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I ride regularly for exercise in New York City but do not race. I currently ride on a steel frame that handles the rough roads easily. I want to buy a carbon bike and am torn between a "classics" bike like a Domane or a Roubaix and a race bike. My rides are usually around 2-3 hours so comfort is nice but not essential. I appreciate quickness in traffic and am comfortable with a race bike geometry but am worried about durability. Any advice on how to think about these trade offs?

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2 Answers 2

Ask yourself a question...if you end up getting a Roubaix, for example, will you buy it and still be hankering after a carbon frame? If that's the case then perhaps it would be better to get the carbon frame now rather than to get a bike, be not entirely satisfied with it, and end up buying a carbon bike anyway in a year or so.

I just mention this perspective because that's exactly what happened to me. Nothing to do with what you actually need, nothing to do with whether you'll race or not, in fact quite irrational. But that's how many people think (and of course the manufacturers know this - those $10,000 bikes sitting at the top of their range aren't aimed at the professionals, but at hobbyists with money to spare).

The only concrete thing I can add is that I previously owned a 2010 Trek Alpha 2.3 - same geometry as the Madone but an alu frame. Obviously we're all different shapes and sizes but I found it easily comfortable enough for long, six hour rides, so I doubt you'd have a problem comfort-wise. And durability? Well, look at the warranty periods the manufacturers offer on their frames and that should give you an idea of what they think the odds are of failure.

Hope this helps.

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I've always thought the idea of $5000+ bikes to be a little odd. At the point where spending $5000 on a bike would give you any advantage, you should probably be at the point of buying the parts individually to suit your personal riding style and abilities, and possibly not paying for the bike (sponsorships etc.) Every time I see a fully assembled (minus the pedals) bike for $5000+ in my LBS I laugh a little. Also why do they always leave off the pedals but include a saddle? The saddle choice is way more personalized than then pedal choice. –  Kibbee Sep 20 '12 at 17:17
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Saddles and pedals. Think test ride. Setting someone up for a quick test ride, it's easy to move their pedals (which match their shoes!) and easy to change saddle height. Putting the saddle itself on can be somewhat of a pain, so you put one. Also...a bike without pedals looks like a bike. A bike without a saddle looks incomplete. –  Ken Hiatt Sep 20 '12 at 19:23
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@Kibbee, that's kind of my point. Speaking for myself and I suspect a lot of other people a $5000 bike will give me nothing much over a $1000 bike. But people buy them because they want them and can afford them, not because it'll make them world champion. Obvectively it makes no sense to spend the extra, but its no different from many other things in life. Why does a guy buy a Ferrari when he's only allowed to drive it at the same speed as the guy with the Ford? –  PeteH Sep 21 '12 at 13:10
    
oh, and my dream bike is the top-of-the-range Bianchi (think its about £9000, so that's $15,000). Why? 'Cos it looks like sex on wheels. A totally nonsense reason. But maybe one day when I have that kind of money to spare.... –  PeteH Sep 21 '12 at 13:13

I think you answered your own question when you stated "I don't race." I know many in our club who enjoy the Roubaix. I personally prefer riding my steel Soma ES over my carbon race bike for most things, including fast club rides. Don't get me wrong, a twitchy race bike is great in a crit, but the other non-race bikes have had their design optimized for non-race road riding. It is too easy to get up caught up in all the bike porn the industry pushes. A solid, well sorted, well maintained, properly fitted road bike of any class and age can be a great riding tool.

In the end this is just all opinion, but I would be careful not to get caught up in the industry's push for "race" performance, which only serves a small minority of road riders.

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I would also ask yourself why you feel you want/need a carbon bike? Do you just want something lighter? There are plenty of options out there including aluminum, titanium and mixes of alloy and carbon. There are many bikes that are aimed at riders like yourself who want a well built bike but do not race. They are often classified as "enthusiast" bikes. They are well-built but the geometry is meant for club rides and non-race situations. As for durability, most parts on the higher end will be similar. I'd stick with alloy wheels over carbon as they will take the brunt of the city's torture. –  Tha Riddla Sep 20 '12 at 12:30
    
@ThaRiddla - I still have my carbon bike from my days as a cat 1/2 racer. Occasionally, I think of getting back into racing again, but life is so busy at the moment. –  Rider_X Sep 20 '12 at 17:02
    
Another option, if you have the budget, is to actually have a bike built for you-- or order one with custom/semi-custom geometry. This can be done either through a individual framebuilder or through some vendors that build to order. You just have to have a firm idea of exactly what you want out of the bike. –  Angelo Sep 20 '12 at 17:17
    
@Angelo - If you are unsure what class of road bike will work for you, I am uncertain building a bike with custom geometry makes sense. –  Rider_X Sep 20 '12 at 17:23
    
@Rider_X, my comment was aimed at the OP :) I've found life sometimes does get in the way of racing/riding as well. –  Tha Riddla Sep 20 '12 at 19:58

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