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  1. #1
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    Analysis Paralysis: What bike to buy?

    Hi, I've read a lot of forum posts about bike selection on bikeforums.net, and was helping you very good people could help me out: I'm stuck in analysis paralysis!

    I've done a lot of research and settled on a list of bikes I think are "interesting" for my short commute to work (about 8 miles round trip) and my aspirations to bike around in a 10 mile radius from my house for some exercise, and as a way to cut the number of short car trips I take for things like lunch. And as a bike capable of taking the occasional longer ride when I get more fit (hopefully).

    I'm 31, 5'10", 210. Since I'm not a great athlete in any sense of the word I don't want to overspend. I've set a hard limit of $700 for a bike and I would really prefer to not spend more than $550 for the base bike, since I realize I'll need some extras. My only bike at present is a 15 year old giant MTB (inherited from a friend) which is falling apart... to the point where it is unrideable. Hence my desire for a new bike soon. I also might be able to get the MTB fixed if the right answer is to wait for the '08 models or end of season sales or whatever.

    Here are my ideas:
    - Trek 7.3 FX (wish it wasn't an aluminum fork); but I rode the 7.3 a little and it seemed fast. Need to do a longer test ride. My local shop is a huge Trek dealer and has these in stock last time I checked. 7.5 seems to be out of my budget.
    - Bianchi Bergamo. I'm having trouble finding an SF Bay Area bike shop which has this in stock in my size (and very few carry it at all).
    - Jamis Coda/Coda Sport. I like the idea of a steel bike since my MTB is steel, and the ride should be nice. But every shop in the Bay Area I called is out of my size, and the shops I spoke to said that Coda and Coda Sport are in very short supply: "Our Jamis Rep said we'd get some more in a two weeks. But then, he says a lot of things..."

    Mostly I'm feeling discouraged: I got pretty interested in the Jamis only to discover that I can't actually put my hands on one to try it. I'm also a little concerned as some of my friends have warned me that the straight handlebars of hybrids (even though that is what I am used to from the MTB) will not be a good thing on longer rides. So, I'm feeling a bit stuck. What should I do? Please help!

    Thanks,

    Dan

  2. #2
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    I think it would be worth your while to track down a Jamis dealer with your size and tee up a nice long test ride, even if it means regularly contacting all the bike shops and badgering them.

    You don't need us to compare these bikes 'on paper' all their specs are published and well known, they're bothe decent bikes for the money. If a shop tries to get you to commit to buying the Jamis before they'll order it in then go elsewhere.

    Ultimately I think you should choose the bike that feels best to you after one or two test rides on each. Take your time, don't let sales people rush your decision or push you onto a bike you're not 100% happy with.
    There are 10 types of people in the world - the ones that can count in base 2, the ones that can't count in base 2, and the ones that didn't expect this to be in base 3.

  3. #3
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    Post Test Ride...

    Thanks for the advice Cyclaholic. I got a chance to ride all three of these bikes this weekend and I'm still unsure. First I rode the Bianchi Bergamo-- I would say that it is very "fun" overall. And the shifters are fun to use and feel very natural. My mistake here was not to ride the bike enough. I should have gone further on it and found some areas without a lot of stops and starts. For city streets, however, it is pretty nice.

    Next I rode the Trek 7.3FX, at Chain Reaction in Redwood City-- I mention the dealer only because the customer service was by a huge margin the best. They took the time to really fit the bike to me, to give me a 4 mile test loop to ride (including pocket map), and even asked me if I wanted a glass of water when I returned! The Trek seems... "fast" for lack of a better word. The saddle was pretty unpleasant but I know I can replace that. Everything on the bike worked well.

    Finally I drove a really long way to try the Jamis. The dealer (who seemed bored) handed me the bike and sent me out-- I had to ask him to help me fit the seat height. Next thing -- crossing the street from the bike shop-- the chain got jammed in between two of the front gears. After some inspection, I unjammed it. I had a persistent issue with the front shifter (more on that later), and found both shifters not very fun to use. They seemed require a fair amount of force. I don't know what was different on the Trek with its shifter but I found it easier to cope with. I took the bike back to the shop-- whereupon they realized that they hadn't recently inflated the tires. They did that and sent me back out. Things were a bit better. I came back, and complained about the shifter. The owner then proceeded to put the bike on a stand and demonstrate that they were fine-- right until the chain hopped off the lowest gear! They did some adjusting, then concluded that they had probably forgotten to lubricate the chain, and that it might still have "packing grease" on it (!). So they sprayed it with Tri-Flo. The trouble with the front shifter persisted-- there seemed to be some problem where it didn't like to shift all the way from the smallest to the medium sized gear if I didn't hit the shift lever with enough force-- the shifter would "click" into place, but the chain would sort of hop on and off the middle gear. At some point the dealer knocked $50 off the price.

    So, I'm a novice, forgive me. But I don't really know whether their explanations were real, or how much was BS and I was being sold a lemon. The whole experience spooked me and I took off. I know that "steel is real" and all, but I have to say that I wasn't really conscious of a big difference in ride quality between the Trek and the Jamis. I'm hoping to maybe find another shop with the Jamis to try again.

    Any thoughts/comments? I realize these bikes are three different styles, but I guess that's part of my dilemma.
    Last edited by dbprice; 07-02-07 at 12:19 AM.

  4. #4
    Feral Member Nicodemus's Avatar
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    Sorry to hear about your bad experience trying the Jamis. It's a shame to think that you are turned off a bike that may be better for you just because of bad service. That shop doesn't seem like they deserve your money even if you do want the bike. A badly set up test bike is one of the best ways for a bike shop to shoot themselves in the foot.

    I personally would favour steel. I currently have a Alu. hybrid and though I love it I plan for my next bike to be steel. I'm tired of the harsh ride Alu gives me.

    As for drops vs. straight handlebars, it depends on your riding conditions. If they are largely urban and you do not habitually ride long distances then straights are fine. If you ride longer distances then drops are recommended.

    Many purists say you *must* go for drops. I can understand the sentiment, but maintain that all different types of bikes can be perfect - it all depends on the rider.

    Good luck, and I hope you get a chance to try a properly set up Jamis.
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  5. #5
    AKA Nathan Dr_Robert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbprice
    I got a chance to ride all three of these bikes this weekend and I'm still unsure.
    Based on your experiences over the weekend, I'd go with the Trek. Two reasons: a) most importantly, you like the bike, and b) that's the dealer that I'd want to give my money to.

    Remember, purchasing the bike is just the beginning of your relationship with a dealer - you're going to be seeing them at least 1-2 times per year, if not more (hell, I see my LBS 1-2 times per week sometimes). Which one would you rather deal with?

    -DR
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr_Robert
    Based on your experiences over the weekend, I'd go with the Trek. Two reasons: a) most importantly, you like the bike, and b) that's the dealer that I'd want to give my money to.

    Remember, purchasing the bike is just the beginning of your relationship with a dealer - you're going to be seeing them at least 1-2 times per year, if not more (hell, I see my LBS 1-2 times per week sometimes). Which one would you rather deal with?

    -DR
    I agree. You are looking for a bike which you like. Never mind that some brand names are more trendy than others and you haven't scoured the earth. You get to do that with your second bike .

    If you like the Trek and like the shop, then go with the Trek. And don't fret the aluminum fork; yea, the ride might be a bit harsher, but unless you are racing for 5 hours on a road race, this doesn't matter much. Lower the tire pressure a couple PSI and get the same cooshy ride that you buy with a $200 carbon fork. My first "real" bike (one I bought, as opposed to the hand-me-down mountain bike I had before) was a $300 Trek road bike. I bought it my first year in college and it lasted me 6 years until its fork got bent in an "incident" with a car. My second bike was a Univega road bike with an aluminum fork. It's still my go-to bike for weekend rides. My third is an all steel Raleigh Rush Hour fixed, which makes a great short distance commuter (<10 miles) and my fourth is a rebuild of my first with an all steel Schwinn road bike frame (not those 70's steel bikes, this one's last 90's, though I don't know for certain). The stiffest is the all steel Raleigh. Noodliest is the Schwinn. The Univega with the aluminum fork is the best all-rounder; rock solid handling, comfortable in an all day way despite the aluminum fork, and fast.

    The point is that you get the bike you enjoy riding in absolute. If it's the first bike you try, you get that one. Bicycles become personal, and you will find that what you start with is what you will enjoy. And in the end, if you get into commuting a lot and use your bicycle a lot, bikes are cheap. Even the expensive ones. So if you are limited by your first bike down the road, there's nothing to prevent you from getting a second. Don't get carried away with "best". Get something you enjoy. Period.
    Cat 2 Track, Cat 3 Road.
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  7. #7
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Having test ridden a 7.3FX,owned a Coda comp,and currently the owner of a Coda Elite,I'd have to say the Codas are the better bikes. But the probs you mentioned sound like the shop did not set the bike up correctly. I've purchased brand new bikes that had to be 'fixed' because of a crappy dealer,but then I know bikes pretty well and have friends who could help me set things straight. If you're not knowledgable about bicycle mechanics,you might be better off getting the Trek.

    If you're riding in an urban area,I wouldn't sweat the flat bars. Despite what many folks here say,I've never had a prob with any of mine on 30-40 mile rides. If you do feel the need for dropbars,you can save a bunch of money by getting a trekking bar. It'll give you more hand positions,you'll be able to get aero,and they use your bike's stock controls so you'll only need to by the bar and either some grips or bar tape.

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  8. #8
    Urban Biker jimmuter's Avatar
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    As Nichodemus said, don't worry about the handlebars either. People talk about changing hand positions and such, but there are folks who tour and ride everyday with straight bars. I rode my hybrid a few thousand miles last year, including a week long trip across NC last October. You may want to shake your hands out now and again, but it's not a big deal. Choose what is comfortable for you.

  9. #9
    Erectible Member pedalMonger's Avatar
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    Throw some ergon grips on the Trek: http://www.ergon-bike.com/us/grips/index.html

    That'll help with hand numbness, and give you an alternative hand position.

    With the ergon grips and some gel gloves, a rider shouldn't have much problem with the purported harshness of aluminum. Another poster on an older thread said something about "Princess and the Pea" I think, when discussing this issue I think some "feel" for the road is a good thing anyway, another cue besides visual, of what kind of surface you are riding on.

    And of course, replacing the saddle

    By all means try test riding another Jamis tho, if there is another dealer nearby, and get the bike you like best.

  10. #10
    Top Speed 53.1mph nightc1's Avatar
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    For an 8 mile round trip it seems you'd be fine on just about any kind of bike you want to ride. Flat bar or not... it doesn't matter as 4 miles to work won't take very long at all and you probably wouldn't have time to get in the drops for long enough to make a difference between stops.

    If you go with the trek, see if they can replace the seat for something easier on you.

    Whatever you ride now though is going to feel a bit difference if part of your goal is to lose a few pounds. I was 210 not long ago ... now 195... and the power in my legs has changed a lot. We're talking about 2 months ago I was 210.

    So never go back to that one dealer that didn't even have the bike setup right to begin with. Whatever you get now will be good enough for the intro to biking. Another year or whatever then consider getting a second bike if you stick with it.

  11. #11
    Senior Member ch9862's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbprice
    So, I'm feeling a bit stuck. What should I do?
    My first bike as an adult was some Giant hybrid, with suspension seatpost, fork and 700x40 tires. In retrospect I'm sure I could have spent the $400 or $500 better. But: I used to commute on it daily for a few years, and loved every minute. So I wouldn't spend a lot of time and effort analyzing and then second-guessing the choice. It's not necessarily easy to buy "the best bike for the money" the first time around, but maybe it's not very important either.

    Good luck and enjoy whatever you end up buying .

  12. #12
    Senior Member thdave's Avatar
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    For that kind of money, I'd look at the REI Novara Transfer. It's $599 and it comes with everything you need. It is a utility bike--great for what you want to do. Buy a trunk bag and a grocery pannier at the same time, and you will be able to go anywhere on your bike and it will serve as your car.

    It has 7 speeds, which is more than you need. A 4 mile commute is easy.

    Other good options are the Electra Amsterdam and Breezer Citizen. I think the Villager is out of your price range, but if you can get a good price on it it might come close to $700.

    There are nice advantages to an internal gear hub. Try it--it is fun.
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  13. #13
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    I would like to also recommend considering a Breezer Town Bike. They are slightly more expensive than your proposed budget, but that may be OK because these bikes include as standard equipment many features which you would have to pay extra for on most other bikes, including a rear rack, front and rear lights, fenders with mudguards, and a bell.

  14. #14
    Erectible Member pedalMonger's Avatar
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    Ya I would check out the internal hub bikes too, if you only plan on using it for the short range commute. They are nice for shifting into an easier gear, if you forget to downshift before a stop. And low maintenance.

    I thought about getting one, but wanted more range in case I get into it and attempt some centuries (100 mile rides) and whatnot.

    This bike would be awesome, it has the Shimano Nexus Inter 8 hub

    http://www.specialized.com/bc/SBCBkModel.jsp?spid=22051

    Its listed for $770.00 MSRP, but my experience is, bike shops often price below MSRP

  15. #15
    put our Heads Together cerewa's Avatar
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    - Trek 7.3 FX (wish it wasn't an aluminum fork); but I rode the 7.3 a little and it seemed fast. Need to do a longer test ride. My local shop is a huge Trek dealer and has these in stock last time I checked. 7.5 seems to be out of my budget.
    Very little front-end flex on a bike comes from the fork itself. Most of it comes from headset and headset-bearing flex, soft grips if you have them, and the front tire. Old road bike forks with curved, narrow (10mm or so) steel tubes probably absorb 1 or 2 millimeters vertically (only!) of bumps in the fork legs, but fat-tube steel forks probably give a tenth that much.
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  16. #16
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    I'm just curious what Chain Reaction said in response to your desire to a steel ride.

    I got my Klein from them, and they are fantastic. As I recall, they carried mostly Trek stuff (LeMond, Fisher, Klein...), but I'm guessing if they knew your budget and desires, they'd point you in the right direction.

    Also, if you're really in for year-round commuting, pay attention to fender clearance and eyelets. They're important.

    It's amazing how much fenders improve riding in the rain! If you have any inkling of bike-commuting year round, get them. You don't have to put them on until November or so...

    Finally, I thought the Trek 7.3 FX fork WAS steel. "FX alloy taper gauge..." I thought that when bike companies use "alloy," they're usually referring to an alloy of steel rather than an alloy of aluminum.
    Last edited by gazer; 07-02-07 at 05:56 PM.

  17. #17
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    Just wanted to followup to say that the Jamis Coda Sports seem to be back in stock, at least in the Bay Area. Sports Basement in SF had a bunch, and I did a second test ride and then bought the bike. By the way, if you look them up on google maps, there's a printable discount coupon. Of course, I forgot about that! The front derailleur issue I noted in an earlier post affected this bike as well, but following an adjustment before I left the store it has been fine. The bike rides really well, and it seems to be smaller than the old MTB I was riding-- I think that one was too big for me. Tomorrow will be my first commute on the new bike...

    Thanks for all of the input and advice! I read it all and really appreciate it. Now, I have to get the various goodies to add on...

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbprice
    Just wanted to followup to say that the Jamis Coda Sports seem to be back in stock, at least in the Bay Area. Sports Basement in SF had a bunch, and I did a second test ride and then bought the bike. By the way, if you look them up on google maps, there's a printable discount coupon. Of course, I forgot about that! The front derailleur issue I noted in an earlier post affected this bike as well, but following an adjustment before I left the store it has been fine. The bike rides really well, and it seems to be smaller than the old MTB I was riding-- I think that one was too big for me. Tomorrow will be my first commute on the new bike...

    Thanks for all of the input and advice! I read it all and really appreciate it. Now, I have to get the various goodies to add on...
    Congrats on the bike. I recently purchased a Jamis myself (although not the Coda Sport). What size frame did you end up getting?

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    Two commutes done on the Jamis and it's been a good experience. It was oohed and ahhed over at work, at least a little. People were impressed at how light it is "for a steel bike." So far no regrets.

    Like I said, I was coming from an old MTB, so it's a much faster ride. I find that the level of control I have is much improved and that the gearing is nice for commuting. I got smoked by some guy on a fancy road bike on the way home but didn't feel too bad about it. My slowness is not the fault of the bike

    Anyone have a good suggestion for a nice headlight? I've done some reading and spending $150 on a light seems excessive. On the other hand the $15 "safety headlight" I bought for the MTB doesn't cut it.

  20. #20
    CRIKEY!!!!!!! Cyclaholic's Avatar
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    Hey! you got the Jamis, congrats man, I'm glad you're enjoying it.

    How handy are you at building things? with $150 you can build a very nice high power LED headlight, better performance than you'll get off the shelf.

    How long is your commute? i.e. how much run time between charges do you need from a light? what sort of environment do you commute through?

    ...and don't worry about other cyclists passing you, it's not a race. I commute 50 miles a day with a bike that weighs 70 pounds loaded ready to go and do about 600 feet of climbing each way. I lose count very quickly of the number of cyclists that fly past me during every commute.
    There are 10 types of people in the world - the ones that can count in base 2, the ones that can't count in base 2, and the ones that didn't expect this to be in base 3.

  21. #21
    AKA Nathan Dr_Robert's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dbprice View Post
    Anyone have a good suggestion for a nice headlight? I've done some reading and spending $150 on a light seems excessive. On the other hand the $15 "safety headlight" I bought for the MTB doesn't cut it.
    I hear good things about these. Supposed to be pretty nice lights for the price - when I get some more cash, I intend to order some and find out.

    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...Front%20Lights

    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...0Rear%20Lights

    Edit: They've even got a combo special going. It's only $3 off the normal price, but WTH...

    http://www.nashbar.com/profile_combo.cfm?combo=38346

    -DR
    Last edited by Dr_Robert; 07-18-07 at 04:35 AM.
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