New to cycling // 2014 Specialized Allez

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lrdunc
Posts: 340
Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2014 4:45 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

by lrdunc

Hi everyone,

I am a 28 year old guy, born and raised in Southern California, currently in Santa Monica. 5'9'' / 175cm; 153lbs / 69kg. I have been cycling now for about 4 months and can say with certainty that I'm hooked. I've always been exposed to cycling as my dad has ridden for nearly 40 years now (he has a 1980 Pinarello Treviso and a LOOK 585, both of which he has built up), but for whatever reason it took me this long to take the plunge.

Money no object, I would have built something up (F8 for Monday/Wednesday/Friday, LOOK 795 for Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday, naturally), but of course money is always an object. After doing some initial research, I decided to get this 2014 Specialized Allez Sport, 54cm:

Image

I have ridden 1,300 miles / 2,092km so far and feel like I am finally starting to build up some stamina. Of course, this bike isn't even on the same planet as the vast majority of bikes on these forums, but what can I say? I am enjoying it thus far. Also, I can't really complain as I was able to purchase the bike new for USD $729 pre-tax.

I don't really see the point in breaking down the component list as there just isn't anything special going on here. That said, here is what I've added so far:

- Conti GP4000SII tires, 25mm
- Thomson Elite post, 188g
- Fizik Arione Versus saddle w/ K:IUM rails, 239g
- Ritchey WCS 4-Axis stem, 130mm, 120g
- Speedplay Zero Chrome-Moly, 216g/pair
- BlackBurn carbon cages, 54g/pair

Biggest cons with the bike (I realize there are many...be kind here):

- 9 speed Sora groupset
- stock wheels

With respect to the groupset, I just can't afford SRAM Red / Dura Ace. Is it worth trying to find a deal on Ultegra? Or should I just stick with what I've got?

With respect to the wheels, I am at a loss. I've done a lot of reading and I think have narrowed down some options, but am hoping that the wisdom of these boards can guide me through the process. Essentially at this point I'm thinking about:

- HED Ardennes Plus SL
- Reynolds Attack carbon
- Fulcrum Zero Nite
- find a set of older Shamal Mille Ultra / Fulcrum Zero Dark for a good deal?
- some sort of custom build?

It is so difficult to figure out the best route. Should I find a good deal on a used set and forego the wider profile? Or should I hold out and buy something 24mm / 25mm wide? There are so many options it's mind-numbing. As I'm sure is evident from the rest of my post, the wheelset would be my "best and only" set...Additional considerations: I want the hub to sound like a swarm of locusts and, aesthetically, something sort of blacked-out would be nice.

In any event, thank you in advance for your time and guidance. It's really a pleasure to troll the boards and learn about the crazy stuff you all purchase / build :)
Last edited by lrdunc on Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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ophiravina
Posts: 125
Joined: Thu Sep 26, 2013 5:44 pm

by ophiravina

very nice bike and paint :-)
I would with either the hed wheels or mavic ksyrium, the wheel swap would make the bigest diffrence.
as for the groupset you should try both sram force and ultegra. they are the best bang for the $ and you whould feel a lot of diffrence in comprasion to the sora, even if you go for older 10 speed groupset to save money.
If you do go for 11 speed you should change the wheels first becouse I dont think your hub will accept 11 speed cassete.
2016 scott adictt 10:
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2015 sworks tarmac :
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by Weenie


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lrdunc
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Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2014 4:45 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

by lrdunc

ophiravina wrote:very nice bike and paint :-)
I would with either the hed wheels or mavic ksyrium, the wheel swap would make the bigest diffrence.
as for the groupset you should try both sram force and ultegra. they are the best bang for the $ and you whould feel a lot of diffrence in comprasion to the sora, even if you go for older 10 speed groupset to save money.
If you do go for 11 speed you should change the wheels first becouse I dont think your hub will accept 11 speed cassete.


Hey thanks :)

It looks like a new SRAM Force 10-speed group can be had for under $700 according to a few eBay listings. That seems pretty reasonable...

The Ksyrium SLS or SLR both look really nice. What about rim width, though? It's aggravating that it's so difficult to find rim width listed...depth is almost always listed, but width is almost never listed...

mdusink
Posts: 47
Joined: Fri Aug 23, 2013 7:39 pm

by mdusink

As you are considering wheels and group, go with the new shimano 105 11 speed and get a decent shimano wheelset. Perhaps the rs81 c24.

After that, go for the one major thing that changed my cycling: a powermeter. You will train better, dial in your fit, you won't blow money on stuff that will only have marginal gains. There are many out there. It doesn't need to be super high tech, as long as it is consistent. Also, quit a lot new cheaper ones are coming out.

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lrdunc
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Location: Los Angeles, CA

by lrdunc

mdusink wrote:As you are considering wheels and group, go with the new shimano 105 11 speed and get a decent shimano wheelset. Perhaps the rs81 c24.

After that, go for the one major thing that changed my cycling: a powermeter. You will train better, dial in your fit, you won't blow money on stuff that will only have marginal gains. There are many out there. It doesn't need to be super high tech, as long as it is consistent. Also, quit a lot new cheaper ones are coming out.


I've thought a lot about getting a power meter as I've read lots of good stuff about them. A buddy of mine has the Pioneer and it's very cool. Out of my price range, but Stages also seems to be just fine. Problem is, I keep coming back to the same issues: I don't really see myself trying to get into racing, I don't have any plans to get a coach or work with anyone who would help me interpret / change my riding based on the data, etc.

I know the 11-speed 105 can be had for less than SRAM Force...would it be worth saving money here? Or better to just go with Force? I've read a lot of great things about SRAM and as this is my first bike I don't have any particular to necessarily stick with Shimano.

If I had to pick one thing to do first, I would pick wheels over a new group...based on everything I've read so far / guys I've spoken to, I get the impression that I'll notice the biggest change here (according to ophiravina too :) ).

eric
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Joined: Tue Nov 11, 2003 9:47 pm
Location: Santa Cruz, California, USA
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by eric

Wheels are where you can lose the most weight. BUT even losing 1lb (450g), which would be a lot, won't affect performance noticeably.

Since you have limited funds, your first proiority should be ensuring that you can put in the training time by making sure your bike is reliable. It's handy to have a stash of comsumeables like tubes, tires, cables so when you break something you can be set for the next day's ride without having to go to a store. Have a basic set of tools for the same reason. Many LBSs get backed up in the summer and can take a week or more to get to your bike. You will also need enough riding kit so you can ride all week, and kit for riding in the cold.

Once that's set, the next priority is comfort. It's hard to do a century on a saddle that makes your butt hurt after three hours. Address whatever you need to make the bike work for you.

Those are what I'd consider the basics for someone who is serious about riding. One of the great things about cycling as a sport is that you can't really buy speed. My bike is as good or better than the bikes the pros ride (it's under the UCI weight limit as that's not enforced in US amateur racing). The rider is the difference. Since you're starting you will improve a lot over the next 5 or so years if you put in the training time. That will happen no matter how "fast" your bike is.

This is a long winded way of saying that riding is more important than buying bike stuff.

If you really want to buy bike stuff, a decent set of aluminum rim wheels would be a start. They won't make you noticeably faster but they'll help a little. I'd avoid carbon fiber unless you have a lot of money to spend, and even then CF clinchers can overheat on steep technical descents.

Speaking of which from Santa Monica you can go north and hit all the climbs in the coastal mountains. There's a lot of good riding there. For example this route: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/2167965

russianbear
Posts: 757
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:40 am

by russianbear

Ultegra 6800 can be had for ~600$ from Ribble cycles. I'd suggest start there. You can piece all the components one by one into your cart to take advantage of the 12% off right now. Allez is a great bike! Large part of my team race on them. More importantly, get out and ride!

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Juanmoretime
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by Juanmoretime

Welcome to the forum. Don't waste your money on a powermeter if you don't intend to race. It just becomes a very expense computer. Getting stronger and faster on the bike will come with just miles/kilometers since you are new so just get saddle time. You can also get better by finding a group to ride with that challenges you or ride with a team. Expect to get dropped on some of the faster rides but that will get you faster and stronger too.

First upgrade should be wheels. For the best value for your dollar I would look to Farsports carbon clinchers. I would think more about getting saddle time on your legs verses upgrading the component group and would save and then get what you can afford. I run Red on my road bike but find the Rival kit on my cross bike to work just as well. There is nothing wrong with Rival, Ultegra or 105 even Apex works very well.
RESIDENT GRUMPY OLD MAN.

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lrdunc
Posts: 340
Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2014 4:45 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

by lrdunc

eric wrote:Wheels are where you can lose the most weight. BUT even losing 1lb (450g), which would be a lot, won't affect performance noticeably.

Since you have limited funds, your first proiority should be ensuring that you can put in the training time by making sure your bike is reliable. It's handy to have a stash of comsumeables like tubes, tires, cables so when you break something you can be set for the next day's ride without having to go to a store. Have a basic set of tools for the same reason. Many LBSs get backed up in the summer and can take a week or more to get to your bike. You will also need enough riding kit so you can ride all week, and kit for riding in the cold.

Once that's set, the next priority is comfort. It's hard to do a century on a saddle that makes your butt hurt after three hours. Address whatever you need to make the bike work for you.

Those are what I'd consider the basics for someone who is serious about riding. One of the great things about cycling as a sport is that you can't really buy speed. My bike is as good or better than the bikes the pros ride (it's under the UCI weight limit as that's not enforced in US amateur racing). The rider is the difference. Since you're starting you will improve a lot over the next 5 or so years if you put in the training time. That will happen no matter how "fast" your bike is.

This is a long winded way of saying that riding is more important than buying bike stuff.

If you really want to buy bike stuff, a decent set of aluminum rim wheels would be a start. They won't make you noticeably faster but they'll help a little. I'd avoid carbon fiber unless you have a lot of money to spend, and even then CF clinchers can overheat on steep technical descents.

Speaking of which from Santa Monica you can go north and hit all the climbs in the coastal mountains. There's a lot of good riding there. For example this route: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/2167965


Hey thanks for your response :)

I do have a couple extra sets of tires, tubes, etc. Have the basic tools; the rest I can handle either with my dad or at a great shop that I've been going to. I also have enough kit as well as some cold weather stuff. It doesn't get all that cold here, but arm and leg warmers are great.

With respect to comfort, I had the bike properly fit by the shop I've been going to. I got the Fizik saddle from my dad and it's a tremendous improvement over what came on the bike...much more comfortable. The fitting was also what led me to the 130mm stem - bike came with 100mm and I was feeling much too crunched up on it.

Also thanks for the link to that ride...there is a lot of good riding in my immediate area. My "usual" Saturday morning ride is a roughly 50 mile loop starting in Sherman Oaks, going east through Burbank then Glendale, looping back around west through Hollywood, then heading to Santa Monica...from there, I'll either head up PCH for a bit or head back east and climb back up one of the canyon roads (Beverly Glen, Laurel Canyon, etc.).

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lrdunc
Posts: 340
Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2014 4:45 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

by lrdunc

russianbear wrote:Ultegra 6800 can be had for ~600$ from Ribble cycles. I'd suggest start there. You can piece all the components one by one into your cart to take advantage of the 12% off right now. Allez is a great bike! Large part of my team race on them. More importantly, get out and ride!


Would you suggest Ultegra 6800 over SRAM Force? They seem to be at similar price points.

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lrdunc
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Joined: Wed Nov 26, 2014 4:45 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

by lrdunc

Juanmoretime wrote:Welcome to the forum. Don't waste your money on a pwoermeter if you don't intend to race. It just becomes a very expense computer. Getting stronger and faster on the bike will come with just miles/kilometers since you are new so just get saddle time. You can also get better by finding a group to ride with that challenges you or ride with a team. Expect to get dropped on some of the faster rides but that will get you faster and stronger too.

First upgrade should be wheels. For the best value for your dollar I would look to Farsports carbon clinchers. I would think more about getting saddle time on your legs verses upgrading the component group and would save and then get what you can afford. I run Red on my road bike but find the Rival kit on my cross bike to work just as well. There is nothing wrong with Rival, Ultegra or 105 even Apex works very well.


Thanks for your input re the power meter. This is in line with what I've read / been told my friends and other riders. It would be great to have, but I feel like it's just unnecessary at this point.

So you would recommend Far Sports? I've done some reading about them on these boards and elsewhere and there doesn't seem to be a consensus. For example, something like this looks pretty appealing:

http://www.wheelsfar.com/road-wheels/clincher/24cm-23mm-width/38mm-x-20-5mm-clincher-wheelset-391.html

Pretty light, looks cool, 25mm wide...how are the Novatec hubs? The price is great, but would I be better off going this route than picking up a used set of Ardennes Plus or any of the other options I listed in my first post?

dofman
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Jan 18, 2014 3:42 am
Location: Quebec

by dofman

IMHO you shouldn't put too much works and money on this bike. Get some nice wheels that suit the kind of terrain you ride, change parts here and there to make it fit perfectly to you (wich seemed to be pretty much done already) and ride it hard and harder.

russianbear
Posts: 757
Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2012 3:40 am

by russianbear

lrdunc wrote:
russianbear wrote:Ultegra 6800 can be had for ~600$ from Ribble cycles. I'd suggest start there. You can piece all the components one by one into your cart to take advantage of the 12% off right now. Allez is a great bike! Large part of my team race on them. More importantly, get out and ride!


Would you suggest Ultegra 6800 over SRAM Force? They seem to be at similar price points.


It's a pretty incendiary question on bike forums :twisted: Just depends on which you like, SRAM's doubletap shifting has its fans. 6800 is pretty sublime. Even though I suggested it, I'm on board with others who say saddle time is the priority right now. Don't worry about upgrading anything yet and don't even think about a power meter at this stage. Definitely find some group rides. Learning how to handle yourself in a group is important; holding a wheel, riding close 2 up, pulling through smoothly etc.

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lrdunc
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by lrdunc

dofman wrote:IMHO you shouldn't put too much works and money on this bike. Get some nice wheels that suit the kind of terrain you ride, change parts here and there to make it fit perfectly to you (wich seemed to be pretty much done already) and ride it hard and harder.


Absolutely! Thanks for your response :)

When I bought the bike, my thinking was that it would be smart to buy very entry-level in order to make sure that I was going to enjoy cycling and want to stick with the sport over a longer period (of course, the fact that I can't afford a super WW-badass bike right now was a determinative factor anyway...). So, as I said initially, I can't complain as I was able to buy this bike new for (what I consider to be) dirt cheap. That said, I'm already kind of disappointed that I didn't hold out for something nicer (for example, maybe a used Tarmac?). Such is life...

But yes, I think what you're saying makes sense...pick up a wheelset that will drop some weight, be suitable as an all-around performer, hopefully will look / sound cool (come on, that's half the fun isn't it?), and might even be worthy of bringing over to my next bike if/when I upgrade?

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lrdunc
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by lrdunc

russianbear wrote:
lrdunc wrote:
russianbear wrote:Ultegra 6800 can be had for ~600$ from Ribble cycles. I'd suggest start there. You can piece all the components one by one into your cart to take advantage of the 12% off right now. Allez is a great bike! Large part of my team race on them. More importantly, get out and ride!


Would you suggest Ultegra 6800 over SRAM Force? They seem to be at similar price points.


It's a pretty incendiary question on bike forums :twisted: Just depends on which you like, SRAM's doubletap shifting has its fans. 6800 is pretty sublime. Even though I suggested it, I'm on board with others who say saddle time is the priority right now. Don't worry about upgrading anything yet and don't even think about a power meter at this stage. Definitely find some group rides. Learning how to handle yourself in a group is important; holding a wheel, riding close 2 up, pulling through smoothly etc.


Fair enough...I see what you're saying. Now that I feel like I have a sort of baseline fitness level on the bike, I'm starting to get more into group riding.

I really, really have my heart set on a wheelset upgrade though :D

by Weenie


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