new bike help - Cervelo S3 vs R3 vs Madone vs ??

Discuss light weight issues concerning road bikes & parts.
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Posts: 26
Joined: Thu May 14, 2009 10:08 pm
Location: Oakland, CA

by tacostand

After 10 years with a Cannondale CAAD 7, I’m ready for a new bike!  I don’t get to do this often, and I won’t get to do it again for another 10 years.  So I’m looking for help to be sure I get this right.  

I can spend up to $5k but would prefer to keep it closer to $4k.  The bikes I’m considering most seriously are: Cervelo R3, Cervelo S3, and the Trek Madone (6.2, 5.2 or 5.9).  If I could test ride a Parlee, the Parlee Z5i might be on my list as well - but the closest Parlee dealer is ~3.5hrs away.  

About me.  I’m 6’1” and optimistically weigh ~185lbs.  I used to race but don’t anymore - I might enter 1 race or Gran Fondo per year.  I mostly ride alone and with friends on rolling terrain.  The “aero” bikes are appealing because who doesn’t want to be faster - but in reality, most of my riding is alone and only in competition with myself, so aero at the expense of other ride qualities doesn’t make a lot of sense. I think I tend to beat up my bikes a little.

I’ve taken both Cervelos (S3 and R3) for ~20 minute rides and took the Madone 5.2 out for 10 minutes - but it’s hard to get a great sense of a bike in such a short ride.  To make it even harder, the Cervelo shop only had size 56 frames in stock, and I need a 58.  The Trek shop will let me take the bike out all day for a $80 demo.  Depending on who I catch in the shop, I think I could take the Cervelos out for a ~45-50 minute ride, but not too much longer (and I'm still stuck with the wrong size frame). Based on my totally unscientific test rides, the Trek felt the best - it was comfortable, snappy, and felt good going around the bike. It clearly fit the best - but the Cervelos were the wrong size.

Ride quality is important, but I don’t want to underplay aesthetics and the importance of a good paint job.  The Trek 6 series is available with custom paint options through the Project One option - this pushes the price to $4935 with the cheapest paint options, but at least there's the possibility of some custom options. I've thought about Giant and Specialized, but for whatever reason, they just don't appeal as much. Some of the higher end options look nice - but the paint jobs/models available in my price range aren't so appealing.

So... Any thoughts to help me out? I haven't been able to find much in the way of ride reports or reviews on the new 2014 Cervelos. Anyone with experience with some or all of the bikes I'm looking at? Should I drive 3.5hrs to try the Parlee? Drive 3.5hrs to find a Cervelo dealer with my size in stock?

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by johnnyscans

I have a 2014 R3 that I built up with SRAM Force 22. The bike is awesome. Nice and compliant in the rear but stiff enough to handle my 200 lb frame sprints. It's also an absolute joy to ride on rough roads, especially those that go up. I think you'll need to take extended test rides on all of them and see which you like best.

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by FIJIGabe

From personal experience, I can tell you that the Madone 5.9 is a great bike at a great price. I've seen it below $4k at some Austin area retailers, and I'm sure you can get much the same price in Colorado. It comes with DA9000 mechanical and pretty decent Race Lite wheels (not the pricier RXL's, but still a good wheel, and if you don't want them, I'd consider taking them off your hands). All in all, a good deal.
Madone 9
Madone 5

Madone 4, Cobia. I own a lot of Treks.

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by NiFTY

I would go for the Madone.
Evo 5.02kg SL3 6.77 Slice RS 8.89 viewtopic.php?f=10&t=110579" onclick=";return false;" onclick=";return false;

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by Johnbenread

I bought a Madone 5.2 (58cm) Just over a month ago, I’ve put 1,200km into it already. It’s a great bike, it balances stability with agility very well.

The only thing to think about if you get the 5.2 or the 5.9 Is the Bontrager Speed Limit Integrated Brakes, they aren’t amazing, I’m quite a light rider (~63kg) And I still struggled with them, I got the Dura Ace Direct Mount Brakes within a week of owning the bike, the difference is black and white, overall a great bike.
Ben Read

Junior XC Racer

Trek Madone

Trek Superfly SL

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by kaaos

Parlee is worth 3.5 hours of driving... even more than that. Happiness guaranteed for 10 years

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by MNX1024

If you're going to do a 3.5 hour drive, just remember that you'll be doing that same drive back home. So, make sure you can test ride all the bikes you want at that location. Also, decision making might be on the spot for you, unless you don't mind doing a total of 7 hours of driving the next time around. Personally, I'm ordering a Madone 7 at the moment. If you're planning to get a 6 series Madone, consider a 7 on Project One because there's really about $200 price difference between a 6 and 7 with the same specifications.

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by stanseven

I've ridden all (except R5 and S5). Out of the group, I personally like the Cervelo R series. It's lighter, more comfortable and is a better all around bike than aero except on the flats and downhill. Parlee's are nice but I don't think they are worth the money unless you go custom (and need custom). The Madone is also a good bike but it doesn't feel as responsive to me as the Cervelo.

If I were shopping, I would consider Specialized and Cannondale. You didn' indicate why that's not on the table for you but Cannondale makes some really nice bikes.

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Location: Oakland, CA

by tacostand

Thanks for the replies!

The main reason Cannondale isn't in the running is that there isn't a good local Cannondale dealer. My WW profile was out of date - I'm actually in upstate NY now and no longer in Denver. So there aren't as many "local" bike shops to choose from. There is a local chain that carries Cannondale - but it's a big chain that feels like the Walmart of bike stores. I went in today to see what they had in stock, and they were pretty unhelpful and were only willing to let me test ride in their parking lot.

Specialized could be an option. I don't have a good reason for it - but for whatever reason, Specialized road bikes have never appealed to me that much. But I know that many people love the Tarmac. Maybe a good one to test ride. Anyone know if there should be much wiggle room on the prices listed on the Specialized website?

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by drmutley

Disclaimer: I've owned a S1, S3, S5, RS & R3.

Choice would be S3 or R3 depending on what riding your going to do, and how supple u are.

My S3 was super stiff and on rides over 150kms I would start to feel it (40yo with a dodgy back, and aggressive position). If u want a fantastic all round/versatile bike then the R3 is the choice... Light, climbs, but still stiff and quick for the flat stuff. Both awesome bikes... Warranty is very good, with very low resistance to replacement frames. Waiting time for a replacement can be a pain tho... Can't compare to other brands.

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by Nefarious86

I still miss my R3 after changing to a Tarmac SL4
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Location: Finland

by kervelo

drmutley wrote:...My S3 was super stiff and on rides over 150kms...

The rear end of the new S3 is similar to R3, so I believe it should be also as comfortable.

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