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How to go about researching new bikes

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How to go about researching new bikes

Old 07-05-20, 01:08 PM
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btppberk
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How to go about researching new bikes

I am looking for tips for how to go about the process of figuring out which bike to purchase. The default advice is to go to the LBS and try the bikes. While I think that is useful in ruling some models out, or figuring out whether you want this or that feature (e.g. electronic shifters), I am less convinced of its utility in picking the final bike among several possibilities. A 15 minute ride or two, for me at least, isn't enough to know what I will think of the bike long term.

Bike reviews also don't seem to help much. They all seem to land on different models as the best within a subclass like endurance: this one says Domane, that one says Argon 18 Krypton, etc, etc. There is of course some overlap, e.g. everyone likes the Domane though some think it just nice and others exceptional.

So what is one to do?
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Old 07-05-20, 01:10 PM
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Juan Foote
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TBH the boots on the ground answer here is to ride bikes.

If you are already a cyclist and have ridden you should be at least mildly aware of what bikes you liked and for what reasons. From that you could extrapolate geometry and make predictions on what might work out, but in my mind you are setting a trap buying an off the shelf bike without having ridden the exact size and in many cases the exact model you want. I would concede that an experienced cyclist and frame builder are not subject.
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Old 07-05-20, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Juan Foote View Post
TBH the boots on the ground answer here is to ride bikes.

If you are already a cyclist and have ridden you should be at least mildly aware of what bikes you liked and for what reasons. From that you could extrapolate geometry and make predictions on what might work out, but in my mind you are setting a trap buying an off the shelf bike without having ridden the exact size and in many cases the exact model you want. I would concede that an experienced cyclist and frame builder are not subject.
I certainly wouldn't buy a bike without riding it first. But I think riding the bike, especially under the constraints that most LBS impose, only tells me, at least, so much. I can rule bikes out from it, but ruling bikes out doesn't narrow it down to a clear winner. And since I am a pretty anti-social cyclist, I don't ride in groups and haven't had much experience of bike besides my own.
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Old 07-05-20, 01:32 PM
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Years ago I bought an R3 from a shop that let people do all day test rides. They'd be happy for you to go out and do a century on a bike you were considering. Helped them sell bikes.

I know how I like a road bike to fit, and there are specific things about the way it rides that are important to me. Can figure that stuff out easily in 15 minutes. I knew I was going to buy my current bike before I got it out of the parking lot on a test ride.
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Old 07-05-20, 01:34 PM
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In my own case I can rarely find a shop with a bike (size) I am interested in, in stock or even available within a driving distance nearby. I ride 58+ according to geometry.

As you mention you can rule out a lot of bikes simply by riding. Even so much as "this is comfortable but could be bigger/smaller" and such as that. With that said I would think that a 15 min ride that didn't point out a fatal flaw is within things that can be rectified with stems, seats, and setup.
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Old 07-05-20, 01:35 PM
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What are your goals? If you are not experienced a good LBS will ask you questions about goals and riding style. But it can get complicated in a hurry. There are lots of good choices so focus on finding a good bike that fits your body and budget and needs, and don’t sweat finding the “perfect” one.
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Old 07-05-20, 01:47 PM
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If you are that fresh with bikes, get something cheap and go from there. I highly doubt you'd get lucky and find the perfect expensive bike first time out. If you and your body and muscle memory is not keen to twichy and tight vs stable and long body then it doesn't really matter. Your body can adapt to a decent range to so anything you do get should be fine until you start pushing limits and miles where small fits and position quicks manifest into something uncomfortable. Time can fix those sometimes but so can a change in geometry. Some will say a cheap bike isn't worth riding and may discourage. Maybe, I'd rather build up and realize what I like and go from there.
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Old 07-05-20, 01:47 PM
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Don't spend money you don't consider disposable income on a bike if you have questions as to which one to get. Buy a bike that is inexpensive enough so you can get another with no issue if you find out it doesn't serve you well.

High priced bikes do make sense for why they cost so much, but only if you have the experience to know why you want them.
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Old 07-05-20, 03:22 PM
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For me, it was about deciding what I wanted in a bike, then finding a bike that 1) had those features, 2) could easily be set up with the same measurements as my other bikes, and 3) I could afford.

I found myself drawn to Canyon, because they apparently make great bikes at great price points AND they have the whole online buying thing down pat. I looked at reviews of their bikes and others. And I found myself wanting a Canyon - I don't need an LBS to set up a bike for me.

Then it was about fit - which bike would be easiest to set up to fit, based on the measurements from my other bikes? The Ultimate has too much drop from saddle to bars, but the Endurace would fit.

Then it was about the components. Even though I lusted after Dura Ace, I went with 105 after reading a number of reviews that said the new stuff is really good! So that settled it - Canyon Endurace CF SL Disc 7.0. That's how I did it, anyway.

One thing about test rides, though - When the Canyon arrived, I assembled it per the instructions, set the saddle height and setback, using the saddle that came with it, screwed on a pair of pedals, and took it for an hour long ride. First, the saddle was awful, which made pedalling feel weird. Also the bars were too high, which made me feel like I was driving a truck. My hands kept going numb. The front derailleur was clunky and disappointing. If this were a test ride from an LBS, I'm not sure I'd have bought it.

BUT I had a replacement saddle, which I knew from experience would fit better. I put it on, carefully adjusting it to match my most comfortable bike. Dropped the bars an inch. Learned how to adjust the new 105 front derailleur. Took it for a 2 hour ride, and I'm in love.
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Old 07-05-20, 04:11 PM
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I know roughly what I am looking for: a endurance style bike that still feels pretty fast and responsive. I probably want Di2 shifters.

Interesting, Genejockey, about how you went about finding a bike. I've heard good things about Canyon, especially its value. Sounds like really made sense in your case, since you knew your exact fit. My bike is professionally fit, but its been many years, so I'm not sure I'd trust my geometry in buying a new bike blind. But I definitely hear you about the limited value of trying the bike at a LBS, unless, that is, like Seattle Forest, you find a place that lets you ride the bikes for a long while.
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Old 07-05-20, 04:33 PM
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Originally Posted by btppberk View Post
I know roughly what I am looking for: a endurance style bike that still feels pretty fast and responsive. I probably want Di2 shifters.

Interesting, Genejockey, about how you went about finding a bike. I've heard good things about Canyon, especially its value. Sounds like really made sense in your case, since you knew your exact fit. My bike is professionally fit, but its been many years, so I'm not sure I'd trust my geometry in buying a new bike blind. But I definitely hear you about the limited value of trying the bike at a LBS, unless, that is, like Seattle Forest, you find a place that lets you ride the bikes for a long while.
So, you might think about how to make a good test loop. My second ride, after setting the Canyon up better, was 26 miles with 1650 feet of climbing (and descending, of course), with rough and smooth pavement. That sold me on the bike I'd already bought! Well, I guess it was a little late at that point.
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Old 07-05-20, 05:53 PM
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If you are going to be spending the money on a bike with Di2 or eTap, then I'd think the LBS will be a little more lenient in allowing you to do a decent test ride. Even if you can't ride a Di2 equipped bike, maybe they'll have the same model in a 105 or ultegra group you can try. Hopefully in different sizes.

Like many you might be in the overlap size of two frames. So a 10 mile ride might indicate some things to consider. Sore shoulders? Feel like your legs are flailing because the bigger size suddenly comes with a much longer crank? Feel like you slide forward in the saddle?

I recently did both a parking lot ride and then came back with my cycling shoes and clothes and did a 10 mile ride each on two different frame sizes. The frame size I picked based on the 10 mile ride was not the frame size I would have picked based on the parking lot ride.

Most issues of fit can be corrected somewhat as long as your frame is in the ballpark of what your size is. Some issues are cheap to fix, others not so cheap, but still they can be corrected.
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Old 07-05-20, 06:21 PM
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Originally Posted by btppberk View Post

So what is one to do?
Realize that at similar price points, all of the bikes are pretty similar as well. You're not really paying for additional value. You're paying for what you think looks good.

Any bike in the right size range can be made to fit, so that shouldn't be a purchasing issue. Most bikes can be made to be more comfortable by just getting wider rims/larger tires. So while the bike's ability to take those wider tires may be an issue, not much else should be.

So, in sum, by the one that looks cool. Everything else can be easily adapted to your preferences.
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Old 07-06-20, 07:28 AM
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In my case I knew what I wanted. Upright Seating, wide 26" wheels on a small frame, Rim brakes, a rigid fork, a low step over height at least 7 evenly spaced gears and good quality parts if available. I wanted trigger shifters, but had to settle with 8/9 checks as this bike came with twist grip shifters.

I then narrowed it down to what my preferred bike shop carried. Then check the reviews, both personal and more professional on line.

I ordered my 2018 Giant Sedona sight unseen. Turned out better then I expected. The most pleasurable bike I've ever owned. Despite its budget price the quality, Fit and finish are 2'nd to none. And the twist grip shifters seem to be working well, just the occasional accidental shift climbing rough trails, which I seldom do.

I had a mountain bike before that was awful to ride. But I think it was just a poorly designed bike. Giant's Talon would have probably been comfortable for me too,
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Old 07-06-20, 08:49 AM
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Wide 26" wheels? Well if the OP is not wanting a road bike, this entire discussion is in the wrong sub-forum. <grin>
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Old 07-06-20, 09:09 AM
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For me, the first thing I look for is aesthetics. If I don't like how the bike looks, then I don't want it. This means I'm looking at everything from frame shape, fork shape, cable routing, stem/steerer tube combo, and colorways. Some people don't care what their bike looks like or what color it is - but I very much do.
So I usually start by just hitting all the various brand websites - small and large, and see what their bikes look like. Once I find one I like, I dig down into the nitty gritty of looking at specs, build options, and then I hit google and youtube for any reviews, or other real-world pics that show the bike not in a photoshopped ad-photo.
Then, I will go to a LBS and see it in person and test ride it if possible. I'm short, so they often don't have my size in stock depending on the size of the shop's floorspace.

I'm currently in the market for a new carbon road bike, and frankly IMO most of the stuff out there looks awful. I hate modern frame design.
But like someone who posted above, I too think I have settled on a Canyon, though the Ultimate CF 8.0, not the Endurace. And yes, I do mean settled. It's doesn't look exactly as I want, but it definitely seems to be the best bang for the buck. Now they just have to be back in stock again,....
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Old 07-06-20, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by the sci guy View Post
I'm currently in the market for a new carbon road bike, and frankly IMO most of the stuff out there looks awful. I hate modern frame design.
But like someone who posted above, I too think I have settled on a Canyon, though the Ultimate CF 8.0, not the Endurace. And yes, I do mean settled. It's doesn't look exactly as I want, but it definitely seems to be the best bang for the buck. Now they just have to be back in stock again,....
Yeah, there is that. I think I got the last Large blue Endurace CF 7.0.
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Old 07-06-20, 09:59 AM
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At this point, I think all bikes within a class are probably 95% the same. The differences are so minor as to be almost irrelevant. Figure out what size bike you need - note, just because you ride a 54 or medium in one brand does not mean you ride a 54 or M in another. Then figure out which bike you think looks coolest within your budget, then buy it. You'll be happy.

If you're new at road bikes, you're probably not going to be disappointed in anything you buy.
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Old 07-07-20, 03:32 AM
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What is your price range? Go look at what bikes are available in that price range. Then look to see how they are equipped. Cannondale uses FSA cranks and mine creaks constantly and I likely won't buy another bike with FSA crank. What gearing? It can be costly changing out a derailleur and cassette. How particular are you about color? I won't ride an invisible black bike; I want to be seen. 105 or Ultegra? CF or aluminum? SRAM or Shimano? Lots of the fancier higher end endurance bikes have new technology on them to make the ride better. What type of roads do you want to ride and how wide a tire do you want the frame to accommodate? These are some of the criteria you can use to help prioritize which bikes you might wish to test ride. Are you willing to purchase online based on specs alone? I don't know how many offer free shipping on returns if you are dissatisfied.

When I purchased my last bike, I went and rode four different brands and a couple of different models for comparison. I was looking at CF and had never ridden one. Bikes also had sloping top tubes since my previous bike purchase. I wanted to try as many bikes as possible.
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