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Please help choosing new bike!

ZadokZadok Posts: 17
edited May 2015 in Road buying advice
This is a great forum! And this is my very first post!

Really quick background:
Have biked quite a bit, but not in recent years. Last bike was a nice 10 speed with lots of alloy. Sold it about 15+ years ago. Am an avid runner, mid-pack "B" class - 5K to to half's every year. 6' 170 lbs.

Goal: To *seriously* get back into road biking. (I'm a serious runner).

The bikes I've tried:
1) Trek Domain 2.0
What I liked: Nice ride; handled our crummy New England roads with ease. The 11/32 cassette: Could climb a long 20% hill very nicely.
What I didn't like so much: Price

2) Specialized Allez Sport
What I liked: Ride almost as good as the Trek. I liked the price.
What bothered me: I couldn't climb the same 20% hill with the 11/27. The Sora seemed almost as smooth as the Trek's gearing.

So this really is my issue: 9spd vs 10 spd. Huge question: If I got the Allez with the 27 gearing, am I going to die on big hills? Or as my fitness improves, will this not be an issue. OR, do I just choose routes without 20% hills? I'm looking to maintain cardio and will do that in the winter with a stationary setup. Most of the steep hills here are very short, so can power up no issue. But if I train, and go out and do a 100 miler, am I going to be happy with the lower end crankset?

Finally, it's really about price. The Trek is $400 more. Supposedly nicer frame and nicer wheels, but aside from a nuance better ride, blindfolded, I wouldn't know. The massive difference I noticed was the 32 gearing... only on that really bad hill.

Thanks!

Posts

  • rafletcherrafletcher Posts: 1,235
    Ask the bike store if they will fit a larger range cassette to the Allez, and bingo, best of both worlds.
  • ZadokZadok Posts: 17
    rafletcher wrote:
    Ask the bike store if they will fit a larger range cassette to the Allez, and bingo, best of both worlds.

    I actually asked about that and it seemed they would charge me for the new cassette -- not a trade; I keep the original one.

    I think perhaps a 30 (Shmano specs list a 12/30) would do it for me. The 32 climb was easy, but the 27 caused me to really ramp up my heart rate.
  • rafletcherrafletcher Posts: 1,235
    Then you'll have a spare for when you get fitter :)

    As to maximum teeth, if the Domane will take a 32 it's quite possible (despite what Shimano tech docs may say) that the Allez will too, but if you don't need it the 30 will keep the ratios that bit closer together.
  • ZadokZadok Posts: 17
    rafletcher wrote:
    Then you'll have a spare for when you get fitter :)

    As to maximum teeth, if the Domane will take a 32 it's quite possible (despite what Shimano tech docs may say) that the Allez will too, but if you don't need it the 30 will keep the ratios that bit closer together.

    I think, although I'm now just guessing, that the 30 would be fine. My associated question would be, am I losing anything with the wider ratios and 9 gears vs the 10 speeds on the Domane? For $400, doesn't seem as though there is the bang for the buck. But of course, I didn't try a $2K+ bike either. I want a bike I can be happy with and not fall behind due to crummy equipment.
  • arlowoodarlowood Posts: 2,538
    Just had a look at the spec for the Trek Domane 2.0 as supplied on the this of the pond. Would appear that this model comes with a triple chainset (50/39/30) and a 10 speed Tiagra 12-30 cassette.

    Another search indicates that in the US the 2.0 comes with a compact (50/34) chainset and the 10-speed 11-32 cassette. Seems a bit strange to have 2 different specs - maybe they reckon that us "redcoats" are feeble creatures and need all the gearing they can offer.

    The Allez Sport is specced as you describe with 9-speed Sora with a compact chainset. Both framesets are eminently upgradable so I don't think you would go too far wrong with either. If it were my money I would be willing to pay the extra for the Trek simply on the basis of the great reviews that the IsoSpeed decoupler gets in terms of added comfort.
  • ZadokZadok Posts: 17
    arlowood wrote:
    Just had a look at the spec for the Trek Domane 2.0 as supplied on the this of the pond. Would appear that this model comes with a triple chainset (50/39/30) and a 10 speed Tiagra 12-30 cassette.

    Another search indicates that in the US the 2.0 comes with a compact (50/34) chainset and the 10-speed 11-32 cassette. Seems a bit strange to have 2 different specs - maybe they reckon that us "redcoats" are feeble creatures and need all the gearing they can offer.

    The Allez Sport is specced as you describe with 9-speed Sora with a compact chainset. Both framesets are eminently upgradable so I don't think you would go too far wrong with either. If it were my money I would be willing to pay the extra for the Trek simply on the basis of the great reviews that the IsoSpeed decoupler gets in terms of added comfort.

    Yes, Trek has the compact chainset here and it gets great reviews, but I took both over fairly rough pavement (common here) and maybe could tell a nuance of difference, but that was only for a couple of miles. Both have carbon forks. I did try a non-carbon cross bike and it was horrible on the pavement. Felt every tiny imperfection from the road.
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    Zadok wrote:
    arlowood wrote:
    Just had a look at the spec for the Trek Domane 2.0 as supplied on the this of the pond. Would appear that this model comes with a triple chainset (50/39/30) and a 10 speed Tiagra 12-30 cassette.

    Another search indicates that in the US the 2.0 comes with a compact (50/34) chainset and the 10-speed 11-32 cassette. Seems a bit strange to have 2 different specs - maybe they reckon that us "redcoats" are feeble creatures and need all the gearing they can offer.

    The Allez Sport is specced as you describe with 9-speed Sora with a compact chainset. Both framesets are eminently upgradable so I don't think you would go too far wrong with either. If it were my money I would be willing to pay the extra for the Trek simply on the basis of the great reviews that the IsoSpeed decoupler gets in terms of added comfort.

    Yes, Trek has the compact chainset here and it gets great reviews, but I took both over fairly rough pavement (common here) and maybe could tell a nuance of difference, but that was only for a couple of miles. Both have carbon forks. I did try a non-carbon cross bike and it was horrible on the pavement. Felt every tiny imperfection from the road.
    An alloy bike should be just fine. There are some differences in comfort from frame to frame but tyres and tyre pressures are considerably more important than frame material.
  • ZadokZadok Posts: 17
    Okay thanks everyone for the great advice!
  • t4tomot4tomo Posts: 2,643
    They are two quite different bikes, the Domane is built for comfort and long day rides, the Allez is a more aggressive /racey geometry. the Roubaix is the equivalent of the Domane in the Spesh line up.

    The Domane is definitely more suited to someone starting out on a road bike IMHO, its also a better frameset.
    Bianchi Infinito CV
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  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 10,455
    My choice would be the Domane, I test rode one a while ago and loved it was way more comfortable than anything else I tried. I feel you pay for specialized,s name, will be getting the Domane next time around as more able to get the build I want now.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • ZadokZadok Posts: 17
    I'm still unsettled on the cassette and the unhappy thought of having to muscle up steep hills, while the Domane felt very relaxed on the 20% 3/4 mile grind, in the lowest gear . Also, the idea of 20 speeds is intriguing since the only thing I have known was 10 speeds, which BTW was a nice high end bike, but nothing like what I've been trying out.

    Last but not least, having to fork out $1,300 for the Domane is going to mean scraping up a bit more $$ to get it, but I don't plan on trading up, if not for a long time.
  • dj58dj58 Posts: 2,193
    Something to consider, if you can stretch to the 10 speed Trek bike, you would have the option to try the CS-4600 12-30T cassette against the 11-32T cassette that is fitted to the bike as O.E. spec.

    As your fitness improves you may find that you could manage with the 12-30, which has a nicer set of ratios, in my opinion.
  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 10,455
    Don't get hung up on how many gears you have I'm still running a 7 speed rear cassette on my wet bike and a 10sp triple on my dry bike. The Domane Is the more comfortable and compliant ride due to the frame set-up. The wet bike gets used a fair bit at the minute.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    oxoman wrote:
    Don't get hung up on how many gears you have I'm still running a 7 speed rear cassette on my wet bike and a 10sp triple on my dry bike. The Domane Is the more comfortable and compliant ride due to the frame set-up. The wet bike gets used a fair bit at the minute.
    If he wants a wide range cassette then at least 9 speed would be highly advisable. Otherwise the gaps between gears get unpleasantly large.
  • ZadokZadok Posts: 17
    So here's another way for me to decide: What do you guys do? After some training, do you power up 20% hills with a 27 or 28? So the deal with me is, I'm checking out bikes after no training for 15 years. Running and backpacking may be good, but still not quite the same use of muscle groups.

    If you guys say, "No, I never do killer walls with less than a 30," they there's my answer. Otherwise, to gain the benefit of closer ratios, I'd keep the 11/27, as I'm only going to be on the 27/30/32 very rarely.
  • ai_1ai_1 Posts: 3,060
    Zadok wrote:
    So here's another way for me to decide: What do you guys do? After some training, do you power up 20% hills with a 27 or 28? So the deal with me is, I'm checking out bikes after no training for 15 years. Running and backpacking may be good, but still not quite the same use of muscle groups.

    If you guys say, "No, I never do killer walls with less than a 30," they there's my answer. Otherwise, to gain the benefit of closer ratios, I'd keep the 11/27, as I'm only going to be on the 27/30/32 very rarely.
    My take on this is, unfortunately, very unhelpful to you because it comes down to "it depends".

    Lighter and fitter riders will get away with bigger gears (and smaller sprockets) so a 12-25 or 11-28 might be fine, whereas heavier or less fit riders or those with knee problems, might want the smallest gears available so on steep gradients they'll want 30 or 32 tooth sprockets or a triple. In my case I used to ride a triple and initially used a 32 on the back (the bike unusually, came with this very wide rear range as standard). This got me over 3km long climbs with 10% average gradioents and 15%+ ramps when I was overweight and horribly unfit. As I improved I switched to a 12-27 on the back which was much nicer to cruise on because of the closer gear spacing. It was a 9 speed so 11-32 had big gaps and 12-27 was a notable improvement. I later got a 12-23 cassette just for the hell of it for flat rides but it was a little too small for me on hillier rides and I couldn't be bothered switching it back and forth so it migrated to my turbo trainer. This bike is now my mutant TT bike and has a 13-25 cassette..... 9 speed cassettes are cheap and they wear out eventually!

    If you're a serious runner, it must be fair to say you're pretty lean and have very good existing general fitness. In all likelihood you'll quickly develop the cycling legs to complement this and you may find the hills very manageable. Having said that 20% is a serious gradient!

    I don't think you should base your bike choice on the cassette they come with.
    9 speed cassettes are relatively cheap (around €15 on Chain reactions) and 11 speed are relatively expensive (often around €55), I presume 10 speed fall somewhere in between.
    I'd get the bike that fits best and that you like best. If it comes with a 11-32 you'll be fine initially and can change to something tighter later if you want. If it comes with a 11-27, give it a go for a few rides and if you decide it's too much on the steep stuff, buy a replacement cassette (hang onto the smaller cassette, you may decide to try it again in a few months). the only problem is that the derailleur may not accommodate a 32 but 30 will likely be fine and may be enough for you.
  • ZadokZadok Posts: 17
    Ai_1 wrote:
    Zadok wrote:
    So here's another way for me to decide: What do you guys do? After some training, do you power up 20% hills with a 27 or 28? So the deal with me is, I'm checking out bikes after no training for 15 years. Running and backpacking may be good, but still not quite the same use of muscle groups.

    If you guys say, "No, I never do killer walls with less than a 30," they there's my answer. Otherwise, to gain the benefit of closer ratios, I'd keep the 11/27, as I'm only going to be on the 27/30/32 very rarely.
    My take on this is, unfortunately, very unhelpful to you because it comes down to "it depends".

    Lighter and fitter riders will get away with bigger gears (and smaller sprockets) so a 12-25 or 11-28 might be fine, whereas heavier or less fit riders or those with knee problems, might want the smallest gears available so on steep gradients they'll want 30 or 32 tooth sprockets or a triple. In my case I used to ride a triple and initially used a 32 on the back (the bike unusually, came with this very wide rear range as standard). This got me over 3km long climbs with 10% average gradioents and 15%+ ramps when I was overweight and horribly unfit. As I improved I switched to a 12-27 on the back which was much nicer to cruise on because of the closer gear spacing. It was a 9 speed so 11-32 had big gaps and 12-27 was a notable improvement. I later got a 12-23 cassette just for the hell of it for flat rides but it was a little too small for me on hillier rides and I couldn't be bothered switching it back and forth so it migrated to my turbo trainer. This bike is now my mutant TT bike and has a 13-25 cassette..... 9 speed cassettes are cheap and they wear out eventually!

    If you're a serious runner, it must be fair to say you're pretty lean and have very good existing general fitness. In all likelihood you'll quickly develop the cycling legs to complement this and you may find the hills very manageable. Having said that 20% is a serious gradient!

    I don't think you should base your bike choice on the cassette they come with.
    9 speed cassettes are relatively cheap (around €15 on Chain reactions) and 11 speed are relatively expensive (often around €55), I presume 10 speed fall somewhere in between.
    I'd get the bike that fits best and that you like best. If it comes with a 11-32 you'll be fine initially and can change to something tighter later if you want. If it comes with a 11-27, give it a go for a few rides and if you decide it's too much on the steep stuff, buy a replacement cassette (hang onto the smaller cassette, you may decide to try it again in a few months). the only problem is that the derailleur may not accommodate a 32 but 30 will likely be fine and may be enough for you.

    Perfect! Very helpful. Yes, the lower cost bike (which I thought was very nice) has the 11/27 9 spd. Many of the loops I could do on the road have short, steep hills going one way, and long easy hills going the other. So... there's a choice.
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