Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Obsessing Over Bikes Is The Ultimate In Escapism

Arguably this is the very best time of year to ride a bicycle here in this particular part of the world:

And for this reason I've been very grateful to have a new excuse to do so.  After all, I am a semi-professional bike blogger, and I've got to review this Tresca!

Today's ride was 30 miles up and down "River Road," where yesterday I took my plastic Fred Sled.  So how do the two bikes compare?  Well, my first thought upon hopping on the Tresca was, "Yeah, the plastic bike is definitely smoother."  However, I soon forgot about all that, and the rest of the time I was mostly just thinking, "This bike feels great!"

It makes sense that overall the Specialized would feel a little "nicer" than the Tresca.  It's lighter, it's crabon, and it's got Dura Ace on it.  (Sure, the difference in feel between 105 and Dura Ace is pretty small, but it is there.)  At the same time, the retail price on the Specialized when new would have been a whopping $4,000 (it's a 2018 model that has long since vanished into the Specialized archives), whereas the Tresca is about half that.  So while the Specialized does come off as a bit more refined, and really is an excellent race bicycle, there's no way that refinement is worth two grand.  Indeed, depending on what you're after and who you are it may be worth nothing.  Anyway, of course you've always got the option of spending $4,000 for the Dura Ace version of the Tresca, which comes with crabon wheels and the whole schmear, though honestly I have no idea why you'd bother given how well this bike performs in its budget guise.

Of course the best comparison to the Tresca for testing purposes would be something like a Cannondale CAAD13 105, which is aluminum, equipped similarly, and also slightly cheaper at $1,800.  I have not ridden an aluminum Cannondale since owning one a full nine (9) CAADs ago (it had one-inch headtube for chrissakes), but I will say I remember it being a great bike, and based on what I've heard the CAAD[X]s still are, at least in terms of ride quality.  On the other hand, the latest Cannondales do have BB30 bottom brackets, which scare me, and are enough to sway me towards the Tresca without even trying the Cannondale.  But on the other other hand, you buy a Cannondale through a bike shop, which is absolutely a selling point if you want in-person technical support, fitting advice, and all the rest of it.

All that aside, with over 100 miles now on the Tresca, I still think it's excellent.  And while I reserve the right to put forth critiques and criticisms as I continue to get to know the bike, if I were a paying customer I'd continue to feel quite good about my purchase.  Of course I still need to try the thing in an actual bicycle race, and fortunately I'll have the opportunity to do just that in the not-too-distant future.  I'll keep you posted.


wishiwasmerckx said...


wishiwasmerckx said...

Mr. BSNYC, I have never owned an aluminium frame.

The popular consensus is that the ride is harsh.

Urban legend, sir?

BikeSnobNYC said...


Yes, not true.

I guess it might have been true in the early days of fat-tubed aluminum bikes, but certainly not anymore. But for some reason the notion persists.

--Tan Tenovo

mikeweb said...

In re: Aluminium - I would imagine that a carbon fork and seat post v. alloy/steel ones would definitely soften the harsh ride quality.

Tan Tenovo, what is the upcoming actual unfortunate bike race?

BikeSnobNYC said...


The bike uses a 25.4 seatpost ostensibly to give some flex, but I really think the aluminum=harsh thing is a badly dated concept. My aluminum Redline (now lovingly re-homed) always felt exceptionally smooth to me, even with the original aluminum fork.

There's a Prospect race in October.

--Tan Tenovo

mikeweb said...

Point taken.

I may also partake in one last race, just to confirm my mediocrity heading into the off season.

JLRB said...

is it true Tresca fixed the harsh ride by using CBD oil to lube the chain?

Serial Retrogrouch said... first road bike was a Cannondale CAAD somethingsomething. I rode it exclusively for about seven years, loving it and having no idea what other bikes felt like... nor felt like I needed to know. Then I got T-boned by a DOT truck and the frame was damaged. The next road bike I got was steel... and I immediately noticed how much less my joints shook on NYC streets.

...I have not gone back to alumin(i)um since then. My joints are too scared.

...I will say though, probably with a little fatter/trendier tire, the CAAD would feel much better.

Anonymous said...

It occurs to me that what you're actually doing is reviewing framesets. For peak authenticity, you could swap wheels and components between the Fresca and the Merida and conduct another comparison.

Of course, there does exist the potential for calamity in such an exercise, but just think how entertaining that would be for us, your loving readership…

leroy said...

An October race in Prospect Park?

And I thought my dog was inquiring about the dry cleaning status of my chicken costume for Halloween.

HDEB said...

A $4,000 bike is twice as fast as a $2,000 bike!

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 5:25pm,

Will definitely swap wheels, maybe try new bar tape and saddle, though much more than that is too much WORK!

--Tan Tenovo

wishiwasmerckx said...

Brooks Cambium C17 FTW!

joliver3 said...

Snob -- if the Cannondale CAADwhatever is $200 less with similar components, why would anybody pay more for the Tresca, including shipping charges, when you can't test ride one and won't get any local shop support after the sale? I mean, I know you don't like press-fit bottom brackets, but how much is that worth to you?

BTW, I also have a late '90s Litespeed that I bought used (mine's a Vortex), and it's the best bike I've ever had. It could very well be my forever bike.

Stay snobbish!

BikeSnobNYC said...


Absolutely, if you want the support of a local shop, or you have a relationship with one and you want to maintain it, a bike like the Cannondale makes more sense than the Tresca.

At the same time, I wouldn't underestimate the potential for this type of sales model. For example, it seems to be working for brands like State and Canyon. Obviously Tresca have their work cut out for them as far as building enough of a reputation that people are confident enougj to order the bikes without riding them first. So far I'll vouch for the quality of the bike but they'll need a lot more people to do the same (you know, real bike reviewers who work for real media outlets), and I'd imagine they'll also need to hold demos, sponsor some racers, etc.

If they do manage to prove themselves I'd say there are a good number of self-sufficient riders out there who want a straightforward aluminum race bike and don't mind foregoing a relationship with a bike shop. (In fact, no offense to bike shops, but there are probably a not-insignificant number of riders who would probably rather not deal with a bike shop--draw a Venn diagram of "people who avoid bike shops" and "people who insist on threaded bottom brackets" and I bet there's a sizable overlap.) I also expect they'll have to at least offer a disc brake model along side the rim brake bike. Certainly the fact it uses rim brakes is part of the appeal for me, but I think we're at the point where most buyers are going to expect discs.

Ultimately Tresca will sink or swim on their own merits. This isn't Shark Tank and I have no financial stake in their success or failure. I'm just a guy who loves to ride bikes and to write about riding bikes, so when Tresca asked me if I'd like to try one of theirs I said yes because it ticks a lot of boxes for me. They do seem to have made a very bike, so they've got that going for them anyway.

Glad you also love your Litespeed!

--Tan Tenovo

BikeSnobNYC said...

*They do seem to have made a very _good_ bike I mean.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Enougj with the typos already...

Anonymous said...

I ordered stuff from Wiggle and I believe British VAT tax (20%) is taken out when you order from overseas

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 6:01am,

You don't say where you're ordering from but if it's the US I don't think you should be paying VAT.

--Tan Tenovo

Anonymous said...

From Australia, i mean you pay for shipping plus import tax if you order from uk but VAT is taken out which somewhat even out those charges

huskerdont said...

Import duty though, right? And they can't tell you exactly how much that will be. It's the reason I didn't buy the Vitus Venon from overseas and ended up with the Emonda. Well, first by way of an aluminum Cannondale Synapse that I sold after a few months.

Unknown said...

I think the whole aluminum frames are harsh thing is wrong, it has more to do with the frame geometry. I have an '84 Cannondale T-100 with the original fat down tube, etc and have always called it the"Rolls Royce" of my fleet.

BikeSnobNYC said...


Yeah, I think wheelbase has a *lot* to do with the perceived smoothness of a bike.

--Tan Tenovo

leroy said...

Dear wishiwasmerckz @7:15 pm -

Brooks is discontinuing the Cambium and it was not included among the saddles for which they offer a warranty.

That said, I recently bought another one after an old one cracked across the nose after 3-1/2 years.

Of course, my dog was delighted to make large crack on saddle jokes.

BikeSnobNYC said...


Brooks is discontinuing the Cambium?!? (As you can see I haven't spoken with them in awhile.)

--Tan Tenovo

Tresca Bikes said...

Thanks for your comment.

The Cannondale CAAD13 and the Tresca TCA-1 both cost around £1600 in UK, and yes you get the personalised service of a shop if you buy CAAD13. However the benefit of a direct sales model is the customer getting a high quality product for a lower price. Or conversely, for same price getting more value.
Let’s put this into context. TCA-1 components cost over £1300 RRP, which is why we are keen to mention that we stock all branded parts. Having ridden these parts ourselves, we are happy with their quality; enough so to supply them with our bikes. Standard insert big brand aluminium bike here part costs are likely lower in value (although some of their parts are difficult to value, such as their own brand handlebars etc).
Regardless of the quality, any high grade frameset and components all add weight, and a fully built TCA-1 weighs in at 8kg or less. The CAAD13 has been reported to weigh in at 8.4kg (
So even though on paper they are a similar price, overall the TCA-1 offers more value for money.
Also, everyone rides mainstream brands, wouldn't it give anyone some joy to have something unique and different from the norm?

Anonymous said...

I think what draws most customers to internet direct companies like Canyon, YT, Cube, etc is that they offer a superior value. The customer is paying essentially dealer cost: a $3.5k canyon is specced similarly to a $5K trek. I guess we'll have to wait and see if there is a customer that wants a mail order bike at bike shop pricing.

Anonymous said...

Its all about the tires. I had an aluminum Frame (a Marin) that road fine, and was comfortable enough, until.....I replaced the tires after they had worn. I put on 25's as there was a "blow out deal" (I think it was 70%off) on the same tire as originally equipped, but in the 25 instead of the 23 size (thank you Performance Bike). It was a mistake on my end, I didn't notice I had ordered 25's until I received them, but being a blow out sale they were not returnable. The ride was much noticeably smoother, almost like night an day, but I noticed no "loss in performance".

Amazing the difference 2mm makes.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Anonymous 1:49pm,

Yeah, digging deeper into pricing of these various bikes I think you're right.

--Tan Tenovo

1904 Cadardi said...

While you "corrected" your original statement: They do seem to have made a very bike
it reads better as written and they certainly have made a very bike. A very very bike.

1904 Cadardi said...

I have one rigid aluminum framed bike in my collection (collection makes it sound much more exclusive and pretentious than the truth which is I'm a bike hoarder). It's a cross/gravel bike and rides like an unsprung buckboard, but that probably has more to do with the 9 dollar Performance city tires on there than the frame (the sidewalls appear to made from granite).

Steve Barner said...

I hope Brooks discontinuing the Cambium is an unfounded rumor. Snob was right when he once quipped that the Cambium might just be the best commuting saddle of all time, at least in those areas where theft is not a concern. They are still listed on the Brooks website, albeit at the bottom of the page.

Anonymous said...

Canyon didn't sell in US until recently-they only started selling there when they opened assembly plant to ship direct from there rather than ship from Germany making customer pay for import duty plus high shipping charge effectively wiping out Canyon's direct sales price advantage to bike shop prices in US. Plus I believe US tax and EU consumer tax is different-Caad13 costs $1800 in US whereas it costs around $2000 in UK (£1600)-I assume because of higher VAT rate in uk (20%-I don't know consumer tax rate in US) compared to US?

Also, as a new company I don't think Tresca has the same buying power as large companies like Cannondale or Canyon so don't have volume discounts from component makers effectively making their products bit more expensive (at least in US) not that they are robbing customers..