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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    24

    1st road bike - compact v. traditional geometry, etc.

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    First, hi. I'm Susie, and I'm a newb.

    I'm a swimmer at heart, trying to become a triathlete this year. My current bike is a 2009 Trek 7.2fx WSD, which I know I could ride in sprint tri's, but I'd be so slow on it that, that it wouldn't be fun. So I'm road bike shopping.

    I'm 5'2", and not particularly leggy. I've been fitted, and am looking at a 47-48 cm frame, and had it narrowed down to three WSD bikes, all compact geometry, aluminum frame, carbon fork, Shimano 105-equipped... and then I talked to a cyclist friend. And now I'm doubting myself.

    He's not a fan of compact geometry, WSD designs, or aluminum frames, and suggested a number of (more expensive) options: Eddy Merckx, Torelli, Moser. Steel or carbon, but no aluminum.

    There's no place around me (for a couple hundred miles) that has traditional geometry frame bikes in small sizes to test ride, and steel isn't easy to find either. What I was looking at was, I imagine, pretty standard "major manufacturer" fair at LBSs. (Scott Contessa Speedster, Specialized Dolce, Trek Lexa, all of which are fairly similar to my untrained eye.) How would one know which would be better to go with? He has me totally doubting aluminum compact frames, and I don't trust my own "feeling" for what's right/wrong/going to last me and my riding for a while.
    Last edited by Susie Derkins; 03-18-2011 at 01:37 PM. Reason: additional info

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    2,048
    I just bought my 2nd road bike...this week! For what it's worth:

    I'm 5'1" and I do have the longer legs/short torso so I went with a WSD. It is the only that would work for me, but you may have more options. I started with an XS (44 cm) aluminum frame with carbon forks, but Sora/Tiagra components. I rode this bike for 1 1/2 years and about 6000 miles. I was not able to buy a nicer bike at the time, and over time I could tell the aluminum bike was not the smoothest riding. The bikes you're considering are a little nicer because of the components.

    My new bike is a Specialized Ruby Comp, full carbon w/ 105 components- the ride is more comfortable, and the 105 is big improvement. I'm really happy with it (now that I've replaced the saddle with my old saddle).

    I rode 3 bikes: a Trek madone, Cannondale Supersix and the Ruby.

    Is price an issue? Can you afford a carbon frame? Or do you see this bike as a stepping stone to a nicer bike later? Can you find anyone with a small steel frame bike you can try?

    Feel free to PM me as I just finished making some of these decisions
    2016 Specialized Ruby Comp disc - Ruby Expert ti 155
    2010 Surly Long Haul Trucker - Jett 143

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    24
    Quote Originally Posted by azfiddle View Post
    Is price an issue? Can you afford a carbon frame?
    Price is a consideration, but I wouldn't say an absolute barrier. I'd rather not break the bank on my first bike, but if I test rode a Ruby and decided the Dolce didn't hold a candle to it, I would spring for the Ruby (and analogous among the other bikes I'm looking at).
    [QUOTE=azfiddle;562578]
    Or do you see this bike as a stepping stone to a nicer bike later? Can you find anyone with a small steel frame bike you can try?

    It's hard to say. Being new to tri, I don't know whether I'll fall in love with it, and this would be a stepping stone/training bike paving the way for a carbon tri bike, or if my bike would mostly just be for cycling on its own, in which case this would probably be "my bike" for the long haul.

    I don't know anybody with a steel frame to try, unfortunately.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Olney, MD
    Posts
    3,066
    Personally, I think you should go with what you've found that will work for you and don't worry about what your friend thinks.

    BTW, you're not going to see many steel bikes out on the tri course, except for racers who are riding their vintage bikes because they don't have anything else.

    Also BTW, come on down to the Triathlon Forum and say hi.
    I'd rather be swimming...biking...running...and eating cheesecake...
    --===--

    2008 Cervelo P2C Tri bike
    2011 Trek Madone 5.5/Cobb V-Flow Max
    2007 Jamis Coda/Terry Liberator
    2011 Trek Mamba 29er

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,132
    What's your friend's beef with compact geometry? All that generally means is that it has a sloping top tube, which is what you're going to find on the market these days on most smaller frames. Some people--your friend perhaps--doesn't like the look of them and prefer a horizontal top tube. I do, too, to be honest, but from a functional standpoint, a sloping top tube just makes practical sense for smaller riders. So, I'd ignore that part of his advice.

    Aluminum can ride harshly, especially if you ride crappy roads, but it's relatively inexpensive and readily available so I wouldn't rule it out. Test ride as many bikes as you can. There are a few mass produced steel bikes out there--Jamis comes to mind. I have a WSD steel Bianchi myself that I love, but it's no longer in production.

    Carbon would also be worth considering, but don't blow your budget just because of your friend's biased (in my view) opinion.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Madison WI
    Posts
    280
    I'd definitely ask this in the Triathalon forum. I personally went from aluminum to steel (both with carbon forks), skinnier tires and better components. A better bike is a better bike! And worth it IMO. But if you're just wanting it for Tri sprints, perhaps you don't need the top of the line bike
    Alison - mama of 2 (8yo and 6yo)
    2009 Independent Fabrication steel Crown Jewel SE
    1995 trek 800 steel MTV

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Mrs. KnottedYet
    Posts
    8,983
    1st welcome to TE. 2nd I'm 5' nuthin', have a Mondonico (Torelli bikes were made by Antonio Mondonico. He's retired now. I got a custom bike before he did ). It's steel frame and fork and I love it. Zippy, feather light, peppy with all-day comfort.

    Best of all for someone my height and build I have full size wheels, no toe overlap and regular diamond frame. Remarkable design.

    I don't race but if I did I might have a Torelli built for speed.

    http://forums.teamestrogen.com/showthread.php?t=36767
    Last edited by Trek420; 03-19-2011 at 09:58 AM.
    Custom Road bike ~ Mondonico Futura Legero
    Found on the road ~ Motobecane Mixte
    N+1 new bike ~ Salsa Vaya
    Commuter ~ Soma Buena Vista Mixte

    http://madeinusareviews.blogspot.com/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    905
    Compact vs traditional frame geometry is a matter of personal preference. Some people fit well on a compact frame, others do not. And that does not really correlate with how tall you are. For example I'm short, only 5'4'', and still I need the old school bikes with horizontal top tube to achieve a good fit. I'm one of the old fashioned people that believe wsd to be only a marketing hype - but that is just my opinion. Some buddies I ride with, shorter or taller than me, prefer compact geometries with a very sloping top tube. Some of the girls ride wsd, others ride unisex frames.
    It's all personal, like the choice of a saddle or a component group.
    The only advice I can offer is - test ride as many bikes as you can, work with a good pro fitter, and pick the one that you are most comfortable with and that can help you reach your goals.
    Don't worry too much about what your friends do - what works for them is their personal preference, and nowhere it's written that it will also work for you.
    Good luck!
    E.'s website: www.earchphoto.com

    2005 Bianchi 928C L'Una RC
    2010 BMC SLX01 racemaster
    2008 BMC TT03 Time Machine
    Campy Record and SSM Aspide naked carbon on all bikes

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Central Indiana
    Posts
    6,132
    Compact geometry does not equal WSD. It simply means the bike has a sloping top tube. The rest of the bike's geometry may reflect a few other minor differences, but both unisex and women's bikes can be compacts. The mere fact that a bike has a sloping top tube doesn't dictate a shorter reach.
    Live with intention. Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness. Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret. Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love. Live as if this is all there is.

    --Mary Anne Radmacher

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Melbourne Oz
    Posts
    176
    It sounds like your friend is suggesting the bikes he'd like to ride Susie. They are old brands with some cache, but not necessarily the geometry to suit you. I'll be surprised if those brands have a model small enough to fit you too. Unless the friend has more fitting expertise than your fitter, trust your judgement (and compare against your Trek). I get quite annoyed at people who know little about small women on bikes undermining our confidence. Yes, carbon or steel will ride better than alloy but fit is paramount, and around the specs suggested by your fitter, you will find some feel more right than others (if you're lucky enough to find them to test ride). WSD generally means a shorter ett and some minor other tweaks; you can look this up on the manufacturer's website and compare with the unisex models. Thankfully most production bike manufacturers have started to walk upright and progressed past the idea of painting bikes pink, slapping a fat saddle on them and calling them WSD.

    And as indy points out, compact geometry just means a sloping top tube which allows manufacturers to fit more leg lengths on fewer production sizes of bikes. Few amatuer riders would feel much difference between compact and trad frames, all else being equal, so it is a mostly aesthetic decision for those big enough to have the luxury of making a choice between bikes that otherwise fit. Personally I prefer the look of trad bikes too but I'm lucky enough to have the leg length to accommodate it.

    Be aware that a '47-48 cm frame' refers to seat tube length and doesn't actually mean much any more. Compact geometry means seat tubes measure shorter than traditional, so you need to be careful about where they measure to - top of the seat tube, collar, or top tube junction? And why 'equivalent top tube' is your friend. I would be shopping with standover height and top tube length in my pocket more than seat tube length. Best advice - test ride.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Posts
    9,351
    Not sure where you are in upstate New York, but you might consider making a trip to Waitsfield, Vermont to Fitwerx. We spent a lot of time in their shop while we were back east a few years ago. And I was pretty impressed with their service and philosophy.

    They also have a shop in MA somewhere.

    Veronica
    Discipline is remembering what you want.


    TandemHearts.com

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    24
    Thanks for all the feedback.

    Yesterday I rode a Specialized Dolce (two actually, one a Sport and one a Comp) and a Ruby. It was hugely fun. It just felt so... fast. And easy. And comfortable. I spent at least an hour on the three bikes. I didn't really want to bring them back inside.

    I haven't gotten to ride many others outside (i.e. not on a trainer), but I felt really comfortable. I loved the Ruby. Really loved it. Since I haven't had a road bike before and really logged the miles, though, it's hard for me to know if "this feels awesome!" is enough. I guess I don't know when to stop looking! I keep researching in circles, with no real experience. This phase isn't much fun.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    2,048
    It's not hard to understand- I am totally in love with my new Ruby!

    Good luck with your decision!
    2016 Specialized Ruby Comp disc - Ruby Expert ti 155
    2010 Surly Long Haul Trucker - Jett 143

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Posts
    10,957
    Quote Originally Posted by Susie Derkins View Post
    Thanks for all the feedback... I guess I don't know when to stop looking! I keep researching in circles, with no real experience. This phase isn't much fun.
    This is the very reason I spent so much time on TE last spring when I was trying to determine which touring bike to get and whether to go with a complete build or to start with the frame. The women of TE were fantastic, and patient, with me as I agonized over my decision. They provided me invaluable advice and prevented me from making an expensive mistake.

    Good luck on your decision - a lot of women here really do love the Ruby - and have fun as you continue this process!

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    80
    I have a Ruby and I love it as well. I'm 5'1" and purchased the 48cm.

    Good Luck.

 

 

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