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Discussion Starter #1
I just got back into mountain biking last year after being away for about 20 years. I was amazed at all the changes in components, geometry, suspension, etc that new bikes have.

I was thinking of picking up a used road bike, and wondered if there have been similar changes to road bikes.

I guess my real question is, is there any advantage to buying a new(ish) road bike over one that’s say 5-10 (or more) years old?


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AFAIK road bikes haven't changed much besides disk brakes and better but not much different components. I ride road when I want to put miles in or commute. Geometry seems the same.

My road bike is 12 years old, bought it from a friend and works great. Only thing I upgraded were the wheels because he wore the hubs out. It's a 2008 specialized allez elite
 

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IMO, the differences in a straight up skinny tired road bikes from 2000 and 2020 are pretty minimal. More gears, disc brakes, but nothing all that Earth shattering.

MTBs have changed more in any 5 year period over the past 20 years than road bikes have in that entire time.

The biggest change is the explosion in gravel bikes, which IMO are basically road bikes that don’t suck. THAT is a big change.
 

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Gravel bike like tire widths have crept into a lot of road bikes too. These days it's not uncommon to see road bikes spec'd with 28-32mm tires and that will fit 38mm and more. 23-25mm was it a decade or so ago. That's actually my only complaint about my 7 year old Domane - still a great bike, but I wish I could fit something bigger than 28s on it.
 

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New road bikes are awesome. Better wheels, wider tires, better gearing, better frames. 5-10 years old is still ok but buy the newest tech you can.
 

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Lots has changed with road bikes besides bikes going from caliper brakes to discs.

1. Lighter bikes over all.
2. Climbing bikes are now more aero. And aero bikes are becoming better climbers.
3. One piece aero handlebars.
4. electronic drivetrain/wireless
5. Geometry of the frame
6. Standard tire is quickly going from 25 to 28
7. No visible cables everything is internal.
8. Thru axel
9. and 2x instead of 3x and 11speed is being replaced with 12 speed
10. Roadies have adopted the tubeless system
11. E-road bikes are lighter and some don't even look like an e-bike at first glance.

There are many more changes and updates some that are unique to each brand. For example my Scott Addict RC's bolts for the front disc brakes are completely hidden inside the fork and to access the bolts there's a magnetic cover. The rear thru axel is also a hex tool to remove the front wheel. And my 2021 Scott has (IMHO) the sexiest matte iridescent prizm paint job ever. Haha

Yeah road bikes have come a long way too.
 

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Newer road bikes do ride quite a bit nicer. From my experience it's mostly the drivetrain and wider tire clearance that make up he majority of it. Older drive trains don't shift as smooth and can take some fiddling around with to get right. A lot of frames only fit up to 23c tires which is a harsh ride unless your roads are perfectly smooth pavement.

Disk brakes are nice. My bike and my wife's bike were both bought new in 2018. Mine is rim brake and hers is disc. The disc brakes are a monumental improvement when descending mountains especially in wet conditions. Also the discs don't need constant cleaning to get crud off the rims so you don't wear the rims out. Along with picking pieces of aluminum out of the rubber rim brake pads. The disc brakes as pretty much zero maintenance.

If you're going to be a typical roadie and care about your average speed it won't make much of a difference at all. I've tested a few bikes back to back on the same course just for fun. A 2001 Specialized Sequoia was just as fast as my sweet 2016 Fuji SST with an Ultegra group set. A 1980's Schwinn World Sport was only a few minutes slower on a 15 mile lap. By far the new (at the time) Fuji SST was much nicer to ride but only marginally quicker. It mostly comes down to your riding position and tires.
 

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All my road bikes (4) are around twenty years old and high end steel. I don't really care about all the "improvements" they are missing except I wish my CX was more of a gravel bike with disc brakes and wider tires and lower gearing. But it's still a fun bike as it is.
 

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I was always a mountain biker, then eventually got a road bike then got a better road bike and enjoyed it as an alternative to mountain biking.
I got myself a gravel bike last year and it's the best thing for me. The disc brakes are superior to rim brakes and the wider tires possible make for a way more comfortable ride. Also, with thru axles and disc brakes, swapping wheels over is easy. Since the standard for this is 'what mountain bikes were pre-boost', you can pick up reasonably priced wheelsets. I have a more knobbly set for the gravel and rough stuff and a set with slicks for pure road. Sure, I'm not competitive for the Strava times, but I never was!
If you can use things like thru axles and disc brakes for your advantage, they are well worth it on a road-orientated bike. If not, get an older bike for less and still enjoy it.
 

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If you can use things like thru axles and disc brakes for your advantage, they are well worth it on a road-orientated bike. If not, get an older bike for less and still enjoy it.

Disc brakes and thru-axles are nice but for me those aren't the biggest selling points on newer road bikes. Just like mountain biking it all depends on what you want out of the experience. Old road bikes can be fun but for me new ones are funner because they feel faster.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Is 105 pretty much the starting point for quality components on a road bike these days? My old bike (1989 Trek 2300) had Ultegra and it was great. Are the lower level groups good quality and performance?

In other words, what is the lowest level of componentry that offers good value and performance?

I don't really plan on becoming a full-time roadie, I just want to be able to ride when the trails are closed, and maybe start commuting once or twice a week (25 miles each way). I work from home now but new boss thinks I should start coming in three days a week. Maybe getting to work sweaty and gross after a 25 mile ride will change her mind about that.
 

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My 2019 Chinese carbon bike with discs, 50mm x 30mm carbon wheels and Rival 1x11 is better in every possible way than my team issued Trek Madone with DA from 2009. Faster, more comfortable.


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Disc brakes, I won't consider a new bike without them. If you ever ride in the wet and any hills, there is no comparison. Saves rims too, and carbon rims no need any special considerations. ALso opens possibility of wheel sizes on same frame. I run 700c (29er) for road, 650B (27.5) for trail.
Fatter tires, there are still people who insist on 25 or skinnier tires. I shrug. If you arent racing makes no sense. I wish Conti made their Gatorskins in wider than 32, those tires are tough. Not the most supple and lowest rolling resistance, but they shrug off glass bits, rocks, and do a good job of resisting metal bits.
Lower gearing, thankfully road bikes moved away from huge chainrings. Who the heck can realistically turn a 53 well. I remember back in the day I think my first bike had a 52.
Tiagra is pretty decent entry level stuff, roughly equivalent to Deore. Dura Ace = XTR, Ultegra = XT, 105 = SLX, Taigra = Deore I think. GRX is gravel gropu roughly around XT/Ultegra level.
Gravel the newest trend has brought about more alternative parts, like flared drops. I like them. Also more selection of more aggresive knobby tires. It's possible (I do) to ride on aggresive singletrack trails.
 

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I'd describe the changes as somewhere between significant and huge.

But if you're primarily a mountain biker who only does road rides occasionally, whether these changes are worth paying for is a different question.

The same quandary might occur to a roadie who wants a mountain bike for occasional casual use on non-technical trails.... is there a huge improvement to be had versus a carbon hardtail from 2010 in this usage case? I'd suggest not.
 

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Old road bikes can be fun but for me new ones are funner because they feel faster.
I think they're objectively faster, to be honest, and significantly so on less-than-perfect pavement.
 

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Definitely test ride a few gravel bikes. Some, like the Cervelo Aspero, have more forward/race/aggressive geometry. If you're considering a bike to pull dbl duty (road & gravel), this is a good bike to consider. Other gravel bikes have more relaxed, upright geometry which is great for those with lower back issues or who want the bike to handle like a mtb.

FWIW, I have '03 Bianchi steel roadie, my wife has a '05 Specialized Roubaix, we both ordered gravel bikes. We ride 20% on the road (i.e. paved trails) and the rest is mtb/gravel. Any technology advancements (gearing, wireless shifting, disc brakes, tubeless tires, etc) are available across all platforms: road, mtb, gravel, etc. Personally, Di2 (shimano) and ETAP (SRAM) are overrated and overkill for all but the most elite professional cyclists (and dentists LOL). Its a 1 lb weight savings for wireless at most--the bikes I test rode there was zero weight savings: the batteries and added mechanics actually weighed more than a cable and cable housing.
 

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Is there an advantage? Sure. Wider wheels/tires, slight improvements in frames, etc. But nowhere NEAR the improvements in mountain bikes over the last 20 years.
 

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in all honesty NO.
old road, new road....pretty much the same. just get a new set of baloney skins for the wheels yer good

yes geometry and with composite frames, comfort has improved....yadda yadda yadda...you can still grab a 1950's Schwinn Paramount with new tires and join the local hammerfest if you wanted...and do fine.


gravel bikes / newer road bikes allow bigger tires sure...but if you want 'road' duty a ton of old road bikes will work (as long as mechanically correct)

new road is disc brakes, composite frames, seatstay engineering for more comfort...improved reach and angles for comfort vs grueling old skool geometry but same dang wheel size and tires as ancient times

as other say, changes in road bikes are far less than MTB changes.
it's just a rigid* with skinny tires no matter how you slice it

*yes of course new bikes have more flex built in the right spots for endurance comfort
 

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in all honesty NO.......

yes geometry and with composite frames, comfort has improved....yadda yadda yadda...you can still grab a 1950's Schwinn Paramount with new tires and join the local hammerfest if you wanted...and do fine.



Yeah you might do just fine with that old paramount but you better be stronger than the rest of the group because you'll be putting out significantly more watts than they are.

For me it's all about enjoyment, and I enjoy hammerfests.
 
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