I guess I have some insightful input on this topic. I started off road cycling on a Time Edge VX. It was a super nice and comfy riding bike. Not the stiffest of Carbon bikes out there, but super comfy and flex dripping. The flex made it a comfort bike for longer rides and even with my Tubular wheels, it weighed around 15lbs or something in that range. I sold that bike for something stiffer. I wanted a more spirited bike, so I got a smoking deal on a Cervelo R3SL. I don't think it's gets any stiffer than the R3SL. I loved the way the Cervelo climbed in the hills, but the lack of turn in and handling on that bike was downright scary. I had a lengthy conversation with a friend and frame builder and he went to a Cervelo factory tour or something rather. He asked the engineer about hos they choose the rake on their forks and the Cervelo guys looked puzzled. Could be cycling folklore, but I know my R3SL didn't turn in for shit. I over shot every simple turn and then it would turn in super hard. So unpredictable. I had one too many scary descents on that bike, so I sold it for a smoking deal on a Parlee Z4. One of the main factors to rid myself of the R3SL was the torture on my body after long rides. My body would ache forever it seemed. I needed comfort.
Now the Parlee Z4 was what I thought at the time, the best of both bikes I previously owned. I now had a bike that handled on rails, but didn't have a billy goat spirit in the hills, but it was no slouch. The Z4 didn't jump ahead when I would get out of the saddle on long sustained climbs that we have in LA. I loved my Parlee Z4, but a couple of friends had Z5's and explained to me, that all of my Z4 gripes were fixed on the Z5. I held off on buying a Z5 for a year or longer. My Z5 just kept knocking out long climbs and fast paced rides with ease. So a couple of years go by on the Z4 and I come across a deal on a new Speedvagen in my size. Kind of pricey, but I hear custom steel is the ultimate. I sold the Z4 and waited for my Speedvagen. The downtime between bikes was around 2-3 months off of the bike, no cardio or anything. I worked out in the gym, but little cardio and no running, etc.
So now the Speedvagen arrives. I build it up with Campy Super Record 11 and the total weight is around 15.8lbs with clincher daily wheels. The lightest my Parlee was, I think was about 14lbs, so a 1-2lb gain for custom steel wasn't that much of a weight loss. I'm sure once I slap on some Enve 45's the bike will be in the 14lb range, and this is a 58cm steel bike. I've heard rumors of ISP being too stiff, but this was on carbon. ISP on steel simply works. It's like magic or something. The Speedvagen is hands down the best bike I've ridden out of the previous 3 I've owned. I mean the ride smoothness can't be descried in words. This bike just floats over the rough stuff. I've been off of my bike for about 3 months, and in the first month on my Speedvagen I've beat all of my personal records on Strava. Not much to gauge off of and I'm not a strava geek, just find it strange that a heavier bike and my out of shape form is churning out faster times up hills I flew up on my Parlee. Sacha White knows what he's doing in Portland, because this bike is truly amazing. If you have a chance to get custom steel, do it.
Carbon is so this year next year. how many people are still raving about Tarmac SL2's or SL3's with the SL4 being on the market? Not many right. This steel bike is timeless and if I wanted, I could send it back to Vanilla for a new paint scheme in a couple of years. I don't care what kind of carbon bike you buy, the ride will not equate to what you get on steel. Me personally I feel like Carbon deflects the terrain to the rider, where as steel absorbs all of that making a smoother ride which allows you to pedal more and efficiently. I did a 70 mile, 7,000ft climbing ride yesterday here in LA and my average up the entire Angeles Crest was 3mph faster than on my Parlee and I held it the entire climb. That's simply insane, considering I've only done 5-7 rides on this bike since owning it. STEEL IS REAL! So in conclusion, if you have a chance to get custom steel over a carbon bike, do it. A custom steel bike is a bike you can own forver, or even send it back to the builder for revisions. I asked to send my Parlee back for a reapint and was quoted $1200. WTF? I said it's a frame not a car. Bob Parlee and his guys have lost sight a little bit in my eyes. The pricing is out of control. I can paint my Audi A4 wagon for $1200, not a taiwanese carbon made bicycle. The Z4 is made in Taiwan.... My bikes below.
Time Edge VX (1st Bike)
Cervelo R3SL (2nd Bike)
Parlee Z4 (3rd Bike)
Speedvagen (4th and last bike)