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Old 05-09-09, 08:17 PM   #1
Inertianinja
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new investment - Seek 2 vs. Camaleonte vs. ??

(i'm new, i searched )

my only bike, for a long time now, was a 1999 Specialized Rockhopper FS.
i just moved into NYC, and i'm looking to invest in a faster, lighter, road-ier bike for longer rides, possible commute, transportation, etc. I want a versatile bike, and i've never been a fan of drop bars. I'd like disc brakes, too.

I've been looking at "urban" bikes - Trek Valencia (can't find one to test drive) and the Giant Seek 2 (LBS has it for $660). I've also been looking at the Bianchi Camaleonte 2 (LBS - $770) and the Specialized Sirrus Sport.

I did short test rides on the Seek2 and the Camaleonte2, and both felt good - but vastly different from what i'm used to.I'm new to this type of bike, so i don't have a frame of reference. I searched, and all these bikes had positive reviews here, but elsewhere on the internet there's not much...bikes are too new i guess. I'm looking to make a decent investment, but i'm NOT looking to blow money on a bike that's out of my league just bc it's pretty (though, i do like the Bianchi).

I went to a bunch of LBS near me, and all liked the Seek...though everyone kinda scoffed at the whole "urban" bike thing.
The latest one recommended the Camaleonte. I was told that the components were all better than the Seek (though they're listed as "mountain" components on Shimano's site), and that the $100 difference in price would be justified by the pedals and integrated bar ends alone. He also said i'd prefer the Bianchi's mechanical disk brakes over the Seek's hydraulic, since the mechanical are easier to work on. Though the guy seemed to know his stuff, I'm worried that i'm being upsold.

Another thing: I took a look at the Trek 7.x's. I was told that the 7.2 and the 7.3 are about the same. i checked out the 7.5, but it's a bit out of my price range.

If you got this far, thanks for reading.
So, any opinions or guidance you can give would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 05-09-09, 08:50 PM   #2
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If the Trek dealer has a 2007/8 SOHO, they are basically the same bike, but the Valencia just has disc brakes. I've ridden the SOHO and it's a nice ride. The new ones are due in summer will have the belt drive and Alfine internal gears, should make a great commuter.

The FX series is a great bike. The 7.3 is about the sweet spot with them, anything higher and you might as well get a road bike.
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Old 05-09-09, 09:27 PM   #3
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i do like the looks of the Trek Soho, but it's a fixed gear bike. I might consider that as a 2nd bike down the line.

this is why i wanted to try out the Valencia, because it's in Trek's "urban fitness commuter hybrid" class, but has some gearing. nobody stocks it, though.
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Old 05-09-09, 09:31 PM   #4
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Another thing: the Bianchi's sizing. It comes in 53cm and 58cm. LBS said i should have 55cm, but he'd put me on a 53cm....which would be a little short in length...and he'd fix that by swapping out the stock adjustable stem for a fixed stem that was a little longer. Does that sound fugazi?
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Old 05-10-09, 04:58 PM   #5
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can anyone else weigh in?
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Old 05-10-09, 06:48 PM   #6
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yeah, if you need a larger frame, fixing the stem and seat post won't change that fact. above all else, make sure the frame fits you---components can be adjusted/swapped out/replaced---but the frame is more or less just what it is. the seatpost/stem adjustments are for fine tuning a frame beyond the cookie-cutter dimensions (like a suit that is altered just for you).

i do think mechanical disc brakes are better for slightly less tinkering: no hose bleeding, no air bubbles; just an old fashioned hard-to-die cable. i have mech discs on my bike and rode through this winter with zero hassles. not only do they stop much better and more reliably, they're also not difficult to maintain. they'll be easier for *you* to work on, and therefore may save you some pennies over the long haul.

either bike should serve you fine. but don't get pressured into a bike that won't fit you. if you're putting down the cash, make sure it's *exactly* what you're paying for, and not just something an LBS wants to move off the shop floor. if they don't have it in your size, make them order it, or look elsewhere.
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Old 05-10-09, 08:36 PM   #7
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thank you. it's hard to judge it at this early newb stage. LBSs told me i'm at a 20'' (i'm 6ft) and i don't want to be too upright. if switching the stem is a matter of fitting me for a slightly smaller frame (assuming the 58cm would be too big), then maybe that's not too bad.

hydraulics aside, should i be considering the Seek/Valencia more? although the Valencia and Bianchi both use the Shimano Deore - am i going to regret getting an "urban" bike / are the bianchi/trek 7.x more "serious"?
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Old 05-11-09, 04:59 AM   #8
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i don't think you'll regret any of the choices, so long as the bike fits you, and you like it. certainly you won't see pro riders racing on them, but then again, that's really not the point. it's easy to get carried away, and there will always be something 'better'. as far as i can tell, these bikes can all be made to ride more aggressively or more relaxed, depending on their final setup.

as for frame size: it depends a lot on your body. my legs are slightly longer than my torso, so a slightly smaller frame (shorter top tube) helps me, and i compensate by having a slightly taller saddle and stem (these are parallel on my frame, so simple to adjust for height). several people i know have it the other way, and so a slightly larger frame happens to work for them; one of the people i know has a custom frame, and thus avoids all problems---but hey, i didn't want to spend that much on a frame (though it is mighty pretty).
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Old 05-11-09, 09:15 AM   #9
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I would like to suggest that you take a look at the Kona Dew or Dr. Dew. I have a Dr. Dew and it is just perfect in my opinion for the riding I do. It is a flat bar bike with disk brakes and 700c tires.

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Old 05-11-09, 12:42 PM   #10
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My $.02:

Giant - SRAM trigger shifters are,IMHO,the business. You only use your thumbs so they work just as well with mittens or thick winter gloves as they do with bare hands. The hydro discs will have better feel and require almost no maintenance;just check the pads for wear and replace when needed,and have them bled every 2 or 3 years. I'd say the X-5 rear der is a touch better than Deore,but really these three bikes are close enough in groupo that I wouldn't sweat it. the fork has lowrider mounts so fitting fenders won't be too bad,adding a rack to the back will need a disc-specific mount though. BTW,it's also the only 9sp,so you get more gear options.

Bianchi - Randonneurs are prolly the best tires of the group. I've got them/had them on several bikes and never flatted them. Reflective sidewalls are a bonus. The alum fork gives me pause;I've had issues with the ride quality of alloy forks in the past and on a couple of my current bikes. If you have any carpel tunnel issues,I think you might want to pass on this one. It's also going to be the hardest one to mount racks and fenders on,although Planet Bike SpeedEz fenders should go straight on without probs. As the most expensive bike in the group,with an alloy fork,I give it a meh.

Trek - with the fork lowrider mounts and the rear caliper inside the stays,this bike will take standard fenders and racks with no MacGuyvering. It also has more roadish gearing with the 11-28 cassette,but I hear NYC is pretty flat so that may not matter.

For me,factoring specs and price,I'd go Giant -> Trek -> Bianchi. Something else you should look at though is how much clearance you have for wider tires. You may want to go with wider treaded tires for NY winters. And the greatest deciding factor is which bike fits you the best and which feels the best when you ride it. Specs alone can't tell how nice a bike is.

The Kona Dews are another line you might want to look at. I really like my Deluxe. Also,last year's Soho's were mostly disc brake hybrids,this year the only model is the single speed.
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Old 05-11-09, 01:07 PM   #11
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thanks dynaryder for the rundown.

i'm noticing that pretty much every bike in my price range uses Shimano Deore, so i'm getting the sense that they're all in the same "class," so to speak.

i read an in-depth review of the valencia over at the bike-geek blog, and the guy seemed very pleased with it. i was just worried that the "urban" bikes weren't as "serious" as the performance hybrids, and that i'd end up regretting it in some way down the road.

as cool as i think the Bianchi is, i think it might just be the flashyness that is attracting me. brushed aluminum with a black fork and big decals is more eye-catching than the Seek's flat silver.

I'm leaning more towards the trek - hoping i can find the valencia or 7.x for a good price.
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Old 05-11-09, 02:43 PM   #12
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I had an interesting series of calls this afternoon. asked about the Trek 7.3, Trek Valencia and Giant Seek 2.
For s***'s and giggles i asked about the 7.5, even though i knew it was out of my price range. Most shops had it at $900.....then one had it at $820....then one shop had it for $810 if i bought a helmet with the bike.

should i go for it? or is it too much bike for me?
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Old 05-11-09, 07:06 PM   #13
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go for it, if you like it. for me, it has to be disc brakes, or nothing. winter and rain riding necessitate this in my case. but if you're mostly in the dry, then it's a fine bike, and certainly not "too much bike for you!" it's a fine bike. and the bike you want to ride, is the best bike of them all!
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Old 05-11-09, 07:53 PM   #14
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go for it, if you like it. for me, it has to be disc brakes, or nothing. winter and rain riding necessitate this in my case. but if you're mostly in the dry, then it's a fine bike, and certainly not "too much bike for you!" it's a fine bike. and the bike you want to ride, is the best bike of them all!
the disc brakes were definitely something i was interested in, but if calipers are good enough for police bikes then they're good enough for me.
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Old 05-12-09, 07:24 AM   #15
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the disc brakes were definitely something i was interested in, but if calipers are good enough for police bikes then they're good enough for me.
Maybe your NY cops are tougher than ours,but I've never seen a cop out in the snow. Rare to see them out in the rain. Also,they get all their work done for them by local shops,they don't even carry a multitool or a patch kit.
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