Some Background On My Entry-Level Road Bike Search

I want to follow up to my own earlier entry about buying my first road bike. I’m pretty data-driven, and knew next to nothing about road bikes when I started looking. I still know very little, but thought my search might help the next first-time buyer who finds this blog.

After doing a lot of research, I determined that the vast majority of local bike store’s (LBS) carry at least several of these brands: Cannondale, Felt, Trek, and Scott. The Trek 1.1 was the least expensive at $740, then the Felt Z100 at $809, the Cannondale CAAD8 2300 at $830, and then the Scott Speedster 50 at $880.

Now, these are entry-level, so no aerobars, and every dealer will stress they have entry-level components. But I was looking for something to get me started, something I could ride in several sprint tri’s, and decide if I even wanted to do more than this. I put together this spreadsheet listing the four bike models mentioned above, plus the Trek 1.2 and Felt Z95, both of which are more expensive (more on that in a minute).

The Trek 1.1 is the only one of these bikes that does not have a carbon front fork, and everything I had read said I would notice the difference a carbon front fork would provide. Except for this, all the first four models have very similar components. For instance, they all have the Shimano 2300 STI cranksets, which is an 8 speed. The two more expensive models have the Shimano Sora crankset, a 9 speed. I was told that another difference in these is that the less expensive a crankset, the more plastic parts are used, so they wear out more quickly.

So it became test ride time, and here’s the funny part – if the bikes all have the same basic components, and you’re a new rider, it seems to me it all just comes down to which one feels best when you test ride it. And if they all feel the same after your test rides, then maybe just buy the one with the paint job you like the most!

My LBS did not have either the Trek 1.1 or the Felt Z100 in my frame size, but wanted to make me a deal on either the Trek 1.2 or Felt Z95 because they had those in my frame size and they were both already in their inventory. So after some negotiating, I got the Trek 1.2 at a nice discount and they got me to pay more than I was planning. So don’t be shy about telling them what your budget is, or asking about any models that they might make a deal on, or maybe even about used bikes.

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