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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Canberra, Australia
    Posts
    1

    First drop bar road bike - advice sought

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    Hello

    I am looking for some advice in the purchase of a new road bike.

    For the past 18 months or so I've been riding a Norco VFR flat bar bike and have been doing about 50km of riding per week. I'm now looking to move to a drop bar to get into longer rides and possibly be competitive in the future.

    I was initially looking to spend around $2000AUD and have looked at the Merida Scultura 4000 Juliet and Liv Avail SL 1 Disc. I had a ride of last years Merida, though haven't been able to find the Liv around to have a test ride.

    I then came across the Trek Emonda SL5 womens which has a carbon frame and Shimano 105 group set, as does the Merida, though comes in at $2500AUD. The Trek has better wheels and tyres from what I can tell (and better colour sets).

    I had almost justified the additional money on the Trek until I stumbled across information that a high quality Allow could actually perform better than a low model carbon fibre frame. So I am now pretty confused as to what to pick and would appreciate any advice, or alternate suggestions. I'm looking at minimum for the 105 groupset.

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    6,698
    Quote Originally Posted by Spotlight2112 View Post
    Hello

    I am looking for some advice in the purchase of a new road bike.

    For the past 18 months or so I've been riding a Norco VFR flat bar bike and have been doing about 50km of riding per week. I'm now looking to move to a drop bar to get into longer rides and possibly be competitive in the future.

    I was initially looking to spend around $2000AUD and have looked at the Merida Scultura 4000 Juliet and Liv Avail SL 1 Disc. I had a ride of last years Merida, though haven't been able to find the Liv around to have a test ride.

    I then came across the Trek Emonda SL5 womens which has a carbon frame and Shimano 105 group set, as does the Merida, though comes in at $2500AUD. The Trek has better wheels and tyres from what I can tell (and better colour sets).

    I had almost justified the additional money on the Trek until I stumbled across information that a high quality Allow could actually perform better than a low model carbon fibre frame. So I am now pretty confused as to what to pick and would appreciate any advice, or alternate suggestions. I'm looking at minimum for the 105 groupset.

    Thanks
    Yes, the extra money is justified. A higher end bike tends to have a lot of differences in component et.

    For aluminum versus carbon, it depends. Carbon has a higher strength to weight ratio, and absorbs Road buzz better, all things being equal. A very high end Al might be better than low grade carbon, but you’d have to pay a lot more. It also depends on bike design and geometry, how stiff or flexible the chain stays and bottom
    Bracket area are, how strong you are, how much you weigh, etc. get on the bikes and test ride them. Buy the one that feels best and qualify those reviews. If you Ride a drop bar for a couple of years, your riding position and strength will be different at the end of those two years, and what is best for you will change, anyway. Plus, it takes multiple years to determine each element of a bike that is perfect for you.

    Verdict, buy the one you like best, at the price you can afford while buying the best bike possible.

    FWIW, Trek makes great bikes. And their R &D for women is better than most companies.
    Last edited by Muirenn; 01-01-2018 at 02:59 AM.
    So long as the wheels are still turning, life is good.

    Battswebb

    Pinarello Quattro~CAADX~ Zurich Lemond
    Specialized Romin Saddles


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  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,081
    Plus one on the Trek WSD models. Back when I was riding drop bars, my Trek Domane 4.3 (carbon/105) WSD was the first bike in all my years of riding that actually fit me with no mods needed.

    I do like carbon frames on road bikes and if you're like most roadies, sooner or later, you'll go carbon. That is NOT to say that a well-deigned aluminum frame is a slouch. Have has some truly excellent aluminum frame drop bar bikes.

    Absolutely spot on with 105 as a minimum. That's a no brainer. 105 may not be butter smooth like Ultegra, but I've literally ridden tens of thousands of miles on 105 with never a single breakdown.

    What Sheila says about making the change over to drop bars is correct. Your body will need time to adjust to the different riding position. There may be some aches and pains along the way, but in time you'll adjust, as Shelia mentions, and be in a much better position to evaluate the subtle differences between the models and their geometries. In fact, I recently switched over to mainly trail riding/rough unpaved backwoods road riding with the MTBs and flat bar bikes, so sold off my drop bar bikes because switching back and forth was getting uncomfortable with the drop bar bikes from not riding them on a regular basis. But if it's pavement, and you want to really want to put in the big miles, a drop bar is the way to go.
    Last edited by north woods gal; 01-02-2018 at 01:02 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Traveling Nomad
    Posts
    6,840
    What they both said! I completely agree. I ride a 47 cm Trek Pilot 5.0 (carbon/Ultegra) WSD road bike I love. I bought it used on ebay and got very lucky! I have changed out some of the parts and added a riser stem as I need to be more upright, but other than that, it fit me very well. If I were to buy another road bike, I'd look at Trek WSD models first. They've gotten lighter since mine was made back in 2007 and use compact double cranks instead of the triple I have.
    Emily

    2011 Jamis Dakar XC "Toto" - Selle Italia Ldy Gel Flow
    2007 Trek Pilot 5.0 WSD "Gloria" - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow
    2004 Bike Friday Petite Pocket Crusoe - Selle Italia Diva Gel Flow

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,979
    I also agree with Sheila's comments.

    My current carbon road bike is a WSD Madone, which I bought before Trek introduced Domanes and Silques and Emondas (and I honestly don't understand the differences between them). It was a mid-range carbon road bike at the time. Almost immediately I noticed a difference between it and my old aluminum Trek road bike -- it definitely has a smoother ride on bumpy pavement.

    The wheels and tires do contribute to the smoothness, though -- a few years later I bought new Bontrager wheels and noticed a much harsher ride. I have since switched to relatively low-cost Mavic wheels which are much better.

    I have not really noticed any other difference between carbon and aluminum. I am an average-speed rider who prefers to ride a comfortable pace and enjoy the scenery while faster, more competitive people race ahead up the road. If I tried to go fast, maybe I'd notice more differences.

    The WSD geometry, however, did make a huge difference to me. The old aluminum bike was a men's frame, and the reach was too long for me. Having a smaller more compact handlebar has also made a huge difference in comfort and allows me to ride in drops and reach the brakes easily. The only changes I made to the setup of the WSD Madone was to switch to a slightly narrower version of the handlebar that came on the bike, and to get a different saddle.

    One thing I notice is that the Liv you're considering has an 11-32 cassette, vs 11-28 for the Emonda and the Merida, which means it has 1 or 2 cogs that are easier for riding up hills. If you ride in a hilly area, that could make a difference. Of course it's also possible to replace the 11-28 cassette on the Emonda, Merida or other bike with an 11-32 (or one with different sized cogs) if you find the 11-28 is not ideal for you. But it's worth noting when you test bikes -- if one seems easier on hills than another, it could be due to the gearing rather than the frame material or geometry.

    Good luck!

    - Gray 2010 carbon WSD road bike, Rivet Independence saddle
    - Red hardtail 26" aluminum mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle
    - Royal blue 2018 aluminum gravel bike, Rivet Pearl saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver 2003 aluminum road bike
    - Two awesome worn out Juliana saddles

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,443
    I, too, agree. I am on my 4th road bike, my 2nd Trek WSD (a Silque). My bike fits me perfectly, and the only things I changed were the saddle and bars, because I've been successfully using the same ones for years. I never should have got rid of my first Trek 5200, but I was influenced by an unscrupulous shop... any issues I had with that bike could have been fixed by simple component or parts changes.
    +1 on what NY said about the extra low gears on the Liv.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
    Specialized Oura

    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura
    2017 Specialized Ariel Sport

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    north woods of Wisconsin
    Posts
    1,081
    Amen on the gearing. Never had a road bike that was geared too low, but have had plenty of them that were geared too high.

 

 

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