Currently I have an old heavy mountain bike with smooth tires since I never go off road. I use a bike for three purposes: errands within a few miles, towing a child in a trailer while on paved bike trail rides with the family, and whenever possible I like to get off on my own and ride about 40 miles at a leisurely pace of 12-15 mph on a combination of paved paths and paved roads. Needless to say, not really enjoying the mountain bike for any of these purposes.
I have about $600 to spend. I'd like to find something that is a step up for all these purposes (shouldn't be that hard). I want something that will eventually have fenders and a rear rack. That led me to the Giant Escape City. I pretty much love everything about it and took it for a test ride today and was impressed. Then, on a whim, I decided to take out a couple other bikes. The first was the Felt Cafe 24 Deluxe. Very nice ride and I think it would be good for two of my three purposes but I was worried that it wouldn't hold up well for a 40 mile ride. Plus I wasn't too thrilled with the shifters and the metal fenders rattled too much for my liking. Then I tried the Electra Townie Sport Tiagra. Honestly, from the second I left the parking lot I had a HUGE smile on my face. I felt like I was a kid again. During long rides on my mountain bike, my shoulders/arms/hands end up in discomfort due to the forward lean setup of my bike so I am not opposed to a more upright riding position. The Townie Sport Tiagra deftly felt good on my arms. To be truthful, it felt good all around and was the most enjoyable ride.
I came home to research bikes and have found very little to no first hand reviews or experiences with the Giant Escape City ($569 fully equipped) or the Electra Townie Sport Tiagra ($599 before the fenders, rack, kickstand etc). I'm really curious as to if anyone has the Electra and if so how do they actually go on and enjoy long rides with it? I'm not an extreme rider by any means but I like to get a good workout in while I can and although I loved everything about it, I am still skeptical about how a "flat foot" technology bike will handle long rides.
On a side note, the Electra Townie Sport series has been replaced by the Electra Verse (24d and 21d). Its supposed to be a new kind of fitness bike. I have not had the chance to ride it yet but hope to tomorrow. It differs slightly from the Escape City and the Townie Sport in the sense that their tires are both 700x32 and the Verse has 700x35. It differs from the Townie Sport as it does not have "Flat Foot Technology." Electra claims it to be a new kind of fitness bike so if I can ride a bit more upright and still get in 40 mile rides it is under consideration.
I can also ride a Jamis Coda Sport tomorrow, too. I know at least one forumite is in love with this bike.
Does anyone have any insight/experience/thoughts on any of these bikes? Or can you share links to people who have? I've been to all the local bike stores over the past two days and have spent countless hours researching online and I just want to enjoy the warm weather by bringing home a bike tomorrow that makes bike riding fun again.
If you have made it through this super long post and can help me out in any way, I really appreciate it!