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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 07-28-14, 10:20 PM   #1
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Hybrid vs. CX vs. Endurance Road?

Another "researching a new bike" post -- would welcome your collective insights!

Knowing there are multiple meanings to all of these terms, I'm in the market for a "commuter bike" and am weighing options between a fitness hybrid, a CX bike, or an endurance road bike. I've tested many and my list is down to the following:

Giant Avail 2 (or 1, which is a blast!)
Giant Invite 2
Jamis Coda Comp
Trek 7.4 or 7.5

  • Length/Terrain: My commute is 26 miles one way on a mix of urban roads and rails-to-trails (paved) - with an occasional stretch of gravel and some impressive potholes and creative drivers to dodge in the city. I'd also like a bike I can take out for fun (e.g., casual rides to coffee/dinner)/fitness -- ie, something I can lock up outside for some period of time and not panic about it disappearing (well, one can hope!). I plan to keep my MTB for short rides in my neighborhood.
  • Frequency: I plan to do the full commute 1-2x/week one way. I can break this up a bit by putting my bike on a bus for part of the way, depending on time of day. I've done the full length on my old Rockhopper MTB -- it's do-able, but slow (~2h), and I'm increasingly envious of all the riders on road bikes whizzing by me.
  • Gear/Cargo: I currently plan ahead for my commutes so am carrying at the most a very light messenger bag. I've never used racks before-- but appreciate their utility and would be open to trying them (but am not bent on having one).
  • Other: through test rides, I've discovered I appreciate Giant's WSD -- they are some of the only drop-bars that I feel confident with on the hoods (as in, ability to quickly reach the brakes).
Where I'm struggling: want a safe and solid commuter that I can "grow into" a bit... Your thoughts?
Many thanks in advance!!
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Old 07-28-14, 11:14 PM   #2
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You have provided good detail so you'll get decent responses. But you missed one thing... what is your budget?

I'll start the ball rolling. Based on your "gravel and impressive potholes", I think endurance road might not be a great fit because you probably want wider tires for these conditions. 28mm minimum, depending on your definition of gravel. I doubt there are "road bikes" that accept wide tires, although touring bikes might fit that niche. I don't know who makes good touring bikes, but it won't be Trek, Specialized, etc. Surly, Salsa Vaya, Jamis and probably other brands. Touring bike will also be a good choice because it will accommodate fenders and rack/panniers. Touring bikes won't be as light as road bike. Next, is CX bike. CX bike will take wider tires and be durable. May or may not be able to fit fenders and rack. Hybrids will take fatter tires and and offer a more comfortable ride on crappy roads. The 26 miles, though, says you might want to consider a bike with drop bars since it offers more hand positions and more aero position. It took me several hundred miles before I felt comfortable riding in the drops; confidence and knowing the feel of the bike will come with time.

I think the Giant Invite 2 might be a good choice. Jamis Aurora looks in the same price range and features as the Invite. Salsa Vaya 3 is above your price range, but would be a quality bike. Surly Long Haul Trucker might be at the top of your price range.

The Giant Avail is a sweet bike, but it looks like no fenders and no rack for that bike. The question is how pothole-y are the potholes and how long a stretch to you have on gravel? Perhaps a biker buddy who lives in your town can help answer that question.
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Old 07-29-14, 12:00 AM   #3
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A performance hybrid might be the ticket for you. I recently test rode a fuji absolute 2.1 and though not my style, it was i think exactly what you are looking for. I would suggest trekking or mini-drop bars for that distance of ride on that particular bike. It has fairly flat bars standard. Bar ends may be an option as well?


Keep us posted!

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Old 07-29-14, 12:26 AM   #4
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I'd look at the Jamis Bosanova. Its right between a full on touring bike and a CX bike. It seems to be designed in mind for sport touring and commuting. There are times when a touring bike would be overkill.
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Old 07-29-14, 09:26 AM   #5
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Hi all -

Thanks for the replies! -- a1penguin, re: budget -- thanks, I forgot to include this. Prefer to stay <$1k if possible, but there is a bit of flexibility here for finding a bike I'll have for a while.

I'm able to ride around the potholes (so far!) -- there are some short boardwalk (wooden planks) sections and gravel is in areas of mostly compacted-dirt trail. The commute is ~90% pavement if I were to guess.

Re: flat bar vs. dropped bar -- I've been comfortable on both (provided I can reach the brakes on the drop bars) so have flexibility here too.

Thanks again!
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Old 07-29-14, 09:56 AM   #6
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I would go for road. I have 13 miles each way commute and includes all kinds of road you described. I started from a folder, and then a hybrid, now moving to road.

1. 25mm 28mm are absolutely fine. Flats are a matter of luck. You just have to ride on it.
2. for your ride, various hand positions help to make you comfort.
3. a handlebar bag is perfect for carrying light weight items and works well with road bike because the cables are less clustered.
4. you commute will eventually inspire your roadie mentality.
5. I wouldn't worry about wearing out expensive components. I consider it an accomplishment.
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Old 07-29-14, 09:57 AM   #7
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I'd pop for the Invite, for the wider tires (comfort&flexibility), triple crank (more choices, and what a spread at 30,39,50), 9 spd (cheaper to maintain, 11-32, great for that nasty hill and still likes to go fast), and disc brakes (excellent stoppers, and the future) especially because it is going to be a commuter.

And, if you decide to commute in less than optimal conditions, black fenders would look OEM, and the mount positions are there for fenders and racks. PB fenders would bolt right up.

On top of that, it's a very nice looking bike! You gotta love Giant for quality, looks and value..............

Last edited by Wanderer; 07-29-14 at 11:10 AM.
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Old 07-29-14, 09:58 AM   #8
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What sort of weather conditions are you planning on riding in?

If you are planning to commute on wet roads in the autumn and winter, I would take the invite 2 for the wider wheels and discs.
For fair weather commuting, the Avail 2 looks great.

I commuted for several years on flat bars and would tend to avoid them for such a long distance.
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Old 07-29-14, 12:23 PM   #9
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I agree with the comments of going for the Invite 2 (of those you listed). It has the most flexibility. You can run 700x25s and have very little ride difference than the Avail, but if the gravel and potholes are bad you can get a higher volume tire. If you decide to keep going in winter you can run a set of studded tires.

My own commuting went from hybrid to cyclocross to endurance road to touring bike. Of these, the endurance road bike was the worst for commuting due to the terrible road conditions. Cyclocross and touring worked about the same, but the touring is more comfortable. For 26 miles, I would eliminate the flat bar bikes or at least make sure the bars have lots of hand positions. Ultimately, you can make any bike work for this commute. If you don't want to expand your list, I vote for the Invite 2. If you do, consider some touring bikes like the surly disc trucker, Jamis bosanova, Trek 520 etc. Still, ride the bike that makes you happy.
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Old 07-29-14, 12:58 PM   #10
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3 entirely different categories of bike types ..

Hybrid and Cross and many road bikes all use the same 622 wheel rim type , but the make and width differ .

where I live, no Jamis or Giants ,, just Trek
Cross Rip gets you drop bars, the FX 7.(x) is straight bar

endurance is spending a long time in the saddle .. riding a bike..

Last edited by fietsbob; 07-29-14 at 01:03 PM.
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Old 07-29-14, 01:44 PM   #11
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I would recommend a gravel grinder, less race oriented cross bike, or touring bike (particularly and adventure touring). Probably want something that can take somewhat wider tires, 28-35 maybe depending on preference.

Based on the "gravel roads" comment, I would suggest considering the following bikes.

Specialized Tricross - different models at different price points, can handle wider tires, fender, racks etc. You could also look at a Specialized AWOL for more flexibility with tires, etc, but its a bit above your price point.

Trek Crossrip - Some similarities to the tricross, not sure what tire sizes it allows.

Salsa Vaya - another great option.
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Old 07-29-14, 02:31 PM   #12
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I think the Jamis looks the best of the options you gave, for the purposes you specified.

FYI, I ride a Surly CrossCheck with fat tires (Schwalbe Marathon Supreme 29x2, aka 700x50), and it would do fine in all the conditions you describe. I use it for everything from gravel/light trail, commuting, recreational/fitness road riding, grocery/errands, etc. I only bust out the hardtail mtb for rough/rocky trails.

Also, it's well beyond your budget (and mine right now!) but you might enjoy drooling over a Volagi Liscio(carbon) or Viaje(steel). Maybe in 10 years I'll be able to get something like that. (Maybe in 10 years, I can pick up a used Viaje for a price I am willing to pay!)
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Old 07-29-14, 08:09 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by a1penguin View Post
I doubt there are "road bikes" that accept wide tires, although touring bikes might fit that niche. I don't know who makes good touring bikes, but it won't be Trek, Specialized, etc. Surly, Salsa Vaya, Jamis and probably other brands. Touring bike will also be a good choice because it will accommodate fenders and rack/panniers. Touring bikes won't be as light as road bike.
Trek 520 is probably the single touring bike that's been in mass production the longest of any model on the market. Fuji Touring, Surly Long Haul Trucker, and REI/Novara Randonee and Safari are also frequently mentioned.
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Old 07-29-14, 08:39 PM   #14
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I ride a Surly Crosscheck (like RubeRad). It's a great commuting bike-- I love it. A similar one that's a touch cheaper is the Jamis Aurora. The Surly Pacer is similar, but closer to a road bike, not quite as heavy duty. I think all of those, and other bikes like those, would make great commuters.
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Old 07-31-14, 09:23 AM   #15
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Drop bars are going to be your friend on a long commute like that. The additional hand positions and ability to get in the drops to thwart the wind can be very valuable. That said A CX / gravel grinder bike is my recommendation. In my collection I have 2 CX bikes that I use for commuting, round town, long gravel rides, road rides, and cross country style single track, the ability to run varying tire widths and the geometry means the can truly do almost anything. I have several another purpose bikes (road, mountain, fat etc. ) but the CX bikes get the vast majority of the miles.
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Old 07-31-14, 09:45 AM   #16
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A have a CX bike and I will never get rid of it . . . unless I replace it with a nicer CX bike.

I started out with a road bike and a mountain bike for my commute, switching between them based on the weather, but now I am down to a single CX because it does EVERYTHING. It has the benefits of speed when I put my road tires on it (it's faster than my road bike I sold). In the winter I can put on stubbies and it rides wonderfully in the snow AND ICE (I have never slipped on my CX, which is more than I can say for my mountain bike, but I have some great tires on it). In summary, they're almost as fast as road bikes, but they're built to withstand dirt, grass, gravel, snow, and . . . pavement. Cross bikes fit racks and panniers just fine, so they can even be used for touring if you want. They are incredibly versatile bikes and great for the commute!
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Old 08-01-14, 11:19 PM   #17
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The giant avail *should* fit most 28s, possibly being a tight fit at the brake. It's also a great bike and probably the most well regarded women's endurance road bike. My gf loves hers.

However, I am a recent fan of fatter tires and now consider 32 to be thin, and kind of wish I had that option for my gf for comfort and handling. Not too experienced on the invite, but it definitely has more promise in the tire department, and should be all around more versatile. So the invite gets my vote, or the giant escape, which you haven't listed but needs to be mentioned.
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