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Road bike choice - Boardman, Spesh, Giant

ooermissusooermissus Posts: 811
edited April 2015 in Women's cycling forum
Am advising my other half on the switch from a flat bar to a road bike. She wants something light and comfortable (we did a 5-day trip across Italy last summer and plan to do some more longish day or multi-day rides). I have a fitness edge (and carry any gear) and I want her to be suffering as little as possible up that last climb of the day. Also good braking is a benefit, as it gives confidence on winding descents. Mudguards of some kind also needed - will be used in all seasons.

We're test riding etc, but any thoughts on the following shortlist - all at around £900 given current offers/discounts.

Specialized Dolce Elite Disc C2
Giant Avail 1
Boardman Road Team Carbon Fi

The Dolce has disc brakes and is a lovely bike to ride - it's the heaviest though (10.75kg). The Giant is Shimano 105 not Tiagra like the Dolce and 10.4 kg (both weighed in the shop).

The Boardman is carbon and by far the lightest - 8.5kg claimed weight. 105/Tiagra mix. Not had a chance to weigh one yet ourselves, though. Due to the sheer awfulness that is Halfords, test rides are not possible and they won't even get one in to size it without full payment, but we could make the trip to London where Halford's have some CycleRepublic stores that have been quite helpful on the phone.

Any thoughts on these bikes, or any others, would be enormously appreciated. £1000 is an absolute upper ceiling.

Posts

  • I've previously owned a Specialized Dolce Elite (sadly stolen) and a Giant Avail 1 (current training bike) - they're both good, solid rides and although they're not full carbon the carbon fork will mean they are comfortable. I have even done a few Crit races on the Giant so you can push it hard if you want to. I didn't own them at the same time so it's hard to be completely comparative but I wouldn't necessarily recommend one over the other - a lot may depend on fit (look at the variation in Stack/ Reach on the geometry tables). Generally Giants are good for those with longer bodies and shorter legs (longer Reach). You can get "racing" mud guards to fit on either (although it may be fiddly).

    Having said all that, I've never owned or even ridden one but the Boardmans are meant to be fantastic value for money and full carbon is normally great at soaking up the road that little bit more.

    Other bikes it might be worth considering are things like the Trek Lexa or Bianchi Dama ranges. I think Total Women's Cycling had an article on the Best Bikes under £1000 if you can be bothered to look it up. If your other half is taller than 5ft6 you may also want to consider some of the smaller men's bikes as you get a lot more options there.

    Emma
    Nice weather bike: Fondriest TF2 (white/ black)
    Training Bike: Giant Avail (white/ blue/ green)
    Track bikes: Planet X Franko Bianco (white) and 7VRN (white/ black)
    CX: Kinesis Pro6 (sick green)
  • ooermissusooermissus Posts: 811
    Thanks Emma for this hugely useful reply (and sorry about the stolen Dolce). Was impressed by the Specialized and Giant, but then struck by how good value the Boardman seemed to be (currently at £900 in Cycle Republic). Will have a look at the Trek and Bianchis too and will find the article you mention. My other half is quite short so I think the men's bikes won't work. Looks like a Boardman test ride when we can get to London next week...
  • gaffer_slowgaffer_slow Posts: 417
    I would get the Giant (assuming they fit well). The Avail is basically a Defy and they are considered great bikes.

    Giant LBS can also get test models in for a long weekend test although they are the higher end models - but sizing is the same. test-ride.co.uk i think

    Giant are great value.
    The Giant (compared to the Boardman) has the 2015 105 - the new 105 is much much better than the old (I have both on different bikes).... you should be able to easily get ~10% off for cash at a local Giant authorised LBS - or through some internet voucher shenanigans + quidco.

    I am sure they are lovely people, but Halfords mechanics dont fill me with confidence.

    also Giant = lifetime frame warranty.
    other than Canyon - Giant is the best bang for buck.
  • ooermissusooermissus Posts: 811
    I am sure they are lovely people, but Halfords mechanics dont fill me with confidence

    I am with you on that. "You can't expect head office to allow me to order in a £1000 bike just so you can see if it's the right size." But Cycle Republic have been much more helpful over the phone. "We'd never want you to buy one of our bikes without a test ride and a fitting." So maybe Boardman becomes viable again...

    We liked the Giant too though and thanks for your thoughts on it as the best option - will be good to compare them having ridden both.
  • BLWBLW Posts: 96
    Halfords = poor service BUT I can't knock the Boardman RB that I bought from them, not the same model as you you are wanting, mine was the Sport FI (female specific) so not the carbon one, mine has the cheap Claris GS and it's been a fantastic bike, it's never missed a beat, it's not even required a service yet, it's climbed some of the big North Yorkshire hills, I've commuted to work on it, done sportives, it's done over a 1000 miles so far, I've crashed it, dropped it and apart from scuffing my shifters, it's been indistructable! even the paint work hasn't chipped.

    All I'm saying is, don't let Halfords put you off, I'd certainly buy another Boardman again, I just got my OH to check it over and tighten a few things up before I rode it.
  • mrushtonmrushton Posts: 5,182
    trek Madone (or womens equivalent is nice as it uses a decoupler to lessen road buzz and has hidden mudguard mounts. A disc version would be even better. A Pinarello Razakh again disc would also be nice esp. with Portland metal works guards
    M.Rushton
  • ooermissusooermissus Posts: 811
    BLW wrote:
    All I'm saying is, don't let Halfords put you off.

    Cycle Republic in central London couldn't have been more helpful and are having two sizes of the Boardman delivered into store for a test ride. Then we'll try the Specialized and the Giant again from Evans and Cycle Surgery just down the road. Worth a trip into town.
    mrushton wrote:
    trek Madone (or womens equivalent is nice

    The Madone women's version looks like a lovely bike, but at £8500 it's a bit pricey for us!
  • t4tomot4tomo Posts: 2,643
    It's actually the trek Domane that has the decoupler. Which I think is now the Silque for 2015 to differ it from the male version


    Also all Madones are not £8500! There are Alu frames and differnet grades of carbon frame. £8500 is pretty much up at top of range pro equivalent

    Prob not right size if your mrs is quite small but

    http://www.evanscycles.com/products/trek/madone-31-c-wsd-2014-womens-road-bike-ec040346
    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
  • ooermissusooermissus Posts: 811
    Got you. I think it's maybe the 2015 range where there's only a v expensive women's madone ("bike race royalty"): http://www.trekbikes.com/uk/en/collecti ... ce/madone/ - will have a look at the Silques
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    ooermissus wrote:
    ...Looks like a Boardman test ride when we can get to London next week...
    I would suggest not worrying about a test ride.
    Contrary to many people's opinions I really don't think a test ride is of any particular value.
    Even if you could ride the 3 bikes set up identically in a side by side comparison I think it would be hard to make any useful judgments. When ridden on different days, on different roads with different saddle positions, bar reach and height and different tyre pressures and standard of setup, I think test rides are pretty worthless.

    They don't really tell you anything about the bike. Instead they reflect how you're feeling that day, the terrain and weather, how well the bike shop set up the gears, brakes and tyre pressures, how close the saddle and bar positions are to where you would actually want them, etc... All of these things will, in my opinion, have a greater impact on how you enjoy your test ride and what you think of the bike as a result, than the bike itself. Get the fit right, get the spec you want, don't worry about a test ride.
    Of those 3, if the Boardman has the right geometry I'd probably go with that.

    Nothing effects comfort more than the saddle, the tyre type and pressures and the relative positions of the contact points. All of these can easily be changed either when purchasing or after you take it home but you'll generally have to take what you're given for a test ride.
    I'm VERY happy with my current bike but if I'd test ridden it with an inappropriate setup I may well have come away thinking it would be an awful choice and gone with a worse option. A test ride sounds like an obvious thing to do, but it's really not so sensible IMO.
  • lyndawsflyndawsf Posts: 2
    Hi After lurking since late 2013 on this forum when I bought my first road bike I have finally registered to give you my opinion on the Dolce. I bought this a year ago and I absolutely love the bike. It's gone to France and Flanders as well as many mile around where I live. I am quite short at only 5 foot 1 inch and it's a great fit for me and the geometry is spot on. When we got lost in Flanders recently and I spent more than 4.5 hours on the bike I was still comfortable at the end. Brakes are fine but I did change the saddle and the tyres. The only negative was I struggles with race mudguards and couldn't get on with them at all - my solution was to buy a second hand steel bike which I use in the winter (Dec through till April). Hope this helps
  • lyndawsflyndawsf Posts: 2
    Hi After lurking since late 2013 on this forum when I bought my first road bike I have finally registered to give you my opinion on the Dolce. I bought this a year ago and I absolutely love the bike. It's gone to France and Flanders as well as many miles around where I live. I am quite short at only 5 foot 1 inch and it's a great fit for me and the geometry is spot on. When we got lost in Flanders recently and I spent more than 4.5 hours on the bike I was still comfortable at the end. Brakes are fine but I did change the saddle and the tyres. The only negative was I struggles with race mudguards and couldn't get on with them at all - my solution was to buy a second hand steel bike which I use in the winter (Dec through till April). Hope this helps
  • ooermissusooermissus Posts: 811
    ai_1 wrote:
    I would suggest not worrying about a test ride.

    Have a lot of sympathy with this - but we need to get the size right and it's part of making a decision.
    lyndawsf wrote:
    Hi After lurking since late 2013 on this forum when I bought my first road bike I have finally registered to give you my opinion on the Dolce. I bought this a year ago and I absolutely love the bike... The only negative was I struggles with race mudguards and couldn't get on with them at all...

    Thanks for this! Really hoping we can find some mudguards that work.
  • mrushtonmrushton Posts: 5,182
    google Portland Metal Works.Would certainly work with discs
    M.Rushton
  • ooermissusooermissus Posts: 811
    I would get the Giant... Giant are great value.
    The Giant (compared to the Boardman) has the 2015 105 - the new 105 is much much better than the old.

    I have belatedly twigged the relevance of this. 2015 105 is 11 speed - and the Giant has a 11-32 cassette; the Boardman is a ten speed Tiagra cassette - 12-28 (with a 2014 105 mech).

    That's quite a lot of extra low gearing on the Giant - a 14% difference I read somewhere though I can't seem to get any of the online gear calculators to work. I guess you could swap to a Tiagra 12-30 - but wonder if the lower gear would still be missed at the end of a long and hilly day.
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    I had missed the fact that the Boardman is on last generation 105 rather than the current 5800 version. If the current version is close to the standard of Ultegra 6800 in terms of lever movement, chainring gear changes and braking, which I believe it is, then that's a definite consideration. 11 sprockets is also nice to have.
  • mamba80mamba80 Posts: 5,086
    When you look at what your getting with this, lite weight (the giant weighs a tonne.), disks, decent wheels, the right gearing, imo you d be mad not to consider an £200, there is nothing from a LBS that comes close and you can return foc if you dont like it. Discs are a huge adv riding day after day in hilly areas, esp for any one who maybe slightly nervous or in the wet.
    ROSE XEON DX-2000
  • ooermissusooermissus Posts: 811
    mamba80 wrote:
    When you look at what your getting with this, lite weight (the giant weighs a tonne.), disks, decent wheels, the right gearing, imo you d be mad not to consider an £200, there is nothing from a LBS that comes close and you can return foc if you dont like it. Discs are a huge adv riding day after day in hilly areas, esp for any one who maybe slightly nervous or in the wet.
    ROSE XEON DX-2000

    That looks really great, and you're right the discs are appealing for hills and wet weather. Sadly we're limited to a £1000 ceiling - she can then buy it through her business under the Bike to Work rules, just without the repayments. (Or that's what her accountant said - with the £1k limit still applying.)

    I think it looks like the Boardman with a change of cassette and a possible upgrade to 11 speed further down the line. Esp as you can avoid Halfords and the Cycle Republic staff have been excellent.
  • I'm a shortarse and I have a Giant Avail 2. She's been a brilliant bike, we've done thousands of miles together and I've ridden her up some pretty big hills and down some scary descents. The 11sp 105 should be a nice groupset and the 32 tooth cassette (although technically cheating) might be appreciated on the hills (I stuck one on for the Fred Whitton and was sitting when others were standing, and riding when they were pushing!).

    However, mine originally came with the Tiagra groupset and I had no end of trouble braking from the hoods. I was fine in the drops but the pivot point on the brake levers was too low down and my hands were too small to use them effectively. I ended up changing the groupset for a SRAM one, which fixed the problem, but obviously this isn't ideal with a new bike. So make sure she tries the brakes from the hoods AND the drops to check that she's happy with them before committing to a bike.

    P.S. - as my frame is tiny (xs) I struggled to fit conventional mudguards (and a pannier rack) due to the lack of frame clearance. I ended up having to buy special thing to attach my pannier rack to my seatpost clamp and special Giant mudguards that you can use on bikes with limited clearance.
    Small fat weak punter
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