I haven't owned a bike for a number of years am looking for a hybrid to start commuting to work in good weather (8 mi each way) and recreational riding with my family.
My LBS has prior year closeout on the rigid-fork versions of the Gary Fisher Zebrano ($320) and Nirvana ($400). They feel about the same (actually, the Nirvana's seat was less comfortable although that's obviously an issue that can be modified). Is the component quality worth the $80 difference? Should I be looking for something even higher-end?
In theory I could afford to go up but at this point question how "avid" I will become (how I will react adapt to riding in traffic, etc.).
The differences I could see from the spec sheet are better drivetrain components on the Nirvana. Shifting should be a bit crisper.
Test ride them again, be sure to shift through all the gears while going fast, standing up, climbing a hill. Give it a workout. If you can't tell the difference and the LBS says there's really not much difference, then get the cheaper one.
Remember that it's always cheaper to get the best components on the bike than to upgrade them later.
The Nirvana saddle looks to be firmer, which on longer rides is what you want. A big squishy saddle feels good for a short ride but allows your sitbones to sink down, bringing painful pressure on other more sensitive areas. If you haven't ridden in a long time, all saddles will not feel comfortable until you and the saddle get used to each other.
The upright geometry of the hybrid is good in traffic, you are more visible to cars and you can look around easier. Hybrids aren't the fastest bikes in the world but that's okay; you can still ride the heck of it. The rigid fork is better; the suspension forks just add weight and rob power.
How long has it been since you rode and what sort of riding did you do? If you used to have a road bike and took it for long rides, you'll quickly outgrow the hybrid. If you had a mountain bike and just rode it around campus, the hybrid would be a good choice; lighter and more suited for your needs.
Tell us what you decide to do and give us a ride report.
Thanks. I actually haven't owned a bike since college in the late 80s, which was a department store Huffy (? I think, or maybe Murray) ten-speed. Obviously a completely different world. Since then I've rented various mountain/hybrid-type bikes in various travels but really didn't pay attention to manufacturer/model and can't remember specific details of each riding experience anyway.
The general guidance from the forums has helpful and I'm thinking the Nirvana premium may be a small price to pay for better components. Actually in reading various forums I'm starting to wonder a bit whether I shouldn't be thinking up one more grade to something like the Trek 7500 FX (Fisher Utopia equiv?) but that's a much bigger premium (several hundred $$ over the Nirvana, esp. since LBS doesn't have any closeout prior year models in my size 7500). It snowed yesterday (yuck) but when the weather gets back to normal I'll go back to LBS for a longer test ride.
My last bike was a Gary Fisher Zebrano. I liked it alot. I hadn't riden in about 25 years (I'm 46 now) And since I've had back problems I wasn't sure how my back would react to biking. I bought the Zebrano in Sept 2005. And loved it. I did alot of 5 mile rides in 05. Then in 06 I got up to 26 mile rides then decided to upgrade to a road bike. I sold the Zebrano a couple months later and got about 70% of my purchase price back on Craigslist. I have a Trek 2.1 spa now. The Zebrano had a smooth comfortable ride And it took the bumps very well. I found shifting and braking easy to use. I did have to rotate the handlebars to a more ergonomic position. But the best thing was with the bike in good condition it kept a substantial amount of its value for resale.