So for the past week I have been posting about the various bikes I’m considering and their plusses and minuses. I’m really having a heck of a time making up my mind. Money vs. function, how much is it worth it to spend. Does it really make a difference on alloy vs. composite and Sora vs. Tiagra vs. 105? I dunno, I’ll post all six here linked to the articles. Maybe it’ll help me think, maybe you’ll have some input! I’m open to anything!
The Alloy category. Here’s the two alloys. Price is the real advantage here. Both of these are down around the thousand mark, comfortably in my budget. The Giant has the best component set the Specialized is in stock at a local shop on last year’s model, so it’s at a good mark down.
Specialized Secteur Elite Compact (2013)
Then we move up to the base level composite bikes. These are in the lower/mid thousand range. So kind of getting to the top end of my budget. When we get here, we have the Giant bike running Tiagra components and the Specialized with Sora components. The Specialized also has internal cable routing. I’ve read that the Tiagra components might be better than the Sora, but this was with previous years and the Sora has changed up its shifting mechanism in 2014.
Finally we get to the next level of composite. Definitely still entry level but at the top end of the thousand range or right at two thousand. Outside of what I wanted to spend, but I’ll save it it’s going to be worth it. The Giant bike here is running 105 components with a Tiagra cassette. The Specialized is running mostly 105 with a Tiagra rear cassette and front derailleur. So with Giant I get one more piece of 105, with the Specialized I get internal cable routing.
Specialized Roubaix SL4 Sport 105
So those are my options. Why am I so torn? Well, I’d love to save money and go with the alloy bike. If I did that, I’d lean toward the Giant for better component. I’m torn on the composite, I’m reading two camps. The entry level composite is more forgiving, but it’s slightly heavier than the alloys. Some prefer the give that composite has, some prefer the weight savings. I’m not sure which should be more important to me? If I was going to go the composite route, I’d be leaning towards that Specialized with the 105 components. So I think I might really be looking at 2 bikes mainly at opposite ends of my price spectrum. I don’t think the mid-range bikes would be any benefit to me.
At my level or riding, it never made a lot of sense to spend $$$ to shave off a pound or two. You’ll lose that weight in the first few weeks of outdoor cycling. I’ve never ridden a carbon bike, so I can’t speak to the ride difference. As far as components go, I believe some of the lower end ones are stamped (speaking gears here) rather than machined. And, at least in 2012 when I bought, some of the lower Shimano groupos had a different shifting mechanism (a little thumb level) that I just didn’t like at all. So, some of the macro differences may help sort out what you’d like or not like. I’ve also never ridden anything but the stock wheels on my bike, but with the amount of discussion about wheels and how everyone says that’s the first thing you should upgrade, you could look at it as option 1) carbon with stock wheels, option 2) alloy with immediately upgraded wheels.
For me, carbon was never really in my price range. So, I found a bad-ass alloy frame paired with 105 components (SRAM rival was also an option for another $100 or so) and have never looked back. I figure if I do want to go carbon someday, I may want/be able to afford something more than entry-level carbon.
Happy shopping, it’s great once you find the right bike!
Those little thumb lever things were something I didn’t really like as well… they had them in 2012 on the sora line but have since changed them up. I was pretty sold on an aluminum bike with the 105 components at first. but then stumbled on that specialized bike. On paper, it looks like a win. Carbon with 105…. I think that alone will be such a huge upgrade from my old MTB that I’ll be in heaven. I’ll spend a year saving and researching and probably be back for new wheels next year (if it all works out). I think, as long as the test rides go good, I’m really liking the Specialized carbon with 105. That seems to be the top of what I can afford and a good all around bike for my needs. Now that I have some research done and some input from friends, it really all comes down to the test rides now!!