To go with tried and tested brands or for an online special?

What bike and bike bits should you buy?
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Adamkalin
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To go with tried and tested brands or for an online special?

Postby Adamkalin » Wed Mar 06, 2013 16:29 pm

**EDIT 27/4/13: For anybody reading this and looking for advice on how to choose & buy a bike online without seeing it first, you can skip ahead to this post.**


Hi gents (and ladies),

This isn’t your standard ‘what bike should I get’ newbie post and rather Im seeking opinions about brand quality and online purchases, so hope you can help!

After a few years away from using an old MTB Im now looking to purchase my first decent road bike, and like many before me have been bombarded by the sheer number of options available. Having done some extensive reading over the winter months, consulting geeks in LBSs (Im forever grateful to them!) and mining these forums for as much as I can, Ive narrowed done a shortlist for around £700:

*Giant Defy 3/ Specialized Allez Sport/ Cannondale CAAD8
*And the of online exclusives: Sensa Romagna Special http://www.merlincycles.com/bike-shop/bikes/road-bikes/sensa-bikes/sensa-romagna-special-2013.html (and possibly the Ribble Sportive 7005 as an outside runner)

As for myself, Im 6’1” with 91cm/36in inner leg- Im unfortunate to have an irregular body shape with very long legs and a very short torso. I do have long arms and a positive ape index (the things you learn when cycling!) but my short body means reach is an issue. My cycling will be commuting in London and weekend sportives which adds to the equation, so all of the above means Im looking for something a little more relaxed and with a slightly shorter top tube than your out and out racers.

Now, I know that the only way to make the choice is to test the bikes and see which works best, and Ive been doing that for the first three. The dilemma is choosing between the ones Ive tried myself and the potential bargain online in the form of the Sensa. The bird in the hand conundrum...
Ive studied all the geometry charts to postulate what should work, but that only gets you so far.

But my main query is whether it’s worth taking the risk on an unseen and untried bike such as the Sensa. The 105 spec seems almost unfeasibly good for the price compared to the big branded competition, and while I love good value for money Im also conscious of quality. I figure that the big brand bikes give you years of manufacturing pedigree and economies of scale, whereas the Sensa Romagna, apart from one glowing review from Cycling Plus, is more of an unknown entity. So gears aside, from all that Ive learned (and to paraphrase a certain Mr Dopestrong) with a good first bike ‘it’s all about the frame’ and so Im wondering if it all actually adds up.

Id be very interested to hear your opinions, thanks for your help!

Adam
Last edited by Adamkalin on Sat Apr 27, 2013 15:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

turnerjohn
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Re: To go with tried and tested brands or for an online spec

Postby turnerjohn » Wed Mar 06, 2013 17:57 pm

your not taking a risk !

cycling plus gave the brand a rave review and you have the backup of Merlin cycles who have been going for years...I'd trust them at least !

win win I say....and those bikes look pretty darn good :-)

Greg-46a
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Re: To go with tried and tested brands or for an online spec

Postby Greg-46a » Wed Mar 06, 2013 18:21 pm

I had my new Sensa Trentino delivered just over a week ago, and I've been very impressed with it so far. Great value for money too.

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Adamkalin
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Re: To go with tried and tested brands or for an online spec

Postby Adamkalin » Wed Mar 06, 2013 23:14 pm

Thanks both for your input. Greg, how does the sensa frame compare against other road bikes you might have had in the past? Would be curious to know, thanks :-)

wongataa
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Re: To go with tried and tested brands or for an online spec

Postby wongataa » Thu Mar 07, 2013 08:08 am

Might it be worth going to visit Merlin Cycles and trying one?

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Adamkalin
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Re: To go with tried and tested brands or for an online spec

Postby Adamkalin » Thu Mar 07, 2013 10:07 am

I would, but sadly the train from London to Preston is too pricey for my liking (and could be better put towards the bike), so that it pretty much rules out a test run sadly- hence the dilemma of buying an untried bike!

freefall_junkie
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Re: To go with tried and tested brands or for an online spec

Postby freefall_junkie » Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:11 am

I am seriously considering a Sensa Giulia, subject to a test ride. A Dura Ace Giulia got a rave review in last months Cycling mag, with the tester commenting that it rode like a bike twice its price. One of the reasons it is cheaper is that unlike the big brands you are not paying for a) a large marketing budget, and b) there is no distibutor/importer taking a large cut, as Merlin are both the importer and retailer. I doubt it has a whole lot to do with the quality of the frame - it will be produced in some vast Asian factory, just like all of the big brands. Test rode a Madone 5.9 recently (lovely bike, shame about the daft brake positioning), so it will be interesting to find how the Giulia compares to a far more expensive bike.

Mark

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Navrig
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Re: To go with tried and tested brands or for an online spec

Postby Navrig » Thu Mar 07, 2013 13:09 pm

I've bought two bikes on line and had few problems with fit/quality. However I am average Joe as far as body size and shape are concerned.

If you know that you are not close to average proportions then I'd be tempted to buy from your LBS. They will be able to check the size and fit and where necessary adjust or perhaps even swop the stem.

Geo555
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Re: To go with tried and tested brands or for an online spec

Postby Geo555 » Thu Mar 07, 2013 16:18 pm

This bike shop, based in London are agents for Sensa

http://www.thebicycleman.co.uk/

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Adamkalin
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Re: To go with tried and tested brands or for an online spec

Postby Adamkalin » Thu Mar 07, 2013 17:01 pm

Mark, thats a really good point that I guess I hadnt considered. I was trying to think how, even if you had the various compnents such as the gearset at cost price, you could still generate enough of a profit margin whilst selling at these low prices. Ultimately something has to give, and youd think that would be frame production cost. But there are those areas that you mention and I think some of the other bits such as finishing kit, wheels etc are all own-brand too so perhaps that contributes to the overall saving. I suppose at the end of the day the differences between all mass produced aluminum frames at this level could be minimal anyway regardless of brand? (which begs the question if Sensa frames are even 'mass' produced, but thats another issue...)

You'll have to let us know what you think about the Giulia frame quality once youve had a chance to get hands on and test it.

Ive already emailed thebicycleman in London and despite being listed as a distributor they dont actively stock them, which is a real pity!

mhj999
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Re: To go with tried and tested brands or for an online spec

Postby mhj999 » Thu Mar 07, 2013 17:03 pm

I ride a Guilia and it is simply brilliant - responsive, comfortable, looks great, great value.
The Bicycleman unfortunately do not carry much (if any) Sensa stock and can not get anywhere near Merlin on price (and I mean nowhere near). I tried to give them my business to support LBS etc but just didnt work financially - they didn't even try to convince me to buy from them!
Sensa Giulia 105

Greg-46a
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Re: To go with tried and tested brands or for an online spec

Postby Greg-46a » Thu Mar 07, 2013 18:44 pm

Hi Adam, not really got much to compare it to other than a cheap Carrera from Halfrods or an old Raleigh MTB, sorry!

Greg

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Adamkalin
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Re: To go with tried and tested brands or for an online spec

Postby Adamkalin » Thu Mar 07, 2013 20:03 pm

No worries, thanks anyway! Same question to you perhaps then mhj999, which other bikes have you owned and how does the sensa frame compare in build quality? And yeah, its a real shame that thebicycleman is wide of the mark as that would have solved a lot of problems, not least with sizing!

Ive only just noticed that Merlin charge £30 for delivery which was a kick in the goolies as it drives me further away from the target price Id set.

Still on topic, Im wondering if people would know why you just dont seem to see Cannondales anywhere? Specialized, Giant etc seem to be in every shop but I cant seem to find a CAAD8 to test for love nor money, even here in the big smoke. Again, Im wondering if this is in some way indicative of the overall brand. At the end of the day you seen loads of Ford Mondeos and Renault Clios on the road because theyre excellent cars.I probably shouldnt have mentioned the c-word for that analogy, thats probably a hex on these boards or something...

freefall_junkie
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Re: To go with tried and tested brands or for an online spec

Postby freefall_junkie » Thu Mar 07, 2013 20:26 pm

Adamkalin wrote:Mark, thats a really good point that I guess I hadnt considered. I was trying to think how, even if you had the various compnents such as the gearset at cost price, you could still generate enough of a profit margin whilst selling at these low prices. Ultimately something has to give, and youd think that would be frame production cost. But there are those areas that you mention and I think some of the other bits such as finishing kit, wheels etc are all own-brand too so perhaps that contributes to the overall saving. I suppose at the end of the day the differences between all mass produced aluminum frames at this level could be minimal anyway regardless of brand? (which begs the question if Sensa frames are even 'mass' produced, but thats another issue...)

You'll have to let us know what you think about the Giulia frame quality once youve had a chance to get hands on and test it.


I have looked in detail at the spec of the Sensa Giulia are there is no real cost cutting in component quality. You get the full groupset with no cheeky downgrades. Buy an Ultegra Di equiped Sensa and it is full Ultegra throughout - buy an Ultegra Di Specialized Tarmac and what to you get? A Tiagra chain and cassette - not even 105 on a 4 grand bike! In a similar vein, buy A 4k Pinarello Rokh Di and they fob you off with an unbelievably crap pair of cheapo Fulcum wheels. It is the big name brands which are often the worse in this regard. The 'value' brands like Canyon and Sensa don't seem to take the mick in the same way penny pinching on component spec.

BTW the test I referred to above was in fact in the new Cyclist mag, not Cycling. I'll keep you posted when I have had a test ride.

Mark

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Daz555
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Re: To go with tried and tested brands or for an online spec

Postby Daz555 » Thu Mar 07, 2013 20:29 pm

I too was worried about buying online - I still am, sort of, as my Sensa Romagna is not yet delivered.

What convinced me not to worry was that when I sat on some road bikes during the early phase of decision making I discovered that none of them had a riding position as stretched and uncomfortable as the mid 90s MTB I ride to work every day and use for weekend rides. The road bikes were like sofas in comparison to the arse-in-the-air-stem-as-long-as-my-arm ride I'm used to on my old MTB! :mrgreen:

Anyway, time will tell. I'll post a small review when I get my Romagna.
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If it doesn't move and should, use the WD40.
If it shouldn't move and does, use the tape.

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Adamkalin
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Re: To go with tried and tested brands or for an online spec

Postby Adamkalin » Fri Mar 08, 2013 01:01 am

freefall_junkie wrote:The 'value' brands like Canyon and Sensa don't seem to take the mick in the same way penny pinching on component spec.


Yes certainly I agree with you there, it looks like Sensa have put together a great package on the essential components. I suppose on the higher end bikes such as the Guilia where you are spending 1.5k your money is going towards a well rounded product in which the gearset represents a smaller proportion of the total cost compared to the budget end bikes. With the Romagna Special at ~£750 perhaps 25% of that (retail) cost is the value of the 105 gearset alone which makes me question what development has gone into the frame and value there is in it (compared against an Allez Sport for example, where the bulk of the value is in the frame rather than the other parts for roughly the same price). I take your earlier point about 'big name inflation' though, and fully acknowledge that I may be coming at this with a very naive view of what goes into bike production! This is where theres nothing like a bum on seat test ride, so hopefully the Guilia will prove to be the perfect solution for you.

Daz, Id certainly be interested to see how you find it. From what Ive seen comparing the geometries the Romagna has by far the shortest horizontal top tube measurements compared to its peers, so it should provide a comfortable ride- and its one of the big reasons Im interested in it.

mhj999
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Re: To go with tried and tested brands or for an online spec

Postby mhj999 » Fri Mar 08, 2013 14:08 pm

Adamkalin wrote:No worries, thanks anyway! Same question to you perhaps then mhj999, which other bikes have you owned and how does the sensa frame compare in build quality?


Its my first carbon steed - but it's night and day when compared to my old Spez Allez Elite.
There are no corners cut anywhere as far as I can see.
Sensa Giulia 105

Celt100
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Re: To go with tried and tested brands or for an online spec

Postby Celt100 » Sat Mar 09, 2013 20:48 pm

A post I made a few weeks ago

I have just purchased a new Sensa Trentino SL with full 105 + pedals with upgraded RA27 Wheels (wheels no longer availiable) for £1100 and the main reason I decided to go with the Sensa was :

http://www.craftsensa-cyclingteam.nl/fo ... Overijssel

Take a look at the bikes on the car as the Craft Sensa Dutch National Team were using the Trentino last year so I came to the conclusion that the bike was worth a punt at that price :)

I have now taken delivery and can confirm that it is a cracking bike in the flesh and surpasses all my expectations - buying blind from an internet retailer is always a gamble but with a lot of research you can get a bargain.

I decided to go 105 with upgraded wheels as my personal limit was £1100 and Ultegra was just out of reach with the basic wheels.

Update : I have now had the chance to get out on the Sensa Trentino a few times and can confirm the quality is top notch and very confortable for an Alu frame I would not hesitate to buy again knowing what I know now - Top Quality Frame - Full Groupo - Decent wheels if you upgrade and at A Great Price all adds upto a very happy customer and Cyclist :D

To Answer the OP I reckon the Romagna will be of similar quality although a little heavier but also more robust due to the thicker tubing.

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Adamkalin
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Re: To go with tried and tested brands or for an online spec

Postby Adamkalin » Sat Mar 09, 2013 21:13 pm

Thanks for those replies. All that I've read here from happy Sensa owners has been very reassuring for the frame build quality. Now I can focus on the issue of fit and whether or not to go for an untried bike.

Celt100, I notice that the Trentino has a very similar geometry to the Romagna. It'd be great to hear a little more about it. What size frame did you go for and what are your body measurements, broadly speaking? How do you find the bike in terms of being a relaxed/sporty/aggresive body position compared to what youve ridden before? Good to hear that you're reaping the rewards of your research and enjoying your bike!

This thread has been full of useful information so far, so thanks due all round.

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murf1480
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Re: To go with tried and tested brands or for an online spec

Postby murf1480 » Sat Mar 09, 2013 21:25 pm

Celt100 wrote:A post I made a few weeks ago

I have just purchased a new Sensa Trentino SL with full 105 + pedals with upgraded RA27 Wheels (wheels no longer availiable) for £1100 and the main reason I decided to go with the Sensa was :

http://www.craftsensa-cyclingteam.nl/fo ... Overijssel

Take a look at the bikes on the car as the Craft Sensa Dutch National Team were using the Trentino last year so I came to the conclusion that the bike was worth a punt at that price :)

I have now taken delivery and can confirm that it is a cracking bike in the flesh and surpasses all my expectations - buying blind from an internet retailer is always a gamble but with a lot of research you can get a bargain.

I decided to go 105 with upgraded wheels as my personal limit was £1100 and Ultegra was just out of reach with the basic wheels.

Update : I have now had the chance to get out on the Sensa Trentino a few times and can confirm the quality is top notch and very confortable for an Alu frame I would not hesitate to buy again knowing what I know now - Top Quality Frame - Full Groupo - Decent wheels if you upgrade and at A Great Price all adds upto a very happy customer and Cyclist :D

To Answer the OP I reckon the Romagna will be of similar quality although a little heavier but also more robust due to the thicker tubing.


Going to pick mine up on Monday full Ultegra with the basic Supra wheels
Can't wait like a kid at Christmas :mrgreen:


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