Another newbie question...


New Member
May 30, 2006
Greetings everyone:

I'm getting back in to cycling after about a 15 year layoff. I rode extensively throughout the eighties, but quit in '92. I owned and ran a bikeshop for awhile in the mid-eighties, etc. All my experience has been on top of the line steel racing bikes (Columbus, 531, Super Record, Nuevo Record, Mavic, etc.) from twenty-five years ago!!! :) Current ride is a 1983 Peugeot CFX10 with Super Record. I pulled it out of the basement, repacked all bearings, new tape, tires and saddle, and it's a great old bike again.

I've been riding it for about a month and am ready to buy a modern bike. I am having a blast and believe it will "stick", and I'll be riding for a long time. I am at a place where I am financially able to buy whatever bike best suits me. I know that a thousand dollar Raleigh would be plenty of bike for me, but I appreciate and enjoy beautifully finished, well-engineered bikes and that is what I want to buy.

I will probably ride 30-40 mile rides most of the time, but you know how it is; I can see myself doing centuries possibly as I get into it. No racing (BTDT), no triathlons. I'm 43, 6'0, weigh 180, in excellent shape right now, no particular injuries.

I have been test riding bikes for about a month, all from my three LBS, and I have narrowed down my choices to the following:

2005 Merlin Extralight DuraAce (Titanium frame, carbon forks) 16.2lbs $3900
2005 Specialized Roubaix Pro DuraAce (full Carbon) 17.0 pounds $3600
The Merlin is marked down from MSRP of about $5300, the Spec was $4400.

Both bikes suit me well; compared to what I'm used to they are light, very stiff, shift precisely, accelerate explosively, ride comfortably, and handle high-speed bumpy turns with relative stability. In fact, in my appx 40 minutes of test riding each bike I can find nothing about the ride that I prefer in either bike.

So that leaves aesthetics. I love the Merlin: traditional geometry, great natural ti finish, it just looks perfect to me, kinda like 1983 all over again!!! :)

I don't particularly like the look of the Specialized: I've never warmed to the slinking-hyena-haunches look of a sloping top tube. The paint-and-natural carbon look is nice -- for a carbon bike.

I also like the fact that not many people have a Merlin but lots have a Specialized. Just one of those things.

But I notice that titanium seems to be much less the must-have frame material it once was. Merlin and Lightspeed and some others who used to be known for only ti are now offering carbon bikes as well. So here's my question: is there something I should know about ti that I haven't run across yet? Something that in two or three months will have me wishing I'd bought a carbon bike? Do they give off radon gas or something? ;)

Oh, final question: the Specialized DuraAce shifter has a little thingie on the shift cable right in front of the bars that shows what gear you're in... ingenious! The Merlin DuraAce lacks that. Can it be added?

Thanks for any suggestions,

Matt, North Georgia

PS: I typed this out and posted (or so I thought) a little bit ago, but could never find my post; if it shows up somewhere... sorry :)

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