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  1. #1
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    Smile Should I try upgrades for my hybrid or just buy a road bike??

    I own a 2011 flatbar Trek FX 7.2 since April when I started cycling. I am riding 3-4 times a week with an average of 13-16 miles each ride with a 13-14 MPH average. I want to start increasing my distance, I want to ride a century in the very near future..., but what if a road bike is not the way to go for me??? I have asked friends that have been cycling for quite some time and they all agree that they will not recommend a hybrid for long distances and the striding leverage that a road bike offers vs the hybrids are not the same, etc; with the road bikes having the upper hand according to them and some other posts and articles I have seen over the net. I have tried road bikes but not to more than a road test which will not give me the distance needed to really try the long distance riding stance, striding and all the data that I need to make an informed decision. I've made my mind, I will either upgrade to a road bike or make improvements on my hybrid to better myself, that I know, but I am hoping I can get some answers to my following questions from folks that have gone thru the same (as I am sure there are a lot on this forum... .

    1. Is it worth trying dropbars to see if I can handle the road bike riding posture??

    2. If so, what you riders out there recommend??

    3. What other upgrades are recommended?? (ie shifters, components) to increase my mileage or even the alleged differencesvs a road bike??

    4. I do like the way my bike rides so if I upgrade I am thinking Trek, but I would love to read reviews and suggestions from ctual owners of other brands in the entry level range.

    Thanks for the help...

  2. #2
    Two-Wheeled Aficionado ColinL's Avatar
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    A short demo ride at your LBS won't tell you that much.. do you have any friends or family with a road bike you could borrow for a ride? 5 miles probably would tell you something.

    About your specific questions:

    1. You will need shifters/brake levers, the bar and bar tape. Not too cheap just to experiment.. long term, you would have something like a low-end road bike.

    2. I was about like you and I have a hybrid and road bike now.

    3. I wouldn't spend money on a crankset, wheels, etc until you are sure this bike is what you want. I suspect you will end up on a road bike.

  3. #3
    Senior Member sh00k's Avatar
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    1- you can rent a road bike for a few hours (or a day) - a lot of bike shops have this option. this way, you're spending very little to see if you like the road bike posture more than the hybrid style.

    3 - you should get thinner wheels to go faster and exert less force to maintain your speed. several people here with trek 7.2 / 7.3 models swapped out for thinner wheels and have loved it.

    there are a couple of people on this forum that have done century's on their trek fx's so it's definitely not out of the question. you just have to be comfortable on your bike. it also helps to train to get up to a 100 miles (ie, 3 months before the century, start doing 25 mile rides frequently and then each week, add a few more miles to that so you can do a century & be prepared for it).
    2009 Trek FX 7.2 (Blue) -- SOLD!
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  4. #4
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    @ColinL and sh00k, thanks fro the info!!!

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    You don't want two separate bikes?

    I wouldn't mess with drop bars. Not that many people use the drops on their road bike anyway. Bar ends, clip on aero bars, various extensions like that will get you more bent over and aero like a road bike.

    This guy finished RAGBRAI with a hybrid. Lots of them in the ride.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member javal's Avatar
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    Seems we´re in for another hybrid vs. road bike contest... This is my point of view:

    1) the performance hybrids (several brands out there) are built for serious speed. Once you have slicks (to minimize rolling resistance) you got a road machine.
    2) the road bike has some specialized advantages such as drop bar (multiple hand positions and lower wind resistance) and advanced geometry.
    3) therefor, if you´re happy with your bike and concernad about budget, a conversion might be a clever solution. If budget really matters and your current bike gives you all the exercise you need, stay content. If budget doesnt bother you, you could have both versions.
    4) a majority of riders would say long and tiresome runs requires the specialized feautures of a roadie, or at least, they would not make the run harder than it is.
    5) in the end its about where you want to take your riding skills.
    6) In my case, I thoroughly enjoy all above statements.
    7) I have never experienced any Trek.
    the rider makes the bike - steel club member 198

  7. #7
    Ha ha ha ha ha giantcfr1's Avatar
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    Get the Road bike and also keep the Hybrid. I have both as do many on this forum. In my situation the two bikes are completely different and a joy to ride in separate situations.

    If you go to the bother of converting to drops, you won't be able to simply swap back to a hybrid when the ride dictates. If there are two in the garage, you can grab which ever takes your fancy on the day.

    In saying that, if you do get the road bike, (and if I were you) I'd buy the best within your budget. Not trying distant anyone here, but I'd get 10 speed so in the future you're not chasing up 9 and 8 speed parts in a parts bin.

  8. #8
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    All, lots of good info and advice, I appreciate all of it. I will train for the century and then God knows what is next. It looks that the best of both worlds is the way to go... ill keep you posted

  9. #9
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    A rider's position is independent of handlebar type. One can set up a hybrid such that it puts the rider in an aggressive position and one can set up a road bike to allow an upright posture. In fact if I had a road bike I would set it up to put me in the same position I have on my performance oriented hybrid. To be precise, brake hoods in the same place relative to my saddle as my handlebar grips currently are.

    The benefit of a position in which the rider's back is closer to horizontal than vertical is aerodynamics. I don't think leverage is improved by lowering one's handlebars. Lowering the handlebars will make you faster, but less comfortable. Back 45º from vertical is a typical position for performance riding. Your fitness, particularly arm and back strength and hamstring flexibility, will determine how low your handlebars can be positioned.

    To make your current bike faster and/or more comfortable for long rides, I'd suggest barends, clipless pedals, and better tires, in that order. Padded shorts and gloves will help with comfort. Install two water bottles to keep yourself hydrated, wear a bike jersey with pockets to hold snacks.

    Road bikes tend to weigh less than hybrids which helps with fatigue over a long ride especially if there are hills. Trekking bars or flat bars with barends are viable options, but most serious riders prefer drop bars. If you want to use drop bars, I think it makes more sense to get a road bike than convert a hybrid to drop bars. Road bikes tend to be more responsive in handling and accelerate quicker than a hybrid.

    You don't need a road bike to do centuries. For long rides like that, you should be on the type of bike that you enjoy riding the most. Road bikes are probably more fun, hybrids more utilitarian.

  10. #10
    I'm doing it wrong. RJM's Avatar
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    I took my hybrid on an 80 mile ride yesterday and had no problems with my hands getting numb or anything like that, I do have curved barends on it so that does help. I have a Trek 7.5 fx and have flipped the stem to get the bars down lower, and just added a narrower seat than the stock one, this helps with the longer mile rides for me because I can stretch out and become a bit more aerodynamic. There are two real-world advantages that my Trek hybrid has over the roadbikes that my shop sells, it uses v brakes which are more powerful than the dual-pivots on roadbikes, and I can put 32mm (it will take 38s too) tires on the 7.5. The wider tires really help with comfort from road vibrations, something I am not willing to give up with the race bikes that are called "road bikes" sold in shops.

    To convert my hybrid to drops I would either have to go to friction shifting barend shifters and get some v-brake road levers, or swap the v-brakes for cantis and get brifters along with buying a shorter stem. It would give me more hand positions and the drops would allow me to get my body lower, but I could also just add aero bars to my current setup.

  11. #11
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    I was in the same boat and decided to buy a road bike. No regrets at all. Now I'm riding faster, it's easier to get moving, quicker up hills, and I went clipless. I think one of the big benefits is upgrading to a bike with quality, proper road gear like Shimano 105 instead of the cheaper MTB components that are on the hybrid. The difference won't be phenomenal, probably 1-2mph average at first... but I greatly prefer the road bike on the road now and the shifting is much smoother.

  12. #12
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    i'm not in that position....yet. BUT, I have thought about what I would (will) do in that situation (probably a year from now). I have a nice mid-level hybrid, and I hope to do a century ride next summer. I have bar ends but the 40 mi ride i ran yesterday showed me that 1) i could use more hand positions, and 2) i could benefit from a more aerodynamic position (i may try aero-bars before a drop conversion).

    I would go for the conversion unless you have money enough for more than an "entry level" road bike...How much different is a souped up hybrid with drops from a low-end roadie really? Now, if you think you'll have $1500-2500 to buy something a little nicer then that's a different story-you're not going to get the 105 series goodies on the entry level trek road bike(2.1 has it at $1400+pedals+better saddle?= $1600). Myself, when I buy my next bike it will be a competitive $2000+ model, otherwise it seems a bit pointless.
    Last edited by monkeydentity; 07-31-11 at 10:26 PM.

  13. #13
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    Give yourself peace of mind and buy yourself a road bike. Go Madone!

  14. #14
    Two-Wheeled Aficionado ColinL's Avatar
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    I think people are unfairly making a huge price jump between hybrids and road bikes. I have a pretty good hybrid, a Cannondale Quick CX Ultra. It's with $100 MSRP of my dad's Specialized Secteur Elite Apex.

    There is a very big difference between the bikes in weight, at least 7 pounds. The road bike has 25mm road tires and the hybrid has 35mm 'fast rolling' hardpack small & shallow knobs. The Deore XT driveline is nowhere near as smooth shifting as SRAM Apex.

    I have ridden both bikes a lot. Mine more, of course, but I've put over 100 miles on the Secteur because I borrowed it for about 2 months before purchasing my own road bike. I didn't try my Quick with 25mm road tires, but I am sure that would not be nearly enough to make up the difference in the bikes. I have logged rides over the same roads, same perceived effort, same duration.. road bike easier and more enjoyable to ride, and several MPH faster. (There are intersections and stop signs which bring average speed down.)

    My point is that you don't need a $3,000+ road bike to be far better on the road than your <$1,200 hybrid. It can be done with a (relatively) affordable new aluminum bike, nevermind what they go for on eBay.. Don't think that your next step up from your hybrid is a megabuck carbon road bike... it *could be*, if that's what you want and you can afford it. But it doesn't have to be in order to see significant improvement.

  15. #15
    car-less monkeydentity's Avatar
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    ColinL, I think that's a poor comparison.

    1. Of course the road bike was a lot faster than a Quick CX ultra....That hybrid is much more MTB oriented. Compare with a Quick Carbon though and you may find a smaller jump, and when compared with a low end roadie, this high end hybrid may do just as well.

    2. In either case, you're comparing the prices of an OK road bike with a high end hybrid! Of Course there's not a big jump when you make that comparison!
    OP doesn't have a $1200 hybrid, he has an FX7.2(~$550), if the roadie is in the same price range it won't be a very hot bike....if he wants a nice one, that's a lot better than a souped up hybrid(ROAD-oriented non-CX), then he's going to want something that costs a lot more...maybe not $3000, but for some of us (myself included) a $2000 or even $1500 bike is a big purchase, and quite a bit more than $550! $300 to upgrade a hybrid for long hauls is a viable alternative.
    Last edited by monkeydentity; 08-01-11 at 11:00 AM.

  16. #16
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Have ridden centuries on road bikes, mountain bikes, touring bikes, and even did one on a Raleigh 3 speed and had a drop bar Trek hybrid (7500) that saw many centuries and longer distance rides and it was great.

    I lean toward having drop bars or trekking bars for distance riding as hand positions and the ability to vary them is important for comfort and a conversion to trekking bars is about as low cost as it gets as all the existing hardware on your Trek will work. The final incarnation of my Trek hybrid used trekking bars as besides distance riding and commuting I also took it off road where the t bars were very nice to have.

    For fast centuries a road bike is the optimal tool because of lower weight, higher gearing, and better aerodynamics but for every other century (which are most of them) people lean toward a more comfortable set up.

    There are a lot of people who have converted their hybrids to drop bars but it does come at a higher cost and requires more mechanical skills as many things need to be changed whereas with trekking bars you are just swapping the bar and grips to tape.

  17. #17
    Two-Wheeled Aficionado ColinL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by monkeydentity View Post
    ColinL, I think that's a poor comparison.
    Fair enough. But I would offer that a lot of what we call 'hybrid' bikes are in fact flatbar road bikes. Either that or Trek is on to something with the 'dual-sport' bikes and maybe the term 'hybrid' can be for road-focused flatbar bikes.

    BTW I do disagree that the Quick CX Ultra isn't a good road hybrid. Locked out, all you would need is road tires to be the same as your average Trek FX.

  18. #18
    I'm doing it wrong. RJM's Avatar
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    My wife rides a Trek 2.1 and I have a 7.5 fx, which have similar wheels and component quality. Theoretically, she should be faster because of the 2.1s road bike geometry, skinny tires and lower weight. (it really isn't that much of a weight difference) The reality is that she isn't faster, in fact I am faster riding the 7.5 fx and I can go for longer distances. The reason isn't related to the bike or the setup, but more the fact that I have been riding more and I work at getting faster/longer distances. I don't buy into the notion that a "road bike" will automatically make you faster.

    The op can get faster with the 7.2 without spending much more than some barends and different tires, maybe some clipless pedals and shoes. I would stick a set of barends on your handlbar, flip the stem so the handlebar goes a little bit lower and get a pair of 28-32 lower weight slick tires. Cost to benefit ratio with these changes is fairly large. You may have to angle your saddle a little up when you lower your bars if there is too much pressure on your hands. If you feel that this helps and your distances are getting larger, you can invest in some clipless pedals and quality cycling shoes, which really do help on the hills.

    Bottom line, you should work on the engine. Get yourself used to doing longer faster rides on your current bike.

  19. #19
    Senior Member RollCNY's Avatar
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    Welcome to the classic struggle of every fast hybrid rider.. the would I be faster if ______ ? Would I be faster on a road bike?

    At your average speeds, you would be faster if you rode more. The bike is not the limiter at current averages. Looking at the Trek fx 7.2, it looks like it could be fairly quick on the road.

    If you want to feel faster, move your stem spacers to the top and flip your stem down. Spend $30 on Ergon GC1 grips or some variant with bar ends. Buy some cheap 28 or 25 tires, I wouldn't spend a fortune at this point. You will feel faster. See what you like.

    Spending money on components is fun (I have done a fair amount of it), and can make shifting crisper, but will have little or no impact on speed.

    People ride centuries on single speeds, so the premise that a road bike is required for them is silly. Riding 100 miles is a willpower exercise. Very little to do with the bike.
    Quote Originally Posted by Man in Black
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  20. #20
    Senior Member McCallum's Avatar
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    In 1994 or 1995 I rode a century on a Hybrid. A trek multitrack 720. I added bar ends, otherwise it was a stock bike. 700x38c tires and the like. If I was to do it again I would go to a narrower tire but that is about it; amybe a 28-30c's. This bike currently has 45c on it (never trust a moutan bike/roade bike shop to rehad a hybrid without telling them to keep the tires narrow ie 32c's). The bar ends are good for hand position changes over the long distance. I like the upright seating position well cause I do --- I have never enjoyed a drop bar road ride. I might it I could find a way put an areo bar on it to lay out in a head wind but that would be my only other add on.

  21. #21
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    If you want a road bike, sell your trek and buy a road. there are very good choices at the $1000 price point.
    Secteur Apex, Giant Defy, Allez.... the famous Allez.. CAAD among others.
    For 2012 shimano Tiagra group is getting 10 speed, which is the same that 105, ultegra and Dura ace currently have, 2012 bikes are already getting to the stores so you might be able to score a 10spd Tiagra for a decent price. Tiagra bikes are cheaper then the 105's. 105's runs about $1200.
    Also with the arrival of the 2012 models many dealers put the 11 models on closeout for a good discount. I bought my 2010 specialized secteur elite 105 for $1020 last november, the MSRP was $1400.
    Upgrading to a road bike, you will probably need:
    STI shifters... say 200 bucks, a road cassette and derailleur, new tires, saddle "road bikes used narrower saddles" and so on.. it will cost way more then the difference of selling yours and buying a new road bike on closeout or a semi new one. When shopping last year I found a 2010 Defy 2 for $700 good price point, good bike.
    Oh, you can also finance road bikes, I know trek and specialized offers financing so you can afford it + equipments. like a road shoes and a clipless pedal.

  22. #22
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    All, thanks for the honest opinions, after reading all these posts and researching a bit, I am leaning towards getting a trekking bar and narrower wheels for now, I already had my clipless pedals and shoes before posting. I know the road bike is coming...probably next year. In the meantime I will keep training to improve, I cycled an upper 14 MPH AVG today so I will keep pushing to keep increasing... I am enjoying it.

    Thanks and please keep posting ways to improve...

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by monkeydentity View Post
    Myself, when I buy my next bike it will be a competitive $2000+ model, otherwise it seems a bit pointless.
    +1

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    I'm in a similar situation, same bike, and I even used to live in JC. Here are my thoughts:

    For the most part the roads are a little rough for a road bike & it will be several miles before you ride out far enough to get the space to really open up and fly on a road bike. I would lock my 7.2 up at Grove for about 20 minutes...I wouldn't lock up a new roadie in downtown JC at all. A good friend/riding buddy of mine lives in the Heights and does fine on a fixie, but he'd be doing much better (IMHO) with fatter tires and some gears.

    New tires on a 7.2 can really stretch the ride out - I did 50 miles last Saturday with enough energy when I was done to go swimming.

    Without padded gel in my skivvies, I couldn't do more than 30 on the trek. But with a road bike, you will need padded pants anyway.

    In all honesty, the grips on the 7.2 should really be swapped out. I haven't done this yet myself, but that day is rapidly approaching. Even with new grips, I'd still be using gloves.

    DESPITE ALL THAT:

    Roadies are faster, lighter, and are better for endurance. You can do everything on the hybrid the road bike can do with a little more effort, but you can't quite do everything on a road bike you can do with the hybrid.

    If I were you, I'd swap some parts on the 7.2 but leave the drop-bar conversion off the list. You'll loose alot of the stability that makes the 7.2 such a great all-around bike and end up with a slightly inferior road bike, for a rather large upgrade price.

    And, if you were me, you'd be saving for a road bike next season or the season after that - slowly upgrading the trek to keep things interesting in the meantime.

  25. #25
    Riding Heaven's Highways: In Memoriam justfitme's Avatar
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    1. To change flat bar to road bar cost-wise can be not very smart - in your situation shifters/brake levers (9 spd Tiagra), derailleurs, cassette, 9 spd chain plus labor to install all these may bring you to $350 bill. For the close amount you can find decent road bike on craiglist. (we purchased 2009 Giant OCR2 for $400 in great condition recently for my friend)
    2. To change the posture on your bike might be not as hard - straight stem and move the spacers on your steerer up (abopve the stem) and you will lower your handlebar by 2".
    3. Change tires to 700x23 with high pressure

    Me and my wife have road bikes and hybrids with aggressive set up and those hybrids produce practically the same average speed on the road as dedicated road bikes.

    *** I lived in Cliffside Park for 9 years
    Last edited by justfitme; 08-03-11 at 11:44 AM.

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