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Old 09-02-09, 09:06 PM   #1
Hood_NC
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Decisions, Decisions - Bike Comparison

Hi everyone,
I've been doing some research prior to posting here...I'm trying to decide on which bike is the best fit for me. I've narrowed my choices down to a Trek 7.1 FX, a Cannondale Quick 4, and a Jamis Coda Sport. I am a 26 year old female just getting back into riding. I plan on doing mostly paved trails, roads, or very simple off road trails (hard dirt, packed gravel, nothing too extreme). Starting out, I know my distances won't be that great, but I would like to get to the point of possibly riding 20+ miles in a trip. Based on your experience and expertise, does anyone have any suggestions. If you recommend another bike, I'd like to keep it in the same price range as the three I've listed.
Any and all help is greatly appreciated. If I've left any pertinent information out, I apologize.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 09-02-09, 11:19 PM   #2
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I know nothing about the cannondale, but the Trek and Jamis are good bikes. I think the 7.1FX is the lowest end though, and for the same price as the coda sport you could get the 7.3FX. Better components. If you have a Specialized dealer near you, check out the Sirrus line. I just got a 2009 Sirrus for $479+tax. Base model with much lower end parts, but it will do what I need it to do, much better than my mountain bike which has much higher end parts, but is not fun on the road.

Also, you may wish to look at something with a front suspension fork if you might be going on bike paths that are not paved. I bought my girlfriend a Trek 7100WSD (step through) 2 years ago and the suspension helps keep her comfy. But if most all of your riding is going to be on pavement, there is no real need, just learn to use arms and legs as suspension, and avoid potholes!

I have ridden 20+ miles on the Erie Canal multi-use path here in NY state before. Its all about pacing yourself on distance trips.

The ONLY way to find a bike you like is to go find a good shop and test ride a few bikes until you find what you are looking for. We can give you ideas what to look for, but test riding is the fun part

Good luck and welcome back to cycling!
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Old 09-03-09, 08:43 AM   #3
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How much is a Trek 7.1? $370? Here's a listing of components in order of performance from left to right:

Shimano Road: Dura Ace, Ultegra, 105, Tiagra, Sora

Shimano MTB: XTR, Deore XT, Deore LX, Deore, Alivio

This is not linear and Deore is very good on an absolute scale and especially for a commuter bike (nevermind LX, XT, XTR). Deore is also MUCH, MUCH better than Alivio. Alivo shifts poorly and takes away from my biking experience. My brother goes up steep hills on higher gears than he should because of the poor shifting on the 2008 7.2 FX. If you are just commuting on flat ground, I suppose you can work with Alivio. If you have hilly areas or like to shift gears - Deore is a must. Go up one step (Alivio to Deore) and you notice a very big difference. Go up another, Deore to Deore LX, and I personally don't notice much difference for MY uses (fitness at the state park). My point is that you should know where the big jumps are (and where it is not worth for paying more depending on your use).

You are at a critical price point. There's a big difference between $370 and $460 whereas personally I don't notice much difference between $460 and $600. You said to keep it in the price range and I respect that. My suggestion is to give the Fuji Absolute 2.0 (make sure you're test riding the size right for you!) a test ride. It'll run you $460 but you get much, much more bang for your buck than the 7.1. You will have double butted aluminum vs straight tube, carbon fork vs steel fork. Those differences I personally don't care for too much but what is a big, big difference is the components! The Fuji has Deore derailers (front & back) and Deore shifters (left & right). Shifts smoothly, quietly, quickly, consistently, and reliably. I own a Trek 7.2 FX and a Fuji Absolute 2.0. I like riding on the Fuji so much better. I don't work for Fuji (ROFL) and I know in the past few posts I have promoted Fuji. I'm just very happy with the bike and feel customers don't take notice of better value because Trek is such a revered brand (surely with some thanks to our man Lance).

I got my Fuji Absolute 2.0 2009 for $400 and it was a scratch and dent. Very happy with it. My only one complaint is I wish it was one size smaller but it still works for me OK.

Look for scratch and dent deals (excellent savings for a tiny nick that in no way affects warranty). Consider that is September there's only 6-8 more weeks of riding and then the season is over. Maybe you can hold your money, save a little more, and give the Fuji a test ride. Sure the 7.2 FX has a better frame than the Fuji, on paper at least. Both the Fuji and Trek 7.2 are double butted so the tubes are thin in the center but thick at the ends / joints. This makes the tube lighter and stronger. Additionally, the 7.2 FX frame is hydotreated where they take very hot (or cold, I'm not sure) water to make the frame even thinner, lighter, but stronger. Looks cool too. The frame on the 7.2 FX has the same treatment that you find on a $1700 Trek 2.3 FX or 7.7 FX. A 7.2 FX runs you $460 too. People argue that the frame is the most expensive part of a bike (but I bet not by a landslide, especially when you have decent components) and that the frame is what lasts the longest. I think the latter argument does not apply for moderate, commuting riders who takes care of his / her bike. A quality Deore component should last a while unless you're a tourer who does serious mileage or if you ride in bad weather all the time. On this note, I understand that Deores are easier to maintain or change a few minor parts whereas once an Alivio wears out - you need to replace the component all together (more expense). Given the poor performance of an Alivo to begin with, I bet it'll wear out faster too. This may seem to contradict my point about us not being tourers but it does reflect my lack of confidence in the Alivio. Even the proud 7.2 FX owners (I am one) will tell you that the bike is comfortable and rides well but if they go up hills or need to shift - it leaves more to be desired.

I don't know if I'd pay an extra $100 for a Trek 7.2 (2010 model btw) for the better frame. Yes it looks nicer (the alpha white aluminum has ugly ugly welds on the 7.1 or the 2009 and earlier 7.2s) and it has bragging rights but I don't notice a significant difference in riding with different ALUMINUM frame qualities as I do with components. But this is one angle for you to consider that you are at a critical price point for frames as well as components. I certainly would pay a little more for the better components.

Your choice will depend on your criteria. Do consider the Fuji Absolute 2.0, Trek 7.1 FX, and the 7.2 FX. Even if you think it is out of your price range (hey, $370 is not pocket change either), do give those bikes a ride so you know your options. You can save up during the winter if needed.

Most importantly, before you buy a bike, make sure you know your correct size / fit for the bike BASED ON HOW YOU'LL USE THE BIKE! My current bike is fit for me to be angled at 45 degree back whereas my use was for a sight seeing, recreational more upright posture (I learned this after buying my first bike). So before you buy the bike, make up your mind how you want to ride the bike, what posture you feel comfortable with, have the LBS adjust the bikes you are test riding to fit you, and then give it a ride. I'm sure a parking lot can't really gauge a bike's performance (unless a 1-5 mile hill) but maybe you can gauge some comfort. For example, I have learned myself that I like to put the seat all the way back (fore aft position) so that the seat takes maximum weight and there's less weight on my arms. This is comfortable but this also requires me to use stretch out some more. Now I have to order a shorter stem (or perhaps wish I had a frame one size smaller). An inch or two can make a noticeable difference.

Anyway, good luck with your purchase. Sorry for repeating myself at some points, I just quickly typed what came to my mind.

Last edited by common man; 09-03-09 at 08:50 AM.
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Old 09-03-09, 09:00 AM   #4
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Common man - +1 for an excellent post.

I would also suggest holding off a few weeks and going to dealers with cash. If you see a bike they have on their lot, you can offer them something a little bit lower and ask for them to negotiate. Tell them you want to leave with a bike today so we can start negotiating. I was able to knock off a few hundred dollars off my trek fx 7.7 by being persistent.
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Old 09-03-09, 09:02 AM   #5
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PLUS - tons of dealers have 09 models left which differ only slightly from the '10 models (for trek anyway)... i had a dealer giving me an 09 trek 7.2 fx for $420 - he had it sitting on his floor for a while. i honestly think if i offered him 360-380, he would have taken it.... so there are some really good deals out there... do not be afraid to give them a lower price and stick to it. tell them you'll only come to them from things now on if you get an excellent deal plus you'll spread the word about how great of a bike shop it is.
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Old 09-03-09, 12:01 PM   #6
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We sell Jamis bikes at the shop I work at. We sell tons of Codas. Awesome bikes and a great value.
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Old 09-03-09, 10:53 PM   #7
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I agree on the derailleurs for the most part. My 2009 Sirrus has an altus rear derailleur which is a rather low end part. I do intend on upgrading to a Deore or LX sometime. But it shifts OK for now, not as well as the LX on my mountain bike, but that is a much higher cost part. It doesn't miss any shifts and it sure doesn't keep me in too high of a gear for hills. I think that is mostly in setup. Heck, I have an old Schwinn woodlands "mtb" with a lower end 5spd derailleur and it shifts wonderful. It is all in the setup.

Better derailleurs are going to last longer, weigh less, and will be more precise, but properly adjusted most will shift just fine. Also, cheaper derailleurs tend to require more frequent tuning. My LX, once adjusted, needs very little attention. Also remember new bikes have new cables that stretch as you use them, in the first few hundred miles. Which is why any decent bike shop gives you a free 30-60 day tuneup.

Get whatever bike fits you, your needs, and your wallet. shOOk is right, there are deals to be had right now. I saved about $50 on my Sirrus. 3 years ago when I bought the Allez that I sold last year, I saved almost $200, but that was in november.

Good luck and go find some bikes to test ride, That is the best thing to do before you decide!
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Old 09-04-09, 10:55 AM   #8
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I love my Coda but it's not a trail bike. 700x28 is not enough tire to suit me in that application.
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Old 09-06-09, 03:42 PM   #9
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Thanks so much for all the responses. If I did want to do some simple trail riding, what is the size tire I would use? Also, for the bikes I listed, the Quick 4, Trek FX and Jamis Coda Sport, can it support tires with the appropriate width for possible off-road riding?
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Old 09-06-09, 05:47 PM   #10
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You want at least 32C's for light off road riding. Make sure your hybrid can accommodate wider tires if you're feeling more adventurous.
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Old 09-06-09, 09:35 PM   #11
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I use 700 X 27C Rivendell Ruffy Tuffy tires - they have a 2mm Kevlar belt - for hard-pack dirt and gravel paths/roads here in Vermont. The frame and fork of my hybrid is a Trek 7.5 FX. I am perfectly in control of the bike and have had no spills and problems whatsoever. But I did replace the wheels with bomb-proof Mavic A719 rims laced 3X to Ultegra hubs. The toy wheels it came with would be another story.

My average speed on my favorite 4.5 mile dead-end dirt & gravel trail is 14mph. But I also have lived in New England most of my life, so I'm quite used to sliding on loose rock. NE is filled with hills that are ancient talus slopes in nature, so you get used to sort-of skiing as you ascend/descend. If you can do that, then a bike doesn't surprise you in handling these sort of surfaces. It just comes natural.
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Old 09-07-09, 06:18 AM   #12
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32's to 45's will do a good job on most packed gravel, dirt, aglime.

35's to 40's handle them well, and still help you go easier on pavement.

I use a 35 on the front, and a 40 on the rear, and really like this combo for the types of surfaces you listed..... Schwalbe Marathon Supremes, for flat protection, and easy, comfortable, riding.
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Old 09-12-09, 09:09 AM   #13
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This is a SUPER thread. And Common Man really has me thinking. Up at the very top end of my budget is a Trek 7.3 at my LBS for 519. (When I started shopping 500 was my whole budget for the bike and a few basic accessories!) That's 40 bucks more than a 7.2 I test rode a few days ago. THe 7.2 felt good, but as this thread pointed out the gearing was clunky and the shifters felt a bit cheap to me.

I plan to get out for some more test riding in the next couple days. They've ordered a Globe Vienna 2 for me to try since I liked the feel of the Carmel 1, but wanted 24 speeds. It has the same shifter/derailler as the 7.2.

I'll go with whatever feels right but are the components on that 7.3 worth stretching my budget to it's limits? Maybe I should try waving 5 hundred dollar bills at them and see if they'll play.

I'm getting back to cycling and have been doing tons of research over these last few weeks and riding quite a few models, many based on recommendations I've read here. Perhaps you don't realize this, but all of you who contribute to these forums are doing a wonderful service for people like me who lurk for a long time doing research. I thank you for all your wisdom and opinions!
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Old 09-12-09, 11:10 AM   #14
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I originally went to look at a Globe Vienna 2 when I ended up with my sirrus. While the Globe is a nice bike, it is a lot heavier than the sirrus or Trek FX line. Wider tires, too.

However, if you like the trek fx7.3, I would go buy it. It has an msrp of $640, so $519 is already a good price. Instead of asking for a lower price on the bike, maybe try for a discount on accessories. The 7.3 has a great component package on it, The Deore rear derailleur will no doubt be better than the other bikes. The 7.3 also looks to have a better crankset than the 7.2. I paid $480 for my sirrus, and will likely upgrade to a new or slightly used Depre or LX rear derailleur this winter. So yes, the components ARE worth the stretch.

Get what you want/can afford. I enjoy doing my own wrenching as much as I do enjoy riding, so lower quality derailleurs dont bother me as much since I enjoy keeping them clean and adjusted. At the same time, Deore on up are much more durable and stay in tune longer. My LX (on my mountain bike) is one small step above Deore, and in 8 years of mountain biking, path and road mix, It shifts just as crisp as the day I installed it back in June 2001. Its been scraped by rocks and been covered in mud. Probably hit a few trees with it, too (trails 1" wider than handlebars are scary but fun). Amazing what a toothbrush, citrus bike degreaser, and a little oil once a year can do for longevity.

Also, spending a few more dollars now, and having to tune it less means more time (and money) to ride and buy accessories.

One last note, remember to buy a helmet, and wear it. Cheap insurance.
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Old 09-12-09, 11:18 AM   #15
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Another bit of advice - stay away from "Comfort Bikes" as they are not comfortable for much more than a ride around the neighborhood. If looking at Hybrids, try to concentrate those leaning heavily toward the road. Like the 7.3, Specialized Crosstrail or Sirrus, etc, etc, etc.

If you can still find any 08s, you can likely get better components for the same money - the way many mfrs cut costs in 09, was to cut quality of components in the same line.

Stay away from suspension seatposts, they really rob energy, and always seem perpetually loose.

In my opinion, the Carmel and the Globe are both Comfort Bikes.
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Old 09-12-09, 12:42 PM   #16
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I will disagree with you that the specialized crosstrail is leaned towards road riding. Ever seen one in person? the tires are W I D E! it looks more geared towards smooth single track and unpaved bike paths. Not knocking it at all, I considered it but I have a true mtb, I wanted something for road. If I didn't already have a bike, the crosstrail would have made a great all around bike for someone who does 50/50 road and unpaved paths. For mostly pavement/road use, a rigid bike is the way to go.

The crosstrail, IS more of a hybrid than a sirrus. The sirrus is really a flat handlbar road bike with mountain gearing...Ok so it is a hybrid but...eh ill just quit typing
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Old 09-12-09, 12:50 PM   #17
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Since I have one, (Crosstrail) and ride it daily - my opinion is that it is definitely geared toward the road. Mine is an '08, and is used as a do it all bike. Carries groceries, and, still likes to go fast. I even like the lock out fork. It's great for when the pavement is less than stellar....

p.s. I have Schwalbe Marathon Supremes on mine, a 35 on the front, and a 40 on the back.
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Old 09-19-09, 03:50 PM   #18
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Just a note from an old bike builder and ebay junkie - good quality rear derailleurs can be had for about $20 on ebay. I scored a NOS (new old stock) SRAM 7.0 recently for under 20 without too much trouble, so, I wouldn't get tied up in knots over price vs one or two components. If the frames, wheels and tires are identical, buy the cheap one.
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