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Need advice about first road bike selection

Ratchet21

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Sep 7, 2020
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Hi all!

Am currently looking to getting my first ever road bike. I think my needs points me toward getting endurance bike so after looking around a few brands and models, I find myself to be most attracted to Roubaix from Specialized but as I am not familiar with road bike so I hope to get some advice and inputs from the more experienced cyclist here!

I did considered getting a cheaper starter bike, but I think it might be safer to get something better and stick with it longer before feeling like to upgrade again. Am definitely considering getting a 2nd hand too for better price and faster delivery date. (So if anyone know any good 2nd hand store/website I should check out please do kindly share)

I am currently looking at the 2021 range of Roubaix, specifically Sport or Comp. After some reading, I do find that Sport is the most value with money and I get lesser value for every tier I go upwards from there but I do have some friend advising me to get Comp so at least it is an Ultegra (Maybe they are not into 105), I'd like to know whether Comp or Expert is worth the price. Honestly speaking I don't even think I can differentiate between 105 or Ultegra in performance...

Sport: 10r frame, 105/mixed groupset, 1.5 Future shock, price: 290k JPY
Comp: 10r frame, Ultegra groupset, 1.5 Future shock, price: 385k JPY
Expert: 10r frame, Ultegra Di2 groupset, 2.0 Future shock, price: 550k JPY

My consideration for getting Sport is that:
  1. I am not sure when will the new updated Ultegra be out but since the current version has been out for a while I think the new version might be out soon and I can upgrade from 105 later on when i really need it or when the 105 is broken.
  2. I talked to the mechanic at Specialized and he told me that 1.5 and 2.0 Future shock is the same other than 2.0 will have a dial to switch it on and off and you can't choose the spring/toughness of the spring while 1.5 you can choose one out of the 3 hardness level.
  3. I have heard that 105 is only heavier than Ultegra but it performs as good as and is also more durable compared to Ultegra, but the mechanic told me that Ultegra is definitely far more durable than 105, so if I plan to cycle often he will suggest me to get Ultegra (Comp).
  4. I don't think it is worth the money for Expert just to get the Di2 + 2.0 Future shock since there is no wheel upgrade in that range, but if anyone thinks Expert is a good choice I am open to hearing your inputs.
Color and delivery date wise I do prefer Comp since the delivery is late October, while sport is late December to early Jan for here...
Would love to make the right decision for me as this will be the last purchase for me at least for a few years.
Looking forward to hearing all the valuable inputs and I appreciate the time and attention given. Thanks in advance!
 

kiwisimon

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Dec 14, 2006
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105 is a very good level of components. You can expect it to last for years.

Is it worth another 80,000 yen for a beginner to go up to Ultegra? I don't think so.
The biggest limiting factor on a bike is the engine. When the engine gets to a level when it's the bike's components holding you back that is when you can look to upgrade.

If you maintain the bike well, all you will need to replace are pads and chains and maybe bar tape and evntually cables after a couple of years.

Also as a beginner you can expect to drop you bike and scratch things up so there is less emotional pain if you start on a used bike that someone has already put some miles on. If you buy from a shop that can service the bike it's better or get someone to recommend a good shop that can do the servicing.
 

OreoCookie

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Dec 2, 2017
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Agreed, Shimano’s 105 groupset is functionally identical to Ultegra and DuraAce (in their mechanical incarnations, obviously), it is just heavier and perhaps misses some adjustment screws. For a beginner, 105 is plenty. I’d invest the 80,000 ¥ in good clothing, a decent pair of shoes and lights. Those you don’t want to skimp out on. In all likelihood, though, you will not wear out the drivetrain. I’ve put 8 years and >>15k into my Shimano XT drivetrain on my mountain bike, and the drivetrain still works well, my brakes in particular.

The only reason why I am slightly hesitating is that you wrote 105/mixed. I assume the non-105 components are lower than 105, correct? Which components are not 105-level? When manufacturers mix components, usually they will install the higher-end front and rear derailleurs, and sometimes the crank, too. The derailleurs are cheap. But the shifters and the brakes will be of a lower groupset. That’s the case with my Cube that pretends to be equipped with Ultegra (derailleurs and crank proudly feature the Ultegra logo), but the shifters, brakes and discs are 105-level. In practice you would want it the other way around: you want higher-quality shifter and brakes. Especially when it comes to brakes, I usually don’t like to recommend anything below 105 or equivalent.

Edit: I checked out the specs of the Roubaix Sport, and only the crank is off-brand. This is a great spec for a beginner and should be a good platform for upgrades. Speaking of upgrades, my advice, get wider tires. Replace the 28 mm with the widest tires you can fit. As far as I can tell, that’s 33 mm. A great tire would be Schwalbe’s G-One Speed or Allround in 30 or 35 mm (if you can fit 35 mm). These have a bit of tread on them and allow you to go take paths less traveled.
 
Last edited:

GrantT

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Just looked at the Spesh web site in Japanese and the tech specs say both the comp and sport use Future Shock 2.0, while the product blurb says 1.5 🧐 I guess you may have already checked which is correct but just to mention.

As far as rim brake components go, 105 is plenty durable. Not sure about hydraulic brake components though! (But unless there is some massive design flaw in the 105 I see no reason to pay 80,000 for Ultegra).
 

OreoCookie

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Dec 2, 2017
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As far as rim brake components go, 105 is plenty durable. Not sure about hydraulic brake components though! (But unless there is some massive design flaw in the 105 I see no reason to pay 80,000 for Ultegra).
Regarding hydraulic disc brakes, Shimano has been making them of >15 years on the mountain bike end of things, and they have earned their great reputation. The road brake calipers are shrunk down versions of the mountain bike calipers. The only thing I don't like about Shimano's hydraulic brake-shift levers is the hood shape, I'd prefer if they had horns like SRAM does, that'd give me a much better grip when I am in the aero hoods position. I also prefer the modulation of my mountain bike brakes, but that the different brake feel was apparently a deliberate choice by Shimano to suit roadies.
 

Ratchet21

Speeding Up
Sep 7, 2020
115
84
105 is a very good level of components. You can expect it to last for years.

Is it worth another 80,000 yen for a beginner to go up to Ultegra? I don't think so.
The biggest limiting factor on a bike is the engine. When the engine gets to a level when it's the bike's components holding you back that is when you can look to upgrade.

If you maintain the bike well, all you will need to replace are pads and chains and maybe bar tape and evntually cables after a couple of years.

Also as a beginner you can expect to drop you bike and scratch things up so there is less emotional pain if you start on a used bike that someone has already put some miles on. If you buy from a shop that can service the bike it's better or get someone to recommend a good shop that can do the servicing.

Thank you very much and I can totally relate to the less emotional pain part haha! Definitely will be looking around for 2nd hand too.
And understood about the engine part, in this case I think 105 will last me for awhile too.

About shop that service the bike, does that mean not all shop will provide after sales service? or do you mean shop that provide free servicing after purchase?
 

Ratchet21

Speeding Up
Sep 7, 2020
115
84
Agreed, Shimano’s 105 groupset is functionally identical to Ultegra and DuraAce (in their mechanical incarnations, obviously), it is just heavier and perhaps misses some adjustment screws. For a beginner, 105 is plenty. I’d invest the 80,000 ¥ in good clothing, a decent pair of shoes and lights. Those you don’t want to skimp out on. In all likelihood, though, you will not wear out the drivetrain. I’ve put 8 years and >>15k into my Shimano XT drivetrain on my mountain bike, and the drivetrain still works well, my brakes in particular.

The only reason why I am slightly hesitating is that you wrote 105/mixed. I assume the non-105 components are lower than 105, correct? Which components are not 105-level? When manufacturers mix components, usually they will install the higher-end front and rear derailleurs, and sometimes the crank, too. The derailleurs are cheap. But the shifters and the brakes will be of a lower groupset. That’s the case with my Cube that pretends to be equipped with Ultegra (derailleurs and crank proudly feature the Ultegra logo), but the shifters, brakes and discs are 105-level. In practice you would want it the other way around: you want higher-quality shifter and brakes. Especially when it comes to brakes, I usually don’t like to recommend anything below 105 or equivalent.

Edit: I checked out the specs of the Roubaix Sport, and only the crank is off-brand. This is a great spec for a beginner and should be a good platform for upgrades. Speaking of upgrades, my advice, get wider tires. Replace the 28 mm with the widest tires you can fit. As far as I can tell, that’s 33 mm. A great tire would be Schwalbe’s G-One Speed or Allround in 30 or 35 mm (if you can fit 35 mm). These have a bit of tread on them and allow you to go take paths less traveled.

Thank you so much with the information, I really appreciate it! And with your assurance about the mixed part now I start to think it's really hard to beat the value of Sport series. I am considering Comp is purely just because the stock will be in sooner (In october, as for sport i will have to wait till dec or even jan). Hopefully some good 2nd hand will pop out somewhere online...
 

Ratchet21

Speeding Up
Sep 7, 2020
115
84
And of course, a helmet.

Already got a helmet in preparation to join half fast cycling in one of the days!

Sorry, big oversight on my end. Yes, helmet, that’s non-negotiable. Or an organ donor card. ;) And two bottle cages with two bottles of water.

Donor card sounds good, where can I get arrangement for that?
Bottle cage sounds important too.

Just looked at the Spesh web site in Japanese and the tech specs say both the comp and sport use Future Shock 2.0, while the product blurb says 1.5 🧐 I guess you may have already checked which is correct but just to mention.

As far as rim brake components go, 105 is plenty durable. Not sure about hydraulic brake components though! (But unless there is some massive design flaw in the 105 I see no reason to pay 80,000 for Ultegra).

Thank you so much for your input. Yea, so far 105 looks more than enough for me.

Regarding hydraulic disc brakes, Shimano has been making them of >15 years on the mountain bike end of things, and they have earned their great reputation. The road brake calipers are shrunk down versions of the mountain bike calipers. The only thing I don't like about Shimano's hydraulic brake-shift levers is the hood shape, I'd prefer if they had horns like SRAM does, that'd give me a much better grip when I am in the aero hoods position. I also prefer the modulation of my mountain bike brakes, but that the different brake feel was apparently a deliberate choice by Shimano to suit roadies.

This is very informative, thank you so much for sharing. I think the next update for Shimano's groupset should be out in less than a year, and hopefully it will be another vast improvement.
 

OreoCookie

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Dec 2, 2017
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Hopefully some good 2nd hand will pop out somewhere online...
That's a good idea, as long as you keep in mind that in Japan you will have trouble finding frames of size 56 cm and up. And I would resist the temptation to buy even your dream bike in a size that isn't right for you.

Speaking of size, do you know what frame size you need? Fit >>> components, frame material. Ideally you should ask for a bike fit when you buy your new bike. Don't be afraid to change saddle, handlebars and stem. Saddles in particular are a very personal item, just like shoes, a lot really depends on your anatomy, what is a great saddle for one is a nightmare for another.
This is very informative, thank you so much for sharing. I think the next update for Shimano's groupset should be out in less than a year, and hopefully it will be another vast improvement.
Unlikely. Shimano will release a new version of DuraAce next year, and it'll be at least another year until Shimano releases new versions of Ultegra and 105. If that's what's holding you up, you'll be waiting a much longer time than you'd want.
 

kiwisimon

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Dec 14, 2006
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OP you need to find out what size bike best fits you and what brakes you want.

Rim brakes you will be able to pick up cheaper than discs. Probably discs are more reliable and require less fussing around with but servicing I'd suggest you get done at a shop once a year or less depending on your distance spent riding.

Most good LBS will service any bike, the one's that don't aren't worth dropping your money in.

We bought our son's bike a specialized from this shop and were very satisfied. I do the servicing but the shop sent it out pretty much ready to go.

Size is what you should be considering first and a good Local Bke Shop as well.

bout shop that service the bike, does that mean not all shop will provide after sales service? or do you mean shop that provide free servicing after purchase?

that is something to ask at time of purchase but generally new you get a year of serving thrown in, used, you pay for anything required. YMMV. good luck
 

OreoCookie

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Dec 2, 2017
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To re-emphasize to what @kiwisimon is saying, because I think it is really good advice: for a beginner I think it would be useful to find a quality bike shop that not only advises you before and after your purchase, but also does maintenance. You will pay more, but having connections to a LBS (local bike shop) can be a life saver. As you can imagine, many won't like it if someone buys a bike online real cheap, but in the wrong size, that person tinkers with it and screws something up, and then complains that repairs by qualified individuals cost money. Don't be that guy. Most bike shops have trouble staying afloat these days, and even many of us who know some basics of bike maintenance rely on their services every once in a while.

Regarding rim vs. disc brakes: most new models are disc brake only, and even if they are not, unless you are really, really strapped for cash (which the OP seemingly isn't), I wouldn't advise getting a rim brake bike at this point. If you ride very little, they require virtually no maintenance as they are selfadjusting. Just stay on top of brake pad wear and clear pads and discs with alcohol every once in a while.

If you are new to bike maintenance, I'd recommend you do what I did for 15+ years: give the bike to the bike shop you trust, tell them to inspect it thoroughly and fix everything that is wrong. Sometimes they'll replace your shifter cables, they might bleed your brakes, adjust your shifting, etc. and your bike will feel like new. If only a few things had to be done to it, I don't think I paid more than 5,000–8,000 ¥ for a service, depending on whether e. g. I needed new brake pads or cables.
 

Ratchet21

Speeding Up
Sep 7, 2020
115
84
That's a good idea, as long as you keep in mind that in Japan you will have trouble finding frames of size 56 cm and up. And I would resist the temptation to buy even your dream bike in a size that isn't right for you.

Speaking of size, do you know what frame size you need? Fit >>> components, frame material. Ideally you should ask for a bike fit when you buy your new bike. Don't be afraid to change saddle, handlebars and stem. Saddles in particular are a very personal item, just like shoes, a lot really depends on your anatomy, what is a great saddle for one is a nightmare for another.

Unlikely. Shimano will release a new version of DuraAce next year, and it'll be at least another year until Shimano releases new versions of Ultegra and 105. If that's what's holding you up, you'll be waiting a much longer time than you'd want.

About fit, I'm around 173-174cm in height, so for this specific model I'm either 52 or 54 which I have yet to decide on.
I did find a really well priced 56cm (The site says its for 175cm rider) but am afraid the fit will be bad for me.

Understood about Shimano's release, now I have 0 worries at all about 105!

OP you need to find out what size bike best fits you and what brakes you want.

Rim brakes you will be able to pick up cheaper than discs. Probably discs are more reliable and require less fussing around with but servicing I'd suggest you get done at a shop once a year or less depending on your distance spent riding.

Most good LBS will service any bike, the one's that don't aren't worth dropping your money in.

We bought our son's bike a specialized from this shop and were very satisfied. I do the servicing but the shop sent it out pretty much ready to go.

Size is what you should be considering first and a good Local Bke Shop as well.

bout shop that service the bike, does that mean not all shop will provide after sales service? or do you mean shop that provide free servicing after purchase?

that is something to ask at time of purchase but generally new you get a year of serving thrown in, used, you pay for anything required. YMMV. good luck

As i have never had a bike with disc brake before, I am thinking of getting a road bike with it.
There is 3 LBS around my house but unfortunately they don't carry any brand that I am interested in, will definitely use their service for the bike maintenance in the future and thank you for the shop link!

To re-emphasize to what @kiwisimon is saying, because I think it is really good advice: for a beginner I think it would be useful to find a quality bike shop that not only advises you before and after your purchase, but also does maintenance. You will pay more, but having connections to a LBS (local bike shop) can be a life saver. As you can imagine, many won't like it if someone buys a bike online real cheap, but in the wrong size, that person tinkers with it and screws something up, and then complains that repairs by qualified individuals cost money. Don't be that guy. Most bike shops have trouble staying afloat these days, and even many of us who know some basics of bike maintenance rely on their services every once in a while.

Regarding rim vs. disc brakes: most new models are disc brake only, and even if they are not, unless you are really, really strapped for cash (which the OP seemingly isn't), I wouldn't advise getting a rim brake bike at this point. If you ride very little, they require virtually no maintenance as they are selfadjusting. Just stay on top of brake pad wear and clear pads and discs with alcohol every once in a while.

If you are new to bike maintenance, I'd recommend you do what I did for 15+ years: give the bike to the bike shop you trust, tell them to inspect it thoroughly and fix everything that is wrong. Sometimes they'll replace your shifter cables, they might bleed your brakes, adjust your shifting, etc. and your bike will feel like new. If only a few things had to be done to it, I don't think I paid more than 5,000–8,000 ¥ for a service, depending on whether e. g. I needed new brake pads or cables.

Yes, I agree! I'm lucky to have really good and friendly mechanic that work on my folding bike, but their shop only specializes in folding bike so I might explore other LBS for the road bike after I have one. The only problem is I am not sure if any LBS sell Specialized bike, because so far I think they only sell it through their own physical shop and their online shop (which both are out of stock now...). Will definitely still look around more!

Few additional question will be:
1. Is the cycling shoe important? I just cycle with my sneaker so far.
2. Do i measure my fit with my cycling shoe or without any footwear?

Thanks again for all the kind advice, I really appreciate everyone's help here!
 

OreoCookie

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Dec 2, 2017
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About fit, I'm around 173-174cm in height, so for this specific model I'm either 52 or 54 which I have yet to decide on.
I did find a really well priced 56cm (The site says its for 175cm rider) but am afraid the fit will be bad for me.
I would strongly encourage you to actually try both sizes and get advice. For example, I am 1.78 m but have long limbs. So on paper I could ride 54 cm frames, but they all feel way too cramped — because I am literally cramped into it.

This is usually a good test for whether the salesperson is worth their salt: ask them what size you need and look how they react. Once I got the answer “Don't you know?” (Yes, but wrong answer.)
As i have never had a bike with disc brake before, I am thinking of getting a road bike with it.
There is 3 LBS around my house but unfortunately they don't carry any brand that I am interested in, will definitely use their service for the bike maintenance in the future and thank you for the shop link!
I wouldn't get too attached to any brand at this point. Specialized makes great bikes, but so do a lot of other brands. In fact, if you can test ride bikes, try other brands. Fit >>> components, frame, brand.
Few additional question will be:
1. Is the cycling shoe important? I just cycle with my sneaker so far.
2. Do i measure my fit with my cycling shoe or without any footwear?

Thanks again for all the kind advice, I really appreciate everyone's help here!
If you are completely new to it, you can start without it. For beginners I would recommend mountain bike pedals, which are easier to clip into and out of. Plus, mountain bike shoes are walkable. Some cycling shops will scoff at this idea (Mountain bike pedals on a road bike? Sacrilege!), but it's fine. You can find off-road shoes these days that are every bit as stiff as all, but the top-top-top-end road shoes. While stiffer shoes distribute the force more evenly across your sole, it is much harder to walk in them.

I did thousands of kilometers and several races with mountain bike pedals on a road bike and it was just fine. I won Ultegra pedals in our team raffle at our team's bōnenkai last year, so I finally got my first pair of road shoes.

With regards to fit, that's a rat's nest. Just like with all other types of shoes, it depends. If you can find shoes that fit you in regular shoe stores (like ABC shoes), then you will be fine. I'm not one of those people, I have wide feet and need to special order cycling shoes. Some brands have a narrower fit, others have a wider fit. It's best that you try the shoes on yourself. Just make sure the shoes fit, because bike shoes are designed to be stiffer so they won't wear in as much, if that makes any sense.
 

Ratchet21

Speeding Up
Sep 7, 2020
115
84
I would strongly encourage you to actually try both sizes and get advice. For example, I am 1.78 m but have long limbs. So on paper I could ride 54 cm frames, but they all feel way too cramped — because I am literally cramped into it.

This is usually a good test for whether the salesperson is worth their salt: ask them what size you need and look how they react. Once I got the answer “Don't you know?” (Yes, but wrong answer.)

I wouldn't get too attached to any brand at this point. Specialized makes great bikes, but so do a lot of other brands. In fact, if you can test ride bikes, try other brands. Fit >>> components, frame, brand.

If you are completely new to it, you can start without it. For beginners I would recommend mountain bike pedals, which are easier to clip into and out of. Plus, mountain bike shoes are walkable. Some cycling shops will scoff at this idea (Mountain bike pedals on a road bike? Sacrilege!), but it's fine. You can find off-road shoes these days that are every bit as stiff as all, but the top-top-top-end road shoes. While stiffer shoes distribute the force more evenly across your sole, it is much harder to walk in them.

I did thousands of kilometers and several races with mountain bike pedals on a road bike and it was just fine. I won Ultegra pedals in our team raffle at our team's bōnenkai last year, so I finally got my first pair of road shoes.

With regards to fit, that's a rat's nest. Just like with all other types of shoes, it depends. If you can find shoes that fit you in regular shoe stores (like ABC shoes), then you will be fine. I'm not one of those people, I have wide feet and need to special order cycling shoes. Some brands have a narrower fit, others have a wider fit. It's best that you try the shoes on yourself. Just make sure the shoes fit, because bike shoes are designed to be stiffer so they won't wear in as much, if that makes any sense.

Got it!
Thanks for all the advice! Hope to be able to ride with everyone someday when I got all of this in order!
 

speedwobble

Scorpions - I can't get enough!
Jun 26, 2017
158
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I'd buy something used, on the assumption that you will not know your best size and geo, possibly even your goals, till you've ridden a while. Spend the money you save on cycling wear, shoes and pedals, a head unit, and tools. I understand wanting something good enough to last a few years, but you have to remember that the industry is extremely skilled at making you want another bike. The more you get into cycling the more better bikes you will see and the more this will hit you. There is always new tech just around the corner, 12-speed Shimano, etc. etc.

For Japan, buy something with gears that let you climb steep slopes without redlining.
 

OreoCookie

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For Japan, buy something with gears that let you climb steep slopes without redlining.
That's a great point. If you own an 11-speed Shimano drive train, you can also buy a Wolftooth extender and use an 11-36, 11-40 or 11-42 mountain bike cassette and/or use smaller chainrings in the front. If you have some basic tools, you can do all this yourself and it won't cost you much more than $100 or so. Especially for beginners, road bike gearing is IMHO still way too tall.
 

Ratchet21

Speeding Up
Sep 7, 2020
115
84
I'd buy something used, on the assumption that you will not know your best size and geo, possibly even your goals, till you've ridden a while. Spend the money you save on cycling wear, shoes and pedals, a head unit, and tools. I understand wanting something good enough to last a few years, but you have to remember that the industry is extremely skilled at making you want another bike. The more you get into cycling the more better bikes you will see and the more this will hit you. There is always new tech just around the corner, 12-speed Shimano, etc. etc.

For Japan, buy something with gears that let you climb steep slopes without redlining.

Thank you for the advise! Yes I am currently looking at 2nd hand because the model I want does not seem to be in stock until end of year...
And yes coming from other hobby before cycling I can totally relate to your comment about how the industry always try to make us spend money haha.
Looking at something maybe 11-speed or similar for now!
 

stu_kawagoe

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Jun 23, 2018
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The Roubaix looks like a nice bike. FYI, I got quoted180,000 just Ultegra Di2 (no crank) at my LBS so it’s not a bad deal really if you have that kind of money to spend. Also, from what I’ve heard it functions just the same as Dura-Ace

Personally, I wouldn’t buy second hand. I thought about it when I was looking to buy my bike but I decided I’d prefer the after service from my LBS, which has been excellent BTW. You also don’t have to worry if the bike’s been crashed and there’s structural damage you don’t know about.

I saw this the other day on GCN about buying a second hand bike, which might be useful.


If you want a relatively cheap endurance bike, the Canyon AL2 Disc is good. Unfortunately, the wait times seem to be a bit long at the moment.

 
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