Help Me Buy a Bike (Alternate Title: Talk Me Out of Buying a Bike)

My current Mt. Sufferlandria is an actual mountain. Specifically, it’s the Mt. Washington Auto Road Hill Climb, a 7.6-mile climb with average grade of 12%. Here’s a link to the site from last month’s event: http://www.mwarbh.org/ .

I have two road bikes: my beloved 2012 Surly Long Haul Trucker and my trusty 1994 Raleigh Super Course. The LHT is out of the question for this event, though it has a granny gear that’s out of this world. Thanks to SUFF, I’m at my target weight - so I’m thinking this is the excuse I’ve been looking for to replace my Super Course with a light carbon bike.

I’m thinking of something in the $5k range, give or take. Used is fine. I’m not a gear head, but I don’t want simply to wander down to my LBS, cash in hand, and say “Hook me up.” This brings me to my question: what’s the best bike for me? Given that I expect to take this bike on group rides for years after the Mt. Washington event, what kind of gearing should I get? Is the extra expense of electronic shifters worth it? Which questions am I too ignorant to ask, and what are the answers to those questions? Speaking of gears, should I forget about a new bike and just put a new drive train on my Raleigh - and if so, what?

Basically, help. I could really use your advice.

So I have recently gone down the road of buying a new bike. With supply and demand where they are the reality is be prepared to wait or get very lucky. One bike shop said “lead times are so long we cannot even put in an order with the manufacturers”. Even with money in hand there was no shop I could walk in and get something that was close to what I wanted and that fit.

I have found a local shop that is a dealer for what I want, have done the fitting, and am now 8-10 weeks from expected delivery. From talking with others I know that is pretty fast.

If you do decide to buy remember fit matters above all else.

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My 2c…I found Canyon is great value for money and you might like something like their Endurace. I have the top end Ultimate and ADORE it but it’s aggressive as.

Electronic shifting…I have this on my Canyon. I have mechanical on my first road bike and also my gravel bike. Electronic hands down wins. My next bike (likely another grav bike) will be Electronic again. No need to index. Ever. Better wear on components as well, because it’s always perfectly indexed.

I recommend getting a pre purchase fit to make sure you’re buying the right bike for you

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You’re a KoS. You don’t need a small ring, just ride up that hill 53 - 12 and don’t forget to brake on the top! :wink:

Most people I know manage to stamp up a hill with 34-28 or 34-32 with the occasional beast-mode at 36-28… You probably can simulate it on your smart trainer and see how you do?

Your Raleigh seems heavy for such an activity and rather than upgrading that one, I’d make that a project and try to restore it in its former glory (or not).

Get yourself a neat new bike. As said before, the Canyons are great. Giant does very good value for money too. If you pick something that they call ‘endurance’ models, you’re probably good. Gearing on those are generally suitable for your needs with the smallest being 34-30 or 34-32.

Often the wheels on new bikes are a tad heavy though, it does make 'm solid and reliable though. You may want to upgrade those at some point (easy 500gr weight saving).

Electronic shifting sounds awesome. I wish I had it. In my budget there was quite a significant weight penalty between a bike with Ultegra and a bike with Shimano or SRAM electronic groupset. (The manufacturer choses heavier frame and wheels to balance the cost out) Hence I chose lighter, but not electronic. For what it’s worth: I’m riding an Argon 18 Gallium Disc and it’s awesome.

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Not specifically to your question but I also love my Canyon (Aeroad) so +1 for them in general. They are typically great value for the spec and they have always been super helpful to me.

That said, I think their lead times can often be quite long. I don’t know how they are at the moment but as @MichaelG said the whole industry seems to be experiencing this. That may mean Canyon are in line with others, or that they’re even longer.

I love my Di2 also. Super efficient and what a cool noise :slightly_smiling_face:

As winter is approaching I’m in the market for my n+1 myself, but with a smaller budget than my current main bike so electronics are probably out of the question. Guess I’ll just go Sufferlandrian and not ever change out of my plate/small cog :muscle:.

L

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I’m not a huge fan of “recommend a bike” because the whole thing is just so personal, what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another, however:

I bought my new bike at the front end of this year after spending almost a full year researching options and deciding on what I wanted. I’ll explain what I got and why, so you can see if it ties to your thinking.

I got back into cycling early last year. I’d grown up racing mountain bikes (rigid) and that was the format I had most enjoyed in life, but I stopped at the end of childhood. Since then I’d bought a flat-bar but quick road bike for cycle commuting, which was enjoyable enough but functional. I now have kids who like to explore pathways, my old mountain bikes are heavy and old, my road bike takes 25 slicks at maximum.
When I decided I wanted to get back into cycling my primary factors were:

  • Full road bike levels of quick
  • Light
  • Capable of exploring off-road too, ideally back to the fun of rigid mountain bikes (I stopped enjoying off-road riding with the encroachment of suspension, I enjoyed the connectedness of smashing a bike down a trail)
  • Not having to think about the front derailleur (so, 1x mechanical or 2x electronic)

The dichotomy here was that I didn’t really want to lose anything on the road to a road bike, but I also wanted to be able to ride mountain bike trails like I did in my teens.

I ultimately went for the following:

  • Basso Palta - A relatively aggressively proportioned frame that allows you to find a position similar to an endurance road bike, but has clearance for 45+mm tyres. Bonus point for being uncommon, it’s nice to have something you’re not going to see every other cyclist on too.
  • Campagnolo Ekar groupset - 1x mechanical. As mentioned, I wanted either mechanical 1x or electronic for the semi-auto functionality so I could just forget about the front derailleur. Ekar is 13 speed with tight steps in the top end and the big ratios at the bottom and the brakes are divine. It gives me ratios that allow me to keep up with the group ride sprints but also to climb away from the MTB guys I go out with on uphill, off-road climbs.
  • Campagnolo Shamal DB Carbon wheels - There are a multitude of options here, but I love the tri-lacing system of their spokes, they look great. The wheels are basically their “gravel WTO” and can take wide rubber or 25/28 just as easily. Look great, deep enough to be quick in almost all conditions and shallow enough to be comfortable in winds and compliant off-road.
  • Specialized Pathfinder Pro 38c tyres - If you want to romp around in wet mud then you need more tread, if you’re racing you’ll want something slimmer, but where I had planned to run two wheelsets (one road, one off) I have so far found these to do everything (in the dry summer) I need perfectly. I’ve never struggled on a group-ride on the road and I’ve been wanting the MTB lot to get a shift on off-road too for holding me up.
  • Deda Gravel 100 bars, Selle Italia Model X saddle, custom pedals

As I said, bikes are a very personal thing. It took me a full year to settle on a decision I was comfortable with, but I’m glad I took my time. It’s one of those bikes that makes you want to go out and ride it, the only difficulty becomes deciding whether it’s a road or off-road ride, but then it also gives you the freedom to flip and choose as you go. I’ve gone on what were intended to be road rides, but seen a footpath leading off into some woods and there is nothing to stop you charging off down there, the only thing to keep in mind is that it’s so quick off-road too that you have to bear in mind there might be someone walking that path just around the corner :slight_smile:

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Can’t recommend a bike, but the answer is always Yes, you need a new one!

Make it carbon and aero. Eshifting for the win.
Enjoy the choosing. I’ve a 5yo felt AR5 and it was sooo fast when I got it compared to my previous bike.

Having the equipment to make best use of the investment in your suffering will did you to your goal with a bigger smile on your face

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Your bike sounds awesome @Jon , I would like to request a photo!


I’ve actually changed the bars since these photos, as they didn’t have the bars I wanted at the time so I had it delivered with a different set and then changed after, but it doesn’t change the look much.
I think I plan on lowering the stack height of the bars a little, but wanted to feel it out first and don’t want to compromise the off-road too much either.

Here are a couple more of the paint close-up too as you only get the full effect in sunlight.



I love it.
On road rocket-ship and it behaves very much like I remember mid-90s rigid MTBs to do when off-road too (except faster), it’s a blast.

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Nice! :heart_eyes:

I had a $6K (CAD) budget for a new bike and landed on a 2021 Trek Domane SL5. My preference would have been for an electronic groupset for all the reasons @DameLisa pointed out and almost went with their 2022 SL6 which had the E-tap Rival set. This would have been my entire budget at $6k (CAD).

I ended up with the 2021 SL5 which cost me $4k but this allowed me to get a new set of wheels (Bontrager Aeolus Pro TLR 37) which I am sooooooo happy with.

So, while I still covet the electronic groupset, the full Shimano 105 is, imho, the best value for money for someone who is not seriously racing or who does not have a bigger budget. The gearing is great with a 50/34 up front and 11/34 in the back. Just came back from some hills training (valleys really, cuz I live in the prairies) and while some of the gradients approached 10%, I never needed to use the full 1:1 ratio.

I also absolutely love the design lines on this bike. I am NOT a fan of the dropped/offset seat stays that seem to be on a lot of bikes atm and prefer the smooth, seamless transition from top tube to seat stays (like the one @Jon posted :heart_eyes:)

I’ve also gone all in with tubeless now and am running 32mm tubeless Bontrager R3 hard-case lite TLR at 60 psi in the back and 58 psi in the front. The lower pressures, combined with the wider tires and Trek’s iso-speed front and rear decouplers make this ride super comfortable but still keeps you connected to the feel of the road.

Here is a pic of The Red Baron the day before his inaugural ride.

My few cents worth of advice though is to consider your primary aim in riding (I am 90%+ road and ~10% gravel), riding style (I am all about long endurance rides but also want to kick ass in group rides and sprints) and make sure you love how it looks. The more you love it, the more you’ll want to ride it. Have fun and good luck in your hunt. The worldwide bike and bike component shortage is definitely gonna make this a challenge for you Sir @AlexEllermann.

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Nice buy and I completely agree with using a chunk of budget on a wheel upgrade. Ultegra is getting retired soon and 105 is SO much better than it used to be (and was still a darn fine group set before) so this is a great buy. Always been a firm believer in that you’ll know when you find the right bike. Enjoy!!! Red Baron is a great name for him too!

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Thanks. I couldn’t be happier with him (unless I had Di2). The stock wheels are now dedicated to gravel with 40mm conti terra speed tlr. The SUF colour scheme was a bonus :slight_smile:

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For me it is the whole bike that has a Sufferlandria color scheme.
Astonishing!

Mount worthy of a real KOS.

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@Glen.Coutts I bought a 2019 Domane SL6 on Jan 2nd 2020. Ultegra components and stock wheels. Running tubeless gp5000’s. I swapped the crankset for a 105 to get the shorter 160mm crank arms. Lovely bike with a comfortable ride.

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Silver Bullet! Nice. I see you have the mount for the Varia Radar unit too. One of the best bits of kit I have ever purchased!

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I’m glad I asked this great group. You’ve given me some promising leads to research. Thanks! :hugs:

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@AlexEllermann You may want to add this company to your list - my friend just bought from them. He has the Chebacco.

Parlee Cycles

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