Thursday, September 2, 2010

Brent's Bike Bonanza

Cannondale Six CarbonImage by Dave Haygarth via Flickr
By Brent:
About a year ago, Jeff and I started tinkering with the idea of getting back on the bikes. Our youth, that I remember, is mostly of us getting outside and riding. Not the occasional here and there, but at all times riding. Making "race tracks" on the church parking lot with each of us remembering where the track was in relation to the parking lot lines. Biking was not seasonal. It was mandatory. Snow would fall, we would ride. We would go as far to make paths in the snow in the driveway, into the garage, and (for some reason) ice up parts of the track to make it more "fun". We even invited two of our friends over one year for a big race (that I won). We rode anything we could find, including Jeff's mom's three wheeled, basket toting bike limo. I think the only time's we got in trouble was for what we were doing on bikes. Riding through the grave yard on Hively, or digging up the grass from racing around the pool on Coolidge Ave.
When Jeff (or I) came up with the hair brained idea of trying to ride to Noblesville by bike, the biking bug exploded again. We borrowed two poorly fitting, tired, yet functional bikes from two guys we barely knew and tossed them as far down the road as we could. Our efforts came up short of Noblesville, but even factoring in the horrid weather conditions, it was a great trip. We knew then that we wanted back out on the roads riding again.
Jeff and I visited as many local shops as we could. We saw almost every major brand of bike out there. Trek, Giant, Specialized, Felt, Cannondale, Kona, Fuji, Scott, Jamis, Bianchi.... and I could go on. We visited many stores. Pro Form, Elkhart Bicycle, Spin Zone, Outpost, Albrights and again, we could go on but one brand and one bike store stood out.
Cannondale at Spin Zone. Jeff and I are tech geeks. We know by the books the details as well as any sales person. We were always approached by sales people, but at Spin Zone, Sarah made it a little easier for us to ask our dumb questions. Sure we knew the bikes by the digits, but as soon as it came down to fitting and purpose, we never thought about that.
I wanted a do-it-all bike. I want to ride a century (100 miles). I want to do Triathlons and Dualthons. I want to commute to and from work. I don't want to steal my kids college fund to buy a bike either.
The first bike I was set upon was the CAAD 9 5. I was fitted for a 60 but I fought Spin Zone's judgement and went with a 58. The geometry was okay but the ride was punishing. Jeff was in great comfort but I couldn't get over how abusive the make up of this aluminum bike was. We left and returned a couple weeks later for a Thursday night group ride. I was excited about this nights group ride. Spin Zone had assembled bike's for Jeff and I, but I had recieved a call informing me the SIX Carbon 6 I was testing was damaged in the box so I was going to be sampling a bike I had only dreamed of. The Felt F5 Team. At $2400, this was no bike to take lightly. 3T components. Fizik saddle, 105 gruppo, areo rims and a great FELT racing team graphics. It looked AMAZING. I sat upon this dream ride and with in 3 miles was ready to toss it to the gravel pit. How in the world can a carbon bike costing almost $1,000 more than an aluminum bike be no better feeling? I finished the 26.6 mile ride very confused.
Sarah from Spin Zone called back a week or so later and had brought in and assembled a bike for me. A Cannondale SIX Carbon 6 in a 58. Had it assembled and waiting for me to come test ride. A while later I returned for a ride and before I got out of the parking lot realized I made a mistake. The 58 was too small. Sarah went back in and brought out a 60 but in a model one step up. This brought me up to a 105 gruppo (10 speeds on a full double), RS10 wheel set and more full carbon specs than the model I just sampled. I set out for a fast and pleasant 4 mile ride. I left the store very happy, yet empty handed. I knew I needed to talk to some other stores, talk to the wife, and I wanted Jeff to join me on a longer test ride. After good talks with Elkhart Bicycle and Pro Form I returned with my fellow rider and his Cannondale and we went out for an 11 mile ride. We returned and made I made my purchase.
The 2010 Cannondale SIX Carbon 5 was the winner. It serves its purposes. I love the comfort. I can ride it for good distances. It is aggressive enough in the geometry to race or fit clip on bars to and do tri's. I was torn if I should wait for the 2011 but was informed the SIX model was being dropped and "upgraded" to the Super Six. The problem there is that takes away some of the comfort and sits you into the bike even more aggressively and as nice as that would be for the tri's, it isn't as great for my commuting and leisurely riding which will be more common than the tri's.
Befrore leaving the store we set the bike up on a stationary trainer and I was measured for angles and moved and asked questions about my comfort. We tweaked a couple things and Jeff and I headed back home. I have only added another 25 miles to the bike so far but I look forward to adding many more, and taking another stab at Noblesville!
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