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  1. #1
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    Recommendations for good commuter/hybrid bikes with 700c wheels

    My wife and I are looking for good commuter bikes for everyday use for short commutes and errands of 3-5 miles each way, and for occasional weekend leisure rides of 20-40 miles. I'd sincerely appreciate your recommendations for bikes that fit the following:

    1) Faster 700c (29 in.) wheels with smooth hybrid tires that aren't as thin as road tires, but aren't as thick as mountain tires
    2) Accept a good rear rack and fenders
    3) Hybrid style frame (not crouched aggressively low like road bike and not fully upright like a cruiser)
    4) Preferably available in the $400-600 range in practice (MSRP could be higher as long as I can find the bikes at this range). Don't want to spend more because of risk of theft in a university town
    5) Available in Large Men's and Medium Women's frame
    6) Don't care about shocks - a mid-width seat on cush springs should do fine

    Not looking for a racer, but a good, solid dependable everyday riding bike that's faster on roads than a mountain bike, and can handle longer rides on weekends.

    One example that could fit would be a KHS Urban Express.
    Last edited by mountainwalker; 02-16-14 at 06:44 PM. Reason: adding example

  2. #2
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    Have you looked into the Specialized Crosstrail and Ariel?
    These should fit all your needs and have shocks, the Sirrus and Vita are a bit more to the road bike side of things and don't have a suspension fork, but have a bit less tire clearance.
    I'm sure other manufacturers make a bike very similar, but I just know Specialized.

  3. #3
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    Trek FX has a bunch of levels. This one is the second from the bottom, but has reliable components. My wife has this model from a few years ago and likes it a lot.
    http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...ness/fx/7_2_fx

    Here's one in the same vein, by Kona.
    http://konaworld.com/dew.cfm

    Last edited by PennyTheDog; 02-16-14 at 08:05 PM.

  4. #4
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    ... and these are on February Clearance:
    http://publicbikes.com/p/PUBLIC-V7-2013?position=tile2

  5. #5
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    7 speed too limited?

    Quote Originally Posted by PennyTheDog View Post
    ... and these are on February Clearance:
    http://publicbikes.com/p/PUBLIC-V7-2013?position=tile2
    PennyTheDog, thanks for the heads up - the included fenders are nice, but wouldn't 7 speed be pretty limited, especially for climbing?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by PennyTheDog View Post
    Trek FX has a bunch of levels. This one is the second from the bottom, but has reliable components. My wife has this model from a few years ago and likes it a lot.
    http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...ness/fx/7_2_fx

    Here's one in the same vein, by Kona.
    http://konaworld.com/dew.cfm

    The Trek FX 7.2 is on the short list. This is exactly the type of bike I'm referring to. Though I'd replace the seat with a more plush larger seat sitting on springs.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by PennyTheDog View Post
    Trek FX has a bunch of levels. This one is the second from the bottom, but has reliable components. My wife has this model from a few years ago and likes it a lot.
    http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...ness/fx/7_2_fx

    Here's one in the same vein, by Kona.
    http://konaworld.com/dew.cfm

    The Trek FX 7.2 is on the short list. This is exactly the type of bike I'm referring to. Though I'd replace the seat with a more plush larger seat sitting on springs. If going for a bike without a front shock, would you go for a steel frame over an aluminum for a softer ride?

  8. #8
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    Front suspension at cost of components? Crosstrail & Ariel vs. Sirrus and Vita

    Quote Originally Posted by NoBrakeNate View Post
    Have you looked into the Specialized Crosstrail and Ariel?
    These should fit all your needs and have shocks, the Sirrus and Vita are a bit more to the road bike side of things and don't have a suspension fork, but have a bit less tire clearance.
    I'm sure other manufacturers make a bike very similar, but I just know Specialized.
    Thanks NoBrakeNate. Specialized makes great bikes, I especially like their mountain bikes like the Carve and Stumpjumper.

    1) The Specialized Crosstrail and Ariel look like very nice bikes, but don't you think the front shock is unnecessary for road bike riding, and that a bike that comes with one is going to cut corners in other areas like components? What advantage would they have over the Sirrus, Vita and other bikes without suspension? To soften the ride, I plan to use larger plush seats sitting on large springs.

    2) What's the difference between the Crosstrail and Ariel? Which do you prefer and why?

    3) The Sirrus and Vita are more like what I was thinking of. By tire clearance, do you mean between the tire and the frame? For road biking, would this matter at all?

    4) What's the difference between the the Sirrus and Vita? Which do you prefer and why?

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainwalker View Post
    The Trek FX 7.2 is on the short list. This is exactly the type of bike I'm referring to. Though I'd replace the seat with a more plush larger seat sitting on springs. If going for a bike without a front shock, would you go for a steel frame over an aluminum for a softer ride?
    Steel is generally considered to give a softer ride, but even with 32mm tires I don't think there's much difference-- all the compliance is from the tires. I have an aluminum bike and a steel bike, and while they feel a little different I like them both just fine.

    If you live in a very hilly area you might find seven speeds (on the Public bike) too limiting. But I think most people probably don't change gears in the front very often anyways. So even if their bike is 21, 24 or 27 speeds they're riding it as a 7, 8, or 9 speed. I live in a pretty flat area without any huge hills, and I have my two bikes set up as an 8 speed and a 9 speed.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainwalker View Post
    Thanks NoBrakeNate. Specialized makes great bikes, I especially like their mountain bikes like the Carve and Stumpjumper.

    1) The Specialized Crosstrail and Ariel look like very nice bikes, but don't you think the front shock is unnecessary for road bike riding, and that a bike that comes with one is going to cut corners in other areas like components? What advantage would they have over the Sirrus, Vita and other bikes without suspension? To soften the ride, I plan to use larger plush seats sitting on large springs.

    2) What's the difference between the Crosstrail and Ariel? Which do you prefer and why?

    3) The Sirrus and Vita are more like what I was thinking of. By tire clearance, do you mean between the tire and the frame? For road biking, would this matter at all?

    4) What's the difference between the the Sirrus and Vita? Which do you prefer and why?
    They are all quite nice bikes for the price point, it really just depends on what would work best for you. The base models have about the same level components but the ones with the suspension forks cost just a bit more.
    The Ariel is just the female version of the Crosstrail and same thing with the Vita and Sirrus, since both you and your wife are looking.
    The Sirrus/Vita come with a 32mm tire but wouldn't have the room for a much bigger tire or one with some tread. Again just depending on what you want to use it for.
    Best thing to do is go to a few bike shops and ride a selection of different bikes and see which one you guys like best.

  11. #11
    Senior Member decosse's Avatar
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    The Sirrus and Vita come in with various equipment and price levels. They are essentially the same, with the Vita's geometry optimized for a woman. I have a Vita Sport with which I am very happy. As for tires, mine came with the Nimbus 700c-28, which are treaded. http://www.specialized.com/us/en/ftb...aved-use-tires. I ride on city streets, bike lanes, MUPs and on the roads. The frame and forks have eyelets and are ready for fenders and racks if desired. Cannondale Quick and Trek FX are both reputable bikes as well, but I have no first hand experience with them. Enjoy the search, and whatever bikes you chose
    Last edited by decosse; 02-16-14 at 11:27 PM.

  12. #12
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    I've got a Trek 7.2FX, it does everything you mention. The ride is none too harsh, I'm sure the steel fork helps with that though I don't think the aluminum frame is built to be too stiff anyway. If anything that's my main complaint, at 260 pounds I can definitely feel it flex sometimes.

    Otherwise, it's worked well for me. Even stuck studded tires on it to commute this winter. My main complaint is that I started breaking spokes on the rear wheel and had to upgrade that. Otherwise, the components are pretty serviceable. I have probably 1500 miles or so on the original drivetrain, though after this winter I suspect that much will need to be replaced if I want to keep riding it.

  13. #13
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    Balancing off-road capability + front suspension with road speed

    Quote Originally Posted by NoBrakeNate View Post
    They are all quite nice bikes for the price point, it really just depends on what would work best for you. The base models have about the same level components but the ones with the suspension forks cost just a bit more.
    The Ariel is just the female version of the Crosstrail and same thing with the Vita and Sirrus, since both you and your wife are looking.
    The Sirrus/Vita come with a 32mm tire but wouldn't have the room for a much bigger tire or one with some tread. Again just depending on what you want to use it for.
    Best thing to do is go to a few bike shops and ride a selection of different bikes and see which one you guys like best.
    I totally agree about the test riding - I'm just trying to narrow down type of bike and models first.

    1) Could you totally shut out the front suspension fork on the lowest-priced two models for the Sirrus and Vita for faster street riding?

    2) Will the front suspension on those models work well and be fairly durable for light-medium duty cross country mountain biking (not screaming down hill)? I'm not up to speed (no pun intended) on current bike components, but not too long ago you could barely get a quality front shock at that price point.

    Our original thinking was to pick up non-suspension commuter/hybrid street bikes for every day commuting and errands, weekend leisure rides of 20-40 miles and to take with us when car camping. And keep separate hardtail mountain bikes for cross country riding with more quality components for the heavier use.

    It would be nice to have a bike that is primarily for road use that can also handle dirt/gravel roads and light mountain biking, so long as this doesn't sacrifice much speed and traction in road riding. So I guess what I'm asking is can the Crosstrail and Ariel handle light-medium cross country mountain biking without sacrificing much speed in road riding? We would only be looking at 700c wheels, and the larger wheels = better speed, so the only remaining speed differences will be in how aggressive and protruding the tread is and how thick the tire is. How much faster would the Sirrus and Vita be than the Crosstrail and Ariel for road riding? If you hardly sacrifice any road speed and road traction with the Crosstrail/Ariel, seems like they are a great all around choice. If you sacrifice a lot of road speed and road traction, then the Sirrus/Vita and FX seem like the way to go.

    Finally, for a woman, when there's a choice (like for the Vita), would you recommend a step through model or not? What are the cons of a step-through?

    I sincerely appreciate all your advice - you've really helped us narrow it down to some very nice models.

  14. #14
    Senior Member FenderTL5's Avatar
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    I bought a Diamondback Edgewood back in 2012.
    Other than a run of flat tires followed by a run of broken spokes (all on the rear wheel), I've been very pleased with the bike so far.

    However, If I were to buy another, I've been looking at the Jamis Commuter Series
    Nashville, like L.A. without a tan.

  15. #15
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    The Crosstrail/Ariel do have lockouts on the fork for street riding, of course you get what you pay for on this level of bike so it is a very base model suspension fork.
    The main difference is going to be weight, the cheaper suspension forks can weigh over 3 pounds, and I believe the Crosstrail may be a bit more upright.
    If you want to do any mountain biking I would get the Sirrus for the road and a dedicated mountain bike for off road. This is really going to come down to test riding them to see what you like better.
    As far as the step through frames, go with whatever your wife likes best, from what I've seen people either love them or hate them. I was once concerned about the strength on a step through but that's really a non issue these days.
    Good luck with your purchase and make sure you find a good local bike shop to do business with.

  16. #16
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    Brand names abound , it's a popular market segment to sell to ./..

    back to the "Pick The Bike Shop First , then get a bike There."

    they all come out of a couple huge factories in Asia anyhow .
    Last edited by fietsbob; 04-25-14 at 01:01 PM.

  17. #17
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    Considering what you are looking at, do consider the Giant Roam. Many of this type are capable do it all bikes. Lock out suspensions are a must have, if looking at suspended. Many of them ride more like touring bikes, due to their lengths.

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  18. #18
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    I have a Trek FX 7.5 that I use around town and for commuting. It does an outstanding job and is fun to ride. The 7.5 has 700x28 tires and the gearing is set up more for road riding. I can usually hang with the road bikes speed wise. I bought mine new but a year old on close out and paid a little over the top end of your range, but not much.

    There are a lot of good choices. Test ride and look for close outs or sales. I think that you are better off to spend a little more for quality components, but you don't have to get the top of the line. The FX 7.3 seems to hit a sweet spot component wise, you get almost everything on the 7.4 except the carbon fork. The 7.5 is really the big jump and is more of a flat bar road bike.

    Good luck! It will be harder to make a bad decision that a good one.

    Rick

  19. #19
    Senior Member Slaninar's Avatar
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    Avoid suspension - it sucks. Any bike will do - in that price range definitely. You could even go cheaper (theft risk), and just change bad components as they wear out.
    Evviva il comunismo e la libertà.

  20. #20
    Senior Member decosse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountainwalker View Post
    ...It would be nice to have a bike that is primarily for road use that can also handle dirt/gravel roads and light mountain biking, so long as this doesn't sacrifice much speed and traction in road riding. So I guess what I'm asking is can the Crosstrail and Ariel handle light-medium cross country mountain biking without sacrificing much speed in road riding? We would only be looking at 700c wheels, and the larger wheels = better speed, so the only remaining speed differences will be in how aggressive and protruding the tread is and how thick the tire is. How much faster would the Sirrus and Vita be than the Crosstrail and Ariel for road riding? If you hardly sacrifice any road speed and road traction with the Crosstrail/Ariel, seems like they are a great all around choice. If you sacrifice a lot of road speed and road traction, then the Sirrus/Vita and FX seem like the way to go.

    Finally, for a woman, when there's a choice (like for the Vita), would you recommend a step through model or not? What are the cons of a step-through?
    The tread on the Sirrus/Vita is smoother, more road oriented. Mine are set at a recommended 120 lbs, and if they are slower than a slick, it's not by much. They do work on pretty well on packed dirt/decomposed rock. Not sure about gravel, though lowering the pressure would likely improve that. Keep in mind that, at least in the case of the Sirrus/Vita, of the 10 option levels they each have, anything higher than the 'Elite" model will have 50-43 chairings, which are great for road, but... The Elite and lower versions will have 48-36-26 and 9 speeds which will keep you pretty fast on the road, and still be good on dirt roads. Not sure about other brands, but in the case of the Vita step-through, it only comes equipped as the base model with an 8 speed cassette. Again, only speaking from my own experience

  21. #21
    Senior Member PatrickGSR94's Avatar
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    There's really no point in a shock fork on a bike that will be used primarily on paved roads. The forks that might come on bikes in the OP's price range are nothing more than pogo sticks, which means they're really just adding weight and not doing much else.
    2011 Felt Z85 105 | Ultegra | KMC | Selle Italia | Vuelta | Topeak
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  22. #22
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    I picked up locally a 2013 GT Transeo 3.0. It has mechanical disc brakes, came with 700x40 tires, accepted fenders and Topeak disc mount rack and was about $600 (before accessories.) Another shop had the Trek FX's, but the disc brake model was more money than the GT if I recall correctly. Also, it does have a front suspension with lockout. I didn't know if I would need shocks or not, given inexperience and spotty condition of the MUP and local roads (a fair share of potholes and patches.) It turns out I prefer to keep the shocks locked out.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by PatrickGSR94 View Post
    There's really no point in a shock fork on a bike that will be used primarily on paved roads. The forks that might come on bikes in the OP's price range are nothing more than pogo sticks, which means they're really just adding weight and not doing much else.
    Agreed

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by PatrickGSR94 View Post
    There's really no point in a shock fork on a bike that will be used primarily on paved roads. The forks that might come on bikes in the OP's price range are nothing more than pogo sticks, which means they're really just adding weight and not doing much else.
    Agreed

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    Specialized Sirrus - too long and tall stem? Worth replacing?

    This review below from Outslide Online claimed the Sirrus has a very long and tall (20-degree) stem that keeps you upright in town, but slows you up on longer road leisure rides. Sirrus owners, would you agree? This bike will be used by us 80% for short commuting/around town errands and 20% for leisure road rides on weekends (not for speed), so probably not relevant for us.

    The Best $500 Road Bike: Specialized Sirrus | Road Bike Reviews | OutsideOnline.com

    "THE PARTS
    At first we bristled at the flat bars, which are seemingly anathema to a quick road riding position, but after a few tests we realized our complaint is less with the bars than the incredibly long, tall (20-degree) stem. We’re all for comfort, but the combo of tall head tube and gargantuan stem steers the Sirrus out of the road realm into the full-on commuter zone. When we swapped in a shorter flatter stem, however, the bike piloted more like the road bike we expected. The shifting was okay, braking power was a bit sluggish, but both functioned reliably well. Ditto the 32mm tires. We wish more manufacturers would spec fatter tires on enthusiast level bikes because, as was the case here, the smooth ride far outweighed any arguments about added drag.

    THE BOTTOM LINE
    Specialized bills the Sirrus as being as comfortable on the open pavement as it is in the city. That might be true of the more expensive models (the $2,100 top-end Limited gets a carbon frame and damping features borrowed from even pricier bikes), but the base Sirrus we tried is definitely best suited to townie riding. For around-town errands and even long commutes, it’s a solid bet as the rugged frame and beefy wheel set will stand up to abuse. And if you’re willing to tinker with parts (especially subbing in a stem), it can pull double duty on casual road rides with friends. In that sense, the Sirrus is a good, inexpensive everyday bike that allows those curious about road riding to give it a shot without committing to more than one bicycle."

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