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  1. #1
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    Down to five new bike candidates; comments wanted

    This will be my last bike shopping thread for a while, I swear.

    I'm shopping for a new commuter/multipurpose bike. I've posted related questions a couple times.
    It needs disc brakes.
    An internally-geared hub is strongly preferred.
    Bonus commuting features like a rack are desirable.
    I must be able to put studded tires on it, and generally wide enough tires to more-or-less comfortably handle dirt, mud, and gravel. 35c, or maybe 32c.
    Being comfortably ridable with drop or other bars other than flats is also desirable.

    Price is $1200ish if it's something that makes me go "holy crap I must have that", but really more like $800-$1000ish

    After a bunch research, I think I've got my top 5 candidates. The World Adventure and Commuter 4 are tied for first, with the rest following.

    Schwinn World Adventure ($900) - Dual-range Alfine IGH, hydraulic disc brakes, integrated rack, fenders, dynohub, lights, should fit wider tires
    http://www.performancebike.com/bikes...chTerm=30-1409

    Jamis Commuter 4 ($1075) - Dual-range Alfine IGH, disc brakes, dynohub, integrated rack, fenders, lights
    http://www.jamisbikes.com/usa/thebik...ter4_spec.html

    Raleigh Detour Deluxe ($800) - Alfine IGH, disc brakes, dynohub, integrated rack, fenders, lights
    http://www.raleighusa.com/bikes/hybrid/detour-deluxe/

    Novara Fusion ($900) - Alfine IGH, disc brakes, dynohub, integrated rack, fenders, lights
    http://www.rei.com/product/774422

    Kona Dr. Fine ($1000) - Alfine IGH, disc brakes
    http://www.konaworld.com/bike.cfm?content=drfine

    The Commuter 4, Detour Deluxe, and Dr. Fine I can get more-or-less locally, which is desirable. On the other hand, the World Adventure is really appealing since it was a $1500 bike in 2008 (actually, it still is if purchased through Schwinn). On the third hand, I can't find definitive geometry info in the World Adventure, making it difficult to compare to other bikes I try riding.

    The Kona is a bit of an anomaly on this list, as it's priced similar to the others but lacks many of the bonus features. I haven't decided whether that's due to an actual difference in weight or quality, or if I'd just be paying for the brand.

    Also, I haven't had a chance to test ride any of these, so in that sense this list is tentative.

    Anyone have any comments, concerns, or experience?

  2. #2
    Hooligan Abneycat's Avatar
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    The Kona obviously hasn't got the features of the other bikes in terms of coming with lighting, fenders or a rack, yeah.

    It's price comes from the components. Overall, the bike has better spec on it, but particularly at the brakes.

    Your Novara, Raleigh, and Jamis are all using cheap mechanical brakes. They work, but they're dogs compared to better offerings. The Dr. fine and the Schwinn world adventure both have mid level hydraulic brakes, which will absolutely demolish those low grade mechanicals on the other bikes.

    As for the rest, Kona is listing "premium" house components on the bike, a nice polished Alfine crankset, some better rims, things here and there. The question is, is that worth losing the dynamo and other bike accessories to you?

    Replacing a pair of brakes on those other bikes if you don't like them is easy. Buying the Dr. fine some fenders and a rack should be easy. Adding a dynamo to the Dr. fine after the fact would be the pain, for your wallet and your time.

    As for the rest of my advice, I think you should go do some test rides.

    And personally, I don't like dynamo lighting unless it has a standlight.
    Last edited by Abneycat; 02-02-10 at 01:46 PM.

  3. #3
    tsl
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    It is a tough choice between the top two.

    The Schwinn has
    + Better brakes (hydro),
    + Taillight
    - 24-spoke wheels


    The Jamis has
    + Better wheels (32-spoke)
    + Is available locally for test ride and service
    - flat fenders could leak spray out the sides at speed or in the wind.

    Both bikes have aluminum frame and forks. While I like an aluminum frame for corrosion resistance in our salty winters, aluminum forks, I don't know...

    The Raleigh and Novara both have steel forks, and the Novara has a much nicer rack, but with both bikes you lose the dual-range.

    The Kona has the best brakes, but lacks lights, fenders, rack and the dual-range. That makes it seem way overpriced.

    You can test ride the Jamis, Raleigh and Kona. That'll give you an idea about the aluminum fork on the Jamis.
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  4. #4
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Hydraulic disc brakes are a total overkill for anything but downhill racing and they're pain in the butt to maintain and repair. There will be no benefit whatsoever on a commuter bike. These mechanical brakes are fine. I have really cheap Hayes disc brakes and they work just fine on my commuter: they give me enough control and yet are powerful enough to lock my wheels at any speed with loaded panniers. I wanted to replace them with Avid BB7s but they really work fine.

    I actually wouldn't get the Kona because of this, I prefer mechanical disc brakes actually for their simplicity and reliability.

    A.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abneycat View Post
    It's price comes from the components. Overall, the bike has better spec on it, but particularly at the brakes.
    Oooh, good point. I forgot to make note of the hydraulic brakes on the Kona. My guesstimate is that's $100-$150 of difference right there.

    As for the rest, Kona is listing "premium" house components on the bike, a nice polished Alfine crankset, some better rims, things here and there. The question is, is that worth losing the dynamo and other bike accessories to you?
    The dynamo is nice, but not critical. I have some more-or-less decent battery-powered lights already. The dynamo lights are mostly convenience. The rack and fenders are the bigger issue. Looking at the picture, I have a little concern over the difficulty of mounting full fenders on the Dr. Fine. The clearance looks tight, but I'm probably just over-paranoid.

    Replacing a pair of brakes on those other bikes if you don't like them is easy. Buying the Dr. fine some fenders and a rack should be easy. Adding a dynamo to the Dr. fine after the fact would be the pain, for your wallet and your time.
    My thoughts exactly.

    Edit: It looks like the Jamis' headlight is a standlight (i.e., it stays lit for a while after you stop).

    As for the rest of my advice, I think you should go do some test rides.
    I plan on it.

    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    The Schwinn has
    + Better brakes (hydro),
    + Taillight
    - 24-spoke wheels

    The Jamis has
    + Better wheels (32-spoke)
    + Is available locally for test ride and service
    - flat fenders could leak spray out the sides at speed or in the wind.
    Oooh, didn't notice the wheels and fenders. The fenders could be swapped out if they're a problem, but the wheels are a concern. Even my cheap Diamondback hybrid has 32 spoke wheels, and I do have a tendency to go over curbs and other places I wouldn't want weak wheels.

    Both bikes have aluminum frame and forks. While I like an aluminum frame for corrosion resistance in our salty winters, aluminum forks, I don't know...
    In terms of long-term durability, or ride quality?

    The Kona has the best brakes, but lacks lights, fenders, rack and the dual-range. That makes it seem way overpriced.
    The brakes actually explain a good bit, like I mentioned in response to Abneycat.

    Thanks guys. This is exactly the kind of input I'm looking for. Help me with the stuff I'm missing in my inexperience bike shopping.
    Last edited by Arcanum; 02-02-10 at 04:59 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    Hydraulic disc brakes are a total overkill for anything but downhill racing and they're pain in the butt to maintain and repair. There will be no benefit whatsoever on a commuter bike. These mechanical brakes are fine. I have really cheap Hayes disc brakes and they work just fine on my commuter: they give me enough control and yet are powerful enough to lock my wheels at any speed with loaded panniers. I wanted to replace them with Avid BB7s but they really work fine.

    I actually wouldn't get the Kona because of this, I prefer mechanical disc brakes actually for their simplicity and reliability.
    Interesting, hadn't thought in those terms (not that I was counting hydraulic as a huge plus anyway).

  7. #7
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcanum View Post
    Interesting, hadn't thought in those terms (not that I was counting hydraulic as a huge plus anyway).
    Yeah, don't make this a part of your buying decision, it's not worth spending extra money there. I'd rather save $150 for fenders, better tires, etc.

    I'm a big fan of disc brakes but I think it's safe to say that most commuters on this forum do just fine with rim brakes. I believe that mechanical disc brakes will give you all the stopping power you can use.

    Adam
    Last edited by AdamDZ; 02-02-10 at 05:28 PM.

  8. #8
    Alfredo Contador |3iker's Avatar
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    Have you considered the Norco VFR1?
    Since you are considering the Kona, why not look into the Kona Dr. Dew or Dew Deluxe? They have disc brakes.

  9. #9
    Pants are for suckaz HandsomeRyan's Avatar
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    I have a Raleigh Detour Deluxe (although mine is from before they were running IGH's). I love it and I've put many happy miles on it.

    Any of the bikes you listed would make a nice bike but speaking from personal experience the DD is a great bike.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by |3iker View Post
    Have you considered the Norco VFR1?
    Since you are considering the Kona, why not look into the Kona Dr. Dew or Dew Deluxe? They have disc brakes.
    I hadn't considered the Norco VFR1, but looking at it, it fails my big iron-clad requirement: Must have disc brakes. I commute in the winter through the snow. That's not "oh, snow has fallen but my route is clear". This has been a mild winter so far, and it's still not that uncommon for me to be riding through varying amounts of snow, ice, slush, and car-churned mush. Rim brakes don't cut it.

    Aside from that, the closest Norco dealer is Brooklyn, and the bike would have to have a feature set to compete with the bikes in my original post for me to consider ordering it online.

    The Dr. Dew and Dew Deluxe are ok, but they lack an internally geared hub, any kind of special amenities, and the only local-ish shop that sells Kona is a pain to get to. I want an IGH if possible. It's not a requirement per se, but I'd probably have to ride a bike with an IGH and not like it for me to decide against it.
    Last edited by Arcanum; 02-02-10 at 06:08 PM. Reason: Added quote.

  11. #11
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcanum View Post
    In terms of long-term durability, or ride quality?
    Ride quality. I presume engineers and lawyers have made sure they're durable.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
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  12. #12
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    And you don't want to go the DYI way? It'll take more time and cost more but you would get exactly what you want. For example Kona Sutra touring frame+fork with disc mounts is $300 on eBay, you can get any wheels/hubs/brakes combination you want custom built. You can probably get what you want under $1,500.

    Adam

  13. #13
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    With quality LED lights that are now available I dont hink it is worth spending money on a hub generator.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    And you don't want to go the DYI way?
    The thought had crossed my mind. Part of me wants to get a Bamboosero city frame and build it up since it looks like complete builds won't be available any time soon. I'd probably get my LBS to do the actual assembly anyway.

    It's a lot of additional effort and expense, unless I actually do build it myself. If I do build it myself, it's even more effort and expense since I don't have the tools or a stand or the expertise. As neat as it would be, it's hard to justify the expense right now. It's even harder to justify for an "ordinary" bike since there are prebuilt models that should meet my needs.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    Ride quality. I presume engineers and lawyers have made sure they're durable.
    I was thinking in terms of long-term metal fatigue, not "oh snap, that's the ground rushing up towards me".

  16. #16
    Hooligan Abneycat's Avatar
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    Hydraulic discs provide more benefits than just stopping power. They require less frequent maintenance, and provide better modulation. Although yes, when it comes time to perform the maintenance, they are more difficult to service, and you can't just throw any hose or fluid in them. The cheap mechanicals may not be the pinnacle of disc brake technology, but as I had said before, they do work. I actually prefer mechanical disc brakes, albeit higher end ones like the Avid BB7 with inboard / outboard adjustment.

    I don't think it's worth worrying about the brakes too much. If you're not happy, they're easy to change.

    Now, this mention in your first post is concerning to me from a technical perspective:

    Being comfortably ridable with drop or other bars other than flats is also desirable.
    I am going to mention all of the following under the possible condition that you desire road drop bars:

    I don't think I can remember any easy solutions for getting hydraulic drop bar levers, there have only been a few solutions, most are complex or for a specific system. If you're wanting drop bars, having hydraulic discs is possibly going to be a nightmare. I'd stay away from the Kona and Schwinn World Adventure if drop bars are your goal for this reason. You may end up finding that there is no good solution for getting hydraulic levers for them on road bars, then you're looking at a bike with a useless, expensive braking system that needs to be replaced.

    Mechanical is relatively easy. Buy a pair of linear pull drop bar levers or a cable travel adjustment unit, all set. A lot of disc brakes have adjustment on caliper too, making things convenient in this regard. If you are fairly certain that you want to go with drop bars, I recommend that mechanicals are going to be a lot easier to translate over.

    For the shifting, you'll probably be best off with a Jtek bar end unit for the Alfine. The Alfine compatible lever from Versa is for short pull brakes, and won't properly operate the disc brakes, although you could change to a road disc brake or use a cable travel adjuster (like the travel agent) and it would. So with these two, you have a choice between having a bar end shifter or having an STI style unit.

    Then there are the minor things, like needing an appropriate stem, new cables, inline cable adjustment, etc.

    With your level of customization, maybe DIY is worth it. You're spending a lot of money and effort to convert these bikes over to drop bars.

    Regarding the DIY route, if you have a local bike co-op, they can really help facilitate things there. A good one should have all the tools and equipment you need, as well as some staff that can help guide you through the process. I'm not familiar with what might be available in your area though, in this regard.

    Of course, if you find a pair of bars you like that use the mountain components, then your troubles are simplified quite a bit! There are plenty of good mountain bars out there in a wide variety of shapes and types, and you may find something you like.

    Good luck in your search.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abneycat View Post
    I don't think it's worth worrying about the brakes too much. If you're not happy, they're easy to change.
    I'm not really, other than needing some kind of disc brakes for the winter.

    With your level of customization, maybe DIY is worth it. You're spending a lot of money and effort to convert these bikes over to drop bars.
    I should probably clarify that: I have no intention of putting drop bars or the like on immediately. It's more of a "maybe I'll do this eventually" situation than a "I definitely want these now" situation. I'd like the option to be viable if feasible. The main scenarios I was thinking of were long-distance things, where I'm either trying for a century or I'm doing some kind of longer-distance, multi-day trek (short "touring" expeditions, I guess). Drop bars may not even be appropriate; something else that are neither drops nor flats might be preferable. I don't really know, except I've gathered that flats are less than ideal for long distance.

    Again, this is an "it would be nice" consideration rather than a requirement. For the time being I'll be doing flat bars, and I'll probably want flats for day-to-day riding regardless.

    Regarding the DIY route, if you have a local bike co-op, they can really help facilitate things there.
    Already checked. There's no bike co-op in the area as far as I can tell.

  18. #18
    Hooligan Abneycat's Avatar
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    Flat bars are often not acceptable because many of them just aren't that ergonomic and they don't offer many hand positions, so people riding on them tend to get uncomfortable. There are plenty of great options though, that use mountain components and are well suited to touring. I personally use a Titec Jones H-Bar for this purpose, it offers a lot of hand positions and has a good ergonomic sweep to it, there are lots of good picks out there.

    Heck, even in flat bars some are a lot better than others. I have Titec Hellbent on my Bike Friday right now and find them well comfortable, they've just got extra sweep back in them, and combined with a pair of ergonomic grips are quite nice to ride with for quite a while. I have personally found that just about any flat bar becomes better with an ergonomic grip on it.

    As for true drop bars, yes, it's viable. Money and effort, but perfectly feasible.

  19. #19
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewP View Post
    With quality LED lights that are now available I dont hink it is worth spending money on a hub generator.
    My thinking was exactly opposite. With the quality LED lights now available, you can finally get decent light from a dyno hub.

    For light output in a useful spread on the road, my Schmidt Edelux headlight beats the *pair* of DiNottes on my bars.

    No overpriced or unavailable proprietary battery packs, no broken or unavailable chargers, no trying to remember when the last time I charged the lights was, and no wondering if I can get by without the lights now, so I'll still have some charge later.
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  20. #20
    Hooligan Abneycat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewP
    With quality LED lights that are now available I dont hink it is worth spending money on a hub generator.
    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    My thinking was exactly opposite. With the quality LED lights now available, you can finally get decent light from a dyno hub.

    For light output in a useful spread on the road, my Schmidt Edelux headlight beats the *pair* of DiNottes on my bars.

    No overpriced or unavailable proprietary battery packs, no broken or unavailable chargers, no trying to remember when the last time I charged the lights was, and no wondering if I can get by without the lights now, so I'll still have some charge later.
    Heh, i'm in the middle between the two viewpoints. A good quality lighting system is an appreciable thing from either side.

    I appreciate how the Dynamo hub is constantly available for you, no need for charging and no replacement of battery packs. Since they're typically attached by wires and bolts, removing the light isn't really a problem, and as long as you secure your wheel, security overall is pretty good. Lighting upgrades are the lighting unit alone, whereas battery systems are usually complete packages and need to be upgraded as such.

    But, I also appreciate how the battery operated system allows for more versatility. You can switch it between bikes easily, remove it if you want to for a sporty day ride, and get things like helmet mounted lights which can be the best of all from the perspective of seeing where you're going, depending on the situation.

    One thing I don't like, is dynamo setups without standlights. If you don't have secondary battery lights, without them when you come to a stop you lose all of your active visibility, and are relying solely on reflectors. I'm just not comfortable with relying on reflectors to be seen. Thankfully, there are many great dynamo lights out there with standlights as a feature.

    Otherwise, it's a matter of user preference. Since I own two bikes, the choice was using a battery operated system that pops between the two bikes in a matter of seconds. I can't see the point in bothering to buy a second lighting system. If I were to drop down to one bike, i'd consider a dynamo setup later on when the battery on the lighting system eventually died out.

    Regarding the concern about remembering to charge the lights, my light which is a Cygolite Mitycross has a very simple but reliable indicator light on it, and remembering to charge the unit has never been trouble as a result. There are features like this on a lot of the better light offerings out there.

    The replacement battery for a light like this is $70 USD retail. That's honestly not too bad, the battery should last about 3-4 years. I've seen them for $52 online. Certainly, this is more than the maintenance cost of a dynamo which will not need batteries, but I wouldn't think of it as outrageous by any means.

  21. #21
    Pants are for suckaz HandsomeRyan's Avatar
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    My detour deluxe has moderately low end mechanical disc brakes and they work just fine to stop my 240+lbs and often a loaded cargo trailer. When I read about how dreadful lower end mechanical discs are I assume that they either aren't riding the same brakes I do or their brakes were not set up correctly because I've never had a problem with mine.

  22. #22
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    Abneycat: Ahh, I remember seeing those mentioned elsewhere (possibly by you). I'll have to take a closer look when I start thinking about doing longer-distance rides.

    Thanks for all the input everybody. Assuming they're comfortable, I'm leaning towards the Jamis or the Raleigh now. A bit more the Jamis for the nicer rack and second chainring, but that will depend on the ride quality when I test them out.

    If neither of those work out I'll check out the Dr. Fine and start on the lower-ranked bikes on my list.

  23. #23
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    Alright, I briefly tried out the Detour Deluxe and Jamis Commuter. Well, actually, I tried out lesser versions, since nobody has the high-end versions in stock. Both were reasonably comfortable, and I've established that I need roughly a 17" bike. But....

    The riding position on both was a little more upright than I think I'd like. My current ride by no means puts you in a low position, but even it is tilted forward more than these seemed to be. Then again, that might be an artifact of it being slightly small.

    I think I need to go check out the Dr. Fine (or one of the other Dew line).

    Maybe I will spec something out based on the Nashbar cyclocross frame and get my LBS to build it for me after all.

  24. #24
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Rochester, NY
    My Bikes
    2010 Kona Dr. Dew, Yuba Mundo V3, 2009 Diamondback Kalamar
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    I checked out the Dew fit and I definitely like the more forward-tilted (but not really far) position better than the more upright position of the other two bikes. I think it will work better for a range of uses as well.

    There aren't exactly a lot of bikes with Alfine hubs and disc brakes under $1200, so I went ahead and put the deposit down on a 54cm Dr Fine! This is going to hurt my wallet, but I'm going to have a sweet bike in a week or two! Can't freaking wait!

  25. #25
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Rochester, NY
    My Bikes
    2010 Kona Dr. Dew, Yuba Mundo V3, 2009 Diamondback Kalamar
    Posts
    798
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    Update: KHAAAAAAAAAAN!

    Apparently the Dr Fine is far more popular than anticipated. It's sold out. Completely. Gone. There will be no more until next year. Now I have to figure out what I want to do. Grrrrr.

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