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In road bikes, don't expect one size to fit all

June 07, 2004|Roy M. Wallack

You probably wouldn't buy a sports car if you needed a station wagon. Well, similar logic applies to road bikes, which are designed for a number of different purposes, from casual riding to long-distance bike touring. Here are some examples from the different categories.

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High-tech wizardry, at a price to match

Kestrel Talon SL: An aerodynamic model for road racing and triathlon bike events.

Likes: Very fast. Sleek carbon-fiber frame is made of teardrop-shaped tubes designed to cut through the wind. A curved, rear-wheel-hugging seat tube is said to cut down on air turbulence caused by standard straight tubes. Unique dual-position carbon aero seat post can adjust the saddle from a standard road-racing setup to a steeper triathlon bike geometry ideal for use with aerobars. Ultralight 2.4-pound frame.

Dislikes: None.

Price: From $3,300. (831) 464-9079, www.kestrel-usa.com.

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This one's meant for long-distance cruising

Klein Reve: Shock-absorbing bike suitable for long charity rides and 100-milers.

Likes: Very comfortable for long rides. Mostly aluminum frame absorbs rear-end road vibration with a unique rubber shock absorber on the carbon-fiber seat stay. Extra-tall head tube and long chain stays allow more upright riding position with less back strain. Beautiful, classy paint job with hidden cables. Very lightweight.

Dislikes: No threaded eyelets on the seat stays for racks, which are useful on long rides.

Price: $1,500. (920) 478-2191, www.kleinbikes.com.

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Give it all you've got; it can take abuse

Bruce Gordon BLT: Touring bike for extreme conditions.

Likes: Built to survive an around-the-world trip carrying as much as 80 pounds of gear. Burly steel frame, simple friction shifters and cantilever brakes can handle abuse; they also can be easily welded and repaired if broken or bent off the beaten path. Bruce Gordon racks are renowned for durability. Hand-built by Gordon himself.

Dislikes: Lack of modern hardware may be irritating to some. Bar-end shifters and separate brakes are inconveniently placed and inefficient compared with common all-in-one brake-shifters that adjust with a simple click.

Price: $1,845. (707) 762-5601, www.bgcycles.com.

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Versatility and value on two wheels

Giant OCR 3: A do-anything beginner road bike.

Likes: Remarkable value and versatility. It can handle everything from entry-level racing to touring. The lightweight aluminum frame and vibration-absorbing carbon fork are usually found on bikes costing hundreds more. Unique back-friendly adjustable stem enables you to raise and lower the handlebars up to 5 inches. Safety brakes, a rarely seen feature, can be accessed from the standard and top-of-the-handlebar positions, where most people ride.

Dislikes: None.

Price: $600. (805) 267-4600, www.giantbicycle.com.

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-- Roy M. Wallack

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