Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Grid Reference, SK
Bikes: I never learned to ride a bike. It is my deepest shame.
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First question: When you say you ride on 'trails' a couple times per week, what type of trails are you talking about? Dirt with roots and rocks or paved multi-use-paths (MUPs) or smooth gravel rail-trails and fire roads?
I assume you are talking about the Quick SL1 and Quick CX1... Both are hybrids and both look like awesome bikes.
The components on both are pretty much similar quality. A few differences are the shimano disc hubs on the CX and, of course, the suspension fork. I would expect the CX will be more at home on rougher trails, and can possibly be outfitted with even wider tires for even more off road capability.
The SL is close to what is sometimes called a 'flat bar road bike' meaning it is primarily for use on paved surfaces and will not feel as at-home on dirt. Rough trails (roots and rocks) will likely be tricky unless you are very very careful about picking your line. Put some 700X32c tires on it, however, and it will be a lightning fast on smooth dirt or gravel trails. It all depends on what you call 'trails.' I would guess (but I don't know for sure) that the SL won't fit tires as fat as will fit on the CX.
In short, both are great bikes. However, the most important part of a bike is how it fits you - will you be comfortable on it for the length of rides you plan to do. You can find the answer to this question by test riding them or alternatively, measuring your current bike (assuming it fits you the way you want) and comparing it to the published geometry specs of the cannondales.
Also, the riding position on the SL seems to be a little more stretched out while the CX is a bit more upright - predictable as off road bikes are generally a little more upright than road bikes. Also the geometry on the CX is a little more relaxed, likely giving a slightly more stable ride with your weight a little further back compared to the quick and more aggressive layout of the SL (Still short of a full on road bike, however).
As for other bikes, if the one or the other Cannondales fit your body and intended purpose then they are great choices, but certainly see if the LBSs in your area have something similar. You don't need to worry that you will be getting an 'inferior' bike as most (all) of these bikes are made by a handful of contract manufacturers in China and (for higher end stuff) Taiwan. The Specializeds and Treks and Jamises and Giants and Konas and etc etc etc all make pretty good bikes in this price range.
Last edited by LarDasse74; 01-21-12 at 11:34 PM.