I am a newbie who has been prowling your boards for sometime, learning from all your good advice. I think I am ready to buy, after visiting my LBS, but would like input on the choices I have come down to.
Who I am: I am a late 40's female, who used to ride fairly regularly about 20 years ago :-), former motorcycle rider (from age 12 - 44), who is trying to get back into some kind of shape (weight is 225, but is coming down from 260, so I am doing very good with that and want to keep it up!), and I have always enjoyed bicycling. I still had my old 10-speed mountain bike, but I knew bikes had changed considerably, so I had purchased a used Raleigh Talus 2.0 bike last year via CL for $100 from a student at the local university who was going back to his own country. I thought it was a great price for a 2010 and it was in really good shape. I did spend $60 getting it checked out/tuned up at the LBS where I am looking to buy new. Long story short, the Raleigh is problematic for me in that it is too tall (18" men's frame and I am 5'5") and I don't feel confident on it. (Some of that may come from all the motorcycle riding in-between my bike time - my cruiser motorcycles always sat considerably lower than the Raleigh!) That, and since my weight is way up from where it used to be, the riding position would make my hips hurt after riding. So I went back to researching and found I really like the hybrid bikes. Upright riding position for my older body, and they will fit my riding uses - namely light exercise riding around my neighborhood and occasional jaunts on the rails-to-trails with my nieces and nephews. And with my 28.5" inseam, they seem to fit me nicely, whether a men's small frame model or a women's.
So this week, I was at the LBS and the salesman listened to what I want to do, and I was impressed that he didn't try to upsell me to fancier/more expensive bikes when I told him I was looking for something entry-level. He showed me a men's XS Giant Cypress in dark blue ($400), which looked big, but I suppose that's because of the 700c tires. He told me Giant tends to run large in their frames ("no pun intended" - I laughed). Then he also showed me a "leftover" silver Cannondale Adventure (I'm not sure of the model, but I seem to remember seeing the word "four" somewhere on the frame). By leftover, I figured that meant the previous year's model, right? It was a small men's frame, which he told me was on sale for $450 because it was a leftover (I think the sticker price was $550). He told me that the Cannondale was a better bike for the price, but didn't go into the specifics. Do any of you know what he meant by that? I guess I should have asked more questions. I told him I was going to make a decision by the end of the month, to which he told me the Cannondale might not be there in two weeks. I said that was fine, if not, I could look at what else was available. (Not sure if that was true, or just trying to make me to get a rapid decision - is there that much of a demand for leftovers?)
He brought both bikes outside to let me test ride them. First I rode the Giant. He hadn't put the seat at the proper height, so I had to stop and raise the seat to make sure my legs were hitting the mark right. (I have had an ACL replacement, so if the seat height isn't right, I feel it immediately in my knee). Once I did that, I really liked the ride around the parking lot (2x). Level lot, so you couldn't really see how it might do on hills (I have a few near my home). The seat was very comfortable and once I adjusted the height, it felt really good.
Then I tried the Cannondale. Before I rode it, I said to him, "so you think I'll like this one better, hmm?" To which he replied, "ride it and see." I made sure the seat was at the right height before I started on the Cannondale. Right away, I noticed that I didn't like the seat - it seemed too "springy" - it doesn't have a stem suspension like the Giant, just the springs under the seat itself, so that felt strange, like the seat was swaying. And I was distracted during the ride because a tag on the bike kept flapping against the rear wheel, making the same sound we used to get from baseball cards in the spokes when we were kids. :-)
But I did like the shifters on the Cannondale better. While they were also grip shifters, the numbers were in large, clear windows above the grips so they gave me better visibility to what gear I was in.
When I came back, my first impression was that I liked the Giant better, as it seemed to have a smoother ride and I had liked the seat better. He took the seat post off the Cannondale to show me how the spring under the seat can be tightened up to be less "springy." I wasn't sure how much of a factor the tires played into the ride, since it was on a smooth parking lot. Maybe the Giant had more road friendly tires than the Cannondale? Not sure.
I plan to go back today or tomorrow to look again at these things I am considering and the things I wasn't sure about. In the meanwhile, I'd appreciate your thought on these two bicycles, and, if the Cannondale is gone by the time I'm ready to buy, is there anything I should take a look at before just going with the Giant? My LBS carries the following brands that have hybrid models: Specialized, Bianchi, Cannondale, and Giant.
Thanks in advance for your expertise, experience, and help!