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  1. #1
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    hybrid vs. road bike advice sought

    Hi everyone,

    I have been out of riding for several years and I want to start up again once the weather becomes a little more agreeable (we're supposed to get 3-6 inches of snow tonight). I plan on doing most of my riding on pavement and packed dirt roads, mainly for the purpose of getting in better shape (in addition to enjoying the activity).

    So far I have visited 3 or 4 LBS's and have received a lot of conflicting advice. One shop directed me towards a GF Kaitai, another towards the Trek 7 series, and another told me to go with an entry level road bike (despite my concerns over being hunched over - they said that can be dealt with with proper sizing). I have been leaning towards a leftover 08 Trek 7.5. However I have seen a lot of them being sold used because the owners wanted to get a more conventional road bike (w/drop bars etc...). I'm a little worried that I may get a hybrid and then after riding it for a bit, I would want to get a road bike. I'd appreciate any thoughts on this. I am not in a hurry to by anything right now as I have an old, un-suspended Trek 930 to ride around on.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member mikeybikes's Avatar
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    Its a matter of personal preference - unfortunately, its not always possible to determine what you want before you buy.

    Yes, the hunched over-ness of a typical road bike can be solved by fitting (finding the right stem is where its at). You can also create a pretty hunched over stance on a flat bar hybrid if you wanted. My advice is to ride as many bikes of different varieties as your bike store will let you.

    Plus if you buy one and decide its not right for you, there's nothing wrong with buying another bike. I myself own three...
    My Bikes: 2009 Breezer Uptown EX | 1980 Miyata Six Ten | 1970 Hercules Three-Two-Speed
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  3. #3
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    I went with a hybrid at first - my riding is on the road for commuting. I ended up buying a road bike and putting drops on my hybrid. If I were to do it again I would get a cyclocross with discs. It is all down to preference. I like the fit of a road bike, and don't like being as upright as you are with flat bars, also I like the various hand positions drops offer.

    Best bet is to test ride, then test ride again!

  4. #4
    Senior Member trustnoone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by daven1986 View Post
    I went with a hybrid at first - my riding is on the road for commuting. I ended up buying a road bike and putting drops on my hybrid. If I were to do it again I would get a cyclocross with discs. It is all down to preference.
    +1 on the cross. I use my Kona Jake the Snake for everything from riding in 38mm studded tires on snow and ice in -25 C winter to putting 23mm road tires on it and going for long rides in the summer. My wife has a Trek 7.5 and she is not much less hunched over than I would be on the brake hoods but I have two more hand positions to choose from.

    Having never ridden disk brakes I'm not sure what advantage there would be on the road except less brake squeel.

  5. #5
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    If you're a wet weather rider get discs... they're great for stopping on a dime and avoid that grinding sound of dirty rims.

  6. #6
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    Yeah I love my disc brakes. Came in useful when an idiot woman pulled out in front of me in the wet - stopped as they would in the dry

  7. #7
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    More hand positions? Look into "Trekking-Bars.*" A 'hybrid' is not a "road-bike." It is not a "mountain-bike." It's both in many ways - and different in many ways. And it's an artist's easel. You can craft it into what you think it should be.

    If you want a road-bike - get one. Screaming down hills over rocks at 30mph - get a mountain-bike. Want something that can go fast on pavement, and yet handle miles of dirt & gravel - a hybrid is a very good option. A city commuter? This too. A hauler? Sure! Touring? Yup!

    Find what suits you.


    * Also called 'Butterfly-Bars.'
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  8. #8
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    Plus if you buy one and decide its not right for you, there's nothing wrong with buying another bike. I myself own three...[/QUOTE]


    I forgot to mention that I am married to a non-rider. Although I agree with you in principle re: having a few bikes in the garage, that's not going to fly too well in the short term ;-)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by matttheknife View Post
    Plus if you buy one and decide its not right for you, there's nothing wrong with buying another bike. I myself own three...

    I forgot to mention that I am married to a non-rider. Although I agree with you in principle re: having a few bikes in the garage, that's not going to fly too well in the short term ;-)[/QUOTE]

    I have 2 and am working on finding a 3rd and possibly a fourth! My girlfriend is a non-rider but she doesn't mind too much, as long as I don't spend all my money!

  10. #10
    Senior Member cyber_hawke's Avatar
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    Two years ago, I got interested in riding again and went out and purchased a Giant Hybrid. Rode it for a season and found that I was living in an area that had a lot of great trails in the woods and traded for a mountain bike. Moved again and found that I was now riding in an area that was urban and didnt have a lot of trails (without driving). Went out and bought a good road bike, rode that for the summer and into the winter. After realizing that I just wasnt comfortable in traffic with the drop bars, bought a cheap flat bar commuter. After two weeks of commuting in real winter weather, decided that I couldnt live with drop bars (good for fun rides, not for traffic (personal opinion) and had my calipers freeze once and just not able to brake a number of times. Got rid of the road bike and the cheap commuter and am now trying to put together a bike for next years commuting while back to the mountain bike. My advice to you is to just try a number out and get out there. You will evolve not only your own riding habits but you will also decide what you want in a bike...dont spend too much on the initial bike and be ready to find out that you need another bike (or two).
    If the world is going to end on 21 December 2012, does that mean I won't be able to retire in 2013?

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  11. #11
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    The position on a road bike isn't hunched over. It looks a bit weird I'll admit , but it lets you use more of your leg muscles to drive the bike... if your body is in biking shape. If you're not in great shape, you won't have enough abdominal strength to get much use out of a road bike's position. (speaking from experience there. I ride a hybrid, but if I need to really put out power, bending at the waist into a more roadie position lets me do it. And I *can't* do it if my abdominal muscles are weak, because they get tired and can't hold the position and let me breathe at the same time)

    Your old Trek would be sold as a hybrid these days, and should have space for fenders and a rack so you can use it for errands. I'd just ride the hell out of it, and upgrade when you find areas where it could fit better.

  12. #12
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    "Retirement is the best job I ever had!" Me, 2009


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  13. #13
    Fraser Valley Dave
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    It depends on what shape your body is in, how much riding you do, where you ride the most, etc. I started out with an old 18 speed, rigid, non-suspended mountian bike for my first couple of long tours after trying a road bike and not feeling comfortable and worrying about it's light frame for carrying a lot of heavy gear.. I up-graded the shifting parts, axles, and sprockets in order to handle the extra weight, and to comfortably maintain higher speeds, similiar to a road bike. I was at an disadvantage because of my more upright position when riding with others on road bikes, but I was more comfortable, and could enjoy the scenery etc. better. With this set-up, I actually was the first mountian bike rider across the finish line in a 75 km. 1700 person ride, with only 7 road bikers ahead of me. From this bike, I up-graded and was fitted to a good quality hybrid. The bike is far lighter but more than strong enough for heavy-duty touring and riding on dirt and gravel roads, has many more gears to get the most out of efficiently climbing long grades, and I still can comfortably sightsee as I tour. There are many handlebars of every design, including dropbars, that you can customize your hybrid with to suit your needs. With this bike, I have many thousands of touring miles under my belt, and doubt I will be lured into, or need to buy another expensive ride.

  14. #14
    Senior Member javal's Avatar
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    If you´re in doubt as to type of riding the hybrid is the way to go. But it wont beat the feeling of a roadie when doing some serious mileage and speed on...roads. I suppose you should go with both.
    the rider makes the bike - steel club member 198

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyber_hawke View Post
    My advice to you is to just try a number out and get out there. You will evolve not only your own riding habits but you will also decide what you want in a bike...dont spend too much on the initial bike and be ready to find out that you need another bike (or two).
    +1

    If you can only have one bike due to space or financial constraints, it may take a while to figure out what type you need. I started out with a comfort bike, which got me back into riding and fitness. After a few months, I bought a road bike for my longer solo rides-and used the comfort bike when riding with my significant other. Fast forward a year later, when I decided that a hybrid would fill that slot more efficiently. At that point I sold the comfort bike to a co-worker. It's just what she needs for the infrequent riding she does. Unless she gets hooked, that is.

    Not that I'm "all set" yet; I'm now toying with the idea of a touring bike for still another niche in my cycling hobby. If I had to choose one bike it would be difficult, as the ones I have fulfill different needs with regard to terrain and purpose. I'm sure it can be done...but it might take some time and experimentation.

  16. #16
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    Last season, I had some of the same questions as the OP. I am 45 years old. I was never really into biking before last summer. In July, I decided that I would try some biking to replace jogging I use to do for cardio exercise. I bought a Trek FX 7.2. My original intent with the biking was to take several 5-10 mile rides per week. Well, I enjoyed biking and the FX a lot more than I would thought. Between mid-July and October, I rode about 1,500 miles on my FX. My rides quickly evolved from 10 miles to 30 to 60 or more. The FX served me well. I decided this season, I would get a drop-bar road bike. I bought a Trek Pilot a couple of weeks ago and have ridden it only a 100 miles or so (the weather is still not very good here yet). The Pilot is certainly a lot faster than the FX, especially for climbing. I am still getting use to the geometry of the Pilot and am trying to hold my opinion about that until I can ride it more regularly. I remember the FX being more comfortable for the start. I don't remember my body going through the "break-in" on the FX that I seem to be going through on the Pilot. All that said, I do think that once I get use to the Pilot, it will be my ride of choice.

  17. #17
    Great State of Varmint Panthers007's Avatar
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    I live in a small city in Northern Vermont. I have a 3-speed I rebuilt. I have a vintage racer I bought the frame from via Sheldon Brown. And I have a hybrid Trek 7.5 FX that I took down to the frame and customized/tricked to it's top-of-the-line.

    Between the three - they have no arguments: If I want to leave some wanna-be on a carbon-framed "get the dustpan?" My vintage PUCH makes short work. I want to go shopping about town and area? 3-speed is ready and waiting. Taking photos in the trails and hills and 'almost' wherever? Out flies the Hybrid.

    All are great! Have fun!
    How do you keep an idiot in suspense?

  18. #18
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    Why limit yourself to 1 bike???

  19. #19
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    gsurko,
    That's my logic exactlly.
    Today I went out on my Tricross. 4 miles out I flatted ( Did not bring my spare and pump, stupidly). Quickly got a ride from a nice older dude in a pickup (something I' swore I'd never do), was home in 10 minutes and off on my hybrid for another 20 miles. It all worked out because I have more than one bike. Thursday I'm going to make my maiden voyage on my cherry new SS Casseroll.
    Moral of the story, Not only does it make you more veristile to own more than one, but it can save you loads of hassle.
    Kevin

  20. #20
    Sumerian Street Rider khutch's Avatar
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    Some hybrids are fairly road biased and might be what you should consider. I'm not familiar with the Trek models that have been mentioned. I did just buy a Fuji Absolute 1.0 that is a little hard to differentiate from a road bike in many aspects. It has a flat handlebar, lots of fender/rack eyelets, and a gearing that is a little more biased towards trail use than a road bike would have so I guess it is a hybrid, as Fuji claims. Fuji isn't shy, they call it the ultimate hybrid! On the other hand it has the tasty entry level Shimano 105 road transmission and fairly skinny 28 mm tires and the frame does not look all that different when overlaid on some of Fuji's road bikes. Compared to the Dahon folder that I started bike/train commuting with last summer after many years of not cycling the Fuji is a rocket and all last summer I thought the Dahon was pretty quick when its Marathon Racers were pumped up to 85 psi! I don't know if 28 mm tires are wide enough for your packed dirt trails but you could probably use tires that are still narrow enough to work well on the road too on a road biased hybrid. Just to add a little more variety to the all Trek, all the time (just kidding) discussion here you might also consider the Marin Lombard. It even has drop handlebars, how much more roadie do you need to be?

    Ken

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Baum View Post
    gsurko,
    That's my logic exactlly.
    Today I went out on my Tricross. 4 miles out I flatted ( Did not bring my spare and pump, stupidly). Quickly got a ride from a nice older dude in a pickup (something I' swore I'd never do), was home in 10 minutes and off on my hybrid for another 20 miles. It all worked out because I have more than one bike. Thursday I'm going to make my maiden voyage on my cherry new SS Casseroll.
    Moral of the story, Not only does it make you more veristile to own more than one, but it can save you loads of hassle.
    Kevin
    Have done this before. Having more than one bike, to me, is a necessity if it is your main / only form of transport.

  22. #22
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    I wanted to thank everyone for all the great suggestions! The weather is finally turning for the better and I will be bombing around on my old Trek 930 until I decide what to get next. I've been visiting a lot of LBS's and will start test riding soon. In addition to the bikes already mentioned (and that Marin certainly looks awesome!), does anyone have experience with Scott bikes? The closest LBS sells them in addition to Eastern Mtn Sports (here in NH, there is an EMS about every 25 miles).

    Thanks again!

  23. #23
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    I started out with a Trek 7100 hybrid. After I got more serious I started looking at the Trek FX. However, my friends convinced me to get a road bike. I loved the speed and kept it for about a year - but, I have mild kyphosis and I got serious pain in the back of my neck from the riding posture. I just bought a Trek 7.7 FX and I'm selling my road bike.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by matttheknife View Post
    Hi everyone,

    I have been out of riding for several years and I want to start up again once the weather becomes a little more agreeable (we're supposed to get 3-6 inches of snow tonight). I plan on doing most of my riding on pavement and packed dirt roads, mainly for the purpose of getting in better shape (in addition to enjoying the activity).

    So far I have visited 3 or 4 LBS's and have received a lot of conflicting advice. One shop directed me towards a GF Kaitai, another towards the Trek 7 series, and another told me to go with an entry level road bike (despite my concerns over being hunched over - they said that can be dealt with with proper sizing). I have been leaning towards a leftover 08 Trek 7.5. However I have seen a lot of them being sold used because the owners wanted to get a more conventional road bike (w/drop bars etc...). I'm a little worried that I may get a hybrid and then after riding it for a bit, I would want to get a road bike. I'd appreciate any thoughts on this. I am not in a hurry to by anything right now as I have an old, un-suspended Trek 930 to ride around on.

    Thanks!
    I decided to get a hybrid figuring I would not be doing a lot of long rides, and that it would be better for banging off curbs, around town, and such. I got a great deal on Kona Dew Deluxe and pretty dang happy with it. It's plenty fast and I love the disc brakes and overall toughness. The riding position is pretty much equivalent to having your hands on the cross bar of a road bike.

    I live in an area where there is pretty big spandex/road crowd, and 98% of the time they are on the cross bar. Considering the leisurly pace and pot bellies on most of them it all looks like a lot posing IMO. I'm sure I'll get a road bike eventually, and mtn bike, too. I don't see one bike filling all your needs.

  25. #25
    Just keep pedalling! big_heineken's Avatar
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    I say get an entry-level road bike and give drop-bars a try. If you decide that you really don't like drop bars, you can throw a flat bar on there and switch the brake levers and shifters for about $50. Then sell sell the lightly used brifters and drop bar to cover the switch.
    Hook 'em Horns!

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