Another newbie here looking for some male and female hybrids.

Discussion in 'Bike buying advice' started by snailsontour, May 14, 2011.

  1. snailsontour

    snailsontour New Member

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    Chuckling to myself here as the title sounds a little, well, a little 'interesting' shall we say lol.

    I'll set my stall out and hope you guys on here can help make the mine field that is bike choice seem a little less confusing.

    Hubby and I are looking to buy a couple of hybrids after many decades of not cycling - our last bikes had three speed Sturmy Archers! Our budget is around £700 a bike plus mudguards, helmets etc.

    We are looking at hybrids as although most of our cycling will be on the road, we do want to be able to do tow paths and perhaps the odd bit of rougher track - but not serious mountain bike territory stuff. I'm 5'3" and believe that's a Small or a 15" frame. Hubby is 6'2" and a 58cm or Large frame. We are keen hill walkers, so whilst we are walking fit, neither of us is cycling fit yet.

    Our local Evans suggested I try bikes both with and without suspension so I have a couple of 2011 Specialized's on order from them - a Vita Comp and an Ariel Comp Disc (whatever that means) - each coming in at just under £700 but my problem is in knowing whether they are any good and what exactly good looks like, and will they suit my needs. I know that the bike with suspension will weigh more, but I'm not sure whether I really need it or not - or out of the two which is the better spec bike.
    Hubby is looking at a Specialized Crosstrail Elite and a Kona Dew Deluxe - these are 2010 models reduced down to £450 from over £600. He's also keen on the Specialized Sirrus - possibly the Comp or the Elite, but he's hoping that one of the 2010 bikes will do him 'cos he's a cheap skate! The bikes are expected in store next week for us to try out - I guess I'm asking whether we have made reasonably good choices for the money - or is there something better maybe a Trek or Scott? Or could we get better for less money? Any help/advice/comment would be much appreciated.
     
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  2. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    If the last bikes you owned had the venerable Sturmey Archer 3 speed (I last had one of those on my Raleigh Grifter back in '77!) then you'll be in for quite a shock when you see how good bikes are these days.

    Both the Specialized bikes you mentioned that Evans recommended for you are nice. The "disc" means disc brakes - like a motorbike - rather than traditional bike brakes that work on the rim. Your ol' chap may have the right approach though - bike technology does usually change that much so last years bikes will be as good as this years.

    The two big things to look for are bike fit (you need the correct size and get the bike shop to help you get the saddle and handlebars in the correct place for you) and bike choice - ie you get the right bike for where you want to ride the most. It sounds like you have the latter pretty well sorted.

    With hybrid bikes a simple change in tyres will allow you to go on some 'interesting' off road paths - such as hiking trials, where permitted. Knobbly tires aren't the best for street use, so a near slick tyre would be better if riding on the road. Don't worry about the thought that you need a fancy tread pattern on the tyre to channel the water away when you're riding in the rain - bike tyres are narrow enough to where they don't really need tread to do that, especially on something as narrow as a 700x28c or 700x25c road tyre than you might use on a hybrid bike. A wide road tire will do well on dry, compacted dirt trails too unless there some hills on them.
     
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  3. snailsontour

    snailsontour New Member

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    Thanks Swampy - 1977? - you're pretty much spot on with that lol.

    Yep, disc as in disc brakes it's obvious to me now. If I'm right in thinking, from devouring info on the forum, all bikes at a price point are pretty much the same, the difference is that the spread of the money goes to different components. What I think I mean is if a bike has disc brakes (expensive?) then it may for example have cheaper gears than a similar priced bike without disc brakes. Have I understood that right?

    Sadly I can't find a suitable women's 2010 model in Evans otherwise I'd take a look at one too - don't really want to spend extra just for the latest model. I did find a GT Traffic 1.0 on an internet site that looked good - but then how do I know about set up and fit?

    It's interesting what you say about tyres - I must confess I was a little concerned to see many bikes running on what appear to be slicks! Out of my two bikes one has 700 x 45 and the other 700 x 28. So the first is better for compacted tracks and the second road use? Mostly I expect to be on the road, so I guess that leans me towards the 700 x 28 - that's the Vita (no suspension and no disc brakes). Will I miss not having them? - Although the Vita does have some sort of gel insert in the forks (if I've understood rightly).

    Either way I'm really excited and can't wait to try them out!
     
  4. snailsontour

    snailsontour New Member

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    The business of tyres has sent me back to 'the quest'.

    So I've now added the Trek 7.5 fx wsd to my short list - it has 700 x 32 tyres so I'm thinking it should handle dirt tracks easier and also behave decently on the road. Just need to source one now to take a peek.
     
  5. snailsontour

    snailsontour New Member

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    Well I've now rode 4 bikes. I found my local Trek stockist, and happily he had stock of the various models and sizes. So I tested a 17" Trek 7.5 wsd and a 15" Trek 7300 - having been sized as a 15" by two other LBS, it turned out I'm better suited to the 17".

    The two Specialized's came in and so today I rode the Vita Comp and Ariel Comp Disc - both Small as the LBS had recommended and hey ho both too small.

    So what do I know? Well I think I need a bigger frame, and the saddles are hard - and the gears are in no way as easy as the good ol' Sturmey Archer!!

    Have I made my choice? Hmmm, not yet. The LBS of the Specialized fiasco want me to try a Cannondale Quick Female 4, a Scott Sub 20, and a Can Bad Boy - crikey I may be turning into a serial tester!!!

    All I want is a bike that will take me from the road to the canal tow path with the odd trail thrown in. How difficult can that be?
     
  6. sitzmark

    sitzmark Member

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    SoT- really isn't too difficult ... can be fairly simple if you don't try to sweat too many details. The "fit thing" is kinda like buying ready-made clothes - S, M, L, XL. Or you can get a little more specific size 6, size 8, 41s, 41L .... unless you're really lucky, you probably fit between two sizes and need some tailoring to shape things up. .

    Bike buying is basically the reverse of clothes buying, however. If you buy clothes too big, you have a lot of material to make adjustments with. If you buy them too small, you may not have enough material to extend/let out where needed. A bike frame is the opposite - too much frame and you're stuck. Most frame sizes vary by 2cm or 2", so it is fairly easy to add or take away 2cm through stem and saddle/post adjustments. In most cases, an XS can be configured with the same fit dimensions as a Small and vice versa. However, trying to make a Medium frame fit an XS rider is a lot more challenging - and most likely not possible. Conflicting info from different shops tends to make people think they are making a life altering mistake if they don't get the millimeters exact.

    So like clothes buying, "trying" different bikes is important, but unless properly configured it is very hard to compare the same bike in two different sizes, and even more difficult to compare with other brands/sizes. For test rides, more often than not a couple of basic adjustments are done and that's about it. So,for example, the XS ends up feeling a little small and the Small feels a little big. After a proper fitting, they both could have pretty much the same "cockpit" dimensionally. The nuance might be that the stem on the XS has been extended and the stem on the Small shortened, which can have an effect on steering feel. A highly skilled rider might notice the difference, but for recreational applications it's usually not noticed. If you're not looking to do a sophisticated ' fit analysis" as part of the purchase process, then you're serial testing is an exercise in finding the bike that comes closest to your ideal right out of the box. In actuality many of the bikes you try could be "stunning" on you if you wanted to have some tailoring done. :)

    To really "demo" a bike you need to do more than ride around a parking lot a few times. Challenge it - climb a steeper incline. Does it flex? Find a twisty road and build up some speed. A flexy frame can feel lethargic or unstable making tighter turns. A stiffer frame would be less flexy, but maybe less comfortable. How do these (and other) characteristics match the intended use? Those are the things you want to simulate during testing. If you find a shop that allows you to do an extended evaluation - more than a parking lot ride - then you're well on your way to finding your dream bike. Run a few of your top choices over the exact same course to compare them. This has an underlying cost, however, so probably not going to be the least expensive shop that does this. Basically a quid pro quo .... if a shop is comfortable that you're not wasting their time and money - i.e. they do all the work and you go hunting for the cheapest place to buy it - then there's an excellent chance all this comes together.

    The more performance you want out of your bike, the more the details matter. If you have a performance-driven personality, then address as much of the detail as you can up front. If you just want a comfortable bike for recreational riding - go for the basics and keep it simple. Enjoy your new bikes - whatever you get!!

    P.S. Trek measured bikes a little different than tradition in the past - so a 17" Trek was more comparable to a 15" traditionally measured frame. Not sure if that is still the case. With sloping top tubes and non-traditional frame geometry that many contemporary bikes have, a lot of the traditional frame sizing convention is outdated. It basically centered around the length of the seat tube, but frame design and component technology has changed the paradigm in many cases. The more critical sizing issue is really the length of the top tube, to match the length of your torso and arms. Stem and fore/aft saddle adjustment to alter upper body fit has less range of adjustment than saddle height (usually).
    .
     
  7. snailsontour

    snailsontour New Member

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    Wow, sitzmark, thank you for giving me such good insight into the complexities of sizing - your analogy is simple and yes, I get it! I'm so glad you posted this - as you will see...

    I think you really hit the nail on the head in that the test bikes were really just a quick adjust the saddle type of fit in order to give me a basic 'feel'. I guess that's ok for a more experienced rider, but for a complete novice like me it made it really difficult for me to connect with the bike. And you are right, with detailed fitting then any/all of them could have been right for me. I guess I was hoping for one of those 'this is the ONE' moments that I've read about when people find their Holy Grail ride.

    Whilst I do want a comfy recreational ride, I also want to push my boundaries and want my bike to challenge, thrill and excite (although preferably with a comfy seat). I don't just want a good competent bike, I want one that will bring a smile to my face.

    So, here's what's gone down today. I'm now the proud owner of a 15" Trek 7.5 wsd - it's a 2009 model. I believe this will be a good platform from which to learn more about both myself and the bike - and then I will be in a better position to know what I want should this prove not to be what I want.

    Am I pleased? You betcha!!
     
  8. sitzmark

    sitzmark Member

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    Nice choice! Trek offers high quality products - should perform well for you.
    As you ride more, you'll figure out what (if any) adjustments you need to make for comfort and performance. Sounds like you were conservative with your frame size, so you should have whatever adjustment leeway needed to dial in the bike exactly as you like.

    Have fun!
     
  9. snailsontour

    snailsontour New Member

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    Thank you!

    Another big day today as hubby has gone for a 2011 7.5 - think I must have brain washed him as I guess I've talked non stop 7.5 at him lol :) Our LBS is building it for him and we collect it tomorrow at 16:00 - I'm so excited for him. We've also been kitted out with the basics - shorts, gloves, helmets etc.

    Tomorrow morning we will have a bike rack fitted to the car so we can take mine in to the LBS to check/service and then we can take them both home.

    Then it's fun time! We are going to check the weather forecast (we live in Manchester England infamous for its wet weather) and then off we go.
     
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