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Old 12-10-07, 01:33 PM   #1
alentric
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hybrid vs. road for newbie

I have been riding a mountain bike for several years. I am 53 years old and in good shape from running and gym workouts..I am trying to save my knees, so I wan to do more riding..I was looking at a trek fx7.3 which they call a fitness bike or a flat-bar road bike..For about $200 more I can get a trek 1000 road bike.
My question is how hard is it to get used to the different riding position and the different shifters.
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Old 12-10-07, 01:55 PM   #2
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I hate riding road bikes, so I am a failed convert. However from studying this issue for several months and reading a lot of BF threads along the way, I'd say close to 85%-90% of the people who attempt to convert to a road bike are successful.
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Old 12-10-07, 02:11 PM   #3
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I am one of the 85 to 90%

A bike is a bike-It has to fit you though so make certain that you do get the right size. Only real difference on a road bike is the Bars. You have to remember there are 3 different positions and only in two of them can you reach the brakes and Gearchange levers. My only problem was geting the bar height right and a change of stem did that. Slightly longer and a bit more rise and it fitted the back perfectly- Except when I was in the drop position. That was only used on fast downhills so I could reach the brakes more effectively. Gradually I got more used to the drops and I now find them comfortable but it did take a bit of "Training" to get used to them.

Now if you are mainly doing road riding- I would say get the Race style bike. Occasional smooth trail riding can be coped with- but if mainly trail- Then go with the hybrid.
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Old 12-10-07, 02:30 PM   #4
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If you get to doing any serious mileage you will find a flat bar bike has a serious lack of hand positions.
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Old 12-10-07, 02:51 PM   #5
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I have a mountain bike, a road bike, and kind of a hybrid bike. If I were going to do it over, I'd buy a road bike but have the bars set at a much higher position than a typical road bike. The hybrid kills my hands after a while. I don't know if the mountain bike specifically hurts my hands, as I fall off it so often that everything else is hurting even more. The different hand positions on the road bike are great. The carbon fiber fork probably doesn't hurt.
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Old 12-10-07, 03:12 PM   #6
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If you get to doing any serious mileage you will find a flat bar bike has a serious lack of hand positions.
But if it is set up properly- You only need one position.

I rode the MTB for the first time in 6 months on Sunday. Not too many miles as the weather was against me but I put my hands on the bars- Fingers fell straight onto the brake levers and Gear changers naturally. Bar ends felt odd though so didn't use them much. And for bike control-this bike handles. I would not like to do too many miles on even smooth trails on the road bike.
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Old 12-10-07, 03:18 PM   #7
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I started with a Trek 3900 MTB with flat bars and rode 2,000 miles on it, almost exclusively on roads. I swapped the knobbies for slicks at 800 miles. I had no problems with hand comfort. I then got a flat bar road bike with narrower tires and put 2,000 miles on it, and added bar-ends and found them a nice change of pace now and then when riding.

Then I got a conventional road bike with drop bars, and I've put 1,400 miles on it, and although I like the fact that I can change hand positions, I use only two 98% of the time -- flat on the tops, and in the "handshake" position by the brifters.

I'm thoroughly used to it, but I still wish I could have the drop bars with flat-bar brake levers. I know I could install cheaters, but it's not that big a deal.

If it were me, and I were making the choice, I'd get a 7.6 at your point in your (re)cycling career. I think that's a better bike than the 1000, and it still has flat bars. You could ride LONG distances on it easily.
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Old 12-10-07, 04:03 PM   #8
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If you get to doing any serious mileage you will find a flat bar bike has a serious lack of hand positions.
A flat bar with bar ends has quite a few positions depending what sort of bar ends are installed.

What a drop bar really has that people use is an extra "aero position", usefull for heavy headwinds or serious speed. IMHO the tradeoff is in a brake lever with less power and modulation than I like, but that may also have a lot to do with hand size, riding style or whatever (I still do about 75% of my riding on an MTB and that will always drive my feelings as to what the cockpit should feel like)
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Old 12-10-07, 04:29 PM   #9
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If you get to doing any serious mileage you will find a flat bar bike has a serious lack of hand positions.
This sort of a set-up gives me all the hand positions I currently feel the need for. To the O.P., only time and your personal experience will tell. But as Mr. Bombadil rightly points out, the majority of those who ride on the road on any kind of "serious" level do so on road bikes. "serious" is open to interpretation.

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Old 12-10-07, 04:37 PM   #10
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This sort of a set-up gives me all the hand positions I currently feel the need for. To the O.P., only time and your personal experience will tell. But as Mr. Bombadil rightly points out, the majority of those who ride on the road on any kind of "serious" level do so on road bikes. "serious" is open to interpretation.

A very interesting custom solution there Terrierman. I'm going to have to put that on the list of things to try just to see what it feels like.
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Old 12-10-07, 04:47 PM   #11
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I am a former runner who switched to biking. I resisted road drops briefly but soon realized I much preferred the variety of hand positions on road drops. I spend 65% of my time on (or around) the hoods, 25% of my time on the tops (and I have inline brake on the tops as well), 5% in the drops (for heads-down, long hard pulls). I greatly appreciate being able to stretch the back out and get super aero in the drops for brief periods.
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Old 12-10-07, 05:33 PM   #12
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Sounds like you go at things hard. If I were you I would go ride drop bar bikes till I found one that feels like home and buy it. I have a flat bar road bike that I like to ride but when I want to do some miles I get the real road bike out.
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Old 12-10-07, 06:05 PM   #13
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I spend 65% of my time on (or around) the hoods, 25% of my time on the tops (and I have inline brake on the tops as well), 5% in the drops (for heads-down, long hard pulls).
The other 5% of the time, he covers his eyes with his hands and pedals like a madman while yodeling.
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Old 12-10-07, 06:16 PM   #14
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You're quick Tom, that's funny!! I could picture it!
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Old 12-10-07, 06:21 PM   #15
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Well, when I got involved in cycling, it was road bikes or nothing. So I tried an entry level road bike and although it looked intimidating, I was able to adjust to it very quickly. The light responsive bike and the multiple hand positions are very practical even if they look nasty. Even a narrow, hard seat is very comfortable if it fits. The main thing is fit.

If you have any aspirations for riding distance such as over about 12 miles per ride and you are going to ride on pavement, the road bike is the way to go. It looks daunting but it isn't.
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Old 12-10-07, 07:07 PM   #16
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I started on a hybrid, tried a road bike, (a second-hand Trek 1000), loved it, and have never looked back.

It took me a couple of weeks of daily riding for my upper back and neck muscles to become accustomed to the position.

Ultimately, it depends on why you ride and what riding does for you. I love my road bikes because with the barest of efforts--the lightest pedal stroke, or a mere wiggle of the fingers--THINGS HAPPEN. The speed, lightness of handling, and the ease with which it goes, steers and stops were instantly addictive. It was literally the very first pedal stroke on the road bike that sucked me right in.

By comparison, the hybrid felt like I was dragging around an anvil behind the bike. It was a great workout, don't get me wrong, but I ride for more than just working-out. Even so, I put 3,800 miles on the thing in a year, riding everywhere including rides people said shouldn't (and even couldn't) be done with a hybrid.

I'm on my second road bike already, yet I've still logged more miles on the hybrid. But since April barely a couple of hundred.

Edit: Oh, and the shifters. That took even less time to adjust to than the position.

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Old 12-10-07, 07:34 PM   #17
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At 55, I got back into cycling after several years away (had a steel road bike way back) with a hybrid. I anticipated having neck issues with a road bike, but I yearned for a smoother, lighter faster ride.

I checked out relaxed-geometry road frames from all the majors and settled on a Specialized Roubaix. I got used to the new bike much more quickly than I anticipated and after almost 1,000 miles on it have had no neck or back issues.

I think one key was finding an LBS with an experienced owner who had the knowledge and the willingness to spend time fitting me to the correct size frame and then adjusting things once the bike arrived. I spend most of my time riding on the hoods -- I ride residential streets -- and find that most comfortable. I spend much less time than I thought I would on the top of the bar. Now when I ride my hybrid I find the flat bar position gets uncomfortable rather quickly.
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Old 12-10-07, 07:41 PM   #18
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terrierman ?

what are those vertical grips called on your bike and where do you get them?
Is it a whole new bar or just some extensions added to the original?
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Old 12-10-07, 07:42 PM   #19
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I think more important than the hand positions (although multiple hand positions are important if you're aiming at doing ride longer than an hour or so) is the effect on your neck and back. If you've got neck or back troubles, a flat bar probably is better. Otherwise, a road bike is definitely the way to go.
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Old 12-10-07, 08:31 PM   #20
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I too rode a moutain bike occasionally for a couple of years- mostly on roads or bike paths. Bought a road bike last spring because I wanted to ride faster and get up the hills easier. I loved it immediately- felt like I was flying effortlessly. I had NO TROUBLE adjusting to the hand positions and only a little adjusting to the shifters. (I still miss the numbers on the shifter that indicate exactly which gear I am in.)

But recently I've been wanting a lightweight hybrid because I want to ride on unpaved surfaces (such as mulch or gravel trails) because my mountain bike is just too heavy and slow but I am not comfortable riding anything but smooth paved surfaces on my road bike.

Good Luck.
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Old 12-10-07, 08:32 PM   #21
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I took up cycling at age 12 and have never taken a break from it. I love drop bars and would not have anything else on one of my road bikes. I kept getting tingles in the hands from my mountain bike until I added bar extenders to give me the neutral handshake position. An added plus for me is that my old school 4-finger motorcycle-style brake handles permit me to brake confidently from the extensions.

If I were starting out, I would get a nonsuspension mountain bike with handlebar extensions, followed by a relaxed-geometry road bike if I found the sport to my liking. My current stable includes one road racing bike (narrow tires and tight frame geometry), one relaxed-geometry sports touring road bike, one relaxed-geometry cyclocross/commuting road bike, and one mountain bike, plus one restoration-in-progress (Capo #2).
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Old 12-10-07, 08:35 PM   #22
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I too started with a mountain bike/flat bars and rode it 800 miles on the road. I moved to a road bike with flat bars and haven't looked back.

I'd suggest going for more bike than you want to spend initially. I know it seems like a lot more than you need but believe me, you'll outgrow it in no time. You'll be thinking of upgrading in a year or so save yourself the money over the long term and make the jump with the first purchase. Think of it as an investment in your health and fitness.
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Old 12-10-07, 08:38 PM   #23
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I too rode a moutain bike occasionally for a couple of years- mostly on roads or bike paths. Bought a road bike last spring because I wanted to ride faster and get up the hills easier. I loved it immediately- felt like I was flying effortlessly. I had NO TROUBLE adjusting to the hand positions and only a little adjusting to the shifters. (I still miss the numbers on the shifter that indicate exactly which gear I am in.)

But recently I've been wanting a lightweight hybrid because I want to ride on unpaved surfaces (such as mulch or gravel trails) because my mountain bike is just too heavy and slow but I am not comfortable riding anything but smooth paved surfaces on my road bike.

Good Luck.
Have you considered a cyclocross bike?
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Old 12-10-07, 08:39 PM   #24
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Road bike.
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Old 12-10-07, 09:21 PM   #25
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I have a mountain bike, a road bike, and kind of a hybrid bike. If I were going to do it over, I'd buy a road bike but have the bars set at a much higher position than a typical road bike. The hybrid kills my hands after a while. I don't know if the mountain bike specifically hurts my hands, as I fall off it so often that everything else is hurting even more. The different hand positions on the road bike are great. The carbon fiber fork probably doesn't hurt.
+1
Drop bars offer more positions. If you're doing a lot of miles, being able to vary positions helps big time. Don't cut or let the shop cut the steerer until you're sure of where YOU want the bars. Get some cheap spacers, so you can shuffle things around for different heights. You can always shorten the steerer later.
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