I'm in the market for a new bike and am willing to spend up to about $400 for an entry-level hybrid. I've been to at least 7 local bike stores in Chicago and have test-ridden Treks (7200FX and 7200), a Bianchi Avenue, a Marin Larkspur, a Giant Cypress, and a couple of others. But the bike that felt the best to me and really seems to fit me the best is one I found in a sporting goods store (Play it Again Sports). It's a K2 Alturus 2.0, new-- for $350--and again, it just seems to fit me better than anything else I've tried. It's not the fastest or lightest bike I've tried (although it's not the heaviest or slowest, either), but I've ridden it twice now--and I find that I really enjoyed it both times.
I should add that I had a nerve inquiry in my left arm recently, so my left arm/hand is especially sensitive to being bumped/jostled around. The K2 handlebars seemed to be placed at just the right height and be of just the right width to make my arm/hand comfortable. The handlebars are pretty upright, but not completely so. I should also add that my wrist/arm started hurting a bit after riding the Bianchi Avenue--perhaps because it has no front suspension and lower or straighter handlebars (I think). The Trek handlebars didn't fit me that well either; I know they can be changed, but I don't want to necessarily buy a $300+ bike, only to find they still don't quite fit.
I mentioned this brand (K2) to bikesellers at a couple different local bike shops (lbs). One of the bike experts said K2 was known for skis and pretty good mountain bikes--but that they didn't know much about their hybrids. The other bike "expert" sort of laughed when I mentioned the K2 and dismissed it as a "big box" bike.
Help!! I'm very tempted to buy the K2, as it's in my price range and seems to fit me (and accomodate my hurt arm) quite well. Plus, I actually like the color (not just black or gray, like everything else seems to be). I'll be using it primarily for paved roads and bike paths--maybe a few dirt or gravel paths along the river.
Is the K2 simply a piece of junk? I can't find much info. on them anywhere. Someone must ride one or know someone who does...right? I know that everyone constantly recommends buying from a lbs--and this one only seems to be available at this sporting goods store. I have to say, the sales guy there, however, does seem to know his stuff and has promised a free tune up. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I'm hoping to finally buy something really soon, since there's probably only about 6 good weekends left this year in Chicago.