Before I start, I ALWAYS try to use a forum's search feature. There's nothing more annoying than a n00bie asking a question that already has a half-dozen "stickies" addressing it. I don't want to be that guy, but the threads I found were difficult to follow and a few had even deteriorated into arguments among engineers. Maybe I just haven't found the right thread yet. If someone can direct me there, it would be appreciated.
I'm new here, shopping road/hybrid bikes & not sure what I like yet. Virtually anything I buy will be an improvement over what I have. When comparing road vs. hybrid, people always talk about the upright riding position. I get that, but it's not as important to me. The differences I'm paying attention to have to do with handling and balance. I noticed some characteristics that I liked in one specific bike I tested, and I want to figure out WHY it behaves the way it does. Understanding this should save me some time driving around town.
Let's not get into specific brands or models, I'd like to eliminate any bias (including my own). I will tell you that it was a road bike that felt almost like a "trick" bike--or I should say that I felt like a better cyclist than on any of the others, even though it didn't fit me properly. I was in total control but wasn't quite comfortable. Maybe they just gave me the wrong size. Medium probably isn't the same among bike manufacturers, just like ordering the same steak in different restaurants. Hell, I go by feel when I'm cooking one myself anyway. I digress...
What I noticed about the road bike is that the rear wheel was tucked in tighter against the seat post than the hybrids. The overall wheelbase was 5 cm. shorter than the comparably-sized hybrid. Is that all there is to it? Or do I need to be looking at angles and rake and trail? Am I right that some of those measurements have more to do with fit than with handling? And aren't some of a hybrid frame's features intended to make it better suited for commuting or touring, and strong enough to carry some extra cargo? If so, I don't care about that, either, so I could rule them out.
I may already know these answers, but I'm hoping that someone with experience can tell me what to look for beyond just a shorter wheelbase. I'm certain that some of the things I liked about that particular road bike might also make it less-pleasant to live with (for an old fart like me) on a longer ride.
If I can understand automotive suspensions and handling characteristics, I'm sure that I can grasp the same dynamics on two unsprung wheels. I just need a little push. Thanks.