Yo @leocbuc…long response sorry: Beware when you barrow friends bikes or test ride bikes from shops. While not necessarily a “bad” idea you just need to understand tires and pressures will make two identical bikes feel like two different bikes. Ideally, when you test ride you’d want the same tires, pressure, wheels and saddle. That’s not always possible but, keep it in the back of your head and always question what exactly you are feeling and why is it feeling this way.
I’m in the market for an all around race bike and can only tell you what I’m considering:
-Size and geometry: Most bikes have nearly identical geometry so, sizing is easy between manufacturers. It’s mostly stack and reach now for sizing for me…I’ve been doing this forever so any “54” will give me a top of saddle to center of BB distance I need, back of saddle to hood distance I need with a saddle setback of 5cm which is where I like it. The saddle will be mid rail and the stem will probably have a little a 5-10mm spacer under it to give me the bar height I have been used to and familiar with.
-Component group: For me SRAM AXS has some really interesting gearing with their 12 speed range. A 48/35 up front with a 10-33 in back really has me excited for climbing gearing and the 48-10 is close enough for max sprinting I won’t lose anything there. Also, I know I want power and have been using Quark for years so, the integrated Quark PM with SRAM is a no brainer. Shimano can factory install PM’s so not a negative for Shimano and the gearing range with their 11 speed has gotten wider each year. I think they are at a 52/36 with an 11-30 if you want in the back. Lastly, the group will be hydraulic simply because it’s better than mechanical disc (IMO/E).
-Wheels: All I know is I want 50mm or deeper and disc. The wider internal rim the better. 50mm means carbon as aluminum isn’t doable much over like 30mm.
-Front end: I want the cockpit as integrated as possible just to be clean and aero. Carbon bars are not needed but, they have a nice feel. More importantly I hope to get 40 or 38cm wide bars.
-Frame: What I don’t really care about is if it’s termed aero or climbing. The difference might be measurable but, it’s not noticeable. Especially for hobbyist like us I really think it’s something marketing has latched onto making novices feel like they really really would be better of with a climbing bike v aero…What I do want are seat stays that are lower (pretty much every bike on the market for 2021). I had a 2016 Scott Foil years ago that had these stays and I swear it was the most comfortable bike in part due to this. The front end has to be nimble/quick front end and stable rear triangle.
-other: buy from a shop with good mechanics and helpful staff. Warranties are a great piece of mind and the relationship with the shop usually pays off one way or another over time. If that means it’s a Trek, C-dale, Specialized, Scott, Orbea, BMC, Merida, Bianchi, Giant etc…I really don’t think you can go wrong. All have bikes I’d ride.