First Road Bike Purchase - Scott Foil 40 vs Giant Defy Composite 1

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by WannabePBA, Sep 8, 2012.

  1. WannabePBA

    WannabePBA New Member

    Sep 8, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Hi All!

    New to the forums here. Started cycling Jan 2011. Typical rides for me are 15 miles on a short day and on a long day I do about 30 miles. Due to traveling for work, I traditionally was only able to ride once, MAYBE twice a week, but for the past 2 weeks I've been riding 3 or 4 times a week. This is due to a lull in workload and also picking up a bike rack so I can bring my bike when I travel. I am a purely recreational/for fitness rider; I just started doing group rides about a month ago, and have really enjoyed that dynamic as opposed to solo rides. I also rode in a charity ride last year and it will be an annual thing from now on.

    I am definitely not a racer, but do want to improve both my speed and distance limits. Unfortunately, my group seems to be full of 20+ mph, so I can't really keep up with them. So the group ride turns into two groups quickly: group 1 - everyone else, group 2 - me. I also want to start riding more than 30 miles (would like to do the 100 mile route in next year's charity ride). I currently ride a 2011 Specialized Sirrus Hybrid, basically stock. Up until a week ago, a good day for me would be about 15mph, and that was with hammering like crazy. However, it was also without clipless pedals. I went clipless a week ago and have instantly seen about a 1 to 1.5mph increase in speed (still working on the up-pulls!).

    While I fully understand that ultimately, my body is the driving force in going longer and faster, I also am thinking I may have outgrown my hybrid. I am seriously considering getting a road bike. After much research, I thought I had settled on the Scott Foil 40. But then at today's group ride, someone told me to get the Giant Defy Composite 1 (a Giant rep that rides in the group - no surprise!). Both bikes are very close in price, around the $2,700 price point. I know I won't instantly be a 20+ mph rider, but I'm thinking that at this point I should be getting on a road bike instead of a hybrid (I'm the only one in the group without a road bike).

    From what I can tell, the main differences are:
    • Scott Aero Frame vs Giant non-Aero (both carbon)
    • Scott Shimano 105 vs Giant Shimano Ultegra
    • Giant has a slightly taller head tube leading to a slightly more relaxed position

    As a first time road-bike purchase, am I likely to notice a difference between the Scott and Giant riding positions? Or will it be so different to what I ride now, I won't be able to tell? Are head tubes adjustable? Which is better selling point, the Ultegra package or the Aero frame?

    I am still leaning towards the Scott, but am I making the right decision? If I am better off going with the Giant, I will have to switch bike shops, and I'd feel pretty bad about current bike shop has treated this newbie very well over the past 18 months!!! I can probably find a shop to test ride the Giant, but my shop doesn't currently have any Foils in stock for me to test ride... They are going to get me on a Scott road bike for a day to test it, but it's not a Foil and has a more relaxed riding position.

    Thanks in advance for any advice!

  2. oldbobcat

    oldbobcat Well-Known Member

    Aug 31, 2003
    Likes Received:
    The Foil is a full-bore race geometry with long-ish top tube and short head tube. Also, the ride has been described as among the stiffest (some say harshest) in the business. The Defy is a long-head-tube short-top-tube "endurance" geometry that 's supposed to help recreational riders complete centuries in comfort. To be fair, some riders on the RaboBank ProTour team use custom Defies for cobbled spring classics. You're looking at nearly opposite ends of the road bike spectrum here.

    If you're leaning toward a race geometry, something a bit milder like a Giant TCR Composite might fit the bill. And if you like the idea of the Defy but want something with a bit more attitude, the Scott CR1 range is the butt-kicker of moderately priced "plush" bikes.
  3. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

    Jun 10, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Spot on. I'd definitely look at the Scott CR1's. If at all possible, you should test ride a CR1 and a Defy to see which fits best, rides best, and best suits your needs. Now, the Foil 40 is a bit different than the Foil whose ride is noted to be, uhm, uncompromising at least. No one has every used the words "compliant" or "all day comfort" in descriptions of the foil. The important differences between the Foil and Foil 40 are likely the layup schedule (what CF pieces are used, the number of CF pieces used, and where their placed.....) and likely the actual carbon fiber. I can nearly guarantee that the Foil 40's CF has a lower modulus than the CF in the Foil(Team Issue or Premium). That could mean the ride of the Foil 40 is more compliant/comfy than that of the Foil, but it's possible that Scott changes the layup schedule to optimize the frame given its lower modulus CF, possibly resulting in a frame that is as incompliant as the Foil or moreso. WannabePBA, the geometries are significantly different. Not knowing your size, a pulled numbers for both frames in a size that had a 560ish mm top tube. Here's how the number stackup:
    1. The Foil 40 has a 5mm longer top tube--565mm vs 560mm, meaning the Foil 40 will stretch you out more.
    2. There's more to the "stretching out more story: the Foil 40 has a steeper head tube--73.3° vs, 73°--which makes the reach on the Foil 40 longer still.
    3. The Foil 40 has the steeper head tube, 73° vs. 72.5°. Because of the steeper head tube, the Foil 40 will tend to be a bit more nimble, quicker to turn. It may be a bit nervous compared to the Defy, but it's difficult to say without knowing how much trail the two bikes have.
    4. The chain stays on the Foil 40 are the shortest--405mm vs 420--which means the Foil 40 will not be as compliant (all things being equal) compared to a similar bike with longer chain stays, like the Defy. The shorter chain stays of the Foil 40 put the rear wheel a bit more under your butt.
    5. The Foil 40 has the shorter wheelbase--994mm vs 1007mm--which will tend to give a rougher ride over rough pavement will tend to, again, make the Foil 40 more nimble or nervous.
    6. The Defy has the longer head tube--185 vs. 160mm. Frankly, this is a huge difference and means that given the same fit, stems, and handlebars, you'll be more upright (significantly more) on the Defy than on the Foil 40.
    Now, the performance differences I mentioned are based on a the idea of "all else being equal". That is to say, if you had two frames that had identical construction and materials, the performance differences I mentioned would be what you find if the only differences between the two bikes were the dimension differences given above. Obviously the two frames are not identical, so what the actual performance differences would be can only be known via test rides. Given how you described your riding, the Defy seems to be the one best suited for you, on paper, anyway, but what seems best on paper is sometimes not what is best in the real world. That's why test rides can be so valuable.