Seeking new road bike recommendations... Endurance or Race

Hi TR gang, I am a pretty new road rider currently riding an aluminum Cannondale Synapse and I am looking to upgrade before the spring… Hopefully some events will happen next year and my current A race is the GFNY (NYC). I am also hoping to start doing some crit racing as well as any other road race events I can find and fit into my schedule in the North East US.

I can really only justify having one good road bike in my quiver so looking for any and all recommendations, opinions etc… Bike availability is of course somewhat limited still, but obviously I want to make sure I get something that will fit me well and be able to do some test rides before pulling the trigger.

I have my eye on a Specialized Tarmac SL7 Expert that is currently available at a sort of near by LBS.

Other bikes I am thinking about are Trek Emonda, or possibly a Cervelo Caledonia 5, my max price range is around the 5-6k ish mark.

Being that I want to do some racing but also do some longer more endurance type events, group rides, gran fondos, etc… please blast away with any and all recommendations or opinions!

if you’re used to the Synapse, a more racey bike will push you in terms of geometry.
If you have something available nearby, test-riding is always going to be the way to go, especially if you don’t have much experience.
This will allow you to figure out what you are really after, in terms of geometry.


The endurance frames have longer head tubes, maybe lower BBs and slacker angles and perhaps can fit a little wider tire. Some people say they ride more stable and comfortable, but, I say if you know your fit dimensions and know the size tire you like, get the one that fits the budget, looks the best and has the better component group.

For me it’s road all the way. I want to be more forward than what most angles can provide anyways. Endurance put me too far behind the BB…

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I’m also in the NE and my Emonda has been great. Roads here aren’t the best, but it’s been comfy on longer and more bumpy rides. The geo fits me well but everyone is different


Get a Bike fit and then decide…spending 100 bucks for that before investing big bucks is totally worth it. Once you know stack and reach you can also hunt for good deals online. Last two bikes I bought were bought purely on reviews and stack /reach.

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So I had a bike fit after I purchased my Synapse but it didn’t seem overly detailed, they basically just adjusted my saddle position and height / moved the hoods a bit… With a good bike fit should they give you basically ideal geometry parameters that you can use to later find the right new bike?

Well from crit to Gf is a big, would you do gravel on this bike also?

If you would skip crit I would state the Cervelo Aspero checks all the boxes and takes gravel tires, but wouldn’t be a crit machine.

Cdale Evo

Yes! I am talking independent bike fitter, not bike shop. I got a geometry chart with lots of measurements and use it to set up my bikes.

Biggest surprise for me was the fact that he told me I could go pretty low with the stack compared to what I was riding (endurance bike). Even though I thought my mobility was soso.

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Probably want to stay more on the road side than a gravel machine… Although I like that the SL7 can take up to 32’s.

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Unfortunately I don’t believe there’s any reliable substitute for try it and see. What is comfortable for 30 minutes may well cause issues after 2 hours, for example. As you ride a bit more, you’ll also get to know your quirks in terms of what you prefer; for example, I know I prefer a steeper seat angle with less setback on the seatpost, and a longer stem to compensate; I just feel in a better position. Actually, one thing I would always check is seat angle, as reach is measured from in front of the seat, so 2 bikes with the same reach on paper could have a different distance to the bars dependent on seat angle. ETT is worth looking at for this reason.


Another vote here for getting a bike fit before you buy. I know a few people who have struggled going from an Endurance frame to a more aggressive one…it’s an expensive or uncomfortable mistake.


What is ETT?

Effective Top Tube

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Caley fretz over at cyclingtips has nothing but good things to say about cervelo caledonia, or at least only says negative stuff about the integrated front end set up on the upper tier model. But he mentions that the geo is a perfect in between of race and endurance geo if you’re on the fence about which one you want.

Yeah I think I read this review and it’s what got me interested… Now if only I could find one to try out :frowning:

Went from a relaxed endurance fit, to an aggressive endurance fit.
Glad I didn’t follow my heart and opt for a pure racer. I’d be kicking myself now.


I can give you a personal, expensive anecdote aligning with @recoveryride’s comment and @dave’s above. The wife gave me permission to purchase a new road bike and I thought I wanted an endurance road bike. I had watched and read reviews on various frames and comparing the “endurance” geometry with others and figured the endurance was for me. I also wanted to smooth out the tarmac and was less interested in fast descending than good climbing (I’ll return to this point).

The bike I decided on was an endurance geometry and I took it on a test ride. The ride, in hindsight, was far too short. That was my fault: it was colder than I expected when I showed up wearing my kit for the test ride. This meant I only started a hill climb before dropping down or sit in the saddle for that long. I did find cobbles and felt it was plush.

I bought it and got fit (using… I can’t recall the tech platform) at the shop before rolling out. However, I couldn’t find the right stem height and we kept adjusting it downward. Finally, I saw one last video (from GCN) as I tried to figure out why I wasn’t comfortable on this bike. I then compared the geometry of this bike to my gravel bike and found them very close (which goes to @abg’s comment above) and realized the problem.

I had the “endurance” geometry on my gravel bike, which had plenty of road time traveling between forests & trails, but unlike my gravel bike, this road bike wasn’t a great climber. It was a good climber, but not great.

What I found worked for me was a lightweight climbing bike with 28mm tubeless to absorb the road. Yes, this endurance bike also had 28mm tubeless but because of the climbing I like to do and the feel I wanted on the bike, the endurance geometry for the road bike wasn’t for me.

I am now trying to sell that endurance bike. (I shipped it to a friend in Austin, TX, thinking it would sell better than here, but…) An expensive lesson but for the grace of my wife I’m not writing this from my grave.


If you want something, get it now.

Everyone is right about the geometry being longer and lower. You can test this out on your current frame my removing all the spacers under the stem and getting a negative 17 stem if you want. The proper road bike is going to be about 30mm (1in) lower.

Otherwise, I’d only swap out the bikes because one has a better paint job, you can’t get the fit you want on your current bike, or want to upgrade everything. The new bike isn’t going to be radically different than your current bike - a lot if the difference aren’t all that different and modern AL frames aren’t that much different than carbon. On that SL7, for example the only things that are really better than your current rig are the lower handlebars (aero, you can make stem change) and tires (likely). You might be on the right bike is you’re in New York; I’d put aero handlebars (Easton EC70) /wheels & Tires on it if you want it be faster. The Cervelo has a better build with the Swiss E1800 wheels ($300 Merlin) and aero handlebars ($200).

If you’re in NY and want to distance events , I’d put you to get a road/gravel/all road bike as a one-bike solution with two wheel/tire sets. This would get you some soft road capability without sacrificing anything( A standard gravel bike/all road bike is just a road endurance bike that has a bit wider fork at the top of the fork and wider seat stays that prevent you from running a TT size chainring). Just change the wheels and you’ll have the right bike. Cervelo Aspero, Trek Domane /Checkpoint, 3T Exploro, Open Up, Canyon Endurance etc. I’ve got an Emonda and a Checkpoint… you can’t tell the difference when they’re on the same wheels/tires - I probably have more Strava PRs on the Checkpoint.


I can help with this as I recently went through the process and got a bike fit prior to purchasing.

I had been riding an aluminum Frame bike for about a year. I always had shoulder pain immediately as I hopped on the bike. I even had a shorter stem put in, and I still had shoulder pain every time I hopped on it.

It was time for an upgrade!!

I decided to go to a bike fitter to tell me me my dimensions to make sure I get the right geometry. I was after a carbon frame with at least Ultra groupset, so I wanted to make sure I did in my fit ($$$).

I went to one of the best rated fitter (in the bay are). He was great but I had 1 problem with him. After chatting with him and about my shoulder pain, he basically said I should only get an endurance bike, since I’m not an experienced rider. He basically went on Google and looked at best endurance bikes, and had me fitted for one of them.

He gave me a solid range to pick from, so I went around and did a test ride that fit the geometry he recommended.

I just didn’t like it. I wanted to grow INTO a bike. I felt like endurance was just too soft and too upright. My shoulder pain stemmed from the older bike being too big for me, not because it wasn’t an endurance bike.

I went to a great bakeshop nearby and started trying some more aggressive style bikes. We made sure that it’s the right size when I was test riding and I LOVED it.

No shoulder pain!! I concluded that my old bike was just a few sizes too big for me.

I have been on my new race oriented bike for a few months now, and I have NO issues. I’m pretty flexible and overall in great shape. So I definitely don’t have a problem with more aggressive style. I just had to make sure it’s the right size.

I recently went to a different bike fitter to dial in my fit again and he made a few adjustments to make sure I’m good to go.

My advice is this: You can probably skip the initial bike fitting to determine what size you should get (save that money for a fit AFTER your purchase). Go to a good bike shop that has experienced people who can tell you honestly your size. Test ride at least 10 different bikes with different geometries (endurance, race, and so on) from a few different shops. If you like a few, narrow your search based on your goals. Make sure you LOVE to color, you love to bike itself, and most importantly you felt good when riding it. If you experience any discomfort or it just feels off, skip it.

Go home, sleep on it, then decide what you want to buy.

Don’t force a purchase. If you buy something you feel comfortable on, something you can grow with, and you absolutely love the looks of. That’ll be the bike for you.


^There’s some good points here. Especially spacers - if I was looking to grow into a bike, as it were, I might start with one where I was comfortable with 25-30mm of spacers under the stem, and say a 100mm stem. Removing spacers and trying a cheap longer stem (you can pick up decent second hand alloy stems for £20) is pretty cheap and risk-free (provided you stay away from expensive carbon integrated bar-stem units).

Tbh, I (foolishly) sold the best fitting bike I ever had because it wasn’t ‘racy’ enough and because someone I went to for a saddle fit (!) was adamant it was too small. I have never been as comfortable on a bike since.

Funnily enough, I have just started the process of getting a custom-built steel frame. The geometry on the first drawing I have received from the fitter is within mm of the bike I got rid of in all but 1 dimension (standover). If it feels right, it probably is.