I had a bunch of time to kill yesterday afternoon so I went to a local bike shop and looked at some bikes. I’ve gone in several times up until now to casually look at bikes but since I’m kinda in the market for one I went in looking for specific price points and component setups. Here’s what I found at one particular shop.

$500-$850

Decisions, Decisions

Decisions, Decisions

These were clearly your beginner level bikes with all of them featuring 8-speed Shimano Sora and Tiagra component groups. I have a 7-speed now so moving up to a 8-speed doesn’t seem like that much of an improvement. All of them had no-name brakes and the shifting mechanisms aren’t nearly as functional as something with Shimano 105 or above shifters. Bikes in this range included the Trek 1.1 or 1.2 and some of the low-end Specialized Allez. Like I said, these looked to be beginner level bikes and not something I wanted to get.

$1000-$1500

I would classify these as intermediate level bikes and most likely the price point I’ll be targeting if I have to buy brand new. Most of these bikes came with at least 105 components with some variances here and there in shifters, brakes, or derailleurs and were all aluminum frames with carbon fiber forks. For instance, you may see a bike with 105 shifters, derailleurs, and cranks but no-name brakes. Or 105 everywhere except perhaps an Ultegra front or rear derailleur. The hard part was finding the combination of components I liked on a bike that was the right size and color. I found what I thought was a great deal ($1199) on a Specialized Allez in Saxo Bank colors with 105 everywhere except the brakes.

$1600-$3000

The bikes in this range are what I consider geared towards advanced level riders. You start getting into carbon fiber rigs with Ultegra or better components and nicer wheel sets. Personally, I think when you’re paying this much money you’re paying for weight savings more than anything and with somebody like me riding one of them I just don’t think the extra cost is worth it. If you know what I mean. Granted these are some nice bikes but I believe these are out of my price range and, truthfully, think that I probably weigh too much to be riding carbon fiber.

$3000 ++++

Either Pro level bikes or bikes for folks with too much money who think they’re Pros after watching the Tour de France. You name it and these bikes had it. I actually caressed (?) a Trek Madone 6.9 and just had to shake my head at how light it was. There’s no doubt it weighed less than the bag I take to work everyday. At $8,000 for the one I fondled I’m not surprised they aren’t flying out the door in today’s economy. They had a nice group of ten or so that were just standing there for show.

That’s certainly not a detailed synopsis of what you get for the money but I think you can basically see how it’s broken out by price. It seemed to me that you got more for your money with Specialized than with Trek (at least in the intermediate level price range). They had Cervelos but I can’t even afford to walk down that aisle.

Bianchi Green = Yuk!

Bianchi Green = Yuk!

This particular shop did have a used/demo section that had a nice Bianchi with a full Ultegra setup for $1,350 but for some reason I just can’t get over two things with Bianchis. First, I hate the traditional green color most of their bikes are painted in (makes me want to gag). Second, is that I can’t help but think ‘woman’s bike’ when I say or see ‘Bianchi’. I don’t know why. I don’t even have an ex-girlfriend called Bianca.

Call me picky but color is somewhat important to me. The low-end beginner bikes featured a lot of red (on the Specialized) and Trek has some funky looking bright color schemes I don’t like. Not until you get into the $1000-$1500 price point do you see some imagination with the paint jobs like the Saxo Bank setup on the Allez I liked or an awesome blacked-out scheme on another Allez that totally blew me away. Even at the intermediate level I still didn’t like the Trek paint jobs.

Here’s two questions for my readers:

1. What did you look for when you purchased a bike (components, colors, prices, etc.)?
2. What is the big difference between 105, Ultegra, and Dura Ace? Is it weight?