top tube) and the only bikes they had that did fit were the Scott CR1 and the Look 585. The CR1 has a bonkers wide top tube that my knees knocked on and is Shimano only. The Look was any spec I wanted. I ended up spending nearly 3.5k. And this was my first road bike.

    Think is, I thought long and hard about it. I could afford it and properly = without needing credit. I made the decision and I have never once regretted it. I love it just as much as the day I first bought it even though it comes out for special occasions only (as I now also have a Ribble with virtually identical geometry). There is no other bike I want more than the Look I already own so, despite it being silly money, and despite the riding experience being not that different to the vastly cheaper Ribble, I am always glad I got it.

    The only thing I would say is that I am also so glad I got something a bit unusual. If you are spending a big wedge of cash, there are so many more interesting brands than Giant (not that Giant don't make excellent bikes - the TCR I hired to cycle up Mt Evans was very good indeed). I wouldn't either get hung up on what is or what isn't a bargain at that level. In some respects, the bargains probably stop at about £1500. Above that everything is expensive and a bargain is just something that costs less than retail - but doesn't necessarily give a tangible benefit.
    Faster than a tent.......
  • DrLexDrLex Posts: 2,142
    Try the bike - at that price level, a good bike shop should allow you a decent (day/weekend) loan, possibly with a charge refundable on purchase. You can then assess whether it's a worthwhile upgrade. Some Internet shops have a very generous, "no quibble" returns policy.

    Having not cycled much for a good few years, I started commuting on my old Trek MTB. Enjoying the exercise, I then wanted a lighter (& hopefully faster) bike. Convinced that I wanted a flat bar, I went to trial a Sirrus at my LBS, but the shop suggested trying a Secteur as a drop-bar comparison. A week and an overnight loan later, I'd done a deal on a demo Roubaix Expert at twice my original budget (but below the price of your Giant) . Completely over-specced for rural commuting, but that's the majority of my miles and it makes them a breeze. It also allowed me to do my first ever 70m Audax in comfort - I'd only ever done 15 miles in one day before then.

    Paraphrasing EPO Delivery Man - just do it; one life etc
    Location: ciderspace
  • I really appreciate all the advice but I am starting to get even more confused now ha ha. I had a look at a Defy 0 2013 now, and that looks pretty sweet and is less than half my budget.

    With my primary goal to increase speed, and to build fitness so i can smash hills I am thinking a comfortable bike for £1200 like the 2013 Defy 0 with about £1000 on personal training and coaching might be the best bet now...

    Do you guys think it will be much lighter and more comfortable than my current steel frame Cinelli Della Strada?
  • Just on that Defy 0, I think that is a pretty nicely specced bike for under £1200. Carbon forks, mostly Ultegra groupset, light frame. I think this might be a winner.

    Depending on a test ride first of course :)
  • secretsamsecretsam Posts: 4,904
    If you want it, can afford it, go for it

    It's just a hill. Get over it.
  • It will certainly be lighter, the Defy 1 review claims a weight of 8.87 kg although not sure what frame size the review was carried out on.

    Comfort is a personal thing, best to try first if you can. It won't be quite as aggressive as a CAAD10 but will certainly be more aggressive than your current bike.
    2013 Canyon Ultimate AL 7.0
    2003 Specialized Allez Sport
  • sageflysagefly Posts: 295
    Try them both out I've got a Defy 2 and have made it sportier set up by flipping stem etc. Look around for 2012 bargains they are an undervalued brand in the UK.
    Turned out nice again!
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