There's no better time for a new ride than in summer, when long warm days beckon. Here are a few new bikes, in every budget, for the dog days. These three bikes were outstanding when we tested them all winter and spring, and they'll be that much better now on the sultry, quiet backroads of the season.
EDDY MERCKX EMX3 $4,000
THE SELL Built for long saddle days, be it savoring a gran fondo or shredding a top priority road race.
THE TEST The EMX3 is stable and smooth—but in no way dainty. “I’ve never been on a bike so confident,” one tester raved. “I could ride no-hands, downhill, at 40, without even a wobble.” Credit the radically shaped tubing, with broad, flat sweeps of carbon in the front triangle that made the most rutted New Mexico roads feel like finely honed granite. Factor in the large swells of carbon at the head tube and bottom bracket and the EMX3 was plenty rigid for even the heftiest riders. Everyone loved the Dark Knight styling, and the Fulcrum Racing 5 wheels were smooth enough, though for four grand, we’d have liked the better hubs and lighter rims of the Racing 3s.
THE VERDICT Just like it’s namesake, the EMX5 is built for strapping, big-mileage solos. 16.6 lbs (56); eddymerckx.be
HANDLING 4.7 (out of 5)
SPECIALIZED ROUBAIX SL3 EXPERT COMPACT $3,700
THE SELL A distance cruiser that devours big miles.
THE TEST Before you pigeonhole the SL3, an update to the popular Roubaix, as an upright ride built only for comfort, consider that it's the same frame that Fabian Cancellara rode on his indomitable 2010 Spring Classics campaign. All the comfort as previous models is here, with the Zertz elastomers in the seatpost, seat stays, and fork that cushion the ride now pressed into the frame for added vibration damping. "This bike is so plush that not only could I ride it all day," raved one tester, "I could ride it all week." Smooth, however, doesn't equal limp or sluggish. A new molding process that forms the top tube, head tube, and down tube in one piece keeps the steering crisp and accurate, while a similar one-piece bottom bracket and chain stay design makes the bike rocket forward with the slightest addition of power. Still, the tall head tube and long wheelbase isn't for everyone, so if it's a purebred racer you're after (and your name's not Fabian) you should probably look elsewhere.
THE VERDICT Perfect if comfort is as important as speed, but speed is no less critical than comfort. 17.3 lbs (56); specialized.com
DIAMONDBACK PODIUM 5 $2,100
THE SELL Big ride doesn't have to mean small fortune.
THE TEST "Surprising!" was the most common comment out of testers' mouths when they returned from a loop on the Podium 5, and usually it was accompanied by a huge smile. The amazement comes from the fact that in the Podium 5, Diamondback, a company that has built its reputation on BMX and mountain bikes, has delivered a road bike that handles predictably, climbs reliably, descends ably, and won't break the bank. It's equipped with Shimano 105, perhaps the best performance bang for your buck in components, and hard-working Shimano R-500 wheels, which are smooth and will take years of abuse. Even the baby blue and white paint scheme, while understated, is pretty sharp looking. And though a few testers complained of the muted ride, just as many actually liked the supple feel.
THE VERDICT There are lighter bikes and quicker handling bikes and sexier bikes out there—but we defy you to find a bike this good for less cash. 17.7 lbs (56); diamondback.com