Went to a shop in Portland today to test ride the Defy.
Because I am only 5'7, I fit nicely in between the small and the medium. I took the small out first and rode it around for a bit. Had to adjust the seat once to get the proper leg extension but after that, the bike fit well. It's looking like the small Defy 1 is going to be the winner. I want to check out a Trek 2.1 just to see how it rides but, really, at almost $200 more for similar components, it seems silly.
Just a quick fit question, I noticed when I was riding around, my knees came up a bit higher than I am used to. (or, maybe because of body position on the MTB I never notice it) Is this normal? (they don't come up to my chest or anything that extreme) Does this make sense?
If you are buying from a shop, they should make sure the bike is setup correctly for you (pretty much is the biggest reason to buy from a shop). Your contact with the bike is pedals, seat, and handlebars so those should be the three areas of potential adjustment: seat up or down, seat forward or back, or stem flipped or longer/shorter/different angle. They should be able to look at you on the bike and at least get things close.
You are going to be more stretched out (upper body) on a road bike even with relaxed geometry compared to a MTB. But your legs shouldn't be smashing into your chest. Have the shop take a look at your fit if you buy and they'll make sure everything is good (or they should if they are a good shop).
My recommendations; if you plan to ride 50 or less miles go for the aluminum, light and stiff, the stiffness allows for efficient transfer of power, however on rides of 50+ miles, the stiffness of aluminum allows for the pain of each bump and hole you hit to be transferred to your body. For 50+ miles, I recommend Chromoly (not as stiff or light as aluminum). Or Carbon, love my carbon frame bike, light, stiff, but absorbs the road bumps and holes, setback, expensive.
Unrelated to the Nishiki love: Obviously I'm fond of steel frames but my road and tri bikes have all been more recent vintage aluminum and there's no need to rule it out as I think it's the best value for money in the current bike market. The so-called harshness of alu frames can easily be mellowed out with carbon forks (most modern alu bikes have carbon fork), and running slightly wider tires (700x25), filled to around 100-110 psi instead of 120. Carbon frames are obviously all over now but you can get a better spec'd bik with alu not carbon with no significant weight penalty. And I've seen enough "catastrophic failure" pics of carbon bikes that I'd want a new high-end frame in carbon, would be leery of used and/or cheap.
'07--08 season: 51 Days, '08-'09 season: 55 Days, '09-'10 season: 41 Days, '10-'11 season: 49 days, '11-'12 season: 40 Days '12-'13 season: 57 days, '13-'14 season; 60 days '07-'14 seasons: 353 Days
It's the reason why Carbon is selected by virtually all professional cyclists. When was the last time you saw a pro on aluminum or steel? 1995 or maybe even earlier.
A friend just bought a full carbon Scott road bike with Shimano 105 for only $1500. It was new but a leftover, year or two old. There are deals out there if you look around.
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