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  1. #1
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    Purchasing a first hybrid

    Good day.

    I'm in the market for two bikes. One for myself and one for my wife. I have a budget of up to approx. $500 Canadian Dollars, per bike.

    My use case includes:

    - about 90% asphalt, including inner city and some low speed highways.
    - about 10% light trails, including gravel, dirt, mud.
    - perhaps very occasional use on heavier trails.

    I'm not very experienced with bikes; it's been close to 10 years since I owned anything, and I've never owned a non-department store bike. I want to make sure I do right by me this time around, within the constraints of my budget.

    I've paid a visit to my local bike stores to see what they deal in, and what price ranges are available. One store sells mainly Trek. Another sells Norco; nothing here was really in my price range. The last sells Giant and Cannondale. Finally SportChek, a Canadian department store, sells Jamis bikes.

    I'm also not adverse to purchasing online from one of the big discount stores, but I am not sure if my local dealers can assemble it, or if that's even cost-effective.

    In particular, here's the models that have caught my interest:

    Giant Escape 3: The Escape 2 might also be in my price range, but the dealer didn't sit me on one. I only got a couple minutes in a parking lot, but it had a very smooth ride that I was pleased with. It shifted both ways as well as I'd expect from this price point. The front breaks were terrible; they did not slow the bike and made a lot of unpleasant noise. I'm not sure if a tuning is what they need. My biggest concern with this bike is that the narrow tires, aluminium frame, and lack of suspension will make it a little harsh on the rougher-end of my use-case.

    Giant Roam 3: Sits right on my budget threshold. This was the first bike that caught my attention online, and I was pleased to get to handle one a bit in-store. I haven't rode it yet. My biggest concern is whether or not I actually want the front suspension. You can see my question on StackExchange regarding this. In short, the suspension adds weight, cost, and features that I'm not positive are a good match for me.

    Jamis Trail X650: Available on sale at my local SportCheck at a price point of $350, regular price $600. I don't know if I want the 650b tires, but perhaps they'd be better for my 5'3" tall wife? Like the Roam 3, has suspension with a lock-out, but I'm not sold on suspension in the first place.

    Trek 7.2 FX: The store only had 7.0s, if I recall. I haven't heard anything that makes me want to ask them to dig out one of the back, or order one for me, but I thought I'd mention it at least.

    Jamis Coda Sport: I think this one has the most going for it. I like that it has a Chromoly Steel frame, no suspension, and (purportedly) relatively good parts for it's price. It seems to be a generally high quality bike. However, since I can't get it locally, I'd have to order it online, such as from this listing at pinkbike. I have no idea what to expect as far as assembly, fitting, adjustments, etc.

  2. #2
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    How about Giant Escape City series........ already include rack and fenders............

    "Retirement is the best job I ever had!" Me, 2009


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  3. #3
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    Escape City is out of my price range, unfortunately.

    ninja edit: If I'm going to breach my budget (which is an option), I need a very solid, well-grounded reason to do so. "It rides better" isn't any where near good enough.

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    "I would buy aftermarket fenders and rack because I will need them for how I plan to use my bike" is a potential reason, if that's what draws you to the Escape City.

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    Quote Originally Posted by elephino View Post
    "I would buy aftermarket fenders and rack because I will need them for how I plan to use my bike" is a potential reason, if that's what draws you to the Escape City.
    $200 is out of my price range for fenders and a rack.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by kivin View Post
    $200 is out of my price range for fenders and a rack.
    A good point. (Sorry, I was looking at USD prices--my mistake).

    Your LBS probably offers bike assembly service; mine does, and looking up the price online it's really reasonable. That could work for the Jamis Coda or something from a discount site. But I have to admit I'm biased towards that option right now--I just picked up an old rigid CroMo mtb and am converting it into my winter commuter (and future touring bike?), so that's what's on my mind.

    My 3-season commuter is rigid fork, all aluminum like the Escape 2 (and very comparable to the Trek FX). I would say your assessment of "a little harsh" over rough surfaces is accurate, especially if you plan to keep up a decent speed. It does surprisingly well over gravel and packed dirt, but hitting patches of torn-up pavement too fast has given me problems in the past. Much more in the hand-grip department than seat discomfort. I would not want it for even "very occasional" singletrack/mtb.

    The Escape 3 says it has a steel fork which would be heavier but a smoother ride on pavement. I don't know if that would make it any more off-road capable.

    I am 5'3 and 700 tires work fine. For what it's worth.

    Good luck! Buying bikes is fun!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by elephino View Post
    A good point. (Sorry, I was looking at USD prices--my mistake).

    Your LBS probably offers bike assembly service; mine does, and looking up the price online it's really reasonable. That could work for the Jamis Coda or something from a discount site. But I have to admit I'm biased towards that option right now--I just picked up an old rigid CroMo mtb and am converting it into my winter commuter (and future touring bike?), so that's what's on my mind.

    My 3-season commuter is rigid fork, all aluminum like the Escape 2 (and very comparable to the Trek FX). I would say your assessment of "a little harsh" over rough surfaces is accurate, especially if you plan to keep up a decent speed. It does surprisingly well over gravel and packed dirt, but hitting patches of torn-up pavement too fast has given me problems in the past. Much more in the hand-grip department than seat discomfort. I would not want it for even "very occasional" singletrack/mtb.

    The Escape 3 says it has a steel fork which would be heavier but a smoother ride on pavement. I don't know if that would make it any more off-road capable.

    I am 5'3 and 700 tires work fine. For what it's worth.

    Good luck! Buying bikes is fun!
    Thank you for your help.
    The wife and I found a local dealer in Ottawa, about 75 mins away (Does that still make them local) which is selling the Escape City Femme for $-100 off, or $499 total. We're going to ring the in the morning and see if they've got a few different frame sizes for her to mount and maybe we'll take one home.

    As for me, I could either get an Escape 2 from the same place, or an Escape City myself, though it's a bit more than the femme model. Or, I'm still looking at that Jamis Coda Sport online.

    At this point, people have pretty smartly talked me out of getting anything with a cheap suntour suspension.

  8. #8
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    Buying two at a time increases your buying power ---- ask them for a similar or better discount on the second one........

    "Retirement is the best job I ever had!" Me, 2009


    Specialized Crosstrail Sport - '08
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  9. #9
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    wifey and kids are very happy with their Trek FX bikes. I find them reliable, easy to adjust and hold their adjustments.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by kivin View Post
    Thank you for your help.
    The wife and I found a local dealer in Ottawa, about 75 mins away (Does that still make them local) which is selling the Escape City Femme for $-100 off, or $499 total. We're going to ring the in the morning and see if they've got a few different frame sizes for her to mount and maybe we'll take one home.

    As for me, I could either get an Escape 2 from the same place, or an Escape City myself, though it's a bit more than the femme model. Or, I'm still looking at that Jamis Coda Sport online.

    At this point, people have pretty smartly talked me out of getting anything with a cheap suntour suspension.
    That's too bad. The cheap Suntour suspension on my Roam 1 has been great. My commute to work is much more pleasant and when I need to I can lock it out and power up the hills without the bounce. I am glad I went with a suspended front fork.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanej View Post
    That's too bad. The cheap Suntour suspension on my Roam 1 has been great. My commute to work is much more pleasant and when I need to I can lock it out and power up the hills without the bounce. I am glad I went with a suspended front fork.
    Same here, and I'm much faster on gravel roads on my hybrid with 28mm tires, than my friends riding road bikes also with 28mm tires. Yes, it's heavy, but even cheap one is better on very rough roads than a rigid one.
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    Member mwl001's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lopek77 View Post
    Same here, and I'm much faster on gravel roads on my hybrid with 28mm tires, than my friends riding road bikes also with 28mm tires. Yes, it's heavy, but even cheap one is better on very rough roads than a rigid one.
    I'll third that, glad I have one on my Roam 2. We all know they're not meant to MTB; but it definitely lessens fatigue on my hands and wrists so far. They get the job done they were meant to do. Obviously I'd skip if I wanted to just stay on smooth pavement, but now I don't have to.

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    @Shanej,

    FWIW: Your Roam 1 is almost 2.5x the value of what I'm currently almost-committed to buying, (the Escape 3), so your "cheap" suntour suspension is probably a lot "less-cheap" than what I'm referring to.
    @both,

    The suspension was the first "problem" that I tackled while researching bikes, and the one I've spent the most time on.

    My research started with some google searches, leading me to various discussion groups, this one included. Almost unanimously, to my great surprise, the seasoned bikers told people to avoid suspensions in our price range. One such thread is This one. I continued to search google, in an effort to redeem the suspension, and was not able to. This surprised me; like most non-enthusiast consumers, I've been fairly successfully indoctrinated that all non-cheap bikes have a suspension.

    I ended up gathering ideas from various sites, and wrote a Question on the Stack Exchange network, which has been getting a bit of traffic. Arguments that I levied against the suspension included weight, add'l maintenance, point of failure, and that they are unnecessary for my use-case. Once again, the responses were almost exclusively against using a suspension.

    In addition to this thread, I have a secondary discussion going on /r/bicycling and yet again, people are advocating the rigid fork:

    Front suspension is a waste of money. They're just heavier and a non-suspension bike that is comfortable for you is just as comfortable.
    You'll probably be fine with or without a suspension, just try to ride a few bikes and see what you like. 90% of the time you'll probably ride it with lockout.

    Absolutely do not get a suspension fork. For your intended purpose, it's better to spend your limited budget on better drive train & parts. Low end suspension is basically a giant spring that just acts like a pogo stick, bouncing you all over the road and sucking away your energy.

    you really don't want a roam for what you've described. The suntour fork is bull**** dead weight.


    and so on.

    So, all in all, I have little choice but to go with what the majority is telling me and risk the no-suspension option.

  14. #14
    "LOGIC!" lopek77's Avatar
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    Hey Kivin. Opinions you see all over the internet, may not be good for you. Instead, I would just try two types and decide that way. Some stores have demo rentals that you can use for a day or two. I used to have full suspension bikes, rigid, and few with just a front suspension. I like to take my bike anywhere I want, and ride it with an average speeds anywhere between 13 and 15 mph. I ride a lot on rail trails (paved and unpaved), gravel country roads and on some paved roads. I also ride on some sidewalks that double as a bike routes, that connect to the trails. There is many curbs and imperfections on them. Hybrid with front suspension is giving me speed I want even on these rough parts. I can't imagine riding 50-100 miles on a bike without front suspension, unless on a nice, paved road.
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    The roam 3 has the same fork as the roam 1. It also has better shifters and derailers than the escape 3. It's about $100 more.

    I'm guessing none of those people ride a bike or have ridden a bike with one of these forks. The line about bouncing you all over the road is complete bull. Mine doesn't do that at all. It's smooth and soaks up the cracks, bumps and potholes. When I am on smoother pavement I lean down and lock it out on the fly and it's smooth sailing.

    I read all the same remarks when I was researching my bike purchase and was going between the escape and the roam. The test rides are what convinced me. Riding over the potholes and cracks was jarring and rough even on the carbon forked bikes. As soon as I got on the roam it was like night and day. The detractors equate the suspension forks with mountain bike riding and that's not the intended use for the one on the roam. It is for rough road and city use and some light trail use and for that it's been perfect. As for weight, in this price range and intended use the difference is not going to be noticeable. My roam is 34 pounds with my bag, lights, water holders and new grips. It's 2 sizes bigger with bigger tires than my previous chromoly bike and it's about 6 pounds lighter.

    I'm not trying to convince you to buy one or the other as it's about what you ultimately test ride and feel comfortable with. I am just trying to provide another viewpoint from someone who actually rides one of the bikes instead of bad mouthing it without actually using one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lopek77 View Post
    Hey Kivin. Opinions you see all over the internet, may not be good for you. Instead, I would just try two types and decide that way. Some stores have demo rentals that you can use for a day or two. I used to have full suspension bikes, rigid, and few with just a front suspension. I like to take my bike anywhere I want, and ride it with an average speeds anywhere between 13 and 15 mph. I ride a lot on rail trails (paved and unpaved), gravel country roads and on some paved roads. I also ride on some sidewalks that double as a bike routes, that connect to the trails. There is many curbs and imperfections on them. Hybrid with front suspension is giving me speed I want even on these rough parts. I can't imagine riding 50-100 miles on a bike without front suspension, unless on a nice, paved road.
    Your riding sounds a lot like mine. Here in SE WI I'm sure my roads are similar to yours.

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    OP - if you are near the border - why not come over and check out LBS's? Also check your local c-list for bikes. You will be surprised!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shanej View Post
    The roam 3 has the same fork as the roam 1. It also has better shifters and derailers than the Escape 3. It's about $100 more.

    I'm guessing none of those people ride a bike or have ridden a bike with one of these forks. The line about bouncing you all over the road is complete bull. Mine doesn't do that at all. It's smooth and soaks up the cracks, bumps and potholes. When I am on smoother pavement I lean down and lock it out on the fly and it's smooth sailing.

    I read all the same remarks when I was researching my bike purchase and was going between the escape and the roam. The test rides are what convinced me. Riding over the potholes and cracks was jarring and rough even on the carbon forked bikes. As soon as I got on the roam it was like night and day. The detractors equate the suspension forks with mountain bike riding and that's not the intended use for the one on the roam. It is for rough road and city use and some light trail use and for that it's been perfect. As for weight, in this price range and intended use the difference is not going to be noticeable. My roam is 34 pounds with my bag, lights, water holders and new grips. It's 2 sizes bigger with bigger tires than my previous chromoly bike and it's about 6 pounds lighter.

    I'm not trying to convince you to buy one or the other as it's about what you ultimately test ride and feel comfortable with. I am just trying to provide another viewpoint from someone who actually rides one of the bikes instead of bad mouthing it without actually using one.
    Not according to Giant's website, they don't. The Giant 3 has a Suntour NEX MLO, and the 1 has a NCX-D RL. Also, i don't know where you're from, but the Roam 1 is a $650 price difference from the Escape 3. In fact, it's close to 3x my budget.

    If you read all the "same remarks," as you say, and still went with a suspension - you either knew what you wanted before you got peoples' opinions, or you were predisposed to a suspension in the first place. Since I'm not in the know, I have to weigh everybody's opinions equally and far, far too many people have told me to run the other way with shocks, the Roam specifically, etc.

    In fact, the detractors have specifically made remarks about those shocks' unsuitability for city driving, as opposed to heavy off-roading, which I've specifically said in all of my threads is not part of my use-case.

    Quote Originally Posted by yashinon View Post
    OP - if you are near the border - why not come over and check out LBS's? Also check your local c-list for bikes. You will be surprised!
    Craigslist doesn't really get much use up here. We have a similar site called Kijiji, a.k.a. Ebay classifieds. But frankly, I don't have the time to stalk them for the right deal, and I don't have the expertise to know what I'm buying or screen it for value and buyer safety. Furthermore, people have told me that the Ontario second-hand market is particularly cut-throat and the best deals get snatched almost incredibly quickly by people "in the know."

    As for crossing, it would be an option if there was something specific that I was looking for. But at this point, more options doesn't really increase my buying power; after all, I don't know enough to make a good cross-examination. Local bike stores up here habitually don't have websites, so I would be driving blind without knowing who's out there, and what products they sell. I was willing to drive to Ottawa to snag a good deal on Explore City models, but it turns out that store doesn't sell bikes- at all! They advertise bikes on their website even though only their chains in Toronto and elsewhere sell them...

    All in all, it's not worth me driving hours out of my way to potentially find more models that I know nothing about.
    Last edited by kivin; 09-04-14 at 02:21 AM.

  19. #19
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    Wait, are you buying a bicycle, or a space ship?
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    Just go to your local bikeshop. This time a year you should get atleast 20-25% discount. So you can look at bikes up to 650$ totally 1300$ for 2 bikes. Good luck with your buck

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    Quote Originally Posted by lopek77 View Post
    Wait, are you buying a bicycle, or a space ship?
    What's that supposed to mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lt Stonez View Post
    Just go to your local bikeshop. This time a year you should get atleast 20-25% discount. So you can look at bikes up to 650$ totally 1300$ for 2 bikes. Good luck with your buck
    As you can see in my original post, and elsewhere, I have been to my local bikeshops. Nobody has discussed discounts with me, as the 2014 models are sold out and I have to wait for 2015s on order - a couple weeks. So, my budget stands (yet again)

  22. #22
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    I have a 2013 giant escape 3 that I put 2,600 miles on in a year. I am very happy with it. I got it around this time last year on sale. Just under $400 out the door with a water bottle and a helmet. I bought my Wife the same bike in a women's model.

    We have been very pleased with them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kivin View Post
    Not according to Giant's website, they don't. The Giant 3 has a Suntour NEX MLO, and the 1 has a NCX-D RL. Also, i don't know where you're from, but the Roam 1 is a $650 price difference from the Escape 3. In fact, it's close to 3x my budget.

    If you read all the "same remarks," as you say, and still went with a suspension - you either knew what you wanted before you got peoples' opinions, or you were predisposed to a suspension in the first place. Since I'm not in the know, I have to weigh everybody's opinions equally and far, far too many people have told me to run the other way with shocks, the Roam specifically, etc.

    In fact, the detractors have specifically made remarks about those shocks' unsuitability for city driving, as opposed to heavy off-roading, which I've specifically said in all of my threads is not part of my use-case.



    Craigslist doesn't really get much use up here. We have a similar site called Kijiji, a.k.a. Ebay classifieds. But frankly, I don't have the time to stalk them for the right deal, and I don't have the expertise to know what I'm buying or screen it for value and buyer safety. Furthermore, people have told me that the Ontario second-hand market is particularly cut-throat and the best deals get snatched almost incredibly quickly by people "in the know."

    As for crossing, it would be an option if there was something specific that I was looking for. But at this point, more options doesn't really increase my buying power; after all, I don't know enough to make a good cross-examination. Local bike stores up here habitually don't have websites, so I would be driving blind without knowing who's out there, and what products they sell. I was willing to drive to Ottawa to snag a good deal on Explore City models, but it turns out that store doesn't sell bikes- at all! They advertise bikes on their website even though only their chains in Toronto and elsewhere sell them...

    All in all, it's not worth me driving hours out of my way to potentially find more models that I know nothing about.
    Roam 1 (2015) (2014) | Giant Bicycles | United States
    SR Suntour NEX HLO w/ preload adjuster & lockout, 63mm travel
    Roam 3 (2015) | Giant Bicycles | United States
    SR Suntour NEX HLO w/ preload adjuster & lockout, 63mm travel

    The price difference between the Roam 3 and the Escape 3 is $100 using the giant website pricing. I was comparing it to the bike you are looking at buying. I didn't see you were in Canada until your last post. Maybe the models they offer are different there. I spent a weekend working in Toronto once. The downtown area I was in was nice. Good food and great vibe. I'm in SE Wisconsin so our climate isn't much different.

    My last bike was a mid 90's mountain bike that I "converted" into a hybrid. It has no suspension. I didn't know what I wanted and wasn't pre disposed to a suspended frame. I read all the comments and then test rode the actual bikes. The Roam and Specialized Crosstrail were the last bikes I test rode. All the internet experts had convinced me buying a bike with a suspension fork that doesn't cost more than the bike i was buying would self destruct and bounce me all over the road. Getting on them and seeing first hand how it rides is what convinced me. They were wrong. It was perfect for the type of riding I do, city driving on crappy roads and the occasional sidewalk, gravel and dirt trails and locked out on the smooth rail to trail paths we have around here.

    You sound defensive but I am not trying to tell you what to buy. This hobby is filled with people who are convinced that if you don't spend 2 weeks salary on your bike it's going to fall apart underneath you and be a horrible ride. This just isn't the case and for the most part the lower priced bikes are all going to do just fine for a majority of users. That doesn't mean the people who spend a lot of money and ride a lot won't notice or enjoy the benefit their more expensive parts bring.

    Have you tried one of the Roam's or a Crosstrail?

  24. #24
    "LOGIC!" lopek77's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kivin View Post
    What's that supposed to mean?
    Just not sure if you are so honest, or you just like to complicate things lol You want a bike - buy it. If your budget is too low for what you need - wait and save more to buy what you like.
    "The clear problem of the outlawing of insult is that too many things can be interpreted as such. Criticism, ridicule, sarcasm, merely stating an alternative point of view to the orthodoxy, can be interpreted as insult." - Rowan Atkinson
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    Kivin, I think you have done your homework very thoroughly concerning your purchase. The key would seem to be that 90% of your riding is on pavement with the other 10% on gravel. This is similar to my riding conditions but with a bit more gravel and rail trails. After a lot reading, I bought a DS 8.3 with a suspension fork. The fork added a lot of weight to the bike (about 2 kilos) and I found it unnecessary for me so I replaced it with a carbon fork, the bike got a lot more road friendly and still handles the gravel and light trails just as well. The bike also lost 2.5 kilos. So bottom line, I think you would do well to buy a solid aluminum frame with a steel fork in your budget based on what you have described. If your riding included a steady diet of MTB or technical single track then the weight and loss of pedaling efficiency might make the suspension fork worth it, other wise I would say not.

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