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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 11:44 pm 
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Well written review - You've come a long way from being a complete antinomy to all things "specialized" (your earlier blogs) to a specialized "poster boy" :)
I did read all your blog posts about 12 month or so ago, so I do recall how you've discovered the "world" of organised "racketeering" aka specialized, while working in the bike shop.

Either way, couldn't agree more with you re: SL4. Have one myself and absolutely love it. I do want to know little more about the "issues" with BMC frames cracking. I am currently looking for a TT bike and BMC TM01 is on my list (as well as SHIV TT UCI legal version).

Would you care to elaborate?

Thanks
Vlad


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Posted: Thu May 03, 2012 11:44 pm 


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 12:40 am 
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Posts: 761
Location: Perth, Western Australia
Nice review KHD, it's a pity you are too big for the Z5. I'm 6'4" and right on the edge size wise with the XL tall. It is a pity that many of the Italian brands don't make bikes suitable for taller riders. Colnago is probably the brand with the widest size range, and a C59 was a close contender when I bought my Parlee Z5, but I have had absolutely no regrets on this choice as the Parlee has delivered, racing a few Crits, Masters road races and a few epic rides - 1000km in 6 days and a few long 200-250km events.
The Specialized SL4 does ride really nicely, probably the closest in characteristic to the Z5. It is definitely a fair improvement over the SL3 which was a pretty good bike.
Glad to hear the big S seems to have sorted paint issues as some of the previous models had some QC issues with paint.

A Colnago C59 or EPQ is still on my radar, but I do find that weight wise they are lagging and the WW bug has bitten, so a little hesitant in buying a heavier frame, although ride quality does count for a lot, specially when you get older. I found the C59 to have a really nice ride quality and finish was superb. The sad thing in Australia is that their frames are about 70-80% more expensive than the SL4, but they can be sourced at a better price from abroad, however you then have warranty issues being complicated.

I am really surprised you didn't even take a Madone SSL for a test ride. In my opinion there is little
to choose between the SL4 and SSL ride wise, and Trek do 3 head tube sizes, and also custom paint and build if using Bontrager parts, but only offer the SSL frameset in H1 head tube in Australia, otherwise you need to buy a complete bike, but some dealers will sell you the frame and use parts on another build. One thing I do like about Trek is the integrated duotap, which integrates your cadence/speed sensor into the chain stay. A really neat touch considering nearly everyone uses a computer of some sort on their bike

Some feedback on longterm quality and long ride comfort would be great.

Cheers
Ozrider

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Parlee Z5 XL 2011 (6055g/13.32lbs) Raleigh RC Ltd 2008 (7.6kg) Reynolds 653 Custom 1990 (9.8kg, now 8.8kg)
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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 7:50 am 
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Maybe your are right and I do believe that they ride very well. The fact is that most Italian racers are not stiff enough for my weight, and not come in the right frame size for my lenght. I think that when they are stiff enough they are heavy comparing to other high end brands.
I did not want to offend anybody. I certainly would like to have a fine Italian racer, but as a bike on the side. Not my primary all day race bike.
The big + for me of the better high end Italian racebikes is the styling and love for details and paint, but maybe I will discover a lot more when trying one. :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 1:23 pm 
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poppiholla:

You'll note that I'm only talking about the Fenomalist... I've zero experience with other models in the Storck range.

I would agree with you regarding Italian bikes - it's a fact (as opposed to someone's opinion) that frames like the Pinarello Dogma and Dogma 2 are heavier than their non-Italian counterparts. Wilier are also heavier. Colnago are heavier.

Italian bike lovers will tell you that it's all about how the frames ride, and they may well be correct... I'll never know as they only make their frames in toy sizes, not for people my size. Which is something you'd think I would be used to by now (wanted to buy a Lotus Elise - couldn't fit in it, wanted to buy a Porsche 911 - couldn't fit in it, wanted a Wilier Zero 7 - couldn't fit it), but I'm constantly annoyed by manufacturers bothering to make something and then deciding to NOT make it in large sizes.

Ozrider: Thank you. Yes, it is a pity that I'm too big for the Z5; I would love one! But I have the Z1 - and that's not a bad position to be in really!

Regarding the Trek issue - the fact of the matter is that we have very few Trek dealers around here and they simply weren't on my radar. I'm sure they're great bikes, but they're not in the fore-front of my mind because nobody around here is selling them.

As for the built-in speed/cadence sensor, I'm in two minds about this. Giant do the same thing and at first blush it seems like one of those 'why didn't I think of that' moments. BUT as we know from the teachings of Bob Parlee - every time you cut or put a hole in carbon tubes, you weaken them. That requires reinforcement and that means a possible point of failure. I'm happy enough with the Garmin lash-up for now.

As for long term quality, I'll be happy to report back in a few months after the winter rains have had their way with her. Long ride comfort is another story... at the moment I'm very comfy for about 60 k. After that I have to stand. It's the saddle I'm afraid. It's simply not particularly comfortable. But then, it is more a crit saddle (uber light weight), so not really meant for all day efforts.

I'm trialling one of the new(ish) Roman Evo Pro saddles at the moment and will let you know what it's like in terms of comfort after I've put a few hundred k on it.

Cheers.
Cheers.

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My opinion is just that - mine. My opinions are based on my experiences, not yours. Yes, I do have experience, I have thought this through and yes, that really is what I think.


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 1:35 pm 
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vladt wrote:
Well written review - You've come a long way from being a complete antinomy to all things "specialized" (your earlier blogs) to a specialized "poster boy" :)
I did read all your blog posts about 12 month or so ago, so I do recall how you've discovered the "world" of organised "racketeering" aka specialized, while working in the bike shop.

Either way, couldn't agree more with you re: SL4. Have one myself and absolutely love it. I do want to know little more about the "issues" with BMC frames cracking. I am currently looking for a TT bike and BMC TM01 is on my list (as well as SHIV TT UCI legal version).

Would you care to elaborate?

Thanks
Vlad


Hi Vlad,

Yes, I certainly do appear to be a convert don't I?

To be brutally clear here: I love Specialized top tier bikes. I think that the S-Works range really is cutting edge and believe that the company should be congratulated for even bothering to produce such a range of halo bikes. S-Works doesn't account for a very large percentage of their sales, so they're not doing it specifically for the money.

I DO NOT like Specialized business ethics (or lack thereof) though. They really are like a form of cancer to a bike shop - once they get in, they push out any other brand and do their utmost to indoctrinate the shop workers.

You may be interested to know that I'm no longer working at that shop (or, in fact in the industry). Specifically because I didn't agree with the way Specialized operates.

They wanted me to drink the cool-aid. I refused. I left.

You'd think after all that I wouldn't want anything to do with Specialized products. Perhaps that speaks to how good they actually are (at this level at any rate).

DISCLAIMER: I don't work for a bike shop, bike manufacturer or distributor. I don't work for anyone who has even the most remote thing to do with the bike industry in general or Specialized in particular!

Re the BMC issue: we would frequently see BMC's come in to the shop that had suffered stress fractures to the insertion point of the seat tube. Because of the design (how the top tube meets the seat tube very low down), there is an inordinate amount of stress placed on the rear of the post entry point in the seat tube. BMC distribution in Australia is handled by Echelon Sports who will most probably deny this is an issue. Every single interaction I had with Echelon Sports over my 18 months in the industry was poor. To be fair to them as a company, I did only have interaction with the rep who was a complete and utter prick (if he's reading this, please feel free to contact me - now that I don't work in the industry anymore I can tell you freely what I think of you), so my opinion of them as a company was very coloured by my dealings with the rep. An interesting aside: he was sacked by them a few months ago. Good move by Echelon if you ask me.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there for the issue at hand. I can tell you that we did see a lot of BMCs with this problem. They may well have addressed it in some way, but as of 6 months ago we were still seeing this issue.

I always thought it was a shame as I really like the look and ride of their bikes.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 3:05 pm 
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Posts: 636
i guess once you drink the specialized cool-aid the effect last awhile ;)

every pro review i read about the sl4 state the frame is too stiff. evo has won every shootout vs s-brand.

http://www.roadbike.de/test/bikes/im-ro ... 5636.9.htm

tour mag bike of the year. article non-online

velo(france) gave it a best buy. sl4 was considered too stiff...

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 3:40 pm 
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Too stiff? I guess there's a difference between too stiff and too harsh.

A frame can be stiff but not harsh, as I found the SL 4. A frame can be stiff and too harsh as I found the Evo.

I personally know a pro who sold his Evo and bought an SL 4 specifically because the ride in the Evo was, in his words 'fine for 30k, but any more and it got very uncomfortable very quickly'.

Bike Radar seem to like the SL 4:http://m.bikeradar.com/gear/category/bikes/road/product/review-specialized-s-works-tarmac-sl4-di2-12-45826 as do Peloton magazine... And big Tom appears to do pretty well on his too!

Having said all that, I'm always a bit wary of magazine reviews etc. even those that agree with me. You never know who is paying their bills. I trust my own ride tests and the thoughts of my friends.

Of course, my review was simply what I thought, not what I think others should do. Apart from the Storck and Cervelo comments - people should take those parts as gospel.

If you like your Evo and it makes you happy and want to ride more, good - that's a great thing and should be celebrated.

Perhaps you could give us a review of it?

Cheers.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 3:52 pm 
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Location: Athens, Greece
khdroberts wrote:
I'm always a bit wary of magazine reviews etc. even those that agree with me. You never know who is paying their bills. I trust my own ride tests and the thoughts of my friends.

Totally agree.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 5:01 pm 
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Guys - finally got around to snapping a couple of pics (rain stopped for the afternoon!). Here's the link:

http://veloveblog.posterous.com/specialized-s-works-tarmac-sl-4-the-pictures

Be warned - she's a bright young thing; you may need your sunnies on! :lol:

Cheers!

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 5:56 pm 
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You sure do like pink! :mrgreen: Great bike and great setup although pink is a little bit too much for me. :lol:

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 6:19 pm 
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It's more that I like what's not common than that I like pink in particular.

Although, I do ride in Rapha a fair bit - their black and pink gear matches this build quite well!

Call this one a tribute to the Maglia Rosa.

It's also pretty nice to see the looks on all those he-men types on the road when a screamingly pink bike passes them... and stays away!

As a friend of mine said when he saw it for the first time 'you're gonna want to have some pretty damned good legs to ride that thing'.

I guess I better make sure I keep up the trainer over the rainy winter eh?!

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 6:25 pm 
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Posts: 79
It got soul! Pink with purple wheels. Nice. Thats a bike with confidense.
It could use black brakes and crankset. Or that could just be my preference. Weight?


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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 7:24 pm 
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Darkblue08: No, you are exactly correct - it needs black brake calipers... That's exactly why I've got a set of SRAM Red Black calipers on order. Should be on the bike in a couple of weeks.

The cranks are staying as is... But the front and rear dérailleur may be replaced by SRAM Red black - although I do like the idea of the new SRAM Red, so may just wait until funds allow the purchase of that group set.

Weight as is - with cage, pedals, computer and lights is a light-ish 6.7 kilo.

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PostPosted: Fri May 04, 2012 9:57 pm 
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Location: Germany
khdroberts, you definetely picked a great frame, possibly one of the best currently around. And your build is also self confident as well as distinctive - again congratulations.
BUT: No way you rode all these bikes in the correct size, with the same wheels, tires, tire pressures and components in the same conditions on the same terrain and with the same level of fitness/exhaustion. And only then, imho, a comparison really makes sense (which is a reason why most magazine reviews are pure BS).
Furthermore, those well reputed brands you openly bash in your review (and that are quite poular on this forum - for a reason) build frames of equal performance to yours. I'd thus just recommend to write about things you can really judge (= your bike) and keep quit on things you probably only know superficially (at best). It doesn't make your bike any better.

BTW: I ride a 695, so I don't feel personally offended. ;-)

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Posted: Fri May 04, 2012 9:57 pm 


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PostPosted: Sat May 05, 2012 5:46 am 
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Thanks for the compliment!

Yes, you're right, I didn't lab test these bikes, but I have enough experience to discern which components contribute what effect to the riding experience.

I'm sorry that you don't agree with me regarding the Storck and Cervelo - but infering that they're good simply because they're popular is utterly incorrect. Popularity does not necessarily equate to quality as we all should know. After all, Mc Donalds outsells many an excellent restaurant - that doesn't make it good. And my experience with these brands isn't negated simply because others disagree. It is what it is.

For what it's worth, the authority I bring to this conversation stems from many years experience within the cycling industry where I was exposed to many, many brands and had the option to ride many combinations of pretty much every available component and hear feedback from all levels of the cycling community. It also stems from my conversations with and feedback from industry insiders (such as pro-tour mechanics, fabricators, team owners, pro riders), of course, one needs to temper some of this feedback with an awareness of how professional loyalties my be informing their opinions. But I consider myself intelligent enough to be able to get a pretty shrewd idea of how these things stack up.

My aim here (on this forum and also on my blog) is to add yet another insight into how certain bikes ride. I don't expect or desire people to rely solely on my research or the opinions I form, nor have I set myself up as the single authoritative voice on these matters. However, I do expect that my experience and knowledge will draw at least a little respect.

Bikes are an expensive proposition - for us, the consumer, it's really a case of the more insight, the better.

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