Hybrid Bicycles - thinking hybrid, have questions
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08-22-10, 09:49 PM
I was a pretty avid road biker for a long time, then I had a baby, and its been a couple years since I have done any serious riding. I am in the market for a bike that is a little more recreational riding friendly- something I could attach a trailer to, more upright riding position, that can handle well on gravel and trails but will mostly be used on bike paths. I was thinking a hybrid might best meet my needs, and did some shopping this weekend. I tried a couple mountain bikes as well as hybrids. Right now I am leaning toward a Specialized Ariel, as it seems to best fit what I am looking for. I tried a Trek X3 (I think that was the model- it was basically a road bike with flat bars. It was great, but for that I would just stick to the road bike I have).
My question is- how well does the Specialized Ariel really handle on off-road trails? I am not thinking I will be doing any technical mountain biking, but I would like to have the option of riding off-road. I also wondered if there were other similar bikes out there to the Specialized Ariel by different makers (one that comes to mind is the Gary Fisher Kaitai, but I have not been able to find one to test out)?
Any words of wisdom or advice is appreciated!
I'm also thinking of an Ariel as one of my choices but have not been able to see one as of yet. I am looking for precisely what you are looking for in a bike. Today I saw the Trek FX, Navigator, and 7000. I really liked the fx and 7000 (fx more though) but I wish they had wider tires w/ deeper thread. The Navigator had more or less the tires that I think would be adequate but not rally sold on the frame style.
08-23-10, 03:42 AM
Tyres can be swapped by your LBS at the time of purchase and the LBS should take the original tyres back and refund them ... if they do not want to do this: get another LBS.
Same should go for the saddle.
My advice to you both is to get cyclocross tyres as they perform very well both on roads and offroad.
More than half of your bike's ability to drive offroad lies in your own technique, though ;)
I use Schwalbe CX Comp's and I literally drive through fields and forests with them, provided that the ground isn't soaking wet ofcourse. Have a look at the Marathon duremes and supremes too.
If you live around Holland, I advice you to take a look at the brand "Sensa" ... I got my wife one it she really loves it :)
08-23-10, 06:56 AM
Thanks. I think if I went with the Ariel I would definitely have to swap the saddle as well as the grips on the handlebars. Hopefully the store I went to will do that. I realize that the tires are still narrower than a mountain bike but I am hoping this shouldnt matter too much for my purposes. Are there any recommendations for others I should try? Overall I felt the Trek bikes I tested had a better "fit" in terms of geometry for me, but none of the bikes I saw were quite what I was looking for. When I bought my road bike, I tested a bunch but *knew* immediately when I had found the right one. I am hoping to have a similar experience here. I liked the Ariel, but did not feel 100% sure.
I would think the Ariel would handle the terrain you are talking about just fine. It comes with 45 mm tires and although they are a Specialized house brand I would imagine that unless they are real stinkers they will be worth wearing out. As has been said you can have them changed at the shop if you really want different tires. Once again a bike manufacturer uses rims that the rim manufacturer does not admit making so I can't find the specs on those rims but if they fit 45 mm tires they should fit any tires you would want to use for the trails you describe and some wider road tires as well. As for other brands to consider, your usage description sounds like you want a hybrid biased towards the mountain bike end of the spectrum and any time I hear that I think Marin bikes (http://www.marinbikes.com/2010/). You might take a look through their offerings. If you live in the US and near an REI store they are carried at some of those stores as well as at local shops.
08-23-10, 12:56 PM
I'm not quite sure I understand exactly why it is that you are looking at a 700c bike. If you want to ride trails and paths while often pulling a trailer, you may want a 26" wheel instead.
In a 700c wheel:
If you want to ride on the MUP mostly, you could go with something like a Jamis Coda femme ($550). It's a steel framed hybrid with mtb gearing 48/38/28 triple and 28s with plenty of room for wider tires, with front and rear rack braze-ons. Jamis also has the Citizen is aluminum with a shock fork and and wide 38 mm tires.
In a 26" wheel:
There are comfort hybrids like the Jamis Explorer with an upright riding position that you could take more aggressive tires on for lite trail use.
Yes, I do work at a lbs that sells mostly Jamis but, they are still fine bikes.
08-23-10, 05:56 PM
I am curious as to why a 26 wheel would be better than a 29 for pulling a trailer? I actually rode a couple mountain bikes today (one of which was a Jamis- but not much selection of those at the store here that carries them in my size) and found that the 29 felt much faster on the road. I am only 5'4 but did not find the larger wheel to be a problem. I tried a Giant Talon 29er 2 and then the Rainer (same components, but geometry was better for me) and I actually really liked it. I did not notice much difference in weight or speed between that and the Ariel I had tried yesterday, but definitely think that the Giant would afford me more flexibility off road. My concern is that the disc brakes might be an issue for pulling a trailer- they seem like they could be in the way, and I am not sure I *need* them. I still want to get my hands on the Trek/Gary Fisher Utopia or Kaitai (tough to find- seem to be flying out of stores- maybe there is a reason for this?), as well as the Marin Muir Woods and test ride those before making up my mind, since that was what I had in mind before riding the Giant.
08-23-10, 06:56 PM
If you are only 5'4" tall then I really wouldn't advise a 29er since those are usually built for much taller people and usually cost significantly more since they are designed as race machines. With the smallest Talon frame being 16" I'd be concerned that it'd be too tall for someone who is 5'4".
True, all the same, the only difference between a 700c and a 29er wheel is in the tire and the frame clearance, and yes a 700/29er wheel will be faster than a 26". The reason that I mentioned 26" wheels is because a hybrid was mentioned along with riding on gravel roads while pulling a trailer and from experience I can tell you that a hybrid is not alot of fun on gravel. I was also going off the price of your Ariel choice as a benchmark, the Talon costs nearly twice as much.
A little industry insider info for everyone, supply right now might be a little low, most everything comes from China and with the economic slowdown there has been restructuring over there. Some companies are going to skip 2010 models all together and roll out 2011s early. Trek is going to completely absorb Gary Fisher into a series of bikes instead of it remaining as a seperate brand. And almost every company is working on a prepay basis for large orders, our Jamis rep had been saying how some of his shops have completely closed and disapeared, or he has had to go around and figure out how to round up bikes from those that haven't paid.
The best all around advice that I can give is to test ride as many bikes as you can and as many times as you can and you will find the once that is most suited for you.
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