HERE'S WHAT I PICKED UP THIS WEEKEND.
At long last, I finally got a new bike. Its a Specialized Sequoia.
There were at least four reasons for deciding on this particular bike: (1) fit; (2) price/componentry; (3) availability; (4) bike shop service. My practical and frugal sides were working together here.
The first reason, the fit, was the most important. After going through a custom bike fit, it was determined that a road bike, customized for triathlon, was the best fit for me, due in part to my injury issues after the bike accident. The "perfect" bike on site at the time of the fit was, of course, the Serotta. Another one, based on specs, was the Sequoia. They did not have the Sequoia available for me to ride that day, so I figured I would just come back later to test it, something I almost forgot about. Because of the price of the Serotta, and having nothing else to compare it to, I held off deciding on or buying anything at that time.
The second reason, price and componentry, was something I was confused about and agonizing over at the same time. I was being told by more experienced riders what componentry I should have, but the price of the best components (Dur Ace) was more than I could justify. And I really didn't understand all the levels of componentry until I had a discussion with the bike shop guys who helped me compare one over the other, not only in durability and price but in weight. The hardest part for me to justify spending so much money on a bike was my present level of ability and future need. I had to be honest with myself that while an Ironman certainly wasn't totally improbable at some time in the future, it is not in my near future plans. I felt it was better to go with where I am now, and likely will be in another season or two, rather than at some obscure future time I haven't fully decided on.
The third reason, availability, also had a big part in my decision. A couple of things came into play here. One, early in the winter (December I think) Don had suggested to me that I go with him to Detroit for a bike fit at Bikesport, where he had ordered his bike in November. He figured he would be picking it up sometime in January, and it would be a good idea for me to go with him then to get fit and possibly order a bike from there, since he had also thought one of the Cervelo models would be good for me. He had ordered a Cervelo P3, and while that was over my head in price and componentry, a lower end model was available at the store (or so they showed on their website). I hemmed and hawed over this and finally nixed the idea. Especially when February and then March rolled around and he still did not have his bike. (Note: It is now almost May, and still no bike. Bikesport ain't all its cracked up to be, that's for sure! Not only are they unreliable on delivery, but they seem to not be concerned when or if you ever get your bike, instead, blaming it on the manufacturer, when in fact the blame should be on them for their lack of customer service.) Another decision about availability was it was local. I also had the chance of getting fit and possibly purchasing a bike while in Tucson at TriSport, but again, after Don's experience with out of town bike shops, and the fact that we really had no extra time for me to do this on our trip, I decided to go back to the local shop and see what they had available.
And the fourth reason was service. Again, I figured it made more sense to deal with a local bike shop, one that had a good reputation, both in service and quality of the mechanic, and this particular shop got good marks from all who used it. (Village Bike Shops--listed as one of the 100 best shops).
So, last week, I finally remembered about the Sequoia and showed up at the shop unannounced, and they immediately got the bike ready for me to ride. It took a while, and I'm sure it wasn't the most convenient time of day, but the guy who worked on my bike was patient and thorough in getting it ready. While I waited, I again rode the Serotta, and had time to question the bike shop guys about comparisons between the two bikes. The most notable difference of course was price. For $1000 more, I could have the Serotta but would need to get new pedals and have all the triathlon stuff added--aero bars, computer, water bottle cages. Componentry differences were so negligible that the huge difference in price did not justify making that a sure choice. I felt as if, and was convinced that, I would be purchasing a name, not just a bike.
But still, the test would be in the ride, right? When I got on the Sequoia, I immediately thought: "I think I like this better." But I was reluctant to admit that, since I had been saying for a while I did not want to buy a Specialized bike, and had to admit my feelings were based on others' opinions and none of my own. The more I rode around, though, the more I was sure I liked it better than the Serotta. Naturally, again, the price was nagging in my mind, and again, after further questioning of the shop guys, I decided: yes, I would buy the Specialized.