Testing road bikes

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.

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About petergsimmons

Global citizenship is conferred on those who have lived in a variety of countries, and who don’t identify with any one culture. I am such a person. Having lived in Jamaica, Canada and Japan, I have been exposed to First World/Third World, East and West, North and South. This has lead to a rich living experience, open-mindedness and curiosity about the world around me. This variety of living conditions in human landscapes is coupled with equally diverse travels in natural landscapes from the jungles of South East Asia and South America to the Arctic tundra; tropical beaches to the Himalayas, resulting in an incredible journey through life itself.
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3 Responses to Testing road bikes

  1. i tested a roubaix, felt, bmc and the cervelo R3. the felt was very smooth but had strange brake line configuration. roubaix reminded me very much of my 1995 specialized allez that has been my roadie since 95 but it was out of my price range. the bmc fondo was also smooth but geometry was funky to me.
    the R3 was superior in all aspects. i rode it two seperate days and fell for it. hills were handled well. it exploded on flats-super fast.
    i got a deal on a 2012 and they swpped in shimano 105 because i just don’t like sram. the 2013 slate color was preferable but not avail until April in my size so i bought a white 2012.
    interested in what you think once you buy a cervelo.

  2. Michael says:

    I’ve been riding my R3 since 2010 … It’s a great bike. This year is my year to get a replacement and I wanted something with a bit more sex appeal but I can’t find anything that compares at the price point.

    It’s a very well balanced bike and the build quality is top notch.

    I’m now looking at a Look 566, Bianchi Infinito CV, Merkx EMX-3, Louis Garneaux Gennix R1 and Cervelo R3.

    I’m seriously torn.

  3. Yes,, it has been a pleasure to ride. However, I realize that these type of events are not really my thing. I am getting a 650B wheel based randonneuring bike made which suits my style of riding better.

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