My new wheels at Xiaogetou.
After asking around countless stores, I ended up finding a Giant store in Zhonghe that took my old OCR2 as a trade-in and I bought this 2009 TCR Alliance for 38k (original price 49k). I'm now once again the weak link in the bicycle-rider combo.
Initial impressions: God am I glad to be rid of my old triple-ring half Sora, half Tiagra set-up and the constant vain attempts to eliminate chainrub. I'm loving this new 105 set-up. No more clunking noises while changing gears and no more chainrub when I'm in my highest gears going downhill.
The frame is a tad bit lighter, but that's usually negated by the amount of water I tend to bring when I go uphill in the summer. My old frame had a nasty gash on the top-tube, so I'm digging the new paint job.
The combination of the new wheels and half carbon, half aluminum frame absorbs pothole so much better than my old bike. I was able to shave at least 3 minutes off my descent down the Beiyi Gonglu because I didn't feel like my bike was disintegrating after each pothole I hit at 45km/h. I did some sprints yesterday afternoon on the bike path north of Dadaocheng (one of my favorite patches of asphalt in Taipei if you go late at night or on weekday afternoons when no one's around) and it felt rock solid at 50 km/h, whereas my old bike would moan and creak.
The saddle is a different shape than my old one and I haven't quite found the perfect position for it yet, which is aggravating me. Also, the lowest gear in the back isn't as low as on my old bike, so going uphill was a bit rougher on my knees. I'm pondering whether to switch the rear cassette or just get in better shape and stand more on the steeper inclines.
As to that Giant store that took my old bike as a trade-in, I would recommend NOT going there to purchase your bike. I found the laobanniang there to be pushy and not very helpful and their selection of components and accessories lacking. Still, if you know what you want and you're looking to trade-in your old Giant, it might be worth a shot. It's on Chenggong Lu, just north of the 106, in Zhonghe.