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Why buy a high-end road race bike?
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I'd be interested in hearing from folks who own a high-end road "race" bike but do not race competitively. Why do you own a "race" bike as opposed to something more "endurance" oriented which presumably is better suited to what you're actually doing on the bike (i.e., long rides, group rides, the occasional fondo, or days when you just want a break from your TT rig).

I ask because I find myself wanting a S Works Tarmac TL7, but then I ask myself, what for? I have two beautiful custom bikes but both are more "endurance" oriented: a custom Ti Enigma and a Stelbel Rodano Disc (with clearance for 700x38) both Super Record level builds. Even if I were to enter a legit road race or crit, I'd probably just ride my basic Bowman Palace:R (Chorus, Zondas) so as not to look like a Fred when I get dropped.

Who are the people buying all the Tarmac TL7s such that they're on a massive back order? And why are they buying them? What am I missing here.....
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Because there are people with money who like new things and buy things based on looks. Race bikes usually look 'fancier' and faster, probably more appealing to the person with an unlimited bike budget. Riding a $10k bike and fully kitted out in Rapha seems to be the norm around here.
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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I have a strong preference towards high-end frames and components wherever possible, however, what I do not necessarily believe is newer = better.

My top (non-tri) bike is a Tarmac Pro SL4 from 2014- so roughly 8 years old, but I guarantee it's every bit as fast as something coming off the production line in 2020, if not faster.
If it was fitted with cheapo components from the start, it would feel out-of-date by now, but it still rides and handles like a brand new bike. I also don't really buy into the "endurance" bike vs "race" bike marketing - You can change the position to be anything you want assuming you have enough steerer to work with. I've ridden the majority of my centuries on this race geometry with no issues. I commute on my Roubaix which is slightly more upright simply to see a bit better.


The main reason I believe one should look towards the high end is largely because the low end is so cheaply made. The low-end Tarmac SL6 for example ships with Tiagra 10-spd. For those willing to buy used, you are potentially getting the same spec as that $10,000 bike for a third of the cost, max. Put some of the savings into parts that actually matter (ie, wheels, a good power meter, etc) and you'll blow up anyone on a brand new frame with ease if you actually put in the work.


There are a ton of individual preferences such as rim vs disc brakes (I prefer rim) and electronic shifting that may make a newer model more desirable.
Last edited by: adoucett: Sep 14, 20 9:50
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [hobbyjogger] [ In reply to ]
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Yeah, but why some run of the mill $13K S-Works when you could get something equally (if not more expensive) bespoke that would be one of a kind and better suited to the rider's purpose?
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Because brand name matters to people.
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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wintershade wrote:
Yeah, but why some run of the mill $13K S-Works when you could get something equally (if not more expensive) bespoke that would be one of a kind and better suited to the rider's purpose?

People want to look "pro" so they will buy what the pros ride. And since the pros don't ride a custom $13k beach cruiser bike neither will the consumer.
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Same reasons why 99% of Porsches and Ferraris never see a race track. People just want cool fast stuff.

I have a crit bike, a Specialized Allez Sprint, but I don’t race crits. I bought it as a frameset because I wanted to learn how to build a bike and I thought it would be a fun bike for shorter rides. Despite the reviews saying how harsh and stiff the bike is, it’s been comfortable for me on long rides.

I recently got the itch to get or build a carbon aero road bike. If the Allez Sprint is comfortable, I figured that any race bike would be fine as well, so I ended up getting a Cervelo S Series. I don’t race - just solo or group rides on the weekends.
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Around here, people don't race their best bikes. They race stuff they're willing to crash.
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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There are multiple dimensions to your question. To me, the majors are frame geometry (handling), stiffness, weight, components, etc.

I simply prefer the handling of a true race bike. In your example, this would put me in the camp of a Tarmac. And by contrast, that knocks off their endurance bikes.

I also prefer weight when possible, so that knocks off the aero road frames for me.

Then, following the weight & stiffness path, when affordable, I lean toward the options for lighter carbon layups that maintain the stiffness and strength. That promotes me from the standard options to the S-Works option in you example.

But, I do not care a great deal about the ultimate components, so I am thrilled with Ultegra.

I built a high-end racing bike with Ultegra Di2 components using the guides above that is exactly suited to the kind of riding I am doing and how I derive pleasure from my rides.

If I had unlimited resources, I would be riding a Pinarello F12 with Sram eTap. I think that is freakin' awesome. But I do not, so I ride a bike that comes very close to the general performance profile at a fraction of the cost.
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [adoucett] [ In reply to ]
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The new Tiagra is really really good though, probably the equivalent in the range of 105 from a few years ago.

I'm like you in that I don't really buy into the "endurance" geometry. I tried out an endurance bike at a demo day a few years ago, and absolutely hated the position. Just felt up in the wind, unstable around corners due to high centre of gravity, etc.

My bike is pretty long / low even by "race" standards, Trek OCLV from early 2000's. The way I have it set up now, it's better than the bike Lance used to win his first few tours. Its nominally a 56, with a 56 cm top tube, but the stack, after accounting for the external headset, is equivalent to most manufacturers' 54cm frames, which usually have a 54-54.5 cm top tube. I'm running that slammed (a 2mm spacer and -17* 120mm stem). My longest ride so far this year was 3 hours (more than that is tough with small kids to tend to), and it was perfectly comfortable.

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Last edited by: JasoninHalifax: Sep 14, 20 10:10
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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Folks have been saying this for a while, but this SHOULD be the golden age for custom steel. You can get a reasonably light custom made steel frame for less than 3K. Why aren't the fancy custom steel makers killing it right now? Why does everyone want an SL7 or Madone instead of Stinner or Speedvagen? Or, if you really want to spend money, Appleman? I mean, really -- it seems crazy that an Appleman is only $1K more than an SL7.

Andy
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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It's the same question as why would anyone buy a Porsche or BMW when you can get from A to B in a 14year old Hyundai...


I acquired a Spez Venge Pro this year. My current bike was getting worn down and will be transferred to winter duties.

I wanted:
- Disk brakes -- just because
- Electronic gears -- because once you've ridden Di2 you never go back
- Aero bike -- to better keep up on the fast group rides
- No exposed cables -- because it is so beautiful
- High profile rims -- again, to better keep up on the fast group rides

With those criteria you end up with the high end bikes for all brands, typically one of the top 2-3 models.

Stats this year: 6000km on the Venge, 3000km on the gravel bike, 3000km on the winter bike
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [SBRcanuck] [ In reply to ]
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SBRcanuck wrote:
Because brand name matters to people.

To some.....



You been riding much? I see some epic runs on your strava.

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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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I'm not exactly sure what you define as a "race" or a more "endurance" bike, but, I've only ever used "race" bikes. With a good fit and the right set up/components, its plenty comfy for me for many, many miles. But, for me personally, I am more likely to buy one "race" bike for several reasons:

(1) because it is because it is the only bike currently that I own. I would rather own one really good bike than several meh ones. I don't do gravel or mountain biking. Road riding is it.
(2) Since I don't like riding a tri bike, and would minimize the time in such a bike even when I do re-build one, I would be much more likely to be budget-conscious in that build. So, my TT bike is the break from the race bike, not the other way around.
(3) every ride that I do with others is a "race". I will never do crit races as I value my health too much. But, if I'm doing a group ride or fondo or whatever, I'm going to throw down at some point. That doesn't mean I need a "race" bike to do that, but again, if I'm going to pick one bike, that is it.


By the way, I didn't order a Tarmac SL7 ;)
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [hobbyjogger] [ In reply to ]
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If you read OP's post, I don't think money is an obstacle for him with the two bikes he owns. This seems to be more of a discussion of the substantive reason for a bike choice than a monetary one.
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [AndyPeterson] [ In reply to ]
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AndyPeterson wrote:
Folks have been saying this for a while, but this SHOULD be the golden age for custom steel. You can get a reasonably light custom made steel frame for less than 3K. Why aren't the fancy custom steel makers killing it right now? Why does everyone want an SL7 or Madone instead of Stinner or Speedvagen? Or, if you really want to spend money, Appleman? I mean, really -- it seems crazy that an Appleman is only $1K more than an SL7.

Andy

Speedvagen only sells complete bikes and I don't think you are getting one for less than $8-10K. But to your point, even at $8-10K a custom Speedvagen seems way more droolworthy than anything Specialized is selling.
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [JasoninHalifax] [ In reply to ]
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JasoninHalifax wrote:
SBRcanuck wrote:
Because brand name matters to people.


To some.....



You been riding much? I see some epic runs on your strava.

This comment is to SBRcanuck......First, I think brand name matters to VERY few. The average cyclist is going to buy whatever brands are being sold (more likely, pushed) by their LBS. I see it in all the local group rides I do. Second, why does this matter to OP's question? I'm a Cervelo fanboy because their bikes have always fit me well and worked well for me. If I had any quality control issues with Cervelo, I would have no issue ditching them. But, if I want to stick with Cervelo, it offers any number of non-"race" bike options. As does virtually every brand. So, how does the comment about the name brand impact a decision to buy a "race" bike from a particular brand??
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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For me it would come down to fit. If I don't need the typically higher stack of an endurance bike I would consider a race bike. If you are buying a race bike and need a large amount of spacers under the stem maybe an endurance geometry bike would be a better fit.

If it fits a race bike works just fine for long rides I wouldn't say an endurance bike is necessarily better. Sure some of the endurance bikes may have more compliance to make the ride smoother over rough stuff, but a modern race bike might no be too much harsher.

I do have a so called "race bike" a BMC SLR01 the same model frame that was ridden to a Tour de France overall victory and a world championship. It rides great for short and long rides. I love the way it handles for me its very confidence inspiring. When I bought it I started out looking for endurance bikes but fell in love with the race bike after 1 test ride.

For now a race bike works for me. In a few years that may not be the case. My dad who is older and less flexible the endurance bike is a better choice.

In the past i may have considered an endurance bike for the larger tire clearance more than anything else, but with the migration to disc brakes and the popularity of gravel bikes tire clearance has increased even for the race bikes.
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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While I don't own a high-end road race bike (and nowhere near the $12K price tag of the Tarmac TL7?), I do have a bike with race geometry.

The reason is because I have short legs and long arms for my height, an endurance bike would have me sitting upright with a hip angle of 120 or 130 degrees. So it's all about fit for me.
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [DFW_Tri] [ In reply to ]
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DFW_Tri wrote:
If you read OP's post, I don't think money is an obstacle for him with the two bikes he owns. This seems to be more of a discussion of the substantive reason for a bike choice than a monetary one.

Correct. Let's take cost out of the equation. I'm trying to understand, if you have $10-15K to drop of your road bike (let's assume you already have a pro-level TT bike), why make it a race bike if you're not going to race it?

A few here have claimed they like the precision/quality/etc. of high end components or the handling of a "race" bike geometry. Okay, well, why not order your custom Moots/Baum/Enigma/Seven/Stelbel/etc. with DA Di2 and racey handling characteristics (which can be done)? I mean, I get it, it's fun riding a race bike. My Palace:R is a crit bike if there ever was one, and it's super fun for 45-60 minute rides, and while it exceeded my expectations for longer rides, I'd never choose it over my Enigma.

The car analogy holds true. Why don't 99% of 911s ever see a lap on a race track? I guess because it's fun to floor it from time to time when the light turns green or carve up some country rounds even if you're not taking the car anywhere near it's limit.... and it's "cooler" than driving around an S-Class (and easier to park if your old, shriving, and can barely see over the dashboard)?
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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wintershade wrote:
DFW_Tri wrote:
If you read OP's post, I don't think money is an obstacle for him with the two bikes he owns. This seems to be more of a discussion of the substantive reason for a bike choice than a monetary one.

Correct. Let's take cost out of the equation. I'm trying to understand, if you have $10-15K to drop of your road bike (let's assume you already have a pro-level TT bike), why make it a race bike if you're not going to race it?

A few here have claimed they like the precision/quality/etc. of high end components or the handling of a "race" bike geometry. Okay, well, why not order your custom Moots/Baum/Enigma/Seven/Stelbel/etc. with DA Di2 and racey handling characteristics (which can be done)? I mean, I get it, it's fun riding a race bike. My Palace:R is a crit bike if there ever was one, and it's super fun for 45-60 minute rides, and while it exceeded my expectations for longer rides, I'd never choose it over my Enigma.

The car analogy holds true. Why don't 99% of 911s ever see a lap on a race track? I guess because it's fun to floor it from time to time when the light turns green or carve up some country rounds even if you're not taking the car anywhere near it's limit.... and it's "cooler" than driving around an S-Class (and easier to park if your old, shriving, and can barely see over the dashboard)?

If you order a custom Moots/Baum/Enigma/Seven/Stelbel/etc with the geometry that makes it a race bike in both position and handling, then isn't that a race bike?

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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [JasoninHalifax] [ In reply to ]
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You raise a good point. I think there are actually two questions I'm asking.

1) Why buy a race geometry bike if you don't race? It seems like the answer is that for some, the race geometry actually fits better a more upright "endurance" geometry, while having the benefit of faster/sharper handling which can be fun.

2) Why buy a top-spec, expensive (which I'll arbitrarily define as $10K+) mass produced bike, when you could get a custom built one for a similar price? It seems like the answer here is some combination of wanting to ride what the pros ride and lack of originality/laziness (no offense intended).
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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wintershade wrote:
DFW_Tri wrote:
If you read OP's post, I don't think money is an obstacle for him with the two bikes he owns. This seems to be more of a discussion of the substantive reason for a bike choice than a monetary one.


Correct. Let's take cost out of the equation. I'm trying to understand, if you have $10-15K to drop of your road bike (let's assume you already have a pro-level TT bike), why make it a race bike if you're not going to race it?

A few here have claimed they like the precision/quality/etc. of high end components or the handling of a "race" bike geometry. Okay, well, why not order your custom Moots/Baum/Enigma/Seven/Stelbel/etc. with DA Di2 and racey handling characteristics (which can be done)? I mean, I get it, it's fun riding a race bike. My Palace:R is a crit bike if there ever was one, and it's super fun for 45-60 minute rides, and while it exceeded my expectations for longer rides, I'd never choose it over my Enigma.

The car analogy holds true. Why don't 99% of 911s ever see a lap on a race track? I guess because it's fun to floor it from time to time when the light turns green or carve up some country rounds even if you're not taking the car anywhere near it's limit.... and it's "cooler" than driving around an S-Class (and easier to park if your old, shriving, and can barely see over the dashboard)?


I don’t know how your Enigma feels, but my Cervelo S5 doesn’t get uncomfortable after 45-60 mins. If it did, That would certainly be a reason not to buy it. Since you confirmed price is out of the equation, I would also add that I like the look of a race bike a lot more than the custom builds you mention above. I realize that is highly individualistic but that is what you are asking for in this thread.

As to your 2nd question, personally, I build up my own components to save thousand of dollars off stock prices.
Last edited by: DFW_Tri: Sep 14, 20 12:35
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [JasoninHalifax] [ In reply to ]
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Kind of a reset here. I had a nice CF race bike. after 12 years I replaced it. I bought a Cervelo C3 (Endurance bike). I figured I'm getting older, not racing, would enjoy the comfort. Then I realized I still ride with others, and we are competitive with one another. And the difference between a race bike and endurance bike is easily seen when riding fast side by side, agility cornering when descending, responsiveness climbing. After 3 years, I will keep riding my bike, but in another year or 2 I will be returning to more race like geometry and bike....

I think there is less impact on comfort compared to performance between a good fitting race bike or endurance bike.
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Re: Why buy a high-end road race bike? [wintershade] [ In reply to ]
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wintershade wrote:
You raise a good point. I think there are actually two questions I'm asking.

1) Why buy a race geometry bike if you don't race? It seems like the answer is that for some, the race geometry actually fits better a more upright "endurance" geometry, while having the benefit of faster/sharper handling which can be fun.

2) Why buy a top-spec, expensive (which I'll arbitrarily define as $10K+) mass produced bike, when you could get a custom built one for a similar price? It seems like the answer here is some combination of wanting to ride what the pros ride and lack of originality/laziness (no offense intended).

Oh, I'd much rather have a custom steel or ti frame than a mass produced whatever if I was willing to pay $10k for a bike (which I'm not). I like riding something that is a bit unique and individual. Which is why I've had 3 of my bikes custom painted. 1 professionally done, 2 DIY. the only roadie that isn't custom paint is my Klein (and that's too pretty....)

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