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Old 01-01-13, 03:11 PM   #1
jstadragon
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new to bikes, looking for an entry-level hybrid for commuting and light trails

Hello. I am completely new to the bike scene and thought it would be a good idea to get some opinions on some hybrid bikes I have been comparing.

I'm 24, 6 ft, 180lbs. Primary reason for purchasing a bike would be for commuting to work, but I live in San Diego where there are lots of recreational areas and trails, which is why I want to have a hybrid bike to try a bit of everything instead of a road bike. My budget is $600.

I've gone through almost all of the major bike manufacturers but I'm not seeing much of a difference. I know the components are important but looking through rankings of Shimano derailers and shifters doesn't really tell me anything. Anyway, here is my list of affordable bikes at the moment.

1. Marin - San Rafael DS2
http://www.marinbikes.com/2013/bike_...serialnum=1566

2. Trek - 8.2 DS
http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes..._series/8_2_ds

3. Cannondale - Quick CX 5
http://www.cannondale.com/2013/bikes...-cx/quick-cx-5

4. Specialized - Crosstrail
http://www.specialized.com/us/en/bik...osstrail#specs

5. Giant - Roam 2
http://www.giant-bicycles.com/en-us/...specifications

Your advice and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your time!
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Old 01-01-13, 03:51 PM   #2
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You're not going to see much difference between those models because they are all produced in the same handful of factories in Asia. As you noticed, they are all priced about the same w/similar specs. One may have a better rear derailleur than another, but that means another part on that bike won't be to keep the costs in line.

Of all the models that you've chosen, I would advice getting... none of them. Front shocks have little value on the roads (except added weight) and could inspire false confidence off road. I'd get the Trek 8.1 DS and ride it until it started falling apart.

But that's just my opinion.

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Old 01-01-13, 04:00 PM   #3
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I'm fairly new to cycling myself, and was looking at the same style bike as you. I tried both the DS and Crosstrail, and I liked the Crosstrail more. I ride mostly pavement, though I've begun to ride more dirt paths recently (might as well use the bike for all it's worth), and the Crosstrail works great for me. I should say though that the Crosstrail is the first bike I've ridden in about 15 years, so except for the test ride of the Trek, I have little to compare it to. However, from what I've read around here, if you're going to be commuting and spending the majority of your time on pavement you might want to look at something with a rigid (no suspension) fork.

FWIW, my wife tried the women's versions of the Trek, Cannondale, and Giant. She didn't like the Trek or Cannondale. She liked the Giant, but ended up liking the Felt Versa Path 2 more, which is another bike similar to the ones you listed.

Your best bet is probably going to a LBS and try out the various bikes you listed, and pick the one you like best. Though I know what a pain it can be to drive around to a handful of dealers, because most don't carry more than a couple brands, and trying to remember all the details of the bikes you tried at the last place. It might be a good idea to take a notebook with you to write down your thoughts and the prices at each shop.
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Old 01-01-13, 04:16 PM   #4
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I don't know much about the Marin but I think that you would be happy with any of those other choices. I feel that having a suspension fork is a bonus but recommend getting a bike with a front suspension lockout. This allows you to use the fork when you want and lock it out when you don't... Best of both worlds. I highly doubt that you'll even notice the extra weight. I never have.
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Old 01-01-13, 06:23 PM   #5
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I don't like the weight the suspension adds. I would think you are on pretty nice surfaces in San Diego...I don't have suspension on either of my bikes, and occaisionally a bump will catch me off guard, but I'd rather have the lighter bike.
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Old 01-01-13, 08:08 PM   #6
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suspension is nice on a full out mountain bike when you are clambering over roots and rocks and gnarly single track, or bombing really fast down really rough trails.

on smooth fire roads and such, its really not necessary I rode an old school no-suspension mountain bike for many years over all kinda rough terrain, just spent a lot of time standing up, and bunny hopping the bike over the really nasty stuff.
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Old 01-01-13, 08:16 PM   #7
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Ditto the rigid front fork depending on your idea of "recreational areas and trails". I would not want to take a road bike with 25mm tires on crushed gravel. You can get away with rigid fork and fatter tires (32 or 35mm) on non-paved areas. I'm sure San Diego has some very nice paved roads that are out of the city too.
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Old 01-02-13, 12:46 PM   #8
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Sounds like you are in the same boat as me. I've been looking around at getting a new bike that would be good for both road & trail. I do most of my riding on the road but would like to get into more trail riding. I keep debating if the suspension is necessary for the riding I'd be doing or WANT to be doing. I like the Roam 2 or 3 because those come with the front suspension lockout. You would have to jump the the Trek 8.3 to get that. Trek needs to have an 8.2.5 so you can have front lockout and not worry about the disc brakes. The Cannondale is a sweet looking bike as well and has the lockout but I personally don't look at them as I would have to drive quite far for the closest store when I can get Trek, Specialized, or Giant within 15 minutes of me.

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Old 01-02-13, 03:14 PM   #9
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Another option might be to check out used non suspended mountain bikes made in the 80's and 90's. Plentiful, cheap, and with road tires installed they make excellent hybrids. I have an '88 Trek 900, which I have also converted to drop bars, simply because I prefer them to uprights.
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Old 01-03-13, 04:44 PM   #10
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I love my Specialized crosstrail. It was my entry bike this summer after decades away from my childhood biking days. I use it mostly on our gravel roads, as well as the multiuse trails. It was my ride for my first bike rally this fall- a fun 33 mile - and was comfortable, quick, and easy.

Got it on sale at the LBS who took care to properly fit me to the bike, had me come back after 60 days to check over the cables,chain, et al, and takes wonderful care of me and my bike needs, PLUS gives me 10% off any purchases because I bought my bike from them. I think that's the best perk and pretty important to a novice - the aftercare by the shop for a customer who may well come back to buy a second bike later on....as I did just recently.

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Old 01-03-13, 05:19 PM   #11
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OP - you and I are very different riders (I'm 40, getting back into it) but my approach to the suspension question might work for you anyway. You gotta ask yourself - "Self; am I gonna want to do any hardcore MTBing?" If the answer is yeah, you're planning to really check that out, then you know you're gonna want that suspension fork. But if you're like me and you know the MTB days are over, then pass on the extra cost of the suspension fork.
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Old 01-04-13, 02:51 PM   #12
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If you mean dirt/unpaved trails when you refer to "trails," then a suspension fork may be a good idea. If on the other hand you simply mean dedicated paved bike trails, then you probably don't need the suspension fork (IMHO).

The other thing to consider is your local bike shop, especially if they include adjustments with your purchase. I just bought a hybrid (no suspension) and it came down to my preferred LBS (which offers lifetime free adjustments) and what they sell. If you are going to maintain it yourself then it does not matter.

If you decide you don't need the suspension fork then, consider one the Trek FX's (7.2 or 7.3) or Specialized bikes (Sirrus or Sirrus Sport). Good luck.
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Old 01-04-13, 02:59 PM   #13
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and in case it wasn't made clear, the sort of cheap suspension forks put on hybrids like the Crosstrails are pretty much junk. You find decent suspension forks on real mountain bikes over around $1200. as these forks alone cost $500+
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Old 01-04-13, 06:40 PM   #14
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All I know is that when I am on a rough trail (and have my fork unlocked) and suddenly hit a big bump or run over a rough, uneven transition from trail to bridge, I always appreciate how much smoother my "junk" fork makes it feel. Crazy...
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Old 01-04-13, 06:46 PM   #15
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I watch where I'm going and 'hop' my front wheel (or the whole bike) over stuff like that.
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Old 01-04-13, 06:54 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yo Spiff View Post
Another option might be to check out used non suspended mountain bikes made in the 80's and 90's. Plentiful, cheap, and with road tires installed they make excellent hybrids. I have an '88 Trek 900, which I have also converted to drop bars, simply because I prefer them to uprights.
Agreed, +1.
I've seen a few pics of some nice mid 90's non shock "hybrids" on here. I'm in the process of modding my Trek 3600 into a hybrid, but to make it right for the trails and streets, I'm going to take the front shock-fork off and fit it with a rigid fork instead.
Check this one out - a Specialized Rockhopper - I bet it makes an excellent street ride, and it looks badass.

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...1#post15109280
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Old 01-05-13, 08:49 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pierce View Post
I watch where I'm going and 'hop' my front wheel (or the whole bike) over stuff like that.
I do the same when possible (as I'm sure everyone else does) but there are times that it just doesn't work out the way you plan. I'll gladly take the "help" of a suspension fork when needed. To each his own...
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Old 01-05-13, 01:42 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CabinDweller View Post
All I know is that when I am on a rough trail (and have my fork unlocked) and suddenly hit a big bump or run over a rough, uneven transition from trail to bridge, I always appreciate how much smoother my "junk" fork makes it feel. Crazy...
Like cheap tools, a cheap fork will be OK for light duty. Under heavy load, there's a good chance the fork may break. Cheap products can be hit or miss. Read some of the reviews at Harbor Fright, er Freight, Tools. I think lack of quality control accounts for some of this.

If you are going to put a lot of miles on rough roads with 2" rocks and big holes, you don't want the cheap suspension fork. Many people here recommend against suspension fork on cheap bikes for two reasons. Not only is the fork cheap, but the manufacturers use lower quality parts elsewhere on the bike to offset the increased cost of the suspension fork.

YMMV.
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Old 01-05-13, 06:55 PM   #19
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Talking

Quote:
Originally Posted by fire View Post
Agreed, +1.
I've seen a few pics of some nice mid 90's non shock "hybrids" on here. I'm in the process of modding my Trek 3600 into a hybrid, but to make it right for the trails and streets, I'm going to take the front shock-fork off and fit it with a rigid fork instead.
Check this one out - a Specialized Rockhopper - I bet it makes an excellent street ride, and it looks badass.

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...1#post15109280
+1

Check Craigslist or E-Bay for lightly used bikes, there are plenty of helpful people on this forum to help you pick the right one. When you get the bike you can take it to you prefered LBS to get it tune up and buy all the assouries for it with all the monie you save. With hindsight wished i had this instead of buying a new shiney bike last year.

Have fun Mate.
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Old 01-07-13, 08:49 PM   #20
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Thanks for all the responses guys! After taking into consideration of the suggestions and going to the Trek store to get measured, I ended up buying a used Trek 7.2 FX 2011 from Craigslist for $250. I'm pretty sure that it's an acceptable price, the condition of it is really excellent and the owner had it tuned before selling.



Originally I was looking for a fork suspension bike but later on I really didn't see myself going on any rougher terrain than paved roads and paths. I figured if I really want to be going over rocks and holes, I'd look into getting a mountain bike or a much better hybrid when I get into biking, but as newbie I think this works best for me. Also, forking over $500++ for a new bike was a little hard to swallow, so a used bike would allow me to get into biking without feeling too bad if I screwed something up. Thanks everyone!
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Old 01-08-13, 04:45 AM   #21
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That is a very good choice you made there- seeing the terrain you'll be hitting. Enjoy how fast those babies go !
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Old 01-08-13, 10:22 AM   #22
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Looks like a good choice at the right price. I know a lot of people who have similar Trek hybrids.
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Old 01-08-13, 02:21 PM   #23
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Very nice choice! Nice bike, at a nice price. You will never be sorry, and it will make a good platform for racks and stuff.
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Old 01-10-13, 01:32 AM   #24
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Good choice! That's a quality bike at a good price and a great way to start out your cycling habit.
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Old 01-10-13, 02:23 AM   #25
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Indeed, a great bike.

I suggest reading up a bit on bicycle basic maintenance, and going over the whole bike. make sure the wheels are straight (spin then, and check the metal rim next to the brake pads, they should have no up/down, and no more than a millimeter or so of side to side). plink all the spokes of both wheels, and make sure none are excessively loose or tight. the wheel and crank bearings shouldn't have any side to side rattle, ditto the headset (steering) should have zero play, but be smooth and friction free. inspect the cables, there should be no rust on any exposed stretches of cables, if they are corroded plan on replacing them (cables are cheap).

take a test ride on a smooth quiet street, and go through all the gears (except 1-8 and 3-1, you never use these 'crossover' gears) one at a time, they should shift crisply and be quiet. actually, gears 1-6 and 3-7 aren't real important (eg, I only use the 'granny gear' small chainring in front with the bigger 4-5 gears in back, these gears are strictly for climbing steep hills when 2-1 isn't low enough.)

make sure the brakes levers can't be squeezed all the way to the bars, and that the pads don't scrape on the rims when you spin the wheels with the brakes released (easy to readjust). when you stop, the brakes should be smooth and not shudder or squeal. if they do, clean any rubber residue off the rims, and the brakes might need their pads re-aligned.

websites like Sheldon Brown's site, and the howto's on park tools site explain how to do nearly everything you might need to tweak.

http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/articles.html
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