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  1. #1
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    Choosing a new commuter hybrid (Jamis vs. Trek vs. Novara vs. Kona vs. ?)

    Hi all,

    Looking for a new commuter bike. Budget is ~$800 for the bike, but willing to go up to ~1k if worth it. I'm 5'11 170, ride is 5 miles each way (may increase to 10 with daycare) with a few minor hills. I'd put fenders and a rack on it, and would like to be able to attach a kiddie-trailer. I'm in Seattle, so was thinking disc brakes for better braking in the rain. Have heard that hydraulic brakes are the way to go now. Am thinking flat bar and triple crank since I want to be able to tow the kid to/from daycare. There seem to be a few options around, and was curious if anyone had any good way of distinguishing which of these (or others) might be a good way to go. Not sure why nearly every bike manufacturer decided black on black was the way to go this year...

    Novara Big Buzz ($800, but 20% off through this weekend)
    http://www.rei.com/product/832566/no...buzz-bike-2013

    Jamis Coda Elite ($950)
    http://www.myjamis.com/SSP%20Applica...cat_grp=strt_2

    Trek 7.4 FX Disc ($850)
    http://www.trekbikes.com/us/en/bikes.../7_4_fx_disc/#

    Kona Dew Plus ($650)
    http://www.konaworld.com/bike.cfm?content=dew_plus

    Any major reasons to go with one over the others? The Jamis is steel, but more expensive. The Novara and Kona are cheaper, but I don't know enough about componentry to tell if they're cheap in a way that will matter. Test rode the Trek and liked the 20", haven't had a chance at the others yet. Are there other bikes in this range I should consider?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    I got a Coda Comp last year and love it. It's basically the Coda Elite, without disc brakes (though I see that Jamis went down a step with the RD--I have a Deore on my 2012, it's an Acera now in 2013. That's kind of disappointing).

    I've always thought that the Big Buzz was a sharp looking ride. Plus you get the great REI service (though since it's on sale, no contribution to your dividend, I don't believe).

    The Kona looks to be a great deal--$650 for disc brakes and a Deore rear derailleur.

    Really, the most important thing is to try out some bikes. When I got my Jamis last year, I went to a LBS that carried Giant and Kona bikes. I always though that Kona looked to be good bikes for the value. When I rode one, though, the feel just wasn't right for me. I really liked the feel of the Giant Escape, but a different store had the Jamis in that day, and I fell in love.

  3. #3
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Big Buzz: YMMV,but I wouldn't touch it. I had an older BB with curved alloy fork that I sold because it rode too rough and bothered my CT. I later bought a Road Buzz which had a straight blade alloy fork almost identical to the current BB's. That got returned because it was even worse. Again,YMMV,if you've got better roads and wrists.

    Coda: had an '05,sweet ride. More performance oriented,but will take fenders and reasonably wide tires. Rides nice,but if you're going to be playing in the wet make sure you Framesaver the steel frame.

    FX: test rode one a few years back,but it had a steel fork. Current model is alloy straight blade,see above comments on the BB.

    Dew: I've got an '05,had an '08,and also have a Dr Good(same thing with internal hub). The current models have an alloy fork that isn't as nice as the older steel ones,but with wide,low pressure tires it rides well. For comparison,my Dr G is running 37mm Conti's at 60psi and my Dew is running 38mm WTB's at 80psi,and the ride is pretty much the same. It's more MTB-ish,slower handling,but will take pretty wide tires(my Dr G will take 40mm knobbies under it's Civia fenders).

    My $.02,if you're looking for more speed,get the Coda,if you're looking to occasionally play on trails,get the Dew.

    C'dale BBU('05 and '09)/Super Six/Hooligan8and 3,Kona Dew Deluxe,Novara Buzz/Safari,Surly Big Dummy,Marin Pt Reyes,Giant Defy 1,Schwinn DBX SuperSport/Qualifier,Dahon Speed Pro TT,Brompton S6L

  4. #4
    Senior Member corwin1968's Avatar
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    For what is basically a working bike being used primarily for transportation, I would recommend a steel frame. In my limited experience (and largely supported by anecdotes from many riders) aluminum feels more sport but has a harsher ride while steel is a more comfortable ride. The difference isn't huge but spending several hours per week on the bike, it might add up. Also, I've heard great things about the Jamis Coda series of bikes.
    Currently riding a 1983 Takara Highlander converted to a single-speed.

  5. #5
    Member tspeters's Avatar
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    I can't speak for the other brands but I have a 2011 Jamis Coda Sport with the steel front fork. I love it. I use it as my commute bike 14 miles round trip. I installed fenders and luggage rack. It is comfortable, handles well and with the triple crank it tackles the hills easily. Mine came with 28c tires but with the 32c tires it should absorb rough pavement even better. Mine has the Acera and works well and rarely needs adjusting.

  6. #6
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    Appreciate all the replies so far! Very helpful. Sounds like a lot of people like the Coda. I'll definitely have to go test that one. Another two options I found:

    Bianchi Camaleonte Tre ($1000)
    http://www.bianchiusa.com/bikes/stra.../camaleonte-3/

    Bianchi Metropoli Due ($900)
    http://www.bianchiusa.com/bikes/stra...metropoli-due/


    Also, any thoughts on the different disc brakes? Tektro HDC-300, Hayes Dyno Sport, Tektro Aquila, Shimano Alivio Hydraulic? Not sure if there are major differences, or if they are all pretty comparable.

    For gearing, any real difference between 48/38/28 11-34 (8), 48/36/26 11-32 (9), and 48/36/26 11-28 (9) that would be worth considering?

    Thanks!

  7. #7
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    You have me drooling over that Camaleonte... There's quite a drop in the drivetrain on the Metropoli, especially the cranks.

    The Camaleonte is more aggressive geometry, the Metropoli has a longer headtube so you'll be a bit more upright.

  8. #8
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    The Tektro HDC-300 and Shimano brakes use mineral oil. The Hayes Dyno requires DOT brake fluid. The Tektro Aquila is cable operated and requires a 5mm allen key to adjust the stationary pad.

    I ride hills a lot, like 500ft up to work and then back down in the evening. I go through 2 sets of brake pads a year on the front. When I had mechanical brakes I was adjusting the fixed pad probably every 2 or 3 days, it was annoying to say the least. I still have a mechanical rear brake and that only needs adjustment every 2 or 3 weeks so that's why I haven't changed that one yet. I later changed to a hydraulic brake on the front and the self-adjusting saves a bit of maintenance. Heck, I've gone through 3 or 4 sets of pads on the front and I'm still on the original pads on the back.

  9. #9
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    My spec sheet would include fenders, IGH, V brakes - possibly chain case. Agnostic on steel/alu, although my frame is Reynolds Steel and bike weighs in at 12 kg

  10. #10
    Senior Member bunkiefd4's Avatar
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    Im new here and new to biking, but I just bought a Trek 8.3 dual sport with disk brakes. The bike was $670 Im using it to commute back and forth to work, 4.8 miles one way and pull my twin girls in a bike trailer. Man this bike is awesome, its lite, smooth, comfartable and handles the road absolutly perfect. Plus the disk brakes stop it sweet also. I'd definately look into the Trek.
    2013 Specialized Roubaix ( my baby )

  11. #11
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by corwin1968 View Post
    For what is basically a working bike being used primarily for transportation, I would recommend a steel frame. In my limited experience (and largely supported by anecdotes from many riders) aluminum feels more sport but has a harsher ride while steel is a more comfortable ride. The difference isn't huge but spending several hours per week on the bike, it might add up.
    My alloy-framed Safari is in dry dock because it needs a rebuild;it's got well north of 10k miles. And I'm the one who complains about CT issues. Nothing wrong with an alloy frame with the right fork and tires. Alloy frames aren't fragile either,the Safari's nickname is the Panzer because not only has it gotten me through every winter storm since '06 and hauled tons of groceries,but it served as my polo bike for about 8 months as well.

    C'dale BBU('05 and '09)/Super Six/Hooligan8and 3,Kona Dew Deluxe,Novara Buzz/Safari,Surly Big Dummy,Marin Pt Reyes,Giant Defy 1,Schwinn DBX SuperSport/Qualifier,Dahon Speed Pro TT,Brompton S6L

  12. #12
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChronicND View Post
    Bianchi Camaleonte Tre ($1000)
    Bianchi Metropoli Due ($900)
    Both straight blade alloy forks. I wouldn't ride either,but YMMV.

    Quote Originally Posted by ChronicND View Post
    For gearing, any real difference between 48/38/28 11-34 (8), 48/36/26 11-32 (9), and 48/36/26 11-28 (9) that would be worth considering?
    If you're going to be pulling kids,the one with the 11-28 cassette will be more effort,but 9spd cassettes aren't expensive,and 11-32 or 34's are everywhere.

    C'dale BBU('05 and '09)/Super Six/Hooligan8and 3,Kona Dew Deluxe,Novara Buzz/Safari,Surly Big Dummy,Marin Pt Reyes,Giant Defy 1,Schwinn DBX SuperSport/Qualifier,Dahon Speed Pro TT,Brompton S6L

  13. #13
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    I have a Coda w/ carbon fork and really like it. I live in Seattle and it handles going up the hills a lot better than I do. Coming down, I wish I had hydraulic disk brakes, especially in the rain with a stop sign and busy arterial at the bottom.

    Got mine at Free Range Cycles in Fremont. Jamis dealer: they specialize in town/commuter bikes and treat you well.

  14. #14
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    Updating, in case others are in similar positions:

    Haven't had a chance to ride any yet, due to carting the kid around, but have narrowed the field some:

    Eliminated the Novara: didn't like the shifters, were dual thumb triggers vs. index/thumb; had the narrower 11-28 cassette; didn't feel like I was ready to make a decision and used the 20% off coupon on something else, eliminating the value play for this bike for me.

    Eliminated the Bianchi: no one carries either model within 100 miles. One LBS was willing to bring in the Camaleonte for me to test out, but I think I'll pass. While I think the thing is super sexy, it might be too flashy for parking downtown, and I'd feel bad beating it up as an everyday commuter. Was also the most expensive.

    That leaves the Kona Dew Plus ($650), Trek 7.4 FX Disc ($850), and Jamis Coda Elite ($950). I'm leaning towards either the Kona as the value choice or the Jamis as the reach bike.

    I'll head to the two LBS that carry these and see if the Jamis feels $300 better than the Kona. In the meantime, any additional thoughts between these two are welcome.

  15. #15
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    If it were up to me and both the Jamis and Kona felt good, I'd get the Kona and keep the extra $300. It suits your needs, has decent components, and looks less interesting to a thief. WIth fenders, a rack, and a kid trailer on it (and maybe even a kickstand, when I was pulling kids having one on my bike was a lifesaver in may situations), I'm not sure I'd worry too much about shaving a 1-2 lbs in weight.

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