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  1. #1
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    time to upgrade, trek selection

    I've been commuting 1-2 days a week on a Trek 7100 WSD for the past two years (bouth used but hardly touched for $50). One way is 6.5 miles in medium to heavy traffic with a couple 7% grade climbs, one of which I can't actually complete without walking the bike. Bike weighs in at 48 pounds without panniers. I carry another 30-40lbs in books, computer, clothing, etc (I'm a med student.) With my time getting slimmer, I want to fit in more commuting for fitness and stress relief, and I think it is time to upgrade.

    I tried a Schwinn Tailwind Ebike and despised it (top heavy, uncomfortable, etc.) I headed back to my LBS to check out some Treks. I like Trek as a brand, and I generally love the LBS guys, who do a great job helping me learn about maintaining and handling my original bike and learning to handle road traffic and plot routes. I tried a 7.3 FX Disc, a 7.5 FX WSD, and a Utopia. The Utopia didn't fit me (the effective top tube length was just a bit too long.) The guy that was helping me wants me to try a Neko, but they need to build one in my size (which seems to be taking far too long, three days now.)

    I like the FX's, but they feel a bit squirrly to me (guy at the shops said that is because I have been riding such heavy bikes.) I am not sure I understand the differences (advantages/disadvantages) of the 7.3 FX Disc vs a 7.5 FX WSD (the 7.5 Disc is beyond my budget) and I can't find anything online that really reviews the Neko. My commute is all road way or paved bike trail and parking lots.

    I'm also not sure what is important to consider for this commute; weight, disc brakes, hydraulic fork, WSD? Also, I would want to use this bike for casual errands, paved green way riding, and possibly group rides. There is a gravel driveway I might need to navigate occasionally.

    Suggestions? Opinions? Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    I had a 7300, I'm surprised your 7100 weighs what you say, I was sure they're in the 30-35 pound range, quite curious how you weighed your ride.
    The FX bikes as I recall have 700x32 tires compared to the 38s on your 7100. I find that the thinner tires seem a bit 'squirrly' after riding 38s for quite awhile, but I still prefer the 32s overall.
    Personally, I just don't see the need for disc brakes on a commuter ride, some on these boards are sure to disagree, but my v brakes are proven to be powereful enough to lift my back wheel off the ground. Discs do take less effort to use so if you had issues with stopping on your 7100, then maybe discs might be a good idea. If braking hasn't been an issue for you, then discs just add weight and cost more.
    If you have a hill so steep that you had to get off and walk, odds are if you get the same gearing you still will have to get off. Check to see if you have a cassette on your 7100 with a 34 tooth cog. I believe the 7100 is a 7 speed, but Shimano makes 7 speed cassettes with a 34 tooth cog, combined with your 28 tooth small chainring, you shouldn't ever have to get out of the saddle unless you spin out.Being a student you probably are on a low budget so that is something you could look into before buying a new bike. That 28 X 34 gear is easier than walking.
    As far as fork goes, Most on these boards will tell you suspension forks will slow you down. I'm presently riding a rigid hybrid after 8 years of putting lots of miles on my 7300 with suspension fork and seatpost. I can't tell any differince in speed and find times when I miss the suspension fork. With all the weight your carrying, the differince in weight between suspension fork and rigid fork is insignificant. If you stay with the 7100, to help with speed, try a set of 700 X 32 tires, as I said above, they'll feel squirrly at first, but you get used to it.
    Last edited by bt93; 07-10-11 at 07:52 PM.

  3. #3
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    Weighed it on a freshly calibrated medical scale, so I'm pretty sure it's accurate. It's heavier than husband's or roommate's bikes (both ~$250 hybrids.) It's a 2007, and the day I got it the guy at the bike shop was amused but encouraging and showed me his old bike he commutes on (heavy steel) in sympathy. It looks more like a cruiser than a road or mountain bike. I adore it, just heavy.

    Checked to be sure. Tires are 700 x 35. I don't have any issues stopping on my current bike. I have never biked in rain, is that a concern? it does regularly rain, and increasing the frequency of biking will likely put me riding in the rain a couple times a month. I'm not experienced enough to know how to check for a 28 x 34? I can handle the grade...but not for the length of the climb, if that makes sense. I do have a hard time standing to really work the pedals on my current bike....I end up being so slow that I can't keep it steady enough to feel safe in the heavy traffic. I won't ride on sidewalks, so I end up walking it up the last third of the hill on the sidewalk. I noticed on the rented mountain bikes, on my roommate's bike, and on the test rides; standing is as comfortable as sitting and I feel more balanced. The body position is completly different....the 7100 is a very upright sitting position while everything I'm trying out puts me far more forward, which I hope helps the climb.

  4. #4
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    A lot of people will tell you that discs work better than v brakes in the rain, I have'nt had a problem with my brakes rain or shine. If there are not very many people on the sidewalk, and assuming it is wide, I wouldn't be shy about using it if I'm going that slow. Where I'm at there are areas where I hardly ever see anyone on the sidewalk though.
    A more aggressive riding position may help, it's important that you're comfortable too. Doesn't the 7100 have an adjustable stem? My 7300 had an adjustable stem and I played with different positions alot when I first got it. My Novara Buzz V happens to have the same position I settled on my 7300. If you find MTBs comfortable then maybe your search is over. On my 7300s sus fork I tightened it down so it felt rigid but it gave on larger bumps and such, that way it wouldn't bob around when I stood up on the pedals. A lot of people use hardtail MTBs and put 26 X 1.5 tires on them for commuting. There are a lot of used MTBs on Craigs List, and a good chance your LBS has one available.

  5. #5
    Nobody mconlonx's Avatar
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    I'd go with the FX based on your description... But you should definitely ride the Neko before you make up your mind. Neko is about halfway between your 7100 and an FX, and might be just what you're looking for if the FX didn't feel right.

    If you want a lighter bike, the 7.5 with carbon fork would be the way to go, especially the non-disc version. Otherwise, if you can live with V-brakes, the non-disk 7.3... and plenty leftover for accessories. 7.5 would be a sleek, quick commuter; or deck out a 7.3.

    Do try the Neko, though.
    I know next to nothing. I am frequently wrong.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    Listen to that guy ^^- he knows his Treks
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
    Ride what and in what manner pleases you. Those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind. srsly.
    Community guidelines

  7. #7
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    You need to do some checking? 48lbs? Are the tires full of stop leak?
    My 720 Multi Track, Chromoly, with lights, seat bag. tools, pump, horn,
    weighs less than thirty pounds on an electronic +/- .1 gram scale.

    Neighbor had an old mount bike that had the tires completely filled
    with Slim.

  8. #8
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    Thanks for all the advice. Stem is definitly not adjustable. Riding on the sidewalks here is heavily frowned upon, particularly since Cary has been very aggressive about being bike friendly. Also, the hill is right in front of a middle school, so seems to have a lot of bus traffic, pedestrian traffic and quite a few automobiles moving unpredictably as kids are darting in and out of the passenger seats. The road cyclists that climb the hill actually take over the lane they are in rather than riding to the right. The more I think about it, I've only seen folks on slick road bikes climb it....I'm definitly not the only person walking a bike on the sidewalk.

    mconlonx and no1mad, thank you for the advice. I liked the FX....the second and third rides were better. I'm hoping they'll have the correct size of neko built in the next couple of days. The guy at the shop said I'm not easy to fit (long legs, short torso and arms) so it's been interesting.

    BHOFM - I'll toss it up on another scale tomorrow. Not like a medical institution doens't have ample scales. The one I used is a digital that goes the the hundredths of a gram, though I tend to read in pounds. As far as I know, the tires have never had stop leak in them. I keep them at 80psi. That does include rack, lock, seat bag, handlebar bag. actually, you all are making me doubt myself...so I took the home scale outside. I weight 172.2 without the bike. With the bike the scale reads 218.6. Maybe my math is off there somewhere. I am obviously not claiming to know much of anything about bikes....but I am decent at reading scales, and I'm not sure why I'd bother to report it heavier than it is.

  9. #9
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    Not questioning your reading of the scales, just wondering what makes an
    aluminum frame bike that heavy.

    Even 46.4 is way more than I would have ever guess it could weigh.

    You need to figure out how much all the stuff you need weighs, you
    may not be that much ahead to spend a lot of money. I don't see all
    you listed being more than ten pounds. But I may be way off too??

    I am going to be a bit blunt..

    Your fitness level is much more than the weight of the bike. I ride
    with a trailer some times, with near 100lbs. Yes I can tell it is there
    but it does not make a great difference in my riding. Maybe one
    gear lower. I do climb a few soft grades with it, no real hills.

    Before you spend any money, take all the stuff off your bike
    and ride it. Check the weight of the bare bike. So when you
    go shopping, take your scales and check the bikes you are
    looking at.

    Have you ever had a flat?
    Just for giggles, put the valve stem at the bottom of the tire,
    and let some air out. If it is full of stop leak it will come out.
    Last edited by BHOFM; 07-10-11 at 10:22 PM.

  10. #10
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    You weighed your bike before you added all the accessories?

    the racks and mudguards and such may be the difference between A and B..

    perhaps you should consider a 2nd bike , and leave all your load carrying stuff
    on the 1 you have, and not re burden the new bike to nearly the same weight.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 07-10-11 at 11:19 PM.

  11. #11
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    Maybe this is just a goofy idea and I shouldn't be bike commuting. I keep looking at the road profile...this isn't my biggest elevation change by any stretch, and there are other sections that are just as hilly. At this juncture, for me, it is find something that works or quit biking all together (I can't squeeze any more time out of my schedule to bike other than a little every other weekend and my commute). I thought weight and bike structure might be the issue since I can do this hill on my roommates bike (a cheap schwwinn that I hate because it is in constant need of fixing.) The only real obvious difference between my bike and my roommate's is weight and shape...when I ride hers I can stand comfortably, when I ride mine, if I stand, I'm at a very awkward angle. This bike is a 15', what I am test riding are 19' and I'm not knowledgable enough to know if that is the difference, or if the upright seated style of the bike is making the difference. .

    I am not disagreeing that my fitness level isn't up to snuff, however, I am also not sure how to improve that other than to keep working on it (I ride 3x/wk minimum, run 3x a week for 4-12 miles, and swim 2x a week), but I've been making this same route for two years, and I am not sure what else to do to improve this hill and I can honestly say I haven't had any improvement, and I have (on early weekend mornings) kept on it till the bike is tipping under me. I am open for advice. I can make it on my roommate's bike. Part of the reason I want to commute more is to improve my fitness, particularly since med school will continue to eat more and more of my time. I'd rather get the activity in while adding a little time to my commute then try to figure out how else to squeeze it in (I have to scale back on running and swimming during midterms, finals, and clinicals). I have never had a flat on this bike. I have 'changed' both tubes on it for practice. If there is anything in the tubes, I have never seen it. I will say it's very frustrating to hit the same hill again and again and not be able to make it and it does make me want to throw in the towel, because I did assume it would get better with time. There is a way around it, but it adds 2 miles to the commute, all as heavy traffic wise.

    I did not weigh this bike pre-accessories. I do have the racks and fenders on it. I am not sure how it would help my commute to purchase another bike and not be able to commute with it. The reality is I'm never going to have a commute in the next two years that doesn't require carrying at least a text book or two, some notebooks, a laptop, and lunch. While I am lucky that the hill climb is on my way home, that is enough dis-incentive on days where the late afternoon temps are over 100F and the humidity is thick enough to feel like I just came out of a swimming pool.

  12. #12
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    oh, and I actually recently started mountain biking on single speed rentals (giants) with friends every couple of weekends, so I had been thinking that I'd get a new commuter bike, sell this one (I've had offers for it from other students because it is a very comfortable bike) and eventually get a mountain bike, since trying to kill myself on one of those is actually pretty fun. If I get a second bike, I'd most likely want to get a mountain bike.

  13. #13
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    Wild hair thought! Pick up one end of your bike and make sure
    the wheels are spinning free. Check front and rear. Brakes may
    be dragging, bearings too tight.

    Do you need the fenders? Dump as much as you can off the
    bike.

    Could you get by with a back pack?

    That bike should ride like a dream, something is amiss.

    I wish there was a way for a BF member to meet with
    you and check your bike.

  14. #14
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    I have an FX 7.5, it's a decent bike for the money. The differences between the FX line are, generally better components/lighter frame as you go up in numbers. the 7.3 or 7.5 would both be fine bikes. I would skip the disc version (if it were me). The brakes are a bit 'soft' on the 7.5, but a pair of Kool Stop brake pads (approx $25 front & rear) will give you ample stopping power, even with the heavy load.

    I like a non-suspension bike for commuting. I'm one who feels that the suspension robs energy. I've only ridden my commute on a suspension bike a couple of times (when my other bikes are out of commission) so I may not be the best judge there.

    I really think that you may be better off focusing on reducing your load, if possible. If I had $1k to spend (assuming that's your budget based on the prices of the FX bikes), I'd focus on lightening the load somewhat rather than getting a new bike. Are there lighter replacements for the gear you need to carry (possibly electronic copies of your books/ a flash drive or ipad instead of a laptop/ leaving shoes at school/ carrying less clothes/ possibly buying lighter accessories for the bike (if there are any particular heavy ones)). Also, are there any components that you can remove from the bike (like if you have front & rear racks, but don't use the front or anything like that). I really think that your load is what is slowing you down. At 170 pounds, with a 46 pound bike & 40 pounds of gear, you're carrying almost an extra 50% of your body weight up that hill.

    The other option is to buy a bike just like your friends (as long as it's in the budget). If you can make it up the hill with that one, then that would be worth exploring.

    not familiar with the Neko, so I can't speak to that, but the FX series should result in a slight speed increase versus the 7100, just looking at the bikes. The 7100 appears to be more of a comfortable bike compared to the FX series (The bars are up higher, it has seatpost & front fork shocks, etc.). more comfort usually equals slower performance. Do you have a friend who has a flat bar road bike that you can borrow to try the commute a time or two. The FX bikes are great, but by no means unique. Every manufacturer has a flat bar road bike & they are all RELATIVELY similar. If you like one, the riding position/comfort level will be similar on an FX 7.3/7.5.
    Last edited by MK313; 07-11-11 at 10:15 AM. Reason: clarity

  15. #15
    No one carries the DogBoy
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    Aside from making sure your current bike is functioning properly, there is little difference other than components between the ones you are looking at and what you have now. My biggest suggestion if you want more pep is to get some 700x28 slick tires. Something like the gator skins will drop the effort level of your ride considerably for $80.

    If a new bike will get you energized, go for it, but I'm betting you can tweak your current bike to what you want for less than the budget of a new bike.

  16. #16
    already soaked perspiration's Avatar
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    might as well just get the madone
    If it's peace you find in dying, and if dying time is near,
    Just bundle up my coffin 'cause it's cold way down there!

  17. #17
    Senior Member EKW in DC's Avatar
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    Just get a Surly and stop fretting about it.

    Or this...
    Quote Originally Posted by perspiration View Post
    might as well just get the madone

  18. #18
    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    I think you would do better on any of the bikes mentioned. The geometry of your current bike is fine up to a point. A more forward-leaning bike will allow you to stand and put you in what should be a more efficient position overall. I have put in a lot of miles on bikes that I can't stand on. Electra Amsterdam, Velorbis Scrap Deluxe, etc. and it takes a LOT of effort to get up some steep hills. More than on my other bikes because again, you're locked into that one position. You either have the leg strength or you don't.

    I wouldn't mess with the Neko. If you want an alternative to the FX, I'd look at the Waubesa, Monona, Wingra, Soho, PDX... I lose track. Trek has about 10 times more models than they need.

    My guess is that the non-disc bikes will be a better value. If the disc brakes are appealing to you, then go that route, but they're not necessary and will add weight to the bike.



    -------------------

    Quote Originally Posted by DogBoy View Post
    Aside from making sure your current bike is functioning properly, there is little difference other than components between the ones you are looking at and what you have now.
    This is not true. You haven't actually looked at the bikes in question have you?

    The tendency of this forum to completely ignore the question and get sidetracked on things like discouraging purchases or second-guessing weight is annoying at best.

  19. #19
    No one carries the DogBoy
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeffS View Post
    This is not true. You haven't actually looked at the bikes in question have you?
    Yes. The FX bikes have a slightly longer TTL steeper HT angles and longer HT lengths but otherwise the differences are small. These can be adjusted for in many cases with a new stem or with a HT extension. I have no problem saying a new bike may better suit the needs in question, but a much smaller cash outlay may fix most of the issue. I guess you could say stem/etc are not components, then I'd agree with you.

  20. #20
    Old, but not really wise CptjohnC's Avatar
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    I'm no expert on the trek line, so I have no real input on which bike to buy, but I suspect most of the ones you're looking at could be great -- see if the shop will let you take it on a test ride of your nemesis hill. Also-- be sure you're using your most efficient gearing at the appropriate times; I can't tell you how often I see people riding uphill on their smallest cog, pushing with everything they have, while I'm spinning in a larger cog and on a smaller chainring, making much better speed up the hill. I presume you're beyond this sort of newbie mistake, but it never hurts to ask :-)

    I want to put another plug in for determining what is weighing down your 7100, though. I would think that a bike spec'ed the way the 7100 is would be ~30lbs, give or take a couple (I suppose the 'womens' frame could add more weight to give it stiffness, and that suspension fork isn't light, but more than 10 lbs? that seems like a stretch). That's without rack, fenders, accessories, etc... My Kona Dew Drop is ~27/28 lbs naked (weighed oh so scientifically on a bathroom type scale ;-)), and I think of it as a reasonably heavy bike. Adding a rack, fenders and various other accoutrements brings my weight up above 35 pounds (and then I add another 20-35 lbs in my panniers). The rack is the biggest culprit, by far. My point is, you could get a bike that weighs closer to 20 lbs, but then add a 5-10 lbs rack to that, and you may have lost much of your advantage, and you may give up some comfort, durability and a lot of money ;-)

    Either way, though, new bikes are always nice to have, so whatever you decide, enjoy it!

    I was going to jump on the gearing bandwagon, but your 7100 should have a 28 tooth small chainring and a 34 tooth largest cog, so I wouldn't think there'd be much room to improve there --

  21. #21
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    I took my bike into the shop on my way home (hey, an extra 4 miles lets me avoid the hill and get to the bike shop.) The guys there say it's an older 7100 (they are thinking a 2004), but what they picked out as different is the effective top tube length is a couple inches longer on FX, the head tube length is shorter, the wheel base is shorter. It takes me from a very upright position to a more forward position, with my knees not coming nearly as high pedaling and getting comfortable extension. The gearing is a Superlow 13-34T. They said the WSD does add weight (or as I was told 'geometry suggests that a straight line between two points is going to require less material than a curved line'), but that Trek doesn't publish frame weights, so they can't really say how much (they think the 7100 stripped would weight it at a little below 40.... they had told me it was really heavy before fenders and racks went on it.) The only thing they thought I could do to really lighten it up is to remove the rack, possibly replace it (suggested a $70 rack), drop my front light (but I do often end up commuting at dusk and night), drop my handlebar bag. They suggested the other issue might be that the specific road is canted to shed water better and tends to hold a lot of sand and clay particulate. They said that the sand and the red clay particulate in this region are the reasons I shouldn't drop the fenders. They checked the tires, didn't think anything was off about them, or the brakes. I can return a bike if I buy it within 30 days.

    It sounds like the general advice is don't bother getting a different bike because there won't be any real difference in weight, size, or positioning. The guys at the shop are, of course, happy to sell a bike, so I'm not sure if their evaluation that it'll improve the ride is valid. I am frustrated, and I apologize for my frustration. I just realize that I am at the end of my own abilities, and if there isn't any option other than 'don't carry the stuff you need for school and try harder,' I'm at the giving up point (I'd love to use electronic texts, but the electronic texts cost as much as the hard copies, between $250-$800, and are only accessible for 1 year, and our laptops are required standard issue). I realized on the ride home from the shop that I am not enjoying riding on roads because I'm frustrated, I thought after two years, it would get easier, but instead it's getting harder. Maybe it's time to ditch this, get a mountain bike, and bike the occasional weekend, since I'm finding that enjoyable. I wish I understood why I can't balance on this bike standing, I think if I could figure that out, it might be enough to provide the extra force for the hill. Maybe I'll strip the bike down this weekend and try it completly stripped.

  22. #22
    Super Moderator no1mad's Avatar
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    After catching up with the thread, I'll stoke the fire some more.

    1. From reading that last post by the OP, a new bike would be lighter by default- even fully loaded. If current one is 40 naked, a new one in her budget would easily drop 10 pounds off of that.
    2. The OP prefers Trek, but I"m wondering if she is limiting her options by fixating on just that one brand?
    3. If you like riding the mtb, then maybe try to find an older, rigid one. Bunch of people here use older 80's and early 90's mtb as commuter rigs. Use slick tires
    4. I can't remember, but does the OP's 7100 have the suspension bits? If so, they are more than likely the cheaper kind that can't be locked out...
    Quote Originally Posted by Cyril View Post
    Ride what and in what manner pleases you. Those that mind don't matter, and those that matter don't mind. srsly.
    Community guidelines

  23. #23
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    Is your seat set up to the proper height? I'm just curious about the overall fit. Also, before you invest in a bike that may be 10 pounds lighter, take 10 pounds of books out compared to what you normally carry and see if you can make it up the hills. If you can't, a 10 pound lighter bike won't help. Suspension can drop the efficiency a bit but you lose more from suspension in the rear.

    I live in a suburb of Pittsburgh and have hills like yours and worse. There are some near me in the 16 percent range and my LHT can make it up loaded. I hit one section two days ago that was 18 percent for a short ways. My old 1984 Ross Mt. Rainier can as well and it is a heavy bike. I often load mine down with 35-50 pounds and at times more. I took a propane tank home from Lowes the other day along with other odd an ends as well. Thankfully the majority of the hills I ride to run errands are around 6-8 percent. I feel your pain.

    What I am saying is that you might not want to waste your money trying to drop 10 pounds from the bike, it may not help. 10 pounds won't make or break you on a hill. There is something to be said for geometry but still, the engine will be the biggest factor especially considering your gearing.
    Last edited by phughes; 07-11-11 at 04:33 PM.

  24. #24
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    no1mad - my preference for trek is really more a logistics issue. I actively dislike Schwinn and the local shop that sells schwinn's has horrible customer service (they can't be bothered to even speak to a customer if they can avoid it.) The Giant shop that is nearby isn't carrying much (acts more as a repair shop) and is difficult to get to, which leaves the trek shop. I'd be willing to consider other bikes, but I think my other close options are REI and other multisport stores. I'm sure there are other bikes stores in driving distance, but the reality is if I needed to get my bike to them, it would be weeks before I could manage it (during the semester I rarely go any farther than 20 minutes from my house by car.) Having said that, I've only had to get help with my bike a few times, and generally that was lack of any knowledge on my part. I have looked at the bikes at REI, but never got a good feel for them. I don't actually know if I like the MTB....it's just what I can 'rent' to try to kill myself on the local biking trails (not claiming any knowledge or skill, just the joy of sheer stupidity and the realization that I can catch air and not kill myself!) I'm concerned that I would have even less knowledge getting a used MTB, where with a shop I can at least return it. Looking through Craigslist and back researching some of the bikes has shown me a lot of the bikes are running 5-6x what folks on here recommend paying for the same make/model in pristine condition and I don't have the knowledge to know if what I'm getting is going to need lots of fixes. The few folks I know that commute bike to school (professors and clinicians mostly) are road bike folks that are also competing. I do have suspension fork, it can't be locked out.

    phughes - I understand what you are saying. the seat is as high as it can go. the guys at the shop say I need a bigger bike (19' instead of a 15'.) I can make it up this hill with my roommate's bike (17' schwinn hybrid) with everything I need for classes and clinics (it also has racks and fenders); it isn't easy for me, but I'm also not having to walk it. I asked about a variety of thing, including weight and build (WSD) but I guess asking about weight was a mistake and it sounds like the variations in configuration and size don't matter much. As I noted, one of the issues I am having is I can't stand on this bike to really slog up this hill (I can't stay balanced standing more than 2-3 rotations, even on flats, which seems to be a major difference.) I wish I hadn't mentioned weight...might have been easier for folks to make other suggestions on how to handle this hill and/or bike selection.

    took the bike out to get groceries earlier, trying to figure out why I can't hack it. Maybe I'll try replacing the tires. just a bit concerned I might be tossing money out there that won't improve the ride

  25. #25
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    Can you borrow your friend's bike (the schwinn hybrid) & load it up with all your gear & ride it to school one day? If you can make it, you have your answer as to whether or not a new bike would help. Since you can't lighten the load much (I'd still look for any ways to shave weight -Leave a lock/ pair of shoes/ grooming supplies at school if possible-that kind of stuff as every bit helps), getting a new bike may well be the next best option. The FX bikes are nice rides & may well solve your problem, BUT it could be something else & it's hard to diagnose that stuff over the internet. A test ride on a bike similar to one you are looking at will tell you more useable info than any speculation on our parts here. If loaded up, you still can't make it up the hill & all the way to school any faster, then you are probably not going to be happy with the FX. If you can make it with the Schwinn hybrid (or as someone mentioned, perhaps the dealer will let you take one of the Treks on a trip to your regular route), then getting one of the FX's will be well worth the $ you spend.

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