Best steel road bike to buy/build for $1500?

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by streetwaves, May 24, 2011.

  1. streetwaves

    streetwaves New Member

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    Hey guys,
    I'm looking for some advice. I'm a fan of steel and the sort of vintage look, and have been checking out some of Bianchi's offerings. Really like the looks of the Vigorelli in white, but obviously it could have a bit of an inflated price (best I can find is $1699). Shimano 105 components, carbon fork, Reynolds 631 tubing. I'm a big fan of the looks but don't want to make a decision based solely on that.

    [​IMG]

    Anyways, I thought before I bit the bullet I should ask for your opinions. I have a budget of about $1500, a little more or less is fine. I'd like to have at least 105 components. If I can get an equivalent or better bike from someone else, or if someone could coach me on how to build one of my own, that'd be welcome advice. Just looking for something that will last me a good long while and be a good candidate for possible upgrades in the future. I'm not a racer, but I do ride a whole lot and want performance as well.

    Thanks for your help!
     
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  2. doctorold

    doctorold Member

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    Guess it's not fair to comment but I ride a 2011 Vig and I'm sold on it. Great ride, componentry, looks....I feel like I'm riding(driving) a classic car reprod. Classic styling, modern workings. I, too, had a budget of $1500 (actually $1200) when I first started bike shopping but realized I would have to spend a little more to get what I wanted in a bike. It was worth it. And I've spent more on it (upgraded saddle). If you're looking for something comparable, look for a Masi Gran Criterium or a Raleigh Record Ace. They're probably in the same ball park price-wise but you may find somebody with a lightly used one. Building a bike sounds like a good a fun option but I started pricing it out and it can get expensive quick. Good luck in your search.
     
  3. streetwaves

    streetwaves New Member

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    Thanks for the replies! Doctorold, I appreciate you chiming in with your experience with your bike. Awesome. I'm heavily leaning towards the Vig because I do love the look. Of course there's Celeste with a Bianchi, but I think the white looks totally classy with the red accent.

    I'm going to ride one this weekend - hopefully they can get my size. Around 58cm seems to do it for me with most makes. My old Peugeot is a 58 (could do with another CM of room between me and the top tube), and a 58cm Trek 1.5 fit me perfectly at the LBS. I'm going to bet on a 57cm Bianchi, hope I'm right in case I have to order it.

    By the way, what'd you choose saddle-wise for your bike and how is the stock saddle (believe it's a San Marco)?
     
  4. doctorold

    doctorold Member

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    FWIW I ride a 57 and I'm 6'1" with short legs and long arms. It fits. The LBS will help you though, not to worry. As far as a saddle, the Selle San Marco is not bad as stock saddles go but it's a little narrow for me. I went with a Brooks Swallow and it's just right. I could go wider but I like this one. If you haven't read or heard, Brooks Saddles (leather) have to be broken in like a baseball glove. Mine is coming around albeit slowly but I like it alot. Saddles are such a personal thing that you have to find what works for you. I would suggest an LBS that has a rental program where you can test drive a number of saddles and find the one you like best. The Raleigh Record Ace comes stock with a Brooks but I think it's the Swift.
     
  5. streetwaves

    streetwaves New Member

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    Thanks - how's the space between you and the top tube? I'm about 6' - 6'1" but I'd say my legs are probably average for my height. Do you get the impression 57cm would still be right?
    Originally Posted by doctorold .

    FWIW I ride a 57 and I'm 6'1" with short legs and long arms. It fits. The LBS will help you though, not to worry. As far as a saddle, the Selle San Marco is not bad as stock saddles go but it's a little narrow for me. I went with a Brooks Swallow and it's just right. I could go wider but I like this one. If you haven't read or heard, Brooks Saddles (leather) have to be broken in like a baseball glove. Mine is coming around albeit slowly but I like it alot. Saddles are such a personal thing that you have to find what works for you. I would suggest an LBS that has a rental program where you can test drive a number of saddles and find the one you like best. The Raleigh Record Ace comes stock with a Brooks but I think it's the Swift.
     
  6. doctorold

    doctorold Member

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    I assume you're talking about stand-over height. I have no problem with that so you should be fine.
     
  7. streetwaves

    streetwaves New Member

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    Yeah I determined today that 57 is my size. Unfortunately the LBS told me today they can't get one. I'm really disappointed. If anyone has any ideas/leads, I'm looking for a 57cm 2011 Bianchi Vigorelli. The owner of the LBS said he couldn't get one from Bianchi, and he tried getting one from a NorCal dealer but that didn't work either. He says they won't have new ones until September when the 2012s come out.

    Any ideas? I'm in So Cal but since I know my size I'd be willing to have it shipped. Want to buy a bike soon rather than wait for next year's model and possibly be disappointed with them.
     
  8. doctorold

    doctorold Member

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    I have a hard time believing that. Make some calls to some other Bianchi dealers (maybe not necessarily in your immediate area) and see what they say. Or call Bianchi Corporate and do your own digging. My bike was shippped here (NC) from California. Good luck. But keep an open mind. There are some other great bikes out there. I'm a big advocate for adopting unwanted bikes on Craigslist! Occasionally you can find a diamond in the rough.
     
  9. streetwaves

    streetwaves New Member

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    Well I have almost made up my mind. The only Vig I can find is a 59cm a little far away. I rode a 57 and 59cm Imola today and didn't feel much difference between the two. I have adequate clearance over the top tube of the 59, although my arms are slightly straighter. I still have some bend in them, and maybe a shorter stem would cure that. What do you guys think? I always thought you should buy the largest bike that you can fit, and I have over an inch clearance between my crotch and the top tube on the 59, and about a fistful of seatpost showing. Any reason to think it's too large? And would a shorter stem be a problem?
     
  10. doctorold

    doctorold Member

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    The Imola is the same frame and fork with lesser components. Comes in the classic Bianchi Celeste color. Very good bike. Tiagra groupset is ok but like you said in your original post, something that could be upgraded down the line. If you're set on going Bianchi....that's a good option. Size? I'm not an expert on that. Be careful with that selection. But it does sound like you could make the larger frame work. If your mind is open to another brand, you seriously should look at the Raleigh Record Ace. Got the same classic looks (in white) but with ULTEGRA (and lugged steel frame)! Frankly, had I found one of those before I saw my Vig I probably would have snatched it up.
     
  11. streetwaves

    streetwaves New Member

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    Doctorold, thanks for all your help. I bought the 59cm Vigorelli today. It's a beautiful bike and seems to fit me quite well. The only thing I might change is the stem from 110 to 100mm but I'm not even sure that's necessary. Look forward to riding it!
     
  12. doctorold

    doctorold Member

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    Congrats!! Welcome to the Vigorelli club (there's not too many of us, you know). If you enjoy yours half as much as I enjoy mine you're going to be ecstatic. How are you feeling about the stock saddle? Does it fit you? The more comfy you are, the more you'll want to ride.
     
  13. streetwaves

    streetwaves New Member

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    Thanks! At the moment my perineum hates the stock saddle. I'll try some adjustments later. Ive been thinking about investing in a Brooks but I'm not sure which model would look right on the bike. Want to keep things sporty! I'm pleasantly surprised by the weight. I had tested some carbon bikes in the same price range (Madone 4.5) and though lighter, I'm happy with how light the Vig is. At 59cm its not much heavier than my dad's aluminum/carbon Trek 1.5 in 56cm, but that's just going by how they feel to pick up.
     
  14. vspa

    vspa Active Member

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    + 1
    cool bike
     
  15. doctorold

    doctorold Member

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    Don't know if this pic helps but here is my bike with a Brooks Swallow TI. I had a Fizik Aliante that looked pretty sweet but keep in mind....looks aren't everything. That baby needs to work! My Brooks is breaking in nicely. It's as narrow as I could have gone. I could have probably gone with the B17 but I like this saddle and it doesn't add a lot of weight. And yes, I think it looks pretty sweet.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. streetwaves

    streetwaves New Member

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    The Swallow looks great on there! Only problem for me is I'm trying to keep my spending down for a while. Might have to go for a B17-N or something first and see how that works/looks. Great looking bike by the way. Here's mine at work today:

    [​IMG]

    Got several things on the shopping list so I'll have to figure out what comes first! Clipless pedals in the mail. Thanks again for your help.
     
  17. Froze

    Froze Well-Known Member

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    I think you could find some older 80's vintage rides with very little use on it and be better off and pay less then $200 and get a bike that sold for $500 back then which is about $1500 dollars today! But it takes patience and luck at Craigslist, when those bikes come up they go fast to mostly people wanting to turn and sell it on e-bay for more. Example, I just purchased last weekend a 84 Fuji Club, a entry level racing bike for Fuji who made only two higher levels, a team and a pro bike; and I paid $100 for it with about 5 miles on it...yes it looks new, and yes it fits me, and no I won't sell it. But yesterdays mid to high end steel bikes weigh the same as today's steel bikes. I have one steel bike that weighs just 20 pounds WITH a steel fork and it was built by me in 84 (I actually had it down to 19 pounds when I raced it with lighter tubulars). Most steel bikes today are around 19 pounds with carbon forks but those are top end steel models with top end Campy components that will cost upwards of $4000.

    I know, my response to find a good used steel bike is weird, but it's a thought. The older components last a lot longer then newer stuff, and you can get gear clusters and chains brand new at any LBS. And a lot of these old parts can be found brand new in boxes on E-bay should you ever need a part.
     
  18. vspa

    vspa Active Member

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    i like in the bike pictured the modern geometry, mildly oversized tubes, Shimano 105 group
    i was looking for something like this on steel for a long time,
    i'll put this one on my wish list,
     
  19. ProdigalCyclist

    ProdigalCyclist New Member

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    Word of advise...

    Your butt will hate ANY saddle at first. A saddle (on the type of bike you have... which is a nice one BTW) is like a new pair of dress shoes... you have to break it in. Your butt will need some breaking in too. Before you go spending a bunch of money on a lot of different saddles, just be aware it normally takes riding on a saddle for a few (consecutive) days, and dealing with a little discomfort before you really know if the saddle is good for you or not. The discomfort should not last indefinately but give a saddle at least a week of riding before you decide to get another.

    I just got back in to riding (after about 15 years) and the saddle I chose was the Selle Italia Flite... because I knew it would work, because that's what I used when I used to race 15+ years ago. The thing killed me for the first week or so... but I just rode 40 miles on Sat and 60 miles on Sunday this past weekend and the LAST thing I was worried about was my saddle. I suffered a bit on Sunday =) but my saddle felt fine.
     
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