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Old 06-02-09, 11:50 PM   #1
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Buying my first bicycle. Need advices, answers, and decisions!! Please help.

That's right, folks! My first time buying my own bicycle. After researching for a few days, I became completely convinced that a hybrid bike is the right one for me. Now the questions come down to what brands, models, etc should I get? Well, after a lot of searching, I landed in between Montague's CX Comfort bike and the Cannondale Adventure 5.

HOWEVER! Depending on your answers to my following questions, I might have second thoughts about the 2 mentioned bikes:

1. I've read too much about Mountain bikes, but one thing still isn't clear to me. Are Mountain bikes suited for riding in the city streets? Lots of reviews say this bike is designed to be "tough" and "take a beating," obviously for when you go biking in rocky mountains and what-not, but are they fast, comfortable, and easy to use on the paved roads in the city? My dad is looking at a really expensive Mountain bike. His motto is "You get what you pay for" and he is totally convinced that a $800 Mountain bike will do justice in the city streets. I doubt it.

2. What exactly are Comfort bikes? I've been looking at comfort bikes for a while (CX Comfort is one of my choices as of now) and many say that it's like a hybrid but designed to "comfort" the rider (apparently, it has something to do with your sitting position, pedals, saddle, handlebars, and front fork suspension?). The said description for comfort bikes got me really interested in them. However, my friend, who has been biking for 2 or 3 years now, keeps telling me comfort bikes aren't really good. I don't get what's so bad about them. Can anyone explain?

3. I'm looking for a FAST, LIGHTWEIGHT, and DURABLE bike that can easily handle paved AND dirt paths and costs anywhere from $400 to $700 (I will give chances to look at those priced a bit outside the said range). Of the CX Comfort and Cannondale Adventure 5, which would you recommend? Which other bike that suits the said categories can you recommend?

I may ask more questions as I encounter them in the near future. Thank you for all your help!!
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Old 06-03-09, 12:12 AM   #2
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Look into "Hybrids." Check under names such as Giant, Trek, Cannondale, etc. There are many choices in your price range.
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Old 06-03-09, 05:53 AM   #3
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You might start by thinking about how aggressively you want to ride. You mention comfort bikes. In my mind, those are designed for leisurely rides around the neighborhood. You can ride on dirt or gravel paths so long as they are relatively smooth. But a comfort bike is probably the wrong choice for dirt trails with rocks and roots, and it is probably the wrong choice for aggressive and fast riding on pavement.

Comfort bikes do indeed put you in a more upright position. I find that uprightness works against me when climbing hills. For climbing, it is better to be leaned forward somewhat. Being upright also greatly increases wind-resistance. And when it comes to bumps, being upright means that each shock goes straight up your spine. That's why the Cannondale you are looking at has a sprung seat and a suspension seat-post.

The term "hybrid" encompasses so much that it is hard to say much without pointing to a specific bike. So let me point you to the Cannondale Bad Boy Disc. That's an excellent example of an urban bike meant to be ridden aggressively. You'll be leaned forward more, you'll be in a more efficient position to pedal, wind resistance will be reduced. The tires though, are narrow. You could ride the bike on a smooth dirt trail, but I would not want to hit rocks and roots with it.

Then you could look at something like the Specialized Crosstrail, which is sort of like a Bad Boy, but with suspension fork and wider tires. You could take the Crosstrail on some rooty singletrack. But one tradeoff is that the suspension fork makes the bike less efficient for pedaling around town. I rode one for two years as my around-town bike. Then I bent the frame -- long story there -- and replaced it.

You can certainly ride a mountain-bike around town. I've done so since last fall. I did make a point of putting on tires that aren't so knobby, and that roll better on pavement than the stock tires.

If you are looking at long distances, you could look into cyclocross bikes. Specialized's Tricross is one example. Those come with drop bars that are good for long rides, and they come with tires that can handle some dirt. I've had guys on Cyclocross bikes completely blow right by me out on the mountain-biking trails.

I don't really know what specific bike to recommend, but do think carefully about how you intend to ride -- leisurely, aggressively, long distances, mostly on pavement, etc. A clear vision of how you plan to use the bike will help you make the right choices.

FWIW, I favor bikes with 700c wheels for riding around town. I feel the larger wheel size is more efficient on pavement. The Cannondale Bad Boy (aggressive) and the Specialized Globe Vienna (comfort) are two examples of bikes with the larger wheels.

I also favor wider tires. I'm running 45mm wide tires on the Salsa Fargo that I just this weekend built up for use in town. I run the wider tires to help with the rough pavement, so that I can hit a pothole and not pinch-flat. There are also a lot of dirt roads and trails that I sometimes ride on. Monday evening, for example, I did a two hour ride that included a good bit of ATV trail, and I did that on a bike with a rigid fork and semi-slick tires.

I personally do not like so-called comfort bikes. My back isn't happy with the bolt upright position (I have back trouble), and I like to ride more aggressively than those bikes allow. But that's my preference. It may not be yours.

It would help to know more about what you mean when you say "dirt paths". I will say though, that non-mountain-bikes can often handle more than people give them credit for. Just because you are on a dirt path doesn't mean that you need a mountain bike per se. But wider tires are a big plus on the dirt.

I guess I wrote a long post. Sorry to blather on for so long. I hope I've helped.
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Old 06-03-09, 01:58 PM   #4
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i think you are making getting a bike more complicated than it needs to be
hybrids have less rolling resistance than mountain bikes but i doubt mountain bikes are so much tougher than hybrids if you are not going to abuse your bike. as for the mountain bike tires being less prone to flats, this could be an issue, but i solved it by purchasing panaracer tour guide kevlar tires at harris cycles on the internet and have had no flats now for some six months.
as for price range, i bought a 300 dollar redline 520 model and it does just fine getting me around.
i think all bikes made are basically sound, again unless you are going to abuse them.
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Old 06-03-09, 07:23 PM   #5
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Also, keep in mind -- if you are just getting into cycling, the odds that you'll get the Bike For You are vanishingly small. Get a decent, inexpensive bike, get to know what you like and don't like, then buy your good bike in six months.
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Old 06-03-09, 08:09 PM   #6
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Riding a bicycle is all about balance.

I think that you're doing too much left brain thinking to make a balanced decision. My advice is to turn your artistic side loose.
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Old 06-03-09, 10:33 PM   #7
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A mountain bike is going to be overkill for city riding. Look for a hybrid with a rigid fork. If your dirt trails include rock gardens, jumps and drops then a mountain bike will be more suited. If you just mean rail trails and relaxed dirt trails, stick with the hybrid.
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Old 06-04-09, 09:41 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by hesitation24 View Post
3. I'm looking for a FAST, LIGHTWEIGHT, and DURABLE bike that can easily handle paved AND dirt paths and costs anywhere from $400 to $700 (I will give chances to look at those priced a bit outside the said range). Of the CX Comfort and Cannondale Adventure 5, which would you recommend? Which other bike that suits the said categories can you recommend?

I may ask more questions as I encounter them in the near future. Thank you for all your help!!
I wouldn't get hung up on which brand to get. First and foremost, find the bike shop that you really like. Then look at what bikes they carry. If you are looking for "fast" and lightweight, then you may want to look into something other than a hybrid. I started out with a Target mountain bike and decided it was not very efficient with it's wide knobby tires and low gearing. I then upgraded to a Trek hybrid which was a huge upgrade in speed. It was still 27lbs after upgrading and lightening. I then moved on to a road bike and the efficiency level is much greater over a hybrid and much lighter. When I first got a bike I thought that I would be riding off road and needed a flat bar with wide tires etc etc. If you will be doing any off roading and want to be light and fast (efficient) look into a Cyclocross bike. The only problem with cross bikes is, their starting price point is higher than your budget. If you are good with working on bikes and adjusting them, you might want to check out They have a few cross bikes in your budget. With that being said, I would also do a search on them for testimonials.
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Old 06-04-09, 10:01 AM   #9
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The questions you pose reminds me of an episode of "Big Bang Theory" where Sheldon talks about learning to swim by taking a course, but never going in the water.

Get thee into a bike shop and take test rides on the different bikes that may meet your needs, and see which ones you like.

For city riding, a mountain bike is typically the wrong choice unless modifications are made immediately (especially changing the tires) but if everything else about a specific mountain bike is perfect for you, then it is the right bike for you.

I put a lot of miles on a comfort bike before switching to a touring bike, and now among the 20 or 30 bikes I own (mostly vintage), it is still one of my favorites. But that is for me. Speed is one of my least important fact9ors, but I can ride it almost as fast as I can ride my drop bar road bikes... Just not for as far as comfortably... I have ridden metric centuries on it, and kept up with people much lighter than I for many miles. Then again, I have had other people zip past me like I am standing still.

Test ride, and go to bikes stores... Don't waste huge amounts of any one bike shop employee's time until you have narrowed your choices, but don't hesitate to use a little of their times as you are shopping around.
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Old 06-04-09, 10:18 AM   #10
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Several Hybrids, like my Specialized Crosstrail, have lockout forks. This is a really nice feature. It enables you to lock the fork for times when you do not want an active suspension. I like, and use this feature a lot. It's also very nice to be able to use it when the going is rough, even on very rough pavement. Easy and handy - you can do it on the fly.

For me, the Hybrid is an excellent do it all bike. The only thing it does not do well, is race!

Pavement, packed trails, gravel, dirt, groceries, errands, all fall, nicely, into it's realm.
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Old 06-05-09, 10:38 PM   #11
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+1 on the advice to find an LBS you like. Different stores are really different!
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