I'm seriously considering a Downtube to replace a bike that was stolen recently. Prior to the theft, I used a Trek 7300 hybrid for commuting (<3mi each way, city & town streets), for errands and grocery shopping, and as part of a weight-loss plan (215 lbs and going down). I occasionally take the bike on off-road trails, but usually only on grass and hard-pack dirt, nothing too strenuous.
The Downtubes seem like pretty good bikes, great actually for the cost, but only available in a limited variety.
1. Does Downtube kit-out their bikes with extras like kickstand, rear rack, etc or will I need to go to the LBS to get these put on?
2. I really like the "comfort" reviews of the FS model, but also need a rear rack (and hopefully pannier/side baskets) because of the errands that I use the bike for. Any experince with this? a. Can a FS model be fitted with a rack? and b. If so, can the rack be fitted with panniers or side baskets, or would they scrape the ground? (I used to use Wald folding wire baskets; a bit heavy, but great utility, exactly the size of a paper grocery bag!)
3. Based on my riding habits, and assuming that I pick-up a bit more on riding more for leisure and excercise, what upgrades would anyone recommend over the next year, in order of priority?
Thanks for any help with this; although I've been "back" in riding for about 6 months, I'm still a "bike-newbie" with regards to repair, maintenance, upgrades and component selection.