I am looking for a bicycle to commute probably two days a week to work on and then use sometimes in the evening and on weekends.

I was thinking of scooter or motorcycle even but when I sat on them I didn't really feel any joy. I sat on a high end commuter bike and again - nothing. Then I rode a nice road bike and felt like a kid again.

The problem is I don't know exactly which of these is the best bike and shop to buy from. They're all fairly similar price and in the Tiagra line so I guess it comes down to frames, tires and store stuff:

Cannondale Synapse 6 Tiagra (specs)

  • 1 year free adjustments and services
  • Free tubes for a year, pay labor
  • 10% discount on all accessories at time of purchase plus 30 days after
  • HUGE Store with a ton of stuff to choose from for that discount
  • Really nice sales guy helping me

Specialized Secteur Elite (Tiagra) (specs)

  • Same Store as the Cannondale

Bianchi Via Nirone Tiagra Compact (specs)

  • 5% off bike if paid in cash.
  • 10% off all store purchases paid in cash (regardless if I buy the bike there)
  • Very small store. Very little clothing, and only bags are for water.
  • Free adjustments for life.
  • Closest to where I live (about 5 minutes vs 20 minutes for the other 2 shops).
  • The guy means well but so far hasn't let me actually ride anything, he only had a carbon Tiagra in and told me I should wait and let him order the aluminum instead so it doesn't spoil me... from a sales perspective I would think he'd want to get me out there riding :\

Scott Speedster 30 (Tiagra) (specs)

  • Lifetime adjustments on brakes and derailleurs

Any opinion on which of these is the best way to go for a first road bike?

  • 4
    Welcome to Bicycles.SX. Your question is likely to be closed as it is some kind of Shopping question. Such questions tend to be not of great use in this format as they get outdated rather quickly and don't are very helpful for other visitors of the site. – Benedikt Bauer Mar 3 '14 at 22:45
  • @BenediktBauer I'm not sure how its different then a number of other Bike Selection tags such as bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/4469/… --- or --- bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/4552/… --- If its the inclusion of shop and bike then I can edit it to two different questions. One about frames and one about what to look for in purchase benefits. – Ryan Mar 3 '14 at 22:50
  • Seems to be even more in the tag Product Rec (which I've added - though I suspect these tags should be combined) like this one bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/9214/… – Ryan Mar 3 '14 at 23:00
  • You can easily add up the $$$. But whatever you spend, what will it cost you when you need help? Buy from the guy who gives the best service: that's long term value. – andy256 Mar 4 '14 at 0:03
  • @andy256 so you'd say the since they're all tiagras of fair value to go by the shop more then the frame next? Could you make that an answer please. – Ryan Mar 4 '14 at 0:14

Pick the bike that works best for you - test ride, ask questions, ask other people how the post purchase stuff works. If you don't get a test ride, don't buy. Just because they all run Tiagra in the back or whatever doesn't mean they're all equally good for you - there are different geometries and what not, so you need to be fitted and know how they work for your purpose. On top of that, just because they all advertise having Tiagra doesn't mean that thats a good thing - remember, when you fix the amount a bike costs, improving one component at a higher cost means something else has to be paid for (such as frame or saddle or wheels or something). Raleigh was making a big deal out of one bike they were selling being equipped with a nice Brooks B17 saddle, but it turned out that the rest of the bike was subpar for the price range, for example.

All bike shops do a 30 day adjustment normally, so its not the end of the world on the adjustment front (maybe 50 bucks if you don't do things on your own for the first year). Also, chances are you won't need multiple tubes. So all the benefits are pretty much pointless for the bike perspective.

That being said, I think all these bikes are a bad choice for a commuter - they're all quite pricey and flashy (so they're good targets for thieves) and are race bikes (which aren't really great for things other than racing). They don't have rack or fender mounts, which are useful for commuters and all have tiny tires (when you want fatter tires on a commuter so you get more puncture resistance and cushioning with proper inflation). They aren't also very tough (since they're built to be light, and the Bianchi is equipped with 28 spoke wheels (which may be of decent quality, but low for something that should be tough) and the Scott is even worse. Aero wheels have no place on a commuter, unless your commute is racing), so I doubt they'd escape a minor car hit with a good amount of their dignity left, compared to a good commuter. I'd recommend going with something cheap and discrete for commuting, with bigger tire clearance and rack+fender mounts.

For road bikes, some cyclocross bikes make good commuters (including some (but not most) race bikes, like the Kona Jake the Snake [admittedly, this isn't discrete...], but also the wide variety of "commuter-cross" bikes, like the Trek Crossrip, Specialized Tricross, Surly Crosscheck, etc.) as well as a lot of touring bikes (Surly Long Haul Trucker, Jamis Aurora, Trek 520, etc.) for their more relaxed riding position as well as mounts for pretty much everything. Flat bar road bikes also work (Specialized Sirrus / Trek 7.3fx type things). Some people just make commuter bikes as well (Charge Plug is one example sold at Performance).

Old rigid mountain bikes are also great commuters (think 80s-90s Specialized Rockhopper/Hardrock). Nobody's going to steal them, you can run decent sized tires, they're bombproof and have mounts for everything that you could want (racks + fenders and enough clearance for panniers if thats your sort of thing). I personally use a 2003 Giant Boulder for anything under 20 miles. It has a rack, some Specialized saddle that fit me well and a nice set of Ergon grips, which make it perfectly comfortable.

Also, make sure you budget for accessories (helmet, lock and lights primarily), as they're necessary for commuting. And make sure these bikes can take your weight properly - usually riders in the rider+cargo at ~250 lbs bracket should look for something decently tougher than these bikes.

  • Thanks for the first two paragraphs. The first one about the Raleigh is kinda why I'm asking. I don't know enough about the parts to know if one of these bikes is seriously lacking compared to the others. The guy at the Bianchi shop for example told me the tires and cog is better on the Bianchi then the Specialized but I don't know how true that is and if its worth the $50 or so dollars more it costs. – Ryan Mar 4 '14 at 2:00

You can easily add up the $$$.

But whatever you spend, what will it cost you when you need help?

Buy from the guy who gives the best service: that's long term value.

You can only judge by how they are behaving now, unless you hear for one of their customers.

So if you are happy with one of them, go there.

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