French Linen

Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Final Decision: Specialized Amira and Shimano Tiagra vs. Shimano 105 Components

My new baby being assembled at Cycle Center
I knew I wanted the Specialized Amira Compact and I was pretty sure that the base model was probably the way to go.  I had quickly ruled out the middle entry level model with SRAM components.  Multiple sales reps at different stores had said that customers didn’t like the SRAM shifting which requires a double push and can be hard to get right, or for women with small hands, hard to push all the way over.  The Tiagra shifters in the base model felt like an upgrade to my Sora shifters, and I was questioning whether spending an additional $700 between the base and elite models was really worth it.  But, my husband, even being an accountant always looking for the good deal, said he would hate to advise me not to consider the upgraded components which are a very important part of any bike.
My one other concern as I considered either of these components was that fact that I would be going from a 27 speed, triple crank to a 20 speed, double crank.  The staff at Cycle Center of Stamford advised me that the difference would be that on the low end on either bike, I would lose the option of the lowest 1-2 gears but at the high end on the Elite, I would have one more gear allowing for more power going down hills.  I decided to do a test on my Raleigh around one of my North Stamford rides and since I was able to maintain my ride in gears 10 – 18  going up some rolling hills, I decided I should generally be ok.  In the end, I would also gain some speed and power through a better bicycle.
I returned to Cycle Center to test ride bicycles with the Shimano Tiagra versus the Shimano 105 components.  In the end, I could feel a difference in the ease and smoothness in shifting and decided this is a very important factor.  The carbon seatpost upgrade on the elite model is a nice factor, although that is something on any bike you can easily upgrade.  The Fulcrum wheels are also a nice upgrade, although based on some reviews I’ve read, if I were just upgrading the wheels, I would likely make some other choices.
So, in the end, it was the Shimano 105 components that were the biggest deciding factor in going with the Amira Elite.  I wish the middle Amira Compact model gave the option for the Shimano 105 instead of the SRAM Apex as I do feel like you have to overpay somewhat to get the overall package you want.  On the other end, the base Amira model is a very good value if you don’t mind the Tiagra components.  I was just concerned that one year from now I would be kicking myself for not going with the Shimano 105.
The Amira Elite model I was ordering only came in one blue and black color, which I was a little disappointed in when placing the order.  I had liked the white and gold color scheme on the lower models.  But when I picked up the bike, the color scheme in real life far exceeded my expectations.  The black areas of the frame have a very cool gloss over the matrix patterned carbon fibers.  The blue pallet is a cool electric blue and the blue and white stripes carry through to the seat and handlebars.  I was instantly in love with my new baby!

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