I'm in the market for getting a new bicycle, and I'm wondering which one I should get. I'm probably going to go with an entry road bicycle and add a kickstand, fenders & a front gear guard (One of those disks that covers the gears so your pant legs wont touch them.) Or are hub gears really awesome and I should get a utility that's 12 pounds heavier? I never used the rear rack on my current el crapo 'hybrid' bicycle, and shocks don't matter that much to me. And I like going fast Which bicycle would you suggest? My budget is ~650. Or are bicycles one of those things that don't have a lot of hidden benefits about them and you can find out all you need to know after a test ride or 2??
(And I'm commuting to and from work with it, 30 minutes one way, and my route is all roads)
(Also has anyone found clip on LED lights that don't have buttons that can easily be pressed in your knapsack? And are not overpriced by costing over $20)
There is very little road-wise you can get new for $650, even entry level. You would have to go used, and look for cyclocross or touring rigs to be able to fit fenders.
Hub gear's big advantage is ease of maintenance. If you live up north and plan on riding in salt slush, this makes cleaning up your drivetrain much easier. You'll have enough gears as long as you are not hauling heavy stuff up hills. No one makes anything sporty with hubs, so it will be something "hybrid" like your old bike, or something you have special made.
jamis makes a pretty decently priced internal-geared commuting rig:
What I like most about the Trek 7.5 is basically, it is an entry level road bike with flat bars. It is a very light bike, and I use it to go up 3 flights of stairs in my apartment. Although it's 70 bucks more than what you're looking to pay, that's the one I'd get, since you really are interested in a road bike frame bike.
The Kaitai is cheaper, and definitely in your price range, although it's much heavier than the Trek, which was a dealbreaker for me. You might also consider the Trek 7.3 because it is a bit cheaper, but I don't think it's nearly as nice as the 7.5 (No carbon fork, worse look, slightly heavier).
Do drop bars really make you go that much faster b/c of the position or do they only have a small amount of difference? I've seen some "hybrids" that look like a cyclocross bike, are as light as one, but have straight bars. My 'hybrid' bicycle seems to be more like a mountain bike with it's tire & frame size.
I think the bars make one of the bigger differences because it changes the way you ride. I tend to favor the flat bar on my commute bike because of the added stability, since you're positioned more upright. This is a pretty big plus if you're going to be carrying weight, like a large laptop backpack, or other goodies on the back. Otherwise, st0ut hits the nail on the distance, although I've gone ~20 miles pretty easily on the trek 7.5 flat bar without much discomfort. It's the seat that gets to me first, though
I've noticed that I get ~2 mph less than my buddy with a drop/carbon bike. Not sure how much is the drop bar vs the thinner wheels, though. But it's fast enough, esp. for a commuter.