Recently I had the opportunity to test ride 3 different bikes - the 2011 Fuji SL1 Pro LE (Ultegra), the 2011 Felt F5 (Ultegra), and the Lynskey Helix (Ultegra). The order I rode them was the Felt, Fuji, and then the Lynskey. I rode them home from the shop on Saturday evening, did a test ride on Sundays in the southtowns, and then with the Felt and Fuji I got to ride them again Monday night at the shop group ride.
I want to begin this "review" by stating that I am not a racer and I did not test them in that type of setting. I am also a little heavier than most that "race" bikes at 180 pounds but I just love to ride bikes and have never, before these rides, been on a carbon or titanium frame bike. I have 3 steel road bike frames and have no problem with that frame material at all. I felt that to be the best salesman for Tom, and also because someone requested a review of the two frame materials, I should ride these frames so that when people asked questions I would have something to base my opinion on.
The Felt rode great and even though it was "only" equipped with 105 components I had no issues shifting or braking and felt very comfortable on it from the beginning. I have Felt envy for some reason and sometimes I wonder if that effects my thinking but I have always felt comfortable on both my SS Cross Breed and Elite Nine Mountain Bike and if I ever purchase a TT/Tri bike I am hoping Felts work for my body type. I can't explain my logic but it is what it is and I was very happy with the F5. That being said if I was going to go with the Felt I would upgrade to the F3 and get Ultegra.
Tom's Pro Bike Price of bike as ridden: $1,999.00 (SALE PRICE) (MSRP $2,099.00)
The Fuji was my first venture into Ultegra level components. I have ridden Campagnola before but it was old school down tube shifters long before index shifting came into being. The Fuji was also a great riding bike and besides some issues with the spoke nipples coming lose I was very pleased with this bike.
Tom's Pro Bike Price of bike as ridden: $2,000.00 (SALE PRICE) (MSRP $2,999.00)
The Lynskey was hands down my favorite bike even though I did not get as many miles in on it as I was hoping for. Maybe it was a better wheelset but the downhill portion of the ride I did on it with my buddy that has about 50 pounds on me I coasted right beside him and that never happens. The bike was very responsive and shifted like a charm (Ultegra will do that for you). MSRP (FRAME ONLY): $2,995.00
My thoughts: When I went back to my Steel Gunnar Crosshairs the first thing I noticed was that I felt every bump in the road. To me the Carbon absorbed so much more and the Titanium had a carbon fork on it and I believe that helped quite a bit as well. My steel bike is heavier than the others but as I put out up above I could stand to drop a couple of pounds before I became concerned about my bike's weight! In the end, I feel that for a heavier rider that Titanium is a great way to go and there is absolutely nothing wrong with a Steel frame either. I am not saying a heavier ride cannot ride Carbon because that is not true - I just feel that if you have the ability to pay for the Titanium frame and are a larger person then that is a solid way to go. Carbon was so comfortable and I really enjoyed riding the two frames. I cannot wait to test a Specialized as well just to see if I can notice a difference. At the end of the day if you chose a bike with either one you will not be disappointed. Just go out and ride!
Others thoughts: This link gave me a lot of insight into the frame composition before I even test rode them. It even covers Steel and Aluminum as well. Some very good reading here if this subject interests you.
For more information on any of these bikes or our other selections of race bikes stop by the shop!
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