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.