I am not sure where to start here. First My wife(53) and I(50) started bike riding about 2 months ago, we did this because our employer has a charity cycling team and was having an informational meeting, We had discussed riding bikes for about 4 years but never followed up on the idea. Well neither one of us had riden a bicycle since we were 15 years old. So at the informational meeting the team director brought in one of the long time LBS owners to show the equiptment thas was required and to show the selection of bikes that werte around. Now here is where some of my questions come from, The LBS owner (63) stated that in order to ride properly you must have clipless pedals, and in his expert opinion if you were looking for an all around bike you needed to buy a mountain bike. He flatly stated that the "so called Hybrid bikes were nothing but junk" He went on to say it did not matter what company they came from. When he was talking about road bikes he emphaticly pointed out that you should always ride a road bike with drop bars in the drop position, again he insisted that it was never safe to ride with your hands on the hoods since you would not be able to get to the brakes. I can tell you that we bought big box mountain bikes to start with and have enjoyed riding so much that we have ordered Specialized Cross Trail elites for both of us. No they did not come from the LBS that was at our employers meeting, they came from the only other LBS in the area. I guess what I am wandering is, his thinking and recomondations common place or are they a mis guided attempt to impart poor advise on prospective customers. Second is I know bike brands are a lot like car brands, If you like Ford then they are the best or if you like chevys then they are the best. But what is the general overal opinion of the choices I had. The LBS where I bought the bikes only caries Specialized and the LBS that was at the meeting caries TREK. They are the only 2 LBS with in 80 miles of where I live.
As far as the type of riding we have in the area and that we will be doing. 75% will be either gravel multi use trails or true mountain bike trails and 20% will be on tar and gravel rural roads with about 5% on actual asphalt.