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Old 08-15-07, 05:48 AM   #1
mulchie
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HYBRIDS -- hype or heavenly?

My LBS is selling Giant and Marin hybrids. Swears by them. I've been riding a 1999 MB (Raleigh) on a short commute (country roads -- plenty o bumps). Like that bike a lot, but... the third gear won't work (okay, I'll take it in), I've got the bug and thinking of upgrading. What's the word on hybrids for someone who doesn't want to race, but just get here and there (sometimes speedily), maybe pack a few groceries, get in shape, skip Exxon/Mobil, etc. etc.
Mft. and Model suggestions?
Time of year to buy suggestions?
Reasonable price? (I'm thinking $500)

I don't want something with the wheels always popping or the bike needing fancy tune-ups.
I want to buy once and have it for oh, a couple decades.
thanks!
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Old 08-15-07, 06:59 AM   #2
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I rode a Trek 750 hybrid for 10 years. It was a wonderful bike for the type of "utility" riding I was doing at the time: commuting, running errands, short recreational road rides, some hardpack trails, etc. If that's all I ever needed from a bike the hybrid would have been the perfect solution.

Unfortunately what I wanted from a bike was a real mountain bike and a real road bike...and a hybrid is neither. While in theory they're a cross between the two, in practice they offer none of the qualities that a good road bike or mountain bike possess. Too slow for club rides, too noodly for off-road.

But for utility use they're ideal.
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Old 08-15-07, 07:04 AM   #3
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I rode a Trek 750 hybrid for 10 years. It was a wonderful bike for the type of "utility" riding I was doing at the time: commuting, running errands, short recreational road rides, some hardpack trails, etc. If that's all I ever needed from a bike the hybrid would have been the perfect solution.

Unfortunately what I wanted from a bike was a real mountain bike and a real road bike...and a hybrid is neither. While in theory they're a cross between the two, in practice they offer none of the qualities that a good road bike or mountain bike possess. Too slow for club rides, too noodly for off-road.

But for utility use they're ideal.
I agree. A mountain bike is great for commuting through winter weather, even in snow and ice, and a road bike will give you that extra speed for fair weather riding. The hybrid offers neither.
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Old 08-15-07, 07:29 AM   #4
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My LBS is selling Giant and Marin hybrids. Swears by them. I've been riding a 1999 MB (Raleigh) on a short commute (country roads -- plenty o bumps). Like that bike a lot, but... the third gear won't work (okay, I'll take it in), I've got the bug and thinking of upgrading. What's the word on hybrids for someone who doesn't want to race, but just get here and there (sometimes speedily), maybe pack a few groceries, get in shape, skip Exxon/Mobil, etc. etc.
Mft. and Model suggestions?
Time of year to buy suggestions?
Reasonable price? (I'm thinking $500)

I don't want something with the wheels always popping or the bike needing fancy tune-ups.
I want to buy once and have it for oh, a couple decades.
thanks!
If you want to just go to the store and ride around a Hybrid is perfect. But if you decide to ride long distances or with a club a hybrid is not the bike for you due to gearing and the up-right position that puts you into the wind like a "Big Sail" causing a waste of energy.

I purchased a 2006 Fuji Absoute 3.0 hybrid and out grew it in a month, sold it and purchased a "Fuji Roubaix" road bike. I wish I had purchased this bike in the beginning. The ride is better and of course as fast as the "Engine" (me) can make it go. A road bike can do just about all the hybrid bike can do (except ride in the dirt) plus take you to the next level if you decide to go that way, but they cost more and that "cost" is for a reason.

You can purchase some pretty decent Hybid bikes for under $500 bucks. But the components are not that great and you may need a few "Fancy Tune-ups" as you call it. Also the shifters and derailleurs shift a little rough too due to the quality of the components. Trek, Giant and just about everyone else has something in that price range. You just have to go test ride em and find the one with the best frame that feels comfortable to you. Whatever brand or bike type you choose, just make sure you feel comfortable on it.

Hope this helps.
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Old 08-15-07, 07:42 AM   #5
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I've ridden a hybrid and wasn't impressed. They kinda tried to cross a mountain bike with a road bike and it doesn't do either very well. I guess it's fine for just cruising.
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Old 08-15-07, 07:51 AM   #6
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I think they are fine for the average person. Not so much for wackjobs like me. I prefer bikes for specialized purposes. A MTB for the mountains. A road bike for the roads. A cruiser bike for leisure rides.
However, they may make a decent grocery bike. Maybe....
Though for a utility bike a nice frame with an xtracycle would be cool. Either that or a trike.
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Old 08-15-07, 07:51 AM   #7
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I've always been primarily a road bike owner, but I did have a few hybrids during the 1990's. Some of them are quite nice, and offer a good compromise between comfort and performance, especially if you choose a model that isn't too gimmicky in the comfort department (no suspension). There's a Marin dealer across the street from me, and I always like their bikes. I wouldn't worry too much about the fact that a "hybrid" is neither a mountain bike nor a road bike. It's perfect for the casual, recreational rider who just wants to get somewhere without giving it too much more thought than that. On the other hand, a basic mountain bike with a simple frame, no suspension, handlebar at about saddle height... can make an excellent "hybrid". Put narrower tires on it instead of the knobbies and you're in business. I'm not that tall, so I prefer the smaller 26 inch wheel size. Gary Fisher used to make some very nice hybrid-type road-oriented bikes with 26 inch wheels. That was ideal.
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Old 08-15-07, 07:58 AM   #8
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Are you looking for someone to validate your desire to buy a new bike. . ?

You should probably fix the bike you've got to more nearly emulate a hybrid -- get the gearing right, put some slicks on it.

That said, I've got a custom built road bike, but my Giant Cypress is my daily ride. I am beating the Hell out of it -- drivers here are pretty nutty so I use the dirt roads where and when possible. Works great for that -- more like the European notion of what a bike should be: Transportation, rather than a toy.

Note that it would not be a good bike for a club ride, nor for hard-core off-road. Neither Ferrari, nor Jeep, more like a 4WD pick-up.

Or as John Lennon said, "It's all up to what you value in your motor car."

Maybe the simplest testimony is that if got stolen, I'd buy another one.
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Old 08-15-07, 08:42 AM   #9
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I picked up a Marin Larkspur in 1998 while living in California, billed as a "hybrid" then, the current model listed as a "City" bike on their website. When I first got it, I used it for my short commute, running errands and some short fun weekend rides into town, etc. The only modification I made was adding a rear rack.

A few years after I moved to Maine I decided to start bike commuting again, and got the Larkspur tuned up. Plus I added fenders. My commute is about 13 miles round-trip. About a year after that, I decided to do the Trek Across Maine (180miles/3days). After winter/before the ride I switched out my tires to 700 x 23, which feels great. I had a great ride on the Trek. Now, in addition to my weekday commuting I usually get in a 30 or 40 mile ride on the weekend. When the weather starts to get snowy again, I'll switch back to the 35mm tires, which also have a little more grip. They are good about plowing the roads here, so I haven't had a need for studded tires, but I don't think I would ride in severe icy conditions. I also use the 35mm tires to take some off-road shortcuts and ride carriage roads, trails, etc.

It has definitely helped me get in shape - dropped over 20 pounds so I am right about where I want to be, better general endurance, and just feeling good.

Not sure what your range is on "somewhat speedily" but I'm averaging 16-17mph on my commutes now (probably more like 10 - 12 when I started), including stoplights. Usually a bit faster on my weekend rides, depending on the amount/type of hills.

Maintenance costs have been minimal - the occasional $30-$40 tune up (and I am learning to do more for myself).

Naturally, after a year+ of regular bike use I am tempted to get a new one, but if I did I'd keep the Larkspur for trips to town/winter commuting. I've gotten almost ten years out of it so far after all!
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Old 08-15-07, 08:45 AM   #10
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HYBRIDS -- hype or heavenly?

depends
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Old 08-15-07, 09:30 AM   #11
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I got a Trek 7.2FX which was $500 after taxes/helmet/bottle cage/etc. last fall to use as a campus commuter and then do some exercising on the side. The bike alone retailed for just under $400, and it had decent components which I think might've lasted better longer had I not decided so many times to downshift while slowly going uphill (it was also my first multispeed bike). Anyway, I found it great for commuting since it's a comfortable ride and it's not the kind of bike I'd be worried about someone stealing components off of as it is sitting around locked up. My college (UT-Knox) is quite hilly, and the hybrid doesn't go easy on you for steep hills, then again, neither does an MTB. I really enjoyed mine, but I switched out of it because I wanted to be ableto comfortably go more than 15 miles at a time.

IMHO for what you're doing, I'd definately consider it. Test ride some and see what you think.
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Old 08-15-07, 11:28 AM   #12
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I love my hybrid; Trek 7100.

Up until my current bike, I always road a mountain bike and never went off road, so I guess to me a hybrid is quite an improvement for what I used it for.

I can cruise and sustain 23-26mph into a light wind (40+ with a tailwind) for many miles without getting tired. I have it loaded down, too. I have a trunk rack with two locks and other stuff all the time. I can ride just for fun or for utility. The only thing I don't have but would like are multiple hand position options.

My favorite thing to do is ride up along side a novice/not-too-serious road biker and see how fast I can push them. Already this season I have had 10+ plus impromptu races with want-to-be-serious road bikers and I can usually push them 'til they get tired or overtake them and they get quite upset. (Me on my hybrid with just a t shirt, shorts, and tennis shoes.) Of course I couldn't even catch up to a real road biker, let alone pass them, but if I wanted to do that I would get a road bike.

I call it my "sleeper bike." And I love it.
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Old 08-15-07, 11:47 AM   #13
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My Gary Fisher Utopia's a hybrid...been bomb proof. I bought a MTB, decided right away it was too heavy and energy consuming for the trails I rode so I bought the hybrid and have been happy with for years. when I started getting more into road riding I bought a road bike, but the hybrids been a good companion.

people often say "hybrid gives you a bad MTB and a bad road bike in one machine"...but I disagree. It's very appropriate for alot of people and their riding needs.

Gary Fisher's are same as Trek and usually cost about the same but you get a bit better parts for the money. Giant, Specialized, Bianchi etc everyone makes em these days...try and get one that fits best.

I'd say don't get one with a front <edit: forgot to add "suspension"> fork though.

PS Bought a Electra Townie for my wife, its a hybrid with slightly modified geomtery allowing for more upright riding....worth a look too. I'd try one of their new 700c Townies (right in your price range) and compare to more traditional hybrids and see what you like.

I'd get an 06 or 07 model, they are on clearance already and some can be had for half price of original cost.

Last edited by powerglide; 08-15-07 at 03:21 PM.
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Old 08-15-07, 01:59 PM   #14
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Nothing wrong with hybrids(see my sig). Road bikes are for racing,MTB's are for offroad. Hybrids are for city riding,and they do a very good job of it.
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Old 08-15-07, 03:06 PM   #15
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I like my Raleigh Passage 4.5. It cost just under $400 w/ tax. I don't have a grand for a road bike. I had a bike with drops once and I NEVER used them.
This bike works very well for 50+ mile rides.
Although I don't go trail riding, I need something a little more robust than a road bike. My hybrid suits me fine.
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Old 08-15-07, 03:11 PM   #16
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Why not a fork in front? You lose me there.
Just rode a Giant SRC (scr? I don't know, I'm a writer with dyslexia)... and really loved it. Amazing ride. Felt perfect. Pretty pricey. $799. And... whoops, the chain fell off and got jammed during a shift. LBS said this NEVER happens. Maybe it was me.
But I'm still thinking hybrid might be right for me. The road is too bumpy a ride for my bumpy roads and the mtb are sluggish.
Thanks for all the thoughts and I'll welcome more since I'll be mulling over this big dive for a good long while.
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Old 08-15-07, 03:17 PM   #17
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Nothing wrong with hybrids(see my sig). Road bikes are for racing,MTB's are for offroad. Hybrids are for city riding,and they do a very good job of it.
That's what I'd say, too. I could be a pessimist and say that my Bad Boy sucks for MTB'ing and is slower than a road bike (both true), but I could also be an optimist and say that it's as agile and sturdy as a mountain bike while being much faster.

I can imagine owning three bikes -- a badass MTB, a fast roadie, and the Bad Boy. If I had to cut that down to just one... well, ya know, at the moment, I'd keep the BB. It makes more sense more of the time that I'd be biking.
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Old 08-15-07, 03:20 PM   #18
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Front suspension forks...my hybrids got one, but if I could do it over again I'd do without it.

Main Reasons:
-never need it (the bike came with skinny road wheels), I'm never riding in the rough
-heavy as hell
-saps energy (you'll be bobbin up and down, wasting precious energy, that should be used to go forward)

Swapping to a no suspension fork later is not simple either, you'd have to get suspension compensated forks to keep the geometry "right".

Search about front suspension forks on hybrids here because there's been alot discussed about the pros and cons of one on a hybrid
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Old 08-15-07, 03:38 PM   #19
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Okay to clarify... what I tried was a modified Road bike, called a "fitness" bike, Giant FCR-2. I have to say it was the sweetest bike I have EVEr tried. Smooth, fast, quiet, comfortable.
Yes, European notion of utility.
And it makes sense about the suspension forks, powerglide. I'll skip em. thanks.
still looking and researching and really appreciate all the help provided on this thread. Thanks everybody.
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Old 08-15-07, 04:01 PM   #20
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Okay to clarify... what I tried was a modified Road bike, called a "fitness" bike, Giant FCR-2. I have to say it was the sweetest bike I have EVEr tried. Smooth, fast, quiet, comfortable.
Yes, European notion of utility.
And it makes sense about the suspension forks, powerglide. I'll skip em. thanks.
still looking and researching and really appreciate all the help provided on this thread. Thanks everybody.


aha! Basically a relaxed geometry road bike with flat handle bars and wider range cassette (12-27).
That's on the far 'road' side of the hybrid rainbow. (Giant categorizes this one under their 'road bike' section I believe)
Just for yucks did you try the TCR? (compare against FCR)

Maybe you're more road bike oriented than you think...if so you may feel like getting a road bike soon after. (very common) Most folks with drop handbar road bikes spend 90% of the time on the top/hoods anyways.
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Old 08-15-07, 04:08 PM   #21
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I didn't try the TCR. Tried a Giant roadie at another shop and really bumped along. Can't recall which one it was. But you're right again, I really don't want to get an expensive (I know, some of them are $5,000 + but that's another world that I don't inhabit) bike and then want to get another kind right away. That's why I'm really going to take my time.
Ever hear of a chain slipping like that? Granted, I'm no pro rider, but it was a sudden drop and it jammed up so much I had to walk it back to make sure there wasn't more damage. That's a little unnerving to me since I want something super reliable. One x yr for upkeep max.
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Old 08-15-07, 04:30 PM   #22
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I didn't try the TCR. Tried a Giant roadie at another shop and really bumped along. Can't recall which one it was. But you're right again, I really don't want to get an expensive (I know, some of them are $5,000 + but that's another world that I don't inhabit) bike and then want to get another kind right away. That's why I'm really going to take my time.
Ever hear of a chain slipping like that? Granted, I'm no pro rider, but it was a sudden drop and it jammed up so much I had to walk it back to make sure there wasn't more damage. That's a little unnerving to me since I want something super reliable. One x yr for upkeep max.

Not sure what happened with your chain there...it came off the chainring and go jammed between frame and crank? Eitherway I wouldn't let that worry you. Sometimes new bikes at shops aren't tuned/adjusted just right (although they should before letting customer ride out). I wouldn't let that experience shy you away from that bike. I guess the FCR comes with a 105 mixed components...they are reliable no worries. If it bothers you, it can be a good excuse to have the shop upgrade some of the components for you though...

Bike shopping (especially first few) is hard to nail perfectly. You try a few, buy one, and you learn what you like, don't like. Only mistake in my buying history was that last mountain bike. I researched the hell out of it before I bought it. Then one day, as I stared at the dusty frame and uninflated knobby tires it dawned on me to cut my loss, sell it, and do it over again...it happens.
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Old 08-15-07, 07:54 PM   #23
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an adjustment thing, I think.
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Old 08-15-07, 08:25 PM   #24
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Right; any bike is vulnerable to misadjustment. They should've had it right, sure, but it could have been just a one-time thing, too.
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Old 08-16-07, 12:24 AM   #25
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I like my hybrid fine, a Trek 7300. Nice riding position, sitting tall lookin' at the world as I pass by. Front suspension and wider tires help, with the beat-up roads I have to travel in NYC.

Now I admire road bikes, they really are beautiful machines. Hybrids are a better fit for my riding style.
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