Frame vs Groupset

by Swami Dave   October 8, 2012  

New bike time: looking in the £1,500 - £1,800 bracket and I'm faced with a balance of better frame (alu vs carbon vs erm, fancier carbon) or better groupset (105 vs Ultegra)

For example, Giant's Defy series offers a composite version with Ultegra or an advanced version with 105 both for roughly the same cash and finishing kit/wheels. Similarly, Cannondale's Synapse Carbon 5 (105 carbon) and CAAD 10 3 (Ultegra alu), although they have different geometry and aren't real like-for-like comparisons.

Assuming that all else is roughly equal (wheels, finishing kit, etc) which should take priority - frame or groupset?


10 user comments

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Had a similar dilemma to you few months back. Went for the better frame with 105 (madone 4.5) rather than the ultegra with good but not so good frame (madone 3.5). And then bought better wheels, which makes all the difference.

Fringe's picture

posted by Fringe [1097 posts]
8th October 2012 - 11:58


I'll vote for better frame too. More straight forward (and cost effective) to upgrade the components on the frame and as Fringe says - some better wheels (and tyres) make a big difference too. It's still good to try them if you can. Good luck!

My cycling blog:

posted by girodilento [35 posts]
8th October 2012 - 12:15


While I agree a good frame/nice wheels are the most important thing, I believe you can have the best of both worlds!
The Caad 10 is an amazing bike. Funnily enough I found the dura ace version for £1700 recently. I have a >5000 superbike which is only a bit better.

So yeah get the best frame but make sure you have a good idea of what the best frame (for you) is. 105 really is good, very little functional difference from dura ace or Ultegra. Its a weight thing, and a few refinements.

posted by ilovemytinbred [164 posts]
8th October 2012 - 12:18


Or buy a Canyon and get both. New range out soon, but outstanding value for money.

Disadvantage is obviously that you can't try them but you will get a quality frame and groupset for that amount of money.

posted by andynic [67 posts]
8th October 2012 - 12:59


Was looking at exactly those frames, the composite vs the advanced. Pretty clear on the Giant website what the difference is and having managed with lesser parts I think 105 and an Advanced frame is the way to go.

Think you'd need to find a friend with a Canyon first. Not heard anything bad about them but it's always nice to try first.

jaunty angle: bikes and communications

ragtag's picture

posted by ragtag [184 posts]
8th October 2012 - 15:30


caad10 agreed, i ride one after testing lots of bikes.

giant defy

go test ride a caad10, it will blow your socks off! i bought an end of season 105 version for £899 (my original max budget was £2500)

sold all the 105 and the wheels straight away, stuck full ultegra and vision trimax wheels, arione saddle its now 7.2kg

fecking flies!

total build cost £1400.

posted by russyparkin [578 posts]
8th October 2012 - 20:04




Want the Daddy of all Aero Frames?
Want the cheapest Wind tunnel tested bike there is?
Want a frame used in the Pro Peleton up until 2005?
Want a frame that you need the 'quads of a shire-horse' to flex?

Well the answer to all those questions is yes.


Frame £798.99
Gruppo £430 Sram Rival off Ribble
Finishing kit £120
Wheels £100 Planet X Model B
Tyres £40 Schwalbe Ultremo R1


Go get.

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1734 posts]
8th October 2012 - 21:07


Go for the better frame every time. All the other bits you can upgrade as you go. +1 for andynic's suggestion. You will be able to get a great frame and groupset if you go Canyon.

Ah! Condor

posted by Bedfordshire Clanger [346 posts]
9th October 2012 - 11:22



Ribble Stealth
Dolan Ares
That new Vitus actually looks quite good

Sir Velo

Raleigh's picture

posted by Raleigh [1734 posts]
9th October 2012 - 11:26


Many thanks for all your suggestions. Definitely going to give Canyon a look.

Swami Dave's picture

posted by Swami Dave [62 posts]
12th October 2012 - 14:29