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  1. #1
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    Question Hybrid choice for packed dirt roads, rails-to-trails etc...

    I'm in the market for a hybrid bike. I have a nice road bike, a baby blue carbon Giant OCRc (WSD), which I use quite a bit for long-distance riding. This spring I bought (and have now re-sold) a Trek full-suspension mountain bike. I'm never going to be a mountain biker -- I don't have good balance, and it was stressful and frustrating rather than exhilarating.

    I'd like to spend some of the money I got from the mtn bike sale for a solid hybrid to expand my biking range beyond what I can do on my road bike. I would use the hybrid on dirt roads, packed gravel rails-to-trails, and some very easy trails. No jumping over logs. No crazy maneuvering on the edge of a cliff. No plowing through mud while screaming "Yes!". I'd be screaming "No"...

    Should I go for something light without suspension fork (such as the Trek 7.3FX)? Or should I look for something with a suspension fork? The friend that talked me into the mtn bike is encouraging me to get a sturdy hybrid rather than focusing on high-end components, and seems to think shocks are important.

    Would love to gather some thoughts... I mention the 7.3FX because that is a bike I've tested (and liked) in the past, and a nice used WSD one is available near me.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Lexi01's Avatar
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    Why don't you just put some x tyres on the MTB and save some cash?

    There's heaps of good 35mm tyres that'll do the job.

    Does your MTB have lockable front suspension?
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  3. #3
    Old. Slow. Happy. MileHighMark's Avatar
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    If the Trek fits you, and you're comfortable on it, go for it. Shoot, you might even try taking the Giant on those trails. Most of my rides incorporate some dirt or gravel sections no matter which bike I'm riding.



    GRAVELBIKE.COM - ride everything

  4. #4
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    Oh, I sold the MTB already. I didn't lose much, as I bought used and resold it within a few months. So now looking to use some fraction of that money (it was a high end MTB) on a used hybrid.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lexi01 View Post
    Why don't you just put some x tyres on the MTB and save some cash?

    There's heaps of good 35mm tyres that'll do the job.

    Does your MTB have lockable front suspension?

  5. #5
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    Cool. I'm personally not comfortable taking my road bike on dirt roads, and have only done it when I had no other options. i.e. surprise intersection with no paved choices, and sunset rapidly approaching... And then at terribly slow speeds...

    [QUOTE=MileHighMark;13341723]If the Trek fits you, and you're comfortable on it, go for it. Shoot, you might even try taking the Giant on those trails. Most of my rides incorporate some dirt or gravel sections no matter which bike I'm riding.

  6. #6
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    Hey there Jen!

    Wouldn't you like to make one hybrid purchase for a lifetime? I mean do you really want to make another hybrid bike purchase five or ten years from now?

    Well, if you don't! Buy a chromoly steel-framed hybrid bike. A chromoly steel-framed bike will last you an entire lifetime. Nobody will dare say that about aluminum or carbon. Steel frames offer you the most comfortable ride you're ever going to get from a hybrid. Right now, the most cutting edge steel framed bicycles are held within the house of Jamis.

    The Jamis Coda is an award-winning hybrid bicycle that has won the hearts of commuter cyclists for the past two decades now. The Coda is fast, agile, and most of all, it's dependable.

    I happen to own a Trek 7.5FX. There is absolutely no comparison between a Jamis Coda of any kind with that of a Trek FX of any kind.

    - Slim

  7. #7
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    Thanks, Slim,
    I love an opinionated post!

    I will certainly check out the Jamis, I hadn't thought about steel before, and the reviews I'm reading are promising...

    This and the Trek 7.x series seem to be classified at "flat bar road bikes". Are these good choices for riding on unpaved surfaces? Still wondering about the style of hybrid I should be aiming for, i.e. the shocks or no shocks question... If I have good road, I'll likely be on my road bike...

    -Jen

    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    Hey there Jen!

    Wouldn't you like to make one hybrid purchase for a lifetime? I mean do you really want to make another hybrid bike purchase five or ten years from now?

    Well, if you don't! Buy a chromoly steel-framed hybrid bike. A chromoly steel-framed bike will last you an entire lifetime. Nobody will dare say that about aluminum or carbon. Steel frames offer you the most comfortable ride you're ever going to get from a hybrid. Right now, the most cutting edge steel framed bicycles are held within the house of Jamis.

    The Jamis Coda is an award-winning hybrid bicycle that has won the hearts of commuter cyclists for the past two decades now. The Coda is fast, agile, and most of all, it's dependable.

    I happen to own a Trek 7.5FX. There is absolutely no comparison between a Jamis Coda of any kind with that of a Trek FX of any kind.

    - Slim

  8. #8
    Cycling Enthusiast mi77915's Avatar
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    How about a "Duel-Sport" bike? I am in the same boat as you are right now. I have a great road bike (Giant OCR-2) that I bought (4) years ago and I am now looking for a bike that I can go on simple trails (two-track and dirt roads). I too am not going to be a true "Mountain bike" rider, it's just not me. I have been looking at bikes like the Trek DS 8.3 http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes...eries/8_3_ds/# and the Giant Roam series http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/....1/9024/48881/ I have taken each of these (2) bikes for a test ride, although they ride very similar, I am leaning toward the Trek.

    The advantage (at least to me) is that these bikes have a suspension fork that can be locked for riding on the paved surfaces, but can be unlocked so you can ride on the uneven surfaces without being "jolted" by the bumpy ride.

    Tom
    Last edited by mi77915; 10-10-11 at 03:37 AM.

  9. #9
    rck
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    jen-I've a Specialized Sirrus comp that I bought a few years ago and use only on rail trails. In wisconsin the rail trails are generally hardpacked surfaces (at least the ones I ride) with some occasional soft, sandy spots. I've never ridden a bike with suspension and don't feel the need to have it on these types of surfaces. I run a 32 front tire with probably a more aggresive tread pattern than I need and a 30mm rear. Good luck.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member EsoxLucius's Avatar
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    The 2012 Jamis Coda Sport has a chromoly steel frame and fork, and 700x32c tires. Would be a great ride for your stated application.

    For about $200 less you could also check out the Giant Cypress ST with a chromoly steel frame and fork, and 700x38c tires. This would also be a good packed trail rider. The components will wear out before the frame and fork do, so you have component upgrade potential as things wear out.
    Last edited by EsoxLucius; 10-11-11 at 12:34 PM.

  11. #11
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    I think suspension is way overkill for what you describe. A nice rigid hybrid should do you fine - unless you have wrist issues.

  12. #12
    dbc
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    For smooth even trails, I would leave the suspension off the hybrid. Consider it only if you prefer a more cushy ride.

    7.X series should be quite decent for unpaved rail to trail, but pick one that will fit at least 35 mm wide tires.

  13. #13
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    Yeap, I have a trek 7.2 from a few years back, all rigid, 35mm tyres, and it's just right for stuff you describe.

  14. #14
    Old. Slow. Happy. MileHighMark's Avatar
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    For rail trails, MUPs, etc, a chubby tire is sufficient. If you are riding over/through large rocks, you'd want a sus fork. But since the OP already tried MTB'ing, it's unlikely that she would be riding terrain that necessitated a sus fork.
    GRAVELBIKE.COM - ride everything

  15. #15
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    Agree you don't need suspension. I wouldn't choose the Trek FX series though. I don't find them particularly comfortable on unpaved or gravel surfaces, though you certainly could use them. I really prefer the ride of the Cannondale Quick hybrids. I have a Quick 3, which is more road-like (skinnier tires) and more like the FXs. Though I do ride it on dirt and gravel, a Quick 4 or 5 would be ideal (wider tires). Try one if you get a chance. I also ride a Trek Navigator, which has front fork and seat post suspension. I recently took this bike to the hilly gravel and dirt carriage roads in Acadia National Park in Maine. It was very comfortable and stable, which I knew it would be, but I was worried about the hills. I was surprised that I did the climbs without too much effort. It turned out to be a good choice for the paths we road on. I kinda consider the Navigator my "mountain" bike and the Quick 3 my "road" bike, though both are hybrids. Being a roadie, you probably wouldn't want something as chunky as the Navigator, though it IS lighter than a MTB. It handles any of the rougher stuff I'd want to do. I do think you'd enjoy the Cannondale Quicks, though.

  16. #16
    Junior Member Saber5's Avatar
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    I was in the same boat youre in now a few months ago. The Trek DS series is nice, but I too did not want the suspension fork. So I went with the FX 7.5. i ride 85% paved rodes, but everytime I ride I hit a mile or two dirt/packed roads. Ill have you know this ride is all that and a bag of chips...handles great. Have done a couple 4-12 plus "rail to trail" rides with ease, even with 28mm at 120psi. On the trails and dirt roads its not big rocks and roots etc. that you watch for, but the potholes. but then again here in central pa the paved roads are just as bad...hope this helps, by the way, there is alot of nice stuff out there to choose from...I went with trek because I like the bike and I really wanted to support the businesses in my town.
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    Thank you!

    Am back here after a couple days absence, and all these thoughtful replies. Thank you... You've all given me some very good feedback. I'm feeling more confident that I won't need the suspension fork. I plan to test out a few models in the next couple of weeks and look around for an end-of-season clearance or used bike.

    Happy riding, Jen

  18. #18
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    I very rarely use my front susp. on my Crosstrail. It's lock-out 90% of the time.

  19. #19
    Senior Member FastRod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    Hey there Jen!

    Wouldn't you like to make one hybrid purchase for a lifetime? I mean do you really want to make another hybrid bike purchase five or ten years from now?

    Well, if you don't! Buy a chromoly steel-framed hybrid bike. A chromoly steel-framed bike will last you an entire lifetime. Nobody will dare say that about aluminum or carbon. Steel frames offer you the most comfortable ride you're ever going to get from a hybrid. Right now, the most cutting edge steel framed bicycles are held within the house of Jamis.

    The Jamis Coda is an award-winning hybrid bicycle that has won the hearts of commuter cyclists for the past two decades now. The Coda is fast, agile, and most of all, it's dependable.

    I happen to own a Trek 7.5FX. There is absolutely no comparison between a Jamis Coda of any kind with that of a Trek FX of any kind.

    - Slim
    I was looking up the jamis because of you and wow those bikes look awesome...

  20. #20
    Senior Member FastRod's Avatar
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    I use to ride a mountain bike but the closest trail was centuries away and I can't drive ( I'm a kid ). I felt like I didn't need a suspension and etc so when I moved countries I sold my Full Sus mountain bike and bought a rigid hybrid for the same price, it runs on 700cc 35mm wheels and has flat bars and a mountain bike frame. I use it for light off road and pavement a lot and your able to bunny hop and stuff even thought it not made for it =P so yes... Rigid would be a good idea if not go for a front fork. Suspension is there for traction on uneven terrain not for comfort but people use it anyway. It's important to learn how to use your body as suspension too through your knees.

  21. #21
    Senior Member a1penguin's Avatar
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    Hey jen_bikes, have you tried out any of these bikes? I want to commute in wet winter weather and don't want to use my road bike. The MTB frame doesn't have holes for fenders. I figured I might find an inexpensive hybrid that has 1.5"/38mm tires and disc brakes.

    I'm disappointed that many of these bikes are gray. When I bought my road bike I had to take the color they gave me, which is mostly white. In hindsight, I've come to realize white helps make you visible. Go figure.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Violet View Post
    I think suspension is way overkill for what you describe. A nice rigid hybrid should do you fine - unless you have wrist issues.
    +100, suspensions add cost, weight, complexity, and actually absorb some of the energy you are using to propel the bike forward. So unless you use the bike where a suspension is required take that extra money you'd spend on a suspension and get a rigid bike of higher quality or a better component set.

    All frame materials have their pros and cons, test ride as many bikes from as many different manufacturers as you can before making a final call.

  23. #23
    Recreational/Utility bjjoondo's Avatar
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    I've got a 2012 Jamis Coda Sport and I consider it mainly a, "road hybrid", if I was to buy a hybrid for more , dirt trail riding or dirt fire roads, I'd look at these:

    1. Jamis Allegro X
    2. Specialized Crosstrail or Myay(Womens Version)
    3. Trek Dual Sport

    For me I think I'd really perfer "front suspension" on dirt as there are ALWAYS rutted sections of any trail or fireroad" due to rain, etc. No you don't need a full on hardtail MTB but do think about riding a few "suspension hybrids" before you head out on the trails, JMHO, YMMV.
    Take care, RIDE SAFE, have FUN!
    B.J. Ondo
    2011 Jamis Allegro 1

  24. #24
    Cycling Enthusiast mi77915's Avatar
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    I was in this same boat not long ago too. I rode Trek FX series, Jamis Coda, Jamis Allergro (suspension fork), and Cannondale CX3 (suspension fork), and for my particular needs and dirt road/fireroads, conditions, I chose the 2012 Cannondale CX3 with the suspension fork.
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  25. #25
    Senior Member load97's Avatar
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    I went back and forth among a Bad Boy, DS, & FX. I decided on a suspension fork DS 8.5, but I had thought about getting an FX and just putting more of an off road tire on it similar to the DS series. For the most part you can't go wrong with choosing either for the riding you want to do.
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