What is the best road bike in the $2,000 price range?
August 19, 2006 1:37 PM   Subscribe

What is the best road bike in the $2,000 price range?

I finished a long (4300+ mile) tour recently, and (perhaps surprisingly?) I still like bicycling. I was very happy with the used Cannondale T400 I rode the last two months, but now I want something lighter and faster (I'll hang on to the T400 for future tours).

Bike shops in my area sell most of the well-known brands (Trek, Cannondale, Specialized, Giant, etc.), and I've pretty much made the decision to buy a new bike, rather than off eBay or something.
posted by JeffL to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total)
Such a ridiculously personal decision: do you want full carbon, what kind of geometry, do you want to build your group or just buy a whole bike, etc..

The Giant OCR/TCR Composite Limited is a good deal, as a starting point - full carbon and Ultegra for about $1500 retail. That's just the gearhead level, though, since it may not fit you at all, or you want Ti, or ..
posted by kcm at 1:43 PM on August 19, 2006

posted by kcm at 1:45 PM on August 19, 2006

I'll second kcm. There are too many unknowns here.

But if you like the feel of the Cannondale, you might consider getting some flavor of their CAAD3 line. I've got a friend who rides one (after mostly riding traditional lugged steel Italian bikes), and he loves it.
posted by adamrice at 2:55 PM on August 19, 2006

Excuse me, they're up to CAAD8 now.
posted by adamrice at 2:55 PM on August 19, 2006

the one that fits you the best and feels the best after some long test rides, in your normal riding gear.
posted by rsanheim at 3:24 PM on August 19, 2006

You're not going to find a satisfactory answer here... it'd be eaiser if you narrow it down some - maybe between a few different brands and models?

Since it sounds like you don't know what you want then test ride everything you can. There are some nice rides in that price range - so spend a few days working your local bike shop circut.

I love me some steel... so for me it's Jamis all the way...
posted by wfrgms at 3:52 PM on August 19, 2006

Like wfrgms says, the only thing that will answer this question for you is to take a lot of test rides. I recently bought an Orbea Marmolada that I love, but there are a lot of bikes that look better on paper (in terms of components and materials) in that price range. I rode them, along with a bunch of others, and this was the one I liked best. I'd encourage you to discover your options by doing a lot of research, then figure out which shops in your area sell what, and then spend a couple of days going from one to the next till you have an idea of what's going to work best for you. Not an easy answer in terms of legwork (heh heh), but you'll be a lot happier once you've made the purchase.

The only other advice I'd give is that there are a lot of smaller and/or less well-known companies that make some really nice bikes, so you should look into some of those. And if there are a couple of bikes that you can't choose between, go with the shop that you like the best, because with your purchase you'll (hopefully) be establishing a relationship with them for the long term care and maintenance of your ride.
posted by peptide at 3:55 PM on August 19, 2006

It really depends on so many different variables. Orbeas are great, as are Cannondales - but I swear by my Klein, even though they're not as great as they used to be. But you really need to ride them - spend a couple hours doing nothing but test riding bikes, paying attention to things like ride position, frame stiffness, cornering, and climbing characteristics and the like.

Test riding bikes is a blast. Have fun...
posted by pdb at 6:03 PM on August 19, 2006

JeffL, what bike brands and models did other people on the long ride tend to use as bikes? (assuming you went on a big group ride of that length, like across the US or something)

That might be a good starting point when shopping (but they may have tended towards touring more than racing).
posted by mathowie at 6:53 PM on August 19, 2006

I tend to think that unless you're racing Pro or Cat 1/2, the difference between frames of similar style from reputable manufacturers is negligble. Focus on whether the frame is sized right and if the geometry matches your riding preference (i.e. agile vs. stable steering, "long and low" vs. upright body position, etc.)

To the average rider what is more noticeable is the quality of the component selection. For your price range you could easily get a bike with Ultegra or even Dura-Ace parts throughout and Ksyrium wheels, or whatever the non-Shimano/Mavic equivalents are. Next, focus on your contact points -- pedals, saddle, handlebar. Assuming correct frame geometry, these will determine more than anything else how much you enjoy your ride. These are highly personal items which unfortunately can rarely be tried before you buy. If you've been riding for a while, probably safest just to buy another set of what you're already using.

What I would recommend is that you put your faith in the hands of your LBS (local bike store). Find one that is reputable for good service. Don't worry about getting a good deal, because it's no secret that LBS's don't make much money off bikes -- they make money off all the other junk (especially clothing and consumables) that you'll keep going back for. Go in and tell them what your price range is and what type of riding you do, and they'll certainly have something that suits you.
posted by randomstriker at 8:29 PM on August 19, 2006

The indecision shown by most of the above posters seems right.

My girlfriend just got a Bianchi Veloce, which she loves, but it's a steel frame (with carbon fork). Serotta also makes a stock steel frame that you could build up in the $2000 range. If you're into aluminum, I would check out the Bianchi 1885 ($2200 with Alu/Carbon frame and Campy Centaur), BMC Road Racer ($2296 with Campy Centaur), or the Cervelo Soloist Team Al ($2200 with Ultegra).

Then there's titanium and carbon, both of which are going to push up your price point. Go try some bikes, and then buy the one you love, even if you have to save an extra $1000 or two for it.
posted by The Michael The at 5:48 AM on August 20, 2006

A friend of mine spent about $1500 on a litespeed firenze - titanium frame with full ultegra and fairly nice mavic wheelset. I've only owned older steel frames, which I love, but for a frame that didn't fit me very well, the titanium frame rode like an absolute dream.

I'll echo what everyone else has said here and say that fit, feel, and personal preference are the most important things. $2000 will buy you a hell of a lot of bike. I know in chicago there are at least 2 shops that specialize in high-end road bikes - if I was going to drop $2000, I'd go to both of them and get both of their advice and recommendations. I don't know how the shops are where you live, but search out the high-end ones with the employees who're hardcore roadies.
posted by chrisege at 11:45 AM on August 20, 2006

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