As part of my get fit strategy and challenging myself for new fitness goals, I am looking at getting a road bike to ride this year, and attempt the RBC Granfondo.
I had thought about doing the L’Etape du Tour as part of a fund raising for Inspired Health, but decided to postpone that by at least one year until I have more experience under my belt.
I currently have a Rocky Mountain Hybrid which I have ridden 30km in a stretch, and commuted by bicycle many years ago for up to 5 month each year.
I decided to check out entry level carbon bikes wiht a Shimano 105 component set. Most of these bikes run from $2K to $2.7K depending on the model.
The bikes I tried were the Specialized Roubaix, the Cannondale SuperSix, the Cannondale Synapse, the Cervelo R3, the Look 566, the Trek Madone 3.1, and a Scott Aluminum bike with Ultegra components.
I had never ridden a carbon bike before, and had very little experience with a road bike. My first bike was a mountain bike, and I have ridden mountain bikes or hybrids ever since.
My first thought when riding the Roubaix (the first one I tried), was that this was a lot more comfortable than I had expected. I purposely didn’t ride with padded bike shorts and don’t own any clipless cycling shoes, so basically tried them with the worst equipment one could ride any of them with.
I quickly found out that there are two categories of recreational carbon bikes in this price range – the “comfort” class and the more aggressive “racing” type with a more rigid bottom bracket, which is more responsive to climbing, and theoretically gives a harder ride on your body. The Roubaix, the Trek, the Look and the Cannondale Synapse fall into the “comfort” category, with the Cervelo R3 and the Cannondale SuperSix in the “rigid” category.
The comfort bikes had a “softer”ride than the Cannondale SuperSix, but I couldn’t really notice a difference with the Cervelo R3. However, I found the Cervelo to be the best climbing bike of any of them that I tried. I only climbed hills that were a few blocks long, so this is not an exhaustive test by any means, and I was not properly fitted beyond what one could determine in a few minutes in a store on any of the bikes. Since several weeks past between trying all of them (since there were few dry weekend days in Vancouver in the winter), I ended up trying the Cervelo twice, once after riding the Roubaix, Scott and Look, and once after trying the Cannondales and Trek. For me, the Cervelo gives a comfortable enough ride, which will be improved once I have all the proper clothing on, and excellent climbing. The other facet which I haven’t discussed yet, was that it was the best bike for me as far as feeling one with the machine. On my final spin with the Cervelo, I attempted a fairly sharp corner at moderate speed, and found it to be very responsive, and I was confident that it (and I) would make the corner.
Once I have the funds ready, I think this will be the bike that I will be buying for this year’s physical challenge.