..is half done.
That’s what I was taught growing up. Unfortunately, that didn’t bode well with my plans to write a post-a-day through 2011. Began well but broke down in middle of 2nd month when a string of bad news and unplanned travel hit me. I did try to give it a shot a couple of times after that but never got going.
Nonetheless, I don’t let any setbacks dissuade me (or I won’t be here, or anywhere, today). So, here I go with another plan – 30 days of biking. Yes, the challenge is on and today was the first day.
Today was also the (hopefully!) last day of test riding bikes for purchase. So, between test rides and the rides to/from the two shops, I rode about 15km today. That was the ‘well begun’ part from me. Let’s see how the well done part turns out.
If you’re still around, let’s move on to the bikes now. So far, I’ve ridden about 9 bikes across 3 manufacturers and 3 bike shops:
- Trek 2.3 54cm double at Evans Cycles
- Trek 2.3 56cm triple at Evans Cycles
- Trek 2.1 54cm double at Evans Cycles
- Trek 2.1 56cm triple at Cycle Surgery
- Specialized Allez Elite 58cm at Cycle Surgery
- Specialized Secteur Sport 56cm at Cycle Surgery
- Specialized Secteur Comp 58cm at Cycle Surgery
- Giant TCR Composite Medium at Chamberlaine Cycles
- Giant Defy 1 Medium at Chamberlaine Cycles
These are some of the other bikes on my list that I would like to try before making the purchase decision but can’t/won’t be able to for different reasons:
- Giant Defy Advanced 3 (not available for sale in UK)
- Bianchi C2C Vian Nirone 7 compact (can’t find the colour-groupset combo)
- Cannondale Synapse 105 (haven’t found anyone who stocks them in shop!)
- Scott Speedster S20 Triple (same as Cannondale)
- Genesis Equilibrium (might test ride this tomorrow)
- Boardman Team / Team Carbon compact (Halfords, the sole retailer doesn’t allow test rides)
- Felt 85 (Wiggle, being online retailer, has no option for test rides)
- Pinarello FP1 (too expensive for the spec set, perhaps premium for Pinarello brand name)
Pending the possible test ride on Genesis Equilibrium tomorrow or day after, the top ranking bikes so far are:
#1: Specialized Secteur Comp (2010 model) 58cm
#1: Giant Defy 1 Medium
#3: Trek 2.3 triple 56cm
#3: Specialized Allez Elite 58cm
#3: Specialzed Secteur Elite 56cm (not ridden)
The three bikes tied at #3 spot are out of contention so won’t be discussing them.
Starting with the Specialized Secteur Comp. Now, this could’ve been the outright winner but for availability and stupid spec changes from Specialized. Availability – the 2011 model of this bike is not available with most retailers, chain or standalone. Add to that the only available colour a combo of bright red and white… well, almost pink!
As if the availability and the colour were not a problem, Specialized have also made one small change in the specs that dropped some points in my scoring chart – they’ve dropped the triple chain-ring from last year’s comp to a compact. [:(]. However, while looking around, I found that Cycle Surgery still had one piece of last year’s Secteur Comp in size 58 with them. I asked the nearby CS store to source it for me and test rode it yesterday. It was great. Unlike the 56cm model that I had tried earlier, the legs didn’t feel cramped. On the other hand, thanks to the larger size, it did feel a little ‘long’ so I had to reach out a bit. What made the deal sweet, though, were that triple on the front and the discount on retail price that made it almost £400 cheaper than the 2011 model. Also, it was in black :)
Next up is the other bike – Giant Defy 1. Now, purely in terms of fit, this is definitely the best bike I rode. The legs didn’t feel cramped and I did not have to reach out too much for the controls. It was also in a nice black finish and felt nice on the road despite me riding it right after a full carbon Giant TCR. Not the buts. One issue with the bike is that almost all its peers I tried were fitted with Shimano’s 105 groupset while this one had Tiagra. I know for a newbie like me it doesn’t make that much of a difference but this gap is stuck in my mind. Also, unlike the Secteur Comp, this bike has aluminium seat & chain stays thus making it a noticeably harsher ride than the Secteur Comp (I’m sure those zertz inserts also make a difference).
Finally, my main issue with this bike is not really specific to the bike. This bike’s elder cousin, Defy Advanced 3, is the one I had gone in to buy. However, I was told (and the Giant UK website confirmed it) that that model has been discontinued. So, no we have a Defy 1 with Tiagra & Alu fram for ~£1000 followed by the Defy Advanced 1 for ~£2200. The Defy Advanced 3 used to be ~£1200 and provided a carbon top tube & seat stay along with a full 105 groupset along with the same frame geometry that the Defy 1 has. Basically, had the Defy Adv 3 still been available, it was such a good fit that the bike would’ve been standing in my house right now. However, with the knowledge that Defy Advanced 3 had been discontinued, I made up my mind to pick the Secteur Comp over Defy 1 – basically choosing a softer ride over a better fitting frame.
Still a bit restless after the rides today, I did the mistake of Googling for “Giant Defy Advanced 3” just to confirm the specs gap between the two Defy models. I was surprised to see a link for Giant Defy Advanced 3 2011 model leading to the Giant website. A quick check confirmed that the model was the one I’d been hunting for and that the price was close to what I’d expected. I rechecked on the Giant UK website and the model, along with Defy Advanced 2, were absent there. Seems like Giant doesn’t intend to sell these models in the UK and only push the higher end Defy Advanced 1 & 0 models here. This was heartbreaking -to know that the bike with best fit and the exact specs I desired was still being sold but just not in the UK and that I couldn’t order it from the US because there were Giant dealers here in UK. Yes, I could order it from the US to a country with no Giant dealers (India?) but not to the UK. :(
So here I stand. Secteur – with a bad colour and wrong specs in 2011 and the 2010 model not fitting well. Defy – the perfect model not for sale in UK and the imperfect one just being nudged out by a little too big Secteur. I might be buying one of these this Sunday. Unless the Genesis Equilibrium blows me off my feet. (After the frustration with these two, I’m secretly hoping that it does!)