So if you’ve been following along, you know by now what my purpose for writing this blog is (if you haven’t, it’s to complete a gran fondo this summer). You also know that in order to achieve my goal, a substantial investment in new equipment is going to be required. Which brings us to today’s entry. Bike shopping!!!
Now bike shopping is not the easiest thing to do in January. After all, most bike stores don’t have their 2015 stock in yet. However, they may still have their 2014 models leftover where good deals can be found. So why buy a bike now rather than later? Well, in my case it comes down to logistics. Our tiny town only has one bike shop and, unfortunately, as much as I like to support local business, they don’t carry the particular brand that I’m interested in. That means that I have to travel to another larger community (at least 2.5 hours away) to find what I want.
Also, chances are that the particular bike I’m interested in will have to be ordered which could take a few extra weeks. So, when you look at finding time to travel to the community, ordering the bike, then having to go back to get the bike, it could take up to a month to get what I want. If I wait until March or April to start shopping, there is the potential for me to lose nearly a month of spring training time on the new bike. With the gran fond taking place on July 12, that’s not enough time to get ready!
Now, I did visit a bike shop in Cranbrook over the Christmas holidays. As expected, they had a few 2014 models left over, all on sale. However, there were not may in my frame size (56 cm) so that limited the selection to about three. Two of them were designed more for racing than endurance, so that eliminated them. The other was a Specialized Roubaix – nice bike, but mediocre components and it was an ugly flat black colour. Not exactly a head turner. Having owned a Specialized, I know that they make good bikes. They did have 2015 model downstairs in a box, but it was an ugly neon green and was about $400 over my budget. Probably looked like this
Since then, I’ve been shopping around. When shopping for road bikes, there are dozens of companies who make good bikes. The only problem is that they can cost a fortune. Companies like Focus, Specialized, Pinarello, BMC, Giant, Cannondale, Orbea, Look, BH, Lapierre, Canyon, Cervelo, Ridley, Trek, Scott, Felt, Colnago, Merida and Bianchi all make bikes for the Tour de France. But because so many of these companies are small in the big scheme of things, their bikes tend to be somewhat pricey. It’s not uncommon for them to sell bikes in the $10 000 range. I know- makes my $2000 budget seem like peanuts. Fortunately, all is not lost.
One of these companies, Giant, who just happens to be one of, if not, the largest bike company in the world, has just released their 2015 lineup. After having spent a lot of time looking at bikes on different company’s websites, as well as in showrooms (I checked out Treks last summer in Vernon), I’ve gotten a pretty good idea of what it is I’m looking for. And Giant just happens to meet those expectations at a price I can afford!
So! Are you ready? All right then, – here it is.
This is the Giant Defy Advanced 2. What makes it better than the others? Well, for just under $2000, you get a full carbon fibre frame and forks (Giant makes their own carbon fibre whereas other companies rely on someone else to make it), as well as disc brakes. Love ’em or hate ’em, disc brakes are the future in road cycling. Do they add weight? Yes, but Giant has been able to counteract this by making the frame the lightest they’ve ever done. As well, you get an 11 speed cassette (most others in this price range are only 10) and, most importantly, it looks amazing! The same features on other bikes cost at least $500 to 1000 more. So pretty good bang for your buck.
Why disc brakes? They allow you to stop on a dime in any weather condition. My mountain bike has them and they really do make a difference. And when your’e doing 50-60 km on a road bike in the rain, stopping safely becomes a major concern. Disc brakes allow that to happen every time. Also, getting rid of the calliper brakes allow the wheels to be designed to be just that – wheels that can be lighter, and more aerodynamic.
In 2016, the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale – the body that oversees international cycling competitions) will allow disc brakes to be used in international competition. You can expect to see an explosion of disc brakes being used from that point on.
So, in six days I will be in Cranbrook for a meeting. Having already spoken with the local bike shop there that sells Giant bikes, my plan is stop by and see how long it would take to get one ordered. We’ll see what happens.