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What bike should I buy for long climbs + long distance?

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

What bike should I buy for long climbs + long distance?

Old 09-16-19, 08:58 PM
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el forestero
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What bike should I buy for long climbs + long distance?

My riding routine is 80 to 160 km rides in the countryside of Japan one to three times a week. The rides commonly include one or two nearly-continuous ascents from sea level to altitudes of 800 to 1500 m on a 5 to 6.5% average grade. I've been doing this routine solo on a hybrid bike for a couple years and want to start using a road bike so I can ride the same routes with groups of cyclists who use road bikes.

Since my routine includes both long distances and long climbs, I'm not sure whether I should get an "endurance" road bike or a "climbing" road bike. At this time I just have funds for a bike that's US$1,500 or less but am willing to wait a few months before buying if it's worth saving up for something closer to $2,000. I may, in any case, need to wait a few months to buy until I have a chance to travel to the US, as bikes for someone of my height (185 cm) are scarce in Japan, and the range of available models that would fit me is narrow.

Would love to hear advice from experienced road bike riders on whether to get an endurance or climbing bike and what specific models you'd recommend. Maybe there're some models designed for long distances that also climb well?

Last edited by el forestero; 09-16-19 at 09:28 PM.
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Old 09-16-19, 09:06 PM
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Buy the one that you ride, and it speaks to you. I test rode around 10 bikes the day I bought my Cervelo R3, and they ranged from "this is terrible" to "this isn't half bad." Then I got on the R3, and I just knew. Everything about it felt right.

Test out as many bikes as you possibly can. Don't just buy the shiny thing on the internet that matches your fit sheet.
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Old 09-16-19, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by el forestero View Post
nearly-continuous ascents from sea level to altitudes of 800 to 1500 km
800 to 1500 km? That is mighty high. Are you sure you shouldn't be looking at rockets?

My guess is that you'd enjoy either a bike similar to a Specialized Tarmac (road), or a Specialized Roubaix (endurance).

I think Trek is doing something similar with their decoupled bikes.

There is a lot of bang for the buck with used bikes.
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Old 09-16-19, 09:27 PM
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el forestero
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
800 to 1500 km? That is mighty high. Are you sure you shouldn't be looking at rockets?
ooops. m not km.
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Old 09-16-19, 10:02 PM
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IMO the choice is clear, you should buy a quality endurance bike. Functionally they climb as well as a "climbing" or conventional geometry bike and they are significantly more comfortable for the long rides.

Unfortunately, your budget is arguably a little light for what you seek in terms of quality and difference between a climbing or endurance bike such as a Specialized Roubaix or a Trek Domane.
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Old 09-17-19, 08:54 AM
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Emonda ALR would be worth consideration. Go with the disc brake variant and throw 28mm tires on it and you have yourself a comfy, light, cheap climbing/endurance bike (h2 fit geometry) that is also a super capable descender.

$1500 for all of that right here:
https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/b...olorCode=black
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Old 09-17-19, 10:36 AM
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Get the one you like & feel comfortable on! Narrow your selection to 2-3 brands & models and try them.

We all have a specific brand that we like and it's hard to buy anything else than that one. I love Giant & would suggest that you try a Defy (their ''endurance'' road bike). Range goes from 1000$ to 5000$ depending on your needs. You can get pretty good deals at this time of year. For instance, 1500$ USD would get you at least a Giant Defy Advanced 1 Disc (Ultegra components). One step above is the Advanced Pro lineup, which is a little more expensive. Anyways, it is known that Giant has one of the best price/quality ratio of the bicycle industry & their carbon fibre material is known to be reliable.

Good luck with the buy and let us know what's your new ride!

Last edited by eduskator; 09-17-19 at 10:43 AM.
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Old 09-17-19, 02:06 PM
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Another option with 105
11 spd, 11x34, Climbing gears, and real TL tires
¥192,000


Last edited by RedBullFiXX; 09-17-19 at 02:11 PM.
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Old 09-18-19, 03:20 AM
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Giant TCR would be my pick. Very comfortable and capable lightweight bike
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Old 09-18-19, 04:48 AM
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When I lived in the Yokosuka area in the early '90s, I blind ordered my Schwinn Crosscut from the US. It was not too different from your current bike (given it being fm '90s) except it had (and has) a triple with a 28 tooth chain ring---which proved a necessity for me in that hilly area as I was not as conditioned as you seem to be. Many times someone tried to trade me out of that bike for a heavier MTB they were commuting on. That said, I like the Domanes, but recommend riding as many as you can the next time you are stateside to find what best suits you. Another route might be to post to social media (US/Euro/Aus)there for a suitable type and size of bike that someone isn't shipping out with (like military or quick turn business moves) and pick it up with enough cushion in the price to change the gearing/wheels/tires to your advantage. Happy hunting!
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Old 09-18-19, 07:01 AM
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Originally Posted by illdrag0n View Post
Giant TCR would be my pick. Very comfortable and capable lightweight bike
Yep! Best bang for the buck. I'd however get with the Defy instead.
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Old 09-18-19, 09:59 AM
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Originally Posted by eduskator View Post
Yep! Best bang for the buck. I'd however get with the Defy instead.
good idea, but the Contend SL1 Disc is superior. hehe


JAG
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Old 09-18-19, 12:20 PM
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The one that you find most comfortable
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Old 09-18-19, 02:44 PM
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I'd encourage @el forestero to try a drop-bar road bike.

However, for one that has been riding hybrids for long distances, there is also a class of flat-bar road bikes that are growing in popularity. Some with carbon fiber frames and pretty impressive specs.

Trek FX Sport 6


Last edited by CliffordK; 09-18-19 at 02:49 PM.
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Old 09-19-19, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by sirjag View Post
good idea, but the Contend SL1 Disc is superior. hehe


JAG
If you like aluminum frame! Never tried one actually - not sure if I'd like it or not. I like the stiffness of composite.
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Old 09-20-19, 06:57 PM
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Thanks for the very helpful replies, all! I'm checking into your suggestions and shopping around now.
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Old 09-22-19, 02:52 AM
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Long distance? Get the most comfortable bike.

Climbing? I dunno, I suppose the lightest weight bike.

Saturday I did some errands while riding my hybrid, which weighs about 35 lbs with rear rack, loaded handlebar bag and two U-locks. (Because the local bike friendly businesses chose rack-like industrial sculptures instead of practical bike racks; instead of practical bike racks that will accept a U-lock around the rack, frame and front wheel, I have to choose to lock the frame or wheel only but not both unless I get a U-lock with a 12" long shackle. Or two U-locks, one for the frame to the rack, the other for the wheel to the frame.)

But I digress.

Last time I rode that route in July I was on my sub-20 lb carbon road bike (with heavy duty touring wheels) and finished a 1/4 mile climb with a 15%+ grade in 64 seconds at a modest effort, standing to pedal, not trying to set any records (the KOM is 32 seconds).

Saturday on my heavy hybrid, at the same modest effort (also standing to pedal), it took 2 minutes 16 seconds.

Climbs are the only place where I really notice any difference in lighter bikes. But they aren't necessarily more comfortable for longer rides. That lower bar and more aero position cost something, usually neck strain over distance.

Right now I'm building up a lighter weight bike from a donor carbon fiber frame and the lightest bits and pieces I can scrape together without paying much. Should be closer to 17 lbs when I'm finished. I grew up with steel frame bikes so that's very light to me.

But that's just for tackling our short steep climbs for PRs, or for a favorite nearby training route of 20-30 miles on decent pavement with lots of short, punchy sprint-climbs. I don't see myself riding that bike for fun for more than 30 miles.

For longer rides in comfort I'll still take my 25 lb steel road bike. When I pace myself just a little more carefully it's comfortable for 50+ mile rides on similar terrain, and not much slower.

A friend my age (60ish) has a Canyon endurance bike and loves it. Seems like a good compromise as an all rounder for longer rides and climbing. He's a bit faster than me... for now. We'll see after I put together a lighter weight bike. Not that I'm suffering old dude envy or anything.
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Old 09-22-19, 04:39 AM
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I have toured across Japan twice and both times I couldn't stop thinking how great it would be with a proper light road bike without the bags.

My recommendation is a lightweight race bike that can accommodate 28mm tires for some of the rougher mountain side roads in the country side.


Japan is nothing but steep ascents, in a good way.

No need for a cruiser or and aero bike for that terrain.

Also, you should get disk brakes for the rain and elevation combo you face.

I would look at at an Emonda or TCR style bike.

Last edited by sooni; 09-22-19 at 04:44 AM.
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Old 09-22-19, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
Last time I rode that route in July I was on my sub-20 lb carbon road bike (with heavy duty touring wheels) and finished a 1/4 mile climb with a 15%+ grade in 64 seconds at a modest effort, standing to pedal, not trying to set any records (the KOM is 32 seconds).
Check those climb numbers, because there’s no way they are correct.

Climbing a 15% grade at that speed is a VAM over 11,000 feet per hour. That’s impossible for a human.

Last edited by terrymorse; 09-22-19 at 09:20 AM.
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Old 09-22-19, 09:03 AM
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Any thoughts on the Scott Addict 20? (Not RC)

cant post link
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Old 09-22-19, 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Mastropiero View Post
Any thoughts on the Scott Addict 20? (Not RC)
I've been riding Addicts for over 10 years. They are great lightweight climbing bikes, and they're surprisingly comfortable on long rides.

Although I haven't tried one, the Addict 20 looks like a decent model. 105 drivetrain, and only about a pound heavier than the "lightweight" Addict RC 20.

Scott Addict 20
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Old 09-22-19, 02:16 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
I've been riding Addicts for over 10 years. They are great lightweight climbing bikes, and they're surprisingly comfortable on long rides.

Although I haven't tried one, the Addict 20 looks like a decent model. 105 drivetrain, and only about a pound heavier than the "lightweight" Addict RC 20.


Great! Any thoughts on the Orbea Orca M30?
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Old 09-22-19, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
Check those climb numbers, because there’s no way they are correct.

Climbing a 15% grade at that speed is a VAM over 11,000 feet per hour. That’s impossible for a human.
My description was sloppy in the interest of brevity. It's a set of two overlapping quarter-mile undulating grades that get as steep as 15% or more near the top of the first segment, beginning of the second, or middle of the pair of segments -- although apparently it was split to accommodate a stop sign in the middle of the half-mile climb. Both segments average 5%.

And that's probably why VAM is seldom applied to short steep climbs. Nobody can sustain that pace over distance. Mine is around 600 on a good day, per the Elevate browser extension for Strava, usually much lower. The longest continuous climb anywhere within riding distance of me is maybe a mile long, undulating and averaging only 2%-3%. It's hard to find any uninterrupted climb here longer than 1/4 to 1/2 mile. It's a puncheur's terrain.

I don't know the guys are who tied for the KOM at 23.5 mph on the first half, then split at the midway point. I do know the guy close behind in 3rd. He's a natural, a beast. Pedaling style like Anquetil -- toe down, souplesse, the works -- something I've never seen in another serious amateur/recreational rider. AFAIK he got into cycling in his 40s, he's never raced, never had a bike fit, just wings it on everything. But he also specified in his Strava log that it was heavily wind assisted, 20mph and gusty. That route's terrain is a natural corridor for north/south wind. I see from his Strava log that day he was doing hill repeats there too.

Most KOMs and top tens in my area are heavily wind assisted or aided by leadouts or pacelines working together. Big factor in climbs of any length. All of my best times, including cracking the top ten on a few climbs, are wind assisted.
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Old 09-22-19, 06:41 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
It's hard to find any uninterrupted climb here longer than 1/4 to 1/2 mile. It's a puncheur's terrain.
We have both long and short climbs around here, suiting the tempo climbers and the puncheurs. KOM times on the shorter segments are insanely fast.

There's a steep little road nearby named Joaquin. It's 0.33 miles at 14%. When I was in my best shape ever, I could squeeze out a full gas climb at 7.5 mph, for a VAM of about 1680.

The current KOM holder (a 36 year-old cat 1) climbed Joaquin at 11.4 mph, for a VAM over 2500. That's ludicrous speed.
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Old 09-29-19, 07:12 PM
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I decided to cap my budget below my original range, trading a degree of capability on the road for a more financially-comfortable path. I was interested in Giant's models in my price range, but it turns out their stores don't sell size L (58 cm frame) bikes in Japan, and they also don't sell some of the less-expensive models they offer in the US. Didn't find what I was looking for after months of looking at used bikes online either. So I ended up picking up a new Trek Domane ALR 3. Riding it up Mt Fuji the day after tomorrow. Will let you all know how it goes.
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