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Bling or No-Bling?

Hi Everyone,

Aside from the obvious triathlete's answer to the subject question, I need a bit of advice on relative quality of bikes.

I have been doing various races on a race bike with clip-ons but will be looking to up distance and also do some TTs as well. I've been looking at value carbon frames/builds and would be grateful for anyone's thoughts on the following:

What are the imported frames and brands like? eg. Ribble, Tiger Frog, Dalkiia, Planet X, some of the Italian ones.
Do they compare favourably with some of the top frames?

If given the option, should I go for a well-known and more unique frame ready built-up such as a Scott Plasma, a FeltB-something, perhaps a P2C build-up?

The WAT officer stated clearly "don't get a rubbish bike which you'll want to change in a couple of years, may as well get a good one as you'll only spend more upgrading it!!" Very wise!!!

So the ultimate question is can I get away with an imported carbon frame and continually upgrade bits over a couple of years or will it just not cut it in 3-5 years time? I'm discounting the absolute bling P4, Felt DA, etc etc so probably spend between 2-3k if buying something well-known such as plasma 20 but hoping to be tight where possible, hence the imported frames seeming attractive.

Any thoughts gratefull received!!


  • largeadelargeade Posts: 166
    Top WAT by the sound of it.

    Make sure you check which bikes you can actually fit too... Scott Plasmas are narrow/tall bikes where as the felt/planet-x's are long/low - they might be mutually exclusive.

    I'm long leg/short body bloke and the Scott would suit me fine, but not the planet-x.

    This may help you narrow the selection: http://www.slowtwitch.com/Bike_Fit/Geom ... _1321.html
  • I should mention that there is an inevitable holiday/spa/handbag/shoes/diamond (delete as appropriate) likely to be involved as well but aside from that, she is good on the WAT front. She even made it to the top of the second mountain for 8 hours to watch me in the Etape!! Lucky it was sunny!!

    Do you ride a Scott? how did you decide? Would you have considered a "cheaper" frame if the fit was more suited to you?

  • TesseractTesseract Posts: 280
    So really your question is "How bling?" ...

    So carbon frames are only produced at a handful of factories in China now, pretty much all manufacturers get them from there, with another step in the process that companies like Giant will produce their own frames, and then frames for other companies. So most of the time the price difference is purely down to paying for the name/brand and marketing cost.

    Having said that the different companies will each have their own spec, so frames can differ in weight, strength and stiffness, as we know.

    Personally I don't care about the name, I'd base my spend on reviews, and if I like the look of it. (ie bare carbon, with some red in there and I'm happy).

    My next frame, if I can justify the cost, is going to come direct from China, I've done a lot of digging and the comapny I was looking at have good reviews on cycling forums, so seems safe enough - and about 1/3 the cost of a big name frame.
  • okay, you're right!! "How bling" indeed!!

    I've seen frames on Ebay from the Chinese manufacturers for £3-400 which interest me. I've also seen the Ribble Aero review on Bikeradar which says its fast and stiff etc but has been prone to failures so I'm trying to be careful at the same time as would want some form of recourse in the event of failure.

    The Tiger frog guys are quite local to me and Planet X and Ribble are North making things more difficult.

    Perhaps avoiding well-known brands is the way for value-for-money!!
  • TesseractTesseract Posts: 280
    Can't remember the company I was looking at, as it was a month or so ago, but I'll dig it out tonight. They offer a two year guarantee I think. They were cheaper than the eBay frames, plus you're dealing direct, which is better if there is problems. the worst review I read was one guy's cable guide was slightly misaligned so the cable rubbed (that was a roadie obviously). The company offered to replace, however he would have had to cover the shipping cost back. (not sure what the outcome was.)

    I was in touch with the company, and they were really good at responding to emails (also a good sign).

    My plan was to get the 12k weave, with no paintwork, then get the frame into a local bodyshop place to get some custom artwork...now that's full on bling!

    Now to work out how to come up with the cash...
  • largeadelargeade Posts: 166
    No TT bike as yet. Its a Trek 1.7 2009 with clip on aero bars. Great, really great bike, but its a 61 and too long for me in the top tube, but I've made do till now. Hence why I know about stack and reach.

    I'm waiting to see what the 2011 models look like before jumping in.

    Cannondale Slice Hi Mod is where my money would go for 2010. Or the best of both tri/road worlds with a Cervelo S2, but the colours in 2010 arent as good as 2009.

    Decisions decisions.
  • I've some good contacts in this industry and the general view is that with these cheaper "open mould" frames, weight is often high and the all important triathlon specific seat angle is often missed from the spec.

    Why so heavy ? Well, don't forget that Carbon Fibre is light, but it's the resin and lay-up of the fibres that impact weight, strength and logevity.

    I have seen some very cheap CF frames that are more resin than fibre !

    In many cases, it might be better to go 2nd hand and aluminium (although not such a nice ride) if budget is pushed.

    Also, go off the beaten track:- Ridley, Blue, Fuji all have some stunning offerings in this range and make for interesting diversions from the Cervelo, Giant, Specialized bikes seen everywhere (not that they are bad BTW !)

  • shadowone1shadowone1 Posts: 1,408
    Trek Speed Concept 7.......

    Trek Speed Concept 9.......if you can afford it.

    Just a thought
  • Clubsport911,
    Does your view extend to Planet X, Ribble, Dalkiia etc or are you just referring to other unbranded ebay/alibaba frames shipped in from China (Carbonzone is the name on Ebay I think)?

    Trek Speed Concept sounds like a great bike, not the best looker though and the wheels would need an upgrade I think which then pushes the budget a bit more.

    The Cannondale slice looks good aswell but could end up too expensive.

    Such a tough choice...

    Slight switch of subject, Any views on EDGE deep-rim wheels or others such as the planet X lot?
  • shadowone1shadowone1 Posts: 1,408
    you've missed the point between the trek 7 & 9.

    The frames are practically identical and I would take a Trek 7 anyday over Dalkia, Planet X or Ribble

    Yes the components may not be great but the frame is. Then add a decent set of wheels and then aerobars and you have one top notch bike.

    As it was nicely put to me once... the Trek will be like shit off a shovel...
  • TRIumphantTRIumphant Posts: 850
    Similar design, but drastically different construction. I believe the 7 is mass produced in some factory in a far away country, 9 is hand built in Trek's factory. But having said that, I'm looking to step up to the 7 next year, 7.0 for me, love the look of it, and then upgrade the wheels.

    Don't tell the WAT though!
  • shadowone1shadowone1 Posts: 1,408
    I'll still take that 7.0 anyday of the week......nice set of wheels and some cool aerobars
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