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Any road bikers here? I'd love some help...

Entity

Lifer
Oct 11, 1999
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First of all, I meant non-motorized bikes. Schwinn, Cannondale, that sort of thing. :)

Here's the story so far:

I'm looking for something that I can do here year-round (living in Washington, we don't get the kind of weather that really supports full-year mountain biking) and something that I can use to cross-train myself, keep myself in good shape, commute to work (REI), etc. I've narrowed down the companies I'm looking at to REI/Novarra and Schwinn, for the most part.

The Novarra Strada looks like a fairly good bike - it's light, loaded with Shimano 105 components, etc. On the other hand, I'm naturally skeptical about the Novarra line, because they make remarkably bad beginner's mountain bikes. The Strada is going to cost me around $630.

My other choice I'm looking at is a Schwinn Super Sport GL. This will cost less, around $430, but I can't get it as quickly. It feels slightly heavier than the Novarra, but when I lifted the Novarra (haven't got either on a bike scale yet) the Novarra wasn't equipped with pedals - which will mean some extra weight, but I'm not sure how much. On the other hand, it's equipped with Shimano Tiagra...

To sum up, I'm leery about the Novarra line and haven't read any reviews on it. Everyone I've talked to says the Super Sport GL would be a great beginner's road bike at a great price - but I'm somewhat afraid that if I get a bike that isn't enough for me, I will either have to spend a lot to upgrade or buy a new bike, neither of which appeals to me.

I've stopped at two shops now, and talked to three different people - all have noted that I would fit well between a 52cm and a 54cm; while a 52 frame fits well, it may be a bit small - however, the top tube in conjunction with about a 110mm stem works well. On a 54cm frame, the top tube + 100 stem works fine as well. (I'm 6' tall with a 31-32" inseam).

Being a college student, I'm severely limited on what I can afford to spend. There are 4 bike manufacturers I can order from: Cannondale, Marin, Novarra, and Schwinn. Schwinn has the best prices - I like the Cannondale R600 but it's just out of my price range (~$600). I can afford about $450 - I'm currently also buying tons of gear for hiking the Pacific Crest Trail next year, thus my budget.

As far as prices go, I can get a Schwinn Super Sport GL for $430, a Cannondale R300 for $450, a Novarra Strada for $630, or a Cannondale R600 for $630. For the time being I'm having a hard time justifying the $600+ bikes. Maybe when I have more cash it'd be easier, but $400 is putting enough stress on my budget. OTOH, I love biking, so $400 I can deal with.

thanks a ton in advance, guys. :)

Rob
 

I'm Typing

Golden Member
Oct 9, 1999
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First of all...if you are looking to race, or go fast, you want the most expensive bike you can afford. If you are looking to get in shape, and are a college student, the cheaper (heavier) bikes are better, for two reasons:

1) You will get in better shape pedaling around a heavier bike--and will not feel so bad about beating it in the winter months.

2) If it gets stolen (college campus--hellooo!), the loss will not be as great.
/edit/
I have been a road biker for 25 years, have a Swine LeTour III that is still ridable! I prefer my Fuji Roubaix, and almost everything but the handlebars and frame have been replaced on the Swine.

If it were my choice, I would go with the cheaper Cannondale.
 

Entity

Lifer
Oct 11, 1999
10,090
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I'm typing,

I'm not looking at racing - yet, at least. I've done plenty of Mtn. Biking so I know about the costs/benefits of weight, that it costs quite a bit to shave pounds, etc. I get a 50-60% discount on these bikes, so the bike I'm looking at (Schwinn Super Sport GL is ~21-22lbs - I haven't weighed it yet) - Easton 7005 Aluminum frame with Shimano 105 & Tiagra components.

Thanks for the advice, and continue to dispense more if you want. :)

Rob
 

20_MuleTeam_Borax

Senior member
Oct 9, 1999
681
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I love my Cdale R800. CAAD4 6000 series (i think) aluminum frame, Time carbon fiber fork, 105 components.

*cue the standard anandtech BBS anti-cannondale sentiment*
 

20_MuleTeam_Borax

Senior member
Oct 9, 1999
681
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Oh yeah, I don't have any experience w/ Schwinn road bikes, but take a close look at the paint job. On their entry level MTB's (frontier, mesa, etc), the paint chips and scratches if you look at it wrong.
 

mr_cheesy

Senior member
Oct 11, 1999
809
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man...... hookz me up with that discount... i need a new bike for next year... but i'm looking to do mostly mtn biking. i have a buddy totally into road biking i can bring around these parts...
 
Feb 10, 2000
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Hmmm . . . the old employee purchase, eh? I frantically bought my (now disused) Bridgestone MB-0 and my DeRosa Professional in the last month or so of my bike-store days.

I think all things considered you will not regret taking advantage of your position and discount to get a truly nice bike, whereas you may feel sorry later if you just invest enough to get a temporary place-holder, as it were. You can likely resell a nice, carefully-chosen and maintained bike for as much or more than you pay out of the box at an employee-purchase price.

I would be dubious of the Novara as well, and it would have very poor resale if you ever wanted to start over again with a better bike. If you are even considering spending that much, why not get a Schwinn Peloton, which is a truly bitchen' bike and would probably cost about the same with employee purchase.

Cannondale is, in the local lingo, suck. I have beaten this into the ground here before, but I have some comically horrific horror stories . . .

The Marin road bikes are actually really nice, albeit rather flashy (they are Italian-made of nice Columbus tubing), and if you can get a good deal on one of these I would also get that before the Novara.
 

jonnyGURU

Moderator <BR> Power Supplies
Moderator
Oct 30, 1999
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Find a collector and buy an old Reynolds based frame!

My 1977 Falcon San Remo is 531 with Campy Nuovo Record and cost me $600 in 1993. :p

Anyhoo... 20_Mule; the difference between Schwinn's low end and high end is vast. Their low end is extremely, well, low end. What components used are not the only thing used to keep costs low. But you are right, finish is something that lacks on the low end Schwinns.

The Schwinn name is slapped on some pretty practical and reasonably priced bikes these days. I would certainly say that the bike you describe is a fair unit. However, I would like to have at least 105, if you're going with Shimano. 105 is a great grouppo. Not too expensive, not too &quot;cheap&quot;. Any thing less than 105, Shimano tends to factor in many &quot;cut corners&quot;.

If you get the Novarra and are skeptical about the brand, think about this: Novarra is only the frame/fork. If they are &quot;that bad&quot;, what do you do? Buy your self that Bob Jackson 753 you've been eye balling for years! :p Seriously, swapping a grouppo off of a frame is easier than swapping about a motherboard!

Couldn't be any worse than a Cannonball! :)
 
Feb 10, 2000
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BTW, I just reread your post, and I find it hard to envision that anybody 6' tall should be riding a 52 or even a 54. I would say 56 at a minimum. I am 6'3&quot; and a 61 is about right for me (my DeRosa is a 60 center-to-center). Fit is the most important thing in buying a bike, and people with a mountain-bike background often buy road bikes that are too small. Get someone experienced from your store to fit a bike for you.
 

jonnyGURU

Moderator <BR> Power Supplies
Moderator
Oct 30, 1999
11,778
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You're absolutely right. A 34&quot; inseam does yield a 60-62 cm frame size.

DON'T BUY SMALL in a road bike!!! That only works with Mt. Bikes.
 

Entity

Lifer
Oct 11, 1999
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It looks like, when all is said and done, I will be going for a 56cm frame. The reason I ended up feeling like a 54cm was because the Schwinns do measure center to top; the 54cm Schwinn felt like more than, or at least enough, bike for me.
However, after trying a 56cm Novarra Strada, a 55cm Lemond, and a 56cm Cannondale R300, I'm convinced and will admit that you were right in your sizing estimates (to those of you that nearly yelled at me for thinking about getting a 52cm), and I am thankful for your help and advice. Now the only decision is what bike to go with. The Strada is nice, with Easton 7005 tubing and Shimano 105 components, and the big thing is I can ride it before buying it, and get it quickly. The other bikes are a Marin Verona or a Cannondale R600. These bikes are all in same price range - the Cannondale @ $700, the Strada @ $700, and the Marin @ $600. Unfortunately, I can't find the Marin to ride - and I will do that before I buy it.

Any last recommendations? Everything so far as been helpful and very much appreciated.

thanks again,
Rob
 

20_MuleTeam_Borax

Senior member
Oct 9, 1999
681
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I highly doubt you can go wrong w/ any of these options. Gotta love employee purchase too. Man, I'd be sooo damn broke w/o out it.

Is it possible for you to go out for a test ride? The shope where I work is more than happy to send people out on our bikes. You might not be able to get a complete feel for a bike w/ one ride, but it couldn't hurt.
 
Feb 10, 2000
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Ah, employee purchase. Once when I was working part-time in a shop, I was not getting many hours during the slow winter season. My boss came up and said to me, &quot;We need to talk about your bill.&quot; Hee hee. I think just about every independent bike-store owner on earth is a bit of a jerk - in such a short-margin industry they have to scrape to survive.

My vote is for the Marin. But you will be the one riding it! One note of caution: many people love C'dales on short test rides because they are very light and responsive. Only after several miles in the saddle does it become obvious that they are being shaken to death by the bone-jarring ride. I really, really don't like those bikes.
 

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