I'd like to buy a new road bike and I think I have a general idea what I'm looking for (aluminum, Tiagra, WSD). Within that class of bikes, how do I choose between the available brands?
The backstory and shopping rationale: I've been riding the same road bike for 20+ years. It's a men's/unisex steel frame and it's been great for commuting/utility use, but lately I've been doing longer, hillier training rides with a group of roadies and I find myself wanting something more modern, lighter, and more comfortable. In particular, I want:
- Something lighter and with better gearing for hills
- Decent quality integrated shifters/brakes (not the ones with the thumb tabs, but the kind with the split brake levers)
- Women's specific design: I've been told I have proportionally long legs, and the old men's/unisex frame I have currently gets uncomfortable on long rides because I have to push my weight back off the handlebars in order to stay properly seated on my sit bones (this is less of a problem after getting the bike fitted but I would like a frame designed for my proportions)
- Geometry that's appropriate for road riding but more "comfortable" than "aggressive"
- All of the above at a price that's affordable but gets me good, durable components (I was originally hoping to spend under $1000 but have resigned myself to looking in the $1100-$1400 range)
The above criteria have led me to look at the aluminum-Tiagra-WSD stratum of bikes across the major manufacturers:
So far, I've only gotten to try out the Lexa SL. I liked it fine, and it felt nimbler than my old steel frame, but there was no epiphanic "THIS IS IT!" feeling. I'm going to try to take the other models for test rides soon, but I'm not sure what I'm looking for in a test ride if I never get that "aha!" feeling.
Nor do I know how to interpret the specs, apart from a passing familiarity with the Shimano components hierarchy
How should I choose between bikes? Are there key considerations that I'm missing? What should I look for in a test ride?