A brief bit of background: I'm incredibly new to cycling, I literally just learned to ride in August. As soon as I learned, I went out and bought a hybrid (Cannondale Quick Carbon 2, got a great deal) and picked the sport up and found that I absolutely love it. I love everything about it, more than I ever thought I would. So, this weekend I jumped in my first sprint duathlon (first race of any kind actually), and it turns out I loved that more than I ever would have thought also. I did pretty well too, particularly on the running parts, but I felt like my bike was holding me back a bit, with the upright position and such. I love the bike, but it really is more suited to short rides that aren't speed focused than trying to race anyone.
So, going into next season, I'm thinking about possibly buying a bike that's more committed to racing. I don't have a real tight budget, but I also don't want to go absolutely crazy just yet. I want to have an opportunity to post some good times and have a lot of fun, and I'm good with spending some money to do so.
I'm currently looking at the Cervelo P2 as my top choice, but also looking at the Cannondale Slice. Anyone have any experience or advice?
Get a Madone. Those things are absolutely beast. Or Cervelo.
I don't have that kind of money, however so I have to content myself with speeding around on my Trek 5200 carbon.
He is asking for a time trial bike though. Also, that 5200 of yours has a full ultegra group most likely, which is the same as the Madone and the bikes he is looking at . With the same I mean that it has been updated through the years but the ultegra group is a high quality group. Even if it is on a 06 madone bike, it is still pretty decent. I have seen much shittier bikes haha. Tech continues of course but the 5200 series was pretty good at its time. You make it sound like your bike is complete crap haha.
I actually have a madone myself. A 2010 frame with an ultegra group.
Can't give you much tips though since I don't have a timetrial bike. Obviously test drive one (they will probably be so stiff, you will go right to a racing bike haha). And don't forget that you should also look at the wheels etc. even though Cervelo and Cannondale sell good complete bikes, many people change the wheels (or parts of the group) anyways.
Or, if that is an option, buy a frame, choose a group + wheels yourself and have the local bikeshop (or just yourself) put it together. You probably won't be off cheaper but you will have everything you want (though you don't have too much experience with it).
Problem is a little that you are stepping up to a new bike really fast. By the time somebody normally buys a second bike, they know their preferences etc. I understand that hybrid bike won't suit you but the step from that to a $3000,- + bike is huge haha.
It is a little like a gamer that used to play Xbox solely but now wants a top of the line dual SLI PC.
For the demands you have now, you cannot make a bad buy in that price segment but maybe in a year or two you will think "maybe this would be a little bit better" or "wish I chose that".
Best is to just let a few local shops advice you, find perhaps a better biking forum online where people with these bikes can advice you and then make a good decision. With a little luck you might now find 2012 models which we call "overyear" here. Which basically means they get sold with a big discount. So if that is of any concern to you, it is a good time to buy a bike in sept./ okt.
Thanks for the tips Bolson, that's kind of what I was thinking to a great extent - I have every intention of bugging folks at my local shops endlessly before buying. I know it's an enormous step up, and I feel like there's a little bit of it that looks like "rich idiot kid" going on, but I'm really confident this is something I'm going to be doing a lot of. I used to play basketball a ton, but drifted away from it during grad school (I'm 27 now, out of grad school for about two and a half years), and I hadn't really found anything that gave me that same kick. I'd already been loving riding for the last month and a half, and when I did that race, it just absolutely blew me away. Not that I posted the best time or anything, but crossing the finish line was the same kind of adrenaline rush and euphoria as banging down a big three. Also, my parents are huge into cycling, and when we get together (we're about 400 miles apart), they'll be excited to do events.
So, anyway, my thinking is basically that a hybrid's just not going to cut it, so I want something with some serious go, and if I'm going that route I don't want to cheap out. I'm not rich by any means, but I'm not tight on money either; the reason I was thinking those ~$3K bikes is because I figured it's not so high that I won't be able to upgrade things later as needed. I was already thinking about wheels (my mom just got carbon race wheels, and they're pretty amazing), but figured I'd hold off till 2014 for those.
So, on the TT/tri vs. road bike front, just how much of a gap in speed should I be expecting? Are TT/tri bikes completely impractical to ride on a day out on the road? I know I can ask folks at a shop these questions, would just love to get as much input and opinions as possible. I keep wavering between something like a Cervelo P2 and their S2 road bike. My understanding is that brand is largely irrelevant unless you're getting into really, really big money, and that aesthetics and fit are the main differences (with occasional differences in value on groupings and such). Would you agree with that?
In regards to the speed difference etc, I am not really sure since I do not have a whole lot experience with a TT bike. I have been on them a few times, and the ride feels great but the sit is a little too much for me (low in the front but high at the butt). A regular racing bike is a little bit more of a normal angle though still far away from that cross over bike you were riding.
And in racing bikes there are a lot of differences as well. I am mostly a Trek fan and there you have the Domane for the more relaxed sitting angle and the Madone for the more race angle. And the TT bike is another step.
Other things, it felt even more stiff to me which is nice for the most part though a little less rigid on Europe roads (often in historic town centers) can be nice as well.
I wouldn't say that TT bikes are unpractical though. It is probably similar to a regular racing bike in practicality. You still cant get close to sand etc. There are fieldracing bikes (don't know if you are familiar with this sport) for that but it is probably not what you want. I also haven't heard that they can handle less stress on the frame or so but you could ask this in stores (so in case you hit a crack in the road or so, the bike doesn't splinter). This might be a little concern, I would ask this myself in the store as well.
The only other thing I could think of is that it is probably less easy to ride in a larger group with them since you probably lack a little in quick handling (since you almost lay on them). I know that in a lot of races with a peloton, they do not allow the bull steeringhandles anymore for that reason. So if that is what you want to do as well, you might want to check into it. I think for Triathlon etc. it doesn't matter since you don't really ride in a big peloton right?
Regarding the wheels, I think it is safe to wait a little. Usually the ones provided are pretty decent with bikes in that range. Same for the saddle, many people change it but it is up to you. I would just keep the normal one for now unless you really get a sore but even after a few months.
Regarding brand it is indeed largely irrelevant though arguable by some. Cycling at that level is also about min/maxing and so people get favourites. People who want to know every angle, the weight to the gram exactly etc. But I agree that it is irrelevant. Except for one thing and that is Chinese carbon frames. Cheap brands like Bulls or the cheaper models of Trek as well have Chinese frames. This is a little bit a discussion but your frame is not going to be from China so don't worry. Cervelo is a top end brand. It is also a little bit the discussion of what kind of carbon it actually is. But that goes over my head. Apparently there is more stiff/rigid types of carbon etc. Maybe your bike dealer knows more about this but I think in general it is mostly the people that min/max everything to a tee that care about that stuff.
Everything else is mostly fit and aesthetics and a little "what you favour" like a fanboy haha. You know, like how apple fans only appreciate Apple. Maybe not that extreme but if you had a good Trek bike before, you tend to drift towards a Trek for your new bike right?
Groups and other parts obviously make a lot of difference in value. It is not an occasional difference . There is a big difference in bang for buck. Say a Cervelo bike that runs $3000,- with practically the same group, wheels etc. might be $2500 from Trek. But most of the time Trek cheaps out a little on the wheels or parts of the group are 105 in stead of ultegra. Cervelo is not the brand that does that, thats for sure.
If I look at the site now, a S2 cervelo with a 105 group for €2500,-. That is rediculously high so probably it is going to have amazing wheels etc. as well. Compare that to the madone 3.5 which is mostly 105 but even has parts ultegra (important parts even like the crank and rear gearthing (whats it called in English, derailer?). That one is only €2200,- but if you look closer it has "bontrager approved wheels" whatever that means haha. They probably skimmed on those as you can tell. Cervelo is just more complete in that sense (though you pay a little for the brand as well probably). The Cervelo frames do look amazing though, that S5 frame is beautiful but a little above what I am willing to spend on a bike haha.
I just popped down to my local shop today, did some browsing, some chatting, and I've been listening to cycling podcasts and doing a fair bit of research, and I think it's probably the case (like you mention above) that I'm better off not pushing it all the way to the TT yet, as I probably don't even have the skillset and physical ability necessary to push enough extra speed out of it for it to matter, relative to the comfort of a good road bike. The bike they've got that I was eyeballing from their 2012 leftovers is a Cannondale SuperSix 5, which lists at $2300, they have a $2K tag, and the sales guy stated that they'll be flexible on that number, so I'm hoping for ~$1800. I wasn't in correct clothes today (and had flip flops on) so I didn't go for a ride, but I'm going to head down and take a nice long test ride tomorrow, and if all works out well, that's likely to be what I settle on. That's got Shimano 105 groupings, seems like fantastic geometry for my body type, and a reasonable enough price (although the Cervelos are still the most gorgeous to me!).
Thanks for all the info - there's just so damned much to absorb.
Went and test rode bikes today... absolutely fell in love with the Cervelo R3 Team, with Ultegra groupings, which just seemed positively incredible to me. Not what I was originally thinking, but I couldn't possibly write a glowing enough review. I'll be slapping down a deposit tomorrow and getting fitting and such done later this week.
The store I was at had a fairly wide selection, so I was also able to try out Cannondale SuperSixes and a Specialized (I forget the model). I really thought the gap, for my tastes, was shockingly large compared to what I was expecting. After doing some research, this doesn't seem to be an unusual position for someone to hold! I was just shocked at how much more cleanly and balanced the R3 came through jouncy terrain than the competitors. Also, the geometry seemed to fit me a bit better. I know there's some other great bikes, but I'm good with the price and love this one, and it seems like this is really more what I should have been looking for in the first place (I said TT/tri, but I think that's a bad choice after doing more research).
I'm going to work with them on price, but my guess is there's not a ton of wiggle room. The original MSRP on it was $4300 at the start of the season, and the price I've currently got them at is $3250. Like you say, store credit's what I'm going to be shooting for; I need a good pair of shoes and some other accessories, so I'm hoping to be able to get a decent bite of price off there. The guy I'm working with seems pretty reasonable.