Guidance please

Grenouille Posts: 50
edited April 2013 in Road buying advice
Hi, I have a Boardman Hybrid Comp but now am looking to buy a road bike. The Boardman is great for my commute and I can load it up but I'm getting a real itch for something better/lighter/more comfortable for the longer rides.

I have (with my limited knowledge) narrowed down the field to Spec Roubaix Sport/Spec Tarmac Sport/Trek Madone 3.1 - these seem to be about the right price point for me and they have all had decent reviews. I'm also leaning towards a triple chainset - I want to climb the Ventoux before I'm 40 (5ish years away) and I think a triple would benefit me here. I don't need a racer, comfort for longer rides is more important hence the Roubaix option.

And about me - I'm 6'4" and 19st (weight decreasing though) and I commute 15 miles round trip 2-3 times a week and want to do progressively longer rides at weekends.

Your thoughts would be much appreciated. :D


  • mattmaximus
    mattmaximus Posts: 132
    Firstly, well done - that's a great ambition! IMHO you probably don't need a triple: if you train up over a good period of time a compact 50/34 chainset will be enough to get you up Ventoux and it'll be more than enough in the meantime. Along with the weight loss comes significant increase in strength and going with the compact saves you a bit of weight and gives you more choice. That said, if you want a triple, it certainly can't do any harm.

    I'm intrigued that you mention the Tarmac and the Madone 3 - these are both race frames, albeit well regarded. The Roubaix feels very much like a comfortable cruiser to me and is a decent shout. My advice would be to get to your local Evans (almost certainly one within striking distance) and request a test ride of the Roubaix, as well as a Merckx EMX-1 and a Cannondale Synapse. I'd suggest a 61 in the Specialized and Cannondale and a 54 in the Merckx (funny sizing) to start with. You might also consider a Trek Madone 4 or Domane if that's a brand you want to go with.

    They'll get a model in your size to the store if you give them a few days' notice. IIRC they'll ask for a deposit and a driving licence and then you have a good go and see which works for you. IME the advice one gets at Evans is variable at best, but they do have a huge range of bikes for comparative purposes.

    Good luck and have fun; buying bikes is great!
  • cougie
    cougie Posts: 22,512
    I think a triple could be handy. You're a big guy. Unless you're planning on losing a lot of weight - you might need that.

    To get fit for ventoux you need to ride hills.
  • unixnerd
    unixnerd Posts: 2,864
    I bought the Roubaxi SL3 with Ultegra (Dura Ace was sold out in the UK!) last year and it's the best money I've ever spent. I could rave about the bike for hours. Sooo comfy yet fast. After 100 miles only my legs were sore.

    I have a triple on my tourer and my Cannondale CAAD5, my Roubaix is a double. I climb Cairngorm Mountain a few times a year (and sometimes race up it in time trials). Lowest gear on my tourer used to be 30x28 but I never used it so fitted a 12-25 9 speed cassette, 30x25 is enough to get me up anything (same on the Cannondale but it's 10 speed). The Roubaix is a compact with a 34x28 bottom and I don't always need it on Cairngorm. I could fit an 11-30 cassette to get a lower gear if needed.

    Nice thing about the triple is you can run an 11-25 instead of 11-28 so you have less of a gap between gears. Annoying thing it having to change the front mech more often. If I were you I'd get the compact Roubaix and fit an 11-30 cassette for big climbs.

    Nice light wheels really help on the climbs by the way. But practice is very important to find your climbing rhythm. - Quality Binoculars at a Sensible Price.
    Specialized Roubaix SL3 Expert 2012, Cannondale CAAD5,
    Marin Mount Vision (1997), Edinburgh Country tourer, 3 cats!
  • Thanks for all the comments and suggestions.

    I popped into my LBS today and asked if he could get a Roubaix in, he can't as he only stocks Raleigh, Claud Butler and Orbea so he suggested a Raleigh Revenio Full Carbon Sportive bike. I must admit it looks nice but I'm struggling to find reviews or opinions on it...and I still like the Roubaix! Anyone have any thoughts on the Raleigh?
  • mattmaximus
    mattmaximus Posts: 132
    Can't help with the Raleigh, I'm afraid, except to say that rampant prejudice would prevent me from buying one. From what's on offer at your lbs I'd say the orbea onix represented a much better bet.

    You won't know whether a roubaix suits you until you try. It's well worth the effort - you don't want that 'what if' thought nagging you. They're not for me, however.
  • What is your prejudice with Raleigh? :?

    Another shop locally will let me take out a Spec Roubaix for a weekend so I may do that and see where I go from there.
  • mattmaximus
    mattmaximus Posts: 132
    It's not anti-Raleigh, exactly - I ride a 1992 Raleigh steel bike - it's their modern carbon bikes. It seems to me, though I'm no expert, that the company long since stopped having anything to do with Nottingham and the UK and the name is now just a marketing tool.

    With due respect to some opinions on this board I do take notice of the reviews in bike magazines and can't ever remember seeing a good one for a Raleigh. I'm also almost certainly influenced by media, that's to say advertising as well as the endorsements of the world tour teams, and the peer pressure of what other people ride. I can't help thinking that if the bikes were that good, you'd see them in more shops and more of them on the roads.

    £1500 is a hell of a lot of money and you can buy outstanding frames for that amount of cash. If it were my money I'd want a name on the down tube which inspired me and made me believe that any shortcomings were coming from the workman not his tool. The Roubaix, for example, isn't my cup of tea but when I rode one I couldn't help imagining myself as Tom Boonen breaking away on the trouee d'arenberg. Kids' stuff, of course, but otherwise what's the point?

    Bottom line, that Raleigh might be a great bike - maybe even outstanding in its class. I'd be really happy if that were the case, because Raleigh is one of the great names in cycling. Given the competition, however, there's no way I'd take that punt with my own money. But, as I've said, I've never ridden the bike and if it's the one for you then go for it.

    The w/end test of the Roubaix, mind, is a terrific offer and I really hope you love it.
  • Thanks, and I'm very similar in that I like to err towards a decent brand name. Raleigh of old has terrific prestige but, like you say, they are not used by the major teams and finding an online review of one is nigh on impossible.

    Yes, I'm very pleased that I'll be able to take the bike out for a weekend (thanks to Cycles UK in Canterbury) - I have to pay in full for the bike but get it all refunded (minus £30) when I return it. It is a brilliant service as I have never ridden a road bike and who knows, I may hate it! (Doubtful!) So a test ride is certainly very useful. They are lending me a compact though rather than a triple so I'll have to find a couple of hills to try it on.